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1:15 PM ET, December 28, 2011

memeorandum

 Top Items: 
The Politico:
Mitt Romney in striking distance of Iowa win  —  Don't look now, but Mitt Romney suddenly seems like the Iowa front-runner.  —  The former Massachusetts governor has carefully tempered expectations in Iowa all year, visiting only a handful of times and saving the bulk of his television spending for the final weeks of the race.
RELATED:
Tom Jensen / Public Policy Polling:
Paul maintains his lead  —  The last week and a half has brought little change in the standings for the Iowa Republican caucus: Ron Paul continues to lead Mitt Romney by a modest margin, 24-20.  Newt Gingrich is in 3rd at 13% followed by Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at 10% …
New York Times:
The Retooled, Loose Romney, Guessing Voters' Age and Ethnicity  —  DAVENPORT, Iowa — When Mitt Romney introduces himself to voters, he has a peculiar habit of guessing their age or nationality, often incorrectly.  (A regular query: “Are you French Canadian?")
John Hinderaker / Power Line:
For President in 2012, Mitt Romney  —  It is time for Republicans to get serious.  After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States …
Nate Silver / FiveThirtyEight:
Polling Gridlock in Iowa Could Produce Last-Minute Momentum  —  The most interesting thing about the latest polls in Iowa (which are the basis for our forecasts) is that they essentially show a four-way tie for third place among the Republican presidential contenders, with Newt Gingrich …
Kevinliptak / CNN:
Perry changes stance to oppose all abortions  —  (CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry revealed a hardening in his stance on abortion Tuesday, telling a crowd in Iowa that he opposed abortions in all cases, including when a woman had been raped or the victim of incest.
Maggie Haberman / The Politico:
Romney, Perry take veiled swipes at Paul over Iran
Discussion: The Page
Jonathan Easley / The Hill:
Romney describes healthcare mandate as conservative principle
Discussion: RedState and Weasel Zippers
NBC's Alex Moe / msnbc.com:
Pro-Gingrich Super PAC: Romney is ‘2nd most dangerous man in America’
Cameron Joseph / Ballot Box:   EMILY's List ranks Gingrich as ‘worst’ GOP presidential candidate
Jonathan Easley / Ballot Box:
Paul holds slim lead over Romney in first post-Christmas Iowa poll
Bare Naked Islam:
Well, well, well, the Texas Christmas Day massacre of 7 people, including the killer, was a MUSLIM honor killing, after all.  —  Truth be told, I quickly discounted my initial reaction that Muslims might be involved because the killer was reported to be in a Santa costume.  Stupid me.
Discussion: The Jawa Report
RELATED:
Charles P. Pierce / Esquire:
Mitt Romney: The Real Austerity Candidate  —  Over the holidays, Willard Romney has been seeking once again to define himself, a job that is very similar to that undertaken by the people who renovate old country homes.  The first thing you have to do is to tear down the accumulated improvements …
Discussion: Suburban Guerrilla
Greg Miller / Washington Post:
Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing  —  U.S. Air Force/GETTY IMAGES - A crew chief from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron completes post-flight inspections of the RQ-1 Predator after one of its sorties in Balad Air Base, Iraq.
David Weigel / Slate:
Poll: Newsletters Not Hurting Paul in Iowa  —  Think about it.  If Ron Paul was suffering and taking damage from the stories about his old newsletters, what sort of voters would abandon him?  Who'd be offended by signed editorials about fleet-footed blacks and skeezy gay men?
Discussion: Washington Monthly, Hit & Run and CNN
ABCNEWS:
GOP Rivals Unleash Blistering Attacks on Ron Paul  —  Ron Paul, who doesn't even return to the campaign trail until Wednesday, is already facing a barrage of attacks from his GOP rivals.  —  Newt Gingrich told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he could not support Paul if he won the Republican nomination …
RELATED:
Jeffrey Gettleman / New York Times:
Somalia Faces Alarming Rise in Rapes of Women and Girls  —  A rape victim in Mogadishu hid her identity.  Aid workers say there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying upon women and girls displaced by famine.  More Photos »  —  MOGADISHU, Somalia — The girl's voice dropped …
Discussion: The Jawa Report, Jezebel and Hullabaloo
Stephen Gordon / speculist.com:
In the Future Everything Will Be A Coffee Shop  —  Phil and I ended last week's FastForward Radio show discussing how higher education will change in the coming years.  My conclusion:  —  Universities Will Become Coffee Shops  —  We're faced with an education bubble.
Discussion: EconLog and Belmont Club
Michelle Hirsch / Business Insider:
America's Dirty Little Housing Secret Is Rocking The Suburbs  —  For years, the food pantry in Crystal Lake, Ill., a bedroom community 50 miles west of Chicago, has catered to the suburban area's poor, homeless and unemployed.  —  But Cate Williams, the head of the pantry …
Discussion: BizzyBlog
Daily Mail:
'Don't worry kids, I'll be fine': Marine shot three times in street robbery survives... by plugging bullet holes with his fingers  —  A U.S. Marine officer has told the incredible story of how he survived a street robbery by plugging bullet holes in his body with his fingers.
Discussion: The Jawa Report and Breitbart.tv
Steven Hayward / Power Line:
Ode to the Welfare State  —  A friend in Texas (where else) sent me the following item, which appeared in the New York Daily News on November 4, 1949, and since it has a Minnesota connection, as well as reminding us that some things about liberals never change, I thought it worth sharing with Power Line's home town readers:
Lori Montgomery / Washington Post:
Washington's year of drama leaves little done regarding debt  —  Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin roofing contractor-turned-Republican lawmaker, has helped change the way Washington talks about the national debt.  That's not to say he has done much about the debt itself.
Discussion: Hit & Run and RedState
Choe Sang-Hun / New York Times:
North Korean Mourners Line Streets for Kim Jong-il's Funeral  —  SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-un, the designated dynastic heir to power in North Korea, walked alongside the hearse of his deceased father, Kim Jong-il, through snow-covered downtown Pyongyang on Wednesday …
Meredith Dake / Breitbart.tv:
Going Rogue: Independent Group Runs Palin For President Radio Ads In Iowa  —  An independent group is running radio ads on WHO in Des Moines, IA asking Iowans to “vote rogue” for Sarah Palin on caucus day.
Discussion: GOP 12, Mediaite, Hot Air and The Raw Story
Guardian:
Australian crocodile snaps up lawn mower after charging zookeeper  —  Crocodile named Elvis lunges out of lagoon towards worker, before dragging lawn mower under water  —  A giant saltwater crocodile named Elvis charged at an Australian reptile park worker before stealing his lawn mower.
Discussion: Towleroad News #gay
Tony Leys / Iowa Caucuses:
Two claim Gingrich lobbied in '03  —  Newt Gingrich personally urged members of Congress to vote for a controversial Medicare expansion bill in 2003, two Republicans who were in the room said this week.  —  Gingrich, who is running for president, has said he never lobbied members of Congress after he resigned as House speaker in 1998.
Discussion: The Hill and Outside the Beltway
 
 
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 More Items: 
Richard Pollock / PJ Media:
Not Just Barney: Eight Veteran House Dems Retiring
Discussion: Bloomberg and Pat Dollard
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa / Reuters:
U.S. again says China not currency manipulator
Discussion: Firedoglake
Scott Keyes / ThinkProgress:
After Watching Citizens United Film, Perry Shifts To Oppose Abortion Even For Victims Of Rape Or Incest
Discussion: Daily Kos
Valerie Richardson / Washington Times:
New laws: No caffeine in beer, shark fins in soup
Jennifer Epstein / The Politico:
First family frees 4 turtles
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Washington Post:
Frontrunners stay (mostly) positive as super PACs do dirty work
FIRE:
New FIRE Video: How ‘Firefly’ Fans Saved Free Speech on Campus
Discussion: Hot Air
 Earlier Items: 
Ryan Grim / The Huffington Post:
Ron Paul: Drug War In U.S. Has Racist Origins
Discussion: Firedoglake
Dan Balz / Washington Post:
For GOP candidates, worries about the party's brand
Harvey Morris / New York Times:
Italy's Borrowing Costs Drop Sharply at Auction
New York Times:
Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments, as U.S. Prepares Sanctions
BBC:
Israelis rally against ultra-Orthodox extremism
Discussion: Lez Get Real and Truthdig
Robin Hanson / Overcoming Bias:
Why Work Hour Limits?
Discussion: Outside the Beltway