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The Roundup for August 19, 2011

Two more weeks of this no-Congress lack of activity. Then we get back to the important work of chronicles gridlock while the economy sputters.

• Good grief. Leon Panetta presumes to speak for the Iraqi leadership over extending the military presence, which an aide to Nouri al-Maliki sharply denies. Meanwhile, Muqtada al-Sadr reiterates: if the US stays, it’s war. There’s just no reason for the extension…. also note how Panetta phrased this. “My view is that they finally did say yes.” Wait, I thought we were mere bystanders waiting to be asked a question!

• What a genius idea, more business tax cuts! Surely they will work just as well as the other 16 business tax cuts inked during this non-recovery recovery!

• Allen West, who thinks it’s professional to write “Nuts!” on Congressional stationery and mail it as an official response, thinks he’s a modern-day Harriet Tubman and that liberal African-Americans like Maxine Waters are plantation owners. It turns out that West’s brother, who is unemployed, took the Underground Railroad to Maxine and a Congressional Black Caucus job fair in Atlanta, at West’s request. West’s brother criticized the Congressman for being “unproductive.”

• Speaking of unproductive, there’s Tom Coburn on wanting to “pack heat” on the Senate floor, as well as accusing the President of wanting to “create dependency” and deciding that America was better off before Medicare, when people bargained for medical treatment with the promise of chickens.

• Long link-heavy article from Glenn Greenwald on the surveillance state and the Internet. Well worth the read.

• Jon Huntsman is positioning himself well to win the Green Party nomination for President. But I’m happy to have anyone put anti-science conservatives in their place. I feel bad for Texas children, too.

• Mortgage rates are at their lowest in 50 years. I think we’re nearing the point of mandatory refis of all Fannie and Freddie-owned mortgages as a stimulus measure. Then, that cleared, we move to principal.

• Could the post office make up for their shortfall by selling off some of their land?

• Related to Matt Taibbi’s article on the SEC, the National Archives and Records Administration has criticized the SEC for destroying their case files.

• I don’t know if the AT&T/T-Mobile merger will crash, but there are a lot of reasons why it might at this point.

• FWIW, the Administration lays out its case on judicial nominations. I don’t see anywhere in there where it discusses unfilled vacancies and the time it’s taking for the White House to act.

• Eric Schneiderman strikes again, this time sending subpoenas to energy companies over gas wells in New York State, and their representations of their potential.

• Mitt Romney’s strategy isn’t to be outrageous or extreme, just to flat-out lie to people at town hall meetings. That’s the more moderate approach.

• Phone hacking comes to America.

• Man, I wish I was doing a documentary of the VP’s Asia tour. Incidentally, China allowed its currency to rise right when he showed up, so one stimulus idea is to just park Biden in China.

• Agreed with TNC – the right is so touchy about the culture wars these days, you’d almost think they lost them.

• One survey shows Republicans positioned to hold the House seat in Nevada, vacated by Dean Heller when he moved up to the Senate. PPP has a poll that will be revealed early next week.

A wave of coal plant shutdowns? Sign me up! Now if we can only shut down the tar sands pipeline…

• Would have liked to have seen this Michelle Rhee/Diane Ravitch debate. Did Rhee get Rupert Murdoch to sponsor her trip out to Martha’s Vieyard for the debate?

• That hunger strike at the Pelican Bay State Prison in California has led to tangible improvements.

Texas miracle! The unemployment rate is higher there than at any time since 1987.

“Bank of America. We’ll help you out.”

• So far, no referendum has been filed for signature gathering in California to challenge Congressional maps, only the state Senate maps.

• This Anna Hazare protest in India is pretty amazing.

• Laurent Gbagbo has been charged in Ivory Coast.

• Oasis’ Liam Gallagher sues his brother so the press will write about it.

• Some of my writing from Wisconsin is part of this self-published book that’s available at the link.

• Best. Correction. Ever. (Corrects paragraph seven to say G.T.L. stands for “gym, tan laundry,” not “gym, tan lunch”)

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David Dayen

David Dayen