POLITICS
12/21/2012 05:03 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - The One With John Boehner Fan Fiction

If John Boehner bolts and Eric Cantor becomes the first Jewish speaker, we're worried that Rahm Emanuel's rage might cause his right middle finger to regenerate.The NRA's CEO is worried that kids see too many guns in the media, which is precisely why they need to see more guns at school. And Barbara Mikulski sternly and ominously demanded that her Senate colleagues be more than "quiet." Yikes. If you eat kielbasa in the next few weeks and it tastes a little too Dick Durbin-y, head directly to your nearest police station and tell them everything. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, December 21st, 2012:

OBAMA ENDORSES SMALLER DEAL, EGGNOG, COOKIES AND SINGING - Obama just now, after saying he'd just spoken to John Boehner and met with Harry Reid: "I have asked leaders of Congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on middle class Americans, protects unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans, and lays the groundwork for further work on both growth and deficit reduction. That's an achievable goal. That can get done in 10 days. Once this legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans to get back to Washington and have it pass both chambers, and I will immediately sign that legislation into law before January 1st of next year."

EGGNOG! - More Obama: "So as we leave town for a few days to be with our families through the holidays, I hope it gives everybody some perspective. Everybody can cool off. Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones."

@jonathanweisman: Mitch McConnell staying in DC with @speakerboehner while Reid flies to HI for Inouye funeral. No Aloha summit. Reid back Monday.

MORE ON SMALLER DEAL - Carrie Budoff Brown and Fast Break Jake Sherman, before Obama spoke: "President Barack Obama's $2.4 trillion proposal is still on the table -- and it remains his preference. But administration officials said Friday that they won't be able to get it passed unless House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) decides to rejoin the talks. And he has given no indication that he will. So the White House is turning its focus to a smaller package that would extend the Bush-era tax rates on income below $250,000, pause the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester and renew unemployment insurance benefits, according to senior administration officials." A top House Republican aide tells us that "there is no way Senate would accept that. And you know what we would do." Actually, we don't know anything anymore. [Politico]

We like this piece of Beltway-consensus-capture in the Politico piece: "But it means a host of tax provisions would likely expire, little would be done to address the debt and deficit..." Yes, little would be done to address the debt and deficit other than raising hundreds of billions of dollars by upping tax rates and letting "a host of tax provisions" expire. Nothing except for that. It doesn't whack old people, so it must not be serious.

CHAINED CPI IS A DEALBREAKER FOR 97 HOUSE DEMS: PCCC - On the topic of whacking old people: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee says a majority of House Democrats have pledged to vote against any budget deal that includes the "chained CPI" Social Security cut. The PCCC's conclusion is based on a count of signatures on a 2011 letter and a statement from the Congressional Progressive Caucus this week. It's been difficult to get Dems to make unequivocal statements on chained CPI, so this is interesting. [PCCC.org]

The Senate passed the 2013 defense authorization bill today. Rand Paul was upset because Rand Paul...and indefinite detention.

DEMS LOOKING FOR CREATIVE WAYS TO LOSE - Chris Van Hollen performed his best Obama impersonation today, arguing that Obama's "at least halfway" offer should now be the starting point. Democrats are uncomfortable winning. Luckily for them they know how not to. [DailyKos]

Programming note: We'll be back either next Thursday or never. Seeing as there are still a few hours left in the day, the Earth may yet implode like a brittle Lindt liquor chocolate ball and swallow everything we know and hold dear. If it comes to that, we've enjoyed preparing this newsletter and hope that your demise is quick and painless.

PRESIDENT OBAMA BOUNCING INSANE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE FROM CLUB AMERICA - Which is crazy seeing how there aren't any dress standards in Club America. Elise Foley: "Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced on Friday that the agency surpassed its record number of deportations in the past fiscal year, but also will enact reform of a controversial immigration enforcement program that could lead to fewer non-criminal immigrants being removed from the country. The agency deported 409,849 immigrants in the 2012 fiscal year, up from 396,906 immigrants last year. More than 392,000 immigrants were deported in the 2010 fiscal year. ICE touted one improvement: It reported that 96 percent of removals fell into a priority category -- not necessarily a high one -- and that about 55 percent overall were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors." [HuffPost]

The great David Dayen, one of the best bloggers around, signed off today at FDL. Here's hoping his wife is right and that he's back at it soon.

SENATE PASSES DISASTER RELIEF, COULD BE MODEL FOR RULES REFORM - Chuck Schumer was asked this evening if the agreement the Senate came to on amendments was a model for what opponents of broad filibuster reform might try to do in its place. "I absolutely do. Senator Alexander and I have been involved in trying to avoid the nuclear option... And we provided this as a pretty good test...It may pave the way in the Senate to do things like this more often. If you can do it on this bill, which had serious opposition, then you can probably do it in other areas as well." Schumer calling what other Dems call the "constitutional option" the "nuclear option" is not a good sign for filibuster reform.

A VERY MERRY JOHN BOEHNER CHRISTMASTIME VIGNETTE - The speaker's on a tall chair at the bar in a friend's finished basement, rosy cheeks wreathed in smoke. He snuffs his Camel in a neon glass ashtray and reaches for the bowl of mixed nuts. This is just right, he thinks. There's a dartboard, a scuffed medium-size pool table, nice soft carpet and wood paneling everywhere. His companion is adjusting the dials of the Sony stereo cassette deck system nestled in a sumptuous red oak cabinet. He hits play. Percy Faith Orchestra. "Moon River." The speaker picks up his glass of red wine, walks to the leather recliner, slips off his loafers and lets the chair swallow him up. He closes his eyes and, smiling faintly, recalls an episode of "Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre" he enjoyed as a kid. -- Here's to you, John.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of People on Social Security: "I realize you have no idea of what trying to get by on SS means. I farmed most of my able-bodied years which means I was buying retail and selling wholesale with very little profit. At 57 I took an off farm job till I hit 67 yrs this gave me a SS check which not much but it sure helped. With this and selling off the farm we were in good shape until interest rates dropped and health insurance jumped. Now keeping health insurance takes half of my SS check and the money in the bank brings in a whole big .05 percent. Looks like the bread line is getting close. [Hang in there!]

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KERRY NOMINATED TO BE NEXT SECRETARY OF STATE - But, as we all know, President Obama was against the nomination before he was for it (sorry, sorry, sorry). Reuters: "President Barack Obama on Friday announced the nomination of U.S. Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, calling him the 'perfect choice' to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead. Obama settled on Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew from consideration last week. He said he expected quick Senate confirmation of the Massachusetts lawmaker. 'As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we have to harness all elements of American power,' Obama said at the White House." [Reuters]

@AmbassadorRice: I've been honored to work with @JohnKerry in the past & look forward to working closely with him on the President's national security team.

No homo, bro: Chuck Hagel apologized today for voicing concern in 1998 that America might spread gay cooties abroad. NYT: "Chuck Hagel, a candidate for secretary of defense whose record on gay-rights issues has come under fire in recent days, apologized on Friday for remarks... [he made about] James C. Hormel, a San Francisco philanthropist nominated by President Bill Clinton as ambassador to Luxembourg... 'I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any L.G.B.T. Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights,' Mr. Hagel said. 'I am fully supportive of "open service" and committed to L.G.B.T. military families.'" [NYT]

The original comment, made in 1998 to the Omaha World-Herald: "They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay -- openly, aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel -- to do an effective job."

BOEHNER DEFENDS HIMSELF AS WINE THREAT LEVEL UPGRADED FROM 'MERLOT' TO 'BURGUNDY' - After spending all of last night and this morning drunk texting friends at BGR Group and Akin Gump ("r u hiring askin 4 a friend"), the House speaker spoke about his failed plan B fiscal cliff proposal and his hold on the gavel. Mike McAuliff and Sabrina Siddiqui: "[T]he failure did leave him sounding very concerned about how his caucus and President Barack Obama could ever come together to find the grand bargain on taxes and spending that Boehner and others think the nation desperately needs. 'How we get there, God only knows,' he said...Asked at a Capitol Hill news conference about the future of his speakership in light of the collapse of his plan, Boehner at first dodged, saying a deal on spending needs to be reached. But asked again if he was concerned, he said, 'No, I'm not.'...'While we may have not been able to get the votes last night to avert 99.81 percent of the tax increases, I don't think -- they weren't taking that out on me,' he continued. 'They were dealing with the perception that somebody might accuse them of raising taxes.'" [HuffPost]

We're hearing that God will grant John Boehner the serenity to accept the things he cannot change in exchange for an additional $400 billion in scoreable revenue. Politico: "Things were so bad for Speaker John Boehner Thursday night, support for his Plan B tax bill so diminished, the limits of his power with his own party laid bare, that he stood in front of the House Republican Conference and recited the Serenity Prayer... Boehner nearly cried." [Politico]

NRA PUTS THE "ERP" IN WYATT EARP - Imagine if Anthony Weiner's resignation press conference and Mark Sanford's admission of infidelity press conference had a baby, dropped the baby on its head and ten years later enrolled the baby in a survivalist summer camp. That's a rough approximation. AP: "The nation's largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer 'waiting in the wings.'...The group's top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said at a Washington news conference that "the next Adam Lanza," the man responsible for last week's mayhem, is planning an attack on another school...He blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture day in and day out... He refused to take any questions after speaking...two protesters were able to interrupt LaPierre's speech, holding up signs that blamed the NRA for killing children." LaPierre, for some reason, left out Duck Hunt. [AP]

The NRA once made the "Gigli" of video games. Mother Jones: "In his first public comments since last Friday's shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre sought to place the blame for gun violence where it truly belonged: the makers of video games...But LaPierre's speech left out a key detail: His own organization has a video game, too. It's called NRA Gun Club, it was released in 2006 for PlayStation 2, and according to the top-ranked review on Amazon, it "could very well be the single worst game in the history of games." The game, which was rated "E" for kids 10 and older, featured a handgun on the cover with four bullets and consisted entirely of various target-shooting exercises." [Mother Jones]

Armed guards have been about as effective as the assault weapons ban: "In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 15 people and wounded 23 more at Columbine High School. The destruction occurred despite the fact that there was an armed security officer at the school and another one nearby -- exactly what LaPierre argued on Friday was the answer to stopping 'a bad guy with a gun.'" [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

MIKULSKI GETS REAL Barbara Mikulski, routinely voted the most collegial member of the U.S. Senate (JK!), wanted the floor today. "I would really like members not to talk," she said. The presiding officer, Al Franken, asked senators to "be quiet." Mikulski wasn't satisfied, snapping back: "I want them more than to be quiet." Mikulski became chair of the Appropriations Committee today. Good luck, Appropriations Committee. [C-SPAN]

President Obama posted a YouTube response to a "We The People" petition calling for stricter gun control. We're guessing he's going to staff out the response to the petition calling for construction of a Death Star to Joe Biden (or, alternately, that could be Chuck Hagel's first undertaking as Defense secretary. We suspect Elon Musk would get the contract.) "Here's what I think we should do," he says. "This week I called on Congress to take up and pass common-sense legislation that has the support of the majority of the American people, including banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, and making sure criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to get their hands on a gun." Also, we need blast doors that open and close faster for the Death Star. [HuffPost's Mollie Reilly]

MITCH MCCONNELL RUNNING OPPO ON ASHLEY JUDD - The Senate minority leader and his team have found that support for the actress is soft, with poll respondents responding negatively to information about Judd's background and positions (and they weren't even reminded of her part in "Simon Birch."). Politico: "McConnell's campaign has polled some of Judd's comments and found that the nearly 28-year Senate veteran's prospective lead in a head-to-head match-up increases from just 4 percentage points to 20 points once voters understand her political profile, according to a memo provided to POLITICO. The poll found voters like Judd much less when they learn that she lives in Tennessee and Scotland, her grandmother referred to her as a 'Hollywood liberal' and she has suggested it is wrong to breed given widespread poverty in regions around the world. 'Considering the fact that Judd begins with such strong name ID, the informed voter swing is devastating for her, and the 16-point swing is one of the biggest I have seen in my career,' said Jan R. van Lohuizen, McConnell's longtime pollster." [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - - Young orangutan is a mama's boy, er, orangutan.

Guess who is the only congressman not cosponsoring the Tennessee ball in DC? Yeah, the one who's the doctor who pushed his patient -- the one he knocked up -- to have an abortion.

COMFORT FOOD

- The end of the world presented in, what else, GIFs. [http://huff.to/XUr5Rb]

- Pigeon really wants to be part of the team. [http://chzb.gr/UN1Fo8]

- Can money buy happiness? Take it away, YouTube. [http://bit.ly/R9eD1D]

- HuffPost Comedy's favorite videos of 2012. [http://huff.to/12sKTjU]

- A collection of presidents with adorable children. No word on the ETA of the "adorable presidents with children" slideshow. [http://bit.ly/R7Du5X]

- It's Christmas 1988 and you're Arnold Schwarzenegger. What do you do? Hang out with Mike Tyson and an old bowler, of course. [http://bit.ly/WuD4Ga]

- Magician proposes to his girlfriend with an illusion because she picked a winner. [http://bit.ly/T1O3cD]

TWITTERAMA

@BDayspring: Well, the good thing is that the Speaker is going to get the press conference in before the whole Mayan chaos thing. Pelosi's 1PM? RISKY.

@anamariecox: NRA presser on C-SPAN 1, the original C-SPAN, made with real cane sugar.

@ByronTau: [Tweet with a link to my version of a story that broke 20 minutes ago]

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