Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - President Threatens Historically Destitute Nation With Destitution

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"You don't know me," Paul Ryan said to a man at a town hall meeting, and not -- we should add -- outside a club at 3:00 am while drunk. Harry Reid asked the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to investigate some Senate computers, possibly the only time in history a septuagenarian had a computer problem that wasn't solved by turning it off and on again. And President Obama ordered new sanctions against a number of Russian oligarchs, because if there's one way to cripple a nation, it's preventing a bunch of dudes from buying their 10th Maserati. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 20th, 2014:

HARRY REID HAS MEGA BEEF WITH CIA - Mike McAuliff: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blasted the CIA in a second Wednesday letter, alleging that the agency has engaged in a 'transparent attempt' to undermine a Senate investigation of the agency's past torture program. Reid's letter to Attorney General Eric Holder is the latest salvo in a fierce dispute between the CIA and the Senate over the long-running investigation into detainee interrogation practices, like waterboarding, during President George W. Bush's tenure. In a March 11 floor speech, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) revealed that the CIA had searched a Senate computer to determine how the committee was able to obtain an internal agency review critical of the torture program. The CIA even filed a crime report on the matter with the Department of Justice. 'In my capacity as the leader of the U.S. Senate, the CIA's actions cause me great concern," Reid wrote. 'The CIA has not only interfered with the lawful congressional oversight of its activities, but has also seemingly attempted to intimidate its overseers by subjecting them to criminal investigation. These developments strike at the heart of the constitutional separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.'" [HuffPost]

Earlier today Reid essentially called the cops on the CIA by asking the Sergeant-at-Arms to initiate a forensic examination of the computers in question. Apparently by coincidence, Terry Gainer announced he's peacing out.

OBAMA ISSUES FRESH SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA - At the very least there will be less money floating around for people to purchase gay-bashing nightsticks. Luke Johnson: "President Barack Obama announced a new round of sanctions against 20 Russians on Thursday, including a number close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The move signals a much stronger approach toward Russia just three days after earlier sanctions were met with bemusement and relief from the Russian officials who were sanctioned, as well as from the Russian markets. The latest list includes top government leaders, such as Sergey Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff, and Vladimir Kozhin, the head of the presidential administrative directorate. But perhaps more surprising is the inclusion of a number of super-wealthy oligarchs who are personally close to Putin. Brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, Putin's childhood friends and former judo partners, are named. Arkady has a net worth of $4 billion, and Boris is worth $1.7 billion, according to Forbes. Bloomberg reported that Arkady's companies got $7 billion in contracts for the Sochi Olympics. Vladimir Yakunin, head of the lucrative Russian Railways, was also listed. Yakunin got to know Putin in St. Petersburg, where the Russian president launched his political career." [HuffPost]

@TheFix: "We just couldn't be prouder" of Obamacare -- Nancy Pelosi. http://t.co/xpZZ7XhXST

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our series PASTED: The Email of the Jobless -- a note from a woman whose husband lost his job 10 months ago: "Our savings is running out, his unemployment ran out in December 2013 just as Congress denied long term benefits for those out of work. This winter was especially cold and we have oil heat and spent an average of $350 a month to heat our house. In the month of February alone we spent close to $800 in one month on oil with average temperatures in Boston in the single digits. That drained our savings fast. Without my husband's income we don't have much leftover to buy groceries or pay for gas in the car. In another month I am going to have to start putting groceries and gas on our credit cards (which are close to being maxed out) because my salary barely covers our housing and other related expenses and the little money we have left in savings will be gone. I feel like a failure. I feel like a horrible mother who has let down her children. I come home from working in a foul mood and I sometimes take it out on the kids. I feel like a horrible wife for giving my husband a hard time about not finding a job. Sometimes I wonder if he's so beat down by rejection it filters into his interviews. I feel depressed because most people in our life don't know he's not working. No one in my office knows. Most of our family and friends don't know." [Hang in there!]

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WHAT OBAMA CAN DO TO SLOW DEPORTATIONS - "Not deport people" remains the most effective approach. Elise Foley: "After years of pleas from immigration groups, President Barack Obama last week ordered a review of his administration's deportation practices to make them more humane. Obama has said in the past he can't halt deportations, and the White House has already ruled out two options, saying the Department of Homeland Security will neither suspend deportations nor expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for Dreamers to other categories of undocumented immigrants....It's unclear when the review will be completed. Here are some of the ideas for reform being floated by advocates: Use prosecutorial discretion to stop deporting people would get legal status under the Senate-passed immigration reform bill...Make sure existing policies are actually being followed... Make repeat immigration law offenders a low priority if they haven't committed other crimes...Tighten border priorities..Change the way enforcement programs like Secure Communities work...Ensure policy changes actually happen at ground-level." [HuffPost]

FOR ONLY THE SECOND TIME, LOBBYIST CHARGED WITH BREAKING LOBBYING RULES - Believing that lobbyists never break lobbying rules is like believing that staff assistants never smugly hand out their business cards at Pour House. Christina Wilkie: "Lobbyist Alan Mauk is facing a possible fine of up to $5.2 million for allegedly failing to report his lobbying activities, according to a complaint filed last week by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. The civil complaint, first reported by Legal Times, is only the second significant enforcement action ever brought by the government against a lobbyist for failing to report activities as required by under the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act. The first such case was less than a year ago. Taken together, the two cases suggest that the government may begin cracking down on those who violate rules intended to shine a light on one of the murkiest, and most profitable, sectors of Washington, D.C.'s economy...Should Mauk be found in violation of the LDA, however, it is unlikely that he would be ordered to pay the full penalty for each offense. In December 2013 a judge granted a default judgment against Biassi Business Services, which allegedly committed 126 separate LDA violations, ordering the firm to pay just $200,000 in fines in total. The penalties may be relatively small, but they also signal a new chapter in the 20 year history of LDA enforcement. Recent studies have shown that more and more lobbyists every year are going underground, by either deactivating their registration status or never registering in the first place -- despite performing tasks that would be considered lobbying. Given this trend, the government's next step in LDA enforcement may be to target those who do lobbying work without registering at all..." [HuffPost]

OBAMACARE ALSO HELPING REPUBLICANS, SCOTT BROWN LEARNS AWKWARDLY - Step aside, time Scott Brown awkwardly told the world his daughters were single, we have a new awkward sheriff in town. Sam Stein: "[Saturday,] Brown... stopped by the home of Herb Richardson, a Republican state representative. Sitting in Richardson's home, Brown called Obamacare a 'monstrosity' that members of Congress didn't even bother to read before they passed. At that point, according to the Coos County Democrat, Richardson chimed in to explain that the law had been a "financial lifesaver" for him and his wife." [HuffPost]

PAUL RYAN CONFRONTED OVER INNER CITIES REMARK - Sabrina Siddiqui: "A town hall in southeast Wisconsin turned testy for Republican Rep. Paul Ryan on Wednesday when constituents confronted the House Budget Committee chairman over his recent comments on inner-city poverty, as well as his opposition to Obamacare. The more heated exchange occurred when Alfonso Gardner, a black man from Mount Pleasant, read aloud remarks Ryan made last week on the "culture problem" among inner-city men.... Gardner told Ryan he didn't buy his explanation, according to a video posted Thursday by NBC News. 'The next day you said that statement was inarticulate. Well, I don’t believe that. You said what you meant,' Gardner told Ryan. 'Bottom line is this: This statement was not true, that’s a code word for black.' 'This is not a race thing. It's just a poor thing. Poverty knows no racial boundaries,' Ryan responded. "That’s the issue I’m trying to get at, which is we have to rethink our war on poverty and our programs so that it always pays to work. Because we have these incentives to people not to work.' The audience applauded Ryan's response, after which the Wisconsin congressman told Gardner: 'I get it. You don’t know me, so you don’t know who I really am. Race has nothing to do with this.' Gardner continued to disagree. 'Now you're trying to go back and say you didn't mean this,' he said. 'Congressman Ryan, if you didn't mean this you wouldn't have said it. People don't say stuff that they don't mean.'" [HuffPost]

"You don’t know me, so you don’t know who I really am," is a strange thing for a well-known public figure to say.

JACK KINGSTON: GOVERNMENT SHOULD DRIVE CRAPPY CAR - Because "I'm Jack Kingston and I get free lunch thanks to my fancy taxpayer-funded job" doesn't sound so great. Cameron Joseph: "Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) is up with a new ad touting his frugal ways, arguing he's the most fiscally conservative candidate in his crowded Senate race. Kingston, standing in front of his beat-up station wagon, says he's cut government spending and will cut more. 'This car has been with the Kingston family for almost 20 years. I drive it because it still runs,' he says. 'Growing up, my parents taught me the value of every hard-earned dollar. In Congress, I cut my office budget and returned over $1 million to taxpayers, and I cut Obama’s budget over $3 billion. I'm fighting to shrink big government, balance the budget and stop ObamaCare. I'm Jack Kingston, and I approve this message because you and I know the value of a dollar, and it’s time Washington learns it, too.' Kingston is one of five serious contenders for the GOP Senate nomination in Georgia. He has been using his big edge in fundraising to hit the air earlier than most of his opponents." [The Hill]

Here's a roundup of politicians' first tweets. Then-Senator Obama's 2007 inaugural micro-blog, "Thinking we're only one signature away from ending the war in Iraq. Learn more at http://www.barackobama.com" was comically, and tragically, incorrect. [National Journal]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a goat that thinks its a chicken.

OBAMA TELLS BILL O'REILLY TO LIGHTEN UP - Sam Stein: "As part of his wall-to-wall media tour to promote health care reform, President Barack Obama appeared Thursday morning on ESPN's 'The Herd with Colin Cowherd.' It's a sports radio talk show, which meant that the first chunk of the interview was spent chatting about the NCAA tournament... Cowherd had to find a clumsy transition toward talking about the Affordable Care Act. He decided to go meta, asking the president about the non-traditional media outreach he was doing, including his own show and Funny or Die's 'Between Two Ferns.' Along the way, he referenced (without name) Bill O'Reilly's criticism that President Abraham Lincoln never would have reduced himself to doing satire as a way to promote his domestic agenda.
To which Obama responded with the following: 'First of all, if you read back on Lincoln, he loved telling the occasional bawdy joke and being out among regular folks. And one of the hardest things about being president is being in this bubble that is artificial and unless you make a conscious effort, you start sounding like some Washington stiff. So you've got to consciously try to get out of that if you want to remind yourself of the wonderful people that you are supposed to be serving who have a sense of humor and aren't thinking every day about position papers.'" [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- The called shot of Wheel of Fortune guesses. [http://bit.ly/1pdA2mp]

- There isn't anything that smart cow can't do if smart cow puts its mind to it. [http://bit.ly/1gLVnmb]

- Bradley Cooper proved Louis C.K. wrong that students on "Inside the Actors Studio" become famous actors themselves. [http://bit.ly/1oB5dtp]

- Twelve survival items you can make with duct tape, which we like to call Jesus Glue. [http://bit.ly/1r151G9]

- Lady loves curtains like Chris Matthews loves yelling. [http://huff.to/1dgQvqi]

TWITTERAMA

@timothypmurphy: What's the Borowitz angle here? I'm going with "NCAA Sanctions Russia"

@elisefoley: Life rules: If you don’t want the entire office making you model glasses, don’t have a Warby Parker box shipped to the office.

@mollyesque: I remember when questioning the Holy Gospel of Nate Silver made @DylanByers Public Enemy No. 1. Now all the cool kids are doing it.

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