A real porker

There's an old saying about putting lipstick on a pig: It's still a pig.

The same goes for the $300 billion farm bill that Congress passed last week. President Bush vetoed it - as he should have. Not that it mattered, since the votes to override were easily available.

Members of Congress said they had to fund $209 billion in nutrition programs such as food stamps and food banks. OK, but what they also should have done was significantly alter farm subsidy programs that shower millions of dollars on big agribusinesses.

The farm bill does trim some subsidies, but they're so meager that, as Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner put it, "Virtually no one in America is going to be impacted, and that is a missed opportunity."

Payday for jurors

If the convenience of serving jury duty doesn't thrill most people, how about the great pay? In Pennsylvania, that's $9 a day for the first three days and $25 for each day after. That might have been a big deal when set in 1959. With inflation, though, the initial daily fee should be nearly $67 now.

Delaware pays $20 a day and New Jersey pays $40 for every day after the first three paid at $5 each. In fact, Pennsylvania lags behind most states in juror pay.

Which explains the latest push in Harrisburg to bump up the rates. As court-reform advocates from Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts told a Pennsylvania House panel Tuesday, jury duty should mean neither windfall nor financial hardship.

That's the ticket

Movers and shakers accustomed to sitting in the mayor's box at sporting events may accuse Mayor Nutter of being a party pooper, but his new policy on handing out tickets puts sensible limits on these freebies.

In a City Hall still tainted by the pay-to-play scandal of the last administration, Nutter was wise to ban political fund-raising from the boxes at Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and 76ers games and to stop giving free tickets to city vendors.

Best of all, tickets not used by the mayor, City Council or other officials will be donated for nonprofit groups' use. That sends the right message.

Just in time - for next year

The theme song would be "Something Stupid."

The U.S. House of Representatives designated May 13 as Frank Sinatra Day. It passed the bill May 20. Rep. Jose Serrano (D., N.Y.) offered the puzzling excuse that May 13 "came up on us a little sooner than expected."

Sinatra died on May 14, 1998. To mark the 10th anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service prepared a Sinatra commemorative stamp, which was unveiled on May 13. On time. The stamp was unveiled - where else? - in Las Vegas. On time.

But the House of Representatives failed to represent. What else is new?

The Barnes' future

Let it end.

And let it begin.

A Montgomery County judge ruled May 15 that the Barnes Foundation can move its world-class collection of Impressionist, African and modern art from Lower Merion to a site on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

A group called Friends of the Barnes Foundation had sought to block the move, but Judge Stanley Ott of Montgomery County Orphans' Court ruled that the group lacked legal standing.

We hope this is the last chapter in a long, tedious, tortured story. Opponents have fought the move since 2002. They will be sad when the move occurs. But the new home offers the best shot at the future the Barnes collection merits.

Not your average Fido

A California biotech just had a dog of an idea. Let people bid for one of five chances to clone their dog. BioArts International Ltd., of Mill Valley, Calif., will hold an auction on June 18 (starting bid: $100,000). How distasteful.

The company is connected with Hwang Woo Suk, the South Korean scientist who in 2005 lied about having cloned human stem cells and embryos. This is just the biotech equivalent of a publicity stunt. Dog-cloning technology is in very early stages. BioArts has had some success with it lately. So here's a chance to show off.

Cloning Fido won't give you Fido back - just a copy of Fido, which will live a separate life with different experiences.