The Roundup for April 18, 2011

I am downgrading my output for the rest of the day… no wait, I’m THREATENING a downgrade if everyone doesn’t get their act together soon.

• Krugman puts the S&P announcement in context. In fact, the long-term Treasury note went down slightly today on the news.

• After mass funerals in Homs, Syria, protesting the murder of at least 25 activists by security forces, 10,000 people occupied the central square and refused to leave. The tenor has moved away from generic calls for freedom and on to specific calls for an end to the regime. This could get very interesting.

• Some Wikileaks cables leaked to the Washington Post suggest that the State Department has financed anti-government opposition groups in Syria.

• Expect the media to focus in on the Gulf Coast for a day this week, on the anniversary of the BP oil disaster. The truth is that the oil is still out there, affecting the ecosystem and ruining marshlands. Oh yeah, and the oil industry still has their liability capped a full year later; good work, Congress.

• Rick Scott has learned at least something from Franklin Roosevelt: the thing to do is to pack the courts to protect your policies.

• House Democrats offer the novel suggestion that they still exist. For the most part they actually don’t, but it is true that the last two continuing resolutions on the budget would not have passed in the House without Democratic support.

• The incredible shrinking effective tax rate for the nation’s richest people.

• The World Bank’s president declares that the world remains “one shock away from a full-blown crisis.” He also warns of a “lost generation” in poor nations due to rising unemployment and food prices.

• To those who still claim that the budget deal didn’t actually cut anything significant and represented a “win” for Democrats: job training programs were cut in the middle of a jobs crisis, and housing and foreclosure counseling programs were cut in the middle of a housing and foreclosure crisis.

• Here’s why you need that counseling: you have incidents like this one in North Palm Beach, Florida where they just throw the belongings of the evicted homeowner out into the street for passersby to steal.

• Raj Rajaratnam looks pretty cooked in his insider trading trial.

• Robert Kuttner has a good perspective on last week’s Obama speech on fiscal policy. By the way, the right is so emo over the President daring to criticize them, I expect a run on fainting couches this week.

We’re nearing 14,000 dead in Japan as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.

• Chris Bowers predicts 9 or 10 recall elections in Wisconsin sometime in July before this is all said and done, with 6 against Republicans and 3 or 4 against Democrats. Sounds possible, although the organizers of the recalls against Democrats have been talking about turning in those petitions for quite a while.

• There’s a unique spin from David Prosser in the Wisconsin state Supreme Court race: they say they will “object to any recount.” They can’t really do that. It’s well within the prerogatives of JoAnne Kloppenburg’s campaign to seek a recount, paid for by the state because she’s within 0.5% of the total ballots cast.

• Alan Simpson finds a nut on taxes. He’s got his Reagan history right.

• David Wu, the Oregon Democrat who has been accused of untreated mental illness, has drawn a name primary challenger in Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.

• This was the first big suicide attack in front of the Green Zone in Iraq in months. The fact that it comes at the site of American power in Baghdad a week or so after a continuing presence for US troops was floated strikes me as not a coincidence.

• When I heard about Ricardo Sanchez being recruited to run in TX-Sen as a Democrat, it slipped my mind that they were talking about this Ricardo Sanchez.

• Greece remains resistant to debt restructuring. I’d say it’s inevitable.

• How much will that Bush-era Solicitor General cost the American public to defend DOMA?

• This year’s Pulitzer Prize awards are out. The WSJ editorial page got one, and that’s basically all you need to say about it.

• I was at an event a few years ago about alternative fuels and electric cars where some Honda flak was trying to sell everyone on hydrogen, and he was laughed off the stage.

• An Armando Iannucci HBO series set in American politics! Sign me up!

• In case you thought the Republican field for President was somehow lacking in theocratic craziness, Judge Roy Moore formed an exploratory committee today.

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