The State of the Union Is… ‘Not Particularly Good’ says Carly Fiorina – http://abcn.ws/14XLVp7 (Day 3 of our series curated by Arlette Saenz)
Sequester This! - Republicans are pinning the origins of sequestration on President Obama. Democrats are reciprocating. Both sides voted for the thing and President Obama signed it into law, but with no clear path to avert the automatic spending cuts that have been kicked down the road already. Most top party leaders on both sides say they don’t want sequestration, but nobody has really figured out a way to avoid it. The deadline is March 1, which is just about three weeks away.
The White House held an alarm bells briefing and the president brought up looming defense cuts at his Pentagon send-off for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. But the White House wants Congress to work out the details. Congress wants the president to suggest spending cuts to take the place of the spending cuts he doesn’t want. http://yhoo.it/Xtzf2e
Meanwhile, agencies are girding for the cuts.
Jason Ryan reports Attorney General Eric Holder has sent a memorandum to all Justice Department employees noting the looming budget cuts would be harmful to the Justice Department if sequestration goes into place.
“Should these cuts occur, they would be harmful not only to our agency, but to critical domestic and defense priorities across the government and across the country.” Holder wrote in a February 7, 2013 memo obtained by ABC News.
“With respect to furloughs, should we have to pursue this unfortunate course of action, let me assure you that all affected employees would be provided with at least the required notice (either 30 or 60 days, depending on applicable union contracts) prior to executing a furlough.” Holder wrote.
“In planning how to implement a possible sequestration, our guiding principle is to protect our ability to perform our mission on behalf of the American people. As public servants, this is our first and foremost responsibility,” The Attorney General noted.
Jack Lew’s Cayman Island Investments – Jon Karl points out, We all remember, of course, how the Obama campaign hammered Mitt Romney over his Cayman Islands investments. Now, apparently, it turns out that Treasury nominee Jack Lew also has an investment in the Cayman Islands.
It’s not clear exactly what the investment it is, but, predictably, Democrats say it is not a big deal and Republicans are demanding more information and saying it may be reason enough to delay his confirmation hearing (set for Wednesday). More from Politico – http://politi.co/UM5Shd
‘Babe’ Actor Arrested for Protesting Animal Cruelty – http://abcn.ws/1297RcG
Federal Push for Less Pot Regulation, More Pot Taxation - Members of Congress will introduce between eight and 10 bills to roll back federal marijuana restrictions and levy new taxes. The first two were introduced this week by two liberal members of Congress. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., on Monday rolled out a pair of bills that would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level, while still allowing states to ban it. http://abcn.ws/Wzyjh2 (Chris Good)
Feinstein Wants Drone Regulation – From AP’s Kimberly Dozier – Speaking with uncharacteristic openness about the classified program, Feinstein said that the CIA had allowed her staff to make more than 30 visits to the agency’s northern Virginia headquarters to monitor strikes but that such transparency needed to be increased. Her comments came after the White House, under pressure from the committee, gave senators on the panel a Justice Department memo outlining the legal justification for drone strikes. But senators complained that aides weren’t allowed to see it. http://abcn.ws/WzAaT4
Corker Choice Words on Brennan, Drones – You didn’t see a remarkable amount of outcry on either side of the aisle at the intelligence committee yesterday, but here is the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying the U.S. drone war may not be legal… and he’s got some choice words about John Brennan.
From Yahoo!’s O.Knox -
The White House sometimes seems to regard Brennan “to be this priestly figure who goes to work every day in a windowless room and decides who he’s going to execute that day,” Corker said. “That’s got to be offensive to American values.” http://yhoo.it/W3MZDn
Screenwriter Admits ‘Lincoln’ Inaccuracy, But Points Out It’s a Movie - With apologies to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – http://abcn.ws/TVuEtF
Rand Paul to Deliver ‘Tea Party Response’ to State of the Union – Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky., will deliver the “tea party response” to Obama from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night. Following in the footsteps of Rep. Michele Bachmann (2011) and Herman Cain (2012), who delivered the last two alternative State-of-the-Union responses, Paul’s speech will be staged by the national tea-party election group Tea Party Express, the same group that sponsored the 2011 and 2012 rebuttals. http://abcn.ws/VJzzue (Chris Good)
Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty In Federal Probe
Former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has reached a plea agreement in connection to a federal probe into whether or not the troubled lawmaker misused campaign funds.
http://abcn.ws/WI9DkE (Matthew Jaffe)
George H.W. Bush Hacked, Emails, Personal Information Obtained, Spokesman Says
Former president George H.W. Bush was the victim of a computer hacker who gained access to confidential emails and other electronic correspondence between members of the Bush family and friends, the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to ABC News. http://abcn.ws/V3xZpA (Jonathan Karl)
Sarah Palin Lobbies for Pastor Jailed in Iran – http://abcn.ws/11vjss5 (Parnass)
Pelosi ‘Interviews’ Stephen Colbert at House Dem Retreat – Stephen Colbert went in and out of character at various points during the House Democratic Caucus retreat this morning and faced friendly jabs from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whom he called his “frenememy.” After introducing Colbert the character as a model of Bill O’Reilly, Pelosi tried to convince him to become a Democrat. Colbert also voiced confidence in his sister’s Congressional campaign. http://abcn.ws/UJVS88 (John Parkinson)
Wanted: Artifact Collector with High Ceilings – Looking to own an iconic piece of American military history? You’re in luck. A New York auction at the end of February will feature the original Iwo Jima WWII Memorial – just 20 feet tall and 10,000 lb. http://abcn.ws/VJrFAU (Sarah Parnass)