No wonder the mullahs are riding high. “Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sought to downplay the viability of a U.S. military strike on Iran during an informal chat Tuesday evening at a Washington-area synagogue. . . . Hagel, who has run into trouble when speaking off the cuff, offered mostly vague answers and avoided delving too deeply into any particular issue. When asked about Iran’s nuclear pursuit, Hagel said diplomacy is “smarter” than the military option.”

Chuck Hagel (J. Scott Applewhite/AP) Chuck Hagel (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

No wonder he’s dragging his heels on the pipeline. “If a flurry of climate change initiatives is an attempt by the administration to soften up environmental supporters ahead of an approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, green groups say President Obama better think twice.”

No wonder Dems don’t complain so much about third-party money. “Tom Steyer, a billionaire retired hedge-fund investor, is aiming to spend $100 million to make climate change a priority issue in this year’s midterm elections.” And he’s a hedge fund manager too!

No wonder the White House is so incensed. The Congressional Budget Office uses math and economics! “White House pique notwithstanding, the Congressional Budget Office is standing by its estimate of the job impact that a minimum-wage hike would create. ‘Our analysis of the effects of an increase in the minimum wage is completely consistent with the latest thinking in the economics profession,’ said CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, disputing the Obama administration’s attempted takedown of his agency’s work. . . . The White House’s criticism of the nonpartisan budget referee was a departure from its response two weeks ago, when CBO issued an equally controversial report finding that Obamacare could reduce the labor force by the equivalent of 2 million full-time workers in 2017.”

No wonder the GOP is optimistic about taking the Senate. “On Feb. 12, Little Rock-based Impact Management Group polled 1,202 likely Arkansas voters to ask their opinions on the candidates for U.S. Senate, Arkansas governor and Arkansas lieutenant governor. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.83%. Poll questions also included voter opinions on Arkansas’ private option plan. In the U.S. Senate race, [Rep. Tom] Cotton had 46% support from poll respondents and [Sen. Mark] Pryor had 42%. This is a favorable shift for Cotton compared to an Oct. 24 Impact Management poll that had Cotton at 43% and Pryor at 41%.”

No wonder Vladimir Putin acts this way; he’s got nothing to fear from the United States. “Mere days after police detained them in Sochi, Russia, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina and other members of Pussy Riot were attacked by whip-wielding Cossacks in the same city on Wednesday, according to reports.”

No wonder he wants to talk about other stuff. “So why is the president talking about issues that the public has so little concern about? Part of the explanation, I suspect, is that Mr. Obama really believes in his (progressive) agenda and feels more liberated in his second term to pursue it. But I also imagine that the president has very little to say that’s helpful to him or his party about unemployment and jobs, the economy in general, health care, and the debt. So Mr. Obama is turning to other issues, hoping to shift the American people’s focus from what they care about to what he cares about.”