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HUFFPOST HILL - Congress Returns For Disabled Waterfowl Session

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Freshman orientation began today in Congress, as newly-elected lawmakers nervously scurried about in herds, surveyed the landscape and remarked how awesome it is that there are no parents around. If Americans are as pessimistic about the fiscal cliff as they say they are, Goldine should buy up as much airtime as it possibly can. And according to our armed forces competence algorithm, America's military command is operating at a level somewhere between "Stripes" and "Down Periscope." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, November 13th, 2012:

OBAMA TELLS LIBERALS HE WON'T BUDGE ON TAX CUTS - Sam Stein and Jen Bendery: "President Barack Obama will enter high-stakes budget negotiations firmly committed to seeing the tax rates for high-income earners rise to pre-George W. Bush levels, he assured a gathering of progressive and labor leaders on Tuesday. 'I am not going to budge,' he told the group, according to an attendee who relayed material from the meeting on condition of anonymity. 'I said in 2010 that I'm going to do this once, and I meant it.' The White House did not immediately return a request for comment, but two other sources who attended the meeting confirmed the quote. The administration seems to have staked out a firmer position than during the first stand-off over the Bush-era tax cuts, in November and December of 2010, leaving the impression that it won't sign off on a compromise that doesn't increase the tax burden on the wealthy as a means of paying down the deficit." [HuffPost]

Nancy Pelosi will announce her plans for the 113th Congress tomorrow at 10:00 am. "I'll see you tomorrow at ten--for those of you who are interested," she said to Hill reporters today, all of whom were, and remain, very interested. WaPo (make of this what you will): "Heightening the anticipation of her announcement, Pelosi's office sent a memo to the members of the Democratic Caucus asking the female Democrats of the current Congress, as well as those women who their first election Tuesday, to join her at the 10 a.m. press conference." [WaPo]

@edatpost: As they approach reporters en route to lunch, Elizabeth Warren turns to Tammy Baldwin and says: "Pretend you're talking to me."

@seungminkim: Also spotted: Schumer telling the Senate freshmen "You don't have to talk to these folks" as he gestured to reporters

Americans don't have much hope for a deal, but are more likely to blame the GOP. Politico: "While 51 percent of Americans don't expect a deal, Democrats have substantially more faith than Republicans in the ability of President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans to compromise, according to the Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll... Congressional Republicans are likely to face the blame for any impact: 53 percent of Americans said the GOP would be at fault, compared with 29 percent who said the same of the president. Ten percent said both would be to blame. The gap is even bigger among independent voters, only 23 percent of whom would blame the president." [Politico]

HOLIDAY UNEMPLOYMENT FIGHT IS ON - Democrats in Congress have kicked off the annual battle over unemployment insurance that has become a holiday tradition during Barack Obama's presidency. If Congress does not reauthorize federal unemployment programs, more than 2 million unemployed Americans will abruptly stop receiving checks on Dec. 28. "We cannot forget the human cliff looming for more than two million Americans scheduled to lose their economic lifeline during the upcoming holidays," Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said in a Monday statement. Congress has waited until the last minute to reauthorize extended unemployment insurance during the holiday seasons of each of the previous three years. A spokesman for Levin's Republican counterparts on the Ways and Means Committee suggested Tuesday there will be no quick compromise this year. "After spending $215 billion and adding $180 billion to the debt, more spending on Federal Unemployment benefits, above and beyond what the States already spend, would have to be carefully considered during fiscal cliff talks," the spokesman said. Hooray! [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Debbie Spiletycz of Suffern, N.Y., fears she could be one of the 2 million people whose benefits stop before New Year's Day. She said she lost her job as a commercial lease administrator in March. She's had interviews since then, but no job offers. She said she believes members of Congress are about as sincere as human resources types who tell her to expect a call back, and then don't call. "They don't give a shit," Spiletycz said of lawmakers. "They don't know what it's like to live on a paycheck." [HuffPost]

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KERRY'S NAME MENTIONED AS DEFENSE NOMINEE, RICE FOR STATE - A doctored video of a fleet of windsurfing Kerrys set to "The Flight of the Valkyries" makes the Massachusetts' senator's nomination worth it in our book. WaPo: "President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus. Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. John O. Brennan, Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, is a leading contender for the CIA job if he wants it, officials said. If Brennan goes ahead with his plan to leave government, Michael J. Morell, the agency's acting director, is the prohibitive favorite to take over permanently. Officials cautioned that the White House discussions are still in the early stages and that no decisions have been made...But several White House officials said Obama is prepared to dig in his heels over [Rice's] nomination to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has long said she will serve only one term." [WaPo]

@Chris_Moody: Scott Brown on if he'll run: There is not an opening "for a senator. But there is an opening for a dad and husband."

BENNET OFFERED DSCC GIG... AGAIN - Someone has to take the fall for what will likely be a lousy cycle for Democrats / take the credit for another great cycle made possible by a smorgasbord of rape comments. Politico: "Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet has been offered the DSCC chairmanship post and discussed the possibility with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday, a Senate aide confirmed to POLITICO. Bennet was offered the post, which is currently held by Sen. Patty Murray, late last week, and is considering it, a different source familiar with the discussions said. Bennet's name has been among four that have been floated publicly as possibilies - Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse are the others." [Politico]

Big changes at the Washington Post: Date Lab is getting its own section Its editor is stepping down. "Marcus Brauchli is stepping down as the editor of the Washington Post, the paper announced Tuesday. Brauchli, who has led the Post since 2008, will be replaced by Martin Baron, the editor of the Boston Globe on Jan 2, 2013. He will become a vice president at The Washington Post Company. The news comes just days after rumors started flying that Brauchli had signaled his intent to step down. Brauchli's tenure was marked by the Post's business struggles -- the paper's circulation and revenues have both dropped considerably, and it has shuttered its national bureaus -- as well as what was described as his aloof presence in the newsroom." [HuffPost]

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SUPER PACS SHIFTING TO LOBBYING, SEAL CLUBBING TO FOLLOW? - That's the gist of it, though it's doubtful that they'll go straight to seal clubbing. We suspect they'll transition to stealing homeless peoples' stacks of Street Sense once their lobbying work is done. Roll Call: "High-dollar super PACs and advocacy groups failed to score big wins in the recent elections, but they may have better luck with their next act: lobbying Capitol Hill. From anti-tax activists to environmental organizers, special interest players are pivoting to the policy arena and bringing their unrestricted super PACs with them. It's a trend that worries campaign reform advocates, who warn that the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling may do more to distort policymaking than elections...Crossroads officials are gearing up for a lobbying and advertising campaign focused on budget, energy and health care issues, starting with the looming fiscal cliff that will trigger automatic tax increases and spending cuts if Congress doesn't enact a deficit-reduction plan. GOP operative Karl Rove, who helped launch the group, recently told the Washington Post that Crossroads is considering branching out to back candidates in GOP primaries, a new tactic." [Roll Call]

In its Citizens United decision, the five jackals who undid a century of campaign finance law said that super PACs would not spend on elections to win any favors from elected officials. We expect a reversal and an apology any second now.

@kenvogel: It's official, from @FECupdates: New Election Cycle Begins: http://1.usa.gov/TDd732

Dick Morris, more or less admitting to Sean Hannity that he's a total joke: "Sean, I hope people aren't mad at me about it… I spoke about what I believed and I think that there was a period of time when the Romney campaign was falling apart, people were not optimistic, nobody thought there was a chance of victory and I felt that it was my duty at that point to go out and say what I said. And at the time that I said it, I believe I was right." [HuffPost's Jason Linkins]

THE PETRAEUS SCANDAL IS GETTING STRANGELOVIAN - There's no fighting fornicating in the war room! AP: "In a new twist to the Gen. David Petraeus sex scandal, the Pentagon said Tuesday that the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, is under investigation for alleged 'inappropriate communications' with a woman who is said to have received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, the woman with whom Petraeus had an extramarital affair. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a written statement issued to reporters aboard his aircraft, en route from Honolulu to Perth, Australia, that the FBI referred the matter to the Pentagon on Sunday. Panetta said that he ordered a Pentagon investigation of Allen on Monday." This whole thing was preordained the moment the military settled on Tampa for its Central Command. Hope the lap dances were worth it, officers. [AP]

@chucktodd: Strong denial from Gen. Allen; says no affair. He notes many of them were between Allen's wife and Kelley; He was cc'd.

An Army of Fun, amirite???: "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday. Panetta stripped Gen. William 'Kip' Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general despite arguments from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against the demotion. Ward also has been ordered also repay the government $82,000." [AP]

Check, please: "Confirmed: ABC Denver misnames Petraeus book: 'All up in my snatch'"

America, you smartass: "About 10 agents entered Broadwell's tony Charlotte, N.C., home at 8:40 p.m. wearing blue latex gloves and carrying bags and boxes. They photographed the exterior of the house, entered using a key and could be seen scouring rooms and apparently collecting evidence for two hours. A prankster even ordered a Domino's pizza to be delivered to the residence, adding to the circus atmosphere. Investigators didn't answer when the deliveryman rung the doorbell." [Daily News]

ANALYSIS: TEXAS GETTING MORE PURPLE BY THE DAY - But by the time it's finally in play for Democrats, America will probably be reduced to a survival-seed/Five Hour Energy-based economy. Houston Chronicle: "In the aftermath of President Barack Obama's solid electoral vote victory -- fueled by massive turnout among Latinos, African Americans and other minorities -- Texas Democrats took some solace in hopes that the nation's demographic tidal wave would eventually hit Texas. San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro predicted Thursday on CNN that the reliably "red" Republican Lone Star State is well on its way to "purple" swing state status. The state's rising Democratic superstar isn't the only politician to speculate on the future political impact of the burgeoning Mexican American, African American and Asian American population in Texas, which accounted for 88 percent of the state's 4.3 million population increase from 2000 to 2010... A mathematical analysis of demographic trends and voting results by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News finds that Texas Democrats will reach parity with Republicans at the presidential election level by 2024 if current population and electoral participation trends continue." [Chronicle]

Joe Biden once made a cameo on "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?"

HuffPost Hiccup: Yesterday a story we quoted said Richard Carmona trailed Jeff Flake by 7,800 votes. That number should have been 78,000 votes. Apologies.

HuffPost Hiccup, pt 2: "Poopy head," not "poopy face."

HuffPost Hiccup, pt 3: Yesterday we lumped Erskine Bowles and Jack Lew together as people floated for Treasury Secretary who would give liberals that face that stock brokers always have in stock photos attached to stories about the Dow crashing. In fact, only Bowles, a Morgan Stanley banker and Social Security hater, belongs in that category. Jack Lew's the guy that clowned Boehner in the debt ceiling negotiations bad enough that he requested to negotiate with Gene Sperling instead. We'd love to see him and the bankers go at it. In other words, it won't happen.

STEPHEN COLBERT WINDS DOWN SUPER PAC - Still more successful than anything Karl Rove did this cycle, in our humble opinion. WaPo: "Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert has shut down the super PAC he started in 2011 to call attention to current campaign finance regulations, he announced in a letter Monday night. Colbert cited the death of the "Ham Rove," the fictional character that was designed as a parody of Republican strategist Karl Rove. 'Due to Ham Rove's timely passing, I am announcing that Colbert Super PAC is shutting down effective immediately. During this time of mourning, we ask that you respect our privacy, and more importantly, the privacy of our money. It wishes to stay out of the public eye, so please don't go trying to find it. Rest assured, you won't. We have a really good lawyer,' Colbert wrote in a letter posted on the Web site of his super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow." [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - St. Bernard is afraid of stairs.

READY FOR PLEASURE - HuffPost DC: "When the line for free vibrators started to block traffic late Tuesday morning, the organizers behind Trojan Vibrations made an executive decision." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- "Iron Man 3" reimagined with a budget of one-hundred bucks. [http://bit.ly/TAyPHv]

- What would our planet look like if it had rings like Saturn? [http://chzb.gr/RVko0y]

- Short film about man who studied up on, and became an expert at, tintype photography. [http://bit.ly/X2Q3mH]

- Animator uses video editing trickery to make himself and various objects around his house disappear... think Obi-Wan Kenobi disappearing into the force, but instead of Obi-Wan it's a hipster and instead of the Death Star it's (probably) a Brooklyn walk-up. [http://bit.ly/QaMAQn]

- The glassfrog is a type of frog with a transparent underbelly -- you can see its insides. [http://bit.ly/SceTrF]

- The United States and Great Britain, a side-by-side infographic look at the two countries' demographics. [http://bit.ly/XA7Rom]

- Person drinks two giant coffees, explains caffeine's effect on the brain. [http://bit.ly/SjTH3Q]

TWITTERAMA

@BenjySarlin: But what about likely approvers? RT @PollTracker: Obama Job Approval (US): Approve 55.0% Disapprove 44.0% (Nov. 12 - Gallup)

@daveweigel: Adventures in useless hallway reporting. Q: "Would you prefer Kerry at State or Defense?" Carl Levin: "Yes."

@DavidKenner: Thank heavens the Taliban is probably the least likely foe in history to run a honey trap against the US military.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:30 pm: Pat Toomey, maybe spooked by Pennsylvania's stubborn refusal to vote for a Republican president, passes the hat at a D.C. fundraiser. Or maybe he's just a politician who has to run for office at some point. [Acqua Al 2, 212 7th Street SE]

TOMORROW

8:30 am: Kelly Ayotte, who in an alternate universe is taking some time with her family after the failure of Romney/Ayotte, raises funds for her 2016 reelection bid. [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW]

6:00 pm: Mike Crapo, who'll never ever ever ever lose reelection (and God be with us if someone primaries Crapo from the right and wins), has a fundraiser for his Freedom Fund PAC. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]

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