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6:50 PM ET, December 21, 2011

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 Top Items: 
Wall Street Journal:
The GOP's Payroll Tax Fiasco  —  How did Republicans manage to lose the tax issue to Obama?  —  GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected.
RELATED:
ABCNEWS:
Capitol Stand-off: Republicans Caving?  —  My prediction: House Republicans will soon - probably within 24 hours - cave in and accept the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut passed last week by the Senate.  —  I base this on conversations with House Republicans who know they are losing …
Alex Seitz-Wald / ThinkProgress:
Speaker Cuts Off C-SPAN Cameras When Dems Attempt To Bring Vote On Payroll Tax Cut  —  During a quick pro-forma session of the House this morning, Republicans rebuffed a Democratic attempt to force an up-or-down vote on the Senate-passed payroll tax holiday extension, which Republicans have thus far refused to allow.
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
Literally walking away from a fight  —  It was rather remarkable this morning to watch the proceedings on the House floor.  House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wanted to try again to bring up the Senate's bipartisan payroll-tax-break compromise, and instead of debating, Republicans literally walked away from the fight.
Jonathan Weisman / Washington Wire:
Gingrich to House GOP: Give In on Payroll Tax  —  DES MOINES, Iowa - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who famously lost budget battles to President Bill Clinton amid two government shutdowns, had some advice to House Republicans at loggerheads with another Democratic president: Give in.
Jonathan Easley / The Hill:
Rove: Republicans should fold in payroll tax cut standoff  —  Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said he agreed with the Wall Street Journal's blistering assessment on the failure of House Republican leadership in the payroll-tax debate, and conceded that Republicans have “lost the optics” and should fold on the issue.
Discussion: National Review
Alex Seitz-Wald / ThinkProgress:
Romney Refuses To Take Position On Payroll Tax Holiday
Jennifer Epstein / Reuters:
With family away, Obama, Bo shop
Amie Parnes / The Hill:
Obama's Hawaii Christmas dilemma
Marin Cogan / The Politico:
House Republicans who bucked their party
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
The point at which Mitt Romney loses his mind  —  Mitt Romney unveiled a brand-new stump speech in New Hampshire last night, reading a carefully-crafted, poll-tested text from two teleprompters.  Confident that his Republican primarily rivals simply won't (or can't) catch him …
RELATED:
Alexander Burns / The Politico:
You, sir, are no Teddy Roosevelt  —  In a speech to be delivered in Bedford, N.H., this evening, Mitt Romney will push back explicitly on Barack Obama's recent invocation of Teddy Roosevelt in a speech the president used to frame the 2012 campaign in terms of “fairness.”  Here's what Romney will say:
Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine:
Mitt Romney Goes Glenn Beck
Benjamin Kang Lim / Reuters:
Exclusive: North Korea's military to share power with Kim's heir  —  (Reuters) - North Korea will shift to collective rule from a strongman dictatorship after last week's death of Kim Jong-il, although his untested young son will be at the head of the ruling coterie, a source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said.
RELATED:
Victor Morton / Washington Times:
Ex-President Carter sends condolences to Kim Jong-un  —  Former President Jimmy Carter has sent North Korea a message of condolence over the death of Kim Jong-il and wished “every success” to the man expected to take over as dictator, according to the communist country's state-run news agency.
Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine:
Romney Reverses Position on Iraq  —  You people don't care about Iraq any more, do you?  Didn't think so.  —  In an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd today, Mitt Romney asserts that “of course” invading Iraq was a bad idea now that we know Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
Discussion: Washington Monthly and msnbc.com
RELATED:
CNN:
CNN Poll: Americans agree on bringing troops home from Iraq
Discussion: The Politico
Betsy Rothstein / FishbowlDC:
Lawmaker Says Michelle Obama Has ‘Large Posterior’  —  Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), known for his cantankerous ways and for not speaking to media unless it's his idea, was overheard at the Delta Crown lounge at Reagan National Airport today talking on his cellphone about an incident …
Derek Thompson / The Atlantic Online:
The Most Important Graphs of 2011  —  What is it about graphs and economics?  In a discipline where facts are murky and certainty is elusive, graphs offer a bright light of information and a small confidence that the world can be summed up between two axes.
James Q. Lynch / Iowa Caucus 2012:
ISU/Gazette/KCRG Poll: Ron Paul new frontrunner  —  CEDAR RAPIDS — Just two weeks before Iowa's first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses there's a new leader, but the race remains “remarkably fluid,” according to a new Iowa State University/Gazette/KCRG poll of likely Republican caucusgoers.
RELATED:
Ron Paul / Washington Post:
Ron Paul becoming serious contender in Republican presidential race
Grist:
New EPA mercury rules are a bona fide Big Deal  —  Wednesday, at long last, the EPA unveiled its new rule covering mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  —  Anyone who pays attention to green news will have spent the last two years hearing a torrent …
RELATED:
The United States Department of Justice:
Justice Department Reaches $335 Million Settlement to Resolve Allegations of Lending Discrimination by Countrywide Financial Corporation … The Department of Justice today filed its largest residential fair lending settlement in history to resolve allegations that Countrywide Financial Corporation …
Discussion: The Politico
RELATED:
Charlie Savage / New York Times:   $335 Million Settlement on Countrywide Lending Bias
Tom Gantert / Michigan Capitol Confidential:
Chevy Volt Costing Taxpayers Up to $250K Per Vehicle  —  Analyst: ‘This might be the most government-supported car since the Trabant’  —  Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it - a total of $3 billion altogether …
John Hawkins / Right Wing News:
The 50 Best Political Quotes For 2011 (Third Annual)  —  50) Get the hell off the Beach in Asbury Park and get out.  You're done.  It's 4:30 PM.  You've maximized your tan.  Get off the beach.  Get in you cars and get out of those areas.  — Chris Christie 49) NPR is a very elitist …
iMFdirect:
2011 In Review: Four Hard Truths  —  What a difference a year makes ...  We started 2011 in recovery mode, admittedly weak and unbalanced, but nevertheless there was hope.  The issues appeared more tractable: how to deal with excessive housing debt in the United States …
The Politico:
POLITICO Influence: Endgame  —  K STREET NONPLUSSED OVER CONGRESSIONAL STALEMATE: House GOP leaders' move to appoint conferees and not pass a two-month extension has lobbyists of all stripes unsure of what an endgame looks like.  Several downtowners predicted to PI over the past week …
Discussion: Eduwonk
Jason Clayworth / Iowa Caucuses:
Newt Gingrich to gay Iowan: Vote for Obama  —  Gingrich and his wife Callista at tonight's event in Oskaloosa.  Oskaloosa, Ia.  - Newt Gingrich told a gay man and longtime resident of Oskaloosa here today that he should vote for President Obama.  —  “I asked him if he's elected, how does he plan to engage gay Americans.
Associated Press:
34 Congress Members Call For NYPD-CIA Probe  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — More than two dozen members of Congress are calling for investigation into the CIA's relationship with the New York Police Department.  —  The members of Congress want to know more about the CIA's collaboration …
 
 
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 More Items: 
ABCNEWS:
Romney Orders Hawaiian Pizza, Feeds Reporters
Anupreeta Das / Wall Street Journal:
Activist Fund Slams AOL's Strategy
Brock Vergakis / Associated Press:
2 women share 1st kiss at US Navy ship's return
Jacob Albert / The Huffington Post:
A Cynicism That Veils Hope: Why More Americans Should Support Occupy Wall Street
Discussion: National Review
Cameron Joseph / Ballot Box:
Romney features wife, touts ‘character’ in new ad
Discussion: CNN
McSweeney's:
Newt Gingrich's Letter to Virginia, Regarding the Existence of Santa Claus and Claims …
Discussion: TBogg
 Earlier Items: 
New York Times:
Iraqi Leader Threatens to Abandon Power-Sharing
Discussion: NO QUARTER
Maggie Haberman / The Politico:
Callista dings Mitt on Twitter
Paul Glastris / Washington Monthly:
Obama's Rising Poll Numbers: The Dog-That-Didn't-Bark Factor
U.S. Census Bureau News:
Texas Gains the Most in Population Since the Census
Brian Beutler / tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com:
TPMDC  —  Watch GOPer Literally Walk Out On Dem Attempt To Push Payroll Tax Cut
Neal Pollack / Salon:
I knew Christopher Hitchens better than you
Discussion: ThinkProgress
Lee Davidson / Salt Lake Tribune:
Romney has six. Jon Huntsman has four. And Rick Perry has one.
Discussion: Shakesville and The Caucus
Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine:
Romney Tortures Jennifer Rubin
 

 
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Rick Edmonds / Poynter:
9 takeways from the New York Times Co. 3rd quarter earnings call

Erik Wemple / Washington Post:
Washington Post will soon have an all-male masthead

 
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