* Alec MacGillis has a nice piece asking whether today’s NRA presser finally revealed the emperor to have no clothes, and showed just how far from the American mainstream the hard core gun rights movement has drifted.
* The latest on the fiscal cliff talks is that the White House is weighing a smaller offer:
the White House is looking at one option under consideration by the Senate Democratic leadership: a smaller package that would extend the Bush-era tax rates on income below $250,000, pause the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester and renew unemployment insurance benefits, according to Senate and administration officials.
If this is to get done, it would need the support of a substantial number of House Democrats, which it would likely get, since it seems to defer any entitlements cuts, such as Chained CPI. Meanwhile, John Boehner seems to have taken himself entirely out of the discussions at this point.
* Oddly enough, Politico was unable to find any Republican officials willing to defend the NRA’s presser today, which (perhaps) suggests the group only marginalized itself further and (perhaps) means a real shift is underway.
* Uh oh. Chris Christie dares to suggest that putting armed guards in schools might not be the solution:
“In general I don’t think that the solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard because for it to be really effective in my view, from a law enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard at every classroom. Because if you just have an armed guard at the front door then what if this guy had gone around to the side door?”
* It’ll be interesting to see how all the GOP officials going on the Sunday shows this weekend will handle it when they’re asked to react to the NRA’s latest.
* Evan McMorris Santoro talks to a leading pro-gun Dem who’s advocating for a more sweeping assault weapons ban this time, and the degree to which the new one plugs the old one’s loopholes will be key to whether this push works.
* Mike Bloomberg, on the NRA presser:
Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.
LaPierre did not note that Columbine High School had an armed guard when two students went on a murderous shooting rampage there in 1999, and that Virginia Tech had an armed police force with its own SWAT team equivalent when one of its students killed 33 people in 2007.
* Staunch pro-gun Senator Joe Manchin, while calling for a broad governmental response to Newtown, opens the door, very tentatively, to addressing high capacity magazines and military style assault weapons.
Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, who is close to Boehner, said the idea that this episode has hurt Boehner’s speakership is, “like saying the superintendent of an insane asylum should be discharged because he couldn’t control the crazy people. I mean that’s nuts.”
As Steve notes, it’s hard to see how that’s a defense. I’d also add: Is it really advisable to compare House conservatives to asylum inmates?
* The Progressive Change Campaign Committee continues whipping Dems to vote against any fiscal deal containing Chained CPI, the outstanding question being how many Dems (perhaps many) will be needed to pass a final bill.
* And I’m very sorry to see that David Dayen, one of the best progressive bloggers out there and a resource I relied on regularly, is hanging it up.