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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Rest Of The Week In Review

This could be a 20,000 word week in review if I wanted it, because I basically took the week off. But it was a welcome respite from the rigors of daily publishing, and I'm ramped up and ready to go for the next several months. Of course, I have a two-day trip to Pittsburgh upcoming that will forestall this energy. So don't expect a whole lot from me Monday or Tuesday either. But here are some hot links.

• Everyone is rightly concerned about Kent Conrad's out of nowhere "health co-op" idea for a compromise on the public option. It's not really a compromise, as Robert Reich explains pretty well, but since it would allow the appearance of a public option without compromising the profits of the insurance companies, it's bound to get a good hearing in Washington. On a somewhat related note, Ezra says that insurers aren't the problem in health care, but doctors are, although I think that analysis simply misses the connectivity between the two. Doctors over-prescribe and over-treat and raise overall health care costs, yes, but they get no pressure from insurance companies, the natural advocate for lower costs since they're the ones paying, because insurers find their function to be to wiggle out of the payments and pass them on to consumers. If insurers HAD to compete on price and quality, they would encourage precisely the behaviors that Klein seeks - comparative effectiveness, an end to overtreatment, etc. I don't know why an otherwise smart health care writer seeks to isolate pieces of the system as if they don't work together.

• Wrapping up the health care debate, this is a very good post about the importance of the Senate Parliamentarian, who, if Democrats sought to use budget reconciliation to pass health care, would suddenly become a central figure, tasked with deciding which parts of the reform plan are applicable to the reconciliation process. However, it is important to note that the Senate Parliamentarian can be replaced, as well as overruled by a majority vote.

• We are going to get at least another health care accomplishment from the Administration in the coming days, with the signage of a bill passed by Congress that will significantly regulate the tobacco industry, the advertising, marketing and manufacturing, through the FDA. Small-ball, but significant nonetheless.

• I was dismayed by the Obama Administration's announcement of support for legislation codifying PAYGO rules under which the Congress allegedly already governs. Tim Fernholz has a good primer. This is a nod toward the fiscal scolds, but we can't really see the long-term consequences yet. One thing PAYGO can necessitate is a commitment to new revenues, which can be positive. And this AP story makes it seem like the PAYGO rule Obama supported was weaker than initially expected.

• The long nightmare of the Uighurs is apparently over, with some transported to Bermuda and others to Palau. Sending them to island retreats and setting them up for life is the least we can do. Unfortunately, it probably signals that no Guantanamo prisoners will be resettled in the United States, a troubling bow to baseless conservative fearmongering. I do like the newfound speed in resettling some of these detainees.

• Obviously the shooting at the DC Holocaust Museum was a huge story this week. Paul Krugman says what needs to be said about as well as anyone.

• In the end, the Supreme Court cleared the sale of Chrysler to Fiat. Good.

• The more that the Obama Administration promotes official secrecy and files homophobic briefs defending things like DOMA that the candidate vowed to repeal during the campaign, the more that John Caruso's critique resonates.

• There is good news, however - these DoJ guidelines look to be the exact reverse of Bush-era perversion of justice; and the Real ID initiative appears dead, which is good news for civil libertarians.

• This actually turned out to be a hopeful sign - while a senior Sunni political leader was murdered in Iraq, the assailant reportedly acted through Al Qaeda in Iraq, and every major political party stood in defiance to the killing and in support of a unified response. That's a foundation for consensus.

• The New York Times has not had a good week or so. Its ombudsman vivisected them over their crappy Page One story about Guantanamo "recidivism", proven so false that they had to retract it. Then they ran a story asserting that top DoJ lawyers supported torture based on emails from James Comey that looked to say the very opposite. The Grey Lady's looking pretty, well, grey.

• North Korea will seek to weaponize all its plutonium in a concerted effort to get the bomb. I really can't see what they want other than the prestige of getting to number one on the Axis of Evil pop charts; throwing journalists into gulags will probably get them there as well.

• Jeez we spend a ridiculous amount of money on defense. An unconscionable lack of oversight into how those dollars get spent will do that.

• Important study on rural homelessness.

• Good for Joan Walsh, going on Bill O'Reilly and making him pay for his incitement in the George Tiller murder. Walsh writes about the experience here.

• So far I've only seen the first of Stephen Colbert's four shows in Baghdad, but it was hilarious and he deserves a ton of credit for going out there.

• My invented New York Post headline for Chastity Bono's sexual reassignment surgery - Chastit-HE.