My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat and the Seven Dwarfs. Douthat found something to like in all seven GOP presidential candidates. As you might suspect, I didn't. The NYTX front page is here.
Toddlers Can Be Heroes, Too. Many thanks to Lane Moore of Jezebel for the video & to Akhilleus (also a hero) for sending the link to the video of Riley, the Littlest Feminist:
** Stephen Marche of Esquire: "... a class system has arrived in America — a recent study of the thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only Italy and Great Britain have less social mobility.... In the United States, the emerging aristocracy remains staunchly convinced that it is not an aristocracy, that it's the result of hard work and talent. The permanent working poor refuse to accept that their poverty is permanent. The class system is clandestine.... The majority of new college grads in the United States today are either unemployed or working jobs that don't require a degree. Roughly 85 percent of them moved back home in 2011, where they sit on an average debt of $27,200. The youth unemployment rate in general is 18.1 percent.... The Tea Partiers blame the government. The Occupiers blame the financial industry. Both are really mourning the arrival of a new social order, one not defined by opportunity but by preexisting structures of wealth." ...
... ** "Income Inequality Is a Symptom, Not the Disease." Charles Pierce on how Bill Clinton made you poor and the New York Times and University of Chicago say it isn't so.
Batocchio, the Vagabond Scholar, links the best blogger posts of the year, chosen by the bloggers themselves. I've read several, & they are indeed quite fine -- and many are funny.
Ron Klain, a former Obama administration official, writing in Bloomberg News, credits Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner & then-economic counsellor Gene Sperling with setting up the payroll tax extension face-off between the President & the Republican Tea Partiers in Congress.
Nate Silver explains why he "concurs with the conventional wisdom that Republicans are favorites to win control of the Senate next year." CW: I keep thinking, "Surely voters will come to their senses." But I trust Silver's stats a lot more than I trust my own wishful thinking.
Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration’s counterterrorism accomplishments are most apparent in what it has been able to dismantle, including CIA prisons and entire tiers of al-Qaeda’s leadership. But ... in the space of three years, the administration has built an extensive apparatus for using drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries. The apparatus involves dozens of secret facilities, including two operational hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force cockpits in the Southwest and clandestine bases in at least six countries on two continents. Other commanders in chief have presided over wars with far higher casualty counts. But no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals."
Dana Milbank reveals "the cracks in his crystal ball." ...
... Steve Benen fesses up to some of his predictions gone awry.
Ben Nelson, Cornhusker Cowpie. Steve Benen: "Democratic leaders from the White House and Capitol Hill pleaded with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), asking him to run for re-election for one main reason: the party is desperate to keep its Senate majority and it has no one else to run in Nebraska. As is often the case, Nelson is letting his party down.... Nelson waited until after Democratic and allied groups had invested [more than $1MM] ... to strengthen his standing in Nebraska, and then decided to retire.... Nelson has voted with the right many times over the last couple of years — even on filibusters — offering Republicans cover on a wide range of issues. When pressed, Nelson would often tell his Democratic allies the votes were necessary to bolster his re-election bid."
Lee Spears of Bloomberg News: "With Facebook considering the largest Internet IPO on record and regulatory filings showing that at least 14 other Web-related companies are planning sales, the industry may raise $11 billion next year.... That would be the most since $18.5 billion of IPOs in 1999, just before the dot-com bubble burst."
Right Wing World
Dan Balz & Amy Gardner of the Washington Post: "The Republican presidential candidates opened an intensive week of campaigning in wide-open Iowa Tuesday with the embattled Newt Gingrich casting rival Mitt Romney as an establishment defender of big government and accusing Romney’s supporters of lying about his record." ...
... AND if you'd like to know what nasty things the GOP candidates are saying about each other in Iowa, Jeff Zeleny & Michael Shear of the New York Times provide a sampling. ...
... Oh, Here's a Sample. Alex Moe of NBC News: "The Strong America Now Super PAC is sending direct mail pieces to Iowans this week in support of Newt Gingrich while attacking Mitt Romney – something the Gingrich campaign has vowed not to tolerate. 'Romney is the second most dangerous man in America and will perpetuate Obama's slide into financial crisis,' one of at least two mailers from the Super PAC floating around the state reads." ...
... AND Here's Another. Ron Paul is "The One." The other guys are "serial hypocrites" and "flip-floppers":
Steve Benen sums up why Mitt Romney -- unlike every presidential candidate since Watergate -- won't release his tax returns:
1. Mitt Romney is worth $250 million.
2. He got rich by laying off American workers.
3. He pays a lower tax rate than you and the rest of the middle class.
4. He wants to be president so he can keep it this way.
America must decide who to trust: Al Gore’s Texas cheerleader, or the one who stood with Reagan. -- Ron Paul campaign ad
More Implicit Lies from Ron Paul. Josh Hicks of the Washington Post: "We pulled this comment [above] from an ad that accuses Rick Perry of trying to 'undo the Reagan Revolution' when he backed Al Gore for president in 1988.... Paul has little room to criticize politicians for changing their party affiliations. He campaigned for president as a Libertarian in 1988, after running for office seven times as a Republican and serving as a GOP member of the U.S. House for more than six years at that point. So why didn’t he vie for the Republican nomination? Because he’d renounced the party — along with Reagan’s presidential policies — a few years earlier, resigning from the GOP and forgoing a bid for reelection to Congress."
Charles Pierce: South Carolina's Gov. Nikki Haley is "outraged" that U.S. AG Eric Holder has gone all lawyery on her state & is enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Pierce suggests she move to Oshkosh, by gosh.
Jason Easley at Politicus USA: All those nice Christians over at Fox "News" are "outraged" that the Obama family has taken a Christmas vacation which will cost taxpayers $4MM, including "the cost of everything from transportation to accommodations for the First Family, the White House staff, and the White House press corps." But somehow they weren't outraged with President Dubya spent much, much more on his many trips to his Crawford ranch. "He was the most expensive vacation president in US history." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.
Here's an update on Worst Christmas Songs Ever. This is an actual campaign video, which should disabuse you of the notion there could ever be a President Newt:
... Update: Ha ha ha. "This video has been removed by the user" -- the "user" of course being the Newt. Luckily, somebody else captured it (Newt can probably take this down, too, so watch it while it lasts, but definitely before lunch -- and not while you're drinking a beverage to preclude the chance of a spit-take that might zap your keyboard):
New York Times: "was wheeled back into a courtroom [in Cairo] on a hospital gurney on Wednesday to resume his trial amid reports from both supporters and opponents that the proceedings appeared to be going in his favor.", the former president of Egypt ousted in the revolution last February,
New York Times: "Italy’s short-term borrowing costs were halved Wednesday at an auction of government bills, easing the immediate pressure on the country’s economy."
Reuters: "Closing off the Gulf to oil tankers will be 'easier than drinking a glass of water' for Iran if the Islamic state deems it necessary, state television reported on Wednesday, ratcheting up fears over the world's most important oil chokepoint."
New York Times: Sergei Filippov, a high-ranking member of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party "disrupt[ed] scheduled debates [at a meeting of a regional legislature] on forest fire prevention and a transportation tax, to make an appeal to his fellow party members: acknowledge and repair the fraud that many people here believe United Russia committed in recent parliamentary elections." Putin has dismissed criticisms of the elections.