The Rest Of The Week In Review
Well, another week down. But I missed things! Important things! Here they are:
• I still haven't seen Obama's health care town hall from ABC, but I did read a transcript. The President really tried to hammer something hard to deal with in our politics, and that's the cost of inaction. Obama said over and over that rising costs will torch the current system, and as a result, employers will drop their coverage, insurance will be unaffordable, the budget will explode, etc. This is a tough concept for people to wrestle with in politics - it's easy to debate a projection of what something WILL do, but harder to debate what NOTHING will do. Meanwhile, right-wing blogs seethed at the very concept of ABC running a town hall, calling it completely biased, and then chortled at the appearance of a skeptic asking the President tough questions. Mcjoan has more.
• The NRSC has now spent a million dollars in the past month on legal bills for Norm Coleman, and the chairman of the organization, John Cornyn, supports a Coleman appeal to the US Supreme Court to challenge the election results, if the Minnesota Supreme Court turns up empty. Sounds like a large investment, but not if you realize that it's a small price to pay for businesses who don't want a 60th Democratic Senator to deliver cap and trade or health care reform.
• Here's a special section called "news of the craven and the crazy": Judd Gregg, railing against the "self-interest" of posting signs at Recovery Act sites citing the use of stimulus funds, when he has named multiple buildings after himself which were funded by his own earmarks; Todd Tiahrt, a right-wing theocrat from Kansas who cited a non-specific Wordpress blog ("WordPress.com") in a campaign ad for US Senate; and of course, Michelle Bachmann, who linked Census information to Japanese internment.
• John Boehner, angered by the passage of cap and trade in the House, called the bill a pile of shit Friday. And on at least one point, I agree with him - banning the EPA from taking into account land use in calculating the emissions impact of biofuels is just plain stupid.
• Harold Koh was finally confirmed by the Senate to the position of legal adviser to the State Department. Good. Dawn Johnsen ought to be next.
• The Obama Administration will not wade into the debate over the transportation bill, and specifically whether or not to redirect funding away from just highways and toward rail and transit. This is beginning to become a pattern, as the lack of stimulus funding for operations budgets for transit has crippled bus and rail services around the country.
• There are so many foreclosures in the queue that the banks can't keep up, leading to the perverse situation of families who cannot afford payments staying in their homes for free for months. Eventually, the banks will catch up, and more people will be out on the streets. Add that to unemployment leading to another wave of foreclosures, and we may be just at the beginning of the housing bust. Not good.
• The BBC has uncovered multiple instances of abuse and torture at Bagram Air Force Base, the little-known stepson to Guantanamo. Meanwhile, the Administration is doing a great job holding people accountable for torture; that is, the people voluntarily engaging in it to protest the practice. Maybe the White House could focus on the actual practitioners instead of the protestors.
• This is the first fallout from those botched Senate appointments in 2008, as Connecticut signed into law a bill that mandates special elections in the event of Senate vacancies, instead of gubernatorial appointments. Good for Gov. Jodi Rell for signing a bill to take away a piece of her own power.
• Freshman Congressman Eric Massa has put together a grassroots push for his bill to stop Internet overcharging and the bandwidth cap for high-intensity users. Usage-based plans were actually in vogue a while back, but competition forced them out. Now broadband monopolies want to open another revenue stream by crying that their bandwidth pipe is only so fat, when in fact our Internet access is among the slowest in the industrialized world. Massa's bill, which would end this transparent and artificial attempt to add a revenue stream, would force innovation and competition along the lines of speed and quality. Good for him.
• We'll soon get the names of the members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which if done right could help to push proper financial regulations and real transparency through Congress. Brooksley Born, of the Clinton-era Commodities Futures Trading Commission, is an interesting name on that list. Fred Thompson is not.
• What a country we live in, where people on the Terrorist Watch List are free to buy guns (of course, a lot of people are fraudulently on that list, but if you can freely buy guns while being on it, what's the point?), while people like white supremacist Hal Turner, who was finally arrested for threatening to kill federal judges, aren't on the Terrorist Watch List.
• The strategists salivating here at using Facebook information as oppo research on candidates took exactly the wrong lesson from the CA-32 special election. In fact, using Facebook photos of Emanuel Pleitez DESTROYED Gil Cedillo's credibility and led him to defeat. Especially among young voters, demonizing people for pictures on their personal websites can have an alienating effect.
• Here's the story of how a NY Times reporter and his Afghan counterpart escaped the Taliban. Harrowing and yet uplifting. The movie should be rock solid.
• While the Justice Department has largely been a disappointment in this Administration, bravo to Eric Holder for pushing strongly for a new hate crimes bill, in spite of Republican opposition. We need to confront those historical targets of violence and stop those who would harm them.
• Lots of wrangling here in California over a proposed Constitutional convention, the initiatives for which have already been submitted. Capitol Weekly reported that the Bay Area Council, the moderate business group at the forefront of the effort, wanted to drop their support because of the political considerations, a charge which the BAC strongly denies. Meanwhile, the biggest unanswered question over a proposed convention would be who gets to participate in it, and there are compelling reasons that a random selection could work the best.
Labels: rest of the week in review