Politics In 60 Seconds: What You Need To Know Right Now


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Good morning!  Here’s what you need to know:1.  The Wall Street Journal reports: “The funding gaps at some state pension plans widened in fiscal 2010, though strong investment returns prevented the situation from deteriorating even more, according to a new study by the Pew centre on the States.”

2. Some states and municipalities are trying to reduce the pensions of current public workers, in an effort to get costs under control. Detroit, which is in desperate shape, is a case in point.  It has twice as many retired police officers as active cops.  If it can’t cut the cost of paying the retirees, it will have to reduce the size of its active police force.

3. Americans have lost faith in their political system.  “This loss of faith has contributed to a complex but dark national mood,” writes David Brooks.  “At some point, something is going to happen to topple the political platform.”

4. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) announced yesterday that he would not seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.  Mr. Barbour said he lacked the necessary “fire in the belly.”

5. Rep. Ron Paul is expected to announce today in Des Moines, Iowa, that he has established a presidential campaign exploratory committee.  Mr. Paul’s campaign in 2008 failed completely.  This one is not expected to do any better.

6. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll: “About six in 10 respondents said they had cut back on driving because of rising fuel prices, and seven in 10 said that high pump prices are causing financial hardship.”  Rising gas prices are often cited as one reason President Obama’s approval ratings are sinking like a stone.  Mickey Kaus disagrees.

7.  In a new article in The New Yorker magazine, a national security advisor to President Obama describes US foreign policy as “leading from behind.”  John Podhoretz thinks this will help the Republicans in 2012, a lot.

8.  Hedge-fund managers invested heavily in the Democratic Party in the 2008 election.  They’re now investing heavily in the Republican Party.

9.  Islamist political parties in Egypt are on the verge of a major victory at the ballot box unless liberal Egyptians get their act together,  Gideon Rachman reports from Cairo.  A new poll of Egyptians finds the country in an optimistic mood and decisively anti-American

10.  Tanks rolled in Syria, as the regime set out to crush a popular uprising.  More than 400 people have died so far.  There are growing fears of a Hama-like massacre.  Meanwhile, the Obama Administration explored its options, which are few.

11. An attempted assassination of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi failed.  Col. Qaddafi’s compound was destroyed.