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

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

Some movie watching tonight. Tropic Thunder is good for a couple laughs but not much more. Crips and Bloods is very good and I think I'll write about it tomorrow. For now, here's your better-late-than-never ROTWIR.

• I think it's clear that I believe the Senate version of the stimulus bill is, to put it mildly, crap. But the fact that a major tax break for banks which the Treasury Department slipped into the law around the time of the bailout would be reversed in the bill is a pretty decent silver lining, just from the perspective of Congress reasserting its lawmaking authority.

• Remember A.Q. Khan? Probably the most dangerous man in the world, the guy who sold nuclear secrets from Pakistan to rogue states all over the world? The guy who was placed under house arrest in a giant villa, prompting Condi Rice to say that was proper treatment because he was "humiliated"? Yeah, he's free now. Of course, it's OK because these days Pakistan is completely under control, so nothing to worry about.

• E.J. Dionne tackled bipartisanship in his columns this week, making the strong point that President Obama shouldn't base success on the stimulus on whether it gets enough Republican votes. It really depends on the meaning of bipartisanship. If it's to make David Broder happy, of course it should be avoided. If it's to undergo the normal process of allowing for amendments and input from the other side, that's WHAT HAPPENED on this bill. I think votes should have been secured in exchange, but what's going to conference this week is most certainly a bipartisan bill. And of course, in some ways that's the problem.

• There was a flare-up this week between the United States and Britain, as two judges in the UK accused the US of threatening to end intelligence sharing if evidence about torture of British detainees at Guantanamo was released. Many civil liberties bloggers wrote critically of the Obama Administration in the wake of this. But within a day, Britain was backpedaling on the claim so it's hard to know exactly what happened.

• Here's a fascinating article, in Popular Mechanics no less, about why "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects should not be the goal of any federal program, because it wrongly enphasizes projects "with limited scope or ambition" or projects that were shelved entirely, instead of the far-thinking ideas and projects that we should be investing in today. It's also true that just because a project isn't "shovel-ready" doesn't mean it does not create jobs - in surveying, planning, environmental impact studying, etc. Definitely read that article, and see also Michael Dukakis talking about the importance of project management in these types of projects.

• The President's speech this week about energy independence was strong and sharp, and later in the week he specifically used the phrase "the tyranny of oil". That's good, but he ought to read this report from the University of Minnesota showing that corn-based ethanol is actually worse for health and the environment than regular gasoline. We have to move away from the giant corn subsidies and toward more sustainable fuels like cellulosic ethanol. Otherwise, we swap one tyranny for another.

This bill is so overdue, but I'm glad the Congress is finally looking to do something about getting innocent people off of the TSA's terror watch list. There are literally tens of thousands of people on there for no reason and its effectiveness is extremely suspect.

• Allen Boyd needs more than a serious primary challenge. He needs a serious primary defeat. He is maybe the worst Democrat out there, and he is part of the Blue Dog leadership. Al Lawson, the leader of the Democrats in the Florida State Senate, isn't exactly a raging liberal, but Blue Dogs who vote against party interests need to know that there are consequences for their actions. We need to pick off these guys one by one.

• Jon Chait, rapidly losing whatever is left of his credibility, made this really poor analogy about how liberals want to negotiate with foreign dictators but not with their domestic counterparts in the GOP. This is because, um, different things are different, and there's a difference between demonstrated outcomes of negotiation and the theoretical desire to approach it. Hard to say much more than that.

• I like this post by Sara Robinson on five ideas progressives should be talking about very much. There's a unique opportunity to move the conversation in ways we have not been able to do in years. Thinking small is no longer an option.

• Interesting that Sarah Palin's first dude husband Todd and a bunch of aides were all found in contempt of the Alaska Senate for refusing to testify in the Troopergate probe, but nobody managed to comment on it or treat it like it mattered in any way, but in three years Palin will be a national figure again and this will never be part of that conversation. Does the media get whiplash from all this turning toward and turning away.

• Iceland's neoliberal Prime Minister was perhaps the first casualty of the global economic meltdown, and he was replaced in the interim by the world's first openly gay leader, Johanna Sigurdardottir. This is not only a victory for gay rights, but part of the return to prominence of leftist/green groups in Iceland. There was an excellent article on this in today's LA Times.

• One of the big stories this week on the right was actually if Barack Obama made fun of Jessica Simpson's weight in an interview by reading a caption on the cover of Us Magazine. No, really.

• You know, it's fun to hack into electronic road signs and post notices about zombies and raptors ahead, but how will these pranksters feel when the REAL zombies show up and local transportation departments want to warn motorists in the vicinity?

• Your moment of Zen: Rod Blagojevich on Letterman. A priceless exchange:

"I've been wanting to be on your show in the worst way for the longest time," Blagojevich said.

"Well, you're on in the worst way, believe me," said a well-prepared Letterman.