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The Roundup for March 1, 2011

The return of the weekday roundups! Sorry for missing them the past couple days. I may have something on the Wisconsin budget fight later in the evening, but until then…

• Some great working class heroes inside the Capitol these past few days. You have locked-out Honeywell employees sleeping overnight, along with the occupation leader from Republic Windows and Doors, which staged a sit-in to get their legally-owed severance back in 2008.

• Some great statements of solidarity with the protesters and against Gov. Walker in the past day or so from Russ Feingold, US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka. When asked if this could spark a new progressive movement in America, Trumka replied, “It already has!”

• The Dane County district attorney believes that Scott Walker’s Koch call was “very concerning and sometimes quite alarming,” but not quite illegal. Of course, other legal minds in the state disagree.

• As the House potentially moves to cancel HAMP, the Wall Street Journal managed to tell some of the truth about the program. Only one in four who applied have been accepted for a permanent modification.

• Great Dean Baker paper on the origins and the severity of the public pension crisis. Again, it’s Wall Street and the housing bubble to blame, just like they’re to blame for state budget deficits in general. Speaking of the budget deficit, you could solve Wisconsin simply by making corporations pay what they owe.

• This increasingly looks like a civil war in Libya, with pitched battles for towns around the Tripoli area. Gadhafi’s forces have superior weaponry, so they are building a buffer zone.

• I simply don’t agree that the last in first out policies of many schools represents some great failure of the teacher’s union. They’re not the only profession in the world operating under a seniority system, and this notion that you can rank teachers with dead-eye precision is the stuff of fantasy. Nevertheless, teacher’s union leaders like Randi Weingarten are working on modifying that process. It’s an example of how unions are offering concessions to save collective bargaining, which can be very dangerous.

• As Obama refuses to defend DOMA in court (and this story that may have changed his mind is great), will the House of Representatives take that up? And how much will that cost taxpayers, perchance?

• Nancy Pelosi tried to get rid of non-biodegradable packaging in the House. Because she didn’t like it, the House GOP brought it back. Welcome to government by spite.

• House Republican efforts to leverage the South Korea free trade deal into pacts with Colombia and Panama have led to a stall of the entire trade agenda. Which is fine with me, but dumb if you support that kind of thing, as House Republicans do.

• The House may take up a “resolution of disapproval” on net neutrality. These things are theatrical, they don’t have a 2/3 vote that would be needed to override a veto. By the way, the Administration and the FCC apparently did carve out a place for online video via Netflix and other Web operations in the Comcast/NBC deal. Good.

• The regional cap-and-trade program in the Northeast is improving economies in that region, according to a new study. And, lowering energy bills.

• Speaking of studies, here’s one showing tens of billions of dollars going missing in the Afghanistan and Iraq contracting process. And here’s another one showing duplicative government waste. Paradoxically, the best way to counter this would be to hire more bureaucrats to audit and supervise and lower costs across government.

• The latest to be charged in the insider trading scandal: a former board member of Goldman Sachs.

• Rick Scott, last seen trying to defend Scott Walker on national television, may be in more trouble than his Wisconsin counterpart, at least with his own party. Because he’s lost them over his rejection of high speed rail funds.

• An $83 fountain pen helps save a family from foreclosure.

• Important lobbying news: Chris Dodd becomes head of the Motion Picture Association of America, after vowing to not become a lobbyist; and Jon Adler, a one-term Dem from New Jersey, winds up at Greenberg Traurig, Jack Abramoff’s old firm.

• Are foreclosures dropping, as homeowners get wise to foreclosure fraud?

Anonymous v. Americans for Prosperity.

• A fetus will testify on an anti-abortion bill in Ohio. Seriously.

• Hilarious: faced with the fallout of the Koch call, two Republican Senators in Wisconsin call for legislation banning prank calls. Next we’ll have the “Banning Witty Protest Signs Act of 2011.”


• Here’s Don Rumsfeld being an asshole to Condi Rice. Hard to pick a side on that one.

• I will try studiously to ignore Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast the way I have at The Atlantic.

• Conversely, I will find the man behind @MayorEmanuel and buy him a beer.

• Keith Olbermann’s new blog gets a scoop that makes Pinch Sulzberger look stupid, but we’re being redundant.

• Faith in humanity restored: Rush Holt beats IBM’s Watson in Jeopardy.

• I was on Sam Seder’s show talking about Wisconsin yesterday. Here’s the podcast.

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David Dayen

David Dayen