POLITICS
01/10/2014 04:46 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Chris Christie's Fleece Conspicuously Absent: What Did It Know?

Utah's conservative establishment is upset that Washington will recognize its 1,300 gay marriages, because if there's one thing Utah's conservatives never do, it's meddle in another state's LGBT politics. Eric Cantor doesn't want to focus on unemployment because it's a bummer -- though his proposal to send Upworthy links to the jobless doesn't seem like a suitable alternative. And a new poll is so devastating for Chris Christie that he might finally know what it feels like to be all those people he publicly berates. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, January 10th, 2014:

President Darrell Issa could investigate the West Wing so easily: "House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is headed to New Hampshire, the destination for top presidential contenders and long shots alike leading up to 2016′s presidential season. Issa will speak at the Lincoln Day Dinner for the Concord Republican City and Merrimack County committees on February 7, U-T San Diego reported." [Daily Caller]

EARL BLUMENAUER IS SUCH A HIPSTER - How he has enough time off from making fruitcakes to even watch a TV show, we don't know. Lucia Graves: "Rep. Earl Blumenauer has never dabbled in satirical television, but if he did, his show would be Portlandia. At a blogger roundtable on Capitol Hill, he confided to National Journal that the show has rapidly grown on him. 'I watched the first three episodes before I realized it was a comedy and not a documentary,' he said in an aside. 'I mean, these are my people.'" [National Journal]

HOUSE GOP WOULD LIKE TO FOCUS ON SOMETHING MORE POSITIVE THAN UNEMPLOYMENT - Even if the U.S. Senate were able to pass a bill renewing long-term unemployment insurance, it would face uncertain prospects in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) underscored that Friday when he said Republicans would rather focus onemployment than unemployment. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a member of Democratic leadership in the House, had pleaded with Cantor for a reauthorization of long-term unemployment insurance, which expired in December for more than a million Americans. "We have been trying to focus this Congress on getting back to a more optimistic view of what the economy can do," Cantor said in response. "It is about jobs. It is about growth. Our focus is about wanting people to get a job. It's on employment, not unemployment." [HuffPost]

NOT EVEN HOUSE DEMS LIKE WHAT HARRY REID'S DOING ON UNEMPLOYMENT - Sam Stein: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is putting together a bill to extend unemployment insurance, but the measure is already facing skepticism from Senate Republicans and stern opposition from Republicans in the House. Now, it appears, House Democrats aren’t entirely on board. From leadership on down, House Democratic lawmakers said Friday that they had reservations with the policies being proposed by Reid and Senate Democrats to cover the cost of the 11-month unemployment insurance extension. When asked if he was supportive of provisions in the Senate Democratic offer that would use cuts elsewhere to offset cost, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said no. In particular, the Hoyer said he was disturbed that the party would extend sequestration cuts to mandatory spending as a means of finding savings. 'I’m not happy with the sequester at all, as you know,' Hoyer said. 'I’m a big opponent of the sequester. I think the sequester is a mindless way to get to fiscal discipline… The premise that the sequester is a policy on which we ought to fund things I think is not a good one, whether it is 2024 or 2014.'" [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Without the federal unemployment benefits, workers are eligible for only 26 weeks or fewer of state benefits. The Labor Department reported Friday that in December, the average unemployed person had been out of work for more than 37 weeks. Mary Murphy of St. Charles, Mo. said she's been out of work since losing her medical billing job in a mass layoff last April. She said her husband is still working and her kids are grown, but she's still got bills to pay and the job search has been difficult. "I have looked for everything," said Murphy, 56. "I have looked in the medical field. I have applied at restaurants. I have applied at funeral homes. Reception jobs." She said she resented that some members of Congress think the benefits are a disincentive to work, but even more that lawmakers haven't worked urgently to address the issue. "They knew it was coming and I think they should've have worked on it before they went home for the holidays," she said. You'd think. [HuffPost]

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BRUTAL NEW POLL FOR CHRIS CHRISTIE - Brutal. Really brutal. Like, he should go sit on a stool, have Mickey tell him to hold his punches more, spit in a bucket and have someone cut open his wounds brutal. Rasmussen: "Most New Jersey voters think it’s likely Governor Chris Christie was aware of the Fort Lee traffic lane closures before they happened and should resign if this is proven...A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 54% of Likely New Jersey Voters believe it’s at least somewhat likely that Christie was aware that traffic lanes onto the George Washington Bridge were being closed as retaliation for the mayor of Fort Lee’s refusal to support the governor’s reelection. Thirty-six percent (36%) think it’s unlikely Christie was aware beforehand. This includes 30% who say it’s Very Likely he was aware and 17% who say it’s Not At All Likely...Fifty-six percent (56%) of New Jersey voters believe Christie should resign if it is proven that he approved of retaliation against an elected official who refused to support him. Just 29% disagree, while 15% are not sure. Not surprisingly, 75% of Democrats think it’s likely Christie, a Republican, was aware of the Fort Lee retaliation beforehand, but just 34% of GOP voters and 46% of unaffiliated voters agree." [Rasmussen]

DARRELL ISSA IS NOT BEING VERY HELPFUL - Jen Bendery: "House Republicans are kicking off the year with more votes on Obamacare bills, this time pushing a measure they say will help protect people from security breaches of HealthCare.gov. But there is some irony in their latest whack at the Affordable Care Act.The GOP bill set for a Friday vote would require the Health and Human Services secretary to tell people if their private data was compromised in a security breach, but, as laid out in a Democratic committee memo issued Thursday, HHS is already required to do that, and there haven't been any successful breaches thus far anyway. Not only does the bill target a nonexistent problem, but the most credible threat to the website's security may be the loudest critic of the website's security: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. HealthCare.gov could clearly be compromised if, say, sensitive documents were leaked to the public that included software code or other technical information that provided hackers with a road map for vulnerabilities in the site. Such documents currently reside with Issa, who obtained them last month -- unredacted -- after subpoenaing them from MITRE Corporation, the federal contractor overseeing security of the website." [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE TIRED OF IRAN HAWKS NOT OWNING UP TO IT - The president wants Bob Menendez to either show up at the Security Council with a vial of anthrax... or get off the pot. Grim: "The White House on Thursday challenged a group of senators to admit they are working to push the country toward war with Iran, upping the tension between the administration and Senate advocates of tough new sanctions amid nuclear negotiations. 'If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so,' Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement. 'Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.' The 'certain members' the White House is referring to are led by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who is pushing legislation, backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that would tighten sanctions on the Iranian regime despite the ongoing negotiations. Advocates of a peace deal with Iran warn that toughening sanctions now strengthens the hand of hard-liners in Iran who can argue the U.S. is not negotiating in good faith." [HuffPost]

RNC POLLING ON 2016 CANDIDATES - Herman Cain is among the politicians included in the Republican National Committee's polling, meaning he has surely found a way to un-harass all those people? Sabrina Siddiqui: "The Republican National Committee has begun polling potential nominees for president in 2016, telling its supporters, 'The battle for the White House has already begun.' The group sent an email Friday to a select number of its subscribers and asked them to pick their top three choices among a vast array of possible 2016 presidential candidates. While the field of 32 Republican lawmakers mostly included the usual suspects, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), it also presents a few unusual options, such as former Florida Rep. Allen West. A handful of previous GOP presidential candidates also made the cut: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain. After people take the survey, an email from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus asks for donations in order to 'secure Republican victories" and help build the group's ground game.'" [HuffPost]

But there are so many un-shoo'ed children who remain on his lawn: "In the clearest indication yet that Sen. John McCain is gearing up to run for a sixth term, the Arizona Republican is holding a Washington fundraiser at the end of January. McCain is not up for reelection until 2016, but appears to be kicking things off early. An invitation from 'Friends of John McCain' bills a Jan. 28 fundraiser as the senator’s 'first DC re-elect reception' at Johnny’s Half Shell in Washington. Requested donations range between $1,000 and $5,200.' [BuzzFeed]

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO RECOGNIZE UTAH'S SAME-SEX MARRIAGES - Not to get bogged down in the legal technicalities, but this means President Obama now has one year to visit Crate and Barrel's registry website and purchase 1,300 throw pillows. Ryan Reilly: "The federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages that were performed in Utah during a brief window, despite the state government's decision not to do the same, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday. A federal judge in Utah struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriages on Dec. 20, and thousands of couples rushed to get their marriage licenses. But the state of Utah is appealing the decision, and the Supreme Court earlier this week put the ruling on hold until the appeals court has ruled. The Supreme Court's decision halted the state from performing any additional same-sex unions, but it didn't address the status of those same-sex marriages performed in the interim period. Holder's announcement Friday clarified that those couples will, for now, be afforded the federal benefits married couples receive. 'I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,' Holder said in a video released Friday afternoon." [HuffPost]

THE HEALTHCARE PR BLITZ THAT WASN'T - Instead all we really got was that Healthcare.gov lady. Emily Swanson and Mark Blumenthal: "It looked like the 'health insurance ad wars' were about to heat up. But the long-anticipated ad campaign to sell Obamacare has not started yet, according to a series of polls conducted by The Huffington Post and YouGov. In mid-December, the Wall Street Journal reported that there would be a 'coming blitz of insurance ads' aimed at Americans now eligible to purchase health insurance through the new exchanges created as part of the health reform law. The new slew of ads would be a 'step up from an already heated-up marketing push' already underway. So far, however, few people seem to have been subjected to the PR blitz. The Huffington Post and YouGov conducted a series of three weekly polls on Dec. 18-19,Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 2-3. The data from those surveys, combined with ad tracking information provided by Kantar Media, showed little change in the number of health care ads Americans recalled seeing towards the end of 2013. Each survey found that most Americans remembered seeing ads for health insurance, and many remembered seeing those favoring or opposing the new health care law during the previous month. But the percentage of people who reported seeing each type of ad remained stable over the course of the three surveys." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here a pig on a treadmill.

CONGRESSMAN BEMOANS FREE LUNCHES, EATS THEM CONSTANTLY - If a turkey sandwich and a bag of Baked Lays isn't the American dream, we don't know what is. Ashley Alman: "Weeks after Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) made headlines for suggesting low-income students sweep cafeteria floors to learn there's 'no such thing as free lunch,' Savannah TV station WSAV 3 looked at the 'free lunches' Kingston himself has received as a member of Congress. There's no precise way to count the number of lunches Kingston has enjoyed on taxpayer dollars, but the station took a look at expense reports and disclosures to uncover staggering figures from the congressman's three years in office. According to the station's investigation, Kingston and his staff have expensed $4,182 worth of "meals for business purposes," and recorded $4,289.33 in free meals from third-party interest groups, including the Congressional Institute and the Georgia Bankers Association. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Kingston has traveled to four continents, racking up $24,313 in per diem allowances. While the allowances were allotted for more than just lunch money, midday meals were included." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- American Girl dolls based on the cast of "Girls." [http://bzfd.it/1eKwrbp]

- Calm, cool and collected bro takes selfie after his plane crashes off of Hawaii. [http://bit.ly/1bZHMBh]

- Parkour in Marrakech. [http://bit.ly/KJJpwO]

- Finger tutting -- basically elaborately choreographed finger dancing -- is now a thing. [http://bit.ly/1l1bTgV]

- Now you too can be like the Son of God by filling up your pool with non-Newtonian fluids and walking on water water-looking liquids. [http://bit.ly/1eKOCxS]

- An iPhone case that is pressure-sensitive, meaning you can also touch the back of your phone, freeing up viewing space. [http://huff.to/1gV2Yxz]

TWITTERAMA

@pourmecoffee: On this day in 1776 Thomas Paine published "Common Sense" but got depressed reading the comments. "First!" "Brits rule, yanks drool.

@dceiver: Getting some raw metrics about that GWB traffic study guys. According to the data I'm reading here, there were a total of zero fucks given

@brianbeutler: Pizza + Benghazi = Pizzazi, which would actually be an okay name for a pizzeria.

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