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2:35 PM ET, December 29, 2011


 Top Items: 
Jonathan Martin / The Politico:
Bachmann chair's surprise defection  —  “10 minutes ago,” Sorenson, a GOP state senator, told POLITICO about when the Paul campaign found out he was moving to their camp.  —  In one of the most surprising moments of the 2012 campaign, Sorenson strolled on stage just moments before Paul …
Kevinliptak / CNN:
Romney's Iowa confidence grows
Discussion: The Politico, Ballot Box and GOP 12
Bachmann defection opens new rift in campaign
Alexander Burns / The Politico:
Michele Bachmann chair defects to Ron Paul
Jennifer Jacobs / Iowa Caucuses:
Mitt Romney airs final TV ad in Iowa today, plans post-caucus party in Des Moines
Ronald Brownstein / 2012 Decoded:
Divide and Conquer  —  The latest CNN/Time/ORC surveys released …
Helene Cooper / New York Times:
White House Memo: Obama Gains Reputation as Distant in Washington  —  WASHINGTON — Air Force One had just landed in Manchester, N.H., on a brisk Tuesday morning last month when President Obama made an admission to Valerie B. Jarrett, his close friend and senior adviser.  —  “I just called Reggie,” Mr. Obama said.
David Dayen / Firedoglake:
Slow News Week Leads to Headache-Inducing Obama Personality Profile  —  He's the one in control (White House photo)  —  This feels suspiciously like “he came in and trashed the place and it's not his place” journalism.  Maybe the ghost of David Broder animated this journalist for the purposes of the story:
Juana Summersand Charles Mahtesian / The Politico:
Ron Paul soft spot emerges: Foreign policy  —  DES MOINES — Scary.  Not serious.  To the left of Barack Obama.  A threat to the existence of Israel.  —  With Ron Paul at or near the top of the polls in Iowa, his Republican rivals are sounding the alarms about the Texas congressman's unorthodox foreign policy views.
Discussion: CNN, Mediaite, Mercury Rising and Radio Iowa
Nate Silver / FiveThirtyEight:
New Iowa Poll May Understate Paul's Support  —  I'm not always a big fan of dissecting individual polls — mostly because there are liable to be a plethora of them in Iowa and New Hampshire over the next several days and their errors will tend to be mitigated as more are added to the average.
Shushannah Walshe / ABCNEWS:
Rick Santorum Gets A Big Polling Boost, Goes After Ron Paul
Discussion: Daily Kos and Weasel Zippers
Jeffrey M. Jones / Gallup:
Americans See Views of GOP Candidates Closer to Their Own  —  Obama, Bachmann furthest away on ideological scale  —  PRINCETON, NJ — Americans perceive Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul as closest to themselves ideologically, and Michele Bachmann and Barack Obama as furthest away.
Frank Newport / Gallup:
Obama, Democrats Have Edge on Payroll Tax, Unemployment
Discussion: Campaign 2012 and Daily Kos
Robert Reich:
My Political Prediction for 2012: It's Obama-Clinton  —  My political prediction for 2012 (based on absolutely no inside information): Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden swap places.  Biden becomes Secretary of State — a position he's apparently coveted for years.  And Hillary Clinton, Vice President.
Robert Reich / Business Insider:
Get Ready For A Obama-Clinton Presidential Ticket
The New Republic:
TNR On the Most Overlooked Stories of 2011  —  Lawrence Kaplan: America's Silent Withdrawal From Iraq  —  War is over.  —  No, really.  “Permanent” bases?  Absolutely not.  A decades-long partnership between Iraq and the United States?  With the American officials who guide the fortunes …
Discussion: Washington Monthly and Hullabaloo
Karl Rove / Wall Street Journal:
Political Predictions for 2012  —  Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or both will leave the Democratic leadership by year's end.  —  As New Year's approaches, here are a baker's dozen predictions for 2012.  —  • Republicans will keep the U.S. House, albeit with their 25-seat majority slightly reduced.
Discussion: Betsy's Page, GOP 12 and The Impolitic
Richard A. Oppel Jr / New York Times:
Ranks of Young Paul Volunteers Willingly Clean Up for the Cause  —  DES MOINES — Ron Paul's college-aged volunteer army — a core of the powerful ground organization that is the envy of rivals — is descending on Iowa from around the nation to coax people to the state's Republican caucuses …
Pew Research Center:
Little Change in Public's Response to ‘Capitalism,’ ‘Socialism’  —  A Political Rhetoric Test  —  OVERVIEW  —  The recent Occupy Wall Street protests have focused public attention on what organizers see as the excesses of America's free market system, but perceptions of capitalism …
Derek Thompson / The Atlantic Online:
Is the U.S. Getting Older and Whiter, or Younger and More Diverse?  Yes.  —  A brief statistical road trip across the swiftly changing, if not swiftly growing, country  —  The U.S. population grew slower in 2011 than any time in the last 70 years, capping the most lethargic decade of population growth since the 1930s.
Hillary Chabot / Boston Herald:
Scott Brown: Media's pulling punches with Elizabeth Warren  —  U.S. Sen. Scott Brown yesterday opened the door to as many as four debates with likely Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren, even as he griped that the media is treating the Harvard Law professor with kid gloves while taking roundhouse punches at him.
Discussion: Daily Kos
NBC's Carrie Dann /
Perry slams surging Santorum as a ‘prolific earmarker’  —  WASHINGTON, Iowa — In his first targeted attack against the recently surging Rick Santorum, Rick Perry on Wednesday labeled the former Pennsylvania senator a “prolific earmarker” who “loaded up on Pennsylvania pork” during his time in Congress.
Discussion: GOP 12 and Swampland
Paul A. Rahe / Ricochet Conversations Feed:
What is Wrong With the Individual Mandate?  —  ParisParamus: Again, why is a mandate like Romneycare less conservative than raising everyone's state income taxes to pay for the free riders?  Or, why isn't Romneycare fundamentally different than having raised everyone's state income taxes …
Catherine Rampell / New York Times:
Instead of Work, Younger Women Head to School  —  Workers are dropping out of the labor force in droves, and they are mostly women.  In fact, many are young women.  But they are not dropping out forever; instead, these young women seem to be postponing their working lives to get more education.
Discussion: The New Republic, Althouse and Gawker
From North Korea, an Altered Procession  —  The funeral of Kim Jong-il on Wednesday called to mind the best stage-managed Communist state productions: the falling snow, the wailing mourners, the perfectly spaced limousines and rows of chest-beating men.  —  So perhaps it was because the scene …
Wall Street Journal:
Britain's Future Lies With America, Not Europe  —  Welcoming Britain back into the North Atlantic economic community would be a win-win for all involved.  —  In 1952, then-U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that “Britain has lost an empire but has failed to find a role.”
Craig Whitlock / Washington Post:
Pentagon trimming ranks of generals, admirals  —  With the Iraq war over and troops in Afghanistan on their way home, the U.S. military is getting down to brass tacks: culling generals and admirals from its top-heavy ranks.  —  Pentagon officials said they have eliminated 27 jobs for generals …
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 More Items: 
Mitch Lipka / Reuters:
Middle-aged borrowers piling on student debt
Dimitra Defotis / Barron's Online:
A Grim Forecast for Corporate Earnings
Slobodan Lekic / Associated Press:
Afghanistan Signs Its First Oil Contract - With China
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
James Pethokoukis / The Enterprise Blog:
The Santorum Surge: Using tax policy as pro-family, pro-natalism social policy
Marginal revolutionaries
Discussion: EconLog and Marginal Revolution
Donna St. George / Washington Post:
In Washington area, African American students suspended and expelled two to five times as often as whites
 Earlier Items: 
Tim Mak / The Politico:
Eric Holder: More cops slain by illegal guns
Scott Neuman / NPR:
Congress Really Is As Bad As You Think, Scholars Say
Priests brawl in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity
John Hinderaker / Power Line:
Is the Obama Boomlet Over?
Linda Greenhouse / Opinionator:
What We Think About When We Think About the Court