BATTLE ROYAL: AllahPundit describes the latest drama in VA, “And I suppose that remains the most surreal moment, by definition since it’s also the most surreal moment in modern American political history. But a close second is the lieutenant governor of Virginia all but accusing Northam, on camera, of smearing him with a bogus sexual-assault charge… HotAir

GOING NOWHERE: Jonathan Last at the Bulwark says Northman has no real reason to resign, “When all of the conservatives are Republicans and all of the liberals are Democrats, then partisanship manifests as a pure pursuit of power, über alles. And this warps incentives structures so that the parties find themselves tolerating bad actors. The bad actors notice this and then realize that their best chance of survival is sticking out a crisis and becoming politically radical in order to harness the power of negative partisanship.” TB

BANNED: Northam’s medical school banned yearbooks in 2013 — after students posed in Confederate garb… WaPo


ISSUES: The hour-long speech is expected to include the usual laundry list of issues — his attempts to denuclearize North Korea and the status of Islamic State to the lowering drug prices and energy independence, he will renew his long-stalled push to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, and he also will speak against abortion…Politico

— TELEPROMPTER: In each of the past two years, Trump has delivered a lofty, optimistic annual message on Capitol Hill, reading dutifully from a Teleprompter and setting aside his personal insults, attacks on the media, even his rambling boasts.

— TWITTER: In the days before the speech, Trump repeatedly slammed Democrats on Twitter. While the official said Trump would offer “a bipartisan way forward” on immigration, the president has dismissed talks meant to resolve the standoff as a “waste of time.” And he threatened to resort to a unilateral national emergency declaration to build the wall.

TRUMP’S PARADOX: The paradox of Donald Trump’s Presidency after two years is that his main successes are the result of traditional Republican policies. His main trouble has come from the Trumpian exceptions on trade, immigration and polarizing temperament that motivate many of his supporters. Whether he can overcome that seeming contradiction may determine whether he can win what on present trends looks like an uphill climb to re-election… WSJ

DMV PROBLEMS: The driving records of tens-of-thousands of North Carolinians are incorrect in the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles’ computer system… WBTV

EVIDENTIARY HEARING: The five-member board, which Gov. Roy Cooper appointed last week, has set a hearing in the 9th District investigation for 10 a.m. Feb. 18. The hearing is expected to last two to three days, officials said… WRAL