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The Roundup for March 4th, 2012

As my mother-in-law would say, it’s the only date that’s a command. Her birthday as well, happy birthday mom!

• So Rush Limbaugh “apologized.” The apology is weak, but the spectacle of Rush apologizing is extremely rare. Republican restlessness could be one cause, but the loss of ad support must have really gotten to him. And by the way, that’s not abating, even after the apology. Definitely a new thing.

• BP reached a settlement on a class-action suit from 120,000 Gulf oil spill victims. The total cost: $7.8 billion. But all the money comes from the already allocated $20 billion restitution fund, so you could say this costs BP nothing further. US regulators plan to continue their lawsuits and seek additional fines, however, which could cost up to $17 billion more for violations of the Clean Water Act and other statutes.

• This is only one challenge to the Obama recess appointments, the National Federation of Independent Business tried to graft the challenge onto an existing lawsuit and the judge threw it out. I’m certain that NFIB will try again in a more proper way.

• Matt Yglesias reviews Noam Scheiber’s The Escape Artists. I might have to get my hands on the book just to be appalled at Larry Summers talking about the only way to fix housing being to spend $500 billion to $1 trillion on “bailing out homeowners.” One, you had banks by the short hairs, caught falsifying documents as a matter of policy, and didn’t get 1/20 of that. Second, the alternative when $500 billion on “bailing out homeowners” wasn’t feasible was $50 billion, unspent, on a predatory lending scheme called HAMP?

• Banks, by the way, continue to screw up their mortgage documentation. Foreclosure Hamlet finds an unsigned affidavit submitted to a court. And here’s a ruling against a bank which gave the court two versions of the same assignment of a note.

• The NYT, weirdly, doesn’t mention these kinds of documentation problems as the reason that banks are letting some delinquent borrowers stay in their homes. This is the whole point, NYT, they can’t prove ownership in many states.

• Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto talks with the Las Vegas Sun about the foreclosure fraud settlement. Key passage: “I don’t own this global settlement. I want to make that clear. The cake was pretty much baked by the time we got it.” She also said she understands the critics of the deal, and that she’ll continue her criminal investigations in the areas she can.

• Great Q&A with Joseph Stiglitz on inequality, taxes, and more.

• Mike Konczal breaks down the Volcker rule, or rather a thing that the regulatory apparatus needed to stop proprietary trading that was once called the Volcker rule, until the banks gutted it to the point of incomprehension.

• Oceans may be acidifying at a faster rate than anytime in the last 300 million years, according to a scientific study that blames climate change for the result.

• Saudi Arabia issued a statement on the situation in Syria, saying that Syrian citizens have a right to defend themselves from the regime. Meanwhile, some aid has reached civilians in Homs, but the Red Cross has been blocked in other instances.

• Greek bondholders aren’t too keen on the debt restructuring plan so far.

• Marcy Wheeler wonders about the taxpayer-funded vasectomies of Senate Republicans. Either that, or we’re paying for their birth control. One or the other.

• The cost of health care in America far outstrips other countries for the exact same services. For some reason, the concept of greater bargaining power to bring down health care prices through larger market share – i.e., being the “single payer” of the product – doesn’t make it into this article as a solution.

• The long-awaited explanation of the legal underpinning for targeted assassinations could come out Monday.

• John Cole goes medieval on Ed Morrissey. Like an old-fashioned blog fight.

• Mark Thoma with an interesting take on the Bush tax cuts. I think you have to take into account the notion that some deficit-reducing plan will happen at the end of the year, and if you’d rather see that on the tax side or the spending side.

• Funny how we almost never heard about these civilian deaths in Libya at the hands of NATO, ay?

• Are we actually going back to obsessing over the “Red Menace” in China? Is that the setup here?

• Surprising end to the tenure of Brad Dayspring, Eric Cantor’s ubiquitous spokesman.

• The sad part is that bounties in football aren’t new. I remember Buddy Ryan asking Philly players to go after a kicker over 20 years ago.

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David Dayen

David Dayen