January 22, 2009

Few things this morning

Pardon my bit of self-pity yesterday about blog awards. Good Grief. As I noted in the comments, I never wrote this thing to make money or earn praise from people I don't even know. I wrote it for my own sanity, and then was gratified that it grew into a little community of people talking about ideas and making connections. I will take that any day.


I was stunned that Fox News' Chris Wallace was out there suggesting that Obama's flubbed oath meant that he wasn't actually President. I can't stand Fox, but am not completely dismissive of all the individual people on there. Cavuto is an idiot, as far as I can tell, and so are all of their morning crew (as are all the morning crews). But Shep Smith (who I don't like particularly) has shown himself to be a rather credible voice. He was very much so during Katrina and also expressed the appropriate amount of exasperation with Joe the Plumber. Wallace, on the other hand, I couldn't quite figure out. On one hand, he would do a good interview, and then act like a right wing shill. This last bit puts him more in the right wing shill, I am afraid.


On another note, read a blog this morning that suggested that our old way of seeing the economy didn't fit Obama. Historically, liberals trumpeted regulation and conservatives trumpeted markets. But Obama praises both, and suggests that the market has to be respected as the most powerful force in creating economic wealth and opportunity, but then noting that we have to have a watchful eye on that market. This economic collapse sure suggests that we need to be watchful. Good god, on NPR this morning, economists were suggesting that we were going to have to spend several trillion dollars to keep our banks solvent. As bad as that sounds, the alternative is far worse, and conservatives suggesting that deregulation had nothing to do with the collapse are, I think, losing credibility with each bad economic news item. The market cannot be trusted to just magically do the right thing, as former Fed Chair Greenspan admitted. Government can, and should be the watchdog. Not decide market decisions, but certainly to keep an eye on institutions and corporations who often prioritize their own profits over either economic prudence or the good of the country.


Colbert had the Inaugural poet on last night. Her poem has been the least discussed (it seems to me) portion of the inauguration, and when mentioned, mentioned in a negative light. Jon Stewart made fun of it as a way to clear out the millions on the mall, and others have criticized it on content. Sullivan called the poem "pedestrian." I generally like Sullivan, but think he completely missed the boat on Elizabeth Alexander's contribution. In fact, it was "pedestrian" but was intended to be so. I think people like Sullivan wanted her poem to be some kind of classic and soaring ode to the new President. But it was a praise for the ordinary and "pedestrian" things that we all do, and we all participate in. And if you listen to Obama's speech, that is what he emphasized too. For all the talk about him as "pop icon" and "celebrity," (as my friend Ubub pointed out, btw) Obama has emphasized the role of the grassroots and the everyday people in both his campaign, and his answer to the economic and environmental problems. Her poem was great and right on point.


And finally, a story from the LA times discussing how Patriot Act laws intended to fight terrorism have been used to prosecute airline travelers who clearly were not terrorists. Perhaps they should have been punished in some way, but one woman was actually jailed after a confrontation with a flight attendant over spanking her own kids. Doesn't sound like she abused the kids, though it does suggest that she lost her cool and was at least partially in the wrong. But the response is scary. It is this kind of stuff that critics warned about, only to be told to stop coddling terrorists and hating America.


In better news, the President's first full day included him encouraging FOIA requests and emphasizing transparency. What a difference an election makes.

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