The Roundup for January 31, 2011

Still getting over a slight cold, but managed to make it through my RT appearance all right. And now, back to you, dear blog…

• Stephen Lynch wants us all to know that the key to victory for Democrats in 2012 is not trying to beat Stephen Lynch in a primary. The fact that incumbents hate primaries comes as no surprise, but Lynch tries to claim that said primaries account for general election losses, which is really a stretch. Joe Sudbay has more.

• Gary Ackerman (D-NY), who could not be more aligned with the interests of AIPAC, just called on the US to cut off foreign aid to Egypt. The post-Mubarak strategy has begun.

• This Jon Huntsman thing is just weird. Now the former Utah Governor has resigned his post as US Ambassador to China, and will run for the White House in 2012. Does he think “former Obama Administration official” makes for a good resume in Republican primaries?

• The Medicaid maintenance of effort provisions in the Affordable Care Act could wind up the even bigger fight than the individual mandate or the repeal measures in Congress (even if all Senate Republicans are united for repeal). Governors don’t want to maintain their Medicaid systems, even though the feds will pay for basically all of the expansion under the ACA. They’d rather claw back some of that money to backfill budget gaps, and the ACA doesn’t allow that.

• In the different responses to the FCIC report, everyone is seeing what they want to see. Dean Baker goes right back to the housing bubble itself as the problem, not fraud or negligence. Tom Adams prefers to look at why there was all this demand for bad loans, and chalks it up to hedge funds investing in market failure. Finally, Republicans have reacted by seeking to investigate the FCIC, which is ludicrous, but puts out the warning that nobody can badmouth banks and get away with it.

• The D-Trip gets an early start with radio ads against 19 House Republicans, mostly freshmen. It hits the GOP over spending cuts and how they will impact local jobs, suggesting a new aggressiveness to go after Republicans on job creation.

• Speaking of aggressiveness, expect continued widespread use of the motion to recommit to force embarrassing votes for the opposition, this time from House Democrats.

• Republicans react favorably to President Obama’s high speed rail initiative. I’m sure that will last right up until the moment when they are asked to spend a red cent on it.

• The best story I’ve read on Egypt comes from Democracy Now producer Sharif Kouddous.

• Riot police were out on the streets of Khartoum this weekend, and a student who was beaten by police died of his wounds late last night. That’s the kind of thing that has inspired anger and more vociferous protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

• Everyone’s reading Tyler Cowen’s e-book, summarized in this op-ed, claiming that we’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit for growth in the past century, and now less consequential changes for the masses have led to slower growth. The solution to this – privilege scientists more – just isn’t going to happen. I’m surprised Cowen doesn’t connect this more to his other big essay on the financialization of the economy, and look at how the biggest innovations by the best and brightest in the past couple decades have gone mainly to help bankers rip people off.

• Related to Cowen’s article about innovation, we need drugs that actually advance the cause of finding new cures, rather than the 15th Viagra-like pill. And the government should be funding clinical trials.

• Kabul Bank just symbolizes the broader corruption at the highest levels in Afghanistan. A lot of the losses were just taken out of the country by friends and relatives of Hamid Karzai and spent on luxury villas in Dubai.

• Of course Lloyd Blankfein will get $15 million more in compensation from Goldman Sachs this year. What, you think he doesn’t deserve it?

• Oil has spiked to $101 a barrel, partially due to the Egyptian turmoil. And runs on the bank are a distinct possibility, should they ever reopen.

• The government put out federal nutrition guidelines today that counseled people to eat less, in addition to lowering sodium and sugar intake. It’s actually new for FDA to just go ahead and say “eat less.”

• I tend to think the brouhaha over smart meters is reflective of the paranoid style of contemporary politics, and also the utter collapse of authority figures and elites who would presumably be able to reassure the public on this and other issues.

More domestic terrorism. Add it to the list, Dave Neiwert. At least we caught this one in time.

• The African Union will set up a panel to deal with the Ivory Coast crisis, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for unity. Yep, that’ll do it!

• Love this story about Ayn Rand accepting government Social Security and Medicare benefits. It’s not so much the hypocrisy but the recognition on her part that she needed the help from the state.

• I’ll bet most Americans have no idea about the changes in the light bulb industry over the next few years.

• Best wishes to Glenn Greenwald for a speedy recovery. I was planning to go out and see him at an event in Southern California this week, so I’m sad to see he won’t make it.

• Really sad about the destruction of some antiquities in Egypt.

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