POLITICS
02/19/2014 06:17 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Scott Walker's Swan Thong?

Scott Walker fired a state doctor who once posed in a thong, because Republicans never appear in erotic photos. Fans of the angry mobs at the 2012 GOP primary debates will be delighted to learn that a Republican LGBT group will attend CPAC (no word if any of its attendees will also be members of the military). And Washington continued to argue about the CBO's minimum wage report, while its bookish, bespectacled authors locked their doors, turned their "Dr. Who" DVDs on full blast and just wished this would all go away. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 19th, 2014:

DEMOCRATS WANT TO KEEP DER JERBS - Alan Fram: "A report by Congress' nonpartisan budget analysts seems to have thrown Democrats onto the defensive after it concluded that the party's drive to boost the federal minimum wage could cost a half-million jobs by 2016. A Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday concluded that a gradual increase to $10.10 hourly by that year — which is what President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are seeking — would increase pay for more than 16.5 million people, mostly those earning low wages. It also would lift 900,000 people over the federal poverty threshold, the study said. Democrats hailed those findings. But in a congressional election year in which the slow-recovering economy remains a paramount issue, Democrats from the White House to Capitol Hill contested another of the report's conclusions: that the increase would reduce jobs in 2016 by roughly 500,000, or 0.3 percent." [Associated Press]

LIBERAL ECONOMISTS CRAP ON CBO'S MIN WAGE REPORT S'MORE - Jillian Berman: "In a blog published by ThinkProgress on Thursday, Michael Reich, director of University of California-Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor, argues that the CBO doesn't clearly explain how it came up with the 500,000 estimate. In his reading, it seems the budget analysts relied too heavily on studies 'with methodological flaws' that found a higher minimum wage to be a job killer. 'They rely on the research literature, and the way they rely on the research literature is they say, 'Well, there are all these estimates out there' and then they somehow synthesize those estimates to one number,' Reich told HuffPost. 'In my view, they used numbers that were too high, based on what the research actually says.' Arindrajit Dube, an economist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said the CBO 'put their thumb on the scale a little bit.'" [HuffPost]

Reich and Dube are among the many economists whose research is cited in CBO's recent report.

SENATE REPUBLICANS FEIGNING INTERESTING IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS - Burgess Everett: "A group of Senate Republicans is meeting quietly to plot an unusual strategy: passing a top Democratic priority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to press the GOP on unemployment benefits — forcing it to keep taking votes on a bill to extend aid to the long-term unemployed. But Republicans have rejected the bill twice since the program expired on Dec. 28. Sens. Dan Coats of Indiana, Rob Portman of Ohio, Dean Heller of Nevada and Susan Collins of Maine want a deal that could bring the Democratic drumbeat to an end. They gathered last week to plan how to revisit the cause when the Senate returns next week, hoping they can get Democrats to agree to their policy changes and finally move the red-hot issue off the Senate’s plate. 'We’re still working on the same thing, which is solving the problem,' Portman said in an interview Tuesday. 'I continue to believe that we can solve this if Democrats want to.'" [Politico]

It is entirely possible these Republicans sincerely want an unemployment deal. It is also possible they are just pretending. They've insisted all along they support the benefits so long as there's a good way to pay for them, but the Democrats keep coming up with bad ways. Then, as Mike McAuliff reported last week, they decided one of those Democratic payfors was good after all -- for restoring a military pension cut. Sorry, unemployed people. See you after our fourth vacation since we dropped long-term benefits in December.

HuffPost Haircuts: Zach Carter, Sasha Belenky, Becca Glover Watkins, Dharma George (h/t Joel Paque).

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Craig Giesecke: "These days I find myself in my 60th year, living with my in-laws in Southern California as if I am a just-graduated 20-something, leafing through Craigslist and other sites looking for a job. Any job, as long as it can further my wife and I getting back out into a place of our own as quickly as possible." [HuffPost]

DAVE DOWNER - Thank our nation's backward laws for your sneezy coworker. "Worried about lost wages, a backlog of work or punishment from the boss, more than one in four American workers recently surveyed said they show up to work while ill, even though they could sicken their colleagues. In a poll of more than a thousand U.S. adults in the midst of this year's flu season, NSF International, a public-health testing group based in Michigan, found that a quarter of those who copped to working while sick said their boss required them to. Thirty-seven percent said they needed the money, and 42 percent said too much work would pile up if they didn't clock in." [HuffPost]

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TROVE OF SCOTT WALKER AIDE EMAILS RELEASED - Time for some traffic problems in Fond du Lac. AP: "The investigation into illegal campaign activity by members of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's staff when he was working as a county executive greatly expanded the day before Walker was elected governor in 2010, previously secret documents released Wednesday show. The transcript of a closed-door hearing before a judge overseeing the probe into Walker's aides was among more than 27,000 pages of emails and other documents released by a state appeals court. The Associated Press and other media organizations pressed for them to be made public. The transcript of the hearing shows that the judge expanded the probe to four additional Walker aides on Nov. 1, 2010. The judge also approved the seizing of computers from Walker's county executive office and raids at his campaign office and homes of his aides, including his deputy chief of staff, Kelly Rindfleisch. She was convicted in 2012 of misconduct in office, a felony, for doing campaign work for Republican lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis on government time. Rindfleisch was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation. Walker, who is up for re-election this year and eyeing a possible run for president in 2016, was not charged with any wrongdoing." [HuffPost]

SCOTT WALKER STRONGLY DISAPPROVES THONGS - Amanda Terkel: "In April 2010, Scott Walker and his staff realized they had a potential problem on their hands that would require them to quietly fire a woman who appeared to be completely competent at her job. The issue was that she had what they perceived to be a 'checkered' past: She used to be a thong model. The revelation was contained in an email exchange between Walker, who was then Milwaukee county executive and is now Wisconsin's Republican governor, and Thomas Nardelli, who at the time was his chief of staff... Walker learned about the problematic former thong model on April 5, 2010, when Nardelli emailed him about a woman who was hired as a doctor at the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, which provides treatment for mental illness, substance use disorders and intellectual disabilities….In response, Walker replied, 'Get rid of the MD asap.' [HuffPost]

HIGHLY RACIST EMAIL IS HIGHLY RACIST - Thongs: out. Racist chain letters: so, so in. Evan McMorris-Santoro: "The Nightmare: ‘I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted Jewish homosexual…but please, oh dear God, don’t make me a Democrat.’” A 2010 email forward from then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s then-chief of staff, Thomas Nardelli, to his deputy, Kelly Rindfleisch."

BOB CORKER ACCUSED OF MEDDLING IN UNION ELECTION - Dave Jamieson: "As Tennessee Volkswagen workers were voting last week on whether or not to have the United Auto Workers represent them, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) dropped what Reuters aptly called a 'bombshell' on the proceedings. 'I've had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga'" Corker said. Here's one way a Volkswagen employee may have read that: If you vote for the UAW, the plant will lose business and you and your co-workers will suffer for it. Had a Volkswagen official said as much -- the company flatly disputed Corker's claim -- the statement may have amounted to what's known as an 'unfair labor practice,' a form of interference or coercion that violates U.S. labor law. But as Corker surely knew, as a third party he wasn't subject to the National Labor Relations Act the way Volkswagen and the UAW are -- and nor were the other Tennessee politicians who vehemently opposed the UAW and even threatened tocut off future subsidies if workers voted in favor of the union." [HuffPost]

Breitbart is having a Donald Trump meltdown.

MARCO RUBIO IS TRYING REALLY HARD - Elise Foley: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) isn't impressed that President Barack Obama apologized to an art history professor who criticized his recent remarks on the academic discipline. The senator, who did his undergraduate work at the University of Florida, tweeted on Wednesday that the president's apology was 'pathetic.'" Suck it, art history. [HuffPost]

There are two types of pain: The sort of pain that makes you strong... or the pain you feel when you get press releases referencing "House of Cards": "A scene in the hit Netflix series “House of Cards' references Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) successful effortto convince the Air Force to discontinue a brochure that suggested to victims of a sexual assault, 'it may be advisable to submit than to resist.'"

LGBT GROUP INVITED TO CPAC - National Journal: "The annual debate over CPAC's participants and focus reflects the broader, ongoing dialogue over growing the conservative movement and the Republican Party without compromising core principles. Gay rights are a major part of that debate, as conservative groups remain firmly opposed to gay marriage despite polls showing increasing and majority support. The dispute with GOProud dates back to 2011, when a number of socially conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, objected to the group's involvement and declined to participate. Insults were traded between GOProud leaders and ACU board members, culminating in the group's exclusion. Two former GOProud summer interns, Ross Hemminger and Matt Bechstein, took over last summer and sought to repair the bitterly frayed relationship. Under a compromise reached last week, they will attend the March 6-8 gathering as guests, without sponsorship or a booth. GOProud sees the lower-profile role as an important first step." [National Journal ]

Why: "Lloyd Oliver, a Democratic candidate for district attorney in Harris County, Texas, has a problem with domestic violence: He thinks it's prosecuted too much. Oliver told the Texas Observer Wednesday that domestic violence is 'so, so overrated.' If elected, he indicated he'd redirect resources away from family violence to focus on other issues. Harris County has the highest rate of domestic violence homicides in the state. According to a report by the Texas Council on Family Violence, 30 women were murdered by intimate partners in 2012...Later, when asked to clarify, he suggested domestic violence is part of some couple's sexual routine. 'There are some people -- I don't understand it -- but part of their making love is to beat one another up first,' he said. 'Why do we want to get involved in people's bedrooms?'" [HuffPost's Melissa Jeltsen]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a dog befriending an elephant.

TODAY IN 'COMPLETELY FALSE STATEMENTS' - Our political analogies our so completely out of whack that it's only a matter of time until the removal of the McRib from McDonald's menu is likened to Dred Scott. Amanda Terkel: "Nevada state Assemblyman Cresent Hardy (R), who is hoping to oust first-term Rep. Steven Horsford (D) this fall, said Tuesday that he opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because it would amount to a 'segregation' law. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would bar workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. It passed the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote in November, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has so far given no indication that he intends to bring it up for a vote in his chamber -- even though many supporters believe it has enough votes to pass. "When we create classes, we create that same separation that we're trying to unfold somehow," Hardy told the Las Vegas Sun in an interview. "By continuing to create these laws that are what I call segregation laws, it puts one class of a person over another. We are creating classes of people through these laws." What ENDA would do, however, is make it so that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are not a separate class of people with separate rules. It is already illegal under federal law to discriminate against someone's race, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability. As the Human Rights Campaign states on its website, 'ENDA extends fair employment practices -- not special rights -- to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.'"

COMFORT FOOD

- Video of an artist breaking a $1 million work of art by Ai Weiwei for some reason. [http://bit.ly/1gWzrUA]

- Pro-LGBT propaganda in the Soviet style. [http://bit.ly/Nw0lcc]

- A boy sits outside in a Norwegian winter without a coat. Here are people's reactions. [http://bit.ly/NaoQe3]

- 3000 fps features gifs with incredibly high frame rates. Great for people who want their brain to melt. [http://bit.ly/1jdiXZ2]

- 1990s Figure Skating features videos of Sochi figure skaters set to 90s music. [http://bit.ly/1kYsCFS]

- Sochi on Tinder catalogs, you guessed it, which Olympians are on Tinder. Tinder Tumblrs. The end is nigh. [http://bit.ly/1eTfXM2]

TWITTERAMA

@ryanjreilly: Scott Walker: ex-thong model so scandalous his behavioral health division couldn't handle it huff.to/1gWqQkK

@WalshFreedom: Im ready to march w/ you RT@elisefoley: If our employers force us to work rather than watch Team USA, we can say they hate America, right?

@pourmecoffee: Russia has been eliminated from men's hockey. All athletes are instructed to leave Sochi immediately, you are no longer welcome here.

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