Meet Ashton Carter

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • ASH CARTER IS THE GUY: President Obama will announce his intent to nominate Ash Carter as the next Secretary of Defense during an event at the White House today, ABC's DEVIN DWYER reports. The President will be joined by Secretary Hagel and Carter for the announcement. Carter is a physicist and medieval historian by training, educated at Yale and Oxford and teaching classes at Harvard, according to his official biography. "I liked dusty archives, learning to decipher manuscripts in medieval script, and learning all the languages necessary to read the primary and secondary historical literature, especially Latin," Carter, a Yale double-major, wrote in a 2007 autobiographical essay posted on his Harvard faculty page. "Physics was entirely different: clean and modern, logical and mathematical." It's that tendency toward the orderly and efficient that made Carter, 60, a valued Defense Department adviser during stints in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
  • HOLDER CITES PATTERN OF EXCESSIVE FORCE IN CLEVELAND: Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday there is reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland Division of Police engages in a pattern of using excessive force. "In recent days, millions of people throughout our nation have come together, bound by grief and bound by anguish, in response to the tragic deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City," Holder said. "The tragic losses of these and far too many other Americans, including just last month the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice here in Cleveland, have really raised urgent national questions."
  • IN THE NOTE'S INBOX - WARREN WING MOBILIZES FOR 2016: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has deployed Democratic organizer Don Weigel to meet with local Democratic Party leaders, county chairs, union leaders, elected officials, and PCCC activists in New Hampshire and begin organizing a local coalition ahead of 2016, ABC's KIRSTEN APPLETON reports. "We're organizing in New Hampshire to ensure that all Democratic candidates for president are pressed to actively campaign on an Elizabeth Warren-style agenda of big economic-populist ideas," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. "Big ideas like expanding Social Security benefits, reforming Wall Street, and making college more affordable are wildly popular in red, blue, and purple states - and are the path to primary and general election victory for Democrats."

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': As protests grow over a grand jury's decision in the death of Eric Garner, George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, only on "This Week" Sunday. And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, CNN's Van Jones, National Review editor Rich Lowry, and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-CA. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY:

LOUISIANA RUNOFF: GOING, GOING, GONE? Louisiana's runoff election tomorrow could mark the complete extinction of Democratic senators from the Deep South, with Sen. Mary Landrieu - the last Southern Democrat still standing in the 2014 cycle - expected to lose her seat of 18 years to Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy. Here's a preview, courtesy of ABC's JORDYN PHELPS:

-THE BASICS: The Senate race will be the main attraction of the night, as we wait to see whether Landrieu can retain her title as a political survivor or if Cassidy will become seat number 54 for Republicans in the next Senate class. Having won two of her three previous elections through runoffs, Landrieu's campaign continues to express optimism that she can pull out another surprise victory this year.

-THE HISTORY: The last time Landrieu faced a runoff in 2002, she was widely expected to lose the runoff. But in the final days of the campaign, a late-breaking story fueled rumors that the Bush administration was considering increasing sugar imports from Mexico, a policy change that would have had damaging repercussions for Louisiana's sugar industry; and the story helped to change the momentum of the race. This year, Landrieu's campaign is looking to a late-breaking story alleging that Cassidy may have been paid for work he didn't do as a part-time professor at LSU as a possible equivalent of the 2002 sugar story.

-THE VOTERS: Over the last decade, Louisiana's electorate has grown increasingly conservative. While Landrieu enjoys a loyal base of support among African-Americans, most of the state's white population now votes with the Republican Party. On Nov. 4, as a case in point, Landrieu captured 94 percent of the black vote compared to just 18 percent of the white vote. Even if Saturday's election sees a strong turnout of African-Americans, it will be hard for Landrieu to capture victory without a corresponding segment of the white vote.

-ANALYSIS: ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The Republican midterm election march has one more act, with the Louisiana Senate runoff on Saturday. To say that Democrats have thrown in the towel would be an understatement. The Iraqi Army fled Mosul slower than Democrats abandoned Mary Landrieu in the wake of the November thumping in Senate races across the country. If Bill Cassidy wins this weekend, Republicans will hold a 54-seat majority in the Senate, which is more muscular than Mitch McConnell had dreamed only months ago. It's not the 60 votes needed to fully run the table, but there are six moderate and independents to help reach that threshold on some popular red-state issues.



ONE REPUBLICAN LEADER WHO'S OFFERING HOPE FOR AN IMMIGRATION BILL. The House of Representatives voted today to block President Obama's executive action on immigration, but in a different room of the Capitol Republicans may have been offering a brief glimmer of hope. The powerful Republican chairman of the House Rules Committee, Pete Sessions of Texas, said on the record that only the extreme members of his party want to deport non-criminal undocumented workers, ABC's JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL report. "There is no one in responsible Republican leadership, elected officials, who has said we should deport 13 or 11 million people," Sessions said Thursday at a hearing on the president's executive actions on immigration. "That is not what this effort is about."

IN CANADA, CHRISTIE SAYS KEYSTONE PIPELINE DELAY 'NO WAY TO TREAT A FRIEND.' New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, on a visit to Canada, said Thursday the federal government's delay in approving the Keystone XL pipeline is "no way to treat a friend." "This is not about sending your oil across our land. It's about maximizing the benefits of North America's natural resources for everybody, about allowing markets to function, and about contributing to the prosperity of citizens both in the United States and in Canada," Christie said in Calgary. He added it would create jobs, growth and opportunity for "everyone on both sides of the border," ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. Just last month the oil pipeline, which would carry tar sand oil from Canada to the United States Gulf Coast, failed to win approval in the Senate by just one vote. Christie believes the United States is "missing an enormous opportunity." The Senate is likely to take up the Keystone pipeline again once the new Congress meets next year.

CONGRESS DOESN'T WANT MEDICARE TO PAY FOR YOUR ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. When the House voted to approve the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act this week, lawmakers including Speaker John Boehner rejoiced that the move would be "a powerful step to help individuals with disabilities across the country" by enabling them to save for their futures through the creation of tax-free savings accounts. But for some men suffering from erectile dysfunction, the ABLE Act may actually make their life experience worse. ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports that deep in the legislation lawmakers inserted a provision to bring some consistency to how taxpayers provide relief to men suffering from erectile dysfunction.

SEN. JOHN THUNE: 'INSULAR' PRO SPORTS LEAGUES DUE FOR 'WAKEUP CALL' FROM CONGRESS. The Republican takeover of the Senate will bring no respite in the scrutiny professional sports leagues will receive on Capitol Hill, according to the incoming chairman of a key committee. ABC's RICK KLEIN reports Sen. John Thune, who is in line to take over the chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee next month, told the ESPN/ABC News podcast " Capital Games" that this week's high-profile hearing on domestic violence among pro athletes could be due for follow-up next year. He also mentioned head injuries and performance-enhancing drugs as areas where leagues and their players need to recognize their "power of example" - and to respect Congress' role providing oversight.

U.S. ACKNOWLEDGES RESCUE MISSION IN YEMEN LAST WEEK TO RESCUE LUKE SOMERS. The White House and the Pentagon have acknowledged that the U.S. military launched a secret rescue mission in Yemen last week to rescue American Luke Somers who had been kidnapped by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for almost a year. ABC's LUIS MARTINEZ and MARY BRUCE report Somers was not able to be rescued because he had been moved two days before the daring raid from the cave where he and other hostages were being held by their captors. Somers appeared in a video Thursday released by the group where he pleaded for his release.

NOTED: HOW US MISSED THE CHANCE TO RESCUE SOMERS. ABC's JAMES GORDON MEEK, BRIAN ROSS and LUIS MARTINEZ report on what happened days before the special operations mission.

NAVY PULLS BILL COSBY'S HONORARY CHIEF TITLE AS ALLEGATIONS SWIRL. The Navy has revoked Bill Cosby's honorary title as a Master Chief Petty Officer in the wake of recent allegations of sexual assault involving the famous comedian, ABC's LUIS MARTINEZ reports. The Navy veteran had received the honorary award three years ago. On Thursday Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that Cosby's honorary title of Master Chief Petty Officer had been revoked. In a statement posted on the Navy's website Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens said they were taking the action "because allegations against Mr. Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment."

STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON CAUGHT CRITICIZING US TALKING POINTS ON EGYPT'S MUBARAK. After getting caught criticizing her department's own talking points on the dropping of charges against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki brushed off the "hot mic" moment in an emailed statement to ABC News. "It's just the latest scientific evidence of global warming: now we have to worry about hot mics. But as Secretary Kerry reminded me, I'm in good company in this administration," she quipped. ABC's ALI WEINBERG reports Psaki's impromptu remark came Monday after a briefing in which she read a one-sentence reaction to an Egyptian court's dropping all of Mubarak's charges related to the murder of hundreds of protesters during the Arab spring. "Generally, we continue to believe that upholding impartial standards of accountability will advance the political consensus on which Egypt's long-term stability and economic growth depends, but beyond that I would refer you to the Egyptian government for any further comment," she said.

OBAMAS SING, DANCE AT NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING. The halls of the White House are decked for the holidays, and now so too is that giant Colorado blue spruce in the back yard. With the help of his teleprompter, President Obama and the first family tonight counted down to the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse. The celebration featured a star-studded concert with musical performances by Patti Labelle, NE-YO, Steve Miller, The Tenors and Chely Wright. According to ABC's DEVIN DWYER, the president and his mother-in-law Marian Robinson were seen swaying and clapping to the tunes. Even the first daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, were spotted singing along. Mrs. Obama and star Little League pitcher Mo'ne Davis read "The Night Before Christmas" to a group of young school children. Not to be outdone, President Obama took the stage at the end of the concert to groove with Santa.


HILLARY CLINTON GETS HER FIRST 2016 CAMPAIGN SONG. Looks like someone beat Katy Perry to writing a theme song for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. "Stand with Hillary," a PAC geared towards working families and Latinos, released this country ballad last month, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The song features a chorus of "Now it's time for us to stand up with Hillary." But she's not the first potential candidate to receive support in the form of a musical tune this year. The group "Ready for Warren" urged Sen. Elizabeth Warren to pursue a White House bid with a song appropriately titled "Run Liz Run." Take a look at other campaign related songs through the years - some catchy and some just straight up weird.


@RebeccaJarvis: JUST IN: November Jobs +321K, Unemployment Rate 5.8%. Biggest Monthly Gain Since Jan 2012

@DavidMDrucker: Could hiring/biz confidence have been influenced by results of 2014 elections? It's not inconceivable. Is that what happened? I don't know.

@jonward11: Harry Reid's office says Obama spiked extenders deal to save sweeteners for tax reform. Republicans chuckle …

@DavidCornDC: Elizabeth Warren doesn't like this Treasury nominee. Here's why.

@USATWashington: Obama's former 'body man' writes book via @djusatoday