Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - They See Enrollin', They Hatin'

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Vladimir Putin says he won't try to annex Alaska --- truly the final nail in the coffin of Sarah Palin's dream to see Russia from her house. The Clintons are going to be grandparents, meaning Clinton insiders will soon anonymously question whether the duo are surrounding themselves with the right grandchildren. And a Republican consultant founded -- and then quickly disbanded -- a "Boats N Hoes" Super PAC. Potential donors were invited to put their contributions in the empty Keystone case by the door. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, April 17th, 2014:

OBAMACARE: EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE ENROLL IN HEALTH INSURANCE - Eight million people. That means eight times as many people have bought into the pernicious socialist takeover of our government than bought Bill O'Reilly's "Killing Lincoln." Times: "President Obama on Thursday announced that eight million people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and that 35 percent are under the age of 35, countering the criticism that it would attract mainly older and sicker people. In detailing the statistics, the White House said 18- to 34-year-olds made up 28 percent of enrollees. The 35 percent number included children who would typically be covered by a parent’s policy. While the number of younger applicants has risen, it remains below the level that some private analysts said is necessary for the long-term viability of the insurance marketplace. Mr. Obama also said that millions of the enrollees had purchased private insurance for the first time, strengthening the administration’s case that the new health law was expanding coverage, not simply moving people from one insurance plan to another." [NYT]

Crazy theory on why people are signing up from Sarah Kliff: "Being uninsured is horrible. But the political conversation over Obamacare was driven almost entirely by people who had, and knew they would be able to keep, their health insurance. It was filled with a lot of assumptions, theories, and speculations about what people who didn't have good insurance, or any insurance, would do. And after Obamacare's disastrous launch, the theory took hold that these people wouldn't find this untested program worth the trouble. It was the permanently insured speculating about the uninsured and the barely insured – and, unsurprisingly, they got it wrong." [Vox.com]

CHELSEA CLINTON PREGNANT - Clinton and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expecting the baby "later this year," she said. "I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me," Clinton said. Unsure what it means for 2016. [HuffPost]

It's 3:00 AM and your children are safe and asleep, but there's a grandchild in the White House and it's crying...

OBAMA SPOKE TO ERIC CANTOR ABOUT… SOMETHING - Seung Min Kim: "President Barack Obama spoke with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor about immigration reform on Wednesday, hours after the president sharply criticized House Republicans for stalling an overhaul this year. But the White House says Obama was just trying to wish Cantor, who is Jewish, a happy Passover. The Wednesday phone call, disclosed in a statement from Cantor, underscored just how far House Republicans and the White House are from an agreement on rewriting the nation’s immigration laws this year. The two sides couldn’t even agree on the nature of a phone call. 'The president called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together,' Cantor said in a statement." [Politico]

Cantor spokesman @rorycooper: End of conversation: Leader Cantor: Happy Easter. President Obama: Happy Passover. Yes, that was friendly and appreciated.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Heidi Shierholz: "The long-term unemployment rate is between 2.9 and 4.3 times as high now as it was six years ago for all age, education, occupation, industry, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. Today’s long-term unemployment crisis is not at all confined to unlucky or inflexible workers who happen to be looking for work in specific occupations or industries where jobs aren’t available. Long-term unemployment is elevated in every group, in every occupation, in every industry, at all levels of education. Elevated long-term unemployment for all groups, like we see today, means that today’s long-term unemployment crisis is not due to something wrong with these workers, it is due to the fact that businesses across the board simply haven’t needed to significantly increase hiring because they haven’t seen demand for their goods and services pick up enough to warrant it." [Economic Policy Institute]

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POOR PEOPLE AREN'T ALL LOSERS - Conservatives often say the poor and jobless got that way because of their own personal failings, but Americans tend to blame the plain old free market. A new HuffPost/YouGov poll released Thursday finds Americans generally think both the rich and the poor ended up where they are more because of the opportunities they had in life than because of personal successes or failures. But not everyone feels that way. Republicans are far more likely to pat rich Americans on the back for their hard work while blaming poor Americans for not working hard enough. Among all Americans, 44 percent said they think poor people are poor mostly because of a lack of opportunities, while only 30 percent said it's mostly because of their individual failings. More specifically, 47 percent said poverty has to do more with the fact good jobs aren't available, while only 28 percent said it's because poor people have a poor work ethic. [w/ HuffPost's Emily Swanson]

SUPER PACS STAYING IN THE FAMILY - By "grassroots," they mean "Uncle Jeff." Paul Blumenthal: " As super PACs supporting a single politician proliferate across the country ahead of the 2014 elections, some are reaching out for contributions from the family and friends of the candidates they support, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Family members and business associates of Dan Sullivan, a Republican Senate candidate in Alaska, have contributed the majority of the funds raised so far by pro-Sullivan super PAC Alaska's Energy-America's Values. In Minnesota, former entertainment colleagues of Sen. Al Franken (D) have made thousands in contributions to a super PAC supporting the former comedian's reelection campaign. A super PAC backing Oregon Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby has raised eyebrows due to large contributions from lumber executive Andrew Miller, who is reportedly in a relationship with Wehby, according to the Oregonian and other outlets." [HuffPost]

Veep viewer Dave Weigel has identified the Veepiest people in Washington for Rolling Stone.

'BOATS N HOES PAC' FORMS, THEN DISBANDS - We're actually somewhat surprised a GOP convention hasn't been "Golf Bros, Tennis Hoes" themed. Laura Bassett: "As Texas Republicans struggle to win over women voters, a staffer at a prominent GOP political consulting firm registered a new political action committee in the state called 'Boats 'N Hoes PAC.' The San Antonio Express-News first reported that Shaun Nowacki, comptroller for Blakemore & Associates, registered the PAC with the Texas Ethics Commission earlier this month. Nowacki's firm has been hired by the campaigns of Texas Republicans Greg Abbott for governor, Dan Patrick for lieutenant governor, and Donna Campbell for state senator. The purpose of the PAC is unclear. It's registered as a 'general purpose committee,' which means it can contribute money to anyone. It has not yet released any financial disclosures. Nowacki did not respond to a request for comment. Texas Democrats released a statement on Wednesday tying the offensively named PAC to what it said was the GOP's 'pattern of disrespect' toward women...The Boats 'N Hoes PAC will be dissolved on Thursday, Nowacki's boss, Allen Blakemore, told The Texas Tribune." [HuffPost]

@taniel: Burned by a series of polls showing Mark Pryor unexpectedly leading, Crossroads release an internal poll that shows #ARSen is... tied.

What, can't a guy love democracy without people asking questions? Amanda Terkel: 'William Bryk lives in Brooklyn and has never been much farther west than Buffalo. But that's not stopping him from running for U.S. Senate this year in Alaska -- and Idaho and Oregon. 'I'm just making myself available to the people of more than one state,' Bryk told The Spokesman-Review. 'The voters have not yet taken advantage of the opportunity to retain my services, but one lives in hope.' This isn't Bryk's first election cycle running for Senate in a state he doesn't live in. He's also run for office in Wyoming, Idaho and Indiana in the past. In 2000, he even won the GOP vice presidential primary in New Hampshire." [HuffPost]

HALF OF AMERICANS SUPPORT STRICTER GUN CONTROL - While the other half wonder why they aren't included as McDonald's Happy Meals treats and featured more prominently in "Frozen." Emily Swanson: "Support for stricter gun laws has leveled off from its peak following 2012's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. Continued gun violence since then, including numerous mass shootings, seems to have had little impact on support for new laws. Forty-nine percent of Americans now support making gun laws stricter. That's the same as the number who said so in a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in December, but below the peak of 60 percent reached in January 2013, a month after the Newtown school massacre. In the new poll, 24 percent said they thought gun laws didn't need to be changed, and 20 percent said they should be made even looser than they already are. Support for universal background checks for gun buyers, including those purchasing weapons at gun shows and from private sellers, remains high, with 79 percent in favor and 13 percent opposed. Universal background checks are far less divisive than gun control generally. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents said they would favor new background check requirements." [HuffPost]

Elsewhere in opinions: "Support for legalizing marijuana divides along party lines, with 62 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and only 32 percent of Republicans backing legal pot in the most recent poll. But the idea of legalizing other drugs draws little support across the political spectrum. While Republicans tended to favor legalization the least, support among Democrats and independents didn't reach 20 percent for any drug and was lower for most." [Swanson]

CONGRESS REACTS TO PORN - They know it when they see it... and they know how to trick an intern, too. National Journal: "Congressional offices have a porn problem, but it's not exactly what you think. Since 1983, Larry Flynt has sent the monthly magazine he founded, Hustler, to each and every member of Congress. The dirty mag comes in a plain manila envelope, fairly undetectable to the poor intern or staffer tasked with opening the mail. And every month, there it is: Hustler, featuring dozens of naked or scantly dressed women, vulgar comics, and articles, some satirical, on politics, society, and sex...Some staffers say it has become a lighthearted way for them to have a little fun—and not just by reading it. Most of the time the magazine ends up in the trash. But take these five examples from staffers (quotes are edited to preserve anonymity): 'I "forget" to mention it to interns and wait to watch the look of horror on their face when they open it in a congressional office.'... 'Some buddies and I collected them for several months, and then sent them all to the same friend in one day. The recipient worked in the back office, so they'd be delivered to him from that office's staff assistant in piles as the mail came in.'" [NJ]

Jason Linkins' out-of-office auto reply hews awfully close to the platonic ideal: "Hello! I will be out of the office until Monday, April 28. During that time, I will not be reading my email, unless it's HuffPost Hill or the 'Today In Tabs' newsletter. Believe me when I say that on most days, I wish those were the only two emails I get... If you are a publicist, a flack, or a promoter of any kind, I promise that when I return on the 28th that I will open my inbox and delete your emails as quickly as possible." Enjoy your time off, Jason!

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a friendly dog.

PUTIN WON'T ANNEX ALASKA - We're still worried about Spain pulling a fast one on Florida. Shadee Ashtari: "Russian President Vladimir Putin quashed the possibility that Russia would annex Alaska while on a question-and-answer call-in show Thursday, adding that the former Russian colony is cold, too. Amid rising Russian nationalism after the president’s annexation of Crimea, Putin responded to an audience member’s suggestion of annexing Alaska during the televised national phone-in, asking, 'Faina Ivanovna, my dear, why do you want Alaska?' Russia is a 'northern country' and 70 percent of its territory lies in 'Northern and extreme Northern regions,' Putin said, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti. 'Is Alaska really in the Southern Hemisphere? It’s cold there, too. Let's not get hot-headed,' he added. Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1867 for $7.2 million. 'Who needs Alaska?' Putin added. A White House petition calling for Alaska to secede from the U.S. and rejoin Russia has garnered more than 42,000 signatures since the initiative launched in March." [HuffPost]

Amazing Dave McKenna story about the terribleness of DCPS sports programs.

COMFORT FOOD

- Blake Griffin partook in a live reading of "Space Jam" because Blake Griffin is awesome. [http://bit.ly/1r32qsv]

- Scientists have discovered a far-off world that is being called Earth's "twin." Wonder if they have Dominos Breakfast Pizza, too. [http://nyti.ms/P97jUd]

- Famous photographs brought alive by the POWER OF GIFS. [http://huff.to/1r32p7J]

- For the enterprising caveman, here's how to start fires without matches. [http://bit.ly/1qQbiDm]

- Because these can't all be cat videos, here's a 1956 British television feature on the construction of cricket balls. [http://bit.ly/P97EpX]

- A Russian firefighter made a magic carpet. [http://bit.ly/1jOf3GF]

TWITTERAMA

@mollyesuqe: A nation cries out for leadership, but the Clinton baby just wants to make art

@pourmecoffee: Obama: I came here to provide Americans with affordable health care and chew gum and I'm all out of gum.

@nickbaumann: Now if Bo Obama were running for governor, that'd be a real story.

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