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

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

The business of life got in the way of the business of blog today, but I'll be raring to go in the morning just as soon as I get last week out of the way.

• A quick RIP to Jack Kemp, who I do agree was more of a compassionate conservative than George W. Bush could have ever hoped to be (in fact, much of the messaging of the Bush 2000 campaign came from Kemp). It's true that he was downright progressive on matters of race, and whatever his market-based solutions he actually recognized real problems of poverty and affordable housing. But I think progressives let him off the hook too easily if they don't recognize that Kemp shoved supply-side economics down all of our throats in the 1980s and 1990s, and regardless of his sunny disposition, that ideology had dangerous consequences for the whole nation, and particularly the poor. His worldview was consistent but also harmful.

• Ken Salazar continues to impress as the head of the Interior Department, restoring reviews of other federal agency projects with respect to endangered species (reversing a Bush midnight regulation), and seeking a court order to reverse a separate midnight regulation allowing mining companies to dispose of mountaintop removal waste in rivers and streams. Sure, these are common-sense reversals, but Salazar, a moderate while in the Senate, has really been bold here.

• I mean, even Fred Hiatt's Washington Post editorial board is calling for the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen, putting them to the left of "Democrat" Arlen Specter. This needs to happen this week. Enough already.

• The newest meme is that Barack Obama's domestic agenda parallels studies in behavioral economics, as he tries to "nudge" choices in his preferred direction through incentives and increased competition. I think this just tries to rename very normal governmental practices of tax breaks and incentives as behavioral economics. Ezra Klein pretty well does away with this idea by noting that the stimulus was basically Keynesian, and the health care, education and energy proposals are off-the-shelf Democratic ideas decades in the making. About the only thing Obama appears to be nudging are contemporary views on race. The economy, not so much.

• The President's weekly address concerned the HiN1 flu, and while it looks to be subsiding, I think he was right to make it a serious priority last week, and in the address he explains pretty well the reason why. "This is a new strain of the flu virus, and because we haven’t developed an immunity to it, it has more potential to cause us harm. Unlike the various strains of animal flu that have emerged in the past, it’s a flu that is spreading from human to human. This creates the potential for a pandemic, which is why we are acting quickly and aggressively."

• In addition to a possible second wave of mortgage defaults due to ARM resets from the height of the boom, the coming meltdown in commercial real estate has the potential to be really devastating. Anyone who thinks we're out of the woods on this is just wrong.

• Let's hope these changes in crack/powder cocaine sentencing pass. The 100/1 sentencing disparity is borderline racist and has no real basis in reality. Congress has a role to play here in addition to the Obama Administration, so call your Congressman.

• Every so often I have to ask "What the hell is wrong with Italy for choosing Silvio Berlusconi to lead them again?" The fantastically corrupt Italian Prime Minister, fresh off boasting that he's the world's most popular leader based on polling data only in his possession, apparently decided to field "show girl" candidates in European Parliament elections, including TV stars, actresses and an ex-beauty queen, earning a rebuke from his own wife (and confirmation of his status as a sexist pig from, well, me). ...UPDATE: Hilarious, the wife's divorcing him now, meaning that he's not his own spouse's most popular leader.

A very good report from each Department in the executive branch, looking at their accomplishments in the first 100 days. Obviously they're a bit biased in a positive direction, but it's a good rundown of the breadth of their efforts thus far.

• How can anyone fight over a Twitter hashtag? There's something amusing about Top Conservatives on Twitter failing as the two co-founders argue and spar, but really, what is worth fighting over? Nobody can figure out how to monetize Twitter itself, let alone a hashtag. That's just 31 flavors of FAIL.

• Well look at that, Frank Luntz moved to Hollywood to do research for the entertainment industry because "I don’t like what politics has become.” Funny how that coincided DIRECTLY with the death of conservatism, huh? It's almost as if he started hating what politics has become the moment that the country started hating his ideas. By the way, I shook Luntz' hand about a month ago at an event, and a dead fish had more vibrancy to it.

• Speaking of Luntz, efforts to kill the estate tax, which he cleverly named the "death tax," proved uncsuccessful last week, as the provision passed in the Senate was stricken from the budget. Sorry Blanche Lincoln, nice try.

• I have no idea how realistic this single-molecule nano-vehicle concept is - I've been hearing about nanotechnology for about a decade - but if it ever does happen, the problem will come in figuring out how to keep Americans occupied with their endless leisure time.

• So Khalid Sheikh Mohammed used Hotmail and public phones to carry out operations? Did they chat in ICQ, too? The more you think that these operations are sophisticated and deliberately coded, the more you're just plain wrong.

• I cannot say that I've been so angry about my wages that I chopped off my own finger and ate it. But that's life in Serbia in the 21st century's Great Recession. Does this scream "prelude to an Eastern European implosion" to you the way it does to me?

• And finally, hats off to the couple arrested for sex on the Queen's lawn at Windsor Castle this week. Probably the best display of public fornication since that couple left the drapes open at their hotel room in Toronto's Skydome during a Blue Jays game.