Paul Krugman at The New York Times in The Big Deal offers some advice for progressives:

F.D.R. had his New Deal; well, Mr. Obama has his Big Deal. He hasn’t delivered everything his supporters wanted, and at times the survival of his achievements seemed very much in doubt. But if progressives look at where we are as the second term begins, they’ll find grounds for a lot of (qualified) satisfaction.[...]

Now, none of what I’ve just said should be taken as grounds for progressive complacency. The plutocrats may have lost a round, but their wealth and the influence it gives them in a money-driven political system remain. Meanwhile, the deficit scolds (largely financed by those same plutocrats) are still trying to bully Mr. Obama into slashing social programs.

So the story is far from over. Still, maybe progressives — an ever-worried group — might want to take a brief break from anxiety and savor their real, if limited, victories.

Joe Stiglitz at The New York Times laments that Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery:
There are all kinds of excuses for inequality. Some say it’s beyond our control, pointing to market forces like globalization, trade liberalization, the technological revolution, the “rise of the rest.” Others assert that doing anything about it would make us all worse off, by stifling our already sputtering economic engine. These are self-serving, ignorant falsehoods.

Market forces don’t exist in a vacuum — we shape them.

Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post proves in Republicans should start acting like Obama that he really does live in an alternate universe:
Instead of using Obama’s Chicago-style, brass-knuckle approach, too many Republicans are wringing their hands today, looking for ways to moderate their approach in response to Obama’s victories.
John Nichols at The Nation writes This President Can—and Must—Claim a Mandate to Govern:
Obama’s mandate extends beyond himself. His party has increased its Senate majority and Democrats earned 1.4 million more votes in House races than Republicans. Gerrymandering and money kept Republican control of the House, but that opposition party is in such disarray that the president really does have an opening to make something of his mandate

Obama must seize that opportunity as an essential part of making the case for bold executive orders and a bold legislative agenda that will bring not just the hope but the change he promised in what now seems like a very distant 2008 campaign. The president has in the transition period since the 2012 election displayed a willingness to push harder, to go bigger, and it has yielded significant progress not just on gun-safety issues but in the long struggle against the Republican austerity agenda that makes a diety of deregulating away consumer and environmental protections, tearing the social-safety net and cutting taxes for wealthy campaign donors.

Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal once again lays down her perfectly upside-down perspective in His Terms Are Always Hostile Ones:
A president approaching that day will necessarily be, in his spirit, benign, embracing—unifying.

So here is what is utterly remarkable: President Obama has been using the days and weeks leading up to his inauguration to show the depth of his disdain for the leaders of the other major party and, by inference, that party's voters, which is to say more or less half the country. He has been spending his time alienating instead of summoning. It has left the political air more sour and estranged.

As a presidential style this is something strange and new. That has to be said again: It is new, and does not augur well.

What was remarkable about the president's news conference Monday is that he didn't seem to think he had to mask his partisan rancor or be large-spirited. He bristled with unashamed hostility for Republicans on the Hill.

Danny Goldberg at Alternet explains why Criticizing 'Zero Dark Thirty' Is Not an Assault on Free Expression:
As a long-time defender of the rights of artists -- including controversial ones -- I find it intellectually dishonest for champions of Zero Dark Thirty to pretend that serious criticism of the film amounts to an assault on free expression.

Responding to public statements by actors Ed Asner, Martin Sheen and David Clennon urging Academy members to refrain from voting for Zero Dark Thirty, Columbia Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal said "to punish an artist's right of expression is abhorrent."

Bhaskar Sunkara at In These Times explores the arc of blazed by some young pundits in For policy wonks, politics no longer computes:
Once upon a time, hope was scarce and darkness everywhere. People looked for heroes. During the worst years of the Bush administration, we found them. They weren’t big or brawny, but they had heart. A bunch of nerdy kids blogging about politics were here to save the day.

Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein and their companions were fearless—but, beyond that, analytical. They knew how to use graphs and the Internet, bringing an earnest quantitative approach that would make liberals the Very Serious People of the Digital Age. Even the media establishment had nice things to say about our protagonists. [...]

But at some point, Klein and company stopped being liberals. They even stopped being human. The singularity—a technological superintelligence—was upon us. The wonks had become robots, ready to force enlightenment down our partisan throats.

Linda Gordon at The Progressive works at Piercing the Myths about Women and Guns.

Laura Flanders at The Guardian writes on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth and the year that marks the 50th anniversary of his "I have a dream" speech and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation At Obama's second inauguration, how emancipated are we really?

Dr King and his colleagues knew that change would come not from presidents but from movements. Presidents might move, but movements make them do it. Only movements have the emancipating power to make strength out of numbers, even numbers of the weak.

The March on Washington married a demand for freedom with a demand for jobs. Listen to how little the moneyed media give the march its complete name: the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs.

We could do with another march, but more importantly, another movement with equal punch. People like to say freedom isn't free. But neither is emancipation: it costs the status quo. Emancipating a former slave state like ours takes a whole lot more than a declaration. We're not there yet.

Debra Saunders at San Francisco Chronicle explains how Obama's promise could send you to prison over marijuana.

The Editorial Board of the Miami Herald writes Common sense on gun madness:

Mr. Obama and gun-control advocates will need overwhelming public support to break the stranglehold of the NRA and its allies on Capitol Hill, but history would not forgive a president who shirnks from this fight. Americans are tired of madmen with guns turning theaters, schools and even places of worship into shooting ranges. It’s past time to act.
Leonard Pitts Jr. at the Miami Herald has some nice things to say about No Labels in A fix for poisonous politics:
Understand: Our politics are not simply polarized, they are poisonous. Left has seceded from right, fact has seceded from media, compromise has seceded from negotiation, pragmatism has seceded from legislation. We play a zero sum game where party trumps country, reason is treason and there is an evident belief that he who yells the stupidest thing in the loudest voice, wins.

This state of affairs exists because voters have allowed it to exist, because they reward it with big ratings on television and big numbers at the polls. But there is a price tag for this. Our government is a train wreck.

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