THEY'RE IN THE MONEY... I apologize if my favorite part of the article on Rahm Emmanuel and Howard Dean's recent clashes is the writer's description of Emmanuel, who's "a recreational ballet dancer with the vocabulary of a longshoreman," but c'mon -- that's good stuff. The actual piece is interesting too, chronicling a recent blow-up between the two party poo-bahs that ended with Emmanuel stomping (possibly on his toes?) out of Dean's office, furious over the DNC's rate of spending and concentration on building a national infrastructure.
FUN WITH SURVEILLANCE. Turns out the NSA, with the collaboration of every phone company except Qwest, is monitoring all of our calls -- not to listen in to what's being said, but simply to gather data about the calls and draw inferences from that. It's important to link this up to the broader chain. One thing the Bush administration says it can do with this meta-data is to start tapping your calls and listening in, without getting a warrant from anyone.
DEAN'S BURN RATE DEJA VU.The Washington Postreports this morning that Rahm Emanuel, head of the DCCC, stormed out of a meeting with DNC head Howard Dean over worries that Dean was spending too much money in too many states in a way that was not geared to winning this fall's congressional elections.
Emanuel's fury, Democratic officials said, was over his concern that Dean's DNC is spending its money too freely and too early in the election cycle -- a "burn rate" that some strategists fear will leave the party unable to help candidates compete on equal terms with Republicans this fall.
The New York Times had an interesting article about the growth of part-time and temporary employment in Europe. It notes that in several European countries, 20-30 percent of the workforce is employed either part-time, or on temporary employment contracts, or both.
It is good to see this piece, because part-time and temporary employment has been an important part of many European economies for close to two decades. As the article notes, these workers tend to enjoy far less employment protection than do full-time workers.
WATERS WARS. Let me recommend Jon Margolis's fascinating piece on TAP Online about Canada's strange, and potentially untenable, refusal to export their fresh water. As Margolis writes, "Canada has 20 percent of all the world�s fresh water, to slake the thirsts and irrigate the crops of only 0.5 percent of the world�s population. [And] with the United Nations estimating that almost two-thirds of everybody, or almost 5.5 billion people, will face chronic water shortages by 2050," such protectiveness of their reserves will eventually appear cruel.
TRUTHINESS IN THE STYLE SECTION. Inspired by Friends With Money, The New York Times decided to inflict a little ignorance on the American people, informing their readers that economic barriers to friendship are growing in salience because "other barriers have been broken down." After all, people make friends in college where "Students from country-club families and those on scholarships are thrown together as roommates, on athletic teams and in classes." This is best put in the "deeply misleading" file.
STATES' WHATS?The Washington Post's invaluable business columnist Steven Pearlstein has an elegant little takedown of this week's round of supposed health reforms. "The Republicans," he writes, "are engaged in a largely cynical exercise to blame government regulation for everything that's wrong with the insurance market while offering to reward their friends in the small-business lobby with a lucrative new health insurance franchise. The proposal they back requires them to ignore everything they've ever said about federalism and states' rights." That's true enough.
A SIMPLE PLAN. Pondering the common good versus individual rights while in line for a burrito just now, a thought occurred to me: Why do you need to opt-in to be an organ donor? I'm not going to take such a stridently collectivist line as to suggest that we harvest organs against people's wills, but surely we could change the default rule so that objectors can opt-out of organ donation. I see lots of saved lives and no real downside.
IF A, THEN A. Good to see my colleague Harold Meyersoncontinuing the GOP-has-no-ideas argument. As he notes, their case for retaining Congress isn't an agenda, but a tautology -- if the Democrats win Congress, then the Democrats win Congress. It's an unsettling thought, to be sure, though when pollsters ask, "Overall, which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?,� Democrats come out on top by a 14 percent margin.
A COUNTERINSURGENCY TACTIC BY ANY ANOTHER NAME. I think there's more heat than light to my disagreement with Fast Leon, since we're in pretty close agreement about reasonable policy responses to the situation in Sudan. On the semantic issue, I -- and the U.N. -- want to say that a given mass killing is either a genocide or else a war-fighting tactic. Mark, the State Department, Samantha Power, etc., want to say that both kinds of mass killing deserve the label "genocide." As far as that goes, that's fine -- we often have words that denote more than one kind of thing. The word "rock" applies to both diamonds and to random stones you might find anywhere.