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The Roundup for May 8, 2012

Let’s see if I remember how to do one of these. Big thanks to fatster for doing the roundups over my break, by the way.

• I don’t have a lot to say about Eric Schneiderman’s segment with Chris Hayes from over the weekend, except to say that he appeared to walk back the promise made by unnamed officials in his office to me, that he would walk from the task force if it proved ineffectual. Maybe we’ll hear more about this investigation into loan bundling and something real will result, but we’ll have to see.

• David Vitter and the Republicans won’t allow any further confirmations to the Federal Reserve board of Governors because of long-simmering issues over Presidential appointments going back to the Clinton Administration. I’m not sure this is as catastrophic for the economy as assumed, but if it is, there’s always the recess appointment power.

• More confirmation of HAMP’s failure. A program that touted a potential 25,000 new modifications a week is now getting about 12,000 a month. And Pat Garofalo notes that those ballyhooed tweaks to the program don’t become mandatory for servicers until June.

• Matt Taibbi muses on whether this is the most boring election ever. 1996 does come to mind for me, but clearly the attempt by cable news to make this a sequel to 2008 has fallen flat. This feels like a Gilded Age election in a few respects. Let’s just say that the stakes, given the credible speculation on what Obama would do in a second term, feel strangely disassociated from the nation’s actual challenges.

• Republicans really want to take down the President for happening to preside over the death of Osama bin Laden. The twisting of normal protocols into a passing-the-buck conspiracy is an impressive effort in this genre. So is Jack Keane claiming Obama “dithered” with the bin Laden evidence for a year.

• Lee Fang takes on oil industry speculators and their lobbyists. Good work.

• The situation in Spain has now turned to a possible bank bailout. That should encourage those seeing their jobs go up in smoke from austerity, as the funds that could be restored go to prop up zombie banks.

• The CIA touts another foiled plot from a new underwear bomber, and the TSA may get around to finding out if their bankscanner technology would have actually discovered the bomb. Uh, shouldn’t this have happened before the fact?

Ryan Avent and Mike Konczal muse about the labor force participation rate, and what it means for an accurate representation of the nation’s job market. Really we’re much closer to 10% unemployment than 8%. And yes, sustained fiscal and monetary policy could actually fix this.

• Ron Paul supporters busily use the arcane rules of state party nominating conventions to build a far stronger presence in the delegate race than the actual votes would suggest. This is going to be hilarious.

• Vladimir Putin’s goons beat up a bunch of demonstrators during his swearing-in ceremony as President of Russia.

• Scott Walker’s new math judges his job record starting with the modest recovery of 2010, judges his likely recall opponent Tom Barett’s record going back to 2004.

• Is this evidence of a Red Brigade-style assassination attempt in Italy?

• Here’s the textbook problem with announcing a new program based on “promises” from industry. Like in the case of Michelle Obama’s “food desert” policy, sometimes the promises never materialize.

• Revising the foreign student job program and eliminating warehouse work actually looks like a very good call by the Administration.

• We could save half a trillion dollars in the health care system just by holding the obesity epidemic steady and not seeing a larger percentage of overweight Americans.

• Mitt Romney, profile in courage.

• Angus King is about to become the most insufferable man in America.

• Can we partially attribute Nicolas Sarkozy’s loss to Islamophobia?

• Who the hell cares what the mayor of Chicago thinks about Francois Hollande?

• Another byproduct of the foreclosure crisis: rising rents.

• The IMF has been showing somewhat better policy chops of late, but this is pure nonsense.

• CompStat sounds a little like Lean Six Sigma to me, but it’s been apparently effective in local government operations management.

• The story of the AAirpass, an ill-fated promotion that got some early money into the coffers of American Airlines, but which has now become an unmitigated disaster. It reminds me of public asset privatization.

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David Dayen

David Dayen