Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Little bit of this, A little bit of that.

My Potomac News column from last thursday. The title (which was truncated in the online version) is taken from the song "Anatevka" from "The Fiddler on the Roof". It refers in this case to a column that covers a lot of ground.

I tried to be a little humorous as I touched briefly on a half-dozen stories from the past month, including Virgil, Ellison, dead birds, a horrid stench in New Jersey, Pelosi's first 100 hours, and a Toys R Us new baby promotion. This clears the way for my first serious column of the new year to be published tomorrow, about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A bit of this, a bit of that

Potomac News
Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's a new year, and there are new things to talk about. But sometimes you have to "clear your desk," so to speak, before you can get to work on the new stuff.

There's been a lot of interesting stories the past month. First, there were some major snowstorms out west. The storms shut down air travel several times over the holidays. Meanwhile, in our area people were out this weekend lounging by local pools in their swimsuits. I love winter, but given the choice between being buried under five feet of snow or playing a round of golf in January, I have to vote for global warming. Especially if it means I might have beachfront property before the end of the century.

On Monday, a horrible stench engulfed much of New York City, and parts of New Jersey. Nobody knows where it came from, or how they could tell the difference. Fears of terrorism were dispelled by Mayor Bloomberg, and things have now "settled" back to normal. I'll say this -- if we are going to have a terrorist attack, I think this is the kind of attack I'd vote for, so long as I wasn't lounging around the pool in my bathing suit at the time.

Also on Monday, a number of city birds fell dead across a 10-block section of Austin, Texas. There was speculation of a connection between the bird deaths and the New York smell-a-thon, but that has been dismissed, although no cause has been determined. Then on Tuesday a large number of birds fell dead in Australia. This sounds suspiciously like the plot to one of my favorite science fiction movies, "The Core," but I've been told there is no indication of a collapse of the earth's magnetic field.

Snowstorms, heat waves, bird deaths, strange smells -- in the spirit of the new political alignment in Washington, let me be the first to say, it's Nancy Pelosi's fault. OK, I got that out of my system.

Speaking of Pelosi, I believe we are in hour 130 of the first 100 hours. The Democrats' plan to work 5 days a week already suffered a blow when they cancelled Monday so the Ohio and Florida delegations could attend a rather anti-climactic "college football championship" game. Just so long as it was for something really important, I guess. Frankly, I like it when Congress works LESS, not more, because it means they aren't causing so much damage.

Toys "R" Us had a great idea. They offered a $25,000 scholarship to the first child born in 2007. You had to register in advance. Never mind the problems with providing financial incentives for people to rush the delivery of their babies. There were three births at about the same time, and the couple chosen as the winner turned out to be in the country illegally from China. The contest rules said legal residents only, so Toys "R" Us took back the prize and gave it to the 2nd-place couple, but after cries of discrimination they awarded scholarships to all three babies.

This was very unfair. There were probably a lot of illegal immigrants who followed the rules and didn't apply to the contest, who also had babies at the stroke of midnight on New Years. Because they were rule-abiding illegals, they did not get a chance to win a prize like the illegal couple who didn't follow the rules. This country is in trouble if we reward illegal immigrants who break the rules over illegal immigrants who follow the rules.

Speaking of immigration, Virginia congressman Virgil Goode got in trouble for anti-Muslim comments. He actually had a good point about not granting citizenship to people who want to kill us. But it was lost in the argument over a Muslim using a Koran during a fake re-enactment of his swearing-in ceremony (the official version uses no books, just a member's own oath to uphold the Constitution). I firmly believe in freedom of religion, and think a person should be allowed to pretend to swear oaths during staged photo-ops using any book they want.

There. Clean desk, ready and waiting.

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