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

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

Spent most of the weekend at Assembly District elections for the California Democratic Party, volunteering and helping out. I decided not to run for delegate to the convention this year, preferring to focus on my activism from outside the party. But that doesn't mean I don't have 8-10 hours to spend on a weekend just hanging out!

By the way, you might notice in the sidebar that this site is now available for mobile phones, Blackberrys and iPhones. The website is I tested it on a Blackberry, the functionality is great.

OK, to the week in review:

• Was Howard Dean snubbed by the Obama transition when they announced Tim Kaine's new leadership of the DNC? Dean wasn't at the ceremony because of a prior engagement, but the sources say he wasn't asked to attend. I don't totally care how Dean is personally treated as long as his legacy remains intact. And I will fight for the DNC to continue the 50-state strategy and all of Dean's reforms in the future. He is so beloved by the state party chairs, the real backbone of the DNC, that I don't think the Obama people can risk destroying that program. The grassroots needs to speak with a loud voice on this issue.

• There are pretty good signs in the battle to stop the Somali pirates, particularly because it represents true global cooperation to deal with an emerging threat. Even the Chinese navy is involved, one of their first forward actions in decades. And they freed the Saudi tanker that had 2 million barrels of oil aboard for a ransom of $3 million, and the pirates who fleed from the ship ended up drowning. There is a lesson here about global coordination in the face of what amounts to terrorism.

• The worst thing about Iran's inclusion in the "Axis of Evil" speech and the general tone of belligerence during the Bush regime is that it ended up crowding out an incipient reformist movement in the country. In the run-up to this year's elections, hardliners are cracking down on reformers, using fear and anti-Americanism to crush dissent. Engagement and not belligerence should have always been the way forward.

• Hilda Solis had her confirmation hearings this week, and Republicans tried to corner her over the Employee Free Choice Act. They ought to worry about public opinion on the issue, which shows that Americans strongly favor the legislation that would end intimidation in the workplace and give everyone a chance to join a union if they so desire. Looks like the PR campaign that the right bankrolled throughout the election really fizzled.

• So NOW the White House is concerned about North Korea's enrichment program. It didn't concern them, oh, went they first got into power and started isolating the North Koreans. They complained about North Korea's enrichment of uranium once before, which led them to build a bomb from plutonium. Our North Korea policy has been a colossal failure.

• Is Colorado's new Senator Michael Bennet going to be a Blue Dog? His experience with the Denver Public Schools suggests that he will have a bit more compassion, but this report is troubling. Too much talk of "bridging partisan divides" there.

• India is still accusing Pakistan of at least facilitating the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks. This is still a very dangerous situation, though for all of our sakes I hope it doesn't lead to an East Asian war.

• Le Monde magazine did an interview with the Obamas in 1996, when they had been married for only four years and just before his election to the Illinois state Senate, for a never-released book on American marriages. They published the interview yesterday and, because it was taken well before any thought of a Presidential career, it is an unguarded and really interesting profile. You will still recognize many of Obama's major themes, however. Worth reading.

• People are driving less and subsequently buying less gasoline. Because gas taxes go to a dedicated highway fund, there is now talk of raising the gas tax to make up for the shortfall. It seems to me that the shortfall can be recovered in the stimulus package, and I wouldn't raise the gas tax unless those funds went into mass transit and other emissions-reducing projects. In the end, this is the problem with relying on key infrastructure improvements with funding through a tax that you actually WANT to shrink.

• Why John Yoo and John Bolton get real estate on the New York Times' op-ed page is beyond me. Even more audacious is the fact that they used it to argue for LESS executive power and more of a role for the legislature. Of course, this lines up perfectly with the end of George Bush's term and his replacement by a Democrat!

• When Ken Salazar gets to his offices at the Department of the Interior, he's going to find that the key to the executive washroom is plated with gold or something. $235,000 to renovate the bathroom? Monogrammed towels?

• Mitch Albom defends Detroit, which is interesting since he's originally from Philadelphia, but I guess he's been there long enough. As a Michigander from my college days I have a soft spot in my heart for Detroit as well. The city not only doesn't deserve the demonization it gets from politicians ("Detroit" didn't decide to build gas guzzlers, the executives did), it doesn't deserve the fate to which it seems consigned. It's a good place.

• Bjørk is planning to save the Icelandic economy by starting a venture capitalist company investing in sustainable, environmentally-friendly business. I don't doubt her persistence, but I thought the problem was there was no money left in the country and nobody could pay to get supplies into the country, not just a lack of capital for green business.

• And finally, the Weblog Awards are not much more than an exercise in ballot-stuffing created by a conservative blogger. Some people take it seriously, and some don't, but it was nice to be nominated in the category of "Best Liberal Blog" for my work at Digby's Hullabaloo. Looks like we're going to finish 6th in the polling - Wonkette decided to ballot-stuff on that one. Thanks to whoever voted for us.