And now the most revealing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
The Congressional Budget Office, which only weeks ago, was predicting that the federal budget would plunge back into deficit this year has now reversed itself. The CBO now says the economy is "currently rebounding in a remarkable fashion," which it says should lead to a surplus of $5 billion to $6 billion. That assumes, of course, that Congress does not embark on a heavy round of additional new spending. While the CBO also predicts deficits next year and the year after, it says there will be an overall net surplus of $681 billion over the next 10 years.
When Clarence Thomas, the only black member of the Supreme Court, spent today at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the five black members of the law school faculty boycotted him. The five said the Thomas visit "adds insult to injury" because Thomas "not only engages in acts that harm other African-Americans like himself, but gives aid, comfort and racial legitimacy to acts and doctrines of others that harm African-Americans." The five did not, however, urge others to boycott Justice Thomas.
If Senator John McCain and his campaign finance reform allies succeed in getting their legislation passed, they have further plans – including converting the Federal Election Commission into a tough law enforcement agency modeled on the FBI. McCain aides have told the Hill newspaper that the Senator and his allies are frustrated with the current FEC, which by law has three Democratically appointed members and three Republican. They frequently deadlock, which annoys reformers, but Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell insists it is a useful requirement for bipartisan agreement.
Iran is trying to combat the enormous popularity of American Barbie and Ken dolls in that country with a government-backed pair of dolls of their own called Dara and Sara. The two sport traditional Muslim clothing, as opposed to the wardrobe for the buxom Barbie, which includes some revealing outfits. Iranian toy seller Masoumeh Rahimi told the BBC that Barbie's clothes are “foreign to Iran's culture," adding, "I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile." Some 100,000 of the Dara and Sara dolls have been made for Iran – in China.