POLITICS
06/19/2013 06:15 pm ET | Updated Aug 19, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Commander-In-Chief Strips

A new Pew telephone poll finds Americans don't approve of the president's civil liberties record, though the NSA thinks Pew's samples lack geographic diversity. An incarcerated Alabama man wants to run for Congress, a job he's well suited for considering his experience with lawbreakers. And President Obama charmed a German audience today by removing his jacket, though we would've been won over if he pulled out his Al Green voice and crooned 'Iiiiich, Iiiicccch liiiiebe dich." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, June 19th, 2013:

WELFARE MOM MARKETS WANT MORE HANDOUTS - Mark Gongloff: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sent tremors through U.S. financial markets on Wednesday when he announced that the Fed plans to pull back on its extraordinary efforts to help the economy later this year. Though Bernanke insisted Fed policy had not changed and said he was merely trying to explain the Fed's thinking process more clearly, traders read his words as a loud-and-clear signal to sell -- illustrating a long-standing communication problem between policymakers and markets." [HuffPost]

The House is in the midst of a ton of fascinating farm bill amendments that include everything from watershed conservation to making sure rapists can't have food stamps. Their plan is to debate more amendments tonight after the vote series happening right now -- looks like a Dem effort to curtail food stamp cuts is going down -- but not resume voting until tomorrow. Mmm regular order!

@jbendery: Surreal: Glenn Beck firing up rally by saying Congress is "excusing the storing of your data," standing next to congressmen who know abt it.

Darrell Issa's "7 Reasons to Follow @DarrellIssa on Twitter" doesn't even mention Issa Cream. It's also obvious his new media staffer wants a new job.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The House of Representatives will soon decide whether states should be able to make food stamp recipients pee in cups to prove they're not on drugs. The drug testing measure is one of more than 100 amendments to the House farm bill up for a vote in the coming days. The underlying legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which currently serves 47 million Americans, by roughly 2.5 percent, resulting in 2 million fewer people receiving benefits. Among the amendments are a Democratic one that would undo the cut and a Republican one that would make it deeper. The drug testing amendment, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), is the latest in a longstanding Republican effort to make people on public assistance prove they don't use illegal drugs... Hudson: "This is a clear and obvious problem in our communities as nearly thirty states have introduced legislation to drug test for welfare programs." [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - Donny Ferguson from Steve Stockman's office is making a mockery of the "SNAP Challenge," the weeklong food stamp diet some 25 Democrats are currently doing. Ferguson bought a but a bunch of junk food and says he isn't hungry. "I didn't plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself. I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling," Ferguson said. Scorn: It's what's for dinner. [Stockman.House.Gov]

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ENDA GAINING SUPPORT AMONG DEMOCRATS - Amanda Terkel and Danielle Schlanger: "Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) threw his support behind the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Tuesday, giving the bill 52 cosponsors. Only four Democrats have not signed on....Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recently said he expects the Senate will "soon" take up the legislation. Jamal Raad, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who introduced the bill in the Senate, told The Huffington Post last week that they expect a committee markup on ENDA soon after Congress reconvenes following the July 4 recess. In advance of movement on the bill, Democrats have been rushing to sign on. In June, ENDA has picked up five cosponsors: Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Reid and Rockefeller. There are now just four Democrats in the Senate who are not ENDA cosponsors: Tim Johnson (S.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.). Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are the only Republican backers." [HuffPost]

FRANK LAUTENBERG LEGISLATING FROM THE GREAT BEYOND - It's amazing how this isn't much of a difference in productivity between the deceased and Congress. Roll Call: "Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is privately lobbying fellow Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee against a toxic chemical bill negotiated by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg in the weeks before his death. The bipartisan legislation is viewed by many close to Lautenberg as a legacy piece for the late New Jersey Democrat. It would revamp nearly 40-year-old chemical laws, a goal Lautenberg pursued for years before he died June 3 at the age of 89...The measure would update the original law from 1976 and would institute comprehensive chemical safety regulations by requiring all chemicals to be screened for safety and labeled according to their potential risk to human health or the environment. One particular issue of concern to Boxer, whose home state of California has rigorous toxic chemical laws, is that the weaker Lautenberg-Vitter bill would pre-empt local laws. Beyond the merits of the bill, however, Boxer and her staff also have questioned Lautenberg's capacity to agree to the legislation in the final days of his life, according to multiple sources, including senators." [Roll Call]

Lamar Alexander is furious at Harry Reid for threatening to break his filibuster pledge. That's funny. Here's Alexander in 2003: "I don't know what happened in the past, but I know what this one Senator will do in the future. If there is a Democratic President and I am in this body, and if he nominates a judge, I will never vote to deny a vote on that judge. If two or three more Senators on both sides will do the same thing, we could go back to having more respect for our judicial nominating process." [HuffPost]

LISA MURKOWSKI BACKS GAY MARRIAGE - Luke Johnson: "Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed support for gay marriage Wednesday, becoming the third sitting Republican senator to do so. The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay rights group, announced the Alaska senator had backed marriage equality in a statement. "This is a hard issue. It is hard because marriage is such a deeply personal issue," Murkowski told Anchorage television station KTUU. 'There may be some that when they hear the position that I hold that are deeply disappointed. There may be some that embrace the decision that I have made.'...In a statement on marriage equality, Murkowski spoke of an Alaskan lesbian couple who adopted four children and said the family's story influenced her thinking." [HuffPost]

WHY PRESIDENT OBAMA DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, IN ONE CHART - When you find yourself commuting to your downtown Manhattan job in a canoe, it'll be because "hero cop" tested better on the dials than "environmental shared sacrifice." WaPo: "A pair of fundraisers just 90 minutes apart in the San Francisco Bay Area last week laid bare the competing forces of politics and policy that President Obama is grappling with as he prepares to unveil a slate of major initiatives on global warming in late June or in July. In public comments at the beginning of the first session, Obama made it clear that he considered climate change 'one of the most important decisions we make as a nation,' according to a transcript released by the White House.But during the second event, according to several people familiar with his private remarks at the home of clean-tech entrepreneur Vinod Khosla, Obama expressed concerns about the political pain involved, saying that 'dial testing' of his State of the Union speech showed that the favorability ratings 'plummeted' when he vowed to act on climate change if Congress refused to do so." [WaPo]

OBAMA'S APPROVALS REMAIN STABLE - Ariel Edwards- Levy: "President Barack Obama's public standing has remained relatively steady over the last month, according to a Pew Research poll released Wednesday, although most Americans disapprove of how he handles privacy and civil liberties issues. The Pew poll puts his approval rating at 49 percent, down from 51 percent in May, consistent with other recent polling. While a CNN poll found that Obama's approval had dropped 8 points since May, most surveys show the president's ratings remaining stable amid recent controversies over National Security Agency surveillance. In an average of polls taken last week, Obama's approval ratings dipped about 2 points. HuffPost Pollster's chart, which combines all publicly available polling, puts Obama's average approval just below 47 percent, down from 48 percent in May and 51 percent at the beginning of 2013." [HuffPost]

At least some people are still charmed by the president: "While President Barack Obama delivered a speech on nuclear reductions at the iconic Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday, things got a little hot -- literally. Obama thanked the people of Germany for the 'extraordinarily warm welcome' on the 92-degree day. 'In fact, it's so warm, and I feel so good, that I'm actually going to take off my jacket,' Obama said. "And anybody else who wants to, feel free to.' The president then proceeded to remove his jacket to an eruption of applause." [HuffPost's Gabrielle Dunkley]

JOURNALIST MICHAEL HASTINGS DIES - Rolling Stone: "Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone has learned. He was 33. Hastings' unvarnished 2010 profile of McChrystal in the pages of Rolling Stone, 'The Runaway General,' captured the then-supreme commander of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan openly mocking his civilian commanders in the White House. The maelstrom sparked by its publication concluded with President Obama recalling McChrystal to Washington and the general resigning his post...For Hastings, there was no romance to America's misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had felt the horror of war first-hand: While covering the Iraq war for Newsweek in early 2007, his then-fianceé, an aide worker, was killed in a Baghdad car bombing. Hastings memorialized that relationship in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story...In addition to his work as a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, Hastings also reported for BuzzFeed. He leaves behind his wife, the writer Elise Jordan." [Rolling Stone]

CONSERVATIVES FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH MARCO RUBIO - Jon Ward: "The hits from the right on the Senate immigration reform bill and on Rubio, its champion, have increased over the past few weeks. National Review is getting into a habit of lambasting the Florida senator, Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol has told Rubio to 'walk away' from the bill, and key tea party lawmakers like Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have made clear they're not on board. Rubio's name was even booed at a rally against the immigration bill on Capitol Hill Wednesday...The real danger to Rubio is not measured by the loudest or most extreme voices, such as talk radio host Glenn Beck's declaration that the senator is 'a dirtbag.' Rather, it is the increase in conservative figures who criticize Rubio reluctantly, like Kristol and RedState founder Erick Erickson." [HuffPost]

CAN YOU EVEN BEGIN TO COMPREHEND THE GLORIOUSNESS OF A MARCO RUBIO/ALLEN WEST PRIMARY? - It'd be like "Alien Versus Predator" for the Freedomworks set. Nick Wing: "Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was asked Wednesday whether he would challenge Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in 2016 for his Senate seat -- and he did not answer with a definitive 'no.' Though West admitted it would be difficult, the exchange demonstrated that Rubio is not immune from grumbling on his right flank for being part of the 'gang of eight' that crafted an immigration bill in the Senate. 'That's a pretty heavy lift, because you're talking about running against a sitting senator, and then, of course, that creates that schism that the other side would love to see happen,' West told conservative talk show host Larry O'Connor...He then gave a warning about the immigration bill. 'And I have a lot of concerns about this immigration bill,' he said. 'Do we need to do something about immigration? Absolutely. This whole comprehensive thing -- I think the bill now is up to 1,075 pages -- Once again, the American people don't trust that.'" [HuffPost]

Given Hillary Clinton's poll numbers in Florida, Rubio might want to stick to the West primary: "A new poll finds Hillary Clinton with more support in Florida than either former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found Clinton with 50 percent and Bush with 43 percent in the poll. Her lead over Rubio is larger, 53 percent to 41 percent. The numbers are similar to those Quinnipiac found in its March poll of the state." [The Hill]

PAUL LEPAGE IS NOW THE HERO OF EVERY COMMS DIRECTOR IN THE COUNTRY - Area press secretary will get back to you... in hell. Portland Press Herald: "Gov. Paul LePage's administration will no longer comment in stories published by the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, his spokeswoman said Tuesday. The new policy follows the newspapers' publication of a three-day series of articlesthis week examining LePage's top environmental regulator and how her department's actions have benefited her former lobbying clients in private industry. LePage's spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, informed a Press Herald reporter of the new policy following a request for the governor's public events calendar. Bennett would not provide the calendar, a public document, and said the administration would no longer participate in stories reported by the three newspapers. Bennett said MaineToday Media, the newspapers' parent company, "had made it clear that it opposed this administration." [Press Herald]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby otter sets out for adventure, namely battle with a stuffed walrus.

Listen, if David Vitter can get reelected...: "Stephen Nodine, a former Mobile County Commissioner now serving a two-year jail term on perjury and harassment charges, announced via email that he is considering a bid for Alabama's 1st District congressional seat. Nodine, 50, resigned from the county commission in 2010 following his indictment for murder in the death of Angel Downs, his longtime mistress. He pled guilty to felony perjury in 2012 as part of a deal in which prosecutors dropped the murder charge." [Birmingham News]

COMFORT FOOD

- Snake learns how to open doors. You know what has doors? Planes. [http://bit.ly/11wxyUQ]

- Hell Is Other People, the social networking service for antisocial people. [http://huff.to/16bhdbB]

- An unincarcerated John McAfee teaches you how to uninstall McAfee Antivirus. [http://bit.ly/12bxJnx]

- The trailer for the long-awaited "Anchorman" sequel. [http://huff.to/15j0TmS]

- She wears high heels/I wear whatever I want because I don't subscribe to society's gender constructs --- Feminist Taylor Swift. [http://bit.ly/14B1ovB]

- Have the hottest rodent in your town with this guinea pig armor suit. [http://chzb.gr/13R9S0E]

- Seven sites you should be wasting time on. [http://huff.to/11Oi7r3]

TWITTERAMA

@KagroX: @MikeElk: "Are we so focused on our entitlements that we have forgotten what makes us great" - Honeywell CEO || Was it no bid contracts?

@EvanMcSan: Zimmer to start aromatherapy biz. "You're gonna like the way it smells, I guarantee it."

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: New Hampshire's congressional delegation attends an "Experience New Hampshire" reception, which will feature [Kennedy Caucus Room Russell SOB]

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Iowa Senate candidate and Congressman Bruce Braley hosts a "Taste of Iowa" reception. Unclear if there will be butter statues. [500 N Capitol Street]

6:00 pm: As the newest member of the three amigos, we can only assume Kelly Ayotte has taken over previous rookie Lindsey Graham's role of paying for everyone's drinks and retrieving John McCain's laundry. She escapes freshman amigo duty with a dinner fundraiser. [BLT Steak, 1625 Eye Street NW]

6:00 pm: Heather Podesta, because she is Heather Podesta, hosts a fundraiser for the DSCC featuring most of the Senate's Democratic women. [Casa de Podesta]

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Not that he needs the help, but Steny Hoyer will attend a fundraiser hosted by lobbyists Linda Hall Daschle -- wife of Tom -- and Frederick Graefe. Ellen Tauscher will also be on hand. [901 K Street NW]

7:30 pm: AFI Docs marks the 50th anniversary of JFK's death by hosting a screening of "Letters To Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy." [Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW]

TOMORROW

12:00 pm: Kelly Ayotte hosts a health care lunch. Given the nature of the lunch, you might want to steer clear of the ribs. [Art and Soul, 415 New Jersey Ave NW]

12:00 pm: Mark Kirk insures himself against whichever one of the 100,000,000 Democrats try to challenge him in 2016 with a fundraiser luncheon. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

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