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.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CULTURE CLASH. The clash of civilizations theory isn't, in fact, all bogus, saysAddie Stan; but the conclusions the right has drawn from it are the reverse of what's really called for.
BEATING DR. BEETROOT. In the world of the AIDS pandemic, South Africa is, as Stephen Lewis, the U.N. Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, memorably termed it, "the unkindest cut of all." The only country in the region rich enough to truly mount an aggressive campaign against the disease is hampered and hamstrung by an administration so aggressively opposed to science that they make the Bush crew look like the MIT Electron Microscope Appreciation Club.
FALSE SENSE OF INSECURITY? Yesterday's New York Times Week in Review piece about the state of the war on terrorism does the service of raising a notion and a possibility that no politician has found very useful to acknowledge:
THE LEFT'S COMING OF AGE. For years now, the standard attack on liberals or liberal Democrats has been two-pronged. The first prong proceeds from the idea that the vast majority of liberals are weak, slow-to-learn political bunglers who repeat the same mistakes, chose the same dumb candidates, take lumps without fighting back, etc. The second prong of the attack is to assert that the small sliver of politically competent liberals are ruthless, shameless, rabid radicals bent on destroying the country and its values -- not to mention liberalism itself and the Democratic Party along the way. Call it the feckless-or-reckless critique: The smart, reasonable elements are weak, and the strong elements are unhinged lunatics.