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

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

As I said, next week's posting should be light. Monday should be a normal schedule, but the rest of the week I'm in Palm Desert soaking up rays. Making it extra-important to rid me of these confounded links beforehand:

• The Washington Post managed to put a story about how Obama's election has energized left-leaning advocacy groups and think tanks and how Obama's election has depressed the Left and out-maneuvered them. The two actually could both be right, but with the latter written by mini-Dowd Dana Milbank, you can pretty easily dismiss it. Jane had a good take. Basically the advocacy groups and think tanks have a bit more money, but they aren't challenging the Administration in a meaningful way, and this reluctance has stunted the growth of the movement, which is more about policy than personality. I expect this to continue through the first year, and I'm actually OK with that. But at some point we can no longer care about the person but the policy.

• That fulcrum point may be the Employee Free Choice Act, and the expectations from labor for its passage. We're seeing squeezing from both ends, with the Change To Win labor coalition targeting wavering Senators from the employer perspective, and a coalition of business leaders ALSO arguing for passage, from the CEO perspective. And at the very least, it looks like we've got Alaska GOPer Don Young, a former Teamster.

• This was a week for optimism in Pakistan, as US officials claimed to have shaken Al Qaeda in the region through drone strikes and Pakistani military pushback, and taunted that the Taliban was falling out of favor in the country after multiple suicide attacks and acts of cruelty. However, let's not break open the champagne just yet. Drone attacks may be hurting Al Qaeda but emboldening the next group of extremists who've seen their civilian families die from airstrikes. And the US-Pakistan relationship will not survive non-stop bombings.

• Throughout the Sotomayor nomination we'll hear a lot about "judicial activism" from conservatives, but it's increasingly clear that they define "judicial activism" to mean "making a ruling I don't like." Because actual activism, like overturning a section of the Voting Rights Act passed consistently by Congress since 1965, causes nary a peep among these people. Witness Stuart Taylor on a different ruling, the Ricci case, which will also require some "activism" on behalf of the judges who vote to overturn it. The whole notion of "activism" is ridiculous.

• James Inhofe thinks he can still slow walk legislation combating climate change, but the profit motive has passed him by: green energy has now passed fossil fuels in terms of attracting private investment. Business has figured out that renewables make environmental and economic sense. Sorry, James.

• Cuba returns to the OAS. The speed of the thawing relations between the US and Cuba does shock me a bit.

• Some good Ezra Klein interviews about health care with Christina Romer on the CEA report and Bernie Sanders on single-payer. I don't have too much to say about them, other than that, as health care legislation ramps up, you all should read Ezra Klein 15 times a day.

• The agreement on common education standards among almost every state in the nation makes some sense to the education community, and I know Arne Duncan wants to bring his reform message across the country, but is he aware of the financial constraints facing local schools these days? Closing 1,000 schools and turning them around is a high-risk, high-reward scenario, and states can't afford it. He also seems to be operating under this delusion that these turnarounds are magic. They really depend on the circumstances.

• So Arlen Specter gives a speech to a group of medical equipment suppliers, and he finishes the speech by openly asking for campaign contributions. Is that at all normal?

• Obama needs to explain his EPA's decision not to block mountaintop mining in coal regions.

• Kim Jong-il's eventual replacement seems just as nutty as his father. He reportedly loves the NBA, so I'm envisioning him as that puppet kid who keeps bothering Kobe and LeBron in the Nike ad.

• This story about the Mayor of San Angelo, Texas falling into a homosexual affair with an undocumented immigrant and leaving the country will break your heart.

• Anyone watching Oprah for the health tips should probably think again. This kind of pop medicine cannot totally be regulated, but really represents a danger to the public interest. Good journalism like this can at least blunt the damage.

• I guess some incompetence doesn't end: "The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of nuclear sites and programs."

• According to tobacco-state Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the mint- and cinnamon-flavored tobacco lollipops marketed in containers that look like cell phones aren't being marketed to children. Of course they aren't! Seniors love sucking candy made by the cigarette companies!

• And in the continuing Silvio Berlusconi chronicles, now there are pictures of topless women at his private villa in Sardinia, in addition to a shot of the former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek in a state of, um, arousal. I would be disappointed if someone that rich DIDN'T have fun naked parties at his house. And come on, Berlusconi is obviously something of a lecher.