Belated thanks to Kathleen, Ryan and Sam for covering PA during the last week-and-a-half. I’l be back to the regular schedule the day after Xmas, and will try to make some cogent year-end observations. But here are some near-holiday news bites:

* Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) popped for a DUI in Virginia after running a red light and failing “several” field sobriety tests.

* Tagg Romney says his dad had very little interest in becoming President of the United States. Guess that’s why he spent close to six years running for the gig, eh?

* On the other hand, Jersey Shore‘s Vinny Guadagnino says he wants to get into politics.

* Backlash to Hagel gaining steam.

* New WaPo/ABC poll shows drop in optimism–but turns out most of the drop in confidence is among Republicans.

And in non-political news:

* The Hobbit leading pre-Xmas box office receipts.

Back after a few frantic Christmas Eve chores.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.