Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - The Government's Weed Connect Is Way Better Than Yours

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John Boehner tapped Trey Gowdy to conduct a fair and balanced inquiry into just how much the White House coordinated with Tony Rezko and Solyndra's board of directors in orchestrating the Benghazi attack. Americans still strongly support capital punishment, which isn't surprising given this is the same group who made the "Faces of Death" franchise a success. And the federal government ordered 1,000 pounds of marijuana. No word on whether it will be delivered in a giant Ziploc bag hidden beneath 10,000 pounds of coffee grounds. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 5th, 2014:

GUILTY PLEAS POSSIBLE IN BIG BANK CASES - Eric Schneiderman will almost certainly try to one-up DOJ by beelining to 270 Park Ave and literally handcuffing himself to Jamie Dimon. Politico: "Attorney General Eric Holder declared Monday that no banks are too big to be prosecuted if they engage in criminal activity, while another law enforcement official said a pair of cases against major banks may culminate in guilty pleas in the near future. 'There is no such thing as 'too big to jail,' Holder declared in a weekly video message. 'No individual or company, no matter how large or how profitable, is above the law.' Cases against Swiss bank Credit Suisse for helping Americans evade taxes through secret accounts and against French bank BNP Paribas (for dodging U.S. sanctions against Sudan and Iran) are expected to be resolved in the next couple of weeks, possibly with guilty pleas, said a law enforcement official who asked not to be named. Moving the cases to prosecution or conclusion may help Holder and the Justice Department rebut criticism that there have been virtually no prosecutions of major banks or top bank officials during the Obama Administration. However, most of that criticism has been aimed at going after those perceived as responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008 and 2009. Neither of the two cases likely to be resolved go directly to the financial crisis." [Politico]

UNCLE SAM BUYS WEED - Matt Ferner: "The federal government just ordered all the marijuana it wants -- something it would send most Americans to prison for doing. On Monday, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a new rule that increases the U.S. government's production quota for medical marijuana from an annual 21 kg to 650 kg. That's about 1,433 pounds of pot in total. The U.S. government grows marijuana for research purposes at the University of Mississippi in the only federally legal marijuana garden in the U.S. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) oversees the cultivation, production and distribution of these crops." [HuffPost]

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS OPENING PRAYER IN GOV'T MEETINGS - The majority's ruling was limited, however, as it did not advise Jews, Muslims, atheists and others to don sunglasses and the biggest pair of Beats by Dre they can get their hands on to drown out Christian invocations. "A narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings on Monday, declaring them in line with long national traditions though the country has grown more religiously diverse. The content of the prayers is not significant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts, the court said in a 5-4 decision backed by its conservative majority. Though the decision split the court along ideological lines, the Obama administration backed the winning side, the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester. The outcome relied heavily on a 1983 decision in which the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska Legislature and said prayer is part of the nation's fabric, not a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion. Writing for the court on Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that forcing clergy to scrub the prayers of references to Jesus Christ and other sectarian religious figures would turn officials into censors. Instead, Kennedy said, the prayers should be seen as ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions." [AP]

You don't say: "In cases raising First Amendment claims, a new study found, Justice Scalia voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones. In 161 cases from 1986, when he joined the court, to 2011, he voted in favor of conservative speakers 65 percent of the time and liberal ones 21 percent. He is not alone. 'While liberal justices are over all more supportive of free speech claims than conservative justices,' the study found, 'the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings of the speaker.'... The study considered 4,519 votes in 516 cases from 1953 to 2011." [NYT]

HOW GOOD IS YOUR ARIANNA IMPRESSION? Ariel Edwards-Levy: "To mark the upcoming ninth birthday of The Huffington Post, we're asking you to send in your best Arianna impression. Email it to us or post it on Vine, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ThankYouDahling. We'll feature some of our favorites on Friday, with the winner getting a yet-to-be-determined, but definitely awesome prize." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of the Jobless: "I received my last unemployment check the first week of January. Since then I have had to rely on my church or family, mainly my 72-year-old mother, to support me and my son. I'm about to lose everything. My mortgage holder has agreed that I can pay only the escrow amount to keep my house but that will only last for a little while." [Hang in there!]

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DEATH PENALTY: AMERICANS ATTITUDES UNCHANGED AFTER BOTCHED EXECUTION - Emily Swanson: Americans claim they don't want those condemned to death to suffer needlessly, but recent news of painfully botched lethal injections has not shaken their support for the death penalty, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. Sixty-five percent of Americans -- including 82 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats -- said they support the death penalty for people convicted of murder. A January HuffPost/YouGov poll similarly found that 62 percent of Americans favor the death penalty. The January poll was conducted shortly after Ohio executed Dennis McGuire, who gasped for air and took more than 20 minutes to die after being injected with an untested cocktail of drugs. Last week brought yet another grisly example of a lethal injection gone wrong. Clayton Lockett, an Oklahoma inmate, reportedly suffered a collapsed vein after the injection and writhed in pain before dying of a heart attack more than 40 minutes after the procedure began." [HuffPost]

MAY PRIMARIES A BAROMETER OF GOP ESTABLISHMENT - Politico: "The month of May will go a long way toward answering one of the overriding questions of Election 2014: Can the Republican establishment finally tame the tea party and retake the Senate? A month-long series of primaries, stretching across 10 states from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest, is the first major electoral clash between the GOP’s two wings since 2012. It kicks off Tuesday in North Carolina, where the party establishment has lined up behind state House Speaker Thom Tillis against a tea party-aligned foe, Greg Brannon, and another contender who has galvanized the Christian right, Mark Harris. Republicans in Washington have been pushed around by grass-roots activists for two straight elections. The infighting helped produce poor nominees and cost the party control of the Senate, as some tea party-backed candidates couldn’t win general elections and other establishment-backed contenders floundered...This year, the national party has shifted tactics. The GOP’s Senate campaign committee has aggressively courted critics on the right while other establishment-aligned groups have sought to prop up their preferred candidates. Republican officials have trained candidates of all stripes, even putting them through “campaign schools” to gird them for the stresses of the trail. And national party officials have stood up to outside groups targeting sitting GOP senators, at times suggesting they’re more interested in raising money from activists than helping the broader party’s cause." [Politico]

BOEHNER PICKS LAWMAKER TO LEAD BENGHAZI PANEL - Roll Call: "Rep. Trey Gowdy will head a special committee tasked with investigating the White House response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio announced Monday. South Carolina Republican Gowdy, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a 49-year-old former federal prosecutor and a beneficiary of the 2010 tea party wave, is known as a sharp and effective communicator. He is well respected among House conservatives. 'Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come. His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel. I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration,' Boehner said in a statement. He added, 'I plan to ensure he and his committee have the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts. This is a big job, but Rep. Gowdy has the confidence of this conference, and I know his professionalism and grit will earn him the respect of the American people.' It is unclear if the committee would have any powers beyond those held by existing House committees that have been investigating the administration’s response to the 2012 attack." [Roll Call]

The White House is not amused: "The White House suggested Monday it may not cooperate with a new House select committee investigating the terror attack in Benghazi. Press secretary Jay Carney said that the White House has 'always cooperated with legitimate oversight,' but called the new probe a 'highly partisan effort to politicize' the deadly attack...Carney refused to answer questions directly about whether the White House would cooperate, but he noted that there had been 13 congressional hearings, 50 member-and staff briefings, and over 25,000 pages of documents produced over the September 11, 2012 terror attack, in which four Americans were killed." [The Hill]

BuzzFeed's list of the 101 things the political world cared about 10 years ago might make you rethink Benghazi's staying power.

HOLDER OFFERS NIGERIA ASSISTANCE IN SEARCH FOR KIDNAPPED SCHOOLGIRLS - Laura Bassett: "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is offering to send FBI agents to help rescue more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, a senior Justice Department source told The Huffington Post on Monday. Holder has also ordered an intelligence assessment of Boko Haram, which the United States designated as a terrorist organization in November 2013. The group, whose name means 'Western education is sin,' receives training from al Qaeda and its affiliates. 'Let me be clear,' Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday during a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 'The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes.' On April 14, members of Boko Haram invaded a boarding school in Nigeria, pulled 276 girls from their beds and packed them into trucks. At least 53 girls have escaped, while the rest are allegedly being sold as brides to local militants for $12, according to the girls' relatives. Abubakar Shekau, a man claiming to be the leader of Boko Haram, took credit for the kidnapping in a video obtained Monday by Agence France-Press and said he is selling the girls as wives to prevent them from receiving a Western education." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a persistent duck.

ABOUT THAT TIME NANCY PELOSI GOT INKED UP - We figured the only reason Nancy Pelosi would head to the main drag in Adams Morgan would be the same as everyone else: to drink, eat pizza and cry. Apparently not. Slate: "To promote [Veep], HBO released a 7-minute short that follows [Julie Louis-Dreyfus' character] as she ditches...[the] White House Correspondents Dinner to spend the day with actual vice-president Joe Biden—an outing that mostly involves the power duo zooming around D.C. in a bright yellow Corvette...besides Biden, there's a lecture on healthy eating habits from Michelle Obama, a tattoo parlor rendezvous with Nancy Pelosi, and a folksy phone call with John Boehner." [Slate]

It also features John Boehner saying "Hey, girl" which makes our day.

COMFORT FOOD

- Photographs of the world's biggest statues. [http://slate.me/RlewlF]

- The much-needed web app that turns any webpage into a shrine to Cookie Monster. [http://bit.ly/SsTz9y]

- Rock-climbing bear [http://bit.ly/R7PvKF]

- Full video of Joel McHale's White House Correspondents Dinner speech. [http://bit.ly/SoN0VC]

- In honor of "Star Wars" Day, here are 35 Far Far Away babies. [http://huff.to/1g31eAv]

- Forget the elliptical: performing the talent show dance from "Napoleon Dynamite" 100 times in a row is the best cardio workout. [http://huff.to/1kF5SHv]

- Myths about sex. [http://bit.ly/1juP8oi]

TWITTERAMA

@NickBaumann: "And now, Wolf, we'll go to Johnny Weir with the latest on MH370."

@pourmecoffee: Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica and Benghazi.

@milekahn: Future Meet The Press guests:

•Adam Levine
•Ke$ha
•One of the Teen Moms, not sure which
•Doris Kearns Goodwin
•A moldy apple

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