HUFFPOST HILL - John Thune's Nuclear Earmark

Today we learned about new and counterintuitive ways to memorialize Martin Luther King Jr. Harry Reid announced that the Senate will mark the eponymous holiday honoring the civil rights hero by voting on exactly ZERO pieces of legislation...for two weeks. Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard published comments from Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour insisting that the Reverend Dr. King exaggerated the prevalence of racism in the Bible Belt. Unless the gub'ner has some more anecdotes about ogling chicks during anti-Jim Crow rallies up his sleeve, and barring a gaffe about how "pogrom" is just Russian for "friendly, coordinated hello," this week probably can't get significantly worse for Good Ol' Haley. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, December 20th, 2010:

President Obama will sign DADT repeal Wednesday. Afterwards the Pentagon has to formulate a plan for implementation. Estimates vary as to when that plan might be debuted. There will then be a 60-day comment period. Then civilization as we know it will implode.

START TREATY UPDATE - The Senate votes this evening on two amendments to the New START Treaty -- the nuclear arsenal-trimming Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known colloquially in our heads as the "Let's Not Play Boggle With Our ACGT Configurations" agreement -- one each from John Thune and Jim Inhofe. Thune's amendment would increase the max number of missiles and bombers that could deliver a nuclear warhead from 700 to 720 at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. It's a big concern of Thune's, who represents Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, where the strategic bomber fleet is based. In other words, the Thune amendment is essentially an earmark, a legislative privilege entrusted in Congress by the Constitution, and one Republicans recently vowed never to use. Heh.

BROWN TO BACK START - Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts said this afternoon he'd be backing the treaty. His announcement came after a secure briefing on START in the old Senate Chamber (which we thought was just used to swear people in and amuse tourists. Apparently people also go there to learn how not to (not?) exterminate humanity! Cool!). Despite its seemingly benign intentions, many Republicans are withholding support, but Lindsey Graham, for one, complained on Friday that he was wery wery sweepy and as such could not think about weapons of mass destruction. But really, now that DADT has been repealed, Graham is signaling he'll no longer vote for the treaty. "If you really want to have a chance of passing START, you better start over and do it in the next Congress because this lame duck has been poisoned," Graham said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday. The whip count stands at 57 Democrats in favor (Ron Wyden is recovering from surgery but could be back for a vote on final passage) with six Republicans breaking ranks (Brown, Cochran, Lugar, Collins, Snowe and Voinovich). Bob Bennett, Bob Corker, Johnny Isakson, Mark Kirk, Lisa Murkowski and Judd Gregg are believed to be up for grabs. [HuffPost]

Lindsey Graham and John McCain told the White House early last week they'd round up support for START if the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal was pulled off the agenda. [HuffPost]

Speaking of our military/intelligence apparatus, check out this hyper depressing piece on domestic intelligence gathering: [WaPo]

Lede of the day/Possible opening line of a really strange children's book: "Barack Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year got off to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad start." [AP. Yes, that's right: The Associated Press]

"After a monthslong blockade, Senate Republicans have agreed to let at least 19 of President Barack Obama's non-controversial judicial nominees win confirmation in the waning days of the congressional session in exchange for a commitment by Democrats not to seek votes on four others, according to officials familiar with the deal. Among the four is Goodwin Liu, a law school dean seen as a potential future Supreme Court pick, whose current nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has sparked strong criticism from Republicans." [HuffPost]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST'S NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION FOR SUNDAY TALK SHOWS - Our favorite Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who places all his dimes tails-up because that no good, tax-and-spend Roosevelt looks at him funny, has a raging hangover from Sunday morning's talk shows. Herewith, the seventh installment of PSLGOPL's New Year's Resolutions For Other People. On the fifth day of Christmas, PSLGOPLNYRFOP said to me: "PSLGOPL is both amused and enraged after watching the angriest, whitest, fattest, oldest and most liberal journalists complain on the Sunday shows about how angry, white, fat and old Congressional Republicans are," said PSLGOPL (yes, he writes about himself in the third person). "America is laughing at you." Season's Greetings, PSLG -- "It should be a law, that before the richest, whitest, smuggest, most secluded journalists criticize tax breaks they will receive, that they be required to disclose their income and percentage of charitable giving." OK, thanks, PSL -- "These white super rich journalists live a lifestyle that 99% of Republicans could never dream of reaching." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

Got a question for PSLGOPL? Send it to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com and he'll answer at some point. He is a real person -- a statement that, thanks to thousands of dollars in therapy bills, he can make confidently.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Ken Watson of Ohio said the state labor department notified him Sunday that today he'd receive the unemployment checks Congress kept from him with its dithering the past two weeks. "I didn't know what they were gonna do. I didn't really count on it coming back." He praised the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for a smooth handling of the lapse in federal benefits. He did not praise the U.S. Congress. "That was crazy. That was totally uncalled for."

HuffPost Hiccup - Friday's Daily Delaney Downer misidentified Helen Blank as from the Children's Defense Fund. Blank is Director of Leadership and Public Policy at the National Women's Law Center. (The story was about Congress taking away money from The Children.) [HuffPost]

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SECOND WIND FOR THE DEFICIT COMMISSION REPORT? - America really has a masochistic thing when it comes to those second acts Fitzgerald said we don't have. It seems like only drugged-out millionaire celebrities, Washington philanderers and budget proposals that disproportionately screw the elderly and people forced to mind their savings by shopping at Dress Barn get a mulligan. Erik Wasson: "Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Monday said they will introduce a bill early next year based on the report from President Obama's deficit commission. Warner and Chambliss have been meeting with a group of 18 senators on finding a way to balance the budget, and said they have concluded the debt commission's proposal is the best basis for bipartisan talks...Despite the failed vote, Warner and Chambliss want to use the debt commission's work as a starting point for deficit talks in Congress. The senators said they expect their legislation to evolve as they seek supporters from both parties, but they said the final plan will reflect the commission's goals of balancing the budget by 2035 by bringing spending down to 21 percent of gross domestic product." They might not have to bother. Bob Kuttner reported last week in a Politico column that Obama is planning to preempt the cutters by proposing his own cutting during the State of the Union address. [The Hill]

SCHUMER: SENATE HAS VOTES FOR 9-11 RESPONDER BILL - Ever since Senate Democrats failed to piece together a supermajority to pass legislation providing 9-11 first responders with health and other benefits, no amount of extra pickles and mayonnaise on his Schumwich has been able to wash the bitter taste from the New York senator's mouth. Now, by Schumer's account, he has the votes. "We now have the votes, we've made some modifications that some of our Republican colleagues requested and if no one does undue delay, just stands up and delays and delays and delays, we will get this done," he said on Good Morning America today. [ABC News]

REID SCHEDULES MORE RECESS DAYS IN JANUARY - This month Congress has been forced to go into the office in the weeks leading up to Christmas. While this is par-for-the-course for the 37 Americans who still have jobs, the idea is particularly offensive to our federal legislators, many of whom have holiday parades to officiate and 4-H potlucks at which to bloviate. Some intrepid souls have attempted to circumvent this: Rep. Gene Taylor went rogue by drinking beer and then introducing a doomed-from-the-start motion to adjourn the House and Joe Manchin symbolically shot a roll call sheet by skipping town. Naturally, in keeping with the PAYGO spirit of the day, Harry Reid is offsetting those workdays with days off elsewhere. Under the new plan, the Senate will adjourn for a two-week "district work period" to coincide with MLK Day (because trying instead to pass the DREAM Act is a crappy way to mark the holiday). While this might cede the spotlight to the Republican-controlled House, it also takes some of the onus off the upper chamber to immediately consider whatever socially conscious legislation John "Salty Ocular Discharge" Boehner passes during that period.

Now here's something nice about Harry's civil rights record, via Greg Sargent: "A month ago, with no members of the press present, Harry Reid gave a speech at the private wedding of his openly gay communications director, Jon Summers. According to a source who was present, Reid spoke powerfully in favor of equality for gay and lesbian Americans. I'm reporting this previously undisclosed episode because I'm not sure folks fully grasp how instrumental Reid was in getting don't ask don't tell repealed. Specifically, I don't think it's clearly understood what was so effective about his strategy, and why it was central to getting this done against all odds." [WaPo]

HALEY BARBOUR'S CURIOUS FORAY INTO HISTORICAL REVISIONISM - With the House out of session and the Senate keeping it relatively low key with START debating today, it wasn't the best time for Haley Barbour's insensitive views (to put it mildly) about the civil rights movement to be made public. But made public they were. "I just don't remember it as being that bad," said Barbour about race relations in his childhood home of Yazoo City, Mississippi in remarks published online by the Weekly Standard. And trust us, it got worse. Way worse. Like, maybe we shouldn't keep Trent Lott in leadership anymore worse. "I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in '62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white," Barbour continued. Okkkkkk. So, governor, were you moved to action by Dr. King's words? "I don't really remember. The truth is, we couldn't hear very well. We were sort of out there on the periphery." So, governor, did you at least revel in the supposedly multiracial gathering smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt? "We just sat on our cars, watching the girls, talking, doing what boys do. We paid more attention to the girls than to King." He also goes on to praise the whites-only Citizens Councils (a notorious terrorist network barely distinguishable from the KKK) that sprang up throughout the south. Well that dog won't hunt. [Weekly Standard]

Amanda Terkel alerts us to this passage from "Yazoo: Integration in a Deep-Southern Town" In it, author Willie Morris documents Haley's older bother Jeppie Barbour's tenure as mayor: "A biracial commission had been in existence in Yazoo for some time, and the mayor discussed some of his problems there also. 'Maybe five years ago,' he said, 'you could've appointed a colored man yourself. Now you simply can't get away with it. They're goin' to have to pick their own leaders. You could've gotten on radio five years ago using these very words, 'George Collins is this ni**er we've appointed,' and could've gotten away with it. I guess they're just goin' through a state of being rebellious and hard-nosed and not listenin' to white people like they used to."

Whoops! "The Council of Conservative Citizens has launched a website calling for a boycott of the new Marvel comic-inspired film Thor, because a character is being played by a black actor. The CCC is the modern incarnation of the Citizens Council movement -- a segregationist movement that possible Republican presidential Haley Barbour praised in a recent interview." [TPM]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - The preferred term is Dog Custodian. [http://bit.ly/f1NTQL]

TEA PARTY LEADER CALLS FOR METHODIST CHURCH'S DESTRUCTION - Though the exact policy platform of the Tea Party has been difficult to nail down, most adherents seem to preach a return to the supposed principles of the early United States including self-reliance, the nuclear family and faith. Interesting then, that one of the country's leading Tea Party activists is calling for the end of one of the nation's oldest Christian denominations. In a blog post yesterday, Tea Party Nation founder Judston Phillips denounced the Methodist Church as "pro-illegal immigration. They have been in the bag for socialist health care, going as far as sending out emails to their membership 'debunking' the myths of Obamacare. Say, where are the liberal complaints on the separation of church and state?" [TPM]

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Well, now that the nor'easter failed to do much of, well anything, we're left with a pretty sky and chilly temperatures; the usual. No precipitation, and temps stay above freezing. Tomorrow: For the record, Winter will begin tomorrow. However, sunset will take place exactly one minute later than today. That's a positive, right? Winter welcomes us with temperatures approaching 40 degrees and sunny skies. Thanks, JB!


- Pablo Escobar had a pet hippopotamus that ingested a lot of foreign objects. This graphic documents those objects. [http://bit.ly/gcw47F]

- The most heroic animals of 2010. [http://bit.ly/dYEnNW]

- This house's techno Christmas lights display is a delight for everyone except the neighbors, presumably. [http://bit.ly/fxQiIn]

- Putting a camera in your car dashboard and using the mirror filter yields trippy results [http://bit.ly/hxussg]

- Jeopardy! contestants are not the types to suffer "Yo Mamma" categories well -- which is to say they're all probably from Washington. [http://bit.ly/eKecXv]

- Racist recycling bin [http://bit.ly/i48Ols]

- Ron Jeremy, hyper-gimmicky slapstick and the Tron Universe. All right! [http://bit.ly/f28kxE]


TONIGHT: Janet Napolitano and Eric Holder are on World News. Howard Fineman is on Countdown (get 'em HoFi!). Dennis Kucinich is on Last Word.


@repjackkimble: When you get past the lynchings, KKK, oppression, and intimidation the Civil Rights movement wasn't bad. Pie was like 5 cents

@brianbeutler: wonder if the #nolabels crew would acknowledge that the white citizens' councils deserve a label

@ariannahuff: Brazilian soccer name generator: http://bit.ly/CY53U. Mine is "Ariannaldo."

@RumsfeldOffice: 27 years ago today, I met with Saddam Hussein. There's much more to the story than this well known photo: http://bit.ly/e04WVA



7:00 pm: Graphic novel and comic book fans -- and what with your possessing a fetishistic interest in the machinations of people more powerful than you, we're guessing that means you -- will want to head over to the Arlington Arts Center for their "Party Crashers" exhibit featuring comic and contemporary art. Runs until January 16th [Arlington Arts Center, 3550 North Wilson Boulevard].


6:00 pm: Bells, dawg! Freaking bells! The Carol Ringers -- one of the country's most acclaimed high school bell choirs -- and the Peace Ringers -- a more grownup version -- perform an array of classical, seasonal and popular tunes with their purty-soundin' clankers [Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F Street].

9:00 pm: With all of our tree-hugging references to atheist trees and humanist Hanukkah, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Winter Solstice gathering at U Street Music Hall featuring all the new age DJing you could ever want (which is a lot, right?) [U Street Music Hall, 1115 U Street NW].

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