FUBAR

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.

Anyone here feel a draft?

The chatter has begun again: Plans are afoot to revive the national military draft.

In the past, these rumors have risen from the ranks of those opposed to the war in Iraq, who used the specter of the draft to gin up support for their side.

Now, it’s some of those who are doing the fighting who are asking if a draft might be necessary, given the enormous strain the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are putting on the nation’s troops.

Too much of a bad thing

My freshman composition students often express contradictory attitudes about violence in our culture.

On one hand, they’re attracted to violence as the subject of essays for our course. In general, they deplore its proliferation throughout society, in video games and movies, on television and the Internet. Sometimes they connect violence in the media to higher crime rates, school shootings and the general decline of Western Civilization.

Americans want change in direction

Sixty percent of all Americans strongly want the country to change direction after nearly seven years of President George W. Bush’s rule, according to a new opinion poll released late Sunday.

The survey by The Washington Post and ABC News indicated that only 24 percent of those surveyed think the nation is on the right track, and three-quarters said they want the next president to chart a different political course.

A new direction is wanted not only by Democrats, but also by three-quarters of Independents and even half of Republicans, according to the poll.