On items astounding, discomforting, reassuring and bizarre

Posted: Jun 01, 2003 12:00 AM

Very brief comments, direct or implied, on news items astounding, discomforting, reassuring or bizarre:

  • So, despite what the "cognoscenti" predicted, we now have a $350 billion tax cut. The question, given President Bush's description of an earlier version for somewhat more in tax reductions as "little bitty," is whether this one will prove sufficient to help turn the economy around. 

  • Women, like golfer Annika Sorenstam, in men's sports? The answer is no different from women in traditionally men's schools - such as VMI and the service academies: For those women who can meet the physical standards set for men, why not?

  • O-kay: 20 percent of teenagers are having sexual intercourse before they are 15. 

  • White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is leaving his post in exchange for (the best reason) "a quieter life."

  • Not only have the North Koreans (a) restarted their nuclear reactor at Yongbyon (a pregnant target for a demonstration drop of an American smart bomb), they recently have threateningly (b) locked lasers on two U.S. Apache helicopters patrolling the DMZ.

  • For all those who ripped the U.S. military for its allegedly lackadaisical ways regarding the pilfering and/or destruction of Iraqi museum relics, this lead sentence from an Associated Press dispatch: "Thousands of antiquities once believed to have been looted from the Iraq National Museum have been found." And: "It's now clear some early estimates of 170,000 pieces looted was a great exaggeration." About 50,000 pieces have been located.

  • And speaking of Iraq: Let us note that (a) vast mass graves have been found, as well as (b) truck-trailers likely used for the manufacture and secreting of biochemical weapons, testifying to (c) the malignity of the Saddamite regime.

  • From American feminists why aren't we hearing - indeed before the war why didn't we hear - more about the liberation from Islamist and Saddamite servitude of Iraqi women?

  • Next April, Texaco (now Chevron Texaco) will stop sponsoring live Saturday-afternoon radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. So, alas, after 73 years, the Texaco fat lady finally will sing, marking the end to the longest continuous commercial sponsorship in broadcast history.

  • Some evangelical leaders of a movement consisting of nearly 50,000 U.S. congregations are calling on other evangelicals to seek reconciliation with Islam and to temper their rhetoric about the religion, notably that it is inherently violent and hateful of unbelievers. Yes, indeed. Yet one leading evangelical - Alan F.H. Wisdom - notes that lately "there has been the tendency to put reconciliation above witness to the truth."

  • Intrepid New York health-department sleuths, on the prowl for violators of the city's new ban on indoor smoking at public places, have issued citations for violations at the high-end Hotel Pierre's Café Pierre and a Columbus Avenue burrito joint, Señor Swanky's - thereby instilling gratitude in everyone. 

  • Marion (Mimi) Fahnestock, now a New York City church administrator, has confirmed that President Kennedy dabbled with White House interns, too. She has acknowledged that for 17 months, beginning when she was a White House intern (and 19), she "was involved in a sexual relationship" with the great JFK.

  • And speaking of present and former Massachusetts senators with the initials JK, is Sen. John Kerry trying to don the Kennedy robes with comments such as his recent (in a speech advocating national service) "The real question we face is not what America can offer to us but what each of us owes to America" - or what?

  • Man-bites-dog headline: "Palestinians in Gaza Turn Anger on Militants."

  • In Denver, a coalition of out-of-touch lefties is suing to challenge a new Colorado law sanctioning vouchers for low-income minority students seeking to move out of sub-par public schools. Yet in D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams supports such vouchers, as do (in a recent national poll) a stunning 60 percent of African-American respondents.

  • How rich. J.K. Rowling, author of the four Harry Potter books (the fifth is due out next month), is estimated by London's Sunday Times to be worth $444 million, making her richer than Queen Elizabeth II.

  • For those illegals irritated that they do not receive in-state tuition reductions at state colleges, here's a solution: Become U.S. citizens.

  • Patricia Ireland, the new CEO at the national YWCA, insists it's crucial ("a question of integrity" and "an important part of our tradition") for the group to maintain Christian in its name. Some have charged she has violated Christian teaching by her past associations and her decision a decade ago to live with another woman while remaining married. "I'm not the head of a Christian organization," she said. "I'm the head of a social justice women's organization."

  • Question: Will stumbling Burger King, which long has marketed its burgers as "flame broiled," now sell more burgers following its decision to market them as "fire grilled"?