Today is Earth Day, the one time a year we thank our Earth Mother for all that natural gas. Anthony Weiner's new Twitter account is verified, so we CAN say with certitude that it's him. And Republicans are blaming President Obama for flight delays caused by sequestration. We're not sure which party is to blame for the in-flight movie selection of "Here Comes The Boom." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, April 22nd, 2013:
HASHTAG, YOU'RE IT - Sam Stein: "The latest attempt by the Republican Party to blame the consequences of sequestration on the president quickly followed reports Monday of lengthy delays at airports. The delays, which were attributed to the furloughing of Federal Aviation Administration employees, forced waits of more than two hours at New York City and Washington D.C. airports. Mark Duell, vice president for operations at FlightAware, a flight-tracking service, said that staffing shortages and weather were contributing to afternoon delays on inbound flights into airports in Florida (with an average delay of 53 minutes) as well as Charlotte, N.C. (with an average delay of 17 minutes). Before some morning flights could even land, Republicans were quick to place the blame on President Obama. On Twitter, GOP aides pushed the hashtag #ObamaFlightDelays." [HuffPost]
Well done, Cantor spokesman: @rorycooper: President Obama is making you feel the pain on your plane. #ObamaFlightDelays
CHARLIE RANGEL SUES TO OVERTURN CENSURE, REMINDING EVERYONE ABOUT THAT TIME HE WAS CENSURED - Or you could just forget about that thing that has obviously had very little effect on your viability as a political candidate. Or not. The Hill: "Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is suing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and six other lawmakers, charging that they mishandled the Ethics investigation that led to his public censure in late 2010. In a complaint filed Monday in federal court in Washington D.C., Rangel claims the Ethics Committee that investigated his alleged wrongdoing are guilty of 'numerous flagrant, knowing and intentional violations' of his due process rights...The other lawmakers named in the suit are Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Gregg Harper (R-Mo.). Conaway and Dent were also members of the Ethics Committee behind the investigation." [The Hill]
Oh, your censure was overturned on a technicality? Here's your senior spot on Ways & Means back!
THE 'MAKE OUR STATES LESS BROKE ACT' MOVES THROUGH SENATE - John Celock: "The U.S. Senate is expected to open debate Monday evening on a bill that would allow for the collection of sales taxes on items bought online, pushing forward legislation that is pitting state leaders and businesses in support of the measure against conservatives and senators from states with sales taxes. Monday's expected vote follows a nonbinding vote in March in favor of including the online sales tax legislation in the 2014 budget resolution. A bipartisan group of 75 senators voted in favor of the legislation, which has blurred party lines. The bill -- known as the Marketplace Fairness Act -- would enable businesses to collect sales tax on online purchases and send them to the state where the buyer resides...The issue is a top priority for cash-strapped state and local governments nationwide, with the National Conference of State Legislatures estimating that states collectively lost $23.3 billion in sales tax revenue in 2012 due to online sales." [HuffPost]
SWIPE FEES, ROUND TWO - Dick Durbin's Marketplace Fairness Act is shaping up to be another good ol' fashion K Street shakedown. Everybody and their mother is lobbying. Today SIFMA got into the mix, coming out against it. Their stated reason is a fear of a state-based financial transaction tax. Their more fun reason, we suspect, is payback for swipe fees, which Durbin led as well. And eBay today asked a ton of its registered users to email Congress to tell it not to tax them. The area's private schools once again have Durbin to thank for stocking their ranks with lobbyists' kids. For old times' sake, here's our romp through the legislative anarchy that was the Great Swipe Fee War.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Deficit reduction in action: "About 8,100 Rhode Islanders have been notified that their federally funded unemployment benefits will be reduced by about 12 percent as a result of the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. The cuts will be effective in the week starting April 28. said Laura Hart, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Training. The average weekly unemployment benefit is $377, meaning a 12-percent cut would translate to be about $46 a week." [Providence Journal]
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DC AT-LARGE ELECTION TOMORROW - HuffPost Hill is torn on an endorsement. One guy is a pot attorney -- and a HuffPost blogger! -- and another woman is an ex-City Paper reporter. How to choose? We gave up, and are outsourcing the endorsement to HuffPost's Jason Cherkis: "I've known Elissa Silverman since we both got our starts at Washington City Paper in the late '90s. While I always appreciated her journalism, I especially admired her reincarnation as a policy wonk with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute where she advocated easing income disparities in D.C. and working to get corporate and PAC money out of political campaigns. If she wins, she'd make history as the first candidate in D.C. history to win public office without taking a cent from lobbyists, corporations and PACs. Unlike her opponents, she offers a sensible take on school reform -- promising the kinds of watchdog oversight she excelled at when she was a journalist. I could not give a stronger endorsement."
TSARNAEV CHARGED - Don't be surprised if you catch Lindsey Graham outside the courthouse, leading a bunch of RedState commenters in a "No justice! No problem!" chant. HuffPost: "The 19-year-old accused of carrying out the bombing at the Boston Marathon -- one of two suspected in last week's incident -- has been charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in a death. If convicted of the federal charges, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be sentenced to death or spend the rest of life in prison. His older brother and alleged bombing accomplice Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed Friday during a shootout with police in Watertown. A court magistrate came to his hospital room for the arraignment on charges stemming from the double bombing that killed three and wounded more than 200 people. Tsarnaev was reportedly shot in the throat before his arrest Friday in Watertown, Mass. Earlier today, the FBI said that he 'remains in serious condition' at Beth Israel hospital in Boston." [HuffPost]
Whoops: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation was unaware that Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia for six months because his name was misspelled, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News on Monday morning." [WaPo]
The suspects did not have a gun license,
but it's cool because the Senate passed new gun trafficking legislation last week. Amanda Terkel: "The Boston bombing suspects engaged in a deadly firefight with police last week, possessing six bombs, handguns, a rifle and more than 250 rounds of ammunition. But the Tsarnaev brothers did not have proper licenses to possess the firearms, according to the Cambridge Police Department -- a revelation that comes just days after the Senate voted against strengthening and expanding background checks for gun sales. Cambridge Police Department spokesman Dan Riviello told The Huffington Post that neither Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, nor Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, appeared to have a license to own a handgun...Under state law, residents under 21 can obtain a firearms ID card that allows them to own shotguns or rifles that hold 10 rounds or less." [HuffPost]
Earlier, the White House confirmed that Tsarnaev would be tried as a civilian. Ryan Reilly: "'He will not be treated as an enemy combatant,' White House spokesman Jay Carney said. 'We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions.' Carney said the decision was backed by the administration's entire national security team and ran through a list of suspected terrorists who have been successfully tried and convicted under the federal court system since 9/11." [HuffPost]
CHUCK GRASSLEY IS GRUMPY - Iowa's junior senator ratcheted up his "Get off my lawn" game this morning from "this soup is too hot!" to "the maid took it!" levels. It was impressive. TPM: "Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) got into a heated argument during a hearing on immigration reform as Schumer berated opponents of a bill for exploiting the Boston Marathon bombing to delay its passage and for mischaracterizing groups backing the legislation. The exchange began when Schumer took issue with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leading critic of the bill, characterizing labor, business, and immigrant rights groups supportive of the bill as 'special interests,' and launched into a lengthy diatribe against the bill's detractors...At this point Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who defended linking the Boston attack to the bill earlier in the hearings, took issue. 'I never said that!' he shouted. 'I never said that!' After committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) restored order by slamming his gavel repeatedly, Schumer walked back his remarks a bit and suggested he was referring only to critics outside the Senate." [TPM]
POLITICIAN WITH PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS SUPPORTS POPULAR THING - Remember when the presidential candidates were asked about gun control during a debate
and cupped their ears and said LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA AMERICA'S PROUD TRADITION OF GUN OWNERSHIP? Bloomberg: "New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is seeking expanded background checks for gun purchases and parental consent for minors to buy violent video games as part of his response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Christie, a first-term Republican seeking re-election, also wants to ban purchases of the .50-caliber Barrett rifle, and to make it easier for doctors and courts to commit 'potentially dangerous' people to mental-health treatment against their will. His proposals come a week after a task force he created in January released 50 recommendations to reduce violence. The governor, a former U.S. prosecutor, has said since the Dec. 14 slaying of 20 children and six educators in Newtown that he'd be willing to discuss stricter controls as part of a more comprehensive package that also deals with mental health, substance abuse and violent video games. 'Ensuring there are common-sense safety measures when purchasing guns is not enough,' Christie said today at a press conference in Trenton. 'We must address the many different contributing factors.'" [Bloomberg]
Why is it that liberals are always "happy" when their liberal cities get bombed? Nick Wing: "Larry Pratt, executive director of the far-right Gun Owners of America group, recently weighed in on the aftermath of last week's bombing in Boston, claiming that liberals were happy about the attack because it would help them in their alleged mission to expand governmental control. Speaking on the Stan Solomon Show in an exchange captured by Right Wing Watch, co-host Steve Davis began by explaining his belief that liberals would gladly use the bombing, which killed three and wounded at least 180, for their political benefit...Pratt agreed, but added another level to the claims, suggesting that liberals might even be happier that the bombing took place in a blue state, because they could now more effectively rally support for a supposed increase in governmental control." False flag! False flag! False flag! False flag! False flag! [HuffPost]
THINGS GETTING REAL FOR BACHMANN - "Approved of payments" is such an old school way to get yourself implicated. Star Tribune: "U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff, GOP operative Andy Parrish, stated in a signed affidavit Monday that the Minnesota Republican approved payments made to a top aide who was barred by Iowa Senate ethics rules from accepting money for his work on her presidential campaign. The suspected payments to Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson, first alleged in a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed by campaign whistleblower Peter Waldron, are now the subject of an inquiry by the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee. Sorenson or his company, Grassroots Strategy, allegedly were paid $7,500 a month through C&M Strategies, a Colorado-based company run by Bachmann fundraiser Guy Short, who was serving as the campaign's national political director. 'Congresswoman Bachmann knew of and approved this arrangement'" Parrish said in his affidavit. 'She, like the rest of us, understood from Senator Sorenson that it did not run afoul of any Iowa Senate ethics rules. We relied on his representations in this regard.'" [Star Tribne]
JEFF FLAKE DOES LEGITIMATELY SLIMY THING - How slimy, you ask? Did you ever steal UNICEF money on Halloween? Did you ever Did you ever intercept a jersey as it was tossed by Mean Joe Green to an eager, Coke-supplying boy? You have company. Gabrielle Dunkley: "Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) recently wrote a letter to the mother of a gun violence victim, telling her that he supported expanding background checks shortly before going on to vote against a bill that would have done so, the New York Daily News reported on Friday. On April 17, the gun control amendment authored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) failed 54-46, narrowly missing the required 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Flake joined the group of senators who voted against the bill. Shortly before the vote, he wrote to Caren Teves, whose son, Alex, was killed while shielding his girlfriend from bullets in the mass shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. in July 2012. Teves invited Flake over for dinner earlier this month to have the GOP senator sit 'in Alex's seat.' 'I am truly sorry for your deep loss. Your son's actions were truly heroic,' Flake wrote in the letter. 'While we may not agree on every solution, strengthening background checks is something we agree on.'" [HuffPost]
POLL: COLBERT BUSCH TAKES COMMANDING LEAD OVER SANFORD - When a Democrat in a Republican-leaning district starts breaking 50 percent against a former governor, you best believe the fliers about Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco values are nigh. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Elizabeth Colbert Busch has climbed to a 9-point lead over Mark Sanford in the race for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, according to a survey released Monday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Fifty percent of likely voters said they supported Democratic candidate Colbert Busch, while 41 percent backed Sanford, the scandal-plagued former Republican governor. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt earned 3 percent support in the poll. Sanford's campaign recently suffered a setback when he was accused of trespassingat his ex-wife's home. He was subsequently dropped by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which announced it would not offer him financial support. The results of the poll -- the first taken since those events -- suggest that his campaign has taken a hit. Colbert Busch's lead increased 7 points from a slight 2-point edge in a March PPP poll..." [HuffPost]
ANTHONY WEINER RETURNS TO TWITTER - The account is verified, and not just with a photo of the former congressman holding a sign that says "Me." ABC News: "Weiner, who is eying a run for mayor of New York, rejoined Twitter on Monday with a new handle: @anthonyweiner His first tweet was simply a link to his publication: 'Keys To The City: 64 Ideas to Keep New York The Capitol of the Middle Class,' which could be a policy blueprint for his candidacy if he decides to jump into the race. By creating a brand new account, which has been 'verified' by social media service, Weiner is seeking to make a clean break with his old username -- @repweiner -- from which he sent a lewd photo of himself to a woman setting off the scandal that eventually led to the seven-term Democrat's resignation in June 2011." [ABC News]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dogs do not enjoy dressing up as panda bears.
GREAT JOURNALISM REWARDED WITH
JOBS, HIGHER PAY PIZZA - Joking aside, this is very sweet. Boston Globe: "In a welcome act of kindness by fellow journalists, the Chicago Tribune newspaper today brought lunch for the Boston Globe staff, sending dozens of pies from Pizzeria Regina into the Globe's Dorchester newsroom...The Tribune's note added, 'We can't buy you lost sleep, so at least let us pick up lunch.'" [Boston Globe]
- Michael Shannon, of "Boardwalk Empire" fame, does a dramatic reading of that deranged UMD sorority email. [http://huff.to/11eKwH9]
- Elderly baseball fan inadvertently catches foul ball while reading. [http://deadsp.in/ZEg9Zh]
- A venn diagram explaining why we hate the celebrities we hate. [http://nym.ag/11L7ffv]
- LeVar Burton and Bill Nye are featured in the White House's first Vine. Well played, executive branch. [http://bit.ly/11y9WQt]
- Louis C.K. provides some NSFW perspective on the gift of life ("You get to put bacon in your mouth!"). [http://bit.ly/XZoawK]
- University of Wisconsin Madison-Carillon bell tower rings out the "Game of Thrones" theme. [http://bit.ly/Zf5BTY]
- How much food you can get for $5 across the globe. [http://bit.ly/ZHPKcb]
@SteveWorks4You: Every time a well is fracked, a hippie's juggling sticks break. Happy #EarthDay!
@brianbeutler: All inappropriate DM fails will be signed -AW.
@pourmecoffee: Too soon to tell if tweeting "Happy Earth Day!" has reversed climate change.
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