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

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Rest of The (Mid)Week In Review

Why? You'll find out tomorrow, that's why:

• Looks like the Senate has a deal on cash for clunkers to extend it through Labor Day. Good, that's another $10 billion or so circulated into the economy. Good stimulus, good tangential environmental benefit. Everybody wins.

• Looks like the SEC actually wants to do something about high-frequency trading, particularly the technique of "flash orders" which allow traders to legally buy inside information and look at investor orders before they are consummated. There's just nothing useful about that to the wider world other than making investment firms rich. Baseline Scenario has a good look into the subject. Hopefully the SEC regulation won't amount to slaps on the wrist, like that pathetic fine on Bank of America.

• It certainly looks like Stanley McChrystal wants more troops for Afghanistan. I'd rather throw something into an actual sinkhole and not just a figurative one. Russ Feingold has vowed to oppose any increase because the case for more troops has yet to be made. If you want some damning evidence of the mission creep we're engaged in here, read this quote from Rory Stewart:

Since arriving at Harvard in June last year, he has been consultant to several members of Barack Obama’s administration, including Hillary Clinton, and is a member of Richard Holbrooke’s special committee for Afghanistan and Pakistan policy. “I do a lot of work with policymakers, but how much effect am I having?” he asks, pronging a mussel out of its shell.

“It’s like they’re coming in and saying to you, ‘I’m going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?’ And you say, ‘I don’t think you should drive your car off the cliff.’ And they say, ‘No, no, that bit’s already been decided – the question is whether to wear a seatbelt.’ And you say, ‘Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt.’ And then they say, ‘We’ve consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart and he says ...’”

• Rep. Tom Perriello has more information on the astroforging, where letters from local groups asking him to oppose the Waxman-Markey bill were actually forgeries sent by lobbyists. Apparently women's groups and senior groups were spoofed as well. Meanwhile, this peek inside Booner and Associates, the "white-collar sweatshop" responsible for the astroforging, is quite a read.

• Is there an enthusiasm gap in politics right now, with the Republicans more intense and more excited? I think the data isn't totally clear, but to the extent that there is one, it's entirely driven by the sucky economy that still feels like a deep recession to millions upon millions of people. If the economy remains in this lower gear, particularly the employment numbers, by November 2010, the Democrats will take big losses.

• They finally convicted Dollar Bill Jefferson, but curiously, NOT for the count regarding the $95,000 in the freezer. There wasn't enough evidence for that particular count.

• That fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act bill, including LGBT, has finally been introduced in the Senate. We need at least some movement on gay rights this calendar year.

• Chris Matthews lies about polling. There's just such an obsession with balance that journalists have to invent an equivalence between Truthers (a discredited and bipartisan segment of the fringe) and Birthers (accepted by 30-odd percent of the Republican Party).

• This car battery challenge could actually spur some creative innovation. Good use of stimulus funds.

• Adam Liptak has a good rundown of the Obama Administration's deeply troubling use of state secrets to 86 lawsuits. Their stance on this issue has really colored all of their civil liberties and terrorism decisions, even ones like this that may or may not be benign, depending on how you look at it. For sure, it doesn't make me want to defend them from people like Pat Roberts, who is vowing to "shut down the Senate" if Guantanamo prisoners are sent to Leavenworth in his state of Kansas.

• I haven't made my Kenyan birth certificate yet. You?

• Radio Shack's rebranding themselves "The Shack", prompting a copyright lawsuit from Shaquille O'Neal and Love Shack writer Fred Schneider of the B-52s.