Steve King pointedly noted that there’s no Congressional White Caucus, however there is an informal group known as “Congress.” The GAO thinks the Bowe Bergdahl swap was illegal so we should…send him back? And Paul Ryan told Time Magazine he doesn’t like John Boehner’s tobacco-heavy odor. Don’t be surprised if a wounded Boehner sounds off in Newsweek about his distaste for the smell of whey protein and Brylcreem. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, August 21st, 2014:
BERGDAHL SWAP ILLEGAL, GAO SAYS - Donna Cassata: "The Pentagon broke the law when it swapped Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a prisoner in Afghanistan for five years, for five Taliban leaders, congressional investigators said Thursday. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said the Defense Department failed to notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the exchange — a clear violation of the law — and used $988,400 of a wartime account to make the transfer. The GAO also said the Pentagon's use of funds that hadn't been expressly appropriated violated the Anti-deficiency Act. 'In our view, the meaning of the (law) is clear and unambiguous,' the GAO wrote to nine Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and various committees. 'Section 8111 prohibits the use of 'funds appropriated or otherwise made available' in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014, to transfer any individual detained at Guantanamo Bay to the custody or control of a foreign entity' except in accordance' with the law." [AP]
STEVE KING HAS SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS - The Iowa Republican wonders if you've read a book by this man Goddard. Via TPM: "And by the way, it also should be said that someone like Lacy Clay, who's a member of the Congressional Black Caucus — there is no 'Congressional White Caucus.' [The CBC] is a self-segregated caucus and it is a caucus that they drive an agenda that's based on race. And they're always looking to place the race card. They're always looking to divide people down that line. And I have friends in that caucus. I get along with them personally, but their agenda is to play the race card. And we have a President who had a perfect opportunity to eliminate a lot of this friction in this country, and instead, he and his attorney general have been in a place where they've created friction rather than eliminated it." [TPM]
What's happening with insurance premiums next year? Jeff Young's got you covered.
NIXON ORDERS NATIONAL GUARD TO WITHDRAW FROM FERGUSON - "Make like me and get out of there." Sam Stein: "In a sign that tensions in Ferguson are continuing to de-escalate, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has ordered the state’s national guard to begin withdrawal from the city of Ferguson...Nixon had ordered the National Guard into Ferguson on Aug. 18, after protests over the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown left the city in chaos. Since then, the protests have decreased in size and police have said that the incidents of violence and looting have become less frequent as well. Several things could still cause the protests to ramp up again, chief among them an announcement of whether or not the officer involved in the shooting will be charged. That announcement, however, may not come for weeks or months." [HuffPost]
BLACK AMERICANS FAR MORE DISTRUSTING OF POLICE THAN WHITES: POLL - Emily Swanson: "Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to express distrust in their local police departments, especially when it comes to use of excessive force, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. But both blacks and whites tend to have a generally favorable view of police in their communities. According to the survey, 24 percent of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence that police in their communities won't use excessive force on suspects, while another 31 percent said they have a fair amount of confidence. Seventeen percent said they have just some confidence, 13 percent said they had very little and 8 percent said they had none at all. But while a combined 60 percent of white respondents said they had a great deal or fair amount of confidence that police won't use excessive force, only 44 percent of black respondents said the same. Meanwhile, 51 percent of black respondents said they had 'just some' confidence or even less." [HuffPost]
Americans are more united on the issue of police militarization: "According to the new poll, 28 percent of Americans think it's necessary for police to use military weapons and armored vehicles, while 51 percent think use of such items is going too far. Democrats in the poll said by a 63 percent to 21 percent margin that they think militarization of local police is going too far, and independents said so by a 52 percent to 26 percent margin. On the other hand, Republicans were more likely to say that police use of military weapons and armored vehicles is necessary than that it's going too far, 44 percent to 34 percent." [Swanson]
Haircuts: Sabrina Siddiqui (h/t Sabrina Siddiqui), Eliot Nelson (h/t Eliot Nelson)
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Eric Holder's in Ferguson to makes things better but his critics point out he was woefully soft on bad cops when he served as Washington, D.C.'s top prosecutor in the mid-1990s. "Relying on Holder to take action is like sending a guy with a cup of water to put out a wildfire," said Gregory Lattimer, an attorney who has represented family members of people killed by D.C. police, including DeOnte Rawlings, a 14-year-old boy shot in the back of the head by an off-duty officer in 1997. A 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by the Washington Post found that police files and court records from a period coinciding with Holder's tenure as Washington's U.S. attorney revealed "a pattern of reckless and indiscriminate gunplay by officers sent into the streets with inadequate training and little oversight." In the five-year period before the investigation was published, D.C. police had fired at 54 moving cars, shot nine unarmed men on foot, and in 11 cases ruled shootings justified "despite eyewitness accounts or forensic evidence that contradicted officers." Holder told the Post he hadn't seen a pattern of excessive force. [HuffPost]
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MCDONNELL TESTIMONY GIVES US A :-( - Politico: "Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he and his wife, Maureen, are now living apart and that he is staying with his pastor. The admission came as the Republican testified Thursday during his public corruption trial, an appearance that focused heavily on his troubled marriage, which he said grew more strained as he rose in politics. Both he and Maureen McDonnell face a 14-count federal indictment, accused of trading public favors to businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for $165,000 in gifts and loans. Bob McDonnell said that tensions in their marriage reached the point that they were fighting over what she would wear to his inauguration, debating whether to get counseling, and clashing over their staff; often, he said, he would work late just to avoid her. In an email he sent to his wife around Labor Day 2011, in an attempt to save his marriage, he lamented the 'fiery anger and hate' he experienced from her." [Politico]
Texas governor keen on invading Iraq: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) warned Thursday of the potential for Islamic State militants to carry out imminent terrorist attacks on the U.S. unless immediate and forceful action is taken against them -- including, potentially, sending combat troops back to Iraq. During a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Perry criticized President Barack Obama for his handling of the situation in Iraq, particularly after militants released a video on Tuesday of an IS member beheading American journalist James Foley. Perry said the U.S. must do more to eliminate the group, formerly known as ISIS, including using more air power, intelligence, special operations and advisory support. When asked by a reporter whether that meant he was open to sending combat troops back to Iraq, he said it would be wrong to rule out such an action." [HuffPost's Elise Foley]
The ISIS spokesman who starred in a Vice documentary has been killed, the State Department said on Twitter.
@ddayen: According to PIRG press release, BofA can deduct nearly all of the $16.65bn settlement from their taxes, costing taxpayers $4-5.8bn
SMELL NO YOU CAN'T! PAUL RYAN CAN'T STAND JOHN BOEHNER'S ODOR - In an interview with Time Magazine, the Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential candidate said he can't stand the Speaker's tobacco-y musk. "I try to sit as far away from him as I can in meetings that I know are going to be stressful," he said. "I just hate getting that smell in my clothes." When HuffPost's Mollie Reilly reached out to Boehner's office for comment, the speaker's comms director, the ever-professional Michael Steel, replied thusly, “The cost of everything from gas to groceries to dry cleaning has skyrocketed in the Obama economy. That’s why House Republicans are focused on jobs and pro-growth economic reforms.” Thanks, Michael! [Time]
GLENN BECK POSSIBLY MELLOWING, STILL REALLY INTENSE - Howard Fineman: "Still, there is evidence that something is going on with Glenn Beck, who turned 50 this year. 'He is mellowing a bit,' said one friend in the media business in New York. 'The reasons why, I don't know.' The border issue is one example. Beck took heat from fellow conservatives for his decision to distribute large amounts of relief supplies through churches and other organizations in McAllen, Texas, to undocumented children caught at the southern border. Sen. Cruz was at his side. Beck's view is that the law says they should not have been admitted and ultimately should not stay. But in the meantime he explains his response in personal terms. 'I don't understand those who cannot see the plight of children,' he said. 'People come here because we have the rule of law, but no one wants their kids to grow up in a society that doesn't understand justice and mercy.' So far, Beck is the conservative dog that hasn't barked about the mess in Ferguson, Missouri. The likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity keep raising the decibels on their criticism of protesters in the city and their defense of the police. Limbaugh derisively refers to Michael Brown, the teenager shot and killed by one officer, as the 'Gentle Giant.' But Beck has limited himself to anodyne pleas for peace and calm. A libertarian as much as a conservative, he may be as shocked by the police excesses as some liberal critics with whom he rarely agrees." [HuffPost]
LAWMAKERS TAKING ALS CHALLENGE CUT FUNDS FOR ALS RESEARCH - It's like that scene in "Patch Adams" when Patch made the sick children laugh by punching another sick kid. Sam Stein: "Some of the very lawmakers who have taken the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and money for ALS research voted for legislation that defunded ALS research. These contradictory decisions don't necessarily make the lawmakers hypocrites. Many of them reluctantly cast that vote, and others are fine with funding ALS research so long as the funding comes from private sources and not federal taxes. But the contradiction does expose the curious ways in which government officials often end up dealing with problems they created. The funding cuts, in this case, were caused by the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011 -- otherwise known as the bill to save the United States government from default. As a condition of getting congressional Republicans to sign off on the debt ceiling hike, the Obama White House and Congressional Democrats agreed to budget cuts and future budget cuts that would be delivered via sequestration, an across-the-board cleaver that cut certain agencies' budgets by roughly 5 percent." [HuffPost]
DIPLOMATS BARRED FROM THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE - Jeez, you'd think with all of his windsurfing John Kerry would have a bigger appetite for zany fun. Then again, we did pour a lot of buckets of water on a lot of unwilling foreigners over the last 13 or so years... AP: "Lawyers at the State Department have banned American ambassadors and other high-profile foreign service officers from participating in the ice-bucket challenge to raise money and awareness for Lou Gehrig's disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. In a cable sent this week to all U.S. diplomatic missions, the lawyers say it runs afoul of federal ethics rules barring officials from using public office for private gain "no matter how worthy the cause." The unclassified cable, sent on Tuesday, was obtained by The Associated Press Thursday. The cable said public health and disease prevention are some of the State Department's highest priorities, noting U.S. funding for global programs to fight HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, smallpox and polio and recent efforts to combat the Ebola virus. And, it complimented the ALS Association on the success of its ice bucket challenge, which has raised more than $40 million and attracted a plethora of notable participants, including former President George W. Bush, television hosts Martha Stewart and Matt Lauer and pro golfer Greg Norman." [AP]
OK, then! "Anti-abortion activist Lila Rose is warning Republicans that their support for the Ice Bucket Challenge drives support for embryonic stem-cell research, which she says contributes to the “culture of death” surrounding legalized abortion thanks to the ALS Association projects that include embryonic stem cell research." [BuzzFeed]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a lizard in a cowboy hat riding a tortoise.
- A restaurant in Staten Island can lay claim to having history's greatest restaurant commercial.
- Guy secretly paints portrait ofBruce Lee.
- Kind of high girl who just had her wisdom teeth removed does the ice bucket challenge...doesn't exactly do it right.
- A restaurant in Korea is dedicated to the male phallus.
- Adults explain teenage slang,
- A rundown of the best photoshops of Rick Perry's mugshot.
- Cat eatingcorn on the cob.
@nickbaumann: The punditry version of "Dating Naked" seems inevitable now. Meet the Naked Press? The Naked McLaughlin Group? Face the Nation, Naked?
@EvanMcSan: IM of the day: "sidenote: love chuck bagel’s glasses"
@badbanana: In light of recent events, I have no choice but to deduct a full star from my Yelp review of Earth.
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