Ross Mackenzie

A random walk through the new administration. . .

-- President Obama has shaken the hand of Venezuela's commissar, America-detesting Hugo Chavez. The incident recalled the high moment when Obama idol Eleanor Roosevelt refused to shake the hand of the dread Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

-- Please note the purest hypocrisy in this datum: Four of today's most visible and vocal Washington champions of public education -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and the president himself -- all have their own children in private schools.

-- Administration spokesmen immediately cited the president's swift decisiveness in approving the SEALs' take-down of three Somali pirates. Decisive action would not have required endless bureaucratic back-and-forthing about rules of engagement and other esoterics. Swift action would have occurred not four days after the incident began, but 40 minutes after the SEALs' arrival aboard the U.S.S. Bainbridge.

-- The administration has (1) eased the nation's posture toward Iran and (2) lifted sanctions on travel to Cuba as well as remittances by exiles to relatives there. Both Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Cuba's Fidel Castro insist they will not reciprocate with warmth toward the United States.

-- The president has stipulated repeatedly his opposition to deploying weapons in space. A report by the Heritage Foundation and the George C. Marshall Institute cautions that without extending the nation's missile defense systems into space, the U.S. well could suffer the fate of China's Ming dynasty. After centuries of navigational and exploratory supremacy at sea, Ming maritime dominance dissipated because of domestic infighting -- and inaction -- regarding its own security.

-- Have you noticed how, perhaps given record snows and cold weather, warmists talk less these days about "global warming" and more about "climate change"?

-- And researchers at London's School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have concluded that a principal cause of climate change is . . . obesity. The obese, it seems, require more food (and more energy to produce it) and exhale more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Notes Dr. Phil Edwards, one of the study's principals, "Food production accounts for about one-fifth of greenhouse gases." And: "Moving about in a heavy body is like driving a gas guzzler."

-- President Obama cited global warming as a cause of the recent flooding of the Red River in Fargo, N.D. Tim Ball, a Canadian climatologist and adviser to the International Climate Science Coalition, terms Obama's citation "speculative and completely wrong." He says spring flooding along the Red River "is due to snowmelt."

-- In the Iraq war, 4,200 American troops have lost their lives -- a dreadful measure of the cost of liberty. So have 87,200 Iraqi civilians.

-- From the union front, representing abundant Democratic voters but just 7.6 percent of American private-sector workers, these bulletins: (a) In its latest bailout, the now-bankrupt Chrysler has received $12 billion in taxpayer dollars -- totaling $314,000 per Chrysler U.S. employee -- for producing vehicles insufficient numbers of Americans want to buy. (b) Though the administration terms itself an equal-opportunity pressurer, it has hammered management for concessions far more than it has muscled the unions.

-- Notes Forbes' longtime automobile columnist Jerry Flint: "No matter what you hear about sacrifices, the union(s) won't give back anything real. Democratic administrations just don't pick the pockets of their union supporters." In fact (c) the administration is working to cloud the current transparency regarding how the nation's union leaders spend union dues. And (d) all this, while the president says he supports the expansion of for instance charter schools -- an expansion vehemently and vigorously opposed by . . . public-school teachers unions.

-- On Tax Day (April 15), President Obama said the federal tax code is too complex for mere earthlings to comprehend. He's right about that one. He has tasked Paul Volcker, chairman of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, to produce tax-simplification recommendations by the end of the year. What do you suppose are the odds of Volcker recommending a flat tax -- with a corresponding two-line form? Line 1: Total income from all sources. Line 2: Enclose X percentage of that amount.

-- Meanwhile, regarding taxpayer receipts, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs intones: "The president overall wants to give the American people assurance that the government can use the money from them wisely." And: "He knows . . . that to continue to have (deficits, equaling the combined Bush eight-year deficit in Obama's first 20 months) expand year after year is unsustainable."

-- So he has ordered his Cabinet to trim their agency spending a combined total of $100 million -- or .0028 percent of his $3.6 trillion budget.


Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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