THE BIG IDEA:

— In a stark contrast to George W. Bush, who has carefully stayed above the political fray since leaving office in 2009, Dick Cheney has embraced with gusto his role as a partisan attack dog. So it’s historically unusual but not totally surprising that Senate Democrats are skipping a ceremony at the Capitol Visitor Center later this morning to unveil a marble bust of the former vice president.

Under the Constitution, the vice president serves as president of the Senate and can break tie votes. Honoring the VP with a bust is a tradition that dates back to 1886.

During an 11 a.m. event, remarks will be delivered by former President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Then Lynne Cheney will pull a curtain off the sculpture, and the guest of honor will make closing remarks.

Senate Democrats conveniently scheduled a caucus meeting that coincides with the ceremony so they can talk about the end-of-year spending bill, and the White House scheduled a meeting for members of Congress involved in the legislative push for criminal justice reform.

UPDATE: Three hours after The Daily 202 went out at 7:30 a.m., Republicans announced that Joe Biden will speak at the event. Until the last minute, the vice president was slated only to attend.  

— There remains bad blood on both sides.

In June 2004, Cheney cursed Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) while on the Senate floor. Go “f–k yourself,” said the man who was a heartbeat from the presidency. He was upset about Leahy’s criticism of his former company, Halliburton, receiving no-bid contracts for the Iraq rebuilding effort.

Instead of apologizing, Cheney doubled down. “You’d be surprised how many people liked that,” he said when asked about the F-bomb in 2010. “That’s sort of the best thing I ever did!”

Leahy will be with President Obama at the White House during the event. Asked about the Cheney statue, the longest-serving member of the Senate quipped to the 202: “I think I can read his lips!”

— Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid was on the program to speak, but he pulled out on Tuesday.

Reid has often used Cheney as a political foil. When the Republican gave a speech in September attacking the Iran nuclear agreement, the Nevadan couldn’t contain his giddiness on CNN. “There are a lot of good reasons for this deal. But the best is that Cheney’s against it,” Reid said. “I mean, think about this: The architect of the worst foreign policy decision in the history of America! To invade Iraq, look what it has done! Why would anyone with any degree of intelligence agree with him?”

Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said that the senator bailing is “not a slight.” She said the leader needs to be at the Democratic caucus meeting. “He wrote Cheney a note,” she said.

— The absence of a single Democratic speaker is historically unusual, if not unprecedented. In 2003, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd spoke at the unveiling of Dan Quayle’s bust and hailed him as a close friend. (Cheney, then VP, spoke too.) Here’s a picture of the liberal Dodd and the conservative Quayle hugging that day:

Even Spiro Agnew, who resigned in disgrace as Richard Nixon’s vice president so that he could avoid jail time for having accepted bribes, had a Democrat speak at his unveiling. “In a tempestuous time, he was a strong partisan voice,” said then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).

— But Agnew had become reclusive and avoided public appearances after he left office, and the passing of time yielded a measure of goodwill. Cheney has uttered some of the most brutal rhetorical critiques of the Obama administration and Democrats generally.

In September, he and his daughter Liz—who is planning to run for Congress in Wyoming next year—published a book that defended the invasion of Iraq and essentially accused the Obama administration of lying to the American people about Benghazi and Iran. “President Obama has diminished American power and retreated from the field of battle, fueling rising threats against our nation,” the Cheneys wrote in their jeremiad. “He has pursued a foreign policy built on appeasing our adversaries, abandoning our allies, and apologizing for America. … The touchstone of his ideology — that America is to blame and her power must be restrained — requires a willful blindness about what America has done in the world.”

— This is also W. and Cheney’s first public appearance together since the release of Jon Meacham’s biography of George H.W. Bush last month. In it, the 41st president says that Cheney changed from when he served as his Defense Secretary to his son’s running mate. “He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” H.W. told Meacham. “Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East.” Bush added that Cheney “had his own empire and marched to his own drummer.”

— For the Cheneys, the bust is a welcome, exciting and relatively rare honor. The VP is largely absent from the Bush presidential museum in Dallas and played a strikingly minimal role at its opening ceremony in 2013.

Sittings for this sculpture began back in 2011. “Mrs. Cheney, the daughters, and the grandchildren took an interest in the artistic process and enlivened the settings at the Cheney home in Virginia,” according to the program for today’s event, a copy of which was shared early with the 202. “William Behrends first created a clay model from which a plaster was cast; the plaster served to guide carving of the marble. Unlike Behrends’ typical process of roughing out marble sculptures in Italy and finishing them in the United States, the Cheney bust was carved completely in Behrends’ North Carolina studio.” He initially carved the marble with a diamond-tipped saw and hand chisels.

Side note: The only former vice president who will not have a bust on display after today is Al Gore. He left office eight years before Cheney and also represented Tennessee in the Senate for eight years.

— It could be worse. John Kerry provides some helpful perspective on the Cheney drama: “In his first trip to the Balkans as secretary of state, he urged opposition politicians in Kosovo’s parliament to quit setting off tear gas in its deliberative chamber and said the government should do more to tackle Islamist extremism, root out corruption and calm ethnic tensions,” Carol Morello reports from Pristina. “Kerry was referring to several incidents in recent weeks in which opposition party members have lobbed tear gas, pepper spray and water bottles in rowdy protests. They are trying to block sessions until the government renounces an agreement with Serbia giving power to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and another deal with Montenegro about a border dispute.” During his meeting with Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, Kerry said that during his almost three decades in the U.S. Senate, “A lot of people tried to shut me up, but nobody ever lobbed tear gas at me.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— THE LATEST ON THE SAN BERNARDINO SHOOTING:

  • At least 14 people were killed and 17 injured in the 355th mass shooting in the U.S. this year, the deadliest since the Sandy Hook rampage three years ago this month.
  • Police named Syed Rizwan Farook (born in Illinois with Pakistani parents), 28, and Tashfeen Maleek (born in Pakistan but living in Saudi Arabia before coming to the U.S.), 27, as suspects in the shooting at the Inland Regional Center, which serves people with disabilities. The two were reportedly married for two years (Farook had a dating profile online).
  • The couple had a six-month old baby girl who they dropped off with Farook’s mother the morning of the shooting, saying they had a doctor’s appointment.
  • The couple were dressed in “tactical gear,” armed with .223 caliber assault rifles and semiautomatic handguns, and left three explosive devices behind at the center. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said terrorism hadn’t been ruled out, and that “there had to be some degree of planning that went into this.”
  • Farook worked as an environmental inspector for five years at the San Bernadino health department, which was holding a holiday party at the center when the shooting occurred. The two were killed in a shootout with police in a suburban neighborhood after reportedly fleeing the scene. There were reports of a dispute before an “angry” Farook left the party. A third suspect was taken into custody, but it’s unclear if they are linked to the attack.
  • Co-workers said Farook was a devout Muslim who recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he brought home a wife he met online. A man who shared a cubicle with Farook said he “appeared to be living the American dream.” Colleagues threw a baby shower for Farook and he had taken paternity leave. “He never struck me as a fanatic, he never struck me as suspicious,” said Griselda Reisinger, a former co-worker.

— Political reality: There will be no new gun control laws passed in the wake of the massacre, no matter how much conversation is generated by front pages like the below from the New York Daily News. “What a cynical and exploitative headline,” tweeted Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Britain began launching airstrikes against oil fields inside Syria just hours after Parliament agreed to back up the U.S.-led campaign. ISIS, for its part, released a video showing a Russian jihadist beheading a fellow Russian.

— The Labor Secretary is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. Philip Rucker scoops that Tom Perez, who has become one of President Obama’s top emissaries to liberal, labor and Latino constituencies, will endorse the Democratic frontrunner on Friday in Iowa. Perez says in a statement that she can grab the baton from Obama and take care of the nation’s “unfinished business.” He adds that he’s looking forward “to hitting the campaign trail.”

Why Perez backing Hillary is a snub of fellow Marylander Martin O’Malley: “Perez, who lives in Takoma Park and once was a member of the Montgomery County Council, served in O’Malley’s cabinet as the state’s secretary of labor, licensing and regulation,” Phil notes.

A major congressional report coming out today says the Secret Service is “AN AGENCY IN CRISIS”: Carol D. Leonnig, who won a Pulitzer this year for her persistent coverage of alarming security lapses in presidential security, gets the first look at an extensive, bipartisan report to be released later today. It’s full of new details on half a dozen previously unknown breaches since 2013: “A man masquerading as a member of Congress walked into a secure backstage area without being properly screened and spoke with President Obama at an awards dinner last fall. Five days later, a woman walked backstage unchecked at a gala dinner where Obama was a featured guest. Months after that, two people strolled unnoticed past a Secret Service checkpoint into the first layer of the White House grounds.” House investigators describe the once-elite force as an “agency in crisis” that has failed to fix many of the deeply ingrained problems exposed last year amid a string of humiliating security lapses. Read Carol’s story here.

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius faces up to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of murder by a South African appeals court, which overturned his original conviction of culpable homicide. (NBC News)

— Swiss authorities, as part of an ongoing U.S. DOJ investigation, arrested more than a dozen FIFA officials in Zurich and expect to charge them with money laundering and racketeering. (NYT)

GET SMART FAST:

  1. Iran was actively trying to develop a nuclear weapon until 2003 and there is evidence the program continued until 2009, which is more recent than U.S. intelligence analysts believed, according to an IAEA report. (Karen DeYoung)
  2. Russia has begun delivering S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran. (AP)
  3. Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has now been detained by the Iranians for more than 500 days, a grim and unacceptable milestone. (Brian Murphy)
  4. NATO invited Montenegro to join the alliance, the first time it has welcomed a new member in six years. “In Moscow, the offer to Montenegro — which has a population of about 600,000 and little military capacity — prompted fury and threats,” the New York Times reports. “The Kremlin spokesman said that a NATO expansion would be met with unspecified retaliatory measures from Russia.”
  5. France shut down three mosques it says housed radical preachers who inspired the Paris attacks. (USA Today)
  6. Cameroon’s army said it killed around 100 Boko Haram fighters and freed more than 900 hostages in a three-day sting. (AFP)
  7. Janet Yellen said the economy is strong enough for the Fed to raise its main interest rate. (New York Times)
  8. The House voted to move an education bill that, after it passes the Senate next week, will replace the No Child Left Behind Act. The bulk of oversight over the nation’s schools will shift from the Department of Education back to states and local school districts. (Lyndsey Layton)
  9. The 70-year-old mayor of Juneau, Alaska, who was found dead at his home, died of natural causes, an autopsy concluded. The police announcement ends days of intrigue in the Last Frontier. (Alaska Dispatch News)
  10. More than $3 trillion was spent on health care in 2014 — an average of $9,500 a person. It was the biggest jump in spending since 2007. (New York Times)
  11. The Taliban denied claims by Afghan officials that its leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was wounded during fighting. (Wall Street Journal)
  12. Federal investigators probing allegations a task force spent $43 million dollars on a gas station in Afghanistan are now looking into fresh claims the U.S. government spent up to $150 million on private housing and security. (Christian Davenport)
  13. Australia said new analysis proves it is searching in the right area of the Indian Ocean for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. (AP)
  14. Brazil will begin impeachment proceedings for President Dilma Rousseff. (Dom Phillips)
  15. Law and lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro, whose long-term decline was accelerated by the indictment and resignation of Dennis Hastert, is in merger discussions with Bryan Cave, which wants a bigger Washington presence. (Catherine Ho)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. Breaking with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Hillary Clinton called for an independent federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s response to the Laquan McDonald shooting. Rahm, for his part, said he’s given no thought to resigning. (Chicago Tribune)
  2. President Obama has seen the video of McDonald being gunned down by a Chicago police officer, the White House said. (Juliet Eilperin)
  3. A top fundraiser for Ben Carson, Bill Millis, quit the campaign after struggling to deal with some of his “senior staff members.” Meanwhile, Carson unveiled the endorsements of 15 “faith leaders” in South Carolina.
  4. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said he feels “great” after collapsing during a briefing at the Capitol. (Politico)
  5. Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s former national security adviser, died of cancer at age 70. (Adam Bernstein)
  6. Endorsing Hillary, Ricky Martin described her as “a Latina at heart.” (Twitter)
  7. The Service Employees International Union, which helped jumpstart Rep. Donna Edwards’ career, endorsed her chief rival, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, in the Maryland Democratic Senate primary. (Arelis R. Hernandez)

SNEAK PEEK AT PAUL RYAN’S FIRST MAJOR SPEECH AS HOUSE SPEAKER: 

Speaking at 12:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, an aide says that Ryan will “share his vision for a confident America at home and abroad.” He will lay out general principles for addressing the challenges the country faces and “discuss the need to turn these principles into policies that will renew the American Idea.” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) will introduce Ryan.

Some choice excerpts:

  • “We want America to be confident again. If you don’t have a job, we want you to be confident that you can find one—and take it. If you do have a job, we want you to be confident that that job will pay well. We want students to know that all that school—and all that debt—will be worth it. We want seniors to know that all those years of hard work—and all those years of paying taxes—will be rewarded. Medicare and Social Security will be there when you need them. We want all Americans, when they look at Washington, to see spending going down, taxes going down, debt going down. We want to see progress and have pride. We want people to believe in the future again. We want a country where no one’s stuck, where no one settles, where everyone can rise.”
  • “Only government that sends power back to the people can make America confident again. And we House Republicans will do all we can to give us that government—even if the president disagrees. Even if he won’t sign them into law, we will put out specific proposals and give the people a real choice. And I don’t mean just undo what the president has done—as if we could time-travel back to 2009. I mean show what we would do, what our ideal policy would be—looking forward to 2017 and beyond. We owe it to the country to offer a bold, pro-growth agenda. And that is what we are going to do.”
  • “We have to make sure it always pays to work. In 1996, we created a work requirement for welfare. But that was just one program. We have to fix all the others now. I’d combine a lot of them and send that money back to the states for better poverty-fighting solutions. Require everyone who can to work. Let states and communities try different ideas. And then test the results.”
  • “We need to build a 21st century military. And I don’t mean just pour more money into the Pentagon. We have to reform the Pentagon, so it can adapt to new threats. Acquire new capabilities more quickly—whether it’s advanced missile defense or directed energy weapons. And there’s no one better to lead that effort than the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry. A strong America does not threaten the peace. A strong America is what protects the peace.”
  • “We are not going to solve all the country’s problems next year. We need a new president. It’s just that simple. But even if we can’t move mountains, we can make moves in the right direction. The cautious may wait for their opportunity, but the prudent will make it. We can make progress on issues where there’s bipartisan agreement, like rebuilding our roads and bridges or bringing some certainty to the tax code.”

Ryan will also preview this speech on CBS “This Morning” at 8:30 a.m. and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” at 8:40 a.m. ET. You can watch a livestream at 12:30 here.

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

— Policy fights heat up in spending negotiations,” by Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian: Democrats on Wednesday rejected a proposed spending bill deal from Republicans due to concerns over policy riders GOP lawmakers want to attach to the must-pass legislation, leaving congressional leaders with fewer than 10 days to reach an agreement to avert a government shutdown on Dec. 11. … ‘What they sent over wasn’t serious,’ Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said of the Republican proposal. ‘If they don’t want to shut down the government they’re going to look at our counter-offer and hopefully we’ll have a final bill before Dec. 11.’ … House Republicans said Wednesday night that they were still waiting for Democrats to send over a counter offer. ‘The ball is in their court,’ said Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). ‘We need to get down to brass tacks so we can solve some 100 issues.'”

There are no cuts to Planned Parenthood funding in the latest spending bill proposal that GOP members sent to Democrats, a sign the issue is getting dealt with and taken off the table with the reconciliation process. (The Hill)

— “Panel casts doubt on U.S. propaganda efforts against ISIS,” by Greg Miller: “The State Department is considering scaling back its direct involvement in online campaigns to discredit the Islamic State after a review by outside experts cast new doubt on the U.S. government’s ability to serve as a credible voice against the terrorist group’s propaganda, current and former U.S. officials said. … The U.S. counter-messaging operation ‘is in disarray,’ said Will McCants, an expert on the Islamic State at the Brookings Institution and a former adviser to the State Department. Among those involved in messaging efforts, McCants said, ‘morale is low and they’re not getting any clarity from the top about what they’re supposed to be doing.'”

— CIA-backed Afghan militias fight a shadow war,” by Sudarsan Raghavan: “Months after the Obama administration declared combat operations over in Afghanistan, the CIA continues to run a shadow war in the eastern part of the country, overseeing an Afghan proxy called the Khost Protection Force, according to local officials, former commanders of that militia and Western advisers. The highly secretive paramilitary unit has been implicated in civilian killings, torture, questionable detentions, arbitrary arrests and use of excessive force in controversial night raids, abuses that have mostly not been previously disclosed. …In several attacks, witnesses described hearing English being spoken by armed men who had translators with them, suggesting American operatives were present during assaults where extreme force was used. Fighters are rarely held to account for indiscriminate deaths. And so powerful and clandestine is the force that victims are seldom able to gain legal redress.”

THE LATEST ON DONALD TRUMP: 

— At a rally in Manassas last night, Trump announced that he will travel very soon to Israel so he can meet with Benjamin Netanyahu. He also said the U.S. military should kill terrorists’ families.

Trump went on noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show yesterday. He told the 9/11 truther that he has an “amazing” reputationAfter the California shooting, the host’s web site declared the incident “highly suspicious” and suggested that it was a false flag operation planned by our own government.

— WaPo scoop: The NRSC sent a memo to top Republicans warning that Trump could actually win. “In a seven-page confidential memo that imagines Trump as the party’s presidential nominee, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urges candidates to adopt many of Trump’s tactics, issues and approaches — right down to adjusting the way they dress and how they use Twitter,” Robert Costa and Philip Rucker report in their A1 story. “Executive Director Ward Baker said Republicans should embrace Trump’s tough talk about China and ‘grab onto the best elements of [his] anti-Washington populist agenda.’ ‘Trump has risen because voters see him as authentic, independent, direct, firm, — and believe he can’t be bought,’ Baker writes. ‘These are the same character traits our candidates should be advancing in 2016. That’s Trump lesson #1.'”

Addressing Trump’s controversial past statements about women, Baker writes, “Houston, we have a problem.” “Candidates shouldn’t go near this ground other than to say that your wife or daughter is offended by what Trump said,” Baker says. “We do not want to re-engage the ‘war on women’ fight.” The full memo is well worth reading. Get it here.

— This isn’t academic: A Reuters/Ipsos poll published last night put Trump in the lead nationally with 34 percent, to 16 percent for Carson, 14 percent for Ted Cruz and 11 percent for Marco Rubio.

— Hillary accused Trump in Orlando yesterday of “making racism and hatred the hallmarks of his campaign”: She pledged to work for comprehensive immigration reform and expand protection against deportations. “I’m fighting for an America where we lift each other up again, where we have each other’s backs,” Clinton said. (Anne Gearan)

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ, curated by Elise Viebeck:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: November saw the whittling of the GOP field. In all, there were more than 13 million mentions of the GOP contenders across all forms of media, led of course by Donald Trump, according to our analytics partners at Zignal Labs. Here is a chart of total mentions:

The top Trump-related story was an item on Obama’s immigration plans, which was circulated by Trump on Twitter and received more than 45,000 shares during the month. Here’s the Trump November word cloud of all mentions:

Ben Carson had a rollercoaster of a November, with polls showing him briefly in the lead in Iowa, before falling back in later surveys. The November Carson word cloud illustrates some of his battles with the media over stories about his past:

And then there’s Ted Cruz, who is surging in Iowa and continues to enjoy strong grassroots strength online. Cruz, more than almost any other candidate, has the ability to drive his own message through his broad online network. But the race continues to look very different on social and broadcast media. Here is the share of voice on social media for all GOP candidates in November:

And here’s who got what share of broadcast mentions:

–Pictures of the day:

Wednesday morning started out (and finished) foggy on Capitol Hill:

Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo of Beijing from the International Space Station:

The Capitol Christmas tree is now lit:

The Rockefeller Center tree was also lit last night for the first time this season:

Meanwhile, in California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) canceled the tree lighting ceremony scheduled for last night at his state capitol in Sacramento out of respect for victims of the tragedy.

The Washington Post held an event on millennial entrepreneurship, complete with chalkboard drawings:

–Tweets of the day:

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), who represents San Bernardino, tweeted in response to the attacks:

Hillary Clinton (along with a bevy of other presidential candidates) also weighed in:

The DSCC wished Harry Reid a happy birthday:

— Instagrams of the day:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) met with Renu Khator, the chancellor of the University of Houston System, who was sporting “some nice custom Cougar boots”:

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) connected with astronauts at the International Space Station during a committee hearing (watch the video here):

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) met Mary Hart, former host of “Entertainment Tonight”:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

Lots of big GOP donors are on the sidelines –> Wall Street Journal, “GOP Presidential candidates to assemble with top donors,” by Patrick O’Connor: “Republican presidential contenders traveling to Washington this week hoping to impress GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson may leave disappointed. Mr. Adelson will be halfway around the world in South Africa, and he isn’t ready to back any of the candidates who will address a Jewish group he helps fund. …Mr. Adelson isn’t the only top Republican donor still on the sidelines. The family of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts remains uncommitted, after contributing more than $5 million to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who left the race in September. Harold Hamm, the Oklahoma oil billionaire who gave nearly $1 million to a super PAC supporting 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, is similarly uncommitted. So are PayPal founder Peter Thiel and other top donors to Mr. Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also suspended his campaign in September.”

— New York Times, “Calls grow to define clinic attacks as domestic terrorism,” by Abby Goodnough: “Abortion-rights groups stepped up a campaign Wednesday to persuade the Department of Justice to define attacks on abortion clinics as acts of domestic terrorism.  The groups, led by Naral Pro-Choice America, sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch last week — two days before the shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs — asking that the department ‘investigate the recent attacks on reproductive-health clinics using all appropriate federal statutes, including domestic terrorism.’ … ‘This is the absolute definition of domestic terrorism,’ Ms. Hogue said, referring to the Colorado attack, which killed three people and wounded nine others. “It must be called out as such.'”

— Rolling Stone, “The untold story of Bernie Sanders’ 1987 folk album,” by Tessa Stuart: “Sanders became something of a hero to [studio owner Todd] Lockwood and other local musicians for, but that wasn’t why Lockwood wrote a letter to the mayor, care of City Hall, 28 years ago, to ask if Sanders would collaborate on a folk album. The reason was much more practical: Lockwood had grown the tiny recording studio he started in his carriage-house apartment into a large, state-of-the-art operation, complete with a hand-built Neve recording console from England and a Swiss-made Studer tape machine, to rival any set-up in New York City. He had a staff to man the fancy equipment, and he had salaries and health benefits to pay, so whenever there was dead time, Lockwood would try to fill the studio with local projects to put out on his label, BurlingTown Recordings. …The album was made over the course of a week, and was sold — just in time for Christmas — for $10 a pop at 25 locations in the state. Lockwood reckons he moved somewhere close to 1,000 copies — ‘That was pretty impressive for a local release that was only sold within 30 or 40 miles of Burlington.'”

— ABC News, “Marco Rubio on upping his Hispanic outreach on the campaign trail,” by Ines De La Cuetara: “Rubio declared his candidacy in April, but since then has done very little Hispanic outreach — not just in Iowa, but nationwide. There was a campaign stop in Puerto Rico in September, which he conducted entirely in Spanish. There were a couple events in Las Vegas in October. One was at the LIBRE Initiative, a nonprofit Latino-outreach group funded by the Koch brothers; the other at a Cuban diner, where Rubio was greeted like a celebrity by the mostly Cuban crowd (at one point pausing his stump speech to accept a Cuban coffee). But other than those three stops, Rubio hasn’t hosted other public events specifically geared towards Hispanics. Though he is fully bilingual, he very rarely speaks Spanish out on the stump. The campaign declined to say whether it was doing any Hispanic outreach behind closed doors.”

— Christianity Today, “The faith of the candidates: an interview with Jeb Bush,” by Ed Stetzer:
On his conversion to Catholicism, Bush said in an interview with the magazine, “In the late 1980’s it just was a time when I was being and doing and going—just going a hundred miles an hour in trying to run my business, be involved in civic and political stuff and trying to be a good dad and a good husband. It just became overwhelming and I forced myself to get quiet and started reading the Bible quietly and it just gave me—it wasn’t like what people would call a ‘born again experience’—like a moment where there was a flash or anything like that—it’s just the serenity that I had reading the Gospels just converted me to a Christian. …Stetzer then asked Bush how his religion would impact him as president. Bush said, I don’t think you can separate your faith and kind of put it in a lock box and not be informed by it. It’s an integral part of who I am, so why wouldn’t it be a significant part of how I would govern?”

— Baltimore Sun, “Prosecutors, defense attorneys make their case in trial of first officer charged in Freddie Gray death,” by Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector: “The first trial in the death of Freddie Gray opened Wednesday with prosecutors alleging that Officer William G. Porter ‘criminally neglected his duty’ to help the 25-year-old as he suffered from an injury in the back of a police transport van. But Porter’s attorney told jurors that the young officer checked on Gray and believed he may have been faking injury or had exhausted himself after thrashing around the back of the van. …The jury consists of five black women, three black men, three white women and one white man. Additionally, three white men and one black man were chosen as alternates. …The prosecution’s case centers on police procedures that instruct officers to seat-belt arrestees and when to seek medical attention. Schatzow emphasized that Gray’s injury occurred in the back of the van and could have been prevented or alleviated if Porter had followed those policies.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

Physicians demand end to 20-year-old ban on gun violence research. From ThinkProgress: “It’s been decades since any federally-funded scientific research has been done on the issue [of gun violence]. That’s why members of Congress joined physicians from across the country Wednesday morning to demand an end to the Dickey Amendment, a 20-year-old law banning any scientific research on gun violence. ‘Gun violence is among the most difficult public health challenges we face as a country, but because of the deeply misguided ban on research, we know very little about it,’ said Rep. David Price.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Texas sues to block Syrian refugees. From the Texas Tribune: “Texas has gone to federal court in its efforts to keep Syrian refugees out of the state, filing suit against the federal government and a refugee resettlement nonprofit. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton claims the federal government and the International Rescue Committee — one of about 20 private nonprofits that have a state contract to resettle refugees in Texas — are violating federal law by moving forward with the planned resettlement of two Syrian families.” Meanwhile, one thousand American rabbis signed a letter urging America to welcome Syrian refugees.

DAYBOOK:

–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: All of the GOP candidates speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Reagan building in D.C. Trump holds a livestreamed discussion and book signing. Hillary Clinton raises funds in Boston. 

–On the Hill: The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. to work on the reconciliation bill. The House meets at 9 a.m. 

–At the White House: President Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss criminal justice reform. In the evening, the first family attends the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Vice President Biden attends the bust unveiling for Vice President Cheney at the U.S. Capitol, departs for South Carolina, and delivers remarks at a dinner in honor of Mayor Riley’s 40 years of service to Charleston. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Chris Christie was asked by a New Jersey donor on a conference call about negative editorials in the Newark Star-Ledger. “I don’t know why you were reading it or why you care,” he said. “The Star Ledger is like my crazy ex-girlfriend who broke with me and is now running around town saying I am an awful person.” Christie encouraged donors to cancel their subscriptions in order to “restore your sanity,” according to CBS. 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— Dig out the sunglasses because the sun is back! The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Some high-level clouds are as much as we can muster as dry air pours in on gusty northwest winds. While temps are seasonable, the winds make them less hospitable. Highs hold in the upper 40s to lower 50s.”

— Looking ahead: Despite predictions for the warmest December on the record, the temperature won’t be as nice as you think. “There’s a difference between warm — let’s say anything over 60 degrees — and warmer than average,” the Gang explains. “It’s also not a forecast for every single day in December. There will be days that are much warmer than average and days where it’s below or near-average. The monthly forecasts describe what conditions will be, averaged over the entire month. There will still be plenty of fluctuation built into our December weather.”

–Led by Kobe Bryant’s 31 points, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Wizards 108-104. (Jorge Castillo)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The Cruz campaign posted four-and-a-half-minutes of sometimes awkward B-roll of the candidate and his family on YouTube. The footage is there so that super PACs can pull it for their own “independent” pro-Cruz ads:

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) helped light the Capitol Christmas tree:

Trump loves to say “peanuts”:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spoofed the new Star Wars film in mock trailer for “Wastebook,” a report about government spending:

Sarah Palin tell the story of the time Louis CK apologized to her: