President Obama's approvals have hit a new low -- friends and family are organizing an intervention in hopes his approvals will turn its life around. Libertarian Republican Trey Radel is used to bucking the party line, but lines at parties are an altogether different story. And President Obama antagonized some pundits by not visiting Gettysburg on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's famous address. To make matters worse, he snubbed the 1552nd anniversary of Libius Severus' coronation as emperor of the Western Roman Empire. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, November 19th, 2013:
OBAMA: GEEKSQUAD'S ON THE CASE - Sam Stein: "President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the embattled federal health care reform website was still on track to work for a 'majority' of users by the end of November, while acknowledging that the site's problems should have been avoided entirely. 'We're getting it fixed, but it would've been better to do it on the front end,' Obama said in a discussion at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council…. The president stuck with the theme through his entire interview, however, making light of the idea that he was a socialist -- 'You gotta meet real socialists. You'll have a real sense of what a socialist is' -- insisting that the differences between the two parties was dramatically overstated, and arguing that he could have the health care site fixed sooner if Republicans would be more constructive." [HuffPost]
SOCIALISM FLASHBACK: "The notion that Barack Obama is a socialist ranks among the greatest fairy tales in American society -- right up there with the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the idea that if you work hard enough your children will live a better life than you," Socialist Party spokeswoman Lynn Lomibao told HuffPost last year.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS HELPING TREY RADEL PARTY - It's only fall, yet snow has come early to D.C. Politico: "Rep. Trey Radel, a freshman Republican from Florida, was arrested on Oct. 29 for possession of cocaine in the District of Columbia, according to D.C. Superior Court documents. Radel, 37, was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. The Florida Republican is a former journalist, TV anchor and radio talk-show host. He never held elective office before winning his House seat last November." [http://politi.co/1bZjysL]
Radel statement: "I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida. I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them...However, this unfortunate event does have a positive side. It offers me an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling. I know I have a problem and will do whatever is necessary to overcome it, hopefully setting an example for others struggling with this disease."
@jamiedupree: Rep Radel has missed every vote held in the House so far this week
@BenjySarlin: Luckily for Trey Radel, his insurer must offer substance abuse treatment under Obamacare http://1.usa.gov/1dULU8R
FOOD STAMPS CRUSH DREAMS - A tidbit from Lori Montgomery's Paul Ryan profile: "In Southeast Washington, Ryan met Bishop Shirley Holloway, who gave up a comfortable career in the U.S. Postal Service to minister to drug addicts, ex-offenders, the homeless — people for whom government benefits can serve only to hasten their downfall, Holloway said. At City of Hope, they are given an apartment and taught life skills and encouraged to confront their psychological wounds. They can stay as long as they’re sober and working, often in a job Holloway has somehow created. 'Paul wants people to dream again,' Holloway said of Ryan. 'You don’t dream when you’ve got food stamps.'" [WashPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - More older Americans will miss meals and other services as federal spending fails to keep pace with rising need, according to a report released Tuesday. In a survey of its local affiliates in nine states, nearly three-quarters of respondents told the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, a nonprofit that advocates for senior services, that they would be reducing senior nutrition programs as a result of an ongoing budget squeeze. More than half said they had reduced staffing levels or hours in response to recent cuts. Part of the problem is the budget cuts known as sequestration, and part of the problem is that funding through the Older Americans Act has been flat at about $2 billion for years, while the elderly population has continued to grow. From 2010 to 2015, the government expects the number of Americans at least 60 years of age to rise 15 percent to 65.7 million. "Even before sequestration, stagnant federal investment prevented programs from growing along with the aging population," the report says. [HuffPost]
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SUPPORT FOR NUCLEAR OPTION GROWS IN SENATE - Jen Bendery: "Senate Democrats who were previously opposed to changing filibuster rules via the "nuclear option" are so fed up with GOP obstruction of the president's nominees that they now say they want to go nuclear. 'I am very open to changing the rules for nominees,' Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told The Huffington Post. 'I was not before, because I felt we could work with them. But it's gotten to an extreme situation where really qualified people can't get an up-or-down vote.' 'I do now,' Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters when asked if she supports filibuster reform. She said she changed her mind on the issue after watching as a bipartisan deal to let President Barack Obama's nominees get votes, struck over the summer, went nowhere...Senate Democratic leaders still haven't said what they plan to do next. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) continues to keep his cards close, saying something needs to change, but stopping short of offering a concrete proposal. One plan under consideration would strip Republicans of their power to filibuster executive and judicial nominees, but not Supreme Court nominees. But Democratic aides emphasized that nothing is settled yet." [HuffPost]
REID BACKS GILLIBRAND'S MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT MEASURE - Gillibrand's bill would strip the armed forces of the ability to prosecute major crimes like sexual assaults, handing that authority to an independent arbitrator. Conservatives will assume this means the United Nations. Roll Call: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Tuesday he will support legislation from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to remove prosecutions of serious crimes, including sexual assault, from the military chain of command. Within the past few weeks, Reid met with both Gillibrand and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who has been advocating changes pushed by the Armed Services Committee. Reid also met with various outside groups lobbying on the issue. The majority leader decided late last week to break from the position of Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin and military top brass to support the Gillibrand bill...Gillibrand said earlier Tuesday that she had the support of more than half of the Senate for her measure, which will need to clear a 60-vote threshold in order to be adopted." [Roll Call]
From New York Mag: How the Media Would Have Covered the Gettysburg Address
WENDY SPEAKS - We stand with Wendy. Erik Wemple: "Wendy Gordon still feels a need to set the record straight. 'I’m not a lush, I don’t have sexually transmitted diseases, I’m not a cougar,' she says, noting that she also doesn’t plaster her images all over the Internet. Any close watcher of Beltway media affairs knows why Gordon wants to make such odd proclamations. She was the personality behind 'Wendy Wednesdays,' a formerly weekly feature on the FishbowlDC media site. The posts commonly grabbed a picture of Gordon off the web and surrounded it with disparaging commentary that wouldn’t get past most tabloid editors. They attacked her alleged sexual habits, her alleged drinking habits and her fashion choices, all with an overlay of misanthropy." [WashPost]
HUFFPOST HAIRCUTS: Eliot Nelson, Ryan J. Reilly, Shadee Ashtari (H/T Eliot Nelson, Ryan J. Reilly, Shadee Ashtari. HuffPost Hill readers: Has some random person in the Washington area gotten a haircut recently? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OBAMA APPROVAL HITS NEW LOW - Somewhere, in the bowels of the White House, a bunch of strategists will spend hours pouring through polling cross-tabs and writing -- and then rewriting -- ideas on a whiteboard until, in a eureka moment, one will lift his head from the pile of empty Diet Cokes, crumpled up Cosi napkins and legal pads and cry, "We should pivot to the economy!" WaPo: "Opposition to the new health-care law also hit a record high in the survey, with 57 percent saying they oppose the president’s most significant domestic initiative. Forty-six percent say they are strongly against it. Just a month ago, as the enrollment period was beginning, the public was almost evenly divided in its assessments of the law. Disapproval of Obama’s handling of the health-care law’s rollout stands at 63 percent, with a majority saying they strongly disapprove. Last month, 53 percent disapproved...His overall approval rating has fallen to 42 percent, having dropped six percentage points in a month, and equals his record low in Post-ABC polls. His disapproval rating stands at 55 percent, which is the worst of his presidency. Forty-four percent say they strongly disapprove of the way he is handling his job, also the worst of his presidency." [WaPo]
Ron Fournier, the poor man's Frank Bruni, thinks President Obama not going to Gettysburg is a travesty.
Huge development in today's 2012 tracking poll: ". Today 45 percent of Americans call Obama “too liberal,” matching the high, and 46 percent say the same about the Democratic Party. And perhaps adding insult to injury, registered voters divide numerically in Mitt Romney’s favor, 49-45 percent, if they had a mulligan for the 2012 presidential election. While the difference between the two is within the poll’s error margin, Obama’s support is 6 points below his actual showing a year ago." [ABC News]
George W. Bush is painting cats now
AN ARMY OF ONES - Can someone tack on a communications amendment to Kirsten Gillibrand bill to strip the army of prosecuting sexual assaults? Politico: "The Army should use photos of 'average-looking women' when it needs to illustrate stories about female soldiers, a specialist recommends — images of women who are too pretty undermine the communications strategy about introducing them into combat roles. That’s the gist of an internal Army email an Army source shared with POLITICO. “In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead,” wrote Col. Lynette Arnhart, who is leading a team of analysts studying how best to integrate women into combat roles that have previously been closed off to them. She sent her message to give guidance to Army spokesmen and spokeswomen about how they should tell the press and public about the Army’s integration of women...Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) tweeted that it was 'another example that @USArmy just doesn’t get it as it debates if pretty girls should be used in pamphlets.' One Army source said, 'It scares me to think that these are people involved in gender integration.'" [Politico]
Terrible person practices law, film at 11: "Former Democratic senator and 2004 vice-presidential nominee John Edwards announced Tuesday that he had formed a new law firm with a former partner, David Kirby, and his daughter Cate. The firm, Edwards Kirby, will focus on public interest cases involving 'social, economic and individual injustices" and have offices in Raleigh, N.C., and Washington.'" [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]
CREIGH DEEDS STABBED, SON DEAD FROM GUNSHOT - Times Dispatch: "Sen. Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times early today at his Bath County home and his son, Gus, is dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Gus Deeds had been released Monday following a mental health evaluation performed under an emergency custody order, an official said. At a news conference in Charlottesville, a Virginia State Police spokeswoman said Deeds was stabbed numerous times in the head and torso but was alert and had given statements to authorities. She said Deeds, who was being treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center, had been seriously wounded. Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge County Community Services Board, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the emergency custody order, or ECO, allowed Gus Deeds to be held as long as four hours to determine whether he should be held longer, up to 72 hours, under a temporary detention order. The son was evaluated Monday at Bath County hospital, Cropper said, but was released because no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia...Deeds was stabbed numerous times before walking down a private drive and out to state Route 42, where he was picked up by a cousin who lives nearby, King told The Roanoke Times. Deeds was flown to the hospital from the cousin’s farm, King added." [Times Dispatch]
ALBUQUERQUE ABORTION VOTE COULD AFFECT ENTIRE NATION - Laura Bassett: "Albuquerque residents are voting Tuesday on a ballot measure that would ban abortions in the city 20 weeks after fertilization based on the disputed idea that fetuses feel pain at that point. The ban makes an exception for situations in which the mother would die without the abortion, but has no exceptions for fetal anomalies discovered late in the pregnancy, for situations in which the mother's health is severely affected by the pregnancy, or for victims of rape or incest. While the measure is only a municipal ban, not a statewide ban, it would affect women far outside of Albuquerque. The only two providers of abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in New Mexico are located in Albuquerque, and one of those clinics -- Southwestern Women's Options -- is one of only four clinics in the nation that provides abortions after 26 weeks. Neighboring Texas enacted a 20-week ban on abortions earlier this year, so most women across Texas and New Mexico have to drive to Albuquerque for an abortion if a difficult situation arises late into her pregnancy." [HuffPost]
TODAY IN WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FOOTBALL NEWS- Dan Steinberg: "The Redskins team name has been discussed on the House floor several times by Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American Samoa’s non-voting delegate. And several outspoken members of Congress have talked about the issue in several different venues. But a new advocate took to the mic on the House floor Tuesday morning: Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY).... 'Mr. Speaker, George Washington himself respected the Native Americans of this country and their culture,' Maffei said. 'Shouldn’t the NFL team that bears his name do the same?'" [DC Sports Bog]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a polite dog.
HAWAII LAWMAKER HAS A SLIGHT CASE OF THE PATRICK BATEMANS - Do you ever find yourself perambulating about your neighborhood when you spot a homeless person pushing a shopping cart full of aluminum cans. Don't you just want to destroy that sonofabitch? ThinkProgress: "Much like Batkid, Hawaii has found its own superhero. Except that instead of protecting the powerless from harm, he roams the streets with a sledgehammer and looks for homeless people in order to literally smash their possessions. Remarkably, this vigilante isn’t just some random Hawaiian, but five-term State Rep. Tom Brower (D). Noting that he’s 'disgusted' with homeless people, Brower told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his own personal brand of 'justice': 'If I see shopping carts that I can’t identify, I will destroy them so they can’t be pushed on the streets.' Brower has waged this campaign for two weeks, estimating that he’s smashed about 30 shopping carts in the process. 'I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,' he explained to Hawaii News Now as he showed off his property destruction skills while sporting an Armani Exchange hat." [ThinkProgress]
- "Bad Engagement Photos" is further proof that love is a bourgeois invention. [http://bit.ly/pPaYZf]
- Robert De Niro's audition tape for the part of Sonny in "The Godfather." [http://huff.to/1b4emak]
- What rock stars would look like if they were alive today. [http://bit.ly/1db1DUY]
- Thanks to pinot noir in a can, you can pair your bro-ing out with a nice gouda. [http://bit.ly/1fc5G3s]
- The world's first cat selfie. The internet knows what it's doing. [http://bit.ly/1fSvr6d]
- "Blade Runner" represented as 12,000 water color paintings. [http://bit.ly/1aNr0o2]
- First-person view of an archery target. [http://bit.ly/I1vRvx]
@NickBaumann: Trey Radel wants to shrink government down to the size where he can drown it in a dime bag.
@kristoncapps: Dear editor, With the holidays right around the corne—DELETE
@LizMair: Seriously. Ask Bill de Blasio. RT @CarrieNBCNews: "People call me a socialist sometimes. Uh, you've got to meet real socialists." -Obama
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Also on HuffPost:
Then-Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) was a proponent of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have banned states from recognizing same-sex marriage. "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded," he argued on the Senate floor in 2004. He also called on President Bill Clinton to resign over the Monica Lewinsky scandal, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/16/ensign-whacked-clinton-fo_n_216508.html">saying it had destroyed the president's credibility</a>. Yet in 2009, Ensign admitted that he had had an extramarital affair with a former campaign staffer who was also the wife of one of his top aides. An ethics investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee and the FBI followed, and<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/21/john-ensign-resigns-reports_n_852285.html"> Ensign resigned</a> in 2011.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has a long and rich history of hypocrisy, including receiving a reported $1.6 million in consulting fees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before blaming the mortgage giants for the country's housing crisis and <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/newt-gingrich-endorses-obamacare-individual-mandate-audio-2012-1">endorsing President Barack Obama's health care plan</a> before the 2012 presidential primary campaign, during which he hammered Mitt Romney's Massachusetts plan for being similar to Obamacare. But his crowning hypocrisy was probably leading impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton in the 1990s over the Monica Lewinsky scandal while Gingrich himself was having an extramarital affair. His ex-wife Marianne recently claimed that while they were married, Newt <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/open-marriage-newt-gingrich-marianne-affair-_n_1217944.html">requested an "open marriage" </a>so that he could continue the affair with his now-wife, Callista.
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) stepped down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/02/charles-rangel-censured-censure_n_791289.html">he was congressionally censured</a> for failing to pay income taxes and filing misleading financial statements, among other misdeeds. But that didn't stop him from hammering Mitt Romney for his lack of transparency on tax returns. "Before he judges other people about paying federal income taxes, Governor Romney should come clean about the tax returns he's hiding from voters," Rangel said.
The failed vice presidential candidate has been an outspoken opponent of earmark spending, but that didn't stop Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) from <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/27/paul-ryan-emails-stimulus_n_2027975.html">arranging a $735,000 earmark</a> to construct a transit center in his hometown of Janesville, Wis. Likewise, after slamming President Barack Obama's stimulus package, Ryan sought stimulus funds for several projects in his district.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was the original sponsor of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but her war against "socialized medicine" hasn't stopped husband Marcus from <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-bachmann-20110626,0,7400031,print.story">applying for public funds</a> for his "pray away the gay" counseling practice. Bachmann, an outspoken opponent of big government, has also <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-bachmann-20110626,0,7400031,print.story">personally benefited from federal farm subsidies</a>. She recently described the Internal Revenue Service, which earlier in her career employed her to sue people in tax collection cases, as <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/07/11/264991/bachmann-tax-collector-irs/">"the most heartless organization anyone knows of." </a>
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has loudly congratulated himself for the GOP House jobs package -- even though economists say the package's 32 bills <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/republican-jobs-bills_n_1687647.html">will do little to create jobs</a> -- while working hard to block President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan. A longtime critic of wasteful government spending, Boehner (along with other House Republican leaders) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/doma-house-republicans_n_1971666.html">spent $1.5 million</a> defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
He won an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth" and <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21262661/ns/us_news-environment/t/gore-un-climate-panel-win-nobel-peace-prize/#.UKqNy2mMF9Q">a Nobel Peace Prize</a> for his work on climate change, but Al Gore's own carbon footprint was once an inconvenient issue. His 20-room Nashville mansion and pool house in 2006 <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/GlobalWarming/story?id=2906888&page=1#.UKqO42mMF9Q">racked up $30,000 in utility bills</a>, consuming more than 20 times the national home average, according to a report by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. A Gore spokesperson <a href="http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/despite-home-upgrades-gore-still-%E2%80%98hypocrite%E2%80%99-energy-usage-group-says">disputed the conservative think tank's report</a> and said that renovations on the home cut its electricity and natural gas consumption about 40 percent by the next year.
Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), a famed segregationist, spent many of his 48 years in the U.S. Senate fighting racial integration and equality, punctuated by his 24-hour filibuster in a failed attempt to kill the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Six months after Thurmond's death in 2003, a biracial woman named Essie Mae Washington-Williams revealed that the late senator was her father. Her mother was 16 and working for Thurmond’s parents when she became pregnant.
From his opposition to President Barack Obama's health care reform, which was patterned after his own plan in Massachusetts, to his politically expedient shifts in positions on immigration, climate change and abortion, Mitt Romney has a record of hypocrisy too expansive and well documented for any Etch A Sketch to erase.
During his time in office, former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) introduced a bill against child pornography, fought to expand federal sex offender laws, supported anti-gay legislation and chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. Then he was caught sending graphic sex messages to underage males working as congressional pages. He quickly resigned in 2006.
When Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) admitted his involvement in the "D.C. Madam" scandal in 2007, it didn’t end his career or lead to any criminal charges. It also didn't end his attempts to narrow prosecutorial discretion for others in vulnerable positions. At a hearing last year on the HALT Act, which would have suspended discretionary immigration protections, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) <a href="http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/07/sen_david_vitter_called_hypocr.html">accused Vitter</a> of "hypocrisy to seek to limit the use of discretion when one has enjoyed the benefit himself." Vitter has also advocated for abstinence-only sex education and in 2004 ran on a "family values" platform that included opposition to same-sex marriage.
Sarah Palin has been an outspoken opponent of President Barack Obama's health care plan, but a more socialized system wasn't always so problematic for her. In 2010, she admitted to having taken <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/08/palin-crossed-border-for_n_490080.html"> trips across the Canadian border</a> to receive single-payer health care long before she brought "death panels" into the war against the Affordable Care Act.
Former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) is best known for his 2007 airport bathroom trip that ended in a same-sex-sting arrest for lewd conduct after he allegedly solicited sex from an undercover officer. Craig blamed his wandering foot on his "wide stance" but soon announced his resignation, then decided to serve out the rest of his term. While in office, he had supported the anti-gay marriage Federal Marriage Amendment and voted against a measure to include anti-gay bias in hate crimes legislation. He received a rating of zero from the Human Rights Campaign for his votes on LGBT issues. <em><strong>CORRECTION</strong>: A previous version of this slide implied that Craig followed through on his threat to resign.</em>
While serving as the Democratic governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer was brought down by a federal wiretap that revealed he patronized a $1,000-an-hour prostitute named Ashley Dupre at a Washington, D.C., hotel. Further investigation uncovered the prostitution ring Emperors Club VIP, and numerous money transfers to the club were traced back to Client 9 -- the governor. As New York state attorney general, Spitzer <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2008/03/report_governor_spitzer_involv.html">prosecuted at least two prostitution rings</a>, and as governor he forced state comptroller Alan Hevesi out of office for the comparatively minor offense of using a state car and chauffeur for his sick wife.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) just won a second term despite <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/scott-desjarlais-approved_n_2140171.html">recent revelations</a> that he had sex with a patient while working as a physician and later urged her to get an abortion. Yet DesJarlais' campaign platform opposed abortion. "All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life," his website stated. There’s more. According to transcripts from his 2001 divorce proceedings, released after the election, the congressman and his then-wife made a "mutual" decision for her to have two abortions while they were married.