Mitt Romney opposes Arizona's anti-LGBT legislation because gays are people, my friend. Jared Polis took to the House floor in a blazer, purple polo shirt and silver bowtie, thereby answering the age-old question "How would a Mormon Chippendale dancer dress?" And President Obama is mulling a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. We can't wait for the adorable videos of drones being reunited with their kids and pets. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, February 25th, 2014:
OBAMA CONSIDERING FULL AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL - Though why the president would wilfully put our fighting men and women into harm's way by exposing them to his death panels is beyond us. Reuters: "U.S. President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that the United States will not leave behind any troops in Afghanistan after its troop drawdown at the end of this year, the White House said on Tuesday. Obama said he had given the order to the Pentagon in a phone call on Tuesday to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement that the United States insists it must have before agreeing to leave a contingent of troops behind. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was carrying the modified U.S. position to Brussels for discussion during a meeting with NATO defense ministers that starts on Wednesday... The United States has held out the possibility of leaving behind in Afghanistan as many as 8,000 troops after the formal drawdown at year's end. These troops would conduct counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda targets and train Afghan forces." [Reuters]
SENATE HAWKS JAM CHAMBER - Luke Johnson, Ryan Grim, Mike McAuliff: "Senate Republicans are dragging the upper chamber to a halt in an effort to force a vote on a bill that a wide cross section of observers warn will bring the U.S. closer to war with Iran. The bill, which would tighten sanctions on Iran in the midst of delicate nuclear negotiations between that country and several Western powers, was originally supported by the leading pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC has since backed off amid a torrent of opposition. Senate Republicans, however, are pushing forward. On Monday, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who heads the GOP's Senate reelection effort, blocked votes on military sexual assault legislation by demanding that an amendment on Iran sanctions be added to the bills." [HuffPost]
PRISON HONCHO CLUELESS ABOUT CELLS - And not the biology-class kind. Ryan Reilly and Saki Knafo: "It was a tough moment for Charles Samuels, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. At a hearing on solitary confinement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon, Samuels, who has been at BOP since 1988, struggled to answer a basic question put to him by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). 'How big is an average cell in solitary?' Franken asked. 'This is a human thing we're talking about. We've got a lot of statistics; how big is the cell?' Samuels took about a minute to answer, repeatedly asking Franken to clarify the question. A frustrated Franken turned to the crowd: 'Am I asking this wrong?' On a day when Piper Kerman, the author of Orange Is The New Black, and Damon Thibodeaux, an exonerated former prisoner who served 15 years in solitary, both testified on the devastating toll exacted by solitary on the human psyche, the former SNL writer elicited a rare laugh." [HuffPost]
REID PARING DOWN UNEMPLOYMENT OFFER TO ATTRACT GOP VOTES - The majority leader is sorry if you're tired of eating soup out of an old shoe, but you gotta win over Mark Kirk somehow. Sam Stein and Mike McAuliff: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Tuesday that he was pushing for a six-month extension of benefits that would be applied retroactively to when they lapsed in late December....By agreeing to push a six-month proposal, however, he is bowing to the requests of moderate Republican members and, perhaps, hinting that the longer version may be politically untenable. Reid said he hoped a vote on the extension would come 'soon.' The timing largely depends on whether Senate Democrats can secure another Republican to help break a filibuster. The last bill to extend unemployment insurance had the support of 59 senators -- one short of the 60-vote threshold demanded by Republicans. To get to 60, Reid has essentially deputized Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to try and recruit support. The main targets, according to Hill sources, have been Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) -- though Coats signaled on Tuesday that he hasn't exactly been overwhelmed by the amount of contact he's had with Senate Democratic leadership. Negotiators are trying to find a means of paying for the measure that is appealing to Republicans while not overly offensive to progressive Democrats." [HuffPost]
UNEMPLOYMENT NEGOTIATIONS HAVE BEEN PRETTY SUCKY - One of the Republicans who Democrats say they're wooing for an unemployment insurance deal said he hasn't heard from Democratic leaders in weeks. "At no time over the past few weeks has the Democratic leadership reached out to Senator Coats or his staff," a spokesman for Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said in an email to reporters. The statement came one day after The Huffington Post reported that Senate Democratic leaders had been eyeing Coats and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) as potential supporters of legislation to restore the benefits, which expired in December for more than 1 million workers who've been unemployed longer than six months. [HuffPost]
HuffPost Haircuts: Arthur Delaney (h/t Arthur Delaney).
MCCONNELL ON TAX REFORM: DEMOCRATS ARE JERKS - Lori Montgomery: "One day before Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is due to release his long-awaited tax reform plan, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered some public advice: Don't bother. 'I think we will not be able to finish the job, regretfully,' McConnell told reporters after Senate Republicans regular Tuesday lunch. 'I don't see how we can.' McConnell blamed his pessimism on the refusal by Democrats to consider any tax reform plan that doesn't raise significant new cash for deficit reduction." [WashPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - In their quest to cut nutrition spending last year, Republicans held up Jason Greenslate as the perfect example of somebody who should not receive food stamps. The 28-year-old used his benefits for lobster and preferred to play rock music than work a regular job. Congress has since passed modest cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but the GOP has failed to boot Greenslate. Fox News reporter Jesse Watters caught up with Greenslate in San Diego on Monday and asked him how he thinks his food stamp lifestyle looks to regular Americans. "It looks like a good time, man," Greenslate said. Watters asked Greenslate if he knew that his food stamp usage is contributing to the $17 trillion national debt. "Do I have to apologize for the way the system's set up? I don't feel I need to apologize," Greenslate said, sensing Watters' disapproval. "It's just the way you're wording it kinda seems I'm getting the ruler on the hand, you know?" [HuffPost]
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JAN BREWER WILL LIKELY VETO ANTI-GAY LAW - In any other situation, we would applaud something that incentivizes people to leave Arizona... but this is an exception. NBC News: "Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is likely to veto the state’s controversial measure that could allow businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbians due to religious beliefs, according to three people close to the governor and familiar with her thinking. One of those is longtime Brewer political adviser Chuck Coughlin, who told NBC News: 'It’s been her proclivity in the past to focus on the priorities she wants them [the legislature] to accomplish, and this was clearly not part of her agenda.' 'She doesn’t want to take any actions that could jeopardize the economic momentum we’ve seen here in Arizona,” said another person close to the governor. The Republican governor is flying back to Phoenix on Tuesday after attending National Governors Association meetings this last week. Coughlin said she will meet with stakeholders on both sides on Wednesday and likely make her decision on Thursday or Friday. She has until Saturday morning to sign or veto the bill." [NBC News]
Al Melvin's views on discrimination in Arizona are not unlike Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's views on gays in Iran: "Arizona state Sen. Al Melvin (R) said there's no discrimination in his state, so he's not worried about the consequences of a bill that would allow businesses to invoke religious beliefs to discriminate against gay customers. Melvin, who voted for the bill now before Gov. Jan Brewer (R), became confused and upset when CNN's Anderson Cooper asked whether a hypothetical business owner could refuse to serve an unwed mother or a divorced woman under the measure, because the Bible condemns such behavior." [HuffPost's Ashley Alman]
@MittRomney: .@GovBrewer: veto of #SB1062 is right.
DEBBIE DINGELL TO RUN FOR HUSBAND'S SEAT - With a name like that, however, we hope she doesn't rule out licensing a line of Pancake Houses. The Hill: "Dingell's husband, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), announced he will retire on Monday, ending the longest tenure of any lawmaker in congressional history. The Hill reported Monday afternoon that his wife was likely to run for his seat. A Democratic National Committee member, chairwoman of the Wayne State University Board of Governors and former head of the General Motors Foundation, she has been active in Democratic politics both in Michigan and Washington, D.C., for decades...If Dingell wins, she'd keep the district the family has held in some form since 1933. Her husband became the longest serving member in congressional history last year, hitting the 58-year mark in 2013. His father, former Rep. John Dingell Sr. (D-Mich.), held the same seat for more than two decades before that. His son succeeded him after the elder Dingell's death in 1955." [The Hill]
Unlike her husband, who is pushing 90, Debbie Dingell was born in 1954. We know you were wondering...
CPAC UNINVITES ATHEISTS - May God have mercy on their souls. Politico: "The Conservative Political Action Conference has rescinded its permission for American Atheists, a nonprofit that protects the civil rights of atheists, to sponsor an information booth at the conservative gathering next month. 'American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government,' said CPAC spokesperson Meghan Snyder in an email...But revoking American Atheists’ booth wasn’t enough to appease some conservative groups angered by the invitation itself. Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said that revoking the booth 'makes no difference' and is urging all conservative groups to withdraw entirely from CPAC. 'American Atheists is an organization devoted to the hatred of God. How on earth could CPAC, or the ACU and its board of directors, and Al Cardenas condone such an atrocity?' Bozell said in a statement." [Politico]
ALL YOU POLITICAL TYPES ARE GOING TO HELL - Proof: "Welcome to the future of inescapable campaign election ads. It's the fall of 2016 and a 20-something couple is sitting down to watch an episode of 'The Walking Dead' on their DVR. They hit play. Midway through the episode, a commercial from Hillary for President comes on. The boyfriend lunges for the remote. 'What the --' he says. He hits fast forward. Nothing. He hits the button again, then a few more times. But the commercial, about Hillary's commitment to fighting human trafficking, is over. The girlfriend, who works for an evangelical human rights organization, has watched the whole thing. She was targeted specifically to receive that ad, by the Clinton campaign. Officials at the Democratic National Committee said Tuesday that this kind of scenario is where TV advertising is headed, in the wake of an announcement last month by Dish TV and DirecTV that they are going to allow political campaigns to serve ads directly to individual viewers among the 20 million Americans who subscribe to their service." [HuffPost's Jon Ward]
@seungminkim: Oh no Jared Polis no pic.twitter.com/4CKPmHzVAc
RIDICULOUSLY RESTRICTIVE ABORTION LAWS ADVANCE IN ALABAMA LEGISLATURE - This after a Virginia lawmaker called pregnant women "hosts," which sounds like he expects them to post engravings of pineapples above their privates. Laura Bassett: "A panel of state lawmakers in Alabama approved four anti-abortion bills on Tuesday that would be some of the most extreme restrictions in the nation. With very little discussion, the Health Committee in Alabama's House of Representatives advanced by voice vote a set of Republican-sponsored bills that would make it almost impossible for Alabama women to access abortion care. The bills now head to the full Republican-controlled House for a vote. House Bill 490, introduced by State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), would make it a crime to perform an abortion after the fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as 6 weeks into a pregnancy. This law would ban abortions before many women even realize they're pregnant...House Bill 493, also approved on Tuesday, would force women who are carrying a fetus with a lethal fetal anomaly to jump through several hoops in order to have an abortion. She would have to first listen to information about the perinatal hospice services available, and then she would have to sign a form acknowledging that she chose abortion over hospice and wait at least 48 hours after that to have the procedure." [HuffPost]
Hawaii 5-0 (+/- 3.9%): "Just five months before the first votes are cast, likely Democratic primary voters are evenly split on who to support for the U.S. Senate. A new Civil Beat Poll shows U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa with 40 percent each. Another 20 percent are not sure who they'll vote for. This is the third time Civil Beat has polled the Schatz-Hanabusa matchup in eight months, and there has been very little movement in either direction for either candidate." [Honolulu Civil Beat]
If you missed it, here's Joe Biden's appearance on the debut of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" last night.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a kitten wiggling its ears while being bottle-fed.
The staff of In These Times, the famed labor publication, has joined the Communication Workers of America union. Because we're talking about reporters here, the CWA better be ready to accept union dues in Natty Light. Dave Jamieson: "The decision to unionize was unanimous among staff and went unopposed by the magazine's management and board, according to journalists there. The magazine's editor and publisher, Joel Bleifuss, met with union representatives on Monday to finalize the paperwork, paving the way for contract talks. All the staff writers and most other editorial employees at the Chicago-based magazine will be part of the bargaining unit." [HuffPost]
- BBC News had some weird camera issues yesterday. [http://bit.ly/1lg4fUe]
- Likely upset by what it saw in "Blackfish," this whale decided to slap a person. [http://bit.ly/1o3JtnL]
- Virgin Atlantic's new in-flight safety video plays like an animated Oscar short. [http://bit.ly/1cgbIul]
- Cows rounded up with an RC truck. [http://bit.ly/1jxD5VY]
- A husband drew a penis on his apartment's whiteboard every day for a year. Behold, "365 Penises." [http://bit.ly/1mFuW6n]
- Accidental Hitler mustaches are always unfortunate, especially if you're the German chancellor. [http://bit.ly/MrHDkk]
- 23 words without a direct English translation. [http://huff.to/Mqpvrc]
@megan_gamble: Email from Barbara Streisand via @emilyslist, subject line "Hello, Gorgeous." #winning
@AP_Ken_Thomas: Guess who just walked into the hotel lobby where @OFA is meeting? Mitt Romney.
@pourmecoffee: Obama and Boehner are like pandas. You can put them in a room together, but there's no guarantee they will do anything.
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