POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - We Haven't Found That Malaysian Plane, But Here's Some Timely Political News

03/18/2014 05:59 pm ET

Americans are so transfixed by the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, we're surprised Chuck Schumer hasn't seized the hour with a bill forbidding airplanes from disappearing. Politico belittled the offensiveness of Hitler comparisons, which is exactly something Hitler would've done. And some of the language on Scott Brown's exploratory website is so creepy you'd think it was uttered by a man in a Members Only jacket staring at you from across a bar while applying Chapstick. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 18th, 2014:

FEDERAL DRUG PROSECUTION AT 14-YEAR LOWS - We congratulate the Choom Gang on its successful infiltration of government. Ryan Reilly: "The number of drug defendants charged by the federal government in January dropped to its lowest monthly level in nearly 14 years, not long after Attorney General Eric Holder began rolling out a series of changes to the criminal justice system. The latest statistics, compiled by Syracuse University's TRAC program, also appear to show that the number of defendants charged with drug offenses during the six-month period from August through January is the lowest six-month total since the end of the Reagan administration. In January 2014, there were 1,487 new drug prosecutions, down 7.8 percent from December and down 11.5 percent from January 2013, according to the TRAC report...The reduced numbers follow last year's launch of Holder's 'Smart on Crime' initiative. As part of that effort, the attorney general this past week announced a new policy making it easier for some drug defendants to obtain shorter sentences." [HuffPost]

@AprilDRyan: Spotted in West Wing headed 2 Oval Office Lenny Kravitz. I was unclear if he died in the Hunger Games. He said, " I"m out of there!"

DEMS PUSH OBAMA ON ENDA ORDER - He's evolving on that and will get back to you. Amanda Terkel: "Forty-seven senators and 148 members of the House have signed a letter putting pressure on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order providing workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. 'We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a 'year of action' and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, 'now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,'' the letter says." [HuffPost]

MORAL INJURY - Super reporting by HuffPost superstar reporter David Wood on unseen war injuries -- and not just PTSD: "How do we begin to accept that Nick Rudolph, a thoughtful, sandy-haired Californian, was sent to war as a 22-year-old Marine and in a desperate gun battle outside Marjah, Afghanistan, found himself killing an Afghan boy? That when Nick came home, strangers thanked him for his service and politicians lauded him as a hero? Can we imagine ourselves back on that awful day in the summer of 2010, in the hot firefight that went on for nine hours? Men frenzied with exhaustion and reckless exuberance, eyes and throats burning from dust and smoke, in a battle that erupted after Taliban insurgents castrated a young boy in the village, knowing his family would summon nearby Marines for help and the Marines would come, walking right into a deadly ambush. Here’s Nick, pausing in a lull. He spots somebody darting around the corner of an adobe wall, firing assault rifle shots at him and his Marines. Nick raises his M-4 carbine. He sees the shooter is a child, maybe 13. With only a split second to decide, he squeezes the trigger and ends the boy’s life. The body hits the ground. Now what?" [HuffPost]

Politico shrugs with detached amusement at the subset of people offended by wildly inappropriate Hitler analogies. Morning: won.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Lazy reporting by Louisiana TV station WAFB: "A south Louisiana lingerie store has posted on its front door to indicate it accepts most credit cards, including the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Kiss My Lingerie, in Gonzales, sells adult specialty items. The store moved into the Magnolia Shopping Center on South Burnside Avenue a few years ago. However, accepting the EBT payment is something that happened eight months ago, according to the owner….A woman who works near the store and asked not to be identified said in the last few weeks, she's noticed more people going inside the adult shop. She added that's when she saw the message on the front door of the store that the EBT card is listed as an acceptable form of payment. 'We were told anything could be purchased there, with the food stamp card,' she said. 'No child I know eats edible underwear.'" The story, titled "Buy Lingerie With Food Stamps," fails to note that the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program does not allow EBT cards to be used for non-food purchases. This CBS affiliate's viewers in Baton Rouge area residents will be getting their policy information from some anonymous lady who saw a sign. [WAFB]

HuffPost Haircuts: Joel Paque (h/t Joel Paque), Melissa Silverman (h/t Joel Paque), Ryan Reilly (h/t Ryan Reilly) and Elise Foley (h/t .

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EIGHTY-PLUS SENATORS URGE OBAMA TO TOUGHEN IRAN STANCE - Roll Call: "A toughly worded letter to President Barack Obama on the Iran nuclear negotiations signed by 83 senators lays out principles for any agreement and warns of tough new sanctions on Iran if the talks fail. “We must signal unequivocally to Iran that rejecting negotiations and continuing its nuclear weapon program will lead to much more dramatic sanctions, including further limitations on Iran’s exports of crude oil and petroleum products,” the letter states. The letter was led by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H." [Roll Call]

Doesn't hurt to try: "The Ugandan president committed to meeting with American 'experts' on homosexuality to try to change his mind about the Anti-Homosexuality Act signed into law last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday during a forum at the State Department moderated by BuzzFeed." [BuzzFeed]

CHRISTIE AIDE LANDS AT GOP LAW FIRM - This stemming from a Jersey political scandal, we hope it's a no-show job. Politico: "A central figure in the George Washington Bridge scandal looming over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie quietly accepted a job at a top Republican consulting firm late last month. Bill Stepien, who ran both of Christie’s gubernatorial campaigns, signed on to help the phone-banking and data giant FLS Connect with sales and strategy on its voter contact products, according to a source with knowledge of the relationship...It’s a soft landing for Stepien, who was rising quickly in GOP politics and had drawn comparisons to Karl Rove before becoming embroiled in the Bridgegate scandal. Emails released as part of an investigation into the apparently politically motivated closure of lanes on the bridge showed Stepien was kept apprised of the resulting traffic problems and made light of them. Responding to news reports in which a mayor who had run afoul of Christie complained about the traffic, Stepien responded in a private email to another Christie aide: “It’s fine. The mayor is an idiot, though. (Win) some, lose some.” [Politico]

TED CRUZ SPENDING A LOT OF TIME IN IOWA - Presumably to test the presidential waters and brag about how he's shut down Washington more than the snow has. AP: "Texas tea party darling U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is making his fourth trip to Iowa in eight months, logging serious face-time before most other potential 2016 White House hopefuls in the state that kicks off presidential voting. Cruz will keynote a Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators' event Tuesday in Des Moines before heading to Mason City for a GOP fundraiser with Iowa's U.S. Rep. Steve King, with whom Cruz went pheasant hunting. The trip comes five months after Cruz addressed the Iowa Republican Party's annual Ronald Reagan dinner, and he met with Christian conservatives and evangelical leaders during two visits last summer. That's more Iowa trips than any of the other Republicans mentioned as possible presidential contenders, except for fellow tea party-backed U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. But Cruz's brand of social conservatism may excite much of the party's base more easily than Paul's Libertarian ideals. On this trip, Cruz will be courting home school advocates, who are often deeply religious and politically active. Their support helped the last two Republicans win Iowa's presidential caucus: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania in 2012." [HuffPost]

One of the taglines on Scott Brown's Senate exploratory page is a little unsettling: "Run Scott Run: I'm Behind You." Was "Scott Brown: We're Watching You And Your Family!" taken? Or "Scott Brown: We're Thinking About You A Lot"?

FORMER UTAH AG IS BASICALLY FRANK UNDERWOOD - But likely didn't look aside at awkward moments and mutter nonsensical maxims. Times: "It is the nightmare scenario for those who worry that the modern campaign finance system has opened up new frontiers of political corruption: A candidate colludes with wealthy corporate backers and promises to defend their interests if elected.... But according to investigators, exactly such a plan is unfolding in an extraordinary case in Utah, a state with a cozy political establishment, where business holds great sway and there are no limits on campaign donations...In Utah, the documents show, a former state attorney general, John Swallow, sought to transform his office into a defender of payday loan companies, an industry criticized for preying on the poor with short-term loans at exorbitant interest rates. Mr. Swallow, who was elected in 2012, resigned in November after less than a year in office amid growing scrutiny of potential corruption....Mr. Swallow and his campaign, they say, exploited a web of vaguely named nonprofit organizations in several states to mask hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders. His campaign strategist, Jason Powers, both established the groups — known as 501(c)(4)s after the section of the federal tax code that governs them — and raked in consulting fees as the cash moved between them. And affidavits filed by the Utah State Bureau of Investigation suggest that Mr. Powers may have falsified tax documents submitted to the Internal Revenue Service." [NYT]

NAVY YARD REVIEW: TOO MANY SECURITY CLEARANCES - Roll Call: "An independent review of the security clearance process released six months after the Navy Yard shooting finds the U.S. government has exposed classified national security information, often at very sensitive levels, to far too many people. It also concurs with the findings of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report that suggested the tragedy could have been prevented. Officials at the Pentagon said Tuesday that the Department of Defense approaches security from a perimeter perspective, rather than looking at insider threats. They suggest the government should subject security-clearance holders to more intense scrutiny and try to trim the number of people with access to the nation’s most sensitive information. 'Far too many people have security clearances,' said Paul N. Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense for homeland security who was part of the independent panel appointed by the DOD in the wake of the Sept. 16 shooting." [Roll Call]

GOP LAWMAKER SAYS SICK LEAVE MAKES WOMEN 'LOOK LIKE WHINERS' - And the Seneca Falls Convention basically made Elizabeth Cady Stanton look like someone with too much time on her hands. Laura Bassett: "A package of bills in Minnesota that would enhance women's economic security by raising the minimum wage, providing paid family and sick leave and addressing the gender pay gap makes women 'look like whiners,' a state GOP lawmaker said last week. 'We heard several bills last week about women's issues and I kept thinking to myself, these bills are putting us backwards in time,' State Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R) told colleagues at a Wednesday hearing on one of the measures. 'We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women and almost making us look like whiners.'...The package of bills, introduced by Rep. Carly Melin (D), is currently moving through committees in Minnesota's Democrat-controlled House and Senate. One of the measures, the minimum wage bill, passed on a party-line vote last year in both chambers and is currently in conference committee. Supporters of the package are expecting it to pass, despite Republican opposition." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a puppy who loves hills

'SUPER PAC' IS OFFICIALLY PART OF THE VERNACULAR - "I'm excited to be joining Americans for Prosperity and have valued my time at the Finance Committee" is not in the dictionary -- it is a sentence, not a word. National Journal: "In the world of words, you haven't truly made it until you get into Merriam-Webster. Well, "super PAC," you've hit the big time, baby. Merriam-Webster has added the term to its online unabridged dictionary, reports the Center for Public Integrity's Dave Levinthal. 'Super PAC,' as Merriam-Webster defines it, is 'a type of political action committee that is legally permitted to raise and spend larger amounts of money than the amounts allowed for a conventional PAC.' It's difficult to imagine a world in which a super PAC existed, but was officialy known as "independent expenditure-only political action committee." You can thank Roll Call's Eliza Newlin Carney for the much shorter and more exciting term; she apparently coined it in 2010 when she was a National Journal reporter." [NJ]

COMFORT FOOD

- Neil deGrasse Tyson sounds absolutely hammered when his voice is slowed down. [http://bit.ly/1mfIFQc]

- Facebook's "DeepFace" program is why Mark Zuckerberg cannot be trusted. [http://huff.to/1fFmVVL]

- Patton Oswalt spoofs "True Detective." [http://bit.ly/1gL2ebJ]

- The Cleveland Cavs may be a terrible basketball team, but their pre-game graphics display is incredible. [http://bit.ly/1fETJhC]

- The websites of G8 countries, ranked. [http://bit.ly/1eOZLMZ]

- Cat wants, but can't have, lizard. [http://bit.ly/OtonVl]

- Wes Anderson really likes centering his shots, as this mashup clearly demonstrates. [http://bit.ly/1kY81Sz]

TWITTERAMA

@mollyesque: Could Mitt Romney and Lorde actually be the same person? Both wealthy, divisive, polite & misunderstood. Never been seen together

@nickbaumann: Area [Government Agency] Flack Says It's [Government Agency's] Policy to Not Have Its Employees Named in News Stories

@delrayser: Please wait until my 2nd cup of coffee before telling me all about your latest Flight 370 theory based off something you read on Google+.

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