FUBAR

Bailout lag

Auto executives flew into Washington in private jets, and before long there was congressional stalemate on what they wanted, not just because of the unfortunate symbolism, but because widespread discussion had successfully blunted sharp assertions.

Despite what some contended, it became ever less certain that the $25 billion federal bailout sought by the executives would save the auto industry, that a declaration of bankruptcy would kill it or that industry demise would wound the country grievously.

What’s gone wrong with our language?

Meh. Feh. Heh. Wha …?

New words enter the language all the time, but not all of them warrant a mention in the dictionary. "Meh," say the word mavens at the Collins English Dictionary, means "an expression of indifference or boredom." The word’s inclusion in the dictionary, however, is anything but boring.

Meh is a pop culture creation — the word turned up in a 2001 episode of "The Simpsons" — that has exploded on the Internet. TV, text messaging, blogging, chat rooms and message boards are changing the way Americans read, speak and think.

Redefining religion

How well I remember a dear Roman Catholic friend of mine saying to me, "you evangelicals are so caught up in your ‘personal relationship with Christ’ that sometimes you forget it’s not all about you!"

I’m guessing Michael Horton would agree. He’s the author of the new book, "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church." (Baker books.) Horton, a professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California, has written a distinctive critique of the American church ( the protestant church is his focus, but he suggests says much of what he writes would apply to the Catholic church as well.).

A bailout here, a bailout there…

The midst of a recession is no time to let a major component of the manufacturing sector, one with a large workforce, go under. Thus the consensus in Washington seems to be that Detroit’s Big Three will get some kind of bailout. But there is an impasse over how best to do it.

The Bush administration and a number of congressional Republicans want to allow the automakers to divert a previously approved $25 billion loan program to tide them over until car sales pick up.

Attack of the food fascists

Last week I gave a talk before a local theatre’s production of Neil LaBute’s play "Fat Pig." The play revolves around a workplace romance between a conventionally attractive (read: slim) man and a fat woman.

In today’s society this plot represents an informal taboo vaguely similar to that explored 40 years ago in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, when the suave but very black Sidney Poitier shocked the very white Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn by showing up as their daughter’s dinner date.

My talk involved points I’ve made hundreds times over the past few years, to audiences ranging in size from a dozen high school students to a few million TV viewers.

Advice from the vampire expert

When I was kid, many TV shows and films at the cinema were Westerns, and to this day I cannot think of family entertainment without thinking of horses and cattle. Sometimes I moo just to get into a G-rated frame of mind.

These were fine shows featuring good, clean violence in between shots of cows and sagebrush. They were based on the premise that Americans looked back fondly on an era when shooting people was a popular pastime and did not involve the ACLU afterward.

Send Wall Street execs to Gitmo

Today we are piecing together two seemingly unrelated news stories that ran on successive days — because they will lead us to a solution for finally getting to the bottom of the financial crisis that has crippled our nation and the world.

The first story appeared on November 11. Just one day after the federal government announced its restructuring of the bailout of insurance carrier AIG (American International Group, Inc.), bringing our total rescue effort to of the insurance and financial services giant to $150 billion, ABC News’ crack investigative correspondent Brian Ross reported that executives of AIG held yet another executive retreat at yet another luxury resort.

Why Wal-Mart doesn’t need a bailout

While America’s auto manufacturers and other companies are begging Washington for bailouts, the liberal-derided Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is making money hand over fist, providing the nation with more jobs than any other employer and doing something else very, very positive: serving the poor.

Times are getting harder, people want cheap stuff, and the place they find it is at Wal-Mart, which boasted a 9.8 percent increase in earnings and a 7.5 percent increase in sales the third quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A big reward for screwing up

This could only happen in America.

The insurance giant AIG that is more than a little responsible for the current economic crisis reportedly has decided to lay out $503 million of early deferred compensation to top employees so they won’t abandon a ship that is being kept afloat only by billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars.

Race crimes rise after Obama’s election

Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting "Assassinate Obama." Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.

From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.