AUTHENTICITY IS STUPID. It's worth adding a more general point to Greg's post on today's awesome David Broder-Joe Kleintwofer: Authenticity is a pointless thing to care about in politics. Obsessing over the personal motivations and supposed core beings of individual political actors is, in fact, close to the opposite of what politics is actually all about.
NON-DENIAL DENIALS. "Bush Denies Massive Spying on U.S. Citizens" -- good headline. So maybe everyone in a tizzy about this morning's USA Today blockbuster is all worked up over nothing? Maybe the liberal media got it wrong again? But no. Bush didn't actually deny massive spying on U.S. citizens. He said the government isn't "mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans," but as the article goes on to note, he "did not directly address the collection of phone records."
TODAY IN CORRUPTION.The New York Times' big piece on the FBI's myriad public corruption investigations makes the interesting observation that 9-11 actually helped to shift the bureau's focus more toward public integrity, as it was an area for which the FBI had almost exclusive authority and provided the agency an opportunity to maximize impact at a time when personnel all across federal law enforcement bureaucracies was being shifted to counterterrorism.
THE CONSERVATIVE NANNY STATE. There�s a new book from Dean Baker available as a free PDF download or in paperback if you're so inclined. It's fantastic: "In his new book, economist Dean Baker debunks the myth that conservatives favor the market over government intervention. In fact, conservatives rely on a range of �nanny state� policies that ensure the rich get richer while leaving most Americans worse off."
DAVID BRODER: REPUBLICANS PRESUMED INNOCENT; DEMS PRESUMED GUILTY. You really couldn't ask for a more perfect illustration of the punditry's double-standard when it comes to "authenticity" than today's Washington Post column by David Broder.
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.