Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled. (7.0 ET: The President and Hillary Clinton’s 60 Minutes interview)
Monday: The President will welcome the NBA Champions Miami Heat to the White House to honor the team and their 2012 victory
Tuesday: The President will travel to Las Vegas where he will deliver remarks. He will return to Washington, DC in the evening
Wednesday and Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Friday: The President will award 12 eminent researchers the National Medal of Science and eleven extraordinary inventors the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at the White House, the highest honors bestowed by the United States Government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors
NYT: A brand new conservative group calling itself Americans for a Strong Defense and financed by anonymous donors is running advertisements urging Democratic senators in five states to vote against Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense, saying he would make the United States “a weaker country.”
Another freshly minted and anonymously backed organization, Use Your Mandate, which presents itself as a liberal gay rights group but purchases its television time through a prominent Republican firm, is attacking Mr. Hagel as “anti-Gay,” “anti-woman” and “anti-Israel” in ads and mailers…..
AP: Thousands of people, many holding signs with names of gun violence victims and messages such as “Ban Assault Weapons Now,” joined a rally for gun control on Saturday, marching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.
Leading the crowd were marchers with “We Are Sandy Hook” signs, paying tribute to victims of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Washington Mayor Vincent Gray and other city officials marched alongside them. The crowd stretched for at least two blocks along Constitution Avenue.
Participants held signs reading “Gun Control Now,” “Stop NRA” and “What Would Jesus Pack?” among other messages. Other signs were simple and white, with the names of victims of gun violence.
About 100 residents from Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six teachers, traveled to Washington together….
President Barack Obama’s statement on Sen. Tom Harkin’s announcement that he would not seek re-election:
“By the time Senator Harkin finishes his fifth term, he will have represented the people of Iowa in the United States Congress for an incredible 40 years. He has served in the U.S. Senate longer than any Democrat in Iowa’s history. During his tenure, he has fought passionately to improve quality of life for Americans with disabilities and their families, to reform our education system and ensure that every American has access to affordable health care. Senator Harkin will be missed, and Michelle and I join Iowans in thanking him for his long-standing service and wish him and his wife, Ruth, all the best in the future.”
President Obama at an interfaith vigil, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Dec 16 (Photo: Olivier Douliery)
NYT: President Obama this week will embrace a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence that will call for major legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases and lay out 19 separate actions the president could take by invoking the power of his office, lawmakers who were briefed on the plan said Monday.
Lawmakers and other officials said that the president could use a public event as soon as Wednesday to signal his intention to engage in the biggest Congressional fight over guns in nearly two decades, focusing on the heightened background checks and including efforts to ban assault weapons and their high-capacity clips. But given the difficulty of pushing new rules through a bitterly divided Congress, Mr. Obama will also promise to act on his own to reduce gun violence wherever possible.
NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers agreed on Monday to a broad package of changes to gun laws that would expand the state’s ban on assault weapons and would include new measures to keep guns away from the mentally ill.
The state Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, approved the legislative package just after 11 p.m. by a lopsided vote of 43 to 18. The Assembly, where Democrats who have been strongly supportive of gun control have an overwhelming majority, planned to vote on the measure Tuesday.
Steve Benen: The White House is set to release a series of recommendations from Vice President Biden’s task force on gun violence, which will no doubt face intense criticism from groups like the NRA and their allies. But two new polls suggest that a month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, there’s a growing public appetite for meaningful gun reform.
Mediaite: On Monday night, CNN host Piers Morgan paid a visit to Stephen Colbert …. As the pair started chatting about how people in the UK just don’t have guns, Colbert asked whether Morgan hates America’s constitution (“Do you hate the United States constitution?… Do you speak English?”) — helpfully providing the CNN host with his own pocket-size copy of the document.
…. Morgan said he was simply pointing out that in his country, “where we have no guns,” there are few gun murders. “I think when 20 young children get blown to pieces, Americans should say something has to be done,” he added, prompting Colbert to call out his “cheap shot to bring up the subject that we’re talking about.”
Colbert offered a better approach: take some time, “reflect, and eventually forget.”
LA Times: Obama appears to gain ground in spending battle – The president delivers a forceful defense of his position in a White House news conference, as Republicans increasingly appear divided over the debt ceiling.
With the government just weeks from running out of money to pay its bills, President Obama and prominent Republicans have started to act as if the White House has the upper hand in the current round of the battle over federal spending.
In recent days, Obama rebuffed suggestions that he consider ways to sidestep the need to raise the limit on the government’s debt, reinforcing his demand for a congressional vote. On Monday, he repeated that stand in a hastily announced news conference, criticizing Republicans for threatening to “blow up the economy” and insisting that “no simpler way” exists to deal with the debt ceiling.
Republicans for months have pointed to the moment the nation runs up against the debt ceiling as their point of maximum leverage to force spending cuts, but now seem increasingly divided. Some leaders appear to be looking for a way out of the confrontation, suggesting the party would be wiser to fight Obama over cuts when less is at stake for the economy. Influential GOP strategists are warning that a repeat of the fight they waged in summer 2011 could backfire.
Deaniac: Twilight of the Liberal Elite: Smearing Jack Lew and Barack Obama for Deregulation that Began with Jimmy Carter
….. I can understand the liberal elite’s problem with Jack Lew. You see, I don’t think it has much to do with policy. I think it has much more to do with him embarrassing them. When every liberal elite political rookie – including Paul Krugman – in the country was howling about the president’s “weak” negotiating performance during the 2011 debt limit deal, it turns out that the president and his team completely floored John Boehner, without Boehner even realizing it. A key member of that team that did it to them? Jack Lew. Not to mention how that deal shaped the complete Republican surrender in the recent fiscal cliff deal. If I didn’t know that the howling Left is incapable of feeling embarrassed, I would contend they are opposing Jack Lew because of that embarrassment.
USA Today: Q&A: Myrlie Evers-Williams on the inauguration
Q: Did you ever imagine as you worked with your husband Medgar Evers on civil rights that one day there would be a black president?
A: Of course, we all knew, we hoped, we worked, we prayed that one day there would be a man or a woman of African-American descent who would become the president of the United States of America. That has been a dream come true but if we look at the politics leading up to particularly his second term, there were blocks that came during this time of getting people to register and to vote that are reminiscent of some of those actions that took place 50 years ago to keep people of my race and others away from the polls.
Steve Benen: … Florida Gov Rick Scott has offered the political world a valuable lesson: if you need a campaign prop, don’t use a dog:
Shortly after winning the GOP nomination in 2010, Scott announced to the world through Facebook that his family had rescued a Labrador Retriever. And, with help from his Facebook friends, Scott gave it a name: Reagan.
It was just a few months before the gubernatorial election, and Scott seemed to think this was a smart idea. Adopting a dog – a rescue dog, at that – made the Republican look compassionate, and naming the dog “Reagan” helped him pander shamelessly to his base….
Mediaite: Jon Stewart took on the controversy surrounding President Obama‘s recent cabinet nominations in a segment he dubbed “Zero Dark Appointees,” and noted that the outrage might be somewhat misplaced because Obama is “somewhat diverse himself.”
Stewart examined why Obama may not have nominated Susan Rice for Secretary of State, which would have easily diversified his cabinet: “Lady and minority, triple word score!”
“Oh right,” he said. “McCain!”
…. He then aired the New York Times photo in which it was claimed Obama was standing with only white men and proceeded to point out a black man ….. “And there is another black guy who appears to be running the meeting.”
BuzzFeed: Kennedy Attacked Romney For Lack Of Women At Bain In 1994 Ad: “Exclusively White And Male”
Manchester, New Hampshire, Oct 18 (Darren McCollester/Getty)
The Alfred E Smith Dinner, Oct 18 (Mario Tama/Getty)
Chron: A defaced painting of President Barack Obama, across the street from The Breakfast Klub restaurant in midtown, will be redone with a new design, said the original artist, Reginald C. Adams.
…. The original mural, done during the presidential election campaign in 2008, was damaged sometime early Monday by vandals who threw red paint on the larger-than-life image across the street from the popular restaurant at Travis and Alabama.
…. Marcus Davis, the restaurant owner, said he discovered the damage when he got to work about 7 a.m. Monday.
“When this happened it was a sad occasion, and yet there was some excitement there in terms of the opportunity it presents,” Davis said. “Just as President Obama has not given up and has turned a negative into a positive, that’s the example I will follow.”
Jon C. Hopwood (Yahoo): I received news that my mother had passed just after midnight on Friday. Despite her Alzheimer’s, she had been my biggest fan. She was the first to see the photos I took at campaign events; she had even accompanied me to several events….
…. One, a Romney-Ryan rally at Saint Anselm College, had been an ordeal for her and she had asked me to take her away, away from the hate and bombast.
…. The motto of the Romney-Ryan campaign seems to be “every man for himself,” a command given sailors on a sinking ship. They had given up on America. I wanted to see Obama and his message of hope.
He did not disappoint. The 6,000 supporters who thronged the central square at the Strawberry Banke living museum had to wait two hours, but it was worth it … he did give me hope and helped lift my despair.
Because he cares. Barack Obama cares …. I felt like part of a community. A community that cares.
Back home, the following day, I collected some of Mom’s snapshots for her memorial … As I removed the photos, I discovered she had also tucked into the mirror frame a photo of President Obama and his family.
….. It was nice to know the man I chose to see the day after she passed, seeking to be comforted, had been there to comfort her in her final days.
Andrew Sullivan: I can see no problem with the ad run by Obama on his extraordinarily ballsy decision to choose the riskiest path to get bin Laden and all the intelligence his compound contained ….. If Bush had done it, he would have jumped out of a helicopter in a jump-suit with fireworks. And it is simply true that both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney downplayed the importance of finding and bringing Osama bin Laden to justice….
….. And this was a key issue in the 2008 election …. this was a hugely successful policy opposed by McCain, opposed by Bush and opposed by Romney. No wonder they’re so upset at reality. It’s the same reaction they have when it becomes clear that Osama bin Laden was captured and killed by a president smart enough not to deploy torture, years after a bunch of thugs took over US intelligence on the orders of the panicked incompetent, Dick Cheney.
And one thing about John McCain. He actually said: “And, you know the thing about heroes, they don’t brag.” For his entire political career, McCain has done nothing but brag about his own military service, milking every last, disgusting drop for his own interests, making it the center-piece of his campaign. And he didn’t kill anyone – just crashed his plane…..
Jon Meacham: Republicans are – forgive the cliché – shocked, shocked to discover that a presidential contender is “politicizing” an important national event. In this sense, “politicizing” might be best translated as “beating us up and we don’t have anything much to say to stop it.” The ad itself raises intriguing, substantive, legitimate questions – and the ferocious, sputtering Republican reaction is proof positive that they know it, or at least suspect it.
Michael Tomasky: It couldn’t be more hilarious, watching these Republicans rend their garments over the Obama administration’s bin Laden video. Imaging the paroxysms we’d have been forced to endure if George W. Bush had iced the dreaded one is all we need to do to understand how hypocritical it all is. But what obviously gets under Republicans’ skin is not the fact of this video’s existence, but the fact that Barack Obama got him and they didn’t, which destroys their assumption of the past decade that they are “the 9/11 party.” And more than that – and this is the real story here – it’s the fact that the Democrats don’t appear to be afraid of the Republicans anymore. That, to Republicans, is what’s truly unacceptable.
Washington Post: As secretary to mega-investor Warren Buffett, Debbie Bosanek is used to being in proximity to power. But the prospect of sitting with first lady Michelle Obama at tonight’s State of the Union address apparently is something different altogether. Bosanek, who’s mostly kept an under-the-radar profile despite being the poster lady for President Obama’s tax proposals, tells us she’s a tad jittery.
“I was so excited I couldn’t sleep last night,” she says.