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Political Strategy Notes

After conceding that Margaret Thatcher was a tough adversary for the UK's progressives, no one should feel any obligation to gloss over the great harm she did as Prime Minister. As Gerry Adams, president of the Irish party Sinn Féin, put it: "Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British prime minister...Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies. Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent .... Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering. She embraced censorship, collusion and the killing of citizens by covert operations .... Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and '81. Her Irish policy failed miserably." Tony Benn, a 1970s labour minister and Thatcher's political opponent, added "She did make war on a lot of people in Britain, and I don't think it helped our society."

However, there is something important American progressives can learn from Thatcher's reign, as the late Christopher Hitchens pointed out in his article "Lessons Maggie Taught Me" at The Nation.

A (barely) bipartisan initiative may yet revive a modest proposal for background checks on gun purchases, report Ed O'Keefe and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post.

Bill Scher, executive editor of LiberalOasis.com and the Online Campaign Manager at Campaign for America's Future, explores "The top 5 issues dividing Democrats " at The Week. They are Social Security, trade, guns, taxes and climate.

WaPo's Paul Kane reports on a new pitch for Democratic House candidates: "The best way to defeat the conservative, ideologically driven GOP, Democrats say, is to field non-ideological "problem solvers" who can profit from the fed-up-with-partisanship mood of some suburban areas. These districts will offer some of the few competitive House campaigns in the country."

Michael Tackett has an extensive Bloomberg update on the campaign to turn Texas into a purple state.

Plum Line's Greg Sargent calls out the majority leader, and argues that it's time for Sen. Reid to put up or shut up: "By my count, this is at least the third time a Dem Senate leader has threatened to revisit rules reform. Yet the obstructionism continues with no action on Reid's part....Reid needs to stop threatening to revisit the filibuster unless he actually means it. Empty threats accomplish nothing. Indeed, they're counterproductive. They make Dems look weak. They inflate expectations among Dem base voters -- and supporters who worked hard to reelect Obama and Dems to Congress -- that we may soon enjoy a functional Senate."

At National Journal's 'Hotline on Call.' Michael Catalini, Naureen Khan and Peter Bell report that the GOP sees it's top Senate targets as Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan and Mark Begich.

At FiveThirtyEight, Micah Cohen looks at what may be the highest-profile House race and explains "Why Sanford vs. Colbert Busch Could Be Competitive."

Some say President Obama's latest Social Security and Medicare proposals are intended more theater than reality. But someone in the white house should nonetheless read Lynn Stuart Parramore's Alternet post, "7 Chilling Facts About Retirement in America That Should Make Obama Tremble Before Cutting Social Security and Medicare: Obama's plan would be economically irresponsible, socially disruptive and morally repugnant."