News, Straight to the Point

What a ride this year has been.

Obamacare began 2014 still sullied by its disastrous debut in October 2013 -- but now, 12 months later, what's most notable about its second open enrollment period is how unremarkable it's been.

Republicans have dealt with this reality in myriad ways. Sometimes, they have simply denied it. Otherwise, they have fixated on new scandals -- the case now before the Supreme Court and what became Gruber-gate -- that, in their minds, undermine any success that the law has had.

Here are the stages, if you will, of Republican grief over the law that they have spent the better part of a decade trying to destroy.

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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) admitted this week that he spoke 12 years ago to a meeting of a white nationalist group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

However, the Louisiana Republican was adamant in a Monday interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper that he had no knowledge of the group's hateful views when he spoke at its 2002 convention. An adviser to Duke said he personally invited Scalise to speak at the meeting. The adviser, Kenny Knight, insisted the congressman had not been not aware of the nature of Duke's group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

Yet Duke was already notorious in Louisiana politics for mounting several unsuccessful bids for state office from the late 1970s to the 1990s. (He did pull off a runoff election victory for a state House seat in 1989).

Duke's nativist and anti-Semitic views were common knowledge nationwide before the 2002 EURO convention as well, which raises questions about how Scalise could have been ignorant about the kind of audience he was speaking to at the time.

As editor Erick Erickson wrote on Monday: "By 2002, everybody knew Duke was still the man he had claimed not to be. EVERYBODY."

Here's a sampling of the things that were widely known about Duke and his group at the time of the conference:

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Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) resigned in 2011 amid a particularly messy scandal that featured allegations that he slept with a top aide's wife and then lobbied to get the aide a cushy job in order to keep the affair secret.

The Justice Department decided not to indict Ensign and he has faded into relative obscurity working as a veterinarian in Las Vegas. But the revelations of new, though heavily redacted, documents from the investigation into his misdeeds has thrust Ensign back into the spotlight. They describe the "brazen" manner, in the words of one executive, that Ensign sought to save his career.

The New York Times and Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on the new documents, obtained by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington through a lawsuit. Read the full documents at the Times. Here are the highlights.

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The 2014 elections were about as brutal for Democrats as they could have imagined. But it wasn't such a bad year for the party otherwise. President Barack Obama gave up on working with Republicans on big issues, and instead relied on his executive authority to implement a slew of important reforms.

Here are five big things he did this year without the help of Republicans.

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The federal judge who ruled Tuesday that President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration are unconstitutional has a controversial past which includes slaps on the wrist from the circuit court that oversees his court.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab of Pennsylvania, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2002, drew a fierce rebuke from the Justice Department, which called it "unfounded" and "flatly wrong."

Here are some controversies he has been involved in.

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Torture architects were paid $81 million by the CIA. Harsh interrogation techniques, portrayed in "Zero Dark Thirty" as helping the U.S. hunt down Osama bin Laden, didn't actually lead to his capture. And then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was not briefed on torture because the White House feared he would "blow his stack."

These are some more jaw-dropping revelations, along with what TPM reported earlier, contained in the 525-page report released Tuesday by Senate Democrats about the CIA's torture program during the Bush administration.

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Senate Democrats released a long-anticipated report on Tuesday about the CIA torture program that began and ended during the Bush administration, which Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called "morally, legally and administratively misguided."

"History will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and willingness to face the truth and say, never again," she said.

Here are five key points made in the report.

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MIT professor Jonathan Gruber faced the music Tuesday. He appeared before the House Oversight Committee to answer questions about his comments on the "stupidity of the American voter" and the "lack of transparency" during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act. Coming more than a month after video of his remarks were revealed, today was the public climax of what has become Gruber-gate.

Whether it was an edifying exercise -- or a chance for House Republicans to score points -- is debatable. But nevertheless, these were the most important moments from the four-plus hours of Gruber's testimony.

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