Gaddafi's last-ditch effort to appease Libyans involves a medium typically used to make brunch plans. John Ensign proved that the pot should never demonize the kettle for paying for sex. And one-in-five Americans think health care reform has been repealed, meaning untold numbers of grandmothers are wandering about in public, thinking they're free of the death panels. Get back in your crawl spaces, grandmothers! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 24th, 2011:
GADDAFI TRYING TO BUY OFF PROTESTERS - Earlier today, the Libyan government sent a text message to every phone in the country with the news that all government workers will be getting a 150% pay raise, according to a HuffPost Hill source who has been in regular contact with multiple family members in Tripoli and previously provided reliable information. The only state phone company is controlled by a Gaddafi son and it's been regularly sending concessions to protesters. There is a rumor going around the city, he said, that Libyans who have made phone calls to CNN and Al Jazeera have been killed or kidnapped. He said that there is currently an "eerie calm" that his brother said "reminds him of a David Lynch movie, where you know something bad is about to happen." The African mercenaries, which he guessed number over 100,000, have been painting over anti-Gaddafi graffiti, but using the wrong color paint, leaving obvious reminders behind. Anti-aircraft weapons, he said, are pointed toward the ground rather than the sky. A coalition of Libyans inside and outside the country have started a Facebook group, "World Citizens for Libya," to get information about the crackdown out. Our source is nervous that the media's attention may soon wane before the revolution is won. "It's like, 'Okay Libya, let's finish this,' and that's gonna happen, that's the nature of the news cycle. But we really need to fight that and keep people paying attention," he said.
@NickKristof Resident of Tripoli, #Libya, tells me govt is promising to pay people to send pro-Qaddafi text msges to their friends.
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PRESIDENT OBAMA WEIGHING OPTIONS FOR LIBYA - Per ABC News: "A stronger UN Security Council product than the weak 'press notes' from earlier this week - possibilities include a resolution, sanctions, enforcement mechanisms, and accountability measures; Supporting the Mexican initiative to suspend Libya from the UN Human Rights Council (Secretary of State Clinton's trip to Geneva); Executive Order with sanctions, which could include visa and travel restrictions, asset freezes and/or seizures, civil aviation restrictions -- all coordinated with allies; Suspension of export licenses; No-fly zone; possible freezing of individuals' assets; Humanitarian relief; Broadcasting into Libya." [ABC News]
In a phone call with Libyan state TV today, Gaddafi said that al-Qaeda is putting hallucinogenics in people's drinks to incite unrest. That and other news from HuffPost's Libya liveblog.
WISCONSIN UPDATE - The wretched noise of amateur drumming and vuvuzelas is filling the capitol in Madison as the lower chamber inches toward finishing debate on amendments to Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting budget bill. Every amendment is expected to fail, including one that Democrats say amounts to a wholly alternate budget that closes the deficit without busting unions (imagine that!). There are 11 amendments left, with up to 10 minutes debate for each, and assembly Democrats are in no hurry. They'll be in even less of a hurry when amendments are over with and it's time to foot-drag on the actual budget bill. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats remain hidden in Dick Cheney's bunker, withholding a quorum and making it impossible to pass the bill. Nobody knows when it will all be over with or how it will end.
DAILY DELANEY (DATELINE MADISON) DOWNER - Kathy Truesdel does not like Scott Walker. "He kiboshed the high speed rail. It could have put me to work," she said. "That's my biggest gripe." Walker nixed and $810 million Milwaukee-to-Madison project started under his predecessor because the money came from THE STIMULUS. The project's proponents said it would have created 5,500 construction jobs in Wisconsin over the next three years. Truesdel, a laid-off forklift driver, thought some of that employment might have come her way. Instead, her two-year unemployment spell continues. "Nobody seems to want to hire me," said Truesdel, 41, over beers at a dive bar near the capitol. She said she has not joined the protests despite her antipathy for Walker. She said she's always worked and has had only three different jobs in the past 20 years. "I've never been in this position my whole life."
DARRELL ISSA SUBPOENAS DHS OFFICIALS - His original plan to lure them to the committee room with a trail of discounted CVS Valentine's chocolate having failed, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issue has issued subpoenas to two Department of Homeland Security officials as part of a probe of transparency in the Obama administration. The subpoenas are intended to compel testimony from the officials about how the department handles Freedom of Information Act requests. Oversight Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, for his part, was none too pleased that Issa didn't consult him about the subpoena. "[Y]our record is now 0 for 3, and this has resulted in confused, rushed, and unnecessary subpoenas," Cummings wrote in a letter to Issa. "As I mentioned last Friday, I will stand by you when the Committee is being denied information to which it is legitimately entitled, but I cannot support your actions without the consultation you promised." Camp Issa was unfazed. "Another day, another complaint and more righteous indignation, what else is new?" Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said in a statement that couldn't have been douchier if it dressed in Ed Hardy, left the toilet seat up and attempted to get a bartender's attention by flashing a wad of $20s. [HuffPost's Elise Foley]
Wisconsin student launches "Badger Protest PAC" to stick it to state Republicans. www.badgerprotestpac.org
Amanda Terkel met with top military flack Geoff Morrell this afternoon. Terkel did not have fun. Morrell, she says, spent most of the meeting with his back to her answering emails and phone calls. He took brief breaks from email to ask who outranked her at HuffPost and how she managed to get "senior" in her reporting title. (Tough day for Morrell.)
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SENATE DEMS PROPOSE CAVING TO GOP IN EXCHANGE FOR NOT HAVING TO CAVE RIGHT AWAY - Congressional Democrats blink so much we swear to God they must collectively suffer from some sort of ocular condition, all while House Republicans are threatening to stall DC's medical marijuana program. David Espo scooped today that Democrats in the upper chamber are mulling over a series of budget cuts that could coax enough Republicans into voting for a budget resolution. Senate Democratic aides tell HuffPost Hill that leadership and approps staffers met today to look for $25 billion in cuts from 2012 that could be pulled into this year and a way to slash $8.5 billion in earmarked projects.
A poll of political "operatives" by National Journal suggests the conventional wisdom about a potential government shutdown is that it would harm Republicans more than Democrats. Sixty-five percent of Republican respondents to the "Political Insiders Poll" say a government shutdown would not be in their party's interest while 55 percent of Democratic respondents think their party would get a bump from a shutdown. It should be noted that the "Political Insiders Poll" is a survey of "campaign consultants, party officials, strategists, lobbyists, and allied interest group leaders" and those are people who are never wrong about anything. Also, an informal HuffPost Hill survey of people who have already booked a vacation to Yellowstone National Park don't think a government shutdown would be in their party's interest, either. [National Journal]
With that said, a Gallup sampling of voters finds Americans are split on which party is best-suited to handle the budget. Forty-two percent of respondents say the Republicans are doing a better job of handling the spending proposal while 39 percent say the Democrats are. [Gallup]
LAWMAKERS PUSHING FOR DOMA REPEAL IN CONGRESS - Spurred on by the White House's decision not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a number of congressional Democrats are now pushing for the law itself to be repealed. Rep. Jerry Nadler told Sam Stein that he will introduce to the House the "Respect for Marriage Act," which would undo DOMA. Sen. Dianne Feinstein will introduce similar legislation in the Senate. "The president's move is another step in the increasing realization that there is no conceivable justification for DOMA, that it is motivated, was motivated, purely by irrational considerations and fear and that there is no rational basis that will stand up to a constitutional challenge," Nadler said. [Huffpost's Sam Stein]
A group of House Democrats have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to "consider" tapping into the U.S.'s strategic oil reserve. "Yesterday, oil prices spiked over $100 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as unrest continues to spread throughout the Mideast," Reps. Ed Markey, Rosa DeLauro and Peter Welch wrote in the letter. "While this is a relatively modest supply disruption, it has the potential to have a disproportionately dramatic impact on global oil markets and prices paid by American consumers."
Lynn Allen, a pillar of the Northwest blogger community, passed away this morning.
WEIRD WSJ STORY ON OBAMA MORTGAGE 'DEAL' WITH BANKS Zach Carter: "Late last night, the Wall Street Journal published a story claiming that the White House is close to a $20 billion settlement with banks over what the journal called a "breakdown" in the mortgage market (other people call it "fraud"). The trouble is, the story isn't really true. The leak caught several federal agencies working on the mortgage mess off-guard. While 50 state AGs and a bunch of federal agencies are working on some kind of arrangement, they aren't close to a deal, and there is no price tag yet affixed. 'We as attorneys general are working very closely with nearly a dozen federal agencies on a settlement,' Jeff Greenwood, spokesman for Iowa Attorney General told the Huffington Post. 'We have not finalized anything and I don't want to speak for the federal government, but our understanding is that none of those agencies have finalized anything either.'"
POLL 52 PERCENT OF AMERICANS NOT UP TO DATE ABOUT HCR REPEAL - The Kaiser Family Foundation today published a survey of Americans about their opinions of, and familiarity with, the Affordable Care Act. The group found that over fifty percent of respondents don't know the real scoop about the status of health care reform repeal. Twenty-six percent of those queried don't know enough about congressional action on the law to have an opinion while 21 percent are of the mistaken belief that it has been repealed. That means that all across our country, millions of young people looking for health care are applying to jobs that they DON'T NEED when they could just be mooching off of their parents' plan. Get back to band practice, kids, you're fine for now. [Kaiser Family Foundation]
The National Journal has labeled John McCain the Senate's most conservative senator, along with seven of his colleagues including Jim DeMint. No word yet on whether DeMint will introduce a bill renaming Arizona after Ronald Reagan to push himself over the top.
ARMY OFFICIALS COMMISSIONED 'PSY-OPS' TO MANIPULATE U.S. LAWMAKERS - Good on Rolling Stone for their scoop this morning that the U.S. Army illegally set in motion a program of "psychological operations" to subtly lobby lawmakers to fund increased operations in Afghanistan. These 'Psy-Ops' were reportedly instigated by Lt. Gen. William Caldwel, a three-star general and the army official tasked with leading the effort to train Afghan forces. "My job in psy-ops is to play with people's heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave," a lieutenant in charge of the "information operations" that were meant to target visiting senators told the publication. "I'm prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you're crossing a line." The U.S. now joins the ranks of those who have attempted to manipulate members of congress to advance their own agenda. Others include lobbyists, agency heads, congressional staffers, reporters, foreign officials and every single human being in the universe. [Rolling Stone]
David Petraeus will order an investigation into the claims made in the Rolling Stone piece, The Hill reports.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - 100 Yen is a documentary about Japanese video game arcades. Japanese video game arcades, if you aren't familiar with them, more or less look like Richard Simmons' dreams.
John Ensign is refusing to back Harry Reid's call to end legalized prostitution in Nevada. Heh.
NEWS CORP REPORTEDLY PINK-SLIPPED EMPLOYEE FOR INDIRECT GIULIANI SMEAR - You Report, We Decide Just Which Out Of The Way Bureau To Exile Your Ass To. The Times is reporting that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes allegedly urged former HarperCollins (a News Corp subsidiary) executive Judith Regan to lie to federal investigators about her affair with then Homeland Security secretary-nominee Bernard Kerik. According to Regan's claim, Ailes was worried about the damage the former NYPD commissioner's torpedoed nomination would do to his friend Rudy Giuliani's reputation. After her firing in 2006, Regan filed a wrongful termination suit against News Corp, claiming her axing stemmed from the pressure she received from an undisclosed executive at the company to lie about the Kerik affair. Affidavits from another case obtained by the Times indicated that Ailes was the undisclosed executive and that Regan claims to have audio of Ailes' phone call to her pressing her not to talk about Kerik. [NYT]
Wait. John Ensign's still in the Senate?
BRAD THE INTERN HAIKUS THE NEWS
Millions of jobless
pray for Congress to pass a
budget. Also, jobs.
- A 1986 commercial for Legends of Zelda features two kids rapping. What in God's name did Eastern Europe see in our way of life? [http://bit.ly/eKIFSw]
- Cat gives a thumbs up. Are felines developing opposable thumbs so they can evolve...into the Fonz??? [http://bit.ly/dY8S8F]
- Radiohead's new single, "Lotus Flower" hasn't even had a week to decant and already someone has mashed it up with a Jay-Z song. [http://bit.ly/hlqmqc]
- An animator's stop-motion video of him shaving his beard set to sounds of deforestation. Can you feel the point? [http://bit.ly/hIqfw8]
- Here's the painting of Teddy Roosevelt attacking Bigfoot with a machine gun you've been waiting for. [http://bit.ly/hAnLV1]
- The Foursquare film noir movie only checks in at one place: Genius. [http://aol.it/heoumD]
- Studio Multiracks re-splices famous songs to only include a limited number of tracks. "Band On The Run" featuring only the vocals is haunting...and weird. [http://www.studiomultitracks.com/]
- The producers of the Atlas Shrugged, the movie released a scene from their film. Spoiler: Self-interest purifies the soul and society. Second Spoiler: It sucks. [http://bit.ly/fMsGJr]
SPECIAL 'FAREWELL @MAYOREMANUEL' TWITTERAMA
@MayorEmanuel: Picked up Carl the Intern at Lane Tech, after his mathletes practice. Carl's first words: "There's not much time left." Motherf*ck...We're driving down Elston when, all of a f*cking sudden Axelrod's radio starts working. It's playing that f*cking Journey song!...And we've pulled the Civic over, turned up "Separate Ways," and we're f*cking dancing out here on the motherf*cking streets!...F*CK YOU, YOU MOTHERF*CKING TIME VORTEX. I F*CKING LOVE DANCING WITH MY FRIENDS...And then the sky f*cking opens up on us, and there's chunks of ice flying down. And it's pretty clear that the party's over...And I can see myself starting to fade out, and I hear Axelrod whispering the f*cking Kaddish quietly to himself, tears streaming...And that song's still playing from the car radio, on a never-f*cking ending loop from hell...Carl the Intern can't even make eye contact, but he's reaching out, and I touch his hand. And he says, "I love you," and I say "I know."...Quaxelrod flies over, and dips his little head, touching my fading shoe. Hambone just curls softly between my invisible legs...I can see a thousand f*cking skylines, and they are all as motherf*cking glorious as the first, and I can feel the touch of my friends...And now all I can hear is that music, and suddenly everything just f*cking...
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Rep. Brad Sherman is the guest of honor at a "Special Reception." Unless there is a Slip-N-Slide, there will be nothing special about the reception...in HuffPost Hill's opinion, that is [Home of Brenda and Dale Surowitz, Los Angeles, California].
7:00 pm: Sen. Tom Harkin is scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the Lady Gaga concert. To demonstrate his commitment to fiscal austerity, he will forgo his office car and staff driver and instead travel to the show via opaque brown egg carried by eight androgynous interns [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].
7:00 pm: Rep. Ed Towns will also be hosting a campaign function at the Lady Gaga concert. Are you thinking about Congressman Ed Towns in a meat dress? Yeah, neither are we [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].
8:00 pm: Fred Armisen, SNL-alum and current star and lead writer of Portlandia, takes his shtick to the Black Cat. We're guessing "Put A Bird On It" has quickly become his "Freebird" [Black Cat, 1811 14th St NW].
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