On the big dig, Dan Rather, Kinsey, Marines, the campus dearth, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Nov 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Let's see: Arlen Specter pledging in writing to behave, athletes amateur and pro trashing one another for all to see, President Bush rescuing his security detail, Palestinians mourning the late Joyful Jihadist as he romps with all those Heavenly virgins.Herewith comments direct or implied on other topical items. . .

Oh, to be a Bostonian and a rapturous beneficiary of the Big Dig - at $14.6 billion, the nation's most ambitious public works project. It's primarily a tunnel (named for baseball great Ted Williams) running sometimes 110 feet under Boston's inner harbor. Motorists and everyone else are learning the thing has 1,000 cracks that in the past year have allowed 26 million gallons of water to leak in. The situation is so serious that John McCain may convene a meeting of his Commerce Committee next week to determine whether a few splendid splinters might close the breaches in the publicly funded tunnel's walls.

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In March, Dan Rather will relinquish his post as principal newsreader at CBS. His impending departure, of course, has nothing to do with the bogus "memos" he aired last summer purporting unsat performance by George Bush during his years in the Texas Air National Guard. A report on what happened regarding the memos may be imminent, and Rather has said he probably shouldn't have rushed onto the air with the things without additional checking as to their veracity. But this question remains: Will he leave the field without a direct apology to President Bush?

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First, this year, it was Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," followed by Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." Comes now the year's third culturally divisive flick, "Kinsey" - about sexologist Albert Kinsey, one of the early popularizers of "If it feels good, do it!" Notes Judith Reisman, author of the 1990 book "Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People": The consequences of the dubious Kinsey's "sexual adventurism include AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, child sexual abuse, incest, and pornography." The movie may make him out to be just another guy with - you know - an excess of passion.

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From a letter home written by a Marine in Fallujah - about an incident lasting less than 30 seconds: "His name is Cpl. Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared an apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Cpl. Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl. Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine."

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The year's most unsurprising headline - in The New York Times, Nov. 18: "Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find." The Daily Tar Heel reported last month that students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill couldn't find a campus prof to represent the Republican side in a debate about domestic and foreign-policy questions, so they had to import one from Duke. Said Duke poly sci prof Peter Feaver about the Chapel Hill campus dearth: "It's a sad commentary on higher education." As is The Times headline.

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The final tally of daily newspaper endorsements in the presidential election, as compiled by the industry magazine Editor & Publisher: 213 newspapers with 20.9 million in circulation for Kerry, and 205 newspapers with 15.7 million in circulation for Bush.

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Investor's Business Daily, one of the best newspapers in the business, recently compiled a "U.S. Economic Freedom Index" and displayed the data on a map, with this notation: "Tax rates, regulatory burden, occupational licensing, and many other variables on the state level provide a clear picture of economic freedom. Rankings tended to follow the pattern of voting in the presidential election." The similar alignments of the maps are astounding and - again - not surprising: The freest tended to go for Bush, the least free for Kerry.

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Kerry is back. No more the man of compassion citing "the desperate need for unity and finding the common ground, coming together" - a la his concession remarks - he is tracking after Al Gore in terms of peevish resentment and bitter partisanship. In an e-mail to about 3 million Internet supporters, Kerry has unlimbered his loudest guns on the rhetorical ramparts: "Despite the words of cooperation and moderate-sounding promises, this administration is planning a right-wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply."

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Bush's Cabinet, Kerry said, is being remade "to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world. . . . This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles. It is a time to stand firm."

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This latest demonstration of an evident Kerry mean streak is enough to lead one to question the wisdom of the famous Lord Halifax line: "It is a general mistake to think the men we like are good for everything, and those we do not, good for nothing."