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- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
Inside the Beltway: An expensive address
Question of the Day
It's a pricey policy landscape. According to National Taxpayers Union Foundation's line-by-line analysis of President Obama's most expensive State of the Union address yet: his 40 proposals weighed in at $83.4 billion worth of quantifiable agenda items. But wait. That could balloon to $100.4 billion, depending on how Mr. Obama deals with the looming sequester March 1.
From a historic perspective, President Clinton's 1999 State of the Union still represents the largest agenda ever proposed, at $327 billion in increased spending the watchdog group says. Meanwhile, the researchers also have determined the costliest single agenda item among Mr. Obama's proposals this time around. That would be "combating climate change," otherwise known as cap-and-trade, priced at $282.4 billion.
THE BIG WIND
Climate alarmists, Al Gore in particular, likely rejoiced when President Obama dwelled on global warming and violent weather events during the aforementioned address, which drew about 30 million viewers, according to initial Nielsen numbers. Informed observers were cool to Mr. Obama's predictions.
"The president offered up nothing more than the usual incorrect global warming platitudes during his speech. The president could not have been more wrong in claiming 'extreme weather' was 'now more frequent and intense' and he failed to note that global temperatures have not increased in 16 years," says Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot, a news site focused on the follies of global warming.
"The one part of the president's speech that concerns me most is he would pursue global warming actions by executive actions. There is no role laid out for Congress, or for the courts for that matter," observes James L. Johnston, senior fellow in economic policy at the Heartland Institute. "The agenda is an 80 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2111 and a 40 percent reduction by 2030. Those goals cannot be achieved without serious reduction in the standard of living in the United States and the rest of the world. Be afraid. Be very afraid."
RADIO RON PAUL
Former presidential hopeful and straight-talking libertarian hero Ron Paul makes his national radio debut in mid-March. His broadcast offering is "Ron Paul's America," a twice-daily syndicated commentary plus a weekly podcast, packaged by the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Courtside Entertainment Group, which also counts Laura Ingraham and Bill O'Reilly in its stable.
Mr. Paul wins praise for developing "a significant and loyal following" from Norm Pattiz, founder of Courtside and uber-radio syndicator Westwood One.
It's all proof that the former Texas lawmaker, age 77, is not done yet.
"I am very excited to take the message of freedom to more people than ever, especially now when our country needs it so much," Mr. Paul says. "Radio and podcasting are a much more powerful means of communication than speaking on the floor of Congress."
"If you're not prepared to have critics and be the subject of criticism, you're in the wrong line of work. If you want to be loved, go be a movie star. If I had to do it over again, I'd do it in a minute."
-- Former vice president Dick Cheney, on the nature of his long career in public service and in wartime, as told to film director R.J. Cutler in the upcoming Showtime documentary, "The World According to Dick Cheney."
The Republican Party likely will never fire Donald Trump. He will be the keynote speaker at the Lincoln Day Dinner to be hosted by the Oakland County Republican Party in Michigan, which has been celebrated for 124 years. The billionaire is most gracious.
"As the oldest, largest and one of the most influential Lincoln Day dinners in the country, I could not have been more pleased to receive this invitation," Mr. Trump says.
"We are thrilled," notes the dinner's chief organizer David Trott, who last year hosted Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Snyder as the political celebrities of note. Local party Chairman Jim Thienel, in the meantime, praised Mr. Trump for "his unyielding enthusiasm for causes."
Drone pilots, heads up. The Defense Department has announced the arrival of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, meant to recognize "extraordinary achievement, not involving acts of valor in combat, directly impacting combat operations of other military operations," according to a memo from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.
The new "DWM" ranks below the Distinguished Flying Cross, but above the Bronze Star. The brass pendant features a laurel wreath encircling a domed and grid-lined globe. There is no geographic limitation on the award, and the domain for the award includes air, land, sea, space and cyberspace. It cannot be given for actions before Sept. 22, 2001.
"I have seen first-hand how modern tools like remotely piloted platforms and cybersystems have changed the way wars can be fought," Mr. Panetta says. "We should also have the ability to honor extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight."
"This new medal recognizes the changing character of warfare and those who make extraordinary contributions to it," notes Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
POLL DU JOUR
• 67 percent of Americans favor limiting the number of days local post offices are open from six days to five; 70 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents agree.
• 63 percent of Americans overall favor eliminating the delivery of residential mail on Saturday; 69 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents agree.
• 41 percent overall approve raising the price of postage stamps; 40 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents agree.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,025 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 11 and 12.
• Comedic notions and churlish remarks to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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