HUFFPOST HILL - Southern Dems Miraculously In Lead, Benghazi Probably To Blame

05/12/2014 06:18 pm ET | Updated May 12, 2014

John Boehner is surprised he’s lived to 65, which really is surprising given his body’s inability to metabolize chuckleheads. Beyonce's sister employed Michael Grimm tactics against Jay Z. And Mark Pryor holds a commanding 10-point lead over Tom Cotton, proving that Pryor’s inability to resonate with Arkansas’ voters is… resonating with Arkansas’ voters. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 12th, 2014:

BOEHNER WON'T COMMIT TO TWO MORE YEARS AS SPEAKER... ALSO BAR BAR BAR BENGHAZI TRUTHS!!! BAR BAR BAR - Hell no, he can't! Politico: "John Boehner says he fully expects to be speaker of the House after the next election. But whether he serves a whole term is another question. The Ohio Republican, speaking to a luncheon here sponsored by a group of local chambers of commerce, said he can’t 'predict what’s going to happen,' and stopped short of fully committing to serving another full two-year term. 'Listen, I’m going to be 65-years-old in November,' Boehner said. 'I never thought I’d live to be 60. So I’m living on borrowed time.' It’s extraordinarily rare for Boehner to sit down for an open-ended, live interview, but he did so here with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith, a mainstay of the Lone Star State’s journalism scene. He touched on issues ranging from immigration to Benghazi, to his quiet campaign to convince Jeb Bush to run for president...But Boehner’s non-committal response about his future will reverberate from here all the way back to Capitol Hill and K Street. His future has been a topic of constant chatter among political types. Even people inside his orbit privately wonder why the Ohio Republican would want to serve another term wielding the speaker’s gavel, given the tumultuous political climate in Washington. Last week, Boehner beat back two primary opponents to ensure his House reelection." [Politico]

Hmmmmm: "A top aide to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is departing to serve as spokesman for an association representing thousands of health insurers. Brendan Buck, who has served as one of Boehner's top spokesmen for more than three years, will depart today to head up communications for America's Health Insurance Plans, which represents thousands of health-care providers. Buck is a towering, lanky presence in the U.S. Capitol perhaps best known to political reporters nationwide as one of the few voices who speaks on behalf of Boehner and the broader House Republican Conference. He has focused especially on rapid response to comments and policy introduced by President Obama and congressional Democrats." [WaPo]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST ENRAGED BY DOUBLE STANDARDS - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, whose fear of polonium 210 has been rekindled in the wake of Russia's aggressive behavior in Eastern Europe, kept his Russophobia at bay just long enough to send us Rand Paul's op-ed demanding an appellate court nominee's views on drones be made public. "I just wish you guys would hold Obama to half the standard you held Cheney to," PSLGOPL writes. "Oh well, life is pointless." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

IF AMERICA REALLY CARED ABOUT MOMS WE WOULDN'T TREAT THEM LIKE CRAP - Just a reminder that American moms get no maternity leave, no paid vacation, no sick leave. [Vox]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of the Jobless: "Lost benefits in December, working with 3 different employment agencies..fill out at least 10 applications a day. On a dozen job sites daily...being evicted from my apartment..got food stamps... Owe family money that barely has it for themselves.. Referred to a psychologist for mental health..utilities are past due with shut off...." [Hang in there!]

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BENGHAZI FOCUS MESSING UP U.S. OPERATIONS IN AFRICA - John Kerry should send a passive aggressive memo to all State Department employees informing them that "these colors" do, in fact, "run." Josh Hersh: "In early January, as a violent rebellion flared across South Sudan, the world's youngest country, the U.S. State Department announced that it would contribute $50 million to emergency programs to alleviate the suffering... In the days prior to the announcement, U.S. officials had been evacuated from the embassy in the capital of Juba, along with the rest of the mission's 'non-emergency personnel' -- a move that for the next few months would leave Juba with as few as one American staffer from USAID and a 'skeletal' selection of other diplomatic officials. The decision to empty out the embassy in Juba came amid a frenzy of violence in South Sudan, including rebel attacks on the capital itself, which officials say left embassy staff in grave danger. Four American service members were wounded by gunfire during the evacuation itself. But the move was also made, several current and former U.S. officials with Africa experience say, in an atmosphere colored by the ongoing political fallout from the September 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead and caused a surge of partisan outrage on Capitol Hill...Africa experts and former officials say the politicized uproar from Republicans in Congress over parts of the controversy not directly related to safety -- like a set of White House talking points -- has created another consideration for bureaucrats and political appointees who weigh the risks of maintaining a diplomatic presence in dangerous places: the fear of being dragged before a congressional hearing or pilloried on the Sunday morning talk shows should anything go wrong." [HuffPost]

POLL: KENTUCKIANS HATE OBAMACARE, DON'T HATE OBAMACARE - Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Residents of Kentucky may hate Obamacare, but they're much less hostile toward Kynect, the state's health exchange created to comply with the law. In a survey released Monday, NBC News and Marist asked half the respondents what they thought about Obamacare and the other half what they thought about Kynect. Neither program was especially popular: Just 33 percent felt favorably toward Obamacare and just 29 percent toward Kynect. But a 56 percent majority disliked Obamacare, while just 22 percent felt negatively toward Kynect. Most Kentucky residents were undecided about the state exchange, with 50 percent saying they'd never heard of Kynect or weren't sure how they felt. Less than 12 percent were unsure about or unfamiliar with Obamacare. Kynect's largely successful rollout hasn't generated goodwill for Obamacare, but the new survey numbers suggest the state exchange has avoided being mired in partisanship to the same degree. The biggest difference in views of the two programs comes among Republicans. The percentage of GOP respondents who were unfavorable toward Obamacare was 51 percentage points higher than the percentage who felt that way about Kynect. That margin was 42 points for independents and 18 points for Democrats." [HuffPost]

DEMOCRATS POLLING WELL IN THREE SOUTHERN STATES - NBC News: "Democratic candidates are holding their own in three key Senate races despite a daunting political environment for their party in the upcoming midterm elections, according to new NBC News-Marist polls of Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky. And in one race in particular, Democrats are more than just competitive. In Arkansas, with less than six months until Election Day 2014, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., leads Republican challenger Tom Cotton by 11 points among registered voters, 51 percent to 40 percent. (That finding is largely in line with other polling from that race since April showing Pryor either leading or tied.) In Georgia, Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is running neck and neck against all of her potential GOP opponents in November. And in Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is within one point of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell among registered voters, 46 percent to 45 percent...The NBC-Marist polls of states holding primaries on May 20 also show that establishment Republicans are leading their Tea Party rivals in the intra-party contests in Georgia and Kentucky." [NBC News]

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CHIEF PRESSES GOP ON IMMIGRATION REFORM - Strong words from Washington's own silver fox (sorry, Anderson). Elise Foley: "U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue promised Monday to keep pushing for immigration reform, quipping that the GOP should just stay home in the next presidential election if it doesn't address the issue. 'If the Republicans don't do it, they shouldn't bother to run a candidate in 2016,' Donohue said at an event to discuss the nation's infrastructure. 'I mean, think about that. Think about who the voters are.' Pro-immigration reform conservatives have been saying since the 2012 election that if Republicans don't get on board with an immigration bill, they will doom their chances with Latino voters, a majority of whom support reform. After GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's disastrous result with Latino voters, Republicans quickly acted to draft and pass a comprehensive reform bill in the Senate. The Chamber of Commerce, led by Donohue, helped reach a deal on worker provisions with the AFL-CIO labor federation that was instrumental in moving the bill. But immigration reform has gone nowhere in the House. Donohue said he believes the House could pass a bill this year, and his organization will keep up the pressure. Last week, the Chamber of Commerce announced a $3 million ad buy that will be supportive of Republican candidates, including two who have been supportive of immigration reform: Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.)." [HuffPost]

The "Morning Joe" set are picking their candidates: "Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that it's 'cheap politics' to attack Hillary Clinton for her handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He spoke highly of the former secretary of state as well as potential 2016 rival Jeb Bush in a recent interview with Politico. “Hillary, you know, I’ve worked with [when she was a] senator and just as a friend, that sort of thing. I think most of the criticisms of Hillary are totally unfounded — you can maybe disagree with her policies, but what’d you expect her to do in Benghazi?” he said. “I mean, it’s that kind of cheap politics which I don’t like. She’s very competent...Jeb’s on the board of the [Bloomberg] Foundation. I think he did a very good job on education in Florida. He’s good on education,' Bloomberg said. 'He’s good on immigration, and he’s had the courage to stand up.'" [HuffPost]

MCAULIFFE ORDERS REVIEW OF VIRGINIA'S ABORTION CLINIC RESTRICTIONS - The abortion issue aside, there's something darkly hilarious about Terry McAuliffe bemoaning "political interference." Laura Bassett: "Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced on Monday that he is appointing five new members to the state Board of Health and ordering the board to review controversial abortion clinic regulations. 'I am concerned that the extreme and punitive regulations adopted last year jeopardize the ability of most women’s health centers to keep their doors open and place in jeopardy the health and reproductive rights of Virginia women,' McAuliffe said. The new regulations, part of a nationwide push for so-called 'TRAP' laws, short for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, require existing first-trimester abortion clinics to comply with construction standards used for hospitals. It forces them to build hallways that are specific widths, locker rooms for staff members, new ventilation systems and larger parking lots. The law has already caused five of Virginia's 23 abortion clinics to close, because the clinics could not afford to undergo extensive renovations. The remaining abortion clinics in Virginia have until the end of June to comply with the regulations, which will remain in effect while the board reviews them. McAuliffe said the regulations were 'arbitrary' and 'marked by political interference.'" [HuffPost]

Well if this doesn't become the inspiration for history's strangest "Law and Order" episode, we don't know what will: "Former 'American Idol' star Clay Aiken's (D) primary opponent has died suddenly, his company confirmed to The Hill. Former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco (D) was found dead Monday afternoon, an employee for his company, Asheboro Elastics Corp., said. According to The Courier-Tribune, he sustained injuries from a fall around 1 p.m. and was dead when emergency workers arrived at his home. Crisco and Aiken had been in a too-close-to-call primary, with Aiken leading by 369 votes following last Tuesday's election for the nomination to face Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) in the conservative district." [The Hill]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a bunny apply lipstick

YOU SAY NEVEDA, I SAY NEVADA - What a Monday. Samantha Lachman: "Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval's campaign sent out a fundraising flier last week touting his economic record ahead of the state's primary. However, as Jon Ralston noted Monday, the mailer spelled the state's name as 'Neveda.'" [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- This blind dog playing fetch will melt your heart... unless you're a heartless monster. In that case, keep reading and/or resume your childflesh-eating. [http://bit.ly/SUgDhI]

- A U.S. distillery is breeding pigs that taste like whiskey. We have achieved the American singularity. [http://bit.ly/1sEme89]

- Computers have had a difficult time mastering the ancient game of Go. No word on its Angry Birds acumen. [http://wrd.cm/1guCP78]

- A preview of Team USA's chances in the World Cup. [http://es.pn/1iJOzH5]

- That time Jay-Z played it cool while he was attacked by his sister-in-law. [http://bit.ly/1sEx5Pr]

- These boys' Mother's Day surprise didn't go as planned -- don't trust kids on carpets. [http://bit.ly/RAPQ8U]

- A soft-shell turtle stole the show at this weekend's Players Championship. [http://bit.ly/1iKkbMO]

TWITTERAMA

@lizzieohreally: Geithner memoir reminds me that a transcript from a trip with him had so much profanity, it got stuck in the Bloomberg compliance filter.

@elisefoley: Howdy! RT @DarrellIssa: Howdy, twitter! It's a brand new week. How was your Mother's Day weekend?

@KagroX: Private business owners must be allowed to fire workers for being gay, but cannot be allow to fine workers for being anti-gay.

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