Amidst an increasingly unpredictable political season, tonight the Iowa caucuses will finally cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's an outsider vs. establishment war in both parties, as Republican leaders struggle to dislodge Donald Trump and Ted Cruz from the top while Hillary Clinton marshalls her endorsements and long résumé against the populist zeal of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. The best guesses of FiveThirtyEight, BetFair, and Ann Selzer's gold-standard Des Moines Register poll all favor Trump and Clinton, but the race remains very close, and turnout in the demanding and complicated caucus events will be key. Vox provides a helpful video explainer on the process [previously]. Pass the time with FiveThirtyEight's 40-minute elections podcast, and keep an eye on the New York Times live blog of the caucuses for real-time updates once voting starts at 8:00 PM Eastern -- and don't forget to leave your two cents in the MeFi election prediction contest!
Tonight, President Barack Obama will deliver his 2014 State of the Union address. A stream will be available via the White House and from many other outlets. [more inside]
In response to Senator Mitch McConnell and his assertion that in 2016, Hillary Clinton will be too old to run for POTUS, Jezebel presents 101 Things Older Than Hillary Clinton.
President Barack Obama will tonight give the first State of the Union address of his second term in office. The address will again focus strongly on the issues of jobs and the economy. The Republican response will be delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and will focus on traditional Republican messages of lower taxes and spending. The bilingual Senator plans to give his remarks in both English and Spanish in an attempt to reach out to the Latino community which has proven difficult for Republican politicians to connect with. There will also be a Tea Party response delivered by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Senator Paul will call for reduced spending and debt and for the Republican party to be more welcoming of immigrants. Jill Stein of the Green Party will also give a response. [more inside]
There's been a lot of talk in the US media about the "Fiscal Cliff" and the "Grand Bargain" What are they?
The "fiscal cliff" is a confluence of three legal changes taking effect Jan. 1: the expiration of a payroll-tax cut, the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, and the advent of mandatory spending cuts known as "sequestration."Fiscal Cliff 101: 5 Basic Questions Answered. What's Happening: Fiscal Cliff Explained [more inside]
...Happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing
If we trace liberal disappointment with President Obama to its origins, to try to pinpoint the moment when his crestfallen supporters realized that this was Not Change They Could Believe In, the souring probably began on December 17, 2008, when Obama announced that conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren would speak at his inauguration. “Abominable,” fumed John Aravosis on AmericaBlog. “Obama’s ‘inclusiveness’ mantra always seems to head only in one direction—an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right,” seethed Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow rode the story almost nightly: “I think the problem is getting larger for Barack Obama.” Negative 34 days into the start of the Obama presidency, the honeymoon was over.Jonathan Chait asks in New York magazine, When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable? [more inside]
Do you feel disappointed in government? Does Obama seem a little too meek for the Presidency? Do you wish he'd make larger structural reforms? Maybe, suggests Matt Taibbi, there's an answer. [more inside]
The hidden factor in Hillary Clinton's rebound: committed Republicans voting in open primaries who want to prolong the messy battle for the Democratic nomination, encouraged by right-wing radio hosts like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh. Or is Hillary just suddenly more palatable to conservatives than multi-culti Obama?
Bush Buzzword Bingo - If you can't stand listening to the president speak, try playing this game. Like the Thanksgiving version, you get a bingo card randomly printed with Bush's favorite buzzwords, bushisms and talking points. First to get five in a row gets bingo, but probably will just end up feeling bad about the world. For more bush/bushism fun, try the "Give Bush a Brain" game from egreetings. (see if you can beat my high score of 8)
Gore is set to endorse Howard Dean tomorrow. Does that mean it's already over for the other Democratic candidates? (Will you even get the opportunity to vote for a candidate in your state's primary? Heck, should we consider limiting the campaign period?)