President Obama's poll numbers versus a "generic" Republican are strong, which is a real bummer for all those Republicans presenting themselves as generic. The New York Times disclosed that it had an Elizabeth Taylor obituary on file for years ... probably right next to the one for print journalism. And health care reform turned one today, which had us wondering whether some lazy, unimaginative lawmaker somewhere bought it an Amazon.com gift certificate for its birthday. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday. March 23rd, 2011:
OBAMA: LIBYAN CAMPAIGN COULD DRAG ON - America has placed one more spinning plate atop a stick. Huzzah! At a news conference today in El Salvador as part of his five-day trip to South America, the president attempted to emphasize America's limited involvement in the Libyan bombing campaign but also added that it will continue until Muammar Gaddafi is out of power or institutes major reforms. "As long as Qadhafi remains in power -- unless he changes his approach, provides the Libyan people the opportunity to express themselves freely and there are significant reforms by the Libyan government, and he steps down -- there's still going to be a potential threat to the Libyan people," Obama said. "We will continue to support the efforts to protect the Libyan people, but we will not be in the lead." [Politico]
GOP BIGWIGS ANXIOUS ABOUT 2012 FIELD - From Jon Ward, running tonight: "The field of GOP candidates is hardening, with Sarah Palin and Mitch Daniels looking less likely to run. But there is evidence of growing GOP angst about being left with Mitt, TPaw, Haley and Newt. 'There is this sense out there of, 'So, anybody else?'' said Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. Fred Barnes told HuffPost that 'there's widespread sentiment that people want to see other candidates.' One senior conservative figure said that he has been 'begging' Christie to run, to no avail."
Heh: "Mitt, TPaw, Haley, and Newt."
A Pew survey finds President Obama is polling quite well against a "generic" Republican opponent, better than George W. Bush was against a "generic" Democrat in 2003. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they would like to see Obama reelected while 37 percent opted for a generic Republican candidate. HuffPost Hill couldn't reach "generic" Republican, Pleated Q. Pants IV, at his McMansion in suburban Columbus for comment. We hear he was shopping at a big box store and thinking about national security. [Pew Research]
YOUR BANK WON'T HELP YOU, BUT HERE'S SOMEBODY WHO WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY - With mortgage servicers unwilling to modify loans, homeowners have increasingly turned to purported modification experts for help -- even though free help is readily available -- and complaints about ripoffs have mounted. The FTC said it received just six complaints about mortgage modification or foreclosure relief scams in 2008. That number shot up to 8,724 the following year, reaching 16,584 in 2010. "The fact is, if you're a homeowner trying in good faith to negotiate with your servicer, good luck," said Ira Rheingold, director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. "So what you have are a lot of very desperate people. When you have lots of desperate people, all the scam artists and people looking to make a quick buck come out of the woodwork." [HuffPost]
Dave Cantanese is reporting that former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is mulling a bid for Sherrod Brown's Senate seat in 2012.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Daniel Oliver said he lost his job as a business analyst at the end of 2009 and that his unemployment benefits will run out in June. The job search has been awful and if it doesn't get better, he said, "I foresee foreclosure. I foresee bankruptcy." Oliver, who is 57 and lives in Springfield, Ohio said the unemployment bennies covered the mortgage but not much else, and that he had to drain his 401k this year to stay current. On the upside, he said, he gets to spend time with his grandkids and post comments on USAToday and HuffPost stories between hitting "send" on one job application after another. Why's the job search been so bad? "Although they say they don't discriminate by age, that's bullshit, they do."
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BAHRAIN HIRES FORMER WSJ REPORTER FOR FLACK GIG - The brutal oppression of your own citizens is hard work, no doubt about it. And putting a positive spin on that blood-soaked put-down isn't easy, either. Luckily for the government of Bahrain, it has found just the man for the job. "The Bahraini government, which has cracked down on growing political protests, has tapped a former Wall Street Journal national news reporter to help improve the Middle Eastern country's communications with Washington. Christopher Cooper's public relations firm, Potomac Square Group, disclosed last week that it was hired in February by Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the special envoy from Bahrain to the United States. Cooper was hired Feb. 17, after Bahraini troops opened fire on protesters in the Pearl Square in the country's capital of Manama. Al Zayani told CNN at the time that his country's leadership was committed to dialogue with opposition groups, but he added, 'We had to take action, and the action was taken by the law.'" Yeah, Zayani definitely needs better talking points. Spin 'em dead, Cooper! [Roll Call]
A DISGRUNTLED HILL STAFFER'S FEVER DREAM - Rep. Patrick Meehan might face a primary challenge from his former press secretary. PoliticsPA.com is reporting that Jack Stollsteimer is seriously considering a run for the House seat currently held by his old boss. "Pat and I have been friends and I know he's a good man, but I have serious problems with what he's already done as our Congressman," Stollsteimer said. "He's a company man. He's voted purely along Republican leadership lines. I think we need an independent thinker in Washington." We're really, REALLY looking forward to this patricide-y campaign ("Wolf, I believe it was my opponent who first brought the House of Atreus into this campaign, not me. I'm just here to talk about putting Americans back to work."). [National Journal]
PETE KING: LIBYA BOMBING WILL INCITE MORE TERRORISM - The guy who dropped proverbial bombs on the Muslim world by holding hearings on radicalization in Muslim-American communities is suddenly concerned that ACTUALLY bombing the Muslim world will provoke terrorist acts. "In the long term, it is [in the U.S.'s national security interest], but we also have to be concerned about terrorist attacks by Libya, either in the United States or more likely in Europe," King -- a fervent supporter of the invasion of Iraq -- said in an interview with The Hill yesterday. "We have to realize that the risk of attack from Libya is certainly greater now than it was two weeks ago." [The Hill]
John Sununu (senior, not junior) was asked on Topline today whether Sarah Palin is running for president for real or for fun. Sununu replied, "Yes."
HALEY BARBOUR USED TAXPAYER FUNDS TO FLY PRIVATE TO LECTURE ON FISCAL AUSTERITY - Cheer up, Claire McCaskill! You're not the only politician mired in an embarrassing (and political platform-contradicting) scandal involving the use of taxpayer funds to bankroll lavish air travel! Time is reporting that Mississippians forked over $7,020 so Haley Barbour could travel in the state's Cessna Citation so, among other reasons, he could appear at CPAC and say this: "Our problem is not that we tax too little. It's that we spend too much." Ha! [Time]
Fancy that: A PPP poll indicates that the president is still competitive in North Carolina.
GAY REPUBLICAN FILES PAPER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT - Republican presidential politics at long last has its Jamaican bobsled team. Former GOP political consultant Fred Karger is in Washington today to file papers with the Federal Election Commission to officially enter the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Karger is now officially the first openly gay individual to ever run for president as a Republican. We fully expect Karger to perform strongly except for those contests in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. * [MoJo]
* Also Puerto Rico, D.C., American Samoa, Northern Marianas, Guam and the Virgin Islands. Good luck, Fred!
FACING PRESSURE FROM LAWMAKERS, BLACKBERRY REMOVES DUI APP - Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, and Mark Udall won a minor victory today when Research in Motion informed them that the Blackberry App World will no longer carry a program that lets users find out where DUI checkpoints are located (how did that get up in the first place?). Now BlackBerry will never again have anything to do with a car accident. [PC World]
BREAKING: Prominent political journalist lacks sense of humor
You've gotta be kidding "Governor Paul LePage (R-Maine) has sparked a fresh battle with the state's union community, ordering a mural at the Department of Labor (DOL) taken down on the grounds that the image is biased against business owners. On Tuesday, Maine DOL Acting Commissioner Laura Boyett sent out an e-mail saying that after some complaints from businesses, the mural would be removed. Additionally, the state would be renaming eight conference rooms, many of which commemorate former labor leaders and one honoring the first female U.S. Cabinet secretary." You people understand that Cesar Chavez wasn't a Latin American communist revolutionary-slash-salad enthusiast, right? [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
One of the rooms they want to rename is the Frances Perkins Room. The federal Department of Labor's building is named for her. Free HuffPost Hill advice for Maine: Just name every room after Ronald Reagan.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - The "Duck Hunt" movie is a bit like Deer Hunter except less psychotic and more 8-bit-y. [http://bit.ly/hL5qB7]
FOLEY FROWNER - Elise Foley: "A 4-year-old girl born in New York was detained by immigration officials and then sent back to Guatemala, separating her from her parents, after she and her grandfather were stopped by customs officials earlier this month. The girl, Emily Samantha Ruiz, is a U.S. citizen. But she, like many other children of undocumented immigrants, became caught in a web of complications for families with mixed legal statuses. On her way home from a trip to Guatemala with her grandfather on March 11, Emily was detained in Dulles International Airport when authorities stopped her grandfather on an illegal entry charge from more than a decade ago...More than 100,000 parents of citizen children were deported between 1998 and 2007, according to a 2009 Homeland Security report." [HuffPost]
The New York Times needs to stop aggregating its articles from the past (and, more ominously, from the dead): "The New York Times' principle writer for the [Elizabeth] Taylor obituary died almost six full years ago. Mel Gussow, a Times theater critic, died after a battle with cancer in 2005. He was 71. Gussow had written over 4,000 pieces for the New York Times, one of them, apparently, was the Elizabeth Taylor obit they had ready to run for over half a decade." [Village Voice]
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Although it looks like just another gray overcast day, there will be rain, and should the temperature and humidity rise enough, we could see some lightning and hear some thunder. Tomorrow: The rain continues to the morning, but should clear, leading to a warm, sunny day. Thanks, JB!
- San Francisco, which just had its first snowfall in decades, somehow manages to put on an Iditarod. It doesn't appear to have anything to do with dog racing [http://bit.ly/gRQENt]
- The "Wonder Woman: Amazon Babysitter" comic follows the famed superheroenne as she...uh... babysits a dinosaur. [http://bit.ly/gG9jJ6]
- Google filed a patent for those specialized pictures it occasionally has on its homepage that lead to specialized results. The "takeover" begins. [http://tcrn.ch/hFIlel]
- The definitive cheat sheet on how to write a manifesto. Follow closely and you'll be putsching in no time. [http://bit.ly/fYoRcQ]
- A video depicting attempts to rehabilitate a 1950s BBC sound effects machine. [http://bit.ly/fGWBBl]
- Yelp has added "hipster" to its list of ambiance rankings. To be fair, hipsters were rating ambiance on Yelp before you even knew what Yelp was. [http://bzfd.it/fyHGJI]
- An adorable short film about a kid daydreaming in class about constructing a robot elephant. [http://bit.ly/gvRhAj]
- Pulp Fiction action figures don't have pull strings, but if they did, they'd probably dare you to say "what" one more time. [http://bit.ly/gNhTGj]
@repweiner: while i have your attention, please get your friends to follow me. #jewfropicincluded
@jackshafer: O'Keefe tote-bags! MT @HuffPostPol: James O'Keefe asks for help paying off 'major credit card debt'
@AlexMLeo: Dear Duane Reade, you are not "literally delivering wellness." That is impossible unless you are Deepak Chopra et al.
@SteveKingIA: ObamaCare is a malignant tumor sucking the lifeblood out of American Liberty and metastasizing 24/7.
5:30 pm - Whenever: Pete Stark staffer Brian Cook celebrates his departure from Stark's office with a shindig at Washington's most beloved Capitol Hill gay country western bar. We hear rumors of karaoke [Remmingtons, 639 Pennsylvania, SE].
6:00 - 9:00 pm : Liberals are gathering on the roof deck of Local 16 for the Progressive Network Happy Hour, which has been going on FOREVER. [Local 16, 16th and U Sts. NW].
6:00 pm: Steve Israel takes a break from trying not to alienate the CBC and CHC (see Monday's HuffPost Hill) to attend a district fundraiser [Oheka Castle, 135 West Gate Drive, Huntington, NY].
6:30 pm: If you're lucky enough to be on vacation in Southern California, what better way to pass your time than with Mike and Kitty Dukakis? Brad Sherman is the guest of honor at a fundraiser hosted by the former presidential cnadidate and his wife [The Home of Michael Mahdesian, 13075 Blairwood Drive, Studio City, CA].
7:00 pm: Arlington Young Democrats host a charity date auction. Don't worry, ladies. Not all Arlington dates take place at Legal Seafood. [Clarendon Grill, 1101 N Highland St, Arlington]
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Faith In Public Life gets its Christian good cheer on with a welcome reception for its two newest staffers, Jessica Barba Brown and Beau Underwood. We hear there will be wine and, possibly, Tom Perriello. [Faith In Public Life, 1101 Vermont Ave NW] .
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: The David All Group celebrates its new office by throwing a happy hour. For each attendee that checks into the shindig on Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places, the group will donate $5 to the Washington Human Society. [David All Group, 722 12th Street NW, Third Floor].
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: National Journal Hotline hosts "Barroom Drawl: War Stories from the Campaign Trail." McCain 2000 alum John Weaver and former Dodd 2008 hand Jim Jordan will dish about their experiences [Lounge 201, 201 Massachusetts Ave NE].
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