HUFFPOST HILL - 'Rand Paul Tongue Guy' Now A Thing

05/11/2015 05:16 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2015

Today we learned whether the GOP hates the Obama administration enough to side with Seymour Hersh on something. It might alarm Hersh that his story about a widespread governmental cover-up got as much play as dadbods and a guy licking a camera. And for those of you looking to up your dadbod game, we might suggest a more parsimonious approach than Chris Christie’s office and its $300,000 food budget. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 11th, 2015:

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION APPROVES ARCTIC OIL SPILL - "The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out." Kate Sheppard: "The Obama administration on Monday granted conditional approval to Shell to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic, which the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said would be 'subject to rigorous safety standards.' The approval will allow Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. to begin drilling this summer in the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska. Shell's drilling plan proposes up to six wells in an area about 70 miles offshore. ;We have taken a thoughtful approach to carefully considering potential exploration in the Chukchi Sea, recognizing the significant environmental, social and ecological resources in the region and establishing high standards for the protection of this critical ecosystem, our Arctic communities, and the subsistence needs and cultural traditions of Alaska Natives,' BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement." [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE RESPONDS TO SY HERSH OBL STORY - Just bear in mind here that Josh Earnest is a card-carrying Opus Dei member. Jen Bendery: "The White House on Monday dismissed new claims by journalist Seymour Hersh that the Obama administration lied about the way Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011. Hersh wrote in the London Review of Books over the weekend that the administration worked with Pakistani intelligence officials to kill bin Laden and that Pakistani military officials knew in advance about the planned raid on bin Laden's compound, which is contrary to President Barack Obama's claim that the U.S. acted alone. Hersh cited an anonymous "major U.S. source" for his information. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that there was next to nothing accurate about Hersh's piece. 'I can tell you that the Obama White House is not the only one to observe that the story is riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods,' he said during his daily briefing. " [HuffPost]

Remember the Ebola epidemic? Ron Klain stopped by to reminisce.

Watch your syntax, yo: "No, the Select Committee on Benghazi has not actually changed its name, but the way a headline on its website was constructed may suggest what it prefers to call itself: the Select Committee on Secretary Clinton Emails. That inadvertent admission was included in one of the slides on the committee homepage, in a link to a video of a committee hearing, which said: 'Watch press conference with Chairman Gowdy and Members of the Select Committee on Secretary Clinton Emails.'" [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

As if the debate over TPP weren't enough of a goat rodeo, AIPAC is getting in on the action. Is there some way we can square-peg-round-hole Grover Norquist's tax pledge into this thing? "The trade bill amendments aim to discourage foreign governments -- in particular European ones -- from boycotting, divesting from or putting sanctions on commercial activity linked to Israel and 'Israeli-controlled territories.' They were inspired by the 'BDS movement,' which was started a decade ago by Palestinian activists to put economic pressure on Israel to change its dealings with the Palestinians. Opponents have a range of concerns with the amendments, which sailed through House and Senate committees. Some support the BDS movement, arguing it is a peaceful, grass-roots campaign that should not be targeted by U.S. trade law. Others, including some who oppose the BDS movement, are more worried about the legislation’s use of the phrase 'Israeli-controlled territories.' They argue it’s a veiled reference to Israeli settlements in the West Bank - and that its use is an attempt to use U.S. law to legitimize Israel’s control over disputed land that Palestinians claim for a future state." [Politico's Nahal Toosi]

Haircuts: Marcy Stech (h/t/ Igor Bobic), Danielle Geanacopoulos (h/t Danielle Geanacopoulos)

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The welfare reform law of 1996 and other policy changes resulted in safety net programs protecting 1 million fewer children from deep poverty in 2005, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported Monday. "The largest single reason that the safety net protected fewer children against deep poverty in 2005 than in 1995 was the loss of cash assistance following the 1996 welfare overhaul," CBPP's Arloc Sherman and Danilo Trisi report. This is the welfare overhaul Paul Ryan and other Republicans want to replicate for every safety net program.

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THE POLITICO-BILL SHUSTER WAR OVER BILL SHUSTER'S SCALP RAGES ON - And here we thought they had reached an armistice after that National Review counter-takedown got yanked. Everything is pointless. Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan: "For two decades, the [U.S. Virgin Island]'s top officials pushed to overturn an obscure regulation that limited the number of passengers on uninspected commercial charter boats to six. The regulation cost the islands hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism revenue and boosted the economy of its neighbor, the British Virgin Islands. In 2014, the territory finally found a friend in Washington: House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster. The Pennsylvania Republican championed a provision that doubled the number of passengers permitted to be on board. That same month, Shuster hosted a fundraiser and collected more than $33,000 in campaign contributions from Virgin Islands donors who had never given to him before. Several of the donors told POLITICO they donated to Shuster specifically because he worked to change the regulation." [Politico]

Thing people were tweeting about today: Dadbods.

REPORT: CHRIS CHRISTIE SPENT $300K ON YOUR TERRIBLE FAT JOKES - Jay Leno just jumped off a bridge so he could roll in his grave. Mark Lagerkvist: "Chris Christie’s expense account tells a story of appetite and ambition, one that pits government waste versus the New Jersey governor’s waistline. Christie spent $360,000 from his state allowance during his five years in office. More than 80 percent of that money, or $300,000, was used to buy food, alcohol and desserts, according to a New Jersey Watchdog analysis of records released by the governor’s office. In addition to his $175,000 a year salary, the governor receives $95,000 a year in expense advances, paid quarterly by the state. In the state budget, it is listed as 'an allowance of funds not otherwise appropriated and used for official receptions on behalf of the state, the operation of an official residence, for other expenses.' While Christie returns surplus funds to the state each year, Treasury officials say he does not submit receipts or accounting for the public monies he spends." [New Jersey Watchdog]

The New Organizing Institute is now even deader than it was before.

Michael Steel is moving to Jeb Bush's campaign-in-waiting/establishment juggernaut, just as soon as he sorts through the press corps' congratulatory tweets: "A top aide to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is moving to Florida to advise presumed GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush as he prepares to launch his campaign. But initially, Michael Steel, a longtime spokesman for the speaker, will be moving to Florida to take an advisory position with Right to Rise Policy Solutions, a policy-focused nonprofit advocacy group that can accept secret, unlimited donations from individuals and corporations. If Bush officially launches a presidential campaign, Steel would then join the campaign, according to people familiar with the plans." [WaPo]

This Steel-related headline made us laugh in an immature way.

RAND PAUL TO 'FILIBUSTER' PATRIOT ACT REAUTHORIZATION - The thing about permanent war is that it lasts longer than your ability to not pee. Igor Bobic: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said this week that he intends to mount a fight against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the post-Sept. 11 law that gives the National Security Agency much of its authority to conduct surveillance programs. 'I'm going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward. We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us,' Paul told the New Hampshire Union Leader on Monday. The Patriot Act expires June 1, but Congress must effectively renew the law by May 22nd because of a scheduled weeklong break. Paul, a civil libertarian who hopes to capture the 2016 Republican nomination for president, has consistently spoken against reauthorizing the law, going so far as to oppose a 2014 bill that would have ended controversial NSA phone record collection because it left the government's broad authority to conduct surveillance intact. It's unclear whether Paul plans to vote to block reauthorizing the surveillance law, or whether he intends to mount a traditional 'talking' filibuster that would eat up valuable time on the Senate floor." [HuffPost]

This week's Trail to the Chief ranks the best ways to become a viable 2016 contender: "#1 PICK A FIGHT WITH THE FRONTRUNNER: As a general rule, you should be nice to members of your own party, but that doesn’t include the frontrunner -- and the more front the runner, the better. Pick an issue and attack without fear. But then you can’t back down. Or in other words, don’t be Tim Pawlenty. When the mild-mannered Minnesotan went after Mitt Romney in 2011 on 'Meet the Press,' reporters took note. But face-to-face on a debate stage, Pawlenty didn’t follow through. Pawlenty was polenta after that." [HuffPost's Howard Fineman, Jason Linkins and Lauren Weber]

Trackers already live a hard, lonely existence. Please don't lick their cameras.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a dog having a pleasant dream.

CANNON RENOVATIONS MAKE JOHN MCCAIN ANGRY - Get that construction crew off his lawn, he's trying to watch "The Mentalist." Bridget Bowman: "As crews refurbish the Cannon House Office Building, Sen. John McCain says the project is wasting taxpayer money. As part of his 'America’s Most Wasted' series, the Arizona Republican listed the Cannon Renewal Project as one of 10 examples of unnecessary spending. The $752.7 million, 10-year project will revitalize the oldest congressional office building, but McCain said the price is concerning. 'While the building is certainly in need of repair, the three-quarters-of-a-billion dollar cost projection and the 10-year construction time frame have raised eyebrows,' read the report, released Thursday. The report did not include other Architect of the Capitol projects, such as the Dome restoration and the five-phase renovation of McCain’s own office building, where work is expected to begin in 2016. Appropriators allocated nearly $21 million in fiscal 2014 and 2015 for the first two phases of the project to give the Russell Senate Office Building a face lift, repairing the facade and windows and doors." [Roll Call]


- Three guitarists playing the same guitar.

- How you use the bathroom on the International Space Station.

- Guessing your age based on your "Game of Thrones" preferences


@samsteinhp: Congrats @michael_steel. Consider this tweet a reminder that i praised your career move and would love a scoop down the road.


@AdamWeinstein: not to sound truther or anything, but fulfilling my foia for visuals from a burial at sea aboard cvn-70 could go a long way to solving this

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