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Hope vs. Anger: How Obama's SOTU Set the Tone for 2012

"Hope and Change: Redux" has officially begun.


In any incumbent election year, the State of the Union sets the tone for the impending battle. So on Tuesday night, President Obama devoted a big chunk of his speech to the "defining issue of our time": keeping the middle-class dream alive. (Last year's squabbles over social issues like DADT, DOMA, abortion, and birth control went unmentioned.)

He pulled on our heartstrings as he painted a picture of 1950s prosperity, then reminded us—as if he needed to—that this promise is in peril. Obama reiterated his position on taxing the rich, invoking the "Buffett rule" that states millionaires should pay at least 30 percent in taxes each year. "You can call it class warfare all you want," he said in a particularly feisty moment. "Most Americans would call that common sense."

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The Upside of Citizens United: A Wakeup Call That Our Elections Are For Sale

Citizens United didn't change campaign politics that much, but it did expose how unsavory the nexus of politics and money have become.



It's the two-year anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court case that gave corporate the same free speech rights as people—including unlimited independent political spending.

Since then, there's been a good amount of pushback from progressives, worried that the decision could give small groups disproportionate political influence. Stephen Colbert has set up a mock superPAC to expose the corruption of campaign finance. Montana's Supreme Court just upheld a ban on corporate political expenditures in the state's elections. Activists across the country have planned events today and tomorrow, pushing for a constitutional amendment overturning the decision.

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Five Things More Likely to Save Marriage Than an Anti-Porn Crusade

Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum signed an anti-porn pledge to save marriage. If they really cared about matrimony, they'd do these things instead.


Apparently it's 1979 all over again: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have all pledged to crack down on pornography should they become president. Morality in Media, an organization opposing "pornography and indecency through public education and the application of the law," launched an effort in October to recruit presidential candidates in both major parties to commit to strict enforcement of obscenity laws. Three of them took the bait. Santorum thinks that “[f]ederal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced," Romney signed the pledge in the name of "fundamental family values," and Gingrich promised to "appoint an Attorney General who will enforce these laws.” According to MIM, pornography not only leads to "misogyny and violence against women," but "destruction of marriage," as well.

Of course, this is likely just political posturing; federal obscenity laws, citing a vague adherence to "community standards," are tricky to effectively enforce, and it's been clear since the advent of the Internet that fighting the existence of porn is a losing battle. But if these presidential candidates actually cared about preserving the institution, they would do a lot more besides vowing to eliminate smut. Here are some suggestions:

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Memo to Newt: Americans Want EPA to do More, Not Less

Newt Gingrich wants to abolish the "job killing" EPA. The problem: most Americans really like the agency.

Newt Gingrich has been talking big and bold lately about abolishing the EPA. Some new polling data (PDF), however, suggests that if he's serious about a 2012 presidential bid, he should dial back the rhetoric. The EPA, it turns out, is pretty popular, and abolishing it is opposed across all party lines.

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