Expectations low for Joe Biden, NRA talks: “Vice President Joe Biden and the NRA are sitting down Thursday morning to talk gun control. Up next for a talk: Wal-Mart. But don’t be fooled that the high-profile meetings are going to get much done. The National Rifle Association doesn’t want new gun laws. And Wal-Mart sells a lot of guns, and has a lot of gun owners for customers, so the retail giant doesn’t want to look too close to the White House’s anti-gun push either, one source familiar with the company’s stance said.” (Politico)

Gun sanity needs bipartisanship: “The first and most important victory for advocates of sensible gun laws would, on almost any other matter, seem trivial. But when it comes to firearms, it’s huge: Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, attention to the issue has not waned and pressure for action has not diminished. Please don’t dismiss this achievement. Consider that until so many children were gunned down, the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers for which it speaks were able to block calls for a legislative response in the wake of one massacre after another,” writes Brookings’ E.J. Dionne. (Washington Post)

5 senators to watch in gun control debate. (Washington Post)

Lurching left: Obama’s Hagel pick: “Obama went ahead with the Hagel nomination even though Hagel has been greeted with sharp criticism from many of his fellow Republicans and with eloquent silence by elected Democrats. It’s not difficult to understand why. On foreign-policy and defense issues, Hagel stands not somewhere between the two parties but conspicuously to the left not only of Republicans but of most Democrats — and to the left of many of the president’s own policies,” writes AEI’s Michael Barone. (National Review)

Hagel’s military service is a scant qualification for defense secretary: “You may like the idea of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary or loathe it. You may consider his views on Iran sound or feeble, his comments about “the Jewish lobby” inoffensive or ugly, his views on a policy of extensive assassination — sorry, “taking terrorists off the battlefield” — unremarkable or chilling, his apology for harsh remarks about a gay ambassador sincere or opportunistic. Whatever you believe about any of those things, you should disregard what appears to be President Obama’s chief case for nominating him: that he served honorably as a sergeant in Vietnam, where he was twice wounded in combat,” writes Eliot Cohen. (Washington Post)

Pull back the curtain on drones: Brennan, more than any other single official, represents the program. He served as a foreign policy adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007. He subsequently led the President-elect’s review of U.S. intelligence policies, and was rumored to be a leading candidate for CIA director in November 2008. However, human rights groups and psychologists opposed Brennan based on his 25-year history in the CIA, including in senior positions when the agency engaged in rendition and torture. Brennan claimed he opposed these policies at the time — though his CIA peers could not recall this — then ultimately withdrew his name for consideration,” writes CFR’s Micah Zenko. (New York Daily News)

Why we need a debt ceiling fight: “President Obama says he won’t agree to spending cuts in return for Republicans’ raising the debt ceiling. Yet he did exactly that in 2011. And he should do it again. The debt ceiling ought to be raised because nobody has a plan to eliminate the deficit immediately, and there’s no popular support for doing what that would take,” writes AEI’s Ramesh Ponnuru. (National Review)

When deficits became good: “As a senator and presidential candidate, Barack Obama said that he detested budget deficits. In 2006, when the aggregate national debt was almost $8 trillion less than it is today, he blasted George W. Bush’s chronic borrowing and refused to vote for upping the debt ceiling: “Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’”. . . In his first term, Obama has added more than $5 trillion to the national debt, borrowing more in four years than the “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” Bush did in eight. In fact, Obama is on schedule to add more total debt by the end of his two terms than all prior presidents combined. What happened to worries about leaving our children with a “debt they cannot repay”? And where did all that borrowed money go, given that the war in Iraq has been over for more than a year, and we are winding down in Afghanistan?” writes Hoover’s Victor Davis Hanson. (National Review)

In campaign for tougher gun laws, Obama and allies work to tilt public opinion: “The White House is working with its allies on a well-financed campaign in Washington and around the country to shift public opinion toward stricter gun laws and provide political cover to lawmakers who end up voting for an assault-weapons ban or other restrictions on firearms. With President Obama preparing to push a legislative agenda aimed at curbing the nation’s gun violence, pillars of his political network, along with independent groups, are raising millions of dollars and mapping out strategies in an attempt to shepherd new regulations through Congress.” (Washington Post)

Room for Debate asks: The vicious rape and murder by five men and a boy on a Delhi bus has electrified the public in India, which by some measures has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. The case has fueled demands for an end to degrading attitudes, customs and laws that persist in a rapidly changing society. Women are calling for not only protection against violence, but also measures to overcome inequality. How can Indian women gain power so they would not only be safe, but also have more say in their nation’s future? (New York Times)

Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald: “New York City last year saw its lowest number of homicides in 50 years. Enjoy it while it lasts — because federal Judge Shira Scheindlin is on her way to decimating one of the NYPD’s most critical crime-fighting tools. On Tuesday, Scheindlin issued a preliminary injunction against the department, holding that its officers were systematically making unconstitutional trespass stops in The Bronx. And that’s just the first of a trio of stop-and-frisk lawsuits she’s hearing against the NYPD, all brought by anti-police advocacy groups and elite law firms.” (New York Post)


CAP’s Matt Miller: The robots are coming. (Washington Post