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

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

Hello all. Greetings from the PAST! While I lay on a lawn chair and bask, here are a bunch of things I've missed this week:

• With the demise of Circuit City - and believe me, NO store deserved a fate like this more, given that they fired half their employees a couple years back for making too much money - it occurs to me that there's some real reckoning that needs to be done about our consumer-driven economy. Wal-Mart's CEO, of all people, told the truth when he said that people don't need half the crap they buy and that less consumerism is good for America. And yet if people start becoming less materialistic and conserving, the economy goes into a downward spiral. All of this shows the severe need to start producing things again in this country.

• Good to see that the 16 month withdrawal option is included in the Pentagon's plans for Iraq. I will be pleased to see Obama hold to that particular campaign promise. That said, Iraq is still a scary place, and if Obama wants to get out in the right way, he'd do well to read Marc Lynch's briefing book.

• In Florida, the presumed top candidates to replace Mel Martinez are both out. Jeb Bush decided against a run, and now Democrat Alex Sink is doing the same. Dan Gelber, a former House Minority Leader and a blogger, looks like he will run, and I think Kendrick Meek (Dem Congressman who's announced) had better watch out. This guy looks good.

• Here's a great piece about the Congressional Budget Office. No really! More to the point, it's about former CBO head Peter Orszag, now Barack Obama's budget director and a key evangelist for comprehensive health care reform. If something approaching universal health care passes, it will be because of Orszag at least in part. Orszag's confirmation hearing this week, he continued this evangelism, saying that fixing health care is a fiscally conservative solution:

The principal cause of the nation’s long-term budget problems, Mr. Orszag said, is rising health costs. He suggested several steps to increase the efficiency of the health care system: greater use of health information technology, research comparing the effectiveness of different treatments, and new incentives for disease prevention, “healthy living” and “better care rather than more care.” But he said it might be years before the returns on such investments showed up in a significant way.

• I wrote about this a while ago, and now the great Scott Horton investigates why some Bush-appointed US Attorneys are refusing to leave their posts, because they're not quite done prosecuting Democrats.

• Joe Scarborough is the silliest thing I've ever heard. Though I have to say, viewing torture through the lens of its effectiveness is the ultimate abstraction. I'm sure killing a security guard to rob a bank is quite effective in getting the bank robbed, but that's not a good excuse in court. Torture is a monstrous crime and its effectiveness is wholly besides the point.

• I think I shall never tire of Matt Taibbi making endless fun of Tom Friedman. The latest review of Hot, Flat and Crowded is good. Better than any page of a Friedman book. And it even has an accompanying cartoon by David Rees, the artist behind Get Your War On.

• In the final Friday night news dump of the Bush Presidency, the Defense Department essentially found nothing wrong with the Pentagon pundit program. They came to this conclusion despite receiving almost no information at all from the TV networks who hired these pundits. It's kind of like finding nothing wrong with a brothel without talking to any of the johns to see if they actually paid for the sex.

• Despite the recession, the undocumented workers still in the country show no signs of leaving, which makes all the more urgent the need for comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to taking a whole class of people out of the shadows, it brings them into the official economy, which is both good for growth and good for plugging the deficit with newfound tax revenue.

• I really think that people are reading this whole Obama 2.0 effort wrong. This article in particular is a wish list from the perspective of Obama's team, not the people who volunteered for him, the overwhelming majority of which are lifelong Democrats who are probably more progressive than the guy they elected. They aren't lemmings who can be moved from one initiative to the next. They're going to find their own way. Again, it's not what Obama is going to do with the list, it's what the list is going to do with Obama.

• Jay Rockefeller, America's saddest sack. He accepted a medal from the guy who rolled him on the FISA hearings? Unbelievable.

• Looks like Ed Towns is following well in the footsteps of Henry Waxman on the Oversight Committee by vowing hearings on the BCS. To be fair, Waxman did hold the steroid hearings. So they're neck and neck on the "unnecessary investigations" chart.

• And finally, we are getting closer to a cloak of invisibility. I'm hoping a Bag of Holding is right around the corner as well.