dailykos.com — Died, after long struggle with infectious reality, Hastert Rule. Mr. Rule, caretaker at the House GOP Asylum for the Criminally Insane, is remembered by all who knew him—Democrats in particular—as an emotionally distant father, abusive husband, and hostile, litigious neighbor. However, he is also widely credited with keeping his asylum under tight control for many years, although some observers attribute much of Mr. Rule's success to his long-time pharmaceutical assistant, Nurse Ratched. More recently, Mr. Rule’s growing health problems left him largely incapacitated, making him a figure of ridicule even among the asylum’s inmates. As his mental faculties deteriorated, Mr. Rule’s increasingly bizarre orders (such as his recent call for the utter destruction of the federal government and the global financial markets) were largely ignored by his staff, including head janitor John Boehner.
washingtonpost.com — One dimension of the debt-ceiling debate that hasn’t gotten enough attention is how split Republicans are on the idea. While the working assumption in Washington is that the GOP will try to hold the debt-ceiling hostage in return for some (heretofore unspecified) spending cuts, quite a few influential Republicans are begging and pleading with the party to find another strategy, warning that it’s a hostage Republicans can’t shoot and that the two possible outcomes are 1) an embarrassing cave or 2) an economic disaster that the public blames on the GOP.
nymag.com — On the Sandy bill, a mere 49 Republicans voted aye, against 179 nays. Now why, you might ask, would Republicans tolerate the passage of a bill they overwhelmingly oppose? They didn’t have to pass it — they could have kept it off the floor and only brought a bill that had their party’s support, or possibly no bill at all. It appears they decided the negative publicity, and the damage to the party’s brand, outweighed their own preferences. House Republicans wanted to vote no so they could signal opposition to their own base, and protect themselves against a possible primary challenge, but they didn’t care enough to actually stop the bill. The unanswered question here is whether they care at all, or how much they really care. Perhaps Republicans have been told they can’t afford to drive the party into a public confrontation, so they quietly accede to compromises, while frustration builds beneath the surface.
motherjones.com — Driven to act by last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama on Wednesday called on Congress to pass new laws banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and targeting gun traffickers, and he announced 23 steps his administration is taking to better enforce existing law. With Republicans threatening to block any legislation—and some extreme GOPers calling for impeachment if Obama acts alone—reform, as could be expected, will not be easy. But should Obama gets what he wants, he'll face another major challenge: his own Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Over the last three decades, gun activists and lawmakers have purposefully hindered the BATF and carefully molded the agency that enforces gun laws to serve their own interests, stunting the ATF's budget, handicapping its regulatory authority, and keeping it effectively leaderless. The bureau Obama is counting on to lead his gun control push is a disaster...by Republican design.
huffingtonpost.com — When you've lost the Koch brothers, you've lost the game. Republicans intent on smashing through the debt ceiling in order to wring some spending concessions out of President Obama are finding themselves awfully lonely these days, but they've kept soldiering on. The latest ally to abandon them may be the toughest to ignore, though. The president of the group Americans For Prosperity, bankrolled by Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries, yesterday said the group wants spending cuts, but warned Republicans that screwing around with the debt ceiling "makes the messaging more difficult," the Financial Times writes. The AFP president also warned Republicans not to be seen as "hostage takers." That's a marked change from the summer of 2011, when AFP objected to a debt-ceiling deal because it didn't cut spending enough.
salon.com — On the eve of President Obama announcing his gun control agenda, based on Vice President Joe Biden’s task force recommendations, the National Rifle Association needed to go big: to remind Americans that the organization protects their gun rights, and to remind politicians that they’re a smart and formidable political force they’d be unwise to cross. Instead, they showed us the truth: They’re part of the vast and increasingly incompetent right-wing conspiracy that’s sacrificed its own effectiveness for the pleasure of hating Democrats generally and our first black president in particular.
talkingpointsmemo.com — House Republicans contain multitudes. But in a way the story of their majority is about the deterioration of the relationship between the conference’s right-most faction and the rest of the party — and thus of the slow erosion of the party’s influence over major policy. This goes back to the early days of 2011, when House leaders would round up 218 Republican votes for big-deal bills, and use them as opening bids in negotiations with the White House and the Senate. They shifted the political center of gravity way to the right, such that even after Democrats made their demands heard, important bills would ultimately pass both chambers with the support of a majority of Republicans. If Democrats wanted to avoid a government shutdown, they had to be willing to accept legislation that was Hastert Rule compliant. That was pretty remarkable, considering the Republicans only controlled the House. But the right-hard right alliance started showing signs of instability almost immediately.
colorlines.com — Virginia celebrated record high voter turnout in 2008, at 67 percent, and had similarly strong showing in 2012 with around 66 percent. Yet somehow, the state experienced much more Election Day malady last year, in terms of prohibitively long lines, than it suffered in 2008. This was particularly true in Prince William County, the only “minority-majority”—or, predominantly people of color—area in northern Virginia, where the population has increased 43.2 percent just since 2010, many of those Latino immigrants. So why the difference in performance from 2008 to 2012? This question was explored in the “Lessons from Election 2012” congressional forum in Woodbridge, Va. hosted yesterday by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), both of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. There was a tremendous amount of testimony about long lines and how this was a worse problem than 2008, despite a greater turnout rate back then.
swampland.time.com — The idea of a trillion-dollar platinum coin was not quite as insane as it sounded. It was a response to the insanity of congressional Republicans, who have refused to raise the debt ceiling and let the U.S. pay its bills unless Democrats agree to massive cuts in Democratic priorities. The coin would have been an accounting trick designed to allow Obama to ignore the debt ceiling and keep fulfilling obligations Congress had already incurred. It was always unrealistic to imagine that Obama could sidestep Republican extremism and obstructionism through a kooky loophole in monetary regulations. Big ideological battles don’t get settled through technicalities. But especially on the left, there is still a powerful urge to believe that Republican extremism and obstructionism can be sidestepped.
jackandjillpolitics.com — The GOP’s death wish, embodied in their fiscal recklessness, has created this moment in time when the full faith and credit of the Nation, of The United States of America, is called into question. This is part of a slow public suicide of the Grand Old Party. They are shrinking demographically, stagnant in terms of ideas and ideology, and now they are completely utterly mad. The GOP, in the throes of Obama Mania, a sickness that is a conflation of race hatred, school yard bullying, inferiority complexes, and simple stupidity, has decided that since they aren’t in charge nothing should get done. They have decided that if they can’t force America to its very knees and beyond, that America should die a slow tortuous death of a thousand cuts. This isn’t an ideological disagreement, this is sabotage, this is sedition — this is the opposite of economic patriotism. The GOP is committing economic treason. This conflict with the GOP has become a cold civil war.