The Bush administration continues its efforts, in the president's marvelously sardonic reminiscence, "to give peace a chance" - even as it persists in seeking to help the United Nations save itself from total irrelevance.
Key mainline Protestant clergy are competing with the United Nations for irrelevance via their unrelenting preachments about the illegality and immorality of stopping Saddam now. Key Catholic clergy, both here and (now) in Rome, resist taking the steps necessary to reinvigorate a laity in failing faith - steps such as (a) calling the cops when priests mess with the children and at least (b) dropping the guilty from the payrolls. One would think the churches would get the message about the extent to which idiot actions, such as these, help empty the pews.
Diagnosed with lung cancer in April, historian Stephen Ambrose died last month. That bad news prompted him to drop his other projects and write an autobiographical book about his lifelong transition from a yahoo leftie to a vigorous waver of the flag. Initially titled "A Love Song to America," the book has been renamed "To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian" and will be out by year's end. Might make a nice gift.
Environmentalists speak increasingly of blowing the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, which forms the vast and luminous Lake Powell. Now they're talking about blowing the O'Shaughnessy Dam on the Tuolumne River, which forms the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir - the water source for, principally, San Francisco. On this one the San Fran boys and girls - normally ever so environmentally sensitive - are suggesting, for the Hetch Hetchy crowd, cold showers.
And if the politico-enviros are divided on that one, they're divided on the administration's wildfire-suppression plan, too. Western voters want no repeats of the past summer's voracious forest fires. As a remedy the Bush administration has proposed selective logging in national forests. Certain Democrats who also want fewer forest fires, and see the need for suspension of key laws and judicial review processes affecting contested logging projects, are infuriating enviro lobbies crucial to traditional Democratic voter bases. How frequently that happens - life in the middle of both parties rendered unnecessarily difficult by wackos on the extremes.
What was a big reason - maybe the biggest - for returning a Republican Senate majority? Assuring continued moderation in the federal courts. Senate lefties on the Judiciary Committee, notably Vermont's Chairman Patrick Leahy, killed for reasons of purest ideology conservative and moderate nominees. After a Leahy promise to vote on the nomination of Federal District Judge Dennis Shedd to the appellate bench, Leahy reneged. That prompted Strom Thurmond, with 48 years in the Senate and at 99 the oldest senator ever, to rip Leahy for his behavior unbecoming a senator. Said Thurmond, Shedd's principal advocate: "I have never been treated in such a manner ... and am (deeply angered) by this egregious act of destructive politics."
Well, so much for the Miss America contest as a promoter of wholesome young womanhood. It seems the incumbent titleholder, Erika Harold - a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Illinois - has encountered resistant pressures from pageant officials in her efforts to promote chastity. It's her "platform," and all contestants these days are supposed to have one. Yet, instead of signifying for sexual abstinence, tetchy pageant people evidently think it more politically correct for this Miss America - of black and Native-American ancestry - to concentrate on prevention of youth violence. All together now: MS. America!
At last the secretary of the Navy has reclassified F/A-18 pilot Scott Speicher from MIA to missing/captured. Shot down on the opening night of the 1991 Gulf War, Captain Speicher long has been rumored to be held by Iraq. Many believe him still alive - yet another reason to turn the place inside out, and bring him home.
Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in part for his primary foreign-policy achievement, the Camp David Accords - wherein historic enemies Egypt and Israel created a separate peace. But for how long? Egypt does little to discourage Palestinian violence against Israel. Two years ago "I Hate Israel" topped Egypt's pop charts; today goods marked "Made in Israel" can't be sold there. Still, Egypt receives $1.3 billion annually as a consequence of the Carter-brokered deal. Now, Carter says he would have voted against the congressional resolution authorizing military action to throttle Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. It's hard to know what the Peace Prize really means anymore, given that lately it has gone to Rigoberta Menchu, Nelson Mandela, Le Duc Tho and Yasser Arafat.
For their part, the incumbent Bushes are doing classier, couthier things than dissing past presidents and lugging around a bag of hammers. Former librarian Laura Bush is spreading the message "reading is cool" and reminding all in this television age about "the pure joy of the bookworm - the one who sits in a quiet corner and focuses on just one thing, devouring a story or argument or idea unfolding on the written page."
And President Bush routinely promotes the reinvigoration of history and civics in the schools. "American children are not born knowing what they should cherish - are not born knowing why they should cherish American values. A love of democratic principles must be taught." Right as rain he is. But what is the likelihood of a Nobel Prize in this president's future - along with those for Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy from Plains?