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HUFFPOST HILL, sponsored by MoveOn.org - Lawmaker Readies For Bilateral Talks With Rodeo Clown

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Lindsey Graham's challenger labeled him a "community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood," probably because "Anti-Business New Black Panther" would have been way over the line. The anti-Obama rodeo clown and a U.S. congressman will meet, presumably to discuss their favorite strategies for drawing attention to themselves and inciting anger in other creatures. And it used to be that saying you were gay got you out of military service. Now it gets you on your spouse's dental plan. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, August 14th, 2013:

THE SEQUESTER: SAVING MONEY, SLOWING HUMAN PROGRESS - Sam Stein: "If sequestration is a cancerous tumor inside the world of science, how far has it spread? In 2013 alone, NIH, the primary federal spigot for projects impacting human health, will be forced to cut $1.7 billion from its budget. Government agencies across the board are making similar reductions in their research budgets as well. The length of some grants have been shortened, while others have decreased in size and still others have been eliminated altogether. Though they aren't supposed to do so, university officials have begun siphoning money from funded projects to those feeling the pinch, in hopes that if they hang on long enough, help will eventually come. At the University of Virginia, hopes are wearing thin. After our first phone interview in July, Dutta ended the conversation with thanks. 'I appreciate you doing this story because we need your help, buddy,' he said. 'We are in deep shit.' When I visited the campus in August, he showed me how deep the shit actually is." [HuffPost]

EGYPT SITUATION DETERIORATING, HUNDREDS KILLED - Josh Hersh: "Egypt's police and military stormed a pair of Muslim Brotherhood protest sites here early Wednesday morning, leaving scores of protesters dead and many more wounded as violence threatened to spill across the city. While clashes at one Muslim Brotherhood protest site extended into their tenth hour, Egypt's military-backed government declared a one-month state of emergency. Across the city there were reports of small gun battles, and churches and government buildings being burned or seized. Vigilante and neighborhood watch groups, once a fixture of post-revolutionary Cairo, were formed late in the day. The exact number killed in the storming of the sites -- the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Nasr City and another one in Nahda Square -- is unknown, but the Ministry of Health has reported a death toll of more than 200. More than 1,400 people have been injured, according to Reuters. Mohammed El Baradei, a liberal politician who had joined the military-backed government as vice president, announced later Wednesday he would resign in response to the crackdown. El-Baradei was a leading figure working within the government in recent days to try to prevent the military from taking such action." [HuffPost]

Obama administration responds: "The White House on Wednesday condemned the violence sweeping across Egypt, as well as the resumption of emergency law there, warning Egypt’s military-backed interim government that 'the world is watching.’...The U.S. has said it does not plan to label Morsi’s ouster a coup, and officials on Wednesday indicated no change in that position following the latest outbreak of violence. President Barack Obama, in the midst of a weeklong vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, was briefed on the deteriorating situation Wednesday morning, spokesman Josh Earnest said." [AP]

How conservatives are covering this: "Obama plays golf as White House condemns Egypt violence" [Washington Times]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Adam Roach, 52, is unable to work because of chronic fatigue and mental disabilities, including bipolar, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. He gets by on $843 in Social Security Disability Insurance and a rent subsidy that helps him afford a one-bedroom efficiency in Falls Church, a Washington suburb. A few years ago Roach also received $33 per month in food stamp benefits, a little more than twice Virginia's minimum monthly benefit of $16. The meager amount of assistance, combined with the shame of seeking help and the hassle of filling out forms, led Roach to give up when it came time to re-certify his poverty with the state, something Virginia SNAP recipients have to do every six months. "They would ask everything. They wanted all the personal information you could give them about yourself," Roach said. "I hated it." Roach felt frustrated by the Virginia Department of Social Services' 18-page application form, which asks people seeking benefits a wide range of questions about their income, assets, family situation and expenses -- standard information required from nutrition assistance applicants in any state. He particularly disliked a question about whether he owned a burial plot. "I thought it was very unpleasant," he said. "A very morbid question." [HuffPost]

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JESSE JACKSON JR. SENTENCED TO 30 MONTHS FOR CAMPAIGN FRAUD - Ryan Reilly: "Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison followed by three years probation by a federal judge in Washington on Wednesday for misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds. Jackson's wife, Sandra, was also sentenced Wednesday. She will serve one year in prison and was ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution, after pleading guilty to a related charge of filing false tax returns. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is not related to the Jacksons, allowed the couple to stagger their sentences so their children would have at least one parent at all times. Jackson Jr. will go to prison first, followed by Sandra. Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in February to using campaign funds to purchase an array of personal items, including Bruce Lee memorabilia, a $43,000 Rolex watch and a mink cashmere cape. Jackson, the son of the civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, made an emotional plea to the judge Wednesday, wiping his eyes and blowing his nose as he asked the judge for some leniency. He apologized to his constituents and his family." [HuffPost]

CLINTONS TO CAMPAIGN FOR MARK PRYOR - Look! In the sky! At that spotlight in the shape of Buddy's silhouette! New Democrats activate!Examiner: "Bill and Hillary Clinton plan to campaign and raise money for Sen. Mark Pryor’s re-election bid in Arkansas, a source with knowledge of discussions between the Clintons and Pryor’s campaign confirmed Wednesday. The plans are still fluid, but the Clintons will 'be involved and helpful whenever they (can) be,' the source said. Hillary Clinton’s level of involvement in particular will depend 'on her political schedule and when she decides to start dipping her toe in the political waters.' The role of the former governor and first lady of Arkansas will likely include both public events and private fundraising on Pryor’s behalf. A spokesperson for Bill Clinton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pryor, a Democrat, is facing a competitive challenge from Rep. Tom Cotton, a Republican, who in early surveys is running neck-and-neck with Pryor." [Examiner]

LINDSEY GRAHAM CALLED 'COMMUNITY ORGANIZER FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD' BY PRIMARY CHALLENGER - Is there a wheel somewhere that lazy conservatives spin to generate attack soundbites ("My opponent is nothing more than a *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* tax-and-spend *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* Hitler!)? Luke Johnson: "South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright (R), who will take on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the state's primary in 2014, called Graham a 'community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood' on Tuesday. In a conference call with supporters, Bright charged Graham with not paying enough attention to the people of South Carolina. 'During the [congressional] recess, when I would hope that he would be around folks in South Carolina, getting their feelings on so many issues that affect their lives, he has instead chosen to take his time to be a community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood, and that concerns me,' Bright said, according to The State. When asked for a response to the accusation, Graham's campaign sent out a statement highlighting the South Carolina senator's conservatism." [HuffPost]

Ron Johnson can play this game, too: "Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) coined a new term to describe the push for climate change action: 'environmental jihad.' In a fundraising email to supporters on Tuesday, Johnson hit back at the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), an environmental advocacy group, for a new ad campaign attacking the senator and other climate change deniers in Congress. 'The League of Conservation Voters is one of the many attack dog groups used by President Obama, the Democrats and the extreme left to weaken, defeat and silence conservatives,' Johnson wrote in the email." [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]

The NRSC wins the day: "In its first TV ad of the 2014 cycle, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has gone old school -- video game, that is -- in a spot hoping to convince Louisiana voters to oust Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The new commercial is an homage to the popular 1980s Nintendo game “Duck Hunt,” hitting the three-term senator over health care and the economy." [NBC News]

PAT MCCRORY'S APPROVAL RATING TANKS - Pro tip: Don't vigorously promote legislation that offends half the population. PPP: "PPP's monthly North Carolina poll finds Pat McCrory's approval rating dropping for the first time into the 30s. 39% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 51% who disapprove. Independents, who supported him overwhelmingly last year, have soured and now give him poor marks by a 41/49 margin. His once respectable crossover support from Democrats is now becoming close to nonexistent at 14% approval. And even with Republicans he's down to a 69/20 spread. McCrory's signing of a controversial abortion bill and the way he's handled it is responsible for a lot of his problems. Just 27% of voters think he kept his campaign promise not to enact any further restrictions on abortion, to 50% who think he broke it. And 57% think it was inappropriate for him to give protesters cookies instead of meeting with them with just 26% thinking that was an acceptable action. Even among Republican voters only 44% consider McCrory's cookie episode to have been acceptable." [PPP]

From Steve Stockman's press office, ladies and germs: "Stockman invites Missouri rodeo clown to perform in Texas: Liberals want to bronco bust dissent, create a state of fear" [Congressman Steve Stockman]

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KANSAS: REPUBLICANS IN RISARRAY - I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore (because my arts organization's funding has been restored and I can easily get a safe abortion). John Celock: "The civil war between moderate and conservative Republicans in Kansas continues as moderates get behind Democrat Paul Davis to challenge Gov. Sam Brownback (R) next year. Davis, the state House minority leader, already has picked up support from one moderate Republican in his uphill battle, and more moderates are considering backing him to defeat their longtime rival, Brownback. It is the latest battle in the civil war between the two GOP factions. Conservatives, led by Brownback, ousted many moderate Republicans from the state Senate in 2012, delivering control to conser...Davis kicked off his exploratory committee this month by tapping former state Rep. Bill Kassebaum (R-Burdick) as his campaign treasurer. Kassebaum, a moderate who backed Democrat Tom Holland over Brownback in 2010, said a variety of issues pushed him into Davis' camp. The main issue, he said, is Brownback's poor record on funding education in the state. Moderates also cited transportation and Brownback's tax cuts, along with what they see as Brownback wanting a Legislature that will rubber stamp his policies." [HuffPost]

American democracy: Alive and wel--just alive: "Thanks to the celebrity of Democratic front-runner Cory Booker, the race to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg has garnered national media attention. But national headlines did little to motivate voter turnout...With almost all of the precincts reporting late Tuesday, about 9% of the state's registered voters had cast a ballot. As New Jersey's US Senate primaries go, only the 2006 race had lower turnout, with 8%." [NJPR]

PENTAGON DEBUTS SAME-SEX COUPLE BENEFITS - Reuters: "The Pentagon on Wednesday announced its plan to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed military personnel and civilian employees, in response to the Supreme Court ruling in June forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in states where they are legal. The Defense Department will make spousal and family benefits available by September 3 to same-sex spouses as long as a valid marriage certificate is presented, the Pentagon said in a statement. 'The Department of Defense remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs,' it said...The Pentagon said benefits such as TRICARE medical coverage, basic housing allowances and family separation allowances will be extended retroactive to June 26...Same-sex military couples who are not stationed in one of the 13 states and Washington, D.C., which permit same-sex marriage, will have to travel to one of those jurisdictions to marry, the Pentagon said." [Reuters]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba at night. You may remember it from "Cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba" and "Cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba 2."

POLL: SPITZER UP IN NYC COMPTROLLER RACE - Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has a 19-point lead over Democratic primary rival Scott Stringer in the New York City comptroller's race, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University. Spitzer leads Stringer, Manhattan's borough president, by 56 percent to 37 percent among likely Democratic voters in the Sept. 10 primary. In recent weeks, Spitzer has been a frequent presence on the city's airwaves, releasing two new television ads that play up his populist credentials. He earlier ran two other ads. Stringer's campaign will go on air for the first time Thursday, with a commercial introducing himself to voters as a fighter for the middle class." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Seven sites you should be wasting time on right now. [http://huff.to/125ilh1]

- Behold the worst game of professional tennis ever played. [http://usat.ly/18sThlb]

- Twenty-three of the mythiest myths debunked by Mythbuster.s [http://bit.ly/1cLNyMd]

- If you want to get a tattoo -- and HuffPost Hill wants you to think long and hard about that -- definitely do not get it in comic sans. [http://bit.ly/1a2NSFj]

- Nihlist toothpaste has no color or flavoring. [http://bit.ly/1eIr9Mj]

- A comedy sketch about graphic designers in Brooklyn fighting homelessness with graphic design CAME TRUE. [http://bit.ly/1d7Dtru]

- Here be Paul Rudd talking about Prince. [http://vult.re/17nAEOj]

TWITTERAMA

@delrayser: Guess I'm just gonna have to go talk to cab drivers on my own now that I can't read any Tom Friedman columns.

@KagroX: Republicans are planning to raise a secret army of rodeo clowns answerable only to them.

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