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The Roundup for August 31, 2011

Everything will be better in September when Congress comes back, and so the better days start tomorrow. Right?

• Hearing that Robert Kelly, the CEO of Bank of New York Mellon, stepped down. Not only is this due to Eric Schneiderman accusing the bank of fraud and corruption in the BofA settlement, but that Kelly was one of 25 CEOs who took more in compensation in 2010 than BNYM paid in federal taxes.

• So the President called for a joint session of Congress the same day as a GOP Presidential debate, Boehner asks him to move it to the next day, it turns out Boehner was consulted on the date beforehand, and none of this matters anyway because Republicans won’t agree to a single proposal Obama makes. So you’re up to date.

• Flooding looks unspeakably bad in Vermont. Here’s just one local report. Incidentally, the Vermont National Guard doesn’t have enough choppers to be used in rescue and relief operations… because they’re all in Iraq.

• We’ve heard this before, but rebel forces in Libya think they have the town surrounded where Moammar Gadhafi is hiding.

• Meanwhile, all this Al Jazeera report shows is that Libyan regime officials were talking internally about Dennis Kucinich, not that he was helping them in any way, unlike the former Bush Administration official. I have much more scorn for Chuck Schumer pushing this “release the Lockerbie bomber” thing, especially since the trial is reputed to have been unfair, and the bomber in question is in a coma.

• Best health care in the world: the US newborn death rate is higher than 40 countries, and 1 in 7 hospital infections lead to death in the US, compared to 1 in 122 in Europe.

• The Wartime Contracting Commission finds that as much as $60 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan contracting dollars was flat-out wasted. The White House alleges that this looks back at Bush-era abuses and that they have improved the contracting process.

• State insurance regulators are blocking efforts to reduce services in Medigap policies. I’m a bit surprised to see them go all in on this, although they appear to be defending policies that outside carriers cover.

• The COBRA subsidy from the stimulus ends today. Expect a spike in the uninsured over the next year.

• Under President Obama, there’s been a surge in domestic oil production, but this has not moved oil prices, or overall worldwide production, in any meaningful way. Drill baby drill is a myth.

• Foreclosures make you sick. Particularly from a mental health standpoint. The stress is almost unbearable; I’ve seen this up-close.

• Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell breaks with Eric Cantor and calls for emergency disaster relief for his state without offsets. Turns out Cantor has voted for this kind of unfunded relief in the past.

• The flood insurance program is kind of complicated, but it’s under crisis right now, and the premiums should be allowed to grow. Tell me why I’m wrong!

• Kevin Drum says that children’s test scores show consistent improvement at all levels of the US education system. Maybe we’re not falling behind after all.

• Forget about the Iraq long-term training agreement, the US is negotiating something similar with Afghanistan.

• I don’t buy the sunny optimism of the idea that there are no limits to growth. As long as we are a petroleum-based economy, growth will always bump up against oil price shocks, which will lead to recessions.

• It’s not like there isn’t evidence to back up Andre Carson’s claims. Google “rope tree justice.”

• Yes, this is a funny shot by Jerry Brown on Republicans and taxes, but he needs to step up and support the farmworker unionizing bill.

• I get the sense that Mitt Romney is not well-liked by the Republican base. Call me crazy. By the way, Jon Huntsman can go as far to the right on taxes as he wants, he’s in the same predicament.

• Can we call this the Spainding cap? Bad puns aside, that’s a terrible idea.

• Ford is employing a very smart strategy by partnering with Zipcar.

• Dick Cheney is afraid of being tried as a war criminal, according to Larry Wilkerson. He should only fear a Wilkerson Presidency, then, because otherwise it ain’t gonna happen.

• Here’s something I couldn’t care less about: whether Christine O’Donnell will appear with Sarah Palin at a Tea Party rally. This is why I don’t get lots of Politico-level clicks.

• Looking forward to a Richard Linklater-directed Karl Rove biopic.

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David Dayen

David Dayen