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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

Overall, a very good week to be an American. Here's what got left out while I was basking and savoring.

• Next week is going to be a crushing return to reality, as 4th quarter GDP will show an economy in free fall, dropping at a 5.5% rate. The bad earnings reports will send the markets plummeting, and global prospects are dim as well. Overall, next week will read like the two-word review of Spinal Tap's Shark Sandwich - "Shit sandwich." Might be a good week to hibernate.

• So it may be a good time to look backwards. Here's a neat visualization of Barack Obama's Inaugural, which is getting better in retrospect. I did like Marc Schmitt's meditation on the speech, which stated that the work of governing had to become the inspiration instead of the rhetorical flourish, and so a more workmanlike speech was needed for this time. And yet, while he was forthright and broke with the failures of the past very directly, his speech can't hold a candle to FDR's First Inaugural, on which it may have been modeled.

• The media continues its habit of rewarding failure, with the Washington Post promoting an editor who dismissed the paper's handling of the run-up to war in Iraq. And speaking of rewarding failure, did you all enjoy your 8 hours of Chris Matthews on Inauguration Day?

• The least remarked-upon but potentially most important executive order President Obama signed this week basically puts the records of current and former Presidents in the hands of the holder of the office at that time. If it applies retroactively, it could allow Obama to reveal many documents from the Bush era where he claimed executive privilege, including keyUS Attorney docs. That's a compelling theory, but in practice Obama probably wouldn't want that done to him, so we'll see how it plays out.

• I love this story about Geoffrey Canada, who has put together this amazing anti-poverty plan in Harlem that could be a model for Obama's urban policy. There is a direct line from saving kids who would otherwise fall through the gaping holes in our educational and social systems and economic productivity. The ultimate long-term stimulus is giving the urban poor the gift of equal opportunity. I'm very excited about expanding the Harlem Children's Zone model.

• There aren't many major political races in 2009, but perhaps the biggest is the Virginia Governor's race, where you have Terry McAuliffe collecting unlimited cash from his Park Avenue buddies (including all kinds of financial industry bigwigs) while Brian Moran makes a promise to oppose a coal-fired power plant in the state. There's another candidate in the race, Creigh Deeds, but I'm firmly in the "Anyone but McAuliffe" camp.

• One of the worst outcomes from the Bernie Madoff scheme is that much of the money he lost was earmarked for non-profits and the essential work they do. Included in this is the ACLU, who was forced to lay off 10% of their workforce, including at least one friend of mine. This would be a good time to renew your membership.

• If I'm getting this right, Fiat took a 35% stake in Chrysler so Chrysler can use Fiat's technology in some plants. They didn't put any money into the deal, just got 35% for almost nothing. Somebody needs to make the head of Fiat our new Treasury Secretary (although at least Tim Geithner may have seen the risks coming).

• Some decent long articles that I don't have much to say about because excerpting their complicated arguments would be tough, but which I recommend you read: Obama's Journey by David Maraniss in the Washington Post, The Founder's Great Mistake by Garrett Epps in The Atlantic, and Why The Internet Weakens The Authority Of The Press by Jay Rosen, which is simply amazing.

• Chris Bowers' Legislation Project, tracking legislation introduced into Congress and pushing for passage of the most progressive bills, is a very good initiative that represents something entirely new for the liberal blogosphere. The possibilities for broadening this out are very exciting.

• Hey, Ted Haggard? You're a gay man. There's nothing wrong with it, many of us who believe in this country's ideals believe in full equality in all aspects of your life. First, though, you need to admit that you are, you know, gay, instead of the denials of self followed by allegations followed by more denials. It's OK to be gay. You seem to like it, in fact.

• I'm not an SNL fan anymore, but I hope they bring back the Rahm Emanuel character.

• I can't say I blame the Syrian police, that guy they mistook for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dead ringer. Exactly why they thought the Iranian President might be walking around the Damascus airport unannounced is another story.

• Billy Joel sucks, and I'm glad people are exploring why. In college I could look at certain co-eds and recite to them their entire CD collection, and for a certain type I always started with Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and 2. God he's miserable.