That's fit to print
The Thursday New York Times this week was almost as thick as a Sunday's, and it wasn't just because of all the Christmas ads. There was a ton of editorial content, all of it interesting. Glad I'm on break and had a chance to look at it all, even if I didn't get around to it until it was officially Friday.
On the front page, of course, was the good news that the U.S. Supreme Court has come to its senses and stopped blocking campaign finance reform on First Amendment grounds. As with the court's groundbreaking (and misguided) mid-'70s decision in Buckley v. Valeo, the new case spawned a weird-looking cluster of longwinded opinions on various issues, including one highly unusual co-authored majority opinion. But the basic vote was 5-4, with my fellow Stanford Law alum Sandra Day O'Connor once again calling the shot from the Court's center.
It's amusing to me that when it comes to corporate money controlling politics, Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy are the champions of "free speech," while the Usual Suspects -- Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens -- are the defenders of government's important interests in restricting what special interests can and can't buy ads about. After Bush v. Gore, though, what do you expect? There's really no sense in pretending that we're looking for "neutral principles" any more, I guess.
Hey, I'm not complaining. Any time the ACLU and the NRA lose in the same case, I'm happy.
Also on the front page, W. showed why I call him "Boner," as he stepped in another deep pile of foreign policy kim chee. Just as he's making all nicey nicey with our lukewarm allies, asking them pretty please to forgive Iraq's debt, somebody over at the Pentagon decides to break the news to them that they're not getting any contract work to rebuild Iraq because they didn't send troops in with us. There's that trademark Bush diplomatic timing. "Eh?" say the Canadians. "Ach," say the Germans. "Mon dieu," say the French. "That'll be $2.64 a gallon," says Dick Cheney.
I'm sure W.'s going to go after Dean as knowing nothing about foreign policy. Takes one to know one.
Speaking of which, the Times also reports that everybody in the Bush camp now thinks that Dean will be their opponent in the general election. They're cautioning the GOP faithful not to be overconfident against Dean, which is a sure sign that deep down they, like I, believe that the President will be opening up a major can of whup-a*s next summer.
You know they're gonna produce Saddam Hussein right around Fourth of July, don't you? You just know it.
What else? Oh yeah, inside there's a piece on how hard Memphis, Tennessee is trying to be as hip as places like Seattle and Portland. Down there the goatee-and-black-t-shirt types are all cooing the "creative class" mantra that we hear about on Portland Communique from time to time. Sounds like some guy named Florida is where they're getting it from. Anyhow, so far it ain't working in Memphis, despite a lot of indicators that suggest that it could indeed become a pretty hip place. In the meantime, the coolest thing there besides Dead Elvis is still boomer-going-geezer John Hiatt, whom The Times doesn't mention.
The "Circuits" section gets into the new wave of phone cam regulation. That's not really news, except for a statistic that I hadn't read before: There are now 6 million of those little buggers out there. Scary. (On a related note, tonight on the local TV news I watched a home surveillance video of a truly dopey couple of scuzzbags stealing a lady's Christmas packages off her front porch. The two thieves are sick, but then I noticed that the homeowner had three different cams trained on her front yard. What motivated her to do that? I smell dog poop!)
Thomas Friedman thinks that the occupation of Iraq will make Israel more moderate, since it can no longer point to an Iraqi threat. And op-ed contributor and retired super-high NATO poobah Andrew Goodpaster offers (among other things) a thought-provoking quote from his old boss, George C. Marshall:
Tyranny inevitably must retire before the tremendous moral strength of the gospel of freedom and self-respect for the individual. But we have to recognize that these democratic principles do not flourish on empty stomachs and that people turn to false promises of dictators because they are hopeless and anything promises something better than the miserable existence that they endure.When I get the quarterly bill for my daily Times subscription, I usually wince. But on days like yesterday, that paper's worth its weight in gold.