Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - GOP Picks New Vice-Decider And Counting Czar

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House Republicans shook up their leadership ranks by electing as majority whip a white guy with close ties to business and social conservatives. Ron Paul will act in a movie, but his debut role will not be, as we long suspected, "crotchety, windswept frontier missionary." And neoconservatives continue to gain prestige as the situation in Iraq deteriorates. We eagerly await this weekend's "Fox News Sunday" panel with Paul Wolfowitz, John McCain and Curveball. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, June 19th, 2014:

MCCARTHY ELECTED HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER, SCALESE WHIP - Though the position of GOP baseball manager remains decidedly up for grabs. Sabrina Siddiqui and Jen Bendery: "House Republicans chose Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as their new majority leader on Thursday, a week after Rep. Eric Cantor said he would resign from the post following his primary defeat in Virginia's 7th district. McCarthy, who until now held the third most powerful post in GOP leadership as the majority whip, won his seat after a secret ballot election. His only challenger was conservative Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who failed to gain traction after launching his bid late in the game. McCarthy was campaigning for the job almost immediately after Cantor's June 10 loss to his tea party challenger, David Brat. Within days, McCarthy had collected key endorsements and locked down a majority of votes. Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) won his bid to replace McCarthy as the majority whip. He was in a three-way race against Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), McCarthy's chief deputy whip, and Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), a second-term lawmaker with low name recognition. Scalise supporters had been saying for days that he was leading in the votes, but many observers predicted that neither he nor Roskam would be able to lock in a majority of the conference's votes in the first round and a second round of voting would be necessary. In the end, though, Scalise pulled it off from the get-go. Scalise is chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. His election to leadership marks a victory for more right-wing members of the party since Roskam, his biggest challenger, was seen as a more establishment candidate." [HuffPost]

For an elected official Kevin McCarthy is not very good at public speaking.

@RepKevinBrady: Congratulations to our new GOP Whip @SteveScalise But don't think this means you get out of doing your share of the dishes, roomie!

@TimAlberta: RAUL LABRADOR asked for the results to be recorded as unanimous -- a classy gesture appreciated by colleagues

SCOTT WALKER AT CENTER OF CRIMINAL PROBE - Hugh Jass and Ben Dover could not be reached for comment. AP: " Newly released documents show prosecutors are alleging Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a nationwide 'criminal scheme' to illegally coordinate with outside conservative groups. The documents were filed as part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the probe by the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth. They were ordered publicly released Thursday by a federal appeals court judge after prosecutors and the Wisconsin Club for Growth did not object. One of the filings from prosecutors outlines previously unknown details about the investigation that began in 2012 as Walker was facing a recall election. Prosecutors say Walker, his chief of staff and others who worked for him were discussing illegal coordination with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove." [AP]

Haircuts: Brad Shannon (h/t Arthur Delaney), Laura Bassett (h/t Laura Bassett).

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Unemployment insurance may save your life. Researchers have long understood that higher unemployment rates correlate to higher suicide rates, but a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology is the first to suggest that more generous unemployment benefits can mean fewer suicides. "If the unemployment rate increases, having better benefits is going to buffer the effect," the study's lead author, Jon Cylus, told HuffPost in an interview. [HuffPost]

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OBAMA PREPARED TO SEND TROOPS TO IRAQ - Something something something smoking gun mushroom cloud, something something something axis of something something tried to kill my dad something. Ugh. AP: "President Barack Obama spoke on Iraq Thursday, announcing the U.S. is willing to deploy 'a small number of additional American military advisers, up to 300,' but "American forces will not be returning to combat' there. The United States will continue to increase support to Iraqi security forces,' Obama said. 'Let me repeat what I've said in the past: American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again,' Obama emphasized again in response to a question from a reporter. Obama said he's 'taken some steps' to relocate some personnel working inside Iraq, and the U.S. has increased intelligence efforts on the ground there. Obama hinted that airstrikes are a possibility, saying the U.S. 'will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.' Obama emphasized it's up to Iraqi leaders to work out a solution, saying 'the U.S. will not seek military action that will support one sect over another.'" [AP]

JOHN MCCAIN WANTS MOAR TROOPS - Do you think the Arizona senators starts nervously scratching his chest, sweating profusely and hawking copper piping to procure more military appropriations whenever the U.S. hasn't used military force in a while? Mike McAuliff: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ratcheted up the pressure on the Obama administration Thursday over the growing crisis in Iraq, calling for air strikes and special forces on the ground to arrest the advance of Sunni insurgents. McCain is one of many Republicans who have been critical of President Barack Obama for, as they see it, allowing Iraq to fall into chaos. But he became one of the few to suggest a course of action in a Senate floor speech. 'So what do we need to do?' McCain said, remarking that the first step is to oust the current leader of Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite who has been criticized for failing to include Sunnis in government. 'Of course Maliki has to be transitioned out,' McCain said, although the Obama administration has said it is not interested in meddling with the leadership of Iraq. 'But the only way that's going to happen is for us to assure Iraqis that we will be there to assist. And let me make it clear: no one that I know wants to send combat troops on the ground, but airstrikes are an important factor, psychologically and many other ways, and that may require some forward air controllers and some special forces.'" [HuffPost]

@aterkel: There is a petition to get Eric Cantor on Dancing with the Stars. Unfortunately, not many signatures so far. chn.ge/1pNj5nW

Excerpt: "Eric Cantor is a total babe who probably has sweet moves on the dance floor. He is a dreamboat and even if you don't like his politics, you need to admit that the man's got swag."

CANTOR'S LOSS MAKES GOP LEADERSHIP'S FUTURE UNCERTAIN - Sabrina Siddiqui and Jona Ward: "Amid the chaos of the last week, and the jockeying for position among those trying to quickly take Cantor's place, the question of who will eventually succeed Boehner has received less attention. That contest is wide open...'I don't think there is an obvious heir apparent to John Boehner right now. There was, but I don't think there is today,' said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)...there are questions about [Kevin McCarthy's] leadership abilities and whether he is a true believer in conservative politics or more interested in simply accruing power. As majority leader, he would automatically be a top contender for speaker, but with nowhere near the advantages that Cantor had...[Jeb] Hensarling’s decision not to enter the leadership election disappointed and angered many conservatives, his embrace of a populist, anti-cronyism message is attractive to many on the right. Hill insiders say, however, that if Hensarling has any serious ambitions for leadership down the road, he needs to start building a political operation now...[With Steve Scalise's winning the whip competition this week], he immediately vaults into a national role that will enhance his chances of vying for future leadership openings...[Cath McMorris Rodgers] is not considered a political heavyweight, however, within the House GOP. That could change between now and whenever Boehner retires. It’s not likely, but Rodgers' spot in the leadership makes her relevant nonetheless...one Hill insider speculated that [Greg] Walden could inherit the speaker’s formidable political operation if Paul Ryan did not run for speaker." [HuffPost]

A closer look at Jeb Hensarling and crony capitalism from Zach Carter, Paul Blumenthal and Ryan Grim.

A new poll finds the 47 percent are absolutely loving their gifts: "Six in 10 of those who received subsidies to offset their insurance costs said they benefited from the law, according to the survey conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in April and May. A majority of those who obtained their coverage via Obamacare's health insurance exchanges and half of the previously uninsured felt the same way...Overall, 47 percent of those with individual insurance policies have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, compared to 43 percent who view it negatively. That's a higher approval rating than the public at large gives the act, according to the survey, but still shy of majority support." [HuffPost's Jeff Young]

RON PAUL TO APPEAR ON THE SILVER SCREEN - Todd VanDerWerff: "After the first installment made a world-beating $4.6 million and the second an even better $3 million, the producers of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy knew they needed to pull out all the stops to make the third installment, Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?, a stone-cold guarantee to once again make only 65 percent of the prior installment’s take at the box office. To do that, they’ve lured all-American superhero Ron Paul out of the acting retirement he probably would have been in had he pursued the box office superstardom we all know he had in him instead of pursuing politics. The Congressman, frequent presidential candidate, and passionate love of random drive-by Internet commenters will be joined in the film by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Kris Polaha, who is probably wishing Life UneXpected had just run for seven seasons already, because he wanted an acting career, but not like this. Not like this! " [AV Club]

AMERICANS NOT EXACTLY UP TO DATE ON DISCRIMINATION LAW - Emily Swanson: "Half of Americans support passing a law banning discrimination by employers against gays and lesbians, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows -- and even more Americans agree that it should be illegal to fire someone for being gay...In the new survey, 50 percent of Americans favored and 38 percent opposed legislation banning job discrimination against gays and lesbians. The poll found political division on the issue: 63 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents favored that kind of legislation, but only 34 percent of Republicans did. But on at least one major protection the legislation would provide, all three groups were united. Seventy-six percent of Americans, including 88 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and 68 percent of Republicans, said that it should be illegal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian. Only 12 percent of Americans said it should be legal." [HuffPost]

Also: Americans are unsure how Jewish Perry is.

Clinton Justice© is swift: A Hillary Clinton donor who serves as dean of the University of Arkansas libraries has banned the Washington Free Beacon from the school’s special collections archives, after the news outlet published revealing stories about Hillary Clinton based on documents available at the university library. The ban came days after the Free Beacon ran a story about Clinton’s 1975 defense of a child rapist that drew from audio recordings available at the University of Arkansas library’s special collections archives." [Free Beacon]

BRIAN SCHWEITZER EATS FOOT - Alex Lazar: "Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) has spurred plenty of Internet buzz as of late over some comments he made about Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a National Journal profile. In the article, Schweitzer uttered the following in regard to Feinstein's views on intelligence spying: 'She was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees, and now she says, 'I'm a nun,' when it comes to this spying! I mean, maybe that's the wrong metaphor -- but she was all in!' Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) on Thursday tweeted his displeasure with Schweitzer's remark about Feinstein: 'What kind of sexist scumbag says something like this? Diane Feinstein has more class in her pinky than Schweitzer has in his 20 gallon hat...And Feinstein could teach the Mouth of Montana more than a thing or two about foreign policy'" [HuffPost]

Ruh roh: "Feinstein said on Thursday she was aware of the remarks and laughed knowingly when asked about them. Her reaction: 'You better keep him away from my husband.'" [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a baby telling off a bulldog.

JAY CARNEY DISCUSSES HIS TOUGHEST MOMENT AS PRESS SECRETARY - And it had absolutely nothing to do with the difficulty of removing those tiny hairs on the corners of his mouth while trimming his beard. Sam Stein: "Speaking Thursday morning to reporters assembled at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast series, Carney called the problematic launch of the president’s signature legislative initiative 'the most difficult period since I’ve been a press secretary.' He was discussing tactical challenges as opposed to policy setbacks. On policy setbacks, what hurt the most was the failure to respond to the Newtown shooting, he has said. The reason HealthCare.gov haunted Carney more than the other scandals from his tenure was that 'this one was completely of our doing, completely our responsibility,' he said, making it far tougher for him to spin the administration's side... After the breakfast concluded, Carney told The Huffington Post that the crisis in Syria also proved professionally vexing. Those two crises stood in contrast to others, such as IRS targeting, NSA leaks and the attacks in Benghazi, which had greater degrees of nuance and more evident grounds for pushback." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- The neuroscience behind Hodor from "Game of Thrones." [http://bit.ly/1oLCzJV]

- The most in-depth review of Yo you'll read today. [http://bit.ly/Uicdl9]

- Don't get in a reporter's face if they are on-air... and in front of an easily recognizable landmark. [http://some.ly/1kSAHqI]

- A short made by Lars Von Trier when he was eleven. [http://uproxx.it/1nlklbB]

- A dog eating contest in China has drawn some pretty negative responses. [http://bit.ly/UienkC]

- The latest season of "Game of Thrones" as represented by pie charts and graphs [http://vult.re/1pnOafX]

- Lifetime is producing a "Saved By The Bell" movie...about the show. [http://uproxx.it/1pjBCEx]

- How to cure garlic breath. [http://bit.ly/1qwn4Fq]

TWITTERAMA

@LisaDCNN: Sadly, "@MCLEADER" is taken and suffering from lack of use.

@SimonMaloy: Status qwhoa, if true.

@daveweigel: Raul Labrador's defeat is a setback for all of us who half-ass things at the last minute.

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