One day later, our national period of catharsis has morphed into a national period of political grandstanding and terrorist snuff films. Leon Panetta thinks Al Pacino should play him in a movie about bin Laden's capture, no doubt disappointing Dakota Fanning, who's been angling for the role. The White House played down its original account of bin Laden's death, which sounded a bit like Michael Bay fan fiction. And the stockpile of Coke and Pepsi in bin Laden's compound suggests the only conflicts the terrorist mastermind had any interest in ending were the Cola Wars. What a jerk. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011:
CONRAD BUDGET DEBACLE Mike McCauliff and HuffPost Hill: "Senate Democrats are furious at their lead budget negotiator, Sen. Kent Conrad, for crafting a blueprint that they think moves their party too far to the right, a leadership source said. Conrad (D-N.D.), who has been negotiating for months in secret with Republicans in the so-called Gang of Six -- we prefer Slash Mob, but it ain't catching on -- to craft a plan that might win bipartisan acceptance, abruptly dropped the veil and rolled out his own offering Tuesday for his party colleagues -- to brutal reviews. "He's going to be a man without a country," the leadership source said, describing a contentious luncheon. The problem for Democrats is that Conrad has adopted a plan that resembles the work he's done with legislators across the aisle -- which was meant to be a compromise position. In bringing it forward himself, it sets the starting point for the Democratic position in a more conservative spot than the President's budget -- which itself was already a compromise and includes a spending freeze for federal workers amid its many concessions to the GOP."
SEA LEVELS RISING MUCH FASTER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT - Unless the coastal residents of the world assemble some Osama bin Laden-style nine-foot high security walls along their shoreline ASAP, things are going to get wet reaaaallll soon. A new study of climate change in the Arctic from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program indicates sea levels will rise 35 to 63 inches by 2100. To put that in perspective, a 2007 estimate anticipated sea levels would rise by 7 to 23 inches in that period. If you own real estate in Pittsburgh: DON'T SELL. [AP]
JON HUNTSMAN CREATES PAC, MOVING TOWARDS RUN - The former Utah governor and LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA President Obama's ambassador to China LA LA LA LA LA has filed the paperwork to create a political action committee, H PAC, that will enable him to raise funds for a potential White House bid. Jonathan Martin reports that Huntsman will likely skip an exploratory committee and announce a full campaign this summer. "This is a paperwork step," Huntsman flack Tim Miller said. "He's doing the organizational things required by campaign finance law. When he wants to make an announcement he will make an announcement." This new entity is separate from Huntsman's Horizon PAC, which is based in two states and will continue to raise funds. [Politico]
LIKE TUPAC, ALTERNATE ENGINE PROGRAM IS ALIVE AND KICKING - Hill paper ad reps breathed a sigh of relief today upon learning that the alternate engine fight is still alive. Pratt & Whitney and GE-Rolls Royce each have an engine they want to build and staffers wouldn't be surprised to see them start sponsoring the toilet paper in Cannon. The Department of Defense has officially canceled a contract for a General Electric-developed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Both the House and the Senate have blocked funding for it, arguing that one engine for one plane is enough. Short of Osama bin Laden's remains, nothing on this planet is less desirable. BUT WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT? The House Armed Services Committee released its spending outlines for the coming fiscal year today, and the second engine is right back in. The budget for the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, includes language that bars funding for an engine unless "two options for such propulsion system are obligated or expended." "The fat lady hasn't sung yet," Lisa Wright, a spokeswoman for Bartlett, told HuffPost Hill. [HuffPost]
97 senators, solemnly planted in their seats, voted on an "Osama bin Laden. He dead." resolution this afternoon. Mark Kirk, Daniel Akaka and John Ensign were absent. The latter two are lame ducks, but Mark Kirk is going to have to answer why he missed a vote that couldn't have been more "patriotic" if it honored Dunkin Donuts and V6 engines.
UAW has named Mary Beth Cahill its Washington director and national political director. Cahill previously served in the Clinton White House, as chief of staff to Ted Kennedy and as campaign director for John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid. "As we navigate the tough political environment in this era of attacks on American working families and the middle class, and head into national contract talks for the domestic automakers," UAW President Bob King said in a statement, "I'm confident that she will help us elect officeholders who are allies in the battle to save the American middle class." Wikipedia says she was born on "December 0." That's hardcore.
Senate Republicans today unveiled legislation aimed at protecting right-to-work states from a NLRB complaint filed against Boeing. The proposed bill would reiterate those states' ability to enact such laws. "I'm afraid the NLRB has an agenda that is not healthy for the country," Lindsey Graham said to reporters. Frances Perkins' ghost is no doubt losing it right about now. [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]
OMB Watch, one of the few liberal groups in Washington that has largely escaped the Veal Pen, is losing its founder, Gary Bass. Katherine McFate of the foundation world will be taking over. It'll be worth watching to see if she can keep the organization as flat and independent as it is.
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BIG TAX BREAK COMPANIES GAVE MILLIONS IN LAST CAMPAIGN - Amanda Terkel: "The top five recipients of federal corporate tax breaks are also among the biggest spenders in the U.S. political system -- they shelled out a combined $7.86 million in campaign contributions during the 2010 elections, according to analysis from the New York City Public Advocate's office. Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, is now calling on these companies to verify that no taxpayer dollars will be used in future election spending, warning such a move could 'carry financial risk to the [companies'] bottom line'... According to the analysis by de Blasio's office, ExxonMobil, Bank of America, General Electric (GE), Chevron and Boeing had combined profits of $77.16 billion in 2010 but paid $0 in federal taxes. At the same time, they gave a combined $7.86 million in political contributions during the 2010 election cycle -- a 7 percent jump over their 2008 political spending." [HuffPost]
A bronze statue of President Gerald Ford was unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda today. The statue is one of Michigan's two statues in the Capitol, in keeping with the tradition that each state be allowed to display two statutes of its favorite sons and daughters in the complex. That thing will hurt someone when it inevitably trips and falls. [Detorit Free Press]
Mitch McConnell said that Dean Heller will be sworn into the Senate on Monday.
PANETTA: PAKISTAN GOV'T CIRCUMVENTED IN OBL OPERATION - In an interview with Time, CIA Director Leon Panetta said the Pakistani authorities weren't alerted about the mission to take out Osama bin Laden for PRECISELY the reasons you think. "It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission: They might alert the targets," Panetta said (you really need to read between the lines on this one). Panetta added that in a Thursday meeting with President Obama, Panetta's top aides informed the president that they were only "60 to 80 percent" confident that bin Laden would be at the compound. "When you put it all together, we have the best evidence since Tora Bora, and that then makes it clear that we have an obligation to act," he added. Pakistan really is the Guilty Dog of international politics. [Time]
So as Navy SEALs hunted down one of the greatest threats to America's security in a highly dangerous undercover operation, what was Leon Panetta thinking about? "On Monday, Panetta fielded questions from 25 congressional freshmen during a long-planned and, as it turned out, well-timed tour of CIA headquarters. Rep. Billy Long tweeted from the tour, "Panetta 'watching it unfold live I thought- this is like watching a Harrison Ford Movie' when asked who should play him- he said 'Al Pacino.''" Robert Gates' uncanny resemblance to Ruby Dee really is an asset right now. [Politico's Karin Tanabe]
"In early February 2002, three of us were stalled in traffic in a small blue Nissan on a tree-lined boulevard outside the Red Mosque in Islamabad: Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste, our driver-translator Bashir and me, a Herald reporter … We couldn't believe our eyes.
WHITE HOUSE BACKS OFF FROM ORIGINAL ACCOUNT OF BIN LADEN'S DEATH - The administration and military are walking back some of the more dramatic parts of their account of Osama bin Laden's demise. At his press briefing today, Jay Carney confirmed that bin Laden was not, in fact, armed when he was shot through the eye. "We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you … about the operation," he said. "Obviously some of the information came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on." The most salacious and evil part of the story -- that bin Laden used his wife as a human shield during the assault -- also did not happen, Carney confirmed. The new account, provided to the press by the White House communications office, says "a woman -- bin Laden's wife -- rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed." Carney isn't responding to our emails inquiring whether bin Laden fired bolts of electricity at Luke Skywalker with his fingers. We'll go ahead and assume that he did. [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
Carney confirmed that there are photos of bin Laden's body, but cautioned that they are quite gruesome and that the administration is weighing whether to release them. Sayeth Drudge: "Will likely become most viewed image in modern history."
Today is Pete Seeger's 92nd birthday. Wish him a happy birthday over at the New York Working Family Party's website, you damn hippie.
POLL: OBAMA GETS BUMP FROM OBL DEATH, A LOT OF PEOPLE SUDDENLY THINK THINGS ARE GREAT - A survey from the Washington Post and the Pew Research center finds President Obama got a nine-point bump in the polls after Sunday's operation. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they approve of the way the president is handling his job. The Post also reports that a not insignificant number of people have suddenly changed their view about the direction the country is going. A dead terrorist with a hole in his head is at the bottom of the ocean and suddenly the anemic economy doesn't matter? Give it a week. [WaPo]
Tonight in Roll Call: "If the demise of Osama bin Laden has an effect on President Barack Obama's re-election and other 2012 campaigns, there may be no district in the country where it will be measured more than in Virginia's military-rich 2nd district, writes Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad. The Virginia Beach-based seat is home to the elite team of Navy SEALs that took out the terrorist responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Obama narrowly carried the swing district, believed to have the highest concentration of active-duty military and civilian veterans, and voters there could be inspired to vote for him again next year."
Eighty-nine percent of respondents to a Gallup/USA Today poll say the military deserves a lot of credit for the operation. Sixty-two percent say the same about the CIA. Thirty-five percent say President Obama "deserves a great deal" of credit while 36 percent say he deserves "a moderate amount." Just more than half say George W. Bush deserves "a great deal" or "a moderate amount" of kudos. Nearly half of those surveyed say Bush deserves no credit. [Gallup]
Details are emerging about the significant -- and insignificant -- items recovered from bin Laden's compound. Reports indicate that the Navy SEAL team that stormed bin Laden's residence also got their hands on computers and data disks that were on site. "They cleaned it out," an intelligence official told Politico. "Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?" The crew also uncovered a cache of bulk purchases of food and drink, including large quantities of Coke and Pepsi. Not quite as ridiculous as a stockpile of Sierra Mist and Animal Crackers but still interesting, nonetheless. [Bloomberg]
NBC News' Tazeen Ahmad reported on Jansing & Co. that the bin Ladens would never return soccer balls kicked into their yard.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog tries to say hello to baby. Dog can't reach baby. Hilarity ensues.
KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - May 3, 1802: The City You're Currently Stuck in Traffic in is Incorporated : Our fair town has a turbulent founding story, and it took a long while to get it established as the seat of the government and then a recognized city. The original plan for a federal city was approved in 1790, and George Washington picked the site, with French architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant producing a Paris-inspired plan (though the final design was not his). The city became the nation's capital, but with no municipal government. The citizens had no representation, but incorporating it finally allowed D.C. to have a mayor … appointed by the President. Taxation without representation, since 1802. Thanks, KB!
- Thanks to the revolutionary Finger Nose, you'll now have hands-free access to your touchscreen device. [http://bit.ly/jK3Cay]
- Here's a young Vin Diesel to teach you how to breakdance. Thanks, Internet. [http://on.vh1.com/lcqxBl]
- We forgot that "Old Jews Telling Jokes" existed. Shame on us. [http://bit.ly/mgthhw]
- Porn stars react on Twitter to Osama bin Laden's death. Freedom isn't free. [http://bit.ly/kgNrCP]
- How is it that we've never seen this awesome PSA for PBR eludes us. "Buy Pabst Blue Ribbon, and help save America. Drink it, ya asshole." [http://bit.ly/jAtFEM]
- We've been on a USSR kick here, lately. Behold, 25 abandoned Soviet monuments [http://bit.ly/l64Cux]
- A schoolteacher who vowed not to shave his beard until Osama bin Laden was caught or killed ... and that was shortly after 9/11 ... finally cut that sucker off. [http://bit.ly/kVEomJ]
- Awkward kid raps about how God is a "Nu Thang." Word up, Heavenly Father. [http://bit.ly/m1bwLB]
@FakeAPStyleBook: Don't assume you can walk into the New York Times and get a job cleaning toilets. You have to work as a features editor first.
@mattklewis: OBL is the new acronym. Take THAT Ohio Bankers League!
@StephenAtHome: I swear, if Barack Obama finds WMDs in Iraq, I'm gonna be pissed.
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: The Center For Public Integrity celebrates the launch of its iWatch News, a partial reincarnation of our old colleagues from the Huffington Post Investigative Fund [National Press Club Ballroom, 429 14th Street NW].
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Yahoo! hosts a "Demos & Drinks" reception featuring wonks and techies. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres! [Yahoo! Inc, 101 Constitution Avenue NW, Suite 800 W].
6:00 pm: John Barrasso attends a "Wild Game Dinner" in his honor hosted by Tim Rupli. Nothing says favor-trading quite like the rich taste of properly-cooked pheasant. [Rupli Townhouse, 446 New Jersey Ave SE].
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm: Queens Rep. Gary Ackerman's NYC-themed "Real Deli" fundraiser gets an extra dose of meaning with OBL's death. Revenge is even sweeter when you get to sink your teeth into some kosher meat [Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, 144 Constitution Ave. NE].
8:00 am: Claire McCaskill attends a campaign event hosted by Fluor PAC, the lobbying arm of the construction and engineering giant. Also, "Fluor" is just about the weakest name you could have for a company that deals with massive machines that can assemble giant buildings [The Fluor Townhouse, 403 East Capitol Street SE].
11:30 am: Debbie Stabenow and Kay Hagan make an appearance at the DSCC's monthly "Women's Senate Network Lunch Form." [Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave NE].
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