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3:00 PM ET, December 23, 2011


 Top Items: 
Charles Krauthammer / Washington Post:
The GOP's payroll tax debacle  —  Now that Congress has reached agreement on what must be one of the worst pieces of legislation in years — the temporary payroll tax holiday extension — let's survey the damage.  —  To begin with, what even minimally rational government enacts payroll tax relief for just two months?
Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine:
The Suicidal House Republicans  —  The payroll tax debacle is now the third suicidal episode undertaken by the House Republicans since they took control at the beginning of the year.  The first was when they voted almost unanimously for Paul Ryan's budget, which was filled with grist for attack ads …
Congress passes payroll tax cut extension  —  Washington (CNN) — Both chambers of Congress passed an amended version of the two-month payroll tax cut extension Friday, sending the measure to President Barack Obama's desk and handing Democrats a hard-fought victory on an issue — taxes …
Pete Kasperowicz / The Hill:
House approves payroll tax bill, sends to Obama for signature
Discussion: Outside the Beltway and Hot Air
Jackie Calmes / New York Times:
News Analysis: For Obama, Payroll Tax Victory Was Aided by Republicans
Jamie Klatell / The Hill:
GOP freshman: House caved to Dems again, gave gift of uncertainty
Discussion: ABCNEWS, CNN and The Politico
The New Republic:
TNR Exclusive: A Collection of Ron Paul's Most Incendiary Newsletters  —  For years, Ron Paul published a series of newsletters that dispensed political news and investment advice, but also routinely indulged in bigotry.  Here's a selection of some especially inflammatory passages …
In ad for newsletter, Ron Paul forecast “race war”  —  (Reuters) - A direct-mail solicitation for Ron Paul's political and investment newsletters two decades ago warned of a “coming race war in our big cities” and of a “federal-homosexual cover-up” to play down the impact of AIDS.
Molly Ball / The Atlantic Online:
Ron Paul's Iowa Edge: A Rock-Solid Caucus Campaign
David Weigel / Slate:
The Newsweek Curse  —  This isn't the problem that's kept …
Iowa Conservative Leader Mired in Controversy After Rick Santorum Endorsement  —  ABC News' Shushannah Walshe and Michael Falcone report:  —  DAVENPORT, Iowa — An Iowa Christian conservative leader who bestowed his highly sought-after endorsement on presidential candidate Rick Santorum …
Zack Ford / ThinkProgress:
Bob Vander Plaats' Pay-For-Play Scandal: Charged A Million Bucks For Endorsement, Asked Candidates To Drop Out  —  Bob Vander Plaats' endorsement of Rick Santorum has produced a backlash among conservatives in Iowa, some of whom are accusing the FAMiLY LEADER president of engaging in …
Sara Sorcher / The Atlantic Wire:
Obama Blames Hawaii for his ‘Deep Down’ Laziness  —  The personality trait President Obama says he most deplores in himself and others is not exactly one you'd expect from, presumably, one of the busiest people in the world: laziness.  —  “You're lazy?”  Barbara Walters incredulously asked Obama …
Peter Nicholas / Los Angeles Times:
Dog days: Bo's whereabouts spark latest White House controversy
Discussion: Washington Post and cab drollery
Solange Uwimana / Media Matters for America:
Fox Celebrates Holidays With Outrageous Race-Based Attack On Obama  —  Fox News' animosity toward President Obama, three years into his presidency, is by now well-known.  This is the network that routinely calls Obama a socialist, accuses him of being involved in all sorts of conspiratorial plots, and claims that he hates America.
Joe Biden / Des Moines Register:
Vice President: This is what a real opportunity society looks like  —  M itt Romney recently laid out his plan for America.  Reading about it, I thought of my dad.  My dad was a hard worker.  He took pride in what he did.  And, like millions of Americans, that pride was put to the test …
Wall Street Journal:
Oh Wow!  —  Some highlights of 2011.  —  The great words of the year?  “Oh wow.  Oh wow.  Oh wow.”  —  They are the last words of Steve Jobs, reported by his sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, who was at his bedside.  In her eulogy, a version of which was published in the New York Times …
Steve Tetreault / Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Poll: Berkley holds slim lead over Heller for Senate seat  —  WASHINGTON — For many people, the dawn of a new year can mean a fresh start, a clean slate.  For the politicians running to represent Nevada in the U.S. Senate, the view close to the new year is a nearly level battlefield judging from the latest measure of public sentiment.
Paul Krugman / New York Times:
The Post-Truth Campaign  —  Suppose that President Obama were to say the following: “Mitt Romney believes that corporations are people, and he believes that only corporations and the wealthy should have any rights.  He wants to reduce middle-class Americans to serfs, forced …
Discussion: Washington Post and Balloon Juice
Richard Wolf / USA Today:
Voters leaving Republican, Democratic parties in droves  —  WASHINGTON - More than 2.5 million voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties since the 2008 elections, while the number of independent voters continues to grow.  —  A USA TODAY analysis of state voter registration …
Donald Trump Bolts Republican Party, Eyeing Other 2012 Options  —  ABC News' Michael Falcone reports:  —  Donald Trump is officially a man without a party.  —  The real estate mogul whose flirtation with the 2012 presidential race has never really ended despite announcing seven months ago …
Discussion: GOP 12 and Mediaite
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 More Items: 
Alex Isenstadt / The Politico:
New Jersey remap a lump of coal for Democrats
Stephanie Clifford / New York Times:
Retailers Are Slashing Prices Ahead of Holiday
Discussion: Money & Company and Gothamist
Alex Pappas / The Daily Caller:
What's next for Herman Cain
Discussion: FishbowlDC and
Joel B. Pollak / Big Government:
Top Ten Democrats Who Would Be Better Presidential Candidates Than Barack Obama in 2012
Discussion: Don Surber and
Mary Orndorff / Sweet Home Potomac:
U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus may face challenge from state Sen. Scott Beason
Discussion: Ballot Box
Bill Gertz / Washington Times:
Discussion: Atlas Shrugs and Weasel Zippers
 Earlier Items: 
Frank Mugisha / New York Times:
Gay and Vilified in Uganda
James Rankin / U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis:
Amanda Terkel / The Huffington Post:
Sherrod Brown's Ohio Senate Race Target Of Most Third-Party Spending By Republicans
Discussion: The Politico
Noreen Malone / New York Magazine:
A Brief History of Teenage First Daughters
Jillian / Electronic Frontier Foundation:
For Bloggers at Risk: Creating a Contingency Plan
Discussion: The Agonist
Scot Paltrow / Reuters:
Special Report: The watchdogs that didn't bark
Elicia Dover / ABCNEWS:
Gingrich to Campaign With Pets and Music
Discussion: TBogg, The Right Scoop and The Politico