- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

Slur too far

A new book speculating that Abraham Lincoln was homosexual prompted cartoonist Robert Grossman to pen a cartoon depicting Lincoln as a buxom transvestite in the costume of a 19th-century dance hall girl, with this caption:

“Babe Lincoln … Newly discovered daguerreotype lends support to the theory … that the sixteenth president was gay. Log Cabin Republicans take note.”

The Grossman cartoon, published by the Nation in the left-wing weekly’s Monday issue, proved too tasteless even for one of the most bitter opponents of the Republican Party.

At his anti-Bush blog (atrios.blogspot.com), Duncan Black was moved to ask: “What … was the Nation thinking running this cartoon?”

‘Death spiral’

What is a $60 billion annual industry that is supported by 9 million jobs and is in a “death spiral”?

If you guessed the U.S. Postal Service, you’re right.

In an effort to modernize your local post office for the first time in 35 years, Rep. John M. McHugh, New York Republican, is putting postal-reform legislation back on the table in the newly convened 109th Congress.

Mr. McHugh — along with Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican and Government Reform Committee chairman; the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California; and Rep. Danny K. Davis, Illinois Democrat — has reintroduced the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act to ensure that the Postal Service “can adapt and survive in the competitive communications marketplace of the 21st century.”

Mr. McHugh is no stranger to modernizing mail, having introduced legislation to reform the Postal Service in every Congress since the 104th, 10 years ago.

As for Mr. Davis, he describes the Postal Service’s “uncertain” future: “First-class mail volume is declining while the number of addresses is increasing, and the Postal Service has but one mechanism — raising rates — to make up the difference between its falling revenues and rising costs.

“Observers have likened this to a ‘death spiral,’ where declining business leads to higher rates, which in turn leads to a further decline in business, and so on, and so on, and so on.”

Fruit and Flake

Another eye-opening pork project, contained in the massive omnibus spending bill recently passed by Congress, has been uncovered by Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican.

“Just when you think Congress can’t squeeze any more money out of taxpayers, they spent $347,000 for grapefruit-juice research,” the congressman reveals.

Or, more precisely, $347,000 has been earmarked by Congress for grapefruit juice/drug interaction research in Florida.

Spyware demise?

Computer users are familiar with the term “spyware” — or Internet-privacy invasion.

Now, Rep. Mary Bono, California Republican, has reintroduced legislation to protect computer users from spyware, but, this time, is giving the Senate ample time to make it law.

In one of the more frustrating realities of Congress, the congresswoman’s Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY ACT) passed overwhelmingly in the House last October, but was not passed by the Senate in time to become law before the end of the 108th Congress.

As soon as the 109th Congress convened this month — in fact, on the first day that the House was in session — Mrs. Bono reintroduced the bill.

Spyware software often is loaded onto a personal computer by a third party without the user’s knowledge. Not only are the user’s movements and keystrokes tracked, but the third party also can gather credit-card numbers, passwords and other personal information that can then be sold for illegal purposes.

GLAAD-handing

“Is it possible for a [homosexual] leader to be paid too much money?” maverick San Francisco AIDS activist Michael Petrelis asks, upon learning what the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has been paying its executive director, Joan Garry.

Relying on public forms filed by the nonprofit homosexual rights group, Mr. Petrelis provides a breakdown of Miss Garry’s total pay package for the past six years, calculating that her compensation more than doubled, from $108,302 in 1998 to $228,417 in 2003.

Increasing her salary by 111 percent during that span, Miss Garry’s annual raise averaged more than 16 percent. Her largest yearly raise (from $122,657 in 1998 to $165,032 in 1999) was about 35 percent. Her smallest raise, in 2003, was about 9.5 percent.

By comparison, the average U.S. worker got a 2.4 percent raise in 2004, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Add up her salary over the years and the total comes to $1,016,253,” says Mr. Petrelis. “Let’s put GLAAD’s budget and compensation for its leader in some perspective. In 2003, GLAAD’s total revenue was $6,193,332 and Garry made $228,417.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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