Talk Media News
 

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.
 

Quick News
  • Iran frees 10 U.S. sailors
  • State of the Union: Hope and regret
  • State of the Union: 4 lines
  • GOP response: Haley swipes Trump
  • GOP 2016ers trash Obama’s speech
  • Clinton: Time to “get real” about Sanders
  • Reid: Admin will pause deportation raids
 
Iran Frees 10 U.S. Sailors (BBC, (Reuters, NYT, me)
• Iran state media reports that all 10 U.S. Navy sailors held for allegedly entering its territorial waters in the Gulf have been freed today. No confirmation from U.S. at time of writing. Earlier today. the Revolutionary Guards told Iranian media that they were interrogating them (this is an odd little story – many aspects of which i find a bit peculiar)
 
• Iran says it detained the 10 sailors who were in two patrol boats, in its territorial waters on Tuesday. Fadavi said the Guards’ investigation showed a broken navigation system had led the sailors into Iranian waters – which is what the Pentagon and State have also said (what – both boats had broken navigation systems? or one went to accompany the other? unclear)
 
• The semiofficial Fars news agency Iran had said that the boats had illegally traveled more than a mile into Iranian waters near Farsi Island. The waters where the boats were sailing are a frequent location for intelligence collection by the U.S., Iran and many gulf countries. The American and Iranian navies encounter each other frequently there
 
• The detention comes just days before the formal implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. Many experts believe that recent actions by the Iranian Navy against American forces in the Gulf may be intended to embarrass FM Javad Zarif and President Rouhani – many senior officers of the IRGC have objected to the nuclear deal and want to kill it (everyone has an agenda here)

State of the Union: Hope and Regret (NYT, WaPo, me)

• President Obama used his final State of the Union address Tuesday to paint a hopeful portrait of the nation, but: “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama said, adding that “a president with the gifts of Lincoln of Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide.”
 
• Obama implicitly singled out GOP 2016er Donald Trump. “Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?”
 
• “Now I’m guessing we won’t agree on health care any time soon,” Obama said at one point, as the sound of a single person clapping on the Republican side could be heard in the chamber. Obama smiled. “A little applause back there,” he said wryly (thought Obama was pretty loose last night)
 
• Obama said America should harness innovation and not be intimidated by it. He called for a “moonshot” effort to cure cancer, to be led by VP Joe Biden “in charge of Mission Control,” who lost his son to the disease last year (Biden’s been working on this for some time)

 

• Watch President Obama deliver his final State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday night
 
• Obama sought to pose and answer the four central questions his aides said were driving the debate about America’s future, including how to ensure opportunity for everyone, how to harness technological change, how to keep the country safe and how to fix the nation’s broken politics
 
• He called for an end to gerrymandering – the gaming of political districts to ensure one party’s advantage – reducing the influence of secretive campaign contributions and making voting easier. Obama also called on Americans to get more involved in politics and participate, a theme of his first campaign and of his presidency
 
• “I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa,” he said with a smile to laughs from lawmakers at the start of the speech, acknowledging the political season. “I’ve been there. I’ll be shaking hands afterward, if you want some tips.” (hard to believe that line is being criticized on social media – it was funny – and fellow pols got it)
 
• Obama called for compromise with Republicans on an overhaul of the criminal justice system, approval of a broad free trade agreement spanning the Pacific Rim and new initiatives to address poverty and the opioid crisis in the U.S. He proposed to provide jobless workers with retraining
 
• Watch Obama rib the 2016ers in the audience about Iowa at his final SOTU (CNN)

 

• He repeated past calls for legislative action on his domestic initiatives that have fallen short, including raising the minimum wage, revising the nation’s immigration laws and enacting stricter gun restrictions
 
• He used the speech to trace the arc of his presidency and its major themes: the economic collapse and its recovery, the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the push for free trade and climate pacts and his failed bids for an immigration overhaul and new gun laws (it was a legacy speech, and he mixed the undone with the done)
 
• He defended his approach to taking on ISIS, describing it as a dangerous threat to the U.S. that must be dealt with, but not an existential one, and not a force that warrants a commitment of American ground forces in Iraq and Syria (general GOP freakout post-speech about that)
 
• Obama also said the U.S. is uniquely positioned to rally other countries to solve global problems, highlighting his work in forging a nuclear deal with Iran – no mention of the captured Navy boats – opening a new era of relations with Cuba, climate change agreement in Paris and efforts to stop the spread of Ebola
 
• He returned to the topic of gasoline prices – the subject of frequent past GOP attacks – “under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad.” As he left the House chamber for the last time, he shook hands, signed autographs, then turned – a literal look back to follow the rhetorical ones in his speech. “Let me look at this thing one last time,” Obama said. “That’s kind of cool.”

 

• Watch President Obama say the U.S. has to take out terrorists who “pose a direct threat to our people,” but that “over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands”
State of the Union: 4 Lines (Politico, Politico, Hill, me)
• Us: “That’s the country we love – clear-eyed, big-hearted, optimistic and unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of the Union is strong.”
 
• Trump: “That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”
 
• Cruz: “Our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians” / Christie: “as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.”
 

• Al Qaeda/ISIS: “Both al Qaeda and now ISIL now pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the internet to poison the  minds of individuals inside our country. Their actions undermine and destabilize our allies. We have to take them out.”

GOP Response: Haley Swipes Trump (Politico, me)
• Gov Nikki Haley (R-SC) offered a not-so-subtle rebuke of Donald Trump’s fiery immigration rhetoric as part of her response to President Obama’s State of the Union. “No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.” (she’s ambitious, she wants the veep spot – and bets Trump won’t be nominee)

• “Today we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” Haley said, adding that she is “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country.”
 

• Haley made headlines this summer for backing an effort to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds following the racially-motivated massacre of several blacks in an African American church. Since then, she’s only risen in prominence and is looked at in the GOP as a possible VP pick (they desperately need a woman and a minority – cynical but true)
 
• “We didn’t have violence, we had vigils. We didn’t have riots, we had hugs. We didn’t turn against each other’s race or religion; we turned toward God,” she said. She hit some solid GOP themes. They “would recognize the importance of the separation of powers and honor the Constitution in its entirety. And yes, that includes the Second and Tenth Amendments.”
 
• The Republican establishment praised her response, but the right-wing panned it. Author (and racist) Ann Coulter tweeted: “Trump should deport Nikki Haley.” Talk show host Laura Ingraham tweeted: “Too bad @NikkiHaley missed her oppty to stand w/ working ppl who want borders enforced, American workers put first, govt shrunk.”

 

• Watch Gov Nikki Haley (R-SC) deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address

 

GOP 2016ers Trash Obama’s Speech (Hill, me)
• GOP front runner Donald Trump panned the speech as “really boring, slow, lethargic – very hard to watch.” (boring? they all are a bit. lethargic? actually pretty energetic) Jeb Bush tweeted: “Safer? ISIS on the rise. North Korea testing nukes. Syria in chaos. Taliban on march. This president is living in a different world. #SOTU”
 
• Ted Cruz said the speech was “less a state of the union than a state of denial” and hammered President Obama for not referencing the ongoing situation with Iran. “This speech, he didn’t say a word about the Paris terror attacks, he didn’t say a word about San Bernardino,” Cruz said in an interview
 
• Marco Rubio has stayed quiet so far. John Kasich chided Obama’s admin as the failure of “on-the-job training” in his campaign statement. Carly Fiorina framed Obama’s speech as politics as usual in her statement and said it underscored the need for a political outsider as president
 
• Ben Carson tweeted the speech was “the perfect example of why we must reform Washington DC and give the power back to We the People.” Rand Paul attacked the president in a video as a “leader with a record of failure in search of any meaningful positive legacy.”

 

• New Reuters rolling poll nationwide: Donald Trump 39%; Ted Cruz 14.5%; Jeb Bush 10.6%; Ben Carson 9.6%; Marco Rubio 6.7%; Wouldn’t vote 5.2%; Chris Christie 4.3%; Carly Fiorina 3.3%; Rand Paul 3.1%; Mike Huckabee 1.8%. Between 6 and 12 Jan Carson fell significantly in the South East compared with the rest of the country (Reuters)
 

Clinton: Time to “Get Real” About Sanders (Hill, Politico, me)
• Hillary Clinton said in Ames, Iowa, Tuesday that it’s time to “get real” about the differences she has with other Dem candidates, particularly Bernie Sanders. “I find it kind of interesting, you know, he voted against the Brady Bill five times. … He says, ‘Well, I’m from Vermont.’ Pat Leahy, the other senator from Vermont, voted against immunity for the gun lobby.” (true)

• She noted that she backed the Affordable Care Act. “He

[Sanders] wants to roll Medicare, Medicaid, the children’s health insurance program and private health insurance into a national system and then turn it over to the states to administer.” That would empower GOP state governors, Clinton contended. “If that’s the kind of revolution he’s talking about, I’m worried, folks.”

• Clinton hit back on Sanders’ critique that she hadn’t done enough to regulate Wall Street in the Senate. “I went after carried interest, the hedge fund billionaire special loophole, I went after derivatives and swaps and corporate executive compensation,” she said. “I’ve got the scars to show for it and I’m proud of every single one of them.” (scars of failure?)

• Polls show the race tightening. A new Quinnipiac University poll out Tuesday found Sanders moving ahead of Clinton in Iowa, 49% to 45%; another Quinnipiac poll showed Sanders ahead by 14% in New Hampshire

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has teed up a procedural vote for 20 Jan on legislation, already approved by the House, halting the acceptance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until authorities can verify that terrorists aren’t trying to infiltrate the program. Democrats have repeatedly pledged to block the bill from getting 60 votes (Hill)

Reid: Admin Will Pause Deportation Raids (Politico, AP, Hill, me)
• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said Tuesday that he spoke to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and anticipated that the WH would pause the recent immigration raids that have enraged Democrats. “I think we’re moving forward to a resolution,” Reid said. No immediate comment from DHS or WH officials

• Reid’s comments came as WH counsel Neil Eggleston went to Capitol Hill Tuesday to meet with House Democrats furious about the recent immigration raids. The meeting (fly on wall) came as House Democrats were set to hold a presser denouncing Obama’s deportation policies and release a letter signed by 139 lawmakers calling for the deportations to stop

• “It’s just unacceptable,” said Rep Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill). “I’ve been 99.9% with this president of the U.S. but in this particular case, when his admin sows the seeds of terror throughout the immigrant community of the U.S. and millions of people are affected, that’s what I’m going to concern myself with.”

• The number of Central American families and unaccompanied minors arriving at the border this fall more than doubled from the year before, according to the most recent figures. The number could go even higher beginning in February and early spring, when arrivals traditionally increase – potentially eclipsing the levels that produced the 2014 crisis

• WH officials say the tactics are in line with new deportation policies outlined by the Obama admin that prioritize criminals and recent arrivals. All those targeted had arrived after 2014 and had exhausted their legal options (maybe, but unaccompanied minors, in particular, have had poor legal representation, and may not have been able to tell their stories)

• Rocking into Wednesday with David Bowie’s final UK live performance 10 years ago. “Comfortably Numb” with David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall 2006

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Victoria Jones – Editor