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The Roundup for May 11, 2011

Many thanks for those of you who submitted links to the open thread roundup yesterday. I think that was so successful that I may regularize the practice, perhaps as a Friday “your turn” or something. But today, yer gettin’ links from me:

• It’s good news that Kent Conrad has improved his budget from the initial effort. He’s on board with a 50-50 split on revenues and cuts as a first pass, as opposed to his earlier plan which mimicked the 75-25 approach of the cat food commission. Conrad specifically did this to get Bernie Sanders’ support (!), which he needs to pass anything out of the Budget Committee. Democrats are unifying unifying against the spending cap idea as well. Of course, we shouldn’t really be having this conversation at all at a time of economic hardship, but Washington’s dead-set on austerity, so it might as well be a bit less malign.

• If deficit-reduce we must, we could simply let the Bush tax cuts expire to eliminate the medium-term deficit, and pass the McDermott-Sanders single-payer bill for the long term. Of course this is too simple.

• As expected, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch (D) vetoed a “right to work” bill that would crush unions in the state. The Republican legislature may be able to override the veto, though they came up just short of the votes for that on their first pass.

• Confirmation hearings for David Petraeus and Leon Panetta will become referenda on torture, in all likelihood. The fabulists will want to connect torture to the bin Laden killing, which is completely false.

More evidence that oil prices fell because of computerized trading, which has moved from the stock exchanges into the commodity markets of late. In other words, speculation can be blamed on the way up and on the way down. This is how people make quick money these days, in volatile markets they can exploit. Hungry people pay the ultimate price. Felix Salmon has more.

• Mark Weisbrot on why Greece should exit the euro. There may be a difference between “should” and “could” here; as it is, they’re pinning hopes on another bailout and fending off anti-austerity rioters with tear gas.

• We now have the bin Laden journal to add to the rest of the treasure trove of information coming out of the Abbottabad compound. In related news, members of Congress will get to see the infamous pictures of the bin Laden corpse, while bin Laden’s sons asked for an inquiry into why he was killed and not captured (Joe Biden openly laughed at this, incidentally). And there’s a final bin Laden tape coming soon.

• DiFi, who remains angered by potential Pakistani complicity or incompetence in the intelligence over bin Laden’s whereabouts, admitted that she didn’t understand the heads-up given to her by CIA Director Leon Panetta about the raid. Does this make HER incompetent?

• John Kerry’s headed to Pakistan to triumphantly save the relationship! Just pay no attention to that decade-long secret deal with Pakistan allowing for US forces to enter their country to kill bin Laden.

• The Obama bump continues to show in both approval ratings and hypothetical head-to-head matchups, but the economy still looms large as a major potential setback.

• Republican follies in Wisconsin: Waukesha County can’t seem to recount their votes for the state Supreme Court election (which is providing an insight into their terrible election practices), and the claims from Democrats that out-of-state hired guns processed most of the recall petitions against Democratic Senators (lying and misleading in the process) is beginning to check out.

• Japan’s Prime Minister will cancel plans to increase nuclear power to 50% of total energy input in the country. Good move.

• Mitt Romney’s big health care speech will just be a combination of dismantling Obamacare (which was a copy of his own effort in Massachusetts) and offering McCain-care (with vouchers to buy insurance in exchange for the employer deduction), with a sprinkling of some other right-wing ideas. Does he really think this will heal the rift between him and conservatives on this subject? Igor Volsky has more.

• Great article from Paul Amar on Egypt after Mubarak. For comic relief, see this piece on the efforts to erase Mubarak’s name from public buildings. It isn’t going well – the indentation of the name still leaves a mark on the facade.

• The Administration was doing so well, but in the past 48 hours, the Justice Department defending stiffing gay service members of their discharge pay by comparing them to drug addicts and national security threats, and then the Navy revoked its guidance to chaplains to allow same-sex marriages at military chapels in states where marriage equality is recognized.

• South Dakota really looks like they’re banning abortions here. Between that and the effective defunding of Planned Parenthood in Indiana, anti-choicers are as ascendant as ever.

• Obama wants to do a post-bin Laden speech to the Muslim world, focused on the Arab uprising. My response is two-fold. One, hurry! Syria has already basically put down its rebellion, Yemen is headed down that road, and the same is true of Bahrain. Second, forget the speech, show some action, along the lines of what the Washington Post surprisingly counseled.

• Republicans really want to force the unemployed to starve on the street. And calling the legislative vehicle for this policy the JOBS Act is a nice touch.

• The Baltics are a really poor model of economic success.

• Newt Gingrich is in! America is ready to fall in love with his third wife Callista, just like Newt did when he was married to his second wife.

• The rating agencies won an appeals court ruling that should allow them to escape accountability for their failures during the financial crisis.

Abu Ghraib’s own Ricardo Sanchez, running for Senate in Texas as a Democrat.

• Arne Duncan has come around, and now does not support the publication of value added teacher ratings.

• Olympia Snowe’s husband is one of those for-profit college scam artists.

• How will I go on without California’s first couple?

• Florida just banned sex.

• I sincerely hope that goofing off at work continues to make a contribution as a corollary to increased productivity, as it’s basically the only reason blogging can become an avocation!

• There’s been a run on New York Times parodies; you can read more of them than the actual paper online, given the paywall. My favorite are the Tom Friedman and David Brooks columns, and the singularly brilliant news item of Darth Vader announcing the death of Obi-wan Kenobi. Speaking of parodies, but of the non-NYT variety, “Peabody Coal” from the Yes Men is terrific.

Genius from Ruben Bolling.

“Also, no more war, please.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen