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The Roundup

Settling back into this first day of the lame duck session. Fortunately, Congress made it easy by scheduling nothing at all today. Real votes won’t take place until Wednesday, though tomorrow’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on foreclosure fraud (2:30ET, available for webcast here) could provide some fireworks.

The rest of the day’s news:

• Reuters has a primer on tomorrow’s Senate Banking Committee hearing. When South Dakota’s Senator for the banksters Tim Johnson is saying “Foreclosure should be the last option and we need to examine barriers to mortgage modifications,” you know there’s unanimous fury with how the banks have handled things.

• I didn’t realize that we were bribing Israel with F-35s in order to get them to freeze settlement construction for 90 days. If they reject it, the Palestinian leadership could crumble and violence would almost certainly ensue.

• Paul Krugman has two posts on his blog summarizing the position of the “liquidationists,” the conservatives who, having already cut off fiscal policy, now want to do the same to monetary policy. Basically they want to prolong the economic pain as a prescription for that economic pain.

• Some anecdotal evidence of improvement in small business is good news for the economy (and probably an outgrowth of the small business bill which President Obama signed into law in September), but isn’t quite the game-changer needed.

• According to a new study, global sea levels will rise three feet by 2100, wiping out low-lying areas across the planet. Like the tragedy of 15 million unemployed Americans, you’d think someone would do something.

• For those of you who thought the housing bubble or the dot-com bubble weren’t risky enough, how about the lawsuit bubble, with hedge funds bankrolling court cases for a piece of the judgment.

• I may be alone in this, but I’m glad to see Democrats in the Senate still pressing forward on filibuster reform. This isn’t about ideology, but functional governance.

• I’d be more gung-ho on Texas opting out of Medicaid and seeing the extreme error of their ways if it wouldn’t have a horrible impact on 2.2 million vulnerable members of society.

• More on the forced-place insurance scandal, which I covered last week, here.

• Hispanics are deserting the unfriendly confines of Arizona, and you can be sure they are taking their purchasing power and economic productivity with them.

• David Plouffe in, David Axelrod out at the White House, as the Obama re-election team takes shape and gets ready for 2012.

• It seems like the recusal process for the Supreme Court has liberals generally following the rules as they see them, and emboldened conservatives ignoring all conflicts of interest and just plowing forward. Asymmetrical warfare. Even Clarence Thomas’ wife got the message and recused herself from a right-wing tea party group; her husband, not so much.

• I love that Medicare thief and Governor-elect of Florida Rick Scott hired Arthur Laffer as a top economic adviser. Frauds of a feather flock together.

• The polls show that voters don’t want Congress to end unemployment insurance extensions, but then again neither the Democrats or the Republicans really ran on the economy and unemployment in the midterms, even though it’s unquestionably the most important issue facing the country.

• Half of Joe Miller’s legal team quit over the weekend, as the re-election of Lisa Murkowski as a write-in candidate looks more and more clear.

• The ethics hearing of Charlie Rangel was a bit of a sideshow today.

• Someone in the White House doesn’t like Larry Summers. Make that everyone.

• There are a couple fun anecdotes in this profile of Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign in Chicago, like the guy throwing an egg at his car. Under the surface, Emanuel probably needs to win in the first round, before the “anyone but Rahm” forces can unify.

• Eric Cantor is flailing around after his comment to Benjamin Netanyahu about acting in his interests instead of the President’s.

• No, public employees are not overpaid.

• Good article by Brian at Calitics on the stupidity of good government groups, who ignore the plain fact that California has self-segregated, and that you cannot simply “create” new competitive districts unless you’re willing to re-gerrymander.

• If Facebook delivers a good email product, they’ll be on their way to practically taking over the Internet.

• Can’t wait for Bill Clinton in Hangover 2.

• The latest in my Silvio Berlusconi obsession: he really could be in trouble, though he seems to have nine political lives.

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David Dayen

David Dayen