I’ll be back around 8:00 ET to assess the President’s remarks on Afghanistan. Since we know the troop numbers now, the key to me will be the overall strategy and the various peace negotiations.

• Jay Bookman shows how Georgia’s draconian immigration law has led predictably to crops rotting on farms across the state, without the labor force necessary to save them. Incidentally, if you’re looking to do something for the rights of farm workers, tell Jerry Brown to sign farm worker card check and give the migrants the protections they need.

• I agree with Joe Romm, Al Gore’s essay in Rolling Stone had a lot more scorn for the media than for Obama on the subject of climate change. It’s not like the media could have missed the extreme weather events bunched together this year.

Chris Gay details the insurance industry’s efforts to get out from under the medical loss ratio, the new mandate for how much money insurers must spend on actual medical care rather than overhead and executive salaries. It was so clear they would try to redefine everything they do as medical care.

• Conservatives in Ohio wanted to balance the citizen veto of SB5, set for the November ballot, with a measure to opt out of the Affordable Care Act. But they couldn’t get it past the state House, and their signature-gathering effort appears doomed as well.

• House Republican Jo Ann Emerson actually signed on to a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate for prescription drug prices. It’s a start.

• How the Koch Brothers built an echo chamber for raising the retirement age.

• The OCC is completely useless, and Carl Levin is the second lawmaker in a week to come out and say that John Walsh needs to be sacked.

• Shorter Federal Reserve: the economy’s getting worse, so this is a good time to exit and end any help to the economy.

• As a program for helping unemployed workers in foreclosure begins, the signs on the overall housing market are truly frightening.

• Fannie and Freddie looked the other way at foreclosure and mortgage fraud by their contractors. They didn’t cause the crisis, but their negligence reflects that of the entire industry, with the only difference being that they have a governmental component to them.

• Newt Gingrich had two undisclosed lines of credit from Tiffany’s, and he wants to audit the Fed? How about the Fed audits him first, ay? By the way, the best way to audit the Fed is to not repeal the bill that includes an audit of the Fed.

• One of the better pieces of Dodd-Frank was the part forcing hedge funds to register with the SEC. The rules on this finalized today look pretty solid.

• Mark Bittman takes a bite out of the House GOP for their appropriations cuts to nutrition and food safety programs.

• White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said that the Administration would block any efforts to delay the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations. Of course, the EPA is doing some of that delaying themselves.

• The backstory on Jose Antonio Vargas’ amazing piece in the NYT Magazine: Vargas was apparently going to come out as an undocumented immigrant in the Washington Post, but they balked, and the Times changed around their entire Magazine section to accommodate the story.

• No consensus yet with six months to go on whether Iraq will request an additional US military presence. But the Sadrists continue to vow to pull out of the government if the ask is made, and in addition, they say “we will present a lawsuit to the federal court.”

• Corporate lobbyist Dick Gephardt comes out against the IPAB, much to the delight of his corporate clients which might get squeezed on payments by the health care body.

• The White House’s choice for Commerce Secretary, a former member of the Boeing board, sides with Boeing in the NLRB labor case.

• Arab uprising update: Life sentences for activists in Bahrain; Al Qaeda inmates escape from prison in a coordinated jailbreak in Yemen; Libyan rebels engage in media censorship.

• Matt Taibbi profiles Michele Bachmann as only he can.

• After the Wal-Mart sex discrimination decision, some lawmakers went deep and reintroduced the ERA.

• Gasoline actually costs $15 a gallon.

• This vicious assault of a protester in Madison was carried out by a guy carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. In a separate incident, a former Republican Senator delighted a crowd of Tea Party onlookers by running over the personal belongings of other protesters.

• Drown-in-the-bathtub watch: South Carolina has an important role as an early primary state. Just one thing: they didn’t put any money for hosting an early primary in the budget.

• Artist and activist Ai Weiwei is out on bail from a Chinese prison.

• Really, the Fracosaurus. How many of these pollution industry characters for kids do we have to endure?

David Dayen

David Dayen