Real news out of the White House today, with the decision to finally nominate people for the two vacant Fed seats: Jeremy Stein appears to be a solid liberal, and Obama seeks to get him through the Senate by balancing him with Jay Powell, a moderate Republican. We’ll see if it works. It’s worth pointing out that Democrats could have filled the Fed Board way back in 2009, when they had 60 votes in the Senate, if Obama had made it a priority and Harry Reid had been willing to use some muscle (and remember that even in 2010 there were probably well over 60 votes for mainstream liberal choices; the problem was holds placed by a small fraction of the Senate).

The good stuff:

1. Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics has an excellent look at the mechanics of the Iowa caucuses. Remember, the GOP version is just a simple straw vote – no “viability” and the other mechanics you may remember from Democratic caucuses.

2. And Mark Blumenthal shows in detail what the Iowa polls have been saying, and why Iowa is so hard to get right. Must-read for Iowa watchers.

3. One more thing to remember about Newt Gingrich: as Alex MacGillis reminds us, he’s not a very good candidate for office.

4. So: what’s the theory on why Bill Kristol keeps making a fool of himself (as nicely documented by Dave Weigel) by calling for a new candidate to enter the race long after it’s a viable option? Is he trying to evade the responsibility of endorsing a real (and imperfect, as they always are) candidate? Does he just not understand the process? Is he bored?

5. Newt’s favorite analogies, from ace Newt Watcher Conor Friedersdorf.

6. Really good points on fact checkers from Ramesh Ponnuru.

7. Speaking of facts…Kevin Drum wonders whether what Republicans said on repeal and replace counts as a “lie.”

8. More health care: Jonathan Cohn defends the individual mandate.

9. Steve Benen is good on the next step in the debt limit story. Remember, there were actually people who believed that a whole bunch of debt limit votes would somehow be Really Important. Never made sense.

10. Nullification alert! Tim Mak on the war over NLRB. A big story, and good for Mak and Politico for highlighting it. Remember that this kind of political warfare, whether justified or not, is really something new – it’s never been normal to try to shut government agencies you don’t like down by filibustering every nominee.

11. A send-off for Ben Nelson that liberals will enjoy, from Jamelle Bouie.

12. Looking back at the economy in 2011, from Ezra Klein.

13. Larry Bartels and Marc Hetherington explain that trust in “government” is more complicated than you might think.

14. Yes, there is real research on the effects of bad weather on elections; it’s not all just folk wisdom. Jordan Ragusa applies it to Iowa.

15. Alyssa Rosenberg on conservative hipsters.

16. And there’s no way I’m going to pass up a chance to link to the story of free speech and Firefly