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Acting IRS Director Steven Miller Resigns

President Obama tonight announced that Acting IRS Director Steven Miller has resigned, at the request of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

A transcript of Obama's remarks at his press conference tonight is here.

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AG Eric Holder Grilled by Congress

Attorney General Eric Holder is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. You can watch live here.

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Failing To Respect The Third Rail

Setting aside the policy implications of Chained CPI, what the President and his men have discovered today is that there is still a lot of juice in the Third Rail. There are protests against characterizations of President Obama's budget proposal as a "fumble." The protest is 'these are smart people. They know what they are doing." I think this misunderstands the "fumble" description.

I'm not someone who thinks President Obama made this proposal knowing it would be rejected out of hand. I think he thought he could get to a Grand Bargain from this proposal, picking up a little support from the GOP and a lot of support from The Media and these combined would let him muscle this through the Democratic caucuses.

More . . .

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Why President Obama's Chained CPI Pre-concession Was A Mistake

The People's View writes:

Why Obama and Democrats Should Strike a Grand Bargain and Leave Behind The Great Progressive Resistance When everyone digs in their heels, nothing gets done. As I have noted earlier this week, Paul Ryan apparently doesn't remember that his party and his ticket lost the election largely on the merits of their budget plans. House Republicans are digging in their heels, furiously opposed to any additional revenue and hell bent on ending the social safety net. But there also seem to be plenty of Democrats and liberals digging in their heels - Bernie Sanders being the leading contender of the mantle of Leader of the Great Progressive ResistanceTM - and are declaring themselves adamantly opposed to any meaningful reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The argument appears to be that pre-concessions from the president and Democrats are necessary, and ultimately a good thing, because if they do not make a pre-concession, nothing will get done. I disagree with this negotiating approach. While it is true that Obama and the Dems can "get something done" by conceding points to the GOP, it is not by definition a good thing to get that "something" done. Moreover, the president does not even get credit for the pre-concession anyway.

More . . .

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Habemus Papam: Pope Francis I

New York Times:

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to ever lead the church.

The new pope, 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.

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Hugo Chavez Passes Away

Cancer:

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela died Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer, the government announced, leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis that grew more acute as he languished for weeks, silent and out of sight in hospitals in Havana and Caracas.

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The Post Mortem On The Post Partisan Unity Schtick

Ryan Lizza writes:

[T]the fact that Barack Obama now so appreciates the limits of his office and his lack of Jedi powers is rich with irony. As I’ve written about before, the premise of Obamaism— from his famous convention speech in 2004, through his primary challenge to Hillary Clinton, in 2008, right up until the later half of his first term—was that Obama was a politician uniquely suited to transform American politics by breaking through the polarization in Washington and bringing the two parties together.

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Not A Dime's Worth Of Difference

Regular readers will remember my description of the policy differences between then political rivals President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as not being "a dime's worth of difference." After watching their joint appearance on 60 Minutes, I feel vindicated:

The president lavished praise on Mrs. Clinton for her discipline, stamina and talent. And they put a glossy shine on history by brushing off the tough primary attacks five years ago as the product of trying to find differences where, they now say, there actually were not that many.

“Despite our hard-fought primary, we had such agreement on what needed to be done for our country,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Made for tough debates, by the way,” Mr. Obama added, “because we could never figure out what we were different on.” “Yeah, we worked at that pretty hard,” she said.

It was a rather extraordinary event. And to my eye, a real degree of warmth, and yes, chemistry, shone through. Was Obama tapping his preferred successor? Not formally of course. But it seemed rather clear to me. Time will tell.

Speaking for me only

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Secretary of State's Appearance Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Clown show this morning. A highlight:

More clowns this afternoon as the Secretary of State appears before the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Hilarity ensues here.

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Hillary Clinton Released From Hospital, Full Recovery Expected

Good news. Hillary Clinton has been discharged from the hospital. A full recovery is expected.

Secretary Clinton was discharged from the hospital this evening. Her medical team advised her that she is making good progress on all fronts, and they are confident she will make a full recovery," Philippe Reines, a deputy assistant secretary of state, said in a statement.

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The Madmen Win Again?

Intelligent and reasonable persons can disagree on whether what appears to be the emerging fiscal cliff deal is a deal worth making. It certtainly is not a good deal, but it might be the least bad option.

However, it does confirm that Madman Political Bargaining works. Republicans are getting much more than they should have in this deal.

In my August 2011 post about the debt ceiling "end of the world" negotiations of 2011 (soon to be repeated apparently), I argued:

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Fiscal Cliff Developments

Deal or no deal? It's hard to tell.

Looks like no vote tonight, but they are hoping for one tomorrow.

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More Hillary 2016

Harry Enten.

Your turn.

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ABC Poll: 57% Support Hillary 2016

I'm on Daily Kos Radio right now. Tune in.

Oh, here's the Hillary story:

Carried by a new high in personal popularity and broad approval of her work as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton closes out her diplomatic career with majority support as a candidate for president in 2016. Fifty-seven percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’d back a run by Clinton to succeed Barack Obama, vs. 37 percent opposed. That includes a broad gender gap – 66 percent support for Clinton among women, dropping to 49 percent among men.

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Feet to the Fire

I find myself in the strange position of defending President Obama's current negotiation approach on the austerity bomb while at the same time having to defend my criticism of his negotiating style in the past. It is strange to me because I believe the President has changed his approach to political bargaining - a change I believe began in August 2011 (see, e.g., How Occupy Defined the Election.) This appears to be a widespread view now - see the NYTimes' article Criticized as Weak in Past Talks, Obama Takes Harder Line.

I think I should applaud this change (even when Tim Geithner, someone I have been harshly critical of, is the chosen messenger.)

So what do I make of Glenn Greenwald's column today mocking progressive pundits moving to be "constructively critical" of President Obama? My own view is Glenn, who I consider a friend, is better off making his substantive critiques of the Obama Administration instead of keeping tabs on how MSNBC and The Nation are doing. More on the flip.

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