Pulling weeds in the landscape of issues....
It is hard to believe that (1) a book by brass-tacks hard-rightie Ann Coulter has been the country's No. 1 best-seller (must be part of the phenomenon - had you noticed? - that leftie radio talk shows rarely cut it); (2) given the stock market decline, Republicans now are dropping the word privatization from Social Security salvage efforts; and (3) in the new age of sensitivity at the U.S. Naval Academy, the commandant has ordered "kill" removed from plebes' vocabulary.
Maybe that is part of a Pentagon philosophy that resulted in a Sept. 6 order to special operations troops in the field to drop the wearing of local garb and to shave their beards. As various distressed D.C. lobbies have urged on the military for six months, now it's uniforms and smooth faces - and this in a country such as Afghanistan where beards are signs of maturity and wisdom. The question is why the order from big brass? An angry spec ops officer there, noting, "The guys are really burning on this," added: "In this culture, men respect men who have the ability to grow facial hair, and the longer the better." And in spec ops, it often advantages troops to blend in with the local populace - and not to stand out as the warriors they are, practically in business for themselves.
And speaking of warriors, why does the Navy delay in declaring Scott Speicher a prisoner of war? An F-18 pilot downed on the opening night of the Gulf War in January 1991, Lieutenant Commander Speicher may still languish in Iraqi hands. Recent intelligence suggests it. President Bush referred to Speicher in his speeches about Iraq last week. What better time than now, as the nation gears up to remove Saddam, to make an issue of him - and to reclassify him as a living breathing POW?
Regarding Iraq, the Democrats are all aflutter. Many are distressed - angry, even - at the prospect of having to declare themselves on removing Saddam before the mid-term congressional elections. How dare President Bush, with his overwhelming popularity, hold Democrats' feet to the fire as to whether to liberate Iraq (don't Democrats' regard theirs as the party of liberation?) and destroy his weapons threatening mankind.
It's hardly surprising that the big-four mainline Protestant denominations - those with clergies imbued with leftism - are continuing to hemorrhage parishioners from the pews. Data from the 2000 Census, contrasting numbers of adherents in 1990 and 2000, showed these numbers nationwide: Presbyterians (down 11.6 percent), Methodists (down 6.7 percent), Episcopalians (down 5.3 percent), and Lutherans (down 3.2 percent). If they didn't stay home, Protestant parishioners weary of undiluted liberalism from the pulpit went to Pentecostal or evangelical churches - or to the golf course. Jewish affiliation increased slightly, as did Catholic affiliation - big time, but the Census came before the surfacing of the sexual abuse riddling the Catholic priesthood and roiling the laity.
Maybe the principal reason many contemporary public schools cannot discipline students is that parents don't cooperate. Parents complain when teachers dare to discipline their children - go to the principal, threaten to sue. Now similar things are happening regarding school uniforms - helpful in promoting discipline, maintaining order, cutting fashion competition, and reducing the cost of clothes. Numerous schools and school divisions adopted them in the '90s. Now parents, perhaps following the pleas of their young, are refusing to go along. Unable to enforce uniform policies, many schools are giving up on uniforms - as, without the support of parents, they are giving up on so much else.
With Sweet Sue, Sacagawea is down and probably out. The ugly Susan B. Anthony dollar coin flopped. The beautiful Sacagawea dollar coin is following suit. The latter is involved in just 1 percent of dollar transactions. After a $67-million campaign to promote its use, the U.S. Mint has stopped circulating it. What happened? Congress prohibited cancellation of the dollar bill - thereby sealing Sacagawea's fate. Few examples exist anywhere of a coin and bill of equal denomination equally coexisting.
Dubious notes: (a) There's a move afoot in Moscow to return to its pedestal in Lubyanka (Prison) Square outside the headquarters of the KGB, a statue of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police. Russians rejoicing in the collapse of Communism tore down the statue in 1991. (b) A Senate bill would end a two-year-old ban on city taxpayer support for drug needle exchange programs in D.C. And (c) Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, seeking Maryland's governorship, is trying to boost her sagging campaign with the great bane deplored by liberals everywhere, negative campaign ads. Negative ads are widely ripped when run by Republicans, but evidently not when they are prepared by the likes of Democratic negative campaign artist Bob Shrum and run by a Kennedy - as is the case in Maryland now.