HUFFPOST HILL - GOP Defending Symbol Of People Who Hated Republicans

06/19/2015 03:52 pm ET

Don Young held a fundraiser in Puerto Rico and then held a hearing on its political status, making it the second-most offensive thing he's ever done to Hispanics. The Benghazi select committee grilled Sidney Blumenthal about Hillary Clinton's domestic agenda, because the victims' families deserve to find the peace that only comes with President Scott Walker's pro-business, hawkish foreign policy agenda. And Lindsey Graham said South Carolina's decision to fly the Confederate flag "works here," because when discussing a centuries-old symbol of racial oppression, it helps to use the same language you would when discussing the feng shui of a credenza. This is HUFFPOST HILL for June 19th, 2015:

RICK SANTORUM ACKNOWLEDGES RACIAL MOTIVATION IN CHARLESTON MASSACRE - Igor Bobic: "Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) didn't equivocate Friday when asked about the nature of an attack by a white gunman on a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. 'It was clearly racially motivated. Clearly,' Santorum told The Huffington Post at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C. The presidential candidate took issue with news reports that said he blamed the attack on a broader assault against religious liberty. He explained that he didn't know all the facts when he was first asked about the shooting on Thursday morning. 'At the time I didn't know it was racially motivated, nobody did,' he said." Nobody on Fox News did; everyone else had a clue, but better late than never. [HuffPost]

The Justice Department thinks we might have a case of domestic terrorism on our hands.

JEB BUSH BEGINNING TO THINK RACE MIGHT HAVE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT - Laura Bassett and Igor Bobic: "Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Friday that he isn't sure what motivated a young white man to walk into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night and kill nine people. 'I don't know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes,' the former Florida governor said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference." Get that man a newspaper! Later this morning: "The Huffington Post asked Jeb Bush on Friday whether the shooting was racially motivated. 'It was a horrific act and I don't know what the background of it is, but it was an act of hatred,' Bush said. Asked again whether the shooting was because of race, Bush added, 'I don't know. Looks like to me it was, but we'll find out all the information. It's clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is.'" [HuffPost]

OBAMACARE REPEAL NOT TOO PRETTY - Another hearty piece of cohnbread from Jonathan Cohn: "The economist that Republicans handpicked to run the Congressional Budget Office just told Republicans that one of their favorite arguments about Obamacare is wrong. According to a report the CBO released Friday, repealing the Affordable Care Act wouldn't reduce the deficit, as Republicans have long claimed. It would increase the deficit, by at least $137 billion over 10 years and maybe a lot more than that -- with the effects getting bigger over time. Of course, that’s in addition to the effect repeal would have on the number of Americans without health insurance. The CBO says the ranks of the uninsured would increase by 19 million people next year." [HuffPost]

Check out Rep. Mark Pocan's amazing card trick on the HuffPost Politics podcast. We also got magic tricks from Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) thinks Americans may have forgotten about the 40-hour week. "A hundred years ago workers took to the streets" to fight for 40 hours, Sanders told The Huffington Post. "And a hundred years have come and gone, we’ve seen an explosion in technology, we’ve seen an explosion in productivity, we have a great global economy, and what do you have? The vast majority of people are working longer hours for lower wages." American workers with full-time jobs work an average of 42.7 hours per week, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Including part-timers in the calculation puts the average American workweek at 39 hours. [HuffPost]

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DON YOUNG: WHADDA GUY - We hear the fundraiser was a real boon for his reelection committee, Nothing Matters PAC. Anna Palmer, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman: "Alaska Republican Don Young is holding a fundraiser in Puerto Rico Friday, just days before he chairs a controversial hearing on the territory’s political and economic status. The close proximity of the hearing and the fundraising event has sparked ethical concerns among some of Young’s colleagues on a Natural Resources subcommittee, but committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) told POLITICO that Young is free to set his own schedule...Young’s fundraiser at a San Juan restaurant is hosted by Igualdad Futuro Seguro, a pro-statehood political action committee...The Wednesday hearing back in Washington is expected to address the island’s political status, a hot-button issue on Capitol Hill for decades. The Alaska Republican has long favored granting statehood to Puerto Rico and cosponsored legislation proposed by Resident Commisioner Pedro Pierluisi that would require a vote in Puerto Rico within one year on the statehood question." [Politico]

MOAR BENGHAZI ANSWERS - Sam Levine and Sam Stein: "The most recent evidence of a narrowed, singular focus [on Hillary Clinton] came this week, when Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi called a longtime Clinton confidant, Sidney Blumenthal, to testify in private. Blumenthal has Benghazi ties himself. He provided informal consultation to Clinton while she was at the State Department and apparently had business interests in Libya at the time…But according to sources familiar with his testimony, including one who was in the room, committee members placed far more attention on Blumenthal's domestic political role for Clinton and how he will help her presidential ambitions than in understanding the nature of the attack that killed four U.S. officials, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Those sources told The Huffington Post that it was several hours into Blumenthal's deposition before Republicans actually asked about the attacks. Blumenthal's congressional inquisitors posed roughly three times as many questions on his associations with the Clinton Foundation -- the charitable organization tied to the former first family for which he was a paid consultant -- as well as his work for Democratic-campaign institutions such as Media Matters and Correct the Record, than on the Benghazi attacks." [HuffPost]

GRAHAM ON CONFEDERATE FLAG: 'IT WORKS HERE' - Jesse Byrnes: "Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican presidential candidate, on Friday said the Confederate flag is part of the heritage of his home state of South Carolina, rebuffing calls for it to be taken down after a mass shooting in the state. 'Well, at the end of the day it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit that decision. [That] would be fine with me, but this is part of who we are,' Graham said on CNN when asked if the flag should stop flying at the Statehouse. 'The flag represents to some people a civil war, and that was the symbol of one side. To others it's a racist symbol, and it's been used by people, it's been used in a racist way,' Graham said." [The Hill]

ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES NEW TRUCK EMISSION STANDARDS - But when will we stop the dangerous practice of infusing our truck nutz with unsafe levels of BPAs? Kate Sheppard: "The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced new performance standards on Friday for heavy- and medium-duty trucks and tractor-trailers, a proposal they say will cut emissions by 1 billion metric tons and reduce oil use by 1.8 billion barrels. The Obama administration previously announced rules for cars and light-duty trucks, and earlier this month announced it is moving toward addressing emissions from commercial airplanes. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks currently account for about 20 percent of the energy use and also 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, the EPA said, even though the trucks account for only about 5 percent of vehicles on the road...The proposed rules apply to model years 2021 to 2027 and will require efficiency improvements across different types of vehicles such as buses, tractor-trailers, and large vans and trucks. The agencies are also proposing efficiency standards for trailers that would begin in 2018. While the expected improvements in efficiency vary by vehicle type, the agencies said they anticipate a 24 percent reduction in emissions from the tractor portion of tractor-trailers and an 8 percent reduction for the trailer portion. The administration plans to finalize the proposed rules in 2016." [HuffPost]

SURE, YEAH: NEWT GINGRICH REVIEWS THE APPLE WATCH - "Watch, give me directions from zoo to moon base." Newt: "[O]ne of the stranger experiences with the Apple Watch was getting a notification on my wrist from the McDonald’s app telling me the Washington Nationals had scored six runs the previous evening, entitling me to a free six-piece Chicken McNuggets." [Mashable ]

White guys with Apple Watch

Poor guy: " Brian Williams said Friday that his four-month suspension from the "NBC Nightly News" for lying about his reporting experience in Iraq was "torture" and that he didn't deliberately mislead viewers on the broadcast. “I told the story correctly for years before I told it incorrectly," he said. Williams' interview on the 'Today' show comes a day after the network announced that he would not return to the evening newscast, but would take on a new role as a breaking news anchor for MSNBC." [HuffPost's Michael Calderone]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a dog that's scared of a turtle.

WHEN WILL THE GOVERNMENT GET OUT OF OUR FARTS? - Greatest local story of the year. Tim Regan: "Popular Adams Morgan bar Madam’s Organ was fined $500 yesterday for leaving its windows open while a live band played there one year ago. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said in an order released yesterday that the 18th Street NW hangout was being fined specifically for violating a settlement agreement brokered in 2008… Adams Morgan owner Bill Duggan admits the drummer did crack open the window slightly. Why? 'He opened the window to let [a] fart out,' says Duggan. 'He cracked it open for five minutes, then the inspector showed up.' 'Twenty f--g years with not one violation and this is what they came up with,' Duggan says." [Borderstan]


- Every death in "Game of Thrones," season five.

- An honest trailer for "Toy Story."


@delrayser: Founder of Comcast has died. Funeral services will be held next Thursday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

jimantle: That's good, because he's the only candidate who can put them back together. MT @alexis_levinson Carson is cracking the crowd up

@blakehounshell: Your daily reminder that Donald Trump has not yet filed his FEC paperwork.

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