POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Defense Spending Up Despite Drawdown

The White House is antagonizing LGBT Americans, a strategy known internally as "Tuesday." We can only hope that there is significant overlap between the 19 percent of Republicans who would vote for Donald Trump and the 23 percent of Americans who would root for the Confederacy. And working for Tim Pawlenty apparently qualifies as God's work. No word yet from the Vatican on when his Michael Bay video guy will be sainted. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 12th, 2011:

DESPITE DRAWDOWNS, DEFENSE SPENDING ON THE RISE - Because F-16s are way sweeter with flame decals on the side. Amanda Terkel: "As the United States draws down its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, more foreign assistance workers will be needed to go in and help rebuild the war-torn countries. Yet the FY 2011 continuing resolution (CR) released by the House on Tuesday cuts funding for the State Department and increases it for the Defense Department. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Ohio) FY 2012 budget does the same over the next decade. The Defense Department's funding in the CR is $513 billion, approximately $5 billion above last year's level. Another $158 billion is provided for overseas contingency operations (emergency funding). The war in Afghanistan is receiving $108 billion of that, while the war in Iraq is receiving $50 billion, according to a House Appropriations Committee staffer." [HuffPost]

@TerkelRage: HuffPost: "Moby Bashes Budget Cuts." huff.to/fQ7M9S What, was Third Eye Blind's bassist not available for comment? ARGH. RAGING HARDER NOW.

Tomorrow in Roll Call: "A little-known Arizona-based Tea Party organization has hired a prominent Republican operative to help advance its mission in Washington. But, after more than a year in operation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, it's still not clear what that mission is, writes Roll Call's Janie Lorber. The group, called TheTeaParty.net, raised half a million dollars last year through a related political action committee but made no donations, and it appears to have held no events."

The Senate will return to the small business bill tomorrow, now that all this stuff has been sorted out.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Washington state investigators say nearly 7,000 people scammed themselves more than $14 million worth of unemployment benefits in 2010. "It's not completely clear whether there is more fraud, or we're just getting better at uncovering it," said Annette Taylo of the Washington department of Employment Security in a statement. "Probably a little of both." :( [WESD]

NON-DOWNER - The budget deal has $504 in cuts to nutrition assistance for Women, Infants, and Children -- but the effect of these cuts won't be percolating down to any actual women, infants, or children, experts say. "It is a cut in dollar terms but it won't have an impact on beneficiaries," Zoë Neuberger of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told HuffPost, explaining that leftover money from the previous fiscal year should more than make up for the cut. "It's sufficient money so that no eligible applicants should be turned away."

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BUDGET DEAL SPECIFICS RELEASED, NAUSEA-INDUCING SPIN ENSUES - Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate appropriation committees this morning published the details of the spending agreement reached last Friday. Doing their best impression of two drunks high-fiving in a smashed-up car flipped in a ditch, both sides released statements painting the proposal as a political victory. "Never before has any Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final legislation," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said in a release. At the same time, Senate Appropriations Chair Daniel Inouye noted that "critical programs" would be preserved in the budget. [The Hill]

EZRA KLEIN'S CONCEPTION OF BEING AND THE SELF CONTINUES TO EVOLVE From a post today: "When I asked Democrats about this at the time, they kept telling me that Republicans needed to learn the awful and awesome responsibility that was governing. "Let the Republicans have some buy-in on the debt. They're going to have a majority in the House," said Harry Reid. "I don't think it should be when we have a heavily Democratic Senate, heavily Democratic House and a Democratic president." Except Reid said that at a press conference in the Capitol after a Democratic meeting. We needled young Mr. Klein for saying that Tim Geithner told him something a few weeks ago that he'd actually told to a group of some 25 bloggers and reporters. Ezra! Stop this! [WaPo]

TIM PAWLENTY TO BE GRACED BY NICK AYERS' MAGNIFICENT, DIVINE PRESENCE - Former Republican Governors Association Director Nick Ayers will join team Pawlenty as its campaign manager. In an email announcing his move, Ayers launched into a lengthy and angsty exposition of why he was joining the campaign, the type of lengthy and angsty exposition typically reserved for the candidate himself. "Over the past six months, I have prayed deeply about my purpose in life and how best to utilize the talents God has given me. [WARNING: IT JUST GETS WORSE FROM HERE. QUIT WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD.] I wanted my decision to be wholly about how best to serve Him, not what was most politically or financially expedient for my family and me. As He often does in walks of faith, He has called me to a higher purpose," he wrote. "I believe that our Nation is truly on the wrong path. We need a new direction that is positive and hopeful. Simply said, we need new leadership. I believe that Governor Pawlenty is best positioned to provide that leadership. Therefore, I am pleased today to join Governor and Mrs. Pawlenty in their pursuit of the presidency." Some thoughts: 1. Given Ayers' close ties to the RGA and Haley Barbour, some folks are viewing this move as a sign that Barbour won't run and/or a sign that Barbour aides are jumping ship in the wake of the Mississippi governor's numerous racial slip-ups. 2. This is the guy who, in a sprawling 2010 WaPo profile that GOP aides have been giddily emailing around today, confessed that because of his hectic schedule, he and is wife "didn't really have sex for the first three years of our marriage." 3. Expect the Nick Ayers Show to continue.

POLL: CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS LOSING MOMENTUM - Three months after the GOP assumed control of the House, voters are already experiencing some buyer's remorse, apparently upset that Republicans have more or less done in power what they've always said they want to do. Forty-three percent of voters think Republicans are doing a worse job than Democrats did when they commanded a majority. Only 36 percent of respondents think the GOP has improved things. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.3% and doesn't account for the soothing properties of John Boehner's tears. [PPP]

"John, I will give you D.C. abortion." That's what President Obama said to Speaker Boehner to avert a government shutdown, according to the Washington Post. And no, it's not an inappropriately-named mixed drink, either. The quote is still reverberating through the city/bargaining chip. But here's one sliver of good news: The long-term CR contains no rider banning city funds for needle exchange. "It's out," said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "They [Republicans] tried to put it in and we kept it out." [HuffPost]

DONALD TRUMP IS AHEAD IN THE POLLS, SORT OF - A survey released today has Donald Trump tied for first with Mike Huckabee in the race for the Republican nomination with 19 percent apiece. Naturally, the poll's finding caused the mediasphere to instantly conjure the image of a Washington hellscape where Townhall.com gets a front row seat in the briefing room and the Museum of the American Indian is turned into a casino. However Trump's negatives are quite high and more than 40 percent of Republicans say they don't want Trump as the party's nominee Clawing your way to a plurality in a decreasingly crowded field is quite difficult when nearly fifty percent of voters don't want you to win. [CNN]

Mark Blumenthal picks apart the CNN poll and uncovers a great deal of MALARKEY: "But all three surveys involve relatively small subgroups of Republican identifiers: just 238 interviews for NBC/Wall Street Journal, 344 for Fox and 385 for CNN. Since smaller sample sizes make for larger margins of error, the numbers are going to bounce around. With that in mind, these results should be treated with caution. The horse race numbers change often early in a campaign and, more important, Trump begins with a much larger unfavorable rating among Republicans than the other prospective candidates." [HuffPost]

REP. TED DEUTCH WOULD LIKE YOU TO HELP HIM MAKE UP HIS MIND - Congressman Ted Deutch is presenting the pros and cons of the budget agreement to his constituents and asking them to help him decide how to vote. Seeing as how legislating takes up (give-or-take) .05% of a congressperson's day-to-day activities -- what with all the fundraisers at The Monocle and whatnot -- this isn't a bad idea. "I am curious to know how you would vote on the $38 billion in cuts negotiated by President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Majority Leader Harry Reid," the Sunshine State lawmaker wrote the residents of his district. [WSJ]

FIRST LADY'S MILITARY FAMILY INITIATIVE SPURNS LGBT FAMILIES - "Don't ask, don't tell" might be on its way out but that doesn't mean the administration won't stop rubbing it in the faces of LGBT service members as if it had just 360-degree dunked over them. First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are commencing a nationwide tour today to raise awareness of issues affecting military families. "The President has been crystal clear that the Administration is moving forward with the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' quickly and efficiently," the first lady's communications director said in a statement. "However, it still remains the law. The White House, including the First Lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families of gay and lesbian service members after certification occurs and repeal goes into effect." Translation: STFU, GAYS. [The Advocate]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby elephant chases chickens around. Thanks, mother nature! [http://bit.ly/fTMOpx]

UPSETTING NUMBER OF AMERICANS STILL SYMPATHETIC TO THE CONFEDERACY - The Civil War began 150 years ago this week or, as our Southern friends call it, "The War of Northern Winning the Future." To mark the anniversary, CNN commissioned a poll of Americans' views on the fratricidal war between the states. Asked which side they identify with more, a remarkable 23 percent of respondents said they sympathize with the Confederacy more than the Union. Sixty-four percent said they admire Confederate leaders "some" or a "great deal." Fifty-four percent said that slavery was the main catalyst for the conflict while 42 percent said it was not the main reason. Four percent had not formed an opinion about which side it supports. Presumably Haley Barbour is in that last group. [CNN]

CARLY'S CANNABIS CORNER - Carly Schwartz: "Washington weed is having a bad day. Lawmakers in Hoquiam joined their peers from nearbyMountlake Terrace in placing a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in their small city. But the grass is greener on the other side of the country. Legislation that would allow Vermont to opened its doors in Maine. And in an interview with Playboy, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) touted legalization, saying, 'The current policy is ludicrous. It's unfair and wasteful.'" Thanks, Carly!

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight and tomorrow: Clouds and rain. Clouds and rain. Not much but some clouds and rain. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- A reader from the Hill sends us a Flickr feed of a dog birthday party. [http://bit.ly/hoyZyC]

- A collection of some of Goolge Map's biggest graphic FAILs. [http://bit.ly/hi8pZi]

- A film from the 1930s about surfers in Honolulu's Waikiki beach. [http://bzfd.it/ftC2Qk]

- This baby orangutan has 50 surrogate moms. It's going to have the best Christmas ever. [http://bit.ly/gmj3ag]

- Some of the most lifelike miniatures we've ever seen. To be fair, we haven't seen that many. [http://bit.ly/hzQvDI]

- You can turn Duck Sauce's "Barbra Streisand" song into one about any subject you like. [http://bit.ly/fBI3jf]

- It's not a bad thing to still like Vampire Weekend. The group's front man, Ezra Koening, recorded Paul Simon's "Papa Hobo." Listen to it here: [http://bit.ly/hVPffk]

- Shaun of the Dead in 60 seconds. Prepare to laugh and scream...really quickly. [http://bit.ly/gzb7jx]

TWITTERAMA

@StephenAtHome: Jon Kyl is so mean he once shot a man just for snoring. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement

@drgrist: US politics is like a school board meeting where one set of parents wants new wood chips for the playground & another set hates schools.

@FakeJimVandeHei: CIVIL WAR POLITICO: "Shots Fired On Fort Sumter: 10 Reasons It Helps Lincoln's Re-Election"

ON TAP

TONIGHT

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Former guy-who-spent-time-in-the-Real-World-confessional Sean Duffy attends a fundraiser hosted by the Real Estate Investment Trust and the American Resort Development Association. Lord knows a Wisconsin representative can't wait to get in bed with the latter [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].

TOMORROW

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Brian Bilbray's campaign function is being called a "pharmaceutical lunch." The last time we had a "pharmaceutical lunch" we blacked out for three days and woke up in Acapulco [Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America Townhouse, 53 D Street SE].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Gwenn Moore celebrates her 60th birthday the only way a gal can: With Representatives Chris Van Hollen, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin Ron Kind and Senator Herb Kohl and officials from Assurant Health PAC, Bank of America, CUNA PAC and the Transport Workers Union of America. Hip hip hooray! [The Home of John Weinfurter, 209 C Street NE].

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Bennie Thompson is the guest of honor at a "Mississippi Pond-Raised Catfish Fry" which is also the title of the last country song ever written [Democratic National Headquarters, 430 South Capitol Street SE].

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