Fans of inflated self-worth will have a hard time choosing between CPAC and SXSW this week. A group of bros didn't have to wear bow ties, blazers and American flag-patterned shorts to CPAC -- but they did, and we salute them for it. And Paul Ryan drew inspiration from the old maxim: Teach a man to fish and he will eat for one day; incoherently lecture a man about fishing and you can stop worrying about him altogether. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 6th, 2014:
HOUSE PASSES UKRAINE AID PACKAGE - Sabrina Siddiqui: "The House of Representatives cleared a financial aid package for Ukraine on Thursday, heeding the White House's request that Congress respond quickly to Russia's military incursion into Crimea. The measure passed handily by a vote of 385 to 23, with all the no votes coming from Republicans. It authorizes the State Department to grant up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. Because the bill uses money from funds already appropriated, the total additional cost to the United States would be about $200 million. House Republican leaders spoke in recent days of the need for Congress to move expeditiously, which is why they left out President Barack Obama's request for separate language to increase resources for the International Monetary Fund. 'Today, once again, I’m calling on Congress to follow up on these words with action, specifically to support the IMF’s capacity to lend resources to Ukraine and to provide American assistance for the Ukrainian government,' Obama had said in a statement at the White House before the vote.
A House GOP leadership aide explained that the fastest way to render financial assistance to the government in Kiev would be by expanding existing loan guarantees, appropriated for Jordan and Tunisia, to Ukraine." [HuffPost]
DEMS PRESS BOEHNER ON UNEMPLOYMENT - More than 160 Democrats sent a letter to the House Speaker calling for a vote restoring long-term unemployment insurance to the 2 million Americans missing out right now. Among them are 200,000 veterans, per the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "For the sake of these Veterans who are heroes, we urge you to allow an up-or-down vote on a proposal to extend unemployment insurance as soon as possible," says the letter, written by Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). But the fact that an unemployment extension has been bottled up in the Senate has made it easy for Boehner to deflect Democratic pleas. "The Speaker has said repeatedly that if Senate Democrats can produce an extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits that is not only paid-for, but also does something to actually create jobs, he will be happy to discuss it," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told HuffPost Hill. Kildee explained why he thinks this is not a hopeless and despair-inducing exercise: "It's pretty obvious [the House GOP leaders] just don't want to deal with this and the pressure is going to have to come from somewhere," he said. "Our hope would have been for the pressure to come from the Senate. But this is not a static question because every week there's another 70,000 or so people who lose their benefit and are in a position of losing everything they've lived for and worked for." [Hang in there!]
We got swept away by CPAC today, so our rundown of our discussion with DC councilman and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells will be up tomorrow, including our analysis of of D.C.'s munchies food scene.
REMINDER THAT HARRY REID REALLY LIKES ANTAGONIZING PEOPLE - Mike McAuliff: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he's not afraid of the big, bad Koch brothers, and he'll do his damnedest to reveal them as a pair of profiteers bent on 'buying America.' The Nevada Democrat has launched a personal campaign in recent days aimed at discrediting billionaire oil magnates David and Charles Koch, and the multimillion-dollar ad campaigns they fund to take down Democrats. Asked at a roundtable discussion with reporters Thursday if he was at all worried about reprisals from two billionaires with a reputation for bare-knuckle tactics, Reid's response amounted to: Come at me, bros. 'I wish they would hire some private detectives to go after me. What a boring time they would have,' Reid said. 'I am one of the most boring people in the world. I don't care about being investigated by the best of them.'" [HuffPost]
HuffPost Haircuts: Matt Corley (h/t Kate Sheppard), Lauren Weber (h/t Lauren Weber)
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Jake Grovum: "From written tests designed to flag drug users to singling out people with recent drug convictions, state lawmakers across the country are pursuing novel strategies to deny welfare benefits to drug users without running afoul of a recent federal court ruling. In December, a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s drug-test requirement. But almost half the states are considering drug-testing bills designed to withstand legal scrutiny. In Alabama, Indiana and Mississippi, such measures already have advanced by overwhelming majorities. The movement is the latest iteration of a welfare drug-testing campaign that began gaining momentum about five years ago. Some lawmakers support the tests to help drug users on public assistance to get help. Others back them to make sure public dollars aren’t subsidizing drug habits, or say it’s simply about saving money." [PewStates.org]
UPSIDE DOWNER - Food stamp recipients affected by benefit cuts Congress passed in February will get no reprieve from the Obama administration. The U.S. Department of Agriculture explained to states Wednesday that they'd have to implement the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cuts starting next week. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and 71 other Democrats had asked the department to postpone the cuts until the fall. No dice. "Congress was clear in the farm bill that the reductions in SNAP benefits take effect not later than 30 days after enactment," a USDA spokeswoman told The Huffington Post in an email. "Given those limitations, USDA is providing States with as much flexibility as is reasonably possible under the law." The good news for the 850,000 food stamp recipients potentially affected by the reductions is that their states have the power to stop them -- and so far New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have announced plans to do just that. "In these challenging and trying times, our most vulnerable families may not have been able to absorb another hit," a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday. [HuffPost]
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SENATE BLOCKS GILLIBRAND'S MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT BILL - Chalk up a big fat "W" for the status quo. And by "W," we mean "Women in the military are being sexually assaulted at a terrifyingly alarming rate." Take a lap, Congress. Laura Bassett: "Following a months-long, emotionally-charged showdown between Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) over their competing proposals to curb military sexual assault, Gillibrand's bill to remove sexual assault cases from the chain of command failed to get the 60 votes it needed to overcome a filibuster. Gillibrand's proposal to take the decision to prosecute military sexual assault cases out of commanders' hands and charge it to independent military lawyers had majority support in the Senate and would have passed if it had gone to an up-or-down vote. But the motion to proceed to the vote needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and it received only 55. The aye votes included Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and, surprisingly, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)... Gillibrand and the bill's supporters argued that 90 percent of rape victims in the military are not currently reporting their assaults because they do not trust the chain of command. Out of 26,000 estimated military sexual assaults in 2012, only 3,374 were reported, and only 302 were prosecuted, according to the Department of Defense." [HuffPost]
DEFEATED CIVIL RIGHTS NOMINEE KNEW HE WAS DOOMED, WANTED THE DEBATE - You can practically hear the strings from the "West Wing" score over this story. Jen Bendery: "Senate Democratic leaders knew early Wednesday that they likely didn't have the votes to advance Debo Adegbile, President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. But hours later they went ahead and held the vote anyway...Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Adegbile himself asked Democratic leaders to proceed with the vote, win or lose. During a Thursday sitdown with reporters, Reid said that Adegbile, a respected civil rights lawyer who previously led the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, met privately with Reid and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for nearly an hour before the vote. The three of them went through the pros and cons of proceeding with what would likely be a loss. In the end, Adegbile said he wouldn't withdraw his name, even though Republicans and even some Democrats were ready to block him over the fact that he once helped get convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jabal off death row." [HuffPost]
CPAC OPENS WITH CHARACTERISTIC MIX OF HYPOCRISY, RACIAL FEAR MONGERING AND GENERAL INCOMPREHENSION - Happy CPAC, everyone! Ryan Reilly: "Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) kicked off his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference by recounting the story of the 33-year-old murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Toomey offered the account as part of a justification for his campaign against a highly respected civil rights lawyer who represented the officer's convicted murderer years after his sentencing. Republicans, joined by seven Democrats, blocked Debo Adegbile from being confirmed to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division on Wednesday, citing his representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal...'This was always about the principle that no one should be able to make a mockery of our criminal justice system, fan the flames of racial strife in America, join a dishonest, international, anti-American campaign ... and then be confirmed to a high post in the Justice Department,' Toomey said.." [HuffPost]
Paul Ryan metaphoring hard at CPAC: "The left is making a big mistake here. What they're offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul." What we need is a Jesus-branded version of Campbells' Chunky. [The Hill]
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who is beloved by conservatives despite his French surname, looked ahead to 2016: "As he has at every CPAC in recent memory, LaPierre said the Second Amendment is under constant attacks by media elites and politicians. But while LaPierre has previously warned that President Barack Obama is going to, at any minute, launch a full-on attack against gun owners, this year he suggested the threat was having another Clinton as president." [HuffPost's Ryan Reilly]
Does Donald Trump write himself critical notes when he messes up? "Donald Trump gave a rambling speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on foreign policy, debt, immigration and the 'late, great Jimmy Carter' -- who is, in fact, still alive...Trump's speech focused on what he called President Barack Obama's failure of leadership, tying it to the conflict in Ukraine and China's recent currency decisions." [HuffPost's Elise Foley]
Mitch McConnell tried to do his best Charleston Heston impression by walking onto the CPAC stage holding a rifle. Results were mixed.
PEOPLE LOVE WEED, MAN - Emily Swanson: "A large majority of Americans want to see medical marijuana legalized, even among people who indicate they live in states where it's now illegal, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. And among those who report medical pot use is legal in their state, a big majority want the drug fully legalized. But the poll also found that some Americans either don't know or have a false impression of where their state stands on marijuana legalization. Seventy percent of respondents favored legalizing medical marijuana, compared to the 17 percent who wanted it to to be illegal. Overall, 51 percent of respondents said they think that general marijuana use should be legal, while only 34 percent said that it should not be. Among respondents who indicated they live in states where medical marijuana use is still illegal, only 24 percent want to keep it that way, while two-thirds want to see it legalized. For people who reported their states have legalized medical marijuana, it is even more overwhelmingly popular, with 85 percent agreeing it should be legalized, compared to 9 percent who disagree." [HuffPost]
This actually makes us a little bit sad: "John McCain’s home-state approval numbers have dropped considerably, according to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released Thursday. McCain -- whom the poll cites as having 'now become the least popular Senator in the country,' -- registers an approval rating of just 30 percent with Arizona voters. Fifty-four percent of respondents disapprove of the job the senator is doing, while 16 percent are not sure, according to the poll by the Democratic-aligned outfit. McCain is unpopular across all political party affiliations, the survey says, scoring a weak 35 percent positive approval rating with fellow Republicans, against a 55 percent disapproval rating with GOP voters." [HuffPost's Stephen Calabria]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a elephant rescuing another one
THE TOP TEN MOST-REPUBLICAN NAMES ARE EXACTLY WHAT YOU'D EXPECT - Shadee Ashtari: "Thanks to data from Clarity Campaign Labs, a progressive analytics consulting firm, a quick first name search reveals a name's political popularity among registered voters in the U.S., including how likely a person with that name is to be affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party, along with how likely they are to have a gun in their home, attend religious services regularly or have a college degree. Clarity’s political party model is based on a randomly selected sample of voters from party registration data in multiple states, in addition to hundreds of thousands of interviews from national party self-identification surveys...The following are the 10 most Republican names, as provided by Clarity: 10. Bradley 9. Bret 8. Randall 7. Caleb 6. Rex 5. Kent 4. Eldon 3. Randal 2. Colton 1. Tanner." [HuffPost]
- Video ad for a fake app that you can only use when drunk. [http://bit.ly/1jWolAa]
- Time has produced a phenomenal interactive series on One World Trade center, including a super hi-res photograph of New York from atop the 1,776-foot building
- Lion cubs meet their father for the first time. [http://bit.ly/1jWoQu1]
- The velociraptors in "Jurassic Park" replaced with cats. [http://bit.ly/MRBONl]
- Pretty spot-on spoof of "True Detective" from "The Soup." [http://bit.ly/1f1Kxbk]
- A hyperlapse video of a sunset from an airplane. [http://bit.ly/1e6HhqV]
@mckaycoppins: Tell me more, TPM and Huffington Post, about what conservatives think of Marco Rubio. You're the experts! http://bit.ly/MROPXr
@brianbeutler: .@mckaycoppins sometimes you gain a clearer view of a subject when you don't jam your head all the way up its ass.
@mckaycoppins: @brianbeutler thanks for weighing in brian!
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