As lotto fever spreads across America, "prove your wonkiness by declaring that government-sanctioned lotteries make for poor economic policy" fever spreads across America's liberal think tanks. Rick Santorum fruitlessly combed through the Constitution in search of the freedom of religion/barf clause. And Mitt Romney is poised to win Tuesday's primary in Wisconsin -- a state that is near the country where he basically let his dog Seamus die in the wilderness in the 1980s. In Dog Heaven, there are no kennels. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 30th, 2012:
'CHEER UP, THERE'S ALWAYS HLN,' ETC - MSNBC.com: "Current TV has fired Keith Olbermann...Eliot Spitzer will replace Olbermann starting Friday night, the network announced....Olberman got into a contretemps with the network over his role during Republican primary election coverage last December. But the host has a history of butting heads with management and other bosses, starting with ESPN, including MSNBC and now with the leadership at Current... 'Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it," the network wrote in a letter to viewers published on its website." [MSNBC.com]
@keachhagey: To channel @brianstelter, stand by for news...
@DylanByers: Big news. RT @keachhagey: To channel @brianstelter, stand by for news...
@brianstelter: RT @keachhagey: To channel @brianstelter, stand by for news...
[One minute later] @brianstelter: I'm told that Current TV has terminated its relationship with Keith Olbermann.
@nickrizzo: Today's moral: invoke @brianstelter's name and he WILL scoop your story. That's one of the craziest things I've ever seen.
@brianstelter: @nickrizzo it wasn't personal.
(Today is Hagey's last day at Politico. She'll soon start at the Wall Street Journal.)
WISCONSIN: MITT ROMNEY LOOKS POISED TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO - A nation turns its lonely eyes to the Badger State: "Two new polls in Wisconsin show Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum by a comfortable margin with just four days remaining before Tuesday's Republican primary. The results suggest that time is running out for Santorum in a state some dub as 'win or go home' or a 'last chance' for the former Pennsylvania Senator. The most recent survey, released on Friday by NBC and Marist College and conducted March 26-27, shows former Massachusetts Gov. Romney with a seven-percentage-point lead over Santorum (40 percent to 33 percent), with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at 11 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), with 8 percent, running far behind. The NBC/Marist results are virtually identical to a survey fielded earlier in the week (March 22-25) by the Marquette University Law School that found Romney leading by eight points (39 to 31 percent), followed by Paul (11 percent) and Gingrich (5 percent)." [HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal]
Rick Santorum doesn't exactly have his eye on the prize: "On Friday, as Mitt Romney continued to consolidate establishment support for his presidential candidacy within the Republican Party, getting the endorsement of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) days ahead of the Wisconsin primary, Rick Santorum soldiered on in a seemingly different quest. Santorum wrote a 2,400-word essay essentially defending the substance of what he was trying to convey a month ago when he said that former President John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech on church and state made him want to 'throw up.'" [HuffPost's Jon Ward]
HOW TO AVOID AWKWARD ENCOUNTERS, POLITICS-STYLE - Politico's Byron Tau filed this pool report around 4:15 pm: "Air Force One wheels down in Portland, ME at 4:09. Greeting President Obama is Mayor Michael Brennan of Portland. A spokesman for Maine Gov. Paul LePage said that the governor was not in Portland today." No word on whether LePage was off destroying pro-labor artwork.
HUFFPWND - Reuters: "AOL Inc on Friday won the dismissal of a lawsuit by unpaid bloggers who complained they were deprived of their fair share of the roughly $315 million that the company paid last March to buy The Huffington Post website.
U.S. District Judge John Koeltl rejected claims by social activist and commentator Jonathan Tasini and an estimated 9,000 other bloggers that they deserved $105 million, or about one-third, of the purchase price." Pfft. [Reuters]
Just to clarify, *our* compensation packages consist mostly of Natty Ice and string cheese.
PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS HATED RICK SANTORUM - Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis: "Ryan Miner remembers watching a fat piece of sausage splatter with a thud against a picture of Sen. Rick Santorum adorning the side of the senator's campaign RV. It was fall 2006, and Miner, then a Santorum intern, was helping feed a group of Pittsburgh Steelers fans tailgating outside of Heinz Field. But it was a tough sell -- especially because the Santorum volunteers were peddling snacks and campaign literature to rowdy, buzzed hordes. The crowd eventually turned on the volunteers, and a weapon of choice was Polish. 'Fuck you, Rick Santorum!' Miner recalls the sausage-tosser shouting. In short order, the tailgaters assailed the Santorum volunteers with whatever they could get their hands on: sausage, cookies, half-empty cups of beer, and beer cans." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Georgia is competing with Florida for the honors of Stingiest State in America in terms of unemployment insurance. To pay back debt incurred partly by going soft on business taxes over the past several years, Georgia will now reduce the maximum duration of state unemployment insurance to 20 weeks, with the minimum just 14 weeks. Several states have curtailed the duration of benefits in the last year in what worker advocates consider a race to the bottom. Before last year, the standard deal in every state has been 26 weeks for the past half-century. "This cut is particularly devastating to Georgia's unemployed since Georgia already has the stingiest benefit formula in the country with regards to weeks of eligibility," Christine Owens, director of the National Employment Law Project, said in an op-ed. "The average jobless Georgia worker was able to collect only 13 weeks of insurance in 2011, the lowest average duration of all states. This is not because Georgia workers are finding work faster than in other states. In fact, more than 50 percent of all unemployed Georgians exhaust their state UI benefits without finding a job." [TheJobMouse.com]
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LAW-BENDING, MYSTERY-SHROUDED POLITICAL ORGANIZATION TRYING TO LIMIT GAY RIGHTS - But don't worry! It's just Mitt Romney's SUPER PAC. Sam Stein: "In 2008, Mitt Romney's political action committee made a $10,000 donation to the National Organization of Marriage at a time when the anti-gay rights organization was seeking repeal of a California law legalizing marriage equality. While neither the donation nor Romney's opposition to same-sex marriage were a secret, the precise way in which he contributed to NOM remained under tight wraps until Friday. One of the only public comments on the matter came when the former Massachusetts governor's top spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, told the Deseret News that Romney supported California's Proposition 8, which would reverse the state law allowing for same-sex marriage, and that he would be writing a check to NOM." [HuffPost]
Mitt Romney has a shiny new Paul Ryan endorsement. Milk it, buddy: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked up another major endorsement Friday when conservative favorite Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, whose state votes Tuesday, called Romney 'the right person for the job.'... Ryan's endorsement comes a day after the House passed the budget he helped craft as chairman of the House Budget Committee. It also follows other high-profile endorsements from another conservative favorite -- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio -- and former President George H.W. Bush." [CNN]
NEWT GINGRICH: I AM, QUITE CLEARLY, THE BACK-RUNNER - AP: "Newt Gingrich is acknowledging what has become increasingly clear: Mitt Romney is the likely GOP presidential nominee. The former House speaker told Milwaukee radio station WTMJFriday he thinks Romney 'is clearly the front-runner.' Gingrich said Romney 'will probably' get the 1,144 convention delegates he needs to win the nomination, but added that Romney still has to earn it. Gingrich has refused to leave the race. He said earlier this week that he would continue to campaign until Romney gets those delegates. Gingrich's comments Friday were a turnaround from what he said after Romney's third-place finish in the GOP primaries in Alabama and Mississippi on March 13. Gingrich said then: 'If you're the front-runner and you keep coming in third, you're not much of a front-runner.'" [AP]
United States Senator Dick Lugar can once again vote in the state he was elected to represent. Democracy is a beautiful thing. Mike McAuliff: "The local elections board had ruled Lugar and his wife ineligible to vote because they actually live in McClean, Va., having moved out of the Hoosier State 35 years ago when Lugar came to Congress. Lugar had continued to use the Indiana address of the home he sold at the time. But Friday, lawyers for the Marion County Election Board and the veteran senator cut a deal resolving a complaint brought by opponents, the Indianapolis Star reported. Lugar will be able to vote as long as he registers from the address of a farm his family owns in Marion County." [HuffPost]
Political fútbol. "Let the controversy begin. Pope Benedict XVI's three-day visit to Havana, Cuba this week is already drawing scathing criticism from Cuban-American hardliners. 'I'm exceedingly disappointed,' Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), told The Huffington Post. 'He refused to meet with any members of the opposition. He refused to speak out in any real way against forced abortions. He refused to speak out against the human trafficking that is sponsored by the regime. He refused to condemn the human rights violations in any meaningful way. And it cannot be said that he's not aware of those issues ... He is aware of it because a lot of us have made him aware of it.'" [HuffPost's Carlos Harrison]
INQUIRY: DUKE LACROSS-LEVEL LEGAL ERRORS IN TED STEVENS CASE - He may be gone, but Ted Stevens is still finding ways to allocate taxpayer dollars in a completely inefficient manner. WaPo: "The mistakes by prosecutors handling the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens, who died in 2010, not only cost them the case, they cost taxpayers nearly a cool million bucks. Our colleague Del Quentin Wilber reports that the law firm of Henry F. Schuelke III, who was appointed special prosecutor, was paid $981,842.42 to investigate the alleged mishandling of the case. Schuelke's blistering, 514-page report concluded that prosecutors had engaged in serious misconduct. Schuelke testified this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he told Stevens's former colleagues that the prosecutors in the corruption case were so intent on winning, they intentionally withheld information they were obligated to give the defense." [WaPo]
PRESIDENT SIGNS TRANSPO BILL - Breathe easy, America! your favorite highway rest stop will be shiny and clean and reeking of Roy Rogers for at least a few more months! AP: "President Barack Obama has signed a three-month extension of a transportation bill to keep federal highway and transit aid flowing. The move prevents a widespread shutdown of construction projects. The White House says Obama signed the 90-day extension before departing for Vermont Friday. The government's authority to spend money on transportation programs and levy federal fuel taxes was set to expire on Saturday. The move sets up congressional action later this year on a long-term overhaul of transportation programs. The last long-term law expired in 2009 -- this is the ninth extension since then." [AP]
GM: It's halftime in America and we're pretty sure our sport utility vehicles have something to do with the recent freak heat wave. HuffPost's Sharon Carty: "After getting called out by an environmental group, General Motors has pulled support from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit well-known for attacking the science behind global warming and climate change. The automaker told the Heartland Institute last week that it won't be making further donations, spokesman Greg Martin said. At a speech earlier this month, GM CEO Dan Akerson said his company is running its business under the assumption that climate change is real." [HuffPost]
OBAMA TO TEHRAN: SERIOUSLY, TRY TO FACEBOOK MESSAGE LUKOIL, I DARE YOU - AP: "President Barack Obama is moving ahead with tough new sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran's oil exports after determining there is enough crude on world markets to take the step without harming U.S. allies. Obama's move allows the U.S. to go forward with sanctions on foreign banks that continue to purchase oil from Iran. The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran's central bank, which processes nearly all of the Islamic Republic's oil purchases, from the global economy. U.S. officials hope ratcheting up economic pressure will both push Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear program and convince Israel to give sanctions time to take hold before pursuing a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The U.S. and allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb; Iran denies that." [AP]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Jedi cat takes on all comers.
STRANGEST. PATERNITY. TEST. RESULTS. EVER. - AFP: "Osama Bin Laden fathered four children as he hid out in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks, his youngest wife told interrogators, according to a police report seen by AFP on Friday. Amal Abdul Fattah's account provides rare details of the Al Qaida leader's life from when he fled Afghanistan in late 2001 until his death aged 54 last May during a US Navy SEAL operation in Abbottabad, in Pakistan. Amal, from Yemen, was arrested by Pakistani authorities following the US raid on Bin Laden's compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, along with two of his Saudi wives, and her five children. The three widows face charges of illegally entering and residing in Pakistan." [AFP]
- Cat and lizard are bestest fwends! [http://bit.ly/H8U8Mu]
- "It's like Grindr, but for falconry." [nonstartr.com]
- Obama's used all the words in the song "Sexy and I Know It" at some point or another. And here's the proof. [http://bit.ly/H8T4rM]
- Happy birthday, MC Hammer! [http://on.vh1.com/H8SfiE]
- "Girls Around Me" is the most frightening iPhone app ever. [http://bit.ly/HtYIDn]
- Foto Friday: Newborn pygmy hippo. [http://bit.ly/HtYM6a]
- Know Your Enemy: April Fools Day. [http://chzb.gr/H8SU3C]
@pourmecoffee: Goldman Sachs is bundling batches of losing MegaMillions tickets at a very attractive price.
@pwgavin: Olber-Man Over Board / RT @SteveKrak: What's your NY Post headline?
@joshualyman: Congrats, @chuckgrassley, you are DC's very own @horse_ebooks.
Friday 4:30pm: First Lady Michelle Obama hits up San Francisco for 2012 Obama campaign money, which San Francisco is very, very excited to give her. [55 Music Concourse Dr.]
Friday 7:00pm: You know how awkward amateur stand-up is? It's 100 times worse if the poor sap is your congressman. Adam Schiff takes the stage at a comedy fundraiser [Burbank, Calif.]
Saturday 6:30pm: If you enjoy huge corporate galas with medical themes, you can't do much better than the 25th annual Leukemia Ball. [801 Mt. Vernon Pl. NW]
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