George W. Bush said he has achieved "Ultra Zen," a development that will surely lead to his trippiest impressionistic painting to date. Ken Cuccinelli's campaign released a humorous fake poll that still managed to be more accurate than Gallup. And Democrats laughed when Elizabeth Warren complemented Michelle Obama's "guns" and shivered when Paul LePage threatened them with his, um, guns. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 30th, 2013:
PRESIDENT WANTS MORE KIDS TO PLAY BEER PONG, LEARN - Sabrina Siddiqui, Shahien Nasiripour and Joy Resmovits: "President Barack Obama on Friday will join the debate on student loan interest rates, but Republican lawmakers and higher-education professionals are already lashing out at the White House for what they criticize to be a campaign-style initiative that is unlikely to focus on broader student debt issues. Obama, flanked by college students, is to call on Congress to prevent a doubling of interest rates on some federal loans offered to undergraduate students, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. The event will likely be reminiscent of the 'Don't Double My Rate' drive Obama successfully promoted during the 2012 election year on college campuses across the nation. The rates, originally set by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2007, are set to jump to 6.8 percent from their present 3.4 percent level for about a quarter of all new federal student loan dollars, according to the Department of Education. Like last year, when Obama's initiative only tackled borrowing costs for a small segment of students, the remaining $79 billion in new loans projected to be offered this fiscal year won't be affected."
Norm Ornstein says it's time for Harry Reid to use the nuclear option for filibuster reform.
BUSH LIED, PEOPLE RIDE - Our own Jon Ward went on the former president's annual charity bike ride and had a chance to speak with freedom's greatest fanboy: "'Did we reach Zen out there?' I asked him after the ride, referencing a conversation he had years ago with an Associated Press reporter who rode with him. Since taking up mountain biking in 2004, Bush has embraced riding hard as a way to leave his cares behind, if only for an hour or two. 'I'm beyond that'" he replied, a little groggily. 'What does it mean when you're seeing triple?' He answered the question himself: 'Ultra Zen.'" [HuffPost]
Gulp: "A top United Nations human rights official is calling for a ban on the development of autonomous 'killer robots.' U.N. Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns issued a report Thursday raising concerns about robots that can kill without human control, urging all countries to stop development of the technology while the ramifications are considered...Heyns warned in the report that lethal autonomous robots (LARs) would make it easier for states to go to war..'If this is done, machines and not humans, will take the decision on who is alive or dies.'" [The Hill]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Carolyn Shoaf writes from abroad: "I was a corporate paralegal for 11 years. After being downsized and then jobless for over a year, despite applying for any job including stocking shelves at night at Target I fled to Ho Chi Minh City in 2010. I am an economic refugee teaching English with no work permit. I want to return but what would my prospects be? At least it is cheap to live. I am the new Mexican." [Hang in there!]
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ERIC SCHMIDT BUYS OBAMA'S TECH TEAM - Do you think all of their internal emails have infuriatingly vague subjects like "Hey" "Check this out" and "WOW"? Bloomberg Businessweek: "During the 2012 campaign [Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt] helped recruit talent, choose technology, and coach the campaign manager, Jim Messina on the finer points of leading a large organization. "On election night he was in our boiler room in Chicago," says David Plouffe, then a senior White House adviser. Schmidt had a particular affinity for a group of engineers and statisticians tucked away beneath a disco ball in a darkened corner of the office known as 'the Cave.' The data analytics team, led by 30-year-old Dan Wagner, is credited with producing Obama's surprising 5 million-vote margin of victory.Schmidt thought enough of the team that when the campaign ended, he put up several million dollars to keep its core together as a new consulting firm, Civis Analytics, run by Wagner and staffed by two dozen of his former employees. They share ownership with Schmidt, its sole investor. The plan is to bring the same Big Data expertise that guided the most expensive presidential campaign in history to companies and nonprofits." [Bloomberg Businessweek]
Wagner sends an update to Mark Blumenthal: "In an interview with the Huffington Post on Thursday, Wagner explained that Google itself is not a backer and has no ties to their new company. 'This is something that Eric did personally,' Wagner explained. 'It really wasn't his affiliation with Google that brought him to us, it was really just his kind of personal affinity for the work that we had done and the relationship that we built with him. So he made this decision completely on his own using his own resources.'" [HuffPost]
Get daily polling emails from Mark Blumenthal (with an assist from Ariel Edwards-Levy) by signing up at the Pollster page.
THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR IS A COMPLICATED CONFLICT, MY FRIENDS - This sounds like the gag out of an unreleased Christopher Guest movie set in the Middle East except w-a-a-a-y sadder. BuzzFeed: "Senator John McCain's office is pushing back against reports that while visiting Syria this week he posed in a photo with rebels who kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shi'ite pilgrims. The photo, released by McCain's office, shows McCain with a group of rebels. Among them are two men identified in the Lebanese press as Mohamed Nour and Abu Ibrahim, two of the kidnappers of the group from Lebanon. A McCain spokesman said that no one who met with McCain identified themselves by either of those names...said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers on Wednesday in an email to BuzzFeed: 'None of the individuals the senator planned to meet with was named Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim. A number of other Syrian commanders joined the meeting, but none of them identified himself as Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim.'...Rogers said that if the man in the photo turns out to actually be Mohamed Nour, that is 'regrettable.'" [BuzzFeed]
DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS TIED FOR MIDTERMS: POLL - Which means the GOP will have a 50-seat advantage in the house come January 2015 (thanks, redistricting!) Politico: "When asked who they wanted to send to the House of Representatives in next year's midterm elections, the GOP and Democratic candidate tied at 38 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. Twenty percent of those surveyed said they didn't know or didn't have an answer for who they would vote for. In Quinnipiac's last two polls, released May 1 and April 3, Democrats had been leading Republicans 41-37 and 43-35, respectively...44 percent say the IRS scandal is the most important of the three currently hitting the Obama administration, followed by Benghazi at 24 percent and the AP records seizure at 15 percent. However, 73 percent of voters still say the economy and unemployment should be prioritized above looking into the three controversies." [Politico]
After PPP published a poll showing Terry McAuliffe leading Ken Cuccinelli by 5, the Cuccinelli campaign released a wacky poll with an error of +/- ZANY. Here's the campaign's release: "Ken Cuccinelli leads Terry McAuliffe by 12 points in a Virginia statewide poll released today by the newly formed polling firm, Republican Republican Republican (RRR). Cuccinelli Campaign Strategist Chris LaCivita formed RRR last week and has pledged to only conduct surveys on behalf of Republicans ... According to LaCivita, the automated telephone survey of 600 likely Virginia voters had a margin of error of +/- 0.00%. Interestingly, only one individual surveyed responded favorably when asked about Terry McAuliffe. That person, in turns out, owns an electronic car company in China and is living in America temporarily thanks to an EB-5 visa provided by GreenTech Automotive." Cool! [HuffPost's Ariel Edwards-Levy]
IRS COMMISSIONER VISITED WHITE HOUSE MORE THAN ANY OTHER CABINET MEMBER - One Republican source tells us he thinks it's because he was there to walk Bo. Daily Caller: "Publicly released records show that embattled former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House at least 157 times during the Obama administration, more recorded visits than even the most trusted members of the president's Cabinet. Shulman's extensive access to the White House first came to light during his testimony last week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Shulman gave assorted answers when asked why he had visited the White House 118 times during the period that the IRS was targeting tea party and conservative nonprofits for extra scrutiny and delays on their tax-exempt applications. By contrast, Shulman's predecessor Mark Everson only visited the White House once during four years of service in the George W. Bush administration and compared the IRS's remoteness from the president to 'Siberia.'" [Daily Caller]
WHO'LL LEAD THE TEA PARTY CAUCUS POST-BACHMANN? - Roll Call has a list of House lawmakers who might step up and become an even greater nuisance to John Boehner: "Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina was elected in 2010 as a tea party candidate and earlier this year actually sought to relaunch the Tea Party Caucus on his own because he thought Bachmann had all but abandoned the cause...Louie Gohmert of Texas, a tea party member, is...a familiar face at news conferences for conservative causes and on the chamber floor, where on a semi-regular basis he appears to deliver lengthy treatises on issues of the day during Special Orders... Steve King of Iowa never misses a Tea Party Caucus media event. He has been making national news recently for fiery denouncements of the Senate's immigration overhaul legislation and promises to stonewall any House proposal that is in any way similar...Tim Huelskamp of Kansas could seek to lead the Tea Party Caucus in the mold of an outlier. Since his ultraconservative stances on fiscal policy got him kicked off the House Budget Committee, he has not been shy about voicing his dissatisfaction with GOP leadership, participating in a campaign to oust John A. Boehner..." [Roll Call]
THAT TIME ELIZABETH WARREN OGLED MICHELLE OBAMA'S ARMS - According to our Google search bar, "Michelle Obama arms" is no longer in the list of top "Michelle Obama" search suggestions, so at least there's that. ABC News: "At a Boston fundraiser Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., joked about how First Lady Michelle Obama's well-toned arms show she has a tough fighting spirit. 'I love Michelle Obama. She's a real fighter. Just take a look at those biceps,' Warren said to laughter and applause at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser at the Taj Boston Hotel on Wednesday. One day after President Obama officially endorsed Rep. Ed Markey in the Massachusetts Senate race, Mrs. Obama headlined the fundraiser benefiting the Democratic Senate candidate's campaign against Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez. A Markey aide said the fundraiser raised at least $600,000." [ABC News]
Stop trying to make "Max Out" happen, Michelle Obama. From last night's pool report by Jill Colvin: "The First Lady's second stop of the evening was an 'LGBT Gala' on Manhattan's Upper East Side...he urged the crowd to keep the money flowing to help fund upcoming special and mid-term elections. 'We need you to keep on writin' those checks!' she urged. 'And if you haven't maxed out, you know what's my motto: Max out! Let's say it again, max out! And if you've maxed out, get your friends' to give 'And max out!' 'It sounds kind of baller too, maxing out! Everyone here should be maxed out!'"
ROMNEY'S 'PARTIAL' TO PAUL RYAN - Which of course is how they would phrase it (it also wouldn't be surprising if Mitt and Ann were "keen on that stripling"). ABC News: "Ann Romney this morning gave her first solo interview since the November election, weighing in on the recent scandals hitting the White House, as well as 2016 presidential politics, saying she and husband Mitt Romney are 'very partial' to his former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. 'There are some great candidates out there and I think Mitt and I always are very, very partial to Paul Ryan, but we don't even know if he's going to run. But there are some good candidates,' Romney said on CBS News' 'This Morning.'... She said both she and her husband have 'no regrets' looking back at the campaign, but the 'most frustrating' thing for her is that she thinks many Americans didn't see who her husband really is because of how 'negative' the campaign became in the primary and the general elections, again comparing it to the slate of scandals." [ABC News]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Epic sax bear.
MAINE GOVERNOR PAUL LEPAGE IS AN ANGRY, AGGRESSIVE INDIVIDUAL - Nick Wing: "Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) accused Democrats this week of having censored him repeatedly on recent occasions and warned that such 'stifling' of speech could leave people wanting to take up arms. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, LePage claimed that Maine Democrats had set a 'dangerous precedent' by refusing to let him address lawmakers during a recent state Legislature Appropriations Committee meeting, according to the Portland Press Herald. 'It's freedom of speech. You folks should understand that better than I. It is the First Amendment, then there is the Second and I love them both,' LePage said. 'The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out.'" [HuffPost]
- Jumping off the world's highest peak: don't try it at home, because if you do try it at home, you're on drugs. [http://bit.ly/133UnSw]
- Giraffe has a performance issues. This ends with the giraffe seeing another giraffe throw a football through a tire swing in a commercial and calling his doctor. [http://huff.to/15lGOhA]
- TV intros mixed with the audio from other intros. "Friends"/"Game of Thrones" is especially weird. [http://bit.ly/ZvPG5N]
- Comedy skit reveals the origin of "family values." [http://chzb.gr/12iZyBu]
- Patrick Stewart gives incredibly moving response to a fan who asks a question about his non-acting work. [http://bit.ly/119Kn7i]
- Children lose consciousness in the darndest places. [http://bit.ly/18Aqprq]
- "Tiny Food" isn't a Lena Dunham spoof, it's pictures of, um, tiny food. [http://bit.ly/18Byc8m]
@elisefoley: "I've got nothing to do today, want to meet at The Furlough at noonish for bloody marys?"#fakedcbars
@dceiver: Every person who sends me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn is thinking, "I just know I'll be the guy to finally convince him."
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