Morning Briefing: February 17, 2012

Xenophobic commentator Pat Buchanan is officially out at MSNBC, four months after the network suspended him over his latest extremist book. Chapters in his new book, Suicide of a Superpower, included, “The End of White America” and “The Death of Christian America.”

The share of homeowners delinquent on their mortgages fell to its lowest level in three years at the end of 2011, another sign that the improving economy could also boost the housing market. The share of loans in foreclosure, however, remains near its highest level of the crisis.

The New Jersey Assembly voted yesterday in favor of marriage equality, sending the bill to Governor Chris Christie, who has vowed to veto it despite polling that shows a majority of New Jersey residents support marriage equality. Neither the Assembly or the Senate are thought to have enough votes to overturn a veto.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) endorsed adding a marriage equality plank to the Democratic Party platform, a move pushed by the pro-gay rights group Freedom to Marry this week. She said she was speaking only for herself, not the party or President Obama, but added, “I hope the evolution continues.”

Veteran New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid died in Syria last night of an asthma attack. There has been an outpouring of respect for him, including US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, who said she was “heartbroken by the loss” of one of “the world’s bravest and best journalists.”

President Obama announced on Twitter this morning that his campaign raised $29.1 million for his re-election campaign and for the Democratic National Committee. Most of the donations came in checks of $250 or less.

A member of the Occupy Huntsville, Alabama group filed paperwork last week to create Occupy Wall Street’s own Super PAC. Ironically, the Occupy Wall Street Political Action Committee seeks to raise money for candidates who vow to remove money from the political process.

Tasked with explaining his opposition to the auto rescue in Michigan last night, Rick Santorum instead attacked Mitt Romney for treating Wall Street differently than Main Street. Santorum slammed Romney for opposing the auto rescue while supporting the Wall Street bank bailout, saying his own opposition to both was “a much more consistent position.”

Santorum Super PAC-backer Foster Friess apologized for his comments about contraception yesterday, and Santorum himself called Freiss’ remark “a stupid joke.” “He’s not creepy. He’s a good man,” Santorum told Fox News. “He told a bad, off-color joke and he shouldn’t have done it, but that’s his business.”

Controversial former Rep. Virgil Goode is running for president. The former Democrat-turned-Independent-turned-Republican will seek the far-right Constitution Party’s nomination, and is eager to take votes from the eventual Republican nominee.

And finally: Last night, anti-gay Newt Gingrich’s campaign bus broke down in “Boystown” — a nickname for West Hollywood, California, one of the country’s major gay centers where 41 percent of residents are gay or bisexual men. Not surprisingly, locals showed little sympathy, taking to Twitter to joke that the stranding was “the best belated Valentine’s Day present anyone could ask for.”