On booze, tv, Russia, China, and California dim bu

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Mar 07, 2001 12:00 AM
Checking out the scenery.... Has anybody seen Sacagawea? The Library of Congress has put George Washington's diaries on the Internet. Perhaps one of these days Congress will restore to the calendar the "Washington's Birthday" holiday now widely supplanted by "Presidents Day." The latter has no congressional mandate. A diligent Congress, demonstrating proper respect for "the father of our country," will bring "Washington's Birthday" back. The latest textbooks for use by first- through sixth-graders in Palestinian schools - the first textbooks written by and for Palestinians - do not show Israel on their maps. So it is not illogical to suggest that the Palestinians are seeking concessions from an entity - a nation, the state of Israel - they pretend does not exist. If Ehud Barak, or Bibi Netanyahu, or Ariel Sharon had appeared in public toting a gun - let alone something on the order of a super-duper high-caliber hand-held machine blaster - as Yasser Arafat did recently, then all the proper opinionists would have howled him and the people he represents right off this ever-loving planet. Not long ago, about two dozen private-school students in Alexandria, Va., were arrested for possession of alcohol at a huge unchaperoned party. According to The Washington Post, "Police counted 25 cases of beer and ran out of breath analysis test kits after they had administered 100. As many as 200 teen-agers attended the party. ... Among those charged was the 15-year-old boy who lives in the home" where the party was held. The quote from Apollo 13 comes to mind: Regarding widespread underage drinking, "Houston, we have a problem." Russia note - from reporter Sharon LaFraniere in The Washington Post, about conditions in Russia's bare-bones Primorye region seven time zones east of Moscow, where the schools have no heat: "In a country blessed with one of the world's biggest oil and gas reserves, Primorye residents have suffered from severe fuel shortages for four years in a row, victims of what critics call staggering mismanagement and corruption in the administration of the region's governor." China note - from Post reporter Philip Pan, on what government authorities are doing to churches in, for instance, the village of Zhong on China's southeastern coast: "A few weeks ago, a group of Communist Party and government officials showed up and declared (a Christian) church illegal because it operated outside the control of China's state-run religious organizations. They seized the congregation's organ and audio system and then, as police stood guard, started swinging sledgehammers, stopping only after the building was flattened." The same television enterprise that gave us the dreadful "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire" (Fox), is offering "Temptation Island." The newbie features four unmarried but "seriously committed" couples; 26 luscious singles are testing the four couples' commitment - if you get the drift. Says an outraged Rabbi Kenneth Roseman of Dallas: "We have a divorce rate in this country that runs around 50 percent. Should we be complacent about a program that says it is sport to see how far we can go to break up relationships?" Aren't you glad (again) you don't live under California's dim-bulb regime, which evidently doesn't know that price controls - a key element turning out the lights there - haven't worked since first formalized in the Code of Hammurabi 4,000 years ago? You'd think that if senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein really wanted the Bush administration to help out a California deep in its self-made energy mess, they wouldn't have ripped John Ashcroft and voted against his confirmation for attorney general. Maybe it's a California in-your-face thing, or something. ... And speaking of Ashcroft, eight Democrats voted with all 50 Republicans to confirm, and the result was termed "largely partisan." Yet two years ago, when nine Republicans joined 44 Democrats to acquit an impeached President Clinton on the perjury charge, the result was broadly termed - more generously - "bipartisan." Why aren't Democrats for Ashcroft's confirmation equally as bipartisan as Republicans for Clinton's acquittal? Claudette Colbert (as Gerry Jeffers) in the 1942 movie, "The Palm Beach Story": "Don't you know that the greatest men in the world have told lies and let things be misunderstood if it was useful to them? Didn't you ever hear of a campaign promise?"