Five Best Thursday Columns

Adam Minter on China's puppy crackdown, Willa Paskin on the new Game of Thrones season, sans spoilers, Jessica A. Levinson on the McCutcheon vs. FEC Supreme Court ruling, E.J. Dionne, Jr., on why the GOP must admit they were wrong about Obamacare, Eric Levitz on the meaning of Wes Anderson's nostalgia.

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Adam Minter at Bloomberg View on China’s puppy crackdown. “On Wednesday, a group of dog-hating Chinese bureaucrats sat down in Beijing and established the National Companion Animal Standardization Committee. The goal is to establish strict national guidelines on which animal breeds are suitable as house pets,” Minter writes. “Is there room for three-legged poodles (beloved by their neighbors) in this brave new world of scientific pet ownership? Arguably, yes, if only because the new classification will be by breed and not by any specific physical characteristic. Whatever the case, government-mediated pet ownership is unlikely to endear China’s regulators to the country's millions of dog owners.”

Willa Paskin at Slate on the new Game of Thrones season, sans spoilers. “Holding together the fourth season, which premieres Sunday, is a baseline brutality: War sullies everyone, even us watching at home. Our standards, like those of everyone in Westeros, have been perverted. We expect a certain level of violence and moral compromise,” Paskin writes. “The first episode hastily re-establishes that the things that are great about Game of Thrones are the same as what is frustrating about it. But due to all this ambitious sprawl, Game of Thrones only occasionally puts together a satisfying standalone episode. There is too much going on, the one-hour limit too arbitrary.”

Jessica A. Levinson at The Los Angeles Times on the  McCutcheon vs. FEC Supreme Court ruling. “Thank you, Supreme Court. Before your decision Wednesday in McCutcheon vs. FEC, Americans were confined to giving a measly total of $48,600 in campaign contributions to federal candidates (enough for about nine candidates) and a total of $74,600 to political action committees. And how many people were handcuffed by these limits? Well, fewer than 600 donors, or 0.0000019% of Americans, gave the maximum amount under those oh-so-restrictive limits,” Levinson writes. “Where does McCutcheon leave us? It leaves people like me who believe it is both legal and good policy to limit the influence of money in politics in an existential crisis.”

E.J. Dionne, Jr. at The Washington Post on why the GOP must admit they were wrong about Obamacare. “The fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hit its original goal this week of signing up more than 7 million people through its insurance exchanges ought to be a moment of truth — literally as well as figuratively. It ought to give everyone, particularly members of the news media, pause over how reckless the opponents of change have been in making instant judgments and outlandish charges,” Dionne, Jr. writes. “Too many conservatives would prefer not to say upfront what they really believe: They don’t want the federal government to spend the significant sums of money needed to get everyone covered. Admitting this can sound cruel, so they insist that their objections are to the ACA’s alleged unworkability. Or they peddle isolated horror stories that the fact-checkers usually discover are untrue or misleading.”

Eric Levitz at Salon on the meaning of Wes Anderson’s nostalgia. “Many critics have identified Gustave as a stand-in for Wes Anderson himself and with good reason. Gustave’s meticulous craft as concierge is rendered through each of the director’s meticulously crafted shots. Yet Anderson laces this delicious frivolity with a sorrow appreciable only upon digestion,” Levitz writes. “Some of the film’s detractors have faulted Anderson for evading the dark realities of his subject matter by devoting the bulk of his running time to what Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson describes as “a kitschy adventure story that feels curiously weightless, at times even arbitrary.” The film is thus an argument for itself, for the redemptive power of artificial worlds, whose bright colors, playful wit, and elegiac nostalgia recall and revive our lost joys, reminding us we were happy here, for a little while.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.