POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - GOP Primary Moves To Florida, Old People Pandering Reaches Insufferable Levels

01/23/2012 05:50 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2012

Notoriously incomprehensible tweeter Chuck Grassley was temporarily prevented from spelling "socialist" with four letters when someone hacked his Twitter account. The frontline of the government's war on civil liberties is apparently Rand Paul's crotch. And reporters will at long last be allowed to use smart phones during the State of the Union, enabling them to tweet that they are tweeting from the State of the Union. Indeed, sunshine is truly the best disinfectant. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, January 23rd, 2012:

DEBATE TONIGHT IN FLORIDA - WILL BRIAN WILLIAMS GET OFF NEWT'S LAWN? - Newt will have to balance two competing pressures tonight. On the one hand, the debate is being co-hosted by NBC News, the parent outlet of the much-maligned MSNBC. Gingrich might feel compelled to unload on the moderators for that reason (this is how Republicans get their schadenfreude these days -- and how Newt gets attention). The thing is, one of the moderators will be Brian Williams, who has settled nicely into his role as the inoffensive but lovable newscaster -- like Walter Cronkite if Walter Cronkite's interns emailed him College Humor videos. Will America's angry grandfather (and we're talking "Who taped over my episodes of 'Antiques Roadshow'???" angry here) rip into America's cool dad? 9:00 pm on NBC.

GIFFORDS RESIGNING: SPECIAL ELECTION TAKING SHAPE - John Celock: "At least four Democrats and one Republican are mulling campaigns for Giffords' office in the special election that will be called by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to fill the seat for the remainder of 2012 using the current district lines. The special election will likely occur around June, right as the field shapes up to elect a member of Congress for the new district encompassing parts of Tucson and the surrounding area in November. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Paula Aboud, airline pilot Jeff Latas and State Reps. Matt Heinz and Steve Farley are seriously considering entering the race, while on the Republican side state Sen. Frank Antenori is inching closer to moving his exploratory committee into full-fledged campaign mode. None of the candidates would confirm a potential race, indicating that it was too early to make an announcement." [HuffPost]

REPUBLICANS DOMINATING SUNDAY MORNING TELEVISION - Take that, infomercials, tennis matches held in Australia and Matlock reruns! Running in Roll Call tonight: "Republicans appear to have owned the news cycle in 2011. If you were watching the major Sunday morning talk shows last year, your odds of seeing a Republican Member of Congress in the guest chair were far greater than seeing a Democratic Member of Congress. GOP lawmakers appeared on the Sunday shows nearly twice as often as Democratic lawmakers in 2011, a dominance far greater than the prior two years, according to a Roll Call database of Members' television appearances. Roll Call's 'Face Time' feature has for many years tracked appearances of Members of Congress on five major Sunday talk shows: Face the Nation on CBS; NBC's Meet the Press; ABC's This Week; CNN's State of the Union; and Fox News Sunday."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Mitt Romney activated his rusty sympathy synapses Monday morning in Florida. Richard Wood of Bradenton told the former governor he'd folded his title insurance company in October 2010 and that he and his wife had fallen on hard times. "We have been exploring the possibility of moving to another to another country where we might be able to live on our retirement and our Social Security." "Yeah. It's just tragic, isn't it? Just tragic, just tragic," Romney said. "We're just so overleveraged, so much debt in our society, and some of the institutions that hold it aren't willing to write it off and say they made a mistake, they loaned too much, we're overextended, write those down and start over. They keep on trying to harangue and pretend what they have on their books is still what it's worth." Romney went on to note that banks have sad feelings, too. "They're afraid that if they write all these loans off, they're going to go broke. And so they're feeling the same thing you're feeling. They just want to pretend all of this is going to get paid someday so they don't have to write it off and potentially go out of business themselves." [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - The number of homeless women veterans has more than doubled from 1,380 in fiscal 2006 to 3,328 in 2010, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office based on data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. "While we have seen a decrease in the overall number of homeless veterans, the number and needs of homeless women veterans across the country are growing and the VA is struggling to keep up," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement. The number of female veterans has grown from 4 percent of all vets in 1990 to 8 percent today, or roughly 1.8 million people. The unemployment rate for women veterans of our most recent wars shot up from 10.9 percent at the end of 2010 to 21.6 percent now. [GAO]

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SEN. MARK KIRK RECOVERING FROM STROKE - Mike McAuliff: "Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R) suffered a stroke over the weekend and is being treated in a Chicago hospital where he underwent emergency brain surgery, his office and doctors said Monday. Kirk, 52, checked himself into the local Lake Forest Hospital Saturday after suffering dizziness and headaches, doctors said. Doctors discovered a 'carotid artery dissection,' his office said, referring to a condition that involves the separation of the artery walls and that is a common cause of stroke in adults around Kirk's age. Kirk was 'transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where further tests revealed that he had suffered an ischemic stroke,' Kirk's office said in a statement. 'Early this morning the Senator underwent surgery to relieve swelling around his brain stemming from the stroke. The surgery was successful,' the statement said. 'Due to his young age, good health and the nature of the stroke, doctors are very confident in the Senator's recovery over the weeks ahead.'" [HuffPost]

MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DOES SOMETHING DIVA-ISH AND SELF-SERVING RELATING TO THE STATE OF THE UNION - If we had to guess, we're about two years away from the point at which every House Republican cups their ears and/or reads the Wall Street Journal for the the whole speech. "Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said on Monday he is boycotting President Obama's State of the Union address. In a tersely worded statement released by his office, Lamborn said he decided instead 'to pass' on attending the speech on Tuesday night, though he will watch it on television. Congressman Lamborn does not support the policies of Barack Obama,' the statement said. A spokeswoman said Lamborn was about to board a flight and was not immediately available to elaborate. But his office has already prepared a further explanation for constituents if they want to know more about his decision." [National Journal]

@THEHermanCain: I'm giving the #TeaParty Response to the SOTU! Use hashtag #CainResponse to give me your ideas of what to say.

@bigjohnrc: House for first time allowing reporters to use electronics in chamber during SOTU. prepare for everyone to live tweet the same stuff

RAND PAUL IS THE ROSA PARKS OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIKE HAVING THEIR NETHER REGIONS GRAZED BY A TSA AGENT'S INDEX FINGER - The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward a stubborn libertarian senator causing a scene at a Nashville airport. Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) staff said Monday morning that the senator was being detained by federal Transportation Security Administration agents in Nashville, Tenn. Moira Bagley, Paul's communications director, tweeted around 10:00 a.m. ET, 'Just got a call from @senrandpaul. He's currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.'...Bagley told CNN that Paul went through a scanner and set off an alarm. He reportedly wanted to go through the scanner again instead of getting a full-body pat-down, but TSA officers refused. The TSA said that Paul 'was not detained at any point.' 'The passenger triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue,' TSA said in a statement. 'Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area. He was escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement.'" Whatever, senator. Call us when you grab two beers from your plane's kitchen, activate the emergency slide and peace out. America has high standards when it comes to air travel outbursts. [HuffPost]

Ron Paul's campaign responds: "The police state in this country is growing out of control. One of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs our children, our seniors, and our loved ones and neighbors with disabilities. The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe."

Rand, not surprisingly, has some thoughts on the matter

REPORT: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DOWNPLAYED DEEPWATER SPILL - MoJo: "Now, an email released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) traces efforts to downplay the spill size in the initial weeks back to the White House. The group released a May 29, 2010 email from Dr. Marcia McNutt, the director of the US Geologic Survey and head of the government's Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG), that was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The email came after scientists on the flow-rate team complained to McNutt about how the spill figures were conveyed to the press, and in response she cited pressure from the White House as the reason the numbers were low-balled. Rather than reporting that the lower-end estimate of the spill was 25,000 barrels per day, officials cited that figure as the higher-end estimate" [MoJo]

MITT ROMNEY HIRES DEBATE COACH WITH PROVEN RECORD OF TURNING ATROCIOUS PUBLIC SPEAKERS INTO TERRIBLE PUBLIC SPEAKERS - Great hire. The Times has a brief item on Bret O'Donnell, who coached John McCain during the 2008 campaign and more recently coached Michele Bachmann. Hopefully, Mitt will rock one of Bachmann's white pantsuits in the next debate. He would look fierce in one of those. "Brett's been working with us for some time, since Michele Bachmann got out of the race," a Romney spokesperson told the paper. [NYT]

@jamiedupree: CNN reports that Ron Paul won't even stay in Florida for primary night; will instead go to NV & CO to campaign

"Mitt Romney's Father Palled Around With Saul Alinsky"

ELIZABETH WARREN AND SCOTT BROWN AGREE TO NOT UNDERMINE DEMOCRACY FOR A FEW MONTHS, EVERYONE IMPRESSED - The Hill: "Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) and his Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, have reached a groundbreaking agreement to deter super-PACs and outside groups from dominating their Senate race with millions of dollars of ads, Brown said Monday. The agreement marks the first attempt by candidates to wrest control of their races back from groups over whom they have no direct control, and could set a precedent for other races. It also comes almost two years to the day after the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that unleashed the flood of outside spending." [The Hill]

DEATH FROM ABOVE, NOW WITH A SMALLER CARBON FOOTPRINT - But a larger impact crater! Kaboooom! Grist: "The Army is increasingly aware that the only way for its war machine to keep turning is for it to eliminate the long, vulnerable supply chain currently required to get energy to its soldiers. That's one reason why it just awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to build a flying drone, light enough to be carried by troops or Iranians, that supplements its power with solar energy." [Grist]

CHUCK GRASSLEY'S TWITTER ACCOUNT HACKED, MADE SURPRISINGLY COHERENT - @ChuckGrassley: Dear Iowans, vote against ACTA, SOPA, and PIPA, because this man, Chuck Grassley, wants YOUR internet censored and all of that BS... Yes, its surprising that I'm actually writing in full sentences with spaces and correct grammar/spelling... And yes, I am an Anonymous follower... uh-oh looks like Chuck is online too... Yes I was hacked..You might know me from a few weeks back.. :)... Well, this was fun, lol... #WINNING... Wow, Chuck hasn't even changed his password... Chuck is a supporter of SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, meaning he wants no privacy for private accounts...I really wanted Herman Cain to get president this year... Yes, its surprising that I'm actually writing in full sentences with spaces and correct grammar/spelling... Well, its been fun getting Chuck's account this week, so I better get off. I got nothing better to do since we got a snow day here in Osage...Hey guys let's have a contest: Whoever can change the password to this account the quickest has to tweet to me whoever got it. ok? ready?..My password is: chuck123... hurry!!... Anyone get it?... Password has been changed. Someone from the Senator's office contact me for the password. email address forthcoming... Someone from the Senators office contact me at the email i set up at grassleytwitter@gmail.com and I'll give you the new password...To clarify, I'm not the person that originally hacked the account. I think that person got their point across.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dance like Internet is watching.

DC UPDATES: MEMORIALS, ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON AND HIPPIES - "As Eleanor Holmes Norton and Vincent Gray decry the proposed nationalization of D.C.'s local WWI memorial, Occupy folks target="_hplink">want a new peace memorial." [HuffPost DC ]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- 'I bless the rains down in Africa (I bless the rain)' [http://bit.ly/wIyY13]

- Every second, an hour of video is uploaded to YouTube. Here's a site to help (?) you comprehend that. [http://www.onehourpersecond.com]

- TMZ is low-hanging fruit, ripe for mockery. [http://bit.ly/yOfKTG]

- Educate yourself: millions fall for this scam every year. [http://bit.ly/z2IScp]

- A beautiful, though vertigo-inducing, video about BASE jumping in Singapore. [http://bit.ly/xm3ZLY]

- Sh*t Support Agents Say. [http://bit.ly/xAwjLk]

- You've seen the photos, but how about the photographers? [http://bit.ly/ygxDxm]

TWITTERAMA

@delrayser: BREAKING: @ChuckGrassley's Twitter account hacked, begins using proper syntax & grammar.

@sethdmichaels: in the future, everyone will have access to @ChuckGrassley's twitter account for 15 minutes.

@tbogg: Rand Paul's TSA inconvenience is now called an "ordeal". Somewhere between wreck of Costa Concordia and Bataan Death March.

TONIGHT

7:30pm: The CEO of Panera is doing a conference call with a few members of Congress about No Labels, the cause we love to hate. [press only]

TOMORROW

5:30pm - 7:30pm: AEI gets it going early with a cattle call reception in Rayburn. Drinks are free. Vibe is painful. [Rayburn Foyer]

6:00pm - 8:00pm: Echo chamber collides with spin room, breaks DC fishbowl at the Atlantic/National Journal S.O.T.U. Party. [Library of Congress, 10 First Street SE]

6:00pm - 8:00pm: The Jefferson Island Club's S.O.T.U. Oyster Roast is hands down the best pre-game on the Hill. [2237 Rayburn]

9:00pm - Try to look interested n the State of the Union Address for at least 10 minutes. Then back to "Teen Mom." [every channel]

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