Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Try To Think Of Them As Phone Fairies

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The NSA is collecting Verizon's call data, which would be fine if each time they told us our call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes. The House passed a bill that would deport young immigrants, because in this precarious economic climate, we can't afford foreigners taking our children's jobs. And "Can you hear me now" jokes were locked in a deathmatch against Orwell references but in the end -- and it was a squeaker -- everyone lost. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, June 6th, 2013:

REID SETS DEADLINE FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM - The Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) has set an end-of-month deadline for Senate passage of immigration reform, giving the chamber three weeks to debate legislation on the floor. 'We are going to finish the bill before the July 4 recess,' Reid said Thursday. 'We need to finish this bill and we're going to do it as quick as we can.' Reid added that the issue has already been thoroughly discussed in committee...Senate Democrats met Thursday afternoon to discuss their strategy for handling amendments to the legislation, President Obama's top domestic initiative. The Senate will vote to end debate on the motion to proceed to the immigration bill at 2:15 pm Tuesday and then vote to proceed at 4 p.m." [The Hill]

And now to you, John Kasich: "The Ohio Senate will vote on a budget bill Thursday that would defund Planned Parenthood, block grants to rape crisis centers that refer women to abortion clinics, and prevent abortion clinics from transferring patients to public hospitals in the case of severe complications. The GOP-controlled House passed a budget bill in April that defunds Planned Parenthood and redirects some of that money to crisis pregnancy centers, which are Christian-run organizations that work to dissuade women from having abortions." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

JOE LIEBERMAN DOES EXPECTED THING - Politico: "Former Sen. Joe Lieberman has joined the the firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman as a senior council in its New York office. The former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate is expected to focus on independent and internal investigations as well as advise clients on public policy, strategic and regulatory issues, according to a firm release. Lieberman will also work with corporate clients on tax, health care, security, intellectual property and international expansion initiatives." [Politico]

The Republican plot to destroy Richard Cordray, courtesy Chris Frates.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Serious politicians and pundits agree that 132,000 is the appropriate number of additional old people on whom Washington must inflict economic misery. Economic Policy Institute: "Reductions in Social Security benefits arising from a proposed shift to indexing cost-of-living adjustments to the chained consumer price index (chained CPI) would also push more elderly into economic insecurity. For example, a switch to the chained CPI would boost the share of 70- to 75-year-olds below two times the supplemental poverty threshold by 1.2 percentage points, resulting in 132,000 more economically vulnerable seniors." []

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CHRIS CHRISTIE APPOINTS AIDE TO EMPTY SENATE SEAT - John Celock: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appointed state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa as the state's first Republican U.S. senator in 30 years, on Thursday, filling a temporary opening in the Senate. 'This is an incredible honor for my family and I,' Chiesa said, noting he will use his 'best judgment' in the Senate. Chiesa, a registered Republican since 2000, would not be a candidate in the primary or general election, said Christie. The governor said that while he made the final decision this week, he had been considering his options for the Senate for awhile...He became the state attorney general in January 2012 after two years as Christie's chief counsel in the governor's office. The chief counsel is one of the most powerful positions in New Jersey government, and serves as the governor's chief liaison with the state legislature as well as a legal adviser...On Thursday, when questioned about the immigration bill pending before Congress, Chiesa identified border security as one of his top issues as senator and said he plans to meet with other senators to discuss immigration and other issues when he arrives in Washington. 'I am a conservative Republican,' Chiesa said. "I don't want to get into a litany of issues." [HuffPost]

NSA COLLECTING MILLIONS OF VERIZON PHONE RECORDS, STUNNED AMERICA RESPONDS WITH INCESSANT 'CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?' JOKES - It's like the NSA is America's parent and the citizenry is the child it thinks is eating up the phone bill with calls to our besties. And by "besties" we mean "terrorists." Guardian: "The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an 'ongoing, daily basis' to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries. The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk - regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing. The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19. Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered." [Guardian]

Literally, the whole internet was making the same joke.

Don't worry, Dianne Feinstein will clear everything up : "As far as I know, this is an exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years." D'oh.

Administration responds: "Aides to President Obama declined to discuss the program in detail, saying FISA court orders are classified. But one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government-collected information 'does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.' The program also undergoes periodic congressional and judicial reviews to prevent abuse, the official said." [USA Today]

Senate to do nothing: "On Capitol Hill, some lawmakers expressed immediate alarm to news that a FISA court had granted a request for an 'ongoing, daily basis' collection of call data, as reported by The Guardian. But those with the authority to take action moved first to vigorously defend the program, calling it routine. 'I read intelligence carefully, and I know that people are trying to get to us,' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. 'This is to ferret this out before it happens. It's called protecting America.'" [HuffPost]

PATRIOT ACT AUTHOR: I'VE CREATED A MONSSSTTEEERRRRR!!! - This is totally like how the scientists who created the atom bomb protested its use except absolutely not at all. Ryan Reilly: "Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), one of the authors of the Patriot Act, said in a Thursday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that he is 'extremely troubled' by the National Security Agency's seizure of the phone records of millions of Verizon customers through a secret court ruling. 'I do not believe the released FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act,' Sensenbrenner wrote. 'How could the phone records of so many innocent Americans be relevant to an authorized investigation as required by the Act?' 'Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American,' he added in a press release that accompanied the letter." [HuffPost]

@justinjm1: Orwell's "1984" was published 64 years ago today via @b_fung

HOUSE PASSES A THING SPONSORED BY STEVE KING, WHICH SHOULD TELL YOU ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW - But in case you do want to know more: "The House voted 224-201 on Thursday to end Department of Homeland Security discretion policies that allow it to delay deportations for young, undocumented immigrants and other people deemed low-priority, effectively demanding the government force out Dreamers who came to the United States as children. The amendment, offered by immigration hawk Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), was approved mostly along party lines. However, three Democrats -- Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) -- supported the amendment. Six Republicans -- Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), David Nunes (R-Calif.), Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.) -- opposed it, while nine members did not vote." [HuffPost's Elise Foley]

CAP ABANDONS OBAMA'S BUDGET - Grim: "The Center for American Progress, a pillar of the Democratic establishment in Washington is walking away from the broad negotiations aimed at reaching a 'grand bargain,' the pursuit of a deficit-reduction deal that has dominated the political agenda since mid-2010. The idea of a grand bargain had little backing from organized labor and the progressive flank to begin with, but maintained institutional support from establishment forces in the party. CAP's exit from the stage sends a powerful signal to the White House, leaving the president to craft a deal largely on his own, should he continue to pursue it. The move has been in the works for some time, say senior CAP officials, and emerged publicly Wednesday in the form of a report by Michael Linden, the center's managing director for economic policy...The report says that even if deficit reduction was a worthy goal several years ago, it no longer is so, suggesting, 'The debate over these issues is stuck in a time and context that no longer exists.'" [HuffPost]

ERIC HOLDER PROMISES NOT TO PROSECUTE JOURNALISTS, BECAUSE THAT IS SADLY SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID - That being said, we hear the Pentagon City Mall parking garage is a lovely place to discreetly meet a high-level government official who likes to smoke. Ryan Reilly: "Attorney General Eric Holder, under fire for tactics used by his Justice Department to investigate national security leaks, vowed Thursday not to indict any journalists for their reporting. 'The Department has not prosecuted, and as long as I'm attorney general, will not prosecute any reporter for doing his or her job,' Holder told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. DOJ's goal, Holder said, is to 'identify and prosecute government officials who jeopardize national security by violating their oaths, not to target members of the press or discourage them from carrying out their vital work.' Holder mentioned that DOJ was updating its internal guidelines to 'ensure that in every case the department's actions are clear and consistent with our most sacred values.' He added that he believed the guidelines, not department personnel, were at fault for any problems that arose in the past." [HuffPost]

Gay agenda update: Civilization is doomed, poll finds: "Polling released Thursday by Pew Research finds that 72 percent of Americans say that recognition of same-sex marriage is "inevitable," up from 59 percent in 2004. Today, 59 percent of those who oppose legalizing gay marriage believe it nonetheless will happen, and 85 percent who support legalization think it will happen." [HuffPost's Ariel Edwards-Levy]

REPORT: IRS HAS APPROVED MORE CONSERVATIVE GROUPS THAN LIBERAL ONES - In between applying synthetic Spock ears and line dancing in drab auditoriums ("line dancing in drab auditoriums" is the new "Cristal in the champagne room"), Internal Revenue Service officials were able to approve of a lot of 501(c)4s, most of which were conservative. Paul Blumenthal: "An analysis of a list of groups approved for tax exempt status, released by the Internal Revenue Service in the wake of its admission to targeting conservative groups for heightened scrutiny, determined that of the groups approved, more than two-thirds were conservative. The analysis, by Martin A. Sullivan of Tax Analysts, examined a list of 176 advocacy organizations that were ultimately approved for tax exempt status by the IRS during the period when the service admits to having targeted certain conservative groups with inappropriate criteria. According to Sullivan's analysis, 122 of the groups were conservative, 48 were liberal or non-conservative and 6 remain of unidentified ideology." [HuffPost]

DSCC HITTING GOP FOR CHAMBLISS' 'HORMONES' COMMENT - The Georgia senator's statement that men can't help raping women because a miniature Joe Francis in a devil costume appears on their shoulders whenever a woman is present (or whatever) is turning out to be a boon for Democrats. Laura Bassett: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent an open letter to current and potential 2014 Republican Senate candidates on Thursday, declaring that the GOP's "war on women" is back and saying they must denounce recent sexist remarks by Republican pundits and lawmakers. 'Republican leaders' extreme, anti-women comments are despicable and offensive to women in Arkansas and across the country,' the DSCC wrote in one letter to a possible GOP Senate candidate in that state...In its letter, the DSCC invoked the tale of former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), the onetime Senate candidate who said women cannot become pregnant from 'legitimate rape.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby sea lion says "what's up."

A state whose most famous dish is an ice cream flavor named after Jerry Garcia is decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Go figure. "Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed a bill on Thursday decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, will remove criminal penalties on possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and replace them with civil fines." [HuffPost]


- The creators of this terrible "Friends" fanart probably should've kept it to themselves. Correction: no they shouldn't have. [a href="" target="_hplink">]

- "Local People With Their Arms Crossed" is a Tumblr dedicated to photographs of news subjects confidently folding their arms. []

- Next time you have to abandon your parallel parking attempt and start all over, just be glad you're not this Russia motorist who flipped their car WHILE PARKING. []

- Jimmy Fallon spliced together Brian Williams clips to have him sing "Nuthin' But A G' Thang." We're still waiting for Bob Schieffer's "Fuck tha Police." []

- Maps detailing how American pronounce a selection of words by region. []

- "9 Film Frames" attempts to convey a movie's plot in 9 frames. []

- George R. R. Martin reacts to people reacting to "Game of Thrones" []


@matthewstoller: Asked whether AT&T is also under a similar order, the WH spokesman said no comment. And then winked. And then said yes.

@delrayser: It's only marginally more troubling to me for the government to have my phone records than it is for Verizon to have them.

@nickbilton: I'm just waiting for that scene in Scooby Doo shows where someone pulls back Obama's mask to find Dick Cheney underneath.



5:00 pm: Michael Bennet gets a hand in his efforts to hold on to the Senate for the DSCC from Barack Obama, who'll take a break from subpoenaing your snap chats or whatever to make an appearance. Harry Reid will also be on hand. [Palo Alto, CA]

6:00 pm: Bill Huizenga bros out with his "Evening of Bocce Ball and Spirits on the Rooftop." [Venable, 575 7th Street NW]

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