*Go see Toy Story 3. You’ll love it. Over the 4th of July weekend we enjoyed baseball and fireworks, patriotic concerts and fun at the beach. But a special delight was seeing the latest production from those geniuses at Pixar Animation, Toy Story 3. It’s even better than the first two in the series. One five-minute segment—when Buzz Lightyear is transformed into a Spanish Lothario and serenades Jessie in a torrid flamenco—is worth the price of admission. Go see this delightful film—and escape the trials and troubles of this poor world for a couple of hours.
*Your tax dollars at work. The inspector general of the Treasury Department reported to Congress that there was even more fraud in the government giveaway of home buyer credits than expected. Among the gems discovered: 1,295 prisoners (including 241 serving life sentences) received the $8,000 credit even though they were in jail at the time. Some 10,282 taxpayers received the credit for homes that other taxpayers had already claimed. In one case, 67 different taxpayers claimed the credit for the same home—and every one received eight grand.
*California casinos welcome welfare cards. In California, welfare recipients receive debit cards from the Department of Social Services to help purchase food and clothing for their families. In a test conducted by The Los Angeles Times, the paper discovered that the cards could also be used to withdraw money from ATMs in most of the casinos and poker rooms in the state. A spokesman for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says it is “reprehensible” that anyone would use taxpayer money for anything other than its intended purpose.
*Is seeing all that red making you blue? Commenting on the map that accompanied my Straight Talk column two weeks ago, an alert reader pointed out that until recently, blue was the color used to designate Republican/conservative victories, while red was used for Democrat/liberal ones. That all changed in the 2000 elections, when Tim Russert coined the phrases “red state” and “blue state” to identify the winning party in an election. Republicans have been seeing red ever since.