President Biden’s announcement today of $8.2 billion for various rail projects is “the largest federal investment in passenger rail transportation since Amtrak was created in 1971,” CBS News reports.
CNBC: “In the latest University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey released Friday, the one-year outlook for the inflation rate slid to 3.1%, down sharply from 4.5% in November and the lowest since March 2021.”
“The five-year outlook also moved lower, down to 2.8% from 3.2% the previous month.”
Jeff Stein: “Is sentiment improving because inflation cooled off and inflation-adjusted income improved, or because enough people got mad on Twitter that it successfully changed the media environment?”
Megyn Kelly told Glenn Beck that she thought Donald Trump is in cognitive decline.
Said Kelly: “There’s no question Trump has lost a step. Multiple steps. He is confusing Joe Biden for Obama. I know he’s now saying he intentionally did that. Go back and look at the clips. It wasn’t intentional.”
She added: “With all due respect to Trump, this is what happens when you are 77 years old… Are we really going to pretend that Trump is just as vibrant as he was in 2016?”
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and her fiance “have broken up and are now in the middle of a messy legal fight over multi-million-dollar homes they bought together,” the Daily Mail reports.
“It comes just days after Mace faced an exodus from her office on Capitol Hill. Six staffers resigned and claimed she runs a ‘toxic’ office.”
“Mace often openly discussed her sex life in the office, including in front of male junior staffers.”
Jonathan Last: “Yes, she has the best chance of stopping Trump. But that chance is quite low.”
“However, if Haley loses to Trump, she will be faced with a choice. She could legitimately hurt Trump by refusing to endorse him, thus signaling to normie Republicans that they can go elsewhere. But what are the odds she will do this? Even lower, is my guess.”
“On the other hand, she might endorse Trump, which would mean that her campaign was a conveyer belt designed to return disaffected Republican voters to the aspiring authoritarian.”
Michigan state Rep. Bob Bezotte (R) was accused by his longtime wife of physical and emotional abuse during their 52 years of marriage in divorce documents filed last week, the Detroit News reports.
Robert Kagan: “There is only one way to cut into his mammoth majority, and that is by raising doubts about Trump’s electability. The way to do that is to warn those Republicans still capable of listening that a Trump presidency really does pose a risk to our freedom and democracy and the Constitution. That is what will be required to win over the small percentage of Republicans who are still willing to drop Trump if he is convicted. And if Haley can begin to reel in those voters, she can begin to raise doubts in the minds of those who are supporting Trump because they think he can defeat Biden and the Democrats in November.”
“In short, the way to beat Trump is to make him seem unelectable, and the way to make him seem unelectable is to show that he is unacceptable.”
After viewing his courtroom sketch for his $250 million New York civil fraud trial, Donald Trump reportedly told the artist he’s “gotta lose some weight,” The Messenger reports.
“It’s painfully obvious to myself, my colleagues, and the American people that the Republican Party is deeply unserious and unable to legislate.”
— Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), quoted by CNN, following his censure for wrongly pulling a fire alarm in the Capitol.
Rolling Stone: “For more than a decade, election officials have relied on a system to reduce fraud and boost voter registration. Trump’s cronies are sabotaging it, state by state — and trying to replace it with something more MAGA.”
“With great fanfare this week, CNN announced it would host the network’s first debate of the 2024 presidential campaign, gathering the Republican candidates for a marquee event on Jan. 21 at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire,” the New York Times reports.
“There was only one problem: Saint Anselm had no idea what CNN was talking about.”
Austin, Texas-based nonprofit Free Speech for People has filed a lawsuit in the Oregon Supreme Court seeking to block Donald Trump from Oregon’s 2024 ballot, Willamette Week reports.
The Texas Historic Commission was pressured into removing books about slavery from the gifts shops of two slave plantation historic sites it oversees, Texas Monthly reports.
Jonathan Martin: “It’s just under a month until the Iowa caucuses and there’s a striking lack of urgency among Republicans who do not want to see Trump renominated. There’s resignation, rationalization, despair and even denial. Yet there’s little action.”
“Well, except for the capitulation from those who have misgivings about Trump but want to avoid the hassle of being pushed by his lieutenants, pressed by conservative media and harangued at their Lincoln Day dinners. A frustrated Sununu told me he knows even some of the governors “that are supporting [Trump] don’t want him to be the nominee.” To borrow a memorable line from Bill Clinton, these Republicans want to maintain their viability within the system.”
“But it’s the quiet from so many of the party’s lawmakers, former candidates and biggest names that’s most revealing.”
William Saletan: “The Republican Party’s insanity leaves a big hole in this country. When progressives jerk their knees on one issue or another—deriding religious parents, overdoing Covid restrictions, calling every border-control policy racist—I’d like to hear alternative ideas from a sane conservative party.”
“Instead, what we have is an extremist, authoritarian party in which the one presidential candidate who tells the truth and adheres to principle has no chance of being nominated.”
Political reporter Ryan Teague Beckwith asked me about my first byline when I learned a painful — and still wonderful — introductory lesson on the role the news media plays in our politics.
Washington Post: “The electoral college was supposed to moderate the passions of what Alexander Hamilton called the ‘general mass,’ which he worried could fall prey to candidates with ‘talents for low intrigue and the little arts of popularity.'”
“That 18th-century system — which is unlike anything used by the United States’ 21st-century democratic peers — has aged in surprising ways. Premised on the idea that states should each choose electors who would then select a president, the system increasingly distorts the democratic process as partisan divisions grow along geographic lines.”
“Advances in technology, meanwhile, allow campaigns to calibrate their outreach to only the most persuadable voters. The upshot is that a tiny segment of the population will get an outsize say in who leads the United States. And the will of the majority may not even prevail.”
More on this at Electoral Vote Map.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 199,000 in November, slightly better than the 190,000 Dow Jones estimate, CNBC reports.
The unemployment rate declined to 3.7%, compared with the forecast for 3.9%, as the labor force participation rate edged higher.