thedailybeast.com — Fiscal cliff hostage situation, day 40. It’s taken six weeks, but President Obama has finally got the Republican House leader to make the case for a more progressive tax system. In an effort to resolve the fiscal cliff impasse, John Boehner reportedly has offered to raise income-tax rates on people who make more than $1 million a year—but if, and only if, Obama agrees to entitlement cuts. In addition, The Washington Post reported, Boehner also has offered to take the toxic debt-ceiling debate off the table for a year. Like those Japanese soldiers holed up in caves on Pacific islands in 1945, the House Republicans don’t seem to grasp that the war over higher taxes on the rich is effectively over. This war ended, of course, with the election.
truthdig.com — The human capacity to put passion and intense feeling over cool rationality does not surprise us when it comes to love, sex, family, friendship, certain kinds of religious commitment and even devotion to sports teams. But emotional approaches can be quite dangerous in public policy, and on no subject is irrationality as pronounced as it is in health care. Here’s the difficulty: Conservatives who were once genuinely interested in finding market-based alternatives to government-provided health insurance have, since the rise of Obamacare, continued to make choices that are dysfunctional, even from their own point of view.
consortiumnews.com — New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof offers a typical column reacting to the massacre of 20 school children in Newtown, Connecticut. He calls on politicians to show courage in standing up to the National Rifle Association, but he doesn’t seem to have the courage himself to identify the key political culprits in a three-decade-long pandering to the NRA clout. There’s a reason for that. The vast majority of the politicians who have served as handmaidens to the NRA’s war on commonsense gun control are Republicans, including such icons as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In other words, Republicans – and particularly Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush – hold primary responsibility for the kinds of horrors that have claimed innocent lives in places like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech and so many other locations whose names will long be associated with butchery.
thedailybeast.com — So the Republicans look like crap right now. The brand, as they say, is at a horrible low. Naturally I find this amusing and satisfying. But then I recall: Well, they looked pretty bad in December 2008, too. Remember? They were written off. But then they came roaring back and really showed some muscle and swept the next elections. So what’s to prevent them from doing the same this time? Three factors, actually. History may repeat itself, as the saying goes, but never so precisely that the exact same tricks will work a second time.
alternet.org — Quick - when you hear "public housing," what picture jumps into your mind? Or "public hospital"? All around us, our public institutions are disintegrating, and the most important public institution of all – our public education system – is the next to be ghettoized. Despite several progressive victories this Election Day, there was one significant defeat in Georgia, as voters approved of Constitutional Amendment 1 , which changes Georgia’s Constitution to give Republicans in that state the power to create charter schools as part of Georgia’s public education system. The result will be crucial taxpayer dollars being funneled away from free public schools and directed toward brand new, sometimes for-profit, privately-run charter schools. This is a major shot in the multigenerational war on public education part of our commons.
guardian.co.uk — The United States is not the only country in the world to have been brought to a juddering, weeping standstill by a mass shooting, as happened this weekend. Where America really is different, however, is in three things. The first is the increasing commonness of shooting sprees. The second difference is the exceptionally dangerous weaponry to which Americans have easy access. The final difference is in many ways the most destructive of all. This is America's sheer difficulty in conducting any kind of rational collective conversation about gun control. In any other country, a shooting spree of the sort that took place in Newtown would set off a serious public debate. The fault for this lies overwhelmingly with the U.S. gun lobby.
thenation.com — The first response of any country to violence of the sort seen in Connecticut must be one of horror. And sorrow. But there is nothing more absurd than the suggestion that it is wrong to raise political concerns at a moment such as this. It is in a moment such as this that responsible nations examine themselves, their cultures, their laws. So why don’t we have that discussion? It is easy to blame the National Rifle Association. But the NRA never walks alone. In this regard, the NRA has a powerful ally at the level of government, where the most meaningful interventions against violence can and frequently must be made. The American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch Brothers–guided group that aligns corporations with conservative legislators who will introduce the “model legislation” crafted by those corporations, has been in the forefront not just of averting sensible gun control but of trying to shut down public debate about gun control.
huffingtonpost.com — Back in March of 1984, the owner of the Baltimore Colts moved Baltimore's beloved football team to Indianapolis. He said he wouldn't do it, but, in the middle of the night, 12 Mayflower moving trucks were hired to tear out the region's heart and soul under cover of darkness. It was incredibly unpopular, extremely underhanded, and it devastated the people. It even brought Baltimore's mayor to tears. What's happening in Michigan this week is no less deceptive and devastating. The Republican legislature is ramming unpopular bills down the people's throats. That they're doing it in this murky, under-cover-of-darkness lame duck session is evidence enough of how unpopular it is. First it was the right to work law, and now it's bills restricting women's freedom to control their bodies and health care choices. First the workers, now the women -- we can only wonder whose rights they'll pile into their moving vans next.
washingtonpost.com — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has — or had — a quirky slogan to describe his governing philosophy: “relentless positive action.” His approach, as I heard him describe it at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, was to find practical solutions and avoid unnecessary partisan division. Relentless positive action, he kept repeating. The mantra sounded more Dale Carnegie than Karl Rove, but it was goofily charming. Not anymore. Now it seems more like a sad commentary on the hopelessly fractured state of our politics.
talkingpointsmemo.com — Remember that scene in Star Wars when they’re in the garbage compactor on the Death Star? Now imagine it’s John Boehner in the garbage compactor. Now imagine John can’t get through to C3P0. Boehner is still at least nominally fighting over the tax hike for income over $250,000 a year, a battle that’s clearly already been lost. It’s not crystal clear to me whether this is Boehner’s own viewpoint, to the extent something like that could be identified, or simply a measure of his weak position in the face of House GOP fire-eaters. But the difference may not matter. As Boehner digs in, McConnell is now openly working against his position, trying to organize a tactical retreat on the tax question and thus leaving Boehner increasingly exposed.