As a former Republican House speaker and veteran of the culture wars of the 1990s, Newt Gingrich understandably earned his share of liberal detractors. But who knew how many enemies he’d made among the Republican political elite? As Gingrich’s recent surge in the polls moves ever closer to bearing electoral fruit in the Iowa Caucuses, it’s fair to say that the GOP political establishment is freaking out.

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When Newt Gingrich proposed that poor children should be put to work—for a “three- or four-hour-a-day job,” he clarified this week—he was rightly accused of threatening national child-labor laws. But he was also displaying a curious lack of familiarity with his own political accomplishments. Gingrich suggests that his proposal is meant to resolve an acute crisis: That kids from the projects don’t see anyone around them working for a living. “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,” Gingrich said.

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The Senate on Thursday took up the nomination of Richard Cordray, President Obama’s choice to lead the new consumer protection board. It did not vote to confirm him. The outcome isn’t at all surprising. But it’s important to take a step back and understand just what is happening here, because Republicans aren't simply weakening consumer protection. They're also weakening American democracy. Remember, the Senate didn’t actually vote on Cordray’s nomination. The vote never took place because the Republican caucus, with one exception, are supporting a filibuster the nomination.

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The Obama Administration has done plenty to protect reproductive rights and access to contraception. Abroad, it rescinded the Mexico City directive prohibiting federal assistance to global health organizations that promote or perform abortion services. At home, it has poured significant new money into family planning clinics. And that’s not to mention the fact that Obama has put on the Supreme Court two women likely to support a woman’s right to have an abortion.

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On Tuesday, the Obama administration took bold and important action in advancing the cause of gay rights around the globe. In a memorandum, the president directed all U.S. agencies to “promote and protect” the rights of gay and lesbian people through diplomatic means, including the allocation of foreign aid. And in a rousing speech before the U.N.

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In October, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that banned misleading advertisements for the city’s crisis pregnancy centers. The ordinance allows courts to fine crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel pregnant women against abortion, up to $500 every time they falsely imply in advertisements that they offer abortion services. First Resort, Inc., one of the centers singled out by the law, responded with a suit accusing the city of a First Amendment violation in less than a month. The case is now going to the United States District Court for Northern California.

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The ghost of Theodore Roosevelt presided over President Obama's speech yesterday afternoon in Osawatomie, Kansas. Indeed, in the week leading up to the president’s Osawatomie address, the White House made clear that the President was deliberately courting analogies with Roosevelt. TR, after all, had traveled to the very same town nearly 100 years earlier to give his famous “New Nationalism” address, calling for the federal government to ensure that the prerogatives of private property did not trump the rights of the commonwealth.

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I sincerely hope Newt Gingrich wins the Republican nomination for president: It could bring a healthy candor to our politics and end up boosting the fortunes of liberalism as well. Now, I realize the former Speaker may not be able to convert his current polling spurt into triumph over his main rival, that dodgy I’m-all-businessman, whose too-perfect hair and smile remind me of a middle-aged Ken doll.

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[with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] Liberals who wanted President Obama to embrace populism have gotten their wish -- again. On Tuesday, speaking in Osawatomie, Kansas, Obama made a passionate call for “fairness” – laying out the themes that he will be using in the year to come, as a lawmaker and increasingly as a candidate for re-election.

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Imagine that 2.65 million senior citizens just saved a few hundred dollars each on their prescription drug costs, thanks to a new government program. And imagine that it’s not just any seniors: It’s seniors with serious medical conditions and who need financial protection the most. Isn’t that worth noting? Shouldn’t the law, and its sponsors, get some credit for that? Yes.

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