Iowa’s legislature approved funding for a Christian-themed park, though the most offensive part might be the giant crucifix made out of butter. Scott Brown reminds people so much about his truck he should call it "John Edwards' dad's mill" one day just for chuckles. And Ted Yoho said voting rights should be restricted to landowners but is leaving it up to the states whether voters should be required to wear three-piece seersucker suits and fan themselves on porches all day. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 20th, 2014:
OBAMA TO RELEASE DRONE MEMO - AP: "The Obama administration plans to disclose a secret memo describing its legal justification for using drones to kill U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism overseas. The Justice Department has decided not to appeal a court order requiring disclosure of a redacted version of the memo. That's according to two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were authorized to discuss the matter by name. The U.S. used a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011 to kill Anwar Al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader born in the U.S. Some critics complained that it was illegal for the U.S. to kill American citizens away from the battlefield without a trial." [Associated Press]
VA SCANDAL: MCDONOUGH MEETS WITH DEMS - It's really impressive how President Obama was able to sabotage a hospital while trafficking money to his Solyndra donors and orchestrating the Benghazi attacks. The Hill: "President Obama’s chief of staff reassured frustrated House Democrats on Tuesday that the White House will respond aggressively to the controversy at the Veterans Affairs Department. The VA has been under fire this month following reports that its healthcare facilities used secret waiting lists to disguise the number of veterans not treated within the agency's stated goal of 14 days. Dozens of veterans have reportedly died awaiting care. 'I think you're going to find very aggressive action within the administration,' Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, said after House Democrats met with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. 'Denis McDonough made it very clear: The president is gonna be on this.'Separately, the White House announced that Rob Nabors, McDonough’s deputy, will travel Wednesday to Phoenix, where a Veterans Affairs hospital is being scrutinized for 40 deaths. Republicans have stepped up their pressure on the administration to take action and have signaled their intention of making the Veterans Affairs Department an issue in the midterm elections." [The Hill]
REMINDER: SCOTT BROWN HAS A TRUCK - Scott Brown says that while he talked to Republican senators about the failed Shaheen-Portman energy bill, he was NOT lobbying them to thwart a legislative win for his opponent, Jeanne Shaheen, as HuffPost Hill first reported. By the way, did you know that Scott Brown drives a truck? "Apparently while I’m driving my truck through New Hampshire I, apparently, derailed a bill in Washington," he said in local TV station WMUR's Monday report. . "I have this amazing power, I guess." Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple asked AEI's Norm Ornstein to weigh in today on Brown's claim that he didn't lobby against Shaheen-Portman: "He wanted them to kill the bill," Ornstein said. "By my standards, that is lobbying plain and simple.” Told y'all.
WMUR reporter: Did you actively agitate against the passage of Jeanne Shaheen's energy bill?
Brown: No, I didn't.
Concord Monitor: "Brown did talk to a number of Republican senators about the bill because he was concerned about a Keystone vote, but 'he wasn’t lobbying,' [Scott Brown campaign spokeswoman Lizzie] Guyton said. The position he shared with them is the same position he’s stated publicly, she said."
Full Ornstein: "Technicalities aside, Ornstein noted that there are 'many communications that individuals have with lawmakers and staff that by any reasonable or logical standard are lobbying.' Further, Ornstein wondered aloud why Brown would confer with with Republican senators on such a bill. 'There is one compelling explanation: he wanted them to quash the bill to keep Jean Shaheen from having a legislative victory,' notes Ornstein. 'The fact that he repeated to them a public position face-to-face has little to do with it. He wanted them to kill the bill. By my standards, that is lobbying plain and simple.'"
NH GOP Chair Jen Horn: "Mr. Grim’s behavior in response to the entire incident has been telling and confirmed what was already clear: that he is more interested in political advocacy than legitimate journalism. His unhinged rants in response to media criticism of his deceptive editing, lack of standards and deliberate attempt to manufacture narratives reveal his true intentions. He also appears to be obsessed with trying to legitimize his own lies."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Tom Raum: "While the U.S. economy has improved since the Great Recession ended five years ago, part-time and 'contract' workers are filling many of the new jobs. Contract workers made up less than half of one percent of all U.S. employment in the 1980s but now account for 2.3 percent. Economists predict contract workers will play a larger role in the years ahead…. Contract workers have less job security and don't contribute to the economy through spending as much as permanent, full-time workers. Nor do they have the same job protections. Few are union members." [Associated Press]
For more on the misery of contract workers, see HuffPost's Dave Jamieson on Amazon's delivery fleet.
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I NOW PRONOUNCE YINZ HUSBAND AND HUSBAND - The decision marks the 14th straight (no pun intended) victory for same-sex marriage in the courts. AP: "Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage has been overturned by a federal judge in a decision that makes same-sex matrimony legal throughout the Northeast. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III's decision Tuesday is a victory for 11 couples, a widow and one of the couples' two teenage daughters who filed the first challenge to the law. Gov. Tom Corbett's office had defended the law after Attorney General Kathleen Kane called it unconstitutional and refused to defend it. Pennsylvania was the last remaining state in the Northeast to outlaw gay marriage. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the law inflicts harm on same-sex couples and their children by depriving them of the legal protections and tax benefits afforded to married couples. An appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is likely." [AP]
Catipal: Cats reading Thomas Piketty's "Capital."
ERIC HOLDER'S BATTLE TO REMAKE AMERICAN JUSTICE - Ryan Reilly: "This emphasis on reform and rehabilitation rather than simply incarceration -- the Justice Department's traditional approach to the drug war -- is what's animating Holder now. For decades, Holder has witnessed the negative effects of America's criminal justice system, particularly on the lives of young black men. As a young man himself, he saw childhood friends go down the wrong path and wind up incarcerated. As a judge in Washington, D.C., he saw lives destroyed by drug charges. As the No. 2 official at the Department of Justice in the late 1990s, he saw more and more of DOJ's budget eaten up by the cost of the booming federal prison system. Now, Holder finally sees his chance to fix it...Holder called for 'sweeping, systemic changes' to the 'broken' federal justice system in a speech last August. One of the first big moves in his Smart on Crime initiative was to implement a new policy that allows prosecutors to work around mandatory minimums for certain non-violent drug offenders, which Holder called 'draconian.' Such cases, he suggested, might not belong in federal court at all...'Well, I'll tell you, as a former judge, I had to put in jail substantial numbers of young people for possessory drug offenses, and it was not from the perspective I had as a judge necessarily a good use of law enforcement resources,' he told HuffPost after visiting [a] drug court in Charleston. 'When I became U.S. attorney, we put in place certain guidelines so that people would not end up, especially young people, with criminal records and all that then implies for them.'" [HuffPost]
FamousDC finds out what happens when you aggressively photoshop politicians. Light-skinned John Boehner is terrifyingly unremarkable.
MSNBC HIRES TELEMUNDO ANCHOR FOR MORNING SLOT - Our "Bring Back Dr. Nancy" petition has so far yielded zero signatures... but the fight continues. Politico: "MSNBC has tapped Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart to host its 10 a.m. hour -- from Miami -- after Chris Jansing moves to NBC News in June. "MSNBC is committed to engaging new audiences and communities. To that end, I've been talking with José for several months about bringing his voice to MSNBC," said MSNBC president Phil Griffin. 'He has a keen understanding of the political landscape and three decades of experience in both broadcast and cable news. We’re fortunate to have a journalist of José’s caliber join our line-up. My thanks to our partners at Telemundo for supporting this unique arrangement.'... Ari Melber, a co-host on MSNBC's afternoon program "The Cycle," had been in the running against Díaz-Balart for the 10 a.m. slot, several sources told POLITICO in recent weeks. Jansing, the current 10 a.m. host, has been tapped to serve as NBC's Senior White House Correspondent." [Politico]
2014: D'Souza's Incarceration: "Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza has struck a deal with prosecutors over charges he used straw donors to give $15,000 more to a U.S. Senate campaign than is allowed under campaign finance laws, authorities said Tuesday. D’Souza was to have started his trial this week in New York, but instead he pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of making illegal campaign contributions, which carries a maximum two-year sentence. He’s expected to be sentenced in about four months. In exchange for D’Souza’s plea, prosecutors are expected to drop the more serious charge of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison." [Hollywood Reporter]
Some things considered: "NPR announced Tuesday that it would cease broadcast of the weekday program Tell Me More on Aug. 1 and eliminate 28 positions as part of a larger effort to end the company's persistent budget deficits...Before the departure of former CEO Gary Knell last year, NPR's board of directors voted to require its executives to go into fiscal 2015 — which starts Oct. 1 — with projections of a balanced budget. This year's budget gap is more than $6 million. Tuesday's cuts, in combination with buyouts earlier this year, will reduce the network's costs by $7 million a year...Michel Martin, the host of Tell Me More, will remain at the network, as will the program's executive editor, Carline Watson. They will be part of an initiative to incorporate the kind of coverage of issues of race, identity, faith, gender and family that appear on the show. Martin will appear on the network's primary newsmagazines, online and in public events." [NPR]
CONGRESSMAN IN 2012: RESTRICT VOTING RIGHTS TO LANDOWNERS - Coming from New York City, we are inclined to ask where co-op members fall into this plan, though we're pretty sure we know how Ted Yoho feels about New Yorkers voting. Igor Bobic: "Ted Yoho strikes again. Speaking at the Berean Baptist Church in Ocala, Fla., during his 2012 campaign, the first term Republican congressman appeared to speak fondly of limiting voting to property owners -- laws not seen since the days of the Founding Fathers. 'I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote,' Yoho said in unearthed footage uploaded on Tuesday by Right Wing Watch. The tea party congressman has made quite a name for himself in the last two years. He endorsed birtherism, said the nation's credit rating would actually be better if the United States defaulted on its debt, and called Obamacare racist toward white people. Yoho also opposed giving furloughed workers back pay during last fall's government shutdown, doubted the constitutionality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and said allowing in-state tuition for undocumented students would reward 'bad behavior.' But Yoho's lament about voting isn't original. Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips said in 2010 that returning to 19th century voting laws 'makes a lot of sense.'" [HuffPost]
THE FOLKS AT RAND PAUL'S BOOTCAMP AREN'T VERY WELCOMING - Roll Call: "'You Owe It to Yourself to Learn How to Win,' Sen. Rand Paul told me in an email on Tax Day. The message came with an invitation to attend a one-day political leadership school, led by an instructor with 'years of experience running and winning campaigns and legislative projects in multiple state legislatures.' The course would teach how to pressure lawmakers and how to 'work effectively' in the Capitol by getting sponsors for legislation... When it comes time to introduce ourselves, I tell them I am Christina from Washington, D.C., and I am studying organizing techniques. Then I sit down. That’s when the commotion starts. Two of the staffers planning the session whisper furiously at the back of the room. One leaves the room in a hurry, probably to do a quick Google search on the library computers. An organizer returns with a piece of paper, and interrupts DeMott, who is just on a roll talking about local opposition to the Real ID Act. She announces she wants to see me and another attendee outside. I had figured I would never make it in the door, so I actually was a little surprised, especially since someone else also was being called into detention. As I stood up, the organizer orders us, 'Collect your things.' It turns out the foundation had already refunded my $35 at 9:56 a.m., before the organizers even hauled us from the room. Outside, they tell the other guy the class is for conservatives only. He is protesting, saying that the fact his group backs clean energy doesn’t make him liberal." [Roll Call]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a dog with its best friend: a bucket.
IOWA GRANTS FUNDS FOR CHRISTIAN PARK - Folks should protest the funding by gay marrying a bunch of dudes there. Shadee Ashtari: "A new Christian park being built in Sioux City, Iowa, has advanced into its second phase of construction after Vision Iowa, a state program operated by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, approved a $140,000 grant to assist with the park’s construction costs in April. In response to the 'rise of secular influence in our culture,' the park brochure states, Shepherd’s Garden seeks to create 'a permanent Christian green space for the community' that 'promotes visible reminders of Christian values and symbols.' On Monday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation penned a letter to the chairwoman of Vision Iowa, Cathy Reece, criticizing the government entity for violating the constitutional ban on public sponsorship of religious activity...Complete with prayer spaces and a 'Walk of Faith' with Bible-inspired walkway stones, the $810,000 project cleared a major fundraising obstacle when the Vision Iowa program -- tasked by the Iowa Legislature to support projects that expand the state’s cultural, educational and recreational attractions -- approved funding for the project last month." [HuffPost]
- A remix of the iPhone's ringtones. [http://bit.ly/1qSAM6D]
- A guy who interviews celebrities at press junkets got his subjects to congratulate his wife on their wedding. [http://bit.ly/1sOyEse]
- It's amazing how "Breaking Bad" becomes so much less dramatic if you put a clown nose on Walter White. [http://bit.ly/1m0a32R]
- What would happen if the characters from Street Fighter encountered red tape. [http://bit.ly/1lLojuA]
- Machete fencing is a thing. Tread carefully. [http://bit.ly/1lD8bKi]
- A Worm's neural activity has been mapped in real time for the first time. Watch. [http://huff.to/R5dZ6Q]
- An oral history of the 9:30 Club, which remains one of the favorite venues among performers. [http://bit.ly/1sQurnV]
@mattizcoop: Being a @nytimes lover is like being in a crazed, manic relationship somewhere between "Love Actually" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"
@ethanklapper: MT @AP: NEW YORK (AP) — This tweet manually retweeted.
@pourmecoffee: Rick Santorum is spelling out "Surrender, Gays" in smoke on some kind of flying broom over Pennsylvania.
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