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First Read’s Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: A nation of diktats -- or standard operating procedure?

David Brooks warns on immigration: "Instead of a nation of laws, we could slowly devolve into a nation of diktats, with each president relying on and revoking different measures on the basis of unilateral power — creating unstable swings from one presidency to the next. If President Obama enacts this order on the transparently flimsy basis of “prosecutorial discretion,” he’s inviting future presidents to use similarly flimsy criteria. Talk about defining constitutional deviancy down."

Flashback for Brooks, per the AP: “Two presidents have acted unilaterally on immigration — and both were Republican. Ronald Reagan and his successor George H.W. Bush extended amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986. Neither faced the political uproar widely anticipated if and when President Barack Obama uses his executive authority to protect millions of immigrants from deportation.”

And speaking of flashbacks… The New York Times digs up Obama's previous statements about executive action on immigration, including his warning that such a move would be "very difficult to defend legally."

Amid criticism from the relatives of some American beheading victims, the Wall Street Journal writes that the Obama administration is reviewing how it handles U.S. hostages abroad.

From NBC's Perry Bacon Jr.: "Obamacare advocates working around their state governments to implement the law. In Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and other states, there is intense organizing by coalitions of groups to sign people up for Obamacare, which started open enrollment on Nov. 15 for its second year. In some states, these efforts are led by openly liberal groups, such as the Texas Organizing Project, which is involved heavily in ACA promotion but also backed Democrat Wendy Davis’ unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign."

McClatchy: “Barack Obama was changing the political map, pushing the Democratic Party into the South and the Mountain West. He was building a new social network that would endure long after an Obama presidency. And he was building a new Democratic coalition for a new age, with greater turnout from young and minority voters. Today, those ambitions are in tatters.”

The AP: "With just two years left in power, President Barack Obama is elevating his efforts to combat global warming as he seeks to leave an imprint on the world that will endure after he's gone. It's a strategy rooted not only in Obama's long-stated support for such efforts, but also in political reality."

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Citing “the possibility of expanded unrest,” Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday declared a state of emergency and prepared to send the Missouri National Guard to help maintain order in the St. Louis region when a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown case."

Japan’s prime minister is calling for national elections next month amid a faltering economy.

Reuters: “Two Palestinians armed with a meat cleaver and a gun killed four people in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday before being shot dead by police, the deadliest such incident in six years in the holy city amid a surge in religious conflict.”

CONGRESS: Getting from 59 to 60

NBC's Frank Thorp reports that there are 59 public "yeas" so far for approving the Keystone XL pipeline going into this afternoon's Senate vote, but proponents are scrambling for one more for a filibuster-proof majority.

More on Keystone, from the New York Times: "White House advisers have repeatedly said that they do not intend to issue a final decision until a Nebraska court issues a verdict on the route of the pipeline through that state. But that decision is expected to come as soon as January, the same month that an incoming Republican-majority Congress can be expected to send another Keystone bill to the president’s desk — one that could be within a few votes of a veto-proof majority. If that is the case, people familiar with the president’s thinking say that in 2015 he might use Keystone as a bargaining chip: He would offer Republicans approval of it in exchange for approval of one of his policies."

POLITICO gets some House Democrats on the record upset at Nancy Pelosi's leadership style -- and her unwillingness to step aside.

NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell profiles Rep.-elect Mike Bost.

About five dozen U.S. ambassador nominees have been waiting months for confirmation, but the good news is that the Senate is starting to work through the backlog.

Something to keep an eye on, via The Hill: "He hasn’t even taken his first vote in Congress, but incoming freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo is already breaking with his party on immigration."

OFF TO THE RACES: Begich concedes to Sullivan in Alaska

The new head of the DCCC will be Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico.

NBC's Andrew Rafferty writes that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is feeling some backlash for his support of gay marriage, but it has not yet materialized into a real political problem for the senator.

Chris Christie doled out some advice for GOP House freshman, reports NBC's Kelly O'Donnell.

From yesterday: CNN reports on how Republicans and outside groups shared internal polling information on anonymous Twitter accounts.

ALASKA: Democrat Sen. Mark Begich conceded to Republican Dan Sullivan Monday in the state’s hard-fought Senate race, which the AP and NBC News called for Sullivan last week.

FLORIDA: Bobby Jindal's former spokeswoman is going to be Rick Scott's new chief of staff, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

LOUISIANA: The National Rifle Association is going after Mary Landrieu on gun control, reports Bloomberg News.

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Patricia Bynes, Democratic Committeewoman of Ferguson Township, on the Missouri state of emergency; Ian Goodman, energy expert, on today’s Keystone vote; Mickey MacIntrye from Compassion and Choices on Brittany Maynard’s mother’s response to critics on her choice to die with dignity; and Zach Bonner, teen founder of Little Red Wagon Foundation, on the Guinness record for most canned goods collected in 24 hours.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Rep. Steny Hoyer, Sen. Pat Leahy, Sen.-elect Gary Peters, MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Trymaine Lee, NBC’s Martin Fletcher and Ayman Mohyeldin, USA Today’s Susan Page and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.