money with flagAccording to the federal government’s 2010 financial statements, released in late December, the 2010 deficit was $1.29 trillion, a slight decrease from the 2009 deficit of $1.42 trillion. Despite this minor improvement, the long-term debt when all obligations are taken into account, including such major unfunded liabilities as Social Security and Medicare, is an astounding $64 trillion — and that may be understating things by about $12.3 trillion, says John Williams of ShadowStats.com (as reported by Douglas French on the Ludwig von Mises Institute blog).

Chris MatthewsThe Obama administration cannot be happy that two of its most strident supporters, MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews and new Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie, have re-opened the "birther" controversy.

Chai FeldblumDemocrats in the U.S. Senate used the tail end of the lame-duck session to confirm an openly homosexual woman to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Chai Feldblum, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and, according to Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the first openly homosexual person to serve on the EEOC, was confirmed December 22 by unanimous consent on the day the Senate adjourned.

smokingFederal Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan has held that the New York City Health Department cannot adopt a rule which would require that gruesome photographs of smokers suffering from various forms of cancer be placed beside cash registers in more than 11,000 bodegas and convenience stores in the city.  “Even merchants of morbidity are entitled to the full protection of the law, for our sake as well as theirs,” the judge ruled — although he agreed with the harm of tobacco, noting, “Within New York City, roughly 7,500 people die from smoking annually — more than from AIDS, homicide and suicide combined.”

Fred UptonPerhaps to the pleasure of Tea Party activists everywhere, Michigan’s Republican Representative Fred Upton has hinted that House Republicans may have the necessary votes to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. Additionally, Upton indicates that the House Republicans may have enough votes to override a potential presidential veto of the repeal measure.