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from Tales from the Trail:

Why are these politicians smiling?

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IMMIGRATION-USA/SECURITYSocial Security reform is coming. You can tell by the smiling nice guy personas being adopted around Washington in uncommon bipartisan fashion.

There's Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. "If we're smart, we can adjust those programs in ways that minimize the impact," he reassures the viewers of MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

After all, Sessions says there's no reason seniors should have to worry about losing their Social Security (who says they would?) or see it "savaged in any significant way."

Never mind the bizarre implication that it might somehow be savaged in an insignificant way.

from Tales from the Trail:

CPAC victory in hand, Ron Paul takes on Tea Party

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USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSLibertarian Ron Paul, a godfather of the Tea Party movement, isn't altogether happy with his political progeny these days.

Fresh from victory in last week's CPAC presidential straw poll, the Republican congressman from Texas laments to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that some Tea Partiers aren't measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Early valentine

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Even on television from thousands of miles away, the Egyptian revolution was breathtaking. A moment to mark in history.

President Hosni Mubarak gave the protesters an early valentine by stepping down. What had been expected yesterday was surprising today.

from Tales from the Trail:

Valentine’s Day with the GOP

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What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by sending your special someone a pink e-card, covered in hearts, with a message from the president: "Hope you like this Valentine's card, your grandchildren are paying for it."

In the GOP version of My Funny Valentine and a way to raise some sweet cash, the Republican National Committee is poking some fun at the White House and its Democratic cohorts with GOPvalentine.com, and more than 30,000 of the snarky messages had been sent as of Friday morning.

from Tales from the Trail:

Trump accepts high marks for CPAC

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USA-POLITICS/Donald Trump went to CPAC this week and aced his performance as a prospective White House Wannabe. Any doubts? Just ask him.

"I tell the truth. I tell it like it is, and people understand what I'm saying, and the place did go crazy," The Donald tells MSNBC's Morning Joe today.  "That's what I said in the speech. And that's why I got 10 standing ovations."

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Food for thought

The U.S. government strongly supports democratic reforms in the Middle East. Just look at its comments on Egypt. But the American public doesn't appear to be so gung-ho.

OBAMAA Reuters/Ipsos poll out today found that a solid majority, 58 percent, believe the United States should be cautious about backing democracy in the Middle East because elections could lead to anti-American Islamist governments.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Let’s do lunch

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Mending fences is clearly the White House play of the week.

USA/First a visit to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, now lunch with Republican leaders from Capitol Hill. What next?

President Barack Obama at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow will host House Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenants Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (that's two of the three "Young Guns" of Capitol Hill).

from Tales from the Trail:

Diplomatic storm leads to question: what was Wisner?

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Frank Wisner created a bit of a diplomatic tempest when he went off message in Munich on Saturday and said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should stay in place to oversee the transition. "We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president (Mubarak) must stay in office to steer those changes." SERBIA-KOSOVO/

That set the State Department and White House into scramble mode, trying to downplay Wisner's role, after actually sending him on Jan. 31 to personally deliver a U.S. government message to Mubarak to take more action in response to mass protests.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Fruitcake diplomacy

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If only he'd sent fruitcake...

USA/President Barack Obama is clearly trying to make nice with the business community and he promised the Chamber of Commerce a new friendly era after two years of coldness.

The White House and U.S. Chamber of Commerce can see each other across a park, but until recently acted like the other was on the wrong side of the tracks.

from Christopher Whalen:

Ben Bernanke: The ‘Repo Man’ goes global

Back in October, after the meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Associated Press reported that “The Federal Reserve is likely to take additional action to rejuvenate the economy and lower unemployment, an influential member of the central bank's policymaking group said.”

Of course the Fed neither rejuvenates economies nor creates jobs.  For some reason members of the media attribute magical powers to the US central bank and its employees.

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