Happy Flag Day, the holiday where we remember that brave American flag who warned, uh, the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms. Despite their ongoing hostility to science, Republicans' love of botany knows no bounds. Allen West is perfecting a brand of Manifest Destiny that Jacques Cousteau would be proud of. And John Boehner is honoring his party's longstanding respect for the laws of war by threatening President Obama with the War Powers Act. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, June 14th, 2011:
TOM COBURN AND GROVER NORQUIST HAVE AT IT - If conservative politics were an episode of "Real Housewives of Atlanta," then the spat between Tom Coburn and Grover Norquist would be the part where sangria night at the trendy restaurant with the monosyllabic name and aggressively beige decor goes horribly awry and someone's hair extensions are torn out. Coburn offered a sharp rebuke today to Norquist's attacks on his amendment that would repeal ethanol subsidies, claiming it violates Americans for Tax Reform's anti-tax pledge. "I think you all think he has a whole lot more hold than I think he has," Coburn told reporters before the vote on the amendment. "I don't disagree with him on a lot of principles. The fact is it's not a good position to put yourself in when you say, 'Here's a tax expenditure that nobody needs, and yet we have to give somebody else a tax cut to take away this.'" The Dems fled the vote, complaining about Coburn's procedural usurping, and it went down, but Harry Reid is giving Dianne Feinstein a vote on essentially the same amendment on June 24th. "Grover will have another chance to demonstrate his irrelevance," a GOP aide said. [With HuffPost's Elise Foley]
34 Republicans voted against Norquist today, in favor of ending tax credits. Big deal.
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - Our favorite Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, having successfully constructed a couch cushion fort in his firm's waiting room, is now, we think, shopping around the strangest Rush Hour sequel imaginable. "John Podesta and Grover Norquist should partner up," he emailed us in response to Grover's defense of ethanol subsidies (which he denies supporting). Thanks, PSLGOPL!
John Boehner is threatening President Obama with the War Powers Act. "Five days from now, our country will reach the 90-day mark from the notification to Congress regarding the commencement of the military operation in Libya, which began on March 18, 2011," House Speaker John Boehner wrote President Obama today. "On June 3, 2011, the House passed a resolution which, among other provisions, made clear that the Administration has not asked for, nor received, Congressional authorization of the mission in Libya. Therefore, it would appear that in five days, the Administration will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution unless it asks for and receives authorization from Congress or withdraws all U.S. troops and resources from the mission." [ABC News]
The Senate Armed Services Committee today green-lit Leon Panetta's nomination to be the next secretary of Defense. His nomination was approved unanimously by a voice vote. Assuming some grouchy senator doesn't put a hold on the CIA director's new job, his nomination should sail through the upper chamber. [CNN]
GAO TO DAILY CALLER: WAIVERS WERE CLEAN - The Government Accountability Office is out with a report today asserting that waivers to the health care reform law have not been given out as political favors, but "on the basis of applications' projected significant increases in premiums or significant decreases in access to health care benefits." Less than two percent of waivers went to private companies and more than half the denials went to unions.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From the mailbag: "I am a 52 year old '99er' with a college degree living in a homeless shelter in Chicago and a friend is paying my phone bill so I can stay connected to the world," writes one Lori Mack. "Heaven knows I've stopped waiting for a call to set up an interview. I have lost EVERYTHING!!! Unemployment never covered my mortgage payment -- just kept my hope alive... Now that the benefits are exhausted, so am I." Like Joe Biden says, "Hang in there."
DOUBLE DOWNER - "The percentage of adult children taking care of their parents has tripled since 1994, with nearly 10 million people who are 50 and older doing so in 2008....The financial toll on care providers who are 50 or older averages $303,880 per person in lost wages, pensions and Social Security benefits over their lifetime." Shit. [WSJ]
TRADE FIGHT HEATING UP - The AFL-CIO is making a big push against the Colombia trade deal, running this ad in the Hill papers tomorrow as part of a week-long lobbying push.
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HUNTSMAN ANNOUNCES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY ANNOUNCEMENT - At long last, the Republican presidential field will officially get the square-jawed Mormon who has struggled to temper his moderate tendencies and friendliness to liberals but who projects an air of executive competence that a lot of people find reassuring. Jon Huntsman will announce his candidacy for president next Tuesday he confirmed today at a Reuters-sponsored event. "I intend to announce that I will be a candidate for the presidency a week from today," he said. Huntsman, who might be known best as the former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China but, with Mitt Romney already in the race, is basically the political equivalent of that extra Dave Winfield trading card that you couldn't unload as a kid. [Reuters]
Sam Youngman reports that at Obama campaign HQ, staffers are only tracking three candidates: Romney, Pawlenty and Huntsman. In a sense, the president's campaign is keeping Republican voters' bed made and room intact, waiting for them to be done with their "phase" and come home. [The Hill]
MITT ROMNEY IS AWKWARD - We're all familiar with the drunk, middle-aged relative at the wedding who shimmies up to the dance floor while making strained "Yo" gestures whenever the DJ spins a rap tune. It's cringe-inducing, but everyone enjoys watching it, nonetheless. Mitt Romney is that drunk, middle-aged aunt at the wedding. Jon Ward: "He walked up to two women in their early 40s sitting at a booth together in Mary Ann's and asked, 'Do you guys know each other?' A few minutes later, posing with a few waitresses, Romney nearly jumped away from them with a howl, pretending as if one of them had grabbed his backside. He laughed -- and there is supposedly a back story about someone actually pinching him a few years ago -- but it was nonetheless a jarring sight. Afterward the waitresses said they had not grabbed him. Romney said the same. 'No, no, no. That was just teasing them,' he said, adding that he was grabbed for real 'during my campaign four years ago -- four or five years ago.' Romney told another group of diners, 'As we say in Massachusetts vote early and often.' Then he realized it sounded like he was advocating for voting more than once, which is against the law. 'That's just a joke for us, but there are a few people who take that to, uh, the serious part,' he said, laughing." [HuffPost]
Rick Perry: "People would like to have some other options in the race, obviously." He means Rick Perry!
President Obama was in Puerto Rico today, seen by many as a symbolic visit meant to reaffirm his appeals for Latino political support. Of course, in this political environment, you could just as easily dog whistle your support for the Hispanic community by assuming that it isn't a collective of hardened criminals hell-bent on uprooting American society and culture. "The aspirations and the struggles on this island mirror those across America," President Obama said during his speech in a hanger at Luis Munoz Marin airport in San Juan. It's the first visit to the island territory by a sitting president since 1961. [NYT]
@PJCrowley: It's odd that #Obama thinks @RepWeiner should resign, but not #Assad. Sending lewd tweets violates public service, but not killing people?
SHARRON ANGLE EXPLOITING CITIZENS UNITED LIKE IT'S A PRESCRIPTION PAD - Now that the Citizens United ruling has turned American political discourse into even more of a yelling match between drunk Goldman executives at a Dalton PTA meeting, some politicians are pushing the limits of just how much they can use unlimited corporate cash. Our new campaign finance guru Paul Blumenthal reports that Sharron Angle has been increasingly pushing the limits of the decision, which states that these unlimited contributions can only be used for issue-specific campaigns, and not personal bids for office. "Angle's Super PAC raises two key themes that are at the heart of debates over post-Citizens United campaign finance regulation: coordination and solicitation. Candidates and outside groups are not allowed to coordinate without the coordination being deemed an in-kind contribution, which would be governed by campaign contribution limits. Since Angle is not a candidate, she is able to operate a Super PAC; however, the connection between her campaign committee, which still exists, and Our Voice PAC skirts rather close to the coordination line...In terms of solicitation, there are unanswered questions as to whether a candidate for office or a political party can solicit for funds on behalf of a Super PAC. In this case, Angle's campaign committee website hosts a direct link to the Our Voice PAC website, which includes a large "donate" button on the landing page, along with an offer for a signed copy of Angle's forthcoming book in exchange for a donation." [HuffPost]`
FLOWERS TAKE PRECEDENT OVER WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN GOP AG BILL - What did one azalea say to another? "Boy, I sure am glad thousands of women and children are suffering through malnutrition right now!" REALLY FUNNY, RIGHT? Amanda Terkel: "If you're an azalea at the National Arboretum, you're in luck -- a Republican on the House Appropriations Committee is looking out for you. If you're a woman, infant or child, however, you're on your own.Slipped into the FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill that the House is expected to take up today is an unusual provision on page 13 requiring the National Arboretum to maintain a very specific portion of its azalea collection...While azaleas are being carefully tended to, the bill would cut $832 million from a program that provides food assistance to low-income mothers and children. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the reduction could result in as many as 475,000 people being turned awayfrom the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) if food prices continue to rise." [HuffPost]
After some Democratic protesting on the House floor, a vote is expected around 7 tonight on a measure to cut food-assistance funding for low-income women and children.
Just in time for Flag Day (which is today, btw), Allen West desecrated the Old Glory. Now to be fair to the Florida lawmaker, Matthew Hendley reports that West sullied the stars and stripes while scuba diving with a group of veterans. However West's decision to bring a flag with him on the aquatic expedition actually violated the United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, Subsection B. "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise." Government overreach, all the way to the coral reefs of Florida. [New Times]
Andrew Cuomo sent a gay marriage bill to the New York Legislature today. Three Democrats in the state Senate yesterday reversed their positions on the matter and came out in support of same-sex marriage. Republican lawmakers have been freed up by their leadership to vote how they please. [TPM]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Puppy demonstrates that humor is all about ... timing.
THIS DAY IN JB WEATHER REPORT HISTORY - Here's JB from June 14, 2010: "Everything balances out, with rain blanketing the area. Thunderstorms possible. There's a good chance of follow-up thundershowers tonight, with showers overnight until mid-morning tomorrow. By noon, things should clear up. Tomorrow: The upside though is that it will be a lot cooler and a lot less muggy tomorrow. There's also a funky occluded front -- stemming from the low pressure system causing the Oklahoma flash floods -- hanging over the area. This will give us pretty wild weather swings over the next few days. Bring an umbrella just in case. Thanks, JB!
- We don't know what it is about Australian TV anchors, but they keep getting into binds. This time, the host of a morning show told a joke to the Dali Lama. It didn't go over well. [http://bit.ly/mnLeTx]
- Lion tries to eat baby inches away form it. Somehow, it's hilarious and adorable. [http://bit.ly/iD80uJ]
- Kitty plays invisible harp. [http://bit.ly/jMwbYL]
- Dude and his seven clones perform a Queen cover ("Killer Queen") on his couch. [http://bit.ly/kZqZnO]
- Opera singer goes shopping in downtown Manhattan. The beautiful agony of Starbucks, revealed at last. [http://bit.ly/jrKsEG]
- Today is the 100th anniversary of IBM. They commissioned a film in which people born in each year of its existence explain what the company did that year. No mention of how they helped the Nazis (sorry, it bears repeating). [http://bit.ly/jdILdv]
- Dave Eggers makes the case for Wrigley Field. [target="_hplink">http://es.pn/kwHGYA]
- Turn your hot dog into a creepy little hot dog man. [http://bit.ly/lCe8m7]
@FakeAPStylebook: Journalists have a serious responsibility to their readers. Honor this by ensuring you have, in fact, identified Hollywood's Sexiest Legs.
@daveweigel: EXCLUSIVE: Buddy Roemer to officially announce presidential campaign in front of his friend Larry, who's got a torch he can hold up
@OsamainHell: Pawlenty treated Mitt Romney like Pakistan treated me for the past 8 years.
5:00 pm: It's our favorite fundraiser of the year. Darrell Issa hosts his 10th annual (10th!) "Issa Cream Reception." How disgusting is that! [Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America Townhouse, 53 D Street SE]
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Members of Illinois' Republican delegation attend a reception as a mitzvah for the party. [The Home of Bernie Robinson].
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Not as disgusting as Issa Cream, thankfully: Steve Israel attends his annual "Long Island Pizza Dinner." The hairspray really brings out the mozzarella [Democratic National Headquarters, 430 South Capitol Street SE].
6:30 pm: Rob Portman raises funds for his PAC, "Promoting Our Republican Team PAC," which might be the most golly, gee-whiz name for a political action committee we've ever heard [Caucus Room, 401 9th Street NW].
6:30 pm: Kelly Ayotte, whose national profile will no doubt rise with the inevitable presidential jockeying in New Hampshire, passes the hat [Caucus Room, 401 9th Street NW].
6:30 pm: Sometimes, you just have to hunker down and do the cliche thing by attending a fundraiser hosted by major corporations with at a steak restaurant. Henry Waxman heads to Charlie Palmer for a campaign function hosted by Akin Gump and AT&T [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].
7:05 pm: Roy Blunt watches boys bunt [Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street SE].
8:00 am - 9:00 am: As we write, interns at Dickstein Shapiro are scurrying about in preparation for Jim Clyburn's fundraiser. Ahhh, the things people do to get into law school [Dickstein Shapiro, LLP, 1825 I Street NW].
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Sherrod Brown noshes on eggs with benefactors at the Fluor Townhouse [The Fluor Townhouse, 403 East Capitol Street SE].
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