Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - U.S. Nearing Airstrike BINGO In Eurasia

Posted: Updated:

John Kerry praised the French, so whichever Bush/Cheney spokesman is slated to appear on tomorrow's "Scarborough Country" will have a real field day. An unscientific survey suggests most DoD employees don't know where Damascus is, meaning those of you in Beirut and Amman (and Reykjavik) might want to seek shelter. And a GOP congressman has a "gut feeling" Iraqi WMDs ended up in Syria. Sadly, "congressman had heartburn" probably wouldn't rank as the dumbest reason we've ever gone to war. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, August 30th, 2013:

ADMINISTRATION MAKES CASE FOR SYRIA STRIKE - Matt Sledge, Sabrina Siddiqui and Josh Hersh: " Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that there was 'no doubt' the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in a devastating attack last week that killed more than 1,400 people, pointing to a newly released White House intelligence report that leaves unresolved whether President Bashar Assad himself ordered the attack. Kerry's speech made clear that the United States was preparing for strikes on Assad's government, even as the United Kingdom declined to join in the military effort...But while the report assessed with 'high confidence' that the Syrian government had used a nerve agent in the Aug. 21 attack, which U.S. intelligence believes killed at least 1,429 people including 426 children, it stopped short of conclusively demonstrating that Syrian President Bashar Assad himself, as opposed to a more junior officer, had ordered it. Details on what led the intelligence community to its conclusion were slim in the unclassified version of the report released to the public...Over the past week, a series of intelligence community leaks have indicated that the evidence behind the chemical attack -- and specifically the question of what role Assad himself played in ordering it -- remains relatively weak. In an Associated Press report on Thursday, one government official was quoted as saying the data was 'no slam dunk.'" [HuffPost]

Josh Hersh filed this report on the Syrian opposition's' reaction to the U.S.'s (likely) impending strike.

Rep. Lee Terry is positive that Syria's chemical weapons came from Iraq... or maybe ACORN?. Amanda Terkel: "Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said on Thursday that he is against military intervention in Syria, even though his "gut feeling" is that the Syrian government now possesses chemical weapons that came from fallen Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain. Terry, who has served in the House since 1999, supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. In an interview on Thursday with Omaha radio host Tom Becka, Terry said Syria was a completely different situation." [HuffPost]

The Brits are not happy, as evidenced by this Telegraph subhead: "John Kerry delivers diplomatic slap in the face to Britain, failing to mention them among list of supporters and referring to France as 'oldest allies'"

USA! USA! USA! "You'd expect folks in the US Department of Defense to know the location of the place they're probably about to bomb. Well, yesterday we made a game about guessing where Damascus is, and only 57% of the answers we got from inside the DoD were right." [US vs Th3m]

HELL NO YOU CAN'T...BE SURE YOUR RECESS WON'T BE SHORTENED - Emma Dumain: "Will the House return to vote on authorizing President Barack Obama to use military force in Syria? 'The speaker hasn't ruled it out,' says Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. Of course, Boehner couldn't call the House back from the waning days of the August recess by himself: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would have to agree to call back his chamber, too. And so far Reid hasn't given any indication he's interested." [Roll Call]

What longreads have caught HuffPost senior editor Sasha Belenky's attention this week? Find out!

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST TRYING TO SOLVE SYRIA CRISIS - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist has been burning the midnight oil at his corkboard of paranoia, linking news clippings with pieces of red string, trying desperately to link the Syrian government's actions to Melanie Sloan. Thus far, he has only been able to find these pictures of Nancy Pelosi and Bashar al-Assad. "Maybe she thought, 'F*ck you, I'm gonna wax your ass in 5 years,'" PSLGOL writes. Thanks, PSLGOPL!

Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

SYRIA POLL: MOST AMERICANS UNCONVINCED THAT AIR STRIKES WILL WORK - Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Most Americans are doubtful that airstrikes in Syria would do much to curb the turmoil there, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. Just 18 percent thought U.S. airstrikes against the Syrian government would stop the use of chemical weapons there, while 48 percent thought they would not, and 34 percent were unsure. An even smaller 10 percent thought airstrikes would help to end the fighting in Syria, while 57 percent disagreed. Americans were also wary of the possibilities for a rising death toll and eventual mission creep. Forty-two percent thought airstrikes would increase the rate of civilian casualties, and 47 percent that the mission would be a first step toward sending U.S. troops into Syria. Voters across the political spectrum were wary, but Democrats were in many cases the least skeptical. Only 35 percent of Democrats predicted that airstrikes would increase civilian casualties, compared to 45 percent of independents and 47 percent of Republicans. Just 38 percent of Democrats thought the airstrikes would be a first step toward sending U.S. troops, while 51 percent of Republicans and independents thought it would." [HuffPost]

The activists who provided the world with footage of the gas victims paid a high price. Foreign Policy: "Activist Razan Zaitouneh, who runs the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, tells FP that her team sped to the Damascus suburb of Zamalka immediately after a chemical weapons attack was reported there on Aug. 21. The media staff of Zamalka's local coordination committee, which is responsible for filming videos in the area and uploading them to the world, also sped to the scene. According to Zaitouneh, all but one of them paid with their lives." [FP]

MARY LANDRIEU'S HUSBAND BROKERING DEAL FOR TONY PODESTA - Mary Landrieu will soon be enriched by pretty much everybody under the sun... and the sun has probably contracted the Podesta group at one point or another. Examiner: "Super-lobbyist Tony Podesta is unloading his $1.8 million Capitol Hill townhouse, and he's paying Sen. Mary Landrieu's husband to sell it for him. Frank Snellings is married to Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat and member of the Appropriations Committee. When not raising their children or helping Landrieu's reelection campaign, Snellings is a realtor at Coldwell Banker. Podesta, one of the most connected Democratic lobbyists in town, has retained Snellings as his listing agent for the famed 'Podesta Townhouse.' Tony Podesta bought 131 C St SE in 2009 for $1.57 million, with Snellings as his agent. It's not Podesta's home - he lives in Kalorama. Podesta instead used the 3,600-square foot, 19th-century townhouse to host fundraisers and other receptions...This summer, Podesta put the house on the market for $1.89 million...When the deal closes - and the house is currently under contract - Podesta will cut a big check to Snellings. The industry standard is a 3 percent fee for the listing agent. That would mean K Street lobbyist Tony Podesta would cut a check of around $50,000 to Snellings, thus enriching Sen. Landrieu." [Examiner]

"I don't remember when I first met Frank, but it was a long time ago," Podesta told HuffPost. "Frank's a really go get 'em agent, and he has a good instinct."

FLEDGLING POLITICIAN DISRESPECTS SISTER - It's almost like the Cheneys are incapable of feeling. Daily Caller: "Liz Cheney flatly declared on Friday that she is 'not pro-gay marriage.' Cheney, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming, made the policy statement after accusing the campaign of incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of distorting her views on the subject through a campaign push poll...The issue hits close to home for Cheney. Her sister, Mary, is openly gay and is supportive of same-sex marriage. The Daily Caller reported that Mary Cheney married her long-time partner Heather Poe in Washington D.C. in June 2012...Cheney released the statement after saying her campaign has gotten reports that voters in Wyoming are getting polled with the question, 'Are you aware that Liz Cheney supports abortion and aggressively promotes gay marriage?' [Daily Caller]

BANKS GIVEN GREEN LIGHT TO WORK WITH LEGAL WEED SHOPS - We eagerly await the first credit card with reward points redeemable towards crates of nacho cheese pretzel-flavored Combos. The Ryans Grim and Reilly: "Financial institutions and other enterprises that do business with marijuana shops that are in compliance with state laws are unlikely to be prosecuted for money laundering or other federal crimes that could be brought under existing federal drug laws, a senior Department of Justice official said Thursday...the official would not fully rule out prosecution in any case...A three-page memo that accompanied the Thursday announcement... suggests that 'robust' state regulation of legal marijuana 'may affirmatively address those priorities by, for example, implementing effective measures to prevent diversion of marijuana outside of the regulated system and to other states, prohibiting access to marijuana by minors, and replacing an illicit marijuana trade that funds criminal enterprises with a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and account for.'" [HuffPost]

Nick Wing looks at the states most likely to legalize marijuana next: "Marijuana reformers in Alaska have been hard at work trying to make their state the next to legalize pot. In June, a ballot measure to tax and regulate pot and legalize it for adult recreational use was certified...In June, marijuana legalization proponents [In Arizona] began a campaign to gather the 259,213 signatures they'll need in order to get the issue on the 2014 ballot...Earlier this month, organizers filed the California Hemp Act 2014, a measure that would legalize cannabis both in its standard and non-psychoactive forms...Medical marijuana legalization advocates in Oregon have already announced plans to campaign for an initiative to be placed on the ballot in 2014...The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-pot advocacy group, has announced Maine as one of its top targets for legalization in upcoming election cycles... Observers see [Vermont's] strong support for the recent reelection of Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), an advocate for marijuana reform, as a sign that voters could get behind a ballot initiative to legalize." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a livecam of two tiger cubs.

COMFORT FOOD

- Do you know where Damascus is? Seeing as how we're about to bomb it, it might be good to know. [http://bit.ly/15ijnKN]

- Some quick, easy and useful life hacks. [http://bit.ly/15kcE30]

- Pro tip: Don't make your resume, "My Little Pony"-themed. [http://bit.ly/1cnS6Wr]

- Google autocomplete analyzes every NFL quarterback. [http://usat.ly/16Tl7qN]

- Everything wrong with "Batman Begins" in six minutes. [http://bit.ly/14iSBix]

- Stock photos depicting idioms are almost as bad as stock photos depicting brainstorming sessions. [http://huff.to/14HzA9N]

- "I never touched a woman until George R. R. Martin" -- weird formatting issues on Barnes and Noble's Nook. [http://bit.ly/14K3J8s]

TWITTERAMA

@delrayser: We've gotta do something, and we got all these bombs just laying around, so that's a win-win, right?

@mattyglesias: 1. Something must be done. 2. This is something. 3. Therefore, let's do this.

@stefanjbecket: NEWS DUMP: Presidential Proclamation-- National Wilderness Month, 2013

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e