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The Roundup

I’d like to apologize to someone who will remain nameless (you know who you are) for calling them a “fucking incompetent buffoon.” I meant in no way to disparage your competence.

OK, onward:

• The President will give an Oval Office speech next Tuesday, August 31, about the removal of combat troops from Iraq. I didn’t think he’d elevate it to that level. Will he address growing violence if it persists?

• A major story today is this piece about the Obama Administration amping up its covert war in Yemen. I didn’t write about it because Siun took care of it here. Glenn Greenwald also has good thoughts. But one point: if the CIA sees the Al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen as “the most urgent threat to U.S. security” these days, um… why are we committed with 100,000 troops and tens of billions of dollars in Afghanistan to deny safe havens to Al Qaeda?

• Despite no media coverage, this Alan Simpson thing is blowing up, even after the “apology”. Paul Krugman has called for his firing, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Raúl Grijalva. Dirty hippies all, but the pressure is rising.

• Tell you what, we’ll lower the corporate tax rate when corporations start paying it – and if we can empower the IRS to fully collect.

• What happened to that TARP-recovering bank tax, which was written into the law passed by Congress? The White House announced it, and then… nothing. Silly mortal, you don’t think that banks have to pay taxes, do you?

• Speaking of taxes, how about a People’s Tax Cut, where Democrats “propose eliminating payroll taxes on the first $20,000 of income, and making up the revenue loss by applying payroll taxes to incomes above $250,000”? We saw a little of this kind of progressive taxation in the stimulus, but it was completely hidden, to the extent that the White House has to come out and say “No, there WAS a tax cut in the stimulus!”

Big WaPo takeout on the Minerals Management Service’s cozy relationship with the oil industry. This comes as a BP executive admits that the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig wasn’t connected properly.

• The story about the petroleum-eating microbs that arose naturally to help devour some of the oil in the Gulf is fascinating, but not exactly a license to spill. Let’s not get carried away with this.

• A day after John Boehner called for the firing of the Obama economic team (and other Republicans joined him), the President made a point of getting on the phone with them to talk important stuff about the economy. Surely that convinced Mr. Tan Man.

• It’s as if some Democrats get off on bashing their own party.

• Kids who lived through Hurricane Katrina are still riddled with emotional problems. What’s more, Bobby Jindal has eliminated most of the mental health facilities in New Orleans.

• Barney Frank will hold hearings to examine regulator practices aimed at curbing executive pay. This is very smart, going after the regulators in addition to the companies themselves.

• People are souring on Obama’s education policies, though I would guess it has more to do with a general discontent than anything specific.

• Diana DeGette expects quick action to allow for embryonic stem cell research to continue, through a change in statute. I’ll believe it when I see it.

• It’s not all that surprising that Max Baucus would admit to not reading the health care bill. He writes out the plain English guidelines that come from the Finance Committee, and then turns it over to aides to make the language into legislation. That’s basically how it works. You have to ask, however, about who Baucus trusts to make that translation. Liz Fowler?

• Tom Vilsack offered his resignation at one point during the Shirley Sherrod fiasco.

• Following up on the Alaska bombshell, Lisa Murkowski may go third-party if she loses the primary, but according to state law would have to run as a write-in. Meanwhile, Democrats may replace their candidate with former Governor Tony Knowles.

• Chris Christie blew the chance at $400 million in Race to the Top funding because of an administrative error, and blames the White House when called out on it. Hey, I thought Republicans didn’t like government handouts, what’s he doing in the contest anyway?

• Unions plan to spend $100 million on Democratic candidates this fall.

• New initiative from Color of Change: Turn Off Fox. It seeks to get public spaces to change the channel away from Fox News.

• Former George W. Bush advisor Ken Adelman wants his boss to come out in favor of the Park51 project. Meanwhile, anti-Muslim hate crimes continue.

• This Onion piece on Time Magazine is too, too funny:

• Finally, sumo wrestlers are using iPads because their fingers are too fat for smart phones. I knew technology would turn runaway obesity into a virtue!

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David Dayen

David Dayen