POLITICS
11/11/2013 06:17 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Nation Solemnly Honors Vets With Listicle

Healthcare.gov's enrollment numbers suggest it ranks somewhere between The Rent Is Too Damn High Party's website and your first Geocities page in technological sophistication. Democrats are deeply divided on an Obamacare strategy -- they're unsure whether to "distance" or "separate" themselves from it. And Americans observed Veterans Day by hiring veterans and increasing funding for PTSD treatment services sharing videos of dogs greeting returning soldiers and Instagramming their grandfathers' army footlockers. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, November 11th, 2013:

OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT NUMBERS JUST PLAIN SUCK - "Less than 50,000 Americans were able to sign up for new Obamacare health insurance plans through the error-plagued HealthCare.gov website serving 36 states, falling far short of the federal government's target, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday…. The numbers fall far short of a federal target of nearly 500,000 sign-ups for HealthCare.gov." [Reuters]

Phil Klein: "The WSJ report comes on the heels of an analysis of state-level data from Avalere Health, which found that 49,100 had enrolled in 12 states with reporting enrollment numbers. These numbers suggest that around 100,000 Americans have enrolled nationwide since the exchanges launched on Oct. 1, although the exact number may vary as some states define "enrollment" differently and it isn't clear exactly how it is being defined in the WSJ report." [Examiner]

SEQUESTER SEQUEL WORSE THAN THE ORIGINAL - Andrew Taylor: "The first year of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts didn't live up to the dire predictions from the Obama administration and others who warned of sweeping furloughs and big disruptions of government services. The second round just might. Several federal agencies found lots of loose change that helped them through the automatic cuts in the 2013 budget year that ended Sept. 30, allowing them to minimize furloughs and maintain many services. Most of that money, however, has been spent." [Associated Press]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST WANTS OBAMA TO PUT DOWN 'TEAM OF RIVALS' - HuffPost HIll's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, tired of lobbying members to put a bust of Lee Atwater in Statuary Hall, took a moment to contemplate the president's keen interest in history. "If I were a reporter," PSLGOPL writes, "I would write a story about Michael Beschloss, Doris Kearns Goodwin and (formerly) Bob Woodward, the only three sources President Obama cares about." Asked what he thinks President Obama should title his memoirs, PSLGOPL replied, "'I'm really good at killing people'?" Thanks, PSLGOPL!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A food stamp cut that took effect this month will negate cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security benefits for some retirees and disabled Americans. The Social Security Administration announced in October that starting next year, all 57 million Social Security beneficiaries will get a 1.5 percent boost in their benefits to protect them from rising prices. For some households that receive both Social Security and food stamp benefits, the Social Security boost will be smaller than a food stamp cut that took effect last week. Cheryl Kathman of Norwood, Ohio, for instance, gets almost $1,000 per month in Social Security benefits and had been receiving $228 in food stamps for herself and her son. The Social Security check will soon increase by about $15, but the food stamps have already gone down by $20. "They wanna keep the poor poor," Kathman, 57, told HuffPost. "Twenty bucks a month might not seem like much, but that makes a big difference when you go to the store." [HuffPost]

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DEMS DIVIDED ON HEALTH CARE 'IF YOU LIKE IT YOU CAN KEEP IT' BILL - Roll Call: "President Barack Obama’s 'if you like it, you can keep it' promise has House Democrats facing a dilemma as they look ahead to a vote on Republican legislation to preserve existing health plans. 'There will be defections,' a House Democratic leadership aide predicted.The bill, sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., would give insurance companies the option of continuing all existing health plans for a year. It’s considerably weaker than a proposal by Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., that would require insurance companies to continue offering existing plans, but the political power of the legislation may be no less potent: Are you in favor of keeping the president’s promise or not? The problem for the White House, and House Democrats, is this: Keeping those old plans undermines the new insurance exchanges and reforms at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. They’d much rather have people enter the new exchanges and see them take advantage of the options for comprehensive benefits with the law’s other attributes — such as no more penalties for pre-existing conditions and no more gender discrimination — intact. That has presented two additional problems: The website woes have made signing up difficult for many, and others, particularly those making too much money to qualify for subsidies, are seeing higher premiums than they had under their old plans." [Roll Call]

CHRISTIE PAID FOR STRATEGISTS HE CRITICIZED - Maybe he just had the advisers on retainer to scream at whenever he so pleased? Yahoo News: "Chris Christie criticized strategists for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign on Sunday, saying no one should 'give a darn' about their political advice, but the New Jersey Republican governor isn’t nearly as dismissive of their input as he lets on. During his re-election campaign this year, Christie hired a political consultancy firm run by Romney’s former top strategists and paid more than $46,000 for their services. According to his campaign financial reports, Christie paid $46,007.29 (plus $251 for 'transportation/parking') to the Stevens & Schriefer Group, which is run by Romney’s former senior strategists Stuart Stevens and Russell Schriefer. While Stevens did not work on Christie’s campaign, Schriefer and Ashley O'Connor, another partner in the firm who worked with Romney, were paid to advise Christie on advertising." [Yahoo News]

Sarah Palin sure doesn't think that big fella ringing his bells is presidential material: "[T]he 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate stops short of embracing Christie as a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, saying 'I would never put my faith and hope in any one politician.' Palin tells NBC's "Today" show she believes 'there is no Ronald Reagan on the scene today.'" [AP]

IMMIGRANTS RISING RANKS IN ORGANIZED LABOR - Dave Jamieson: "The last time Tefere Gebre was employed at the AFL-CIO headquarters in D.C., in the mid 1990s, he worked out of a scrappy basement office without windows, organizing for the union federation's college-and-youth arm... But a few weeks ago, the 45-year-old Gebre returned to Washington to occupy an executive office on the headquarters' eighth floor, with views of downtown. The Ethiopian immigrant is now the labor federation's vice president, serving alongside President Richard Trumka, as the first immigrant elected as an officer in the federation's history. To many at the AFL-CIO, Gebre is more than just a rising star in the labor world. His arrival, they suggest, represents a generational and philosophical change at the federation -- one that values new progressive partnerships and non-traditional organizing, and one that its leaders hope will rejuvenate a labor movement that's been contracting for years...Immigrant workers now represent some of the likeliest recruits for organized labor. At a time when union membership has slipped to 6.6 percent of the private sector, labor's ranks have grown in California, in large part because of the changing demographics there. Meanwhile, activists see hope in non-union partnerships that have been sprouting up with domestic workers, taxicab drivers and other workers who face hurdles in organizing." [HuffPost]

Mitt Romney is trying to bring the 2024 Olympics to Boston, because Boston wants to be in sport: "An elite group including some of the area’s most powerful business leaders, developers, and construction experts is quietly exploring the prospect of bringing the 2024 Summer Olympic Games to Boston. Though in its earliest stages, the volunteer effort, led by John F. Fish, chairman of Suffolk Construction, hosted a delegation of the United States Olympic Committee, which visited for two days in October. The delegation met with group members and viewed potential Olympic sites around Boston. The group also has recruited former governor Mitt Romney, who ran the 2002 Salt Lake City winter Games, as a key adviser." [Boston Globe]

SCOTT WALKER: GOD WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR A PRANK CALL - And then He said unto the Israelites, "Lo, Is Thy refrigerator running." And it was good. Amanda Terkel: "One of the most famous episodes of the 2011 labor battles in Wisconsin was when Gov. Scott Walker (R) took what he thought was a phone call from conservative billionaire David Koch. He later found out that it was actually a prank call from a journalist. In his new book 'Unintimidated,' Walker says the incident showed him that God was speaking to him...Walker also writes that he regrets coming off as "pompous and full of myself" on the call, during which he bragged about his television appearances and the "phenomenal" national response he had been getting. He adds that after the press conference, he heard God's message for him: 'In my office is a devotional book on leadership by John Maxwell that I read for its daily message. The day we learned the call had been a prank, we had been so busy that I never had a chance to pick it up. After my press conference, when I had a moment to catch my breath, I opened up the book. The title for that day was: 'The power of humility, the burden of pride.' I looked up and said, 'I hear you, Lord.'" [HuffPost]

VETERAN SUPPORT IMPROVING - America is getting less awful at supporting its citizens who bravely execute our leaders' failed nation-building experiments. Dave Wood: "After decades of often frustrating reliance on the massive Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are increasingly turning homeward. Innovative new programs are springing up at the local community level to offer veterans a slew of resources -- mental health, education, jobs. More important, many of these initiatives offer opportunities for what veterans say is the best post-combat therapy there is: plunging back into service work...A critical piece of such volunteer service projects is drawing civilians into close collaboration with veterans, helping heal the civilian-military divide that has widened during the post-9/11 war years when less than 1 percent of Americans signed up for military service...Some big-government approaches are still needed, of course. The VA's GI Bill program, for instance, has paid more than $30 billion in tuition and other educational benefits to 1 million veterans and family members, and their schools, since 2009. Since its inception in 2007, the veteran and military crisis line, 1-800-273-8255, has rescued 30,000 veterans poised to take their own lives -- the equivalent of two Army combat divisions." [ target="_hplink">HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some puppies fighting with doorstops.

INHOFE'S SON KILLED IN PLANE CRASH - The Hill: "Perry Inhofe, one of Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) sons, has died in a plane crash, according to an Oklahoma City TV station. Perry Inhofe, 52, was on board a plane that crashed Sunday near Owasso, Okla., a source close to the senator told KOCO. Highway patrol officers confirmed Sunday that one person died in the crash. Calls and emails to Inhofe’s Washington congressional office were not immediately returned when this story was posted. According to KOCO report, the plane crashed around 4 p.m. on Sunday a few miles north of Tulsa International Airport. Just 15 minutes earlier, the plane’s pilot issued an alert requesting immediate help, KOCO reports. The Tulsa World newspaper reported Perry Inhofe had been associated with a company that purchased the plane that crashed. Records show the sale was linked to Perry Inhofe’s home and work addresses. Perry Inhofe was a licensed pilot and flight instructor, FAA records show, according to that report." [The Hil]

COMFORT FOOD

- These bros know how to drink beer like Angela Lansbury knows how to solve homicides in Maine. [http://huff.to/1fwRK1h]

- Sayings attributed to workout coaches placed over stock images of drunk people. [http://bit.ly/18aNNtO]

- The last-ever rental at a Blockbuster: "This Is The End." [http://bit.ly/1gDAcn3]

- Lady Gaga wore a flying dress to a party because Lady Gaga. [http://huff.to/19dzJiR]

- A photo series depicts arcane state laws, like not riding a bicycle in a California pool. [http://bit.ly/16WuUxC]

- How to override your hotel room's thermostat. Freedom means not having to exist in a room between 68 and 72 degrees. [http://read.bi/1ajVTng]

- The LeBron James of dominoes. [http://bit.ly/1bnO0yi]

TWITTERAMA

@LOLGOP: Today we honor Bill O'Reilly, the oldest living veteran of the War on Christmas.

@ElaheIzadi: This sunset's so good I could write more than 1,000 words on it.

@AskDrRuth: As a former sniper in Israeli underground army, I salute all veterans today.

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