* Reality check of the day: Steve Kornacki on why it’s fanciful to imagine Dems can take back the House, and on why it still may be possible for Obama to get something done anyway, given the very real fault lines developing in the GOP.
* Brian Beutler games out the goals behind the new House GOP plan to continue funding the government at sequester levels, and the thing to watch for is how Dems go about insisting on equal treatment for defense and non-defense sequestration.
* Steve Benen has an epic takedown of that awful Bill Keller column, dismantling his argument on every level.
* Jason Linkins also weighs in on Keller, and adds this about centrist commentary:
There’s an easy economy to the centrist pundits’ work: They just keep writing the same piece, over and over again. So getting the balance sheets of the centrist clique back into balance is going to be a long, hard slog. But every little bit helps to slowly deconstruct this false façade.
* Also, as Jed Lewison points out, when it comes to Simpson-Bowles, Obama essentially did exactly what Keller says he wished for him to do.
* Jonathan Bernstein, on the fallacy that Obama should have adopted Simpson Bowles: “it’s worth remembering that Obama asked for less in revenues than Simpson-Bowles did….Obama is closer to the Republican position on taxes, and probably overall, than Simpson-Bowles.”
* Brad Plumer has a useful overview of all the hot button issues Obama’s new EPA chief will face. It’s not an exaggeration to say the decisions she makes will perhaps have more far reaching consequences than those of any other official.
* Environmentalists are ramping up their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, and this is shaping up as a major headache for the White House. Enviros will cast this as the first major test of the reality underlying Obama’s sweeping Inaugural words about climate change.
* Politifact, on John Boehner’s claim that Obama and Dems have “no plan” to replace the sequester: “Pants on fire.”
* Also in the above link, here is a Boehner spokesman’s explanation for why it’s accurate to claim Dems don’t have a plan:
“A plan must demonstrate it has the ability to pass a chamber of Congress to be worth anything. We’ve twice passed a plan. We’re still waiting for the Senate to pass something, anything.”
But again, Senate Dems have not passed their plan because Republicans filibustered it, requiring a 60-vote supermajority for passage.
* Jill Lawrence sheds light on one of this blog’s pet obsessions: Whether all those Republicans in safe districts, insulated from broader national opinion, will end up making it harder for the GOP to revamp its appeal to the American public.
* And the chart of the day, courtesy of The Wire, does a hilarious job of mapping out all the infighting among Republicans and conservatives.