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The Roundup for January 27, 2012

Could be a crazy weekend, so light posting. Or, maybe not!

• Man is Larry Summers a tremendous asshole. This is the must-read of the day.

• So we have a better name for the Schneiderman panel or UMOSA or whatever. The Justice Department is calling it the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group. So RMBS Working Group is, well, workable. Incidentally, check out Eric Holder letting his slip show here in his remarks today:

Over the past three years, we have been aggressively investigating the causes of the financial crisis. And we have learned that much of the conduct that led to the crisis was – as the President has said – unethical, and, in many instances, extremely reckless. We also have learned that behavior that is unethical or reckless may not necessarily be criminal. When we find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, we bring criminal prosecutions.

• The White House’s blueprint for financial aid is here. As per the State of the Union, the big story is this idea of linking financial aid to college affordability. If the college isn’t affordable, it doesn’t get as much aid.

• France is getting out of Afghanistan a year early, in 2013. And because this ties in to all the NATO drawdown plans, it could really throw a wrench into the 2014 plans. This time in a good way.

• I’m thinking everyone working in private equity firms right now wishes the world never heard of Mitt Romney.

• Romney, by the way, is pulling away in Florida, even as Newt Gingrich extends his lead nationwide. Newt’s only chance is this hard negative ad.

• The Senate has almost finished up work on a bipartisan surface transportation bill, but the House version is really horrible, so it’s unlikely there will be agreement this year.

• Problem: we’ve locked up so many people for so long that the prison population has become elderly and medical costs are soaring. Tough on crimes bites back.

• Here’s a real scandal from Murray Waas: how ex-regulators helped Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford evade prosecution for years.

• TARP just goes on and on and on.

• Rick Perlstein’s latest for Rolling Stone, on Newt Gingrich and the 1994 Contract With America, and how you can trace its roots back to Ross Perot.

• BP and its partners on the Deepwater Horizon rig are still arguing over financial responsibility.

• Cory Leibmann has lots of questions for Scott Walker.

Thirty-seven people died in protests in Syria, as Russia said it would not agree to any Security Council resolution calling on Bashar al-Assad to step down.

• Yes, Ron Paul approved those newsletters. It was a business operation, why wouldn’t he?

• Pretty sure that Wolf Blitzer doesn’t know a damn thing about the foreclosure crisis. You’ve seen him on Jeopardy, right?

• Mortgage originations from 2010 and 2011 are not defaulting because lending standards have returned to something approaching reality.

• Today was Fitch’s turn to cut credit ratings for Eurozone countries. Spain, by the way, is also destroying itself through austerity.

• This doesn’t look like a serious peace offer on the part of Israel. But I promise not to call whoever proposed it an Israeli official, because that would be a baseless smear.

• Interesting back and forth between Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum on trade and manufacturing.

• At least Rick Perry got the grifter part of running for President right.

• The whole posthumous conversion to Mormonism thing is completely bizarre. And yes, Mitt Romney practiced it.

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David Dayen

David Dayen