On enemies, friends, religion, normalcy, the 43 percent, etc.

Posted: Nov 27, 2003 12:00 AM

The going is getting tough in Iraq: two U.S. helicopters shot down and attacks on allied forces in what is turning out to be Saddam's counterattack. And the tough (the United States, Australians and Brits) are getting going. The United States has formed a covert commando force to hunt down Osama and Saddam, and its success would do more than anything to end the assaults on the forces and outposts of freedom. Get Saddam.

The rest - notably some of the continental Europeans - are going wobbly and weak in the knees. Yet what sorts of allies can those Europeans really be? In an Eurobarometer poll last month 7,500 respondents listed Israel as the world's top threat to peace; the United States tied for second (with North Korea and Iran). The Turks wanted to put troops into Iraq, but the Iraqi leadership said no. The Turks and our friends the Saudis have now suffered two major bombings apiece. The Saudi leadership is stunned - stunned - that terrorist Muslims could be so mean as to target one of their benefactors. Maybe those bombings, lamentable as they are, will move Saudi (and Turk) opinion into the real world.

In a church ravaged by priestly sexual abuse, Catholic bishops have just signified against homosexual marriage - citing the damage it does. Says the bishop who chaired the committee that drafted the statement: "Both the state and the church can regulate marriage, but they can't change its definition. It's the basic unit of society, and we've become very cavalier about it."

As the U.S. Episcopal Church has - by sanctioning the blessing of homosexual "civil unions" in certain dioceses, and by ratifying the consecration of an avowedly homosexual bishop. Regarding the latter, the Archbishop of Canterbury - asked whether he thinks the U.S. bishop should have been consecrated - responded, "No, I don't," adding, "Undoubtedly there is a huge crisis looming." His predecessor at Canterbury terms the consecration an ecumenical scandal and says: "I can only share the principled distress of the primates of the Global South and others who have expressed themselves so strongly. ... The damage done (by the consecration) to ecumenical relations, interfaith dialogue and the mission of the worldwide church is incalculable."

Seeking to demonstrate his difference in the Democratic crowd, Wesley Clark has declared himself in support of a proposed constitutional amendment proscribing desecration of the American flag - and why not? Yet he still musters just 10 percent support among Democrats. That puts him second among the Democratic wannabes and would-bes.

Who's first? But of course: A Quinnipiac University poll finds 43 percent of Democrats nationwide saying they want their 2004 presidential nominee to be ... Hillary Clinton.

From three fronts in Your Friendly Federal Government: (1) Congressional Republicans have formulated a prescription-drug compromise for those on Medicare, and Democrats tried to kill it because in certain areas it will put Medicare in competition with private insurance plans. They want the taxpayers to bear the full load of this projected burden, too.

(2) On taxes, the White House is drawing up proposals (a) to lift the income caps for participation in Roth IRAs, and (b) to raise from $3,000 to $15,000 the maximum annual amount stashable in a Roth.

(3) On judges, the Republican Senate majority sought to break the minority hold on key nominees to the federal bench. The refusal of the Democrats to allow floor votes on those nominees ranks high among the most unconscionable things the Democratic left has done.

So heavy is America (two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese), and with so many trying to lose weight (half of men and two-thirds of women, who thereby fuel the $37-billion annual weight-loss industry), lofty thinkers are weighing in. According to one news report: "The rising number of Americans who are seriously overweight has triggered intense debate among scientists, advocacy groups, federal agencies, insurance companies and drug makers about whether obesity should be declared a 'disease.' "

Well, it could be. Yet declaring obesity a disease also could be yet another slip down the "no-fault" slope of irresponsibility. First they relabeled getting hooked on drinking too much of the wrong things (alcoholism) a disease; now they're likely to re-label eating too much of the wrong things. Oh, and people smoke because they are victims of tobacco-company plots, or something. Key denominations are repealing the notion of sin. Why not have American society just accept obesity - along with everything else people can't stop themselves from doing - as normal?