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The Roundup for February 15, 2011

I think I should keep a running count of this: It’s day 41 of the House Congressional majority, and still not one bill they’ve passed has become law. Not even a post office or something.

• Once again, the interactive highlights of the Obama 2012 budget put out by the New York Times is really fabulous, and a much better way of integrating primary text and reporting than the Washington Post’s balkanized coverage. Kudos to trad med here.

• I don’t necessarily like the fact that this is only being proposed in respect to the doctor’s fix, but the plan to use more generic drugs in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as to cut the patent protection for biologics from 12 years to 7 and ban pay-for-delay, is just sensible policy. And while we’re going for money-saving health care ideas, you know, the public option.

• “Curveball” admits he lied when he gave intelligence that helped lead the US into war in Iraq. Not surprising, but noted.

• Consumer prices are headed up because of increased global demand after a two-year lull and commodity price jumps, particularly oil, which affects everything because of shipping. But I feel like there’s a hint of meme-planting going on here, to impact monetary policy with threats of hyperinflation. The forecast is for 2.5% inflation, which isn’t far above price stability and, given the reduced inflation previously, actually helpful. I don’t see this as a bigger threat to US retail sales than a simple lack of purchasing power. Inflation in China, on the other hand, is far more dramatic.

• Not to steal the thunder of my pal Bmaz, but a few items from Arizona: Shawna Ford was convicted of murder for killing two Hispanics to steal their money and help fund operations for a Minuteman group; the state may require hospitals to check for citizenship, which violates federal immigration law; and Joe Arpaio, the sheriff who violates the civil liberties of his prisoners every day, might run for Senate and has a poll showing him ahead. Lovely place.

• Gretchen Morgensen doesn’t think much of the emerging consensus position for a chartered mortgage institution substitute for Fannie and Freddie. CAP, one of the progenitors of the idea, offered a defense of their idea. More on this tomorrow.

• Silvio Berlusconi actually went and got himself indicted in Italy for prostitution and abuse of office, an incredible feat given how much power he holds over the country.

• Now two protesters have been killed by security forces in Bahrain during pro-democracy protest. This could be the next government to collapse.

• Loretta Sanchez sure is bold for being willing to lose her job as a member of Congress (and get a higher-paid job as a lobbyist) by cutting Social Security. What a warrior.

• This is really terrible about Lara Logan, who was apparently not just beaten but sexually assaulted by a mob in Egypt.

• More budget odds and ends: lots of support for the nuclear industry in there; the money to boost the financial fraud unit is good; airlines really need another reason to tack fees onto their service, don’t they?

• Sadly enough, it’s now considered good news that the housing crisis defused the option ARM time bomb, because so many of the loans went bad before the ARM reset. Um, yay?

• Wow, Chevron has to pay $8 billion in Ecuador for clean up pollution in the rain forest. And the fine doubles if they don’t publicly apologize in 15 days.

• Roger Simon is not entertained enough by the Egyptian uprising, so thank God it’s over, because BOOORRR-ING. This is the epitome of a Politico article. And, apparently, an article for The Daily. By the way, one of my dogs is going on 16, so I’m just going to assume it’s the world’s oldest and beat Rupert Murdoch at his own game!

• I’m not entirely convinced that the “demography is destiny” argument will lead to a permanent Democratic majority, but certainly insulting the fastest-growing segment of the electorate repeatedly isn’t exactly helping the GOP.

• Some election talk: John Ensign is in trouble against Dean Heller in a primary; Bob Corker would have trouble with Phil Bredesen (D) in Tennessee; Obama may try to cajole Tim Kaine into that open Senate race to replace Jim Webb; Daily Kos wants to draft Elizabeth Warren for MA-Sen, which I wholeheartedly support.

Net-zero energy office buildings!

• Mike Stark strikes again on Rush Limbaugh’s show. Another direct hit. These conservatives don’t mesh well with reality.

• Common Cause continues their aggressive stance against Clarence Thomas. It must be a target-rich opportunity to find discrepancies in his financial statements.

• Veterans come forward to decry rape in the military that has gone unpunished.

• Is Mean Jean Schmidt the next corrupt Republican in trouble?

• It’s actually not funny that the CBS lady had a stroke on the air.

• More on the Obama White House’s predilection for competitive grants. I think after-the-fact performance assessments make more sense than before-the-fact.

“Bread goes in, toast comes out. You can’t explain that.” Loving the O’Reilly mockery.

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David Dayen

David Dayen