Washington practiced its furloughing today when seemingly every agency employee and Hill staffer attended the Nats' season opener. President Barack "2 for 22" Obama may not have skills with a basketball, but if North Korea trash talks him enough, he'll show the world his mastery with "the football." And Rep. Lou Barletta said undocumented immigrants are turning the country into a sinking ship. However Barletta was guarded about which hot-button issue would turn the S.S. America into a poop ship. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, April 1st, 2013:
BOB CASEY EVOLVES ON GAY MARRIAGE - There's been so much evolution taking place in the upper chamber, we can only conclude that Congress is in the throes of a veritable LGBT cambrian explosion. Morning Call: "Sen. Bob Casey told The Morning Call on Monday he now supports same-sex marriage. In an exclusive interview, the Pennsylvania Democrat said he had decided over time that the Defense of Marriage Act -- the federal law that defines marriage as one man and one woman -- should be repealed, and determined that such a belief could not be separate from the overall question of gay marriage. 'I ultimately decided that to make a decision about DOMA was making a decision about marriage equality itself,' Casey said...In recent days half a dozen of Casey's Democratic colleagues reversed their position and became same-sex marriage supporters, but Casey did not. And in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court cases, the senator stayed quiet on the issue. Casey's reversal now leaves just eight of 53 Senate Democrats who say they do not support gay marriage." [Morning Call]
Democrats still in the homo habilis stage of their gay rights "evolution": Joe Manchin, Bill Nelson, Heidi Heitkamp, Mary Landrieu, Tom Carper, Tim Johnson, Joe Donnelly and Mark Pryor
ACKERMAN, AKIN, WEST MAKE IT RAIN - We wrote a piece of journalism that had the word "lavished" in the headline. Shoot us now. [Ed. note to gun happy country: Kidding. Do not do that.] HuffPost: "After Todd Akin lost the Missouri Senate race to Democrat Claire McCaskill in November, he had one final piece of business to take care of as an outgoing member of the House of Representatives -- giving piles of government money to his staff. Akin nearly doubled the salaries of his House staffers in the quarter after his defeat, according to the website LegiStorm, which tracks congressional pay. Only retiring Democrat Gary Ackerman of New York was more generous with public money, barely topping Akin's 98 percent increase in pay, the website shows. Allen West, a Tea Party favorite from South Florida, was the fourth biggest giver of taxpayer bonuses after he lost reelection to Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.). Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) was the third most generous, according to LegiStorm." [HuffPost]
Oh man, you best believe that the prognosticators will be reading the tea leaves inside the entrails (er... atop an Ouija board?) come April 24th : "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) will be competing for the eyes of the political world later this month, when they deliver speeches in Dallas on the same day. Bush is set to deliver an address at a luncheon hosted by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth on April 24, the group announced in a statement on Monday. Also on April 24, Clinton is booked to give a speech at a meeting of the National Multi Housing Council, according to reports over the weekend. Both politicians will attend the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University a day later." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - States are supposed to trim long-term jobless pay 10.7 percent thanks to federal budget cuts known as sequestration, but California's Employment Development Department and workforce agencies elsewhere have been unable to reconfigure their benefit systems to implement the cut. "These are very complex reductions to program into state systems," the California department said on its website Friday, adding that benefits won't change until the state "resolves how to implement the cuts." Only 17 states had expected to meet the March 31 deadline, according to a recent survey by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.... The delayed cut is not a reprieve for the unemployed. The bad news is that the longer a state takes to implement the cut, the bigger the cut will need to be to achieve the required savings. Pamela Harris, director of the California Employment Development Department, told state lawmakers last month that if the sequestration cut couldn't be implemented until June, benefits would be reduced by 16.8 percent instead of just 10.7 percent. [HuffPost]
DOUBLE DOWNER - How sequestration cuts trickle down from the middle class.
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PRO-TEEN PREGNANCY LOBBY TRYING TO TURN THE TIDE - This is one way for Republicans to counter the growth in Democratic-friendly populations: breed more Arkansans. Laura Bassett: "Republican lawmakers in North Dakota, Arkansas and Texas are now pushing bills that would defund comprehensive sex education programs for at-risk teenagers. The North Dakota legislature is currently considering an amendment to an anti-abortion bill that would effectively block a $1.2 million federal grant for a sex education program for teens who are homeless or in foster programs...Arkansas lawmakers, meanwhile, are considering a bill that would prevent public funds from flowing to any entity that provides or refers for abortions, which would effectively end an HIV and STI prevention program that Planned Parenthood administers through a state grant. And Texas state Sen. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) proposed a bill in March that would prevent Planned Parenthood from providing sex education materials to Texas students because the family planning provider has an inherent 'conflict of interest.'... Twenty states currently require abstinence-only education in public schools where sex education is taught, including North Dakota and Arkansas. Texas law stresses abstinence education in public schools, but also includes information about condoms." [HuffPost]
GUANTANAMO BAY HUNGER STRIKE GROWS - Ryan Reilly: "The dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees refusing solid foods are 'more determined than ever to achieve their goals or die trying,' a lawyer for several of the hunger strikers told The Huffington Post Monday. David Remes, a lawyer who represents about a dozen Guantanamo detainees he says are hunger striking, spoke to two of his clients by phone on Friday afternoon... As of Monday, military spokesman Robert Durand said there were 39 hunger strikers, with 11 of the strikers being fed cans of Ensure via a tube inserted into their stomach through their noses. Carlos Warner, a federal public defender, told HuffPost that defense attorneys are 'very confident' that over 130 of Guantanamo’s 166 detainees are on hunger strikes. That number comes from Shaker Aamer, one of the best known Guantanamo detainees, who told lawyer Clive A. Stafford Smith that he could 'see the bones' in his chest and that his body 'has taken a lot of shock.'" [HuffPost]
SC-1: SANFORD POISED TO WIN GOP NOMINATION - America's favorite sad-eyed two-timer is on the brink of becoming Congress' latest redeemed adulterer. Politico: "Sanford appears to be on the cusp of clinching the Republican nomination Tuesday for the right to take on Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a May 7 special election that’s sure to become a national spectacle. Sanford’s opponent in the two-week Republican runoff, former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, could still pull off an upset: He has close ties to the evangelical community and tea party movement, and his supporters are more motivated. But if polling proves accurate, Sanford’s universal name ID, bigger war chest and carefully tailored plea for redemption to the district’s large contingent of social conservatives will prove too much for his little-known rival to match. Since finishing a distant second to Sanford in the March 19 Republican primary, Bostic has struggled to rally support against the former governor. The former councilman, who entered the runoff with $56,000 cash on hand to Sanford’s $271,000, has watched as a half-dozen of his primary opponents have lined up to endorse his opponent." [Politico]
IT WAS ALL DOWNHILL AFTER THE EASTER EGG ROLL - After the White House's annual Easter Egg Roll -- in which President Obama was accompanied by a lobotomzied Easter Bunny -- America' commander-in-chief got the yips. He got them bad. Pool report, from Tampa Bay Times' Alex Leary: "POTUS at basketball court, with kids and Washington Wizards (don't have all names but John Wall included -- will get details for final wrap) POTUS stepped to free throw line and kids were asked to stand on opposite sides, depending on whether they think he would sink it. Most kids moved in one direction, but one boy went to the "miss" side. 'Oh, man,' a stunned POTUS said, hands on hips. The boy didn't budge. And three others joined. In sharp form, POTUS released the ball. It bounced off the rim and circled it -- miss... Miss. Miss. Off the rim. Miss. Miss. Off the rim. Airball... But time and again, he missed. Of 22 shots POTUS took, he made two. (22 was general consensus of poolers) At one point, POTUS handed a ball to a boy and asked for help. The boy made the layup. 'He couldn't make one. I had to help him out,' said Kahron Campbell, 10, of Landover, MD."
Video of the president's dismal shootaround/Charlotte Bobcats tryout here.
DAYS AFTER 'WETBACK' CONTROVERSY, GOP CONGRESSMAN MAKES WATER-BASED IMMIGRANT ANALOGY - Sabrina Siddiqui: "Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) expressed his opposition to a pathway to citizenship by arguing that immigrants are turning America into a 'sinking ship.' 'Why are we even talking about a pathway to citizenship when our borders aren’t even close to being secure?' Barletta said in an interview with The New York Times published Monday. 'Let's not take on any more water on this sinking ship,' he added. 'Let’s patch the holes. Then we’ll decide what do we do with all this water that’s here.' Such comments are not unexpected from Barletta, one of the more vocal hardliners on immigration. He quickly stated his opposition to the bipartisan Senate framework on comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year for its inclusion of a pathway to citizenship, stating that most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America are uneducated and dependent on the government." [HuffPost]
HEY BOBBY, DO YOU WANT TO EAT? PAY CLOSER ATTENTION IN MATH CLASS - If you ask us, America's state lawmakers are trying to force our indigent children into amusing us for sport, "Hunger Games"-style. Just you wait. ThinkProgress: "Two Tennessee lawmakers introduced legislation that would tie welfare assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to the educational performance of students who benefit from it, and the legislation was approved by committees in both the state House and Senate last week. Under the legislation brought by two Republicans, a student who doesn’t not make 'satisfactory progress' in school would cost his or her family up to 30 percent of its welfare assistance, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported." [ThinkProgress]
This dynamic would translate well into a sitcom if it weren't so... sad: "Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that he did not support gay marriage despite having a gay son, drawing a sharp contrast to another elected Republican, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who came out for gay marriage after his son came out to him. 'I don't support gay marriage,' Salmon told Phoenix station KTVK in an interview that aired Sunday. 'My son and I have had a lot of dialogue about it. I will say this: you know, my son is by far one of the most important people in my life. I love him more than I can say.'...'My view is while I don't believe we should be vitriolic and try to enact harmful policies, by the same token, I'm just not there as far as believing in my heart that we should change 2,000 years of social policy in favor of a redefinition of the family,' he responded." [HuffPost]
CAROLINE KENNEDY TO BE APPOINTED AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN - And this Kennedy doesn't harbor Nazi sympathies, so... progress! WaPo: "Caroline Kennedy is heading to Tokyo to be the U.S. ambassador. Kennedy, whose support for President Obama during his 2008 campaign was seen as crucial, had been widely talked about as a candidate for the plum diplomatic post, but now things have apparently been firmed up. As the Loop previously reported, the departure of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton helped pave the way for Kennedy: [A]lthough talks about Kennedy potentially taking an ambassadorship predated John Kerry’s arrival at Foggy Bottom, her relationship with Clinton is just a touch strained -- recall Kennedy’s blockbuster endorsement of then-Sen. Obama over Clinton, the party favorite." [WaPo]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Sleeping dog is asleep, has doggie sleep apnea.
- The New York Times started at Tumblr spotlighting haikus accidentally writen into its stories. [http://bit.ly/14zSjo8]
Just in time for Easter A wee bit late but here are 105 takes on da Vinci's "Last Supper." [http://bit.ly/10soyPa]
- A roundup of Google's various April Fools' Day spoof videos. [http://bit.ly/YYutl5]
- A roundup of practically every major April Fools' Day joke circulating on the web. [http://bit.ly/Z3vdyq]
- If ads for internet service providers ran honest ads, they'd probably look something like this. [http://chzb.gr/XMHec9]
- Props to the Daily Caller for their hilarious spoof of Politico's "Our Story" promotional video. [http://bit.ly/14zWpMM]
- This website assigns chimes to Bitcoin transactions and places the dollar amount in a bubble. Web-based currency has never been so relaxing. [http://bit.ly/YMjBDM]
- If the creators of "Veronica Mars" can raise money for a feature film on Kickstarter, why can't the cast of "Wings"? [http://huff.to/Xm4rae]
@FakeJimVendeHei: Attention: POLITICO is launching a new effort to explore the nuances of policy and explain how legislation affects regular Americans!
@peterrojas: Gonna skip the New Yorker's profile of @hblodget and just read Business Insider's summary of the highlights instead.
@EvanMcSan: WH is an odd place. I'm sitting in the basement listening to Michelle Obama read "cloudy w/ a chance of meatballs" over the PA system
@owillis: hillary clinton to do thing for the first time since leaving public office #nextfouryearsofheadlines
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