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In the wake of the botched attempt to blow up an airliner on Christmas day, Republicans are seeing dollar-signs. But the returns may be fleeting.

In an interview with Huffington Post, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says that going into the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans will have plenty of questionable national security votes to answer for.

For starters, House Republicans opposed a Homeland Security funding bill that included funding for airport security. But it goes beyond the House, too. "I think we are going to be very interested in the rationale for those votes," Van Hollen said. "I mean in the Senate you have the situation where Republicans were delaying a vote on the defense appropriations bill for the purpose of slowing down health care reform and I think the American people don't want our national security to be held hostage to Republican procedural gamesmanship on health care."

In other words, Democrats hope cheap shots like those taken by Republicans this week will backfire. We'll know soon enough.

January 20: Just three weeks into the new year, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to the crowds. Its been quite the whirlwind for Obama and the rest of the First Family since then as they've traveled the world, tried new things, and still left some time for the President to run the country. In the spirit of year-end lists we've rounded up some of our favorite pictures from 2009, as we eagerly await seeing what crazy shenanigans those Obamas will get themselves into in 2010...

Wikimedia Commons

February 1: The commercials are the best part! The President and First Lady don 3-D glasses while watching a TV commercial during Super Bowl 43 in the viewing room of the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

March 15: First Dog Bo Obama runs with the President upon his first visit to the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

April 2: Party on, Silvio! President Obama, Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi and President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev pose together for a photo op at the G-20 summit in London.


April 7: Obama fist bumps a U.S. soldier during a visit to Camp Victory in Iraq.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

April 13: The Obama family (and the First Easter Bunny) waves from the South Portico of the White House to guests attending the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

April 24: Vice President Joe Biden putts with the President on the White House putting green. Don't you guys have work to do?

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

May 5: No, you're prettier! Biden and Obama lunch together at Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, VA.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

May 8: The son of a White House staffer mistakes Barack Obama for First Dog Bo Obama and pats his head in the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

May 9: Speechwriter-cum-pirate Cody Keenan sits for a summit with the President. The photo was used during White House Correspondents Association dinner, where Obama joked: "But as I said during the campaign, we can't just talk to our friends. As hard as it is, we also have to talk to our enemies, and I've begun to do exactly that."

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

May 30: The First Couple headed to New York City for a date. The evening fulfilled a promise made by the President on the campaign trail. ("I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished," Obama explained.) The date consisted of dinner at Blue Hill and the Broadway show Joe Turner's Come and Gone.


June 4: "They're digging in the wrong place!" During a trip to Egypt, the President tests out his new Indiana Jones-style hat before a tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

June 6: Sasha Obama lights a candle at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, as the rest of her family looks on.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

June 25: The President eagerly awaits his turn to dunk White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during the Congressional Luau on the South Lawn of the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

July 4: The First Couple watches the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House on Independence Day.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

July 30: President Obama, Vice President Biden, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Sergeant James Crowley share a drink at July's Beer Summit in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Newscom/Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA

August 10: But when can we drink it? In Guadalajara, Mexico for the North American Leader's Summit, President Barack Obama, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, right, observe the making of tequila at the Cabanas Cultural Center.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

August 16: President Barack Obama enjoys a view of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

September 16: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host an event in support of Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics on the South Lawn of the White House. Here, Obama playfully spars with 2008 silver medalist Tim Morehouse...with a lightsaber?

Newscom/UPI/Aude Guerrucci

October 7: They're out there. President Barack Obama checks for UFOs during the Astronomy Night event on the South Lawn of the White House.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

October 8: President Barack Obama takes a shot during a game with Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress on the White House basketball court.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

October 21: First Lady Michelle Obama hula hoops with children during the Healthy Kids Fair on the South Lawn of the White House.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

October 28: New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter greets Dr. Jill Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama on the pitcher's mound at Yankee Stadium during Game One of the World Series. Joining them on the mound were Yankees legend Yogi Berra and Iraq war veteran, retired Army Capt. Tony Odierno. The Yankees went on to win the World Series.

Newscom/UPI/John Angelillo

October 31: The Obamas open up the White House to 2,000 school children for Halloween. Here, Michelle Obama -- dressed as a cat -- and President Obama -- dressed as President Obama -- greet the trick-or-treaters.

Newscom/UPI/Kristoffer Tripplaar

Novemeber 19: President Obama shows off his Taekwondo skills as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak looks on. The President was given an honorary Taekwondo belt by the South Korean government to mark his first visit to the country. Obama visited South Korea as part of an eight-day trip to Asia.


December 1: President Barack Obama and his BFFs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, make their way to the Eisenhower Executive Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

December 4: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Edith Childs, from Greenwood, S.C., in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House during a holiday party. Childs was the source of the campaign slogan "fired up, ready to go."

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

December 21: The Boys & Girls Club in Washington, D.C. hosts a special guest. President Obama reads "The Polar Express," shares a few Christmas cookies and buries himself in a group photo session.


Just how far can one erroneous terrorism story travel?

By our very partial count, a since-corrected ABC report on the supposed role of ex-Gitmo detainees in planning the Detroit Christmas Day attack was picked up by at least 12 media outlets, and was cited by two members of Congress and legion right-wing bloggers.

Here's how the Dec. 28 story, which we've saved in its original form here, began:

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In a move that would have been hard to imagine in previous years, the GOP has launched multiple fundraising efforts in the wake of the failed attack on Flight 253, seeking to turn the Christmas Day event into not just a political attack on the Obama administration, but also a boost for their year-end fundraising.

• The first fundraising play was done by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who is running for governor, and sent out this e-mail for his gubernatorial campaign: "My promise to you, as your governor, my first duty and most solemn responsibility is to keep Michigan safe! ... If you agree that we need a Governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign."

Read More →

I just updated our running tally of Democrats who voted 'no' on the House health care bill. If a pattern's emerging, it's this: The most conservative, and vulnerable Democrats are still going to oppose reform after a final bill emerges from the House-Senate conference. So, it seems, will members like Eric Massa and Dennis Kucinich who opposed the House bill on the grounds that it wasn't far-reaching enough.

But for the first time, we're seeing signs that some of the members who opposed the bill the first time around are keeping their options open--even leaning towards supporting the final bill if it closely resembles the Senate package.

Freshman Blue Dog Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO) says some positive things about the Senate bill, and is keeping an open mind. Blue Dog Jason Altmire (D-PA) is on the record saying that the Senate bill is stronger than the House bill, and that "a lot" of Blue Dogs might flip their votes from 'no' to 'yes' if the Senate bill prevails in conference.

This is roughly as expected--but we'll let you know if the trend changes in the days and weeks ahead.

CIA Director Leon Panetta addressed today the deaths of seven agents and the wounding of six others in the bombing in Khost, Afghanistan.

"Those who fell yesterday were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism," Panetta said in a written message. "We owe them our deepest gratitude, and we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives--a safer America."

The message did not name those killed or discuss the nature of their work because of the sensitivity of ongoing operations.