Days after Jon Huntsman rode his dirt bike into the political sunset, Mitt Romney proved that he is the most qualified Republican candidate by trivializing 98 percent of Americans. Wikipedia will go dark tomorrow to protest SOPA, prompting knowledge-deprived Americans to rummage through their basements and dust off their old copies of Microsoft Encarta (enjoy your brief comeback, .midi files!). And If the Democratic National Convention gets any more corporate, President Obama will be forced to stitch Bud Light Lime's logo into the back of his suit jacket. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 17th, 2012:
SENATORS SCRAMBLE TO AVOID ACCIDENTAL CONTROVERSY - Don't you hate it when you cosponsor a totally noncontroversial antipiracy bill, cash a bunch of checks, and then all of a sudden your grand-nephew is cussing you out over Christmas ham? Cosponsors of Sen. Pat Leahy's suddenly toxic PROTECT IP bill (the Senate version of SOPA) huddled in the Capitol today with all the relevant players, scratching their heads and wondering how a bunch of sun-deprived kids in Pantera shirts have managed to put a halt to their bill that would -- to employ the technical term -- break the internet (It's complicated. Take our word for it.) Harry Reid's determined to hold a vote next week whether the votes are there or not. A few weeks ago they were there. Now it looks like they're not. But nobody knows. Disclosure: AOL, which owns us lock, stock and barrel, is both a content creator and a search engine, so has interests on both sides of the issue, but has lobbied against the worst parts of it.
TECH GIANTS TO TAKE PART IN SOPA BLACKOUT, HUFFPOST HILL TO GET BLACKOUT DRUNK IN SOLIDARITY - Wikipedia, reddit, Mozilla and Wordpress will go dark tomorrow to protest the Stop Online Privacy Act. That's intense. For one FULL day, America's high school students won't be able to open Wikipedia, look up "Benjamin Franklin" and find out that he was "one of the Founding Fathers of the United StDAVE IZ A HOMO1!!11 HOWARD STERN RULEZ." We will miss you, Wikipedia. Zach Carter: "Google will join thousands of tech activists, entrepreneurs and corporations on Wednesday in protesting the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial bill that has generated national outrage among Internet experts. On Wednesday, more than 7,000 websites are expected to voluntarily 'go dark,' by blocking access to their content to protest the bill, according to organizers of SOPAStrike.com. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bring the measure to a vote next week. Some of the biggest names on the Internet plan to participate in the blackout, including Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit and WordPress. On Tuesday, Google stopped short of vowing to take down its popular search engine, but said it would change its home page to show solidarity with protesters." [HuffPost]
@USSenScottBrown I'm going to vote NO on #PIPA and #SOPA. The Internet is too important to our economy.
WHOOPS - "House Republican campaign chairman Pete Sessions of Texas is the fourth House member who has been notified he received a discounted loan from the former Countrywide Financial Corp. Sessions' spokeswoman, Torrie Miller, confirmed the notification Tuesday. The mortgage records of the four lawmakers have been sent to the House Ethics Committee by a separate investigative panel. Three of the four are Republicans, and two play prominent roles: Sessions, as the person responsible for Republican efforts to maintain control of the House, and Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee." [AP]
THE ECONOMY IS STAGNATING, BUT CONGRESS' WANDERLUST IS ROBUST AS EVER - Roll Call: "Private groups spent almost $6 million to send Members of Congress and staffers on trips last year, more than in any year since Congress tightened its restrictions on outside groups paying for travel in 2007. Roll Call¹s Amanda Becker reports that the total bill for sending lawmakers and their staffers on more than 1,500 trips -- often to far-flung locations such as Austria, Egypt, Israel and Turkey -- weighed in at more than $5.7 million last year and could rise as late filers submit their post-travel disclosure forms. Watchdog groups say the increase shows the rules are no longer working. 'It's really quite a pity, too,' said Public Citizen's Craig Holman, who worked with Congress on the reform effort. 'The travel restriction was one of the major accomplishments we really did achieve ... and now the Ethics Committee seems to be letting it fall to the wayside.'" [Roll Call]
According to the House Rules Committee, the House will debate a debt limit measure tomorrow. When the frequency with which Congress raises the debt ceiling and the frequency with which people get haircuts converge, you know you're in trouble.
Sam Stein just got a haircut!
Not surprisingly, the Republican primary has a lot in common with a movie beloved by frat boys. Check out Ben Craw's awesome mashup of last night's Republican debate with the movie ... ahem... *film* Dodgeball. [HuffPost]
@dave_jamieson: Uh, House R's already tried RT @Travis_Waldron: Newt joins Perry: "If I was Speaker of the House right now, I would have defunded the NLRB."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Republican presidential candidates finally let us know what they think of long-lasting jobless benefits. Rick Santorum: "I think we have to look at having a reasonable time for people to be able to come back, get a job and then turn their lives around...But what we've seen in the past under this administration is extending benefits up to 99 weeks. I don't support that.." Newt Gingrich: "All unemployment compensation should be tied to a job training requirement...If somebody can't find a job and they show up and they say, you know, 'I need help,' the help we ought to give them is to get them connected to a business-run training program to acquire the skills to be employable. Now the fact is, 99 weeks is an associate degree." Fun factoid for Newt: People with associate degrees are no less likely than high school dropouts to be out of work 99 weeks or longer, according to the Congressional Research Service. [HuffPost]
FORBES: BLAME THE UNEMPLOYED A LITTLE - Ladies and gentlemen, Forbes: "A social stigma against unemployment encourages the unemployed to re-enter the workforce even if it does not significantly raise their incomes relative to collecting benefits -- leading to greater overall economic output and, in the long term, improving the well-being of the unemployed." Good idea! Let's make sure all those uppity jobless who've already lost their livelihoods stay feeling bad. [Forbes]
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THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION WILL BE
A GIANT CORPORATE SCHMOOZE FEST A PERFECT REPRESENTATION OF WHAT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS ABOUT THESE DAYS - On the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, President Obama will accept his party's nomination in -- wait for it... wait for it... waaaaiiit fooorr iiitt......... Bank of America Stadium. Crazy, right? We'll pause for a moment to give Zombie Teddy Roosevelt enough time to stop grunting angrily, compose himself and return to his grave ............. OK. Also, there's this: "Democrats announced Tuesday that the convention will be shortened from the traditional four days to three to have a day to celebrate the Carolinas, Virginia and the South. That celebration would take place on Monday, Sept. 3, which is Labor Day." Let's get this straight: The Democratic Party is ending its convention at a venue named after a bank it's coddled AND they're cutting it short to celebrate Labor Day in a bunch of right-to-work states. Wow. To conclude, President Obama's nomination will contain all the corporate worship of a major sporting event but none of the halftime performances by Taylor Swift and Aerosmith. That. Really. Sucks. On a totally unrelated note brought to you by Bud Light Lime, HuffPost will live blog next week's State of the Union address at the Coke Zero House of Representatives. [AP]
Political advertisements don't get much more Am-urrr-ican than this.
SCOTT WALKER RECALL PETITION GETS ONE MILLION SIGNATURES - According to Wikipedia, seven of the ten largest employers in Wisconsin are local, state and federal agencies. Unfortunately for Scott Walker, none of them are the "Department of People Who Like Getting Demonized, Paid Less And Laid Off." That agency has been significantly scaled back.... for some reason. Amanda Terkel: "Democrats needed to collect 540,208 signatures to trigger a gubernatorial recall election against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). On Tuesday, they announced they had far exceeded that number, collecting one million signatures. Tuesday was the deadline for recall organizers, led by the group United Wisconsin, to turn in their petitions. The number collected is 185 percent of the signatures required to force a recall election. Organizers also collected enough to trigger a recalls of the lieutenant governor and four Republican state senators. The total went far beyond Walker's expectations. 'From what they say, they're probably going to turn in 720,000 today,' Walker said in an interview with right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh Tuesday afternoon. 'That's a lot of signatures, but they've been planning this since late last spring. They've got tons of money from the big government unions in Washington and around the country.'" Ahhhh, yes, the "outside agitators" defense. The one defense employed by gay rights activists in California, anti-union governors in Wisconsin AND Vladimir Putin. [HuffPost]
A PPP survey finds that Democrat Tom Barrett is the Democratic front runner in the recall: "He leads Kathleen Falk 46-27 and David Obey 42-30 in potential head to heads. He also gets 26% to 22% for Falk, 21% for Obey, and 11% for Tim Cullen in a hypothetical four way contest. If Barrett doesn't end up throwing his hat in the ring, it looks like Obey would have a better chance at the nomination than Falk as well. He leads her 43-28 in a head to head contest. Barrett has the best favorability numbers of the candidates at a +30 spread (53/23). He's followed by Obey at +20 (43/23), Falk at +8 (36/28), and Cullen at +6 (25/19)." [PPP]
@daveweigel: Well, it WAS secret. RT @RepPeteKing: Back in Washington. Receiving top secret intelligence briefing on Iran.
AFTER ALL THAT CONTROVERSY, THE FLORIDA PRIMARY WON'T MEAN SHIT - Isn't it funny how, after months of jockeying and whining by the Florida Republican Party, a new poll indicates that Florida Republicans are supporting the frontrunner....like everyone else? Jesus. "Romney tops the poll, which was conducted by Harrisburg, Pa.-based Voter Survey Service (VSS), with 46 percent. When he ran in the 2008 primary, Romney placed second in Florida, taking 31 percent and winning 18 of the 67 counties in the Sunshine State...Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich places a distant second with 20 percent. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who lost the Iowa caucus to Romney by eight votes, takes third with 12 percent. " If America is one big family, and American history is one big car trip, then Florida voters are the kids in the back who kick the seat and ask if we're there yet. Even when America gives Florida a coloring book or installs TVs in the headrests, it still isn't satisfied. Goddamnit. We will never be there, Florida. [Sunshine State News]
And, after all that talk about how South Carolina would be the one to watch, Romney is also way ahead in the Palmetto State. "[T]he results of a Monmouth University Poll released Tuesday showed that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is also in good shape to win South Carolina's upcoming primary, potentially wrapping up the Republican nomination. The poll showed that 33 percent of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters support Romney, while 22 percent support former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum comes in third at 14 percent, followed closely by Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 12 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry received just 6 percent support." [RTT News]
1. Think about the countless hours you've spent following the Republican primary campaign, only to see it end up where everyone predicted it would end up.
2. Think about how long it takes to become mildly proficient in a language or learn to play a few songs on an instrument.
MITT ROMNEY: $300K IS A SLOW YEAR FOR ME - In response to a question posed by a South Carolina political reporter today, Mitt Romney provided an overview of where his money comes from. Along with conceding that he benefits from a lower tax rate than most Americans, he tried to downplay an income source that would allow most American to live a lifestyle typically reserved for a Nora Ephron protagonist. "I've got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away, and then I get speakers fees from time to time, but not very much," he said. Roll Call notes that "For the nine speaking engagements he declared on his 2010 financial disclosure form -- from February 2010 to February 2011 -- Romney pulled in well over $300,000 in speakers fees alone." Let us all pause and meditate on the destitute Romneys gathered around their drab kitchen table while their ROBOTS MADE OF GOLD TABULATE THEIR FINANCES ON THEIR PLATINUM SUPERCOMPUTERS. Actually, let's not. [Roll Call]
Everything is bigger in Texas, including Rick Perry's drop in the polls. Andrea Stone: "A new poll released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling found that more Texas Republicans would vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney than their own chief executive if the two squared off head-to-head, edging out Perry 46 to 45. When asked their preference in a two-way contest in September, Perry led Romney 72 to 18. The turnaround indicates how Republicans are rallying around Romney despite Newt Gingrich's dismissal of him as a 'Massachusetts moderate.'" [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Hungarian dogs frolicking on the beach.
Mother Jones: "The Obama Administration Has Had It With These Motherf***ing Snakes on Motherf***ing Planes: On Tuesday, the Obama administration finalized a new ban on importing several species of giant snakes. The US Fish and Wildlife Service ban deals with four snakes--the Burmese python, the yellow anaconda, and the northern and southern African pythons--that are destroying the Everglades and other regions." [MoJo]
- A mashup of the most awkward moments from 1990s 1-900 commercials. [http://huff.to/AB7QqH]
- A term even more disgusting than "Santorum" made its debut on Jeopardy! Gross. [http://huff.to/xctuLI]
- This fictional trailer for a live-action Rugrats movie is terrifying. [http://huff.to/wTm86M]
- Four D.C.-area Burger Kings will start delivering food as part of a pilot program. America is doomed/awesome. [http://huff.to/xYxA8k]
- Meteorite wine: It's out of this world! Hi-yoooo! [http://huff.to/yAHb22]
- Someone documented their 2011 in a seven-minute video. It has pretty visuals and is set to an LCD Soundsystem song. We approve. [http://huff.to/A9B0VJ]
- What happens when you combine the aesthetic sensibility of Swiss modernism and punk rock? Uh....this, apparently... [http://huff.to/x0oAie]
- Ben Franklin's famous list of synonyms for "Drunk." [http://huff.to/wV1A5n]
@mmaculiff: Occupy crowd yells at guys in suits, "We pay tour salary!" suspecting they are members of Congress. If only they knew they were lobbyists.
@LOLGOP: Rick Perry. From George W. Bush from 2000 to George W. Bush from 2008 in ten weeks flat.
@pastordan: 1 million Wisconsin voters don't count because they aren't wearing tricorner hats.
5:00pm: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry duke it out for 2nd place in a
nasty cage fight GOP Candidate Forum. [Marriott, 1200 Hampton St., Columbia, South Carolina]
6:00pm: Mitt Romney hits up his Wall Street buddies ... again ... with a fundraiser at the Sheraton in Midtown [811 7th Ave., New York City]
7:00pm - 9:00pm: Paging Rick Perry: The Turkish Coalition of America celebrates its new Washington offices. (Yup, the ones you called terrorists, governor.) [1510 H St., NW]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The first lobbyist wine n' dine of 2012! Congressional Staff Reception hosted by the Healthcare Leadership Council, a.k.a. insurance and big pharma. [U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW]
6:00pm: The Foreign Policy Initiative hosts a wonk-filled screening of "The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby" [Navy War Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW]
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