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The Roundup for January 17, 2012

I would strike against SOPA, but someone has to tell you how the strike is going, so I’ll probably be here.

• Occupy Congress brought hundreds to Washington today. I actually think Nancy Pelosi is right about the distance between the Occupy movement and the political parties, although she comes at it from a cockeyed direction.

• The fact that these Iranian tensions are rising in the midst of a Presidential campaign definitely complicates matters and could lead to unnecessary belligerence. And media sloppiness (at best) doesn’t help either.

• I’m enjoying Jon Walker’s blog debate with Andrew Sullivan over his long game pitch for Obama. It should be mentioned that Sullivan would enthusiastically support cutbacks to the social safety net (he thinks dropping the Bowles-Simpson debt commission was one of the President’s biggest mistakes) and probably never studied White House drug policy until the moment he put a sentence about it in his piece.

• There was some talk about Kent Conrad for White House budget director, but instead they elevated Jeffrey Zients to the post in an interim capacity, suggesting they won’t fill the position until after the elections. I don’t know why you would poach a sitting Democratic Senator in a state with a Republican governor, anyway.

• Romney’s the nominee, so you might as well call this the start of a 10-month general election campaign. And Obama starts it up by five points according to Public Policy Polling.

• Wisconsin activists delivered a million signatures to recall Scott Walker, and he responds by holding a fundraiser with the founder of AIG in New York City. Wow.

• Glenn Greenwald shines a spotlight on the marginalized victims of forever war and the degradation of civil liberties.

• Rick Perlstein has a fantastic essay on the two Romneys, and what Mitt learned from his father George. A must-read.

• Micah Sifry has his take on SOPA and PIPA and why his site will go dark tomorrow.

• As the futility of “monitoring” continues in Syria, Steven Cook raises the possibility of military action. Marc Lynch disagrees. It’s a good debate; I think I fall on Lynch’s side, but it’s a difficult question.

• Tim Duy is correct about Europe. Put this in a bottle, and use it to explain every day how austerity in a crisis just does not work.

• The FAA authorization expires in two weeks. Labor has started running ads attacking Republicans for blocking a full extension.

• The “not very much” Mitt Romney earned from speaking fees in the past year turns out to be $362,000.

• Steve Benen is right, why did it take so long for a Republican to run this ad against Romney? Now, it’s too late.

• In addition to having Obama deliver the final speech of the convention at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, the Democratic National Convention will only last three days instead of the usual four.

• I blanche when Robert Bennett’s defeat was held up as a voter revolt, since Utah’s election system has no primaries and involves a small group of activists. That’s still in place, so Orrin Hatch had better watch out.

• Torture in Iraq. We taught them well.

• Rep. Todd Platts becomes the sixth House Republican in the past few weeks to announce retirement. This is unusual; don’t they have the majority?

• will protest the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington next week, the same week as the State of the Union.

• This proposed federal government reorganization is not a slam dunk at all.

• I don’t think Jon Stewart is picking up the right signals from the Colbert campaign, using the not-coordinated SuperPAC to back Herman Cain.

Mitt Romney debates Martin Luther King:

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David Dayen

David Dayen