With the Iowa caucuses just two weeks away, Ron Paul has taken the lead in two caucus forecasts — a development that has the GOP establishment on edge.

A December 18 Public Policy Polling survey found that the Texas Congressman was the choice of 23 percent of likely Republican caucus voters. Mitt Romney came in second at 20 percent, with Newt Gingrich in third at 14 percent and Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum tied at 10 percent. “Someone else/Not sure” was next at 7 percent, followed by Jon Huntsman at 4 percent and Gary Johnson at 2 percent.

Debate over the payroll tax cut remains heated as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio, left) demanded from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a year-long tax cut. The challenge threw another wrench into the negotiations on the deal, which, if not reached by the New Year, will result in an increase in payroll taxes as the present payroll tax reduction expires.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators on the West Coast moved into a new phase of "direct action" this past week with efforts to close down shipping at major ports from San Diego, California, to Anchorage, Alaska. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) organizers designated Monday, December 12 as "Occupy the Ports Day" and had hoped to inspire ongoing strikes and blockades that would shut down import-export commerce long-term. However, except for the stoppage of shipping at Oakland, California, the plan has failed to achieve anywhere near the magnitude of disruptions that organizers had hoped for. Smaller OWS blockades at ports in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, caused lesser disruptions, while most other ports continued normal operations, as small groups of protesters marched, chanted, and sometimes attempted to block traffic in and out of port facilities.

The cost of the Obama family’s annual Hawaiian getaway swells as First Lady Michelle Obama’s separate trip stands to cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars more. While President Obama remained in Washington wrapping up this year's contentious congressional session, Michelle and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, jetted off on the 17-day vacation a little early, days before the President will join them.

Critics of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have pointed to its provisions that permit the indefinite detention of American citizens, without charges and without trial. Additionally, the measure violates individual liberties in another way: by waging war on the Internet.

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