The Rest Of The Week In Review
Scrambled to get to this late. Tomorrow is the Sotomayor hearings, which will probably take up some oxygen. So consider this your last chance to get a handle on everything that slipped through the cracks last week:
• Henry Waxman took some flack this week for saying that Republicans appear to be rooting against the country by rooting against the President's success. Republicans pounced, clearly forgetting the ancient history of... six months ago, when they all debated whether or not they hope Obama fails.
• Obama had to correct his staff quite a bit last week, and while I don't agree with all of it, he did state pretty emphatically that the US did not give a green light to Israel to attack Iran, despite Joe Biden's clumsy words. For their part, Iran will offer a new set of proposals as a starting point for negotiations with the West. The question is whether the uprising taking place over there will make it politically dangerous to work with the old regime.
• The Treasury Department released a tiny, barely even worth the effort toxic asset plan, at a fraction of the original cost but without the heft to actually remove all the bad assets from the books of the banks, which are actually getting worse due to rising foreclosures. "This is largely a face-saving announcement," in the words of Simon Johnson. Wall Street has basically returned to business as usual, and they'd rather rip off their customers with fees and fight the government tooth and nail on the modest regulatory reforms like a Consumer Financial Products Agency or reining in derivative trading than beg the government to buy all their crap. Anyway, they can just repackage the crap and reinflate the financial bubble.
• Harry Reid has refused to honor Republican holds on the nominee to run the US Census, Robert Groves. I don't know where this newfound spine has come from, but keep it up.
• The New York Times did this week spotlight a health care co-op in Puget Sound that could be seen as a model for a compromise on the public option, but Tim Foley notes that the benefits of this approach came over a 60-year period, and we really don't have that long to wait.
• Not only does the federal government, with its bias toward small states in the Senate, favor rural areas over urban ones, but this seems to be true at the state level as well, as cities are not getting their fair share of transportation funding from the stimulus package. I thought some of this would end with a President being elected from an urban area, but not yet, apparently.
• Those of us who feared a lack of reconciliation in Iraq always had this scenario in the back of our minds: "With little notice and almost no public debate, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders are pushing ahead with a new constitution for their semiautonomous region, a step that has alarmed Iraqi and American officials who fear that the move poses a new threat to the country’s unity." The real issue here, as if you couldn't guess, is oil. The Kurds want claim to their own natural resources. I'd like to see anyone bargain that away from them.
• The front-page story in the New York Times claiming that hundreds of released Gitmo detainees "returned to the battlefield" was suspect even before McClatchy's great article about one on the list, Haji Sahib Rohullah Wakil, an emissary of Kunar Province in Afghanistan who was captured by the Americans and held at Guantanamo for years, and now does the same advocacy for Kunar in full view of and with the appreciation of the Afghan government. That NYT article was always a sham.
• This part of the John Ensign story, where his friends have to drive him to the FedEx station to mail the "Dear John" letter to his mistress, only to have Ensign call her up later and tell the woman that his friends put him up to mailing that and he didn't mean a word of it, is so pathetic in every conceivable way, that you'd think Ensign would wear a bag over his head in Senate deliberations for the rest of the year.
• What's so great about this is how casually the Arizona state Senator remarks that the Earth is 6,000 years old. Her main point is to stress the longevity of the planet and how a little uranium mining cannot possibly hurt it. Her Biblical interpretation of the birth of the world is just a sidelight. And of course, the half-life of the uranium she's actually talking about proves her wrong.
• What do we think about this Google operating system? It sounds basically like the next level of cloud computing, where everything you "own" digitally is stored for you online, but as a tool for businesses I really don't see it catching on.
• Somehow it escaped me that there were a bunch of tea parties last week, far more sparsely attended even though they coincided with a holiday. And the national GOP largely stayed away, mainly because the crowd has spun out of their control.
• Turning locally, I have been following the work of the Parsky Commission, whose Republican appointees want to hit California with a flat tax, eliminate corporate taxes and turn it into Latvia. Thankfully, despite Dan Walters' tears, some Democrats on the panel are resisting this particular shock doctrine effort.
• I'm kind of obsessed with Silvio Berlusconi these days, so seeing a member of Parliament apologize to The Guardian newspaper for Berlusconi's conduct, specifically saying "In Italy this government is not accustomed to free debate, or to hearing the truth being told," just fills me with glee. For context, imagine if Rupert Murdoch owned not just Fox and Fox News but every single television channel in America, and was also President.
• If you're the only vote against the recognition of the slave labor that built the US Capitol, and you appear proud of it, you really need to be living somewhere other than Iowa. Maybe the antebellum South.
• And finally, poor, poor Joyce DeWitt. Three's Company was a guilty pleasure growing up. Ol' Janet looks like she has a thyroid condition now. One too many visits to the Regal Beagle.
Labels: rest of the week in review