President Obama delivered one of those speeches that cause alarms to go off in AIPAC's offices and New York Post op-ed columnists to look up "defeat" in the thesaurus. A Rockefeller expressed concern about the ruthless ambition of today's young business entrepreneurs. And Newt Gingrich violated ANOTHER one of the Ten Commandments. By our account, he has now breached seven or eight of them, depending on your religion and/or denomination ... and if you consider American Solutions to be an object of religious devotion. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 19th, 2011:
GINGRICH STOLE TO PROMOTE TEN COMMANDMENTS, LAWSUIT ALLEGES - Jason Cherkis: "In December 2009, D.C. photographer Carrie Devorah filed suit in U.S. District Court against Newt Gingrich and his book publishers citing copyright infringement. The former House speaker allegedly swiped five of Devorah's photos for his book, Rediscovering God in America. Two pictures were also used without her consent for the book's DVD version, according to her complaint. The stolen pics, taken from Devorah's series 'God in the Temples of Government,' were as sacred as pictures of Washington architecture and sculpture can get. They included snaps of the Liberty of Worship statute outside the Ronald Reagan Building and several shots of the Ten Commandments found in the Supreme Court, Library of Congress and the National Archives. Gingrich and Co. settled the case for an undisclosed cash settlement last spring. When reached by phone this afternoon, Devorah had this to say about her case and the struggling presidential candidate: 'You don't steal to promote the Ten Commandments. How can you be a person of faith?'"
MITCH DANIELS IS YOUR NEWEST GOP CANDIDATE WHO PREVIOUSLY LIKED HCR - With the vultures of smoke picking at the Tweet-riddled carcass of Newt Gingrich's cocktail party -- or whatever it was Rick Tyler said -- liberal sights are now set on Mitch Daniels, the next (would-be) candidate whose record contains a number of policy statements that could prove embarrassing. Sam Stein cites a 2003 article in the South Bend Tribune that summarizes then-candidate Daniels' views on health care reform: "The candidate said he favors a universal health care system that would move away from employee-based health policies and make it mandatory for all Americans to have health insurance. Daniels envisioned one scenario in which residents could certify their coverage when paying income taxes and receive a tax exemption that would cover the cost. 'We really have to have universal coverage,' Daniels said." Daniels today told radio host Michael Smerconish today that he is against a mandate. "I don't believe in mandates," he said. "There's nothing wrong with trying to protect more people from being ruined by an adverse health effect." [HuffPost]
CQ Roll Call remade "I'm Just A Bill"
BOEHNER TAKES DOWN SWIPE FEE TWEET - The battle over how much banks can charge merchants to use debit cards has politicos on both sides very confused as to which gigantic corporate interest to back, leading to all sorts of flip flops. Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner tweeted favorably of the bank position, but subsequently deleted it.
The tweet he took back: @JohnBoehner: Fed. Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Dodd-Frank Fallout: Debit Card Fees Threaten Small Banks http://bit.ly/mFRNZ8 via @Heritage
Boehner took the tweet down after a lobbyist for the merchants asked his staff if the tweet meant he was now backing the banks. We asked Boehner man Michael Steel why they took it down? "Honestly? To avoid stories like HuffPo[st Hill]'s yesterday that drew inaccurate conclusions from the tweet," he said.. So Boehner thinks that swipe-fee caps could threaten small banks but he might be for them anyway? Got it.
CONRAD WON'T PUT OUT HIS OWN BUDGET FOR NOW, LIBERALS BREATHE SIGH OF RELIEF - Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad announced this afternoon that his committee will not release a government funding proposal, but instead will defer to negotiations between party leaders for now. "Democrats on the Budget Committee are very close to an agreement. We will have a budget," he said in a statement. "But, after broad consultation, we have decided to defer a budget mark-up because of the high-level bipartisan leadership negotiations that are currently underway." After Conrad unveiled the details of his proposal to his colleagues earlier this month, Democrats from the rank and file to leadership reacted negatively and have since expressed concern that Conrad's budget could shift the debate to the right. "He's going to be a man without a country," a leadership aide said at the time.
GOODWIN LIU NOMINATION STALLS -- AGAIN -- IN SENATE - Did you know that in ancient Sumeria, the priests would mark the calendar by observing the regular legislative false starts in the U.S. Senate? True story! Anyway, the upper chamber failed 52-43 to end debate on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sixty votes were needed to end a filibuster. Lisa Murkowski and Ben Nelson were the only members of their parties to vote "yay" and "nay," respectively. Orrin Hatch voted "present" and Max Baucus, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Jerry Moran and David Vitter missed the vote. In 300 years, when China's leaders are debating whether to slap sanctions on the U.S. for all the lead-infused toys and we're still trying to reduce our obesity crisis, at least we'll have Lindsey Graham's statement that "His outrageous attack on Judge Alito convinced me that Goodwin Liu is an ideologue." [Politico]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Add Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to the list of states considering cuts to unemployment insurance.
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OBAMA DELIVERS 50-POINT-FONT FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH - Because hey, why not, the president today delivered a sweeping foreign policy address that could have profound impacts on the rapidly evolving political situation in the Middle East. Most significantly, the president called for Israel and Palestine to revert to their pre-1967 borders. "At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent that ever," he said. The president conceded that key issues like the status of Jerusalem and the right of return for refugees remain unresolved but added that, "The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement calling the president's proposal "indefensible." President Obama also reiterated calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cease his assault on opposition protesters and renewed his support for democratization in the region. Right now, the veins in Charles Krauthammer's forehead must be overtaking the rest of his face. [AP]
Jay Solomon and Adam Entous note that the speech coincides with an ongoing administration shift toward civilian/State Department control of the national security agenda. "The Obama White House has moved to exert greater civilian control over the military, challenging the views of the top brass in some areas, officials say. At the same time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's State Department, together with a more assertive White House National Security Council, has taken a lead in crafting America's response to the greatest geopolitical challenge since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Underscoring this shift is Mr. Obama's choice of venue to deliver the address: the State Department. The address Thursday morning -- which is late afternoon, Cairo time -- will be the president's first major policy address from the home base of U.S. foreign diplomacy. The military's standing in the White House reflects lingering tensions with some of Mr. Obama's civilian advisers that grew out of a 2009 debate over escalating the war in Afghanistan, according to senior U.S. officials and foreign diplomats." [WSJ]
FEINSTEIN: NO REPEAT OF OBL MISSION - In an interview with Debbie Siegelbaum, the California senator said that the U.S. shouldn't repeat the decision in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden to not inform the Pakistani government. "The appropriate thing is for the Pakistanis to handle it and indicate that they intend to handle it," the chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence said. There has been considerable discussion about whether the U.S. should repeat the process if it locates bin Laden's number-two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Arms Services Committee Chair Carl Levin's statements are at odds with Feinstein. He has insisted that questions about the Pakistani government's reliability necessitate going it alone. [The Hill]
PAUL RYAN SCARED OFF OF FUNDRAISER? - Paul Ryan was listed as a featured guest at a Wisconsin state senator's fundraiser for this evening, but after pro-Medicare protests were planned, he bailed, (though Ryan's office said he never planned to go). The flake out was reported by Amanda Terkel, who was supposed to be on a panel today with Kurt Bardella, Nadeam Elshami, Manu Raju, Daniel Son, and Susie Xu on being Asian and being in the media world, or some such. Terkel, Bardella and Elshami all flaked. Were protests planned? [http://huff.to/iRoDsq]
COBURN CONCOCTING OWN PLAN - Ex-gang-member Tom Coburn will be on Larry Kudlow's show this evening and according to an early transcript, he says he's putting together his own deficit reduction plan. He rejected the idea that Kent Conrad suggested significantly raising rates for the top bracket. The idea "was never even brought up," Coburn said. (And we're not sure where Kudlow got that. Sure doesn't sound like Conrad.)
JAY ROCKEFELLER IS WORRIED ABOUT THE KIDS, MARK ZUCKERBERG - At a Commerce Committee hearing today, Chairman Jay Rockefeller opined on why Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, don't focus more on privacy concerns. "It's my general feeling that people who are 20, 21, 22 years old really don't have any social values at this point," he said. "I think [Zuckerberg] was focused on how his business model would work and he wanted to make it bigger and do it faster than anyone else ever had and nothing I know suggests otherwise." [CBS News]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Rick Tyler or All Quiet On The Western Front?
WILLIE NELSON TAKES IT BACK: NOT ENDORSING GARY JOHNSON - It's official: Willie Nelson is the most awesome single-issue voter in history. Earlier this week, country music legend Willie Nelson reportedly endorsed former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson for president. He's having second thoughts. "I still think he is a good guy but so is Dennis [Kucinich] and if he decided to run I would personally vote for him," Nelson wrote on TeaPot Party's website, the web portal of an organization he co-founded. "If it came down to either him or Gary I'm already committed to Dennis. They both have said they support legal pot." Is it just us, or is "I Still Think He Is A Good Guy But So Is Dennis," a lousy -- but kind of awesome -- Kucinich 2012 campaign slogan? [Daily Caller]
Ed Schultz went on David Sirota's show to say: "I wanna explain myself, that I don't listen to your program." Schultz added, "Oh, go to Hell." [Salon]
CARLY'S CANNABIS CORNER - Carly Schwartz: "When it comes to Cannabis in Court, you win some, you lose some. Mary Jane scored a not-so-monumental victory in Montana late last week, when a judge ordered a temporary halt to certain aspects of a new law poised to dramatically overhaul medical marijuana usage in Big Sky Country. Still, stoners and sick people need not get too excited; the ruling only suspends a ban on advertising medicinal paraphernalia. Over in Kentucky, SCOTUS put its blessing behind a group of cops who smashed in the door of an apartment that smelled like weed and subsequently conducted a warrantless ransacking. It's a good day for retired Oregon bus driver Cynthia Willis, though -- the Beaver State Supreme Court ruled she was legally entitled to both her prescription pot AND her concealed handgun. Willis' response? 'I feel like a big girl now.'" Thanks, Carly!
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: It looks as though we may be out of the woods as far as the bad weather goes. The system is drifting to our north, but still popping up some showers here and there. This storm spawned a tornado way east in Worton, Md. [where a third of HuffPost Hill went to elementary school] Tomorrow: Some pop-up showers here and there, especially in the afternoon; it's this system's last gasp. What you can expect are cloudy skies, so don't try and go tanning during your lunch break. By the way, you know that we're approaching hurricane season? The U.S. is going to see a more active 2011 than 2010, with an estimated 6-10 hurricanes. If you're wondering why we're going to see more than last year, John Metcalfe has the answers. Thanks, JB!
- A collection of films shot before 1900. We LOVE the surprise ending to "Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge." [http://bit.ly/jDAZhP]
- These two dudes playing a piano with their fifth appendages is the legacy our society is leaving behind. Just think about it. [http://bit.ly/kWyQ0R]
- Cement-filled Budweiser cans made into nun chucks. For the girl that has everything, including a creepy boyfriend. [http://bit.ly/kCiJEw]
- Long-exposure photographs of airplanes taking off. Some of them look like the final rainbow level in Mario Kart. Yeah, you know the one. [http://bit.ly/lStsN2]
- Someone drops a Lenovo laptop from a convention center ceiling. Hey, Lenovo REALLY needs the PR. Who buys Lenovos? [http://bit.ly/lvthH8]
- Videos of cats jumping are greatly aided by sound effects and uplifting spring accompaniment. [http://bit.ly/mOxMaD]
- A pretty good explanation of the forthcoming rapture. [http://bit.ly/jjweYu]
- Real life Duck Hunt is much more gruesome and duck-destroying than classic Duck Hunt. [http://bit.ly/j993eh]
@marcorubio: Headed to commerce committee hearing on smartphone privacy and tracking.....but Apple probably already knows that. #sayfie #apple #iPhone
@delrayser: At this rate, Obama's going to have to make a speech about the Arab Summer.
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Unlike the rest of Americans whose business ventures saddle them with debt for years, politicians simply hold fundraisers to retire their debt. America! Go say hi to Lisa Murkowski [National Republican Senatorial Committee, 425 2nd Street NE].
We're awfully surprised that more lawmakers don't hold fundraisers at D.C.-area country clubs. Pat Roberts attends one at Belle Haven. The event benefits the "Pat Roberts Victory Committee." Given his job and the event's location, that sounds redundant [Belle Haven Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria].
12:30 pm: Mark "I Could Have Sworn He Was A Dentist" Warner gets his eat on at a lunch fundraiser [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].
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