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

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

Well, that was an, er, interesting Tony Awards show. What, that wasn't the Tonys? I thought with all the musical numbers... Pretty much as expected except for Sean Penn. OK, here's what I missed.

• We don't hear a lot about Iraq anymore. Thomas Ricks says it's not over, but of course when he talks about a post-occupation force he is repeating the thoughts, perhaps even the hopes, of the generals, not the policymakers. The thing is that a long-term presence in the region, with American men and women still being shot at, that doesn't change the fundamental dynamics in Iraq might as well not even be there. Tens of thousands of military forces won't get Iraqi men more jobs. They won't smooth over Arab-Kurdish tensions. They won't be able to hold together the Sadrist coalition, a split of which could portend a more confrontational leadership. We can't save the world with bullets and tanks. Iraq's going to set their own future no matter whether we're there or not.

Matt and Ezra say what's needed to be said about the auto bailout. Throwing money into a program that saves hundreds of thousands of jobs makes sense. Throwing money into an industry that plans to restructure by cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs is less clear. We have a lot of needs for skilled labor on transportation. Just not necessarily on cars. Maybe on high-speed rail or transit vehicles.

• Dick Cheney is driving the Wahhmbulance because W. didn't pardon his by Scooter. I wonder whether this is motivated by genuine concern for his friend and colleague, or whether he fears that Scooter's anger over the situation may lead to him disclosing the truth.

• This week, President Obama and his wife held a cocktail party for a lot of leaders in the progressive movement, and the President exhorted them that the work needs to continue. That's great, but as Chris Bowers says, progressives need to be seen as partners, not simply as groups you can forward a message to for them to amplify.

• You may remember Vicki Iseman, the lobbyist who the NY Times intimated had some kind of relationship with John McCain. She dropped her defamation lawsuit this week, in exchange for a fairly noncommital correction. I think Iseman would rather just let it go away.

• Here are some good things the Obama Administration accomplished this week: new White House Urban Affairs head Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx Borough President, is exciting simply in an executive branch emphasis on urban America. His UN team now supports a measure condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation. And his Agriculture Secretary is pushing country of origin food labeling, which is long overdue. However, letting over 50 Bush-era US Attorneys stay in their jobs doesn't seem like a great idea to me.

• Some thoughts from Hillary Clinton's whirlwind trip through Asia - she hinted that economic sanctions weren't working in Burma, reached out in Indonesia toward a policy of smart power and multilateralism, and deflected threats from North Korea.

• I'm keeping an eye on this Jack Murtha lobbying group story, which could affect up to 100 legislators - though it's not clear they did anything illegal. Clearly we have a long way to go to root out corruption on both sides of the aisle.

• These neocons are as comical as they are cruel. They have a discredited ideology (like their economic conservative counterparts), and they frequently talk in a language only they understand. But the disgusting mentality that leads someone to say that Iraqis aren't "bitching" about civilian deaths because they're accustomed to it, I don't know where that comes from.

• One thing about our food policy that goes undiscussed is how preventable diseases and diet are linked, and isolated in this country, unlike most others. Reducing costs in the health care industry and improving the American diet aren't able to be separated.

• We'll have Hugo Chavez to kick around for probably the rest of most of our lives. I think that can be managed, especially if we can pull Cuba out of their orbit. Petro-states really aren't the future of the world.

• AIDS is the deadliest disease in China? Really? If the Chinese government cares about its people, there's probably room for some real cooperation there.

• This is one of the most spectacular political flameouts I've seen in a while. The Japanese finance minister resigning for getting hammered. Now that's a different culture.

• Hey Chris Hitchens, don't get drunk and deface campaign posters in front of members of the organization, particularly when that group is a glorified militia. It usually doesn't lead to good outcomes.

• Daily Kos is overrated, says Time Magazine. Time called Powerline the "Blog of the Year" a few years ago. I'm not putting much stock in their Website ratings.