POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - GOP Is A Big Tent Party, No Cover For Ladies

President Obama promised he'd deliver a shorter-than-usual State of the Union address, but he didn't, because if you like your long speech, you can keep it. Steve King said Nikki Haley's not "a principled conservative" but it doesn't matter because she's "beautiful," since being principled means compromising for superficial reasons. And controversy erupted today over video of an American sailor apologizing for entering Iranian waters, because only President Obama is supposed to apologize to foreign countries. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 13th, 2016:

APOLOGYGATE - Barbara Starr, Tom LoBianco, Holly Yan and Jim Sciutto: "A video aired Wednesday by Iranian state television shows an American sailor apologizing for entering Iranian waters, an embarrassing development for a U.S. administration trying to paint the service members' quick release as a diplomatic victory. 'It was a mistake. It was our fault. And we apologize for our mistake,' said the U.S sailor, who was identified by Iran's Press TV as the commander. 'It was a misunderstanding. We did not mean to go into Iranian territorial waters. It was a mistake. It was our fault. The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here. We thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance.' ... Earlier Wednesday, the country's semi-official FARS News Agency, citing a statement from Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, said the sailors were released 'after they extended an apology.' ... [T]he State Department Wednesday morning rejected any notion that the U.S. had offered an apology. 'There is no truth in reporting that Secretary Kerry apologized to the Iranians,' Kerry spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday, later tweeting that the claim had 'zero' validity." [CNN]

ADMINISTRATION TIRED OF DEMS BEING MAD AT THEM - Fine, guys, we'll do more for Central Americans. Foley: "The U.S. will expand refugee screening in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, in an attempt to stem the growing tide of families and unaccompanied children fleeing the countries, Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday.... The plans to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to screen refugees in Central America were first reported by the New York Times on Tuesday evening. ... The U.S. already planned to admit 85,000 refugees from around the world this fiscal year, up from 70,000 last year. ... A Department of State spokesman said it is not raising the overall number of admissions for the fiscal year. The news comes after more than three-quarters of the House Democratic caucus signed onto a letter asking the president to suspend recent deportation raids on families ordered for removal, and do more to help vulnerable Central Americans. Many critics have accused the administration of a hemispheric bias in refugee response -- willing to fight for bringing in more Syrians and others from the Middle East, but focusing more on keeping Central Americans from coming to the U.S." [HuffPost]

HuffPost is launching a winning podcast where losers Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis interview other losers (mostly political ones, including Howard Dean, Michele Bachmann, and Ben "boo!" Konop). Check it out.

CAN THE GOP ESTABLISHMENT COZY UP TO CRUZ? Jonathan Martin reports from New Orleans: "Striding up the sidewalk of one of this city’s most affluent neighborhoods on Monday evening, S. Scott Sewell seemed an unlikely figure to be attending a fund-raiser for Senator Ted Cruz. An oil industry executive, Mr. Sewell served in President George Bush’s administration, lent a hand to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential recount, and was twice a chairman for Mitt Romney’s Louisiana campaigns. But if such a creature of the Republican establishment appeared an odd fit to support a candidate whose political identity was shaped challenging his party’s leadership, the candlelit, art-filled setting for Mr. Cruz’s reception was even more surprising: the elegant home of the longtime Bush loyalist Mary Matalin and her husband, James Carville, the Democratic strategist. The vast majority of Republican elites remain bitterly opposed to the prospect of Mr. Cruz’s becoming the party’s presidential nominee, some even preferring to take their chances with Donald J. Trump. Yet, to the strains of a jazz trio a block from St. Charles Avenue here, over Texas barbecue at his Houston campaign office and in one of Washington’s see-and-be-seen steakhouses, Mr. Cruz, Washington’s chief anti-establishment agitator, has quietly begun wooing some of the party’s most entrenched donors and officials." [NYT]

THERE'S GOTTA BE A BETTER WAY TO FIGHT POVERTY - The next Obama budget will have an item that might interest Paul Ryan: "The Obama administration wants to spend $2 billion testing new approaches to fighting poverty, with a particular focus on catching people before they fall into crisis rather than trying to put them back on their feet afterward. The president's budget, which will be officially released in early February, calls for creating a new Emergency Aid and Service Connection. The main goal would be to find ways of helping families who face immediate, potentially crippling financial crises -- like a car breaking down with no money for repairs or an extended absence from work because of illness. Instead of waiting for these people to exhaust all resources, certifying their poverty with extensive paperwork and then providing them with assistance through programs like food stamps, the idea would be to assist them with quick short-term aid -- before one crisis leads to many others -- or connect them with programs that, over the long term, can help stabilize their incomes." [w/ HuffPost's Jonathan Cohn]

@ericawerner: Steve King suggests Haley is not a "principled conservative" but: "I think she’s beautiful so I’d be happy if she’s the face of the party."

DELANEY DOWNER - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has called in the National Guard to help hand out bottled water in Flint, where dangerous lead levels have made municipal water unsafe to drink. [HuffPost]

DAVE DOWNER - Joseph Fahey cherishes the Catholic Church's teachings on worker rights. "It's really beautiful teaching -- rock-bottom core, Matthew 25 stuff," says Fahey, a Catholic theologian. "A lot of Catholics would tell you that's why they're Catholic." So Fahey took it as an insult to his faith when the Catholic school where he's taught for 50 years, Manhattan College, tried to prevent adjunct professors from unionizing. He was particularly galled because part-time adjuncts are among "the poorest and weakest people on campus," he says. [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]

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TWITTER TO REMAIN CLASSY, YUGE - Fear not, America: President Donald Trump will keep insulting people on the internet. Natalie Andrews and Heather Haddon: "Should he be elected president, Republican front-runner Donald Trump doesn’t plan to give up on tweeting. But he may turn it down a notch. Asked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal if he would still send messages on Twitter if elected to the White House, Mr. Trump said he would, though he would tone it down. 'I’ll do modified tweets. They may not be as aggressive,' he said." That's not what an MT is, but okay! [WSJ]

OBAMA HOPING AMERICA DOESN'T BECOME FASCIST HELLHOLE - Ryan Grim: "President Barack Obama put the American people on notice Tuesday night that a dark future awaited U.S. democracy if they didn't begin to come together rather than retreat into ethnic or religious corners. In describing what one Republican senator called an 'apocalyptic future,' Obama laid out a possible path the country could take away from democracy and toward what sounded like an American version of fascism. 'I remember thinking it's kind of a dreadful prediction for our future,' Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told HuffPost. 'He was very optimistic about America, but then he laid out a very almost apocalyptic future.' Obama warned that if people lose hope and let cynicism take over, dark forces will surge… 'As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.'" Huh. Wonder what he's talking about. [HuffPost]

NIKKI HALEY ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT DESCENT INTO FASCIST HELLHOLE - Igor Bobic: "In the Republican response to President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday evening, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) sought to undo some of the damage done to the GOP brand by the wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric popularized by real estate mogul Donald Trump. Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants, cautioned against demonizing people who yearn to enter the U.S. in hopes of attaining a better life, even amid a wave of anxiety over national security following terror attacks at home and abroad. 'Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory,' Haley said. 'During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.'" [HuffPost]

Here is a video of Haley saying things she doesn't like about several 2016 candidates, for some reason.

HuffPost Haircuts: Jason Cherkis

MORE STATE OF THE UNION ANALYSIS - President Obama said his speech would be shorter than previous ones, but it wasn't, really. People were a little disappointed that Paul Ryan didn't move his face more. And Kim Davis didn't clap much.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Check out these dogs doing things that dogs do.

SAD JOURNALISM NEWS - So long, Al Jazeera America. Joe Pompeo, Hadas Gold and Peter Sterne: "Al Jazeera, which made a massive investment in covering the United States less than three years ago, is slamming the brakes on its American operation. Al Jazeera America, a cable news channel that debuted in August 2013, is shutting down. Employees were informed of the decision during an all-hands staff meeting on Wednesday afternoon. During the meeting, Al Jazeera America brass said the channel's business model was 'no longer sustainable.' It will shut down by April 30, an Al Jazeera American executive told staff saying the decision was made by the channel's board of directors and was not a reflection of the quality of their work." [Politico]

COMFORT FOOD

- There's going to be a "Friends" cast reunion.

- Comedians had a pretty easy time infiltrating Trump event, lampooning the whole Trump phenomenon.

- A handy trick for defrosting your windshield.

TWITTERAMA

@mollyesque: Responding to the SOTU: one of those crappy jobs traditionally done by women and minorities.

igorbobic: Summing up where the GOP race is at:

“Why don’t you hit Trump”

“No, you do it”

“No, you”

“No…you”

“C’moooon"

@jasonnobleDMR: I was w/ Jeb Bush yesterday as he drove past a pro-Bush billboard in Des Moines. "What the hell is that?" he asked. "Is that Right to Rise?"

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