The Roundup for May 17, 2011

Time to make the links…

• A new study from the Urban Land Institute shows that the US needs to invest $2 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade, and that the US is falling well behind even emerging nations in terms of its transportation and delivery networks.

• As Dominique Strauss-Kahn sits in a jail cell on Rikers Island, the calls for his resignation as head of the IMF grow louder, and behind the scenes lots of people are maneuvering to replace him. Meanwhile, mindful of the concept of innocence until proven guilty, I don’t think you can look more ridiculous defending an alleged rapist than Ben Stein.

• Republicans are blocking the bill to cancel Big Oil subsidies from a vote right now. The final vote was 52-48 in favor, so of course it failed. I don’t know why they bothered, since Ben Quayle explained that the subsidies don’t exist. Meanwhile, some in Congress have taken notice to artificial reductions in supply from oil refiners.

• Residents near Deraa, Syria have found a mass grave with at least 40 bodies. The Syrian government denied any involvement and continued to roll over restive cities with tanks. Activists will call a one-day general strike in a shift of their protests.

• Harry Reid is playing both sides of the street in the swipe fee battle, siding with Dick Durbin on the policy, but allowing a vote on delaying it out of respect for Jon Tester.

• The President met with King Abdullah of Jordan and reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East, adding that restarting peace talks is vital. That will be a cornerstone of his speech on the Arab uprising coming up later this week, I gather.

• Jon Huntsman makes the huge mistake of respecting science. That’ll kill him in a Republican primary.

• Oh goody, AIG is making high-risk deals again.

• Let’s just say that Newt Gingrich isn’t having the best rollout of his Presidential campaign. You typically don’t want to hear this from constituents: “Why don’t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?” The fact that Newt owes about 20% of his net worth to Tiffany’s doesn’t exactly help him either.

• Newt Gingrich also knows nothing about the economy in the Midwest.

• I don’t even know what to say about this horrific Supreme Court ruling that basically authorized warrantless searches on the thinnest of pretexts.

• James Bopp, the lawyer behind the Citizens United case, is just getting started.

• Some of the appellate cases in the health care lawsuits are turning on the question of standing.

• I honestly don’t know why you would want to join the public sector and subject yourself to such anger and outrage. That’s a bad thing for the country that public service has been so demonized.

• Like John McCain knows anything about torture. Puh-leeze.

• Diplomats spend a heck of a lot of time concerned about the oil markets. Why, you’d almost think it was the major basis for our foreign policy!

• Despite the success in dropping water levels in the Mississippi River due to opening various spillways, part of the river will still be closed to shipping for an undetermined amount of time.

• More fallout from the only financial cases that the US Attorney in Manhattan seems to care about, insider trading cases. A former Lehman Brothers broker pleaded guilty yesterday.

• The off-the-radar stuff that Scott Walker is doing to collect power in Wisconsin is pretty troubling.

• US manufacturing has been hurt by supply chain breakdowns from the Japanese earthquake.

• This is revolting: “The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday that Libyan authorities appear to be encouraging African migrants to board unseaworthy boats bound for Europe.”

• I’d put aside the personal slights, but Cornel West is apparently unhappy with Barack Obama on a host of levels… Melissa Harris-Perry’s response seems worthwhile to me as a counterpoint.

• Don’t know that the Fox News freak-out over rapper Common was worth more than a word, but Jon Stewart was at least entertaining to watch.

• An update on the increasingly nutty election in NY-26. There’s an election in my Congressional district, CA-36, today. It’s going to a runoff.

• Former Administration official Jared Bernstein has a blog now. He’s pretty active on it.

• This is a very strange campaign, to repatriate shirts already given to third-world countries and to spend the money on charitable causes there.

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