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The Roundup for August 16, 2011

Happy Tuesday to you!

• This really has been the week when the non-stop chatter about the Presidential election has begun. It’s a small solace that it started a bit later this year than it did four years ago. I think I’ve seen enough stories about Rick Perry (including the tire swing stuff) that I’m already sick of the guy and he’s been in the race four days. (I do think the fact that he’s militantly pro-fracking matters, I guess.)

• Meanwhile, President Obama will provide a jobs package in September and dare Congress to block it.

• If anybody listened to Newt Gingrich, his belief that it will be difficult for Republicans to deny a payroll tax cut would be big news. But nobody does listen to him, and consistency isn’t the strong suit of the GOP, so it’ll be fine.

• Some rare good news: bank lending appears to be up a bit.

• Michelle Goldberg profiles Van Jones and his new American Dream movement. Really, it’s worth a shot at this point, and even skeptics have come back from their meetings impressed.

• The hidden toll on the jobless is increasingly related to mental health, if not physical health as well.

• The results of Scott Walker’s anti-union bill are starting to come through: the largest teacher’s union in Wisconsin will lay off 40% of its staff. Dues are not automatically taken from paychecks, which has depressed revenues, among other problems. In a related story, John Nichols asks from Wisconsin, “Where is the President?”

• Turns out that top editors at News of the World knew all about the phone hacking that was practically central to their journalism model.

• James Galbraith explains why the initial forecasts on the recovery were misguided, because the structure of the economy was never fundamentally changed.

• Ali Abdullah Saleh said on state TV today, “See you soon in the capital Sanaa.” That’s sure to spark yet another civil war in the Arab world.

• This is largely right: “America has three problems: a short-run jobs problem, a ten-year tax-cut extension problem, and a long-run health-care financing problem.” End wars, let the Bush tax cuts expire, create jobs and establish single-payer and we can all go to bed.

• I don’t think Ron Paul can win the GOP nomination, though that’s mainly a guess. But he should be seen as viable, certainly more so than most of the candidates in that race.

Mass incarceration at a soccer stadium in Latakia, Syria. Things could get uglier. They’re already ugly.

• Redistricting maps for the nation’s biggest state, California, have been approved, but Republicans will try to go to the ballot with a referendum against them. It’s unclear whether the Congressional or just the state Senate maps are at issue. MALDEF, the Latino group, may also go to the courts, though so far that’s just a threat.

• Welcome Jim Hightower to the fight against foreclosure fraud.

• A German company test-drove an electric vehicle that went 1,014 miles on one charge.

• Gadhafi’s forces strike back in the oil city of Zawiya, take over the local hospital.

• This biofuels initiative for rural America shows the power of… government spending! The biofuels would be used at the Departments of Energy and Defense.

• Global food prices are approaching three-year highs again.

Ken Cuccinelli versus Mark Warner in 2014? Can everyone just opt out of that one?

• Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn is walking back a “no protesting” sign placed outside his district office. That’s another way to silence dissent and the invisible revolution against extreme Republican policies.

• Jim Jones wanted to hijack a plane and run it into buildings in San Francisco, according to a new book.

• Loving this video from the United Steelworkers.

• White House just asking for trouble by creating a #VPinAsia hashtag.

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David Dayen

David Dayen