President Obama's discussion of Ferguson and his "More Perfect Union" speech should be played back-to-back to anyone who thinks being president is an enriching experience. Ferguson has retained the services of an all-white PR firm, because if there's one thing the people of that town need, it's someone named Bethany talking about brands. And a new poll finds Americans' views on Ferguson are shaped largely by race. Twenty-five years after "Do The Right Thing," this country is still basically one large version of Sal's Pizzeria. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, August 18th, 2014:
DROWSY PRESIDENT DISCUSSES RACE RELATIONS, FORGETS TO WEAR TIE - The president's lame duck presidency began the moment he didn't bother to put on a tie for his incredibly listless press conference. "Asking if he would travel to Ferguson or become more involved in the case, President Obama said that "I have to be very careful about not pre-judging these events before investigations are completed.' He doesn't want to be seen as putting his 'thumb on the scales one way or the other.' However he said that he would continue to work to combat racism in a broader sense. 'Part of the ongoing challenge of perfecting our union has involved dealing with communities that feel left behind,' he said. Obama specifically said that he'd be looking into reforming the criminal justice system so that it's more fair to minorities." [HuffPost]
Sam Stein: "President Barack Obama on Monday offered support for a review of the militarization of local law enforcement. Addressing the ongoing strife in Ferguson, Missouri, Obama sought a balanced resolution. He urged looters to stop commandeering a legitimate civil rights protest, and called on the police to further respect the rights of protesters. His most noteworthy remarks came when asked about the machinery being deployed by those police in recent days to quell unrest, which has been criticized for instead inciting tensions and further alienating the local community." [HuffPost]
CONGRESS WON'T STOP SUPPLYING POLICE WITH MILITARY GEAR -Jen Bendery, Zach Carter and Grim: "The militarized police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, is forcing members of Congress to explain their ongoing support for a Pentagon program that provides local law enforcement with weapons used in war zones -- and how, if at all, they plan to change it. House lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in June to block legislation by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) that would have stopped the program, which funnels surplus military weapons to police departments at no charge. The so-called '1033 program,' launched in 1997, has provided billions of dollars in military equipment to local law enforcement agencies around the country. Grayson's amendment failed 62 to 355, with Democrats opposing the legislation by a 3-to-1 margin...Yet while lawmakers have decried the excessive police response in Ferguson, a number of members told The Huffington Post they don’t expect Congress to do much to rein in the Pentagon program. That's not so much because of intense lobbying from the defense industry, they said, but more because local police forces say they benefit from the free gear. 'I can't speak for others, but my guess is that most people think police don't get enough funding/support at the local level,' said one House Democrat who voted against Grayson’s amendment. 'So if the Feds want to give cops stuff for free, go for it.'" [HuffPost]
AMERICANS DIVIDED ALONG RACIAL and POLITICAL LINES ON FERGUSON SHOOTING - The Hill "A new poll finds the public sharply divided along racial and political lines amid violence in Ferguson, Mo., sparked by the police killing of an unarmed black teenager. An overwhelming majority of black people, 80 percent, believe the case raises important questions about race, and another 18 percent believe race is getting too much attention, according to a Pew Research poll released Monday. A plurality of whites, though, at 47 percent believe race is getting too much attention, but 37 percent think the case raises important questions. Another 16 percent of whites are undecided. The poll also finds a similar split between Democrats and Republicans. Although 68 percent of Democrats believe the shooting raises important questions about race, only 22 percent of Republicans feel the same way. Forty percent of independents think the case raises important racial questions." [The Hill]
Awwwwwwwwww, Don Young: "U.S. Rep. Don Young is engaged.
The 81-year-old introduced Anne Garland Walton as his fiancee, to applause, during 'Candidate Sunday' at an Anchorage mega-church on Sunday. Young spokesman Matt Shuckerow said the congressman attends the church, Anchorage Baptist Temple, when he is in town. Walton, a flight nurse from Fairbanks, said later that no date had been set. She said the engagement has been unofficial for some time." [AP]
Haircuts: Paige Lavender, Sam Stein.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Jackie Borchardt: "Advocates for the poor have filed a civil rights complaint against Ohio officials for failing to renew the state's food stamp waiver for all 88 Ohio counties, which resulted in thousands of Ohioans losing the federal benefits. In a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the advocacy groups argued the decision disproportionately hurt minority Ohioans… In September 2013, Ohio officials announced the state received a waiver for the 16 most economically depressed of Ohio's 88 counties. The exempt counties are located mostly in Appalachian Ohio and don't include Ohio's big, urban counties such as Cuyahoga County." [Cleveland.com]
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GOV. NIXON CALLS OFF FERGUSON CURFEW - Is there anything A Democratic governor of a red state wants less than to have his face associated with an outburst of racial tensions? Has an anti-gun Million Mom March broken out in Branson? AP: "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says no curfew will be in place early Tuesday morning in Ferguson, and the National Guard keeping watch there will have 'immediate and limited' responsibilities. A midnight to 5 a.m. curfew had been in place the previous two nights. Nixon ordered the National Guard into the St. Louis suburb following another night of rioting, more than a week after a Ferguson police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown. In a statement Monday, Nixon said Missouri National Guard Brigadier General Gregory Mason will oversee Guard operations in Ferguson under the overall command of the state highway patrol. He says the Guard's limited role will be to provide protection and ensure the safety of the police command center that was believed to be targeted Sunday night." [HuffPost]
@kansasalps: City of #Ferguson just hired a PR firm.Their entire team appears to be white: pic.twitter.com/ONUKrTkg6X
ADMINISTRATION READYING EXECUTIVE ORDERS - Times: "The process of drafting what will likely be the only significant immigration changes of his presidency — and his most consequential use of executive power — has been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors, where lobbyists and interest groups invited to the White House are making their case out of public view...More often, though, the talks have occurred behind the scenes. Administration officials have convened more than 20 so-called listening sessions this summer alone on executive options for revising immigration policy, a White House official said, declining to discuss the sessions in detail because the conversations were private. On a host of issues, the list of requests is growing. Technology companies would like Mr. Obama to provide more visas for their workers, or at least more flexibility for them and their families as they await green cards for permanent residency. Consumer groups and organized labor want the Treasury Department to act on its own to limit financial incentives for companies that move overseas for tax breaks and stop so-called inversions. Democratic lawmakers are joining in as well, asking the president to act on his own on their pet issues." [NYT]
@tarapalmeri: Today is @RepEricCantor's last day as a congressman. And guess where he spent his last weekend? In the Hamptons! @ Perelman's Apollo benefit
RICK PERRY ISN'T BEING ARRESTED - Are there any Republican governors with past or present presidential ambitions who aren't mired in legal difficulties? My SA: "The special prosecutor in Gov.Rick Perry's case said Monday there won't be an arrest warrant issued for him on the charges that he abused his power. 'I've agreed that only a summons will be issued' for Perry to appear in court, said San Antonio lawyer Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor. He said this isn't unusual and that Perry isn't getting special treatment. The case revolves around Perry's threat last year to veto funding for a public corruption unit overseen by Democratic Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg unless she resigned in the wake of a messy drunken-driving arrest. She stayed in office, and the Republican governor vetoed the money, saying she had lost the public's confidence. McCrum emphasized that it's not unusual to do without a warrant in his experience, which includes a stint as a federal prosecutor. 'In my experience as a prosecutor, I've done that before in cases where I do not see a risk of flight nor a risk that evidence will be destroyed,' McCrum said. 'I don't want anybody to get the impression he's being given any special favors.' McCrum and Perry's lawyer planned to talk Monday to decide on a date for Perry's arraignment in court." [My SA]
Speaking of governors going to jail: "Former Gov. Bob McDonnell struggled to rein in his wife's erratic behavior, causing turmoil throughout the executive staff and nearly prompting a mass resignation among workers in the governor's mansion, a defense witness testified Monday. After prosecutors presented nearly three weeks of testimony in the public corruption trial of McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, lawyers for Bob McDonnell opened their defense with even more testimony that portrayed Maureen McDonnell badly, saying she lashed out when she didn't get her way. Prosecutors say the McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements. The couple is charged in a 14-count indictment." [AP]
HILLARY GOING TO IOWA - Maybe she'll ask the guy at the fried butter stand to STAND DOWN. B-E-N-G-H-A-Z-Iowa. AP: "Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton will headline the annual steak fry for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, making a big return to the leadoff caucus state as the former secretary of state considers another presidential campaign. Sam Roecker, a spokesman for the Harkin Steak Fry, said Monday that both Clintons will speak at the fundraiser in Indianola, just south of Des Moines, on Sept. 14. It will be the former first lady's first appearance in Iowa since 2008, when she finished a disappointing third in the caucuses...This will be Hillary Rodham Clinton's second Steak Fry appearance and Bill Clinton's fourth time at the event. Clinton has said she intends to campaign for Democratic candidates this year. Iowa is the home of a key Senate race, with Democrat Bruce Braley opposing Republican Joni Ernst. Iowa's presidential caucuses will begin the 2016 nomination process...For Clinton, the campaign appearances could serve as an unofficial start of a presidential campaign, should she decide to run, and will allow her to appeal to Democrats looking for a successor to President Barack Obama. Clinton has urged Democrats to mobilize for the midterm elections and try to maintain a Senate majority, which would be crucial for Obama's final two years in office." [AP]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a dog getting a massage.
JIM JEFFORDS DEAD AT 80 - Burlington Free Press: "James Merrill Jeffords, who rose from Rutland roots to become a Republican congressman and senator before breaking with his party in 2001, has died. He was 80. Jeffords, the last Republican to hold federal office elected from Vermont, retired from the U.S. Senate in 2006 while in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. He had been cared for in the intervening years at a facility near Washington, D.C. News of Jeffords' death Monday morning, first reported by the Burlington Free Press, quickly spread across the state and the nation...Jeffords was regarded as a maverick in Washington even before he split from the Republican Party in 2001, decried the party's rightward shift and criticized what he saw President George W. Bush's political intransigence on a number of issues...Jeffords' decision to become an independent in 2001 rocked the nation by giving control of the Senate to the Democrats, costing his Republican colleagues their committee chairmanships." [Burlington Free Press]
- What if Michael Bay directed "Up"?
- Stop-motion animation made entirely out of styrofoam.
- How to make a keg out of a watermelon.
- Lady Gaga's Ice Bucket Challenge video was ... odd.
- And here's a roundup of 34 celebrities doing the Ice Bucket Challenge.
- People who took their love of Chipotle way too far.
- Digital makeup is terrifying ... definitely well within the Uncanny Valley.
@ajgoldberg: Let’s just impeach every president immediately after the inauguration from now on. Get it out of the way.
@mattyglesias: “We tear-gassed some folks”
@jesseberney: DEAR BLACK PEOPLE: IF YOU ARE APPROACHED BY SOMEONE ASKING YOU TO REGISTER TO VOTE, DO NOT ENGAGE. REPORT HIM TO JAMES O'KEEFE IMMEDIATELY
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