I missed two days of roundup during my time back in NYC, and I’m still scrambling a bit today. So tomorrow’s going to probably look substantially less ragged. For the rest of today? I’m going to feed you some links.

• Some US officials are pushing for wider drone attacks into Pakistan, which sounds like nothing but the Christmas bombing of Cambodia. Mark Hosenball reports that Obama is in no mood to become Richard Nixon in this scenario, however: “Five administration officials tell NEWSWEEK that the president has sided with political and diplomatic advisers who argue that widening the scope of the drone attacks would be risky and unwise.” I knew he got that Nobel Peace Prize for a reason.

• Budget prospects in the states for the next year continue to look horrific. State aid is deeply required.

• Shorter Tony Blair: Yeah, Saddam didn’t have WMD, but hey, you come up with a better bumper sticker.

• If you look back at prior statements concerning Senate procedure, it becomes pretty clear that, whatever his liberal principles, Russ Feingold won’t be there on reconciliation for any policy ideas. That’s probably the bigger problem with the procedure – getting to 51 (although there’s probably enough wiggle room).

• A quick bit of perspective from the Urban Institute – when Joe Lieberman and others are talking about basically sabotaging reform, they’re talking about murdering tens of thousands of Americans every year (22,000 in 2006, to be exact). Charles Lane and Village robots like him find that a venomous statement, but they’d rather exist in a fantasy world where political actions don’t have real-world consequences.

• Lane also thinks the way to economic prosperity is cutting American wages.

• Houston became the largest city in America to elect an openly gay mayor, but this is a story mainly everywhere in the country but Houston, where Annise Parker was simply a competent three-term City Controller who moved up the ladder. It’s good to see the antigay forces humbled, but Parker made gay issues non-existent in her campaign and vowed not to lead any efforts at more equality for Houstonians (even as the city has banned domestic partnership benefits). So a world where a gay politician can win elections while assuring everyone not to do one thing for the gay community is both good and actually really bad, on various levels.

• Mike Mullen finally admitted over the weekend that adding 30,000 more troops to an escalation in Afghanistan will strain the US Army. I can’t believe this took over a week.

• Paul Krugman, on the denial of conservatives about the financial crisis, is particularly worth reading today.

• Anti-health reform groups are doing the social networking equivalent of cash for clunkers with a “virtual gaming cash for anti-health reform emails to Congress” campaign.

Forget Middle East peace under Barack Obama. Not really his fault, the factions in Israel in particular made this impossible, but sadly this nightmare will go on.

• The boycott of climate change talks by developing nations has ended, and hopefully we’re on track for a reasonable compromise at Copenhagen, but as I said, I expect three or four more walkouts before this is over.

• I really liked this piece on Jeff Merkley’s efforts to make the “cash for caulkers” program workable. In short, you have to put the money up-front for those who would energy retrofit their homes through financing efforts rather than after-the-fact rebates.

• The Administration, instead of just passing the student loan bill eliminating middlemen from direct lending (that’s being held up while we wait to see if reconciliation needs to be used for health care), is just pushing colleges and universities to take the direct loan deal. Members of Congress, particularly the ones who want to see useless subsidies go out to private student lenders, are outraged.

This story on the failed recall of California Assemblyman Anthony Adams fails in context – Adams is extremely conservative, and he only offered his vote to Democrats on the February budget revision. When the recall was threatened, he became as conservative as the rest and voted with his party and against all budget solutions the next time around in the summer. In other words, the recall threat, though failed, worked.

• Also, this shootout happened about 20 minutes after I walked by the same area near Times Square last Thursday in New York, in case anyone wanted to know that tidbit.

• I forgot to mention that the saga of Silvio Berlusconi continued with him getting hit in the face with a miniature statue of the Milans Duomo during a rally.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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