ESSENTIAL #1: “STATE OF THE UNION: POLITICALLY WOUNDED FROM THE SHUTDOWN, TRUMP FACES A TOUGH TIME WITH HIS AGENDA” MICHAEL COLLINS, USA TODAY
From the article: “President Donald Trump hinted last week that one theme of his State of the Union address on Tuesday will be unity.
The current state of his presidency: turbulence and uncertainty.
Trump will deliver his call for harmony in a new era of divided government and at a time when he has been weakened politically by a just-ended government shutdown – the longest in U.S. history – and by other factors”
ESSENTIAL #2: “VIRGINIA GOVERNOR WEIGHS RESIGNATION AS LT. GOVERNOR FAIRFAX FACES SEX ASSAULT ALLEGATION” GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND LAURA VOZZELLA, THE WASHINGTON POST
From the article: “The state Capitol hit a new level of chaos Monday as Gov. Ralph Northam (D) asked staffers to stand by as he decided his fate, while the man who would succeed him, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), denied a sexual assault allegation that appeared on a conservative website.
Northam gathered Cabinet members and staffers Monday to apologize for the pain caused by a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page and told them he was still weighing options, according to several people who attended.
The governor urged staffers not to quit and promised to decide his fate soon, but how soon was left unsaid, according to three people familiar with what transpired, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to decribe a private meeting. It could take days, according to one person familiar with his thinking.”
ESSENTIAL #3: “MEDICAL CARE FOR ABORTION SURVIVORS BLOCKED BY SENATE DEMOCRAT” CHRISTINE ROUSSELLE, CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY
From the article: “Senate Democrats rejected on Monday an effort to ensure that babies who survive abortion attempts receive medical care.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act, and looked to pass the bill Feb. 4 via unanimous consent. That process means one senator can stop the vote by raising an objection.”
ESSENTIAL #4: “THE REAL PROBLEM WITH AN INDEPENDENT RUN FOR PRESIDENT” RYAN COOPER, THE WEEK
From the article: “Yet in all his interviews and speeches, Schultz has not once identified the major reason why there is no national third party. The reason is that America is a two-party state— where both the GOP and the Democrats are part of the government and have used state power to erect near-insurmountable barriers to third party competition.
Here's how it works. As Seth Ackerman explained in detail some time ago, Democratic and Republican Party bosses have conspired over the years to make running outside the two-party system all but impossible. Third parties or independent candidates are saddled with tremendous signature-collection requirements (hundreds or thousands of times as many as in peer nations), and other burdensome rules. Then the ones that do fulfill onerous legal requirements are subject to intense legal harassment, typically by the dominant party in whatever state is in question. This is usually carried out by party hack lawyers getting party hack judges to disqualify signatures, filing endless lawsuits quibbling over candidate eligibility, or other such tactics.”