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• Judge blasts Obama governance by ‘secret law’
• Sessions blocked in bid to spare military pensions
• Hillary gets cold shoulder in Iowa
• Podesta Payola: Blurred lines
• Ah, Florida
JUDGE BLASTS OBAMA GOVERNANCE BY ‘SECRET LAW’ - On the heels of a decision ruling a key provision of the Obama administration's secret domestic surveillance program unconstitutional, another judge has hit the president for secrecy and ordered the administration to open the books. U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle, a Clinton appointee, blasted the administration for trying keep secret a memo on foreign aid, writing: “The government appears to adopt the cavalier attitude that the President should be permitted to convey orders throughout the Executive Branch without public oversight...to engage in what is in effect governance by ‘secret law.’” More from McClatchy.
What’s the deal on your data? - As the president tries to cut a deal with some of his top political backers about how much data tech firms will share with the government, is the president really looking out for you? It’s a fair question given his administration’s unprecedented penchant for secrecy. The president’s focus seems to be on restoring his reputation for technological competency and cool in the aftermath of ObamaCare’s crash landing. But given the frustrations among his tech patrons over Obama’s heavy-handed NSA tactics and obtuse health insurance system, what is Obama prepared to give away to get back in their good graces?
[ Noonan: “Most of the Obama people just don’t have a background in executing. They have a background in communicating, not doing.”]
Post it or not, Facebook can see what you type - The LA Times reports that Facebook has admitted it can track users’ unpublished posts, after the social networking company did a study that followed the activity of 5 million random users. The company claims the study was conducted to see how users self-edited. Facebook says it’s no longer tracking unpublished posts, but asserts the study is in accordance with the terms of service agreement users acknowledge in using the network.
[New Today at Fox News Opinion: John Stossel takes a Look Back in Liberty 2013.]
SESSIONS BLOCKED IN BID TO SPARE MILITARY PENSIONS - A last-ditch effort by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to stave off cuts to military benefits in the bipartisan budget deal was not able to overcome a Democrat blockade Tuesday. The Alabama senator’s plan called for an elimination of an estimated $4.2 billion in annual spending by reining in an IRS credit claimed by illegal immigrants. Session blasted Democrats after the vote saying, “By blocking my amendment, they voted to cut pensions for wounded warriors.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. went further saying, “Nobody wants to shut down the government, but here's the question: Is the choice between keeping the government open and screwing all the military retirees, is that the right choice?” While the budget vote was much closer than the House vote, 12 Republicans voted to advance the bill Tuesday. Majority Leader Harry Reid could push the measure to final passage as soon as today. Fox News has more.
[“We have a very dangerous debt. It's the reason why we have a government that continues to grow the debt and an economy that's not creating enough jobs because this debt issue goes unresolved.” – Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on “Hannity” Watch here.]
VETERANS BAFFLED BY BUDGET DEAL - Dr. Vivian Greentree, a Navy veteran and the wife of a naval flight officer who is currently deployed overseas, said military families appreciate federal fiscal concerns and know changes must be made, but said Congress was breaking its obligation. Greentree, the director of research and policy for Blue Star Families, a service group helping military families, told Megyn Kelly, “It breaks a trust with them…it’s inevitable that there will be cuts but to do it in a responsible way that engages the commission that was created to do so.” Watch the full interview here, including Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America.
[Budget hawk Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., shared more from his annual Government Wastebook this morning on “Fox & Friends.” Coburn expressed what he thought the real issue behind waste was that lawmakers didn’t care, “especially if some goes back home it makes you look good.”]
Ryan ready to be the tax man - House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tells WSJ he wants to lead the House’s tax-writing panel in 2015 when a term-limit forces Rep. David Camp, R-Mich., to step down as head of the Ways and Means Committee.
'THE BILL IS PASSED.' - With more polls suggesting President Obama is losing his clout on managing the economy, Speaker John Boehner is touting House-passed bills to boost the economy. In a Web video released this morning, Boehner blasts Senate Democrats for refusing to take up the bills, but lays the blame squarely on Obama. After a montage of bills coming to final passage in the House, Boehner says to the camera, “Mr. President, what are you waiting for?”
CHRISTMAS CREEPERS FOR OBAMACARE - President Obama’s Twitter account offered up a picture of a grown man wearing children’s zip-up Christmas pajamas and cradling a cup of hot coco. Odd, right? The goal is to remind Obama’s volunteer corps to use the holiday season to urge family and friends to enroll in ObamaCare. Does the ironic infantilizing of adults sell insurance? Would you take advice on a financial decision from a man who dresses up like a child for Christmas? Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins takes a look at the very strange efforts on the left and right to generate online attention surrounding ObamaCare.
[Ed. note: But do they have feet? Adult footie pajamas for ObamaCare would definitely be a big seller at the OFA store!]
Minnesota not so nice - Facing criticism over an ill-timed vacation after the disastrous launch of Minnesota’s state ObamaCare program, director April Todd-Malmlov submitted her resignation after insurers voiced concern that problems with Web site would further increase the number of Minnesotans facing insurance coverage gaps because of ObamaCare. More.
[Fox Business looks at who is still covered a month after President Obama announced a “fix” to allow people to keep their cancelled plans.]
ObamaCare enforcer does business with tax deadbeats - AP: “The Internal Revenue Service has been doing business with nearly 1,200 vendors that owe back taxes, including one unnamed contractor that owed a whopping $525 million, a new inspector general’s report says.”
FED TURNS ON THE ‘FASTEN SEATBELTS’ SIGN - Is today the day? Wall Street is speculating whether or not the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its $85 billion monthly cash pump as the central bank’s directors meet in Washington today. The government bank has been sending signals that it would eventually end the stimulus program over fears of further weakening the dollar. Wall Street loves the pump since it provides profitable predictability. Fox Business’ Dunstan Prial has more on what to expect today.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Aaron Hanbury considers why Why C.S. Lewis Never Goes Out of Style for the Atlantic. “Lewis’s stories seem just as comfortable in Hollywood as they are in a corner bookstore… Lewis’s appeal clearly reaches further than his Christian audience and draws appreciation from adherents of other faiths and the non-religious. There’s a profound reason for that. As the flamboyant, avant garde theater critic Kenneth Tynan, a proud proponent of amorality, wrote in his diary after reading Lewis’s novels, ‘How thrilling he makes goodness seem—how tangible and radiant!..” in 1963, Lewis left us a legacy with influence that reaches far beyond 1960s England: He wedded significant facts with ideas that live on.’’
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.7 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.0 percent//Wrong Track – 63.5 percent
[Polling alert - The latest Fox News polls on ObamaCare, President Obama’s job rating –including honesty, trustworthiness and leadership – will be released tonight at 6 p.m. ET during “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Check out the full inventory of Fox News polls here.]
HILLARY GETS COLD SHOULDER IN IOWA - The latest Quinnipiac poll in Iowa shows trouble for 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. The survey has Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., leading Clinton by 5 points and Clinton in a dead heat with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Among other potential Republic nominees, Clinton bests former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., 47 percent to 40 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas fares similarly, trailing Clinton 48 percent to 41 percent. Wonder why Iowa is chilly to Hillary? How about this: the current Democratic occupant of the Oval Office, who carried the Hawkeye State twice, had a 38 percent job approval rating in the poll.
POPULIST DEMS: WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? - He sought the White House in 1976, 1980 and 1992, now some are seeing the familiar signs of a “candidate in waiting” with Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif. LAT reports, Brown is seeing a push from those who sought an alternative to Hillary Clinton in the more liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Brown was the last Democrat standing in 1992 before Bill Clinton clinched the nomination.
HITTING THE EXITS - Reps. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Jim Matheson, D-Utah, all announced Tuesday that they will not be seek re-election next year. Democrats say they plan to make a push to win the seats left vacant by Wolf and Latham, both Republican-leaning but competitive. Matheson’s retirement, however, represents Democratic surrender in the otherwise bright red Utah district he represents. More.
[Keeping it classy: Mia Love, who lost to Matheson in 2012 and is running again for the seat this time, played it cool with the Daily Caller: “Congressman Matheson has served as our state with dignity, and I sincerely wish the best for him and his family.”]
BYRNE WINS ALABAMA SPECIAL ELECTION - Alabama Republican Bradley Byrne cruised to an easy victory over Democrat Burton LeFlore in a special House election. Byrne carried about two-thirds of the vote in the Gulf Coast district. Byrne will fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., who resigned to take a job with the University of Alabama. The Birmingham News has more.
WILL ANYONE HARRY TERRY? - State Rep. Tyler Olson is bowing out of his race against Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa. Olson, a Democrat, released a statement Tuesday saying he was going to devote his full attention to his children. Earlier this month Olson announced he was separating from his wife. The latest Quinnipiac poll had Brandstad leading Olson 50 percent to 32 percent, and placed the incumbent governor far ahead of all other contenders.
HERRING LEAD GROWS AS VIRGINIA RECOUNT CONTINUES - Democrat Mark Herring’s lead grew to 810 votes over Republican Mark Obenshain in a recount of Virginia’s Attorney General Race, with 73 percent of ballots across the state recounted. Questions still remain over rampant voter irregularities in the Democratic stronghold of Fairfax County. WaPo has the details.
THE CROUTONS OF DESPAIR - Including the infamous too-high salad bar, the Daily Caller gives a sampling of some of the year’s most outrageous cases of judicial overreach from the American Tort Reform Association’s annual “Judicial Hellholes.”
PODESTA PAYOLA: BLURRED LINES - The buck raking of new White House adviser John Podesta may prove a problem for the man who is supposed to be turning the Obama presidency around. Longtime Clinton retainer and uber-influence peddler Podesta’s Center for American Progress disclosed its corporate donors, revealing a substantial overlap with the clients of the lobbying firm he founded with his brother Tony. Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay points out that 12 of the corporate donors to the liberal think tank were also clients of the lobbying firm. “It is not known how much these corporations collectively donated to CAP. However, they paid the Podesta Group more than $5.8 million for lobbying services, according to disclosure forms, during the years in which they were also contributing to CAP.” The ethics worry: Podesta’s lines were blurry enough as an unofficial White House adviser. Now that he’s officially on the team, what kind of cash will corporations be expected to pony up for access. And what will that cash buy?
[The Hill: “The liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) this year promised corporate donors a chance to meet Hillary Rodham Clinton in return for a $250,000 donation, documents obtained by The Hill show. The meeting never happened, though Clinton spoke at the anniversary gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium that was cited on the solicitation.” ]
Fear the Skippy! - From Politico: “Genial, wonky and self-effacing in calm times, Podesta is also known for having a short fuse; subordinates in the Clinton White House even had a name for angry Podesta – ‘Skippy’ – a sulfuric evil twin so fearsome that even the brash Rahm Emanuel scrambled for cover. 'It will be culture shock,' said one Democrat close to the White House. ... ‘Skippy will be the bad cop, and [White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough] will be the good cop.’”
Nominee for the most Politico sentence ever written - “In effect, I was told, it represents the clearest sign to date of the administration’s interest in shifting the paradigm of Obama’s presidency through the forceful, unapologetic and occasionally provocative application of White House power.” – Glenn Thrush in a piece examining whether John Podesta can help the president “move past the Obamacare debacle” to focus on global warming, immigration and the minimum wage.
[Ed. note: Strong nominee. “I was told,”“Shifting the paradigm,” “forceful, unapologetic and occasionally provocative” – Pitter-patter!]
POWER PLAY: A HARD PIVOT TO… AW, FORGET IT - “For two months, Democrats have been jousting with each other about what they ought to be focused on after the whole ObamaCare thing dies down and the whole Edward Snowden deal is over. But this is fantasy. The reality is creeping in: There is no “after” ObamaCare and the NSA. This is, as Democratic strategists once said about the economy, ‘the new normal.’ Here’s betting they won’t profit nearly so much from these lowered expectations.” Read the column here.
AH, FLORIDA - A thirsty Miami man has learned the hard way that even in the Sunshine State, alligators do not constitute currency. Fernando Caignet Aguilera was cited for attempting to use an alligator he captured to pay for beer at a local convenience store. Spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Jorge Pino, told WSVN, “This is absolutely bizarre, I can't imagine somebody wanting to barter a live four-foot alligator for a 12-pack of beer, it makes no sense to me.” The alligator is safe and has been released back into the wild.
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…“The worst thing for Obama is he’s lost control of events. Normally a president is hostage to events, a war, a hurricane, Katrina, or whatever. Here, the irony is that the event Obama is hostage to is ObamaCare…as people see ObamaCare being enacted…they understand that the fundamental problem with ObamaCare is the deception with which it was sold…what people have learned is that it completely remakes health insurance, completely affects their lives. And that’s what Obama is suffering from. And it's going to be extremely hard for him to recover…” –Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.