The Roundup for January 24, 2012

I’ll be back later tonight with State of the Union coverage.

• I meant to do a longer piece on the Summers memo, and maybe I should. An impressive team of Summers defenders – Ezra Klein, Jared Bernstein, Brad DeLong – argue generally that the economic and political teams made some mistakes, but that they were working toward a maximal level of stimulus without fear of bond market vigilantes. Dean Baker disagrees. Personally, I think we need to pay more attention to this claim that there were only $225 billion in shovel-ready projects available in the first two years. I remember discussions with local LA officials at the time that really disagree with that.

• Meanwhile, to put the old Obama economic team in the past, the current one won’t get their 2013 budget out for another couple weeks.

• Newt Gingrich parried Mitt Romney’s attacks on his relationship with Freddie Mac by noting that Romney got rich off them too. But the revelation that Newt hired his own lobbyists to avoid lobbyist registration himself seems pretty damaging to me.

• Also, Gingrich’s accountant is just as good at tax dodging as Romney’s.

• Patrick Leahy has a dream that one day, all content will get the protection of the federal government, and the Internet will be orderly and censored for all.

• I haven’t totally dug into the FHFA analysis of why they refuse to offer principal reductions, but from what I hear from the experts it’s based on some flawed logic.

• We probably won’t see a dissolution of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the panel tasked with making changes in Medicare for cost-effectiveness. But without actual members picked to sit on the board, its existence doesn’t exactly help matters.

• Eric Holder will soon make a major address defending the right to assassinate terrorist suspects without due process. It’s come to this.

• Good news on a possible breakthrough in embryonic stem cell research.

• The European Union agreed to an oil boycott of Iran, and this could really put the squeeze on Iran for negotiations over their nuclear program. Which would be a good idea if they ever actually had a weapons program or even agreed to build one.

• Syria extended the Arab League mission, but I don’t think that will stop the trajectory of this involving the West more and more.

• We should definitely ask more about how much of Mitt Romney’s “charitable” donations to the Mormon Church made its way into the coffers of the anti-gay Prop. 8 campaign.

• A pretty decent set of manufacturing reports. Though wage conditions in manufacturing have crumbled, so it’s not necessarily the path to a middle class lifestyle anymore.

• Rick Santorum’s “always look on the bright side of rape” statement is really shocking in its ignorance of the feelings of the victims.

• Judge Garzon in Spain faces trial for investigation into Franco-era crimes of the state. He also happens to be the judge investigating torture at Guantanamo.

• A big story in Congress this year will be how House Republicans mean to replace defense trigger cuts with other spending.

• Newt Gingrich is The Organizer and Orchestrator – not your average politician.

• Also, Gingrich must really hate sitcoms with no laugh tracks.

• Wikileaks, the TV show.

• Best of luck to Steve Benen, moving from the Washington Monthly to MSNBC and Rachel Maddow’s show.

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