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The Roundup for March 20, 2011

It’s a lazy Sunday in windy, rainy Los Angeles, which can explain my activity on the blog today. It’s also a busy news weekend:

• Juan Cole has a very optimistic take on the prospects of the UN coalition in Libya, and accounts from the ground seem to point in that direction. I should say that I would like the mission to succeed in preventing a civilian massacre in Libya, though I’m not quite as optimistic as Cole that the rebels will be able to march on Tripoli and Gadhafi’s officers will switch sides. And yes, we do have to add the perspective of what this teaches the world community about giving up nuclear capabilities.

• Harry Reid draws a bright line on canceling out Planned Parenthood funding, which has been a must-have for some conservatives.

• Speaking of funding, wars cost money. I don’t suppose anyone in the Republican Party will take notice of that particular point.

• Japanese officials report progress at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is going to take a long time, however.

• In Egypt, voters turned out in droves to approve a Constitutional referendum, and while the NYT paints this as a setback for liberal groups and a victory for the established order, because it approves quick elections upon which they can capitalize, I think the mass participation in a democratic election is a victory in itself.

• Almost 20% of all homes in Florida are vacant. What a complete mess.

• Not sure I put much stock in this analysis which suggests that Republicans will hold the House in 2012. The last three elections have seen sweeping changes, and I don’t see any reason why voters couldn’t continue to prove themselves fickle.

Joe Nocera and Simon Johnson on Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB. I actually think they get it slightly wrong: sure, Republicans have their knives out for the consumer agency, but they see defunding as the best way to go about rendering it and all reforms related to Dodd-Frank ineffective. I do agree on two points: there’s a problem with defunding CFPB, because its budget is currently tied to a percentage of the Federal Reserve’s. And yes, Tim Geithner will try to undermine Warren. In some ways he already has.

• Nice Rebecca Solnit piece on the Arab uprising.

• David Prosser, the Republican state Supreme Court Justice in Wisconsin up for re-election April 5, called his Democratic colleague a “bitch” and threatened to “destroy” her last year. In case you thought he was one of those non-partisan “umpires” we hear so much about.

• The CBO claims that Obama’s budget misstates deficits, which would be $2.3 trillion larger under his plan. CBO was wrong in the 1990s when they said basically the same thing about the Clinton budget. What that proves more than anything is that the greatest deficit reducer, bar none, is more jobs for Americans.

• The business community stopping further anti-immigration bills in Arizona seems to me to be a significant development.

• Bush Administration officials James Comey and Kenneth Wainstein are on the short list to be the next FBI Director. I could see it going to Comey, in the tradition of taking people abused by the Bush Administration (Shinseki is one example, as are some US Attorneys fired in the politicization scandal) and appointing them.

• We have, I believe, the first high-profile diplomatic resignation as a result of a Wikileaks revelation. The subject is the US ambassador to Mexico.

More oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico? Uh-oh.

• Adam Levitin writes an elegy for the Congressional Oversight Panel, about to close up shop. With Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General of TARP, also leaving, the watchdog capability against the Treasury Department just reduced significantly.

• While campaigning for a colleague before Haiti’s Presidential election, Wyclef Jean was shot in the hand. In addition, the deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to the country. I’m not going to pretend to know what’s going on there.

• The California Republican Party will basically create an all-mail primary before state primary races, going around the new “top two” primary and giving Republicans the ability to select their favorite. This is both a suicide note for California Republicans, and something to which Democrats may have to respond.

• Speaking of California, legalization activists vow to put another marijuana measure on the 2012 ballot.

• More tough talk by the Obama Administration against Congress on Guantanamo, but this die has been cast and tough talk won’t change anything.

• There would be no radio at all in Alaska without public radio.

• The Monkey Cage will start charging New York Times employees for access.

• I’d expect to see more student-led walkouts to protest budget cuts in the years to come.

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David Dayen

David Dayen