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Thomas G. Mahnken:

The timing of Gates' departure has more than a little to do with the fact that the White House dropped the demand to cut an additional $400 billion from the defense budget on the Pentagon 24 hours before the President went public with it. In the process, the president undercut Gates' own statements that the Defense Department could not afford further cuts with two (strike that, three) wars going on simultaneously. Panetta was presumably an attractive choice as Defense Secretary at least in part because of his experience in cutting budgets, and he is being dispatched to the Pentagon at least in part to trim the budget. He will presumably oversee the process of reducing the force structure that the administration's own 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review only fifteen months ago said was necessary to win today's wars and prepare for the future
Paul Krugman says Ben Bernanke is being bullied by "inflationistas" to forget about the millions of jobless Americans.

With his usual faux-homespun ramble, Paul Greenberg says Romney-Petraeus might make for a good alternative to the reelection of Obama-Biden.

Johann Hari writes that Donald Trump "is the Republican id, finally entirely unleashed from all restraint and all reality":

Trump probably won't become the Republican nominee, but not because most Republicans reject his premisses. No: it will be because he states these arguments too crudely for mass public consumption. He takes the whispered dogmas of the Reagan, Bush and Tea Party years and shrieks them through a megaphone. The nominee will share similar ideas, but express them more subtly. …

So who should be the Republican nominee? I hear the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were considering running – but they are facing primary challenges from the Tea Party for being way too mild-mannered.

Denver hate radio jockey Mike Rosen, who actually believes the stultifying Atlas Shrugged made for compelling reading, thinks liberal critics of the movie version (Part I) suck.

Eugene Robinson:

To those deniers who can’t come to terms with the fact of the Obama presidency, I have nothing to offer but this: Yes, he’s smarter, richer, luckier and better looking than you, and he’s your president. Yours, mine and ours. And he’s black. Get over it.
Debra J. Saunders gives a backhand compliment to President Obama for having, she says,  kept the birther BS alive, thus making Republicans look like dolts.

John Bolton offers more of his spectacularly bad advice to President Obama: Stay the course in Afghanistan.

Charles Krauthammer essentially calls Barack Obama anti-American in a column that accomplishes one good thing: pointing us toward Ryan Lizza's 8000-word piece on Obama's foreign policy in The New Yorker.

Isabel Hilton writes that China may grow old before it grows rich:

Clearly visible in these latest census results are the trends that informed China's 12th five-year plan, published earlier this year: first, that the day is in sight when China will run out of the cheap labour that has fuelled its growth in the past three decades; second, that the gender imbalance is worryingly large, the result of a preference for an only son over an only daughter; and third, that the burden of caring for a growing population of elderly citizens, in what is the world's most rapidly ageing population, will inevitably fall on a shrinking proportion of the economically active.
Ex-liberal Linda Chavez thinks Democrats have a big problem when it comes to Hispanics who don't vote Republican: They may not vote at all next year.
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