Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Carl Levin Retiring: Bob Newhart Lookalike Caucus To Be Disbanded

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Carl Levin won't run for reelection in 2014 -- we hear potential replacements are keeping quiet until Kid Rock makes his intentions known. The White House confirmed that it won't use drones to kill Americans on American soil, something Americans have proved more than capable of doing on their own. And Dennis Rodman hopes to forge a lasting peace between the United States and North Korea, though we're pretty sure he's going to need a strong post from Scottie Pippen to get that done. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 7th, 2013:

CARL LEVIN TO RETIRE - The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the upper chamber's resident village cobbler will not seek reelection in 2014. Detroit Free Press: "Levin, 78, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he made the decision believing 'I can best serve my state and my nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us … in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.'... Levin's departure could come at a bad time for Democrats as they look for a strong candidate to take on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder but Michigan has had few Republicans succeed at winning U.S. Senate seats in recent elections – the most recent being Spencer Abraham in 1994, who served one term before being beaten by the state's junior senator, Democrat Debbie Stabenow." [Detroit Free Press]

BRENNAN CONFIRMED BY SENATE - We hope his wife, kids and most cherished unmanned aerial vehicles were in the Senate chamber. Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff: "The Senate voted to confirm John Brennan as head of the Central Intelligence Agency Thursday, looking past contentious issues of American drone killings and the blind eye Brennan once turned to torture. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) dramatically elevated the profile of the nomination Wednesday, blocking it until he got an answer to the question of whether or not the White House would authorize a drone strike against an American citizen within the United States. Still, Brennan passed relatively easily on a bipartisan vote of 63 to 34." [HuffPost]

Nancy Pelosi is losing a key staffer to Harry Reid, Sam Stein reports: "Faiz Shakir, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's Director of New Media & Senior Adviser, is shifting over to the other side of the Capitol building. On Monday, he will become Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's emissary to the new media universe, helping the Nevada Democrat disseminate all the interesting tidbits he hears from anonymous Bain Capital associates. No word yet on what prompted the job shift, but it was likely that feeling of utter hopelessness that comes with being in the House minority."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - David Robbins of Carlsbad, Calif., has seen the news that federal budget cuts known as sequestration have taken effect and will chop a variety of programs, and he knows they might affect him, but he doesn't know exactly when or how. "It's like your car went over the cliff and you're watching the ground come toward you, but you haven't hit yet," he said. Robbins has been receiving unemployment insurance since he lost his job as a medical diagnostics executive at the end of last year. The sequestration is supposed to trim long-term unemployment insurance by roughly 10 percent, but states, which distribute jobless benefits, may be unable to implement the cut right away. "We may not have it done by March 31, but I think it will be our goal to implement it within a number of a few months potentially," Pam Harris, director of the California Employment Development Department, told state lawmakers Wednesday during a California State Assembly committee hearing. [HuffPost]

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LINDSEY GRAHAM VOTED FOR BRENNAN BECAUSE F--- YOU, GUY - Ahh the old legislative wet willy. Never fails to remind us how pointless everything is. Luke Johnson: " Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Thursday he would vote for CIA director nominee John Brennan because Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) filibustered his appointment over questions about the administration's drone program. 'I was going to vote against him until the filibuster, so he picked up one vote,' Graham said, laughing to reporters in the Capitol. 'I thought Brennan was arrogant, a bit shifty,' he said, but added that he was going to vote for Brennan because the vote had become a 'referendum on the drone program.' 'Where were all these people during the Bush administration? I never remember anybody accusing President [George W.] Bush of 'We're going to kill someone in a cafe,"' Graham said. (Paul, of course, was not in office during the Bush administration.)" [HuffPost]

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ROBOT ARMY WILL NOT BLOW YOU UP AT THE CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN - DOJ is still crafting a position paper on Skynet. Jen Bendery: "White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday tried to put to rest a simmering debate over President Barack Obama's drone policy, stating in clear terms that the president doesn't have the legal authority to, hypothetically, order drone strikes on Americans on U.S. soil. During his daily briefing, Carney read aloud a short letter that went out Thursday afternoon from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who waged a 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday over Obama's secret use of drones to carry out targeted killings. Throughout the effort, Paul, along with a dozen other Republican senators, demanded to know whether Obama believed he had the right to order drone strikes on U.S. citizens on U.S soil." [HuffPost]

JOHN MCCAIN WISHES RAND PAUL WOULD KEEP THAT GOSH DARN RACKET DOWN - What is one to do when you want a measly kid off your yard... but it's also the measly kid's yard? Damn kids. Mike McAuliff: "One of the Senate's leading hawks, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), took to the Senate floor Thursday to fire back at Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), saying the Kentuckian's rant against extrajudicial drone killings was 'simply false.' Quoting extensively from a Wall Street Journal editorial that mocked Paul, McCain also argued that Paul had belittled the growing use of drones to kill terrorism suspects by invoking the name of Jane Fonda and suggesting a drone could have killed her when she was a Vietnam War protester...'I watched some of that, quote, debate, unquote, yesterday,' McCain said. 'I saw colleagues who know better come to the floor and voice some of this same concern, which is totally unfounded.'" [HuffPost]

Observers are wondering why the Democrats, who spent most of the last decade professing to be the party of civil rights, were absent from Rand Paul's filibuster: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who launched the most recent old-fashioned 'talking' filibuster before Paul's in 2010 against the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, said flatly that he never considered joining Paul's effort -- but added that the absence of most Democrats was a 'good question.'...Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she's been satisfied with the administration's response thus far, though she added that oversight of the drone program remains important...Some Democrats argued that the concerns over transparency extend beyond drones. 'I think there's a host of issues here, not just simply issues related to drones but related to overall powers to spy on Americans and to take action without any sort of check,' said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)." [Luke Johnson and Sabrina Siddiqui]

Harry Reid: They see me trollin', they hatin': "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won wide praise for the conviction he showed during his 13-hour filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined that appreciation Thursday morning, noting how impressive it was that Paul not only held forth, but held it in. 'I've been involved in a few filibusters, as Rand Paul did yesterday. And what I've learned from my experiences with talking filibusters is this: To succeed you need strong convictions, but also a strong bladder. It's obvious -- Sen. Paul has both.'' [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

BOEHNER: GOP WON'T BUDGE ON TAXES - Just because the president has been wining and dining his political opponents, the House speaker said today, doesn't mean that they will, you know, put out. The Hill:"Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he is 'optimistic' about President Obama's new outreach to rank-and-file Republicans, but he warned it will not make the GOP bend on taxes. 'I think it's a sign, a hopeful sign, and I'm hopeful that something will come out of it,' Boehner said at his weekly Capitol news conference. 'But, if the president continues to insist on tax hikes, I don't think we're going to get very far. If the president doesn't believe that we have a spending problem, I don't know if we're going to get very far. But I'm optimistic.' A day after taking a group of Republican senators out to a swanky dinner, Obama is having lunch on Thursday with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the House GOP budget chief and the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee. Next week, the president will visit the Capitol to meet with both the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate, which he has not done in at least three years." [The Hill]

GUN CONTROL ADVOCATES KEEPING QUIET - Politico: "President Barack Obama's gun control agenda is looking more doomed by the day, but gun control advocates still haven't said a word to complain. That's no accident. The White House knew its post-Newtown effort would require bringing key gun control groups into the fold. So the White House offered a simple arrangement:the groups could have access and involvement, but they'd have to offer silence and support in exchange. The implied rules, according to conversations with many of those involved: No infighting. No second-guessing in the press. Support whatever the president and Vice President Joe Biden propose. And most of all, don't make waves or get ahead of the White House. In exchange: a voice in the discussions, a role in whatever final agreement is made and weekly meetings at the White House with Biden's chief of staff, Bruce Reed -- provided they don't discuss what happens there." [Politico]

DEM DOES WALL STREET'S BIDDING, PART 661,239,004 - Chelsea Kiene: "Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a former Wall Street executive, is joining Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) to introduce legislation that would deregulate derivatives, undercutting one of the most meaningful elements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Derivatives -- which Warren Buffett has referred to as 'financial weapons of mass destruction' -- are viewed as a key trigger of the 2008 economic crisis. The bill would 'allow banks to keep commodity and equity derivatives in federally insured units,' Politico reported on Wednesday, meaning that banks would no longer be forced to spin off their trading desks. It would weaken Dodd-Frank's 'push out' provision, otherwise known as the Prohibition Against Federal Government Bailouts of Swaps Entities, which bars federal assistance from being provided to any swaps entity." [HuffPost]

DENNIS RODMAN: MAN OF PEACE - New York Post: "Dennis Rodman is reportedly trying to do something that hasn't been achieved in decades – broker peace between the US and North Korea. Rodman's publicist tells TMZ that The Worm is planning a second trip to the DPRK in the next six months, and securing peace between his new pal Kim Jong Un and President Obama would be the NBA legend's greatest achievement. The aspiring diplomat allegedly wants to use his new odd-couple friendship with the Outstanding Leader to forge peace and convince Kim Jong Un to engage in talks with the president. Rodman, who raised many eyebrows when he visited the Communist leader with members of the Harlem Globetrotters, recently went on news programs to encourage more relations between the two countries." [NY Post]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby will see your pug's sneeze an raise you two baby sneezes.

COMFORT FOOD

- "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead" as mid-1990s sitcoms. Cue the soprano sax. [http://bit.ly/Zro9xf]

- Microsoft released a video predicting how we will communicate with one another in five years. Remember, this is the company that released Windows ME so take it with a grain of salt. [http://bit.ly/10fSB2e]

- A list of Facebook profile sections through the years (remember "Mailbox at school"?). [http://bit.ly/XXXLcU]

- Google Glasses will end up doing what everything else does... serving the patriarchy. [http://bit.ly/13Diwl3]

- Behold this Dyson vacuum, which we will henceforth call FIRE EATER. [http://bit.ly/W6iTjC]

- Leonardo DiCaprio nails his Jack Nicholson impression. [http://huff.to/ZgpZzP]

- Kid learns he's going to be a big brother. Prepare to spend the next few hours try to recongeal your heart. [http://bit.ly/WwJMQb]

TWITTERAMA

@MarkLeibovich: Washington's deep bench of potential Blue Ribbon Commission members just got even deeper. Sen. Carl Levin will not seek re-election.

@GrahamDavidA: But who will stare superciliously over his reading glasses at Senate hearing witnesses now?

@meredithshiner: Embarrassing yet instant realization: you own the same blazer a US Senator is wearing today.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:30 pm: Dan Coats, Congress' most disyllabic, Steve Holt! member, is the beneficiary of a Capitol Hill fundraising dinner. [Acqua Al 2, 212 7th Street Southeast]

6:00 pm: Ed Markey, who polls indicate is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for John Kerry's old Senate seat, drives up the score with a fundraiser. [Boston, MA]

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