Monday, June 12, 2006

The Week Ahead

A few things to pay attention to as the new week gets underway. Take 'em as you will, but keep 'em in mind.

  • Not so much as something to keep an eye on, but we at TBWA haven’t mentioned him in a while, so I thought this story was a good one to pass on. Remember former FEMA Chief Michael Brown? Him of the ever-famous ‘Heckuva job Brownie.’ He was on CNN last week, and mentioned that just before he resigned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he got an email from a Senior White House staffer that said, among other things, “I did hear of one reference to you, at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. I wasn't there, but I heard someone commented that the press was sure beating up on Mike Brown, to which the president replied; ‘I'd rather they beat up on him than me or Chertoff.’ Congratulations on doing a great job of diverting hostile fire away from the leader.” Well… at least he did something useful…
  • Keep an eye and ear as this week a federal district court in Detroit will hear lawyers for the ACLU arguing that the NSA’s wiretapping programs violate the U.S. Constitution and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and will be asking that the program be halted. Attorneys for the Justice Department have asked the judge to dismiss the suit because it would (supposedly) reveal state secrets. Don’t let this one get out of your sight, lest the NSA spin it right by us.
  • Keep an eye on Guantanamo Bay after the suicides of three detainees over the weekend. Add to that the fact that there was a delay in discovering the three, the whole situation has raised questions whether or not regulations for supervision of prisoners were, and are being, followed. This problem was exacerbated when U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy described the suicides as a “good PR move to draw attention.” Now, the European Union is calling for the prison to be closed. Brilliant. Some people should never, ever open their mouths lest they make a fool of themselves)
  • Keep an eye on the Democrats. Seems that they are closing the fundraising gap with the Republicans. Experts say that a surge in small, individual contributions is helping to lift Democratic campaigns and eliminating the Republican fundraising advantage that had been seen for years and years. (That’s all fine and good, but out-raising the GOP doesn’t do a damn thing unless it can be backed-up with a victory in November. Keep the real victory and goal in site people…)
  • We at TBWA have urged everyone to keep a close eye (and ear) on Iran and it’s nuclear/uranium enrichment plans, and this past Sunday, Iran said that is has accepted portions of an offer from the West (and rejected others) that had an aim of getting Tehran to drop its nuclear program. In the statement, Iran also said that some of the points of the offer were “unclear,” (Somewhat good news indeed, but if I were you, I wouldn’t take my eyes off Iran for a second. They’re quick and shifty and, if possible for an entire country, acting with more than a few bi-polar tendencies)
  • If you or someone you care about has Medicaid, here’s a little something to keep in mind and keep an eye on in the weeks to come. Apparently, since the Bush administration couldn’t fix Medicare, it’s now allowing states to try their hand and improving Medicaid (which is the nation’s largest public health insurance program that covers 55 million poor and disabled Americans) With the okay from the administration, states are now highly motivated and moving quickly to transform Medicaid by adding fees, restricting benefits, and privatization of some portions of the Medicaid program. Yeah, I’m sure this plan will work well…)
  • Keep an eye on your own college debt and keep this in mind with your kids (despite their age). The amount of students who are leaving college with some level of “unmanageable debt” (defined as debt that can’t be repaid without significant lifestyle hardship) is intensifying as the average college senior is graduating this year with more than $19,000 of college-related debt. (Makes me glad I was on scholarships throughout college and only have my wife’s college debts to worry about, otherwise… we’d be screwed… and not in a good way)
  • Something to keep in mind in the years ahead is the legacy of the Iraq war in the Arab world. Most believe that its legacy will be one of “fear and suspicion over Iraq’s repercussions, a generation that casts the Bush administration’s policy as an unquestioned war on Islam, and a subterranean reserve of men who…declare that the fight against the United States in Iraq is a model for the future.” (Uh, ok, sure. Personally I would have said something more simple like; “We got screwed with our pants on,” but that’s just me…)

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