WHY IT'S TAKING SO LONG. A reliable source tells me that the reason the United States has been so slow in evacuating its citizens from Lebanon is that the public diplomacy (i.e., P.R.) issues raised by evacuating under Israeli assault are so complicated. Individuals within the State Department, I am told, have been reluctant to create an impression that the Israeli assault on Lebanon is as bad as it is or that civilian U.S. citizens are being threatened by U.S. ally Israel. If a conflict this severe had broken out in, say, Indonesia, the American embassy would have been shut down the next day and its personnel and families rapidly brought to safety. That's how things normally work.
THE DOUBLE PLUG. Folks really should read the Dean Bakerarticle that the shadowy figures known as "The Editors" plug below. Baker takes on a couple of the canards meant to scare us into fearing a society with a whole lot of old people, most importantly the "how will we support them!?" fear:
WAR PORN WITH A BEAT. There's been some great war reporting coming from NBC, especially from Martin Fletcher, who spent yesterday chasing Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets as they made landfall in Israel, and interviewing the people huddled in nearby shelters.
Here, I'd like to put in a good word for the videographers covering the conflict. It's always the on-air reporters who get the glory when a rocket lands near to the site of their reports, but it's the video guys who are the most exposed -- and without whom those reports would not exist.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND JUSTICE. Highly trained moral philosopher Michael Walzer has a nice piece up at TNR that, conveniently enough, is in line with my take (which, in turn, is pretty much based on Walzer's book, so it all comes around) -- attacking Hezbollah rocket installations or stockpiles or what have you is fine, bombing Lebanon's civilian infrastructure is not fine, and firing rockets at random into Israeli cities is also not fine.
There is plenty of room to debate what the Federal Reserve Board's monetary policy should be, but the necessary prerequisite for a serious debate is the knowledge of how monetary policy works. Readers of the Post would be badly misled on this topic by an article in today's paper.
The article correctly reports that the Fed adjusts interest rates to prevent inflation from getting too high, explaining that "when inflation is a concern, it raises borrowing costs to cool economic growth, which weakens businesses' power to raise prices."
CHUTZPAH.Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie thinks he's picked up on Joe Lieberman's coming message: Heads I win, tails I make you lose. Rennie writes that "[t]he theme of a Saturday conclave of Greater Hartford Democratic town committee chairs was that if Lieberman loses the primary he will hurt all other Democratic candidates by running as an independent in November. The message was clear: help him now or your favorites suffer in November." So vote Lieb, or the Democratic Party gets it!
The NYT had a good article this morning highlighting a new Brookings report that details how people living in inner city areas often pay far more for goods and services than people living in more affluent areas. The report is worth reading and the NYT gets credit for calling attention to it.
ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE. I've long responded to the steady stream of articles positing a Dean/Emanuel split with the hope that someone would take a breath from chronicling Emanuel's desire for more money and actually evaluate Dean's 50-state strategy. Finally, U.S. News' Dan Gilgoffdid exactly that.
FROM THE BLOGOFASCIST HIMSELF. If Markos Zunigas is the Mussolini of the anti-establishment, anti-incumbent movement known as blogofascism, Duncan Black -- better known as Atrios -- is its Giovanni Gentile, the in-house philosopher who laid out its norms and intellectual structure. So it's nice to see him repairing to the dead tree confines of the Los Angeles Times op-ed page to explain the animus against Joe Lieberman.