Thanks to the Citizens United ruling, super rich people can singlehandedly prop up political candidacies and receive sizable tax breaks in the process (AND realize the Founders' original intent!). National Review and a public radio program are -- Dear. God. -- getting along. And Mitt Romney is on course to win the Illinois primary, make some poorly timed comments about the state's anemic manufacturing sector and tell the crowd at his victory party that it's "On to Illinois!" This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, March 19th, 2012:
MOST ILLINOIS VOTERS, LIVING AND DEAD, LIKELY TO VOTE FOR ROMNEY TOMORROW - Awkward Romney rich guy jokes about popping some "Champagne Urbana" to follow? Only time will tell. Mark Blumenthal crunches: "Mitt Romney has been steadily building a lead in pledged delegates, but Tuesday's Illinois primary may be where he regains the perception of momentum in the Republican nomination contest. Four surveys released in the last week all show the former Massachusetts governor leading, while the two most recent ones have him gaining support, with his margins over former Sen. Rick Santorum hitting double digits. The two most recent telephone surveys in Illinois were conducted over the weekend. A live interviewer survey fielded by the American Research Group (ARG) showed Romney leading Santorum by 14 percentage points (44 to 30 percent), while an automated, recorded voice conducted by the Democratic Party-affiliated firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) gives Romney a 15-point advantage (45 to 30 percent)." [HuffPost]
BIDNESS ROUNDTABLE SPENDING BIG FOR TAX REFORM - Good news for Hill paper ad teams everywhere. Chris Frates: "The Business Roundtable on Tuesday will launch a two-week long lobbying and media blitz to raise the profile of corporate tax reform. The campaign comes ahead of April 1, the date Japan lowers its business tax rate and the United States officially becomes the country with the highest rate in the developed world. The inside-the-Beltway campaign will feature shoe-leather lobbying, earned media, a series of online videos and print advertisements. During the April recess, the organization will press its case in district meetings with lawmakers." Of course, we also have one of the lowest effective corporate tax rates. But who's counting? [Nat'l Journal]
UPSTANDING PERSON TO ENTER POLITICS - God be with whichever political consultant has to tar this guy's reputation. John Celock: "Shaking up the race to succeed Gabrielle Giffords, her former congressional aide Ron Barber announced that he will seek a full term in Congress this year. Barber, shot twice in the January 2011 assassination attempt on Giffords, had been the only Democrat running for the remaining six months on Giffords' term in a June special election in the 8th Congressional District. Saying he was encouraged by Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, to run for a full term, Barber now turns the crowded Democratic field for the full term in the newly drawn 2nd District upside down, with the popular former congresswoman's support. Just a week ago, the New York Times reported that Barber was unlikely to run for a full term." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - New rules are kicking in for people receiving federal unemployment insurance, and weeks of benefits are being reduced. While nearly every state already required claimants to actively search for work in order to receive benefits, the February payroll tax cut deal will reaffirm the requirement and also force workers to maintain detailed records of their job applications. Additionally, states are now required to assess federal unemployment claimants' work skills and try to connect them with jobs. Congress also said states could drug test certain workers applying for benefits, but the Labor Department has not yet issued a rule clarifying which workers, exactly, states can force to pee in cups. [HuffPost]
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CITIZENS UNITED WILL HELP YOU ELECT WHICHEVER CANDIDATE YOU PLEASE... AND PROVIDE UNPARALLELED TAX RELIEF! - Not only might Foster Friess get his primary candidate, but he also might be able to save enough to help his alma mater rebuild its business school! So we can have more Foster Friesses! ProPublica: "The Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision opened the way for unlimited corporate spending on politics and has led to the proliferation of nonprofit political groups that do not have to disclose the identities of their donors. But corporations may be getting another benefit from anonymous donations to these groups: a break on their taxes. It all starts with the so-called social welfare groups that have become bigger players in the political world in the wake of Citizens United, which knocked down restrictions on campaign activity by such groups. Tax experts say it's possible that businesses are using an aggressive interpretation of the law to wring a tax advantage out of their donations to these groups. It's almost impossible to know whether that's happening, partly because the groups -- also known by their IRS designation as 501(c)(4)s -- aren't required to disclose their donors. (That's why the contributions have been dubbed 'dark money.')" [ProPublica]
'HEY, WELL AT LEAST WE'RE WITHDRAWING, RIGHT?' PT. 1,647 - "A new report finds that U.S. forces have transferred Afghan detainees to facilities where evidence of torture was found, in violation of a ban against such transfers. The report, conducted by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission with assistance from the Open Society Foundations, found 11 'credible cases' of U.S. forces transferring individuals to NDS Kandahar in violation of a July 2011 order suspending such transfers. Four of them reported being tortured in NDS custody. The commission is an organization consisting of a group appointed by the government but independent by law. Others reported being tortured at a facility called 'Mullah Omar's House,' a residence of the former Taliban leader which was taken over by Special Forces soldiers and renamed Firebase Maholic. One man claimed he had been taken there and abused by Afghan forces. After sitting in the camp for several hours, he said, 'suddenly lashes of cable struck my head and back very hard from behind, they beat me for one hour. They wanted me to tell them who I had relations with. They were all Afghans beating me, though the beating took place in the presence of Americans.'" [HuffPost's Luke Johnson and Max Rosenthal]
A bill under consideration in the Tennessee statehouse would basically force every abortion provider in the state to live out The Most Dangerous Game. Laura Bassett: "A new bill moving through the Tennessee House of Representatives would require the state to publish the names of each doctor who performs an abortion and detailed statistics about the woman having the procedure, which opponents worry will spur anti-abortion violence in the state. The Life Defense Act of 2012, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), mandates that the Tennessee Department of Health make detailed demographic information about every woman who has an abortion available to the public, including her age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant. Each report would also have to include the name of the doctor who performed the procedure." [HuffPost]
Bros Love Quality Public Radio: Jonah Goldberg defends "This American Life"
MITT ROMNEY ONCE SAID SOMETHING HE NOW WISHES HE DIDN'T SAY, PT. 5,012 - As far political whoopsies go, there's womp womp, there's womp womp and then there's WOMP WOMP (with a kazoo, an out of tune tuba -- and maybe a penny whistle for good measure -- playing in the background). And then there's this: "[W]hen he launched his first run for office, a 1994 Senate bid to unseat Ted Kennedy, he was dogged for, of all things, having supported Democrats and moderates in the past. Romney had given a $1,000 contribution to Douglas Delano Anderson, a Democratic Senate candidate in Utah. He also gave $250 donations to Rep. John J. LaFalce (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Richard Swett, a moderate New Hampshire Democrat. The Romney campaign had an explanation ready for each of these donations. Anderson was a former neighbor and close friend. Swett was someone Romney knew personally. Rocky Anderson, the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City who Romney endorsed in 2003, was someone with whom he'd forged close ties during the Olympic Games. In addition to the individual explanations, however, Romney offered a broader reason for why the donations didn't matter. 'I don't think they're mortal sins for Republicans to make contributions to good people and to their friends, irrespective of their party,' he told reporters upon announcing his Senate bid, according to a February 3, 1994 Boston Herald article." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
While we're on the topic of Mitt Romney's ongoing womp womp problem: "Newt Gingrich came in second in the Mississippi primary last week, but he got a key vote from an influential friend. Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, an ex-national Republican Party chairman who flirted with his own presidential bid, told ABC News that he voted for Gingrich 'out of friendship.' Barbour said he didn't want to make an endorsement ahead of the Mississippi primary because he 'didn't want to try to influence anybody's vote.' He left office on Jan. 10." He's now a lobbyist. [USA Today]
RICK SANTORUM: THE ISSUE IS NOT THE ECONOMY - Jon Ward: "Rick Santorum's presidential campaign has been beset by the impression that he talks too much about things that are not central to the concerns of most voters, such as contraception, President Barack Obama's theology, and most recently, pornography. On Monday morning, as Santorum kicked off a full day of campaigning in Illinois, where he trails Mitt Romney in the polls, Santorum gave critics of his messaging more ammunition. 'The issue in this race is not the economy,' he said. His statement was part of a longer monologue about why Obama's health care overhaul is a symbol of government overreach, and that Americans' freedoms are eroding. 'The reason the economy is an issue in this race is because we have a government that is oppressing its people and taking away their freedom, and the economy is suffering as a result,' Santorum said." [HuffPost]
RICK SANTORUM('S SPOKESPERSON): THE ISSUE IS SEAMUS - On Monday, campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart defended the campaign's use of the dog story on MSNBC. 'Well, you know, the family dog is one [that] resonates with some people,' Stewart said. 'If you can't be nice to your dog, who are you going to be nice to?' In 1983, the Romney family drove to Canada with the family dog, Seamus, in a crate attached to the roof of the car. During the 12 hour drive, Seamus suffered a bout of diarrhea. Romney hosed him off at a gas station and kept driving. Soon after the Boston Globe reported the incident in 2007, Alabama resident Scott Crider launched an online group called Dogs Against Romney, which has relentlessly pushed the story with the slogan "Mitt is mean." The Santorum campaign has mentioned the story several times since last week, putting Seamus into the news big time." [HuffPost]
SANTORUM 2012: Faith, Prosperity ..... SEAMUS!!!!!!!! REMEMBER SEAMUS?!?!?!?!
'MUNICIPAL MOBUTU' - HuffPost DC: In an overly wordy column, a Canadian writer compares Marion Barry to several world despots and dictators, saying that Barry is a "big-hat-wearing celebrity who was this town's Hugo Chavez when Hugo Chavez wasn't cool."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Somebody tell us what is going on with this penguin.
S#*@ Lobbyists Say Comes To YouTube - United Republic commissioned a stuff-lobbyists-say video, but it doesn't include our favorite line, the one about unintended consequences -- the genius of which still astounds us. What else is it missing? [UnitedRepublic]
- Most awkward "Improv Everywhere" project yet? [http://bit.ly/FRJ5nh]
- Only the best astronomy time-lapse videos are set to elevator/porno music.[http://bit.ly/FS7T0V]
- 365 seconds in the (rather interesting) life of Some Guy from the internet. [http://bit.ly/FS9iEL]
- Buildings vomiting books. [http://bit.ly/FS6hV0]
- This forthcoming Snow White and the Huntsman movie is a bit different from the Disney version. [http://chzb.gr/FS8Lma]
- Unbelievable animated chase scene. Wow. [http://bit.ly/FS7bAW]
- Pop music covered on a traditional Chinese instrument? [http://chzb.gr/FRIhPg]
- Would you like a fact with your crazy photo? Of course you do. [factandaphoto.tumblr.com]
@BuddyRoemer: "Siri, are corporations people?"
@JeffreyYoung_HC: Most headlines with question marks sit atop stories that answer them with, "Eh, I dunno. Maybe?" #journalism
@mollyesque: Romney needs to give a major address on this topic that puts all the questions to rest. I refer, of course, to Seamus.
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Famous Rich Liberals Love Obama: Season 2, Episode 13, in which Michelle Obama sips cocktails with Robert De Niro, Whoopi Goldberg, and Angela Bassett. [377 Greenwich St., New York]
7:30pm: Climate change deniers get their own
coal industry propaganda movie with the premiere of "An Inconsistent Truth". (Seriously, that's the best they could do?) [212 Massachusetts Ave, NW]
5:30pm - 7:30pm: Cocktails hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities, where that liberal arts degree might finally help you get
a joba beer. [2168 Rayburn]
12:00pm - 1:30pm: Free lunch today requires that you sit through an hour-long lecture about ... (drumroll) ... Tuberculosis!! Mmm mmm, what will they think of next? [Rayburn B340]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The social worker's lobby hosts a reception that seems kind of inspiring at first, but quickly turns depressing. Think of it as career advice. [2168 Rayburn]
5:30pm - 7:30pm: What's mucheasier than social work? Shilling for Big Ag! Canola oil lobbyists host a greasy reception with tons of food. So come on, let yourself be bought. It's delicious. [1300 Longworth]
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