I read The Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to: June 26.
Today’s coffee is Kenyan. First music of the day, the atmospheric Norwegian jazz band In the Country.
1, Today’s lead in the Times is the amazing story behind New York state’s legalization of gay marriage. Governor Andrew Cuomo secretly met with a group of “super-rich Republican donors” and convinced them to write checks for a lobbying campaign totaling more than $1 million. The money would be used by Cuomo to protect Republican state senators who were leaning toward voting for gay marriage from conservative backlash.
2, The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is nearing completion. In China. The last of the huge roadbed sections, half the size of a football field, has been assembled and will be loaded on a ship and sent 6,500 miles to California. “California officials say they saved the state several hundreds of millions of dollars,” the Times writes.
3, For weeks – months even, since the departure of columnist Frank Rich – I’ve been eagerly awaiting the debut of the re-worked Week in Review section. Here it is today, now called “Sunday Review.” There is some op-ed musing on gay rights, and as Maureen Down puts it, our “bi” president Obama, who seems to want to be on both sides of every issue. A lengthy cover story on the Chevy Volt electric car renders a positive judgment on the vehicle itself, and asks the question whether Americans are ready for it. Perhaps we saw the answer Friday night, when Cuomo signed New York’s gay marriage bill. If someone leads, we’re cool with it. “The Volt made a believer out of me,” writes Joe Nocera. “At this moment of maximum uncertainty about how the future will play out, the Volt is comforting in its combination of new technology and old.”
4, One familiar aspect of Week in Review runs through the clean, well-lit design of the new Sunday Review: Cold analysis shows we’re living in a fearful time, with nothing seemingly in our control. “Imagine a world in which we are assigned a number that indicates how influential we are,” writes Stephanie Rosenbloom. “This number would determine whether you receive a job, hotel room upgrade or free samples at the grocery store.” Rosenbloom reports the companies such as Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader are combing through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and assigning such numbers, in search of people they call “influencers.” It’s an electronic caste system. Typically, on a scale of 1 to 100, the run-of-the-mill American scores in the high teens. Justin Bieber gets 100. A PeerIndex spokesman calls this “godlike.”
5, “The peddlers of fear and the phony tough-on-terrorism crowd have dominated the national security debate for too long,” the Times writes in an editorial attacking a new wave of proposed laws pushing us toward a military state. “The president must step in and stop this march toward endless war and the perpetual undermining of American constitutional values.”
6, Multinational corporations are telling Congress that they can shift jobs back to America if the corporate tax rate is dropped from 35 percent to 5.25 percent. They’re calling it “The New Stimulus.” Writes the Times editorial page, “Sounds more like extortion.”
7, A political cartoon apparently anchoring the final page looks promising. Brian McFadden’s The Strip points out that the nation’s 13.9 unemployed outnumbers the population of 48 states. The Strip‘s unemployed characters quickly resolve to form their own state, “as soon as this Hoarders marathon is over,” says one guy lying on a couch.
8, It appears that all music ever recorded will soon be available in the the cloud, which music critic Jon Pareles describes as “the poetic name for online storage and software that promises to make lifetimes worth of songs available to anyone, anywhere, as long as those people and places have Internet connections.” Pareles, a Times critic, says he’s amassed more vinyl, CDs and downloads than he’ll ever need. “It’s a reference library; not an art collection,” he writes. Me too. And many of my music-minded friends. But, as I re-build a vinyl record collection that’s equal parts cool-looking covers as it is sonic considerations, I wonder: Since everything is floating around the ether anyway, why not think of your music as an art collection?
9, Randall Adams chose to live in such obscurity that his death – which occurred in a small town Ohio last October – went virtually unnoticed by national news outlets until now. Adams had been sentenced to death for murdering a police officer in Texas in 1976. But this case smelled so bad that it attracted the attention of documentary maker Errol Morris. His 1988 film, The Thin Blue Line, ultimately resulted in freeing Adams. Witnesses in court against Adams told different stories a decade later in the film. “They forgot the script they learned in the trial,” Adams’ lawyer said. “They told the truth.”