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HUFFPOST HILL - Rocket Scientist Tired Of Naming Post Offices

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Even though he's a social conservative, Rick Santorum appeared on Fox News dressed like a man who knows his way around a key party. According to CNN's producers, Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" monologue was more on fire than Kiev. And President Obama continued his apology tour when he offered a mea culpa to an art historian. You know who DIDN'T apologize to belligerent people with a background in art? Winston Churchill. #obamasamerica This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, February 18th, 2014:

CBO MINIMUM WAGE REPORT IS WHAT WASHINGTON IS SQUABBLING ABOUT TODAY - Which, to be fair, is a real step up for Washington. We woke up this morning expecting to explain whether some political action committee called someone a cat murderer or merely compared that person's stance on farm subsidies to cat murder. Dave Jamieson: "The Congressional Budget Office released a report Tuesday concluding that the Democrats' proposal to raise the minimum wage would reduce poverty but also cost the economy jobs, providing fodder to both sides of the aisle. By hiking the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to more than $10, and pegging the minimum pay to inflation, the proposal would raise the country's collective wages by $31 billion and lift perhaps 900,000 people out of poverty, according to the CBO study. But the authors found that the measure would also likely eliminate an unknown number of jobs, ranging from a 'very slight decrease' in employment to up to 1 million positions...Over the years, economists have produced reams of studies with data that either supports or disputes the wisdom of a minimum wage hike -- and often does both -- and the debate tends to fall along predictable political lines. The CBO report merely adds to an already large body of research, but its forecast of job loss may make it more advantageous to Republicans than Democrats in the ongoing discussion." [HuffPost]

MANY ANGRY RESPONSES - Here's one from Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project: "Today’s Congressional Budget Office report is an outlier that flies in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence. The effect of raising the minimum wage is one of the most thoroughly studied topics in modern economics, and the vast majority of the more than 1,000 estimates contained in studies dating back to 1972 show no significant adverse effects on employment."

@ezraklein: 1. I think the CBO’s basic min. wage conclusion — wages go up, poverty goes down, employment likely goes down — are likely right...3. Usually, what’s great about CBO is they’re estimating complicated legislation no one else is doing full analyses of...4. But there is *tons* of econ research on the precise effects of minimum wage increases.

Here's the CBO report.

UNEMPLOYMENT IS BACK - Unemployment insurance? Still not back. "Americans have a new No. 1 problem. Nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October." [Gallup]

Haircuts: Nick Baumann (H/T Tim Murphy)

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Dan Friedman: "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and 71 other congressional Democrats are asking the agriculture secretary to delay a new law cutting food stamps for hundreds of thousands of Americans. 'Our states need time to adjust their policies to accommodate this drastic cut and roll out the changes seamlessly,' the lawmakers say in a letter they plan to send Tuesday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Gillibrand lined up the lawmakers to sign off on the letter, which asks Vilsack to delay until next fall a provision in the massive farm bill Congress passed this month that cuts $8 billion in food stamp aid." [Daily News]

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RUSH HOLT RETIRING - Times: "Representative Rush D. Holt Jr. of New Jersey, a research physicist who became Congress’s chief advocate for scientific research over eight terms, plans to announce Tuesday that he is not seeking re-election. Mr. Holt, 65, joins 12 fellow Democrats, and 21 Republicans, in an exodus from the House. But in an interview, he said he was not bemoaning what he acknowledged was 'a certain level of dysfunction' in Congress...Mr. Holt’s retirement is not expected to affect the Democrats’ chances in 2014; a seat that he barely wrested from a Republican in 1998 has been made reliably Democratic in two redistrictings...Mr. Holt is perhaps most popularly known as the five-time 'Jeopardy!' champion who later won a celebrity round against Watson, the IBM supercomputer. In and around Princeton, where he had been assistant director of the Plasma Physics Lab, bumper stickers on Priuses proudly proclaim 'My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist.'" [NYT]

A California congresswoman will leave Washington to run for a county-level seat. This is either a clearheaded career move or a bastardized version of how the first "House of Cards" season ended: "Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday she would not seek reelection to Congress, instead launching a campaign for San Bernadino County supervisor. 'This was a decision not made lightly,' McLeod said in a statement. 'However my desire to represent this community locally, where I have lived for more than forty years, and where I have long served as an elected official, won out.' Roll Call reported in January McLeod was considering the move, noting she has $900,000 available to help with a run for the supervisor seat. McLeod has only been in Congress for one term." [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE POSSIBLY CONSIDERING SYRIA SHIFT - The administration's mission creep in Syria is metastasizing. Josh Hersh: "Ever since President Barack Obama expressed 'enormous frustration' over the situation in Syria at a press conference last week, a number of signals have pointed to a potentially significant shift in his administration's approach to the festering crisis there. In a Wall Street Journal article published Monday, senior administration officials indicated there is a growing consensus that 'it's time to take another look' at the options in Syria. And late last week, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that Obama has asked advisers to think anew about the 'various options that may or may not exist.' The outcome of this rethink is far from certain. White House officials deny that there have been any policy changes as of yet or that direct military action is among the options being considered. But already there is evidence the White House has dialed back some of its previous concerns about other nations taking more aggressive action, such as providing the Syrian rebels with advanced weaponry." [HuffPost]

Rick Santorum was on Fox News this afternoon in a blazer and black mock turtleneck. We had the volume down, but we assume he was either talking politics or doing his best impression of a guy who really owned the Aspen dating scene in the early 1980s.

JOE BACA ON CONGRESSIONAL COMEBACK TOUR... ALSO ON CALLING WOMEN DEMEANING NAMES TOUR, TOO - Joe Baca is the War on Women's George Patton. Laura Bassett: "Former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), who is seeking to return to Congress this year, referred to Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.) as 'some bimbo' on Tuesday in an interview with The Hill. McLeod, who beat Baca in 2012 with the backing of then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, announced this week that she would be retiring after only one term. Baca told The Hill that he is running in a different district this year, but that Bloomberg and the DCCC made a mistake in campaigning against him. 'Look at what we wound up with: Some bimbo who decided not to run again,' he said. McLeod's office did not immediately respond to calls for comment." [HuffPost]

Joe Baca said this during a phone interview with The Hill. He is a sentient being. He once flipped out on Ryan Grim.

Kiev is burning and CNN is ON IT: @HuffPostMedia: Lotsa chatter about CNN undercovering Kiev on its website. FWIW, this is what's on TV right now. pic.twitter.com/gJS6Tn1HHj

NC GOV SUPERMARKET SHOWDOWN - Vinegar isn't only in North Carolina 's barbecue, it appears to be a primary component of its residents' bloodstreams. News Observer: "An employee at a Myers Park gourmet food store was fired after Gov. Pat McCrory’s security detail complained Sunday about a comment the worker made to the governor. On Sunday afternoon, McCrory was shopping at Reid’s Fine Foods when Drew Swope, a 45-year-old cook, said he asked if he could help McCrory. After realizing he was speaking with the governor, whom he disagrees with politically, Swope said he told McCrory, 'Thanks for nothing,' and walked away. Swope said the governor was upset at his comment and began 'yelling' at him. He said McCrory said he was a customer and shouldn’t be treated that way. He said the governor and his security team complained to the food store owner, who then fired him. Swope said he doesn’t blame Reid’s for letting him go, saying, 'I did speak out of turn.'..The governor’s office initially declined to comment on the story. On Monday night, McCrory’s communications director Joshua Ellis told the Observer that Swope had also made an obscene gesture to the governor during the conversation. Swope denied that earlier Monday. 'I wasn’t raised that way,' he said." [News Observer]

If Obama can't stand up to art professors, how can we expect him to face Ahmadinejad?!? "President Obama took an unprovoked swing at art history degree-holders last month, insinuating to audiences in a post-State of the Union tour that 'skilled manufacturing' was a better career path than art history. Now, after weeks of angry responses from journalists and citizens, Obama has apologized, in the form of a handwritten letter to art historian Ann Collins Johns. The University of Texas professor was just one of the many irked by Obama's January 2014 remarks in Wisconsin. His exact words: 'I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.'" [HuffPost's Katherine Brooks]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a dog playing fetch in slow motion.

THE UNION MAKES US STRONG... INCLUDING JOE THE PLUMBER - Toledo Blade: "Samuel 'Joe' Wurzelbacher - a.k.a., 'Joe the Plumber' - announced today on Facebook and earlier on his Web site that he has landed a union job with Chrysler Group LLC... In [a] long message, Mr. Wurzelbacher said, 'I was just recently hired on at Chrysler,' and explained that while he's known as a conservative, he's not an enemy of private unions. 'In order to work for Chrysler, you are required to join the Union, in this case UAW. There’s no choice – it’s a union shop – the employees voted to have it that way and in America that’s the way it is,' he wrote...'Yes, I have a website that puts out conservative news. Yes, I am part owner of a gun company. Yes, I’m a Republican who was cast into the limelight for having the temerity to confront Barack Obama on the question of redistributing wealth… But I’m a working man and I’m working,' he wrote." [Toledo Blade]

COMFORT FOOD

- Armadillo dances to "Billie Jean." [http://bit.ly/1cW8CM2]

- A roundup of Frank Underwood's best advice from "House of Cards." Don't worry, there are no spoilers. [http://bit.ly/1fw5hEf]

- Three-year-old girl is surprised by her father, who was previously deployed in Afghanistan. [http://bit.ly/1cmCW5y]

- Goat playground. [http://bit.ly/1m6r9eL]

- Innovative ways to use a waffle iron. [http://bit.ly/1c1kWKP]

-Rabbits! So many rabbits! [http://huff.to/1bJcfu4]

- Don't expect to see cat curling in tonight's Olympic [http://huff.to/1gS4Mrs]

TWITTERAMA

@elisefoley: Just assumed someone meant a Buzzfeed quiz when they said they were taking a quiz. They are studying for the bar, and I am stupid.

@ElaheIzadi: reviving my earlier push to call CBO "C-Bo"

@ryanjreilly: HuffPost now has an internal weed distribution list. Only dispenses e-mails with news about marijuana, unfortunately.

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