FBI Director James Comey illustrated America’s racially biased policing with a reference to showtunes -- we eagerly await his forthcoming address on America's unending drug war that will a feature a fez-wearing bear on a tiny bicycle. The next Democratic convention will be held in Philadelphia, meaning the scene on the Northeast Regional is going to be absolutely insufferable the week of July 25th, 2016. And people reacted with disgust when the most photographed man on the planet took a picture of himself with a stick. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 12th, 2015:
JUDGE TELLS ALABAMA TO STOP BEING SO ALABAMA - Amanda Terkel: "A federal judge ordered county officials in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, saying they can no longer ignore her earlier ruling that struck down the state's marriage equality ban as unconstitutional. Alabama's same-sex marriage ban began crumbling in January, when U.S. District Judge Callie Granade found it unconstitutional. At the request of the state attorney general, Granade put a two-week stay on her ruling so the state could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and delay it even longer. On Monday morning, the Supreme Court declined to get involved, and Alabama became the 37th state with marriage equality. Despite the ruling, dozens of probate judges around the state have refused to comply with Granade's ruling. According to the Human Rights Campaign, as of Thursday afternoon, only 23 of the state's 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to all couples." [HuffPost]
SENATE DOES THING ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY - And it wasn't naming a post office the "Support Our Troops Jesus Christ Dorito Loco Postal Center." Reuters: "The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to confirm Ashton Carter as President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense. Carter, 60, who was approved in a 93-5 vote, served as deputy defense secretary, the Pentagon's No. 2 position, from 2011 to 2013. He was also the Defense Department's chief weapons buyer from 2009 to 2011 when he led a major restructuring of the F-35 fighter jet program. At his confirmation hearing on Feb. 4, Carter underscored his determination to boost the U.S. defense budget, drive down the cost of new weapons and make sure new technologies are delivered to troops quicker." [Reuters]
You Do You, Optics Edition: "Republican leaders will hold a signing ceremony on Friday for legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline. The event is intended to highlight the Republican Congress's passage of Keystone, a project proponents say would help the economy. Senate Republicans made the bill their first piece of business after taking control of the chamber." [The Hill]
THE NEW FOOD STAMP BATTLE - House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) announced in a Wall Street Journal story his panel will be taking up food stamp reform with a hearing later this month, in what Conaway vows will be a long, thoughtful review. "We really have a hard time saying whether the program is successful," he said. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), ranking Democrat on the nutrition subcommittee, is skeptical. "I'm wary about another assault on poor people like we saw during the farm bill in the last Congress," McGovern told HuffPost Hill. Conaway has not hinted what changes he has in mind for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though in the past he has lamented the Food Stamp Surfer and the "moral hazard" of benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents. On the other hand, the nutrition subcommittee's new boss is Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) instead of Steve King, so there's that.
Fake city to host DNC: "Democrats will nominate their pick to succeed President Barack Obama in Philadelphia next summer, choosing a patriotic backdrop -- think the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence -- in a state that's voted their way in the past six presidential elections.The Democratic National Committee said Thursday the convention will be held the week of July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, which beat two other finalists: Brooklyn, New York, and Columbus, Ohio." [Yahoo News]
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HOUSE GOP WANTS MCCONNELL TO WEAKEN FILIBUSTER RULES - Sam Stein and Mike McAuliff: "Stymied in their attempts to pass a bill that would curb President Barack Obama's immigration orders, some conservative House Republicans have a fallback option: They're pushing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change the Senate's rules. On Thursday, four GOP lawmakers called on McConnell to eliminate the filibuster where it's used to prevent consideration of legislation dealing with appropriations. Doing so, they argued, would allow the Senate to bring a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security to the floor even though it has been filibustered three times by Democrats. 'Mitch McConnell can change the rules of the Senate, and this is important enough to change the rules of the Senate,' Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said Thursday morning at the regular press gathering Conversations with Conservatives on the Hill, according to an account in National Journal." [HuffPost]
FBI DIRECTOR TACKLES AMERICA'S POISONOUS HISTORY OF RACIAL BRUTALITY THROUGH THE POWER OF SONG! - Hands up… JAZZ HANDS!!! … don't shoot! Ryan Reilly: "The director of the FBI said on Thursday that law enforcement officers may develop a cynicism that can lead them to treat minorities unfairly, and acknowledged the need for a debate about race and policing. FBI DirectorJames Comey, in a speech on race and law enforcement delivered at Georgetown University, said that throughout American history, law enforcement has often enforced 'a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups.' Citing the song 'Everyone's A Little Bit Racist' from the Broadway musical 'Avenue Q,' he said that many in America's 'white-majority culture have unconscious racial biases and react differently to a white face than a black face.' The speech appears be the first time that a director of the FBI has so directly addressed the way that race influences law enforcement. Comey said that decades ago, his Irish ancestors likely faced their own problems with discrimination, but said that "little compares to the experience on our soil of black Americans." [HuffPost]
RAND PAUL NOT A DOVE, NOT A HAWK BUT JUST A DUDE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT - AUMF you happy you AUMF running for president? Igor Bobic: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday voiced concerns about President Barack Obama's request for authority to use military force against Islamic State militants. 'We’re still looking at it,' he told The Huffington Post at Reboot Congress, a conservative technology conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "I’m concerned about it really having no limitations on how big the war can become and how many troops can be on the ground.' … Paul's cautious approach, which echoes that of many Democrats on Capitol Hill, stands in sharp contrast to other would-be GOP presidential candidates. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee all sounded more hawkish notes… Paul's libertarian leanings, as well as his previous struggles to clarify his position on the Islamic State, could give him some trouble amid a crowded 2016 presidential field that may end up well-populated by war hawks. He caught some flak from members of his party last year when they called him 'isolationist,' a label that Paul rejects." [HuffPost]
SMALL GOVERNMENT PARTY ASSUMES POWER, IMMEDIATELY TELLS WOMEN WHAT TO DO WITH THEIR UTERI - Also, don't let other women touch you in your womb door. Enjoy your lower taxes. Vote Republican. Samantha Lachman: "Republican state legislators have been able to expedite one of their top policy priorities -- restricting access to abortion -- given the historic gains they made in last year's midterm elections. Now that the GOP controls 69 of the 99 partisan state legislative chambers and 31 governorships, state lawmakers have raced to file bills concerning all aspects of the procedure. As of last week, lawmakers have introduced more than 100 bills regulating abortion in more than half of all states, according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation...A sample of the bills introduced include those that would outlaw the most common second-trimester termination method, require parental notification and the permission of the father, require patients to watch an anti-choice video before they could undergo the procedure, require that providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and mandate that patients wait 72 hours before they are able to terminate." [HuffPost]
Obama and Bill Ayers were both at Alex Wagner's wedding in August, Gawker reported today.
CONGRESSMAN WANTS TO TAKE PORN FROM OUR HARDWORKING PUBLIC SERVANTS - First they came for Brickbreaker, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Blackberry owner. Then they came for the telecommuters, and I did not speak out, because I live close to my office… Julia Craven: "Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) introduced the Eliminating Pornography From Agencies Act on Wednesday, a legislative attempt to prevent federal employees from accessing pornographic or explicit materials at work... A 2005 report from the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General disclosed that two EPA employees were suspended for viewing pornographic websites at work. And in 2014, the inspector general cited an EPA employee for downloading more than 7,000 pornographic images and spending up to six hours a day watching porn on his government-issued computer. Many of these employees may just be bored at work, which explains why they've been caught looking at NSFW websites. A Federal Communications Commission worker watched up to eight hours of porn at the office each week because work was slow and he was bored, according to an investigation covered in the The Washington Times in 2014. An employee at the Treasury Department told investigators that he knew it was against government regulations, but he didn't have enough work to do. So, instead, he viewed over 13,000 pornographic images in a six-week stretch." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some Capybaras enjoying a spa retreat.
WASHINGTON LOVELESS, SAD - Perry Stein: "Washington has a lot of rich, single people and a lot of nice date spots, therefore it’s the best city to find love on Valentine’s Day. Or so goes the logic of a new Zillow study that awarded the District the dubious distinction of being the best city for finding love this Feb. 14." WashPost
- A man created a dating site where he is the only person you'll match with.
- The origins of "OK."
- Otters… in love.
@jbendery: On the Senate floor right now: "I want to tell you about flatworms for a second." -- Sen. Murphy
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