And more on that later, but first a few things you need to see:
Newt Gingrich: Big Spender - Jon Karl and team recall Newt's contribution to the world of earmarks. They doubled under his speakership. What's more - "Behind the spending increase was a policy crafted by Gingrich himself. Several news reports from 1996 points to a memo he wrote on May 29, 1996 outlining a strategy to use earmark spending to shore up republicans facing tough re-election campaigns."
"They want to touch you, feel you, and sniff on ya. " - Rick Perry describing the voters of Iowa on Fox News, according to Arlette Saenz.
Not Home for the Holidays - Martha Raddatz reports from Baghdad that for a few troops from Fort Hood, Obama won't be able to keep his promise about getting them home for the holidays.
Govt. Shutdown Less Likely - Sunlen Miller reports on glimmers of hope that a govt. shutdown will be averted before tomorrow's deadline. But there's no deal yet. And the senate cleared the defense authorization despite frustration on the left. Walters and Obama - "So, you won't be a mediocre two-term president?" Walters asked.
"I want to be a really good two-term president," Obama said. "I think that the choices we've made have made America stronger, and have made the American people… put them in a better position in order to succeed over the long term. Short term, folks are still hurting." Read the full wrap from Devin Dwyer.
Accuses GOP of "lurch into extremes" - "You know, you never want to say, 'It's all them,'" But…
Alludes to Gingrich and Romney - "If I propose a health care bill that is full of Republican ideas - in fact, is very similar to the law that was passed by the current Republican frontrunner, or one of the top frontrunners? The other guy was supportive of many of the ideas as well - suddenly, they become against it," he said.
Humanizing Obama - There's been a burst of first family news. An interview with People. News that the first family watches "Modern Family" together. A new first family portrait . Barbara Walters upcoming interview with Barack and Michelle.
Arrested - Tea Party Patriots Cofounder - Rich Esposito reports that Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, was arrested at the Delta Airlines ticket counter at LaGuardia airport this morning when he presented the ticket agent with a locked box containing a handgun and ammunition, the Queens District Attorney's office and Port Authority Police said.
A Brief History of the Bad Blood Between Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich - Jason Volack explains: Bad blood between the two men dates back to 1995, when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich worked unsuccessfully to deny Paul a Texas House seat in a bitter primary battle that pitted Paul against a Gingrich-backed, Democrat-turned-Republican opponent. "He orchestrated a million-dollar campaign to keep me out of Congress," Paul told the Houston Chronicle at the time.
An Example - Air Force Vet Ron Paul Hits Gingrich Over Deferments - Jake Tapper notes this quote from Paul on Fox News: "When, in the 1960-s when I was drafted in the military, you know, he got several deferments. He chose not to go. Now. He'll send our kids to war. But, at that time, he said, one person wouldn't make a difference, he didn't know how he could make a difference."
Milking It - Ron Paul and Raw Milk - Sarah Parnass reports that Obama Has a Veggie Garden, but Ron Paul is the favorite of the most militant locavores.
White House Stands by Medal of Honor Citation - A McClatchy investigation found some embellishments and discrepancies in the heroic story Marines published when Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor. It's complicated.
Rudy Giuliani Dices up Mitt Romney on Morning Show - The former New York Mayor criticizes Romney for policy shifts on health reform, abortion and more. It was not pretty.
4th Place Ain't So Bad - Rick Perry says his campaign could carry on even if he's out of the top three next month in Iowa.
Establishment Club? A new Rick Perry ad tries to lump Gingrich and Romney together as insiders.
A Modest Medicare Proposal - Wyden and Paul Ryan have a Medicare plan, but it gets a chilly reception from the White House, according to Matt Negrin. He reports: The plan combines the current government-sponsored health program for older Americans with private-sector options. But by working with Ryan, a fiscal hawk in the Republican Party, Wyden could blunt an effort by Democrats to portray Republicans as working against older Americans.
Putin Calls McCain 'Nuts' - John McCain Befriended Snooki on Twitter, Now He's Taunting Vladimir Putin.
Feds Say Sheriff Joe Arpaio Is Trampling Civil Rights - Jason Ryan reports that a Justice Department investigation of "America's toughest sheriff," as some call Arpaio, and his deputies found that they have allegedly engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against Latinos with misconduct that violates federal laws and individuals' constitutional rights.
The Homeless Kid Lobby - Amy Bingham and Tom Shine report that the congressional hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building was lit brightly, all warm and cozy. The chairs around the witness table were comfortable, and a bottle of water was set before each place. It was quite a contrast to the living conditions of Rumi Khan, an 11-year-old sixth-grader; Brooklyn Pastor, a 12-year-old seventh-grader; and Brittany Amber Koon, a Pvt. First Class in the U.S. Army . Bounced between motels and homeless shelters, sleeping in cars, using gas station bathrooms to wash up and brush their teeth in, these young people were here to ask a Congress -47 percent of whose members have a net worth of $1 million or more - for a little help.
New Minimum Wage Rules for Home Care Givers - The latest installment of Obama's attempt to do things without help from Congress.