Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday's End

++Brookings, the Amazon Post, and TPM all pointed out that President Obama has issued less executive orders than any President in 110 years.

++ P.S. my numbers were off yesterday but the comparative figures show the same results.

++The number 1 pick for the 2016 GOP Presidential pick--when his name is inserted--is Willard Romney. Ann Romney says you all lost by re-electing President Obama.

++PPP had a strange presidential match-up pitting Sarah Palin versus Rob Ford. Palin beats the Toronto Mayor 38 to 26.

++The Newark Star-Ledger, which backed Chris Christie's re-election, now calls for him to either be impeached or resign. The New York Times had an article that Chris Christie indeed knew all along about the closure of the GWB. Christie's top aide has pled the fifth. David Wildstein released a letter through his lawyer that Christie knew everything and there is plenty of truth.

++Haley Barbour blasted MNBC for portraying the snowstorm in Georgia as worse than it was. 

++The House GOP retreat produced their principles for immigration reform which sort of includes a path to citizenship. Eric Canter says the House will vote this year on another healthcare plan. The Senate GOP withdrew their plan for a little re-working because one of their staff pointed out that it would mean the largest tax increase on the Middle Class in a generation.

++The State Department approved the environmental study of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Environmentalists are outraged.

++President Obama by executive order yesterday created the MY-RA to speed retirement savings.

++Harry Reid opposes bringing the TPP to the floor of the Senate, while the House Republicans are for it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Obama Dictatorship

++We've moved from socialism,Islam and the other crimes by President Obama to his dictatorship. The GOP is upset by the President's lawlessness because he threatens to use executive orders.

++So let's check to see how their history is.

++I'll just use the number of executive orders by Republicans. 

Ford--68 (and that was only two years.)
Poppy Bush--42 (four years)
W Bush--36

++The Commander-in-Chef, as one GOP freshman tweeted. Generalissimo Obama's total=34. Is Obama more or less dictatorial than the Republican Presidents? You decide.

Wingnuts Ahoy

++The reason President Obama persuaded the American people in his State of the Union address was, according to the American Family Association, he possessing supernatural powers.

++Rand Paul after his homage to Ayn Rand in his response to the State of the Union doubled down on his criticism of Bill Clinton by saying he is a "serial philanderer."

++Charles Pierce writes today of how much he will miss the Obama presidency because of the entertainment provided by the GOP clown car in their responses to the State of the Union.

++George Will today found an obscure legal clause in the Affordable Care Act that might be used to cripple it. He argues subsidies are only allowed for the state exchanges but not the federal and that Red states might use this to sue. 

++Ted Cruz says that the time is right to repeal Obamacare because he established the language of the national debate over the terrible things the healthcare law does. He even says he will fight his own attempts to close the government.

++PPP shows that "Sugar Uncle" Mike Huckabee is in the lead for the GOP presidential nomination and that his call for woman to keep their libidos in check pushed his approval rating among the GOP up to 64%. In second is Jeb Bush and third is Chris Christie.

++In the National Journal, Ron Fournier apologized for his 2013 support of Chris Christie as the savior of the GOP. 

++Rinse Penis has ordered all RNC staff and board members not to appeal on MSNBC.

++Some wag noted that GOP responder to the State of the Union wanted government out of healthcare but neglected to mention she had government healthcare through her Navy husband, which took care of the expenses for her son who was born with Downs Syndrome. Also, while she wanted the government out of healthcare decisions, she voted only hours before to prevent any insurance coverage for abortions.

++The Tan Man wants to throw in the towel over the debt ceiling. The House can't agree to any appropriate ransom. Ted Crus says he will go for a fight on this.

++The Tan Man told the House retreat that the GOP has to be an alternative to Obama, not the opposition. Good luck with that one.

++Quinnipiac reports that Governor Medicare Fraud Rick Scott is down 46 to 38 to Charlie Crist.

++The Post/ABC poll shows Hillary Clinton trouncing Chris Christie 53 to 41.

++In a generation of polling, Hillary Clinton has the largest primary lead of all-time. Among Democrats she is 73 to Joe Biden's 12 and Elizabeth Warren's 8.

++Michelle Nunn is in the lead against all GOP opponents in Georgia.

++Democratic Senator Kay Hagen is now down 7 points to any Republican challenger.

++The number of federal employees is almost the same number as during the time of Reagan. The Post reports that more than a third of current Federal employees will be eligible to retire in 2017.

++A man named James Meachem appeared on Morning Joe to say that FDR and Lincoln would never use executive orders to improve the economy. FDR is the champion of executive orders, while President Obama has less than George W. Bush.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

That's Why He's President and You're Not

++Andrew Sullivan called it his True Grit speech and cited Obama's eloquent ending about Cory Remsberg's difficult recovery from his tragic wounds from Afghanistan as a metaphor for the struggle of America and the President today. Josh Marshall liked the speech and thought the President had a snap and an upbeat message well delivered. Eugene Robinson said it was Obama's finest State of the Union. Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly thought it resembled some of Clinton's laundry list speeches but caught himself and noted that Stan Greenberg for Democracy Corps had a focus group on the speech and that Obama's support of women in the work place made the dials go off the charts in favorables. Kilgore's point was that Obama needed to bring back single women for the 2014 elections.

++Josh Marshall was right, the speechwriting was first-rate. The Libretto did become an opera with Obama's delivery and pacing. 

++The Charlie Rose who had Doris Kearns, James Fellows and Mark Halperin on to respond. All thought it was an excellent speech and Fellow called it Reaganesque. 

++The speech had clearly been poll-tested. All Obama's proposals have overwhelming support of the American people. Some writers think he outlined clearly the direction for the Democrats in 2014 and afterwards the Democrats showed unusual unity in support. John Lewis said the President still stood tall and had the courage to fight on.

++David Corn said he should have explained why he was going to take executive action and lay the blame on Republicans. A commentator wrote that the lack of strong partisanship except with an occasional jab was what was needed because the country is fed up with political rhetoric.

++The most interesting effect was that in a town of total bummers the President reminded us of optimism and positive thinking. The contrast between him and Congress is shocking. This is a man who had a bounce in his step and a clear vision about how to move the country along. It was actually refreshing to see that he wasn't dragged down into the snake pit like everyone else. Yes, there were many things he has said before but ,in Andrew Sullivan's words, you have to admire his persistence. If the United States recovers from its doldrums by the end of his term,President Obama is going to reap the lion's share of the credit. 

++CNN has 76% responding positive to the speech with the usual 22% believing it is negative. 

++Democratic Underground had 69% give the President an A and 23% a B. 

++The Daily Kos had 49% give him an A and 33% a B for the speech.

++Joan Welsh at Salon said we all missed the story. The story last night was the utter disarray in the GOP. Ms. Morris didn't flop it and Sweeney Todd like her response. But she claimed the GOP had lots of plans for the economy but never mentioned on concrete idea. She prayed for all of us. Rand Paul gave a libertarian response which basically called for the elimination of government, lowering taxes and ending the social welfare net as the solution to the country's problems. Mike Lee said that a new generation of "reformers" aka the Tea Party are in Washington but failed to say how they would reform the town.

++Brian Beutler at Salon basically said the Right was now reviled and offers up nothing.

++As with most things Obama,the bland ideas if taken together and adopted would profoundly alter the country for the better. In the next year, it will be interesting to see where the most mundane ideas go.

++The Obama Derangement Syndrom continued last night. Steven Stockman, the missing congressman from Texas, showed up only to walk out in protest of Obama violating the constitution aka using executive orders. Rand Paul said he would sue Obama again like they did for recess appointments. A Tennesee congress critter tweeted he was the socialist Commander in Chief. A Kansas congressman lamented there was no mention of Benghazi and that Obama used the military--aka Corey Remsberg--for political purposes and is weakening the military by withdrawing from Afghanistan and trying to close Gitmo. The GOP congresscritters took the time to be photographed with Father Duck of the Duck Dynasty.

++Ms. Lindsey Graham responded that Obama was not aware that the earth is going to blow up.

++There were many highlights from the President's speech which I may get around to. But he was the only adult in the room last night and it was good to see he hasn't been worn down by the Bummers.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

News from Virginia

++The Virginia GOP says the Attorney General not defending the marriage law in the state is akin to the Dred Scott decision. In this state that's is progress that the GOP thinks the Dred Scott decision was awful.

++To give you a hint, the city of Alexandria is thinking about repealing a law in 2014 that mandates that north to south roads be named after Confederate military heroes. 

++My Williams classmate Don Beyer, former attorney-general of Virginia and the current ambassador to Switzerland,will run as a Democrat for the seat of Jim Moran,my retiring congressman.

++Moran's retirement is sort of sad. I no longer can say my congressman can beat up yours. 

++The Democrats won the Senate yesterday with a recount where their candidate won with 11 votes. 

++Former Republican Senator John Warner endorsed Democrat Mark Warner for re-election. The last three polls showed Warner beating Gillespie,the lobbyist for Enron and former RNC chair.

++The GOP controlled assembly want to make it legal for citizens to own mines, bazookas and machine-guns.

Anticipating the State of the Union

++The big morning news was that President Obama was going to raise the minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10. That doesn't sound like a big deal but it will affect hundreds of thousands of people working at maintenance jobs, janitors and others who work as contract labor. Expects howls of indignation. But JFK and LBJ did the same thing.

++Everybody and their uncle is weighing in on what the President should talk about. Eugene Robinson wants talk about climate change. Ed Shultz wants the President to come clean on the TPP. President Obama's former speech writer says the President starts thinking about the State of the Union in November and by the end works until 2am for two days editing and revising the text. President Obama wants the text to "sing" which is tough for a speech that comprises a laundry list of things to do and goals to accomplish. For President Obama these speeches are more aspirational than anything.

++What's interesting and it has been true since the start of his Presidency the majority of the American public have supported his policy goals, with the exception of Obamacare, which is still inching upwards. For example,when President Obama blasted Citizens United in the State of the Union,a majority of both parties agreed with him it was bad. Solution--nothing.

++Let's look at the tale of the tape. Quinnipiac shows 69% want unemployment benefits to last more than a year; 58% think Congress should pass extended unemployment benefits for the 1.5 million, which they have not; and 71% think the minimum wage should be raised. On immigration reform,54% think illegal immigrants should have a path to citizenship. 

++The polling also shows that the American people are hip to the obstructionism of the GOP. 51% think the GOP is too intractable and only 39% think Obama is. A Pew poll says 52-27% believe the Democrats are more bipartisan than the GOP and with the exception of the economy, they think the GOP is too extreme.Polling also favors Obama going alone with executive actions. 

++Pundits are saying that this is the last year when Obama will have any juice before we start hearing about the 2016 election. While the President will have room to maneuver in foreign policy in the rest of his term,he will be in a defensive posture to preserve what he has achieved.

++So my advice is Go Big!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The State of the Union

++As we said last year,all we expect from Obama's last term is immigration reform. I don't expect any of his jobs initiatives to be approved by Congress and the next President will have to deal with the issue of poverty.

++I happen to agree with E.J. Dionne when he urges Obama to establish the language of debate for the next decade in our politics like Reagan did. 

++Yes, we will see proposals on the minimum wage,unemployment insurance and other goodies that are now playing their way into our political debate. 

++President Obama's aides are saying that their ambitions are small and that the President will outline what he will do through executive action.

++He will also set the tone for this year's elections for the Democrats.

++We should remind everyone that the long-term unemployed have been screwed since no one on the Hill seems capable of addressing the issue.

++The Farm Bill, originally passed by the Senate two years ago, may--or maybe not--be taken up by the House this week. The lack of action by the House Republicans has eroded the staunch support of the Farmers Bureau for the GOP and threaten their rural vote.

++Jon Karl interviewed Jay Carney on ABC yesterday and raised the issue that only 37% of Americans believe Obama will do the right thing. Jon asked whether Obama will get his Mojo back. Someone should ask Karl is he knows that Mojo is.

++The CBS poll has Obama at 46-47% approval rating. And again I happened on a poll about Obama's like ability, which is at 59%. As long as he hangs there, he is in decent shape.

++The GOP will have three responses to Obama's State of the Union address. Mike Lee for the Teabaggers,Rand Paul for Rand Paul, and a House woman. 

++The Media meme is that Obama had a terrible year and how can he have a better one. I explained last year why I felt it was not a terrible year for Obama. But Billy Kristol said it was a good year for the Republicans because it was a bad year for Obama. I guess he forgot the government shutdown.

++Speaking of which, Mitch McConnell and Tan Man Boehner have said there will not be a clean debt ceiling hike. They said this on the tenth anniversary when both men gave George W. a clean debt ceiling hike. 

Obamacare Rebounds

++Consider this morning's poll. Among registered voters--47% approve of Obamacare; 48% oppose. 
Among all respondents; 46% support;49% oppose.

++HHS reported last week that sign ups on the private exchanges has topped 3 million. For January sign-ups are expected to meet or surpass projections.

++Another poll from today asks "Who would do the right thing on Healthcare?" 45% Democrats. 38% GOP.

++Brainwrap on his website has been wrestling with all sorts of variations of Obamacare,including Chips and Medicaid expansion. His latest number is 13.5 million benefit from Obamacare.

++Gallup has polled on the number of uninsured in America. Because of Obamacare,it is now down to 16%,a two percent drop already.

Quien Es Mas Macho?

++The Mayor of Sochi claims there are no gays in his city--only gay bars.

++The Marlboro Man died at the age of 72 because of respiratory problems.

++Bob Schaeffer laughed at Ted Cruz for saying Obama caused the government shutdown.

++Tom Perkins, a billionaire, said that the attacks on the Rich were the same as Kristallnacht. Really?

++Trey Radel ,Florida Republican, will resign from the House . He was caught buying cocaine from an undercover agent.

++Steve Stockman who has been absent from the House for the first 17 days blamed the media saying he was campaigning but no one saw him.

++Mike Huckbee says that women have to control their libidos and shouldn't expect Uncle Sugar to provide them with birth control pills.

++Texas candidate for governor, Wendy Davis is a "bad mother" according to the Republicans.

++Morning Joe Scarborough says that Hillary Clinton can't attack the GOP on the war against women because of Monica Lewinski.

++Newsmax says that "Hellcat" Clinton is in bad shape because of Benghazi.

++Rand Paul says that Bill Clinton exhibited predatory behavior against women and this will damage Hillary.

++Erick Bennett, the tea bagger challenger against Susan Collins, threatened to kill his wife and was charged with spousal abuse. These are positive things for his campaign.

++AIPAC has attacked Wendy Wasserman Schultz for not being pro-enough on Israel, although she has the highest pro-Israel voting record in Congress.

++Dinesh D'Sousa was indicted for violating campaign finance laws. He used both his wife and his mistress as fronts for his campaign contributions.

++Lamar Alexander's staff member who was busted for distributing child porn committed suicide.

++Kim Jong-un ordered the entire family of his uncle's executed.

++Chris Christie hired Patton, Boggs, the D.C. Law firm to defend him in his exploding scandals.

++Frank Rich in this issue of New York magazine proclaims Fox News dead and wishes liberals woud stop fixating on it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Days of Our Lives

++Roe vs. Wade marked its 41st anniversary. Only 25,000 braved the cold weather to protest. Ricky Cantor told the crowd that he was going to insure that the government never pays for abortion--which it doesn't. House Republicans passed a bill for the IRS to audit all women who have had abortions to ensure they don't take it off as a tax deduction. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is introducing a bill that would give fertilized eggs constitutional rights. Weirdly,poll numbers today about abortion mirror almost exactly those from 41 years ago. There has been no movement toward the anti-abortion position in all these years.

++Sean Hannity was miffed that Andrew Cuomo said that there was no room in New York state for extreme conservatives. Hannity said he was going to move from New York in protest but later claimed he really couldn't because so many people were dependent on his show. He does say he may run for public office in Florida. He will be attending the State of the Union Address next Tuesday as a guest of American hero, Louie Gohmert.

++The Secret Service visited the Florida Republican who wants to lynch President obama, saying that the situation has moved beyond impeachment.

++Supreme Commander Major General Paul Valley launched his Operation American Spring in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a fitting place to advocate the overthrow of the government since the state was the first to secede from the Union.

++Marco Rubio plans to make Americans pay higher premiums for Obamacare by sponsoring a bill to eliminate the risk pool guarantees for the health insurance industry. He has twelve sponsors.

++Brainwrap has been driving himself crazy trying to reconcile his numbers for Obamacare. The total with Medicaid is now 11.9 million. Medicaid expansion is now 6.3 million.

++Jeffrey Toobin in the latest New Yorker has a iece on the President's Bipartisan Commission on Elections. Yes, it came out and it shows voter fraud is infinitesimal. The suggestions to enlarge the franchise are totally sane so they don't stand a chance of passing. The same I might add to the revised Voting Rights Act written by Senator Leahy and Rep. Sesenbrenner.

++The President's Privacy Board came out today and said the NSA mass collection of phone information was illegal.

++Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted for corruption in Virginia.

++Virginia Attorney General Herring said today he was joining a suit against the state's anti-same sex marriage law.

++Virginians may escape the bullet this year. Democratic Jennifer Wexton won the special seat for the Senate in a blizzard. The win may put the Democrats in control of that body. Another seat is waiting for a recount. Meanwhile the first poll has come out with Mark Warner holding a fifty point lead over Gillespie. 

++The Cooch called for Chris Christie to step down as head of the Republican Governor's Association.

++The U.S. Attorney told Dawn Zimmer, the Mayor of Hoboken to stop doing media interviews. The FBI has been interviewing her staff and aides about her claims and apparently five people support her version of her meeting with the Lt.Gov.

++Chris Christie has fallen in popularity and now the GOP front-runner is Rand Paul.

++The President is going to focus on income inequality in his State of the Union Address. A stunning report shows that 85 people have more wealth than the poorest 3.5 billion combined.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy Martin Luther King,Jr. Day

++It is sobering to think how far we still have to go in the struggle for equality and social justice after listening to some of Dr. King's speeches. 

++For something to listen to on this day honoring the slain civil rights leader,you should listen to one of his masterpieces, one which is rarely quoted or seen. It is his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Be sure to listen to this beautifully written speech.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nukky Thompson's Revenge

++Remember on Boardwalk Empire Nukky always having to negotiate the road to Philadelphia for the booze? He even invested in a scheme for a highway to be built across the Pine Barrens. Well, it seems we are back there again.

++Think Progress wrote yesterday about the so-called pipeline that the Christie Administration pushed  to run across the sensitive environment of the Pine Barrens. They managed to shove aside a member of the Planning Commission to obtain approval. The week before it was rejected for environmental reasons. But the kicker is that Port Authority Chairman David Samson,the co-partner of New Jersey's largest real estate firm, had a piece of the action.

++Rachel Maddow began his coverage of the GWP closure speculating that the refusal of the Fort Lee Mayor to endorse Christie was the reason. Then she created a dateline that suggested maybe it was because of Christie's tirade against the New Jersey Senate about his Supreme Court nominations. Then Steve Kornarcki appeared on her show to speculate about the $1 billion real estate project that needed funding as the cause. 

++Turns out the losing developer on this project has as its lawyer David Samson's firm.

++And we know that the Rockefeller Project in Hoboken also had as its lawyer the Samson firm.

++Las night David Samson hired old Guiliani friend Michael Chertoff as his attorney. 

++Speaking of which Rudy showed up on the Sunday talkshows to call for the Democratic Assemblyman heading the investigation to resign and blasting the whole show as the Democratic machine getting even.

++One of the more interesting pieces on the whole Jersey affair appeared in Talking Points Memo, which analyzed the three different Democratic machines and how they supported Christie. In fact,the issue was whether or not they would allow the investigative committees power of subpoena. It turns out that pressure was put on the Northern Jersey machine to allow this to go forward. It's just the opposite of what Rudy said.

++Of real interest is the articles in the Daily Mail of the UK, which has supported the allegations of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and gone further to bring in Michelle Brown,Christie's appointee as head of the State Development agency. They allege there is more than business in the Brown connection with Christie.

++The attacks on Dawn Zimmer have geared up. The Christie camp yesterday issued a non-denial denial, claiming she received $70 million in aid. ABC this money reported the same but didn't report whether the town had received the money. Others point out that FEMA funds from the Federal Government would account for $40 million of it and the rest came from private insurance on the buildings destroyed. 

++Dawn Zimmer is sticking to her story and says she will take a lie detector test. She believes the Lt. Governor would tell the truth under oath. I doubt it.

++In previous reporting by Rachel Maddow, it was pointed out that a large number of those subpoenaed had served on Rudy's aborted campaign for President. Now it appears that the major players are lawyering up with other colleagues associated with Rudy.

++The David Sampson connection is important because he serves as Christie's chief adviser to the Republican Governors Association,his campaign and was thought to be a major player in upcoming Presidential campaign. A former Attorney General of New Jersey, he has served as an adviser to Tom Kean, Jim Florio and McGreevy. He has emerged as the number one name which links everything together.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Iranian Sanctions Stall

++Yesterday both the Senate and the House shelved new economic sanctions against Iran until June. The sanctions bill was heading to 60-vote mark when President Obama turned on a full court press. Various media outlets and even some Democrats protested to the tough words used by the White House that the bill was a vote for war.

++The most interesting development was the emergence of a discussion about AIPAC's role in lobbying for the bill and the active role Senators played in trying to get Jewish communities to lobby for the bill. The Republicans actually believed that if they could voice a vote and a subsequent Obama veto that this would show once and for all that the Democrats really don't support Israel, while they do.

++Dianne Feinstein took the bull by the horns and said that it was not Israel's role to tell the United States with whom to go to war. Tikkun, the liberal Jewish journal,remarked how peculiar it was in this case that American Jewish politicians are openly discussing Israel's lobbying efforts since AIPAC has always tried to be behind the scenes in their attempts to maintain influence. Tikkun also mentioned that it was an almost freak accident to see John Stewart lash out at this new effort.

++While proponents of the new sanctions bill argue it is assurance and strengthens Obama's hand in negotiations, it does nothing of the sort. Almost all observers agree it would kill the Iran deal in its tracks. But what is most interesting out the deal is that it pre-approves Israel attacking Iran, promising American military material, and American military support for such an effort. It is very unusual that the United States would openly favor another country invading another and declaring that such invasion would be in Israel's national interest as if we can determine these things. There is no rationale for America militarily supporting their venture. 

++Let's walk back a bit to the Syrian moment when President Obama asked permission from Congress for a military strike against Syria's chemical weapons. AIPAC whipped that vote and it never made it to any majority before Russia and the United States made an agreement for the withdrawal of al chemical weapons from Syria. Here a country had WMDs and used them but we did not take military action. In Iraq,they didn't have WMD but we invaded, claiming they did, and now we would invade Iran who has yet developed nuclear arms. So I guess we feel safer invading place who have no such capability. 

++It's rather mind-boogling. I'm tempted to work out the scenarios if the Iran deal collapsed because of our actions and what the international reaction would be if Israel and the United States took action, leaving the P5+1 group high and dry. The coalition that was assembled by President Obama to create a strict sanction regime would collapse as well as any goodwill to any such efforts by the United States in the future. It would be an utter disaster and Israel would be even more isolated. I really can't understand AIPAC's reasoning on this effort. It's insane.

++Monday starts Iran's reduction of its enriched uranium,its dismantling of some of its facilities and its suspension of further enrichment. In return the P5+1 will slowly release the Iranian government's funds which are held in escrow. 

++Today's New York Times printed an article about how old business partners are interested in returning to Iran. However,the Iranian business community is saying there is only interest and no deals. Bibi Netanyahu claims in the article that this shows that the sanctions regime will erode swiftly and will never ever be able to be restored.

++The real question is whether a full deal will be reached before June. Apparently,the recent additional sanctions bill was timed as an event for the March AIPAC convention in D.C. 

CHris Christie Keeps Stepping In It

++Chris Christie's spokesperson lashed out at MSNBC this afternoon after Steve Kornacki had on his show the Democratic mayor of Hoboken Dawn Zimmer, who revealed her diaries and recollections of how Christie tried to muscle her for approval of a real estate deal in the northern part of town. According to her, the Lt. Governor took her aside at a Hurricane Sandy event and told her unless she approved this deal Hoboken would not received the money they requested. Indeed, she didn't. 

++This past week belongs to the Bergen Record,Steve Kornacki and Rachel Maddow for their reporting on the GWB scandal and the Hurricane Sandy funds. Kornacki cut his teeth on Jersey politics and it shows. He even went and walked around the blocks under discussion to ascertain why just three block were chosen for the re-development scheme.

++Meanwhile Christie was at a behind the closed doors fund-raiser for Gov. Scott in Florida and spoke not at all about the scandals rocking his administration.

++Meanwhile David Wildstein, the Port of Authority person most responsible for the GWB closings,has offered to tell all if he is clothed in immunity. His lawyer claims he has a real story to tell. The question remains how he can obtain immunity from three different authorities investigating the case.

++If the Christie people believe MSNBC is totally partisan toward him, at least they can point to Ed Schultz who said last night he'll probably walk. But Christie's problems are no longer the press. They have become legal issues and his office as  well as 17 people have been subpoenaed in great detail. They have two weeks to comply with supplying the materials.

++The usual conservative pundits thought Christie put the issue behind him with his marathon press conference. But that had only opened more holes in an already ragged story.

++Steve Kornacki shows what real journalism can do and how it elucidates an issue. He deserves congratulations.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Early Evening

++ The Senate passed the $1.1 trillion budget by 72-26. Ted Cruz followed form by trying to amend the omnibus bill to defund Obamacare. The House previously passed it by a large majority--only 3 Democrats opposed and 60 some of the tea party objected. In a theoretical reality, this should mean no government shutdown until October 1, when the dance begins again right before the election. Now the bill goes to President Obama for his signature.

++President Obama the other day told people he might raise the minimum wage unilaterally. I thought "say what? While he can't raise the federal minimum wage by himself, he can issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. This would affect some 1 million employers of the government. John Boehner has warned the President about this, saying Obama sworn an oath-presumably about upholding the constitution. But observers point to JFK and LBJ doing this for federal workers without repercussions. Polling for this is naturally favorable but so is the polling on a number of these issues.

++Still no action on the extended unemployment, which Republicans in the Senate claimed they would just gamble and pay the price rather than spend more money. Except that the Democrats are not acting like they want to make Republicans pay the price.

++The New Jersey Assembly issued 20 subpoenas this afternoon, one of which was to Chris Christie's campaign, over Bridgegate. The attitude is that they will work their way upwards and not go fishing all at once. While the Christie scandal may burn out in the media, it is now a legal process, which includes federal investigations. It will hamper Christie, despite the GOP establishment putting on a good front of solidarity.

Afternoon Coffee

++Former Republican Chairman Ed Gillespie has declared he is running for the Senate in Virginia against Democrat Mark Warner. You may remember that in 2010, Gillespie created a parallel RNC to undercut Michael Steele. Ed took off his pro-immegration reform message from his website prior to announcing his run.

++The second most powerful woman in the world Christine Legarde warns of deflation crippling economic growth. Why this is important is that the "austerity freaks" have warned about inflation for the last 7 years. Paul Krugman had to be put in a straightjacket trying to correct them.

++The GOP now has focused on Obamacare's greatest flaw--The Oregon Exchange, which never managed to get up and running despite the state accepting paper applications.

++The health insurance industry held their annual meeting and they actually liked ACA. What they don't like is that states who opted not to have state exchanges never bothered to change their rules into accordance to the ACA and never respond to their phone calls. The actual sabotage of the ACA by the Republicans has been noted by Josh Marshall's writing at TPM. The insurance official who wrote Marshall said that the Republican states really truly believed ACA would be repealed and simply did not prepare for it. 

++The new Right-wing meme is that Obamacare is a bailout to the health industry. Alot of progressives agree. I noted on this blog when this was being debated that the health insurance industry had an summit of their own geeks in Washington as they were spending billions to kill the healthcare bill. The geeks concluded that the whole industry would be in catastrophic trouble if reform wasn't passed. It would have to continue to raise premiums 10-15% per year and the number of insured would shrink to the point the industry itself would not be viable. This event never got covered by the media or written about by the Beltway Pundits. So bailout--sort of like the car industry. It goes back to my basic point of the Obama economic policies--he first had to save the FIRE economy--Finance Insurance Real Estate--before we can make the change into the next century.

++But if you buy that bridge, I have another one to sell you--the George Washington Bridge. The Christie scandal is exploding. The number of his close aides involved in the Fort Lee incident keeps expanding. The New Jersey Assembly has hired the former Special Investigator in the corruption case of Illinois Governor Blago's case. Christie this morning hired a former Federal Investigator close to Mayor Guiliani to investigate his own administration. The Chairman of the Port Authority may resign early. The U.S. Senate investigation received its answers yesterday from the Port of Authority and Jay Rockefeller has commented that the PA said there was no evidence there was any traffic study proposed for the Fort Lee area.

++Kudos to Rachel Maddow and her staff for their diligence in reporting the details of this obscure scandal. To her credit, she has used the reporting of the local New Jersey papers, who have been absolute stars in the whole process--The Bergen Record, The Newark Star Ledger,the Wall Street Journal's New Jersey reporter. And my hometown paper, the Asbury Park Press. Maddow hasn't yet reported on the Press investigation, which is about the misuse of Hurricane Sandy Funds for Chris Christie's re-election campaign.

++There are other rumors out there that there may be a mistress showing up soon in the story.

++The point that should be made about this scandal is that state politics in America can be totally corrupt and as Rachel Maddow's op-ed in the Post said today press watchdogs are needed. In this case,you have a state with vibrant papers and a bridge that is the most traveled in the world. But in other states, that isn't true. If a governor has presidential aspirations, it is vital to know how he ran his state because there are serious implications for the nation should that person become President. In Christie's case, he made the bonehead mistake of screwing around with the one bridge all of America's media uses to go to work. 

++The Christie people are in total damage control. Christie himself has to assure the national Republican establishment that he still can run the Governor's Association during a vital election year and he pleaded with the big donors to preserve his meeting in Florida where he was supposed to make his pitch for the 2016 Presidential campaign. 

++GOP pundits like Karl Rove have glowed about Christie's press conference, which Bruce Springsteen quipped went longer than some of his concerts. Rove's instructions to the base were to talk about Benghazi and the IRS.

++So how's that working out? In the latest NBC/Marist poll, Hillary Clinton beats Christie 50-37. The importance of this is that Christie's strength always to show he could win against Clinton. Once that vanishes,his campaign is jeopardized. 

++Tomorrow, President Obama announces his proposed reforms to the NSA data collection. Whatever he proposes, he will face fierce opposition from the National Security State and its allies on the Hill.

Save the Date

++Operation American Spring has released its Rule of Engagement for their 10-million man march on Washington for May 16,2014.

++The event is called "Call to Arms" and they hope to have 10 million Americans converged on Washington to shut the city down and demand the resignations of key office holders for violating the Constitution. In the  e-mail that went out Operation American Spring is led by Major General Paul Vallely (ret.),"a much decorated former Supreme Commander of the Pacific", whatever that means.

++Vallely in interviews with right-wing bloggers called for the military overthrow of the Obama Administration because Americans "only trust the military" and refuses to put CEOs in power. He says the Tea Party Movement represents a start to the final moment when the Constitution will be restored. In other interviews he sees a more orderly process where President Obama and Vice President Biden resigns as well as both the Senate and House leadership. Only after John Boehner resigns and is replaced by a true conservative, then the Speaker will be made President. 

++In the rules of engagement memo,activists are told not to bring weapons or ammo because of the Communists in Washington prohibit them on the Mall. However, once the government is changed then the laws will ensure you can carry weapons anywhere in D.C.  Because the marchers have God on their side,please bring the Bible and a copy of the Constitution.

++If you are stopped by police, invoke the 5th Amendment. Militia uniforms are welcome but militias have to maintain order and discipline. 

++They claim 1.8 million are mobilizing. But we are told 400,000 are all you need to occupy D.C. and shut down the "forces who are inflicting tyranny on the United States." 

++Major General Paul Vallely will kick this off at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this month.

++So far the names that have appeared on various memos are all white guys over 65 so they might want to rent alot of Port-A-Potties and have facilities for the disabled.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


++The Senate could not make cloture on two bills to extended Unemployment Insurance. One bill called for a 1 year extension. Another 3 months. Almost all Republicans opposed.

++During the weekend, Negotiators reached a deal to practically implement the interim agreement with Iran,which will call for the destruction of many of their facilities and the watering down of the enriched uranium that have. 

++While this would be considered welcome news in the real world, The Senate is creeping close to a 60 vote margin to vote on adding sanctions on Iran and to make it a zero oil export economy. Too many Democratic Senators have sheepishly either supported the bill or have remained silent. The Administration is right that this would skuttle a diplomatic agreement and pave the way to war. The House with the support of Eric Cantor want to use the same language of the Menendez Bill.

++Those who oppose the agreement says it doesn't prohibit Iran from enriching uranium. And they claim that the sanctions bill is pragmatic insurance and that Tehran will blink. 

++Paleoconservative Pat Buchanan today wrote an op-ed blasting this bill because he claims it would mean another Mideast War based on disinformation. He cites the National Intelligence Estimates from both the Bush and Obama years claiming Tehran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Buchanan managed to zero-in on his archenemy AIPAC as the primary mover of this legislation, which is an open secret.

++On another matter, the Israeli Defense Minister accused John Kerry being "messianic" in his pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The Obama Administration blasted him and he later retreated.

Interesting Factoid

++From November 2012 through December 2013,there were 2258 peer-reviewed articles by some 9,136 authors on climate change. Only 1 author rejected man-made global warming. 

++Over a period of 21 years,there were 13,950 peer-reviewed articles and only 24 rejected man-made global warming.

++Oh yes, we still have winter.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Week's News

++A-Rod managed to get only one year suspension from major league baseball.

++The Huffington Post kept reporting that Ariel Sharon's health was deteriorating. What could that mean since he was in a vegetative state for the last 8 years. Today, he did die at the age of 85 so I guess I found out what they meant.

++The Unemployment rate fell to 6.7% and like most news during the Obama years it was considered a negative. The economy only grew 74,000 jobs the last month but I expect the number to be revised since ADP, the payroll service, had the best month, some 230,000 in years. The jobs report was considered the worst in three years.

++The White House is furious with the Senate on pushing a new sanctions bill against Iran. The bill sponsored by Bob Menendez now has reached a number where it is veto-proof. The problem is that it would wreck the negotiations and doom the situation to war. The EU reported that the Iranian negotiations concerning the implementation of the interim agreement has made significant progress. Russia is already negotiating an oil for goods deal to alleviate the Iranian sanctions regime.

++Bob Gates' memoir sparked off a flurry of comments in Washington about Obama's commitment to Afghanistan and the Iraq war. House Democrats thought it sounds like Obama had the right idea about not being fooled by the demands of generals. Gates wrote that Obama was committed to the fighting men and women but not to the mission in Afghanistan. It seems Obama's mistrust of Karzai is well-deserved. Karzai has released prisoners against American advice and is stalling about reaching a security agreement.

++The Administration wants to ship arms to Iraq along with Apache helicopters. Congress is leery about Prime Minister Malicki because they suspect he will use the arms to go against his Sunni opponents.

++The Economist writes that for all the noise about Al Qaeda in Fallujah and Syria, it actually looks like they peaked. As always,the local tribes are rising up against them because they resist Al Qaeda's hamfisted style of governance.

The Weird of the Week

++Alan Keyes has asked that Jesus help in impeaching President Obama. He says the American people want this but are too afraid and they need divine intervention.

++Carnival Cruz said that President Obama was "terrifyingly dangerous" and engaging in "lawlessness on a breathtaking scale". He even wrote at Harvard Law Review article complete with footnotes to say how the federal government is trying to become a totalitarian state.

++Former Air Force General Tom Mcinearny told Fox News he had confirmed that the Obama Administration is penetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and that Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner's wife, leaked top secret documents to the Brotherhood.

++Former Army Major General Paul Valley has called for everyone is the administration to resign and that the American people have lost all faith in their politicians and that the only institution that has any respect is the military. He calls for the Senate and House leadership to resign and that the Speaker of the House, a newly selected Teabagger be made President of the United States. He will be in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this month to rally the teabaggers for Operation American Spring.

++The Teabaggers announced this week they want to replace Boehner because the budget agreement reached between the House and the Senate was a betrayal of the Constitution.

++The Supreme Court threw out a case by Doctors against Obamacare that argued the law should have been initiated in the House.

++Rightwing talk show host Garrow claims that the Presidents' children are not really his and wants them tested for DNA because the President is gay. The President also is responsible for the number of deaths of Atlantic Dolphins because he nuked them and Garrow has the evidence.

++Climate denier Lord Monkcton said the Americans were all "pantywaists" because they would not get rid of President Obama.

Report from The Wings

++I can not follow the GOP's reproductive politics. It doesn't make any sense to me. The House decided that the biggest issues facing the country, besides Obamacare, is abortion and contraceptives. They passed a bill that would require the IRS to investigate whether any women who has been raped or suffered a miscarriage used the contraceptive benefits of Obamacare. They are trying a lateral move against women with a bill that would prohibit government funding for abortion by claiming that because of Obamacare your insurance policy is in effect government funding, hence no abortion can be paid by insurance policies. The House also passed a bill that says that the Administration must notify you within three days if there is a security breach of your information from Obamacare. There has been none and the Administration already has a policy in place if this occurs. 

++Rep. Issa subpoenaed the company who designed the security measures for the website but the HHS refused to supply him with the information because he represented a security issue by leaking partial documents to the press. He now wants to investigate Kathleen Sebelius for perjury because of her testimony before his committee. He has officially requested her to read her testimony and make any changes to avoid the charge. 

I'm Popeye,the Sailor Man

++ I am who I am. I am not a bully,saith Chris Christie. In the last few days we have seen the story of the GWB traffic jam unravel with the release of over 2,000 pages on materials, superb local reporting by the New Jersey press, and ,of course, the governor's marathon press conference. The pundit class are trying to say Christie can salvage his presidential bid and that Americans don't care about what goes on in New Jersey. Republicans are trying to spin this as Christie took decisive actions by firing his second tier advisers and this makes him more responsive than President Obama who has don't nothing about his so-called scandals. Maybe because they aren't scandals. Even Mika Brezinski at the Morning Joe show defended her friend. 

++But wait. The story in the last few days has gotten more complicated with a whole bunch of political implications. Fired aide Bridget Kelly was tweeting about the Fort Lee traffic jam as she walked alongside Christie during the Seaside Heights photo op. E-mails complaining about the bridge closure by the Port Authority were sent directly to Christie. His chief of staff now has been nominated to be New Jersey's Attorney-General, the man in charge of investigating the closure. Christie's democratic opponent believes Christie will have to quit. The New Jersey press simply doesn't believe Christie had nothing to do with the bridge closure because his closest staff are loyal to him and they were the ones involved.

++Where does this go? The New Jersey Assembly is continuing the investigation--if their ability to subpoena witnesses is re-approved on Tuesday. The Feds are starting to investigate whether federal laws were broken because the Port Authority is a regional entity. But at least Chris Christie will be in Florida soon campaigning for the King of Medicare Fraud, Governor Scott.

++Chris Christie was supposed to use the next year campaigning for Republicans because he is the head of the Republicans Governor Association this year. Whether he can achieve this launch, is another matter.

++Chris Hayes claimed that New Jersey was the most corrupt state because of Boardwalk Empire. Really? There are alot of candidates. But remember you can pre-order Season Four of Boardwalk Empire now. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Year of the Great Regression

++The Supreme Court granted a hold on the same sex marriages in Utah.

++The Circuit Court with three GOP women judges will rule--presumably in favor of Texas' anti-abortion laws.

++The Courts will not rule on North Carolina's voting rights until 2015.

++The Guttmacher Institute has published a report that says States have criminalized abortion more in the last two years than the prior decade together.

++Josh Marshalll at TalkingPoints printed a useful chart of GOP obstructionism against Obamacare,showing the dramatic difference between states which embraced it and those run by the GOP that didn't. More than 5 million eligible for health insurance will be excluded in red states.

++Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly points out that there is not likely to be a counter-revolution by Democrats this year, especially in the governor's races. I still hope Pennsylvania, Maine and Florida will change.

++Michael Gerson in today's Post writes about how the tea party has ruined conservatism and urges the GOP to adopt constructive conservatism. He previously got it right that the GOP is well-equipped for 2014 by-elections but not for 2016.

++For reasons that escape me, Charles Schumer believes there will be movement on immigration reform this year. 

++The Senate passed one procedural hurdle on the UI extension. There are at least two left. Mitch McConnell wants it tied to a suspension of the individual mandate on Obamacare.

++The House will be in session a stunning 112 days this year. The GOP strategy is to do absolutely nothing to spoil any chances of re-election.

++President Obama has submitted 64 nominees, mostly for judgeships. Many were already nominated but the Senate never got around to them.

++And Colorado is out of dope.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Janet Yellen Confirmed

++Janet Yellen became the most powerful woman in the world today as she was confirmed to be the head of the Federal Reserve. The Senate vote was 56 to 26. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tick-Tock The Clock Runs Down On the Budget

++President Obama used his weekly address to class for a bipartisan bill for emergency unemployment benefits. The sad point is that Eric Cantor said it wasn't on the agenda and we will have to go through the Senate procedures again. Senate Democrats are trying to figure out a way to use the Farm Bill to get House Republicans to address the issue. But in fact they don't care.

++Ben Bernacke gave his farewell address at the Fed yesterday and said what many other economists have been saying forever. The recovery would have been quicker and more robust if Washington had not adopted a severe austerity program. He pointed to the loss of 600,000 federal jobs, when other recoveries usually added about 1 million federal jobs. This doesn't make sense said Bernacke when interest rates are close to zero.

++There is a flurry of comments about AEI, Washington's remaining real conservative think tank,advocating job creation and infrastructure. The punditry is saying that is good news for the GOP to finally emphasize jobs. But the punditry forgets who really is in charge of the GOP. And by the time,they get around to advocate infrastructure spending, which President Obama has done since the beginning of his first term,the borrowing rates will increase.

++Boeing came to an agreement with its unions and will stay in Seattle.

++The Federal District Court ruled that drug-testing for welfare is unconstitutional in Florida. Rachel Maddow had an excellent takedown on this story and pointed the finger at the Koch Brothers, who fund think-tanks that circulate the idea. They, of course, objected to her reporting and she didn't back down.

++Yes, there is snow in Washington D.C. and freezing weather. But contrary to Donald Trump winter doesn't mean there is no climate change. But FOX news is complaining that the US spends billions on climate change and that it is a waste of tax-payer money. Drexel University came out with a study that showed that anti-climate change funding has gone dark and that there is a network of climate deniers spending about $1.5 billion a year against the notion the climate is changing.

++We only have about two weeks until the appropriations for the new budget must be done. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Obamacare Update

++Brainwrap continues up to update his figures. But make sure you visit He has totally changed the website so it is more readable over the old Excel sheets.

++Major new finding is that the sub-26ers on their parents insurance is not 3.1 million as the HHS claims but is 7.8 million, which Brainwrap got confirmed today from HHS. That brings the total number up to about 14.4 million.

Hands Off My Obamacare!

++Jos Marshall at Talkingpoints this morning posted his figures of the ACA, which shows 10 million now have insurance which they didn't have.

++But for those of us who have insurance from employers,Obamacare has already made a world of difference. I got my bill yesterday from INOVA here in Virginia for my annual exam and three shots. The uninsured price was over $1,100. My cost $20 because preventive care is free. If you follow that out for my wife and adult child. I'm saving just over $3,240 for everyone's exams and shots. 

++All I can say is that Obamacare makes it more likely I will do the things required for preventive care, which should save me even more in the years ahead.

++Hands off my Obamacare!

++I also do not mind poorer Americans getting healthcare. This will be the area of the deepest political fight this year--covering the poor.

Progressive Year, Heh?

++It only took two days for wingnuts to start their engines again.

++The "Patriot" Facebook page printed a photo of lynching President Obama and called for the deed to be celebrated as a national holiday.

++Michael Scheuer, former CIA agent and writer on Bin Laden and FOX analyst,called for the assassination of both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron because they are tyrants. David Frum did a piece on Scheuer meltdown at the Daily Beast, where he analyzed the uncomfortable fact the man is also an anti-semite.

++Human Events declared Darryl Issa, Conservative of the Year, because of his advocacy of the rule of law.

++Papa Yuppie Duck declared President Obama is over his head and got his political views from his father and leftists like Bill Ayers. Yuppie Duck is now selling guns for your family.

++The former head of East Germany's Stasi said he is envious of the NSA because in his day he could only wiretap 40 phones at the same time.

++FOX News declared that 2013 was the year when marriage died.

++Ralph Reed in a fund-raising event at Tyson's Corner said the Religious Right will be raring to go for 2014 but he urged candidates to try and mute their anti-abortion position because you don't want the fate of the Cooch.

++11 Republican State Attorney-Generals charged that President Obama acted illegally when he changed some deadlines for Obamacare.

++Bryan Fisher of the American Family Association said those who believe in evolution are disqualified from public service.

++Mayor Tom Hayden of Flower Mount, Texas has declared 2014 "The Year of the Bible".

++Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard predicted Israel will attack Iran this year and we would if we acted like a superpower should.

++Ricky Cantor has decided the new way to attack Obamacare is by focusing on the security of its information.

++Charles Krauthammer wants to send Obamacare into a death spiral by eliminating two clauses of the ACA bill that protected health insurance companies. Like the conservative mantra, he is against bail-outs.

++Rev Joyner says he is afraid of speaking out against President Obama because you will be arrested,especially because you are Christian.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's Monday

++Yes,it's Monday that the Senate will vote on Janet Yellin and make her the most powerful women in the world. 

++The New York Times reports that John Kerry has been negotiating behind the scenes for a major Climate Change Treaty in 2015. 

++John McCain said he told Karzai better put up or shut up about the security agreement on Afghanistan. He says he will confident it will be signed. Iraq's government has also weighed in to urge Kazai to avoid their mistake.

++Fox News is getting older. It has seen the largest decline in the 25-54 demographic in its history. A -30%. A similar thing happened to CNN and it became the least watched tv channel.

++The Mississippi governor has a new unique way for opposing the expansion of Medicaid. He claims he is protecting the state when Obamacare is repealed. 

++Did you know the states of the Deep South have literally no minimum wage? I didn't. I thought that was stunning.

++Cantaloupe man Rep. Steve King says he is just like Papa Duck. Papa Duck now not only doesn't like gays or blacks but he said he's against the Chinese and Muslims are "killers".

++Sarah Palin has made a New Year's resolution to make "government irrelevant". Like her in other words.

The Sixth Year of Stoogeland

++We've been on a roller-coaster ride for the past 5 years and this one looks pretty much the same. The political aspects of this year will be extremely ugly. The attack ads are already up courtesy of the Koch Brothers. Forgive me for not making any predictions. 2010 taught me a lesson. Never underestimate citizens voting against their own self-interest. But pay attention to the state races and the Senate. That's where the fun will be.

++It will be an awful year for the environment. China has declared 5 million acres of farmland off limits because of pollution. The tarsands area of Canada are ringed by mercury. A vast island of garbage floated north of Hawaii. Salon reports that climate change is worse than previously thought. Only radical change can avert the dire consequences of climate change but we don't do radical.

++The economy looks like it may get off life support this year unless Congress decides to destroy it again.

++The Institute for Supply Management reports that December saw manufacturing grow and hiring at its highest level since 2010.

++Wall Street finished the year with the greatest growth since 1997.

++The Democrats claim they have a way to fast track the restoration of unemployment benefits. We'll see.

++The AP yesterday had a story about the new fight over the Arctic and how the United States is lagging behind. I am ambivalent over this development since my prior rant on New Year's Eve. The Arctic region has the most available oil and natural gas reserves left in the world. But in light on climate change is exploitation really the way to go.

++The United States experienced the largest one-year jump of oil production on level. We now produce 7.5 million barrels a day, a 1 million a day increase since last year. By 2016,we will be at 9.5 million a day. 

++Yes, some people will lose their healthcare this year. The number seems to be around 10,000, not the 5 million the Republicans claim. Or maybe they are positioning themselves to claim the 5 million left off insurance in red states are Obama's fault.

++I wouldn't make much of Sotomayor's stay of the contraceptive mandate for the ACA. She was rulling on a small clause about religiously run non-profits.

++The New York Times is all pleased that Tan Man Boehner wants to pass immigration reform. That's what he said last year. I see it's only chance being late this year after the elections in a lame duck session.

++How bad is it for Obama? His approval rate went up 5 points since Obamacare started announcing its December numbers. But we haven't been exposed to the FOX hate machine the last few days. So who knows?

++Interesting, the Obama Administration has slashed democracy funding by several hundred million for the Middle East. The rationale is that they are only focusing on American national interests in the area.

++Ariel Sharon is close to death after being in a vegetative coma since 2006.

++Israel said it would hold up any announcement on settlements until after John Kerry leaves.