As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Rest Of The Week In Review

This was a slow news week and I suspect next week will be as well. That doesn't mean I didn't miss a few.

• Murray Waas' important story about Dick Cheney's question and answer session with the FBI and Patrick Fitzgerald should give everyone pause. Cheney changed his talking points about Joe Wilson - from "what he saw in Niger was wrong" to "who sent Joe Wilson to Niger" - making it almost certain that someone in the press would out his wife if they kept searching. He wanted journalists to do the dirty work of treason for him, and when they didn't, he sent out Scooter Libby to feed the information to their trusted sources. This is the cloud over the office of the Vice President that Fitzgerald famously talked about.

• I'm quoted in this Ari Berman article in The Nation about the Obama 2.0 movement. I think that there are some very promising signs with what supporters are going to do with themselves in the post-campaign period, from community service to taking back state and local parties to even challenging Obama to meet their greatest hopes. I also think there's a share of groupthink and accumulated trust where Obama will get a much greater honeymoon period from a non-trivial set of supporters. But surely, not everyone Obama attracted was a blank slate without core beliefs and opinions before drifting into the campaign, and not everyone will simply do what they're told. As I said in the piece, "There's been a lot of hand-wringing about what Obama is going to do with his e-mail list, but that has it a bit backward. It's really, What is the list going to do with Obama?"

• Meanwhile, the message to George Bush is, I said GOOD DAY, SIR! 75% of respondents to the Gallup poll are glad he is leaving office, and 66% want him OUT OF PUBLIC LIFE. I'd say that when people who lived through this era think about Bush, they have this in their head.

• A good piece about my Congressman, Henry Waxman, one of the most productive legislators in Washington. Over the past few years, his focus has been investigations on the Oversight Committee, but his lawmaking ability is legendary. Most important, he has absolutely no need to be the story, as evidenced by his giving away the portfolio of health reform to John Dingell.

• I really hope that the question of whether or not the Bush Administration is criminally liable for war crimes and violating federal and international statutes is left to opinion page editors and not lawyers, prosecutors and independent commissions with subpoena power. That's the American way, after all.

• What's missing in this overview piece on the battle over the Employee Free Choice Act is (until the 15th paragraph) the idea that the current union election system is horribly broken, with intimidation and threats to fire organizers and close workplaces. There's also no mention of the fact that union workplaces are far from automatically unprofitable. In fact, union shops have workers with a greater stake in profitability.

• I guess this John Lennon showing up in a "One Laptop per Child" commercial 28 years after his death is better than a posthumous Elvis Presley and Gene Kelly huckstering for Coke.

• It is compltely idiotic for Warner Brothers to take their music videos, which at the root are advertising for bands and the music Warners sells, off of YouTube. I don't think Chef Boy-Ar-Dee threatens to take their spots off of CBS if they aren't paid for the privilege. The Internet is really screwing up these conglomerates, making them unable to rationally consider the role of marketing by giving some of the product away for free.

• Are the staff cuts at the New York Times responsible for them missing this fake letter from the mayor of Paris, or is it just the belief that Parisians are so reflexively anti-American that there was no need to fact-check?

• Lots of talk about whether Obama is a geek. He's bright and may enjoy some pastimes that are left-of-center, but nobody who hits the gym 48 days in a row can be credibly called a geek.

• See, blogs can make a difference! Honestly, this is not that new a story. I've seen things like this happen time and again over the past few years. And blogs are just a tool, they simply quicken the ability for people to donate to a good cause and improve communication around that cause. People have passed around jelly jars and had "beef and beers," as they called it in Philly, for members of their community who have fallen on hard times, basically forever. The Internet just broadens that community.

• Speaking of blogs, Farhad Manjoo solicits advice on how to blog. It's generally very good, though it offers a prescription for how to blog circa late 2008. I started this four and a half years ago when the blogosphere was very different, and when a generalist still could get some prominence without having to specialize, the way you pretty much have to do now to break through the clutter. Those are good tips to reach an audience, but not necessarily good tips to be an engaging and powerful writer. Those tips have been the same basically forever, and I still believe that a good writer will win out, even in the blogosphere.