POLITICS
04/30/2013 06:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Mark Sanford, 'The Sex Pioneer Of Our Time'

President Obama threatened Bashar al-Assad with actions "that we might not otherwise exercise," which probably means deploying Jason Collins to Syria to hard foul everyone. Jeff Flake said he is less popular than pond scum, prompting calls from Democrats for pond scum to form an exploratory committee. And Louie Gohmert criticized Eric Holder for spending "more of his legal career helping terrorists than defending the country," which must have Lanny Davis wondering how he can get some of that action. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 30th, 2013:

REPUBLICANS FIGHT OVER NOT INSURING PEOPLE - Jeffrey Young and John Celock: "Conservative Republican governors Jan Brewer of Arizona, Rick Scott of Florida and John Kasich of Ohio are battling with their own party members over their efforts to accept a huge influx of federal dollars and provide health coverage to poor people. So far, the governors are losing. Republican governors in eight states made waves when they embraced an expansion of Medicaid, a core component of President Barack Obama's health care reform law. However, GOP legislators have been cool to the plans -- saying they're unaffordable, despite unprecedented federal funding. This Republican infighting threatens to deny millions of people access to medical care and the financial security that comes with health care coverage. The standoff also imperils the prospects that Obama's sweeping overhaul will fulfill one of its most important promises: that low-income adults largely shut out of today's health insurance market because of cost will gain access to health benefits." [HuffPost]

@pemalevy: Mitt Romney advised graduating seniors to get hitched and "have a quiver full of kids." wapo.st/13JY8Mz

NEWTOWN FAMILY MEMBER GUILTS KELLY AYOTTE HARD - To which the New Hampshire senator responded by pulling the fire alarm and running out of the room in tears. Sabrina Siddiqui: "Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung, confronted Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) Tuesday over her vote against expanding background checks for firearm purchases. 'You had mentioned that day you voted, owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would harm,' Lafferty said, during a town hall in Warren, N.H. 'I am just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't more important than that.' Ayotte told Lafferty she was sorry for her loss but did not directly answer the question. 'I think that ultimately when we look at what happened in Sandy Hook, I understand that's what drove this whole discussion -- all of us want to make sure that doesn't happen again,' she said. Lafferty stormed out after the exchange, according to NBC News, saying she "had had enough." [HuffPost]

SENATE TO INVESTIGATE TEXAS FERTILIZER PLANT EXPLOSION - This will not be fun for laissez-faire types who believe the invisible hand of the market can snuff out massive industrial fires. Dave Jamieson: "Nearly two weeks after a massive explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant took at least 15 lives and destroyed entire neighborhoods, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are starting to call for investigations into the government's workplace and chemical safety regulations to determine how they might have prevented the disaster. On Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced that the committee would be probing the blast specifically and chemical safety laws more generally, though no date has been set for a hearing...Boxer sent letters to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the Environmental Protection Agency, requesting copies of each agency's plans to investigate the West disaster. In a sign of the scrutiny officials may face, she also asked the EPA for more details on its regulation of ammonium nitrate, which was stored in massive amounts at the plant, and for an explanation of how the agency can effectively oversee so many facilities across the country." [HufFPost]

@aburnspolitico: Inbox: "HUSTLER Founder and Publisher Larry Flynt has announced his endorsement of Republican candidate Mark Sanford for U.S. Congress."

@chadpergram: Larry Flynt calls Mark Sanford "the sex pioneer of our time..no one has done more to expose the sexual hypocrisy of traditional values..."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - With Nick Wing: "Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Monday addressed some worrisome employment figures in the state's March jobs report, saying that job applicants who couldn't pass drug tests are 'a serious problem' for Pennsylvania. 'There are many employers that say, 'we're looking for people, but we can't find anybody that has passed a drug test,' a lot of them,' Corbett said during an interview on Radio PA's 'Ask the Governor' program. 'And that's a concern for me because we're having a serious problem with that.'" [HuffPost]

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OBAMA OPEN TO HOUSE IMMIGRATION BILL - Because if this thing falls through, his greatest second-term accomplishment will involve Ruth Bader Ginsburg taking a part time teaching gig at Columbia Law. Elise Foley: "President Barack Obama attempted on Tuesday to give Congress space to work out immigration reform, but said he would draw the line at any bill from the House that omits a path to citizenship...'The bottom line, though, is that they've still got to meet those basic criteria. Does it make the border safer? Does it [deal] with employers and how they work with the governments to make sure that people are not being taken advantage of or taking advantage of the system? Are we improving our legal immigration system? And are we creating a pathway for citizenship for the 11 million or so who are undocumented in this country?' A bipartisan group in the House is working on an immigration bill, but has not yet announced its details or timeline. One of the group's members, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), said on Monday that their bill will pose a tougher path to citizenship than the bipartisan 'gang of eight' plan proposed in the Senate." [HuffPost]

GUANTANAMO, JEEZ, WHAT A SHAME: PRESIDENT - Speaking of the military detention facility, the president asked aloud, "why exactly are we doing this?" which made him sound less like a commander-in-chief and more like the critical thinking section at the end of a textbook passage on Gitmo. Ryan Reilly: "President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he still wants to close the military prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that he's renewing efforts to work with Congress to shut it down. His comments came in the midst of an ongoing hunger strike, which includes 100 of the 166 detainees who are still being held at the naval base, according to the military. 'I don't want these individuals to die, Obama said of recognized hunger strikers. 'Obviously the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can. But I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? Why are we doing this?' Obama issued an executive order to close Guantanamo's prisons at the beginning of his first term, but the effort was stymied by legislative restrictions and inaction by the executive branch." [HuffPost]

On the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria, the president didn't make much news. "[W]e now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria," he said, echoing the pronouncements of his defense secretary and other high ranking officials, "but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. And when I am making decisions about America's national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts." Asked if he the president would consider a military response, he replied that, "there are some options that we might not otherwise exercise that we would strongly consider."

@dcsportsbog: The Wizards report that 100 percent of personalized jerseys ordered from their online store yesterday were "Collins 98"

JEFF FLAKE IS SAD - A recent poll from PPP that found Jeff Flake to be the country's least-popular senator clearly hit a nerve with the Arizona lawmaker. "Nothing like waking up to a poll saying you're the nation's least popular senator," he wrote on his Facebook page late last night (Flake is a Mormon so it's safe to assume he wasn't drunk, but we can't speak to whether he was playing Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" at full blast, demolishing a box of Nilla wafers). "Given the public's dim view of Congress in general, that probably puts me somewhere just below pond scum. Now, notwithstanding the polling firm's leftist bent, I would assume that my poll numbers have indeed taken a southerly turn since my vote against the Manchin-Toomey background check proposal. It was a popular amendment, and I voted against it." [Jeff Flake's Facebook page]

At a Wisconsin town hall meeting yesterday, Paul Ryan said he supports adoption by same-sex couples, despite voting against a 1999 legalizing it in D.C.: "Adoption, I'd vote differently these days. That was I think a vote I took in my first term, 1999 or 2000. I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period. I would vote that way. I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman..." [ThinkProgress]

FINANCIAL SERVICES CHAIR HITS THE SLOPES WITH BANKING LOBBYISTS - OH, COME ON! ProPublica: "In January, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, ascended to the powerful chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee. Six weeks later, campaign finance filings and interviews show, Hensarling was joined by representatives of the banking industry for a ski vacation fundraiser at a posh Park City, Utah, resort. The congressman's political action committee held the fundraiser at the St. Regis Deer Valley, the 'Ritz-Carlton of ski resorts' known for its 'white-glove service' and for its restaurant by superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten...Among those attending the weekend getaway was an official from the American Securitization Forum, a Wall Street industry group, a spokesman confirmed. It gave $2,500 in February to Hensarling's political action committee, the Jobs, Economy, and Budget (JEB) Fund..Others donating to Hensarling's JEB Fund around the time of the Utah ski weekend: Capital One; Credit Suisse; PricewaterhouseCoopers; MasterCard; UBS; US Bank; the National Association of Federal Credit Unions; Koch Industries, which is involved in sundry financial trading; the National Pawnbrokers Association; and payday lenders Cash America International and CheckSmart Financial." [ProPublica]

Louie Gohmert thinks Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was read his Miranda rights because Eric Holder has a bunch of glam shots of Mohammed Atta hidden under his mattress, or something. "Think about it, when your attorney general spent more of his legal career helping terrorists than defending the country," Gohmert said on Glenn Beck's radio show, "then you know we all have certain biases and lean certain ways...[The administration] know who's in there advising them," he continued, "either they lie under oath or they do know the extent of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into our government." Thanks, Congressman! [ThinkProgress]

FEC OVERDUE FOR NEW MEMBERS - Paul Blumenthal: "All five sitting commissioners at the Federal Election Commission are now serving expired terms, while the sixth seat remains unfilled since a commissioner retired on Feb. 1, 2013. FEC Commissioner Caroline Hunter's term expired on Tuesday. Until their replacements are confirmed by the Senate, FEC commissioners are permitted to stay on. Former Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly resigned her post in February long after her own term had expired. President Barack Obama has not successfully appointed a single new commissioner to the FEC. In 2010, his lone appointee withdrew during a contentious confirmation process. Obama's failure to name commissioners has been a sore point for campaign finance reformers, who sent a blistering letter to the White House on Monday excoriating the president for not pushing hard enough to reform the nation's system of campaign funding." [HuffPost]

LA TIMES STAFFERS DO NOT WANT TO BE PART OF KOCH INDUSTRIES - File under "'Who's coming with me?' moments that didn't go south." Kathleen Miles: "At a Los Angeles Times in-house awards ceremony a week ago, columnist Steve Lopez addressed the elephant in the room. Speaking to the entire staff, he said, 'Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Austin Beutner's group.' No one raised their hands. 'Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Rupert Murdoch.' A few people raised their hands. Facing the elephant trunk-on, 'Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by the Koch brothers.' About half the staff raised their hands. Current owner of the LA Times, Sam Zell, has been painted as the devil incarnate for slashing the editorial staff and for his vulgar demeanor. But at least, editorially, he's stayed out of the reporters' business. There hasn't been propaganda reporting, and there aren't topics that are off-limits to the staff, according to a few Times reporters." [HuffPost]

ANTHONY WEINER FINDS WAY TO GO CORPORATE DURING SEXILE - Thanks in part to the Times Magazine's lengthy profile of the disgraced former New York Congressman, we were under the impression that he shuffled around in a bathrobe all day, mastering chess on his computer because his wife turned off the internet. Apparently not. Times: "[T]he moment he left public view, the man who had relied on a government paycheck his entire adult life was consumed by a corporate career whose profits and progress came to him, by his own account, with remarkable ease...He and his wife, Huma Abedin... disclosed last week that they had a combined income of $496,000 in 2012, most of it from Mr. Weiner's work. The money provided a lifestyle-changing infusion for the couple, who moved from a modest home in Forest Hills, Queens, to a large apartment on Park Avenue South in Manhattan...It did not take Mr. Weiner long to embark on a new career after he left Congress on June 16, 2011. On July 7, he quietly incorporated a new firm, Woolf Weiner Associates... Since then, Mr. Weiner said, he has advised more than a dozen companies. He disclosed the names of a few of them after they agreed to waive confidentiality agreements." [NYT]

THERE IS SUCH A THING AS BAD PRESS - Gabrielle Dunkley: "Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) got some free press this week from America's best-known service for people who want to have an affair. Ashley Madison, which provides dates for members seeking extramarital affairs, is advertising in South Carolina on a billboard featuring Sanford, who is currently a congressional candidate." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Camel is all, "Imma nosh on yo' head, little girl" and little girl is totally cool with that.

GET OFF MY PLANE!!!... NO REALLY - Politico: "Vice President Joe Biden returned safely to Washington Sunday after a trip to Arizona, but his plane, it turns out, did not. Air Force Two is still sitting on the tarmac in Flagstaff, Ariz. Biden's office said it sustained damage when its engines 'ingested some debris.'... The vice president took a backup plane home." [Politico]

COMFORT FOOD

- Animated 1985 interview with the Beastie Boys. [http://slate.me/15XkHRZ]

-Jason Collins spoke to George Stephanopoulos about coming out of the closet. [http://abcn.ws/100yMXn]

- NASA's Cassini satellite took the first-ever photographs of the massive hurricane above Saturn's north pole. [http://1.usa.gov/ZxStto]

- Arlen's Transmission in Burbank, California really cares about its marketing. [http://bit.ly/12UHQBo]

- A compilation of news bloopers from April. [http://huff.to/ZU5qwY]

-A glossary of hipsters. ("rolled cuffs over oxfords without socks," "antique synthesizers," "mocking over-sharing parents"). [http://bit.ly/13H0eg1]

- The world's first bionic dog. [http://bit.ly/ZQzk6N]

TWITTERAMA

@igorbobic: They should name a Foggy Bottom bar "The Red Line." Wait no they shouldn't, unfollow me.

@timothypmurphy: Glad the race between Stephen Colbert's sister and a guy who went AWOL for a week while claiming to be hiking hasn't turned into a farce.

@pourmecoffee: I picture House Republicans all entering chamber every day through tunnel, each stopping to touch "Repeal Obamacare Today" sign.

@ElBloombito: Stop y frisko esta just like free hugos. Free hugos from el NYPD. Amore esta un muy beautifulo thingo.

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