FUBAR

Can Michael Vick redeem himself?

A couple of days ago, a dear friend sent me an email about Michael Vick. This sweet, kind, gentle grandmother said that Vick should be hung up by his…well, let’s just say “toes.”

Columnists and talk show hosts have attacked Vick with adjectives like “repugnant,” “reprehensible,” and “despicable.” And an internet search for “Michael Vick” plus nearly any imaginable epithet produces many thousands of hits, including 178,000 for a mild one like “jerk.”

Some unpopular truths about poverty

The poverty rate in America has declined, not a lot, but some, and for the first time in 10 years, which is very, very good news. The even better news — hard to glean from headlines — is that poverty in America is not what it used to be.

A glaring failure called New Orleans

There are those who say that New Orleans is a lost cause and that whole districts that lie below sea level should never be rehabilitated, that the chances of it happening all over again are just too great and that trying to hold back the waters is an expense not worth the risk.

Cracking down on cruising for sex

U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s arrest at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is putting a new focus on efforts by authorities to curtail cruising for sex in public places.

On Wednesday, police said the Idaho Republican was one of 41 people arrested since May at the airport on allegations of illegal sexual activity in public restrooms.

While it’s not clear if the Internet played a role in Craig’s case, Web discussions have become a common forum for directing people to hot spots for anonymous gay sex.

Progress? What progress?

President George W. Bush’s ill-conceived Iraq war has become a failure on so many fronts that it is hard to keep track.

A new report by the General Accounting Office finds Iraq has failed to meet 15 of the 18 congressionally-mandated benchmarks and casts doubt on the accuracy of White House claims of more progress.

Media overreaction to bad economic news

One year after the end of the boom market in housing, the New York Times reports we’re getting the first ever, official indication of a decline in the median price of American homes.

Iraq on the installment plan

President Bush is about to ask Congress for another $50 billion to keep fighting the war in Iraq. He is betting — almost certainly correctly — that the Democrats will give him a rough time over the money, probably try to attach timetables for withdrawal to the bill and ultimately give in and pass it.

A year later, anger and sadness

On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, anger over the stalled rebuilding was palpable throughout a city where the mourning for the dead and feeling of loss for flooded homes, schools, snow cone stands, old-time hairstylists and hardware stores doesn’t seem to subside.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall south of New Orleans at 6:10 a.m. Aug. 29, 2005, as a strong Category 3 hurricane that flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When all else fails, try bribery

Nearly all new US Army recruits are receiving a special 20,000-dollar bonus, an official said Monday, amid debate over whether the Pentagon is eroding standards to shore up its stretched ranks.

Out of 6,611 people who enlisted in the Army between the bonus program’s start on July 25 and August 24, a total of 6,264 or 94.8 percent are getting the hefty payout.

In return, the raw recruits must agree to start basic training within 30 days, much quicker than normal Army timelines.

Vick is sick. So is PETA

The Michael Vick dogfighting scandal is morphing into a broader NFL dogfighting scandal, as other NFL players also appear to be involved in this very weird pastime.

But as animal-rights groups get more aggressive in their accusations and demands, the whole scene is getting stranger and stranger. And the closer you look, the more you see the deep conflicts in core values that fracture our society.