Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Pistols, Swords, Or Cantaloupes?

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The New York Times ran a piece on Rep. Aaron Schock’s scintillating vacation Instagrams, but has yet to highlight all of John Boehner’s ‘grams of his lattes and painted toenails. Steve King challenged Chuck Schumer to a duel, proving that he has balls the size of cantaloupes. And the House has only held four more hearings on climate change as it has on the search for aliens. We eagerly await the Science, Space and Technology Committee's hearing on whether President Obama's "the bear is loose" statement was a signal to the Illuminati. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 22nd, 2014:

HOUSE PASSES NSA REFORM BILL, LEAVES OUT SEVERAL KEY PROVISIONS - Matt Sledge: "The House passed a gutted version of an NSA reform bill on Thursday, shifting the dimming hopes for change this year to the Senate. The bill represents the first legislative response in either chamber to the leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year. But critics say the House's version of reform is so full of loopholes that the bulk collection of Americans' phone records won't skip a beat. The 303 to 121 vote in the House capped a week of intense negotiations between the bill's sponsors, House leaders, President Barack Obama's administration, and the spy agencies themselves. Those discussions resulted in a seriously watered down provision banning spying on Americans' phone habits...Support from House leadership and key liberal Democrats like Reps. John Conyers (Mich.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) assured broad support for the bill, called the USA Freedom Act. But other members associated with civil liberties, Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.), had declined to back it. Many advocacy groups and major internet companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo had already pulled their support for the bill. Their hopes turned to the Senate, where Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is sponsoring a companion measure aimed at reforming the NSA. Opponents' concerns about the House bill centered around the NSA program that has generated the most public outrage, the bulk collection of Americans' phone records. New language inserted in the bill on Tuesday weakened the limits on what the NSA can request from telephone companies." [HuffPost]

Womp womp, pt 1: "The House voted down a measure Thursday that would have ended the military's ability to indefinitely jail anyone without charge or trial, including U.S. citizens. That ability was enshrined in law in a previous version of the National Defense Authorization Act. Some lawmakers tried to take it out of the NDAA for 2015, which was up for consideration on the House floor Thursday." [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

Womp womp, pt 2: "With U.S. forces leaving Afghanistan and gone from Iraq, Congress reaffirmed America's endless war Wednesday, with the House of Representatives voting against an amendment to end the authorization to use military force, or AUMF, that was passed in the wake of Sept. 11. The provision, offered by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), would have given the authorization a sunset date of a year from the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, which Schiff was trying to amend." [McAuliff]

FOOD FIGHT: Big Hummus is trying to crush its competition while Big Potato is fighting for poor people's right to eat all the white potatoes they want.

HuffPost Haircuts: Ryan Reilly.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Always tip the person who cleans up your hotel room. You just gotta. Monique Morrissey: "Memorial Day traditionally marks the start of summer fun and travel—for those who can afford it. Those who can’t include hotel housekeepers, who like many U.S. workers over the past three decades have seen the standard features of a middle-class lifestyle grow even farther out of reach while productivity has more than doubled. For instance, hotel housekeepers’ pay has not kept up with the price of a hotel room. In the 1960s and 1970s, a housekeeper could afford a hotel room with her day’s wages; by 2012 her wages only covered 78 percent of the average cost ($83/$106)." [Economic Policy Institute]

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MCCONNELL OPPOSES FURTHER FILIBUSTER CHANGES - Because if there's one thing Senate leadership in both parties never change their minds about, it's filibuster rules. Sam Stein: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that if he were to emerge as majority leader following this fall's elections, he'd prefer to keep in place the minority party's ability to filibuster legislation. 'I do not favor turning the Senate into a majoritarian institution, even though we would probably have some short-term advantage to doing it,' McConnell said during an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. While he said he thought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had done a 'lot of damage' by using parliamentary procedure to enable some judicial and executive nominees to move through the chamber with 50 votes, he suggested that he had no plans to try to undo that change. He even left the door open to further changing the rules so they would apply to more nominees. 'That precedent will always be there. It is hard to un-ring a bell and I think it was very damaging to the institution,' said McConnell. But in stopping short of endorsing filibuster reform for actual legislation, McConnell laid down a marker for how he would run the chamber that could end up upsetting his own members. Should, for example, Republicans emerge from November with a slim Senate majority, there will be a number of legislative items -- including, potentially, the repeal of Obamacare -- on which he will need 60 votes to end debate." [HuffPost]

SENATE CONFIRMS DRONE MEMO AUTHOR AS FEDERAL JUDGE - We're trying to nail down the rumor that the dude who designed HealthCare.gov's backstage will be the next HHS secretary. Jen Bendery: "The Senate on Thursday confirmed David Barron to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, overcoming bipartisan opposition over legal memos he authored justifying the use of drones to kill American terrorist suspects overseas. The final vote was 53 to 45. All Republicans opposed his confirmation, along with two Democrats: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Mary Landrieu (La.). Barron, who is currently a Harvard Law professor, faced resistance for weeks over the drone memos he drafted during his time at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel early in the Obama administration. A group of liberal and conservative senators banded together and vowed to oppose him unless the administration made public all drone-related memos that Barron had a hand in crafting. The White House stepped up its game last week, sending White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler to Senate Democrats' weekly lunch to make the case for Barron and allowing lawmakers to view copies of Barron's memos in a secure Senate room." [HuffPost]

TEA PARTY LEADER ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH PHOTOS OF SENATOR'S WIFE - If Robert Penn Warren were alive today, guys like Mark Mayfield would factor heavily into his work. Samantha Lachman: "The vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and one other suspect were arrested Thursday in connection with photographs of Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) bedridden wife in a case that has roiled his reelection bid. The Clarion-Ledger reports that attorney Mark Mayfield, a leader of the Mississippi Tea Party and officer with the Central Mississippi Tea Party, was arrested by police in Madison, Miss. The second suspect arrested has yet to be identified and no charges have been announced. The developments follow the Friday arrest of blogger Clayton Kelly, who allegedly photographed Cochran's wife, Rose, at a nursing home where she is bedridden and suffering from progressive dementia. Kelly, who supports Cochran's primary opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, allegedly used the photos he took of Cochran's wife in a video he posted online in April that was taken down soon after. McDaniel has insisted he was unaware of the details of Kelly's alleged break-in before it was reported in the press. However, Cochran's campaign has raised questions about whether McDaniel's campaign was involved in the incident. Kelly faces felony charges of photographing or filming another person without permission where there is expectation of privacy and exploitation of a vulnerable adult." [HuffPost]

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE RNC DOES DEFINITELY NOT STAY IN VEGAS - U.S. News: "For Republicans, there won’t be any Viva Las Vegas come the summer of 2016. The presumed front-runner to host the next Republican National Convention is out of the running, having withdrawn its bid to be the location for the party gathering, according to multiple reports. Nevada journalist Jon Ralston says Sin City wasn’t certain they’d have the facility or the money required -- the two most critical components for any city’s proposal. 'The Las Vegas 2016 Host Committee has regrettably determined it necessary to defer our bid effort to the 2020 Republican National Convention opportunity when Las Vegas will potentially be in a position to guarantee these infrastructure and calendar bid requirements,' wrote Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, chairman of the Vegas committee in a letter obtained by Ralston. It’s a stunning development in the vetting process given the buzz surrounding the Vegas proposal. Most Republicans believed it was the leading contender to drop the balloons on the 2016 GOP nominee. Cincinnati is also out of contention, leaving just four cities: Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City, Missouri. RNC officials plan to schedule site visits to the remaining cities in June with the goal of a final decision being reached by late summer or early fall." [US News]

FIFTY SENATORS URGE REDSKINS TO CHANGE THEIR NAME - Whereas our petition to rename the Senate the Quorum Callers has stalled. Igor Bobic: "Fifty senators have signed a letter urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the name of the Washington Redskins football team, citing the NBA's recent action to strip Donald Sterling of his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers. The letter, which was circulated by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), was signed by 46 other Democrats and two independents, Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Angus King (Maine). It was not circulated among Republicans. “Today, we urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports,” the letter reads. “It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team." “The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises.” The team's owner, Dan Snyder, has been adamant about retaining the name. He says it honors Native American culture and that many Native Americans remain supportive of it. But critics, including President Barack Obama and some former team players, have said they find it offensive. The issue is particularly dear to Reid, whose state is home to many tribes. He recently disparaged a new foundation created by the team meant to aid needy tribal communities as nothing more than a ploy to receive a government tax break." [HuffPost]

Name suggestion: Washington Department of Football.

Steve King is so weird: "Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has challenged three top Senate Democrats to a duel — but 'not like Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton,' the lawmaker was quick to clarify. Indeed, unlike the famous confrontation in 1804 wherein sitting Vice President Burr shot ex-Treasury Secretary Hamilton to death, King would prefer to sort out philosophical differences with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., 'like many men do it today: Not duel with 50 paces and pistols, but … with microphones within arm’s reach. If we’re going to have some kind of rhetoric bouncing back between the House and Senate, let’s do it face to face,' King said. 'Let’s do it eye to eye.'" [Roll Call]

AARON SCHOCK HAS A CURIOUS INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT AND THE TIMES IS ON IT - Times: "'I love your life.' 'You’re the coolest.' 'Stud.' These are probably not the first sentiments that spring to mind when thinking about a member of Congress. But the life of one particular Republican congressman from Illinois, Aaron Schock, looks pretty sweet, at least through the flattering gossamer filters of Instagram. Perhaps more so than any of his colleagues on Capitol Hill, Mr. Schock, 32, has cultivated a truly envious persona on the popular photo-sharing service. There he is sitting in the front row at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas; seeing Justin Timberlake at the Verizon Center in Washington; and skiing in Utah, skiing in Vail, skiing in Jackson Hole. His trips to Sicily, Montenegro and Croatia are all documented, as are his on-set appearances with Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. And there are plenty of shots of him doing official work like marching in a parade ('I like the Lacoste yellow!' commented one fan. '#yum' wrote another.)" [NYT]

"Shock-Blocked": "Woah. My friend Asher is one of the cutest gay guys in Washington, DC. In fact, he is not only cute but incredibly funny and intelligent and SINGLE…Today Asher’s comment on Schock’s Instagram was pictured in a NYTimes piece about Schock’s Instagram popularity... he [is now blocked] from seeing photos anymore. People on twitter are now advocating for Asher’s release directly to the Congressman himself. You can join in the fun by tweeting to @aaronschock too." [Blue Nation Review]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a rabbit taking a bath.

IT'S COME TO THIS - National Journal: "Congress is fascinated by the search for intelligent life on other planets. Apparently, they've given up the search at home. In this session of Congress, House committees tasked with covering U.S. energy and science have held a total of seven hearings to discuss climate change. By contrast, the two chambers have held a combined 19 hearings about space exploration in that same time period. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee—led by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, since 2013—has held 15 hearings on space exploration alone, at least three of which have involved the search for extraterrestrial life. By comparison, Smith's committee has held just two hearings devoted to climate change. The Democrat-controlled Senate doesn't have a much better record. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has held three hearings this session on climate change, while the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has not had a hearing devoted to the topic since 2012. The Senate Commerce Science and Space Subcommittee has had one hearing about climate change and four about space." [National Journal]

COMFORT FOOD

- Pizza is now being delivered via drone. [http://bit.ly/1nhGVYB]

- The commander of the United States Special Operations Command explains how to make a bed that passes the coin flip test. [http://bit.ly/1n5HHoM]

- The Sao Paulo metro is a nightmare, as this video segment demonstrates. [http://bit.ly/1jt8CK4]

- The Times helps you decided whether it's more fiscally sound to rent or purchase a home. [http://nyti.ms/1nhGEow]

- A pretty great edition of Jimmy Kimmel's "Mean Tweets." [http://huff.to/1lXw4xq]

- The most epic high school yearbook quotes. [http://huff.to/ReDbYM]

- Hugh Jackman calls out John Cena on "Sportscenter." [http://bit.ly/SoHPEQ]

- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's roast of Don Rickles is worth a watch. [http://huff.to/1pgXK2J]

TWITTERAMA

@elisefoley: Just typed out “House Speaker Steve K” before realizing I was writing about Steve King. The Democrats are getting in my head!!

@popehat: Serious question: What the hell good is a massive domestic surveillance state if the President learns everything through the news?

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