Often, when he's feeling lonely, Ron Paul will telephone Mitt Romney to catch up, shoot the breeze and insist he's ruining America. A terrorist plot was foiled when, after years of selling real bombs to the wrong people, the U.S. government sold a fake bomb to a guy. And former Senator Mike DeWine has endorsed three people for president, none of whom are Newt Gingrich, who knows a thing or two (or three) about... well, you get where this is going. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, February 17th, 2012:
REID CALLS FOR RECESS APPOINTMENTS - Jen Bendery: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) fired a warning shot to Republicans on Friday: Stop blocking President Barack Obama's executive branch nominees or I'll ask him to bypass the Senate and recess appoint all of them. ... Reid then proceeded to read through a list of stalled executive branch nominees and, just to make the point that Republicans have no intention of letting them advance, he objected to all of them himself. 'Every one of these I'm going to reject on behalf of the Republicans,' he said. 'How do you like that?'" [HuffPost]
CHRISTIE VETOES GAY MARRIAGE BILL - "Gov. Chris Christie has followed through on his promise to reject a bill allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey by quickly vetoing the measure Friday. The veto came a day after the state Assembly passed the bill. The state Senate had passed it on Monday. Christie, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, had vowed 'very swift action' once the bill reached his desk. In returning the bill to the Legislature, Christie reaffirmed his view that voters should decide whether to change the definition of marriage in New Jersey. His veto also proposed creating an ombudsman to oversee compliance with the state's civil union law, which same-sex couples have said is flawed." [AP]
Meanwhile, in Maryland: "Maryland lawmakers set a much-anticipated vote on Friday whether to legalize gay marriage, just a day after a similar measure on the contentious social issue passed in New Jersey. During nearly two hours of often-impassioned debate earlier on Friday, Maryland supporters of the 'Civil Marriage Protection Act' turned back a handful of amendments offered by opponents to delay or derail it. The House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the Maryland General Assembly, then adjourned until 4:30 p.m. local time, when it will vote on whether to advance the bill to the state Senate, which passed a comparable measure a year ago." [Reuters]
Dick Cheney helped push Maryland lawmakers to support the bill.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Contrary to what Mitt Romney thinks, the safety net does not automatically catch every poor or struggling person. Of 15 million people who lost jobs from 2007 to 2009, only half received unemployment insurance, according to the Government Accountability Office. Roughly a quarter of the recipients -- 2 million people -- ran out of benefits by 2010. Of that group, 46 percent remained totally unemployed. Eighteen percent received Social Security benefits and 15 percent got food stamps. Less than 3 percent landed on welfare. [GAO]
DOUBLE DOWNER Martina Howell of Langhorne, Pa., said she lost her job as an officer manager in December 2010. Since then, she said she's been paying the mortgage and raising her son with the help of her parents and unemployment insurance.
"The stigma of being unemployed is terrible," Howell said. The stigma comes from the mere fact that she has no work, and it's compounded by everyday small talk and watching other people happily live their lives on Facebook. She said she gained 30 pounds last year. "Your self-worth, your value inside," Howell said. "People are like, 'Oh what do you do? ... When did you lose your job?' When I say December 2010, people say, 'Oh my god.'" [HuffPost]
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HAPPY PAYROLL TAX HOLIDAY! - We'd forgotten that Congress can actually get things done. This morning an extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits passed 292 to 132 -- when House Republicans stopped objecting, if that gives you any clue as to who the wrench is over there -- with notable no votes from Paul Ryan, Appropriations chairman Hal Rogers and NRCC chairman Pete Sessions. The bill moved over to the Senate, which passed it within an hour. Dems who voted "no": Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was also a "no." [HuffPost]
'THE BIG THING' ABOUT THE BILL - Michele Bachmann voted for the payroll tax extension, but she told conservative radio host Mark Levin on Thursday that the most important piece of the bill is blocking the use of welfare money in strip clubs. "They get these debit cards, they can walk into a casino, they can walk into a liquor store, they can walk into a strip club and if there's an ATM machine in there, they can use their welfare card, draw down the money and use it to pay for gambling, lap dances," she said. [HuffPost]
OBAMA CONTINUES SLOW EVOLUTION - The Justice Department will no longer defend legislation that denies military and veteran benefits to same-sex couples, according to a letter sent from Eric Holder to Congress on Friday. TPM: "As Holder writes, the benefits in question 'include medical and dental benefits, basic housing allowances, travel and transportation allowances, family separation benefits, military identification cards, visitation rights in military hospitals, survivor benefits, and the right to be buried together in military cemeteries.'" [TPM]
GOP TRANSPORTATION BILL WOULD BENEFIT GOP-BACKING EXECUTIVE'S COMPANIES - Dave Jamieson: "House Republicans are trying to pass a transportation bill that would strip certain workers of their minimum-wage and overtime protections. As it turns out, several of the companies that would benefit from the change have recently been sued by their employees for allegedly violating wage laws. One of those companies, Evansville, Ind.-based Professional Transportation, Inc. (PTI), has lobbied lawmakers to have its workers exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act, the 1938 federal law that guarantees basic labor rights. Ronald Romain, the president of PTI's parent company, and his wife, Connie Romain, donated more than $55,000 to GOP election efforts last year." [HuffPost]
OLD AND TIRED: ROMNEY. THE NEW HOTNESS: SANTORUM - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Friday that he spent sleepless nights thinking about Romney and Santorum, eventually deciding that the latter would be a better choice for president. Unfortunately, he'd already endorsed Romney. Romney supporter and former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu played down switch to reporters, saying endorsements are overrated and that it was likely because DeWine didn't like a pro-Romney ad about Santorum's support for voting rights for felons. DeWine said he'd never seen the ad. [Politico, HuffPost]
@ericfehrn: Mike DeWine makes his third endorsement in six months -- Pawlenty, Romney, and now Santorum. I think that's a record.
RON PAUL AND MITT ROMNEY: BFFS - Mitt Romney has courted Ron Paul's friendship, even though Paul calls him a flip-flopper, NYT: "The candidates' spouses, Ann Romney and Carol Paul, 'know each other better than any of the other wives,' Mr. Paul said. He and Mr. Romney talk 'all the time' and 'we've met all their kids.' Once he telephoned Mr. Romney just as Mr. Romney was calling him. 'Sometimes I'm never sure who issued a call,' he said." Aww. [NYT]
FBI THWARTS POSSIBLE ATTACK ON CAPITOL - A man was arrested Friday in an FBI sting after he came near the Capitol with what he thought were bombs, allegedly planning to detonate them on the grounds. The agency had been tracking him for months and provided him with inert weapons, but said the public was not in danger, according to the Associated Press. [AP]
OBAMA RAISES $29 MILLION - Breaking the hearts of reporters who wanted to scoop it, the Obama campaign announced on Twitter that it raised $29.1 million in January, which will go to his re-election bid and to the DNC. 98 percent of the donations were for less than $250. [AP]
The New York Times put together its obituary of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid in only 90 minutes so it could be in the national edition of Friday's paper. [Poynter]
PARTY LIKE A FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE EXECUTIVE - Executives from for-profit colleges took a relaxing break in Lake Tahoe this week, where they enjoyed skiing, an "experimental shower," and a lot of cocktails, getting away from those students who, on average, graduate with more debt and worse job prospects than graduates of non-profit schools. Chris Kirkham was there to observe: "'You get a treatment yet?' asked Brian Moran, who just stepped down as interim chairman of the trade group and heads Virginia's Democratic Party.'Just got done with it,' said Robert Herzog, the CFO of Harrison College in Indiana and a member of the trade group's board. 'Sweet,' replied Moran." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Kids trample man.
DAVID BROOKS: WAIT, RELIGION AND SPORTS? - People had a field day with this one: "Jeremy Lin is anomalous in all sorts of ways. He's a Harvard grad in the N.B.A., an Asian-American man in professional sports. But we shouldn't neglect the biggest anomaly. He's a religious person in professional sports." [NYT]
@benjysarlin: But the biggest anomaly of this Full House episode was how everyone hugged at the end #otherDavidBrooksledes
- Pomeranian puppy defends home from terrifying intruder. [http://bit.ly/AoO0R1]
- Previously: ads for cats. Now: 24/7 channel for dogs. [http://bit.ly/wKY39q]
- As developers make video games more realistic, we should remember our secondary goal: make reality more game-like. [http://bit.ly/wE4gLP]
- Amusing/bewildering Aussie tech school ad. Your move, ITT. [http://bit.ly/zXfsTd]
- Justin Vernon and Sean Carey (Bon Iver) playing through skeletal versions of several songs. [http://bit.ly/y008gQ]
- Small business owner hurt by
his own poor decisions struggling economy. [http://bit.ly/zpfH8B]
- John Cleese responds to YouTube comments on Monty Python sketches. [http://bit.ly/wITH5v]
- Corgis are a generally happy breed. [http://bit.ly/xo3Hv8]
- RIP Anthony Shadid, NYT's Beirut bureau chief and Pulitzer-winning foreign correspondent. [http://nyti.ms/Aiuq9s]
@LOLGOP: Ha. Fannie issues RT @DickMorrisTweet I don't think independents will support Gingrich because of his temperament, & issues with Fannie Mac.
@delreyster: Obama campaign spent $12k on Apple products in January. Meanwhile, Romney staff continued to do all its work for an Android.
@pourmecoffee: Marriage equality is passing in Maryland. Maybe Omar can finally settle down.
6:00pm - Closing: Half-price drinks at the The Pour House if you give $10 towards clean water in Africa. You know you'll drink more than one, so just do it. [319 Pennsylvania Ave., SE]
7:00pm: Now that he's not so busy with TV, Pat Buchanan's got plenty of time to toast his new biography, "Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan." [5015 Connecticut Ave., NW]
7:00pm: The regular weirdos in Lafayette Park will get some company from new weirdos, when the Pray Without Ceasing Movement (PWCM) holds a White House Spiritual Tribute to Whitney Houston. [Across from the White House]
Fri - Sat: New Orleans Rep. Cedric Richmond belongs to the Mardi Gras crewe, Zulu, so we're pretty sure his weekend-long party won't suck. [New Orleans, La.]
Fri - Sat: The antidote to Cedric Richmond's totally fun Mardi Gras party? Allen West's Palm Beach Luncheon and Golf Outing. See you in NoLa. [Palm Beach, Fla.]
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