Mississippi Republicans are choosing a Senate nominee today, a special time when people in the only state with the Confederate stars and bars in its flag talk about a "fresh start." Ted Cruz compared efforts to cap campaign contributions to the oppression in "Fahrenheit 451," reminding us of our favorite allegorical novel about expanded background checks for gun buyers, "Animal Farm." And Politico's parent company plans to expand to Belgium. There's definitely a metaphor in the fact that Politico is expanding to a place where people like to dip things in mayonnaise -- we'll let you know when we iron it out. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014:
GOP FINDS SCANDAL THAT'S A MIX OF WILLIE HORTON AND BENGHAZI, ABSOLUTELY OVER THE MOON - If the party could put two pickle slices on Bergdahl, place him in a bun and sell him to loyal heterosexuals at Chick-fil-A, it totally would. Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein: "As soon as President Barack Obama told the nation Saturday evening that America's only prisoner of war in Afghanistan had been rescued, Republican lawmakers and pundits began criticizing the administration on how it handled the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Many lawmakers have been upset that Obama did not give Congress 30 days notice, as required by law. Others are upset that five Taliban detainees who were being held at Guantanamo Bay were released in return, with some conservatives even accusing the administration of negotiating with terrorists. (The government of Qatar actually negotiated the deal.) There are also now questions about Bergdahl himself, and whether he initially deserted his post...But prior to Bergdahl's release, Republican lawmakers were some of the sergeant's biggest advocates, and repeatedly pressed the administration to do something -- in fact, everything within its power -- to get him returned to the United States. A May 22 press release from Ayotte's office read, 'As part of ongoing efforts to urge the Department of Defense to do all it can to find Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and bring him home safely, Senator Ayotte worked successfully to include a provision in the bill that presses Pakistan to fully cooperate in the search for SGT Bergdahl.'" [HuffPost]
John McCain on this same basic deal in February: "I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details."
CALLS FOR BERGDAHL HEARING GROW - We can only assume the reason we haven't heard from Peter King on the prisoner exchange is that news of the swap literally made his head explode. Mike McAuliff and Sabrina Siddiqui: "Leading congressional Republicans sharply criticized the Obama administration on Tuesday for not consulting with Congress over the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo. 'The administration has invited serious questions into how this exchange went down and the calculations the White House and relevant agencies made in moving forward without consulting Congress despite assurances it would re-engage with members on both sides of the aisle,' House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also slammed the White House and President Barack Obama, saying he was not consulted or informed at all. 'I haven't had a conversation with the White House on this issue in a year and a half, and if that's keeping us in the loop, this administration is more arrogant than I thought they were,' Chambliss told reporters on Capitol Hill, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who also said he didn't hear about the deal until the morning it was announced. Chambliss and McConnell said they wanted hearings on the prisoner swap, and Chambliss demanded that the White House declassify the files of the five detainees." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Local government does bidding of businesses, causes hardship for Ohio poor people: "A decision by the state to stagger the dates that food stamps are provided is causing hardships for recipients, according to Jack Frech, executive director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. Until April, Athens County provided food stamps — actually uploaded onto a card similar to a debit card — during the first five days of the month. Now the distribution is spread over a 20-day period. County Commissioner Charlie Adkins raised the issue with Frech at Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting, saying he’s heard from people for whom it’s caused problems. 'This has been a real hardship for folks,' Frech told the commissioners, causing transportation problems and gaps in benefits. Frech said the change was made by the state at the request of the Ohio Grocers Association because having all recipients come to stores at the beginning of each month caused inventory and staffing problems." [AthensOhioToday.com]
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THAD COCHRAN REALLY DOESN'T DESERVE TO WIN TODAY - Dude just needs to make like all old rich white Mississippi bros and find the nearest porch to spend the rest of his days in a seersucker suit. Atlantic: "Defeating Cochran, who has been in Washington for 41 years, has emerged as the top priority of the right wing of the Republican Party this year, and it's not hard to see why. Mild-mannered to the point of self-effacement, Cochran seems to have as much fighting spirit as a guppy. He told the Washington Post last week that he would have preferred to retire—'I thought I'd served long enough'—but 'people were saying, what are we going to do without you?' In that interview and others, he has often seemed confused. Asked about the national debt, he wandered off on a tangent about free trade...I followed Cochran from the square to a local diner, Jean's Restaurant, where patrons swiveled away from plastic plates of boiled okra and corn fritters to shake his hand. On the wall were two framed photographs of Chris McDaniel. The restaurant's owner, Diane Trammell, told me McDaniel had visited twice and stayed for an hour each time. 'I don't recall the last time I seen Thad,' she said. She'd always voted for Cochran in the past, but now she wasn't sure. Cochran didn't pose for any pictures during his brief sweep. As he made his way toward the exit, Cochran held out his hand to me. I had met and interviewed him less than half an hour before. 'Hello, how are you doing?' he said with a kindly smile. 'I'm Thad Cochran.'" [Atlantic]
WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS BERGDAHL'S SERVICE - And they haven't even unveiled the player to be named later, so let's all hold our judgement for now. The Hill: "The White House on Tuesday defended National Security Adviser Susan Rice's assertion that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl served 'with honor and distinction,' amid questions about whether the recently returned soldier deserted his unit. 'Sgt. Bergdahl put on the uniform of the United States voluntarily and went to war for the United States voluntarily,' White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN on Tuesday. 'That takes honor and is a mark of distinction,' he added. Rice has come under fire for the comment, made during an interview with ABC News on Sunday, following new reports that suggest the Pentagon concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl intentionally walked away from his fellow soldiers. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that he left a note in his tent saying he was disillusioned with the U.S. Army and did not support the mission in Afghanistan. Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said 'we need to give Sgt. Bergdahl an opportunity to tell his story and tell us what happened' when asked about Rice's comments during an interview Tuesday with MSNBC...The administration officials also insisted that the U.S. obligation to rescue Bergdahl existed whether he had deserted or not. 'We do not allow members of the military being held by the enemy to sit and rot,' Carney said." [The Hill]
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs weighed in on the deal: "U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey responded to some of the criticism about the rescue of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, writing on Facebook Tuesday that it was 'likely the last, best opportunity to free him.'... In an interview with the Associated Press, Dempsey added that the Army may pursue an investigation that could lead to desertion charges against Bergdahl." [HuffPost]
MEET SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, THE (LIKELY) NEXT HHS SECRETARY - Laura Bassett and Jeff Young: "As President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, she could soon be responsible for overseeing a massive and complex bureaucracy still reeling from Obamacare's botched implementation, with many challenges ahead...A mother of two young children and a native of Hinton, West Virginia, Burwell appears to be up to the task. She worked on President Bill Clinton's economic team, held major leadership positions across the public and private sectors, and earned the approval of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress along the way. Her résumé rivals that of any Washington power player. After working in the Clinton White House, the Harvard graduate became deputy director to then-Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew, and after that was chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. She went on to run global development for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and took over the Walmart Foundation before returning to Washington to oversee OMB....Key components of HealthCare.gov, the web portal for enrollment in more than 30 states, have yet to be built, and others still require overhauling. Burwell also would be at the center of the next big fight about the cost of health insurance, as prices for exchange plans trickle out over the coming months against a backdrop of the congressional elections, amplifying the attention this still-unpopular program will get." [HuffPost]
Eric Cantor has the same relationship with immigration reform as Mitch McConnell does with Obamacare: "House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has, in recent weeks, highlighted his efforts to block comprehensive immigration reform as he looks to fend off a June 10 primary election challenge. But on Monday, a new mailer touting his tough stance on immigration cited a report that at least one of Cantor's staffers on Capitol Hill has disputed. The mailer plays up Cantor's role in blocking the passage of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, which his campaign refers to as the 'Obama-Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty.' As evidence, it cites an Associated Press article last month about immigration activists 'increasingly focusing their ire at one person: Eric Cantor, the House majority leader.' But Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Cantor's congressional office, previously had taken issue with the same report and implied over Twitter that it was planted by Democratic staffers to make his boss look bad." [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]
TED CRUZ EQUATES CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM TO 'FARENHEIT 451' - Because if there's one thing that evokes an anti-intellectual dystopia where robotic dogs troll the streets in search of banned books and old women self-immolate in protest, it's initiatives aimed at curbing contributions to American Crossroads. Mike McAuliff and Paul Blumenthal: "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) criticized the push for a constitutional amendment on regulating campaign cash Tuesday, deriding 'Fahrenheit 451 Democrats' and contending the liberals these days want to ban books and movies. Democrats are seeking an amendment to override recent Supreme Court decisions that removed certain limits on campaign contributions. An amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) would restore some of Congress' power to regulate federal political spending. But in a debate on the measure before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cruz slammed the move as an assault on the First Amendment and an about-face by Democrats who used to oppose such ideas. 'This constitutional amendment would change the scope of the First Amendment,' said Cruz, pointing to past opposition to similar measures by liberal stalwarts like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who helped write the last campaign finance law." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is history's most baller pomeranian .
POLITICO'S PARENT COMPANY EXPANDING TO BRUSSELS BECAUSE SURE WHY NOT - BuzzFeed: "The parent company of the Washington, D.C. politics website and newspaper Politico is on the verge of expansion to Europe, two sources familiar with the plans said, launching a news organization in Brussels on the same model it recently exported to New York. The planned move would mark an ambitious step for Allbritton Communications, which publishes Politico and Capital New York, and has been selling the local television stations that were long the center of its business in favor of digital and print initiatives led by Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei, who is now CEO and president of the two publications. Politico’s model — high-velocity reporting; newsletters consumed by lobbyists and other insiders with money to spend; and a lucrative print business driven by the high value of influence in Washington — is in some ways a natural fit for Brussels, home to the European Parliament and European Commission. It will also depend on advertisers’ willingness to spend money to influence officials who often report, ultimately, to decision-makers in London, Paris, Berlin, and other national capitals." [BuzzFeed]
- Falling into open cellar doors is one of our gravest New York City fears, right after "homeless man sitting on your lap on B train." [http://nym.ag/TaB5up]
- If you're rich and in the U.K. you can pay a company to train you in the ways of debonair spies like James Bond and then have said company stage an attack on your estate. [http://bit.ly/1mOzovf]
- A fat cat transposed onto famous works of art. [http://bit.ly/1ueGdel]
- Conan O'Brien starred in a 1980s training video for musical instrument merchants. [http://huff.to/1nLslca]
- College Humor presents the hottest new diet and workout fad: Genetics. [http://bit.ly/1l3hSVK]
- Cats experience addiction, too. [http://bit.ly/1mOCyPR]
- A supercut of people flipping tables in movies -- solid performances by Jesus. [http://bit.ly/1mOFQ5G]
- The "Wet Hot American Summer" edition of hangman. [http://vult.re/1ueJBpH]
@jimgeraghty: Do we have any drones over Qatar? Asking for a friend.
@mckaycoppins: I'm old enough to remember when nobody I knew made "I'm old enough to remember" jokes. It was awesome.
@LOLGOP: Even if Bergdahl had done something awful like approving torture or invading the wrong country, we still had an obligation to get him back.
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