The problem with reading newspapers begins with the fact that, before you have even begun to digest the flood tide of woes they threw at you the day before, with each new morning they announce fresh disasters. On Sunday, for example, the New York Times front page informed us, in no particular order, that:
- Prison inmates are getting high by licking their bibles.
- The Russians are installing spy antennas in the US with our knowledge and consent.
- Just going to an NFL football game is bad for your health.
- The third world wants us to pay them lots of money because we’ve ruined the climate.
The bible problem may not trouble you overmuch, but the point the Times is trying make involves the drug itself, which is another in a series of wonder medicines devised by experts to wean addicts off of opiates. Like its predecessor, methadone, it now appears that this “cure” is not much better than the disease, since, if they take the right dose, it gets users high, and if they take the wrong one, they drop dead. Of course, its sales are in the billions of dollars. Surprise, surprise.
As for the Russians, what they claim they are really doing is establishing a series of GPS location transmitters on our soil, because they really would prefer not to rely on our data, which they fear we might at some point withhold from them. I think their concerns are justified, and that we should tell them to go fuck themselves.
The NFL story examines noise levels at NFL stadiums, and goes on at length about how dangerous these can be, and their potential long-term implications. This should surprise no one familiar with the Times; for the past three years or so, it has been engaged in a pitched battle with the entire sport of football, which, in terms of its threat to the civilized world (i.e., “people we like to have lunch with,” the Times puts on a level with nuclear weapons and the Republican party.
The climate change story, however, takes the biscuit. Says the Times:
Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering.
Demand away, fellas. Even in these parlous times, when boodlers everywhere burn their lights late devising new and more ingenious ways to mulct the gullible, these “demands” met with a chilly reception from the US:
Todd D. Stern, the State Department’s envoy on climate issues,bluntly told a gathering at Chatham House in London last month that large-scale resources from the world’s richest nations would not be forthcoming.
“Lectures about compensation, reparations and the like will produce nothing but antipathy among developed country policy makers and their publics,” he said.
This is as close as diplo-speak gets to “go fuck yourselves.” Of course, who knows what the future will bring. When we see how eager the current administration is to beggar the national treasury and squander every hard-won advantage we may enjoy, it seems perfectly plausible that at some point we will be doling out dollars for every drop of rain that either falls (climate-changed induced floods) or fails to fall (climate-change induced droughts) on a self-designated victim nation.
Tomorrow, the front pages of our nation’s newspapers will blare new screeds. Today’s emergencies will slowly fade. The rain will fall, or not. The junkies will, inexorably, find new ways to get high. The NFL will commit new outrages against common sense and common decency. As for the Russians, they can — well, we’ve already covered that.