Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Congressional Leaders To Talk Debt Ceiling At White House

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Where's the marriage certificate? Humanity briefly paused to watch the one TV event that can draw billions of viewers without a Bud Bowl. A court overturned a stem cell research ban, the latest in a string of gains made by Democrats in their nefarious mission to make you "not dead." President Obama continued his principled opposition to running his campaign on lobbyist money, choosing instead to have a former top aide do it. And Washington insiders will rub shoulders and self-promote tomorrow, a very special time known as "Monday," "Tuesday," "Wednesday," "Thursday," "Friday," "Saturday" or, about one-seventh of the time, "Sunday." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, April 29th, 2011:

OBAMA TO HOST BI-PARTISAN DINNER, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TO GET ITS EAT ON WHILE ACCOMPLISHING NOTHING - President Obama has invited leaders from both parties to the White House next week for a dinner meeting marking the end of the two-week recess. Both Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have said they will attend. The primary topic of discussion will be the looming vote over whether to raise the nation's debt ceiling or let it stay as is and turn Pogs into our national currency (just a suggestion: "That'll be a slammer-fifty, sir."). [Politico]

GOV'T SLAPS NEWS SANCTIONS ON SYRIA - Andrea Stone: "President Barack Obama ordered stiffer U.S. sanctions on Friday for top Syrian officials and security forces. The Syrian regime is responsible for a violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators that has left hundreds dead. The executive order expands on sanctions first leveled against Syria in 1994. The Obama administration accuses President Bashar Assad's government of using 'violence and torture against, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of, peaceful protesters by police, security forces, and other entities that have engaged in human rights abuses.' The sanctions freeze the property and assets in the United States of specific Syrian officials and groups. It also bars American citizens from doing business with them." [HuffPost]

The president today signed a proclamation declaring May 1st as Loyalty Day. Loyalty Day, if you are unfamiliar, is when political groups that feel betrayed by the president draft press releases highlighting the irony of Obama declaring it Loyalty Day. Our Socialist president is currently en route to the central committee where he will receive a commendation for choosing May Day.

Speaking of: HUFFPOST HICCUP: All the tear gas we inhaled in Seattle must've fried our brains. Yesterday we called former Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello the band's ex-frontman. That sound you heard was 100,000 people who used to wear lip rings gasping. We were writing about Morello's new single, "Union town," which was just released, and the profits from which go to benefit the labor movement. WATCH:

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Karen Castevens, a 48-year-old soccer mom in Chapel Hill, said she lost her job as a construction company's administrative assistant in August 2009. She's had just one interview since then, and last week, thanks to political fighting in the North Carolina General Assembly, her unemployment benefits abruptly stopped. "They just cut off," Castevans said. "I got a letter saying I could draw for 13 more weeks and then two weeks later I got a letter saying it was over, I couldn't draw anymore." That's because it's up to the states whether they continue the federal Extended Benefits program, which gives the long-term jobless their final 20 weeks of rent and food. North Carolina Republicans attached a poison pill -- a 13 percent budget cut via worker pensions and salaries -- to their bill preserving the benefits, and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed it. "I think she needs to be voted out, Castevans said. "She should have done what she needs to do." Castevans is one of 37,000 to be cut off.

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OBAMA, GIFFORDS SHOW UP TO SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCH, TAKEOFF DELAYED TWO DAYS - NASA decided to delay the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour this afternoon after because of overheating in two auxiliary power units. President Obama was on hand for the failed launch, as was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose husband, Mark Kelly, is a member of Endeavour's crew. It wasn't just eventful for all the people on Twitter who wanted to demonstrate that they know how to use the word "scrub" in this context. It was expected to be a carefully choreographed political event with the president joining Giffords as she parted with her husband for the first time since she was seriously wounded in the January 8th shooting in Tucson. While Giffords' ability to travel to Florida from Texas for the launch is impressive enough, the fact that she is able to show up to a much-hyped event that goes nowhere probably means she's ready for Congress again. [WaPo]

Earlier in the day, the president was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, surveying the tornado damage: "We've never seen devastation like this," he said.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE: OBAMA CAMPAIGN CHOOSES FINANCE DIRECTOR - Obama 2012 has announced the dude tasked with managing an amount of money roughly equivalent to the GDP of an island nation. Matthew Barzun, the current U.S. ambassador to Sweden, will be the national finance chairman for Obama for America. The general consensus is that the president could raise well over one-billion dollars in the next campaign. That is in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars that could be raised by outside groups after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on corporate-backed campaign ads. Also today, former Obama advisers Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney announced that the were forming their own outside groups, Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, that they hope will raise an additional $100-plus million for the campaign. The point is, expect Obama for America merchandise to eclipse cow farts on the list of the greatest contributors to global warming. [Boston Globe]

Reid Wilson notes: "[Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action] will not live up to the same campaign finance standards by which Obama has pledged to run its campaign. They will take unregulated donations that do not require disclosure; Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats have railed against Crossroads and other Republican groups that do the same thing. The organizers said the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, opening the door to unlimited corporate contributions, left them no choice." [National Journal]

COURT STRIKES DOWN STEM CELL FUNDING BAN - "A divided federal appeals court has ruled that opponents of taxpayer-funded stem cell research are not likely to succeed in a lawsuit to stop it. In a 2-1 decision Friday, the panel of the U.S. court of appeals in Washington overturned a judge's order that would have blocked taxpayer funding for stem cell research. The panel reversed an opinion last August by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who said the research likely violates the law against federal funding of embryo destruction." [AP/HuffPost]

TAX FOUNDATION THINKS YOUR STOOPID - From their recent report that's making the rounds on the tax rate corporations pay on foreign profits to foreign governments: "According to the most recent IRS data for 2007, American companies paid nearly $100 billion in income taxes to foreign governments on foreign taxable income of $392 billion. As Table 1 indicates, U.S. companies paid an average effective tax rate of 25% on that income. We're supposed to believe that U.S. companies only had a total taxable income of $392 billion? And @TerkelRage gets mildly disturbed when hot-dog vendors give her the wrong change. [Ed Kleinbard's take down.]

PUBLIC SOURING ON TEA PARTY - A new survey from USA Today and Gallup suggests that Americans are falling out of love with the Tea Party, which is kind of like the John Birch Society if the John Birch Society convened in parks and sat on lawn chairs wearing pantaloons while gabbing about the 10th Amendment. "Gallup began tracking Americans' views of the Tea Party in March 2010, when 37% had a favorable and 40% an unfavorable view. Those views stayed roughly the same through January of this year, but have now turned somewhat more negative. The April 20-23 USA Today/Gallup poll finds favorable opinions of the Tea Party movement dropping to 33%, from 39% in January, and unfavorable opinions rising to 47% from 42%. Twenty percent of Americans say they haven't heard of the Tea Party or have no opinion of it." [Gallup]

Even as the Tea Party loses the public's good graces, it is seriously affecting the race for Chris Lee's old House seat ... almost more than shirtless Craigslist photos. Rachel Weiner: "A survey done by Siena College shows a tight race for the seat vacated by former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), with Democratic Erie County ClerkKathy Hochul in striking distance of Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, with 36 percent for Corwin and 31 percent for Hochul. Third-party candidate Jack Davis, who's running on the Tea Party line, is pulling 23 percent of the vote. Davis was intially dismissed by Republicans as a crank; the millionaire businessman ran for the seat unsuccessfully in 2004, 2006, and 2008 as a Democrat. The spoiler, if there was one, was expected to beDavid Bellavia, a conservative Republican and and Iraq War veteran. He failed to qualify for the ballot. Davis is taking a good chunk of Democratic votes in the poll, but he pulls more from Republicans and independents." [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Cartwheeling vicar celebrates Prince William's wedding by ... you guessed it ... doing cartwheels.

KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - April 29th, 1974: President Nixon Baffled By Transparency Requests From Press, Congress: Every journo in Washington knows the Watergate fiasco as good as they know their morning commute, but today was when the plot thickened. President Nixon agreed to release the original tapes of private conversations in the Oval Office to make Congress happy. In response to investigating the Watergate break-in, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Nixon Administration and got 1,200 pages of transcripts, but they wanted the original tape recordings. Nixon claimed, via executive privilege, that state secrets or national security risks would be exposed in those tapes, and scoffed at the request for a year. Eventually Nixon agreed to release the tapes but not before his advisers edited them. "I want there to be no question remaining about the fact that the president has nothing to hide in this matter," Nixon told the press. We all know where this is going... Thanks, KB!


- The ball-catching robot is on its way to being signed by the Yankees for a three-year, $75 million contract. In the second year, it will tear its robotic hamstring and be out for the next 18 months. []

- Before he became HuffPost Hill's favorite director, Stanley Kubrick was a news photographer. Here are some of his photos of 1949 Chicago []

- Some dudes in Peoria thought a good way to keep the carp population under control was to water-ski with a machete. Fair enough. []

- Baby tries to say "Fish," says a far more graphic word, instead. []

- A visual history of the computer mouse. From something made of wood to that boxy thing you played Minesweeper on to today's sleeker models. []

- To the young woman who plays Dance Dance Revolution WHILE playing the violin, we salute you. []

- Modern-day office propaganda posters inspired by Soviet-era ones. []

- A rabbit eating. That's it. []


@delrayser: NASA scrubs shuttle launch; engineers still removing "u" from Endeavour's name to send to Will & Kate as wedding present.

@FakeAPStylebook: Well, that's over. Time to switch the signs in British tabloid newsrooms from "fawning" to "vicious."

@brianbeutler: It's Friday, Washington. So here's Betsy Rothstein with an anonymously sourced exclusive on a fart



6:00 pm: The American Jewish Committee's annual gala features appearances from President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli Berracol and Bill Daley [Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW].

6:00 pm: The Creative Coalition and WWE (now there's a duo) host a WHCD cocktail party. Hosts include Elizabeth Bagley, Bob Dole, Tony Podesta and Sally Quinn [The Washington Club, 15 Dupont Circle].

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Rosario Dawson, The Brunswick Group and Voto Latino host "Emerging Voices In Media," a WHCD week event whose host committee includes a host of prominent minority members of media and business, including Peter Cherukuri, the one HuffPost DC staffer who can dress well. [Hay-Adams, 800 16th Street NW].

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: People and Time magazines host a WHCD-eve cocktail event. [St. Regis, 923 16th Street NW].

8:00 pm - 11:00 pm: Newly-minted MPAA Chair Chris Dodd gets his schmooze on at his organization's WHCD party. Seth Meyers will make an appearance [MPAA Offices, 1600 I Street NW].

10:00 pm: Join the Progressive Campaign Change Committee and Cenk Uygur at Local 16 for some lefty libations. Cenk only understands if you yell and spittle comes out, fyi [Local 16, 1602 U Street NW].

10:00 pm - 2:00 am: Steel yourself up for all the potentially awkward WHCD moments the night before with some heavy drinking: IMPACT Arts + Film Fund, National Journal, The Atlantic, and Funny or Die host "The First Amendment Party" [Long View Gallery, 1234 9th Street NW].


11:00 am - 2:00 pm: TAMMY'S BRUNCH! TAMMY'S BRUNCH! TAMMY'S BRUNCH! Rub shoulders with some of D.C.'s most MSNBC hit-y types and subjects of @DCJourno's disdain at Tammy Haddad's annual garden brunch. Location upgrade! [Beall-Washington House, 2920 R Street NW].

6:15 pm - 7:30 pm: CNN, Time, Fortune and People host a pre-WHCD event. [Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave NW].

11:30 pm: HuffPost Hill will be having one to many at the MSNC WHCD after-party. Look for the guy in the ill-fitting suit complaining loudly about those new Spike Lee "Lean Forward" ads [Embassy of Italy, 3000 Whitehaven Street NW].


Most the day: Forget the WHCD stuff, the most kickass thing to be happening this weekend will be the Sweetlife Festival. The Strokes, Girl Talk, Lupe Fiasco and others are slated to perform. HuffPost Hill will be there. [Merriweather Post Pavillion, Columbia, MD].

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Filed by Eliot Nelson