Few people have done more to subvert democracy than James Bopp, the spiritual leader and architect of the movement to destroy all campaign finance regulation in the United States. Citizens United put Bopp on the map, but those in wonkier circles know that he has been a pitbull on the pant-leg of public financing, spending limits, disclosure laws, and just about anything that would prevent a mega-church or corporation for dumping vast amounts of money into an election for decades.
Bopp’s first passion was the Christ. His early campaign finance litigation centered around the rights of churches to distribute literature about candidates position on religious issues like abortion. This week he was at the Platform Committee meetings for the Republican Party national convention, designing the so-called “Human Life Amendment”. When critics noted that the Republican party’s official position on abortion was essentially the same as Todd Akin’s – the party supports a constitutional ban on all abortions of any kind – Bopp argued that the “Human Life Amendment” may be open to exceptions for rape and incest. “We leave that to decision to Congress and the people of the United States.” How reassuring. Presumably all legislative decisions are made by Congress and (indirectly) the people of the United States. But in endorsing a blanket ban on abortions, Bopp makes his position, and that of the Romney/Ryan ticket, crystal clear.
“That’s what she said” may have been the most memorable TV catch-phrase in my lifetime. NBC has announced that the ninth season of The Office, which kicks off new episodes on September 20, will be its last. Office diehards have been griping about the show’s decline for so long that its hard to remember they ever actually liked it. Some establish a cut-off at Pam and Jim’s wedding, others say the show should have pulled the plug when Steve Carrell left the show. I loved Will Ferrell’s run as manager in Season 7, as well as the search to replace him. It’s undeniable that Season 8 was full of weak moments, and James Spader was a big disappointment, but the show was still a pleasant watch, like a gentle, mildly effective massage. After watching most of these characters for years, my affection for them outweighs the occasional stray plot-line. Seinfeld may have been a show about “nothing”, but The Office was a show about a paper company that stayed on the air just as long, relying on semi-attractive actors, comedic awkwardness and a faux-documentary style that has since been adopted by Parks & Rec. Most importantly, The Office, along with Arrested Development and 30 Rock, rejected the laugh-track as part of any quality sit-com. And I am ever grateful. That’s what she said.
Thomas Friedman seemed strangely grounded and human during his recent interview on the Brian Lehrer show. Promoting his silly new book, “That Used To Be Us”, Friedman came across as way bubblier than his self-indulgent op-eds would suggest. Lehrer asked Friedman why he was such a congenital optimist, and Friedman launched into a surprisingly touching anecdote about growing up in Minnesota. He gushed about the school system, the economy, and the community. “I’ve traveled around the world looking for Minnesota,” Friedman explained. “Minnesota worked.”
Now you know- the core of what drives Thomas Friedman is a quest to return to the idyllic roots of his youth, when America was by far the most powerful country in a world still recovering from the ravages of World War II and concepts like racial and gender equality were still divisive battles on the horizon. I’m sure he’ll find his Neverland Ranch somewhere.
For old times sake, please check out Matt Taibbi’s breathtaking take-downs of Friedman’s earlier works, The World Is Flat and Hot, Flat and Crowded. They’re why I fell in love with him. And he’s still at it, busting it out like Radiohead closing a show with Paranoid Android.
I love Matt Taibbi’s simple and accurate analysis of The World is Flat. I too, find Friedman’s book on the subject to be flawed as well. I aspire to someday be able to articulate my thoughts as Taibbi did and does.