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The Roundup for December 20, 2011

Happy two days before the winter solstice! Sue me, it’s a slow news day.

• The House Republicans actually named conferees on the payroll tax/UI bill today, including some who weren’t too pleased about the whole deal and others who explicitly opposed extending the payroll tax cut in recent weeks. I guess the House GOP thinks they can wring some value out of having these conferees sit in a room with empty chairs, as a set piece to force the Senate to the bargaining table. So far, the Senate Dems will have none of it.

• I’m frustrated about this as well, but I don’t really know what Sheila Jackson Lee is talking about here. Under no circumstances can the President extend a tax cut through executive order.

• Alec MacGillis is good on the idea that fact-checking shouldn’t be some separate operation, but a part of every reporter’s articles. They shouldn’t outsource their job. The other point to be made here is that Politifact has been subject to a concerted effort from the right of demonization and slander, so this “Lie of the Year” move today was obviously something like a make-up call. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be stopping national Democrats from correctly pointing out that the Ryan budget would have ended Medicare.

• I hope the “Occupy Education” movement picks up steam. Diane Ravitch needs some reinforcements.

• I definitely should have gotten to the WaPo piece on Obama’s secret drone war. You’ll have to take up with bmaz instead.

• I found this Joe Biden interview with Leslie Gelb illuminating, especially on the change of attitude on the Taliban, who are now seen as “not out enemy.” Gelb pushed back on Biden’s talking points, which made for interested reading.

• The Mortgage Bankers Association has picked up after several years on the fact that Max Gardner runs a boot camp for foreclosure defense attorneys on strategies to save people’s homes, and so now they’re running seminars to try and counteract that.

• This pension deal for retired Rhode Island first responders may look trivial, but if the trend of cutting active pensions spreads, it’s bad news for retired Americans.

• Jeff Connaughton takes apart the President on prosecuting Wall Street.

• Speaking of first responders, remember how the firefighters union announced in a showy way that they would stop making donations to federal candidates? They quietly restarted making them. Way to hold out for eight whole months.

• Derivatives rules have been delayed again, to the point that they will now not take effect until two years after the passage of Dodd-Frank.

• Better to have good news out of Europe, where the brand-new Spanish government is getting something of a bounce in the financial markets. I guess they’re not as lazy as the Germans anymore!

• US intelligence didn’t know about the death of Kim Jong-il until they heard about it on state-run television.

• The claim that the Keystone XL pipeline would somehow wean America off foreign oil, made by some dimmer conservatives, neglects the fact that the US would mainly be a pass-through for Canadian oil to get to foreign shores.

• One House Republican wants to revisit the indefinite detention language in the defense authorization bill to once again assure that US citizens could not be detained without due process. I wonder if posting videos counts as enough evidence to justify such a detention.

• Medicare officials can delay the reimbursement cut for doctors to January 18, absent legislation. I am glad Sarah Kliff, at least, recognizes that doctors make more money here than practically anywhere in the world, and that they could do with a small haircut. In fact, a time when the doc fix is imperiled would be the perfect time to impose that.

• Jared Bernstein casually points out that the rule on the House legislation on the payroll tax that passed today suspended all the normal rules governing debate on legislation.

• Though the media has turned away, there are still 61 active encampments of occupiers in the US and Canada.

• Thousands of women marched in Egypt today to protest the repression and abuse of female protesters by the military.

• Wait, Mitt Romney denounced a SuperPAC that has spent millions on his behalf and that he helped raise money for?

• Maricopa County officers, under the direction of America’s most racist sheriff Joe Arpaio, have been replaced in local jails by federal agents, who will monitor the situation in county lockups.

• I didn’t expect that Republican operatives would bring back the racist newsletters to attack Ron Paul. Aren’t his stated preferences on foreign policy and war antithetical to conservative voters?

• The Run Hillary 2012 robocalls are a bit pathetic.

• Neal Pollack skewers writers who drank with Christopher Hitchens.

Indonesian punks are my favorite new sub-genre of people.

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David Dayen

David Dayen