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The Roundup for March 27, 2011

Was too busy looking in disbelief at my NCAA bracket. I actually still have a shot to win at least one of the few I’m in, but only if UConn wins the national semifinal and then loses to either VCU or Butler, so I’m firmly rooting for the underdog.

• The full story on the pathetic effort to interpret what amounts to the Wisconsin legislature’s librarian publishing a bill as having the force of law can be read here. Even the chief of the Legislative Reference Bureau, who published the anti-union bill, doesn’t think that made it law. And it has come out that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald put the LRB up to this. It’s Fitzwalkerstan up there.

• Juan Cole has a broadside against the Left on Libya. I imagine that this is what Samantha Power sounded like in the Oval Office meetings. I have admired both of them. I do think they have to struggle with what Steve Clemons brings up, namely the geopolitical implications of this military mission. It will be supremely difficult to get any state to ever give up their nuclear weapons again, especially after the big show made of welcoming Libya into the community of nations when they forsook nukes, only to bomb them a few years later.

• Turning to the progress on the ground of the mission, the rebel forces are speedily moving westward, backed by NATO-led coalition warplanes, and have gotten to the gates of Surt, Gadhafi’s hometown. Airstrikes on that city turned it into “a fireball,” according to one resident. Rebels met very little resistance between Ajdabiya and Surt, taking several towns along the coastal road. And the rebels plan to turn the oil spigot back on again.

• None of this should provide any counterweight to the horrors of Gadhafi, of course.

• With more deadly clashes between protesters and security forces in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad deployed the army to help control the unrest. Like many rulers around the Arab world, Assad is finding brutality to be an effective deterrent to the uprising. Assad plans to lift the emergency law that has been in place since 1963, but at the same time warned against further demonstrations. Activists aren’t likely to stop; they set fire to Baath Party offices in Latakia over the weekend.

• By the way, Joe Lieberman’s ready to start up the Cruise missiles for another war against a Muslim nation. As if there were any doubt.

• Radioactive iodine levels have spiked in the seawater around the Fukushima Daiichi plant, as well as in a flooded area within the complex. This is an ongoing crisis.

• I remember in 2006, when every article with James Dobson or some other theocon was the best thing that could ever happen to the Democrats in the midterms. So too with whiny articles from the Koch Brothers at this point in time. If after a decade of demonizing George Soros, conservatives think they are going to wriggle off this hook, they’re just wrong. And so I say to David and Charles Koch, keep in the public eye, please.

• Speaking of the Koch Brothers, I’m loving Ian Murphy’s Congressional campaign.

• Wisconsin’s leading business trade group is raising “unlimited and undisclosed” donations for David Prosser in his state Supreme Court re-election campaign. But we’re not supposed to worry about corporate purchase of elections, and liberal loonies are delusional about this kind of thing. Mm-hm.

• Dylan Ratigan has a good interview with Stephen Lerner, the man who strikes fear in the hearts of corporatists everywhere by daring to suggest that ordinary people should pool their leverage over financial elites.

• The anti-union bill in Ohio is being scaled back. They know they’re playing with dynamite on this bill. And it’s anyone’s guess whether they can find a bill to pass the more conservative House and the less conservative Senate, particularly within two weeks, which would determine the time frame of the citizen’s veto of the bill, and what year it would appear on the ballot.

• 500,000 rallied in London to protest budget cuts. When I heard about this on American news this morning, they predictably focused on about 100 people breaking shop windows.

• Hardest Hit Fund programs could save thousands of homeowners from foreclosure in Oregon and throughout the country, but they need to start rolling out quickly. Some of the Hardest Hit Fund money in Michigan will go toward principal reductions, at least under a program with Ally Financial. There’s a similar program with Bank of America for Arizona.

• According to this Reuters report, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will not exempt foreign currency swaps from new derivatives regulations, which would be both surprising and welcome. The sourcing is thin, however, and you could see some types of activities exempted without others, confusing the actual impact. So let’s wait for an announcement.

• Geithner isn’t a reformed soul, of course; here he is pushing for the Colombia free trade deal.

• Angela Merkel loses a key regional election in Germany, where the Greens will now control a state government there for the first time.

• This looks like a pretty pathetic austerity budget in New York State, including the expiration of a tax surcharge on the wealthy, who don’t count in the whole “shared sacrifice” thing.

• Every story about Detroit is just about unreadable, but this one has an odd bit of hope interspersed among the despair, despite the fact that residents chipping in to pay for city services is just dreadful.

• AT&T, which just started a scheme to charge more for greater Internet usage, can’t actually measure the usage well, it turns out.

• Berkshire Hathaway stock really moves on media news about Anne Hathaway, according to one study. If this doesn’t give you the impression that the stock market is nothing more than an elaborate computer program, you’re not paying attention.

• Candian elections will occur on May 2.

• I don’t know who comes out looking worse, Joe Biden’s staff for making a reporter sit in a closet while he waited to hear a speech, or the reporter, who put up with it.

• RIP Geraldine Ferraro. I wasn’t a huge fan, but the crap she had to put up with as the first female on a Presidential ticket was ridiculous.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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