Minnesota lawmakers are doing everything they can to end the government shutdown short of purifying Governor Mark Dayton in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. We might not be able to return to the prosperity of the 1990s but at least we can return to the sensationalist media coverage of murder trials of the 1990s. And Joe Biden is now on Twitter (sort of). We can only hope that his propensity to employ adult language will be counteracted by his propensity to ramble on for way more than 140 characters. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 5th, 2011:
REID PULLS LIBYA VOTE - The Senate majority leader today canceled a vote on a resolution authorizing the U.S.'s involvement in the ongoing NATO-led mission in Libya (replacing it with a live quorum call, meaning that senators returned to Washington to affirm that they were, in fact, in Washington -- Hello!). The Libya measure had passed the Armed Services committee in a largely partisan vote, but Reid couldn't muster enough support from Republicans, who have no incentive to take the vote. "I've spoken with the Republican leader just a short time ago, and we've agreed -- notwithstanding the broad support for the Libya resolution -- the most important thing for us to focus on this week is the budget," Reid said in a statement. A Republican staffer close to the situation told Amanda Terkel that 37 GOP senators had pledged to oppose the measure and Sen. Rand Paul was threatening to filibuster all Senate activity until there was a debate on the debt ceiling. "Evidently, they seem to be calling the shots around here," Sen. John Kerry said of the GOP this evening. The White House has been persistent in its insistence that the action is legal and does not need congressional approval, insisting that we aren't AT WAR with Libya, we're just lobbing explosive forget-me-nots in its direction. [HuffPost]
At a press conference this afternoon, President Obama said he has invited lawmakers to the White House on Thursday for debt ceiling talks. "This will require both parties to get out of our comfort zones," the president said of the ongoing negotiations. "I'm ready to do that. I believe there are enough people in both parties who are ready to do that." Jay Carney, asked about the invitations to head the Capitol Obama has gotten, said the president had no plans to accept them.
CONRAD TO RELEASE BUDGET - Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the budget committee, will meet tomorrow with Democrats on his panel to nail down support for a spending blueprint. He'll brief leadership in the morning (his meeting this evening was canceled after a flight nightmare landed him in Washington four hours late, a North Dakota problem he won't encounter when he's a lobbyist next year). The budget is more or less the same as the one he'd planned to release several weeks ago, before his caucus shouted him down. Bernie Sanders, a member of the panel, told reporters today that the American people will "overwhelmingly" back the Conrad plan. The Vermont pinko brought 100,000 signatures to the Senate press gallery, saying he'd sent President Obama a letter calling for deficit closure to be a 50-50 cut/tax hike proposition. Why cut anything at all? "Occasionally, the whole United States Senate does not agree with everything I say," Sanders suggested. On the accomplishment of getting 100,000 names: "It was just my website. We didn't go nuts or anything."
Is Obama thinking of relying on the 14th Amendment to keep paying debts even if Congress doesn't lift the ceiling? "I don't think I want to get into speculation," Jay Carney said today. "I am not aware of any analysis being done by lawyers here and I have not heard the president discuss it." Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tells HuffPost Hill he's looking into it himself, while Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) says it's "silly." "I think it's interesting to talk about, but I don't think it's sustainable as a legitimate position," he said.
The Nation's Katrina vanden Huevel starts the rallying cry in the Post: "Invoke the 14th."
The conservative counterattack on the 14th Amendment option has started -- although this analysis doesn't seem to get the concept of an amendment.
FRESHMAN REPUBLICANS QUIETLY LOBBYING FOR PORK - If there's one thing that Republicans approach more discretely than same-sex affairs, it's the acquisition of government money. And, not unlike their homosexual dalliances, GOP lawmakers publicly denounce the government largess they secretly covet. Sam Stein: "A Freedom of Information Act request of the communications between freshmen House members and federal agencies reveals that, in private, GOP lawmakers have pressed for tens of millions of dollars in federal help for their districts, even while decrying federal spending in front of the national press corps. Take, for instance, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). On March 8, the freshman Republican co-signed a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration requesting that the Department of Transportation fund a project to improve a runway at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. The cost of the improvement: $4.365 million. Less than a month later, on the floor of the House, he declared that 'our nation is broke. The federal government has maxed out its credit card.'" [HuffPost]
HILL STAFFERS: WHAT IS THIS THING YOU CALL 'CONSCIENCE'? - Tonight in Roll Call from Emily Heil: "While some staffers have recently turned on their bosses, such as Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), current and former staffers say those cases are exceptions to the rule. 'There's essentially no upside to calling out the boss, but plenty of downside," says Meredith Persily Lamel, a management consultant who works with Congressional offices. 'The only upside is being able to sleep at night.'"
Overheard from a defeated Dem staffer back in November: "I have, like, no morals right now."
Jim Clyburn has named Patrick Devlin as his new communications director, replacing Kristie Greco who left the office to work as communications director for the next Democratic convention. Devlin has previously worked for Rep. Bob Etheridge and Jon Tester.
HELP TUNE INN STAFF - Cap Hill neighbors are helping out their favorite burned bar next week with a fundraiser at the nearby American Legion (where many regulars have taken refuge) on July 15. "In order to adequately support the 10 staff not covered by insurance while the restaurant is closed about $50,000 needs to be raised." Music, food, booze. [Friends of Tune Inn]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Obama administration's monthly report on its Home Affordable Modification Program is always good for a Downer: The latest numbers show that 633,459 homeowners are currently in permanent mortgage modifications that reduced their monthly payments. But 854,513 homeowners who've applied have had their trial or permanent modifications canceled. Maybe this is good: The administration reported in a new datapoint that 21,299 underwater homeowners have had their principal reduced as part of a modification, with the median reduction worth $69,532. That's out of 11 million homeowners who are underwater...maybe it's not so good...
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MILITARY READYING FOR CONTINGENCY REDEPLOYMENT IN IRAQ - David Wood: "The last American troops are being withdrawn from Iraq, with all troops scheduled to be out of the country by Dec. 31. But as that deadline looms, Iraq increasingly is torn by violence: Sunni and Shiite militias battle each other and Iraqi security forces with rocket attacks, car bombs and suicide bombers, killing and wounding hundreds each month...But it's not difficult to conjure a plausible reason for a short but powerful American military intervention: Militiamen of extremist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr might seize the U.S. embassy; an al Qaeda-backed coup might take down the government in Baghdad. If Iraq's government asks a few hundred U.S. trainers to stay on, they might be taken hostage. Whatever the reason, if the White House decided fast action were needed, it would likely fall to the 82nd Airborne's 1st Brigade. Later this year the brigade will step into a 12-month rotation as part of the U.S. Global Response Force. As the nation's quick crisis-response reserve, the brigade will be ready on constant alert -- the first unit to go in an emergency." [HuffPost]
MINNESOTA BIGWIGS MEETING TO FORGE BUDGET AGREEMENT - Walter Mondale -- the former vice president, presidential candidate and Washington General to Ronald Reagan's Globetrotter -- will be one of three prominent Minnesota politicians to try to hammer out a budget agreement to end the current government shutdown. He and fellow former Senator David Durenberger -- Tim Pawlenty's old boss -- and former Governor Arne Carlson will lead a group of "elder statesmen." The lawmakers emeritus say they hope to have a proposal crafted by the end of the week and a spokesman for Gov. Mark Dayton say they have his blessing. Rachel Weiner: "The group of elder statesman charged with arriving at a way out of the situation includes former Republican state Sen. Steve Dille and former Democratic state Rep. Wayne Simoneau as co-chairmen. Former finance commissioners Jay Kiedrowski, who served under Gov. Rudy Perpic (D), and John Gunyon, who served under Carlson, are also on the committee. So are two business leaders: former Wells Fargo CEO Jim Campbell and former Medtronic Vice President Kris Johnson. The state budget commissioner, Jim Schowalter, will adminster the group." We aren't quite sure what the Minnesota version of a smoke-filled backroom is, but it probably involves a hunting lodge and copious amounts of hot toddies. [WaPo]
Two Democratic Senators and one Republican are calling for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012. In a Times op-ed published this morning, Sens. Jeff Merkley, Rand Paul and Tom Udall urge the president to move up his planned withdrawal date by two years. "We believe the United States is capable of achieving this goal by the end of 2012. America would be more secure and stronger economically if we recognized that we have largely achieved our objectives in Afghanistan and moved aggressively to bring our troops and tax dollars home," the three write. [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
CHAFFETZ ENDORSES ROMNEY - Tea Party favorite and rumored primary challenger to Orrin Hatch Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced today that he is endorsing Mitt Romney for president. For Tea Party activists, that's kind of like if Sid Vicious released a cover album of Carpenters songs -- it's a decidedly square thing to do. It's also a surprising thing to do. Chaffetz had previously worked for Jon Huntsman as his gubernatorial chief of staff. That might help explain Chaffetz's very practical reasoning for supporting the very establishment-y Romney. "I like them both, but I want to beat Barack Obama and I think Mitt Romney's in the best position to do that. I think he's the right person at the right time," Chaffetz said of Romney and Huntsman in an interview with Jon Ward. "It's tough for a lot of Utahns because we're having to choose among friends." [HuffPost]
ROMNEY CONTINUES 'OBAMA WORSENED THE RECESSION' ATTACK - Professional presidential candidate and occasional member of the workforce Mitt Romney reverted back to his factually dubious attack on President Obama this holiday weekend, telling a crowd in New Hampshire that the president has exacerbated the recession. The former Massachusetts governor's comments came after he insisted last Thursday that he never made such a claim. "Our president has failed us. The recession is deeper because of our president," Romney said at a July 4th parade yesterday, "it has seen an anemic recovery because of our president." He continued that line of attack today at a town hall in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. "He didn't cause the recession as we know," he said. "He didn't make it better, he made things worse." It is, of course, impossible for the recession to have worsened seeing as how there is no more recession. The economy was shrinking when the president took office in January 2009 and is now growing, albeit slowly. But, in fairness to Mitt, "our commander-in-chief has done little to improve the lives of the economically disenfranchised who have mostly been left out of the current recovery and whose lives are still defined by a deep and persistent malaise" isn't nearly as catchy. [CBS News]
@newtgingrich: I am a conservative w/ clear track record of cutting spending but brain science research is 1 area where we should be spending more.
Herman Cain has been plagued by a series of staff departures recently. Juana Summers reports that Charlie Gruschow, the founder of the Des Moines tea party and an ardent Cain supporter, handed in his resignation this weekend. "I'm going to pursuse some other interests," he said. "My heart just isn't in it at this time." Writes Summers: "Gruschow's departure follows the resignations of Iowa organizational director Tina Goff and New Hampshire director Matt Murphy, along with regional director Jim Zeiler and Iowa straw poll director Kevin Hall, who have already left the campaign in some disarray...Gruschow attributed his resignation to being 'disappointed in some of the decisions that were made and some of the comments that were made by others,' and a campaign that had become 'just too messy.'" [Politico]
CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES RALLYING BEHIND PERRY - Texas Governor Rick Perry is known for his hostility to immigrants, his insatiable lust for war (civil and otherwise) and his willingness to fire laser-sighted guns at medium-sized feral animals. Naturally, America's Christian-right thinks this guy embodies their (re: Jesus') values. Amy Sullivan reports that prominent conservative Christians have quietly coalesced around the Lone Star executive. "In early June, TIME has learned, a group of prominent figures on the Christian Right held a conference call to discuss their dissatisfaction with the current GOP presidential field, and agreed that Rick Perry would be their preferred candidate if he entered the race. Among those on the call were Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; David Barton, the Texas activist and go-to historian for the Christian Right; and John Hagee, the controversial San Antonio pastor whose endorsement John McCain rejected in 2008." [Time]
Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny report that Perry's past criticism of President Bush (2) might cost him politically. "Those criticisms have burnished the Perry image as less prone to ideological compromise or a fuzzy "compassionate" brand of conservatism, an appealing trait to those Republican primary voters seeking purity in their nominee. And they have helped Mr. Perry escape the shadow of Mr. Bush, whose sponsorship, along with that of his chief political strategist, Karl Rove, was critical to Mr. Perry's rise. But it antagonized Mr. Bush's old team, many of whom endorsed Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in her unsuccessful primary challenge to Mr. Perry last year. Some are indicating that they will oppose Mr. Perry should he join the presidential race with an anti-Bush message." [NYT]
POLL JEWISH VOTERS STILL SUPPORT PRESIDENT OBAMA - A Gallup poll out today finds that 60 percent of Jewish voters back the president, down from 68 percent in May. The drop in support mirrors the rest of the country, but has remained at or above 60 percent for the year. Alright, then! [Gallup]
Joe Biden is now on Twitter -- or at least his staff is. @VP -- "Office of VP Biden" -- made its debut today on the microblogging service yesterday with a July 4th message. "VP & Dr. B hope you take time to think about our troops & military families this Independence Day, Happy 4th from OVP! @JoiningForces". The account's biography states that "Comments&messages received through official WH pages are subject to the PRA and may be archived." How that will square with the inevitable torrent of Joe Biden butt tweets is unclear. [Office of VP Biden on Twitter]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - They Might Be Giants covers Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping." Wipe away your tears, Gen Xers. [http://huff.to/lCNQHO]
HuffPost Hiccup: Last week we wrote that Google was lobbyisting-up in advance of a FCC antitrust investigation. We meant to say an FTC investigation. Apologies.
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Quite warm, with temps in the mid-70s. Tomorrow: Hot, hot, hot! We reach the mid-90s. High humidity makes it unpleasant. Some afternoon thunderstorms just add to the fun. Thanks, JB!
- For the man on the go who nevertheless MUST dine in style, behold the V8-powered dinner table. [http://huff.to/ipb7UW]
- The music video for Cold Mailman's "Time is of the essence" features some sick audio visualizations from apartment buildings [http://huff.to/lqcyMl]
- Pretty impressive use of an Oreo as an artistic medium. [http://huff.to/jFvKYc]
- Did you have a good Fourth of July? Reminisce with these giant ass photos of last year's celebration [http://huff.to/mQ6mGT]
- A 1954 photo essay documenting the construction of a neon Coca-Cola sign. [http://huff.to/lyUmvR]
- The question isn't whether you need a hairdryer shaped like Darth Vader's mouth, it's why you haven't already purchased one. [http://huff.to/lD4eQP]
- Dog enjoys drinking water shot from a water gun. If you added up all the videos on YouTube and divided by their number to find the average, you'd come up with this. [http://huff.to/mxCKMs]
- Elise Foley: "Myspace picture-taking apparently evolved from primates." [http://tgr.ph/lgvaOE]
@Entenmanns: Who's #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!
@samsteinhp: regardless of the casey anthony verdict, it's good news for mccain
@pourmecoffee: Casey Anthony verdict reached. Jurors now being briefed on option to enter federal Nancy Grace Protection Program.
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Heather Wilson is the beneficiary of a wine tasting fundraiser. Only $100 suggested contribution, so it's probably pretty cheap wine [Capitol Hill Tower, 1000 New Jersey Ave SE].
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm: What better way to honor Mike Ross and his small part in the current do-nothing congress than watching the Chicago Cubs play baseball? Congress and the Cubs ... you know? [Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street SE].
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