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HUFFPOST HILL, sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans - President To Tell Nation What It'll Argue About This Thanksgiving

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Every member of Congress is gathering in one place tonight, which is why they call it Fat Tuesday, right? Dick Cheney says he supports President Obama's drone policy, which is the political version of The Situation saying he likes your outfit. And 22 male senators voted against the Violence Against Women Act. As a test, Harry Reid should put the No More Lorena Bobbitts Job Creation And Economic Stability Act to a vote to see how those 22 bros behave then. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, February 12th, 2013:

STATE OF THE UNION EXCERPTS: JERBS! - From the White House, some boring excerpts (we suggest you scroll down): "It is our generation's task, then, to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class. It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country -- the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love. It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation of ours... A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs -- that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?... Tonight, I'll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago. Let me repeat -- nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth."

Follow the speech on HuffPost Politics' liveblog and we'll be livetweeting @HuffPostHill.

GOP RESPONSE EXCERPTS: JERBS AND ALSO CHANGE MEDICARE! - From Marco Rubio's address, another set of boring excerpts (keep scrolling): "Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren't millionaires. ... The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security. So Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors. ... The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That's why we need a balanced budget amendment. The biggest obstacles to balancing the budget are programs where spending is already locked in. One of these programs, Medicare, is especially important to me. It provided my father the care he needed to battle cancer and ultimately die with dignity. And it pays for the care my mother receives now. I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it."

...and you can find excerpts from Rand Paul's tea party response here.

STATE OF THE UNION: OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE HOW HE'S PUNTING ON ELECTION REFORM VOTING COMMISSION - It is unclear on which Friday afternoon the commission will release its findings. Ryan Reilly: "President Barack Obama will announce a bipartisan presidential voting commission to focus on improving the Election Day experience, The Huffington Post has learned from two sources outside the White House with knowledge of the plans. The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources." [HuffPost]

The president will also announce that half of the 66,000 troops in Afghanistan will withdraw within a year. AP: "Still to be decided: how many troops will remain beyond 2014, when the U.S.-led combat mission is scheduled to end. The stated goal is to prepare Afghanistan's army and police to handle the Taliban insurgency largely on their own by then.Obama determined that his war goals could be achieved by bringing 34,000 U.S. troops home by this time next year, officials said, leaving somewhere between 32,000 and 34,000 to support and train Afghan forces." [AP]

Da USA iz ;-) "The state of our union is ... dumber: How the linguistic standard of the presidential address has declined"

WE TALK TO NANCY PELOSI ABOUT PEOPLE GETTING NEKKID, TED NUGENT - HuffPost Hill met with the House minority leader to talk nudity legislation, disappearing American citizens and Ted Nugent. Her take on the man who has threatened the president being inviting to the State of the Union address: "I'm more concerned about Steve Stockman being here than Ted Nugent," she said of the formerly homeless congressman who invited him. "Does that tell you something? Ted Nugent will leave. Steve Stockman will still be here...If a liberal had ever invited somebody who had made the statements Ted Nugent made -- cutting off all our heads, and he'd be dead or in jail if the president was reelected -- if any liberal or progressive invited someone who made those kinds of comments to the State of the Union, can you just imagine? When President Bush was--can you just imagine?" Maybe being close to the president is Nugent's strategy for not getting disappeared by a drone strike.

We asked Pelosi -- of course -- if SF's new ban on nudity, sponsored by Supervisor Scott Wiener (seriously) means that the city is losing its character and going corporate. "Oh please. Who do you think we were?" she said. "Supervisor Wiener is a very progressive supervisor. Enough already with the public nudity. Please. We have our standards. We have standards. Come see our gay pride parade. It's fabulous, you'll love it. It's a lot of exposure, shall we say...But kids don't go to the parks for -- yuck."

PELOSI ON LOS DESAPARECIDOS - We also asked her if the president ought to acknowledge it publicly when he orders an American citizen killed. "Maybe," she said, a slight deviation from the administration's policy of simply disappearing its people.

KABUKI PHASE ONE COMPLETE, HAGEL NOMINATION CLEARS COMMITTEE - NYT: "After a combative two-hour debate, the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, sending it to the full Senate. But the 14-to-11 vote, which broke down entirely along partisan lines, was just the beginning of a process this week that seemed certain to further expose a deep rift between Republicans and Democrats over President Obama's foreign policy prerogatives. At times, the hearing slipped into an accusatory and bitter back-and-forth, with Republicans like Ted Cruz of Texas going as far as to suggest that Mr. Hagel had accepted money from enemy nations like North Korea, while Democrats like Bill Nelson of Florida said Republicans had undermined the integrity of both Mr. Hagel and the committee. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the committee, said that those who suggested that Mr. Hagel was "cozy" with terrorist states had a basis for their claims because Iran has expressed support for his nomination." [NYT]

SEQUESTER: MCCONNELL SHAKES CAVALRY SWORD - Sabrina Siddiqui: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday rejected the idea of a last-minute deal to avert the looming sequester, signaling that massive cuts to defense and domestic spending will kick in as expected on March 1. 'It's pretty clear to me that the sequester is going to go into effect,' McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill. 'I see no evidence that the House plans to act on this matter before the end of the month.' He added that while Republicans are likely to offer a counterproposal to the sequester replacement bill that is expected from Senate Democrats later this week, there is little hope that either effort will result in any kind of compromise." [HuffPost]

Jeff Danziger, political cartoonist and Statler to HuffPost Hill's Waldorf, was shocked to learn of the Pope's retirement: "The Vatican did Nazi that coming." Thanks, Jeff!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Arthur is still on vacation, a fact that continues to bum us out. :-(

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SENATE PASSES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT - Marco Rubio was one of 22 y-chromosome-endowed senators to vote against the measure. That's smart, because nothing will blunt the political damage caused by one of your 2016 surrogates invariably making a sexist remark about Hillary Clinton quite like this vote. Jen Bendery: "The bill passed 78 to 22. It already had 62 cosponsors, which ensured its passage, but it picked up additional support from a handful of Republicans who weren't already sponsoring it...The bill authorizes $659 million over five years for VAWA programs. It also expands VAWA to include new protections for LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence, to give more attention to sexual assault prevention and to help reduce a backlog in processing rape kits. Created in 1994, VAWA has helped to strengthen programs and services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking." [HuffPost]

@sahilkapur: Bob Casey gets the coveted Finance Committee seat vacated by John Kerry.

REPUBLICANS TO GRILL LEW ABOUT HIS WALL STREET TENURE, PENMANSHIP - Midway through we suspect Lindsey Graham will bang repeatedly on the committee room doors, "Graduate"-style and yell "BENGHAZI!!!! BENGHAZI!!!" WaPo: "GOP senators plan to ask pointed questions about Jack Lew's work at Citigroup -- and his pay at the bailed-out bank -- when the Treasury nominee appears before a Senate panel for his confirmation hearing Wednesday, officials said Monday. Some Republicans think Lew has not provided satisfactory answers about his exact responsibilities at the bank during the financial crisis, congressional staffers say. The issue is relevant, they say, because the Treasury secretary has new responsibilities for overseeing Wall Street... For the past two weeks, members of the committee have been reviewing Lew's tax returns and personal records. The nominee has sat down for hours of interviews. An administration official involved with his confirmation process said Lew was focused on consolidating costs for the firm's operations rather than acting as an investment banker. The official added that having been through his experience at Citigroup, Lew understands the dangers of banks taking on too much risk -- and that he would carefully implement financial reform to avoid a similar catastrophe from occurring again." [WaPo]

JOHN BOEHNER PUTS ON SOME TEDDY PENDERGRASS, DIMS THE LIGHTS AND TALKS PRETTY TO AMERICA'S IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY - Nothing puts an ostracized people in the mood to be deported quite like a nicely aged Shiraz and sweet nothings whispered by a very orange man. Luke Johnson: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) used a colorful metaphor Tuesday in response to a question from a reporter on whether House Republicans could support a pathway to citizenship in an immigration reform bill. 'Slow down. Slow down. How about a little foreplay?' he said at a breakfast with television reporters, according to ABC News. 'There's a bipartisan conversation going on in the Senate. There's a bipartisan conversation going in the House. Let these things work their way along. It is too early to talk about legislation going on in one house or the other.' He went on, 'The only thing I worry about on immigration is the president getting in the way.' Boehner has declined to support a pathway to citizenship even for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, a group seen by many as the most-deserving for citizenship among the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants." [HuffPost]

Our pavlovian president: "If President Obama wants immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, he may not want to mention it at all in tonight's State of the Union speech, a new Washington Post poll suggests. Seven in 10 people in the survey said they would support a path to citizenship, including 60 percent of Republicans. But when the same question was asked of a separate sample of respondents, this time with Obama's name attached to it, support dropped to 59 percent overall and just 39 percent among Republicans." [WaPo]

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DICK CHENEY LIKES YOUR STYLE, MR. PRESIDENT - This is like the political version of a Rob Schneider movie only being able to earn a positive review from Ain't It Cool News... except Rob Schneider never killed a bunch of Pakistani children. AP: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the Obama administration's policy of targeting terrorists abroad with unmanned drone strikes is 'a good policy,' even though he disagrees with most of President Barack Obama's views on national security. In an interview that aired Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," Cheney dismissed the need for 'checks and balances' against the drone program. He says Obama 'is getting paid to make difficult, difficult decisions.' The drone program came under scrutiny last week during Senate hearing on counterterrorism adviser John Brennan's nomination to become director of the CIA. Brennan oversaw many of the drone strikes from his White House office." [AP]

IF ONLY SARAH PALIN WERE JOINING AL JAZEERA - We haven't been this disappointed about an erroneous media report since TV Guide published that article about Joe Biden starring in a PAX pilot about a family of country music performers in South Dakota. Politico: "The Washington Post has erroneously reported that Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential candidate and former Fox News contributor, is joining the Qatari-owned news network Al Jazeera. 'Late last week Al Jazeera America announced the former vice-presidential candidate would be joining their news network,' the Post's Suzi Parker writes today in a post on the She The People blog, titled 'Sarah Palin's plan to reach 'millions of devoutly religious people' through al-Jazeera... But Parker's report is a cautionary tale about what can happen when writers cite satirical websites, such as The Daily Currant. On Feb. 4, the Daily Currant published a satirical piece stating that Palin was 'bouncing back by joining the fledgling Al Jazeera America news network as a host and commentator.' Parker cites this piece and uses quotes that the Currant attributes to Palin." [Politico]

HuffPost Hill, however, actually will be joining Al Jazeera tonight, doing pre- and post-game commentary.

@SarahPalinUSA: Hey @washingtonpost, I'm having coffee with Elvis this week. He works at the Mocha Moose in Wasilla. #suziparkerscoops #idiotmedia

Rep. Rush Holt is introducing a "Darwin Day" resolution, meaning a GOP-sponsored resolution "recognizing the contributions made by Adam and Eve to the development of stegosaurus cheese can't be far off. Nick Wing: "On Tuesday, the 204th anniversary of British naturalist Charles Darwin's birth, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) will take to the House floor to formally introduce his resolution calling for February 12, 2013 to be officially designated Darwin Day. In his bill, Holt -- a 'Jeopardy!' champion with a doctoral degree in physics -- offers a strong defense of evolution, as well as Darwin's influence on scientific understanding and the 'betterment of humanity.'... He goes on to warn that the 'teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - "Between Two Ferns: Oscar Buzz Edition 2"

WASHINGTON DC THE MECCA FOR CHEATING ON YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER -This is only going to make politicos' enjoyment of "House of Cards" even more insufferable. HuffPost: "According to a press release from AshleyMadison.com -- a dating site for married people looking to cheat -- D.C. was recently named 'America's Least Faithful City' for the second year in a row. The title was based on data collected by the infidelity website, which found that D.C. had the highest number of sign-ups per capita in 2012, boasting 34,157 new members. Two Texas cities -- Austin and Houston -- came in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Founder and CEO of Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman, explained why he was not surprised to see D.C. top the list yet again. 'With enormous public attention paid to political cheating scandals this year, including the Gen. Petraeus affair, there was no doubt that Washington residents would be influenced,' he said in a press release." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Because jumping around on skis isn't intense enough, these guys decided to jump over Christmas trees... that were on fire. [http://bit.ly/VbFgE2]

- A massive collection of Harlem Shake videos... all at once. [http://bit.ly/VNRiWw]

- "Westboro Mingle," a dating service for the prolifically bigoted. [http://huff.to/156CdRA]

- A defense of Comic Sans, the Hitler of typography. [http://bit.ly/X0CeDh]

- A map of places with dirty names. We hear Crap, Albania is lovely this time of year. [http://bit.ly/XDJnrf]

- A video of men trying to throw rocks with their non-dominant hands. Huh.[PUBLICATION]

- The Bluth Company stair car and other absurd things made out of LEGOs. [http://bit.ly/11CO6zI]

TWITTERAMA

@alisonforns: State of the Union, Valentine's Day & Lent. Happy hell week, DC escorts.

@LizMair: .@CNBC asks what Republicans want to hear in #SOTU. My guess: "I'm resigning and handing this job off to a stealthily preserved Reagan."

@joshrogin: BREAKING: Two Congressmen who have different views will sit next to each other @ SOTU & feign bipartisanship for 25 minutes

ON TAP

TOMORROW

8:30 am: Thad Cochran heads to Charlie Palmer for an "Agriculture Breakfast," which we guess consists of inedible monoculture corn. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]

5:30 pm: Help prolong the Republican Party's political life while you shorten yours at Jerry Moran's "Burgers and Shakes" fundraiser benefiting his NRSC PAC. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

6:00 pm: Steny Hoyer, who we strongly feel needs an Onion-style Joe Biden treatment (we're sure he'd appreciate the attention), is the man of the hour at a campaign function benefiting his releection. [DNC, 430 South Capitol Street SE]

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