Obama fires latest salvo in war on coal

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Buzz Cut:
• Obama fires latest salvo in war on coal
• Kelly File: More ‘stupid’ comments surface from ObamaCare architect
• Team Paul moves into position
• Sullivan wins frontier fight
• Coming up roses

That loud bang heard in the wee hours today was President Obama’s most recent broadside in the administration’s war on coal. With lawmakers returning to Washington today for a lame-duck session before Republicans take control of Congress, the president touted a climate change deal with China that is certain to deepen battle lines over the administration’s environmental goals. Even after liberal environmentalist Tom Steyer poured $75 million dollars to promote climate change only to see Democrats suffer crushing losses – particularly in coal-producing states – the president seems determined aggressively pursue his agenda through executive action and agency regulations. The deal with China, which leans heavily on EPA and other agency mandates that industry says cost jobs, is one more sign that Obama is ignoring an electorate focused on improving the economy. And like his go-it-alone threats on immigration, while this move may appeal to his base, it also further poisons the well with Congress at a time American voters say they want less politics and more results.

AP: “President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. has set a new goal to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by between 26 percent and 28 percent over the next 11 years as part of a climate change agreement with China.  The new target is a drastic increase from earlier in Obama’s presidency, when he pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020. By contrast, Obama’s counterpart, Xi Jinping, did not pledge any reductions by a specific date, but rather set a target for China’s emissions to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible. Xi also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels.”

[“This unrealistic plan, that the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs.” – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a statement.]

Dems’ float Hail Mary vote on pipeline to save Landrieu - Despite the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cancelling its ad buys in Louisiana, Democrats are eying a desperation play that dangles a key GOP sought vote and in the process may save embattled Sen. Mary Landrieu,’s D-La. Fox News: “Senate Democrats are considering bringing a measure to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline to a vote…Democrats are considering bringing the project to the Senate floor during the lame-duck session in an attempt to help Landrieu, who is facing a tough race against her Republican rival Rep. Bill Cassidy [R-La.]… Even before Tuesday’s elections, the pipeline had support from at least a dozen Senate Democrats and the entire Republican caucus. After Republicans picked up at least seven Senate seats the number of Keystone supporters stood at 61, enough to surmount a filibuster. Obama could still veto the measure, unless the number of senators supporting the project climbs to 67.”

[“I think it’s incredibly cynical. Keep in mind [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] could have brought this up any time that he wished, but instead of bringing jobs for 40,000 people, better jobs, better benefits that would have been construction jobs related to the pipeline, he doesn’t do it. The only job he’s interested in protecting is Senator Mary Landrieu’s.”—Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on the “Kelly File” Tuesday. Watch here.]

Flexing? - WSJ: “Mr. Reid, of Nevada, will face a choice of whether to try to organize the Democrats into a unified front and block GOP measures, or whether to show flexibility and give rank-and-file Democrats room to reach agreement with the other side of the aisle…The votes in the lame-duck session could offer an early preview of the role of…centrist Democrats, as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), the presumed majority leader next year, has vowed a more open amendment process when he runs the Senate. If centrist Democrats chart their own course, two of the most immediate consequences could be the repeal of the medical-device tax, which is key to paying for the 2010 health law, and advancing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which Democrats and the Obama administration have delayed for years.”

[Washington Examiner: “A Gallup Poll taken after the election found the Congress won out over Obama by a 17 points, 53 percent to 36 percent, when surveyors asked, ‘Who do you want to have more influence over the direction the nation takes in the next year — Barack Obama or the Republicans in Congress?’… [I]t’s the biggest lead [Republicans] had on this Gallup question in decades — even larger than the 9-point advantage the GOP Congress had over President Clinton after the 1994 mid-term election that wiped out the House and Senate Democratic majorities.”]

After apologizing for remarks in a video that went viral Monday of him saying “the stupidity of the American voter” made it important for him and Democrats to hide ObamaCare’s actual costs,  more video of the law’s architect, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber making similar comments has surfaced. First shared on the “Kelly File,” the latest video features Gruber explaining how Democrats played with the language of health law so that it achieved their goals by fooling the “stupid” public. Host Megyn Kelly pointed to Gruber’s comments during a lecture he gave at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., in October of last year in which he said the law passed because, “the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.”

[“I can’t get past the irony to even get to the arrogance…We were sold a false bill of goods … and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.” – Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., on “The Kelly File,” Tuesday. Watch here.]

While many liberal Democrats are falling in line behind President Obama’s call for the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify the Internet to be regulated like a public utility, the commission’s head is signaling he may not be on board with the president’s more hardline approach to net neutrality. WaPo: “[A]gency Chairman Tom Wheeler said he preferred a more nuanced solution. His approach would deliver some of what Obama wants but also would address the concerns of the companies that provide Internet access to millions of Americans, such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and AT&T. ‘What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business,’ a visibly frustrated Wheeler said at [a Monday] meeting, according to four people who attended. ‘What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.”’

This morning, a 10-year, 4-billion-mile expedition is reaching a tense climax as a spacecraft attempts to land on a comet for the first time. Speeding at nearly 40,000 miles per hour, 300 million miles away, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has been keeping pace with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since early August. Daily Mail has the latest deets: “ESA’s Rosetta probe has released its Philae lander…The separation was confirmed at 9.03am GMT [4:03am ET] today, with pictures of Philae approaching the comet expected throughout the day before it lands on the surface at 3.30pm GMT [10:30am ET]. But the success of the mission now hangs in the balance after a thruster on Philae was found to be faulty. Mission controllers said there was a 50 per cent chance the thruster would work, and without it Philae will have to rely solely on harpoons to attach itself to the surface of the comet. Just after 11am GMT [6am ET] mission control in Darmstadt, Germany received a signal from Philae confirming the lander was working. Now the lander can begin transmitting data and images back to Earth throughout the day ahead of the landing attempt.” Watch a live stream of the landing here.

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41.6 percent//Disapprove – 53.7 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.7 percent//Wrong Track – 65.5 percent

Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., top political strategists and most trusted advisers will gather today in Washington to strategize the Republican firebrands widely anticipated presidential bid. A Paul insider recently described the upcoming huddle as a “come-to-Jesus before the planned launch.”

Getting it together - “I do want to be part of bringing [together] all facets of the party. The party doesn’t need to be smaller. The party needs to be bigger.” – Sen. Rand Paul to Fox News. Fox News Senior National Correspondent John Roberts details how Paul is playing party healer after midterms, with eyes on 2016.

[Iowa Guru - Bloomberg dives into Rand Paul advisor Steve Grubbs, an Iowa businessman and political strategist, has been a player in his state's Republican caucuses for two decades.]

What about Ron? - WSJ examines the role Sen. Rand Paul’s libertarian father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas., might play in his son’s potential White House bid. “Many Republicans expect Ron Paul to remain on the edges of his son’s likely campaign, more visible online than in public, possibly helping to raise money and mobilize support in the libertarian community. ‘The trick is for Rand to continue to get the best of both worlds—to capture his dad’s supporters who are so passionate, but also to show he is his own person with views and relationships in the mainstream of the Republican Party,’ said Trey Grayson, who lost to Mr. Paul in the 2010 Republican Senate primary in Kentucky.”

Sander’s enlists Dem top gun to plot run - As Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., plots how he will offer himself as a progressive alternative to frontrunner Hillary Clinton, he’s getting some help from a former top-level campaign aide to former vice president Al Gore, Secretary of State John Kerry, and failed presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Tad Devine has been crafting a strategy with Sanders to position the self-described socialist as a formidable foe to Clinton. “If he runs, I’m going to help him,” Devine told WaPo.

Rubio joins 2016 book club - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is the latest potential presidential contender to announce the release of a book and it’s coming at a time the 2016 field will likely be taking shape. Rubio’s “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone” is slated for a Jan. 13 release. The Florida Republican is following in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton who released her memoirs earlier this year. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has already received a $1.5 million advance for a memoir, and according to reports Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., is also working on book.

Bill and Hill: Costly surrogates - While former president Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton were two of the most sought after surrogates during the 2014 midterm cycle, their support came with a hefty price-tag. The pair racked up nearly $700,000 in air-fare alone – they fly via private jet –  for their 75 campaign appearances on behalf of Democratic candidates. Final costs could top $1 million as late filings come in, BuzzFeed reports.

[#mediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz explores how Democrats have no bench strength in 2016 beyond Hillary Clinton.]

Chalking up another midterm win for the GOP, the Associated Press has called Alaska’s Senate race for Republican Dan Sullivan. Sullivan was able to maintain his lead over Democratic Sen. Mark Begich as election workers began counting absentee ballots. Sullivan held an advantage of nearly 8,100 votes as the tally continued Tuesday evening. It now does not appear Begich will be able to overcome the vote deficit among the 50,000 outstanding votes. More.

[Take your seats - Reps.-elect., David Brat, R-Va., Donald Norcross, D-N.J., and Alma Adams, D-N.C., who are all replacing members of the current Congress who retired before their terms were over, will be sworn-in today.]

Arizona Republic: “Arizona is almost certainly headed to its first-ever general-election recount for Congress, as Republican challenger Martha McSally’s lead over incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Barber in southern Arizona dwindled to 133 votes Tuesday. A mandatory recount will occur if either candidate wins the race by fewer than 200 votes. If that happens, expect weeks of drama. A recount likely would not start before Dec.1, the Secretary of State’s Office said. There are only 200 votes left to count in the 2nd Congressional District, and many of them will not count.”

AJC: “Sen. Johnny Isakson [R-Ga.] plans to formally announce next week that he’s running for re-election, putting to rest rumors that he won’t seek a third term in the upper chamber. Georgia’s soon-to-be senior senator, who has said for weeks that he is readying another campaign, plans to outline his plans Monday at a statehouse event.”

NY Daily News: “Rep. Charles Rangel [D-N.Y.] meant no disrespect when he previously called Tea Party members ‘white crackers’ — he says it was actually a compliment. The longtime Capitol Hill Democrat said Monday that he thought cracker ‘was a term of endearment’ and was puzzled by the firestorm that his use of the term in a 2013 interview set off. In a chat with the Huffington Post on Monday, Rangel offered a half-hearted apology for using the word when comparing the Tea Party to Jim Crow segregationists.”

Portland, Maine police say a three-story fall is just punishment for a man who accidentally broke into a florist shop.  Ronald Podlaski, a local tattoo artist who refers to himself as “RookSye,” climbed a fire escape Saturday night in an attempt surprise a friend. Unfortunately for RookSye, he scaled the wrong building and ended up surrounded by flowers. An alarm soon tipped him off to his mistake and as he tried to get away he fell.  The fall sprained his wrist and he was arrested for suspicion of burglary. Portland Press Herald: ‘“I’m in no way a thief,’ he said. ‘I’m a foolish young man who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ He probably didn’t help his cause when he asked the officers that if martial law were declared, would they do the right and moral thing or follow orders. He says they decided he was crazy and bound his feet together to be transported to jail. RookSye says his extensive tattoos, including on his face, also may have worked against him.…Detectives interviewed RookSye and conveyed his story to prosecutors…[who] determined that the most they could charge him with was criminal trespass, but they cut him a break instead, said Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch.”

“This is exactly what conservatives have been saying for four years, what we’re hearing now is the true voice of liberal arrogance. They believe this. They believe that the voters are stupid, as [ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber] said. And they believe that they know the right way, they have to lead the masses to the promised land and they can only do it by deception. And that’s what he said openly.” –Charles Krauthammer  on “The O’Reilly Factor” Watch here.

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