FUBAR

Farm bill riddled with fat, pork

A bloated, pork-filled farm bill is moving through the Senate, leaving a trail of manure that — like the bill that it dropped from — stinks to high heaven.

The excesses of this bill prove that when it comes to pork, the Democrats can lard on the fat the same as Republicans: Different party, same results.

Included in the $286 billion debacle are government programs to promote spending on handmade cheese, expensive repairs to historic barns and treatment programs for a form of farm stress disorder.

Taxpayer advocate groups call the bill too expensive. Conservatives call it too fat. Most just call it more pork from a Democratic leadership that promised to end such practices when they took over control of Congress.

Micromanagement of the poor

The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007 has passed out of Chairman Barney Frank’s House Financial Services Committee. It’s now headed to the full House for a vote. In the name of protecting the poor from market predators it will in actuality protect the poor from wealth.

Cocaine now the drug of choice

Cocaine has edged out methamphetamine as the principal drug threat to the United States. That’s the conclusion of the latest National Drug Threat Survey, which polled state and local law enforcement agencies for their assessment of the drug problem in their areas.

Authorities thought they were putting a big dent in the cocaine trade earlier this year, when 38 big drug “markets” in the United States reported cocaine shortages on the street. But as of last month, many now see a rebound in supplies, the National Drug Intelligence Center reports.

Some little-known Veteran’s Day tidbits

With Veterans Day approaching Sunday, it’s an opportunity to look back at a part of U.S. history that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

During World War II, German U-boats attacked U.S. and Allied commercial ships along our Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico with alarming regularity. The sacrifices made and the lessons learned should be a significant part of history classes in all of our schools.

Consumer confidence plunges

Consumer confidence plunged in early November to the lowest level since Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and sent oil prices soaring in 2005.

The RBC Cash Index showed consumer confidence fell to a reading of 64 this month, down sharply from an early October reading of 80.6, when consumer sentiment was on the upswing as the stock market stabilized temporarily following a turbulent August.

It’s OK to be fat

Doctors across the land probably sighed in despair when the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study came out, resigned to their patients saying, “So, the government says it’s OK to be fat.”

Well, sort of, maybe, yes.

A driver’s license by any other name

The give-and-take at the Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia last week finally looked as though the candidates might drill down to display their differences.

The buildup was there. Barack Obama had said the week before he was going to take off the gloves. Perhaps because NBC and MSNBC, with Drexel University, sponsored the event, those news people felt they had a certain license to egg on the candidates.

So much for the Constitution

Sandy Levinson has fallen out of love. The University of Texas law professor describes the history of a relationship gone bad in his book, “Our Undemocratic Constitution.”

Levinson, like Americans in general and lawyers in particular, was taught from an early age to revere the U.S. Constitution. As a legal academic, he spent much of his career studying what are considered the sexy issues in constitutional law: matters involving freedom of speech and religion, questions of racial discrimination, and so forth.

Writers on strike? Who cares?

Once, labor negotiations were seismic events in this country — steel, coal, autos. The country held its breath when the companies and unions sat down to bargain.

But recently, when the United Auto Workers settled with GM and Chrysler after brief strikes, and with Ford with no strike at all, few noticed. It commanded little press attention.

The irony of immigration reform

I dropped by a friend’s house the other day to do some sidewalk overseeing of the removal of two 70-foot oak trees, no small task. The company he had hired wasn’t one of those operations where they knock on one’s door and offer to get rid of deadwood for a few hundred dollars. It was a major, cherry picker, shredder-equipped outfit with a four-man crew neatly dressed in white logo shirts and green pants. They were all licensed and bonded.