Today's edition of quick hits:
* The Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon approved Chuck Hagel's nomination to become Secretary of Defense, 14 to 11, with one senator not voting. The vote came after an unnerving display of McCarthyism.
* An extraordinary scene: "Accused killer Christopher Dorner is surrounded by police inside a Big Bear area cabin after getting into a gun battle that left two San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies wounded."
* Republicans sequester can help reverse this: "The Dow rose to its highest close of the year Tuesday, ending 146 points from a record. Stocks gained after impressive results from two big consumer brands. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 47.46 to 14,018.70, putting it within 1 percent of the record close of 14,164.53 set in October 2007. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 2.42 points to 1,519.43, also close to its record."
* This will be big news: "President Obama plans to announce in his State of Union address on Tuesday night that half of the 66,000 American troops in Afghanistan will be home by this time next year, according to an administration official familiar with the speech."
* And this will be a powerful anecdote: "In the first lady's box at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Desiline Victor, 102, will be seated among Michelle Obama's guests as a symbol of voters who faced long delays as they tried to cast ballots in last year's elections."
* The arc of history bends towards justice in France: "France's lower house of parliament approved a sweeping bill on Tuesday to legalize gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children, handing a major legislative victory to President Francois Hollande's Socialists on a divisive social issue."
* There's a fascinating, spirited discussion on fiscal policy underway between Chait, Scarborough, and others.
* Sounds right: "Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that universal background checks on gun purchasers have 'the best chance' of becoming law during President Obama's second term."
* Mariah Blake has a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes shake-ups at the Washington Times following the death of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
* Though I'd generally prefer to ignore former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), it's hard not to marvel at the fact that he's apparently once again trying to get out of paying child support.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.