If you can’t beat them join them? “The chief of staff to Afghanistan’s president drew a salary from two U.S. government contractors in 2002 and early 2003 as he was managing President Hamid Karzai’s office, serving as his spokesman and advising him on foreign affairs. . . . While some current and former U.S. officials say these measures were necessary in the first months and years of the Afghan reconstruction to attract top talent to a daunting project, other experts say it’s no different from the kind of corruption the Bush and Obama administration have publicly criticized inside the Afghan government.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

You can’t beat 2013 for rotten political years for the Democrats? Keep an eye out for 2014. “The core problem facing the Obama presidency, then, can’t be fixed simply by personnel changes; it can only be repaired by accepting that the Affordable Care Act is intrinsically defective and therefore needs to be ended. And Mr. Obama will fight to his last breath to keep that from occurring.”

The administration begins to beat a hasty retreat on NSA surveillance; Obama simply got a panel to do the job for him. “A panel appointed by President Obama to review the government’s surveillance activities has recommended that the National Security Agency no longer keep a database of virtually all Americans’ phone records, and that decisions to spy on foreign leaders be subjected to greater scrutiny.”

Watch the far right beat the drums of war. Functional government is their enemy. “A two-year budget deal cleared Congress Wednesday when the Senate approved it on a 64 to 36 vote, ending a year of polarized debate on fiscal matters that showed how little common ground exists between the two parties. Nine Republicans voted with all 55 members of the Democratic Caucus for the bill.” The margin is significant.

Ben Bernanke beat the clock on this one. Before his successor is confirmed he does the country a huge favor: “Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke seems to have gotten back his touch.  After having lost control of the market earlier this year indicating the FOMC could decide to taper quantitative easing before the end of the year, on Wednesday the Chairman managed to spark a big rally on Wall Street while reducing the level of monetary accommodation. Regardless, while Bernanke managed to begin the process of exiting an ultra-accommodative monetary stance before passing the reins to Janet Yellen, the FOMC went to great lengths to make it clear it remains in full support of the market, pledging to keep rates low ‘well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6-1/2 percent [threshold],’ and promising the more QE could be in the cards.  As the market roars on betting on the Bernanke put, Yellen may still be stuck between a rock and a hard place as she is tasked with normalizing monetary policy.”

You can’t beat this. The rescue team is already eating crow. “John Podesta, the former Clinton chief of staff who was recently named a special adviser to President Obama, apologized Wednesday for comparing the Republican Party to the cult at Jonestown in an interview earlier this year.” Just guessing that this guy might not be the one to improve relations with the GOP.

Could he beat the odds in Iowa? “Quinnipiac University poll of the battleground presidential state of Iowa showed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defeating all of her likely Republican presidential opponents in 2016 save for one; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. An MSNBC panel tackling the poll’s results on Wednesday warned Clinton’s supporters that they should be concerned about this survey’s findings.” Maybe she’s not so inevitable after all.