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HUFFPOST HILL - Ax Says Gun Control On The Table

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Dennis Kucinich is taking on Popeye, Bluto and the rest of the Olive lobby. America liked the State of the Union address but thinks it could have used a decent schmear and some fresh onions. The DHS is getting rid of the color-themed terror alert system because airports are for businessman-fondling TSA agents and not frivolous rainbow scare charts. And God still can't answer your prayer to shorten your snow commute because He used up all His miracle reserves upgrading Gabrielle Giffords' condition to "good." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 26th, 2011:

AXELROD: PRESIDENT WILL TAKE ON GUN ISSUE - Amanda Terkel: "David Axelrod met with a group of nine bloggers and reporters in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Wednesday and said that there's 'no doubt' President Obama will be entering the public debate on gun control. While there have been rumors that he may be giving a speech on the issue in the coming weeks or months, Axelrod refused to confirm either way, but said the President will definitely be addressing the matter. He also said that the DISCLOSE Act, among other issues, was going to be mentioned in the SOTU address but had to be taken out at the last minute because of the 'length' of the speech, not a 'lack of enthusiasm.' He said the White House hopes Congress will vote on the campaign finance reform legislation this year, so that lawmakers are forced to take a stand on the issue."

OR THEY COULD JUST DO THIS: HOUSE VOTES TO END PUBLIC FINANCING OF CAMPAIGNS - Pete Kasperowicz: "The House today approved legislation that would end public financing of presidential campaigns by eliminating the option taxpayers have to donate $3 of their tax payments to a presidential campaign fund. A day after President Obama asked both parties to work together during his State of the Union address, the bill, H.R. 359, was approved by party-line 239-160 vote following some very contentious debate. Ten Democrats voted with Republicans: Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Nick Rahall (W.Va.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.)." [The Hill]

Jeanne Shaheen and Johnny Isakson will introduce a bill tomorrow that would have Congress approve a budget once every two years to avoid election year grandstanding but not, alas, the Mayan-predicted end of the world.

DARRELL THE BOUNTY HUNTER - If you stopped by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's website this morning, we wouldn't blame you for thinking you happened upon a bootleg Chinese video portal. Instead of Darrell Issa's first hearing, the committee was streaming an episode of A&E's totally sweet reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter (Issa is gonna get his man, folks). It was, sadly, an accident. HuffPost Hill did some Dog-type sleuthing (minus the motorcycles, hair-bleaching, sketchy bondsmen and domestic strife) and figured out what happened: The live stream runs over channel 26, which is A&E until the House recording studio flips a switch near the start of the hearing. After the hearing ended, it immediately switched back, giving viewers a few more minutes of Dog.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The unemployment rate isn't coming down before the sun explodes. The Congressional Budget Office says unemployment will stay above 9 percent through 2011 and 8 percent through next year. It's not returning to a "natural rate" of 5.3 percent until 2016 -- if that even happens. "There never was any reason to believe that employment would bounce back, as CBO had previously forecast, in the wake of the financial meltdown, and no reason now to think that the problem lies with deficient skills for any class of workers," economist James Galbraith told HuffPost. "[The CBO forecast] is a purely mechanical exercise idea based on the fact that in the past we've always rebounded to a natural unemployment rate of 5 percent. What that means is you never take into account that the system broke in any serious way." Ha, remember when the system totally broke and everything went wrong and never got right again and it rained money on the people who ruined everything in the first place? [HuffPost]

SENATE ENDS SEEMINGLY ENDLESS FIRST DAY, BRINGING ANTI-CLIMACTIC FINISH TO RULES REFORM - The craziest thing about that tea-cooling saucer isn't its legislative-tempering properties but the way it bends the space-time continuum like a boss. The upper chamber last night voted to officially end day one of the 112th Congress, several weeks after it was gaveled into session. The first day of the session, whether 12, 24 or 500 hours, is the only time the Senate can vote to change its rules with a simple 51-vote majority (or they can't ever do it, depending whom you ask). Now that the sun has set on the first day for the 25th time (or whatever), Democrats will find it more difficult to pass all the comprehensive, progressive reforms the House will surely be sending it. "To be able to invoke the constitutional option, a resolution has to be placed on the Senate calendar and to place something on the calendar you need unanimous consent," a Senate aide said to Sam Stein. "Unanimous consent was rejected last night." [HuffPost]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

OILY SEA CREATURE WINS THE STATE OF THE UNION - Washington loves it a word cloud: It's what talking heads use to prove that their guy is more intelligent/strong/ethical/etc than your guy while also exhibiting their familiarity with stale design trends. It's also a simple way to provide analysts the gist of a speech without having to make them read -- and reading avoidance is Washington's second-favorite hobby after creepily Facebook friending cute interns. While most of the aforementioned word vomiters spent last night and today gushing over the discrepancies between President Obama's State of the Union word cloud and Paul Ryan's GOP response word cloud, NPR won the day (if not the future) by publishing a word cloud of what people remembered from the SOTU. The biggest result? "Salmon." [NPR]

Christine O'Donnell weighed in on the President's speech today, calling it "hypocritical."

GIFFORDS' CONDITION UPGRADED TO 'GOOD' -
Doctors have upgraded the Arizona congresswoman's condition from "serious" to "good," upgrading the nature of her recovery from "miraculously stupendous" to "[stunned silence]." Giffords, currently recovering in Houston, was also transferred from an intensive care unit to a rehabilitation center today. The move had been delayed for three days when doctors detected a buildup of spinal fluid in Giffords' brain after she was moved to Houston. [NYT]

AFL-CIO AND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE RELEASING JOINT STATEMENT - Remember when you first heard about Alien Vs. Predator? Remember how stoked you were? Well this is kind of like that...in that people will be just as turned off when you geek out and start gushing about it. The labor union and big business lobbying group released a statement this afternoon praising President Obama for his State of the Union passage on the need for increased infrastructure spending. "America's working families and business community stand united in applauding President Obama's call to create jobs and grow our economy through investment in our nation's infrastructure," the statement reads. "Whether it is building roads, bridges, high-speed broadband, energy systems and schools, these projects not only create jobs and demand for businesses, they are an investment in building the modern infrastructure our country needs to compete in a global economy." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

EXCLUSIVE photo of the AFL-CIO and Chamber's meeting

FEARLESS POLIS AT LOCAL 16 TONIGHT - Rep. Jared Polis and a group of prominent lefties will launch "The Fearless Campaign" tonight with a reception at Local 16. "Fearless" has six specific policy goals and intends to connect Congress with liberal activists to realize them. Polis is a righteous dude, and nobody'd wants to see him succeed in allowing a gay, undocumented couple get married and become citizens so they can open up a grow house in California more than us. But before we award the 2011 "Alan Grayson Award For Achievements In The Field Of Lefty Congressional Activism, American Flag Ties or Gauche Dress Shoes" to Polis, lets review: After his election, he called on Congress not to bail out the auto industry. Okay, that WAS awfully soap box-y of him. But in May, he led a fearless fight on behalf of hedge fund managers resisting a tax increase. Most recently, he led the House in a fearless push to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Makes sense, then, that he's launching such a fearless campaign at a bar that specializes in overpriced Pinot noirs and bored business management consultants who visit the District from Ballston for a night of fun.

We aren't @DCJourno, sorry.

HEY, WORLD: EGYPT IS KIND OF HAVING A THING RIGHT NOW - "Protesters taking to the streets in Egypt on Wednesday felt the wrath of security forces, a day after an unparalleled display of public rage at the government and full-throated cries for the ouster of the longtime president...The clampdown comes after thousands of protesters spilled into the streets of Egypt on Tuesday, an unprecedented display of anti-government rage inspired in part by the tumult in the nearby North African nation of Tunisia...Protesters had been expressing their anger over the rising cost of living, failed economic policies and corruption, but all those concerns were distilled into one overriding demand: the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, a reliable American ally who's been in power for three decades." [CNN International]

Is this the second uprising that Julian Assange can reasonably claim some credit for? Is the truth, actually, uh, setting people free?

Thundersnow isn't just our Winnipeg-based thrash metal band. It's also what let all you pansy-ass federal employees leave work two hours early today. Humph.

GOVERNMENT DOING AWAY WITH COLOR-BASED THREAT ALERT SYSTEM IN APRIL - After nearly a decade of the U.S. government trying to instill in its citizens a synesthetic fear-response to the left side of the visible color spectrum, the AP is reporting that the much-maligned colored alert system will be retired in April. The Department of Homeland Security will begin a 90-day phaseout period starting tomorrow. The color system should be totally removed by April 27th. [AP]

Speaking of misadventures in government, here's an item running tomorrow in Roll Call: "President Barack Obama spoke of streamlining government and cutting regulations in his State of the Union address, but that's not how government works," writes Roll Call's Paul Singer. "The challenge is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than in the case of the National Park Service and its attempt to establish rules for dog-walking at San Francisco's Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Two weeks ago, the Park Service released a draft environmental impact statement on proposed new rules for dog walkers. The report, years in the making, is 2,400 pages long."

@elliottjustin: Remember, DHS is deploying security videos to Wal-Mart checkouts even as color-coded system gets scrapped http://salon.com/a/sqx8fAA

MORE ISSA V CUMMINGS - Elijah Cummings wanted to give an opening statement at this morning's oversight hearing to whack Darrell Issa for not letting him call JP Morgan to a foreclosure hearing, but was denied (along with everyone else). "I know the tradition is that we hold the witnesses here for sometimes an hour through opening statements.That is a tradition that I intend to break," said Issa.

Rand Paul's plan to cut $500 billion from the budget this year is out. All he has to do is find a trillion more and we've balanced it for FY11!

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - This February 14th, show her how much you care about her AND formulaic crime show spin-offs with these Law and Order: SVU Valentine's Day cards. Actually, don't. Please don't.

DENNIS KUCINICH SUING CAPITOL FOOD SERVICES PROVIDER OVER OLIVE PIT - No, really. The Ohio congressman, known on his website as "America's Most Courageous Congressman," is suing a food vendor over an olive pit he found in a sandwich purchased in the Longworth cafeteria. And there wasn't even Taco Bell meat substitute in it! The pit, allegedly found in a wrap purchased in April 2008, might have inflicted "serious and permanent dental and oral injuries," according to a D.C. superior court filing. It also states that "said sandwich wrap was unwholesome and unfit for human consumption." Asked by Gawker why in God's name this is happening, a Kucinich spokesperson said "he has no comment other than to say this is a private legal matter." Listen, if Ohio's Republican legislature redistricts away his seat, Kucinich has gotta make money somehow. [Gawker]

Have you been injured in a workplace accident? Errant olive pit in your Mediterranean wrap? We. Will. Fight. For. You. Call 1-800-PIT-FEAR

UTAH GOV'T CONSIDERING A STATE GUN BAN - Non-binding resolutions recognizing a gun as a state's official firearm don't kill people. People whose mental imbalances are fostered in a state so numbed to violence that non-binding resolutions recognizing a gun as its official firearm are the norm do. The Utah legislature is currently hammering out legislation that would anoint the Browning 1911 pistol as the Beehive State's symbolically official gun. Some critics are worried that the timing of the bill is inappropriate due to the January 8th Tuscon shooting. These people are, of course, unpatriotic and probably spend their free time perfecting heart-shaped collages honoring Canada's socialized health care system. Rep. Carl Willmer, the bill's sponsor, told Politics Daily that the "actions of a madman" shouldn't tarnish "The actions of honorable patriots who served their country and used the firearm to defend American values and freedom." Willmer was referring to the 1911's lengthy tenure as an official sidearm for the military. [Politics Daily]

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Storm Alert!: The evening rush hour will get ugly, fast. If it has not already, the rain will change to snow and fall at a rate of 2 inches per hour. This is a dangerous trend. Leave as early as possible. Fortunately, the snow will disappear by midnight, leaving us a nice sunny day to clean up tomorrow. Thanks, JB!

BRAD THE INTERN HAIKUS THE NEWS

CNN cred and
proper response to Bachmann:
Respectful decline.

Thanks, Brad!

COMFORT FOOD

- You know what you need? A video of a chinchilla taking a sand bath. Yes, sir. [http://bit.ly/i3tmxs]

- The giant Cohen brothers infographic to end all Cohen brother infographics. [http://bit.ly/edqp5u]

- Why is the Best Buy near HuffPost Hill's parents' house in New York advertising a 2001 Jewel album? Never forget. That's why. [http://bit.ly/guXMlB]

- You should never cross state lines without fully understanding your risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. Thanks, Atlantic Monthly. [http://bit.ly/h3mi2u]

- In some countries, an open door on a moving train isn't a big deal. For New York-area commuters it....apparently isn't a big deal. [http://bit.ly/e0o30t]

- The world's oldest donkey is really cool until it demands to have dinner at five and uses your TV all the time to watch taped CNBC segments just for the stock ticker...Then its novelty wears off. [http://bit.ly/eqTZX2]

- Why did someone put a grand piano on this sand bar? Gay marriage, probably. [http://bit.ly/huwLpC]

TWITTERAMA

@AlanSuderman: I'm not pointing any fingers, but it's a sad day for D.C.'s court reporters when Gawker gets the Kucinich suing over a sandwich scoop.

@GlennThrush: Question from a seven-year old I know: "Whenever I'm angry can I just say 'Rahm'?"

@DCJourno: As someone who's originally from a cold-weather state w/ adequate snow removal equipment, I sometimes joke about overreactions to snow in DC

@DCJourno: tweeps, i'll be on CSPAN live at 3 a.m. tomorrow talking Michele Bachmann. tune in!

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Jared Polis and a whole lotta lefties including Stephanie Taylor, Adam Greene, Karl Frisch and others celebrate the launch of the Fearless Campaign. The initiative will coordinate congressional members and staffers with activists to advance the cause of drug policy, education, food policy, immigration, internet freedom and LGBT equality. [Local 16, 1602 U Street NW].

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