Bathroom hand dryers are quaking in their proverbial TOMS wrap boots now that House Republicans are voting against energy-efficient light bulbs. Mitch McConnell isn't building bridges to the 21st century so much as he's digging landfills to be exhumed in the 21st century. And if lawmakers continue with their overwrought psychological mind games, the debt ceiling debate will soon mirror the poison sequence from Princess Bride. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, and NEVER go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line:
MITCH MCCONNELL PROPOSES GRANTING OBAMA NEW DEBT CEILING POWERS - What? What the hell is all this? First the President offers, like, $80 gazillion in deficit reduction concessions and now Mitch McConnell wants to grant a Democratic president the power to raise the debt ceiling without majority support in Congress ... with no real spending cuts? Hell, works for us. Essentially, the McConnell plan would allow the president to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion in three increments during the election season. Congress could veto the president's actions with a resolution of disapproval. The president could then veto the disapproval, meaning Congress would have to override the veto with a two-thirds vote. Therefore, it would only take one-third of Congress to support raising the debt ceiling. The political thinking is that the GOP could voice its disapproval, the president would look like a tax-and-spend such and such, and economic catastrophe would be avoided. Plus this would all happen later. And "later" isn't now. That's the great thing about later. Whether this is all part of some protracted bout of mind-gaming, a set-up for some political long con, or a genuine fear of the U.S. defaulting on its obligations, this is getting weird. We need to end this now before Chuck Schumer proposes ceding management of Social Security to Haliburton along with an offer to hand wash Richard Lugar's dog in the well of the Senate. Just...just...just...stop. [HuffPost]
Michael Steel, Boehner's flack, is...aware: "The Speaker shares the Leader's frustration," he said in an email. "Republicans are unified in our commitment to ensuring that the debt limit is not used as leverage to saddle small businesses with increased taxes that destroy jobs." Translation: Hey! Look over there! At those beleaguered small business owners!
@Todd_Zwillich Just spoke with @HarryReid about McConnell's #debt gambit: "I'm not going to trash it until I understand it."
Erik Wemple: HuffPost's office move in 2009 means it sold out in 2011. Thanks, Erik!
Now this is a lede: "Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency." Jeremy Scahill, who just returned from Somalia, writing in The Nation.
RICHARD LUGAR NOT LOOKING SO HOT - Reelection-wise, that is. Richard Lugar will always be hot in our book. Tonight in Roll Call from Shira Toeplitz: "After easily winning six terms in the Senate, Dick Lugar's political future is in peril. Tea party-backed candidates defeated Senators and candidates more conservative than Lugar last year, and national conservative groups have already focused this year on the Senator with a reputation for working across the aisle. The good news for Lugar? Those same groups do not see his primary opponent, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, as their silver-bullet challenger."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Some classic Orrin Hatch. When asked by DDD if he could tolerate keeping federal unemployment as part of the "Grand Bargain" under discussion, Hatch said: "There's a lot of people who would claim to be hurt if we start cutting back. That's always that case. Those who really would help themselves if they could, can't -- I'm always for helping them. Those who could help themselves, but won't, I have more difficulty with." [HuffPost]
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HOUSE TO TACKLE THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY: LIGHT BULBS - The House is voting on a measure allowing red-blooded Americans to kill Mother Earth at a rate of their choosing. The lower chamber approved a bill repealing federal light bulb efficiency standards, because any luminescent device that doesn't have the tenacity and patriotic inclinations to be fully round (and not a defeatist snake-like shape per the bulbs pushed by Democrats) doesn't deserve the imprimatur of the U.S. government. The measure requires a two-thirds vote so it's not expected to pass. And even if it did ... c'mon. [HuffPost's Lucia Graves]
Carl Levin wants to focus on tax evaders in the ongoing deficit reduction efforts.
RON PAUL TO RETIRE FROM THE HOUSE - The outspoken libertarian Texas Congressman and presidential candidate announced today that he will not seek reelection to his House seat. Paul told The Facts of Chute, Texas that he intends to focus more on his White House bid. "I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election," Paul said. "It's about that time when I should change tactics." Here's hoping some pissed-off lefty House Dem (you know the one) offers a non-binding resolution honoring Paul's years of government service...just for the libertarian irony of it. [AP]
ALAN GRAYSON LAUNCHES HOUSE BID - Alan Grayson, the soft-spoken, polite and sartorially unadventurous House Democrat who lost his seat last November due largely to his infamous timidity, announced yesterday that he wants his old job back. This time, he's opting for a more in-your-face approach (We know, we know: like Alan Grayson will ever pull that off). "It's exactly like I said, the Republican health care plan: don't get sick," he said to Benjy Sarlin. "The Republican unemployment plan: go find a job. The Republican homelessness plan: move in with your relatives. They have no answers to anything." The newly-emboldened Grayson also took a swipe at the Democrats' flirtation with entitlement reform. "I am appalled that this is even being discussed," he said. "Let's face it, [Republicans] led the country to the brink of ruin in eight years of power and now they're trying to finish the job. I think appeasement doesn't work and we need to be tough." [TPM]
SECOND STRAIGHT IOWA POLL HAS BACHMANN IN LEAD - If a new survey from American Research Group is to be believed, Michele Bachmann is not only the leading alternate to Mitt Romney in Iowa but is essentially tied for first. The poll has Bachmann out front with 21 percent with Mitt Romey in second with 18 percent. That jibes with an IowaRepublican.com survey in with Bachmann 25, Romney 21. In case those two polling shops are too small time for you, a third poll, taken earlier by the Des Moines Register, had Romney ahead of Bachmann by just one point. So Bachmentum is at hand. Brace yourselves. [CNN]
Politico ran an article comparing Bachmann '12 to Dean '04. America's political analysts must be running out of candidate-to-candidate comparisons. If not, some enterprising person should compile a Microsoft Excel table with the overlapping qualities of every White House candidate since 1952. Wait till you hear about the uncanny similarities of Gary Hart and Alan Keyes' approaches to staff management.
Haley Barbour nephew Henry Barbour, on Rick Perry and his uncle's supporters: "I've talked to a number of folks who were going to support Haley had he run and a good percentage of them are very favorable to a Perry candidacy...He's got a great record in Texas, we align with him philosophically and he can win. It's that simple." [WaPo]
WISCONSIN RECALL ELECTIONS UNDERWAY - The first primaries for Wisconsin's various recall elections are being held today. This will either result in a mid-cycle Democratic catharsis that will make Kathy Hochul's win seem like a city council victory in Duluth, or a humiliating defeat that will only lead to a torrent of press about how conservative efforts to undercut unions enjoy the support of moderates (not to mention the activist wound-licking that inevitably occurs whenever these things happen). Sean Sullivan, with an overview: "Democratic primaries will be held in Districts 2, 8, 10, 14, 18 and 32, all Republican-held seats. Initially, the recall elections in these districts were slated for July 12, but because Republicans recruited protest candidates to run under the Democratic party banner, those elections have been pushed back a month...Two incumbent Republicans Hotline On Call interviewed in Wisconsin - state Sens. Alberta Darling and Randy Hopper - indicated they were ready to run on July 12. And a Republican source associated with a GOP campaign in the state told On Call the decision to run the protest candidates caught them by surprise." [National Journal]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - An animated cookbook teaching you how to prepare dishes featured in Alfred Hitchcock movies. [http://bit.ly/ocJk4c]
The percentage of Americans that are children has hit an all-time low, according to the latest Census. Despite a boost from immigrant families, who on average have more children, only 24 percent of Americans are children, down from the previously low of 26 percent in 1990. So if you're wondering why air travel has been less stressful lately, or why your sex life has been more enjoyable ... there ya go. [AP]
This is also a handy solution to the problem of surging child poverty!
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Cools down, but not much. It'll be quite hot, especially with the lack of refreshing rain. Tomorrow: It'll still be absolutely miserable (numbers, by this point, are pointless), but with a chance of thundershowers. That cold front everyone predicted yesterday blew through, but hasn't really led to a cool down. Time will tell when we'll be able to beat the heat. Thanks, JB!
- This robot that will play iPhone games for you, because you are probably too busy playing iPad games. [http://bit.ly/r9X1tD]
- For the aspiring hipster who isn't quite ready to commit: Smartly designed temporary tattoos. [http://tatt.ly/]
- A kid mashed-up his favorite 39 songs into one three-minute epic that makes Girl Talk look like child's play. We can pick out Daft Punk, De La Soul and a few others, but that's it. Track list is available. [http://bit.ly/o6iBXA]
- Have dead Andy Warhol paint you your own portrait thanks to this iPhone app. Resurrecting dead pop art icons? There's an app fo....eh you get where we're going with this. [http://gizmo.do/okDwB9]
- Grantland ranks the 25 least valuable NFL players. Read this list, think about how much more they make than you, and weep a little. Or try not to. [http://es.pn/nzFarW]
- Danny McBride cut a pretty funny long-form commercial for K-Swiss as his alter-ego, Kenny Powers. [http://bit.ly/pOvHM8]
- A in-depth look at animated .gif files. [http://bit.ly/nGipUX]
- Printable solar cells might be the next big thing. [http://tcrn.ch/rnLTOc]
@daveweigel: Fun to be in the press gallery when news like this breaks. You get to hear how multiple reporters say "WTF"
@delrayser: McConnell: "Mr. President, I'll eat my peas, but only I can cry about being forced to eat them & how terrible they are for me."
@SimonMaloy: REPORT: Mitch McConnell issues press release on what a good ol' time whitewashing fences is.
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm: If you're going to shell out $500 to head to Nationals park with Eric Cantor, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to some Shake Shack and a t-shirt, or something [Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street SE].
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm: Public Campaign, Steve Cowan and Rep. Walter Jones screen Priceless, a documentary that chronicles ways states and citizens are trying to reduce the role that campaign contributions play in American democracy [CVC Congressional Meeting Room North (CVC 268)].
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Brian Higgins gets an assist from Gary Ackerman and his carnations at his fundraiser [B Smith's Washington DC, 50 Massachusetts Ave NE].
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: The Wilson Quarterly hosts a happy hour so you can meet and greet with smart folks who, you know, know about the world ... and stuff [Local 16, 1602 U Street NW].
8:00 am - 9:00 am: Olympia Snowe has her breakfast fundraiser at Charlie Palmer Steak. Again, the question vexes us: In a city overflowing with tony brunch psots, what in God's name are you doing having a breakfast fundraiser at a bloody steakhouse? [Charlie Palmer Steak - 101 Constitution Ave NW].
9:00 am - 10:00 am: Richard Burr puts in an hour for the RNSC at a fundraising coffee. That's the nice thing about meeting for coffee: it's over fast [National Republican Senatorial Committee, 425 2nd Street NE].
12:00 pm: Richard Lugar does his thing (meaning looking corn-fed and content while saying conservative things) at a midday fundraising reception hosted by Republican perennial Ed Rogers [BGR Group, 601 13th St NW Eleventh Floor South].
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Sure, it's hitting 100 degrees this week, but Gwenn Moore can't reschedule her "DC Summer Reception," now can she? [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].
6:30 pm: John Thune continues to amaze us with the puzzling venue choices for his humble-sounding "Heartland Values PAC." This time, it's at Fogo De Chao, a Brazillian steakhouse. Mmmmmm, Heartland-y [Fogo De Chao, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW].
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