Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Americans To Celebrate U.S.'s Independence From Belgium

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We're off tomorrow and Friday so we can help the president exploit the Hobby Lobby ruling to expedite creeping Sharia. A musical loosely based on Hillary Clinton is in the works -- the dance number where she dodges gunfire in Bosnia will be *fabulous.* And Target is asking gun owners not to bring their firearms into its stores, even though the only thing that stops a bad guy with a data breach hack is a good guy with a gun. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014:

@NBCNightlyNews: Photo: Defense Secretary Hagel calls @TimHowardGK to thank him for defending the nbcnews.to/1o9Nlou the World Cup pic.twitter.com/x1zAV9ugoh

AMERICANS SPLIT ON HOBBY LOBBY DECISION - And not just because they're torn on where to buy headbands with a bejeweled "2015" for New Year's. Ariel Edwards-Levy and Rachel Lienesch: "Forty-six percent of Americans said they approved of the high court's decision that 'closely held' companies, such as those controlled by families, cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for their employees if doing so violates the owners' religious beliefs. Forty-one percent disapproved. Opinion was sharply divided along party and gender lines. While 77 percent of Republicans approved, just 20 percent of Democrats did. Men were 11 percentage points more likely than women to support the decision. More broadly, 52 percent of Americans favored requiring employers to provide health care plans that cover the cost of birth control, while 32 percent did not...According to the poll, contraception is not controversial to most Americans. Seventy-three percent said using birth control is morally acceptable; just 7 percent said it is morally wrong. Democrats were more likely to express positive views about birth control use, with 80 percent calling it morally acceptable. Sixty-two percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents agreed." [HuffPost]

FLACK SURGE - But are our comms troops getting the supplies they need? ...like interns who can say they're not at their desks when they're ACTUALLY AT THEIR DESKS?!? USA Today: "Members of Congress are putting your money where their mouths are. Since Republicans took control of the U.S. House in January 2011, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has led a cost-cutting effort that has trimmed staff for House committees by nearly 20%, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. But the number of committee staff responsible for press and communications work has increased by nearly 15% over the same period, according to House spending records. In the first three months of 2010, with Democrats still in control of the chamber, the primary committees of the House reported employing 1,570 staff members, 74 of whom had "press" or 'communications' or related terms in their job titles. Over the same period this year, the same committees reported 1,277 total employees, a 19% cut, 85 of whom had communications-related job titles. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the numbers are 'completely unsurprising. We promised responsible oversight of the Obama administration, and effective oversight requires communicating with the American people.' But the numbers raise concerns that Congress is replacing investigative and legislative work with political messaging." [USA Today]

Heads up! The June jobs report lands tomorrow. The ADP estimate puts gains at at 281,000, which would be good but not super great.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Poor people in Tennessee better get ready to forfeit bodily fluids if they want welfare benefits. A new law taking effect this week allows the state Department of Human Services to screen applicants to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, known in Tennessee as Families First. The testing regime is not as harsh as the one in Florida famously deemed unconstitutional by federal courts in 2011. [HuffPost]

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PAY GAP REMAINS IN WHITE HOUSE - This is one of those things that we want Joe Biden to comment on as often as possible. WaPo: "The White House has not narrowed the gap between the average pay of male and female employees since President Obama’s first year in office, according to a Washington Post analysis of new salary data. The average male White House employee currently earns about $88,600, while the average female White House employee earns about $78,400, according to White House data released Tuesday. That is a gap of 13 percent. In 2009, male employees made an average of about $82,000, compared to an average of $72,700 earned by female employees — also a 13 percent wage gap. One of the key reasons is that more men hold the higher-paying, senior jobs in the White House, and more women hold the lower-paying, junior jobs. Today, there are 87 male White House officials who make more than $100,000, compared to 53 female White House officials. The gap narrows, but persists, at the highest echelons of the White House. Among the most senior officials, there are two more men than women." [WaPo]

Zach Wahls, hero son of two lesbian moms, is now a White House intern -- we found out after Ryan Grim called the White House and somehow recognized Wahls' voice on the other end of the line. This is a great opportunity to remind you that the White House doesn't pay its interns...even the ones with two moms.

Future ex-president: "The foundation tasked with selecting a location for President Barack Obama's presidential library is adding Obama's half-sister and one of his top former political advisers to its board of directors. The additions of the president's half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and former adviser David Plouffe (pluhf) to the Barack Obama Foundation board come as it is evaluating site proposals. The board hopes to announce a decision in early 2015." [AP]

DARRELL ISSA TIRED OF ALL THESE YOUNG PEOPLE POLLUTING HIS COUNTRY - Guess they're not getting an invite to the next Issa Cream, either. Elise Foley: "Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is asking colleagues to sign on to a letter to the president demanding he end a program that keeps young people with longstanding ties to the U.S. from being deported. The letter, which was obtained by The Huffington Post and confirmed by two offices that received it, blames President Barack Obama for a current crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally. It specifically singles out his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, which allows young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay and work legally. Issa has contacted colleagues asking them to sign the message to Obama by the end of the day on Thursday. Issa's office did not respond to a request for comment. DACA does not allow immigrants who crossed the border illegally recently to gain legal status -- anyone who entered the country after June 15, 2007, is ineligible -- and Issa acknowledged that in his letter to Obama. But he still said the policy, which has aided more than 550,000 young people so far, is partially to blame for the current crisis." [HuffPost]

We now rank "the American public" between "potential timeshare customers" and "Creed fans" on our list of people with the least amount of perspective: "A third of voters think Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. George W. Bush came in second, with 28 percent naming him as the worst recent president, followed by Richard Nixon with 13 percent. The results, like those of most questions tracking presidential approval, were highly partisan. Part of what makes the numbers so bad for Obama is that the GOP respondents are slightly more united in their loathing: While 63 percent of Republicans named Obama as the worst, Democrats were split between Bush (54 percent) and Nixon (20 percent). Asked specifically to compare Bush with Obama, voters were about evenly split, with 39 percent saying Obama is better, 40 percent saying he is worse, and the remainder saying he is about the same. By contrast, in four surveys taken during 2010 and 2011, Obama was considered the better president by a margin of 6 to 16 percentage points." [HuffPost]

GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE NOT ILLEGAL SAYS GOVERNMENT - Government also totally sure you were going 71 in a 65 and that your ticket is valid. Matt Sledge: "A government privacy oversight board's draft report, released Tuesday night, finds the National Security Agency's use of a controversial surveillance authority is constitutional, but says some aspects of it edge up to violating the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches or seizures. The report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency within the federal government's executive branch, centers on programs revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA uses to pick up communications of foreigners that may also involve a U.S. citizen. The programs rely for legal authority on a law passed in 2008 to bring former President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program under judicial oversight. Critics charge that the NSA, in collecting the foreign targets' communications under its PRISM and upstream collection programs, incidentally picks up far too many Americans' emails and phone calls. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has raised alarm about what happens with Americans' communications once they're collected, because the NSA believes it can search through them without a warrant. " [HuffPost]

So what you're saying is, "Please, for the love of God, bring a bunch of guns to our stores in protest" "Target announced Wednesday it is adopting a no-guns policy and, in a statement, asked that customers not bring guns into stores. Even customers in localities where guns are allowed will be subject to the chain's new policy. 'Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create,' Target's interim CEO John Mulligan said in a statement. The decision follows protests orchestrated by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun control group that in recent months achieved what once seemed like an unlikely goal: convincing many major American companies to take a stance on guns." [HuffPost's Alexander Kaufman]

CHRIS MCDANIEL REALLY WON'T GIVE UP - Samantha Lachman: "Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who lost a GOP primary runoff to Sen. Thad Cochran, has done anything but accept the election results. On Wednesday, McDaniel sent a fundraising email to supporters in which he claims Cochran 'stole' the election. McDaniel's campaign says it has found "thousands of irregularities," such as people who may have illegally voted in both the Democratic primary June 3 and the Republican runoff June 24...Cochran won the runoff by almost 6,800 votes, in part by expanding the electorate beyond those voters who typically cast ballots in Republican primaries. McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said Tuesday that the campaign's exact strategy had yet to be decided." [HuffPost]

Nothing embodies the libertarian ideals of hard work and self-sustainability quite like nepotistic graft: "Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) received a handsome bonus from his father's company in 2010, the same year he first ran for Congress and loaned a similarly large sum of money to his campaign, according to disclosure documents released by his office. The timing of the bonus and loans raise the question of whether Amash received an illegal campaign contribution from his family's business to finance his first campaign for Congress. Amash, a libertarian darling known for butting heads with the GOP establishment, is currently fighting off a primary challenge from businessman Brian Ellis. Recent polling shows Amash comfortably ahead, but corporate interest groups have made him a top target as they seek to turn back a Tea Party tide that has at times cried foul on corporate welfare." [HuffPost]

HILLARY MUSICAL COMING YOUR WAY - "'A Woman on Top,' a musical by Rhonda Kess and Dale Kiken that is, yep, loosely inspired by HRC's career. Dubbed a musical 'for both sides of the aisle,' the show centers on fictional Senator Virginia Stanton, a woman who 'has had it all: career, marriage, family, success and divorce.' ... There are a few obvious discrepancies between Stanton and Clinton's trajectories. Hil is obviously not divorced, she's -- to the best of our knowledge -- never been impacted by the wisdom of a deceased political activist, and her significant other has never run for office in an opposing party. There's a bit of fluff here, for sure, and the phrase 'had it all' leaves a bit of a sour taste in our mouths. Yet we're still intrigued by this Broadway-ambitious musical, directed by Dan Knechtges (who was nominated for a Tony Award for his 'Xanadu' choreography) and starring industry veterans Reathel Bean, Karen Mason, Frank Vlastnik and Sarah Cetrulo. The team is holding a table reading next week, so only time will tell if this strange homage will take shape as an actual production." [HuffPost]

SORE LOSERMAN PRANKS COCHRAN CALL - How dare anyone insinuate there is racism in Mississippi. Daniel Strauss: "A conference call by top staffers for Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-MS) campaign was cut short after a caller on the line kept asking about 'blacks picking Cotton' and the Cochran campaign harvesting votes of black people." TPM

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some patriotic puppies.

HE WOULD BE CONFIRMED UNANIMOUSLY - Assuming Rand Paul didn't filibuster. The Verge: "[A]ccording to Wikipedia, [Tim Howard] was appointed secretary of defense of the United States of America. Some brilliant Wikipedia editor gave Tim Howard the true credit he deserved last night, though the page was quickly reverted to show that Chuck Hagel, who had exactly zero saves on Tuesday for the US team, remains the secretary of defense. It's maybe the greatest Wikipedia troll / homage of all time. It might not be better than a World Cup trophy, but at least Tim Howard has something awesome to hang on his wall now." [The Verge]

COMFORT FOOD

- Toddler delivers wedding toast. [http://huff.to/1rjXOmd]

- Snoop Dogg's nature show would absolutely dominate Animal Planet. [http://bit.ly/1qyF1U5]

- The long-await coming together of a pony and DMX. [http://chzb.gr/1qyFQfz]

- Videos of people awkwardly throwing rocks with their non-dominant hands. [http://bit.ly/1qmJjMJ]

- Tibetans are descended from a now-extinct human species whose genes help them survive in high altitudes. [http://bit.ly/1ooYjIh]

- The new "Transformers" movie, but stop-motion and with toys. [http://bit.ly/TPpQb3]

- Dads square off in an intense toy battle. [http://bit.ly/1iYd9Gx]

- Grumpy Cat is now inking sponsorship deals. [http://bit.ly/1lTDzZr]

TWITTERAMA

@LOLGOP: The Tea Party trying to throw out black votes in Mississippi during the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer is the most Tea Party thing ever.

@daveweigel: If Hitler had a restaurant, he’d refuse to seat you until your whole party arrived.

@jbendery" PR group just emailed with this intro: "Hi First Name." Effective strategy!

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