If you're a Florida government employee who recently attended a Phish show and breathed, rest easy, a judge told Rick Scott that he can't ask you to pee in a cup. Rep. Todd Akin compared federal student loan assistance to stage 3 cancer (so we're guessing Akin's taxpayer-funded $174,000 salary is what, a minor bout of rhinitis?). And if you don't laugh hysterically after reading the item below that features the phrases "John Dingell," "teabagging" and "that's disgusting!" you desperately need to go to a Phish show and breathe the air. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, April 26th, 2012
THIRTY-ONE SENATORS SOMEHOW OPPOSE SOMETHING CALLED THE 'VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT' - And, just to be totally clear, the bill seeks to reduce violence against women. Jen Bendery: "The Senate on Thursday easily passed legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act for another four years, an issue that normally advances with little fanfare but has become a focal point amid election-year politicking. The bill passed 68-31. [A bunch] of Republicans sided with Democrats in passing the bill, including Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), John McCain (Ariz.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), David Vitter (La.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose name has been floated as a possible running mate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, voted against the bill. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), whose name has also come up as a potential running mate, voted for it. Also of note is that Hutchison voted for the Democratic bill after authoring a GOP alternative to the bill." [HuffPost]
THESE AREN'T THE
DROIDS HOSTILE YOUTUBE VIDEOS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR - Paul Blumenthal: "The Republican Party has decided that it is time to hit the reset button. After an acrimonious primary that featured millions of dollars spent on negative ads, the candidates and their supporting super PACs are now in the process of scrubbing their YouTube pages to remove any evidence of their attacks on one another. The most negative of all the 2012 Republican primary players, Restore Our Future, is now in the process of destroying the past. The impossibly named super PAC that spent more than $40 million to tar and feather opponents of Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primary has begun removing the vicious attack ads against Romney opponents from its YouTube page." [HuffPost]
Mike Lee sums up the GOP talking points: "My opposition to the current VAWA reauthorization is a vote against big government and inefficient spending and a vote in favor of state autonomy and local control. We must not allow a desire by some to score political points and an appetite for federal spending to prevent state and localities from efficiently and effectively serving women and other victims of domestic violence. Thank you, Madam President." It's the "Madam President" part that upgrades his speech from prose to poetry.
JUDGE TELLS RICK SCOTT TO PUT AWAY HIS PEE CUPS - A federal judge has ruled that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) violated the Constitution last year when he ordered drug testing for state government workers. This is Scott's second entirely-predictable constitutional smackdown on drug testing. "The Governor can't order the state to search people's bodily fluids for no reason -- the Constitution prohibits that sort of government intrusion," Howard Simon, director of the Florida ACLU, said in a statement. "And the Governor can't demand that people surrender their constitutional rights for the privilege of working for the state or receiving some other government benefit." Scott said Thursday he would appeal the ruling. Good luck with that, Rick. [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - This week's unemployment claims report is more bad news, with claims still higher than they've been in months. "In the week ending April 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 388,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's [UPWARDLY] revised figure of 389,000," the Labor Department reported this morning. "The 4-week moving average was 381,750, an increase of 6,250 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500." When claims hit 400,000, that's when things officially suck. [DOL]
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BOEHNER CRITICIZES PROMINENT POLITICIAN FOR BEING POLITICAL - The speaker of the House went after President Obama today for politicking in the country he runs. The nerve. That's our job! Mike McAuliff: "President Barack Obama's travels around the country to promote a student loan bill are 'pathetic,' House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) charged on Thursday, accusing the White House of staging campaign trips at the expense of taxpayers. Democrats shot back that Obama was doing 'just what a president should be.' The issue at hand is the looming July 1 doubling of student loan interest rates to 6.8 percent if Congress fails to act. All sides say the hike should be prevented, but the GOP-led House is pushing a way to pay for lower rates that Democrats and the White House oppose -- by gutting one of Obama's health care initiatives." [HuffPost]
@jbendery: Kid takes over mic after Pelosi leaves press conference, imitates the "politician lady" and waves arms all around. http://pic.twitter.com/NxyGroyY
$$$$$$$. NYT: "The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities. The ad is going up in eight states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia." [NYT]
BORED WITH THIS POLITICAL NEWS CYCLE? HERE'S SOME MORE VEEP SPECULATION! - Yaaaaaay!!! Examiner: "Push New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte higher on the list of names Mitt Romney is considering for his vice presidential pick. Top congressional officials, especially those associated with the Tea Party, are talking her up as a perfect pick if the presumptive nominee wants a woman veep. Her allies are making the case that she isn't an untested politician, like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and that she came to the Senate with more government experience than Barack Obama, having been a state attorney general before joining the Senate." [Examiner]
John McCain said on the Senate floor today that the "War on Women" is "imaginary". Say what you will about the sentiment, you can't really blame the guy for being touchy about the "w" word (...."war" you doofus). Laura Bassett: "As many Senate Republicans prepare to defend their opposition to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a visibly annoyed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) delivered a floor speech Thursday morning expressing his support for the bill. He also accused Democrats of fabricating the so-called GOP "War on Women" as a political tactic. 'My friends [Editor's note: Drink!], this supposed 'War on Women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect: The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television,' he said. 'Neither purpose does anything to advance the well-being of any American.'" [HuffPost]
Michele Bachmann said the same thing on Fox News this afternoon. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a talking point!
CYBERSECURITY BILL IS LIKE SOPA'S UGLY COUSIN - Mike McAuliff: "When companies such as Google and Yahoo waded into that earlier fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act, the combined weight of their lobbying dollars and citizen anger brought the bills down. Now the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, is coming up for congressional votes on Thursday and Friday. It aims to help guard the nation against a cyber strike by removing legal barriers to private companies and public agencies sharing data on threats. Privacy advocates fear that CISPA would allow reams of personal data to be scooped up by the government and law enforcers without the requirement of a warrant. The White House on Wednesday threatened to veto the bill over such concerns." [HuffPost]
ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE OPPOSES BASE CLOSURES, STRONGLY SUPPORTS BEING REELECTED - The Hill: "The House Armed Services Committee is not including two new rounds of base closures that were requested by the Pentagon in its Defense authorization bill, making the proposal all but dead in Congress this year. House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon said he was rejecting the Pentagon's proposal for another two rounds of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission as the committee released its Readiness subcommittee markup on Thursday... The Pentagon had said it wanted to close bases because it has excess infrastructure already, a gap that will grow as it plans to reduce its forces over the next five years. But the Defense Department did not include a dollar savings or cost for the proposal in the budget, which was a sign it knew getting more BRAC rounds would be an uphill battle in Congress." [The Hill]
FOX NEWS ANALYST ASSUMES ALL WOMEN WHO DON'T WANT TO GET PREGNANT THIS VERY INSTANT ARE LESBIANS - Or something. Anyway, America's homophobic zeitgeist really served up a doozy today. HuffPost: "Fox News' Monica Crowley reacted to news that Sandra Fluke is engaged by tweeting 'To a man?' on Thursday. Fluke, a Georgetown law student, stepped into the national spotlight when Rush Limbaugh attacked her as a 'slut' and a 'prostitute' for advocating employer-covered contraception. On Thursday, it was announced that Fluke is engaged to her long-time boyfriend... Moments later, Crowley suggested that she had been joking, writing, 'I love exposing the Left's total lack of a sense of humor.' However, when one person said that Crowley had 'insinuated' that Fluke was gay, she said that her original message was a 'straightforward question.'" [HuffPost]
Stay classy, North Dakota! Amanda Terkel: "Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Senate Candidate, Called 'Heidi Ho' In Ad"
WHEREIN JOHN DINGELL LEARNS ABOUT THE OTHER MEANING OF 'TEA BAGGING' - From Robert Drapers 'Do Not Ask What Good We Do,' via Daily Beast: "John Dingell is the longest currently-serving member of Congress (and the third longest-serving ever). The acerbic 85-year-old Michigan Democrat had long been contemptuous of Tea Partiers. He found them unruly and difficult to get along with. Dingell tended to refer to them as 'tea baggers,' a phrase that has an alternate sexual meaning. This normally wouldn't have been a problem in the hall of Congress, but when Dingell was booked to appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his staff felt the need to finally warn and educate him. When his chief of staff shared the other meaning of 'tea bagger' with Dingell, the Congressman went through three different stages of reaction. At first, he said 'hah,' then said 'that's disgusting,' and finally the octogenarian congressman reached the plain of acceptance and said, 'It's funny and I'm going to keep using it.'" [The Daily Beast]
CAT RUNNING FOR SENATE IN VIRGINIA - This is a proud moment in cat history. Who knows? In twenty years we might report on the United Nation's first cat secretary general! Or cat Secretary of Defense! Or some kind of weird, introverted president who prefers cats over dogs! The sky's the limit! Arin Greenwood: "Matthew O'Leary and Anthony Roberts are trying to collect 10,000 signatures to send to the Virginia Board of Elections to show their cat Hank is a serious candidate in the Virginia race for the U.S. Senate, even though the effort will almost certainly prove futile. 'We know Hank will be not allowed to be on the ballot, because he doesn't have a social security number,' says O'Leary, who is wearing a Hank campaign T-shirt. 'He doesn't have the eligibility to vote. And he's a cat.' The fluffy Maine coon, for his part, is doing what any candidate might do while campaigning in a very close election. He's wearing a bow tie and lounging underneath a coffee table covered in swag: Hank For Senate campaign bumper stickers, campaign posters currently for sale on eBay, a campaign mug. (All swag proceeds benefit animal rescue groups.)" [HuffPost]
TODD AKIN COMPARES FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN INITIATIVES TO CANCER - Which is smart, because he'll endear himself to people who hate most forms of federal spending (a minority of Republicans) at the minor cost of alienating himself from anyone who has ever had cancer or known someone who did (everyone). Now that's some solid, day-winning politics! Think Progress: "At a debate over the weekend, Akin, who is running for Senate, said involving the government in the student loan process has given the government a 'stage three cancer of socialism'" [Think Progress]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog confounded by proper oral hygiene.
MARION BARRY'S FILIPINO NURSE PROBLEM Michael Grass: "Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, a DNC delegate from the nation's capital, sparred with D.C. Council witnesses during a testy hearing this afternoon with plenty of one-liners practically tailor-made for local evening news broadcasts. It's the latest in a series of conflicts involving Barry's controversial comments involving Asian business owners and nurses from the Philippines. The Philippines' ambassador rebuked Barry. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton released a statement saying Barry should apologize to the nurses. Barry's been blaming the current drama on the media, including one NBC reporter, for trying to divide the city. Barry asked one witness: 'Do you know my great works?' Also, 'I didn't make racist remarks.'"[HuffPostDC]
ATTENTION FOOD TRUCK FANS - HuffPost DC: "Local trucks will swarm on Mount Pleasant tonight at Lamont Park."
- Couple catches foul ball, celebrates, makes baby cry. [http://huff.to/I59a3U]
- Here is some food rapping about food. [http://bit.ly/I5a68E]
- 5 pranks for cats (who are jerks). [http://bit.ly/I5a4NU]
- Pet parrots act like dogs, begging the question, why not just get a dog? [http://bit.ly/I5azaG]
- Here are a bunch of scenes in which people fall from thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii [http://bit.ly/I5bqIx]
@DRUDGE: "Matt Drudge's 15 minutes of fame may be ending on a rather nasty note" SALON.COM, AUG 15, 1997. [15 years ago]
@ethanklapper: Can you buy them in packs of 20? RT @HuffingtonPost: You can now buy a mortgage at Costco http://huff.to/IryIrq
@LOLGOP: How much does it cost to get Jimmy Carter to say, "Mitt Romney reminds me of me, Jimmy Carter."?
7:00pm - 9:00pm: If you're on the White House Correspondents' Dinner schedule, then we'll probably see you at NJ Hotline's Political Pursuit at the Newseum, a live quiz game where extremely wonky hosts try to stump even wonkier reporters. Questions typically involve failed Senate candidates and state-by-state presidential victories. Yawn. [Newseum]
7:00pm: Just over from the Newseum, the Washington Ballet's Spring Benefit promises none of the wonky, very well-informed reporters from the quiz show, but lots more long dresses and rich people and trophy spouses. [1301 Constitution Ave. NW]
All weekend is golf and fishing weekend! If you're a Republican senator, that is. Who isn't invited to the White House Correspondents Dinner.
- Rob Portman strays far from his native New Hampshire (where it's still frekkin' freezing) for a Weekend of Fun and Golf! on Sea Island, Ga.
- Oil lobbyists and Koch brothers' lackeys wouldn't dare miss Jim Inhofe's First Annual Eastern Shore Fishing Excursion in St. Michael's Md. Because apparently there's no fishing at all in Oklahoma.
- At least the Tarheel state's Richard Burr is staying close to home for his Golf Outing at Pine Needles Lodge. We like Burr because he voted to repeal DADT. But we're not sure about his bill to ban human-animal hybrids ... So long, mouse-with-a-human-ear-on-your-back!
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