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The mayor also insists that at least 75 percent of vending-machine food should contain 250 calories or fewer. Nut-free and gluten-free options also are on Mr. Emanuel’s wish list. Big Brother is watching, too. A tracking device will be installed on new vending machines during the next two months to monitor public tastes. There could be a run on the remaining fat and delicious goodies, though.

“What if this tracking device is showing that folks are all still buying just that 25 percent? Do you just make bigger machines and people can keep buying more unhealthy stuff?” wonders local Alderman Brendan Reilly.

FLACKTOPIA

A nice round of applause, please, for spokespersons in the nation’s capital — an often vilified group. They are banding together Monday at Bullfeathers, a more or less infamous Capitol Hill watering hole, to raise money for their uniformed counterparts in harm’s way. Flacks for Flacks Who Wear Flak Jackets raises money for military public-affairs officers serving in Afghanistan.

The event is hosted by Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer and Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse; among those on the vast host committee: Poltico’s Mike Allen, USA Today’s Susan Page and The Washington Times’ own Joe Deoudes.

‘WHY I AM A CONSERVATIVE’

A thoughtful 700-word answer to the aforementioned topic could snare some youthful conservative a $1,000 VIP package during the annual Conservative Political Action Committee gathering in March. The pass includes priority seating, express check-in line, tickets to major receptions and banquets, plus a one-year membership to the American Conservative Union.

Alternatively, there also are three prizes for a video contest, “The Future of the Conservative Movement: Timeless Principles, New Challenges.” Both competitions are open to home-schooled, high school, college and graduate students; entries are due in February. See http://conservative.org/cpac2013 for additional details; hopefuls should check under the “participate” heading.

POLL DU JOUR

• 59 percent of Americans say their personal financial situation will improve over the next year; 39 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats agree.

• 26 percent overall say their financial situation will get worse; 44 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats agree.

• 13 percent overall say their situation will stay the same; 15 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

• 37 percent overall say U.S. economic conditions will get better; 10 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

• 36 percent say U.S. conditions will stay the same; 42 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of Democrats agree.

• 25 percent say U.S. conditions will get worse; 47 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of Democrats agree.

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