A daily afternoon news summary, in five parts; what you need to know; also, a hint of science.
1. President Obama's speech will run approx. 50 to 60 minutes; Gov. Jindal's response runs 10-15;..... Pollster Stan Greenberg is conducting dial groups for public consumption; the DNC is (probably) paying for dial groups of their own for consumption by the Axelrod/Gaspard shop at the White House. ..... Obama's average approval rating is... average, for presidents at the end of their first month. Gallup pegs the number as less than 60% "for the first time" since becoming president....defense hawks watch for Obama's indication of deep Pentagon budget cuts.....get Larry Summers some 5 Hour Energy! .... Ahead of speech, GOP and Dems spar over message; GOP's message: the government can't spend without a plan to pay for things, and Obama's budget plan risks burdening future generations...... The Dem message: the GOP has no credibility on fiscal responsibility whatsover ..... Sen. Schumer introduces legislation to force states to accept stimulus money.....Fed's Bernanke says that, with right mix of monetary policy and fiscal policy, recession could end this year.
2. RNC chairman Michael Steele thinks it'd be "crazy" for Republicans to concede the issue of civil unions to gay rights activists ..... business groups pleased with SCOTUS ruling that allows states to prohibit payroll deductions from union members being used for political purposes. Dissenters say that union speech will be chilled. ..... SCOTUS also upholds the Lautenberg Domestic Violence Act, which limits firearm purchases for convicted domestic abusers. .... Alan Keyes calls Barack Obama a "radical communist." .... Sen. John McCain takes your questions on the CBS News post-speech webcast....Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R): "I don't even know the congressional leadership. I don't listen or read whatever it is they say because it is inconsequential - completely."
3. An assistant general counsel for the CIA makes the case that the agency's "crown jewels" -- the decisions about targeted assassinations, experimenting on people without their knowledge, etc -- were lawful when they were made. ..... Politico reporters who fail to put the publication's name is caps will be flogged, kind of like Home Depot employees who don't refer to the company as "The Home Depot." .... The Department of Homeland Security has designated the budget address as a National Security Special Event ..... Sens. Levin and McCain introduce major defense procurement reform legislation .....
4. Go USA! Fermilab gains on Large Hadron Collector in race to identify the Higgs gauge boson, which, via a complex set of interactions with the Higgs field, gives massive particles their mass. (The favored metaphor is that it gives particles their inertia in empty space, though that's not really true.) Its discovery would be a major new confirmation of the Standard Model. .... Scientists tackle the tradeoff between biofuel harvesting and rainforest preservation.
5. Free breakfast tomorrow: At 8:30 a.m., join Chuck Todd of NBC News, Alexis Simendinger of National Journal, me, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and a half dozen members of Congress at the National Press Club for a "spirited discussion' of the State of the Union. RSVP to LPolloway@theatlantic.com.