President Obama won over independents when he toured the Jersey Shore with Chris Christie but lost the carny vote when he choked at TouchDown Fever. Justin Bieber's likeness has been used by a California campaign against a minimum wage hike, but sadly Taylor Swift won't model any of our "LEGALIZE IT!" tees. And Republicans are upset with the president for focusing on Benghazi instead of reforming the tax code, a change from earlier this year when they were upset with the president for focusing on the tax code and not Benghazi. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 28th, 2013:
GOP FURIOUS OBAMA TRYING TO DO STUFF - Jen Bendery: "Republican senators are fuming about President Barack Obama's attempt to fill empty seats on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, charging him with 'court-packing' and alleging that his push to confirm nominees is all politics. But not only is Obama not 'court-packing' -- a term describing an attempt to add judges to a court with the goal of shifting the balance, not filling existing vacancies -- but Republicans' efforts to prevent Obama from filling empty seats amount to their own attempt to tip the scales in their favor. What's more, some of the GOP senators vowing to block his nominees previously voted to fill the court when there was a Republican in the White House. As it stands, the powerful D.C. Circuit has 11 seats, three of which are vacant. Obama has signaled plans to put forward nominees for all three open slots as soon as this week. But Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other Republicans are pushing legislation that would eliminate those seats and keep the court where it is: with eight judges, four of whom were appointed by Democrats and four of whom were appointed by Republicans. Grassley has argued that the court simply doesn't need to have three more judges because it has a lighter workload than other circuit courts -- a stance that Democrats say overlooks the fact that the court is second in stature only to the Supreme Court and takes on particularly complex cases. But Grassley has also suggested that Obama is trying to pack the court. 'I'm concerned about the caseload of this circuit and the efforts to pack it,' Grassley complained during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, charging the administration -- six times -- with court-packing. Of course, Grassley was quickly corrected by a colleague, who said that court-packing isn't about filling existing vacancies. [HuffPost]
WHY JOHN MCCAIN HATES WACKO BIRDS - He hates them partly because they'll screw up his vision of how the Senate should work since they make Harry Reid wanna change the rules. Sabrina Siddiqui: "Although Reid's threats have mostly pertained to repeated Republican efforts to block Obama's judicial nominees, McCain told reporters last week that his GOP colleagues' latest objection -- to appointing budget conferees without preconditions that the debt limit not be raised -- will only give more credence to supporters of the nuclear option. 'It will give more momentum to those who want to go to 51 votes, there's no doubt about that,' McCain said, adding that the Senate's budget conferees could be told not to discuss the debt limit under a motion to instruct. 'That's the way the regular order works around here. You just don't say, 'No, I object to going forward.'" [HuffPost]
Move aside, Dennis Rodman - Byron Tau: "Steven Seagal, cultural ambassador? The action hero, martial artist and musician attempted to set up a visit of several members of Congress to Chechnya, but the lawmakers got cold feet at the last minute, POLITICO has learned. The congressional trip -- officially known as a CODEL -- to Russia is part of a House committee's investigation of last month's Boston Marathon bombing...'The CODEL's visit to Chechnya was facilitated by Steven Seagal. He has an established friendship with Putin and others in the Russian government and assisted in accommodating the CODEL's request to visit the region,' said Tara Setmayer, a spokeswoman for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). Congressional sources say that the proposed visit caused a split within the delegation, with several members uncomfortable about traveling into a region ruled by a Kremlin-backed strongman with a spotty human rights record." [Politico]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Texas is ready to save its economy by catching the unemployed-people-are-on-drugs unicorn. "A controversial bill that would require unemployment-benefit recipients to pass drug tests before receiving their benefits has passed the Texas Legislature and now heads to Gov. Rick Perry's desk for approval. The bill would require laid-off workers to answer a questionnaire, and any suspicious answers would lead to a drug test. If the person fails the drug test, he or she will lose the unemployment benefits." [kfoxtv.com]
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COMITY FAIL: WASHINGTON NOT FIXED BY DINNER - Somehow Republicans are surprised that President Obama -- a guy who tried to steal his friend's girlfriend in high school -- would wine and dine them and not call the next day. The Hill: "Senate Republicans who shared laughs with President Obama over dinner at the Jefferson Hotel in March are grumbling there has since been little follow-through from him on deficit talks. They say the White House has not set up a process for negotiating controversial reforms to Social Security, healthcare programs and the tax code, and that absence of basic organization has stalled negotiations. 'We've made no progress. None,' said a GOP senator who had dinner with Obama earlier this year. 'There's no process in place. Right now we just have 20 Republican senators meeting and talking to themselves.'... Some Republicans think the president has become distracted from the deficit by intensified public controversies over the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of Tea Party groups and the Justice Department's investigation of The Associated Press." [The Hill]
New Washington Post editor Marty Baron sat down with National Journal's Chris Frates to talk about the paper's Boston coverage, did not overshare. "'I view these newsrooms as a collaborative enterprise, and a lot of people make contributions, and not everything revolves around me.' 'What did you make happen?' 'See, that's what I don't want to talk about.' 'You can't tell me anything about what you did?' 'That's your challenge,' he replied." [National Journal]
PRESIDENT TAPS NEXT TOP ECONOMIC ADVISER - Jason Furman will serve as head of the Council of Economic Advisers
, which meets in secret in a all-stone room 1000 feet below the White House, accessible only by uttering Austan Goolsbee's name in tongues. Bloomberg: "Installing Furman at the CEA may signal a revitalized role for the office, which has taken a back seat to the National Economic Council in driving policy inside the White House, the people said. Furman has been the principal deputy on the National Economic Council, which coordinates economic advice for the president, since January 2009. The CEA makes recommendations to the president on economic matters and briefs him on data. Its chairman is a member of the Cabinet, and the nomination is subject to Senate confirmation...The CEA chairman briefs the president on economic data, including the monthly jobs report, which the chairman typically delivers in person to Obama on the night before the data's official release, which usually happens on the first Friday of the month." [Bloomberg]
OBAMA, CHRISTIE MEET AT JERSEY SHORE, ROMNEY'S MOMENTUM RUINED - Just once we want them to demonstrate that the Jersey Shore is back by wearing boaters and early 20th Century bathing suits (you know, the ones with the large stripes?). Reuters: "President Barack Obama and New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, strolled along the Jersey Shore boardwalk like old friends on Tuesday, a political odd couple just hanging out together. The two men had a common purpose: promote the recovery of the Jersey Shore from the aftereffects of Sandy, a superstorm that hit in the final days of last year's presidential election campaign and which, because of Obama's well-received show of concern, may have helped him win re-election...Christie and Obama joined together for back-to-back speeches a few miles up the coast in Asbury Park. Christie indirectly referenced the Republican criticism he encountered late last year for praising Obama's concern for New Jersey when he said that Shore communities had rallied together in response to the storm." [Reuters]
The president failed at a carnival game, or, as one might say, "bowled a 37." Paige Lavender: "According to White House pool reports, the duo made an unannounced stop at the Point Pleasant boardwalk where they stopped to play an arcade game called 'TouchDown Fever,' where players toss a football through a tire to win a prize. Obama threw the ball and missed several times, but Christie got the football through the tire on his first and only try. Obama congratulated Christie with a high-five and claimed he only made the shot 'because he's running for office.' Despite his big fail, Obama didn't walk away empty handed -- he was given a 'Chicago' bear after Christie's successful throw." [HuffPost]
PETER KING DOESN'T FORGET - BuzzFeed: "New York Republican Peter King is boycotting a state party dinner tomorrow night featuring Sen. Ted Cruz over the Texas conservative's efforts to defeat a Hurricane Sandy bill earlier this year. I don't think we should be acknowledging people who are voting against us in our hour of need,' King told BuzzFeed of his decision to not attend the dinner. King has loudly criticized Republicans like Cruz who come to New York to raise money but voted against the Hurricane Sandy bill, and has urged other Republicans to freeze out opponents to the relief bill. 'Once I found it was him,' King explained, 'I decided not to go. I don't know if I would have gone or not because of scheduling things, but that made it easy once I found out it was Ted Cruz.' The New York Republican State Committee dinner invitation prominently notes that Cruz is 'appearing at this event only as a featured guest. Senator Ted Cruz is not asking for funds or donations.' The event will raise money for the state party committee and tickets are being sold for $1,000-$10,000." [BuzzFeed]
SUPREME COURT WON'T OVERTURN PRO-PLANNED PARENTHOOD CASE - Looks like Indianapolis will soon get its abortionplex. Laura Bassett: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review a lower court decision that prevents the state of Indiana from cutting Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) signed a bill into law in 2011 that prevents Medicaid recipients from being reimbursed for health services at Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics offer abortions. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged that law in court, and in October 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals permanently blocked it because federal law guarantees Medicaid enrollees the freedom to choose any qualified health care provider. Indiana asked the U.S. Supreme Court in February to review the Seventh Circuit's decision, but the Supreme Court denied that request on Tuesday." [HuffPost]
HILLARY CLINTON TOO BUSY PERSONALLY ORDERING THE MURDER OF OUR DIPLOMATS TO USE TWITTER: REPORT - Either that or the former secretary of state and her advisers are hoping to be early adopters of Google Glass. BuzzFeed "Hillary Clinton may be the most discussed political figure in the country, but she and her closest aides have long been absent from the online platform where much of today's political conversation takes place: Twitter...Clinton's presence on Twitter currently amounts to no more than a locked and dormant account with no tweets, no followers, and an avatar that is the default egg...Longtime spokesman Philippe Reines, who runs the former secretary of state's personal communications, has his own account, also private and largely inactive. Nick Merrill, a former State Department spokesperson who is still commenting on Clinton's behalf, has tweeted from his account four times in two years. Her longtime personal aide Huma Abedin doesn't post on the site. Another main Clinton family spokesman, Matt McKenna, does not appear to have a Twitter account...An anonymous Clinton source told Politico this week that the account, @HillaryClinton, is 'soon-to-be-activated.' (This after former President Bill Clinton recently started his own account last month.)" [BuzzFeed]
Politician previously embroiled in scandal still a viable candidate, video at 11: "[A] Marist poll released Tuesday also indicates that a majority of New York City voters say Weiner deserves a second chance. Weiner was in his seventh term in Congress, representing parts of the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, when he resigned from the House of Representatives in 2011 amid scandal over lewd photos sent via Twitter. According to the poll, 19% of registered Democrats say they'd back Weiner in their party's September mayoral primary. Twenty-four percent say support City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has long been the Democratic front-runner in the race, and if she's elected in the November general election, she'd become Gotham's first female and first openly gay mayor." [CNN]
A new PPP survey has Mitch McConnell tied with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. The poll was conducted for Senate Majority PAC -- a Democratic super PAC -- so make of it what you will.
IMPORTANT JUSTIN BIEBER NEWS - If Anne Frank were alive today, she would be a Belieber ... AND NOT HAVE A JOB. Dave Jamieson: "Whether he likes it or not, teen pop star Justin Bieber has been enlisted in a fight against President Barack Obama's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. Late last week, the Biebs' likeness turned up on a Los Angeles billboard tying minimum wage hikes to the nation's high teen unemployment rate. In the advertisement, a dejected Bieber stares out at passersby near the corner of W. Pico Blvd. and Hi Point St. in Central Los Angeles. 'Why is Justin Bieber so sad?' the billboard asks. 'Could it be because 24% of teens who want a job can't find one? Teen unemployment makes us all sad. Unfortunately, raising the minimum wage will only make things worse.'...A spokeswoman for Bieber did not respond to a HuffPost query asking whether the singer approved of his likeness being used and whether he agreed that the minimum wage should not be raised." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Imaginative dog dreams he's Tarzan.
Avowed racist supports Indian-American governor, America officially sees everything: "A former campaign volunteer to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on Friday defended his membership in a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a white supremacist organization. Roan Garcia-Quintana said the group, the Council of Conservative Citizens, 'supports Caucasian heritage' but denied that it is 'racist.' 'Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage? Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?" Garcia-Quintana said in an interview with The State newspaper." [HuffPost's Christina Wilkie]
- Young child is destined to be society's ultimate fangirl. [http://bit.ly/18pZG3h]
- This supercut of dance scenes from film, set to "Safety Dance" no less, will get your vacation-shortened week off to the right start. [http://huff.to/153jFkx]
- A linguist, who reminds us of Jonathan Franzen, provides the technical terms for seven annoying sounds produced by teenagers. [http://bit.ly/1arfUWE]
- Reviews of the new season of "Arrested Development." They average out to a BEEEES?-plus. Ba-dum-tish. http://bit.ly/10YheuB]
- Stock images with cellphones replaced by sandwiches. [http://bit.ly/19h9StK]
- You've been playing Monopoly wrong -- unless you haven't been playing it at all. [http://bit.ly/18pZG3h]
- The last living World War One veterans. [http://thebea.st/19hHEz8]
@benpershing: Why is it pronounced "de-FENSE" in military & legal contexts but "DE-fense" in sports?
@indecision: Chris Christie won a stuffed bear for Obama? Cory Booker would have saved that bear from a burning building.
@elisefoley: Terrible question idea to ask Graham: Whose accent is better: yours or Sen. Sessions'? And yet I am tempted.
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