Washington once again admired the peaks and valleys of its own navel when the man behind "O" was unmasked. TIME will have to scrap that three-part feature on why Attention Deficit Disorder isn't a fad to accommodate all the White House scoops it'll be getting. Mike Pence stopped announcing when he'll announce when he'll announce whether he'll run for president. And while President Obama didn't relent to YouTube troll pressure and change his drug policy, we did learn that you only get high with your own supply if you and your supply have been launched 20 feet into the air by a Mexican weed catapult. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 27th, 2011:
@RahmEmanuel: The IL SC just ruled that Rahm will stay on the ballot. Thx for your support & let's get ready to vote!
@MayorEmanuel: MOTHERFU*KING STREET LEGAL, BITCHES!
JAY CARNEY THE NEXT WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY - News broke this afternoon that Vice President Joe Biden's Communications Director and former TIME Magazine Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney will be named the next White House press secretary. The communication and press shops will be combined into one office headed by Dan Pfeiffer. With an alum of the always edgy TIME magazine in as press secretary, the only remaining question is whether the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room is rechristened the "What Makes Boys Different? Briefing Room" or "Mysteries Of Blood Pressure Briefing Room." [HuffPost]
Tapper: "Other staffing changes include a role for Assistant to the President for Special Projects Stephanie Cutter as deputy to senior adviser David Plouffe, and a senior staff role for David Lane, a longtime aide to chief of staff Bill Daley, on Daley's team. Rob Nabors, currently a senior adviser to the White House chief of staff, will become director of legislative affairs; the current director, Phil Schiliro, has long been expected to leave after a very active two years." [ABC News]
Boehner on his past suggestion that he'd raise the Social Security retirement age: "I made a mistake when I did that." From Michael Steel: "He was discussing his broader belief about entitlement reform: that you need to have an adult conversation to make the American people aware of the problems that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid face before you can discuss possible solutions - like raising the retirement age."
MIKE PENCE NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT - The man who could have given the White House its most intensely monochromatic hairdo since Ronald Reagan's chocolaty dome is taking a pass. "In the choice between seeking national office and serving Indiana in some capacity, we choose Indiana," Pence and his wife said in a letter sent to supporters and obtained by the Indianapolis Star. "We will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012." Pence said he'll decide later this year about whether he will seek a statewide office. [Indianapolis Star]
Michael Falcone notes: "Pence's appeal among conservatives became even more clear in September when he won a straw poll at the Family Research Council's annual Values Voter Summit, a gathering of social conservatives. Pence, the former chair of the House Republican Conference, received 24 percent of the vote in poll --two points ahead of Huckabee and eleven points ahead of Romney. In fact, Pence was so popular among those who took the straw poll that he also topped the list of potential GOP vice presidential candidates." [ABC News]
Next week, the Senate will be taking up FAA reauthorization, a rare moment when something might actually get done in the 112th Congress.
The Senate voted this evening to ban secret holds. Four senators voted no. Other than Jim DeMint, can you guess the other three?
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Karen Collins of Hebron, Ky. ran a banquet business that she said started going belly up in 2008. She said she laid off her employees and watched them collect unemployment benefits as she sold all her stuff on Craigslist (the self-employed aren't eligible for benefits). "I worked all my life, I had everything, and then one year, I don't even have an earring left," Collins told HuffPost. At 52, her job search has been awful. "You get no responses whatsoever. I'm an accomplished confectionery artist and I can't even get a cake-decorating job at Kroger's." This month, Collins said, she joined the ranks of long-term unemployed pushed out of the workforce and onto the Social Security Disability rolls. She said she suffers narcolepsy and torn rotator cuffs from her work hoisting tables in the banquet biz. "They pay me $1,300 a month but I don't have any medical," she said. "Oh heck."
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced what Democrats are calling the "Pay China First Act," which would require the federal government to pay all its debt obligations first and everything else -- vets, schools, you name it -- with what's left.
"Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, will face escalating challenges on all fronts tomorrow, with Cairo expecting the biggest day yet of street protests and Mohamed ElBaradei, one of his fiercest critics, calling explicitly for a 'new regime' on his return to Cairo." [Guardian]
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SENATE FINALIZES RULES REFORM PACKAGE - Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell announced a watered-down Senate rules reform initiative today that will mitigate legislative inaction the way standing in front of a tank mitigates the People's Liberation Army squelching your student demonstration. Sam Stein with the deets: "1. Eliminating secret holds, including the right of senators to pass their secret holds to another anonymous senator to keep a rolling secret hold. 2. Eliminating senators' rights to force the reading of an amendment that has already been submitted for 72 hours and is publicly available. 3. Legislation to exempt about 1/3 of all nominations from the Senate confirmation process, reducing the number of executive nominations subject to Senate delays, which will be scheduled at a future date under the terms of an agreement reached by Sens. Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander, Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman and HSGA ranking member Sen. Susan Collins, along with Sens. Reid and Chuck Schumer." It also includes a handshake agreement between Reid and McConnell to stop shutting down the amendment process and filibustering every damn thing, respectively. [HuffPost]
Answer: Mike Lee, Rand Paul and John Ensign joined Jim DeMint in the lost cause of defending a senator's right to anonymously hold up the people's business indefinitely. The dissenters, however, could have held up debate on it for several more days, but they played along.
SENATE COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS HANDED OUT - It would make us unimaginably happy if just once, JUST ONCE a senator was assigned to the Party Planning Committee. Alas. Jackie Kucinich: "Senate Democrats shed seats on key committees, but it appears departures and electoral losses spared leaders from having to make deep cuts from key panels as assignments were finalized Thursday...The Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) dropped from 18 [Democratic] members to 16 in the 112th Congress, according to a list of ratios and assignments obtained by Roll Call. Republicans gained two seats on the panel, bring their numbers from 12 to 14. Several new GOP lawmakers were appointed to the spending panel that will have its operations somewhat altered in the wake of the earmark ban." [Roll Call]
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARINGS ON HEALTH CARE'S CONSTITUTIONALITY - Pat Leahy's panel will examine whether wholesale slaughter of the elderly is permitted under the Constitution next week.
Bucking Senate rules, Mike Lee made it onto the the Judiciary Committee, despite Utah's other senator, Orrin Hatch, already being there. Our founding document is in safe hands.
Tea Party-friendly freshman GOP Rep. Joe Walsh: "I mean, there is no more Tea Party freshman on the planet than myself, but I'll be the first to say, respectfully, Michele had no business making that speech last night." [WLS]
Bill Clinton Talks About Hillary's Presidential Ambitions In Past Tense - Bloomberg: "Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today, the former president was asked what he wants to accomplish in the next decade. 'I'd like to live, I'd like to be a grandfather. I have nothing to do with that achievement, but I would like it,' Clinton, 64, replied, laughing. 'I would like to have a happy wife and she won't be unless she's a grandmother. It's something she wants more than she wanted to be president.'" [Bloomberg]
We bet you never thought you'd see this.
HUNTSMAN LEANING TOWARDS WHITE HOUSE BID - Aides to former Utah Governor and current U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman are quietly making arrangements for a possible 2012 presidential campaign. You know, "quietly" in the Washington sense in that it softly ends up in the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and the Davis County Clipper. So, yeah, quietly. "I couldn't be happier with the ambassador's service, and I'm sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future," President Obama said last week during Hu Jintao's visit. "And I'm sure that him having worked so well for me will be a great asset in any Republican primary." Our sentiments exactly. [WaPo]
U.S. MIGHT LOSE $11 BILLION WORTH OF AFGHAN FUNDING - Don't you hate it when a friend asks you for money, and you lend it to him, and then he squanders it on Central Asian security forces? Amanda Terkel does: "The United States is at risk of wasting roughly $11.4 billion unless it comes up with a plan for constructing and maintaining nearly 900 Afghan National Security Forces facilities, according to a new report by a top federal watchdog... The audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that the money is 'at risk' because of 'inadequate planning' and the lack of a "long-range construction plan" for the facilities. SIGAR began its investigation when the NATO mission in Afghanistan was unable to provide documents 'describing the size, location or use of Afghan National Security Force facilities, such as Afghan National Army garrisons.'" [HuffPost]
President Obama held a live YouTube Q&A today. Of the top 100 most popular questions as rated by YouTube users, 99 either pertained to the drug war or pot. Of the next one hundred, 99 were about drug policy. When one user actually asked President Obama about his drug policy, the president responded that the issue is an "entirely legitimate topic for debate." Sadly, there was no discussion of Mexican weed catapults.
SECRET WASHINGTON AUTHOR FINALLY REVEALED!!!!! - For weeks now the American public has been distracted by the unanswered question of just who penned Don't Care: Why Are We Still Talking About This?. Today, the mystery wordsmith behind Don't: Give A Rat's Ass was at long last given a name. Time's Mark Halperin, really performing a public service, scooped the identity of Was It Toni Morrison? No? Was It Philip Roth? No? Was It A Bored Joe Biden? No? Then Who Cares???'s mastermind. The book's publisher, Simon and Schuster, had boasted that the author "is someone who has been in the room with Barack Obama and knows this world intimately" so Washington was SERIOUSLY abuzz over Do You Have Any Idea What A Wide And Unimpressive Net That Casts? It Could Just As Well Have Been A Mid-Level Hand On The Advance Team's publication. Speculation now turns to whether there will be a sequel to the much buzzed-about Seriously, The LA Times Called It "Dispiriting And, Ultimately, Irritating". Given Washington's renowned attention span, we have no doubt that the spotlight will stay on Hey, Is That A Pigeon On My Windowsill? for quite some time.*
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - For the person who thought L.A. Lights were cool but felt they weren't ostracizing enough: Social networking sneakers.
SHARRON ANGLE TESTING 2012 WHITE HOUSE WATERS - But will the all-important unicorn, leprechaun and sewer alligator lobbies follow? Appearing in Iowa for the premiere of an anti-evolution documentary, the failed Nevada Senate candidate refused to rule out a White House bid. "I'll just say I have lots of options for the future, and I'm investigating all my options," she said, before telling the event's organizers to "Please, just invite me back." (Seriously.) Prognosticators will now squabble over whether candidate Angle would siphon votes from Michele Bachmann's core constituency of people who fall asleep to 700 Club marathons. [HuffPost]
VOTE @MAYOREMANUEL - Politico published a profile of the @MayorEmanuel Twitter feed today that, in keeping with the publication's Central Standard Time sensibilities, uses a screenshot of the one expletive-free tweet. "To POLITICO's polite request for an interview, via Twitter, @MayorEmanuel replied that the chances were 'somewhere right between f---ing slim and f---ing none.'" Awesome. [Politico]
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: I hope all of you were able to get home last night. This time, it's a bit different. Freezing cold, but it stays dry. Tomorrow: Pop-up snow coming around in the early hours. While there will be no major accumulation, it could make for a messy commute, so be careful. Thanks, JB!
- If this action sequence from the most expensive movie in Indian film history is any indication, we'll be outsourcing Michael Bay soon. [http://bit.ly/g6Aucz]
- There's a Tumblr of photos of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz eating. We know, we know. Duh. [http://bit.ly/eaO1B2]
- Taking a Taliban stronghold in Kunduz? There's an app for that. Serious. [http://rww.to/h52d6T]
- Much to the chagrin of Tucson diners, a restaurant there will NOT be serving lion tacos. [http://bit.ly/eObDz5]
- "Man, I'm Bored." "Yeah?" "Yeah." "Waddya wanna do?" "I dunno...make a high production, short fan film about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." "Awesome." [http://bit.ly/g9pctk]
- A food blogger is chronicling her attempt to eat 162 school lunches in one year. We had a hard time. [http://bit.ly/6A1Moc]
- Because stamps are for chumps: The top 50 art collectors. [http://bit.ly/eaRH62]
- The world's highest restaurant opened in Dubai. And we don't mean that it only serves baked goods and Cheetos. [http://aol.it/dQ5RE7]
@delrayser: Former TIME journo Jay Carney named WH Press Sec; only a matter of time before @ktumulty's named Secretary of Agriculture.
@pourmecoffee: As Jay Carney transitions to WH Press Secretary, Biden will briefly be without spokesperson. Brace for war or worse.
@katiecouric: Only in New York: helping Barry Diller push his Maserati out of the snow in Central Park on my way to work! http://twitpic.com/3tw7fh
@FakeAPStyleBook: You can't libel the dead, so feel free to go to town on William Howard Taft.
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm: For reasons we don't entirely get, Frank LoBiondo is the guest of honor at a "New Orleans Event" in the Big Easy. Also inexplicable is why the NRCC listing says folks should make out checks to "Citizens for Tom Petri." [The Westin New Orleans Canal Place, 100 Rue Iberville, New Orleans].
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*It was McCain speechwriter Mark Salter