The Roundup for May 9, 2012

I have to run out to President Obama’s mass-gay-wedding ceremony (can’t wait to see who they pair me up with), so I’ll leave you with this:

• Spain partially nationalized its fourth-largest bank, known as Bankia, today. Speaking of nationalization, Japan will nationalize Tokyo Electric Power, the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

• The “Housing is back, baby!” lobby gets more evidence in their favor, with the report that median home prices rose in about half of all metro areas last month.

• Given the fact that this is the first Administration in decades to preside over a massive contraction of the public sector, there’s no excuse for a budget surplus in any month, especially at this time, with unemployment where it is.

• James Inhofe laid down the law in the first day of conference committee on the highway bill, saying that the lower chamber ought to just support the bill he negotiated. The House GOP caucus really doesn’t know what they’re doing.

• Interesting study on how workers are using the payroll tax cut. Mainly for debt deleveraging, it appears.

• Looks like the threat of post office closures is dead for now. There’s still so much that can be done with that asset, however.

• Syria continues to violate the cease-fire agreement, according to its architect, Kofi Annan. I think Sacha Baron Cohen’s Dictator character gets way too close to the truth on Syria in this little clip.

• The House Progressive Caucus is so unable or unwilling to put any ideological constraints on its nominal members, it can’t even get them to support their own budget.

• This undercover underwear bomber story is going to make a great plot line for the second season of Homeland.

• Never in doubt, but basically every Democrat in Wisconsin rallied around Tom Barrett as the Scott Walker recall election begins its final four-week sprint. The PCCC released a new ad supporting the recall today.

• Jared Bernstein explains the Administration’s 48C proposal on clean energy manufacturing.

• Rand Paul can’t find more than one Senator to endorse his proposal to explicitly rule out war with Iran and Syria.

“Vomiting and screaming” on the CIA torture tapes, according to one BBC reporter.

• Good for Twitter to go to court to protect the private tweets of an Occupy protester using their service.

• Robert Worth on the changing times in Libya and the human rights shoes going on the other foot.

• Maybe Joe Biden can say publicly that the President should give out a few more pardons?

• One backer of Sherrod Brown’s new bill to reduce bank size appears to be Queen Elizabeth.

• Think of how many votes Keith Judd could have gotten for President in last night’s West Virginia Democratic primary if he WASN’T a federal inmate?

• Doesn’t look good for a political solution to the Afghanistan quagmire.

• It costs far more to be a senior than contemplated by government “cost-of-living” metrics, for the simple reason that health care costs are so darn high. Remember that when we’re told that we need to “chain” CPI to reduce senior benefits in Social Security, because the CPI doesn’t accurately reflect the actual cost of living. That’s right, it lowballs it.

• Treasury continues to hype its failed HAMP program.

• The Pacific Garbage Patch is only getting bigger and cannot be stopped.

• The Pirate Party has turned itself into a major electoral force in Germany.

• Michelle Bachmann is now a Swiss citizen. Like those Europeans, she believes in crushing austerity, so it fits.

• Azerbaijan will rue the day they ever won the Eurovision song contest.

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