POLITICS
03/24/2011 06:29 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - Former Ensign Aide Indicted

The ratio of Newt Gingrich's marriages to Newt Gingrich's opinions on military escalation in Libya is nearing 1:1. The 2010 Census indicates that 16 percent of the country can be unfairly stopped at an Arizona checkpoint. A potentially important person in Alaska wants to outlaw premarital sex, a blatant ploy to win the support of the 12 people who still have marital sex. And the Indian government tried to send America a signal by not officially recognizing Sarah Palin as a U.S. leader, even though America did that two-and-a-half years ago. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 24th, 2011:

FORMER ENSIGN AIDE INDICTED - The husband of Senator John Ensign's former mistress has been indicted on seven counts of violating federal law. The Justice Department is claiming that Douglas Hampton violated congressional "revolving door" statutes by lobbying Ensign, his former boss. The indictment claims that Hampton, representing Allegiant Air and NV Energy, pressed Ensign's Senate office to help his clients receive assistance from the Departments of Interior and Transportation. Cheer up, Doug: You're no longer the only actor in this scandal who hasn't been screwed repeatedly. [USA Today]

Sorry, Doug.

WHITE HOUSE TO HOLD CLASSIFIED CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON LIBYA - As members of both parties are all of a sudden deciding they ought to have a say in war policy after all, administration officials will hold a briefing for members of Congress next Wednesday. The briefing will be hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and will -- like the jacket -- be members-only. [Politico]

MICHELE BACHMANN EXPLORING EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE - It's taken her a few years to realize it, but Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann seems to be coming around to the fact that exploratory committees aren't just for investigating anti-American behavior in Congress. HuffPost Hill's "Draft Bachmann" campaign is paying off: Advisers to Bachmann tell the Washington Post that the committee will likely be formed in May or June. "The size and enthusiasm of the crowds she has been attracting is very encouraging," Ed Brookover, a Bachmann adviser, said. "The voters are telling her to keep pushing forward with her fight to stop this unparalleled growth of government." Somewhere, Chris Matthews is wearing war paint and staring intently into a mirror. [WaPo]

Jim DeMint, meanwhile, said today that he does not intend to run in 2012.

LOBBYISTS SHY FROM DICTATOR DOLLARS - One of Washington's best-known lobbying and public relations firms has been upended in the wake of the turmoil in the Middle East due in part to its representation of some of the region's autocratic governments. In the last two months, more than a third of the partners at Qorvis have left the firm to start their own lobby shops, partly because of the firm's work on behalf of such clients as Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea, say former employees. "I just have trouble working with despotic dictators killing their own people," a former Qorvis insider tells The Huffington Post. "People don't want to be seen representing all these countries -- you take a look at the State Department's list of human rights violators and some of our clients were on there." [HuffPost]

HAMP SO LOUSY LA RAZA BACKS GOP'S HAMP-KILLING BILL - The National Council of La Raza's Janice Bowdler writes that the Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program has been such a failure that La Raza, a group that supports all sorts of homeowner advocacy, now supports GOP efforts to kill the program. "At best, HAMP addresses the housing crises of yesterday; continued congressional focus on the program is preventing us from taking the bold steps that are needed to help millions of Americans facing foreclosure today," Bowdler writes, after summing up some common HAMP criticisms. "For these reasons we are left with little choice but to support the 'HAMP Termination Act of 2011' (H.R. 839). It's time to focus on foreclosure prevention remedies that reach further." [HuffPost]

HAMP defender Jim McDermott acknowledged the program's shortcomings in a statement to HuffPost, but said killing it is a lame idea. "[S]imply terminating the program is not going to solve the ongoing housing crisis -- ending this program will end a lifeline that homeowners use to stay in their homes. To date, Republicans led by Speaker Boehner, have been Johnny One Note -- cut, cut, cut -- disregarding any of the negative consequences of their reckless proposals," McDermott said. "Republicans haven't offered any real alternatives to HAMP, showing no real interest in keeping American families in their homes."

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST DEMANDS CONSISTENCY - Our favorite Paranoid Self Loathing GOP Lobbyist, nerves rattled by the pro-Gaddafi tanks outside his house, demands consistency from liberals on Libya. "I am going to assume that MoveOn.org supports the War in Libya because I haven't seen a full page ad in the NY Times that they don't." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

White House health care flack Reid Cherlin, a good sport to the end, is splitting. He declined to comment on his next move, which REALLY makes us wanna know now.

The Pentagon issued a stop-work order on the alternate strike fighter engine today.

DAILY DELANEY DELIGHT - Patty DiMucci, the long-term unemployed subject of the Feb. 8 Daily Delaney Downer, said she scored a job handling events and sales at an agribusiness firm. "Let them know there is hope," she told DDD on Thursday. DiMucci, who lost her event planning gig at a retailer way back in March 2009, previously worried, "Am I deemed unemployable?" Turns out the answer is "no." Thanks, PDM!

Everything you ever wanted to know about David Wu and were hoping a local blogger would ask.

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

CONNIE MACK TO LAUNCH SENATE BID - The Republican will make a "major announcement regarding the U.S. Senate race" tomorrow, according to a political aide. That announcement, of course, will likely be Mack's entrance into the race to face-off against Bill Nelson in 2012. Mack is the son of former Florida senator Connie Mack III, so hopefully there will be a few hand-me-down statements about his opponent being out-of-touch with Florida voters. [Roll Call]

Laying down a gauntlet that the White House probably wishes had stayed on the gauntlet shelf, Joe Biden said that if Bill Nelson loses re-election, so too will President Obama. That sound you hear is the NRSC printing 5,000,000,000,000 flyers with Biden's quote on it. "[A]s goes Bill Nelson in Florida, so go Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Florida," the vice president said at a Florida fundraiser for the state's Democratic senator. "He's a truly, truly decent guy who has the absolute respect of his colleagues, and I've heard that from both sides of the aisle," Biden added, but you don't really care about that part. [The Hill]

MILITARY STILL DISCHARGING GAY AND LESBIAN SOLDIERS - HuffPost's Andrea Stone reports that more gays were bounced from the military in 2010 than at Cobalt on college night. In 2010, the Pentagon discharged 250 service members under don't ask, don't tell," the condemned program that both the White House and top military leaders are working to phase-out. Not included in that number are the 11 former Coast Guard members who were kicked out (the Coast Guard is part of Homeland Security). Since the policy was enacted in 1994, a Servicemembers United tally indicates that just over 14,000 servicemen and women have been discharged under the policy. [HuffPost]

According to the Census, 16 percent of Americans are Hispanic, a 43 percent jump from 2000. Good thing for the GOP that they have so endeared themselves to that segment of the population.

NEWT GINGRICH WANTS TO BOMB LIBYA / NEWT GINGRICH DOESN'T WANT TO BOMB LIBYA - The former House speaker appears to be suffering some ... ahem ... bomber's remorse. Two weeks ago, while criticizing President Obama for not responding fast enough to the crisis in Libya, Gingrich stated that if he were president, his first action in that situation would be to "Exercise a no-fly zone this evening." How decisive! Now THAT is a man who knows what needs to be done! Golly! Are you getting the vapors? We sure are! Now here's Gingrich yesterday on American intervention: "I would not have intervened." FAIL. [Salon]

Haley Barbour isn't crazy about the mission in Libya, either. That's not to say he doesn't like the military intervention part. He just wishes that more of the missiles had "Made in the USA" stickers on them: "[S]ince World War II, the world has looked to America for leadership, but we haven't provided leadership in this administration," Barbour said on Mississippi radio show today. "In fact, the Obama administration's position has been to say, you know, we're just one the boys, so we're not going to try to be the leader. And we see that when you don't have strong leadership from the strongest country in the world, that everybody else scatters out and breaks up." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

The first congressional hearing on the U.S.'s military action in Libya is scheduled for next week. Homeland Security Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told Lynn Sweet that the hearings will "assess the U.S. national security and foreign policy interests at stake in Libya, other actions being considered, and what this means for the broader region." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been invited to testify but if she is unavailable her deputy, James Steinberg, will attend. The hearing will be titled "Libya: Defining U.S. National Security Interests." We're guessing the internal staff memos that will be circulated prior to the hearing will be titled "Libya: This is where it is." [Sun Times]

MICHIGAN LAWMAKERS SAVE/KILL UNEMPLOYMENT BENNIES - State lawmakers in Michigan passed last-minute legislation to preserve 20 weeks of federal unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless on Wednesday, averting an abrupt cutoff for 35,000 Michiganders in April. But in a deal preserving the benefits, lawmakers sharply reduced aid for future layoff victims by cutting initial state benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. Republican lawmakers cited lobbying by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce that Michigan businesses would eventually have to pay higher taxes in return for the federal funds. "The impact on Michigan employers is speculative, while the impact on workers is not speculative at all," said a sad Sandy Levin, who urged Gov. Rick Snyder to veto the bill. As for reducing state benefits to 20 weeks, Levin said, "The problem with that is that in 2010 our best estimate [is that] about 175,000 people in Michigan went beyond 20 weeks of unemployment insurance." [HuffPost]

This kind of thing is happening in [several other states as well.

IN PROTEST, SARAH PALIN LABELED A NOBODY BY INDIAN GOVERNMENT - Sarah Palin has wandered into the second act of a Cohen Brothers movie. A request to have the former Alaska governor be received as a dignitary with "adequate protocol" for her visit to India was denied by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The U.S. embassy in New Delhi had placed the request that Palin be treated as if she were a visiting minister or cabinet secretary. However, apparently in protest over the racial profiling of Indians in American airports, the government said no. "Despite our attempts to sensitise the US administration about the consequences of such incidents, there seems no let up," a MEA official told Tehelka, an English-language periodical there. [Tehelka]

HuffPost's Jon Ward corrals the reasons why Palin isn't running for president. The article is one page long. Jon is a very good writer.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Standing puppy falls asleep and tumbles over. Thanks, Internet!

WOULD-BE ALASKAN OFFICIAL WANTS TO OUTLAW PREMARITAL SEX - Governor Sean Parnell's appointee for a state panel that nominates judges has made public his belief that premarital sex should be outlawed. That's an especially anti-human view as we're under the impression that "marital" sex doesn't exist. Don Haase testified before the state Senate Judiciary Committee that he supports the view expressed in a blog post from his former employer, The Eagle Form, that favors the criminalization of premarital relations. The Eagle Form is a political organization in the state that advocates for conservative social views (w-a-a-a-y conservative social views, apparently). "I think that would be up to the voters certainly. If it came before (the state) as a vote, I probably would vote for it," Haase said when asked about the post. "I can see where it would be a matter for the state to be involved with because of the spread of disease and the likelihood that it would cause violence. I can see legitimate reasons to push that as a crime." [Anchorage Daily News]

BEST WORKERS' COMP RULING EVER: "The Workers' Compensation Court ruled last June that [Beock] Hopkins was an employee and noted that while his 'use of marijuana to kick off a day of working around grizzly bears was ill-advised to say the least and mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most,' there was no evidence presented regarding Hopkins' level of impairment." [Billings Gazette]

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Okay, for a brief period this morning, it looked as if the clouds would clear. They didn't. It's odd, because the layer isn't thick, and is on the cusp of breaking up as I look out my window right now. I'll say the clouds continue through the evening, making it a bit chilly. Expect mid-30s. Tomorrow: The clouds should clear, leaving a pretty nice day. Can't complain about the 50s, right? Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- If the "Double Rainbow" guy chased tornadoes instead of gawking at rainbows, he'd probably act like this guy. [http://bit.ly/hRGs9q]

-It took the "Lesbians Who Look Like Conan O'Brian" Tumblr THIS long to exist? [http://bit.ly/fa0ion]

- Let's make sure Mother Russia doesn't find out about this Christina Aguilera nesting doll. [http://bit.ly/i5yXrb]

- Another reporter spokes gibberish on the air that doctors are attributing to a migraine. HuffPost Hill gets migraines, which would help explain this incoherent newsletter. [http://bit.ly/ebtSC1]

- The biracial greeting cards you've been waiting for have at long last arrived. [http://etsy.me/i1TRjW]

- Cat versus snake. That's right, CAT DON'T GIVE A %&@#, YA HURD?!. [http://bit.ly/ghrqUF]

- Alex Trebek calls college football. The game has never been so earnest. [http://bit.ly/i2bflh]

- You can now print out a bike. Yes, PRINT a BIKE. [http://bit.ly/hDAX8N]

TWITTERAMA

@ChuckGrassley: Quit complaining abt my Twitter shorthand I know how to spell But Twitter limit is 120 characters

@Delrayser: Maybe @ChuckGrassley's Twitter limit really is 120 characters; the remaining 20 are earmarked for ethanol subsidies.

@BigBoi: Ever since AOL took over, yall ain't talkin bout sh*t !!-->RT @HuffingtonPost: Best morning news blooper ever http://huff.to/gXblzK

ON TAP

TONIGHT

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].

TOMORROW

6:30 pm - 8:00 pm: HuffPost's Amanda Terkel! Live! Amanda joins Amy Austin, Latoya Peterson and Melinda Wittstock for a CAP-hosted panel discussion titled "New Models in Media and Activism." The four will chat about how to use new and old tech to broadcast their messages. [Center for American Progress, 1333 H St NW, 10th Floor].

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