Visiting New York this weekend allowed me to read the Sunday New York Times in its native form, ink on paper, something I rarely do. So I was able to see, on page 21, a story I might not have found on-line: "Welcome to our town, or maybe not." Apparently, residents of Kanab, Utah, are up-in-arms about little "Everyone's Welcome" stickers that shops display:
...which sounds pretty tame until you get to the little rainbow-colored people beneath the text.
Are those little people gay?
Terril Honey, for one, is convinced that they are. "The rainbow colors are their symbol," said Mr. Honey, a member of the City Council and owner of Honey's Jubilee, a grocery store.
At first I thought it was a satire: I mean, some dude named Honey is afraid people will think he likes dudes because he put a welcome sticker in his store window. Oh, Honey, stay out of Wrigleyville and you'll be just fine.
Near the end of the article one resident neatly sums up the entire "gay" debate in this country, demonstrating the collision between our "core" values and our core values:
Kortney Stirland, a pharmacist who describes himself as a conservative Republican and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, displays the sticker and opposes the natural family resolution, which he has twice asked the council to rescind. He says he has also been offended by people in the community who have told him that a person cannot oppose the resolution, as he does, and still believe in traditional values.
"Originally it was a religious issue, then it became a gay and lesbian issue, but for me now, it's economic," Mr. Stirland said.
My prediction: In ten years, Kanab will be fabulous!
A lady opened her refrigerator and saw a rabbit sitting on one of the shelves. "What are you doing in there?" she asked.
The rabbit replied, "This is a Westinghouse, isn't it?"
"Why, yes," replied the lady.
"Well," the rabbit said, "I'm westing."
The National Hurricane Center just released a bulletin about the first tropical depression of the year, now developing off the Western coast of Cuba. This would be an exhibition game, I suppose, since the regular season isn't supposed to start until June 1st...
(No link yet; apparently NOAA's Web guys are still hibernating.
The House narrowly passed a GOP-drafted ethics bill, 213 to 207:
The bill would require lobbyists to file quarterly instead of semiannual disclosures, and to include in those reports the donations they give to federal candidates and political action committees. Lobbyists would also have to make public the value of any gift that they give to lawmakers or congressional aides. In addition, appropriations bills would have to list any earmarks that they contain, as well as the sponsors of those projects. Ethics training would become mandatory for House employees under the legislation.
...[Christopher Shays (R-CT)] called the bill "pathetic." On the House floor, he added: "We're losing our moral authority to lead this place."
If by "we" he meant the Republican Party, then he's late to the game, as I'm pretty sure the Republicans lost whatever moral authority they had long before Mitch Wade opened a brothel for GOP Congressmen.
Andy Borowitz reports on a new revenue model for airlines:
Struggling with rising fuel costs and sagging profits, several leading airlines announced today that they would attempt to boost their revenues by stowing passengers in their aircrafts’ overhead bins.
After Airbus announced earlier this week that it was toying with the idea of introducing standing room areas for passengers in the rear of their planes, the airlines decided that the time was right to pitch the idea of stowing passengers in a part of the plane that has customarily been reserved for carry-on luggage.
Jokes aside, I figured out why overhead space is so dear on airplanes (remember I deal with this every week). Simply, the airlines encourage carry-on baggage because it frees up space in the hold. Even with a full passenger load, transport-category airplanes have lots of capacity for cargo, which earns significantly more revenue per kilo than passengers do.
So I'll keep running on the elite-status hamster wheel to ensure that, when I fly, I can at least find a spot for my tiny carry-on bags.
Paul Krugman (sub.req.) offers a hypothesis about the Administration's hiring policies:
The U.S. government is being stalked by an invisible bandit, the Crony Fairy, who visits key agencies by dead of night, snatches away qualified people and replaces them with unqualified political appointees. There's no way to catch or stop the Crony Fairy, so our only hope is to change the agencies' names. That way she might get confused, and leave our government able to function.
That, at least, is how I interpret the report on responses to Hurricane Katrina that was just released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
The report points out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency "had been operating at a more than 15 percent staff-vacancy rate for over a year before Katrina struck"—that means many of the people who knew what they were doing had left. And it adds that "FEMA's senior political appointees...had little or no prior relevant emergency-management experience."
Does anyone think Gore would have let this happen? Anyone at all?
Well, this is interesting. Ten states and two cities today filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency seeking enforcement of the Clean Air Act to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions:
The states, led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [quel surprise—ed.], want the government to require tighter pollution controls on the newest generation of power plants.
In July 2005, a three-judge panel in the same court upheld the EPA's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act. The agency argues the law does not authorize them to regulate emissions to reduce global warming, and maintains there is not enough scientific data to support such a move.
Not enough data? Tell that to Kiribati and Nunavut.
(Found first on Dr. Heidi Cullen's blog at weather.com
With only 999 days (or fewer) left in his term, President Bush has scored his 9th consecutive month of under-40 approval ratings, and his lowest-ever rating in the NBC/WSJ poll, "a feat exceeded only by Richard Nixon (13 months) and Harry Truman (26 months)."
[But] with the midterm elections just six months away, the biggest drop in the survey—11 points in one month—is in the approval rating of Congress, which is locked in a bitter debate over what do about these gas prices, immigration, Iraq and a host of other issues.
In the poll—which was taken April 21-24 of 1,005 adults, and which has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points—just 24 percent believe the nation is headed in the right direction, a drop of two points since last month and seven points since January. What's more, only 17 percent think the nation’s economy will improve in the next 12 months, a decline of seven points since March.
MSNBC also has detailed poll results available.
Election day is just 194 days away.
Since I just discussed an article about criticizing Israel, I thought a Jewish joke would be appropriate as a follow-up. Note I said "Jewish" and not "anti-Semitic;" if you're looking for that kind of thing, let me tell you where to go.
Four Jewish Sons
Four Jewish brothers left home for college, became doctors and prospered. Some years later, chatting after a Chanukah dinner, they discussed the gifts that they were able to give to their elderly mother.
The first said, "I had a big house built for Mama."
The second said, "I had a hundred thousand dollar theater built in the house."
The third said, "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver her an SL600 with a chauffeur."
The fourth said, "Listen to this. You know how Mama loves reading the Torah and you know she can't see very well. I sent her a parrot that can recite the entire Torah. It took twenty rabbis 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the temple, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it."
Soon thereafter, Mom sent out her Thank You notes. She wrote: "Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks so much."
"Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home, I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes...and the driver is a Nazi. A million thanks."
"Menachim, you give me a theater with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. Thanks anyway."
"Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. Such a delicious chicken."
Molly Ivins' column published in today's Chicago Tribune raises some good questions about why we can't ask good questions about our policies toward Israel:
For having the sheer effrontery to point out the painfully obvious—that there is an Israel lobby in the United States—[researchers] have been accused of being anti-Semitic, nutty and guilty of "kooky academic work." Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who seems to be easily upset, went totally ballistic over the mild, academic, not to suggest pretty boring, article by Mearsheimer and Walt, calling them "liars" and "bigots."
Of course there is an Israel lobby in America; its leading working group is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It calls itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," and it attempts to influence U.S. legislation and policy.
As she points out, Israelis are pretty harsh critics of their own government (and ours); why can't Americans criticize the Israeli government, too?