Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - VW Bus: President Obama Got High In Me

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As a child the president and his friends got high in a VW bus they called the "Choomwagon," which is also the name of our REO Speedwagon tribute jam band. Rep. Jon Sullivan has an interesting new web ad where he, in a manner of speaking, takes off his shirt, holds out his arms and asks President Obama, "You... youwannago?" And Tom Coburn was slapped with an official "letter of qualified admonition" for his interactions with disgraced Ensign aide Doug Hampton, begging the question: What the hell do you have to do around here to get a "letter of admonition"?? We're hopping in our Choomwagons early to beat the Memorial Day traffic, so enjoy this super early edition of HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 25th, 2012:

SENATE GIVES TOM COBURN A STERN TALKIN' TO - Technically it's a "letter of qualified admonition," which sounds like something lawyer parents punish their kids with for spilling milk on their Northwestern alumni magazine. From the Select Committee on Ethics: "The U.S. Select Committee on Ethics found that Senator Tom Coburn and Bret Bernhardt, through their communications with and actions on behalf of former Senate staffer Doug Hampton, engaged in conduct that reflects on the Senate and today issued the following letters and guidance." And from the letter: "While the Committee did not find that your conduct constituted actionable violations of criminal law, it determined that you did not meet the aforementioned higher standards expected of a U.S. Senator." Ouch! And on a Friday, no less! Now everyone will talk about it when they're getting hammered on the beach this weekend!

CONTROVERSIALLY, ROMNEY SAYS OBVIOUS THING ABOUT GOVT SPENDING - With Zach Carter: "Republican House Speaker John Boehner and GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney have, in the course of the past week, pushed starkly different approaches to fiscal policy and economic recovery, a window into a broader rift within the GOP between the Tea Party and less absolutist conservatives. Boehner, carrying the Tea Party line on spending, recently said that he would insist that the deficit be cut by a dollar for every dollar increase in the debt limit, or else he would refuse to raise it, helping drive the country toward default. 'When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase,' Boehner said....Romney, however, said that pushing drastic spending cuts during shaky economic times is a prescription for 'recession or depression.'" [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Two legal groups want the federal government to investigate Florida's treatment of jobless workers following reforms that made the Sunshine State's unemployment insurance program the most stingy in the nation. Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a law last year that sharply reduces the duration of benefits and makes filing unemployment claims much more of a hassle. The law requires claims to be filed online, creates a lengthy test with math and reading questions and requires workers to keep detailed records of their job search efforts. In a formal complaint filed with the U.S. Labor Department, the National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services claimed the law shortchanges people who should be eligible for benefits. "Florida's revised procedures make it just about as difficult as possible for unemployed workers to access unemployment insurance now," said Florida Legal Services attorney Valory Greenfield in a statement. "The effect is that the state is blocking workers from accessing help they are qualified for and twisting the knife in the state's ailing economy. Nowhere in the country is it this hard to get help when you lose a job." [HuffPost]

POLITICO CHOOM - "Surely, all of this could prove to be ephemeral and meaningless in the arc of a long presidential contest." [HuffPost]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

PRESIDENT WAS ONCE A BOGARTING WUNDERKIND: BOOK - Another excerpt from David Maraniss' "Barack Obama: The Story," via New York: "Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted 'Intercepted!,' and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind." [NY Mag]

@elisefoley: lolhuffpost yfrog.com/obnlnbp

Via BuzzFeed, a rundown of the would-be president's weed-tastic adventures: "A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and good times called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning 'to smoke marijuana.'... As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called 'TA,' short for 'total absorption.'... Along with TA, Barry popularized the concept of 'roof hits': when they were chooming in the car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling....'Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,' explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo.... Mark Bendix's Volkswagen bus, also known as the Choomwagon... He also had that VW bus and a house with a pool, a bong, and a Nerf basketball, all enticements for them to slip off midday for a few unauthorized hours of recreation." [BuzzFeed]

OK, one more: "Ray the dealer was 'freakin' scary.' Many years later they learned that he had been killed with a ball-peen hammer by a scorned gay lover. But at the time he was useful because of his ability to 'score quality weed.'... In another section of the [senior] yearbook, students were given a block of space to express thanks and define their high school experience. ... Nestled below [Obama's] photographs was one odd line of gratitude: 'Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.' ... A hippie drug-dealer made his acknowledgments; his own mother did not." [Ibid.]

MR. SPEAKER!!! - Nick Wing: "Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) didn't do the best job of endearing himself to a California restaurant this week, where he and his cadre reportedlyleft a less-than-generous tip for the wait staff. It's not like Boehner and his entourage didn't get VIP treatment at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. After Secret Service agents checked out the establishment, owner Paul Shenkman told the Half Moon Bay Review that he ushered Boehner, three associates and their eight-person security detail through a back door and into a private back room. They were served an assortment of seafood: ahi tuna, shrimp, clams, oysters, ceviche and clam chowder. The Secret Service had lobster rolls. When all was said, done and eaten, the Review reports that their guests left something of a surprise -- and not in the good way." [HuffPost]

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION BLOCKS INTERNATIONAL HEALTH INITIATIVE, ELECTION COMPLETELY UNCHANGED - Zach Carter: "The Obama administration has alarmed global health experts by opposing a new international fund that would fight disease in the developing world. The new fund would require other countries to share a cost burden currently borne predominantly by United States taxpayers, but has nevertheless generated ideological opposition from American negotiators... [Nils] Daulaire, who is leading negotiations for the U.S., went on to object to nearly every main tenet of the proposed fund -- most notably a provision that would require all nations involved in the talks to contribute to a fund to fight disease in developing countries. Although the U.S. has long spent far more money than any other nation on developing new drugs to help the global poor, Daulaire and the Obama administration want to keep this research voluntary, rather than binding under an international agreement. Daulaire also objected to the new fund on the grounds that it could be construed as 'a global tax.'" [HuffPost]

MITT ROMNEY 'HAUNTED' BY HIS GAFFES - Are you picturing some kind of Romney-based "Christmas Carol" spoof? Because we are. WSJ: "It's his own mistakes 'that make me want to kick myself in the seat of my pants,' that 'cause me to try and be a little more careful in what I say... I've had a couple of those during the campaign, which have haunted me a little bit, but I'm sure before this is over will haunt me a lot.' Asked for an example, he mentions 'I like to be able to fire people.' He meant, he says, those, such as health-insurance companies, that provide inadequate services. 'I have to think not only about what I say in a full sentence but what I say in a phrase.' In the current media environment, 'you will be taken out of context, you'll be clipped, and you'll be battered with things you said.' He says it is interesting that 'the media always says, 'Gosh, we just want you to be spontaneous,' but at the same time if you say anything in the wrong order, you're gonna be sorry!'" [WSJ]

TEXAS REDISTRICTING ALL CATTYWAMPUS - Wooooo doogie, the Lone Star State's electoral landscape is more messed up than... um... uh... a... rodeo in a tornado?... prarie dog in water?... no? Anyhoo, National Journal: "Next Tuesday's primary will take place under interim congressional maps ordered by a federal court in San Antonio earlier this year. But the San Antonio court's congressional boundaries are interim, and the map passed by the Texas legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry last year is still hung up in the 'preclearance' process in a Washington, D.C. district court with no sign of when a decision might come down... Almost four months later, we're still waiting, and candidates are running under the interim maps, which the San Antonio court based on the Texas legislature's maps. The reasons for the delay are murky, and manifold... The main obstacle for the Texas legislature's congressional plan centered in Austin, where Travis County was split five ways and some groups argued that the division intentionally kept a significant minority population from being able to elect a 'candidate of choice.' If the court denies preclearance based on that argument, congressional candidates running in the area could find themselves running in brand new districts again next cycle, repeating the scramble for seats as versions of interim maps changed earlier this cycle." [National Journal]

CONGRESSMAN LOOKING FOR A ROW - WaPo: "Two recent ads from Oklahoma Rep. John Sullivan (R) promise that the lawmaker will 'get in your face if you're wrong -- even a president's face.'... His new ad, 'Nancy Pelosi,' uses the same line. Sullivan also suggested at a February town hall that 'killing a couple of senators' would help Congress pass a budget. He later apologized." [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some elephants waving.

D.C. SAYS GOODBYE TO CHUCK BROWN - HuffPost DC: "Family and fans will say goodbye to musician Chuck Brown, the legendary 'Godfather of Go-Go,' at a public viewing and service next week. The viewing will be held at D.C.'s Howard Theatre on Tuesday. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center will host a public memorial service on Thursday." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- A better John Malkovich iPhone ad. [http://bit.ly/MCiIGj]

- Second episode of Downton Sixbey.[http://chzb.gr/MChdYz]

- Foto Friday: "26 Animals Sitting Like Humans" [http://bit.ly/MClHOS]

- Foto Friday: Special instructions for online pizza orders. [http://bit.ly/MCk7wB]

- An interesting perspective of the New York City Ballet. [http://bit.ly/MCiTRR]

- Foto Friday: Strange things you can do with books. [http://bit.ly/MCmuzs]

TWITTERAMA

@brianbeutler: Trenton makes. Bain takes. RT @mattyglesias: What does the mayor of Camden think about private equity? Trenton?

@pourmecoffee: This weekend is anniversary of Anthony Weiner affair, a reminder that no matter how proud you are of it, don't share it on social media.

@indecision: Every time old Barack Obama mentions Osama bin Laden, young Barack Obama takes a hit off a joint.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

THIS WEEKEND

4:30pm PST Friday: And, because never a day goes by that someone doesn't raise cash for Obama somewhere, the president sits down for a relaxed, friendly, extremely expensive kaffee-klatch with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. $35,800 gets you a cup of tea and a fortune cookie. [170 South Market Street, San Jose]

Fri-Sun: What could be better over a long weekend of solemn remembrance than sport fishing and margaritas with big defense senators? Yep, it's your chance to cast for marlin with Wyoming's Mike Enzi and Alabama's Jeff Sessions at their Key West Classic Weekend. [Key West, Fla.]

Sun. 12:00pm: If you're like us, you've waited all year to see the terrified looks on old people and pets that can only mean one thing: Rolling Thunder is back in town. It starts at the Pentagon and crawls toward the reflecting pool over the course of two hours. Stay inside, seriously, if you can.

Sun. 2:00pm: They try to bill the Memorial Day Parade as a totally separate gig from Rolling Thunder, but it's all the same melee downtown. Plan accordingly. [Constitution Ave.]

Sun. 8:00pm: Of all the weekend's shenanigans, the National Memorial Day Concert is the one you actually want to bring the kids to. Despite being headlined by actors-who-played-soldiers Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, and despite being almost all symphony music, this is a damn good show. [West Lawn of the Capitol; Free; gates open at 5:00 pm]

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