Just a very long day.

Bill Black on the State of the Union and rhetoric vs. reality for teachers and public employees. Jim Hightower on SOTU and “WTF.”

• The broken Senate picked its committee assignments for the next two years. Democrats; Republicans.

• Again, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report is here, and the more sane GOP dissent is here. Peter Wallison’s crazy-town you can find on your own. There’s an inquiry in the British House of Lords which may be taking the evidence quite a bit further. Maybe our House of Lords, i.e. the Senate, will get off their duff and take a look.

• Don’t know what to make of Bill Keller’s apologia/tick-tock on Wikileaks and Julian Assange. All I got out of it is that Keller wants us to know that he’s better than “those” people.

• At the same time that we are erroneously putting people on suicide watch who we haven’t even charged, and indefinitely detaining prisoners at Gitmo, Britain is looking to reduce controls on terrorism suspects.

• The Davos elite is tired of being so damn contrite. To which I say, “when were they contrite?” They were whiny and sensitive, never contrite. Felix Salmon reflects that the elite “taking full advantage of their present profitability (thanks, Mr Bernanke) to consolidate their position as much as possible.” I think that sums it up.

The Arabist is a good source for the latest on the events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Muslim world.

• Lots of lawmakers introducing bills. A new Chinese currency bill has been readied; the old one passed the House with 348 votes. Rand and Ron Paul separately introduced Audit the Fed bills. The aforementioned Rand joined David Vitter on a Constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship. Of the three, the first one has an outside shot of passage.

• Mike Pence won’t run for President? What the hell are the freedom-lovers going to do?

• Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich keep out there the notion of states declaring bankruptcy, which raises borrowing prices for states and makes money for investors.

• Treasury has already set into motion their plans to delay a need to increase the debt limit as long as possible. But they can’t delay it forever.

• The GOP has a positive image among the public for the first time since 2005. Heckuva job, everyone.

• Weekly unemployment claims shot up last week. Of course, we’re winning the future now, so I’m sure unemployment claims in 2067 are all cool.

• Allen Stanford, a Ponzi schemer awaiting trial, was beaten within an inch of his life by a fellow inmate and suffered a traumatic brain injury that has made him not competent to stand trial. Prisons are truly a nightmare in America.

• Noticed this quote from Jim Webb’s SOTU response in 2007:

When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

Any of that different yet?

• Tunisia issued arrest warrants for the deposed President Ben Ali. By the way, it looks increasingly that the military is running the show there, and democracy is not exactly in the offing yet.

• The USDA approved genetically modified alfalfa from Monsanto without any restrictions, a reversal for the Secretary of Agriculture. Disgusting.

• Obama’s words on the drug war don’t totally match his actions, but in an era of diminished expectations, they were the best words that any President has ever said in the history of the war on drugs.

• I know how they feel: US diplomats are overwhelmed by writing too much.

• You can find out “how to kidnap a child” from Google faster than you can find out how to use bittorrent.

• Just so we know the ground rules: it’s OK when Bill O’Reilly calls someone a Nazi. Got it. Speaking of which, 400 rabbis sign a letter telling Rupert Murdoch that Glenn Beck needs to stop referencing the Holocaust.

• My continuing Silvio Berlusconi obsession. I’ve lost count of how many underage models are involved in this particular scandal.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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