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1:20 PM ET, December 17, 2013


 Top Items: 
Ron Fournier /
‘This Is the End of the Presidency’  —  Tracking the same horrible second-term path as Bush, can Obama learn from the past?  —  Claiming a mandate he never had, the newly reelected president foisted a bold agenda upon Congress and the public, then watched it collapse within months …
Discussion: Hit & Run, Politico, ABC News and Mediaite
Washington Post:
Obama suffers most from year of turmoil, poll finds  —  President Obama is ending his fifth year in office matching the worst public approval ratings of his presidency, with record numbers of Americans saying they disapprove of his job performance and his once-hefty advantages over Republicans …
Washington Post:
Post-ABC poll: Obama, Republicans, Health care and 2014 midterm
Gary Langer / ABC News:
A Drop in Opposition to Obamacare Helps Stabilize a Struggling Presidency
Discussion: Daily Kos and NewsBusters
Brett LoGiurato / Business Insider:   Obama's Current Approval Rating Is The Ugliest Since Nixon
New York Times:
A Powerful Rebuke of Mass Surveillance  —  For the first time since the revelation of the National Security Agency's vast dragnet of all Americans' telephone records, a federal court has ruled that such surveillance is “significantly likely” to be unconstitutional.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg / New York Times:
‘Passionate’ Judge Has Record of Wrestling With Thorny Issues, and the U.S. Government
Edward Snowden says judge's ruling vindicates NSA surveillance disclosures
Kathleen Sebelius /
Former Microsoft Executive Kurt DelBene To Replace Jeff Zients  —  Today, I am pleased to announce Kurt DelBene as my Senior Advisor and successor to Jeff Zients.  Jeff did an outstanding job working with our team to provide management advice and counsel on the project.
Seung Min Kim / Politico:
White House to tap Microsoft exec to fix Obamacare site  —  The White House is tapping the private sector for its next point man to fix the troubled Obamacare website.  —  The administration is set to announce that Kurt DelBene, an executive at Microsoft, will succeed Jeff Zients in leading …
Discussion: Hot Air, Mashable, Gigaom and Weasel Zippers
Seung Min Kim / Politico:
Senate poised to pass budget deal  —  The Senate voted Tuesday to advance a bipartisan two-year budget deal - a move that puts Capitol Hill one step closer to a thaw in the fiscal wars that have paralyzed Washington.  —  The chamber agreed 67-33 to cut off debate on the budget agreement reached …
Discussion: Power Line, The Plum Line and Reuters
Erik Wasson / The Hill:
Senate poised to approve budget
Discussion: CNN, Washington Monthly, KTOO and Roll Call
Bradley Brooks / Associated Press:
Snowden Petitions Brazil For Asylum In Exchange For Help With Spying  —  RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden says he would be willing to help Brazil investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate without being granted political asylum …
Quinnipiac News + Events:
Release Detail  —  December 17, 2013 - Iowa Gov's Approval, Reelection Prospects Improve, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Christie Tops Clinton By 5 Points In 2016 Race  —  Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's reelection prospects are improving as voters approve 58 - 32 percent of the job he is doing …
Jenna Portnoy / New Jersey Online:
Iowa voters prefer Chris Christie to Hillary Clinton in 2016 matchup, poll shows
Discussion: Booman Tribune and
David Brooks / New York Times:
The Thought Leader  —  Little boys and girls in ancient Athens grew up wanting to be philosophers.  In Renaissance Florence they dreamed of becoming Humanists.  But now a new phrase and a new intellectual paragon has emerged to command our admiration: The Thought Leader.
David Nather / Reuters:
Next Obamacare crisis: Small-business costs?  —  Think the canceled health policies hurt the Obamacare cause?  There's another political time bomb lurking that could explode not too long before next year's elections: rate hikes for small businesses.  —  Like the canceled individual health plans …
Discussion: Talking Points Memo and Politico
Immigration's next hurdle: Obamacare
Discussion: The PJ Tatler
Rick Kissell / Variety:
Fox News Remains Ratings Champ As 2013 Comes to Close  —  It and rivals CNN, MSNBC down from last year  —  Fox News Channel maintained its grip on the cable-news network ratings prize in 2013, drawing more viewers than the combined averages of CNN, MSNBC and HLN.
Jorge Saenz / Associated Press:
Francis Dumps U.S. Cardinal Who Is Outspoken Critic Of Abortion, Gay Marriage  —  ST. LOUIS (AP) — Pope Francis announced changes in the influential Vatican office that evaluates and nominates candidates for bishop around the world.  —  Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington was appointed Monday to the Congregation for Bishops.
Discussion: Talking Points Memo
Jordan Zakarin / BuzzFeed:
Shia LaBeouf Apologizes After Plagiarizing Artist Daniel Clowes For His New Short Film  —  UPDATED: The similarities between LaBeouf's and Clowes' Justin M. Damiano are astounding.  “In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process …
Discussion: CNN, Telegraph, Guardian, Gawker and The Verge
Scott Jaschik / Inside Higher Ed:
Too Risky for Boulder?  —  Patricia Adler stunned her students in a popular course on deviance Thursday by announcing that she would be leaving her tenured position teaching sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  —  Adler said that officials told her that one of the highlights of the course …
David Weigel / Slate:
Why 60 Minutes Tanked the NSA Story: The Producers Theory  —  It'll be a good 30 years until I can start collecting Social Security checks, and I can't say where I was when JFK was shot, so I'm not really in 60 Minutes' target audience.  * Other reporters, who have closely covered the NSA story …
Bret Stephens / Wall Street Journal:
Of Jane Fonda and Pope Francis  —  The pontiff understands the power of moral example.  Today's liberal high priests do not.  —  In the same week that Pope Francis was named Time's Person of the Year, word arrived of the charitable contributions made by the Jane Fonda Foundation.
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 More Items: 
Stuart Rothenberg / Roll Call:
Is Arkansas Really the Land of Opportunity for Democrats?
Discussion: The Reaction and Associated Press
Hayes Brown / ThinkProgress:
Dennis Rodman Returning To North Korea Despite Execution Of Leader's Uncle
Walter Shapiro / American Prospect:
The Year in Preview: Obama's Last Stand
Dana Milbank / Washington Post:
Auto bailout could be harbinger for Obamacare
Alexandra Jaffe / The Hill:
McConnell, challenger neck-and-neck in poll
Nathan L. Gonzales / Rothenblog:
How the Calendar Will Influence GOP Senate Primaries
Discussion: Politico
Jason Horowitz / New York Times:
Obama's Library, Advisers' Dream
Discussion: Talking Points Memo
 Earlier Items: 
Lucas Grindley / Advocate:
The Advocate's Person of the Year: Pope Francis
Brendan Sasso / The Hill:
Tech execs to confront Obama on spying
Juan Williams / The Hill:
Republicans must see the light on combatting poverty
John Hinderaker / Power Line:
Is A Big Chill On the Way?  —  As Steve noted a little while ago …