guardian.co.uk — Dick Morris's twitter feed on election night was a thing to behold. The day before the presidential election Morris, a rightwing pollster, analyst and Bill Clinton adviser, told Fox News: "Romney will win by a very large margin. A landslide, if you will... I think he'll get 325 electoral votes." (Romney lost with 206.) A week earlier he said his "personal hunch" was the Republicans would take the Senate with 53 seats. (They lost, with only 45.) When the results came he was kind enough to share his transition from hubris to humiliation in real time. On election night Morris's head exploded, leaving shards of baseless braggadocio scattered across cyberspace. Reality will do that, sooner or later. For Republicans it has been later. Finally it appears defeat has sobered some of them up, forcing a rift between those willing to engage with the world as it is and others who prefer dystopian visions, woven from whole cloth.
dailykos.com — In the context of the facts on the ground, fealty to Grover Norquist's tax pledge makes very little sense: unless his devotees truly expect the president to cave on all tax cut extensions, obeying the pledge to never vote for any tax increases will actually lead to more tax increases than simply negotiating with him in good faith. But while no amount of schadenfreude over Norquist's fall from relevance should ever be begrudged, his loss should not automatically be considered a gain for Democrats and progressives. The civil war among Republican ranks that will play out in the next month is a dangerous one, and the dividing line is between the Norquist-led hardliners who sincerely expect that they can blackmail the president yet one more time, and the rebels who realize that they can accomplish a long-held strategic goal through what history indicates will be only a temporary concession. Of those two groups, the second is far more dangerous.
huffingtonpost.com — House Speaker John Boehner didn't bother to go through the pretense of recommending more women and minorities to chair House committees. All nineteen of his chair picks were white men. The committee chairs determine what legislation gets heard or stonewalled in the House. So Boehner's naked move to assure that white guys still rule in the House seemingly makes mockery of all the GOP's big post-election talk about making women and minorities bigger players in the party. A charitable defense of Boehner would be to say that he just doesn't have the numbers to plop more women and minorities in House leadership positions. One of their two African-American members and one of their seven Hispanic members were defeated. At the same time, they have six fewer women in the coming House session than in the last one. But that's too charitable.
alternet.org — Safely ensconced in their bubble, the conservative movement isn't sparing a moment for introspection, and certainly isn't going to change its tune anytime soon. Most believe the election was somehow illegitimate – either because Obama managed to bribe voters with “gifts,” as Mitt Romney sees it, or because Americans were hoodwinked. This is a movement that has swallowed its own rhetoric to such a degree that it is not capable of looking at the reality of its demographic challenges and adapting. It's a movement that's unprepared to accept the growing unpopularity of its positions on social issues. Republicans created a dedicated information infrastructure to combat what they saw as widespread bias in the media and academia, and now it's that same mighty wurlitzer that will prevent them from adapting to a changing America.
salon.com — Republicans don’t know what to do when “groups that traditionally haven’t voted” turn up at the polls. Because they know they lose. And this is an ancient struggle, predating this country’s founding but embedded in its DNA. Because Republicans and the powers that be know one thing: If every eligible voter actually voted, we would live in a very different, much more just and more fair world. A world with less economic suffering and much more opportunity. That’s what accounts for the new GOP push for restrictive voting laws. Republicans are no longer talking as much about “fraud,” which has been proven to be virtually non-existent; they’re owning up to the fact that the new laws are intended to suppress the turnout of minorities and poor people who came out to vote in record numbers in 2008 and then again in 2012. Those folks who were “pulled out of the apartments” by the Obama campaign.
robertreich.org — Obama’s only real bargaining leverage comes from the fact that when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of December, America’s wealthiest will take the biggest hit. The highest marginal income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (for joint filers), and the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent. This will happen automatically if nothing is done between now and then to change course. It’s the default if Republicans won’t agree to anything else. It’s Obama’s trump card. So rather than stoking middle-class fears about the cliff, the White House ought to be doing the opposite – reassuring most Americans they can survive the fall. To utilize his trump card effectively, Obama needs to convince Republicans that the middle class is willing to jump. And the middle class can jump fearlessly if the White House and Democrats enact legislation that reinstates the Bush tax cuts for the middle class as of January 1.
washingtonpost.com — Here’s the first lesson from the early skirmishing over ways to avoid the fiscal cliff: Democrats and liberals have to stop elevating Grover Norquist, the anti-government crusader who wields his no-tax pledge as a nuclear weapon, into the role of a political Superman. Pretending that Norquist is more powerful than he is allows Republicans to win acclaim they haven’t earned yet. Without making a single substantive concession, they get loads of praise just for saying they are willing to ignore those old pledges to Grover. But kudos for an openness to compromise should be reserved for Republicans who put forward concrete proposals to raise taxes. The corollary is that progressives should be unafraid to draw their own red lines. If you doubt that this is a good idea, just look at how effective Norquist has been. Outside pressure from both sides is essential for a balanced deal.
slate.com — The fiscal cliff is confusing, even to the Washington legislators arguing about it. On the one hand, the cliff consists of rapid deficit-reducing tax increases and spending cuts. On the other hand, the people most adamant about the need to avoid the cliff are calling for deficit reduction. Congress has structured the rules so that only an agreement on long-term deficit reduction—a grand bargain—can prevent the growth-killing, short-term deficit reduction of the fiscal cliff. But that’s no coincidence. Proponents of the grand bargain to resolve long-term fiscal questions don’t favor a bargain because they want to avoid the fiscal cliff. They deliberately created the fiscal cliff in hopes that the emergency would set the stage for a grand bargain. It’s a strategy they hit upon only after their previous hope that the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis would force a bargain proved futile. The problem is that the quest for the grand bargain is essentially a quest for the impossible
slate.com — If Republicans are going to agree to a deficit reduction bill containing a big tax increase, then obviously they're going to want large domestic spending cuts. And if we want the basic operations of the federal government to continue, large domestic spending cuts need to contain meaningful reductions in entitlement spending. But while Democrats have been out there banging the table for their preferred tax increases, it's not at all clear what Republicans negotiating objectives on the entitlement side are. As hard as it is to reconcile Democratic and Republican ideas, it's completely impossible if Republicans won't say what they want. And on Medicare there's simply a lot of cognitive dissonance inside the Republican ranks.
thedailybeast.com — This point bears emphasizing, I think. I suspect that the Republicans want to block Rice because they want Obama to name John Kerry because they believe that Scott Brown can win that seat back. And as I've written before, he probably can, in my admittedly somewhat removed view (but also in the view of certain Bostonians I've consulted on the matter). McCain and Graham have other motivations: getting a scalp, keeping phony impeachment hopes alive, etc. But let's not forget that these guys are politicians, and senators, and they think of politics and the Senate first. One less Democrat in the Senate would make for a nice little cherry on their sundae.