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• Obama core still crumbling
• Uninsured don’t dig ObamaCare
• Reprieve for McDonnell, not for GOP
• Because nothing says Christmas like a mouse riding a lobster
OBAMA CORE STILL CRUMBLING - The latest New Fox News poll gives President Obama a 41 percent approval rating among all registered voters – not a great way for him to end year five. But how about this: Only 37 percent of voters under 30 approve of the job the president is doing. That’s a 17-point decline in one year among the voters who represent what was once the core of the president’s coalition. These are the people to whom the president is making an increasingly frantic plea to enroll in ObamaCare. And surely the “Lie of the Year” about Americans being able to keep their coverage and care under his law is a big reason. Sixty-one percent of all respondents believed he knew at the time that his statements were untrue.
[When it comes to his signature entitlement program, 54 percent of respondents say they wish it had never passed. Another 60 percent do not see ObamaCare being successful. Sixty-seven percent favor a delay in its implementation, including 54 percent of Democrats.]
Can you hear me now? - But when it comes to younger voters, the other big scandal – the president misleading voters about his expansion of domestic surveillance – is likely just as important. A White House panel has proposed limits for domestic surveillance, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says President Obama will soon address those proposals. Reporters expect that could come as soon as today. Fox News has more.
PUTIN STICKS UP FOR OBAMA ON SPYING - Russian President Vladimir Putin claims Moscow is not controlling leaker Edward Snowden. Putin told reporters Thursday that anything published by Snowden came prior to his arrival in Russia. The Russian President maintains that Snowden’s asylum was conditioned on halting anti-American activities. Putin also defended the NSA’s surveillance program saying it is a necessary defense against terror but cautioned it needs to follow the rules. In referring to Snowden’s leaks, Putin said he “envies” President Obama because “he can get away with it”. AP has more.
[Karl Rove says a weakened President Obama will need help shoring up the NSA. From the WSJ: “Even if Mr. Obama belatedly engages on this issue, his credibility has been diminished because of his repeated false statements on health care. The nation's chief executive, in short, will need bipartisan help in explaining and defending these vital programs.”]
NSA ruling Cliffs Notes - From Amy Davidson in The New Yorker: “The thirty-page executive summary might be further condensed to a few sentences: Don’t do things just because you can. Tell people what the rules are. Remember that “security” doesn’t just mean chasing terrorists—it “refers to a quite different and equally fundamental value,” spelled out in the Fourth Amendment: ‘The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Stop shutting down debate by muttering about a ‘balance’ that needs to be struck between security and freedom—they are not on opposite sides of the scale. Start thinking about privacy.”
The Judge’s Ruling: Madisonian Moment - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst JudgeAndrew Napolitano looks at the ruling that the Obama administration’s telephone surveillance program is unconstitutional. New at Fox News Opinion: “…appellate judges or Supreme Court justices will have the final say. But for now, we have the great satisfaction of knowing that an independent judiciary has saved our liberties from the tyranny of the majority.”
UNINSURED DON’T DIG OBAMACARE - A new NYT/CBS News poll shows 53 percent of the uninsured disapprove of ObamaCare, with 56 percent saying they have no intentions to enroll by the March 31 deadline. A third of the uninsured say the law will not help them, with cost being their primary concern.
DOWN TO THE WIRE - Do over in Illinois - AP: “Illinois officials are emailing and calling thousands of people, advising them to start over on their health insurance applications if they believe the federal government mistakenly referred them to Medicaid.”
Scramble in California - AP: “The agency that runs California's health insurance exchange is scrambling to correct a technical problem that left blank spaces in eligibility notices mailed to nearly 114,000 households.”
Loopholes in Colorado - Lawmakers in Colorado are crafting a proposal to use tax credits to offset those that opt-out of ObamaCare. Fox News has more.
FOURNIER: IT’S STILL ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY JOURNALISM - The Week’s Marc Ambinder explains why National Journal’s Ron Fournier is on the money with his criticism of the Obama administration. Ambinder reminds Obama apologists of the brutality of Fournier’s broadsides against the Bush administration and how he, as AP Washington Bureau chief, helped set the post-Katrina narrative about George W. Bush’s second term. Fournier says is always a matter of trust: “All I know is that when you lose the public's trust, whether you're selling ice cream, Jesus Christ, or votes, once you lost your credibility, you’re toast. One president after another, I've watched them give it away.”
[George Will: “Obama’s aggressive assertions of executive discretion are provoking countervailing attention to constitutional proprieties. His departures from the norms proper to the [Constitution’s] take care clause may yet cause Congress to take better care of its prerogatives.”]
WHOOPS: SENATE DEM CALLS MILITARY PENSION CUT A 'TECHNICAL ERROR' - Democrats this week stymied Republican efforts to block reductions to scheduled increases in military pensions, but Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said lawmakers would at least reverse the impact on disabled retirees, calling their inclusion a mistake. “This technical error certainly can, should, and will be addressed,” Murray said. Vulnerable Democrats like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. are calling for an immediate fix. AP has more.
[“I’m not going to defend the cut in military pensions. It’s outrageous that Senator [Harry Reid] wouldn’t allow us an amendment to take care of that. I’ll tell you why I voted for the compromise deal. It is impossible to convey the dysfunction that is Washington in the United States Senate.”—Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on “The Kelly File” Watch here.]
They’ll be home by Christmas - The Senate is expected to pass the Defense Authorization Act – providing more than $630 billion for the Pentagon – sometime today. Fox News has more. –Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel breaks down what is included and what has been left out of the Defense Bill.
Iran plan will wait - Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., are floating a new Iran sanctions bill that will likely be considered early next year. Foreign Policy has the details. In the latest Fox News poll, 68 percent said President Obama has not been tough enough on Iran.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...What are the politics of science fiction? Seriously. We’re not just trolling Jonah Goldberg, here. It’s a serious question because how a society depicts the future says a lot about how it sees itself in the present. Economist Tyler Cowan picks up the debate from the New Yorker piece by Tim Keider that celebrates “a credible utopia” of liberal ideals built by author Kim Stanley Robinson. Says Cowen: “I would myself note that the politics of science fiction, on average (with exceptions), encourage us to think about “breaking a few eggs,” and not for the better. The reality is that when it comes to the future, we can “see around the corner” only to a limited degree. The upshot is that the rights of the individual – when applicable – should remain paramount…”
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.5 percent//Disapprove – 53.5 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.8 percent//Wrong Track – 63.5 percent
DEMS HIT FOR HANGING WITH HARRY - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s mused Wednesday that he plans to remain the top dog in the Senate for another eight years, and Republicans couldn’t be happier about his boast. The Republican Senatorial Committee is launching a campaign today that zeros in on vulnerable Senate Democrats and candidates in competitive races for their support of and by Reid. Among those in the crosshairs: Here are the talking points for Georgia senatorial candidate Michelle Nunn, who is working hard to portray herself as a moderate outsider.
REPRIEVE FOR MCDONNELL, NOT FOR GOP - In an unusual move, lawyers representing Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, and his wife Maureen won a reprieve from charges that were expected to be filed this week for taking gifts and then touting a dietary-supplement company. WaPo details how the U.S. Attorney in Richmond got overruled after the McDonnells’ lawyers met in Washington with Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The pending felony charges will wait until sometime in the New Year when officials make a final decision. McDonnell’s scandals resulted in a wipeout for the GOP in Virginia’s statewide elections this year. Democrats completed the party’s first sweep of all five statewide offices since 1969 with the concession Wednesday by Republican attorney general candidate, state Sen. Mark Obenshain, who gave up his re-count bid against Democrat Mark Herring. Herring said “the win is just as sweet.” More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
NON-CITIZENS VOTES TARNISH OHIO 2012 RESULTS - Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Wednesday his office found 17 non-citizens illegally cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election, and another 274 non-citizens remain on the voting rolls. President Obama beat Mitt Romney in the state by just 2 percent. Husted, who has aggressively been investigating voter fraud cases in his state, is referring the case for possible prosecution. Fox News has more.
UN-KOOL-AIDE - New White House Adviser John Podesta isn’t sorry that he compared the Republican Party to a cult which killed a congressman and ended with 918 members – including children – drinking cyanide-laced powdered-drink mix in a third-world hideout. Podesta is, however, sorry that he included House Speaker John Boehner in his comparison of the GOP to the members of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple. “In an old interview, my snark got in front of my judgment. I apologize to Speaker Boehner, whom I have always respected,” Podesta posted on Twitter, referring to a quote he gave Politico earlier this fall. Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said: “If this is the attitude of the new White House, it's hard to see how the president gets anything done again.” Fox News has more. –Watch Fox: Senior White House Foreign Affairs Correspondent Wendell Goler profiles Podesta.
[“It's disgraceful and telling that President Obama's new counselor is… using that comparison as an argument in support of shredding the Constitution and governing like a third-world dictator.” –Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., in an interview with Breitbart.]
A NEW MESSIAH? WALTERS READY FOR HILLARY - Hillary Clinton is, yet again, at the top of Barbara Walters’ annual “10 Most Fascinating People” list. The 2016 Democratic frontrunner played coy about her campaign, telling Walters she would make the decision “sometime next year.” The former first lady was the first person to top the list when the annual special debuted in 1993. Walters was less interested in Clinton’s old rival, President Obama, when she spoke to CNN to publicize her special: “We thought that he was going to be – I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but – the next messiah. And the whole Obamacare…it just hasn’t worked for him and he’s stumbled around on it, and people feel very disappointed because they expected more.”
Hitting a clam - The NYT Editorial Page today offers an op-ed from playwright Ishmael Reed that muses on how President Obama is the Miles Davis of politics. No really. “Democrats have more of an affinity for jazz than Republicans. Even Jimmy Carter, not everybody’s idea of a hipster, invited Dizzy Gillespie to the White House. But among the Democrats, President Obama is the one who comes closest to the style of bebop called ‘the Cool.’”
[Get in “The Foxhole”- Watch James Rosen interview author Tevi Troy on presidents and pop culture.]
MEET THE ROMNEYS - Netflix is offering a peak at forthcoming documentary on Mitt Romney, releasing a trailer for “Mitt.” The movie premiers Jan. 17 at the Sundance Film and uploads the next week on the streaming video service. Variety has the details.
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?: UNIONS SAY MSNBC HOSTS AFRAID - The drama continues at MSNBC as labor groups cite “fear” as the cause for the network’s liberal hosts to stay silent on a bitter labor dispute at another subsidiary of their employer’s parent company. AFL-CIO’s Organizing Director Elizabeth Bunn told Salon: “We’re speculating that there’s a level of fear and concern” among Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Hayes and Ed Schultz to publicly tackle allegations that NBC is using intimidation and legal tricks to skirt unionization at a subsidiary production company. Schultz, who makes beaucoup bucks from unions for labor plumping, has accused his critics of “class envy.”
IF YOU’VE GIVEN UP ON PLAYBOOK… - Today’s lead item is a Fortune piece hitting Koch Industries, a favorite target of Obama Democrats. The article lists consumer brands owned by the firm. Countdown to Center for American Progress calls for boycotts in three, two, one…
OBAMACARE CRITIC SENT TO CHINA - One of the chief architects of ObamaCare who is also the most-quoted critic of the implementation of the troubled law, dubbing it a “train wreck,” has won a plum posting from President Obama. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., will be Obama’s nominee to replace U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, who will step down early next year. Baucus has already announced he will not be seeking re-election in 2014. Democrats are hoping Baucus’ early departure will help them hold a seat that looks bound to switch to red. Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont., will have the chance to appoint someone to serve out the rest of the Senate Finance Committee chairman’s term. Lt. Gov. John Walsh D-Mont., already in the running, looks to be the most likely recipient. Republican Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is considered the frontrunner for the Red Team.
YOU HAVE A SEAT ON THE PANEL: MEDIA MASOCHISTS - The media are masochists for taking the Obama administration’s contempt for the past five years. That was the sentiment viewers of all political stripes shared with Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson during Wednesday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” All-Star Panel. Bing Pulse also tracked widespread agreement when NPR’s Mara Liasson said “The White house feels it is perfectly okay to take a picture, post it on Twitter or wherever” instead of giving the press access.
Discussion of the eroding faith the American people have in government drew increased viewer participation. Democrats, Republicans and independent viewers voiced their agreement with the latest Fox News Poll that shows President Obama knew Americans would lose their doctors under ObamaCare. Weekly Standard Writer Stephen Hayes saw a spike in viewer votes when he charged, “journalists always complain about things that affect journalists. Where was the moral outrage when journalists were lied to about what happened in Benghazi?” On that point, viewer votes surged to 15,636 votes per minute. Bing Pulse measured 111,143 votes overall. You can see the full results in a deeper data dive here. Be an opinion maker – take your seat on the panel.
FCC WILL START TRACKING SOME ‘OBAMA PHONE’ FRAUD - The FCC announced Wednesday it will begin tracking what critics call the “Obama Phone,” a $1.85 billion program to provide free cell phone service to poor people. From The Hill: “…the agency began collecting data on Monday on Lifeline subscribers in five states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma and Washington. The agency plans to expand the database to include information on all subscribers nationwide by the end of March, [FCC spokesman Mark] Wigfield said.”
[The Federal Communications Commission is considering ending the 40-year-old “black out” rule which forbids local broadcasting of sporting events that are not sold out. LAT has the details.]
NO LUMPS: MANCHIN GIVES FREEDOM FUEL - Coal in your stocking is a good thing if you’re from West Virginia. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., gave Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., an elephant statue made of coal as his secret Santa gift. Breitbart has more.
TWO AMERICAS: PAJAMA BOY VS. ‘DUCK DYNASTY’ - Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis contends the controversy around Phil Roberton’s comments presents more than just an attack on orthodox Christianity. “This may be an attack on ‘unsophisticated’ country folks as much as it is an attack on orthodox Christianity. When you consider the more effete, cosmopolitan America that ‘Pajama Boy’ represents, you’ll get a sense for why the Duck Dynasty folks are out of touch with today’s acceptable norms. There is a huge schism between red state America and blue state America, and these two stories seem to symbolize the yawning chasm.”
TOP TWEETS - @laurenashburn’s top tweet pick for this morning: Conservative Radio host @larryelder: “’What the Duck?’--The GQ interview that got Phil Robetson ‘indefinitely suspended’ from popular A&E show http://t.co/LYdDYG7x6c.”
[Lauren Ashburn of “#MEDIABUZZ” tracks the Twitterverse every day in Top Twitter Talk.]
UGLY POLITICS - “Washington is an endless maze of funhouse mirrors, a fact we’re reminded of once a year when the Hill publishes its 50 Most Beautiful list, replete with people who are Washington hot, which is a step above rehab hot and two levels below jury duty hot. All are miles below what the rest of the country considers actual hot.” – Sam Youngman, former Reuters White House correspondent who has returned to his native Kentucky to cover politics, in a confessional lament of his time in the Washington press corps.
BECAUSE NOTHING SAYS CHRISTMAS LIKE A MOUSE RIDING A LOBSTER -Mental Floss offers a list of bizzaro season’s greetings from the 1800s. Among the offerings: Father Christmas IN a giant snowball, circa 1879 (doesn't look like it’s going to end well); a disembodied dog head,delivering a goodwill message circa 1899 and a mouse riding a lobster, circa 1880— wishing the recipient “Peace, Joy, Health and Happiness” in French? Zut alors!
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“…It's remarkable that it would take half a decade for the veil to be lifted from [Barbra Walters'] eyes. Five years to realize the man [President Obama] isn't a messiah? I think it took …almost all of us – about, you know, an hour and a half to realize that he gives a good speech, but he's shown no aptitude at governing. So I'm glad that she's aboard, but she's a little late.” –Charles Krauthammer on “The Five.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET,
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.