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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Rest of The Week In Review

Gentle reader,

I hope you have enjoyed my output this week. If anything lacked, hopefully it will appear in this hearty list of stories I missed the first time around.

• Unquestionably, China stands to benefit from the financial crisis. Despite lower forecasts for economic growth, their fiscal house is in far better order, so they can afford to spend big on stimulus and transform their society, while using cheap natural resources from abroad to do so. Considering their increased bargaining position, our leverage to, say, get them to properly price their currency, or do their fair share to combat climate change, lessens by the day. I for one welcome our new Communist capitalist overlords.

• Yes, I would wholeheartedly support the return of Eliot Spitzer to political life. His personal moral deficit injured his wife and himself, but honestly, if the halls of Congress had to be rid of adulterers, would there be a quorum? Meanwhile, he is uniquely suited to this moment of crisis and completely fearless. It is too bad, though admittedly he knew the risks to his behavior.

• Good news from Obama and the Democrats: the House passed an expansion of national service programs and the Senate is almost sure to follow; the Pentagon has announced a phase-out of stop-loss coinciding with the end of combat force deployments in Iraq; and Scott Gration has been named US envoy to Sudan, and hopefully he will be able to get aid workers back into the Darfur region after they were expelled by President Bashir.

• Bad news from Obama and the Democrats: This filing that the Constitution does not protect cell-site information from mobile phones is completely baffling to me, as well as dangerous.

• As Congress runs its Twitter revolution (I agree, it's illusory intimacy without meaningful communication), John McCain did use the medium to its fullest potential, to show that he could give a crap about defending his own daughter from verbal attacks. I guess he thinks it makes her tougher.

• Yet another Republican candidate cowers from the terrifying force that is Rush Limbaugh. The big question is whether he used the DCCC's Rush Limbaugh apology generator to save time.

• Tom Friedman writes a dumb column. I know, not news. What is news is that his wife's mall empire bit the dust. Commercial real estate is the next big domino to fall.

• Why did this JournoList story make any news outlet? Full disclosure: I belong to several Google groups and list servs. The discussions there sometimes have value, sometimes not. It's a tool of 21st-century politics and journalism. I wouldn't call it a "cabal," unless the same can be said of everyone on email. And if people think conservatives don't have an echo chamber, well, what can I tell you.

• Richard Engel has penned the kind of sober, clear-headed analysis of the state of play in Iraq that we see far too little anywhere in the American news landscape. It probably got 45 seconds on the NBC Nightly News. Read it, and wish that we actually talked about big issues like this in this fashion.

• I know this will come as a complete shock to you, but Bernie Madoff may have lied in court. He had no legitimate brokerage operations, it appears.

• Another Latin American country elects a Leftist leader, this time El Salvador. Latin America really needs to be given further study. Their total rejection of the Washington consensus has led to a flowering of social democracy and progressive leadership, and not just of the demagogical variety. Practically every country south of Mexico has such a leader. It's worth examining.

• Israeli soldiers describe what amounts to war crimes in Gaza. I hope for there to be trials, but you wouldn't expect it. Because of a new Administration in Israel and perhaps a desire to embarrass the old one, however, we could see some culpability, though probably at a low level.

• It's bad enough that Barack Obama offered 25 DVDs to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a gift. Turns out none of them can play in England due to digital protection schemes that tie the DVD to specific regions. Can we just end this nonsense? You can watch first-run movies across Asia before they are released in practically any coffee shop. Current IP law does not work.

Hey Paul Krugman, why aren't you in the Administration?

• The journalism elite got a case of the boo-hoos when Barack Obama failed to attend their Gridiron Club dinner this weekend, but it looks like Joe Biden tided them over. We wouldn't want cranky elites!

• This really demands to be quoted in full:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

I have to say i was momentarily duped into thinking that Ayn Rand at least had something to say when I read "The Virtue of Selfishness" for a Philosophy class in high school, but I got over it.

• And finally, a bomb squad in east London evacuated a pub after workers found a foreign object under a hydrant cover. Turns out it was a copy of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Fortunately, nobody counted to three, not four, and five is right out, because then, being naughty in the sight of the Lord, they shall have snuffed it.