Members of Hillary Clinton's inner circle have formed an email list dedicated to messaging Benghazi -- if there are two things that bring about constructive dialogue, everyone knows it's a web connection and Philippe Reines. A Republican congressman came out in support of gay marriage, which our in-house shaman tells us is why it rained while the sun was out today. And a growing number of lawmakers are calling for Eric Shinseki to resign, because if somebody is going to completely ignore the needs of veterans, goddamnit, it's going to be Congress. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 28th, 2014:
A DENT IN GOP OPPOSITION TO GAY MARRIAGE - Colby Itkowitz: "A Pennsylvania Republican congressman is now officially a supporter of same-sex marriage. After a federal judge ruled the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional last week, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) congratulated gay couples in Pennsylvania and signaled his position change was imminent. But Dent, who has been evolving on the issue for some time, said he needed a little more time to get his thoughts together before making an official statement. About a week later, he was ready. 'Life is too short to have the force of government stand in the way of two adults whose pursuit of happiness includes marriage,' Dent said in a statement provided first to The Washington Post on Wednesday." [WashPost]
LIKE JOURNOLIST... BUT FOR BENGHAZI - Though Clinton insiders should be aware that any argument that is advised to go "off-thread" will likely go "on-Politico." Politico: "A broad array of Democrats — including Hillary Clinton’s allies — are meeting this week to hammer out a united front on national security issues, including a clear response to Republicans over the Benghazi controversy. They see an opportunity to wrest control of a narrative that some allies fear could be damaging to Clinton if she moves ahead with a 2016 presidential campaign. A major milestone in the effort will take place this Friday, when a coalition of Democratic-leaning groups and influentials converges at the headquarters of the centrist think-tank Third Way for a briefing that includes top Clinton adviser Philippe Reines.... Some of the expected attendees of the briefing have been communicating over the past few weeks in calls and through an email listserv, with the goal of keeping the broad-based group informed about the news accounts of the committee’s anticipated activities. A wide range of people are on the listserv, including people who work for groups like Media Matters, former Hillary Clinton foreign policy adviser Andrew Shapiro, former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor and several current and former Hillary Clinton aides. The universe of invited guests is large, although several people involved in the meeting said many may not attend." [Politico]
Zach Carter and Grim have a deep dive into the tensions within the Congressional Black Caucus created by Wall Street money.
OBAMA: LET'S HAVE A WAR COOLDOWN PERIOD, K? - AP: "In a broad defense of his foreign policy, President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that the U.S. remains the world's most indispensable nation, even after a "long season of war," but argued for restraint before embarking on more military adventures. Standing before the newest class of officers graduating from the U.S. Military Academy, Obama said, 'I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm's way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed fixing, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.' Obama's speech signaled a concerted effort by the White House to push back against those critics, who contend that the president's approach to global problems has been too cautious and has emboldened adversaries in Syria, Russia and China. It's a criticism that deeply frustrates the president and his advisers, who say Obama's efforts to keep the U.S. out of more military conflicts are in line with the views of the American public. Even as the U.S. emerges from the two wars that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama said terrorism remains the most direct threat to American security. But he argued that as the threat has shifted from a centralized al-Qaida to an array of affiliates, the American response must change too. Rather than launching large-scale military efforts, Obama called for partnering with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold. That effort includes a new $5 billion fund to help countries fight terrorism and to expand funding for Defense Department intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, special operations and other activities." [AP]
Politico Magazine has an interesting look at the pro-life movement's segregationist roots.
Haircuts: Mike McAuliff (h/t Sabrina Siddiqui), Susan Nelson (h/t HuffPost Mom), Steve Nelson (h/t HuffPost Dad).
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Charlie Walker's daughter was playing with dolls on the floor the day in January last year that his boss called to say he'd been let go from his job at a business-to-business publication. She didn't understand then, but he's worried now that she's all too knowledgeable about what's happening. In a post on his blog, Walker wrote over the weekend that his daughter optimistically asks him if he got a job whenever he's had an interview. "It occurred to me this week that she is moving into the time when her memories stick with her," Walker wrote. "Right now, she has no memory of her father working, save a few short-term placements." [HuffPost]
UPSIDE DOWNER - The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that food stamp spending is on the decline: "SNAP caseload growth slowed in 2011 and 2012. Caseloads held steady in 2013 and have now begun to decline: fewer people participated in SNAP in each of the last six months for which data are available (September 2013 through February 2014) than in the same months one year earlier; 1.6 million fewer people participated in SNAP in February 2014 than when participation peaked in December 2012."
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ISLA VISTA SHOOTING PROMPTING REEXAMINATION OF MENTAL HEALTH BILLS - Roll Call: "Mental health bills are getting a fresh look after the Isla Vista massacre, with lawmakers in both chambers and both parties pushing Congress to act... few expect Congress to resurrect a gun debate in the shadow of the midterm elections... Legislation addressing mental health has more promising potential to reach President Barack Obama’s desk, although it is by no means a slam dunk. There already are multiple mental health bills in the House, and the Senate gun legislation included several mental health pieces that could be resurrected... [Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.], a clinical psychologist, plans a Thursday briefing on his committee’s report on mental health, written over the course of a year following the tragedy in Newtown. The report calls for better training on mental health for law enforcement and emergency medical personnel. Murphy says his bill would also expand access to psychiatric treatment and it would encourage states to set a new standard for committing people — the need for treatment, not that they present an imminent danger. It would also make it easier for family members to take action. The bill has 86 co-sponsors, 50 Republicans and 36 Democrats. And Murphy has support from Republican leadership." [Roll Call]
CALLS FOR SHINSEKI'S RESIGNATION GROW - Meanwhile, Shinseki has signed up for Tinder, posted a photo of himself with his most attractive friends and is frantically swiping right in search of positive reinforcement. Igor Bobic: "A growing number of lawmakers are calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation following a report that found widespread problems of delayed treatment at a Phoenix, Arizona, veterans hospital. The report, which was conducted by the VA Office of Inspector General, sampled 226 appointments and found that patients had an average wait time of 115 days until their first appointment. It also found that about 84 percent of veterans waited more than the 14-day goal set by the VA. The wait time the hospital reported to the department in 2013 was, on average, 24 days...Joining [John] McCain in calling for Shinseki's resignation was Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who shadowed him at a press conference in Arizona on Wednesday, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)... Still, not all lawmakers have gone so far as to call for Shinseki's departure. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that he was 'closer' to calling for the VA chief's resignation, but a spokesman told HuffPost that his position on the matter remains unchanged despite the new OIG report." [HuffPost]
Update: " More lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have urged Shinseki to step down since this article's publication, including House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Matt Salmon (R), and Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.)."
TED CRUZ WON YESTERDAY'S PRIMARIES - And not just because he gets to ruthlessly mock David Dewhurst ("Hey Poohurst, think fast! ::smashes lunch tray onto ground:: NICE CAMPAIGN, LOSER!!!" #stopbullying). The Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wasn’t up for reelection this year, but his presence was felt up and down the GOP primary ballot in the Lone Star State. The only candidate Cruz endorsed won her primary fight on Tuesday, while incumbent candidates he ignored went down to defeat. More generally, the upstart candidates who toppled Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst and 91-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall appealed to the same state conservatives who see Cruz as a hero. '[Cruz] provided a playbook for conservative candidates to overcome the establishment,' said Texas-based GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, who advised John Ratcliffe’s campaign, who beat Hall. 'In every race, there was a Cruz dynamic.'... Observers also credit Cruz for GOP Attorney General nominee Ken Paxton’s rise. In what several saw as a choreographed move, earlier this year Cruz offered glowing praise for Paxton, a conservative state senator. The Paxton campaign’s cameras caught the speech and quickly turned it into a TV ad, making it look like he had Cruz’s endorsement even if it wasn't official. That helped vault him from third place into first in the battle for the GOP nomination, and on Tuesday he won the runoff." [The Hill]
AMERICANS TELL KARL ROVE TO STEP OFF - Doesn't he know Americans are too busy seeking Benghazi answers to worry about non-scandals? Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Most Americans think Karl Rove crossed the line in questioning Hillary Clinton's fitness as a presidential candidate, according to a Washington Post/ABC poll released Wednesday. The survey found that 66 percent Americans disapproved of 'the Republican strategist Karl Rove raising questions about Hillary Clinton's age and health,' while just 26 percent approved. The survey didn't ask how many Americans had been aware of Rove's comments, or go into further detail about what they were. Partisanship factored into the responses -- Democrats were most likely to oppose the comments, with 84 percent finding them unacceptable. But some Republicans and independents who said they wouldn't support a Clinton candidacy still viewed Rove's comments negatively. Republicans, few of whom back Clinton, were about evenly split, with 45 percent approving of Rove's comments, and 46 percent disapproving. Just about half of independents supported Clinton's candidacy, while 64 percent disapproved of Rove's comments toward her." [HuffPost]
NATIONAL REVIEW REMEMBERS SECOND AMENDMENT ADVOCATE MAYA ANGELOU - When the Twittersphere is fed this kind of unapologetic trolling, that scene in "Jurassic Park" when the T-rex gorges on a cow comes to mind. NR: "I will confess that Angelou’s writings did not generally keep me up reading all night, but she had an impressive career and earned celebrity in a business — poetry — that is not known for catapulting its practitioners to megastardom. Angelou got what may have been the widest audience for her work when she read a non-rhyming poem at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Older readers may recall that 'On the Pulse of Morning' seemed like a slog at the time, but I can tell you it’s 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' compared to Richard Blanco’s 'One Today,' which rung in President Obama’s second swearing-in, and Elizabeth Alexander’s 2009 inaugural work 'Praise Song for the Day,' a poem so boring economists now believe it reduced America’s 2009 GDP by a quarter of a percentage point....Angelou also emerged very late in life as an off-hand supporter of the right to bear arms...she [once] recounted how she used a gun for home defense." [National Review]
RICK SCOTT HAS PISSED AWAY $400K CHASING HIS DRUG TEST DREAM - Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has spent nearly $400,000 in taxpayer dollars defending his various drug testing schemes, the American Civil Liberties Union said this week. The Florida government started making welfare applicants and state workers pee in cups to prove they weren't on drugs in 2011, only to have both programs quickly halted by federal courts on constitutional grounds. In response to a records request from the Florida ACLU, the Scott administration disclosed it has spent $381,654 appealing the unfavorable rulings. "Every court that has heard Gov. Scott’s argument that the state has the power to compel people to submit their bodily fluids for government inspection without suspicion of wrongdoing has rejected it as a violation of the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches,” said Shalini Goel Agarwal, staff attorney for the ACLU in Florida. [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a base jumping dog.
FOX NEWS GETS ITS OWN ALEC BALDWIN - Our hopes for a Victoria Jackson/Clive Bundy panel show are undaunted. WaPo: "She might be most famous for playing a 'Clueless' teen, but the folks at Fox News think actress Stacey Dash is anything but — they’ve hired her as their newest contributor. In a release announcing the move, Executive Vice President for Programming Bill Shine praised Dash’s 'distinctive viewpoints amongst her Hollywood peers.' (Read: She’s a conservative, people!) Dash will “offer cultural analysis and commentary across various daytime and primetime programs,” the network announced. In addition to her role in the 1995 cult classic “Clueless,” Dash’s more recent work includes TV shows, like the VH1 show “Single Ladies.” But it was probably her 2012 endorsement of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney that caught Fox’s eye. Throughout the campaign, Dash tweeted her support for the GOP ticket (and a particularly memorable pic of herself in a bathing suit in front of an American flag), earning her new fame — and some racially tinged backlash." [WaPo]
- Two full hours of Gordon Ramsay losing his mind at "Hell's Kitchen" contestants. [http://bit.ly/SQQ6l9]
- A short video on why American comedy direction has fallen on hard times. [http://bit.ly/1rdPHbG]
- Stephen Hawking discusses England's chances in the World Cups. [http://bit.ly/1tmMmCP]
- NPR had a person run its Twitter account for a week -- as opposed to a bot -- and blogged about the results. [http://bit.ly/RBZbwM]
- If people talked to one another the way Reddit users speak to one another, the world would be a much more terrible place -- this is why we shouldn't talk trash online. NSFW. [http://bit.ly/1otG3zB]
- LeVar Burton is promoting a Kickstarter for "Reading Rainbow." [http://bit.ly/TTzn1m]
- There's no denying it: This dude playing Slayer on a banjo is hardcore. [http://huff.to/1nVkYdK]
@daveweigel: RINO MT @EvanMcSan: ben carson on gun cntrl: “i’m not sure ppl should have a rocket launcher in their bedroom.”
@joshgreenman: About gays, Dr. Dre once said "I don't really care about those kind of people." But I don't think he ever gave to Prop. 8.
@adamconner: I mean a Jerry Brown versus Joe Biden nomination fight, that's the late 80's dream right?
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