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The Roundup

The sun has peeked out of the clouds here in Los Angeles, which of course disproves global warming definitively. So I have to take a walk, here’s your roundup:

• Ben Bernanke prepared a statement for a Congressional hearing that didn’t happen, which outlined his possible steps to exit from the massive monetary stimulus propping up the economy, and (way down the road) to increase interest rates. This talk of an “exit strategy” is occurring even though there’s still mass unemployment, because the Fed is worried that banks might actually start lending, leading to inflation, which doesn’t exist at the moment. So the Fed is attacking a non-existent problem, letting an actual problem go unattended, and yet the market initially shot down on the news that interest rates may go up from zero at some undefined point.

Good gravy.

• Richard “Dick” Shelby says that Chris Dodd is going it alone on financial regulations, determined to include the Consumer Financial Protection Agency in any bill. Talks are still occurring, however.

• Looks like Greece will get some measure of support from the EU, whether it’s a bailout by France and Germany or loan guarantees contingent on budget austerity. Incidentally, the current Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, is a liberal being advised by Joseph Stiglitz, who did not create this crisis but inherited it, and is seeking to use the crisis to reform endemic corruption in Greece’s public institutions.

• After a week of hype about an upcoming New York Times story that would cause NY Governor David Paterson to resign, all the paper has seen fit to print is a story about the rumors. Paterson is calling the rumormongering racist. Then later today, a local TV news report claimed Paterson was under FBI investigation over a contract with the Aqueduct Race Track, which his office denied. I’m going to wait for the actual story to come out on this one.

• Unions aren’t the only group pissed at Blanche Lincoln – environmental groups are putting up billboards in her state slamming her over wanting to roll back the Clean Air Act so it cannot regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

• The idea that climate change legislation is doomed because of a snowstorm in DC is about the most infuriating thing I’ve ever read. Presumably Congress won’t act on investing in electric cars because theirs takes gas.

• I never dealt with this poll showing Republicans and Democrats tied in the generic ballot because we pretty much already knew this. The President lost all his political capital, at least for his party, in the space of a year. They can learn from it or they can sink even further.

• Wow, 230,000 dead in Haiti from the earthquake. Tragic.

• So Newt Gingrich lied on Jon Stewart’s show last night, saying Richard Reid was an American citizen. He then compounded the lie with a “correction” on Twitter, saying he was thinking of Jose Padilla, and that “treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is President,” even though Padilla, after spending 3 1/2 years in a Navy brig as an enemy combatant, was also tried in a criminal court. If people are surprised that Gingrich is confused and contradictory, I can’t help them.

• A global financial transactions tax would raise $400 billion dollars a year, money that could be shifted to anti-poverty and jobs programs, according to a new group out of Britain dedicated to enacting the tax.

• Super-techno-literate Carly Fiorina thinks what we really need to do to reduce government spending is to put all legislation up on a Web site, the way Thomas has done for the last 15 years. She should stick to Web ads about demon sheep.

• Republicans sent out another fake Census form to try and confuse people into opening their direct mail. The Party of Ideas!

• Democrats finally have a candidate in the seat vacated by party-switcher Parker Griffith. Mitchell Howie is a JAG attorney who formerly worked as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Legislature.

• More from the Silvio Berlusconi chronicles – actual accountability! A top Belusconi aide had to resign over the growing corruption probe. Presumably he’ll wind up President next. Amusing sidelight – he offered his resignation as the head of the Civil Protection agency, and Berlusconi declined it!

• Obama gets the thumbs-down on leadership from Clint Eastwood, who says he’s no Nelson Mandela. Eastwood is a Republican, of course. And he’s comparing Obama to the fictional character of Mandela he created in his film Invictus. So YMMV on the effectiveness of the critique.

• The MoveOn ransom note is pretty amusing. (via)

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David Dayen

David Dayen