''A nine-year-old girl was shot in the head early yesterday in Brooklyn when a bullet the police said was fired by a man shooting wildly at an old enemy crashed into the car where she lay asleep, waiting to be carried to bed after a day at an amusement park.''
-- New York Times, July 23 ''A one-year-old girl was critically wounded yesterday after her father was shot dead by a mystery gunman, sending the family auto careening wildly for two blocks in Brooklyn.''
-- New York Daily News, July 25 ''A teenager who had danced on Broadway was killed in the Bronx early Tuesday morning when a sniper with a machine gun fired on his car and riddled it with bullets. The shots came from an apartment-building roof where young drug-gang members regularly shoot their weapons for thrills, the police said yesterday.''
-- New York Times, July 26 ''A three-year-old Brooklyn boy was killed yesterday when gunmen fired more than 18 rounds from semi-automatic pistols through a steel-covered door as he slept in his family apartment.''
-- New York Times, July 27 ''A 10-month-old boy standing in his walker was shot to death yesterday by a gunman who fired repeatedly through the door of the boy's grandmother's apartment on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, the police said.''
-- New York Times, July 31 ''Don't worry, be happy.''
-- Bush campaign song and theme Pardon me, Mr. President, but many Americans are having a hard time getting with the program. Five children became random victims in one city in nine days. That's a record that would shock Ulster, maybe even Beirut. Two years ago this month, accepting your nomination in New Orleans, you mentioned a thousand points of light. Muzzle flashes?
The day the 1-year-old was shot, the president was in Manhattan in the Waldorf Astoria, in the presence of a thousand or so points of light (contributors), throwing down the gauntlet to the forces of darkness (Democrats): ''Republicans want to allow the women of this state to be able to defend themselves with Mace, and liberal Democrats don't.''
New York's Assembly, controlled by Democrats, killed a bill that would have legalized Mace devices. It is utopian to think that women, or men, could be safe venturing forth, from behind their triple-deadbolt locked doors, without a chemical-warfare capability.
Of course infants are not safe behind steel-covered doors, so powerful is the ordnance that perforated the apartment door behind which the 3-year-old died while curled up asleep on a sofa with his 15-year-old sister. The apartment is in the Walt Whitman Houses.
I hear American bullets singing.
The 1-year-old, shot when her father was, died two days later in the hospital where, one day earlier, the body of the 9-year-old was being prepared for the morgue. The 1-year-old's father had been driving to court for sentencing. On a firearms charge.
The Times says the death of the dancer, 18, ''came as no surprise'' to residents of the building from which the fusillade came. ''They nightly hear the jackhammer rattle of automatic gunfire from their roof.'' He was driving a car bought with money he earned dancing in ''The Tap Dance Kid.''
His father had planned to move the family to North Carolina this week to escape the urban mayhem that in recent months has claimed a 5-year-old hit in the head while sleeping by a stray bullet fired by his mother's former boyfriend and a 10-year-old killed by stray bullets in a store when an argument between a customer and the owner erupted in gunfire.
But there is good news from New York. A 2-year-old sitting on a window ledge survived a wound from a stray bullet fired in a fight in the building's courtyard. A 13-year-old survived the five wounds he received in the chest and abdomen when, walking to a store, he was caught in a shootout.
Last week, America's patience snapped. With a single voice the nation thundered, ''Intolerable!'' What was intolerable? The random slaughter of children? No, Roseanne Barr's rendition of ''The Star-Spangled Banner.'' The president weighed in, wasn't pleased.
Barr is a star and a slob. She is a star because the country has a robust appetite for slob television, the theme of which is: crude is cute. Up to a point. There are limits.
Of course the national anthem is hard to sing, even when you are trying, as Barr was not, to do it right. That is why some people want to replace it with ''America the Beautiful.'' Trouble is, one verse of it says about America the Beautiful:
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears! Not now they don't, and they aren't.