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    1. Who Wins With the Wyden-Ryan Plan?

    The specter of Rep. Paul Ryan's radical Medicare plan was one of the best weapons in Democrats' arsenal going into 2012: They promised to save Medicare, while Ryan and the Republicans argued for fundamental reform. Now both Ryan and at least one Democrat—Rep. Ron Wyden of Oregon—have broken ranks, though it's unclear how far toward the middle the new proposal goes. Talking Points Memo says Wyden's move will infuriate other Democrats, who had opposed premium support en masse. But Ezra Klein says the proposal, with its insurance exchange and subsidy tied to the second-cheapest plan, is actually quite like the GOP-hated Affordable Care Act. “The difference here is that the system will include a massive public option in Medicare, which is something conservatives refused to allow in the Affordable Care Act,” writes Klein.

    December 15, 2011 12:11 PM


    2. Perry's Ad Killed Gay Baiting

    Rick Perry's “Strong” campaign ad may have killed his campaign, already on the ropes after repeated gaffes. But it may have also ended the use of antigay rhetoric for political gain, says Joshua Green. The ad, in which the candidate complains that gays can serve openly in the military, earned a whopping 650,000 “dislikes” mere days after its debut. Compare this to 2004, when Karl Rove used state ballot initiatives on gay marriage to get out the vote among social conservatives. Since then there has been a cultural shift toward the acceptance of gays and lesbians, and Perry misjudged it at his own peril. “In the process of killing off his own campaign, Perry may have brought an end to the use of explicitly anti-gay rhetoric as a political tactic, at least for any candidate with national ambitions,” writes Green.

    December 15, 2011 12:14 PM


    3. Rove: Enough With the Debates Already!

    Talk about kicking a man when he's down. Donald Trump's debate might be a flop, but Karl Rove can't resist getting in a few barbs before going on to argue against having more Republican debates, period. While the tremendous number of debates have given every GOP candidate time to make a case, they've also “nearly crippled campaigns, chewing into the precious time each candidate has to organize, raise money, set themes, roll out policy and campaign.” Rove says they also give the media too much power to control the narrative, furnishing an endless supply of confrontations and soundbites. “For good or ill, this year's record-breaking mass of debates has made the contest the most unpredictable, rapidly shifting, and often downright inexplicable primary race I've ever witnessed,” says Rove.

    December 15, 2011 12:15 PM


    4. Next High Court War: Federalism

    The culture war on the Supreme Court is over, despite what rhetoric from current Republican candidates might lead you to believe. The three biggest cases the court is preparing to take up—the Arizona immigration law, a Texas voting-rights case, and President Obama's health-care overhaul—have shifted the battlefield from the social issues of the last 25 years to questions of state and federal power, write Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick. “In sum, the court is hearing three political cases about the allocation of political powers at a moment in which Americans on both sides of the political spectrum have come to distrust government solutions to any problems.”

    December 15, 2011 12:16 PM


    5. Indefinite Detention Already in Practice

    In a sense, President Obama's signing of the Levin/McCain detention bill changes little, writes Glenn Greenwald, because President Bush, and Obama after him, already exercised the power to imprison people without charge. The bill is intentionally vague on whether it allows the military detention of U.S. citizens on domestic soil “because the bill’s proponents and the White House both believe that the President already possesses these broadened powers with or without this bill.” Still, “there are real dangers to codifying these powers in law with bipartisan Congressional support as opposed to having the President unilaterally seize them,” writes Greenwald.

    December 15, 2011 12:18 PM


    6. Zynga Founder's Power Play

    Zynga founder Mark Pincus says his company will be a “meritocracy,” but he obviously thinks he has quite a bit more merit than anyone else—70 times as much, to be exact. As the game company prepares to go public, Pincus has granted himself a special class of shares that give him 70 votes each, while all other corporate insiders get only seven votes per share, and regular investors get merely one. “In other words, Zynga, producer of such wildly popular online games as FarmVille and Words With Friends, is happy to take your money as it moves ahead with an IPO expected to raise about $1 billion from the public. It’s just not interested in giving you much of a say over how it runs what ostensibly will be a publicly owned company,” writes Gary Rivlin.

    December 15, 2011 12:19 PM


    7. Everything You'll Hate About Facebook Timeline

    The Atlantic Wire has your guide to the Facebook redesign—and everything you'll hate about it. If every change the site makes engenders a burst of vitriol, expect a big one with Timeline, one of the most comprehensive revamps in the site's history. You now need two profile pictures: the default photo and a “cover photo”—a landscape picture that covers the top of the page. Then there's the news feed, which is broken into two columns with recent events scattered between them. “Building the Timeline out requires a lot of effort,” says Rebecca Greenfield, and Facebook, anticipating the inevitable confusion and rage, has given users a 7-day period to tweak their timeline before making it publicly visible.

    December 15, 2011 12:21 PM