HUFFPOST HILL - Senators Behaving Badly

05/13/2011 05:21 pm ET | Updated Jul 13, 2011
  • Eliot Nelson Eliot Nelson is a politics reporter and editor in the Huffington Post's D.C.bue=reau

On September 11th, 2001, Americans solemnly vowed to hunt down arch-terrorist Osama bin Laden. Today, closure: One of the most popular search terms on Google is "bin laden porn." Journalists flocked to Twitter to make bin Laden self-abuse jokes and betrayed their encyclopedic knowledge of adult cinema. The last time anyone paid this much attention to something named Kohl there was a 30 percent markdown on home appliances. And guess who gets your cash when you tip a hot dog vendor at Yankee stadium? Not just the guy who paints Alex Rodriguez's centaur portraits, but also Goldman Sachs and the Dallas Cowboys. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 13th, 2011:

SENATE LIKELY TO VOTE ON RYAN BUDGET - Harry Reid's neverending quest to humiliate Senate Republicans rolls on. Like that time your cool new friends from college visited and your mom gabbed on about what a nerd you were in high school, Senate Democrats will attempt to highlight the GOP moderates' distance from their own party by forcing a vote on Paul Ryan's hyper-conservative budget. A leadership aide tells Josiah Ryan that that the bill will likely come to a vote next week. Mitch McConnell has threatened to force a vote on President Obama's original budget proposal in retaliation, as this Congress continues its twin focus on not passing anything while making stupid points. We tried to reach an adult for comment but none could be found [The Hill]

Next Thursday will be Katie Couric's last day at "Evening News," Michael Calderone reports.

Sam Stein is reporting that cranky corporate consultants who live off the national party teat aren't looking forward to Russ Feingold's potential Wisconsin Senate bid. He'll say it in much nicer terms than that. Story posting soon.

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST TICKLED PINK BY LANNY DAVIS' HURT FEELINGS - Our favorite PSLGOPL is absolutely thrilled that Lanny Davis can't stand Garry Trudeau correctly pointing out that Davis took money from a murderous dictator. "It's the moral left versus the business left. I love the fight! They should keep doing it," wrote PSLGOPL. "You're more self-loathing than I could ever hope to be." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

The best part of the spat is that Garry Trudeau cc'ed Politico's Chris Frates with his reply to Davis, which wound up in today's Politico Influence. [politico]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A standoff between Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue has halted unemployment insurance for 37,000 jobless in the state. Both sides keep saying they want to restore the benefits, but no apparent progress has been made since Perdue vetoed a Republican bill because it attached the benefits to double-digit budget cuts. The legislature is set to adjourn early in June. Charlotte's John Allison, 37, told HuffPost the stalemate reminds him of a game of chicken, except "the person controlling the car's not even in it. It's a remote control game of chicken and I'm tied in the seat." [HuffPost]

MERKLEY TO OCC: YOU SUCK - The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency was offended that Sen. Jeff Merkley said banks would face no consequences for disobeying its orders to quit abusing homeowners. The OCC insisted that, in fact, banks would face penalties of $1 million a day. In response, Merkley's office sent an OCC beatdown from Diane Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center. A sampling: "The orders are time-limited and only apply in terms of reimbursement to homeowners to violations occurring between 2009 and 2010. Homeowners by the terms of these orders receive no protection for violations occurring before the time period or afterwards, even if they lost their home at foreclosure," Thompson wrote. "The orders do not provide any meaningful mechanism for enforcement. They leave all enforcement in the hands of the OCC, and agency that has a spotty record of consumer protection, at best."

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HERB KOHL TO RETIRE, SENATE LOSES ITS RESIDENT 'OH YEAH, THAT GUY' - Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl will retire at the end of his current term. Kohl made the announcement today outside of his Milwaukee district office. "I've always believed it is better to leave a job a little too early than a little too late," Kohl said. "The interest and energy I had for this job will find a new home." You might remember Kohl as...actually, no, you won't remember Kohl. [WaPo]

SPECULATION TIME! BALDWIN IN, NO WORD FROM FEINGOLD OR RYAN - Reports almost immediately emerged that Rep. Tammy Baldwin will enter the first open Senate election in Wisconsin in 23 years. Meanwhile, prognosticators' heads brimmed with images of an Alien Vs. Predator-style political showdown between activist-darling Russ Feingold and fans-of-dudes-who-look-like-extras-from-South-Pacific-darling Paul Ryan. Liberals have been pining for Feingold's return to politics after his upset loss to Ron Johnson in the midterms and conservatives view Ryan as a young Newt Gingrich if young Newt Gingrich spent less time abandoning sick women to whom he'd committed his life and more time condensing the Chicago School into nifty soundbites. Both Feingold and Ryan commented on Kohl's announcement but didn't offer any hint as to whether they will enter the race. In a likely accidental snub of Baldwin's quick entry, Ryan told reporters this morning that he won't comment today. "We didn't see it coming," he said. "Right now, this is Herb Kohl's day and we should thank Herb for his service, and I just want to stick with that." [Roll Call]

RON PAUL OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN - Ron Paul launched his White House bid today in an appearance on "Good Morning America" and later elaborated on his platform and objectives at a rally in Exeter, New Hampshire. "The people are agreeing with much I have been saying for 30 years," Paul said during the GMA hit. "The time is right." At his Exeter event, Paul served up some of that patented, stirring libertarian oratory that sounds like the mix of a Marxist rebel and Tony Robbins. "The revolution is spreading, and the momentum is building," he said to a rapt audience. "Our time has come." RELOVEUTION, PEOPLE [LA Times]

HUCKABEE TO MAKE AN 'ANNOUNCEMENT,' AIDE THINKS HE ISN'T RUNNING - The former Arkansas governor and friendliest man to ever inform you that you're going to hell for being gay told his supporters to expect a major announcement on his future during his Fox News program this Sunday. Ed Rollins, a longtime Huckabee advisor, told the Wall Street Journal that he suspects the news means there won't be a campaign. "I've heard nothing, which indicates to me he's not running," Rollins said. Rollins said that as recently as a week ago, Huckabee was "fully engaged" but then "he started backing off, but he still wanted to go through, could he raise the money, could he put together the operatives." Rollins added that Huckabee's inner circle believed that Huckabee could do so. [WSJ]

The other reason he's probably announcing he's not running: Using your TV show to officially launch your campaign would brush up against all kinds of election laws.

WHITE HOUSE REACTS TO MITT ROMNEY'S DEFENSE OF ITS POLICIES - Yesterday former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made a big splash by saying nice things about a bill he helped pass that was basically to the Affordable Care Act what The Honeymooners were to The Flintstones. He also said nice things about France. It was a lovely speech. At an off-camera briefing today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney didn't make much of an effort to throw water on the media firestorm."We have said before that health care reform that then Governor Romney signed into law in Massachusetts is in many ways similar to the legislation that resulted in the Affordable Care Act," he said. "We wholly endorse flexibility and we obviously feel that Massachusetts took a smart approach towards health care reform," the press secretary added. "Its provenance was so mainstream, there are great similarities between Massachusetts' law, the Affordable Care Act and legislation proposed by then Rhode Island Republican [Senator] John Chaffee in 1993." Nice touch throwing in the former Republican who refused to vote for George W. Bush in 2004. [Sam Stein]

Matt Laslo interviewed NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who insists NATO doesn't kill individuals, despite the repeated attacks on Gaddafi. "We do not target individuals," the Danish official said. "We are targeting military facilities including command and control centers." Uh huh. [The Atlantic]

GEORGE W. BUSH RESPONDED TO BIN LADEN'S DEATH EXACTLY HOW YOU THINK HE WOULD - At a conference in Las Vegas for hedge fund managers -- naturally -- former President George W. Bush discussed for the first time how he learned of Osama bin Laden's death. "I was eating souffle at Rise Restaurant with Laura and two buddies," Bush said, "I excused myself and went home to take the call ... Obama simply said 'Osama Bin Laden is dead.'" Bush's response was classic Bush: "Good call." "The guy is dead. That is good," he continued. "Osama's death is a great victory in the war on terror. He was held up as a leader." Mission Accomplished actually didn't take any credit for the mission, instead praising the actions of the intelligence community. "The intelligence services deserve a lot of credit. They built a mosaic of information, piece by piece," he said. [ABC News]

@msbellows: Motto of restaurant where Bush was eating souffle when BHO got OBL? "How much more French can you get."

OSAMA'S GOOGLE PROBLEM: So apparently bin Laden had a cache of ... porn. " A stash of pornography was found in the hideout of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. commandos who killed him, current and former U.S. officials said on Friday.The pornography recovered in bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive, according to the officials, who discussed the discovery with Reuters on condition of anonymity." Who has a porn collection these days? Did he also have a box of Zeppelin bootleg cassettes? What year is it?! [Reuters]

@daily: OSAMA BIN SPANKIN': Our new cover story on bin Laden's porn stash: #obl

OUCH - At Yankee Stadium, the concessionaire co-owned by the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and Goldman Sachs allegedly pockets the 20 percent service fee attached to food and drink in violation of New York law, according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the company by three Yankee Stadium servers this week. [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]

Dylan Ratigan on how Goldman retaliated against a whistle blower. [MSNBC]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Behold the awesome power of the child lucha libra wrestler. [target="_hplink">]

KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - May 13th, 1846: U.S. Declares War on Mexico For Getting In the Way : Texas was an independent state, but both the U.S. and Mexico claimed it was theirs, arguing over the Nueces versus the Rio Grande River as its border. President Tyler got the Treaty of Annexation passed in Congress in 1845, and Texas joined the Union. President Polk then sent Taylor's army across the river to take the rest of the territory, and Mexico crossed the Rio Grande to retaliate. Congress then declared war at the request of Polk. After two years of fighting, Mexico gave up California and New Mexico for $15 million with a settlement of all U.S. claims, and Texas gained the Rio Grande as its border. A true bargain for two new states and a healthy serving of imperialism. Thanks, KB!


- "Put Your Pants On And Go Home" is a new Tumblr dedicated to the most infamous phrase to arise out of the Ensign report. []

- The top ten creepiest abandoned cities. High five, Detroit! You're not on the list! []

- What do you get when you combine a Shake Weight and a local news broadcast? This: []

- So how exactly does recycling work? Here's a friendly, and pretty, video demonstration! []

- A Canadian child is magnetic, if all the spoons plastered to his body are to be believed []

- This company's resident Jedi has a knack for annoying his coworkers. []

- Russian newscaster tries to make her way through a report about a Canadian weed plantation guarded by 13 bears. []


@matthewstoller: Looking forward to all the weird farewell speeches from Senators professing their deep love for Senator Herb Kohl.

@brianbeutler: In embarrassing intelligence failure, turns out bin Laden had a "porn 'stache," not a "porn stash." But we knew that.

@AlexMLeo: Why is this allergy season different from all other allergy seasons? #judaism #allergies


Today - Sunday: "Weekend on the Outer Banks" isn't just the title of your next favorite alt-country album, it's also the title of Richard Burr's weekend fundraising retreat [Duck, NC].

Today - Sunday: Vernon Buchanan hosts his annual "Spring Retreat." That conjures an image of a Butch and Sundance-style "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"
montage of Vernon Buchanan frolicking in fields of daisies [Greenbrier Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, West Spring, FL].

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