salon.com — It says something about the state of the conservative movement and the Republican Party that Jim DeMint’s power won’t wane at all – and, in fact, might even grow – as he leaves the U.S. Senate to run the Heritage Foundation. What DeMint has apparently figured out is that in today’s Republican universe there’s less of a relationship than ever between holding office and holding power. This is what the rise of insular conservative media has done. Way back, DeMint needed his office to attract attention, but now that he’s a huge player in the insular Republican universe, he doesn’t need it anymore. He can keep right on calling the shots from his new perch at Heritage. He’ll keep right on playing the same role, although there will be one difference: He’ll be making a lot more money.
talkingpointsmemo.com — It seems crystal clear that Republicans will and know that they will concede the game on rates and try to reclaim power with a new debt ceiling hostage drama early next year. Having spent a few days in DC, it seems clear to me that absent a dramatic and preemptive climb down on the part of Congressional Republicans, this means we’re headed for the Mother of All Government Shutdowns. Here’s why. The President says under no circumstances will he negotiate a ransom for a debt ceiling extension as he agreed to do in 2011. It’s still not entirely clear to me what end game they envision. But they’re being very clear that this is their line in the sand. That ups the stakes dramatically and the President will have a hard time climbing down from that promise even if he needs or wants to.
huffingtonpost.com — The drive by conservatives to cripple government spending, deregulate whole industries, and emphasize military power over social spending has only made us weaker overseas and at home while increasing the concentration of wealth at the top. The debt ceiling debate is a manufactured crisis, in other words. But it will become a real crisis if Republican House Leader John Boehner succeeds in his threat to hold up a debt ceiling increase next spring unless there are additional spending cuts. That is to say, cutting government spending further will cripple economic growth for years to come.
prospect.org — Today, South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, who was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool, announced that he is retiring just two years into his six-year term. And will he be returning home to Greenville, perhaps to open a general store and be closer to good people of his state? Of course not. That's not what senators do when they retire. They become high-priced lobbyists, cashing in on their years of service by selling their insider status to the highest bidder. But DeMint won't be doing that either. Instead, he'll become president of the Heritage Foundation, the right's largest and most influential think tank, despite the fact that DeMint was never one for thinkin'. As our old friend Ezra tweeted upon hearing the news, "To state the obvious, you don't make Jim DeMint the head of your think tank in order to improve the quality of your scholarship."
thedailybeast.com — So we saw Tuesday night the unveiling of the “new” Republican Party at the Jack Kemp Foundation dinner. The two young stars spoke, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio. Politico gave it a big write up, noting how many times Ryan mentioned the word “poverty” and how many times Rubio said “middle class.” One can see already that the media is going to hype these two and their supposed new thinking relentlessly. Is there anything to the hype? Of course not, and the reason is simple. Neither they nor the people they’re talking to are ready to accept that they’ve been wrong about anything except messaging, and until they are, this is just gaseous rhetoric.
tnr.com — Between an electoral defeat that was wholly unexpected (by them, anyway) and a “fiscal cliff” that will compel them to support a tax increase, Republicans are experiencing present political reality as a sort of Apocalypse. That's how it feels, anyway; eventually they will adjust. But for now they’re channeling their resentment into internecine warfare, creating a tableau vivant of pitched battle and unending recrimination that Hieronymus Bosch could have set against a landscape of burning lakes and whirling locusts. It is deeply satisfying to behold. But there’s so much bile flying in so many directions that the uninitiated can find it difficult to keep track of who’s purging whom, and why. Here follows a guide to some of the more interesting enmities.
talkingpointsmemo.com — President Obama made public comments to this effect in front of the Business Roundtable. And various other commentators have reported it. But it’s turning out to be far more important than the jousting over tax rates that President Obama is saying flatly that he will not negotiate under any circumstances over raising the national debt limit. Though there’s still a lot of back and forth over it, Republicans realize that the top marginal tax rate is going up. Given this defeat, House Republicans are saying they’ll regroup around the debt limit and force the president’s hands when they have all the power. This assumes a replay of 2011. But the President says he won’t negotiate under any circumstances. And his top advisors say he’s adamant on the point — not just because of the current impasse but to take hostage taking over the national debt off the table for good.
takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com — Distinguishing the extreme right wing from the Republican Party’s center can sometimes be difficult, but today the rejectionist front made the job a little easier by blasting Speaker John Boehner’s offer in the fiscal talks. It’s an “$800 billion tax hike,” said Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. It’s “categorical, pre-emptive capitulation,” said the Heritage Foundation. It “leaves conservatives wanting,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party spending group set up by the Koch brothers. My immediate reaction was: wait, are they talking about the same offer Mr. Boehner and the House leadership made to President Obama on Monday afternoon? Because that letter, thin and bereft of details, was anything but a cave-in to the forces of socialism. Only if the offer is seen from the narrowest sectarian viewpoint — that it dares to raise revenue by ending those tax deductions — could it be seen as any kind of concession.
alternet.org — The Republican Party successfully scuttled the prospect of the United States joining a United Nations treaty that would establish international standards for the rights of disabled people. The vote took place on December 4. The treaty “urges nations to strive to ensure that the disabled enjoy the same rights as their fellow citizens,” the Associated Press reports . But the GOP “objected to taking up a treaty during the lame-duck session and warned that the treaty could pose a threat to U.S. sovereignty.” The GOP’s opposition to the treaty was reinforced by right-wing media freaking out over yet another United Nations effort. The pattern is well-established: take a UN treaty the US is thinking of signing, twist the language to make it seem nefarious, and then gin up hysterical opposition to it based on non-existent provisions in the treaty. So here are five ways the right has jumped the shark over the UN.
thedailybeast.com — This Senate vote refusing to ratify the UN convention on people with disabilities is rather interesting. 1. It's modeled on our own Americans with Disabilities Act. Okay? Modeled on an American law. 2. It would help ensure that people with disabilities in less advanced countries get treated with some measure of ADA-like respect. 3. Every other advanced country has backed it. 4. Bob Dole was there to lobby for it in person. Bob Dole. In a wheelchair, no less! But the Republicans voted it down. It "passed" 61-38, but two-thirds or 66 were needed for ratification, so it failed. Eight Republicans voted with all Democrats. But not enough.