POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL: Ghost Of Solyndra Inhabits Lesser Prairie Chicken

01/31/2013 06:11 pm ET | Updated Apr 02, 2013


Chinese hackers persistently attacked the New York Times over a period of four months, coming away with a deep familiarity with 2010's hot social media trends. Joe Manchin apologized to Chuck Hagel on behalf of his senatorial colleagues, who failed to give Hagel the Buckwild welcome he deserved. And Orrin Hatch is unsure if President Obama likes him anymore. We asked Ray LaHood if he would ask Rahm Emanuel if he would ask Obama but we haven't heard back yet. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 31th, 2013:

Programming note: Eliot Nelson is in Kentucky, touring Elliot County. Seriously. Today's HuffPost Hill is actually written by Lucia Graves, Arthur Delaney, and Ryan Grim. In March, Lucia is launching an energy version of this newsletter. Sign up here.

SENATE AGREES TO ALLOW GOVERNMENT TO PAY BILLS - Sabrina Siddiqui: "The United States Senate voted Thursday to pass a short-term suspension of the debt limit, warding off another showdown over raising the nation's borrowing limit and turning its attention to two more looming fiscal deadlines: Deep sequestration-related cuts and funding for the federal government. The legislation passed the upper chamber by 64 to 34 and would raise the debt ceiling by however many bills the government racks up over the next 90 days. The Senate also rejected a series of amendments that would have attached conditions to the bill, such as pairing the debt limit hike with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts and prioritizing how the government pays its bills." [HuffPost]

John Boehner: "Because of the efforts of House Republicans, Senate Democrats are now required to do their job for the American people and pass a budget, or lose their pay." That temporary withholding of pay will show 'em, those already-stinking-rich Democratic senators!

HAGEL HEARINGS LESS THAN SATISFYING - Joshua Hersh: "In the morning session of his confirmation hearing for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel struck a largely conciliatory tone, deflecting the most confrontational questions from Republican senators over his foreign policy views and largely declining to engage in the details of their critiques. Hagel's approach seemed designed to avoid miring the former Republican senator from Nebraska in a messy debate about some of the hot-button issues that had dominated headlines in recent weeks, including his controversial stance on gays in the military and his pro-Israel bona fides. But his reticence also appeared to irritate members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who sought direct responses to their 'fundamental differences of opinion,' as one of them, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), put it. After repeatedly trying to get Hagel to respond to a yes-or-no question about whether he stood by his past remarks that the surge in Iraq would prove to be a dangerous mistake, McCain said that Hagel's 'refusal to answer whether you were right or wrong about it is going to have an impact on my judgment as to whether to vote for your confirmation or not.' [HuffPost]

CRUZ CONTROL - Gabrielle Dunkley: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chose to use a large portion of his five minutes of questioning to play a YouTube video of Hagel in an Al Jazeera interview from 2009. Hagel's original statement at a Senate session held on July 31, 2006 described the conflict in Israel as 'a sickening slaughter on both sides' that Hagel said 'must end.' However, Cruz highlighted Hagel's 'sickening slaughter' remark and his agreement with a caller who referenced 'war crimes.'" [HuffPost]

MANCHIN: SORRY, CHUCK - Rachel Weiner: "Late in Chuck Hagel's Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) apologized to the former Nebraska senator. 'I feel like I want to apologize for some of the tone and demeanor today,' Manchin said." [WaPo]

Spotted on the Hill: DSCC executive director Guy Cecil, former W.Va. place-holder Sen. Carte Goodwin. Mike McAuliff: "Cecil, of course, is shopping for someone to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Goodwin's visit to the Hill while Democrats were caucusing doesn't necessarily mean he's the man. Rep. Nick Rahall is better known and has a track record of winning in the state. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is in on the GOP side."

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, SOCIAL SECURITY - Seventy-three years ago to the day, Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vt., was issued the first Social Security check. "It wasn't that I expected anything, mind you, but I knew I'd been paying for something called Social Security and I wanted to ask the people in Rutland about it," Fuller said of her trip to the nearby Social Security office a few months earlier, according to the Social Security Administration. On Jan. 31, 1940, the office issued Fuller a check for $22.54. To commemorate the anniversary of that first check, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), flanked by a coalition of social insurance advocates, denounced Social Security's haters during a Thursday press conference at the Capitol. "They told us that Social Security would go broke, that it could not possibly succeed," Sanders said. "These critics were wrong 73 years ago, and they are wrong today." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Oops: "In the week ending January 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 368,000, an increase of 38,000 from the previous week's unrevised figure of 330,000." [Labor Department]

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HATCH: 90 PERCENT OF AMERICANS MISUNDERSTAND LIBERTY - Gun owners just about everywhere favor background checks for gun purchasers. But for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), that way lies oppression: "That's the way reductions in liberty occur. When you start saying people all have to sign up for something and they have a database where they know exactly who's who, and where government can persecute people because of the database, that alarms a lot of people in our country, and it flies in the face of liberty." [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

MORE ORRIN - Via McAuliff: In a Senate hallway today, Hatch said, "The president doesn't seem to ever get really involved. I like him personally. We're friends. We talk to each other in nice ways, and not because we have to, because we like each other. Or at least I like him. I don't know if he likes me anymore. He seems to. He calls me Orrin." Aw.

WHO BUSTED FILIBUSTER REFORM? The Post reported this morning that Chuck Schumer told Jeff Merkley to go out and get 51 votes for the talking filibuster and they'd do it -- but Merkley couldn't get the votes. Well, look, we love Brian Fallon as much as the next guy/gal -- more, even, what with the beard! -- but that misses the reality. Merkley and the reformers had 51 votes ready to move if Reid decided to go that direction. But many of those votes depended on Reid needing them to be with him. If Reid didn't want the rules changed a certain way, his caucus would never overrule him, and nobody ever thought otherwise. Reid and Merkley could've gotten the votes to do a talking filibuster if they went for it. Reid decided that it was better for the health of the institution long term to reach a deal with McConnell. That's really all there is to it. If the chamber is still broken in two years, bigger reforms will be back on the table.

FROM THE ANNALS OF UNHAPPY MARRIAGES - More from the saga of Ed and Edwina Rogers, currently our favorite messy public divorce. Courthouse News: "When it appeared his marriage to plaintiff was over, Mr. Rogers turned against his wife, the mother of his two children," Rogers states in her complaint. "Mr. Rogers received willing assistance from defendant Jon Deane, the accountant for both him and plaintiff for ten years. In flagrant violation of the Internal Revenue Service ... and American Institute of Certified Public Accountant ... regulations respecting conflict of interest, Mr. Deane continued representing both parties, diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in credits and tax deductions into Mr. Rogers' tax returns, and diverted the tax liabilities, including penalties and interest, into plaintiff's tax returns, all while plaintiff was relying on Mr. Deane's professional relationship with her to protect her from such consequence." [Courthouse News Service]

@kenvogel: Edwina Rogers, now suing her GOP lobbyist hubby Ed for hogging tax credits, wraps gifts in US dollars: http://t.co/vTwIzv0Z

Stanley McChrystal was in Philadelphia today. Apparently, the retired general got a classified briefing on Benghazi. Here's what he spilled to the audience, according to blogger Laura Goldman, who was at the event: "They entered the consulate not expecting to find the ambassador there...This was not organized. Other attacks in the area were. They set fire. The ambassador died in the safe room of smoke inhalation." [NakedPhiladelphian]

BEYONCE DROPS MIC - "Beyoncé gave her answer Thursday to the backlash she got for lip-syncing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the presidential inauguration, by singing the National Anthem live at news conference touting the Super Bowl."

And we were all: http://reactiongifs.com/?p=441. "Does anyone have any questions?" she asked. [International Business Times]

CANNABIS, LUX ET VERITAS - Washington state seeks weed scholars, stat: "As Washington state tries to figure out how to regulate its newly legal marijuana, officials are hiring an adviser on all things weed: how it's best grown, dried, tested, labeled, packaged and cooked into brownies. Sporting a mix of flannel, ponytails and suits, dozens of those angling for the job turned out Wednesday for a forum in Tacoma, several of them from out of state. The Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with developing rules for the marijuana industry, reserved a convention center hall for a state bidding expert to take questions about the position and the hiring process. 'Since it's not unlikely with this audience, would a felony conviction preclude you from this contract?' asked Rose Habib, an analytical chemist from a marijuana testing lab in Missoula, Mont. The answer: It depends. A pot-related conviction is probably fine, but a 'heinous felony,' not so much." [HuffPost]

FOR TIMES COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INFILTRATION - Several months later, the Times is ON IT: "For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees. After surreptitiously tracking the intruders to study their movements and help erect better defenses to block them, The Times and computer security experts have expelled the attackers and kept them from breaking back in." We're just disappointed it wasn't written in the first person plural. [New York Times]

‏@dougf24: #China hacker attacks against @nytimes coincided with paper's investigation of biz dealings of PM's relatives. http://tinyurl.com/aw2ccrc

PAGING DYLAN BYERS - Nate Silver has announced his Super Bowl picks: "The reasons that exceptional defenses fare so much better in the Super Bowl are still somewhat murky, but this factor bodes well for this year's 49ers, whose defense belongs in the elite group, according to S.R.S. (it ranks 17th among Super Bowl teams) ... while the 49ers had the better offense and defense, the Ravens had the best special teams in the league this year. If they do pull off the upset, on the heels of Steve Weatherford's game-changing performance for the Giants in last year's Super Bowl, perhaps it will be time for a new cliché: punters win championships. But don't count on that." We await the spirited takedown in Politico. [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - We figured out who Chuck Hagel looks like.

HuffPost's Ryan Reilly from Guantanamo Bay - "The military judge handling the trial of five detainees on trial in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks ordered the government to disable the ability of any outside party to cut off the broadcast of the court proceedings on Thursday. Colonel James L. Pohl said this week would be 'the last time' that any third party 'will be able to unilaterally decide' when the court closes. An anonymous outside censor -- almost certainly the CIA -- cut off the feed earlier this week when a lawyer for Khalid Sheikh Muhammed began discussing his motion to make the government preserve secret black sites where his client was tortured by the CIA while overseas. Pohl admitted on Tuesday that he wasn't aware of the audio-visual capabilities of the multi-million dollar secure courtroom facility. 'I order the government to disconnect any ability for any third party to unilaterally suspend the broadcast of these proceedings,' Pohl, reading from a prepared statement, said in court on Thursday." Ryan's doing so well, we're thinking we'll just leave him there. [HuffPost]

IMMIGRATION AGENT UNION: AFL-CIO WAS MEAN TO US Elise Foley: "The president of the National ICE Council, which represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, said Wednesday that its members are being 'shunned' by AFL-CIO labor federation President Richard Trumka and that he does not speak of them on reform efforts. 'It's shocking,' Chris Crane, President of the National ICE Council, said in a statement. 'The last time I checked, all of the heavy hitters within immigration enforcement to include ICE, the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services were all excluded by the AFL-CIO from policy planning and input -- and we're all AFL-CIO affiliates.'" Full complaint here: [HuffPost]

CONGRESSMAN TO RALLY AGAINST LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN - The United States Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by the end of September whether to put the birds on its list of endangered species, a move could have serious repercussions for the energy industry, conceivably halting oil, gas and wind farm operations in some areas. Congressman Steve Pearce isn't waiting around to find out what happens. "Our jobs and our way of life in southern New Mexico are under attack," said Pearce in a press release Thursday. "The prairie chicken is yet another example of federal species regulation not based on science, but rather driven by lawyers for extreme interest groups." Pearce will attend a rally in Roswell, New Mexico on February 12 to oppose the listing of the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act.

The fine-feathered industry foe, a slightly smaller, paler version of its near relative the Greater Prairie Chicken, is pictured here: http://bit.ly/1027vZh

OBAMA'S WAR ON BUD - The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday to stop the international conglomerate that makes Budweiser and many other beers from taking over the company that brews Corona. Federal authorities allege that Anheuser-Busch InBev's $20.1 billion takeover of Grupo Modelo, announced in June, would "substantially lessen competition in the market for beer in the United States as a whole" and result in consumers "paying more for beer and having fewer new products from which to choose," according to the Justice Department. With HuffPost's Ryan Reilly

MANTI TE'O HOAX GETS WEIRDER - "A California man says he created the hoax involving former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and a fake girlfriend because he was in love with the football player." Okay! [AP]

HUMANS HAVE ALREADY SET IN MOTION 69 FEET OF SEA LEVEL RISE - Today in we are all doomed: "At Monday's Climate Desk Live briefing in Washington, D.C., Box, who has visited Greenland 23 times to track its changing climate, explained that we've already pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide 40 percent beyond Eemian levels. What's more, levels of atmospheric methane are a dramatic 240 percent higher -- both with no signs of stopping. 'There is no analogue for that in the ice record,' said Box. And that's not all. The present mass scale human burning of trees and vegetation for clearing land and building fires, plus our pumping of aerosols into the atmosphere from human pollution, weren't happening during the Eemian. These human activities are darkening Greenland's icy surface, and weakening its ability to bounce incoming sunlight back away from the planet. Instead, more light is absorbed, leading to more melting, in a classic feedback process that is hard to slow down." [MoJo]

COMFORT FOOD

- Meet Chris P. Bacon, a two-legged piglet on wheels. [Daily Picks and Flicks]

- Ginger cat attacks a large potato. [http://bit.ly/WCGsO5]

- Menswear dog so fly. (23m) [http://mensweardog.tumblr.com/]

- Jacques the Basset Hound goes down a corkscrew slide. [http://bit.ly/XPmyiO]

- Your daily dose of corgi. [http://bit.ly/sxGtD5]

TWITTERAMA

@nytimes: Exclusive: Computer hackers in China attacked The New York Times for the past four months http://nyti.ms/1191sUa

@luke_johnson: Gail collins' password revealed: s3amus

@brianbeutler The debt limit just wants to be free bit.ly/VqDmfC

@elisefoley Altitude here made it tough. RT@daveweigel: Don't worry. Hagel will do much better at the second debate, in the town hall format.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:30pm: Fundraiser to re-elect Attorney General Kamala Harris: Hosted in the home of Dayna and Steven Bochco, dinner here will cost $1,500 for supporters, $500 if you're a friend. This is on West Coast time, mind you, so there's time to change your outfit. [20321 S.W. Acacia St., Suite 200, Newport Beach, California]

TOMORROW

Mark Zuckerberg is hosting a fundraiser for Chris Christie at his home in Palo Alto, California. Maybe you've read about it? Attending will cost you $3,800. NBD.

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