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The Roundup for July 5, 2011

Still recovering from a nice Fourth of July weekend, and the sun’s out, so forgive me while I sign off on this day…

• The NEA jumped the gun with an early endorsement of Barack Obama for President in 2012. If you want to know why, this new accommodation from the NEA on student achievement as a component of teacher evaluations can offer a clue. The party hacks appear to be taking over.

• Charles Ferguson has a mainly detail-free primer on the mortgage mess, so if you need a catch-up you can read that over the hundreds of entries here. He’s definitely right about the centrality of AGs like Eric Schneiderman to whether or not the banks get away with nothing but a slap on the wrist. It’s good to see the work of registers of deeds getting penetration at the local level, too, with a Salem (MA) newspaper asking Martha Coakley to act more like Schneiderman and demand real accountability. Coakley’s previous settlements with the mortgage industry could actually offer some kind of model to deal with foreclosure fraud, says Adam Levitin.

• The public, by the way, wants government to help to prevent foreclosures. So the Rick Santelli boogeyman should simply no longer be a concern. And enforcing the law would be a start.

• If the concessions on Medicare and Medicaid in the debt limit deal are just the unraveling of Affordable Care Act bargains with the hospital industry and pharmaceuticals, whereby those industries simply have to kick in more money to slow the cost of health care spending, I’m all for it. I really doubt that will end up being the final deal, however.

• We now have a number on possible troops in Iraq beyond December: 10,000. You can bet they will be special ops designed to carry out missions largely unrelated to maintaining order and security in Iraq.

• The Senate came back to work instead of a scheduled break so Republicans could block all work until they debated the debt limit, which is being hashed out in behind-the-scenes negotiations with Congressional representatives, not the entire body. And you wonder why this has been the least productive Congress in history.

• Thomas Curry was formally nominated to head the OCC, and now begins his months-long war of attrition whereby the Senate doesn’t confirm him.

• Oil traders plan to take the petroleum released from strategic reserves in the US and Europe and hold it off the market for future sale. Speculation really is the entire ballgame here.

• Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall and Rand Paul sign their names to an op-ed on ending the war in Afghanistan. They could have added the peril of using supply routes littered with dictators in the wake of avoiding the dangerous situation in Pakistan.

• Neil Irwin has your debt limit early warning system right here. Early warning: CDS spreads are already starting to freak out.

The man who hunted bin Laden. Hint: he used police work.

• Big news that Russia supports Palestinian statehood at the UN. That at least gives the Palestinians a somewhat independent power base if they choose to pursue this in September.

• Wisconsin Republicans may really pass redistricting before they lose their Senate majority in the recalls, with another extraordinary session.

• The formal declaration by the Administration that DOMA is unconstitutional is a BFD.

• Some feints toward reconciliation and political reform concessions in Jordan and Bahrain, but they are coupled with firing tear gas into protest crowds.

• Mitt Romney is still running the right campaign to beat Barack Obama next year, but he still looks like the wrong candidate to pull it off.

• Five days in, and no resolution in the Minnesota government shutdown. Talks continued today, and some graybeards like Walter Mondale are intervening.

• In a sign that they understand how to play the game in Washington, Google just hired 12 lobbying firms.

• The Constitutional option on the debt limit – even as a threat – rebalances the scales and changes a hostage-taking situation into an actual negotiation by giving some leverage to the Democratic side. That said, I doubt they’ll use it.

• Even if Europe manages to bull through Greece’s sovereign debt crisis, they’ll have to contend with Portugal and the rest of their struggling nations. Hopefully this doesn’t overshadow the wild success of Portugal’s drug decriminalization program.

• The potential execution of Mexican citizen Humberto Leal Garcia in Texas, and the Obama Administration’s efforts to stop it, is a major under-the-radar international crisis.

• Great profile of Bradley Manning in New York Magazine.

• Moral of the Yellowstone River disaster – if you’re going to spill a lot of crude and pollute a river, do it over a holiday weekend.

• Kansas’ novel solution to the court order blocking draconian regulations that would put abortion clinics out of business – enact the regulations anyway.

• First female head of state in the history of Thailand. I like to pepper these milestones with the information that the United States still hasn’t had one.

• Now it’s Herman Cain’s turn for mass defections of staff.

• In Michigan, an inmate claims that the lack of access to porn violates the Constitutional provision against cruel and unusual punishment. Depends on the porn.

• RIP Cy Twombly, the American avant-garde painter whose work consisted mostly of giant scribbles.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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