Congress is out of session this week, which might be why all those wide-eyed woodland creatures emerged from hibernation and people spontaneously broke out into choreographed song and dance. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on gay marriage in late March, just in time for wedding season. And if it wasn't already obvious that Washington is broken, Robert Griffin III's injured knee is added karmic proof. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, January 7th, 2013:
OBAMA CLOSE TO CHOOSING LEW - Bloomberg: "President Barack Obama is close to choosing White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew for Treasury secretary with an announcement as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter. Selecting Lew to replace Timothy F. Geithner would also require Obama to install a new chief of staff, the first step in a White House staff shuffle for his second term. Many of the president’s senior aides may be taking new roles as the president recasts his team, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters. While Obama hasn’t made a final decision to pick Lew, his staff has been instructed to prepare for his nomination, said one of the people. Among the leading candidates to replace Lew as Obama’s chief of staff are Denis McDonough, currently a deputy national security adviser, and Ron Klain, who had served as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff." [Bloomberg]
AIPAC WON'T FIGHT HAGEL NOMINATION: REPORT - We're still upset the president didn't choose Dog the Bounty Hunter. Daily Beast: "An informed source tells me that during a hotly debated recent conference call that included top AIPAC lay leaders, the organization decided not to aggressively challenge Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense. The justification: AIPAC’s long-standing tradition of not involving itself in confirmation battles. (An AIPAC spokesperson did not respond to emails requesting comment.) That tracks what I was told this morning by Morton Klein, who runs the smaller and more hawkish Zionist Organization of America. Klein says that when rumors about Hagel’s nomination began flying roughly a monthly ago, he called the leaders of several Jewish groups to rustle up opposition, including the American Jewish Committee’s David Harris, the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and the lay leader of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Richard Stone. When he called AIPAC, 'several top guys, major lay leaders on the board,' told Klein that 'we don’t deal with nominees. We deal with policies.'" [Daily Beast]
Hagel's abortion views aren't deal breakers among progressive lawmakers, if Jeanne Shaheen is any indication. Laura Bassett: "Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently sponsored a bill to extend abortion insurance coverage to military rape victims. While Hagel did not cast a vote on that particular legislation, he voted four times between 1998 and 2003 to uphold a ban on abortions at military hospitals, and he announced in 1995 that he had "tightened" his position on abortion to oppose it in cases of rape and incest... But Shaheen does not seem particularly worried about her differences with Hagel on abortion. 'This is one of many issues Senator Shaheen looks forward to discussing with Senator Hagel during the confirmation process,' her spokesperson, Shripal Shah, told HuffPost on Monday." [HuffPost]
There's going to be a lot of opinion shifting over the next few weeks. Luke Johnson: "GOP senators are now vowing a tough fight against Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, but in 2008 several top Republicans offered strong praise of their Senate colleague after the Nebraska Republican decided not to run for a third term. In a series of tributes published by the Government Printing Office, Republicans lionized their departing colleague. 'In two terms in the Senate, Chuck has earned the respect of his colleagues and risen to national prominence as a clear voice on foreign policy and national security,' said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Oct. 2, 2008. [HuffPost]
OBAMA'S ACTUAL CONTROVERSIAL NOMINEE, GUY WHO BACKED TORTURE, NOT CONTROVERSIAL - But what about your drones' gaffes? CNN: "President Barack Obama on Monday nominated his chief counterterrorism adviser to be the next CIA director. 'In John Brennan, the men and women of the CIA will have the leadership of one of our nation's most skilled and respected intelligence professionals,' Obama said at the White House. Brennan, 57, has been Obama's assistant for counterterrorism and homeland security since 2009. In that role, Obama said, Brennan worked closely with many government agencies...Brennan has shaped the White House's strategy to aggressively pursue suspected terrorists -- dramatically escalating the use of armed unmanned aircraft, often referred to as drones -- and to kill them in the ungoverned territories of Pakistan and in Yemen." [CNN]
JOHN BOEHNER FINDS SOLACE AMONG THE TIKI TORCHES - This one's for you, John: "House Speaker John Boehner, in Florida for Monday’s Notre Dame-Alabama college football championship game, turned up this weekend at a swank resort in the Keys for some R&R. Boehner -- protective detail in tow -- was spotted drinking and smoking Saturday with a young couple at an outdoor tiki bar on the grounds of the Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Fla. His companions were one of his political aides and the aide’s girlfriend, according to a GOP source." [Politico]
Journalism update: "When you undergo gastric bypass surgery, NEVER TRUST A FART -- and Al Roker learned that lesson the hard way ... at the White House."
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST WEIGHS IN ON THE CABINET - For HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, cabinets are usually the place where he stores survival seeds. Not today. "Puh-soy-go-pul likes the idea of a bipartisan cabinet, but would rather have Sen. Joe Lieberman at defense. I wish more Democrats would be statesmen-like and open minded like him." Pressed for more, PSLGOPL qualified his remarks: "I think calling someone a statesman is the most damning thing you can call someone." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Republicans in the Texas legislature are ready to follow through with Rick Perry's fiscally responsible and constitutionally sound plan to make unemployed people pee in cups in order to receive benefits. "We just think that if you're looking to go back to work, you should be ready to go back to work," State Sen. Tommy Williams told a local paper. Congress said in February that states could do this in limited circumstances, but the Labor Department hasn't issued the necessary rulemaking yet. DDD's guess is that these statehouse guys are either unaware or indifferent to the federal law, even though failure to comply will forfeit tax credits and cost state businesses millions. That's before the ACLU kicks the state's butt in court, and it turns out the amount of money not spent on benefits is dwarfed by the cost of the tests. But whatever. [BeaumontEnterprise.com]
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IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT COSTS BIG - Elise Foley: "The United States spends more money on immigration enforcement -- nearly $18 billion in the 2012 fiscal year -- than on its other law enforcement agencies combined, according to a report released Monday from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. That spending went to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol and US-Visit, a program that helps states and localities identify undocumented immigrants. By contrast, the U.S. spent $14.4 billion -- combined -- on its other prime law enforcement agencies: the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives." [HuffPost]
BLING BLING UPDATE - One House Republican, obviously terrified that a black man might solve our country's financial problems with bling, introduced an anti-platinum coin bill. Zach Carter: "Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is introducing legislation that would ban President Barack Obama and the U.S. Treasury from minting platinum coins to avert the debt ceiling standoff. The bill, first reported by Joe Weisenthal at The Business Insider, raises the profile of 'the platinum option,' which has received little serious attention in the nation's capital. It also rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of both the debt ceiling and how the magic coin trick -- officially known as 'coin seigniorage' -- would work. A 1996 law grants the Treasury Department the power to mint platinum coins with any face value, regardless of how much platinum is used. A 1-ounce coin could be minted at $1 trillion, $5 trillion or any other amount. 'This scheme to mint trillion-dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous,' Walden said in a written statement Monday." [HuffPost]
Krugman is now pro-coin.
SUPREME COURT SETS DATE FOR GAY MARRIAGE ARGUMENTS - The high court will hear arguments on the legality of same-sex marriage in late March, which is shortly after the U.S. is expected to hit the next debt ceiling date. #WeddingPlannerStimulus NBC News: "The U.S. Supreme Court has set aside two days in late March to hear oral argument on the same-sex marriage cases. On Tuesday, March 26, it will take up the fight over California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. The next day, Wednesday, March 27, it will hear the challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the states where they're legal." [NBC News]
In other Supreme Court news, those of us who'll be needing a new liver from an organ vending machine in 2045 won a big victory today. The Hill: "The Supreme Court will not review a challenge to federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research, allowing the controversial studies to proceed. The justices on Monday rejected an appeal from two scientists who said stem-cell research violates federal law banning the creation and destruction of human embryos for scientific purposes. The decision is a boon to supporters of stem-cell research, who believe it will yield treatments and cures for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's." [The Hill]
POLL: OBAMA WINS FISCAL CLIFF FIGHT, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT MATTERS - Democrats would toast to the president, but the expiration of the payroll tax holiday has reduced their alcohol allowance. Pew: "The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 3-6 among 1,003 adults, finds that 57% say that Obama got more of what he wanted from the tax legislation while just 20% say Republican leaders got more of what they wanted. And while 48% approve of the way Obama handled the fiscal cliff negotiations only 19% approve of the way GOP leaders handled the negotiations. Republicans take a particularly sour view of the outcome: just 16% approve of the final legislation, and by a 74% to 11% margin they think Obama got more of what he wanted. Only 40% of Republicans approve of how their party’s leaders handled the negotiations; by comparison, fully 81% of Democrats approve of how Obama handled the negotiations." [Pew]
After the show it's the Tea Party and after the Tea Party it's the hotel lobby and 'round about four you gotta devise a new political messaging strategy: "The Tea Party is more unpopular than ever before, according to a Rasmussen poll released Monday, with just three in 10 voters holding favorable views of the movement. Half of respondents said they view the party unfavorably. Those numbers represent a considerable dive in support since the Tea Party's heyday in 2009, when a majority of voters rated it favorably." [HuffPost's Ariel Edwards-Levy]
BOOKER TRYING TO NUDGE LAUTENBERG OUT - Which exit? Any. Daily News: "Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he's giving New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg 'space' to make a decision about running for re-election -- but also acknowledged he still hasn't been able to get a meeting with the senior New Jersey Democrat. 'I want to give him the space to make his own decision. I've announced my intention to run, but the reality is – is we've got a good Senator. He's been loyal. He's been there for a long time,' Booker said during an interview on CNN Monday. 'And I think that he's got a decision to make.'... 'I hope to talk to him,' Booker said. J'We've reached out to him a number of times. In fact, I had a plane trip going down to meet with him, but unfortunately with a lot of the challenges going down in Washington, he had to cancel the meeting.'... Booker wouldn’t speculate on whether he would launch a primary campaign against the 88-year old senator if he runs for re-election in 2014. 'I think it’s too early to talk about those kinds of hypotheticals ‘cause he hasn’t made his decision yet,' Booker said." [Daily News]
The Onion: "4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence"
This sounds like a critically acclaimed show on BBC America that no one watches: "In need of cash and with extra space on its hands, the liberal magazine The American Prospect decided to sublet part of its Washington offices. The American Conservative, tired of working from Arlington, Va., was looking for a new location. When the publishers Jay Harris of The Prospect and Wick Allison of The Conservative were getting lunch in August, they put two and two together. A six-month lease was soon signed. The self-described bastion of 'traditional conservatism' moved in with the self-described 'liberal, progressive, lefty' on Dec. 27." [NYT]
TICKETMASTER FINDS WAY TO SCREW UP INAUGURATION - Ticketmaster, the company that would charge a three-dollar processing fee on breathing if it found a way, found a way to ruin one of America's most sacred democratic rituals. Politico: "The event ticket behemoth was supposed to put tickets on sale for President Barack Obama's inauguration on Monday but accidentally opened up purchasing on Sunday evening. The company had to apologize to the site's users. 'During testing of our email system tonight, you may have inadvertently received an invitation to purchase tickets for 2013 inauguration events, including the Inaugural Ball or the Inaugural Parade,' Ticketmaster said. 'Public tickets to these events were originally scheduled to go on sale tomorrow morning -- you received the email tonight in error, and Ticketmaster takes responsibility for this mistake." [Politico]
Don't be surprised if price controls start being set at Asbury Park tilt-a-whirls. John Celock: "A 19-year-old socialist took office last week as the member of a local school board in New Jersey. Pat Noble, a pharmacy clerk, was sworn-in as a member of the Red Bank Regional High School Board of Education after defeating an incumbent in November's election, NJ.com reported. Noble is the founder of the Socialist Party of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, which seeks to promote socialist ideals in the two Jersey shore counties." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway power wheels-driving dog was borrrrrnnnn to be wiiiiiiiild.
MARION BARRY'S 'PSYCHIC INTUITION' ABOUT THE REDSKINS - HuffPost DC: "Former District of Columbia Mayor and current Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has never been shy about tweeting what's on his mind. The Redskins, naturally, have been a major topic of conversation, especially has the team made the playoffs for the first time since Barry was mayor of the nation's capital. During Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, one of Barry's followers tweeted that the councilmember had some 'psychic intuition' about the Redskins, who ended up falling to Seattle." [HuffPost]
- Two enter... two leave. Kitten takes on pug. [http://bit.ly/13cuBuZ]
- A band of robots play Motorhead. Once robots know how to sing karaoke, our species will be rendered irrelevant. [http://chzb.gr/10ZQgba]
- Scientists captured the 13 meters-long giant squid on camera. [http://bit.ly/XClGnb]
- "Is it always illegal to kill a woman?" and other mind-bogglingly sexist retro print advertisements. [http://bit.ly/UPmEZG]
- Someone mounted a camera on a trombone slide and played. [http://bit.ly/XezD6J]
- Fans of "Downtown Abbey" should take a few moments out of wishing they had a different life to check out "Edith With Googly Eyes." [http://bit.ly/UCPyLn]
- Claire Danes' characters replaced with Great Danes. [http://bit.ly/118mReT]
@nickbaumann: Paul Krugman: Danny Glover for Treasury
@pourmecoffee: Chiefs introducing Andy Reid. John McCain will come out against him if he accidentally thinks it's still part of Obama recommendation.
@BenjySarlin: Gonzo journalism idea: reporter goes to a bar and tries to pick up women using only Joe Biden's lines from swearing in
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