John Kerry's Forrest Gump diplomacy continued as the secretary of state wiped his face with a T-shirt, producing a smear shaped exactly like a chemical weapons ban treaty. Congressman Steve Stockman said he will support action against Syria if President Obama returns his Nobel Prize -- though it has to be the long form one. And New Yorkers head to the polls today to help decide which person will cave to real estate developers, make the homeless go away and tell them how much soda they can drink. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, September 10th, 2013:
ASSAD AGREES TO FORFEIT CHEMICAL WEAPONS - Good thing he actually has them, otherwise we'd have to bomb him like Saddam (Hell, let's bomb him anyway!). AP: "Syria's foreign minister says President Bashar Assad's regime will declare its chemical weapons arsenal and sign the chemical weapons convention. Walid al-Moallem also says Syria is ready to cooperate fully to implement a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control and it will stop producing chemical weapons. He adds that Syria will also place chemical weapons locations in the hands of representatives of Russia, "other countries" and the United Nations. He spoke Tuesday exclusively to the Al-Mayadeen TV station." [AP]
HuffPost Live will be covering the president's speech tonight from DC and New York, starting at 8 pm and going until we run out of things to say. Our commentary will be briefly interrupted by the president, and then by Rand Paul, who is planning to deliver a live rebuttal. Watch it here.
Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist writes: "I kind of feel like President Obama should give his Nobel Peace Prize to Putin. Am I crazy?" Thanks, PSLGOPL!
OBAMA'S SPEECH: CONSIDERING RUSSIAN PROPOSAL - NBC News: "President Barack Obama will tell the nation Tuesday night that he is pursuing a last-minute Russian proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria, and will argue that military force may be necessary, a senior administration official told NBC News. Hours before the president was to speak in prime time from the East Room, the official said that Obama had updated his remarks to reflect the developments of a furious day of international diplomacy. The characterization by the senior official -- using conditional language and saying that an attack may be required -- appeared to represent a significant shift from the White House's public statements on Syria last week. The administration has been arguing to Congress, the American public and the world that the United States should lead an attack to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against rebels and civilians on Aug. 21 in its civil war. But on Monday morning, the outlines of the crisis began to change by the hour." [NBC News]
RUSSIA'S CHEMICAL WEAPONS DEAL IS BASICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO IMPLEMENT - Foreign Policy: "Experts in chemical weapons disposal point to a host of challenges. Taking control of Assad's enormous stores of the munitions would be difficult to do in the midst of a brutal civil war. Dozens of new facilities for destroying the weapons would have to be built from scratch, and completing the job would potentially take a decade or more. The work itself would need to be done by specially-trained military personnel. Guess which country has most of those troops? If you said the U.S., you'd be right. 'This isn't simply burning the leaves in your backyard,' said Mike Kuhlman, the chief scientist for national security at Battelle, a company that has been involved in chemical weapons disposal work at several sites in the U.S. 'It's not something you do overnight, it's not easy, and it's not cheap. The decades-long U.S. push to eliminate its own chemical weapons stockpiles illustrates the tough road ahead if Washington and Damascus come to a deal. The Army organization responsible for destroying America's massive quantities of munitions says the effort will take two years longer than initially planned and cost $2 billion more than its last estimate. The delay means that an effort which began in the 1990s will continue until roughly 2023 and cost at least $10.6 billion.'" [Foreign Policy]
PERFORMANCE ARTIST CONGRESSMAN STRIKES AGAIN - "A Republican lawmaker said he'll vote to authorize military action against Syria if President Obama returns his Nobel Peace Prize. Freshman Tea Party Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) suggested the swap in a press statement Tuesday ahead of the president's primetime address to sell strikes to a skeptical public. Stockman said Obama must answer 11 questions to gain his support -- including whether the president is willing to return his 2009 prize." [The Hill]
DIGNIFIED FINAL DAY OF WEINER CAMPAIGN - Michael McLaughlin: "Did the unexpected arrival of Sydney Leathers outside mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's midtown headquarters force the campaign to hastily reshuffle his afternoon schedule? According to Weiner's spokeswoman, absolutely not. As New York City's voters headed to the polls Tuesday to vote in the Democratic mayoral primary, Weiner joined up with volunteers to canvass sleepy Floral Park, Queens, instead of phone banking in the Manhattan nerve center of his campaign. Photos show Leathers, one of Weiner's former sexting partners, outside his office around noon, carrying a sign..." Thanks for the memories, Anthony! [HuffPost]
FORMER ABRAMOFF LOBBYIST PISSED AT THINGS IS PISSED AT LOBBYISTS - HuffPost Hill's Former Abramoff Lobbyist At Things is upset that his fellow influence peddlers are ashamed of themselves.The Hill reported that the American League of Lobbyists is considering removing "Lobbyist" from its name. "Lobbyists lobbying for lobbyists," FALPAT writes, having most recently dropped a bag of flaming dog excrement outside of Quinn Gillespie's offices. "Um, if lobbyist are doing their job -- ie, handing out buckets of cash, favors and 'Things of Value' -- this should never be an issue. FALPAT's name for the new organization is: The Carlos-Abramoff-Dukestir Group for Vitter-Delay Values Professionals(CADG-VD-VP)." Thanks, FALPAT!
HEY REMEMBER FOOD STAMPS? The debate in Congress over whether the United States should bomb Syria may be diverting attention from the economy at home. While the House and Senate hold hearings on authorizing military force, a bill that would cut food stamps is headed to the House floor next week with relatively little fanfare. "There are 50 million people in the United States of America who are hungry, 17 million are kids," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said in an interview. "It is something we all should be ashamed of, and the United States House of Representatives is about to make that worse. This is a big deal and my hope is that we'll treat it as such and not just let it go by without a lot of discussion and debate because we're all focused on Syria." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - "From 2009 to 2012, average real income per family grew modestly by 6.0%," writes economist Emmanuel Saez. "Most of the gains happened in the last year when average incomes grew by 4.6% from 2011 to 2012. However, the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009 to 2012. Hence, the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery." [Berkeley.edu]
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SENATE NEGOTIATING ALTERNATE SYRIA RESOLUTION - The "Yeah, Let's Give The Russian Despot And The Puffy-Haired Botox Guy's Idea A Shot Act" is coming along swimmingly. Sam Stein: "A bipartisan group of senators is working on an alternative resolution to the situation in Syria that would allow time for the pursuit of a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The exact language of the resolution is still being hammered out, but a source familiar with the negotiations said that three general points would be pursued: The United Nations would be asked to pass a resolution saying that the Syrian government used chemical weapons; the United Nations would also be required go in and remove all of Syria's chemical weapons by a certain date; and, finally, if the first two points are not met, U.S. military force would be authorized for use in Syria. The specifics of that authorization were still being negotiated as of Tuesday morning... [A] Hill source confirmed the details of the negotiations and described the new resolution in the following terms: 'The proposal would grant the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] only in the absence of certification by the President that a UN Security Council resolution had passed that includes specific conditions, and that those conditions were being met along a specified timeline. Basically, the AUMF would be conditional and triggered only if the Russian plan fails.'" [HuffPost]
Nancy Pelosi approves: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that Russia's proposed response to violence in Syria -- having the Syrian government put its chemical weapons under international control to avoid U.S. military strikes -- is not a blow to President Barack Obama's push for military action there. To the contrary, it's a huge win for the president. 'I think this is a victory for President Obama, if it is real,' Pelosi said at a Capitol Hill press conference. 'It doesn't take the wind out, it validates what the president is doing,' she continued. 'What the Russians are suggesting -- if it is real, if it is serious -- says that the dynamic has changed. The president has been trying for this, he's been striving to get the Syrian weapons under international control, and now the Russians are suggesting it.'" [HuffPost]
John Boehner does not: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he is 'skeptical' of a proposal from Russia to have the Syrian government turn over custody of its chemical weapons to the international community. 'Clearly diplomacy is always a better outcome than military action, but I will say that I'm somewhat skeptical of those that are involved in the diplomatic discussion today,' Boehner said at a press conference with members of House GOP leadership. The Ohio Republican was asked why he's skeptical, but declined to elaborate. 'I'm skeptical of it because of the actors involved. Simple as that,' he said." [HuffPost]
MITCH MCCONNELL BRAVELY UNDERCUTS PRIMARY CHALLENGER ON KEY ISSUE - Mitch McConnell: Man of peace. Mike McAuliff: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed President Barack Obama over his handling of Syria and declared he would oppose a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syrian President Bashar Assad. 'I will be voting against this resolution -- a vital national security risk is clearly not at play,' McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a Senate floor speech Tuesday, after laying out in detail how he thought Obama had botched the issue and why that made the decision difficult for McConnell. 'This debate has been made more difficult because even those of us who truly want to support the commander-in-chief have struggled to understand the purpose of the mission,' McConnell said...Early on, full Senate approval of airstrikes against the Assad regime seemed likely, but McConnell now joins a growing list of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle opposing the proposed action. He's also the first of Congress' four top leaders to oppose the resolution. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) all back punishing Assad for allegedly killing more than 1,400 civilians in an Aug. 21 gas attack." [HuffPost]
U.S. VOTERS PROBABLY WON'T CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT DISTANT CONFLICT: PERSON WHO IS CORRECT - Then again, who can forget how the Rwandan genocide swept Republicans into Congress in 1994. Sam Stein: "Though a hypothetical military intervention in Syria is as popular with the American public as the prospect of a colonoscopy while listening to Nickelback, the man tasked with electing Democrats to the House of Representatives in 2014 insists it won't have a major effect on his job. '2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria,' Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Tuesday. 'Syria will not be the subject of a referendum in 2014.'" [HuffPost]
JOHN KERRY IS SICK OF YOUR CRAP - Don't make him pull this committee hearing over to the side of the road, you hear! Luke Johnson: "Secretary of State John Kerry's testimony in the House Armed Services Committee turned heated Tuesday when Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) argued with him over the resolution to authorize the use of force in Syria. Miller said the Senate delayed a resolution Monday night to use force because the votes were not there to pass it. 'You know that,' he said. Kerry shot back, 'Actually, no I don't.' 'Do you want to play politics here or do you want to get a policy in place?' Kerry later asked. 'The policy that can be put in place is to try to get this particular option of getting control of chemical weapons in place. If you want to undermine that, then play the politics.' Miller then started speaking over Kerry and asked the chairman to limit answers to the questions asked. 'But you really don't want answers, do you,' Kerry said later. 'This is not the Senate. We do not filibuster here,' Miller said after a brief back-and-forth." [HuffPost]
COLORADO RECALL THE MOST MICROCOSIM-Y MICROCOSM OF AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY - Sabrina Siddiqui: "The first recall election in Colorado's history will determine on Tuesday the fate of two Democratic lawmakers, Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron (Pueblo), who stand to lose their seats after voting for stricter gun laws earlier this year. But while national attention has focused on both recall fights as a referendum on gun control, anti-recall operatives say they're battling an entirely different issue: Voting laws. Morse and Giron became the target of recall efforts after they supported a comprehensive gun control package that passed the state legislature in March...But as the recall fight reaches an end, several Democrats working on the ground told The Huffington Post that if either Morse or Giron is defeated, it will be because their opponents were able to suppress voter turnout by making it difficult for constituents to cast their ballots...Much of the confusion stems from a decision that prohibited voting by mail, even though Colorado voters have overwhelmingly relied on mail-in ballots in the past. District Judge Robert McGahey ruled against the use of mail-in ballots last month, even though a state law passed earlier this year guaranteed a ballot by mail to every registered voter in Colorado, including in a recall election." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a self-loathing kitten.
ANTHONY WEINER FINISHES MAYORAL RACE EXACTLY THE WAY HE SHOULD - Cue Bill Medley's soulful crooning of the first few lines of "Time of My Life" as we play off Anthony Weiner's political career. WaPo: "For seven awkward minutes, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and former congressman Anthony Weiner (D) sparred Monday in a contentious exchange which kicked off with O'Donnell asking Weiner: 'What is wrong with you?' Weiner, who seemed to be caught by surprise, replied, 'I don't understand. What is wrong with me that I care so much about the issues that I fight for every day, that I have for my entire career?'...For the next several minutes, the two went back and forth, with O'Donnell assailing Weiner, who resigned from office in 2011 amid revelations of lewd online interactions with women, and Weiner pushing back. 'Lawrence, do me a favor, do me a favor. I just need like a hand signal when the harangue is done,' Weiner said at one point. At another he told O'Donnell to 'chillax' and 'dial it down.'" [WaPo]
- Timelapse of woman aging from photographs taken since 1976. Category 5 on the mind-blowing scale. [http://bit.ly/15KOSr3]
- Woman who portrayed a slave in Mount Vernon answers tourists' actual questions ("What's your favorite part of the plantation?"). Conclusion: Visitors to Mount Vernon are ignorant. [http://bit.ly/19Dk9zp]
- A roundup of the iPhone 5S' features, including its fingerprint password capability. [http://bit.ly/14J35of]
- And a roundup of the iPhone 5C. You know, the cheap one. [http://cnet.co/1eABX1U]
- The U.K. version of Breaking Bad might be the only worthwhile defense of America's dysfunctional healthcare system. [http://bit.ly/1fVjxqz]
- The most undead engagement photos you'll see today. [http://bit.ly/14ttxHR]
- Groggy guy waking up from surgery stunned by his wife's good looks. [http://huff.to/17O3Mkl]
@pourmecoffee: New iPhone able to detect dickpic and warn you are about to ruin your political career.
@daveweigel: Highlight of scrums: Reporter says to Levin: "I have a non-Syria question." Three reporters leave. Levin mimes turning off of a recorder.
@petersuderman: Thought we were playing 12-dimensional chess. Turns out we were playing Hungry Hungry Hippos.
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