CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 19, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BIDEN: THE SECOND AMENDMENT HAS LIMITS… Vice President Joe Biden during a Facebook Town Hall: "How can I say this politely? The law does, the Constitution does allow the government to conclude that there are certain types of weapons that no one can legally own. Now, if that were not the case then you should be able to go buy a flamethrower that the military has. You should be able to go, if you are a billionaire, buy an F-15 loaded with ordnance. You should be able to buy an M1 tank. You should be able to buy a machine gun. You should be able to buy a grenade launcher. You can’t do those things."
BUT WHAT DOES HE TELL HIS WIFE? See below…
OBAMA'S DEBT COMMISSION CO-CHAIR WARNS OF POSSIBILITY OF “A FAILED PRESIDENCY”: Former Sen. Alan Simpson in an interview with Politico: “He (Obama) knows what to do and, and if he doesn't get a handle on the entitlements and the solvency of Social Security, he will have a failed presidency. And if he wants to have a legacy of a new FDR or the second, whatever, whatever that is that drives him, that's fine with me. But he will have a failed presidency unless he deals honestly with the entitlements programs without cutting - you know - the poor and the wretched and all the rest and all this stuff and getting solvency for Social Security, then the score card in years to come was he failed. I don't think he wants that at all.”
TIGER TALKS UP THE PRESIDENT'S GAME: Tiger Woods in a press conference to aired on the Golf Channel: “He was my partner,” Woods told reporters about playing with the commander-in-chief. He added, “We won."
GOING VIRAL: Michelle Obama links her haircut to her "midlife crisis" in an interview with Rachael Ray... “This is my midlife crisis, the bangs. I couldn't get a sports car. They won't let me bungee jump. So instead, I cut my bangs.”
Name the current member of Congress who was born in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II.
Congress is out of town, but the clock continues to tick towards the forced federal spending cuts that are scheduled to take affect March 1.
In Washington, these cuts are known as "sequester," but if you are a federal worker it might as well be called a furlough; if you are traveling by air it will mean longer security lines; if you are visiting a national park it means reduced hours, and if you think the federal government has a spending problem, you might think all of these measures are exactly the wake up call America needs to get serious about its debt.
Regardless of your view, you will hear much about defense programs in particular, as these would be cut by 13% for the seven months remaining in the 2013 fiscal year. In all, these forced budget cuts would slash how much federal agencies are allowed to spend by $85 billion over seven months.
Expect these forced budget cuts to be the topic of conversation for the next two weeks and beyond. Our colleague Jeanne Sahadi at CNNMoney.com outlines "What you need to know."
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: High court to hear contentious campaign finance case
The Supreme Court will wade once again into the politically tricky issue of campaign finance laws, agreeing to hear a challenge to individual donation limits in federal election campaigns. At issue is whether strict limits on direct campaign contributions by individuals– in the Federal Election Campaign Act– violate the First Amendment. Oral arguments will be held in the fall. – Bill Mears
Leading CNN.com/Opinion: Obama Can't Kick His Legacy Down The Road
So let's try and recount why we are where we are: In August 2011, Washington was trying to figure out how to raise the debt ceiling—so the United States might continue to pay its bills—when a stunt was hatched: Kick the can down the road. And not only kick it down the road, but do it in a way that would eventually force Washington to do its work: Invent a punishment. If the politicians failed to come up with some kind of budget deal, the blunt instrument of across-the-board cuts in every area would await. Unthinkable! Untenable! Until now. – Gloria Borger
Leading Drudge: Stocks Hit New Highs
Stocks held modest gains across the board Tuesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 trading at fresh five-year highs, lifted by optimism for more corporate deals and as investors returned from the long holiday weekend. – JeeYeon Park for CNBC
Leading HuffPo: Supremes Set To Gut Another Campaign Finance Law?
The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear a case challenging the per-biennial cycle limit on campaign contributions from individuals. The case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, argues that the limit on what individuals are allowed to give candidates ($46,200 per two-year cycle) and parties and PACs ($70,800 per two-year cycle) is an unconstitutional violation of the individual donor's free speech rights. – Paul Blumenthal
Leading Politico: Obama, the puppet master
President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House. Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). And it’s an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access. The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. – Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen
Leading The New York Times: Pro-Gun Lawmakers Are Open to Limits on Size of Magazines
Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, is haunted by many things that emerged from the investigation of the December mass shooting at a Newtown elementary school. Among them is the nagging question of what prompted the gunman, Adam Lanza, to put down his rifle after killing 20 children and pick up the pistol he used to end his own life. “We do know that historically in these instances, amateurs have trouble switching magazines,” Mr. Murphy said, referring to the high-capacity ammunition feeding device used by Mr. Lanza to shoot scores of bullets in seconds. “I believe, and many of the parents there believe, that if Lanza had to switch cartridges nine times versus two times there would likely still be little boys and girls alive in Newtown today.” It is that conviction that has helped put fresh scrutiny on the size of magazines as Congress debates new gun laws. – Jennifer Steinhauer
The political bites of the day
– Obama hammers GOP on March spending cuts, offers to compromise… –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN A SPEECH AT THE WHITE HOUSE…
Charges Republicans are protecting loopholes: “Are you willing to see a bunch of first responders lose their job because you want to protect some special interest loophole? Are you willing to have teachers laid off or kids not have access to Head Start, or deeper cuts in student loan programs just because you want to protect a special tax interest loophole that the vast majority of Americans don’t benefit from? That’s the choice. That’s the question and this is not an abstraction. There are people whose livelihoods are at stake.”
On compromise: “My door is open. I have put tough cuts and reforms on the table. I am willing to work with anybody to get this job done. None of us will get 100% of what we want. But nobody should want these cuts to go through because the last thing our families can afford right now is pain imposed unnecessarily by partisan recklessness and ideological rigidity here in Washington.”
– … but Republicans aren’t buying it –
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL IN A PRESS RELEASE: “Today’s event at the White House proves once again that more than three months after the November election, President Obama still prefers campaign events to common sense, bipartisan action. Surely the president won't cut funds to first responders when just last year Washington handed out an estimated $115 billion in payments to individuals who weren’t even eligible to receive them, or at a time when 11 different government agencies are funding 90 different green energy programs. That would be a terrible and entirely unnecessary choice by a president who claims to want bipartisan reform.”
SENS. JOHN MCCAIN, LINDSEY GRAHAM AND KELLY AYOTTE IN A PRESS RELEASE: “This country needs a commander-in-chief, not a campaigner-in-chief. We call on the president to bring Republicans and Democrats together at the White House and work to avert what his own secretary of defense said would be a ‘devastating’ blow to America’s security. We have offered a common sense plan to avoid these cuts; now, it’s time for the president to fulfill his responsibilities and bring all parties together to solve this looming crisis.”
Gut Check Full Service: The president has yet to call Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or Speaker of the House John Boehner on the forced spending cuts, according to CNN’s Jessica Yellin, even though he offered to compromise at Tuesday’s event by saying his “door is open.” Last week, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met with McConnell and Boehner separately on the cuts. Yellin reports that, according to a GOP source, Reid told each he wants to move a $110 billion measure that includes a combination of increased tax revenue from millionaires, ending agriculture subsidies and reducing defense spending after the war in Afghanistan ends. In their separate meetings McConnell and Boehner conveyed that this is a non-starter for their people and it won’t have the votes.
– Biden to wife: buy a shotgun –
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN DURING A FACEBOOK TOWN HALL: "If you want to protect yourself, get a double barrel shotgun, have the shells, a 12 gauge shotgun and I promise you, as I told my wife, we live in an area that's wooded and it's somewhat secluded. I said, "Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here or walk out, put that double barrel shot gun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you, whoever is coming in is not going to – you don't need an AR-15. It's harder to aim, it's harder to use and in fact, you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun.”
– White House defends level of access given to the press –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “When it comes to solo news conferences where the President of the United States stands up and for 40 minutes, 50 minutes or an hour, takes your questions, allowing reporters to go deep on issues, the president has given 35 of those, President Bush, his immediate predecessor, gave 19. Also, when it comes to interviews, the President has given 591 interviews since he took office. So I think it is clear that we are making an effort to provide access, to make sure the President is being questioned by reporters and anchors and others and we will continue to do that.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Carney disputes Rubio on immigration conversations: "We have been in contact with everyone involved in this effort on Capitol Hill'—
Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) February 19, 2013
We double checked... WH never asked for our input. They sent agency officials to brief gang of 8, but didn't ask for input or discuss policy—
Alex Conant (@AlexConant) February 19, 2013
Gen. John Allen retiring from military, White House issues statement from the president.—
Security Clearance (@natlsecuritycnn) February 19, 2013
Pres Obama on Gen Allen retirement: "he has my deep, personal appreciation for his extraordinary service." #fnr—
Mike Majchrowitz (@Majchrowitz) February 19, 2013
Good news for 401Ks. The Dow hit a 5-year high of 14,040.82. Stocks still need to jump 100+ points to reach a record closing high. #CNN—
Brian Carberry (@CNNBrian) February 19, 2013
Alex Castellanos (@alexcast) February 19, 2013
12 years of CNN Election Briefing books http://t.co/upPjBXAI—
Robert Yoon (@yoonCNN) February 19, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
On this day in 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed executive order 9066, a decision that led to the internment of many Japanese and Korean Americans on the West Coast of the United States during World War II.
Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui of California was born in the Poston, Arizona, camp in 1944 after her parents met and were married in the camp, according to a C-SPAN interview with the congresswoman.
“My parents never really spoke about it,” Matsui said during the C-SPAN interview. “We were encouraged to be all American in that sense. ... They wanted the American dream for me and to a certain degree, in a sense, because they didn't get theirs.”
Doris Matsui first came to Congress after her husband, Rep. Bob Matsui – another Japanese American who was interned during World War II – died in 2005. She has been a member since then and chaired Hillary Clinton's Asian American outreach effort during the 2008 election.
Matsui has cited her families’ internment as the reason for her vocal activism on civil rights.
Roosevelt's executive order was aimed at curtailing “espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material” and authorized the Secretary of War to “provide for residents of any such area who are excluded there from, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary.”
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