ARE COMPUTERS TO BLAME? This morning's breakfast with Chuck Schumer was...different. The focus was, surprisingly, not on Schumer, but on Joe and Eileen, his decidedly fictional median couple, who he insisted on running every issue by in extended and questionable imaginary dialogues. It was a bit odd. It wasn't clear whether Joe and Eileen were deciding how Schumer votes, what the DSCC emphasizes, how Democratic senatorial candidates frame, or merely keeping him company when he zones out during committee hearings, but the obsession with them proved a bit discomfiting.
UH-OH. The past 36 hours have had a bit of a clash of civilizations feel to them, what with Russia killing Shamil Besayev, India pointing the finger at Pakistani "militants" for yesterday's bombing in Bombay, and Israel invading Lebanon after Hezbollah captured some soldiers. Meanwhile, Yossi Klein Haleviinforms me in The New Republic that:
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DOCTRINAL ERRORS.TAPtalks toRon Suskind, author of the widely hailed new book about America's war on terror, The One Percent Doctrine. Suskind discusses secrecy, torture, Hamdan, and more. Here he is on the most important, and scariest, relationship in government:
SPEAKING OF DATA... The Young Turks' Cenk Uyger has an amusing post over at The Huffington Post where he points out that the median age of a viewer of Bill O'Reilley�s FOX News show is 71 years old. (Via The NYT.) So if you ever wondered which is the official newshour of cranky old men, now you know.
SO 15 MINUTES AGO. In a sure sign that Da Vinci Code madness is winding down to a mere cultural tic, the most public member of the very secretive Opus Dei yesterday stepped down from his post as the pope's spokesman.
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Spanish layman credited with crafting the late Pope John Paul II�s communications juggernaut, has handed in his resignation, most likely at the request of Pope Benedict XVI, who is installing his own guy, an Italian Jesuit named Federico Lombardi.
ARMY TO HALLIBURTON: NO MORE ONE-STOP SHOPPING. Halliburton is no longer to be the U.S. Army's favorite contractor son, according to Griff Witte of The Washington Post. The Army, he reports, is going to open up the logistics contract for reconstruction in Iraq to actual bidding. Halliburton, however, will be eligible to bid, despite its massive overbilling of the government (more than $1 billion in questionable costs according to the Government Accountablity Office and government audits) and its well-known failure to cough up certain deliverables.
HOTSOUP!!!!!!!Matt's already talked a bit about the new social networking site where you get to -- gasp! -- meet Carter Eskew, or a variety of other washed-up, establishment operatives, but I just want to point out Gawker's comment, which seems to get the venture just right. HOTSOUP.com: "[Because] what the Internet needs more than anything right now is a junior varsity version of The Huffington Post."
THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN. There�s an interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal on the trend of millionaires giving their money away when they're young rather than when they're old. The piece focuses on medical charity -- grants to cancer foundations and disease research -- as do, I assume, the actual donations as well. That's because these gifts aren't charity in the traditional sense. They're investments, and their ultimate beneficiary is often the millionaire themselves. Cancer, for instance, is largely indiscriminate in its victims, as pleased to attack the rich as the poor.
BLOG POWER! Continuing his welcomed crusade to infuse blogospheric filibustering with actual data, Scott Winship has some additional information on the size and potential power of the Netroots. A few caveats, though: cross-comparisons of group numbers only work so long as the average member of each organization exerts an equal amount of influence. The reason interest groups matter, after all, is because they're pockets of frenetic activity in an otherwise apathetic landscape.