* Must read by Michael Grunwald calling on political reporters to stop ignoring the blatant absurdity of GOP’s stances on the fiscal cliff, stimulus spending and Medicare, and to stop pretending recent history never happened.
* More cracks in the GOP wall: GOP Reps. Steve LaTourette and Charles Bass say they might support increased tax rates in exchange for significant entitlement reform. While we need to know what they want on entitlements, any softening of opposition to rate hikes in particular matters.
* As David Firestone notes, Republicans may be laughing at the White House’s fiscal offer, but once the laughter dies down they’re going to find themselves forced to make a real offer of their own — from a position of serious weakness.
* Need a visual to understand why Dems have the leverage in the cliff talks? Josh Marshall provides one:
President Obama and congressional Republicans are moving right along to the edge of the cliff. Both say they’re ready to go over the edge. Only President Obama is gliding along in a hot air balloon and John Boehner and co. are on foot. So the repercussions over going over the edge are quite different. And both sides know it.
ICYMI: My similar thoughts here.
* Nancy Pelosi plans to use a procedural measure to try to compel a House vote on just extending the middle class tax cuts — challenging Republicans to vote against it. It could get interesting: Even some Republicans want to extend it, to put it behind them.
* As Steven Dennis notes, those professing surprise about the White House’s hardball fiscal offer might want to remember that Obama advisers have been publicly rebuffing pundit demands that they chase elusive compromise for some time now.
* Kevin Drum: Whenever you hear conservatives downplaying the election results, think back to their claims during the campaign that voters faced a momentous and far-reaching ideological choice that would define American civilization for the foreseeable future.
* Senator Jeff Merkley offers extensive thoughts on the latest state of play with filibuster reform. He describes this idea of Al Franken:
“He has proposed that, instead of requiring 60 votes to end debate, require 41 to extend debate. If you have senators who are missing now, they count as automatic no votes — automatic votes in favor of continuing debate. But if you have to get 41 votes to continue debate, those missing votes count on the side of ‘OK, let’s wrap things up.'”
My understanding is that this is gaining momentum among reformers inside and outside the Senate.
* Meet the new Gang of Six: House liberals who are banding together behind the idea that tax reform should be genuinely progressive. Their manifesto is here.
* The latest attack on Susan Rice? She has investments with a company that does business with Iran. But as Dave Weigel shows, so does John McCain.
* And I liked Jonathan Capehart’s poignant look at that White House photo of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Note the cutting finish:
Did you notice how tantalizingly close he’s standing to the president’s desk? If you’d swooped in from Dantooine you’d swear Romney were the president. But rest assured, that’s as close as the 2012 Republican nominee will ever get to it.
I share Capehart’s sympathy with Romney — it must have been very difficult for him to stand in there.