Can Obama avoid speaking on officer killings?

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Buzz Cut:
• Can Obama avoid speaking on officer killings?
• Power Play: Crossroads driving hard for 2016
• Rand, Rubio still sparring on foreign policy
• Hillary thins herd for campaign manager
• Peak hipster achieved

How long can President Obama avoid speaking publicly on the execution-style killings of two New York Police officers on Saturday? While many officers are killed in the line of duty – 27 in 2013 alone – the New York murders come after weeks of protests aimed at officers and encouraged by the president over the deaths of criminal suspects in Missouri and New York. And since the evidently deranged man who killed the officers seemed to have taken inspiration from the movement, there is a greater obligation for the president to speak forcefully. Another complicating factor: The New York killings come after two of the presidents’ advisers on law enforcement issues, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and MSNBC host Al Sharpton, have spent weeks denouncing police misconduct. De Blasio even went so far as to say that he worried his own son, who is half African American, might be harmed by police. Obama has issued a written statement about the slain officers, but so far has not appeared publicly.

[“This is an American problem. When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem. And it’s my job as president to help solve it.” President Obama in public remarks on Dec. 3, the same day a New York grand jury declined to indict an officer for the death of Eric Garner.]

Pressure grows - By comparison, Obama spoke out in nearly real time about the grand jury decisions that helped nurture the protests of police tactics and alleged racism that have continued since the end of September. With police departments across the country on high alert for similar attacks and protests still ongoing, will Obama feel obliged to interrupt his winter break to offer some guidance on the subject? He broke away briefly from his summer vacation to make remarks about the beheading of an American at the hands of Islamist militants. The pressure is growing from police and their supporters for Obama to do the same for the slain officers. Can he resist?

Christie, Martinez demand return of cop killers protected by Castro regime - Fox News: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is urging President Obama to demand that Cuba return convicted police-killer Joanne Chesimard before he proceeds with efforts to improve diplomatic relations with that country. Chesimard was found guilty of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973 before escaping from prison and fleeing to Cuba. The 67-year-old Chesimard has since been provided safe haven by the Cuban government.”

KQRE: “A militant accused of executing a New Mexico State Police officer, then hijacking a plane in Albuquerque may finally face justice if the Obama administration listens to a new plea from Governor Susana Martinez and State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.” The case involves Charlie Hill who, with two other men, allegedly shot and killed New Mexico police officer Robert Rosenbloom and then hi-jacked a plane to Cuba in 1971. Governor Martinez has drafted a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for the Obama Administration’s help in pressing for Hill’s return.

Arizona Daily Sun: “State transportation officials are anticipating a crush of customers Monday as ‘dreamers’' may flood Motor Vehicle Division offices to finally get licenses to drive. Beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, more than 22,000 Arizonans who have qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will become legally able to drive. But first they have to apply for and qualify for a license…The rush comes following a preliminary injunction issued Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell prohibiting Arizona from refusing to license DACA recipients. These are individuals who arrived in this country illegally as children and meet other conditions…ADOT spokesman Tim Tait said the licenses issued to dreamers will be identical to those given to other Arizonans who meet the requirements to drive -- with one significant difference: The licenses will self-destruct on a regular basis. That is because the DACA status -- and the employment authorization documents -- are currently good for only two years, though they are renewable.”

‘Toughest sheriff’ gets first draw in Obama immigration fight- Bloomberg: “Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking a federal judge in Washington today to suspend two of President Barack Obama’s immigration directives until a ruling is made on whether he overstepped his authority.”

[According to the latest Gallup poll, President Obama’s approval rating has inched up to a 7-month high at 47 percent.]

Immigration, ObamaCare, taxes, energy top growing list of contenders for reconciliation vote - The Hill: “Republicans on and off Capitol Hill are rallying behind using a rarely-deployed budget tool next year to dismantle ObamaCare. But the issue of how to use “budget reconciliation” has divided Republicans, with some calling for it to be implemented to overhaul the tax code or to push through major energy reforms. The tool is useful because it could allow newly-empowered Senate Republicans to pass legislation with a 51-vote simple majority rather than the usual 60, greatly increasing the chances of moving legislation to President Obama’s desk. And while Obama is certain to veto anything that tries to roll back his landmark healthcare law, Republicans increasingly see reconciliation as an important messaging tool to help paint a contrast with Democrats on Obamacare ahead of 2016…Republicans will likely settle on a strategy in mid-January when they map out their 2015 agenda at a joint House and Senate retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania. But Republicans are keenly aware that they’ll have to navigate a series of hurdles before they can deploy reconciliation.”

[Forbes reports on the ties both Republican frontrunner former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton have with Tenet Healthcare, a strong supporter for ObamaCare.]

After a rebuke from the CEO of Sony Pictures over saying it was a “mistake” for the studio to not release a movie after terror threats from hackers believed to be in league with the Communist dictatorship of North Korea, President Obama doubled down on his criticism. In an interview with CNN, Obama said that the studio’s failure to ask him to intervene with theater owners anxious about the possibility of an attack was their main failure. “Had they talked to me directly about this decision,” Obama said. “I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was.”

“No, I don’t think it was an act of war.  I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very costly, very expensive.  We take it very seriously.  We will respond proportionally, as I said.” President Obama on CNN’s “State of the Union” Watch here.

Car brands are named based on a variety of factors often including the name of the designer. But how did a decidedly German car end up with a decidedly non-German name like Mercedes. It was on this day in 1900 that Austrian car racer, Emil Jellinek became the first Mercedes owner. So eager for a sleeker and lighter car that would travel faster and win races easily, Jellinek went to the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft plant demanding the fastest car they could create. He negotiated a deal to purchase 36 vehicles and as part of the package, Daimler agreed to name the line after his then 11-year-old daughter, Mercedes. The car was such a hit that two years later the company legally registered the Mercedes name and Jellinek himself changed the family name to Jellinek-Mercedes in appreciation for his latest race cars.

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42.5 percent//Disapprove – 52.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 25.9 percent//Wrong Track – 66.5 percent

Paul Lindsay
of American Crossroads joins Chris Stirewalt to talk about the groups’ $50 million winning effort for GOP candidates in the 2014 midterms, lessons learned and to look ahead at 2016. Will Crossroads remain a primary-election player? How about for the presidential field? WATCH HERE.

Party power? - A surprise addition to the lame duck spending bill gives political parties more power to raise big bucks. What’s the effect on groups like Crossroads? WATCH HERE.

[FT: “Campaign finance experts say anyone considering a [presidential] run will have to raise at least $100m just to be seen as a credible candidate. To win, the cost is expected to top $1bn — nearly $1.5m for every day between now until November 8, 2016. That is an awful lot of handshakes.” ]

Bloomberg: “One of the leading candidates to manage Hillary Clinton’s expected campaign for U.S. president in 2016 has withdrawn from the running. ‘I’ve been a part of some great campaigns and worked for terrific people, but want to explore other ways I can be of service,’ Guy Cecil said in an e-mailed statement. Cecil, the political director of Clinton’s losing 2008 presidential race, was the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the past two election cycles. Democrats gained two seats in the 2012 election but lost control of the Senate in last month’s midterms…Cecil said he’ll assist her from the outside if she runs. ‘There is no one better prepared to be our next president than Secretary Clinton, and I hope she runs,’ he said. ‘I will help however I can.’”

[In the latest ABC/WaPo poll, Hillary Clinton keeps her frontrunner status but loses ground against other potential Democratic candidates at 63 percent. Vice President Joe Biden finishes a distant second at 14 percent.]

In an interview with the Boston Herald, freshman Democrat Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, left the door open for an endorsement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.: “Whatever [she] wants to do she’s going to excel at. She has been adamant that she’s not running for president and I take her at her word for that. If things change, we’ll see.” In 2008, the endorsement of then-Sen. Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, now ambassador to Japan, for rival Sen. Barack Obama helped seal Clinton’s fate.

The Hill: “The foreign policy battle between Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) escalated Sunday on the political talk shows and Twitter, with the Florida lawmaker labeling Paul the ‘chief cheerleader’ of [President Obama’s] foreign policy…Paul struck back on Twitter a few hours after Rubio’s appearance on ‘This Week,’ saying the Florida Republican had forgotten to mention his own ‘support for Obama's funding of [the Muslim] Brotherhood, arming Islamic rebels, and Hillary's war in Libya.’…The bickering was just the latest in the bickering between the two lawmakers. In an interview earlier this week with Fox News’s ‘The Kelly File,’ Rubio said Paul had ‘no idea what he’s talking about.’ The Kentucky Republican fired back on the same program the following night, branding Rubio an isolationist and saying his criticism was ‘rude and inappropriate.’”

“Well, first of all, [Rand Paul]-- if he wants to become the chief cheerleader of [President Obama’s] foreign policy he certainly has a right to do that.  I’m going to continue to opposed the Obama-Paul foreign policy on Cuba, because I know it won’t lead to freedom and liberty for the Cuba people, which is my sole interest here.” –Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on ABC’s “This Week”

Southern rock for the GOP in 2016? - A movement to pack a strong dose of Southern punch into the Republican 2016 presidential primary contest is gaining traction, Politico reports: “Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas – are coordinating to hold their primary on March 1, 2016…[The so-called ‘SEC Primary’] would present a crucial early test for Republican White House hopefuls among the party’s most conservative voters … The Republican National Committee changed its rules this year to try pushing back the Iowa caucuses from January in 2012 to February in 2016. New penalties also make it virtually impossible for any state other than New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to vote before the end of that month. The Southern states, which are preparing to lock in March 1 through a combination of legislative and executive actions, want to be first out of the gate afterward.”

[The Outlaws - Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been the man pushing the plan. In February, Kemp told Erick Erickson on WSB Radio that he believed voters were frequently ‘frustrated that the presidential primary race was over before Georgians ever got to vote.”]

Mitt backers say 2012 nominee still months from final decision - Detroit News: “‘[Mitt Romney is] waiting to see whether Bush and [Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.] get traction,’ says a major Romney fundraiser. ‘If they falter, he may get in — if he can convince his wife.’… Michigan friends say they don’t expect a decision from Romney until late spring or early summer.”

What’s Jeb’s Iowa strategy? - The Hill: “Iowa Republicans from across the party believe Bush may have a chance in the state if [he] dedicates the time and energy to woo voters. But, they say he has a ton of work to do to convince Iowa conservatives that he’s one of them.”

It takes a lot of hunger or chutzpah to actually eat what you hit with your vehicle, but what about wearing it? A Massachusetts woman is making bespoke, $1,000-per-item garments from what she calls “accidental fur.” Modern Farmer magazine profiled furrier Pamela Paquin who has used the remains of bears, foxes, beavers, raccoons, otters and fawns killed on highways and byways to make items including muffs, leg warmers and hats. Aside from her promise that the animals died by accident and provision of an American Indian ceremony for the disposal of the parts that cannot be made into accessories, Paquin provides her customers with a silver badge to wear on the fur so that any animal-rights activists encountered by the wearer will know that the garment was “sustainably” sourced. From the magazine: “All animals are registered with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and customers receive details about the animal’s recovery as well as clues into the life it might have lived. ‘Each animal has a story,’ she says.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.