Come 9 p.m. the nation will be transfixed by a pioneering African-American leader whose rise to power and influence shattered assumptions about just who can succeed in America. Those of us not watching RuPaul's Drag Race 3 on VH1 will be tuned to President Obama's State of the Union address. We still don't know if Eric Cantor will be able to get out of the tear-soaked bed he spent the day in after Nancy Pelosi spurned his date request. Hero Intern Daniel Hernandez will be turning 21 in style alongside Michelle Obama. And journalists young and old will be drinking every time the president says "folks." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 25th, 2011:
STATE OF THE UNION TIME, BOYS AND GIRLS! POTUS TO PROPOSE SPENDING FREEZE - It's that one time of year when America watches the same thing on television but doesn't gorge on pigs-in-a-blanket, dip and commercials featuring talking animals and dudes with disproportionately attractive girlfriends. A perfect time, then, for the president to tell the nation that its government is cutting back -- this time with a five-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending.The AP reports that the president will also put forth a proposal to cut $78 billion in the defense budget. Schoolchildren interested in learning more about this should ask their civics teachers who don't exist anymore. [HuffPost's SOTU Liveblog]
SPEECH EXCERPT - From the White House: "With their votes, the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all - for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics. At stake right now is not who wins the next election - after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world. We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again. But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children. That's the project the American people want us to work on. Together...Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation's Sputnik moment."
HuffPost will be streaming the speech live with running commentary and fact checking, plus all the scatological analysis from Jason Linkins you know and love.
GOP UNIMPRESSED - "At a time when the Treasury Secretary is begging Congress to raise the debt limit, a 'freeze' is simply inadequate," Speaker Boehner said of the freeze proposal that will please roughly nobody. "It's not enough," Jeff Sessions said. Okay, fellas, this is where we came in, so we're gonna bounce.
ANONYMOUS RADICALIZED MARGINAL HOUSE DEMOCRAT NOT AMUSED BY ADOLESCENT GIMMICKRY - HuffPost Hill's living, breathing POed House Dem backbencher took a break from smoking behind the gym to scribble this on the bathroom wall: "I passed a note in study hall to one of the less obnoxious Republicans from my state to ask if he would sit with me at SOTU. He passed a note back and said that he would. I'll be nice for an hour and a half or so, but I'm not giving him my letter sweater. I'm glad President Obama wants to 'out innovate, out educate, and out compete' the rest of the world, but I'd like to hear how he plans to make sure the middle class gets a piece of any prosperity that comes of it. American productivity has been growing by leaps and bounds for a generation and a fat lot of good it's done the middle class." Thanks, ARMHD!
BURN - @NancyPelosi: I thank @GOPLeader for his #SOTU offer, but I invited my friend Rep. Bartlett from MD yesterday & am pleased he accepted
HUFFPOST HILL'S STATE OF THE UNION DRINKING GAME - The whole chamber applauds: Drink. The president references the midterms: Drink. A small business owner appears with the first lady: Drink. Hero Intern Daniel Hernandez appears with the first lady: Drink. Ted Williams, the golden-voiced homeless man, appears with the first lady: Shot. An abstract, feel-good truth about the United States draws applause: Drink. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gets a shout-out: Shot. It takes the president OVER a minute to get to the speaker's dais: Drink. It takes the president UNDER a minute to get to the speaker's dais: Shot. Sasha looks bored: Drink. Malia looks bored: Drink. John Boehner looks bored: Shot. The president looks bored: Invest in China. The president touts the progress being made in Iraq and/or Afghanistan but insists more work needs to be done: Drink. The president urges Americans to visit WhiteHouse.gov to learn more: Drink. The president urges Americans to visit WhiteHouse.Tumblr.com to learn more: Shot. The president blames Congress for vitriolic political rhetoric: Drink. The president blames the media for vitriolic political rhetoric: Drink. The president blames himself for vitriolic political rhetoric: Shot. The president blames the Mayan calendar for vitriolic political rhetoric: Invest in China. The president remarks that the economy is showing signs of improvement: Drink. The president cites your bravery and small business acumen but you are afraid to stand because you are only wearing underwear: Stop drinking, you've passed out.
JOURNO AMENDMENTS - Reporters tell HuffPost Hill how they'll get sloppy: Howard Fineman: "Stone-cold sober: cutaways of Mitch McConnell smiling (not smirking). Buzzed: cutaways of bipartisan handshakes. Sorta Drunk: mentions of 'innovation.' Shit-faced: mentions of 'education.' Passed Out: mentions of 'future.'" TPM's Brian Beutler: "Every mention of human-animal hybrid, drink. Every disparaging reference to 'both sides of the aisle,' drink." Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer: "If Boehner frowns, drink. But if he breaks out the hankie - chug!" Slate's Dave Weigel: "When Obama defends health care law, drink for entire length of Republican heckle. If Obama says 'and now I'm going to pass the mic to Michele Bachmann, who was right all along,' chug." National Journal's Tim Fernholz: "Take a a drink every time Boehner takes a drink." Politico reporter who wishes to remain nameless: "Every time Obama pauses and lifts his chin to gaze regally at the space above everyone else's head, chug until he starts talking again."
It's Hero Intern Daniel Hernandez's 21st birthday today. What about that guy isn't freaking epic?
UDALL, RULES REFORMERS PUSHING AHEAD DESPITE PRESSURE - Tom Udall and the rest of the Senate Democrats pushing for rules reform were on the receiving end of more than two hours worth of advice from their fellow Democrats in a closed-door meeting over lunch today. Senior Democrats pressed Udall not to make a motion to change Senate rules by majority vote, worried about the precedent it would set when the GOP takes over the chamber. (Note to the cautious: Republicans don't care about precedent. They just act.) Udall, Jeff Merkley and Tom Harkin took the Senate floor following the meeting; Udall said that he still plans to offer the motion.
SEATLESS DEMS GETTING RESTLESS - Two Senate Democrats tell HuffPost Hill that Mark Pryor is leading an effort on behalf of newly elected Senate Democrats who feel shut out of the best committees, (meaning the ones that help you raise a ton of cash) known as " Super A" committees: Appropriations, Finance, Armed Services, Commerce and Foreign Relations. By the Democrats' own rules, a senator can sit on only one at a time, but in practice, many old-school Democrats sit on a bunch of them and are loath to give them up. If the effort goes as well as their rules-reform insurrection did, they better get comfortable out in the cold.
Tonight in Roll Call: "Maryland is becoming the new political powerhouse in the Democratic Caucus, writes Roll Call's Kathleen Hunter. With Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger's selection Tuesday as the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, four of the chamber's six Maryland Democrats now have important seats at the leadership table...Ruppersberger said the trifecta of other Marylanders already in key leadership positions was a concern of his when he was lobbying for the job. 'I was worried,' he said. 'That was one of the issues that I'm sure caused concern when the decision had to be made. My only response is it's not my fault.'"
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - For the second time in two weeks, Internet users have blown the whistle on apparent suicide threats posted by total strangers in unemployment forums online. Kim Doyle Wille of El Jebel, Colo. told HuffPost she called her local sheriff after she saw despondent posts from a YouTube user called "PeterinFremont" underneath a video dedicated to "99ers" -- people who have exhausted 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and still haven't found work. "I called my own local sheriff because I knew that would be a better place to start," said Wille, 54. (She said Peter is not the man's real name.) A sheriff's deputy, with an assist from the Denver office of the FBI, traced the comments to an address in Fremont, Calif. A spokesman for the Fremont Police Department told HuffPost that a hostage negotiator talked the man out of his house and that an ambulance took the man to a hospital early Friday morning. [HuffPost]
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ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT ORDERS STAY, RAHM EMANUEL BACK ON THE BALLOT FOR NOW - The state's high court this afternoon ordered an appellate court ruling that Emanuel's name be removed from the ballot be postponed until it can rule on Emanuel's eligibility itself. "The appellate court decision is stayed," the decision read. "Board of Election is directed that if any ballots are printed while this court is considering the case the ballots should include the name of petitioner Rahm Emanuel as a candidate for the mayor of City of Chicago." Any Chicago voters who received a carp with the words "Fu*k this and fu* you: There's a corner office at Wasserstein Perella with my fu*king name on it" engraved in its side are asked to return the fish to Chicago for Rahm Emanuel. [HuffPost]
MERRILL LYNCH REMAINS ABOVE THE LAW From Zach Carter: "Let's say you're a broker, and you've got a client who wants to make a confidential trade. Great! You make the trade, keep it confidential, and collect a fee. You've just made an honest buck. Actually, lots of honest bucks. But if you take that information and turn it over to your prop desk so your bank can make a killing trading on confidential information, you're totally breaking the law. If you're running a little brokerage, you're going to jail. If you're Merrill Lynch, apparently, you're getting off scot-free, and your shareholders are only getting fined $10 million. The SEC was very careful to note that the illegal prop trades were executed after the client trades were executed. Otherwise, Merrill would be front-running, which is a major no-no akin to insider trading. But why Merrill chose to spend several years (allegedly) breaking the law in so unprofitable a fashion remains a mystery. Either way, this is a major embarrassment for Mary Schapiro's SEC. Read the whole pathetic settlement here (.pdf)"
OH CRUEL FATE: THE BEARD IS GONE - @TomCoburnsBeard: apparently tom decided that he did not want to take me to the #SOTU.
SCOTT BROWN COMBINING BOOK TOUR AND CAMPAIGN - Seeing as how the Massachusetts senator already combines books with audiotapes, this make sense. Primetime Sam Stein reports that Brown will mesh his 2012 reelection campaign with his efforts to promote "Against All Odds," possibly in violation of state campaign laws. "First and foremost, Brown is proposing to 'use campaign funds to purchase up to several thousand copies of the book to be used solely in campaign related activities.' Those books would serve as gifts for financial contributors and other 'political supporters.' [Deval Patrick counsel Daniel] Winslow also asks for a ruling as to whether Brown's campaign committee could put ads for the book on its website as well as 'other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.' He follows that by requesting that the committee be able to use 'its email and mailing lists to promote Senator Brown's book' in certain instances and that it be able to 'collect email addresses from people who attend the book signing events, for purposes of future solicitation.'" [HuffPost]
GAY REPUBLICANS CROSSED BY THEIR OWN PARTY, SUN RISES IN EAST - Just one month after Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Jordan told Log Cabin Republican representatives that his panel would focus on fiscal issues this year, the RSC is pushing legislation to ban gay marriage in Washington, D.C. "I think RSC will push for it, and I'm certainly strongly for it," Jordan told The Hill. "I don't know if we've made a decision, if I'll do it or let another member do it, but I'm 100 percent for it." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
Department of Well That Exists: "Congressman Howard P. 'Buck' McKeon (R-CA) and Co-chairman, Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) today announced the official name change of the now "Unmanned Systems Caucus," previously known as the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Caucus."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Violent Soviet-era safety posters. [http://bit.ly/dMzKaR]
TEA PARTY TO MICHELE BACHMANN: TONE IT DOWN, PLEASE - Minnesota Congresswoman and truth skeptic Michele Bachmann
, who usually spends her Tuesday nights live-blogging "Reba" reruns for RedState.com, will deliver a self-styled Tea Party response to the State of the Union tonight. This upset the Tea Party Patriots of the Twin Cities. In an e-mail to supporters last night, the group was pretty clear about how it felt about the whole thing: "Please call Michele Bachmann's Office and tell her that she does not speak for the Tea Party. Michele has announced she will be giving the 'Tea Party Response' to the President's State of the Union Address. The Tea Party Patriots Organization is a grass roots organization. One person has no right to speak for the whole organization." Whoops. [Minnesota Independent]
AND ANOTHER THING! - Our House Democrat apparently wasn't finished. "A further thought," he wrote late in the afternoon. "We need quickly to arrange for four more SOTU responses tonight. According to the insightful analysis of much of the press, the three speeches tonight -- Obama, Ryan, Bachmann -- will define the American political spectrum. All Hail Ryan The Centrist! If we added a progressive Democrat, a Green, a Marxist-Leninist and a Trotskyite, that would make Obama center-right, the Green center-left, and the progressive Democrat the center. Bachman and a Trotskyite are probably equidistant from any sane center." Well said, ARMHD!
EXCLUSIVE preview of Bachmann's response.
Congress.org looks back on Americans cited by presidents in past State of the Union addresses.
Anti-government protests in Egypt are heating up. Some activists even tore down a poster of President Hosni Mubarak.
VOTER ID BILL IN TEXAS MAY HINDER ELECTION PARTICIPATION - Marginalized members of society: what haven't we given them? Highway onraps to sleep under. McDonald's bathrooms to pee in. Leaky, overcrowded, linoleum-floored care facilities to die in. 1996 Seattle Sonics NBA West Champions commemorative sweatshirts to wear in Autumn. Hard drugs. And now some of them are making a fuss over a bill in Texas that would require all citizens without an ID to pick up one so they can vote? C'MON! Gov. Rick Perry actually declared the issue a legislative emergency and the state Senate has actually turned itself into one giant committee so it can fast-track the issue. You stay classy, Texas legislature.[Chronicle]
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - It's the quiet before the storm... literally. Tonight The rain will start late tonight, but won't get heavy until Tomorrow. Late tomorrow night, the rain will change over to snow. Until then, get ready and enjoy the state of the union. Thanks, JB!
- The "Ramen Emanuel" Tumblr takes photos of the recently-expelled Chicago mayoral candidate and gives him ramen hair. [http://bit.ly/gFDnfv]
- Behold, the "called shot" of mini-golf. [http://bit.ly/ienzrI]
- Adult film star...nay...legend Ron Jeremy has his own line of rum. [http://bit.ly/h6RF17]
- "The United States of Shame" is a map that identifies each state by what it's worst at. Spoiler: Vermont can't get it up. [http://bit.ly/fUIpqf]
- Apparently someone wearing the same pair of jeans for a year straight is remarkable. [http://abcn.ws/dWVhF4]
- This clock represents time as a hexadecimal color value...whatever that means. It sure is pretty, though. [http://thecolourclock.co.uk/]
- "The battle over dinosaur taxonomic delineation has only just begun to rage." [http://bit.ly/eQXuvW]
@brianbeutler: Ron Paul won't let Rand take date to SOTU. Not until he finishes puberty.
@elise_foley: Chuck Schumer requests two more pictures after a photog has already taken about five. #jokeswritethemselves
@matthewstoller: This year's theme for the State of the Union speech will be either the Sock Hop or Enchantment Under the Sea.
@daveweigel: Excited about Barack Obama's pre-buttal to Michele Bachmann's State of the Union address.
SPECIAL 'THINGS ON AT 9 PM THAT AREN'T THE STATE OF THE UNION' THE TUBE
TBS: The Office. ABC Family: Mean Girls 2. USA: Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. QVC: Total Gym Experience. Home Shopping Network: Expressions in Technibond Jewelry. VH1: RuPaul's Drag Race 3.
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: Ah, yes. Time for another Martinis and Mayhem benefiting the always zany James Sensenbrenner. Bring your own lampshade to wear (honk honk!) [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm: Joe Barton spends his evening at a "Constituent Pot Luck." Guests are invited to mingle with the congressman while munching on an array of Texas delicacies for a $25 dollar donation to his reelection campaign....Totally kidding. He'll be at R.B. Murphy and Associates for a dinner fundraiser hosted by Jeff MacKinnon, Jeff Kimbell and Bud Albright. $1,000 a plate. Whoops! [R.B. Murphy and Associates, 220 E Street NE].
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Jared Polis and a whole lotta lefties including Stephanie Taylor, Adam Greene, Karl Frisch and others celebrate the launch of the Fearless Campaign. The initiative will coordinate congressional members and staffers with activists to advance the cause of drug policy, education, food policy, immigration, internet freedom and LGBT equality. [Local 16, 1602 U Street NW].
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