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The Roundup for April 18, 2012

I’m getting a case of senioritis…

• Corporations are not people when they torture. This was a unanimous ruling written by Justice Sotomayor, by the way. This was largely based on legislative history of the law in question.

• Lower fuel consumption in the US is a positive trend that has sustained through recession and fluctuation in gas prices, so I think it’s here to stay. This also means that the highway trust fund needs to find a new source of revenue, as gas taxes won’t cover it.

• The Wall Street Journal picks up on some data that Matt Stoller looked at previously, on inequality spiking after the recession.

• Now here’s some rare good news: Blue Dogs might be an endangered species after the 2012 elections.

• Always take Lori Montgomery with a grain of salt, but retirement account tax breaks could end up on the chopping block. Pair this with HUD and you’re seeing a lot of formerly sacred cows in the budget up in the air. Less sacred, but the clean energy subsidies, too, are going away.

• Meanwhile, this is a brilliant move on the part of Barney Frank and Brad Miller. Maybe more on this tomorrow.

• Treasury recognizes that their failure to make any changes to mortgage securitization means that they will have to maintain a public role in mortgage finance basically forever.

• And now the derivatives rules in Dodd-Frank are getting a good and thorough gutting. Expect all firms to now trade $7.999 billion in derivatives, along with their associated holding companies and subsidiaries.

• Peter Orszag looks at positive change in health care delivery, outside of Washington.

• Maybe the Supreme Court will do better on retroactivity of the new crack/cocaine sentencing disparity law.

• A new report shows that Congress has basically been inert in the two years following the BP oil spill, with no significant legislation that would prevent future disasters.

• The trial judge correctly recused herself in the George Zimmerman case, and handed it over to an alternate judge.

• Along with postal reform, the Senate is trying to wedge Republicans by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. They actually have the votes in hand, but the House is another matter.

• People have figured out the link between climate change and extreme weather without any help from the media.

• The Texas Monthly returns to one of the blogosphere’s favorite subjects, the Bush National Guard story. Among other things, they find the whole kerning thing to be a red herring.

• A good debate on oil prices and speculation from Mark Thoma, clearly a speculation skeptic. Wonder if he’d care to respond to the St. Louis Fed’s research on this point. Related commentary from Juan Cole.

• Those new fracking guidelines from EPA are out, and they rolled them back to some degree. Nobody wants to ruin the great and good market for natural gas.

• Robert Reich is very optimistic on the Citigroup shareholder revolt yesterday.

• Iran claims to have foiled another assassination plot with a series of arrests.

• I’m somewhat skeptical that Marco Rubio’s non-DREAM Act will move the needle at all for the GOP.

• Raw Story executive editor Megan Carpentier underwent a transvaginal ultrasound and gives her thoughts on the procedure.

• Electronic Arts swings the election to Romney by setting the Halo 4 release date for Election Day. There’s still early and absentee voting, I guess.

• Thanks a lot for blowing it, Wall Street Journal!

• Scott Brown lorded the Red Sox and Fenway Park against Martha Coakley in his last election, so I think his donation from one of the Yankee owners is fair game.

• I’ve heard of sitting public officials having radio shows where they go on with some host for an hour a week, but a sitting Lt. Governor getting a cable news talk show? This just shows you how useless a job the Lt. Governor of California is.

• Tom Friedman makes an early bid for wanker of the next decade.

• RIP Dick Clark, a Philadelphia tradition. Also Levon Helm is on his deathbed, which is truly sad.

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David Dayen

David Dayen