I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention that I’m going to be going on vacation for two weeks, starting April 20, returning May 4. Don’t fret, I have a great group of writers lined up to fill in over that period. More details as they develop.

• Former Congressman Joe Kennedy II wants pure speculators out of the oil futures market. CFTC has the ability to do this right now if they wanted.

• A preview of the upcoming announcement in the Trayvon Martin case: Bmaz’ expert analysis. Among other things, he says that “Stand Your Ground” isn’t entirely germane to the case and may not be granted as a defense. Of course, Stand Your Ground doesn’t always protect people, even when it appears completely applicable.

• The loss of female jobs in the arbitrarily designated “Obama recovery” correlates strongly with the loss of public sector jobs generally, which are more commonly tilted toward women. Bring back public sector jobs, and you bring back women’s employment. Is that what Mitt Romney is running on, again?

• Romney got in more trouble today when his campaign initially couldn’t explain their position on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Ultimately, they said they wouldn’t repeal it.

• It’s worth pointing out on the first day of the general election that the race doesn’t look particularly close right now. That was re-emphasized today by the Obama lead in North Carolina.

• Wendy’s becomes the latest corporation to dump ALEC, and this one’s significant because they’ve traditionally given lots of money to conservative causes.

• Cell phones and corruption, via Matt Stoller. We have terrible telecom infrastructure and high prices, and it’s no accident.

• The European crisis continues, with Spain and Italy pointing the blame at each other. I for one would love to see a full-blown “crisis” coming from new leadership in France calling B.S. on the kick-the-can methods that have only prolonged the problem and made it more expensive.

• The Obama campaign has a Buffett rule calculator that compares your tax rate to Mitt Romney’s, just to get your blood boiling.

• Afghan officials are proving to be far more compliant than the Iraqis when it comes to long-term security arrangements. They’re basically a client state.

• Allen West went the full Joe McCarthy today, in accusing the entire Congressional Progressive Caucus of being Communists. I’m actually impressed that the Progressive Caucus did not reflexively say “we’re not socialists at all!” in response:

The rhetoric of Allen West evokes one of the lowest points in American political discourse; the red scare campaign by Senator Joe McCarthy the led to the black listing of thousands of patriotic Americans. The Congressional Progressive Caucus fights daily so that Americans from diverse backgrounds and experiences can share in the American Dream. Rep. West seems to think that it’s okay to use hate speech from a dark time in American history to smear anyone who stands up for the 99%.

• Maybe the kids will save us from the economists.

• Why would the health care law be popular at this point? Not enough of it is in place, and until recently the Democrats haven’t even done much to explain or defend it, preferring to keep it out of the papers.

• Between George Bush kinds sorta saying we should worry about growth more than deficits, and Condi Rice lamenting the demonization of immigrants, could we be longing for the kinder, gentler Republican Party of the 2000s?

• Only Kofi Annan believes that the Syrian regime will lay down their arms tomorrow.

• Thankfully, there was no tsunami from the big earthquake today in Indonesia.

• I’m very skeptical of crowdfunding on a national scale, but for local capital-raising, there can be success stories, and the Internet just makes little investment clubs like this easier.

• Another reason to root for the Socialists in the French elections: they would withdraw from Afghanistan almost immediately.

• The United States has the highest share of low-wage employees in the industrialized world.

• It’s not good if your vice presidential bench is stronger than your presidential bench.

• Rich people aren’t being audited by the IRS in any major quantities.

• Don’t know what to make about this ebook price fixing case. It sounds like the only complaint is with the method of the price fixing, not the price fixing itself.

• I wish my corporate jet and elaborate security detail could get me a tax break.

• I’ve often heard about conservative economist and blogger Tyler Cowen’s love of restaurants. This economic look at finding good food actually intrigues me.

• I just can’t imagine how the National Review managed to find another racist working for them.

• No comment here, I just love Nathan Thurm and this is as good a Mike Wallace tribute as any.