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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day

OBAMA AGENDA: Going it alone

John Harwood observes in the New York Times: "For Obama, a Go-It-Alone Push Fits the Times."

Writes Harwood: "Mr. Obama has long since concluded that pursuing dreams of reconciliation in his final two years in office is a fool’s chase. So he is offering an alternative model for 21st-century presidential success. It does not hinge on job approval ratings. As Mr. Obama’s weak poll numbers make clear, he has failed to unite the country."

"His current approach does not depend on bipartisan deal making or good cheer. The president has failed to win over congressional Republicans. It turns, instead, on advancing the major policy goals that Mr. Obama embraced as a candidate. Through that prism, he continues to make progress."

Obama meets at the White House with Prince William at 10:45 am ET (there will be a pool spray at the meeting’s start), and he tapes an interview with Stephen Colbert later in the afternoon.

From NBC's Pete Williams: "Profiling on the basis of religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity by federal law enforcement agencies will be banned, the Justice Department announced Monday. The draft changes have been under review for months and Attorney General Eric Holder was eager to issue them before he steps down. The new policy means that federal law enforcement officers cannot use these characteristics as the basis for making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions like traffic stops. The older rules, in effect since 2003, barred making those stops on the basis of race or ethnicity."

The president will address race and criminal justice in an interview to be aired on BET at 6pm ET Monday. In excerpts released over the weekend, Obama said that racism is "deeply rooted in our society."

From the Wall Street Journal: "The Pentagon isn’t reviewing the use of special-operation forces to rescue hostages despite a weekend mission that led to the death of two men held by militants in Yemen, defense officials said. American Luke Somers and South African Pierre Korkie, who had been held by al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, were killed by their captors Saturday as U.S. forces moved on the compound where they were held. The mission was the third failed U.S. attempt this year to rescue hostages held captive in Syria or Yemen, including an earlier one aimed at helping Mr. Somers."

"A long-awaited Senate report condemning torture by the Central Intelligence Agency has not even been made public yet, but former President George W. Bush’s team has decided to link arms with former intelligence officials and challenge its conclusions," writes the New York Times. "The report is said to assert that the C.I.A. misled Mr. Bush and his White House about the nature, extent and results of brutal techniques like waterboarding, and some of his former administration officials privately suggested seizing on that to distance themselves from the controversial program, according to people involved in the discussion."

Via the AP: "Six prisoners held for 12 years at Guantanamo Bay began their new lives in Uruguay after the United States flew them to the South American country as refugees amid a renewed push by President Barack Obama to close the prison."

Continued protests against the deaths of unarmed black men turned violent in the Bay Area Sunday night, reports the LA Times.

CONGRESS: To govern or oppose? -- that is the question

From NBC's Perry Bacon Jr.: "Fresh off big electoral victories this fall, Republicans are engaged in a growing debate over the future course of the party -- To govern or oppose?"

From the AP, after the Louisiana results this weekend: “Republicans will hold at least 246 House seats come January, according to election results Saturday, giving the GOP a commanding majority that matches the party's post-World War II high during Democratic President Harry S. Truman's administration.”

The latest on this week's funding battle, from POLITICO: "The House and Senate need to pass a government-funding bill and renew a terrorism insurance program this week, the final gasp of legislating before Republicans take full control of Capitol Hill in the next Congress. Both bills are expected to pass before the government shutdown deadline of Thursday, but not without several hectic days of whipping, arm-twisting and legislative bargaining between Republican and Democratic congressional leaders and the White House."

Roll Call interviews Nancy Pelosi about what's next for Democrats as they enter the minority in the House.

From the Washington Post: "Oil, gas and coal interests that spent millions to help elect Republicans this year are moving to take advantage of expanded GOP power in Washington and state capitals to thwart Obama administration environmental rules. Industry lobbyists made their pitch in private meetings last week with dozens of state legislators at a summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-financed conservative state policy group."

OFF TO THE RACES: Cassidy defeats Landrieu in runoff

Via Bloomberg: "Former first lady, senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would enter the presidential race with positive views of her past experience and personal traits, making her a formidable contender against lesser-known Republican rivals. Greater numbers of Americans view her as a strong leader, who has a better vision for the future, shares their values, and empathizes with their concerns, according to a new Bloomberg Politics Poll. Among the Republicans tested against her, former Republican nominee Mitt Romney has the best name recognition and strengths to challenge her standing as this early stage in the 2016 race. Romney, however, has repeatedly said he won't campaign for the presidency for a third time."

The liberal group American Bridge "is releasing a bound book on Monday of opposition research on the potential Republican presidential field. Covering 20 would-be contenders, the '2016 Scouting Report' is a 194-page compilation of innocuous biographical information alongside unflattering pictures and potentially damaging anecdotes and issue positions. Nearly a third of the tome is endnotes, a signal to reporters who may use the information that it is all sourced," the New York Times reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports on how Ted Cruz is facing trouble in his efforts to block the president's immigration initiatives this year.

Writes the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo: Five Signs Jeb Bush is Readying a Presidential Run.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Former Gov. Jim Gilmore hinted at a possible 2016 presidential bid Saturday when he laid out his national agenda for job creation, tax reform and national security before a fired up crowd of Virginia Republicans at the party’s annual Donald W. Huffman Advance." (Really? That 2008 bid by Gilmore didn’t work out so well….)

Sarah Palin has signed on for Rep. Steve King's Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24.

LOUISIANA: As expected, Mary Landrieu was defeated by Republican Bill Cassidy in the state's Saturday runoff election.

Both candidates addressed health care during their election night speeches, notes the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Edwin Edwards also suffered his first defeat at the ballot box.


*** Monday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Craig Melvin interviews NYC Councilman Robert Cornegy on the Eric Garner protests; and Constitutional Attorney Wells Dixon on the Guantanamo prisoners that were transferred to Uruguay.