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The Roundup

Roundup, ready! (Monsanto humor)

• Pretty muted response to the Af-Pak review from members of Congress today. One of the more vocal was John Conyers, Chair of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus, who said that the report didn’t match the facts on the ground. He called on Gen. Petraeus to testify early next year. Meanwhile, John Boehner is setting a course for the center of the sun and following President Obama’s lead on the issue. He wants Obama to “articulate to the American people why engagement in the region is critical to our national security interests.” He’ll be hiding between Obama’s legs at the time.

• By the way, is anyone asking the Afghans what they think?

• The most recent Wikileaks cables concern major energy companies: Chevron discussed an oil project with Iran, which would be in violation of sanctions; and BP suffered a very similar blowout on an oil platform in Azerbaijan to the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. That last one could be used to build a pattern of persistent negligence on the part of BP.

• European troubles predominate: now Spain is threatened with a credit downgrade, after Ireland agreed to the rescue package terms from the IMF. Riots continue in Greece and elsewhere, as the continent appears to be on the financial brink. The EU put in place a permanent rescue fund for the eurozone, but they don’t really have the resources for a series of cascading collapses, even if the central bank does double its capital reserves.

• Republicans are being stung by revelations of hypocrisy on the omnibus spending bill. The cost of the bill, which they’re playing up, was also set by them, in addition to Republicans contributing a healthy sum of earmarks to the package. This video is fun and all, but think about the fact that spending in this omnibus bill was set at levels requested by REPUBLICANS. Austerity is here.

• Reid defended the whole concept of earmarks on the Senate floor today, and actually, it is defensible.

• FreedomWorks is quite serious about repealing health care reform, and I think the smug journalists relating this to Social Security’s long journey and eventual expansion are missing the point of HOW Social Security strengthened: because progressive activists pushed hard to improve it. I don’t see the same dynamic so far with health care, just a bunch of tut-tutting that “history shows the way” on these matters. History isn’t pre-ordained. As if to cement this, the big Florida trial by GOP Attorneys General resumed today.

• Another 127 foreclosures denied by a judge in New York. The judicial branch has caught on to the banks’ tricks.

• In addition to the war itself, I agree with Mike Honda that we need better oversight of how those funds have been spent. But that basically didn’t happen the past two years, and now the oversight gavel will be in the hands of Darrell Issa, who has some other ideas, and Joe Lieberman. So forget it.

More arrests in the insider trading scandal, where the Justice Department is making its stand (and a small stand it is) on financial fraud.

• Inequality is fundamentally linked to financial collapse.

• Remember how the banks were dinging credit reports when the borrower asked to see their mortgage note? Well, now they’ve gone and done that to a Republican state lawmaker in Arizona. Related to this, here’s a great paper on mortgage servicing by Adam Levitin and Tara Twomey. Incidentally, when Republican columnists start to castigate the banks, I think we’re seeing a real change in the zeitgeist here.

• The Obama Administration extracted some concessions from China on trade issues involving beef and wind energy, among others.

• What a jerk: Susan Collins calls the cops on 9/11 rescue workers who wanted to confront her over her vote against health services for them. The irony is that Collins is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

• The revolving door goes both ways. Often you see regulators hired who previously worked at the big banks and share their viewpoints; now, Goldman Sachs just hired a former regulator to help them fight off threats to their profits by Dodd-Frank.

• The swipe fee rulemaking was good, but the CFTC put off a vote that would have designed rules for commodity speculation. Any delay helps the speculators.

• So much for that Nigerian trial with Dick Cheney – Halliburton’s buying off the bribery scandal with yet another bribe, this one totaling $250 million.

• The FDA may be botching the measurements of safe seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.

• If I hadn’t mentioned Bradley Manning’s solitary confinement, or even if I have, let me do so again. It’s horrifying and it is torture, against someone who hasn’t been charged.

• Antonin Scalia really is going to teach Michele Bachmann’s seminar on the Constitution. Tell me again how the Court is made up of a bunch of umpires and not partisans.

“Cutgo” is just more proof that Democrats are being set up, fulfilling tax cuts for the rich while Republicans engage in part B, major spending cuts.

• The CALM Act is seriously one of the best things passed in the 111th Congress.

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David Dayen

David Dayen