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Weekend Roundup

As you could probably tell, I was at the CDP convention all weekend, and will have some more to say about that tomorrow – I think the implications of the gathering of the nation’s largest state-level political party loom pretty large. But obviously, some other activities occurred over the past few days. Here’s one-stop shopping to get you up to speed.

• I missed this whole hissy fit from the White House over a blog post suggesting Elana Kagan is gay, which immediately elevated “Elena Kagan is gay” rumors to the top of everyone’s mind. There’s also the matter of nothing actually being wrong with being gay, though I agree that there’s a particular sexism at work at labeling any unmarried career woman, particularly one who is not conventionally attractive, as a lesbian. Anyway, it certainly makes it look like Kagan is the Supreme Court pick; conservative attack dogs have said plenty of ridiculous things about some others on the short list, and this kind of pushback never happened.

• In addition to the Goldman Sachs civil suit, the Justice Department indicted the head of Blackwater. Dare we believe in accountability again?

• Some cheery thoughts: the European Central Bank foresees a sovereign debt crisis on top of the financial crisis (with Portugal probably next on the list), and the US military says the unthinkable, that oil production has peaked.

• Important stories that are more part of the Emptywheel beat, but worth noting: the 2005 documents showing that Porter Goss agreed with destroying the torture tapes; and Thomas Drake, the former NSA official, faces major jail time for whistleblowing on NSA activities to a Baltimore Sun reporter (I have to take Glenn Greenwald’s side on that one). As John Cole summarized: “The message is clear- you torture people and then destroy the evidence, and you get off without so much as a sternly worded letter. If you are a whistle blower outlining criminal behavior by the government, you get prosecuted.”

• Eric Holder prepped the civil libertarians for the inevitable comedown on civilian trials and the persistent presence of military commissions.

• Simon Johnson and James Kwak wrote an eloquent defense of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, once again putting the lie to the argument that anyone pushing for breaking up the banks is a monomaniac who doesn’t understand that it alone wouldn’t reform the financial system. Yeah, we know.

• It’s right to read Charlie Crist’s veto of a Republican-passed school bill in Florida, which triggered the resignation of his campaign chairman, is a signal that he’s at least considering an independent run. We’ll know in less than two weeks.

• I’m watching a replay of the British election debate, and I can see why Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are surging. He did a superlative job. However, even if the Liberal Dems win the national share of the vote, they will not have the most seats in Parliament, I assume because they have less density throughout the country.

• Mac D’Alessandro, an SEIU official in Massachusetts, will stage a primary challenge to Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), who voted against the Democratic health care bill.

• I wouldn’t read too much into this sensationalized story about a three-month old memo from Robert Gates about Iran. Of course there are military plans for Iran, but this memo is basically out of date, and the action has moved to sanctions.

• Speaking of Bob Gates, why is the Secretary of Defense weighing in on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement?

• Yes, there are a trillion dollars in new taxes coming down the pike. They consist of letting the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans expire, stopping businesses from hiding taxes and ending giveaway tax breaks to fossil fuel companies. I don’t think anyone will be particularly sad about their imposition.

• Speaking of the super-rich, why no, they’re not at all like you and me, and they’ve had it very good for the past several years.

• Two good court rulings: a circuit court judge struck down the Arkansas ban on gay adoption, and a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

• No, Rush, there were not union miners at the Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 workers lost their life.

Look out, John McCain. Arizona Republicans are none too impressed that you’re a great American.

• “Freakishly” obese Americans from the 19th century look like your average person at the mall today.

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David Dayen

David Dayen