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Dayen’s News Roundup from January 8, 2012

News Cafe - Miami Beach (photo: wallyg, flickr

I needed a couple days off. Will have some good stuff in the morning. Cleaning out my tabs:

• Contra Bill McBride, I don’t think these imminent housing policy changes will make much of a difference (moronic James Pethokoukis blog posts notwithstanding). I’m convinced there won’t be an AG settlement, and according to McBride the HARP changes won’t even begin to make a dent until March. Without a concomitant PSA campaign to educate borrowers of the possibilities, that’s going to fall totally flat. I don’t see the Freddie Mac forbearance program for the unemployed having much of an impact either. What does seem to be changing is the willingness of policymakers to step out from the orthodoxy. At the Fed, Sarah Bloom Raskin vowed to fine mortgage servicers for what she specifically called deceptive practices. At the NY Fed, Bill Dudley endorsed principal reductions. The ultimate policies that result may be miniscule, but this is a sea change in how the foreclosure crisis is being viewed in the corridors of power.

• Shades of Judy Miller: The NYT flat-out lies as part of an effort to gin up a war with Iran. There was no International Atomic Energy Agency assessment that Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective. Leon Panetta was extremely careful this morning to say that Iran sought a “nuclear capability” and not a nuclear weapon. The Times disappeared this line in their story for the online edition.

• LIHEAP funding gets emergency aid almost every year but with unseasonably warm weather in too much of the country and an austerity Congress I don’t see it happening, which is a total tragedy for a lot of people.

• Yay, our manufacturing wages are so law that Caterpillar threatens Canadian workers with wage cuts to keep competitive with us! Our workers are so damn competitively low-paid! America’s back!

• Not buying the idea that the Cordray appointment helps banks, although it’s true that supervising non-bank lenders could give banks a competitive advantage. The other part of this is that Cordray will now assume a spot on the board of the FDIC, not great news for banks.

• This Stephen Colbert story about the performance art that is his SuperPAC is really tremendous. I’m starting to see a lot of buyer’s remorse about the broken campaign finance system and corporate control of the electoral process, especially from the GOP candidates with the most exposure to the system.

• Might as well recap the GOP primary: the debates were mostly a bust, Santorum is receding in New Hampshire (denying he said the word black and constantly talking about gay marriage probably didn’t help), the attacks against Romney are coming too late, and this whole thing may be wrapped up by the end of the month. The Herman Cain endorsement could change everything, however.

• Corey Robin has the definitive piece on Ron Paul and progressives, the one that most mirrors my views. This from Simon Johnson on Paul and the banks is worth reading too.

• I could absolutely see a situation where the Senate and the House change hands in 2012.

• The reduction in the crime rate really does have a lot to do with reduced levels of lead in the atmosphere.

• The health care law waivers have slowed to a crawl, at least on the medical loss ratio.

• The broadened definition of rape is one of those obscure yet vital changes that will improve matters. So too with the 20-year ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. [cont’d]

• In a follow-up to the situation in Dimock, PA, where the fracking company that contaminated the water supply refuses to ship in water to residents, the EPA may get involved.

• In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai accepted the Taliban-US talks, but he also wants local control of the prison at Bagram. Emptywheel has more.

• There’s a special election to replace David Wu (D) in OR-01 on January 31, and Democrat Suzanne Bonamici looks to be cruising.

• The California budget proposal, inadvertently leaked onto the Web last week, is bad if the taxes get approved by voters and catastrophic if they don’t.

• Not to be outdone by Indiana, New Hampshire’s legislature will try to pass a right-to-work bill, albeit only for state workers.

• Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh is quite obviously trying to back out of the deal that would end his term in office, even as the law granting him legal immunity in exchange for stepping down gets drafted.

• Peter King is on the hunt for The Hunt for Bin Laden, and he may have found something, with allegations of leaks to filmmakers dramatizing the bin Laden raid.

• We’re on about the tenth imitator to the Center for American Progress from the right, and not one of them has really worked, FYI.

• Jakadrien Turner, the young American citizen mistakenly deported to Colombia, returned home, thankfully. But the problem of wrongful deportations is far more widespread than you’d ever believe. And even the “correct” deportations are often wretched.

• Not all that interested in gossipy tell-all books but I will say that if even half of this is true, Michelle Obama rocks.

• GE got deep into subprime, too.

• Connecticut reveals a relationship between solid governance and clean elections.

• House Democrats have been a thorn in the side of Republicans with their pro forma session antics.

• We may have another Kennedy in Washington before too long.

• It’s the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Giffords that killed six bystanders. Giffords, still recovering from her wounds, drew massive applause at a nighttime vigil.

• Teachers in Pennsylvania decide to work for free after a round of budget cuts.

• Louis Freeh doing a good job of stonewalling on behalf of MFGlobal. With any luck he’ll do the same for Penn State!

• The emergency financial manager, aka the death of democracy, could come to Detroit.

• MSNBC has finally decided to clean the crazy uncles out of its attic.

• This is total genius. Already the early leader in the race for comic moment of 2012:

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David Dayen

David Dayen