Reporters pondered what the release of 100 goats in Congressional Cemetery will mean for Rand Paul's 2016 chances. Elizabeth Warren serenaded airport travelers to insult Larry Summers, but Broadway producers have refused to take on her script for a Summers-themed West Side Story. And a Southern senator said his constituents consider President Obama "exotic" but he's probably about as exotic as a racist Southerner. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, August 7th:
COBURN NOW ONE OF THE REASONABLE ONES - Mike McAuliff: "Long-serving Republicans aren't engaged in an increasingly public smackdown of their tea party colleagues because they disagree with them -- it's more that they don't want a few hotheads to blow their party's best chance in years to retake control of the United States Senate. ... 'The only way that strategy works is if you're going to take the hostage and shoot it. Which means you're never going to open the government back up until Obama says uncle,' [Sen. Tom] Coburn [R-Okla.] said, arguing that there's no way a filibuster-strong 40 members of the GOP caucus would be willing to halt Social Security checks, mail delivery, passport services, construction work and the myriad other things constituents expect from the government in hopes of making Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blink. 'What is the likelihood of that? And what is the probability that members of the Senate will hold on that? It's about zero.'" [HuffPost]
@BuzzFeedAndrew: Allegedly a photo of Mitt Romney, eating alone, at Qdoba.https://t.co/7Ib6yM9ei8 http://t.co/IF3Doxgdy7
SOUTHERN SENATOR TALKS ABOUT OBAMA LIKE CREEPY MEN TALK ABOUT MINORITY WOMEN - Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told the Des Moines Register that one of his colleagues might have admitted his constituents are birthers. Take it away, Harkin: "'And, not naming any names, but one senator got up from a Southern state and said, 'You've got to understand that to my people down here, Obama seems like --- he thought for a second and he said -- like he's exotic.' We kind of laughed at that -- what's that mean? Exotic? That he's just exotic, that he doesn't share our values and that kind of thing. It was kind of a strange comment.' Des Moines Register editor Rick Green: 'Exotic in terms of values or in terms of race? How do you describe or define 'exotic?'' [Des Moines Register columnist Rekha] Basu: 'Do they still think he's a Muslim or wasn't born in this country? Do they still spout those kinds of theories?' Harkin: 'Yeah, I guess so. I don't know. He never explained it. Everybody just kind of laughed at the idea of exotic.'" [ Des Moines Register]
IN OTHER RACISM NEWS - Laurie Merrill, Dianna Nanez and Linnea Bennett, from outside Obama's speech in Phoenix: "Racially-charged sentiment infused the protests and split the crowd both politically and physically. Obama supporters congregated on the west side of the road in front of the high school and his critics lined up across the street. Obama foes at one point sang, 'Bye Bye Black Sheep,' a derogatory reference to the president's skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, "Impeach the Half-White Muslim!' ... Deanna Bartram, a 17-year-old University of Arizona student from Black Canyon City, lashed out at people who call her racist for not supporting Obama. She believes Obama supporters use the 'race card' against her because they disagree with her political message. 'Obama is ruining American values. He is ruining the Constitution. He needs to go back to where he came from because obviously, he is a liar,' she said. 'I am not racist. I am part Indian. Obama's half Black, half White.' 'He's 47 percent Negro,' shouted Ron Enderle, a 77-year-old Chandler resident who said that he and his son served as Marines and his grandson is currently serving in the Marines. ... Judy Burris said that she blames Obama for racism in America reaching heights not seen since the 1960s Civil-Rights Era. 'We have gone back so many years,' she said. 'He's divided all the races. I hate him for that.'" [Arizona Republic]
A KINDER, GENTLER BILL CUTTING FOOD STAMPS - In new legislation to be unveiled soon, Republicans will seek twice the savings from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as they did in a previous measure, but in one small way the new bill will be kinder and gentler than the old one. The legislation that failed in the House last June would have allowed states to require food stamp recipients younger than 60 to either work at least 20 hours a week or spend that amount of time engaged in state-approved "work activities." States would get to keep half the savings from reduced SNAP enrollment, which Democrats said meant the proposal paid states for kicking people off food stamps. The measure included a few exceptions, including for parents of children younger than 12 months, parents receiving federal disability benefits, and others such as victims of domestic violence. But the bill did not explicitly exempt a childless person receiving federal disability benefits. Under the new legislation, which Republicans will bring to the House floor sometime after their August recess, people who qualify for federal disability benefits will be explicitly exempted whether or not they have children, according to a GOP leadership aide. [HuffPost]
About the rest of that food stamp bill.... "Under the new House Republican proposal, if such individuals can't find at least a half-time job, they will summarily be thrown off the program after three months -- irrespective of how high local unemployment is. The individuals in question are among the poorest people in the United States." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - In 2011, 19 percent of SNAP recipients lived in households with a disabled person. Barbara Augsbury of Alcoa, Tenn., is one. She lives by herself with three cats and said it's no fun being unable to work and having to rely on the government to buy food. "They do everything they can to make you feel like you're the world's worst human being because you're not out there working," Augsbury said. "I would like to work if I was able. I don't like living on $730 a month in Social Security benefits and $150 in food stamps. I don't like not having a car any more." Among other conditions, Augsbury, 54, said she suffers from iron-deficiency anemia that causes fatigue and fainting spells. She said her benefits afford a no-frills lifestyle. "I don't have a car," she said. "I don't have cable. I don't go to movies." [HuffPost]
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EGYPTIANS NOT FANS OF MAVERICKS, MY FRIENDS - Our own Josh Hersh, in Cairo: "On the day after a routine press conference turned two U.S. senators into pariahs in the local media, ordinary Egyptians, who have been deeply divided over virtually every element of their country's politics, found a cause for accord: U.S. politicians have done enough. 'Those bastards,' sneered Magdi Hossein, a political activist from Giza who has helped rally supporters of the military against the Muslim Brotherhood. 'Who are they anyway? What power do they have in the Congress? They came here to play a game -- a game of politics back home in America, not for here.' Hossein was echoing sentiments expressed by his more powerful countrymen. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) found themselves on the receiving end of a surprising amount of official Egyptian vitriol late Tuesday night, and into Wednesday morning, after they announced that they considered the military's takeover of the government in early July to be a 'coup.' ... Mohamed Abdul Motallem, a supporter of Morsi who said he planned to pass through Tahrir and do some shopping before heading to one of the Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins, agreed. 'I don't like the American aid, and I don't like the American interference,' said Motallem, who noted that he also did not see McCain and Graham's press conference. 'I am 100 percent sure that the aid is not for the Egyptian people or in their interests.'" [HuffPost]
OBAMA DECRIES DECRY-ABLE THING - Jennifer Epstein: "President Obama decried military sexual assaults on Wednesday, using his first public remarks on the issue in months to make clear that, as commander-in-chief, he is committed to combating the issue. 'It undermines what this military stands for and it undermines what the Marine Corps stands for when sexual assault occurs within our units,' Obama said at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego. The military must work 'to stop these crimes of sexual assault to uphold the honor and the integrity' of the military, he said. 'And that message is coming all the way from the top.' It was the first time Obama spoke about military sexual assault since May, when he called it an 'outrage' that must be combated. ... Those comments have since created problems, as military defense attorneys have argued that Obama exerted 'unlawful command influence' in speaking out on how those in the military convicted of sexual assaults should be treated." [Politico]
OBAMA TO PUTIN: NYET - The Russian president-for-life will have to catch some extra-large fish and go extra shirtless the next time he hunts to get over this. AP: "In a rare diplomatic rebuke, President Barack Obama on Wednesday canceled his Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision reflected both U.S. anger over Russia's harboring of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and growing frustration within the Obama administration over what it sees as Moscow's stubbornness on other key issues, including missile defense and human rights. Obama will still attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but a top White House official said the president has no plans to hold one-on-one talks with Putin while there. Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, the president will add a stop in Sweden to his early-September travel itinerary. Obama, traveling in California, said in an interview Tuesday that he was 'disappointed' by Russia's decision to grant Snowden asylum for one year. He said that decision indicates the "underlying challenges" the U.S. faces in dealing with Moscow. 'There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,' Obama said in an interview on NBC's "The Tonight Show." [AP]
MCCAIN AND GRAHAM TAKE BFF TRIP TO EGYPT - Josh Rogin: "McCain and Graham told the Muslim Brotherhood leaders that they should be open to negotiations with the new government if and when the government makes some concessions that international actors are pushing for, such as letting up on the arrests and prosecutions of the leadership of the deposed group. 'We told [the Muslim Brother leaders] that in our view, the best way to resolve this issue was to renounce and condemn violence, that they should be willing to negotiate if some of the brotherhood were released from prison,' McCain said. 'We were not negotiating, we were just saying what we thought had to be done to get back to the negotiating table.' ... McCain and Graham told the government that the American aid was in jeopardy because of congressional angst about the military takeover. He acknowledged that America's $1.3 billion in aid pales in comparison with the over $13 billion in aid promised to the new government in recent weeks by Gulf countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but insisted that America still has significant leverage in Egypt. 'We told [General al-Sisi] exactly how a lot of members of Congress felt and we want to see negotiations and some release of political prisoners,' he said. 'He did not say whether he would or he wouldn't.'" [Daily Beast]
KOCH'ED UP - Ken Vogel and Jake Sherman: "Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez secretly spoke to wealthy donors at the Koch brothers' recently concluded summer gathering on the outskirts of Albuquerque. ... The meeting featured some discussion of the unfolding GOP Senate primary challenges to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, but no consensus opinion emerged, a source who attended the event told POLITICO. ... The invitation-only seminars bring together wealthy donors to mingle with, and hear presentations from, Republican elected officials, conservative dignitaries and leaders of right-leaning groups backed by the Kochs' network. They usually run from Sunday through Tuesday morning, and take place under extremely tight security, with organizers and guests sometimes renting out every room in the host hotel." [Politico]
@ChuckSchumer: I hope those responsible for defacing the Jackie Robinson statue are caught, punished & taught why that is disgusting & offensive.
ELIZABETH WARREN, AIRPORT PERFORMER - Matt Viser: "Warren criticized the Obama administration for not cracking down on big banks, and she compared his advisers -- including Summers specifically -- unfavorably to a country in South America that decades ago used government funds to try to prevent banks from going under. 'Tim [Geithner] and Larry's whole plan is just like Argentina in the 1980s,' Warren told author Ron Suskind in September 2009, while he was working on 'Confidence Men,' a book on the aftermath of the financial collapse. 'There was this giant hole marked 'Banks' and the government just dumped money in that hole, as much as they had, while they lied about it. That's what Larry thinks: that the US is Argentina!' While Warren and Suskind were waiting at a terminal in Washington's Reagan National Airport, Warren began to sing, 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina.' Several started to applaud, and she modified the verse, with Summers in the role of Eva Peron. 'Why not?' Warren said with a laugh. 'He might understand things better as a woman.'" [Boston Globe]
Free Ben Freed! Down with DCist! Get your news about Metro closings and food trucks from elsewhere, comrades!
PALLIN' AROUND WITH CORRUPT FOREIGN LEADERS - Rosie Gray: "Congressman Danny Davis is seeking legal counsel after being implicated in a lobbying scheme involving two Chicago men charged with illegally lobbying U.S. lawmakers on behalf of the regime of President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Representatives Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, both from the Chicago area, are believed to have been targeted by Prince Asiel Ben Israel and C. Gregory Turner as part of an illegal $3.4 million deal to lobby for Mugabe, whose government has been under U.S. sanctions since 2003. Neither lawmaker is explicitly named in the complaint, though both names have appeared in the Chicago media. The complaint filed in the Northern District of Illinois says that at least one of the two members of Congress planned to travel to Zimbabwe in 2009 to meet Mugabe, and that one of the members wrote two letters to Mugabe that year. A spokesperson for Davis confirmed that the congressman had been in contact with one of the lobbyists." [Buzzfeed]
GOATS TAKE OVER CONGRESSIONAL CEMETERY - "Through Monday, around 100 'eco-goats' will live in the historic Southeast Washington cemetery, devouring vines, bushes and invasive species and keeping the towering trees from being overrun by harmful plants which could then cause the trees to topple. (The 'eco' name of the goats is because the animals are removing ground cover and weeds without the use of pesticides, which the cemetery wanted to avoid due to its proximity to the Anacostia watershed.) ... They're living behind a tall chain link fence, away from all the gravestones. (So no, don't worry about seeing a goat 'fertilizing' anyone's final resting place.)" [WaPo]
@Chris_Moody: I got hit with poison ivy while chasing goats around the Congressional Cemetery. WORTH IT.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's that cat in shark costume riding a Roomba, back for more. #cantstopwontstop
- Stephen Colbert danced with half of Hollywood after Daft Punk canceled their appearance on the "Colbert Report." [http://bit.ly/19NDl0C]
- Dog sings Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." [http://huff.to/13N6W2Y]
- The "Citizen Kane" of Vines has been filmed. [http://bit.ly/18aqYb1]
- What happens inside you when a mosquito helps itself to some of your blood. [http://bit.ly/15LP7H6]
- A restaurant in L.A. (of course it's L.A.) will soon offer a 45-page water menu. [http://bit.ly/1esvsv3]
- America's longest prison sentences, in (dis)honor of Ariel Castro's upcoming 1000-year prison term. [http://bit.ly/16zhM0K]
- The Mars curiosity rover sang "Happy Birthday" to itself, which is just about the saddest thing we've read all day. [http://bit.ly/1c8bKZP]
@mollyesque: Where did my 4-year-old learn the "no comment" trick? I ask him a question and he replies, "No answer." This town!
@repjustinamash: My response: LOL. "@HuffPostPol: Karl Rove goes after GOP congressman huff.to/1cvQEns"
@pwolgin: One can only hope... RT @seungminkim: My iPhone keeps autocorrecting "Gohmert" to "figment"
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