CHOOSING FRANK LUNTZ OVER DARFUR. If the political dynamic surrounding Darfur remains static, the region has about three weeks before African Union forces are replaced by the Sudanese military and its genocidal proxies. Meanwhile, Kofi Annan is struggling to sound the alarm on the sheer urgency of the crisis. Yesterday, he appeared in person before the Council and, in an attempt to raise the individual Council members to action, gave a rather stirring speech.
FIGHTING BACK. When we last checked in, the Corner's Cliff May had used the occasion of croc hunter Steve Irwin's death to mount a sustained stingray-as-Islamofascism metaphor, noting that "every stingray is a very real and present danger." It appears that Australians may have missed the metaphor part of May's call to arms and are retaliating swiftly against stingrays all along the country's eastern coast.
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER, DEPNDING ON WHO YOU ARE. I talk a lot about health care and economic inequality, but too rarely about health inequality. But a new study out today sheds some light on this issue: If you subdivide various demographics, you find life expectancies differ by decades, with some American groups exhibiting outcomes more typical of developing nations. Indeed, if you compare Asian women with urban black men, you see a life expectancy difference of 21 years. That's huge.
THANK YOU FOR CARING. This morning, on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, NATO Commander Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., who is leading NATO efforts in Afghanistan, thanked the host for showing "interest" in "this important part of the world." He sounded truly grateful. That, on the day after the fifth anniversary of al Qaeda's attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, and given the current chaos and killing in that troubled land, the general should be in anything other than extreme demand as a talk-show guest is downright pathetic.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Since the president and his team are going on the offensive once again in touting their tough security posture in the war on terror, it's worth emphasizing a point: Moral qualms aside, pervasive surveillance and torture don't actually serve as effective investigative techniques, as Mattreminds us today. They produce bad info, and way, way too much of it.
EARMARKS. In his triumphant New Republic debut, Brad Plumer makes the liberal case for pork. "It's not," he writes, "because pork projects are defensible on the merits, although they sometimes can be. It's not because they create jobs, although they can do that, too. Rather, it's because, without pork, activist government would wither and die." Using the examples of Reagan's 1986 Tax Reform and Clinton's first budget, he explains that pork are bargaining chits that allow tough, controversial pieces of legislation to squeeze through the legislative process.
The NYT reported on Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's decision to veto an ordinance setting a higher minimum wage for large stores (e.g. Wal-Mart). After 2010, the law would have required large stores to pay workers at least $10 an hour, plus $3 an hour for benefits.
We are still at the early stages of the collapse of the housing bubble, but it�s not too early to start pointing fingers. This isn�t a question of vengeance, the issue is accountability. If the dishwasher breaks the dishes, she gets fired. If the custodian doesn�t clean the toilet, he gets fired.
Economists think it�s very important that people who don�t do their job adequately face serious sanctions, including job loss. This provides the necessary incentive for people to do their job effectively, and sustains the economy�s productivity. This is why it is important to identify the people who did not do their job, and therefore contributed to the growth of a dangerous housing bubble.
LAUER STEPS UP. How I mourn, and if I mourn, is nobody's business but mine. It's not the business of network news organizations, and it's certainly not the business of the ambitious young hacks of local news who send the latest Lisa or Brian to New York to stand over a mass grave while maudlin piano music tinkles away in the background.