Jamelle Bouie

Obama's Biggest Blemish

White House / Flickr

Yesterday, I complained that political media presents debt reduction as a no-brainer—something we must do, for the sake of our solvency—and not as a choice that may or may not be warranted in the current environment (hint: it’s not). There’s no mystery as to why that’s the case; the major mainstream news outlets are heavily influenced by elite opinion, and elite opinion is dominated by the views of successful businesspeople.

Republicans Against ... the Violence Against Women Act?

Wikipedia

Every so often, Congress has to tackle “no-brainer” legislation. These are bills that, for the most part, are broadly supported by both parties and don’t require much in the way of time, negotation, or effort to resolve and pass. One of them is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides funding for shelters and other services, and targets resources toward prosecution of violent crimes against women. The law has come up for reauthorization twice before—in 2000 and 2005—and in both cases passed without substantial opposition.

What Do You Mean, "Both Sides?"

NBC News

Of the many frustrating things about political punditry, one of the most frustrating is the extent to which many writers choose to ignore core facts about our political world and instead rely on generalities, intuition, and lazy conventional wisdom. For one great (terrible?) example of this, look no further than the most recent column from Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal, in which he blames the near-collapse of the fiscal-cliff deal on “both sides”:

We Need More Spending

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

This passage from Politico’s write-up of the fiscal cliff deal, on the supposed inadequacy of the agreement, stuck out to me for it’s sheer wrongness: “The pact also does little to reduce trillion-dollar-plus deficits, shore up entitlement programs, overhaul the tax code or stimulate the U.S. economy — the casualty of a polarized political culture that scorns compromise.”

The Republican Party Is the Problem

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

After weeks of negotiating, we have a deal on the fiscal cliff, which—in true, congressional fashion—passed hours after the government went “over” the cliff.

Obama Appoints Scott Brown as Senator from Massachusetts

Flickr/U.S Embassy Kabul Afghanistan

The Washington Post reports that President Obama has nominated Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State. This doesn’t come as a surprise; he was on the short list behind Hillary Clinton, and has been a stalwart defender of the administration’s foreign policy choices over the last four years. Clinton is a hard act to follow, but there’s little doubt Kerry will perform well in the position.

There's No Wizard Behind the NRA's Curtain

Google

The National Rifle Association has been in a tough spot since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. As an advocacy group for gun manufactuers, and a particular set of gun enthusiasts, it has no interest in new gun control regulations. But it as a powerful political force, it has to say something—otherwise, it’s vulnerable to continued criticism.

How House Republicans Neutered Themselves

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Last night witnessed the implosion of John Boehner’s efforts to pass a Republican-crafted fiscal cliff proposal, otherwise known as “Plan B.” Unlike the floated compromise, this would extend the Bush tax cuts for all income under $1 million, preserve a high estate tax cut off, and slash spending on tax credits for working-class Americans (in addition to cutting Obamacare and repealing key mechanisms of Dodd-Frank).

The Fundamentals Were Right!

Drew Linzer / Votamatic

This afternoon, Drew Linzer—whose election forecasting site, Votematic, rivaled Nate Silver’s for accuracy–tweeted two charts showing key election fundamentals: Second quarter GDP growth, and the president’s net approval rating in June. Those presidents with a growing economy and a positive approval rating almost always win, and those with a shrinking economy and a negative approval rating almost always lose. And while Republicans spent the year thinking this wouldn’t be true for President Obama, as Linzer shows, it was.

Here’s where 2012 fell on a graph showing 2nd quarter GDP growth and the incumbent party’s share of the two-party vote:

The Social Security Conversation We Should Be Having

401K / Flickr

Matthew Yglesias makes an excellent point about an essential tension between Social Security and the demands of “The Market,” in a post called “Why the Powers that Be Hate Social Security”:

Everyone Is a Taker

Pew Research Center

After a year where Republicans—even so-called “moderates,” like Mitt Romney—devoted themselves to dividing the public into “makers” and “takers,” a new survey from the Pew Research Service shows that most Americans—55 percent, in fact—are “dependent on government” in some form.

Still No Strong Links Between Video Games and Violence

Videogamer.com

Yesterday, on Fox News Sunday, outgoing senator Joe Lieberman floated the recurring—and wrong—idea that violent video games play a part in mass shootings.

Republicans Float Plan to Make Electoral College More Unfair

Google

Since their across-the-board defeat in November, Republicans have talked a great game about reform and outreach, with presidential hopefuls Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal leading the charge. But the actual actions of the GOP belie this stated commitment to change. According to National Journal, for example, Republicans are planning a big push to change how states distribute their electoral votes.

Gun Control, No Longer the Dems' Electoral Kryptonite

Lawrence Jackson / White House

The most notable thing to come out of President Obama’s speech last night—eulogizing the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut—was his unambiguous commitment to pursuing new gun regulations in the coming weeks. Granted, he didn’t use the word “gun,” but the implications were clear:

If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.

Republicans (Probably) Don't Have to Reform on Immigration

Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr

Here’s why I don’t expect Republicans to sign on to comprehensive immigration reform, even as they understand a need to better appeal to Latino voters and other immigrant groups.

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