POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - John Roberts Not Buying All Those Jetskis In Florida

03/28/2013 06:02 pm ET | Updated May 28, 2013

Former Alabama agriculture commission candidate Dale Peterson was arrested for shoplifting, while former candidate for Stark County treasurer Phil "AND A MASTERS DEGREE IN COMMUNICATION" Davison remains at large. A report from a libertarian group ranks New York as the least free state (didn't they hear the soda ban was lifted?). And CNN dusted off the ol' hologram machine to project some three-dimensional goats but is presumably waiting to debut the corgis in primetime. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 28th, 2013:

DID JOHN ROBERTS LEAVE HIS CREDIT CARD AT CAP LOUNGE? Sometimes that kinda thing just happens, y'know? Nick Wing: "Chief Justice John Roberts is paying Washington D.C.-area establishments in cash this week, after being targeted by credit card fraud. The Washington Post's Al Kamen reported Thursday that Roberts had paid his local Starbucks earlier this week with paper instead of the usual plastic. He reportedly told the cashier that someone had stolen his credit card numbers, which had forced him to cancel the cards. Roberts was overheard by The Huffington Post making a similar claim at a D.C. barber shop on Wednesday, noting that the theft had apparently originated from a suspect in Kentucky. It's unclear why the chief justice felt the need to explain his reason for paying in cash." [HuffPost]

ALLYSON SCHWARTZ RYNNING FYR PENNSYLVANIA GOVYRNOR - That is, until she goes on an all-night bender, gives a disastrous radio interview, drops out, is replaced by Joe Biden and ultimately murdered in her car by a ruthlessly ambitious Kevin Spacey. Uh... Slugline! We mean, Politico: "Rep. Allyson Schwartz has decided to run for governor of Pennsylvania, joining a developing field of Democratic candidates who believe they can beat Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014. Emboldened by a private primary poll commissioned by EMILY's List, Schwartz has hired Obama campaign veteran Reesa Kossoff as communications director for her political operation and plans to open a state-level campaign account early next month, a source close to the five-term congresswoman said... Schwartz led [Joe] Sestak 18 percent to 15 percent with all other candidates finishing in single digits, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO that includes top-line results but not all of the data collected. In the three-way hypothetical matchup, Schwartz led [Treasurer Rob] McCord 31 percent to 12 percent, with 7 percent favoring [Ed Rendell official Tom] Wolf." [Politico]

Howard Fineman on why Ashley Judd denied America our ad-sales team a well-run campaign tons of pageviews: "Judd had... discussed with [former Senator Wendell H.] Ford, the state's former governor, her fast-developing plan to seek the Democratic nomination to oppose incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. 'She asked me what I thought and I told her,' Ford said. Ford, who is revered by Democrats, was friendly but noncommittal. And remained so...Although former President Bill Clinton was publicly neutral, his decision to meet with and counsel a Judd rival, 34-year-old Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, in Owensboro earlier this month had an impact." [HuffPost]

MARCO RUBIO WANTS TO BE THE GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE - But not president, if we read this correctly. The Hill: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday joined a group of Republicans threatening to filibuster gun control legislation in the Senate. 'We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance,' he wrote in a statement on his website. The White House is digging in for a fight over gun control. Press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday criticized the Republican threat, saying it would send the wrong message to the families of gun violence victims... But Rubio said Obama's proposals aren't what's needed to reduce gun violence... 'We should look for ways to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill prone to misusing them, but I oppose legislation that will be used as a vehicle to impose new Second Amendment restrictions on responsible, law-abiding gun owners,' Rubio said." [The Hill]

UPDATE FROM THE CABLE NEWS NETWORK - @michaelhayes: Yes, those are hologram goats. pic.twitter.com/iJLklqitue

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Doh. "In the week ending March 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 357,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 341,000." [DOL.gov]

The suckiness of chart journalism, in several charts.

DOOMED BILL ALERT - Low-income children could get free lunches on weekends and holidays instead of only on school days under a bill introduced this week by Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.). "This legislation will fill a gap in federal programming and provide funding for nutritious meals to ensure that vacation from school does not mean hunger for children," Titus said in a statement on Thursday. Ha, helping poor children. It's the thought that counts. [HuffPost]

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OBAMA ATE HIS WHEATIES - NBC News: "President Barack Obama on Thursday sternly rebuked opponents of pending gun control measures, accusing them of "running out the clock" and hoping that the nation forgets last year's Newtown school shooting in order to keep popular reforms from passing into law. “The entire country was shocked, and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that that this time would be different," the president said of the gun massacre that killed 20 children and six adults. 'Shame on us if we've forgotten.' Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and a group of mothers who have lost their children to gun violence, Obama accused gun rights groups of rooting for amnesia." [NBC News]

THE 'BAUCUS WHISPERER' IS SLOWLY BREAKING THAT WILD MONTANAN - Sabrina Siddiqui and us: Jim Messina, who is leading the effort by Organizing For Action to press for tougher gun laws, has a problem: his old boss. OFA, the offshoot of the Obama campaign now organized as a nonprofit organization, has made gun control its top priority, and Messina has been the public face of that effort...Democrats have largely rallied to the cause, but a major holdout is Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who's up for reelection in 2014 and who launched the career of Messina. Or, depending on whom you ask in the Senate, it's understood to have been the other way around. "The relationship is much tighter, much closer than the typical staffer-senator relationship. In years past, whenever Senator Baucus got in the middle of a political brawl or a significant policy debate, Messina was never far behind," recalled one former senior Senate aide who knows both well. "The relationship counted for something, because I couldn't help but notice [OFA is] not running ads in Montana."...“Messina is the Baucus whisperer. If anyone can reach out to Baucus on a tough issue like this, while still being mindful of Montana politics, it is him,” said a Senate aide. [HuffPost

GETTING SHOT IS NOT A CHEAP PROPOSITION - Jeffrey Young: "Firearms-related deaths cost the U.S. health care system and economy $37 billion in 2005, the most recent year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted an estimate. The cost of those who survive gun violence came to another $3.7 billion that year, according to the CDC... President Barack Obama has pushed for new laws aimed at reducing gun violence... 'We would save billions of dollars,' [Garen Wintemute, the director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento] said. 'We would realize two gains. One is we would save a lot of money and the other is we would have more resources available for treating injuries of other types.' This is typical of trauma centers, especially those in urban areas with more frequent gun violence, said Lynette Scherer, the chief of trauma and emergency medical services at the UC Davis Medical Center in northern California. Staffing costs are high as emergency medical technicians, nurses, radiologists, nurses, physicians, surgeons and others have to be on site 24 hours a day. Facility, equipment and supply costs add to the tab. For a patient with a gunshot wound, a single surgery followed by two days in the intensive care unit runs about $100,000, she said." [HuffPost]

A HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that a majority of Americans disagree with "a majority of Americans." Emily Swanson: "According to the new survey, 73 percent of respondents said they favor required background checks for all gun purchases, including private ones and those at gun shows, while 15 percent said they were opposed. That support is actually slightly less than in many other surveys, some of which have found support for background checks above 90 percent... Even if the bill were to end up resulting in a national gun registry (which Democrats insist will not happen) the poll suggests that most of the public would be supportive. By a 57 percent to 32 percent margin, respondents said they favor requiring all owners to register guns with a national registry." [HuffPost]

MURKOWSKI 'EVOLVING' ON GAY MARRIAGE - Alaska's junior senator has come out for coming out for gay marriage when it's politically convenient. Luke Johnson: "Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that her views on gay marriage are "evolving," but stopped short of endorsing it. 'The term "evolving view" has been perhaps overused, but I think it is an appropriate term for me to use,' she said, following an address at the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, according to the Chugiak-Eagle River Star. Murkowski elaborated on her stance to Alaska Public Radio. 'I think you are seeing a change in attitude, change in tolerance, I guess, and an acceptance that what marriage should truly be about is a lasting, loving, committed relationship with respect to the individual,' she said. Her comments came on the same day as the Supreme Court heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act." [HuffPost]

PRO TIP QUESTION: Has anyone ever said they were "evolving" on gay marriage, only to later discover they HATE gay people?

Rush Limbaugh gives up: "Conservative talk show how Rush Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show that conservatives have lost the gay marriage debate and that it is now 'inevitable.' 'This issue is lost,' he said. 'I don’t care what the Supreme Court does. This is inevitable. And it’s inevitable because we lost the language on this.' Limbaugh added that conservatives lost the debate because they allowed the term 'marriage' to be 'bastardized.'" [WaPo]

MITCH MCCONNELL'S SECRET PLAN TO KILL OBAMACARE - His first secret plan, drugging Obamacare, putting it in a car, placing a brick on the accelerator and letting that sucker fly off Lovers' Lane, didn't pan out. Chris Frates: "A few minutes after the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision upholding President Obama's health care law last summer, a senior adviser to Mitch McConnell walked into the Senate Republican leader's office to gauge his reaction... Sitting at his desk a stone's throw from the Senate chamber, McConnell turned to the aide and, with characteristic directness, said: 'This decision is too cute. But I think we got something with this tax issue.'... McConnell, a master of byzantine Senate procedure, immediately realized that, as a tax, the individual mandate would be subject to the budget reconciliation process, which exempted it from the filibuster. In other words, McConnell had just struck upon how to repeal Obamacare with a simple majority vote... In the months that followed, top GOP Senate aides held regular strategy meetings to plot a path forward. Using the reconciliation process would be complicated and contentious. Senate rules would require Republicans to demonstrate to the parliamentarian that their repeal provisions would affect spending or revenue and Democrats were sure to challenge them every step of the way. So the meetings were small and secret." [National Journal]

By the way, Mitch McConnell doesn't think insuring people is worthwhile.

REPORT: WHITE PEOPLE IN GOP - Whiter, in fact, than a polar bear in a jacuzzi of marshmallow fluff. BuzzFeed: "As the Republican Party gears up to launch a concerted, well-funded outreach effort aimed at attracting elusive minority voters, it's not just battling dismal poll numbers and tough demographic trends -- it's working to overcome its own overwhelming whiteness. There is not a single racial minority among the 20 most senior officials who run the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the three wings of the GOP apparatus charged with promoting candidates and winning elections. And a range of former Republican staffers told BuzzFeed that this lack of diversity has paralyzed the party's ability to connect with minority communities... One former RNC field staffer, who is Hispanic, described a culture of cynicism among his predominantly white colleagues when it came to minority outreach. He said that in his office, whenever they were notified of a new Republican outreach effort, they would pass around a Beanie Baby -- which they had dubbed the 'pander bear' -- and make fun of the 'tokenism.'" [BuzzFeed]

Mother Jones takes a trip to the Senate barber shop. There's also a list of the upper chamber's greatest haircuts.

SEQUESTRATION WINNERS: MINING FIRMS THAT BREAK THE FREAKING LAW - Dave Jamieson: "Facing budget cuts under congressional sequestration, the federal agency overseeing mine safety is planning to severely cut back its efforts to recover fines against mining companies that have broken safety laws and owe the government millions of dollars in penalties. A backlog of fines issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has persisted for years, with coal and mineral companies still owing the feds some $70 million for health and safety violations on their properties. MSHA, a division of the Labor Department, has made strides toward clearing out that backlog recently, in large part because of millions of dollars in funding used to bring in more government lawyers to handle the cases. But faced with the same across-the-board cuts now hitting federal agencies, MSHA plans to shut down or downsize three offices devoted expressly to recouping the overdue fines, according to a letter sent from concerned Democrats to Labor Department officials earlier this month." [HuffPost]

PARTY OF LINCOLN NOT VERY GOOD AT LINCOLN - Luke Johnson: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) quotes Abraham Lincoln in a memo released Thursday as warning of debt, but ignores the former president's call for a tax or tariff. The messaging to House Republicans quotes Lincoln expressing concern over debt... Lincoln, however, while warning of debt, also said that the debt had been created by the unwillingness to consider new revenue." [HuffPost]

The GOP's new favorite black person, Dr. Ben Carson -- loved for his ability to give speeches while being black, pry around in people's temporal lobes while being black and, lest we forget, being black -- won't be president. During an appearance on "Hannity" Tuesday night, the Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon was asked about his thoughts on gay marriage. "Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality," Carson said, apparently so caught up in learning about brains that he has never bothered to check the DSM, which hasn't labeled homosexuality a disorder since 1972 (pedophiela and zoophelia still are, thankfully). "It doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition. So he, it's not something that is against gays, it's against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications." [Slate]

DALE PETERSON DON'T GIVE A RIIIIP ABOUT SHOPLIFTING LAWS - Stealin' cashews in the dark of night Sam's Club. Alabama.com: "The tough-on-crime former Republican candidate for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner is in trouble with the law -- for the second time in less than six months. Dale Peterson, who brandished a rifle and talked tough about criminals and thugs in a 2010 political ad that went viral on the internet, was arrested in Hoover this afternoon after authorities said he shoplifted from Sam's Club on Alabama 150. In the hours following his arrest, Peterson took to Twitter to explain his situation. Authorities said Peterson ate a can of cashew nuts, put the empty can back on the store shelf and walked out of the business without paying. Because he walked out of the store with unpaid merchandise - in this instance police said it was in his stomach - his actions constitute theft...Peterson was charged with the same crime on Oct. 15 after employees of a Wal-Mart on Alabama 150 had stopped him after he had pushed his cart past cash registers without paying for its contents. Inside the cart were several cases of beer and a roll of paper towels." [Alabama.com]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby giraffe stands for the first time.

STATE FILLED WITH EVERY TYPE OF MINORITY IMAGINABLE THE LEAST FREE IN THE NATION: REPORT - Whereas the one filled almost entirely with white people (not counting the neglected Native American popualtion) the most restrictive abortion laws and virtually no protections for LGBT Americans is the freeset. Right. Matt Sledge: " Go West, young Rand. A new study released Thursday by a libertarian think tank ranks New York as the least free state, and the Dakotas, where 'freedom blooms on the hills and prairies,' the most. Rounding out the authors' list of least free were 49th place California, then New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island. Best off after North and South Dakota were Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. Social liberties like marijuana laws and marriage equality were weighted in the rankings, but at the core of the study's considerations were libertarian concerns like state regulation." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Urinal video games are a great way to... wait for it... wait for it... waaaaait foooor iiit... piss the time away. Boom. Nailed it. [http://bit.ly/10gYir6]

- Every video game ever featured in "The Simpsons," including our favorite, "My Dinner With Andre." [http://bit.ly/ZxO5ZN]

- The Nazis had rules for jazz musicians. The rules were odd. [http://bit.ly/15Y6krW]

- Twenty-five comics that perfectly, and depressingly, capture how the internet affects our lives. [http://bit.ly/YEK722]

- Putting a price tag on products mentioned in hit songs. [http://chzb.gr/16iq2AE]

- Courtesy of Mental Floss, 45 facts about America's president. [http://huff.to/YImwQI]

- Yeah, it sucks to be in the back of a plane, but on the plus side, you're less likely to die in a crash. [http://bit.ly/10TND9y]

TWITTERAMA

@SenatorKirk: Thanks Jennifer Aniston for the well wishes pic.twitter.com/8n6afXVI63

@igorbobic: They should name a DC bar 'The Full Lid.' Wait no they shouldn't, unfollow me.

@shani_o: hahahhahhahahaha INBOX: "Which top SXSW influencers partied the hardest? [Infographic]" aaaahahahahaha

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