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11:40 PM ET, December 21, 2011


 Top Items: 
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 …
Amie Parnes / The Hill:
Obama shows he's confident he's beating GOP in payroll tax fight  —  President Obama, who has been on the losing end of several hard-fought battles with House Republicans, is showing that he thinks he's winning the latest tax fight.  —  While the White House—which has made it known …
Discussion: The Caucus and Booman Tribune
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: CNN, GayPatriot and National Review
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.
Jennifer Epstein / Reuters:
With family away, Obama, Bo shop
Wall Street Journal:
The GOP's Payroll Tax Fiasco
Stephen C. Webster / The Raw Story:
Boehner's office cuts off C-SPAN cameras as GOP takes verbal beating
Discussion: ThinkProgress and Mediaite
Jonathan Weisman / Washington Wire:
Gingrich to House GOP: Give In on Payroll Tax
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
Literally walking away from a fight
Discussion: Firedoglake and The Maddow Blog
Amie Parnes / The Hill:
Obama's Hawaii Christmas dilemma
Tommy Christopher / Mediaite:
Mitt Romney bin Busted: ‘Candidate Like Myself’ Would Have Done Bin Laden Raid (Except 2007 Mitt)  —  At Christmastime, it's comforting to know that a Mitt Romney interview is the gift that keeps on giving.  On Wednesday's The Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd drew a lot out of the candidate with his deceptively easygoing style.
Discussion: US Politics
Romney to Gingrich: If you can't stand the heat, wait until Obama's Hell's kitchen  —  By NBC's Garrett Haake and Domenico Montanaro  —  KEENE, N.H. — On the first stop of his statewide bus tour today, Mitt Romney delivered a blunt message to rival Newt Gingrich when it comes to his Super PAC's attack ads: You think this is bad?
Discussion: The Caucus
Justin Sink / The Hill:
Gingrich challenges Romney to one-on-one debate over attack ads
Discussion: The Politico, Hot Air, CNN and GOP 12
James Crugnale / Mediaite:
Rep. Ron Paul Gets Irked By Newsletter Questions, Walks Out Of CNN Interview  —  Ron Paul walked out of an interview with CNN's Gloria Borger following a heated exchange over the controversy regarding racist newsletters sent in his name during the 1990s.  Borger asked the Congressman if he had ever read the newsletters.
Justin Sink / The Hill:
Paul abandons interview concerning controversial newsletters  —  Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) took off his microphone and left a contentious interview on Wednesday when a CNN reporter asked repeatedly about racist articles published in his newsletter in the 1980s and 1990s.
Discussion: CNN and Alan Colmes' Liberaland
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 …
Charlie Savage / New York Times:
$335 Million Settlement on Countrywide Lending Bias  —  The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated …
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 …
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.
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 …
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.
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 …
Doug Stanglin / USA Today:
Sheriff: Stray bullet kills Amish teen 1.5 miles away  —  A teenage Amish girl shot on the way home from a Christmas party in her horse-drawn buggy was apparently killed by a stray bullet fired by a man cleaning his rifle 1.5 miles away, an Ohio sheriff says.
Timothy Kincaid / Box Turtle Bulletin:
Newt Gingrich did NOT say that he doesn't want gay votes  —  I don't like being played for a fool.  And that is exactly what happened when Jason Clayworth posted a commentary entitled, “Newt Gingrich to gay Iowan: Vote for Obama”.  —  At BTB we pride ourselves on our accuracy …
Discussion: Towleroad News #gay and GayPatriot
Jason Clayworth / Des Moines Register:
Newt Gingrich to gay Iowan: Vote for Obama
Ron Paul / Washington Post:
Ron Paul becoming serious contender in Republican presidential race  —  Now, party officials and other candidates are being forced to reckon with him as a purveyor of policy and, in some respects, the leader of a political movement that the GOP would like to harness.
James Q. Lynch / Iowa Caucus 2012:
ISU/Gazette/KCRG Poll: Ron Paul new frontrunner
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 More Items: 
Ginger Gibson / Reuters:
Newt Gingrich courting Iowa voters with judicial rants
Discussion: NewsHounds blog
Maureen Dowd / New York Times:
Separation of Newt and State
Discussion: Prairie Weather and Hullabaloo
Gschwarzcnn / CNN:
Santorum: Faith leader asked me, others to consider dropping out
Discussion: The Politico
Romney Orders Hawaiian Pizza, Feeds Reporters
Brock Vergakis / Associated Press:
2 women share 1st kiss at US Navy ship's return
 Earlier Items: 
The Politico:
POLITICO Influence: Endgame
Discussion: Eduwonk
Newt Gingrich's Letter to Virginia, Regarding the Existence of Santa Claus and Claims …
Discussion: TBogg
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