Tonight I did something that I hadn't done in a long while: I dropped 50 cents in the slot and bought a USA Today. I remember when this newspaper first hit the stands, and we all laughed: "TV on paper," we scoffed at the time. The sports section was fantastic, but the rest of it seemed like a joke, with its super-short news stories, garish color graphics, and predominance of words of one syllable.
Times have changed, of course, and now many hometown papers look just like USA Today, or are trying to. It's no New York Times, but the USA's no longer on a level below papers like The Oregonian. In fact, in some respects, it may be ahead of The O. (For the record, however, The O's cheaper.)
Meanwhile, TV network affiliate news has gone even further downhill, to the point where on most nights it's not recognizble as anything serious. So in the grand scheme of information sources, the USA has ascended a fair amount.
Catching my eye in today's edition was a nice story about a college cross-country runner who accidentally inhaled a rock thrown up by one of her competitors toward the end of a road race. She fell choking to the ground, whereupon she was lifted up and successfully Heimliched by her coach. Way to go, coach!
The editorial page also was interesting. The lead editorial joins the growing chorus, including this blog, to the effect that the Bush tax cuts are, on the whole, irresponsible, and that some of them need to be cancelled before they take effect. As is its custom, the paper then runs an opposing view, this time from someone named Stephen Moore, president of an anti-tax, anti-government group called Club for Growth. Moore offers up these choice morsels:
But the binge in debt spending is not a result of President Bush's tax cuts. At most, only about 25% of the deficits are a result of the tax cuts.... The most vital step in restraining the tidal wave of red ink that has engulfed Washington is to just say "no" to the unconscionable $450 billion prescription drug bill for senior citizens...
That's right. It's more important to get a couple of million a year back in the pockets of the Dick Cheney billionaire types than to give ordinary senior citizens the right to get their prescription drugs without fear of having to eat cat food. That's Stephen Moore's, and George Bush's, America.
The paper also took a strong shot at Abercrombie & Fitch, the giant clothing retailer that's racking up the profits from bringing sex even further into the grammar schools. This fine upstanding company features nude teen models, and sells thongs as small as size girls medium with the words "eye candy" printed on them. I'm no prude, but shame on them (and on all the pervs who come here from Google when they hit on the immediately preceding sentence). Good for USA Today for calling Abercrombie out on it, and pointing readers to groups like Dads and Daughters, who are fighting back.
D&D is playing an interesting angle. It's calling attention to the people who sit on the Abercrombie board of directors while the company's up to its salacious shenanigans.
For example, here are two of the directors of Abercrombie & Fitch -- Lauren Brisky, vice chancellor of Vanderbilt University and a Girl Scouts Council board chairwoman, and John Golden, a retired financier and head of Colgate University's board of trustees -- along with a photo from the company's latest ad campaign. An interesting juxtaposition:
Hey, Lauren! John! Do you really need to do this to sell the sweatshirts?
In all, the paper was a surprisingly thought-provoking read. Four bits well spent.