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

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

OK, so a bit of interesting stuff happened tonight taking me away from you, the gentle reader. I'll report a bit more in the morning. For now, let's tie up some loose ends.

• You're kidding me, so a bunch of Southern governors talk about rejecting unemployment funds from the stimulus package because they fear having to raise taxes on corporations years in the future, and the unemployed people who would benefit from those funds get angry about it? Why, it's almost like they understand they would get screwed because of nothing but ideology!

• I'd say Warren Buffet's right, the economy is a mess and is going to stay a mess, though I'm guardedly hopeful about 2010. We have elites who are desperately clinging to what's left of their fortunes and slavishly demanding that they be made whole by the government as a repayment for their largesse over the years.

• The White House actually took some steps on Darfur this week, aside from meeting with George Clooney. They signaled that there will be a special envoy to the region, which is not all that different from what George Bush did, though a different result may be expected. However, Nick Kristof is suspicious.

• President Obama taking questions from opposing lawmakers, on live TV, at that "fiscal responsibility summit" was a really interesting and disarming sight. Can you imagine Parliamentary question time being imposed on George Bush?

• Speaking of George Bush, you too can have the guy who destroyed the global economy and America's good name speak at your public or private function for the low low price $150,000 and travel on a private jet. A bargain at any price!

• Another thing the Democratic leadership has discovered, at least in the Congress, is that bankers make excellent villains, and using demagoguery against the bankers has absolutely no downside. What does have a downside, of course, is talking that talk out of one side of their mouths while handing out billions upon billions with the other hand.

• Peter Orszag addressed the question of whether the proposal to cap deductions for the wealthy in the federal budget would negatively affect charitable donations. It's a thoughtful response, but I wish he went a bit further - saying that we cannot fund vital services for our country through the capricious whim of rich people. I think charity is great and I donate and I should be giving more of it, but it is not a substitute for government. For some reason nobody makes that argument.

• The big news in the Middle East this week is not Benjamin Netanyahu's continuing efforts to form a government when only the far-right wants to form one with him, but what happened in Cairo, as Hamas and Fatah set themselves on a path to a unity government by the end of March. This would be a huge step forward and possibly even create a partner for peace in one half of the two entities, and anyway Palestinian reconciliation is a necessary first step to ending the conflict. Marc Lynch has much more. See also Brian Katulis' paper on democracy promotion in the Middle East.

• This is better than the words Hillary Clinton was speaking on her visit to China, and frankly necessary in the wake of them: "The State Department issued a report Wednesday sharply critical of China's human rights record, despite the Obama administration's decision to take a different approach to the Asian country." This is a direct result, in my view, of pressure by human rights groups after Clinton's comments. The Administration is responsive.

• So the New York Times lied about American broadband capacity. Or rather, they believed a report that basically lied about American broadband capacity. This "call to inaction," as Stacey Higginbotham puts it, is actually very dangerous, and while money to expand broadband is already appropriated, articles like this can really crush reform. Bad job, NYT.

• I really think we're going to end the Cuba travel ban this year. Reconciliation with Cuba just makes sense as an easy foreign policy victory for the Obama Administration. The iron grip of right-wing Miami-area Cuban exiles is finally slipping away.

• We do talk about how this country is losing liberty and freedom a lot, but imagine a country where it's against the law to speak a certain language. That would be Turkey, where this week a lawmaker defied that law by speaking Kurdish in the Parliament, earning himself a standing ovation.

• Here's a story about an old wrestler that could basically be the plot for the sequel to "The Wrestler."

• I draw the line at having to pay for the toilet on the airplane. I'll bring a jar. And I think the overwhelming majority of people would agree with me. Ryanair can go ahead and raise their prices a hair and keep the john priced at $0.00.