A National Review contributor believes manlier janitors would help prevent school shootings, an idea first put forth by our favorite Heritage Foundation fellow, Groundskeeper Willie. Joe Biden was placed in charge of a firearms track force, so here's hoping he doesn't make any "gun show" jokes. And Jay Rockefeller wants to commission a study on the effects violent video games have on children. With the forthcoming release of "Call of Duty 5: Custodial Warfare," it couldn't come soon enough. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, December 19th, 2012:
ALL DEMOCRATS LOVE CHAINED CPI - If they tell you otherwise, don't listen to 'em. Mike McAuliff: "Congressional Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), moved towards embracing benefit cuts in Social Security, signaling greater willingness to change the way inflation is calculated for recipients Wednesday. Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Capitol Hill that a cut proposed by President Barack Obama in the fiscal cliff negotiations would in fact "strengthen" the program, echoing the claims often made by Republicans about entitlement programs they want to slash. Her remarks come a day after she said that liberals in Congress who are unhappy with Obama's concession to the GOP would nevertheless support them. The cut involves swapping out the traditional method for calculating cost of living increases by switching a the current standard for measuring inflation for something called a chained CPI, or chained Consumer Price Index. The cuts would start small, but wind up costing beneficiaries thousands over time, which is why Democrats have traditionally fought the idea. But Pelosi wrapped both her arms around it Wednesday, insisting she does not regard it as a 'cut.' 'No, I don't,' she told reporters. 'I consider it a strengthening of Social Security, but that's neither here nor there,' she said."
NEVERMIND: LEAHY TO CHAIR JUDICIARY, MIKULSKI TAKES OVER APPROPRIATIONS - Looks like Maryland is about to get a ton more train station and bridge renovations. CNN: "Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, will step up to the helm of the Senate Appropriations committee, three Democratic sources told CNN, and one source said she would be the first woman to chair that powerful panel. Her assignment to that committee comes after Sen. Patrick Leahy said earlier Wednesday he would not take the post. He chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and became the most senior Democrat in the Senate after the death this week of Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who previously chaired the Appropriations committee. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, who was planning to take over the Judiciary Committee if Leahy vacated the chairman's job, will instead remain the chairman of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, according to Feinstein who spoke to CNN." [CNN]
Non-sellout alert: "Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) will join the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) after the end of his term in January, the organization announced Wednesday. In addition, GMF will establish the Richard G. Lugar Institute for Diplomacy to 'honor Senator Lugar's legacy and continued commitment to international cooperation.' The institute will work to improve understanding between the Washington diplomatic corps and Congress." [WaPo]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of the Jobless: "I lost my job in February and I knew it was coming and thought I prepared for it by taking my severance and paying my house payment, car payment car insurance a year ahead so that I could finish my degree and be able to use my unemployment to live, help support the girls and look for new employment. Now, the Congress, those that are well set, and live nicely, without worry, do not live by the laws they create for others to live by..........and will no doubt want an 'increase' in their already much too high salary........are playing with our lives." [Hang in there!]
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OBAMA ANNOUNCES GUN CONTROL TASK FORCE - Gun control reform will be meaningless if we don't close The Most Dangerous Game loophole. AP: "Spurred by a horrific elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama tasked his administration Wednesday with creating concrete proposals to reduce the gun violence that has plagued the country. 'This time, the words need to lead to action,' said Obama, who set a January deadline for the recommendations. He tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading the effort and vowed to push for implementation of the policy proposals without delay...The president also called on Congress Wednesday to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and to pass legislation that would close the gun show 'loophole,' which allows people to purchase firearms from private dealers without a background check. Obama also said he wanted Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity ammunition clips." [AP]
OBAMA GIVES THE JOBLESS A SHOUTOUT - During his press conference, Obama criticized House Speaker John Boehner's so-called Plan B proposal to hike taxes only on incomes above $1 million, a level far above that of the $400,000 stipulated in the president's most recent offer. "The speaker is now proposing what he calls Plan B, so he says, 'Well, this would raise taxes only on folks making a million dollars or more.' What that means is an average of a $50,000 tax break for every millionaire," Obama said. "At the same time we are not providing unemployment insurance for 2 million people still out there looking for work." [HuffPost]
'HELL NO YOU CAN'T!' BOEHNER RETURNS - Much to our chagrin, as our favorite Boehners are undoubtedly Cowgirl Boehner and Malibu Boehner. AP: "House Speaker John Boehner says President Barack Obama should support a Republican plan to avoid January tax increases on everyone but those earning over $1 million. Boehner says if Obama doesn't support the measure, the president will be responsible for what he calls 'the largest tax increase in American history.' Boehner spoke to reporters Wednesday at the Capitol after Obama said he believed a deal with the speaker was close to avoid the 'fiscal cliff' -- huge tax boosts and spending cuts taking effect in January unless lawmakers head them off. Obama and Boehner have yet to produce a compromise. Boehner plans a House vote Thursday on his Plan B -- which would head off most of the tax increases. The White House says Obama would veto that measure." [AP]
The press conference lasted 52 seconds. Boehner took no questions.
@edhenryTV: Paul Ryan says he's voting for Plan B #heygirl
Maybe Boehner's frustration stems from the fact that no one from his staff has spoken to the White House in a while... and that includes truncated text messages ("U ok w <1M y/n?") and emoji-based responses ("::thumbs down:: ::crying face:: ::penguin::"). Sam Stein: "Negotiations over resolving the so-called fiscal cliff have hit a standstill as top Obama administration officials say they have not had formal talks with House Speaker John Boehner's office since Monday. The officials, who briefed reporters on the condition that they not be quoted, flatly rejected the speaker's latest proposal to fully extend the Bush-era tax rates for income under $1 million. The White House's veto threat issued earlier in the day was sincere, they said. Moreover, they said they would not consider the offer as a formal proposal as a starting point to conduct future negotiations. Instead, they said they would work off Boehner's previous offer, which included a variety of entitlement reforms and spending cuts to go along with $1 million in revenue increases." [HuffPost]
His Beardiness, Grover Norquist, issued His opinion on John Boehner's plan B and it was Good. LA Times: "Grover Norquist, the keeper of anti-tax conservatism, gave his blessing Wednesday to House Speaker John A. Boehner's plan to increase taxes on those earning more than $1 million a year. Norquist's change of heart is a substantial shift for the president of Americans for Tax Reform, who for more than 25 years has been the enforcer of no-new-taxes purity in the Republican Party. 'Republicans supporting this bill are this week affirming to their constituents in writing that this bill -- the sole purpose of which is to prevent tax increases -- is consistent with the pledge they made to them,' Norquist's organization said in a statement." [LA Times]
GRAND THEFT ROCKEFELLER: SENATOR INTRODUCES VIDEO GAME LEGISLATION - This is no doubt going to irk Barbara Mikulski, whose weekly World of Warcraft LAN party is one of last facilitators of bipartisanship on the Hill. Orrin Hatch is a stellar wildhammer dwarf. Amanda Terkel: "Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has introduced one of Congress' first pieces of legislation related to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.: a bill to study the impact of violent video games on children. 'This week, we are all focused on protecting our children. At times like this, we need to take a comprehensive look at all the ways we can keep our kids safe. I have long expressed concern about the impact of the violent content our kids see and interact with every day,' said Rockefeller, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Rockefeller's bill would direct the National Academy of Sciences to lead the investigation on video games' impact and submit a report on its findings within 18 months. The legislation comes after reports suggested that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza may have played video games like 'Call of Duty' and 'Starcraft.'" [HuffPost]
The House of Representatives is whiter than a foam party in a mayonnaise factory. As this great infographic from HuffPost Black Voices points out, the demographic makeup of the lower chamber is totally out-of-sync with the population it represents.
BENGHAZI REPORT FINDS NO COVER-UP - The woefully sloppy report -- it contains absolutely no mention of the New Black Panther party -- absolves the Obama administration of a totally discredited conspiracy theory... but that's about it. Josh Hersh: "An investigation into the State Department's preparations for and management of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has concluded that 'systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies' within the department played a major role in the devastation that took place there in September...The new report, by an independent Accountability Review Board established by the State Department, concluded that two bureaus at the department -- Near East Affairs and Diplomacy Security -- failed to properly recognize the rising dangers of Eastern Libya despite the lack of any specific threats, and neglected the growing concerns of security analysts on the ground about the capabilities of the local Libyan guard force." [HuffPost]
The report accelerated the speed of the NGO/Foggy Bottom revolving door. AP: "An administration official says the chief of the State Department's security service, one of his deputies and an official from the agency's Middle East bureau have resigned after a damning report that found systematic management failures responsible for a lack of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. The official said Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, stepped down under pressure after the release of the report. The third official worked for the Bureau of Near East Affairs, but wasn't immediately identified, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss personnel matters publicly." [AP]
REPUBLICANS TO LAUNCH THEIR OWN PUBLIC POLICY POLLING-LIKE FIRM - We look forward to it running all manner of attention-grabbing surveys aimed at piquing conservatives' interests ("34 percent of Democrats think Mao Tse Tung 'wasn't that bad of a guy,'" "21 percent of liberals want American soldiers to attend pagan healing retreats," etc). Politico: "With the GOP still reeling from its defeats in the 2012 election, a new Republican polling firm is seeking to help the party bounce back with a fresh stream of data on the state of the electorate. The outfit, Harper Polling, launches this week with the goal of putting the party on parity with Democrats in the field of IVR polling -- a term that stands for interactive voice response polling, commonly known as 'robo-polling.' For several cycles now, Democrats have benefited from a high-volume, relatively inexpensive flow of survey data from the company Public Policy Polling, which takes hundreds of polls in any given cycle checking up on individual races and national issue debates. Some of those surveys are released to the public, while others are conducted for private purposes by Democratic campaigns and interest groups." [Politico]
NEWT GINGRICH: MARKSMAN JESUS WOULD HAVE STOPPED SHOOTING - The former House speaker took a break from gawking at lemurs and whatnot to opine on the causes of Friday's shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In short: Our no gun zones and "holiday" pageants have driven Jesus and his concealed Colt O1991 from our schools."When you have an anti-religious, secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive God out of public life, something fills the vacuum," Gingrich told Brian Thomas of 55KRC in Cincinnati this morning. "And that something, you know, I don't know that going from communion to playing war games in which you practice killing people is necessarily an improvement." [ThinkProgress]
National Review held a symposium on the shooting and, naturally, came to some totally sensible conclusions. Here's Charlotte Allen, one of the participants: "In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K-6 school), all the personnel... were female. There didn't even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza's knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers... a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak... Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza." [National Review]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby otter pretends to eat a snack.
PARTY LIKE IT'S 1863 - HuffPost DC: "New Year's Eve for history buffs: On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Ring in the New Year and this document's 150th anniversary with the original -- rarely-shown -- Emancipation Proclamation, which will be on view at the National Archives." [HuffPost]
- "To Catch A Puppeteer," a spoof of the pedophile-hunting show starring Neil Patrick Harris. [http://bit.ly/UcWhxh]
- A short documentary about one man's mission to climb Europe's tallest building. [http://bit.ly/Tv8MSG]
- "Dumb Ways To Die," the "Walking Dead" version. [http://chzb.gr/YhgyVk]
- Cats' selfishness know no bounds. Watch as this one crashes a wedding. [http://huff.to/XK1Vot]
- A company gave all of its profits to the Wikimedia Foundation, "For telling us how much boar sperm costs." [http://chzb.gr/TY47rc]
- For $60,000 you'll soon be able to own your own mini-jet airplane. [http://bit.ly/YkPHaQ]
- Remember Chuck Testa, the low-key taxidermist? Here he is being Santa Claus. [http://bit.ly/12AeruV]
@elisefoley: Congress doesn't need Plan B. The White House has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. #heyo
@daveweigel: The "Person of the Year" honor could help Obama in the Gallup tracking poll.
@KagroX: They should add the 50 yard gunman rush to the Presidential Physical Fitness Award program.
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