Americans are battling another flu epidemic, but they should know by now that the only thing that stops the influenza virus is a good guy with a gun. More than 50 percent of Hawaiians now support legalizing marijuana, meaning it's only a matter of time until the Choom Gang upgrades to the Choom Party. And Democrats don't know who they'll run for Jay Rockefeller's Senate seat, but we hope the nominee can party hard with the "Buckwild" cast in a dump truck swimming pool. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, January 11th, 2013:
BIDEN'S GUN CONTROL RECOMMENDATIONS TAKING SHAPE - His other recommendations, like mounting a neon High Life sign in the Map Room and replacing the Rose Garden with a cornhole court, will have to wait. Sam Stein: "Multiple sources close to the talks tell The Huffington Post that the vice president will make universal background checks for all gun purchases the 'top priority' of his suggestions. The idea has broad support among politicians in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as well as backing from some traditionally pro-gun rights voices. The clearest sign that background checks will be the centerpiece of the Biden recommendations, however, is that a number of gun control advocacy groups have also deemed it such, as opposed to focusing their efforts on higher-profile measures, such as those that would limit the types of guns available for purchase. That said, those measures will also likely end up in Biden's set of recommendations as well, according to an administration official." [HuffPost]
SENATE DEMS URGE OBAMA TO IGNORE THEM - Fourteenthers gaining momentum, via Sabrina Siddiqui: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other members of Senate Democratic leadership issued a letter to President Barack Obama Friday, urging the White House to bypass Congress on raising the debt ceiling. The letter, signed by Reid and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), is the strongest show of support from Senate Democrats that they would back the president if he were to use his executive authority to unilaterally raise the nation's borrowing limit in the face of opposition from House Republicans. 'In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of an unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis -- without congressional approval, if necessary,' the letter states." As we reported last week, Reid brought the 14th Amendment up in conversation with Obama after the fiscal cliff deal was reached. [HuffPost]
OBAMA MEETS KARZAI, LOOKS AHEAD TO U.S. EXIT - While Karzai, one can only assume, is looking ahead to which coalition country will give him the largest house/secure him the plumbest professorship after the Taliban overruns Kabul. AP: "President Barack Obama says the U.S. role in Afghanistan will shift to a support role later this spring and he will soon get recommendations from his top military advisers on U.S. troop drawdowns. Obama says in a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that any agreement on troop drawdowns must include an immunity agreement in which US troops are not subjected to Afghan law. Obama says the path of the U.S. military remains clear and the war is moving toward a 'responsible end' in 2014." [AP]
@reidepstein: Oh look, a Chuck Schumer presser at 10am Monday. #hagel
John Boehner officially invited President Obama to deliver the State of the Union address on February 12th. The invite was not hastily scribbled on a Trattoria Alberto napkin and speckled with wine stains.
HUFFPOST BLOGGER IN RUNNING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSIONER - We already have one in a Massachusetts Senate seat, and a bunch of them in the House. Term's almost up for Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue. Who to replace him? "Nancy Altman, who helps lead two Social Security advocacy groups, has emerged as a potential contender," reports Yvonne Wenger. "She has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and the Association of Administrative Law Judges, a network of 1,400 judges who decide disability insurance claim disputes. She is the author of 'The Battle for Social Security: From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble' and co-director of Social Security Works and co-chairwoman of the Strengthen Social Security coalition." She also blogs for HuffPost. It would be a smart move for the White House. Good way to keep her quiet. [Baltimore Sun]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of People on Social Security: "I was divorced in 2007. Lost everything I had worked for through my lifetime. Had to take early SS retirement just to be able to get off the streets. I still struggle every month to meet expenses. My benefit amount will increase from $1,018 to $1,035, an increase of $17. Wow. I can assure you that food prices have increased MORE than the 1.7% that the COLA embraces. It really stokes my furnace when I read of these people in DC who have NO CLUE what it is like to subsist on that amount monthly." [Hang in there!]
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REPUBLICAN PARTY DOESN'T HAVE A WAY OF SHUTTING DOWN ITS OFFENSIVE COMMENTS ABOUT RAPE - The Republican party is continuing its mission to convince Americans that lodged inside the reproductive organs of every adult female is the bridge of the Starship Enterprise in which Captain Kirk is directing Chekov to fire quantum torpedoes at hostile sperm. This time it's Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey making the case. "[Todd Akin] said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman's body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He's partly right on that," Gingrey, an OB-GYN by trade, told the Marietta Daily Journal."I've delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, 'Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don't be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.' So he was partially right wasn't he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you're not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman's body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart." [Marietta Daily Journal]
ROCKEFELLER TO RETIRE - If you come across a misty-eyed Michael Bennet curled into the fetal position on the floor of the Russell Senate Office Building, stroking a comfort shih tzu and watching his spilt xanax pills disintegrate in a pool of his own tears, leave him be. AP: "U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who came to West Virginia as a young man from one of the world's richest families to work on antipoverty programs and remained in the state to build a political legacy, announced Friday he will not seek a sixth term. The 75-year-old Democrat's decision comes at a time when his popularity is threatened because of his support for President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in the state, and his willingness to challenge the powerful coal industry, which he said has used divisive and fear-mongering tactics and wrongly blamed the federal government for its problems...Within weeks of November's elections, Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito vowed to run for the Senate seat in 2014, even if it meant going up against Rockefeller and his storied name. Other Republicans also have been eyeing the seat in recent weeks." [AP]
Massachusetts Democrats to Barney Frank: shaddup. National Journal: "Massachusetts Democrats and people close to Gov. Deval Patrick [say] Frank has undercut his own explicit hopes for the seat likely to be vacated if Sen. John Kerry is confirmed as secretary of State. Frank's very public lobbying for the job -- he disclosed his aspirations on Morning Joe -- make Patrick, the man who would have power of appointment, less likely to go along...Patrick is close to Frank, even officiating his wedding last year, and there is little daylight between them ideologically. But he does not enjoy marching orders. 'What I know of the governor, this kind of behavior will not be rewarded,' said [PR strategist David] Guarino, who dealt with Patrick on occasionally adversarial terms as a senior aide to former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. 'He doesn't like to be told what to do.'" [National Journal]
BOOKER FILES SENATE CAMPAIGN PAPERS - America's coolest mayor, who probably took a detour on his way to the board of elections to catch your community theater troupe's production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" made it official this week. Luke Johnson: "Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker has filed papers to create a campaign committee to the Federal Election Commission, further signaling that the mayor is running for U.S. Senate in 2014. The committee, 'Cory Booker for Senate,' submitted its papers on Tuesday. Booker has not officially announced that he is running for Senate. However, in a Newark Star-Ledger op-ed on Dec. 20, he said that he was exploring the possibility. Booker is aiming to run for the seat held by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who will be 90 in 2014. But Lautenberg hasn't announced that he's retiring or running yet." [HuffPost]
P2016X: "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be a keynote speaker at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a regular stopping point for presidential aspirants over the years...The three-day event, in its 40th year, will be held just outside Washington, D.C., in mid-March. The event bills itself as 'the largest gathering for conservatives in the country,' and for years has been a must-hit for presidential aspirants; both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spoke there last year. Ryan has recently said he's 'decided not to decide' on a presidential run -- but his decision to address the conference is the latest sign he's seriously mulling one." [The Hill]
Huh: @CREDOMobile PHOTO: @seanonolennon @yokoono delivering 200,000 + public comments to @NYGovCuomo against fracking NY pic.twitter.com/6hstOi8u
ALOHA-HIGH - Nick Wing: "Hawaii's governor signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana back in 2000, but a new poll shows that the state's residents are ready to take it a step further. The results of a survey commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group and conducted by QMark Research were released on Thursday, showing 57 percent of respondents in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana. Forty percent were opposed. According to Maui Now, that figure marks a 20 percent increase in support from a similar poll in 2005. In addition to that, the survey showed 78 percent support for establishing dispensary system for medical marijuana." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Sneezy the Squirrel is quite the hat wearing dandy
- Tina Fey interviewed in a closet. [http://bit.ly/WXxrP8]
- Elderly men sing "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" in a Tim Hortons. As we've said many times before, humanity has too much time on its hands. [http://huff.to/V18zbK]
- A video on the life and work of a group of young butchers. [http://bit.ly/UZPSF8]
- When did human beings first figure out that sex leads to pregnancy?[http://slate.me/U92wAN]
- Annnnnnnnnd someone autotuned Al Roker's "I pooped my pants" confession. [http://chzb.gr/ZxPLQu]
- What happens when you play every single national anthem at once? It sounds like United States Marine Band on bath salts. [http://bit.ly/WDOEfH]
- Time-lapse of flowers in bloom. Apply your own metaphor. [http://bit.ly/V43Gzx]
@brianbeutler: Rep. Gingrey flap confirms that the "right" time to say crazy things about rape is AFTER an election.
@AdrienneLaF: I want a white-noise machine that makes old-timey newsroom sounds: Typewriter clacks, phone brrrings, ticker-tape clatter, etc.
@evanmc_s: man that afghanistan presser really *droned on* am i right folks?
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