Wikipedia went dark, so people begrudgingly consulted encyclopedias whose "Dragonball Z" entries are SHORTER than their "Thurgood Marshall" entries (WTF?!?!). Rick Perry is giving his faltering candidacy a boost by campaigning less. The House voted on a bill that won't go anywhere and won't do anything -- and this surprised people for some reason. And Mitt Romney took the "Move Your Money" campaign a little too literally and moved his money ... to the Caribbean. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 18th, 2012:
HOUSE VOTES DOWN DEBT CEILING INCREASE REQUEST - If there is a legislative equivalent of shaking your fist and yelling "I'LL GET YOU YET," this must certainly it. "The House Wednesday voted to reject President Barack Obama's request to raise the federal debt limit by $1.2 trillion, a symbolic act designed to let lawmakers oppose the increase while letting it take effect. A bipartisan deal last August gave Mr. Obama the authority to propose a limited number of debt-ceiling increases that can only be blocked by a two-thirds majority of both the Senate and House. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who suggested the complicated provision, was seeking to balance the public's frustration over rising debt with the government's need to pay its bills. Without an agreement to raise the borrowing limit, the govern ment would have defaulted on its financial obligations, potentially damaging the economy." [WSJ]
PEOPLE PAYING ATTENTION TO SOPA - HuffPost Hill was talking to a Senate aide yesterday about the upcoming online blackouts in protest of SOPA, the anti-piracy bill being pushed by Hollywood, when the aide observed: "Shit, Wikipedia's gonna make the evening news, isn't?" Yes.
FEINSTEIN TRIED TO BROKER SOPA MEETING BETWEEN HOLLYWOOD, SILICON VALLEY - In December, HuffPost reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a Protect IP co-sponsor with deep ties to both Hollywood and the technology industry, thought disputes between two of her most prominent corporate constituencies had been worked out. After that story ran, Feinstein attempted to broker a compromise, calling both tech companies and film studios. Walt Disney Co. President and CEO Bob Iger declined the invitation on behalf of content providers. "Hollywood did not feel that a meeting with Silicon Valley would be productive at this time," said a spokesperson. The meeting took place with only tech companies present. Feinstein, once a reliable vote for the existing version of Protect IP, is now working hard to amend the bill, according to Senate Democratic aides. [HuffPost]
Rick Perry is not dropping out (in the next five minutes). America's flickering dream of utopia will burn for another day. Howard Fineman: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry's lagging campaign today was subjected to one of the depressing rituals of trailing candidates: a rumor -- untrue, his aides told The Huffington Post as fast as they could -- that he was dropping out of the race. The proximate cause was the Perry camp's last minute cancellation of an appearance at Bob Jones University, a standard stop for conservative candidates. 'We had to rearrange the schedule and that suddenly morphed into a story that we were dropping out,' said Ray Sullivan, his national communications director. 'It's not true.' According to Sullivan, Perry has two TV appearances tonight and two campaign stops elsewhere in South Carolina before he heads to Charleston to prepare for tomorrow night's CNN debate. 'He'll be at the debate,' said Sullivan. 'He's not dropping out.'" [HuffPost's 2012 Liveblog]
BORED LAZY OVERPAID BUREAUCRAT ALMOST WORKS A FULL DAY, EXHAUSTED - HuffPost Hill's favorite living stereotype, the Bored Lazy Overpaid Bureaucrat (BLOB), spent another day putting the .005 cents you contributed to her salary to ... well ... not "work," per se ... but something. "1. Set a new high score on Tetris. 2. Spent a record SEVEN hours in the office (granted, I didn't really do anything work-related). Rewarding myself on both counts by staying home tomorrow...hope it doesn't end up being the day Obama comes by to thanks us for our hard work!!!!!!" That's a lot of exclamation points, BLOB!!!
Tonight in Roll Call's Eliza Newlin Carney, the undoing of democracy: "Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has said that unrestricted super PACs are a 'disaster' and should 'disappear' -- including the one that's spent close to $8 million pummeling his GOP primary opponents. But his solution -- to toss out federal contribution limits so candidates too can raise unlimited cash -- has only intensified the controversy over the pro-Romney PAC Restore Our Future and the future of campaign financing. Romney has put his finger on the key question hanging over the two-year anniversary of the landmark Citizens United ruling to deregulate campaign spending. That is, how long can the few remaining election laws withstand the tide of big money, ushering in a system of total deregulation?" Is it just us, or does "TOTAL DEREGULATION" sound like a special move from the original Mortal Kombat?
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A Georgia lawmaker's ironic drunk driving arrest is unlikely to slow local Republican efforts to drug test the poor and unemployed.
State Rep. Kip Smith (R-Columbus), who co-sponsored one of several bills to drug test welfare applicants, was arrested and charged with a DUI on Jan. 12. But even though the arrest story went viral, people on both sides of Georgia's drug testing legislation say that it's improbable Smith's bust will change the course of drug screening efforts in the Georgia General Assembly. State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) acknowledged the irony of Smith's arrest, but said it would not matter "at all" to the several bills he has authored for random drug testing of people who apply for welfare and unemployment insurance. "If a junkie is trying to think of some scenario that they can get the government to buy their methamphetamine and heroin," Stephens said, "can you think of a better way to fulfill your obligation than by applying for a job on the one hand and intentionally failing a drug test on the other so you can continue to get your unemployment check?" [HuffPost]
Sorry we screwed up our link to the item by that Forbes contributor yesterday.
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SCORE ONE FOR THE DIRTY HIPPIES: WHITE HOUSE ABANDONING KEYSTONE - The Keystone XL pipeline, which is like the first transcontinental railroad in both its geographic reach and in its ability to screw over a bunch of poor people while enriching a bunch of rich people and contributing to vast human and environmental destruction, is kaput for now. Administration officials announced today that it is abandoning its support of the much-maligned fossil fuel tube. Lucia Graves and Josh Hersh: "The State Department will not approve a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, sources told multiple media outlets on Wednesday. The news comes after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that President Barack Obama cannot approve the pipeline by the Feb. 21 deadline imposed by Congress. It also comes after House and Senate lawmakers signaled they would introduce new legislation pushing the permit forward even if the Obama administration rejected the proposal. That bill, drafted by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would have shut the White House out of the decision making process around Keystone, leaving Congress full authority to issue approval of the pipeline, which would stretch an estimated 1,700 miles from tar sands in Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast." [HuffPost]
LET'S GET READY TO EQUIVOCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE - Obama statement: "This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people."
@mikememoli: "Incompetent" now 2nd most frequent word used to describe Obama in Pew study. Just behind "good"
NEWT GAINING MOMENTUM - Shhhhhhhhh -- Listen, do you hear that? That's the sound of the South Carolina primary getting CONSIDERABLY LESS BORING. The Hill: "Newt Gingrich has nearly caught Mitt Romney nationally, according to the latest survey from conservative polling outlet Rasmussen. Romney took 30 percent of likely Republican voters in the poll, followed by Gingrich at 27 percent, Rick Santorum at 15 percent, Ron Paul at 13 percent and Rick Perry at 4 percent...Romney leads comfortably in the Palmetto State according to most polls, but the Rasmussen poll indicates that Gingrich could be picking up steam following a fiery debate performance on Monday night. The Rasmussen poll, which was taken Tuesday night, shows Gingrich has spiked 11 percent from two weeks ago, when he was at 16 percent." Why isn't fiery spelled firey? [The Hill]
@ZekeJMiller: Newt cancels 11:30am press conference at 11:53am.
A new Pew survey has Ron Paul polling at 18 percent as an independent. "[A] third-party candidacy by current Republican candidate Ron Paul would attract support from nearly one-in-five voters and help Barack Obama's reelection prospects significantly. In this hypothetical three-candidate race, 44% say they would back Obama, 32% Romney, and 18% Paul." [Pew]
MITT ROMNEY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CREEPY, VOICE-MODULATED GUY ON THE OTHER END OF YOUR PHONE - Has an unnaturally deep-voiced gentleman called you recently and announced that Newt Gingrich not only kicked your dog in the ribs, but he also invented cancer in the basement of his 50-room mansion???. Chances are that Mitt Romney was behind the call. Sam Stein reports that the former Massachusetts governor is DOMINATING the robocall race: "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is running a drown-out robocall campaign in South Carolina in hopes of closing out the Republican primary in the Palmetto State. Over the past week, the former Massachusetts Governor has placed far more calls than any of his fellow candidates. Shaun Dakin, the anti-robocall advocate who keeps the one of the most comprehensive databases of robocalls being made, estimated that Romney was making five robocalls in South Carolina for every one being made by the rest of the field combined -- though recent reports suggest Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is closing that gap. Oftentimes, the calls are being leaked to the press for maximal impact. When Gov. Nikki Haley recorded one call, pitching Romney as the one candidate who was "not a creature of Washington" it was provided by the Romney campaign to several media outlets. Occasionally, however, it is a stealth operation, and save for the work of reporters on the ground, it would be impossible to know the extent of what is transpiring." [HuffPost]
Romney's money is plentiful, probably getting a tan. ABC: "As one of the wealthiest candidates to run for president in recent times, Romney has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans." [ABC News]
File under "Man, that was close": "An Alabama death row inmate stymied by a law firm's egregious mail room mix-up will have the opportunity to appeal his death sentence, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday morning. In 2001, Cory Maples thought he had won the lottery when he obtained the help of two attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell, a prestigious New York law firm, to convince an Alabama trial court that his death sentence four years earlier was due to unconstitutionally bad lawyering. That luck, it turned out, was short-lived. First, his two lawyers left the firm before the trial court decided if it would give Maples the postconviction relief he sought. Then, the court denied Maples that relief and sent notice to the New York law firm, unaware the attorneys no longer worked there. The firm, in turn, returned the notice unopened to the trial court clerk, who then proceeded to take no action. Only after the state sent Maples a letter in prison that his time to appeal had expired did his mother call Sullivan & Cromwell to ask about her son's case. Egg on its face, the firm pleaded with the trial court to restart the appeal period. But by then, the damage had been done: All state and federal courts refused to excuse Maples for his attorneys' failure to file a timely appeal, communication breakdowns and mailroom blunders notwithstanding." [HuffPost]
THAT'S ONE WAY TO DO IT - "South Carolina, like Gaul, is divided into three parts, demarcated not by mountains or rivers, but by recipes for pulled-pork barbecue. The eastern third of the state makes its barbecue using a vinegar-and-pepper sauce. The upstate third favors tomato-based concoctions. In between, running roughly from Columbia in the center of the state to Charleston on the coast, is the mustard belt, where you find a yellowish sauce that is South Carolina's distinctive innovation. 'Sandlappers,' as South Carolinians are colloquially called -- apparently because (I am not making this up) before barbecue came along, we used to be renowned for eating dirt -- profess fierce loyalties to their local variety of sauce. This tribal geography supersedes race, religion, maybe even college football -- and it also happens to coincide rather closely with the divisions of the Republican electorate." [Capital New York]
PRESENT Rick Santorum is denouncing negative ads as "gutter politics" but, according to PAST Rick Santorum, they ain't nuttin'. Santorum in 1997: "I don't have a problem with it, even though it happens to me, because I think people have a right if they don't like what I am doing to speak up about it, even if I think the attack is unfair, because I trust the American public." Got it! [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Stair-climbing cat might make you dizzy. Or confused.
Someone should put together a best-of compilation of lawmakers' best excuses for vehicular infractions.. "Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton -- or more accurately, her insurance company Allstate -- says the District needs to pony up $5,800 to cover the repairs to Norton's 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid. The repairs were needed as a result of a collision at the intersection of North Carolina Avenue and 8th Street SE with a police cruiser last summer. According to Norton's lawsuit, which was filed late last month by Allstate on Norton's behalf, the cop caused the accident by speeding through a red light in a negligent fashion...The police report cites a witness saying the police car had its lights and sirens on." [WCP]
- A Twitter feed dedicated entirely to people who don't understand why Wikipedia is down today. [https://twitter.com/#!/herpderpedia]
- The best #FactsWithoutWikipedia tweets. [http://huff.to/zTq4iq]
- "Dog on a chain" is a dog located on top of a chain. [http://bit.ly/AoTst4]
- HuffPost Comedy's "7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now" [PUBLICATION]
- Brad Pitt laughing for three minutes. Absorb the positive aura. Bathe in the warm karma. Gaze into the dreamy eyes. Feel better. [http://huff.to/xgIkFH]
- Here's all the information you were going to look up on Wikipedia today, but can't. [http://bit.ly/zFd81E]
- Have you ever failed at something or been called stupid? If we understand this motivational video correctly -- and we think we do -- you will probably be the next Thomas Edison. [http://bit.ly/ydRj1d]
- Famous black & white photos, colorized. [http://bit.ly/z0WMfd]
@aterkel: Really? Ever? MT @samsteinhp: "The only person I ever sat on a couch with was my wife" - Santorum, in reference to Newt's Pelosi commercial
@AlbertBrooks: Who needs Wikipedia? Did Lincoln, when he took a cab every day to soccer practice even though it was snowing?
@thomaswburr: Did you know you can still order an @JonHuntsman beer koozie? Must add own Romney endorsement sticker bit.ly/xHSA2o
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The first lobbyist wine n' dine of 2012! Congressional Staff Reception hosted by the Healthcare Leadership Council, a.k.a. insurance and big pharma. [U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW]
6:00pm: The Foreign Policy Initiative hosts a wonk-filled screening of "The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby" [Navy War Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW]
6:45pm: Because you clearly haven't heard enough about abortion this primary, Personhood USA hosts a Presidential Pro-life Forum. Minus the front-runner, of course. [Hilton Hotel, 45 West Orchard Park Dr., Greenville, South Carolina]
6:30pm - 8:30pm: Skip the debate to meet the youngest Major General in KGB history, for a briefing on 20th century espionage in Vienna. [International Spy Musem, 800 F Street NW]
8:00pm: Oh man, not another GOP deba.... Yep! The Republican candidates will gang up on Mitt Romney at the CNN/SRLC Presidential Debate. [Carolina First Arena, 66 George St., Charleston, S.C.]
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