Judge Rejects Challenge to Health Care Law

A federal judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul, upholding key provisions that require health insurance coverage, Bloomberg reports.

Huckabee Says Document Leaker Should Be Executed

Mike Huckabee said the person who provided thousands of secret State Department cables deserves to be executed, Politico reports.

Said Huckabee: “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.”

Kentucky Governor Backs Creationism Theme Park

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) will announce plans for the construction of a new creationist theme park, to go along with the Creation Museum in the same state.

“The attraction is envisioned as a full-scale wooden ark that would include associated museums, theaters, amenities, event venues and outdoor parking. Preliminary indications are that the attraction could draw as many as 1.6 million guests per year and would cost at least $24.5 million to complete.”

“Beshear’s participation in the announcement suggests state incentives for the project may be included.”

Lame Duck Members Work from Cubicles

As the newly-elected members of Congress prepare to move into their new offices, the defeated or retiring lame duck House members have had to find office space elsewhere, reports Congress.org.

“More than 90 departing House members from both parties have been assigned to cubicles set up in a banquet room and in the back section of a cafeteria dining room. Overflow space for aides has been set up in the Ways and Means and Homeland Security committee hearing rooms in the Longworth House Office Building… According to the House historian’s office, the current transition involves the largest number of lawmakers since the period after the 1992 elections, when about 110 new House members arrived.”


Is Your Spending Helping the Opposition?

Checking Influence is a new web tool that analyzes your online bank or credit card statement to reveal how your everyday spending wields political influence. The site calculates how much the companies you do business with spend on lobbying activities and campaign contributions, making it easy to see how your spending habits align politically.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“In the next two years President Obama will be much more independent in fighting hard to prevail and not trying to reach out, which turned out to be fruitlessly, to get two or three Republican votes for this and that.”

— Jimmy Carter, in an interview with CBS News, predicting the president will be “a much more tough proponent of what he stands for in the future, giving up on Republicans support and taking his case to the American public.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Speaker Boehner is our Dwight Eisenhower in the battle against the Obama Administration. Majority Leader Cantor is our Omar Bradley. I want to be George Patton — put anything in my scope and I will shoot it.”

— Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), in a PowerPoint presentation obtained by NBC News, making his case to become the leader of the House Energy and Commerce panel.

Pelosi Struck Fear in Chinese Government

AFP reports that a cable released by WikiLeaks shows the Chinese government was “fearful” over a May 2009 visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in light of her support for Chinese human rights and democracy advocates.

“She had the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) scared to death on the eve of her visit,” according to a quote attributed to the Chinese ambassador in Kazakhstan.

Murray Will Head DSCC

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has accepted the chairmanship of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to TPM.

“The DSCC is the national campaign committee responsible for electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate. Murray, who had been rumored in recent days to be the likely successor to current chair Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), faced her own tough reelection battle this year, pulling out a narrow win over Republican Dino Rossi.”

Are Republicans Excelling at Diversity?

The Hotline notes an interesting statistic of the new political landscape: “In 2011, there will be more Republican minorities holding governorships, Senate seats and representing majority-white House districts than Democrats.”

“Overall, the clear majority of minorities in Congress are Democrats. But the numbers above reflect an inconvenient reality that, even with their much more diverse caucus, Democrats face similar challenges as Republicans in recruiting, nominating and electing minority candidates to statewide office and in suburban and rural districts that are majority-white.”

The Rubio syndrome: “Of course, the flip side for Republicans is that any time a non-white candidate wins a statewide election, their names immediately vault into contention for national office or leadership.”

Has WikiLeaks Really Ruined Secrecy in Diplomacy?

James Mann: “The Wikileaks cables are certainly important: They make public the sort of first-hand, original-source information that, until now, it has taken historians and journalists years or decades to obtain. But does this mean that the days of secret diplomacy are over? Not even close. The reason is that the foreign policy bureaucracy will adjust, as it has before.”

“After the Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1966, there were predictions by mournful government officials that there could be no more secrets — and yet, our bureaucrats quickly adapted, finding ways to keep things in the dark. Not everything has to be put in a State Department cable. There are intelligence channels, sensitive compartmentalized information, and so on.”

“So, while the cables released by Wikileaks will give new meaning to the words ‘modern history,’ and, while we now know more than we ever did before about the State Department’s recent diplomacy, it’s also worth remembering that State Department cables don’t contain everything. And, yes, there will still be secrets in the future.”

More Redistricting Fun

Dave Bradlee has updated his amazing web application that lets you redraw the lines of congressional districts and see the changing demographics. The new version has very detailed mapping capabilities.

Obama Holds Edge Over Possible GOP Rivals

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that President Obama has lukewarm 47% approval rating but still leads likely GOP presidential contenders.

He leads Mitt Romney by just a point, 47% to 46%, but holds larger leads against all other potential GOP nominees: 48% to 45% over Mike Huckabee, 49% to 43% over Newt Gingrich, and 51% to 42% over Sarah Palin.

The survey also tested Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (R-FL) as a wild-card candidate. Obama leads Rubio, 48% to 37%.

Rangel Wants Punishment in Writing

“In the curious annals of congressional drama, this week’s debate on the fate of New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel will be odder than most,” the Washington Post reports.

“The House will agonize, and Rangel will emote, over this question: Will Rangel — who has been found guilty of 11 ethics violations — be scolded in person, or will he be scolded in writing? That’s all. The first option is called a censure. The second, which Rangel (D) very much prefers, is a reprimand. Neither would kick Rangel out of Congress, dock his pay, take away his right to vote – or in any other way prevent him from being the exact same congressman he is today.”

4th Amendment Wear

Cargo Collective is selling underwear that has a surprise message for TSA airport scanners.

“Now there’s a way to protest those intrusive TSA X-ray scanners without saying a word. 4th Amendment Metallic ink-printed undershirts and underwear. Assert your rights without saying a word.”

Obama and GOP Leaders Finally Meet

“When President Obama sits down with the new Republican congressional leaders for their first face-to-face meeting on Tuesday, the stated mission will be to make progress on ratifying an arms agreement with Russia and reaching a deal on soon-to-expire tax cuts,” the Washington Post reports.

“But with the White House session scheduled to last just one hour, neither side anticipates emerging with a grand compromise. Instead, the goal will be to set a course for the weeks ahead — and to try to determine whether either side is serious about making concessions necessary to reach a deal.”

Politico: “The problem for Obama is that GOP leaders have little incentive to cut any deals in the lame-duck congressional session — the better to capitalize on their new House majority in January — and have no appetite for major compromise on the extension of Bush-era tax cuts or their deficit-cutting platform.”

No Consensus for Cutting Deficit

A new Associated Press-CNBC Poll finds Americans prefer cutting services to raising taxes to close the federal budget deficit by a 59% to 30% margin.

However, there is “little consensus on specific, meaningful steps — and a wariness about touching two gargantuan programs, Social Security and Medicare.”

Interestingly, and in a reversal from last month, “most people oppose extending expiring tax cuts for the richest Americans. Just 34% want to renew tax cuts for everyone; 50% prefer extending the reductions only for those earning under $250,000 a year; and 14% want to end them for all.”

Quote of the Day

“Today we ended sad chapters in Illinois history. Our state leaders tried to sell this seat, and then they blocked a special election to fill it, but the court, the law and the people of Illinois won.”

— Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), quoted by the Chicago Tribune, moments after being sworn in to replace Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL).

Still No Agenda for the Lame Duck Session

Roll Call notes that lawmakers “appear content to end the 111th Congress the way it started, by following a ‘change’ election with a round of fiercely partisan fighting over an agenda that even many Democrats have little interest in.”

“In fact, the House and Senate returned to Washington, D.C., on Monday for the lame duck with few solid details about what will be on their plates beyond partisanship. House Democrats may stay in through Dec. 17 as the Senate is expected to do. Or Speaker Nancy Pelosi may send her troops home at week’s end and call them to the Capitol only after the Senate finishes work on a long-term continuing resolution that keeps the government funded and operating.”

Estimate of Bailout Cost Falls

“The projected cost of the $700-billion financial bailout fund — initially feared to be a huge hit to taxpayers — continues to drop, with the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimating Monday that losses would amount to just $25 billion,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

In March, the budget office estimated that the program would cost taxpayers $109 billion.

From the report: “Clearly, it was not apparent when the TARP was created two years ago that the cost would turn out to be this low. At that time, the U.S. financial system was in a precarious condition, and the transactions envisioned and ultimately undertaken through the TARP engendered substantial financial risk for the federal government.”

Protecting Detroit’s Mayor is Expensive

Michigan Capitol Confidential reports the city of Detroit spends $1.35 million per year on security for Mayor Dave Bing and his wife. There are 16 police officers serving as bodyguards that work in shifts of four to protect the mayor and two more officers that each work on a 12-hour shift to protect the First Lady.

Taking on Sarah Palin

Joe Scarborough: “Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private. Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.”



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