POISONED FRUIT. Perhaps this is obvious, but the thing about the big NSA phone records dragnet is that this gives us the previously missing explanation as to why the administration thought it was so important to illegally wiretap people without warrants. That used to be a bit mysterious -- if the idea was to spy on people with al-Qaeda connections, getting a warrant should have been easy. The problem is that the evidentiary basis for believing the people in question had al-Qaeda connections now turns out to have been illegally obtained evidence from the broader NSA program. And then the problem reiterates itself -- if the listening-in stage of the program reveals anything interesting, you can't use that in a court either.
MORE ON DEAN, AGAIN. Following up on Ezra's contention yesterday that he's not an anti-Deanie meanie, I'd also add that my own thinking on the 50-state strategy is far less negative, as should be clear from this April item, than Kevin Drum suggested:
EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING. Last week I argued that the burgeoning prostitution and bribery scandal involving contractor Brent Wilkes could be used to tie the abuse of women to abuse of detainees in the public mind and create an overall picture of the attitude of the administration toward human dignity. Now Laura Rozen is suggesting those two things have even more in common than a disrespect for human rights:
Medicare and Social Security costs are projected to soar over the next decade as the baby boomers retire. Medicare and road maintenance costs are projected to soar over the next decade as the baby boomers retire.
The New York Times had an article this morning about a new digital copyright law in France. The main features (according to the article) appear to be a requirement that music downloading services be usable on multiple devices (as opposed to Apple's Ipod monopoly) and a relatively small penalty for unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material.
DEBATING VOTE BY MAIL. The Prospect put out a special report this month on Oregon's system of all-mail voting, which is serving as a model for efforts to spread mail voting in other states across the country. We then invited six experts and advocates, including former Oregon secretary of state Phil Keisling and avowed mail-voting opponent Curtis Gans of American University, to debate the issues raised in the report. The ensuing exchange was both lively and, given the subject matter, remarkably heated.
THE COLBERT QUESTION: MADAM LEADER SPEAKS.TNR is to be commended for reviving the epic Stephen Colbert funniness debate for another week. But as James Wood puts it, "[i]t is time -- it is always time -- for some literary criticism." Wood's take is insufficiently pro-Colbert by my standards but insightful nonetheless. (See this post at Matt's place for a choice excerpt.) The Colbert debate living on for another day gives me the excuse to finally mention Nancy Pelosi's comment at a breakfast meeting with journalists that the Prospect held on Friday.
MORE ON DEAN.Kevin Drumaccuses me of coming down on the Rahm Emmanuel side in the great Dean-Emmanuel showdown. That's not quite true. I was just pointing out that, if Democrats lose in a couple crucial seats for lack of money, the ground has been laid for Dean to take the blame. In fact, my position, laid out when Noam Scheiber (who's got more current thoughts on this subject here) wrote this story in April, is the same as Drum's: This is the wrong story.
DURBIN DOES HEALTH. I just got back from hearing Dick Durbin talk health care at The Center for American Progress (which has really stepped up the quality of its free sandwiches). His speech was something of a eulogy for Bill Frist's "health care week," which saw the GOP try to score a few "doing something" points on health care by debating, and then defeating, a variety of misguided bills, from tort reform to Mike Enzi's attempt to destroy all state-based insurance regulations. As for Durbin, he's allied with Blanche Lincoln to craft legislation creating a Small Business Health Benefits Program modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.