June 27, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Marie Burns:
Today’s New York Times op-ed page is thin, especially in the print edition. In fact, the best stuff the op-ed page has to offer is not even on the page. I’ll explain by and by.
The featured piece on today’s Times op-ed page is the above illustration by Bruce McCall, who dreams “of bringing Manhattan traffic flow to a total standstill…, and if everybody does his part, these new regulations will speed its realization.” In an accompanying article, McCall lists the regs that will accomplish his goal. Here’s one: “FedEx, U.P.S. and United States Postal Service trucks must double-park to maximize traffic obstruction at major intersections.” If you have driven in Manhattan, you know that tens of thousands of New Yorkers are already doing their bits to make the dream come true.
McCall, of course, means to be humorous. Tom Friedman is Very Serious. In his column today, we find that Friedman has broken his rule to read only Tom Friedman. In fact, he has cribbed almost all of his column from a Foreign Policy post by Prof. Daniel Brumberg. Friedman massages Brumberg’s post by dumbing it down, omitting detail and adding his own touches, like this one: “Egypt is the opposite of Las Vegas.” If you read above an 8th-grade level and are interested in knowing some of the challenges facing Egypt’s new president Mohammed Morsi, you might want to skip the Friedman interpretation and go straight to Brumberg’s post. Friedman links to the front page of Foreign Policy Website but does not link to the Brumberg post he copied out. Still, if you look for it, today’s New York Times op-ed does sort of lead the reader to a substantive opinion piece about Egypt, even if the Times itself feeds you only Friedman-lite. More on diets to come!
Also on today’s op-ed page, guest columnists Kenneth Griffin and Prof. Anil Kashyap argue that to save the euro, Germany should abandon it. I’ll leave evaluation of their proposal to people who are actually competent to do so. I would note that Griffin is an investment banker and Kashyap teaches economics at the University of Chicago. Just sayin’.
A guest op-ed worth reading is one by Democratic Congressmen Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Ed Markey (Mass.) and Bennie Thompson (Miss.). The Congressmen, authors of a law “mandating that by July 2012, all maritime cargo bound for the United States must be scanned before it is loaded on ships,” write that Homeland Security will slip the deadline and is “simply exempt[ing] itself from any meaningful compliance with the law.” The Congressman write that the lapse is putting Americans at risk.
There is richer fare for online readers.
Resident conservative Ross Douthat gets top-o’the-page honors for a “Campaign Stops” post “celebrating” liberals’ embrace of judicial restraint. Douthat argues that “the Citizens United decision hasn’t actually unleashed a flood of corporate donations to Republicans.” He also writes that a description of the right’s campaign to take over the government by extraordinary, non-normative means “is not particularly convincing.” The description, by Jim Fallows of the Atlantic, is here, with an updated version here. I think Fallows’ posts are the best thing on today’s New York Times op-ed page. Of course, they are there only by virtue of Douthat’s link to one of them. And Douthat ‘s link is a courtesy to a former colleague, not a recommendation. But you read ‘em, you decide.
Speaking of fare, food columnist Mark Bittman reviews research on the relative effectiveness of various weight-loss diets. Bittman’s post is an important, useful public service. I just don’t think it belongs on the op-ed page. Bittman does write quite often about food issues that have policy implications (last week, for instance), and posts of this nature do have a legitimate place on the editorial pages. His writings about diet belong in the Health, Science or Dining & Wine section.
Two convincing posts appear in today’s New York Times editors’ “Taking Note” blog. In one, Juliet Lapidos writes,
A new study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows what liberals have always suspected: States that don’t impose an income tax are not more competitive. No income tax? No boost. Drawing from the study, Bloomberg News reports that ‘the nine states with the highest personal income taxes on residents outperformed or kept pace on average with the nine that don’t tax their residents’ incomes.’
In another “Taking Notes” post, editorial pages editor Andy Rosenthal ridicules the reactions of Mitt Romney and Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Arizona immigration law. Romney, Rosenthal writes, “seemed not to have read the part where the justices said immigration policy is a federal responsibility and states don’t have the right or the authority to meddle with it. Mr. Romney said it was every state’s ‘right’ to secure the borders.” Meanwhile, Kyl, the second-highest-ranking Republican Senator, merrily put impeachment of the President on the table.
But perhaps the best article by a New York Times columnist appearing today did not show up in the New York Times. Rather, it is a review of three books (with mention of a fourth) by Times columnist Paul Krugman and his wife, Prof. Robin Wells. The review is published today in the New York Review of Books. At the end of their review, Krugman and Wells write that “Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed.”
Jim Fallows, I think, tells us what that “something” is.
Marie Burns blogs at RealityChex.com