A crush of Republican lawmakers with presidential ambitions descended on the Marriott in Woodley Park today to espouse fringe views and praise Ronald Reagan...a rare sight only witnessed every day in the U.S. Capitol. Donald Trump, that guy with the TV show, bad hair and the bankruptcies, naturally thinks he could be a Republican presidential candidate. And everyone was expecting the Egyptian military to force Hosni Mubarak out so he could work on his memoirs, "In Prison Points," but that was, sadly, false. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 10th, 2011:
HOUSE GOP CALLS EMERGENCY MEETING - House Republicans are meeting in the Capitol basement tonight, as leadership hopes to put down the week's insurrection and get consensus on a temporary spending bill. Every Democratic operative in Washington -- really, every single one -- thinks they're gathering to hear John Boehner talk about his love life. Sorry, folks, it's just an insurrection. That's all. (Tonight.)
The House approved the rule for the Patriot Act today, 248-176, setting up a vote on final passage next week. The GOP's whip operation was in full effect. Only four Republicans voted against the rule, as opposed to the 26 who voted the bill down earlier this week. [WaPo]
CHAMBER ACCUSED OF SPYING ON PROGRESSIVE GROUPS - ThinkProgress is running an expose today claiming the Chamber of Commerce has hired lobbying firms to sully the reputation of its political opponents. According to TP these firms have hired "hackers" to further undermine left-leaning operations. TP sends this update to HuffPost HIll: "As part of the proposed campaign against the U.S. Chamber's political opponents, the firms targeted not only the SEIU, U.S. Chamber Watch, and other groups--but also key individuals employed by the groups. They then prepared dossiers on these individuals. The dossiers included details such as their home address, spouse's name, how many children they have, where they attend church, and other personal information. The dossiers also included links to photos of their families--even pictures of their children in some cases."
There is a giant cake of Ronald Reagan's head at CPAC. Just thought you should know.
EGYPT: REPORTS SAY MUBARAK WOULD STEP DOWN, HE DOESN'T, HANDS POWER TO VP - Hosni Mubarak called Governor Bush back, so to speak. After news broke this morning that the embattled Egyptian president would announce his resignation this evening, the strongman leader went on TV to say he would hand over his powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman but would stay on until elections are conducted this Fall. "I will never accept 'foreign' dictations," Mubarak said in his remarks (no doubt a reference to CREEPING SHARIA). "I have spent my life defending this country, witnessed its wars, lived through its defeat, and victories. I have faced death several times." Crowds in Tahir Square in Cairo, meanwhile, erupted in chants of "Leave! Leave! Leave!" Vice President Suleiman urged protesters to go home. "We have opened the door for dialogue," he said. "I am committed to carrying out whatever is necessary to carry out fair elections." Reports indicates that crowds will convene on the presidential palace tomorrow. [HuffPost's Egypt Liveblog]
@ElBaradei: Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now
BREITBART ON HUFFPOST-AOL MERGER - Andrew Breitbart was in his element today, moving through the bowels of Marriott hotel hosting the Conservative Political Action Conference, and riffed with HuffPost Hill about the recent merger. "Arianna knows how to pirouette better than the average new media ballerina," said Breitbart, who was involved with HuffPost during its launch. "I think that she's probably the best person I know who would know how to create something that transcends what the Huffington Post has become. That said, will conservatives play in her sandbox? Well, there are 60, 70 million people. I think that they have a motivation to get their narrative out there."
Victor Cocchia of the Liberty and Freedom Foundation, which has organized events for Sarah Palin, is a bit spooked. "I know a lot of people [on the Hill] are reticent about [changes to] AOL News," Cocchia told us. "A lot of people still go to their AOL accounts -- my mom won't go anywhere off an AOL browser. You've got a lot of people, especially the above-40 crowd who have been with AOL the whole time and won't change, who get their news from it." Cocchia said he was most concerned about the entitlement debate, "especially with cuts that are going to be needed to be had, it's all about positioning and how that message is positioned to the public. If the Huffington Post is positioning it to where we're anti-entitlement, you don't wanna take care of the people....Now is Social Security reform going to be called Social Security cuts? Taking money from the elderly? Or is it going to be, let's find a way to reform the system so it works for everybody?"
Cocchia has been reading HuffPost Hill, clearly!
Hint: If your reform plan reduces benefits going to the elderly, we're gonna call it a cut.
Tom Tripp, who is on the board of the American Conservative Union Foundation, is an occasional HuffPost reader. "They get the facts right most of the time and I think that brings people back...not necessarily about principles, but about facts," he said. "I go back there because of that: I can usually rely on the substance of the story, irrespective of what the political slant may be one way or another. And I also don't think they rant." Thanks, Tom! But he doesn't think the merger will work. "When corporate governance gets into the Huffington Post, it's just not going to be the Huffington Post any more," predicted Tripp.
Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer on teabaggers fundraising around CPAC: "When Utah Republican Mike Lee came to the Conservative Political Action Conference last year, the Senate candidate was at the forefront of a Tea Party movement that he said was "ready for a change" in Washington. A year later, now-Senator Lee will be the guest of honor at a $250-a-head fundraiser sponsored by corporate lobbyists, including for Microsoft Corp." [Bloomberg]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Obama's plan to cut $2.5 billion from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will actually leave people out in the cold -- to be precise, it would affect 3.5 million households, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association. The bad economy has pushed more people to the program, which saw eligible applications rise from 7.7 million to 8.3 million last year. The association expected eligible apps to hit 8.9 million this year. Says NEADA's Mark Wolfe: "It's just a cruel proposal." [HuffPost]
Harry Reid in a statement on drastic budget cuts: "After all, you can lose a lot of weight by cutting off your arms and legs. But no doctor would recommend it." Rand Paul might.
SEAN DUFFY IS HUMOR-CHALLENGED - At last night's Washington Press Club Foundation dinner, Wisconsin freshman Rep. Sean Duffy took to the podium and suh-huh-huh-cked. And we don't just mean standard-Beltway-attempts-at-humor sucked. We mean your-fingernails-are-so-dug-into-your-thighs-that-you-swear-you-feel-bone sucked. Observing that Barney Frank was in attendance, the former Real World star said that if Frank was looking to meet someone, it looked like Hosni Mubarak would be "out" soon. There were boos.
If Sean Duffy has two black friends, we're pretty certain he's tried to hook them up at some point.
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IT'S CPAC TIME, BOYS AND GIRLS!!!! - Ahh the Conservative Political Action Conference: A glorious time when right-leaning lawmakers and candidates for office -- both announced and speculative -- get to unload their most toxic views on how public schools should be scrapped in favor for-profit institutions run by DeVry and about how the current pattern of global warming is simply the result of the troposphere not knowing about the awesome power of Jesus Christ. Journalists love it, too, as they get to file quote-heavy articles by the hour -- sensation-heavy pieces that get more clicks than all their work on entitlement reform, combined. Let's go to the tape...
Donald Rumsfeld was on hand to receive the "Defender of the Constitution Award" (What, was Phyllis Schlafly not around to receive the "Working Mothers Medal of Appreciation"?). He spoke about efforts to cut military spending, urging lawmakers to approve DoD-recommended cuts but to end there "Let's be clear," he said. "The radical Islamists are not cutting back their recruiting, their purchasing, and their training and planning, nor can we." Former Vice President Dick Cheney introduced Rumsfeld. Ron Paul supporters began to shout "where's Bin Laden?" during his remarks, leading the much larger pro-Cheney contingent to chant "USA! USA! USA!"
CPAC is holding its gathering right across the street from where NARAL is also hosting a conference. Unless someone is filming the most elaborate "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" commercial in history, that's just awkward.
In her remarks, Michele Bachmann declared that "The first political breath I take every morning is to repeal ObamaCare." That's funny, because Obamacare will help HuffPost Hill pay for the antibacterial treatment that'll make its first breath in the morning smell less terrible. Annnnyyyyhoo, the outspoken Minnesota congresswoman and rumored dark horse 2012 candidate, told HuffPost's Sam Stein that she foresees a narrow window for repealing health acre reform and frankly acknowledged that the likelihood of doing so is still slim. "I think that 2012 is the key for repeal of Obamacare because otherwise we are looking at another four years down the road to make that happen and there is the opportunity for further implementation and really integration of that law in with our American system," she said. [HuffPost's CPAC Liveblog]
As we go to press, conservatives are lined up for half a mile to get into an event that includes Michele Bachmann and free drinks.
@SuzKhimm: Steve King is speaking now...auditorium is a third full, at most. #tumbleweeds #CPAC11
Freshman Idaho Rep. and Puerto Rico-born Raul Labrador: "I am fortunate to be born American, and I have the birth certificate to prove it."
Amanda Terkel interviewed former Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who struck a libertarian tone on gay rights when asked about GOProud's controversial invite. "That's what freedom of speech is, that's what freedom of assembly is -- we have an assembly here of people coming together to exchange ideas," Angle said, "and I think that's what we like is the discourse and exchange of ideas. I am always in favor of freedom." [HuffPost]
For whatever reason, Donald Trump showed up, telling the crowd that he'll decide in June whether to run for president. "The United States is becoming a laughing stock of the world," he said. "I deal with people from China. I deal with people from Mexico. They cannot believe what they are getting away with." Nothing makes a conservative activist happier than a guy who has his name plastered all over the West Side of Manhattan, y'know?
JON KYL WON'T SEEK REELECTION - Senate Minority Whip John Kyl announced today that he will not seek a fourth term in the Senate, providing Democrats a possible pick-up seat and more or less guaranteeing a scramble to be the heir-apparent to Mitch McConnell. "I really can't explain it any better than to say, my heart says it's time," Kyl said at a press conference in Phoenix. "Let me hasten to say that there is nothing negative about the decision." Lamar Alexander's office has already confirmed that the Tennessee senator and chairman of the Republican conference will run for the number two spot. Also rumored to be considering a run for whip is John Cornyn, the current NRSC chairman, but our money's on Alexander. The GOP likes order and he's next in line. [HuffPost]
Show her you care... about the estate tax: GOP Valentines.
The Democrats' efforts to pick up Kyl's seat is complicated by the fact that Gabrielle Giffords was reportedly mulling a Senate run. "Prior to the tragedy, she had decided that if Kyl retired, she would run," a source close to Giffords told Chris Cilizza. Whether or not Giffords can recuperate in time to campaign is uncertain, although "I possess the personal fortitude and tenaciousness to miraculously recover from a gunshot to the head" is just about the best possible retort to someone accusing you of being a tax-and-spend liberal...or anything, for that matter. [WaPo]
Republican Rep. Jeff Flake is widely expected to announce his candidacy for Kyl's seat, telling reporters today that he is, in fact, considering a run. Mike Johanns, meanwhile, is running for Republican Conference chair.
BOEHNER TIGHT-LIPPED ABOUT CHRIS LEE, PREVIOUSLY URGED HIM TO QUIT MACKING ON LADIES - Asked today about former Rep. Chris Lee's decision to step down after it was revealed that he was
in far too good of shape for a Republican lawmaker having affairs through Craigslist, John Boehner was none too forthcoming. "I think he made the right decision for himself and his family," the House speaker told reporters. It has been reported that Boehner earlier urged several junior House Republicans that were allegedly partying with female lobbyists -- Lee included -- to "knock it off." Boehner was reluctant to discuss that development today. "My conversations with members are private and will remain that way," he said. [HuffPost]
CARL PALADINO NOT RUNNING FOR SEAT VACATED BY LEE - After a second upstate New York congressman resigned over an embarrassing sex scandal, some folks thought it'd be a great idea if that zany dude who ran for governor by threatening reporters, swinging a bat around and looking like an Ed Wood protagonist reentered electoral politics. Thankfully, the Ed Wood protagonist in question thinks otherwise. "I'm not a compromising type of a person," Paladino said in an e-mail last night published by the New York Times. Added Paladino: "Would a real friend urge me to run?" [NYT]
POLL: DEMOCRATS LEADING GOP IN GENERIC BALLOT - Our nation's collectively bipolar electorate seems to be readjusting from whatever serotonin imbalance led it to vote for Allen West. A generic survey from PPP finds that Democrats outpoll Republicans 45 percent to 41 percent, an 11 point swing from November. That margin increases to 38-31 among independents. What's more, John Boehner's approval rating has fallen from 35-28 favorable to 33-31 favorable. Among independents, Boehner is putting up a negative at 23/32, down from 34/30 a month ago. [PPP]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - These ducklings have a hard time jumping up a step. Thankfully, their mother gets her Tiger Mother on and lets them figure it out for themselves.
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Oh happy days!: It's warming up a bit, the days are getting longer... spring training begins soon. Take a little time to enjoy the coming Spring. Just don't do it tonight. Or outside. It's going to be in the low-to-mid 20s. Tomorrow: This is the nice day, the day to enjoy a lunch outside. Temperatures in the 40s, and amazingly sunny. Thanks, JB!
- A video of a 23-year-old Steve Jobs preparing for his first TV appearance. The earpiece never stops feeling weird. [http://bit.ly/f2Ip99]
- For whatever reason the show The Good Wife recycled an establishing shot from Groundhog Day. [http://bit.ly/fVtU2e]
- Monopoly is releasing an updated, semi-high-tech version that makes us uncomfortable [http://bit.ly/gs6jQp]
- PETA will play sounds of bunnies being tortured outside of Donna Karen's office. We're guessing it's a hidden track on a whale sound CD. [http://bit.ly/fRhQh3]
- The "Blind Photographer" isn't just the title of that song you wrote in 10th grade, it's also a guy. [http://bit.ly/aSFaUd]
- Play-Doh, the perfume, lets you smell like everyone's favorite childhood sculpting substance...unless of course you ingested enough of it as a kid that it continues to seep out of your pores. [http://bit.ly/ezCb7C]
- For reasons we still don't fully get, a bunch of NASCAR types strapped a goldfish bowl -- with a goldfish inside -- onto a racer. [http://bit.ly/hhDAas]
- Good on this chicken for finding a swing to chill out on. [http://bit.ly/fdaMLO]
@DaveWeigel: Ben Quayle for Senate: Knock the Hell Out of the Other Place.
@jimtankersley: Thanks to Twitter, I'm thoroughly confused abt #Egypt - but I have 17-source confirmation of Newt's CPAC theme song.
@TeresaKopec: Not really proud that my greatest achievement of the day is a Craigslist/Mubarak mashup: http://yfrog.com/h312pmkj
@RepWeiner: Clearly the Jewfro is working. Nearly 10k followers. If i hit that ill post my Bar Mitzvah pic. #dontworrynobrispicsat20k
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: We hear about a lot of strange fundraisers: Republicans hosting "labor breakfasts," Darrell Issa's "Issa Cream" social and so forth. Michael McCaul's "Laser Shoot-Out and Hard Times Chili" definitely ranks as one of the strangest. [National Rifle Association, 410 First Street SE].
6:00 pm: Steny Hoyer has been in D.C. long enough to know that you don't need bells and whistles to raise campaign dough. Just a room at the DNC, some small bites and your checkbook [Democratic National Headquarters, 430 South Capitol Street SE].
7:00 pm: You'd think that a "scotch and cigars reception" is the kind of cliched, backroom event politicians would shy away from. Nope! Austin Scott, Dan Benishek and Tom Reed just arrived in Washington and want to play congressman! One Nation PAC hosts [Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road NW].
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm: Politicians and Jewish 13-year-olds. The only people we know who celebrate their birthdays by getting a boatload of checks. Kay Granger marks her birthday with a b-day fundraiser hosted by her PAC, Common Sense Common Solutions [Bobby Van's Grill, 1201 New York Ave NW].
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Rep. Albio Sires takes a break from working in a chamber where adults yell at one another so people will give him money by visiting another chamber where adults yell at one another so people will give him money. [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].
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