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The Roundup for December 21, 2011

I’m hoping that the Job Creators Alliance (see here) gets uniforms and a Hall of Job Creation and super-villains to defeat, like poor people and federal regulators.

• ABC’s Jonathan Karl claims that Republicans are about to cave on the payroll tax/UI fight. It should be added that they’re “caving” on a bill to cut taxes for two months, and even reduce eligible weeks on unemployment benefits gradually to 79 weeks from 99 weeks. The alternative would put 3.6 million jobless Americans off benefits, but lots of people will get cut off under the supposedly “good” plan, too.

• Bloomberg News has had some high-profile fights with the Federal Reserve lately, but today they claim that Ben Bernanke’s policies are helping boost economic growth.

• Meanwhile, the Fed hid behind international regulators on new capital rules for banks. It’s worth being concerned whether the international regulators can hold out on Basel III.

• Hedge funds gather secret inside information from Congress on a regular basis. Hard not to be cynical.

• The FHFA Administrator, Ed DeMarco, opposes the plan to pay for the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance by raising fees from lenders to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He doesn’t like the reliance on long-term revenue to fund the tax cut, which is a fair point, because it makes it more difficult to unwind Fannie and Freddie and take them out of conservatorship.

• The commander in Afghanistan, John Allen, is being pretty bold about claiming that the US has no plans to leave the country past 2014. Is this another McChrystal situation?

• Newt Gingrich blew up at Mitt Romney today, saying his barrage of attacks in Iowa are “an embarrassment to the American system,” and challenging him to a one-on-one debate in Iowa next week.

• An example of the Gingrich campaign’s disorganization: they didn’t pick up, which is now being used as a parody site. Also, Gingrich had to leave Iowa to go to Virginia to ensure he gets on the ballot in the primary.

• Speaking of Gingrich, this McSweeney’s letter about him and the existence of Santa Claus is a hoot.

• Showing the importance of the announcement, the President released this video about the new mercury and air toxic standards.

• Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson will indeed run for President on the Libertarian Party ticket. Bob Barr, a political figure with a higher national profile at the time, did this in 2008, and it had no bearing on the Presidential race. I think that will be the impact here.

Good journalism here on how California Democrats gamed the independent redistricting commission, but I think they put not enough stock in how bad the maps were previously, and the real demographic shifts that occurred from 2000-2010. But yes, Democrats lobbied the commission and did it well.

• The idea that the Penn State sex abuse scandal has led more victims to come out and disclose their abuse certainly has more evidence, after Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Bill Conlin abruptly resigned amid allegations from four different victims of child sexual abuse.

• This is fantastic news – the Georgia drug court judge, whose harsh and abusive treatment was featured on This American Life, has been forced to resign.

• A nice moment: two women shared the traditional “first kiss” after a Navy ship returned from 80 days at sea. Photos and interview here.

• Kim Jong-un will reportedly share power with the military in North Korea, changing the political structure from a straight-up dictatorship to more of a military junta.

• After accusing Joe Arpaio of racial discrimination against Latinos in policing in Arizona, the Justice Department released a similar report about police in East Haven, Connecticut.

• After 10 years of war, Afghanistan at least has a train now.

• The demise of the federal community block grant program has had very adverse consequences for cities.

• Texas can’t ban Planned Parenthood from their Women’s Health Program without losing federal funding, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. So as a result, they may just go ahead and dismantle the whole program.

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David Dayen

David Dayen