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2:00 PM ET, December 22, 2011


 Top Items: 
Dorothy Rabinowitz / Wall Street Journal:
What Ron Paul Thinks of America  —  It seemed improbable that the best-known American propagandist for our enemies could be near the top of the pack in the Iowa contest, but there it is.  —  Ron Paul's supporters are sure of one thing: Their candidate has always been consistent …
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
Paul in 1995: Say, have you read my newsletters?  —  Mitt Romney can breathe a sigh of relief, because Andrew Kaczynksi has shifted his attention to Ron Paul this week.  Andrew dug up a 1995 interview with C-SPAN, a year before running for Congress after a decade out of office.
Ta-Nehisi Coates / The Atlantic Online:
Old News Cont.  —  Correction: After some prodding from Julian Sanchez, I re-read the Dave's piece.  Calling it a defense is wrong.  It isn't.  It's an explanation.  My apologies.  I leave the text intact so that nothing is hidden.  —  Yesteday Ron Paul claimed on CNN that he'd never read …
Conor Friedersdorf / The Atlantic Online:
Grappling With Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters  —  The biggest obstacle to his candidacy is making headlines again.  If he wants to win anything, he's going to need to confront it.  —  Did you know about the racist newsletters published in the late 1980s and early 1990s under Ron Paul's name?
Alex Alvarez / Mediaite:
Hey, CNN? Can We Talk About What's Going On Between You And Ron Paul?
Discussion: The Moderate Voice
James Crugnale / Mediaite:
Rep. Ron Paul Gets Irked By Newsletter Questions, Walks Out Of CNN Interview
The Politico:
McConnell: Pass short-term extension  —  In a blow to House Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on the House to pass a two-month payroll tax extension — while pushing Democrats to negotiate a full year extension of the tax break.  —  McConnell's statement came …
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
McConnell sides with Dems over Boehner  —  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been awfully quiet the last few days, as House Republicans rebel against the bipartisan payroll-tax-cut compromise he negotiated and helped pass last weekend.  This morning that changed.
National /
McConnell Breaks With Boehner, Says House Should Pass Payroll Extension  —  In an effort to resolve a standoff that a growing number of Republicans fear is hurting the party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., broke with his GOP counterpart, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio …
Alexander Bolton / The Hill:   McConnell breaks with Boehner, urges House to pass payroll bill
Concord Monitor:
Huntsman is the best choice for GOP  —  Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »  —  Editorial review board with Jon Huntsman, Jr. on Tuesday, December 20, 2011.Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »  —  There comes a time for many politicians when they gaze at their reflection and see a president.
Discussion: The Politico and CNN
Gingrich Slams Paul, Challenges Romney to Debate
Discussion: The Daily Caller
New York Post:
Former Congressman Anthony Weiner's wife gives birth to baby boy  —  After a year filled with ridicule and scandal, disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner finally has something he can feel proud about — a new baby boy.  —  Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, gave birth to the wee Democrat yesterday …
Mackenzie Weinger / The Politico:
Jim Sensenbrenner sorry for ‘big butt’ quip  —  Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner sent a note of apology Thursday to Michelle Obama for referring to her “large posterior” and “big butt,” his spokesperson told POLITICO.  —  Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) was overheard talking about the first lady's healthy food initiative …
George F. Will / Washington Post:
Gingrich, the anti-conservative  —  When discussing his amazingness, Newt Gingrich sometimes exaggerates somewhat, as when, discussing Bosnia and Washington, D.C., street violence, he said, “People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 16, 1994].
Aliyah Shahid / NY Daily News:
Matt Damon rips President Obama in Elle magazine: A prez with ‘some balls’ would have been better  —  The ‘We Bought a Zoo’ star also weighed in on the Occupy Wall Street protests, arguing Obama's lack of leadership has contributed to Americans' overall discontent
Discussion: Hit & Run
New York Times:
Explosions Rock Baghdad Amid Iraqi Political Crisis  —  BAGHDAD — A wave of coordinated explosions ripped across Baghdad early on Thursday, killing at least 63 people, wounding more than 180 and jolting a country already unsettled by a deepening political crisis and the absence of American troops.
Discussion: Wonkette and
Kareem Raheem / Reuters:
Baghdad blasts kill 63 as Iraq tensions rise
James Fallows / The Atlantic Online:
What I Want For Christmas  —  Now that you ask.  —  Thanks to my old Shanghai/Beijing colleague Louisa Lim of NPR for the tip.  Place your orders here.
Discussion: The Washington Note
How Democrats Fooled California's Redistricting Commission  —  This spring, a group of California Democrats gathered at a modern, airy office building just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.  The meeting was House members only — no aides allowed — and the mission was seemingly impossible.
Maggie Haberman / The Politico:
Exclusive: Citizens United's Iowa ad buy on Reagan flick, featuring the Gingriches  —  We wrote back in the summer about a promotion that Citizens United Productions was doing to promote a movie, with Michele Bachmann starring in the ad campaign.  —  Now, Citizens United …
Annie Lowrey / New York Times:
Signs Point to Economy's Rise, but Experts See a False Dawn  —  WASHINGTON — As the fourth quarter draws to a close, a spate of unexpectedly good economic data suggests that it will have some of the fastest and strongest economic growth since the recovery started in 2009 …
Stephen Colbert / The State:
Colbert guest editorial: Naming rights, state mottoes and the GOP primary + video  —  As a proud son of South Carolina I must address recent unsubstantiated rumors published in The State that I, Stephen Colbert, tried to buy the naming rights to the 2012 Republican primary.
Discussion: Los Angeles Times and 2012 Decoded
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 More Items: 
Kevin Hoffman / The Blotter:
Gay community apologizes to Amy Koch for ruining her marriage
Tim Mak / The Politico:
Romney: Bring on the Bain attacks
Discussion: Daily Kos
Zack Ford / ThinkProgress:
Student Challenges North Carolina Speaker On Marriage Amendment
Discussion: Holy Bullies …
Suzy Khimm / Washington Post:
Get ready for Too-Big-to-Fail envy
Discussion: Lawyers, Guns & Money
Byron York / Campaign 2012:
Romney changes stance on Iraq invasion
 Earlier Items: 
Sean Sullivan / Hotline On Call:
The Reasons for Republican Optimism in Wisconsin
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis:
National Income and Product Accounts Gross Domestic Product, 3rd quarter 2011 (third estimate) …
Discussion: Business Insider and Hot Air
Jim Hoft / The Gateway Pundit:
Duh... Pelosi Calls For Tax Cut Extensions For 160,000,000 Working Americans …
Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times:
Some Occupy L.A. protesters may get a lesson in free speech
Discussion: Associated Press and cab drollery