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The Roundup for March 14, 2011

I had family in town all weekend, and inevitably, an inability to check in over the weekend leads to a majorly frazzled following weekday. I got nuthin’ right now, so I may as well just round ‘er up and wait ’til tomorrow:

• This slipped through the cracks, but Maryland’s House of Delegates killed a same-sex marriage bill that struggled through its Judiciary Committee. Democrats hold the House of Delegates, but conservative Dems from the Baltimore suburbs and African-American Dems from Prince George’s County with religious objections scotched the bill. The bill got referred back to committee on a voice vote, so nobody’s actually on the record against it.

• Ross Douthat actually gets it right on Libya – no-fly zones often lead to larger interventions, neocons are being selective about which countries to invade, the case for war completely opaque. The intermingling of an appeal to common decency with an appeal to exterminate the brutes makes me totally wary of getting bogged down into this right now.

• March 25 is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, a seminal moment in the workers’ rights movement. This sparked a 25-year crusade that eventually led to the National Labor Relations Act. A hundred years later, conservatives are standing with the factory owners who locked the doors and allowed garment workers to perish in wanting to roll back those reforms.

• Watch Morgan Stanley and its servicing unit Saxon become the next big bank to shower gifts upon military members to make up for abuses and violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This is the first I’ve heard of Justice Department investigations into these abuses, which could also explain the pre-emptive strikes from Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.

• With Saudi forces entering Bahrain just days after Robert Gates visited the island nation, Bahraini opposition groups wrote to the UN asking for an intervention. The case is much clearer here than in Libya, in my view, as you have what amounts to foreign aggression. And this is a sectarian war – a proxy war between the Sunni Saudis and the Shiite Iranians, in some respects.

• Yemen is now expelling journalists through armed raids on their hotel rooms.

• Now the Number 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant appears to be the one in the most danger. I would describe the situation as chaotic. Publicly, Tokyo Electric Power continues to proclaim themselves calm and the situation under control. Charles Ferguson makes the key point – even without a meltdown, there’s been a loss of trust in nuclear safety, and that will have a direct bearing on the cost of producing facilities. Which makes solar and wind far more cost-efficient at this point. And if oil and coal had to pay for their own externalities, that would also lead to renewables being the right energy source financially. Indeed, Japan has been steadily moving toward renewables even before this disaster.

• KV Pharmaceuticals was granted exclusivity by the FDA for a drug that prevents premature births, and they immediately raised the price of the drug from $10 to $1,500.

• Frank Rich’s farewell column for the NYT about the nature of punditry is worth a read.

• Lindsay Beyerstein looks at the full tape of the attempted NPR sting and finds that Ron Schiller actually acquitted himself quite well. David Folkenflik came to the same conclusion on NPR this morning. This goes back to the question of why an organization would quickly fire people before watching the whole tape and figuring out the full story. Ira Glass asks the key question: why won’t NPR fight back?

• Al Franken addressed South by Southwest about net neutrality as the last bastion for independent creative artists. This is a speech from a US Senator referencing Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and The Decemberists.

• These Republican Governors are really going for it, ay? Corporate tax cuts and union busting all in a nice package! Meanwhile, Maine’s Tea Party governor literally exempted himself from proposed pension contribution increases. In case you want to know what “unprincipled” looks like.

• By the way, this “go for it” attitude is rapidly turning all these Governors into potential one-term wonders.

• The Eurozone debt deal is a huge underreported story, but then again, we’ve seen about 5 “deals” now to end the crisis in Europe, and every time the crisis continues.

• Looks like we won’t have a Commerce Secretary anytime soon. This is an excellent opportunity to wind down the Commerce Department.

• I guess FDL got a shout-out at the Gridiron Club dinner over the weekend. Welcome, Mr. President! Thanks for the traffic help.

• Look at this, Obama has an actual policy agenda!

• The New Hampshire lawmaker who called for the killing of the mentally ill has resigned. What I found more interesting was this admission: “So far I really don’t know what I’m doing. The few votes I’ve made so far I really didn’t know what I was voting for or against. Just looked at the people around me and went along with them.”

• Congress-to-K-Street watch, Ron Klein edition. Oh, and Evan Bayh will split time between K Street and Fox News, to the benefit of both.

• Republicans could lose major party status in Indiana thanks to the Charlie White fiasco.

• Christopher Lee will refund all the campaign money he received in 2010 and 2011, because of his sudden Craigslist ad-fueled retirement. What about 2009? That cash was raised for the same cycle as 2010.

• Stephen King speaks up for labor.

• Report an actual fact, as a blogger, get hit with a $60,000 fine.

Shibuya Eggman.

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David Dayen

David Dayen