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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

As we head into another long week...

• Turns out that the Administration missed a spot in their redactions of the torture memos, and inadvertently revealed the name of Hassan Ghul, a "ghost detainee" captured in Iraq in 2004 and held in a secret CIA prison. Previously the CIA denied that they detained Ghul. Just throw it on the pile of outrages.

• The good news out of Afghanistan is that Hamid Karzai will reverse the most extreme elements of the Shiite Sharia law he passed earlier, which among other things would allow marital rape. It took women demonstrators being pelted with stones to bring that to a head. While this saves some Afghan women from an even worse fate, it doesn't resolve the deeper sink into an intractable conflict. Meanwhile the effort to arm and train militia groups is fraught with difficulty.

• Jim Cramer is a deeply insecure individual. Weeks after getting his clock cleaned by Jon Stewart, he's still complaining about it behind his back. Worse, Cramer can't stand to be criticized on his own network, to the extent that he'll storm the set and freak out on the critic. What a raging ego.

• If anyone deserves help from Barack Obama, it's Chris Dodd. His administration sold him out on the AIG bonuses to try and save their own skins, and that demands an apology in the form of millions of dollars and personal appearances.

• It's sad to see the Obama Administration continue to invent rationalizations for why they're bailing out the banks, without settling on one, while alienating the very economists with contrasting opinions and perspectives that could be employed. The freeze-out of Joseph Stiglitz, who has really lashed out (they're “either in the pocket of the banks or they’re incompetent.”), is particularly distressing. Meanwhile, Paul Volcker, who does appear to have the ear of the President, has been given perilously little to do.

Yet another series of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden has prompted the need for a comprehensive strategy. And yet Hillary Clinton's announcement of that strategy falls short. She seeks to track and freeze pirate assets and "go after" pirate land bases while doing little to build stability inside Somalia. The aid offered to the Transitional Government would go towards fighting the pirates instead of building civil society. This requires a civilian and not a military solution, and it does involve allowing a measure of power to those who can keep the peace.

• The Obama Administration's compromise decision on stem cell research funding troubles me, in particular for the allusion that poll numbers factored more into the decision than the science. When even Republican Mike Castle sounds the sour note that "there is opportunity for more expansive guidelines," we have a problem.

• The Scott Beauchamp affair landed with a thud this week. He was the diarist who wrote a series of articles for The New Republic about brutality in the military. Some of the same people who denied key facts in Beauchamp's articles and tried to discredit him now have been convicted of murder and some of the same acts of brutality about which Beauchamp wrote. And we won't hear a word about this from the screamers on the right.

• Given the efforts by the telecoms to subvert the principle of net neutrality, we need a national broadband strategy more than ever, and the FCC's commencement of a plan is a great start.

• Richard Burr, who I predict will lose his seat in the Senate in 2010, has simply embarrassed himself with both the revelation that he told his wife to make a run on their bank during the worst part of the financial crisis, and with his continued attempts to wriggle out of that.

• The efforts to deal with the uninsured, and in addition reducing costs for those who have insurance, keeps one constituency outside the plans - the underinsured, whose insurance is insufficient to deal with the possibility that they get sick. Not to mention the fact that the underinsured frequently don't invest in preventive care, which leads to perverse outcomes like the obesity epidemic and more. I really hope we can deal with this at the federal level this year.

• Just read this whole thing. The press' failure to properly contextualize news, to trivialize the important and magnify the trivial, to turn political reporting into psychiatry, has really damaged our ability to be a well-informed citizenry.

• Rep. Brad Miller slams the continued efforts by Republicans to blame the Community Reinvestment Act for the financial crisis. Somehow that act passed in 1977, worked perfectly for 30 years, and THEN forced banks to sell to poor people who couldn't afford it. I see.

• Republicans apparently think they can nullify judicial rulings now. Their model for leadership in the 21st Century is Andrew Jackson. Well done, GOP.

• Here's a bizarre story out of Paraguay, as their President admitted this week to fathering a love child conceived when he was still a Catholic bishop. And you thought the Lewinsky affair was spicy!

• And finally, well, donkey ball. I thought I had heard about every obscure sport and festival in America, but this one even surprised me.