POLITICS
07/16/2014 05:56 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - You Come At The Issa, You Best Not Appear

President Obama mentions himself more regularly than previous commanders-in-chief, though the number drops if you leave out mentions of the bear being loose. The Senate blocked a bill on contraceptives, proving the body needed no outside help to shut that whole thing down. And Scott Brown referred all questions about a recent Supreme Court decision to his awesome red truck, which by the way he totally drives. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, July 16th, 2014:

ISSA SUBPOENA STORM INTENSIFIES, COULD BECOME ISSACANE - Once his chairmanship ends, we look forward to his Derek Jeter-style Re2Pect ad with a bunch of Tea Party types tipping their tricorne hats to him. Justin Sink: "The director of the White House's political office defied a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, setting up a new high-profile fight between the White House and House Republicans. Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said administration claims that White House political director David Simas was immune from testimony were 'absurd' and 'deeply disturbing.' 'The American people have a right to know if their tax dollars are being used for political activity,' Issa said, adding that Simas's testimony was 'critically important' to his investigation into whether the political office had violated the Hatch Act, a law prohibiting executive branch employees from engaging in partisan campaign activity. Issa has not produced evidence of a specific instance of the White House violating the law and has pointed to abuses in the office that occurred under the Bush Administration to justify the subpoena." [The Hill]

STRONG ISSA GUST ENDS COMMITTEE HEARING - Jen Bendery: "Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, seemed to catch everyone off guard Wednesday when he suddenly pulled the plug on his committee hearing before witnesses could even testify. Issa read his opening statement for the hearing on potential abuses of taxpayer funds by the White House's new political office, and let his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), read his statement before declaring the hearing over. Two witnesses who came prepared to testify were dismissed. A source who was in the hearing said one of Issa's witnesses, Carolyn Lerner, the director of the independent Office of Special Counsel, appeared to leave angrily." [HuffPost]

DEM CONTRACEPTIVE BILL THWARTED - Laura Bassett: "Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that would have required all for-profit employers to include the full range of contraceptives in their health insurance plans, in effect overriding the Supreme Court's recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The Senate voted 56 to 43 to proceed to debate on the bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. Three Republicans-- Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) -- voted with Senate Democrats to proceed. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), would have barred for-profit companies from opting out of federal law based on the religious beliefs of their owners. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Hobby Lobby, a craft supply chain owned by Evangelical Christians, could legally refuse to cover the four kinds of contraception that its owners believe are akin to abortion." [HuffPost]

NEGOTIATIONS OVER CHILD MIGRANTS COLLAPSE IN HOUSE - Times: "Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, reversed course on Wednesday and said she would not back changes to a 2008 law that gave certain undocumented immigrant children broader legal rights to enter the United States. Ms. Pelosi had suggested this month that she could accept changes to the Bush-era law that would expedite the deportation of children in exchange for President Obama’s emergency $3.7 billion request to deal with a sudden surge of unaccompanied minors at the border, mainly from Central America. Since then, she said, Republican leaders have given little indication that they will back that funding request. One of her own members, Representative Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas, teamed up with Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, this week to introduce legislation that would amend the 2008 law, which is intended to stop sex trafficking, but which grants migrant children from Central America extra legal protections that have made them harder to return quickly to their home countries. The Democratic leadership’s hard line raises the prospects of an impasse on Capitol Hill that leaves the Obama administration with no additional resources to deal with the border surge. Republican leaders have said they will not give the president a “blank check” without policy changes. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus was set to meet with Mr. Obama on Wednesday afternoon, and White House officials were to brief Democratic senators on the border issue in the evening." [NYT]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Since the Great Recession, many American cities have sought to eradicate homelessness not so much by giving people shelter, but by making it illegal to be homeless. Citywide bans on things that homeless people need to do to survive are on the rise, according to a new report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Key findings: camping bans are up 60 percent since 2011, begging bans up 25 percent, loitering bans up 35 percent, sitting bans up 43 percent, and vehicle-sleeping bans are up 119 percent. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - Lawmakers have been eating unemployed people's lunch right and left this year. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives took another bite, approving a federal highway funding bill with a cost-cutting provision that had been part of legislation for the long-term jobless. "This is now the second time they’ve taken offsets intended to help the unemployed and used them to pay for other priorities," Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I) said in a statement after the vote. Since December, Reed and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have been the chief sponsors of several bills to restore benefits to people jobless longer than six months. Republicans have stifled the bills, partly by demanding their cost be offset with spending cuts or revenue increases. Reed and Heller keep coming up with offsets, and other lawmakers keep taking them. [HuffPost]

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SENATE CONFIRMS JUDGE 15 YEARS AFTER FIRST NOMINATION - And here we thought unconfirmed judicial nominees were kept in some kind of holding pen outside of Patrick Leahy's office and fed pellets every few hours. "The first time Ronnie White came up for a vote in the Senate, he was one of President Bill Clinton's judicial nominees and Senate Republicans sunk his confirmation to a Missouri district court. Then-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) led the charge against White, who is African-American, saying he'd been soft on criminals in death penalty cases he oversaw in his role as a state judge, and pointing to opposition from Missouri police associations later found to be all-white. White's supporters charged that race was a factor in his defeat, and Ashcroft's role in sinking White's confirmation contributed to his own loss in the subsequent Senate election. That was in 1999, two years after Clinton nominated White to the bench. On Wednesday, White got a rare second chance. The Senate voted to confirm him to the same court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, by a vote of 53 to 44...In the years since his nomination, White continued on as a Missouri Supreme Court judge and later went into private practice. He resurfaced on Capitol Hill in 2001 when Ashcroft was going through his own confirmation hearings to become U.S. attorney general under President George W. Bush. During those hearings, White expressed anger at Ashcroft for torpedoing his nomination by persuading Republicans he wasn't tough enough on crime." [HuffPost]

Marsha Blackburn is standing between you and the ability to load cat videos faster: "A senior congressional Republican this week introduced legislation that would bar the federal government from using its powers to help community-owned Internet service providers compete with private telecommunications companies...In many states, major providers of high-speed Internet connections have successfully lobbied state lawmakers to deliver legislation that bars community-owned ISPs from expanding beyond their home territories. The Federal Communications Commission has the authority to intervene and preempt such state laws to enable smaller Internet providers to compete with larger national firms. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee as an amendment to an annual spending bill, would strip the FCC of this power. Blackburn’s top campaign donors include private telecommunications firms that do not want to have to compete with publicly owned ISPs. Her state is home to EPB, a taxpayer-owned power company in Chattanooga that also provides local residents some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world at market-competitive rates. EPB is now aiming to expand its services beyond Chattanooga." [IBTimes]

THE BEAR TIGER IS LOOSE: WHY DAVID WU LINGERS - It's the absolute saddest iteration of those college freshman who constantly visit their high school. BuzzFeed: "[H]is main project these days is organizing an exchange trip in August to send American students to China to check out its space program. This is just one of Wu’s hodgepodge of current gigs. Some he does pro bono; some he gets paid for. His main stream of income seems to be coming from consulting Chinese companies about investing in the United States (“We sent $3 trillion over the last 30 years and I think it’s a good idea to repatriate some of that money,” he says). The rest of his time, he says, is spent going around the country “giving speeches and encouraging young people to get more involved in civic engagement.' Wu says there’s a legitimate reason he’s still in the District. The terms of his divorce state he needs to remain there until his two teenage children have graduated from high school. He plans to one day return to Oregon, where he spent years as a lawyer before running an underdog campaign for Congress...Until then, though, Wu remains in Washington. He considers himself someone who has a lot to offer the political world. He is the treasurer of a political action committee, the Education and Opportunity Fund. Filings show the PAC doesn’t do a lot, beyond small donations to local parties and a few House candidates, like Rep. Mike Honda, whom Wu considers a friend." [BuzzFeed]

DEY TERK ER JERBS MERIT BADGES - We call dibs on the EP credit for the talk show featuring this guy and Stark County treasurer candidate Phil Davison. AZ Central: "Republican congressional candidate and state legislator Adam Kwasman had just raced up to Phoenix Tuesday morning from the Oracle protest over the expected arrival of dozens of migrant children at a shelter. He had tweeted from the scene, 'Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.' He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus. But there was a problem with Kwasman's story: There was no fear on their faces. Those weren't the migrant children in the school bus. Those were children from the Marana school district. They were heading to the YMCA's Triangle Y Camp, not far from the Rite of Passage shelter for the migrants, at the base of Mt. Lemmon. 12 News reporter Will Pitts, who was at the protest scene, says he saw the children laughing and taking pictures of the media. I had to break it to Kwasman that those weren't migrant children. Kwasman later deleted the tweet. He did back flips trying to take back the story he told me. And while the YMCA kids showed up, the bus that Kwasman and other protesters were waiting for -- packed with migrant children -- won't be going to the shelter today, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." [AZ Central]

SCOTT BROWN'S CAMPAIGN PULLS A JOE MILLER -
Guardian: "Jeremy, [a Brown campaign staffer], looking even more anxious than he did at Priscilla's, took me to a corner and told me that while I could witness Brown's electioneering, under no circumstances was I permitted to ask questions. I was explaining to Jeremy that Senate candidates don’t get to dictate when and where journalists ask them questions, when Brown re-emerged. Gruffly, he told me I had intruded in a private event. He was not going to answer my questions about Hobby Lobby. 'I’m not making any more news,' he explained. 'You’re being unprofessional and you’re being rude.' A large man with chest hair poking out of his shirt put it more bluntly. 'You have to go,' he said. 'We can either do this the right way, or we can do this the wrong way.' 'What is the wrong way?' I asked. 'I don’t want you to find out,' he said. I left the campaign event in the company of the tavern's owner. He and I were talking on the porch, several minutes later, when a police car pulled up. I don't know if Officer Valley, from the Ossipee Police Department, had ever before been called to deal with an errant reporter. I do know he walked up to the porch with an amused look on his face. 'How you doing?' he said, shaking everyone's hand. 'What’s up?' None of the parties disputed the facts of the case. I was the journalist. My job was to ask questions. The man holed up inside the tavern was Scott Brown, a would-be senator who didn’t want to answer. I was eventually asked to leave. I left. Officer Valley mulled over the situation before delivering his summary judgment. 'There’s no crime,' he said. 'No issue here at all.'" [Guardian]

CLASSIC BIDEN - Andrew Kaczynski: "Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday the 'hope and change' promised by President Obama and himself in 2008 never happened. Biden was speaking at the Generation Progress, a segment of the Center for American Progress dedicated to student and youth advocacy. 'Look folks, this is within our power to change,' Biden said to the crowd. 'Everybody says because we tried in ‘08 and it didn’t happen, it’s not possible. Wrong. We’ve gone through these periods before.'" [BuzzFeed]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a greedy raccoon

PRESIDENT TALKS ABOUT HIMSELF, JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER PRESIDENT - Why is this president using pronouns instead of leading and searching for Benghazi truths? WaPo: "We took a dozen or more speeches, comments, and radio addresses from the last three presidents in June and July of the second year of their second terms and counted the instances of 'I,' 'me,' and 'my.'...Our counts showed that Obama mentioned himself 835 times in the 31,123 words we counted in 16 speeches. That's 2.68 percent of the time. Which is higher than the percentage for George Bush: 2.25 percent (897 uses in 39,810 words in 14 speeches). And it's higher than the percentage for Bill Clinton, if barely: 2.6 percent (676 uses in 26,031 words in 12 speeches)...For kicks, we also tracked the number of times each president was interrupted by applause or laughter, and the number of times he referred to God. (In Clinton's defense, his speeches, from UCSB's American Presidency Project, appear to include fewer such annotations.) People clapped for Bush and Obama about equally, but laughed at Obama more. Is this affecting his ability to lead?" [WaPo]

COMFORT FOOD

- A collection of the most golf clap-worthy Facebook profile/cover photo combinations. [http://huff.to/1mhzFFc]

- "Game of Thrones" sigils for all 50 states. [http://bit.ly/1kuPPLY]

- Humans doing cat things. [http://huff.to/1zJ9AsZ]

- Next time you drive through Taco Bell, prepare to encounter drunk Charlie Sheen. [http://bit.ly/1mhdnU8]

- Today's Weird Al installment is a Lorde Parody, "Foil." [http://bit.ly/1naOPlO]

- LeBron James perfectly placed into "Dumb and Dumber." [http://bit.ly/UbLXsl]

- The use of swear words by chief executives on conference calls is directly correlated with the economy. [http://bloom.bg/1jP42IO]

TWITTERAMA

@NineCalifornias: #NineCalifornias is an initiative like @SixCalifornias but with 50% more Californias.

@TheTweetofGod: I, God, completely support __________ in its ongoing fight against __________. Kill them all!

@pourmecoffee: Why can't Rupert Murdoch just buy a two seater convertible instead of a cable company like a normal just divorced guy.

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