I have, already, spent far too much of my life preparing for violence. — Ta-Nehisi Coates, “On Living Armed

This week everybody was talking about the fiscal cliff deal

and where it all goes from here as we approach the debt ceiling. My take is here: Avoid the cliff, hit the ceiling. Short version: Who you think got the better of the fiscal cliff deal depends on what you think happens next. Republicans think the debt ceiling gives them the leverage now, and Obama disagrees. We’ll know by March.

… but I wrote about guns

Remember guns? It was all anybody could talk about a couple weeks ago. Let’s hope the issue hasn’t faded by the time Biden’s recommendations come in. One Nation, Under Guard: fantasy, reality, and Sandy Hook

… and you also might be interested in …

More and more it looks like Rick Perlstein was right: Right-wing media is as much about conning the sheep as it is about politics. This week’s evidence: Dick Armey says FreedomWorks paid Glenn Beck $1 million to say “nice things about FreedomWorks on the air”. Nice things that Beck’s listeners were supposed to believe he believed.

OK, cable news networks, here’s the political infotainment I really want to see: Pundit Wars. A politically diverse collection of pundits each starts with a stake of, say, $10,000. Each week the host presents a list of things that might or might not happen in near future, and each pundit quotes a likelihood. (“I think there’s a 30% chance we won’t get a debt-ceiling deal in time to prevent the government shutting down.”) Having all announced their numbers, they are then free to make bets with each other, quoting odds if necessary. (“I’ll give you 2-1 odds that we do get a debt-ceiling deal.”) If nobody takes initiative, the host may suggest some bets. (“You two have radically different expectations for a debt-ceiling deal. Why don’t you each put some money behind it?”) Then next week we see how everybody’s bets are doing.

Each week, we’ll see who really believes their own rhetoric. (If you’re just trying to get attention with your predictions, like Dick Morris with his “Romney landslide” nonsense, it’ll be obvious once the betting phase starts.) And over the course of a season, we’ll see who really knows what they’re talking about.

It’s kind of a reality-TV version of Intrade.

When violent crime started going down in the 90s, everybody had an explanation. Most of them would have predicted the crime rate to increase again by now, which hasn’t happened. But one explanation keeps gathering more and more evidence: changing to unleaded gasoline in the 1970s. Lead in a child’s bloodstream, it turns out, inhibits the growth of the part of the brain that controls aggression.

Remember this example the next time somebody tells you about the “cost” government regulations impose on the economy. That’s not just lost money. We bought something with it.

It’s looking like the election debacle has taken a long-term toll on Fox News.

Let’s end with something pretty: New Years in Dubai.

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