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The Roundup for January 17, 2011

Hey all. Out in Portland, which reads a lot older as a city than I ever expected. Really impressed with it. So much so that I abandoned blogging for the majority of the afternoon. I have some bidness in town tomorrow, but should come up with a slightly stronger effort. So let’s just wrap up some of the past few days, and a happy MLK Day to everyone (along with a happy 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech):

• The amazing progress of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords continues. She’s had the breathing tube removed, had her condition upgraded to serious from critical and came closer to the rehabilitation phase, with most of her “higher levels of function are somewhat preserved.” Just incredible.

• Yes, I can’t wait for the Wikileaks on ultra-rich tax evaders, though I guess I’ll have to wait a while, as they’re so backed up with other projects.

• I don’t see how you can disagree with Chuck Schumer on gun control legislation. The votes weren’t there for anything groundbreaking in the last Congress, let alone this one. And the NRA has already started the drumbeat on the relatively modest proposed extended magazine ban, with the familiar refrain of “First they came for the high-capacity clips, and I said nothing…”

What? Baby Doc Duvalier just showed up in Haiti over the weekend? Arrest him!

• I’m more optimistic than Yves Smith about Eric Schneiderman, knowing his history of progressive leadership, but I hope he doesn’t fear so much getting on the banks’ bad side that he self-censors his investigations.

• Arnold Schwarzenegger whines that being Governor of California cost him $200 million in lost filmmaking revenue. But what about how much it cost us, the fans? We didn’t even get to see End of Days 2! (On a more serious note, what an incredible ass for even bringing this up. It’s not like you were close to being good at governing, anyway; we would have been happy for you to return to shlock movies.)

• I’ve heard about the destruction of the microfinance industry, as the greedheads basically ruined a great way to lift people out of poverty. Now the godfather of microfinance, Mohammed Yunus, expands upon this in the New York Times.

• The tax reform debate seems destined for gridlock to me, and considering that Obama wants to make it revenue neutral, maybe that’s fine.

• At least the Washington Post brought the question of lowering the retirement age into the discussion, even if they ultimately rejected it. I’m guessing a lot of people read that article and thought, “That makes a lot of sense.”

• Tunisia has formed a unity government, including several members of the opposition. This may end the protests, though I’m not sure we’ll know for a while yet.

• One of the shooting victims in Arizona yelled out “You’re dead” to a tea party leader in the middle of a televised forum, and got arrested. At this point, probably the right move.

• With now at least 250 dead in Ivory Coast in post-election violence, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has gone to Abidjan for a new round of talks aimed at finally ending the dispute between election winner Alassane Ouattara and incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

• Why Tom DeLay probably won’t see the inside of a jail cell.

• The new House Armed Services Committee chair, Buck McKeon, doesn’t want those Pentagon cuts in a time when the country needs a “war footing.” Surely he’d also tell you that we have to get the deficit under control.

• I’m not sure if George Allen will actually get the rematch with Jim Webb, both because there’s a tea party candidate who finds Allen’s very conservative past record “liberal,” and because Webb may not even run again.

• The latest in my Silvio Berlusconi obsession. 7,000 euros a night.

• If Bobby Jindal thinks he can run for President, he should probably read the Oil Spill Commission report, because there’s no doubt his rivals’ oppo research teams have.

• The Chicago mayor’s race, with a vote only a month or so away, has gotten very interesting, with a lot of proxy battles around Obama and the liberal/moderate split involved.

• I wouldn’t call this blackmail. I’d call it a case of “live by vertical integration and monopolization, die by vertical integration and monopolization.”

• Russ Feingold talks with John Nichols. He says he’ll continue to be engaged in public life. Excellent.

• Good for Salon for retracting their 2005 article about vaccination and autism. I heard the doctor who wrote the initial report backtracking and rationalizing feverishly on Good Morning America today.

• The blanket saturation in the media about Reaganus Maximus’ centennial year is sure to nauseate between now and February 3, the big day.

• Why are they even asking Miss America about Wikileaks?

• Let’s hope they bring Little Hugo to America for his own sitcom.

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David Dayen

David Dayen