Congress is out this week for Thanksgiving, when Paul Ryan takes time to remember America's first takers. Intelligence committee member Michele Bachmann no longer wins the Oxymoron Olympics because science committee member Marco Rubio doesn't know how old the Earth is. And Joe Biden assured victims of Hurricane Sandy that America is run by "a homeboy in the deal who gets it," which is an upgrade from "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" ... we guess. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, November 19th, 2012:
Eric Holder to be miserable for a little while longer: "Attorney General Eric Holder will honor President Obama's request to stay into the second term and will remain on the job 'for about a year,' Fox News confirmed Monday. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Holder has accepted the president's request to stay on." Just enough time to tell the DEA to leave Washington and Colorado pot smokers alone, and watch the DEA completely ignore him. [Fox News]
FISCAL CLIFF DEAL TAKING SHAPE - National Journal: "Top staffers are working on a fiscal cliff deal after leading Democrats emerged encouraged from a Friday White House meeting in which Republican leaders did not explicitly reject the suggestion they accept a Senate-passed bill that would allow tax rates to rise on top earners, leadership aides said. Democrats hope their bill, which would need to pass only the House, can serve as a 'down payment' this year in a deal that would include agreement on a mechanism to enact tax and entitlement reforms next year. 'The real development from our standpoint is that we said we are absolutely clear that we are sticking to our position that the Senate bill is what is [going to] happen between now and Dec. 25th,' the Democratic aide said. 'Notably, Republicans didn't shoot that down.' Still, rather than flatly rejecting Democrats' suggestion, GOP leaders said that their staffs would work in the coming week on binding proposals to reform the tax code and get savings from entitlement programs, staffers said." [National Journal]
HuffPost Hill asked Boehner spokesman Michael Steel if it was true that the House might pass a bill extending only the tax breaks on incomes under $250,000: "Of course not," he said.
FIGHT! - Social Security Works' Alex Lawson and Third Way's Jim Kessler battle for close to an hour on Social Security and the social contract. (Lawson's for it.) It's that rare thing in Washington, an actual debate, played out here on Ari Rabin-Havt's Sirius show The Agenda. [LISTEN]
NEW YORK (AP) - Dow Jones industrial average up 200 points.
HIPPIES 1, LUNGREN 0 (Final) - Radley Balko gives soon-to-be-former Rep. Dan Lungren, drug warrior extraordinaire, a much-deserved kick in the pants on his way out the Capitol doors: "The most odious part of [Lungren's] Comprehensive Crime Control Act -- and the part that, over the years, Lungren has taken most pride in -- gave the government broad new asset forfeiture powers. Civil asset forfeiture gives the government the ability to seize property connected to certain crimes under civil law, instead of criminal law. Because the law is civil, the government's burden of proof is lower, and police and prosecutors only need to show probable cause that what they've seized is connected to drug activity. The burden then switches to the property owner to show he obtained the property or earned the cash legitimately. The owner never needs to be charged with a crime -- indeed, in most cases they aren't."
@daveweigel: The spaces where wall art/awards used to be in a retiring member's office. bit.ly/QpXzp9
FISCAL CLIFF: PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST COMES TO THE RESCUE - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who has been plagued by nightmares of America falling off the fiscal cliff and then having to gnaw its own arm off, "127 Hours"- style, wants to break the impasse, and is willing to break his blood oath to Grover Norquist to do it. "PSLGOPL joins America's CEOs in supporting tax increases for everyone other than themselves," PSLGOPL writes, still referring to himself in the third person. "I have decided to officially endorse a windfall profit tax on class action settlements, a sin tax for hollywood productions resulting in anything more than a PG-13 rating (or the television equivalent), a tax on professors and school administrators where tuition rates rise faster than inflation, and a cap on CFPB bureaucrats who earn more than the Chairman of the Banking committee." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Unemployed people get no respect. Emma Jacobs: "A group of people in winter coats walked in a circle on the sidewalk, on the phone with the unemployment compensation hotline. Or -- trying. Protesters upset over busy signals at the Department of Labor today took to the picket lines in Philadelphia Monday. The Philadelphia Unemployment Project says when callers to the state's unemployment benefits hotline don't get a busy signal, they get a three-hour wait. Social worker David Wengert, who read off the number to the crowd, was laid off in June. He got the busy signal when he tried to find out what had happened to three missed checks. 'People receiving unemployment like myself, it's stressful. And it's already stressful enough that you don't have a job and you're looking for work,' he said, explaining that he eventually went to a job placement office where employees called the Department of Labor through their own back channels to solve his problem." [Newsworks.org]
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CONSERVATIVE STATES CONTINUE TO REJECT OBAMACARE PROVISIONS - Republican state executives continue the noble fight against federal government expansion by... letting the federal government expand in their states. Cool. Jeffrey Young: "Oklahoma is the latest state to reject two key elements of President Barack Obama's health care reform plan to extend health coverage to poor and middle-class Americans, Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced Monday. Oklahoma won't participate in Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid to the state's poorest residents, or create a health insurance exchange, Fallin said in a press release and a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Not expanding Medicaid to the poor and refusing to establish health insurance exchanges -- online marketplaces to shop for coverage -- jeopardizes the health care reform law's aim to enroll 30 million people into coverage by 2022...Fallin joins a long list of governors, mostly Republican, who have informed federal authorities in recent days that their states won't create a health insurance exchange and will leave the task to the federal government. Including Oklahoma, 17 states won't operate health insurance exchanges, which are supposed to be up and running by Oct. 1, 2013, in order for uninsured people and small businesses to enroll in health benefits for 2014, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation." [HuffPost]
A group of House Republicans have sent President Obama a letter urging against the rumored nomination of Susan Rice to be secretary of state. Rice, as you are likely aware, neglected her duties as UN ambassador by repeating CIA-CLEARED talking points and -- to use the arcane term favored by members of the foreign service -- "existing." "Though Ambassador Rice has been our Representative to the U.N., we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world," reads the letter, written by Jeff Duncan of South Carolina. These charges are being leveled, we might as well point out, by the party that lied the country into war -- yeah, an entire WAR -- about a decade ago. [NBC News]
WAR IN THE HOLY LAND, PT. 9,391,900,266 - Josh Hersh: "Some Israelis like to talk about missions like these as 'cutting the grass' -- periodic, large-scale strikes against militants in Gaza that are simply part of a scheme of routine, endless, maintenance...But the pattern also leaves many Israeli experts and former officials dissatisfied, and worried about the apparent lack of any far-reaching game plan for peace... Shaul Arieli, a retired colonel in the IDF who served as a commander of troops in Gaza and is now a board member of the Tel Aviv-based Council for Peace and Security, says the lack of a broader strategy for the Palestinian situation makes conflicts like the current one essentially unproductive...One hope for the conflict might be for Gaza, and Hamas with it, to fall further under the responsibility of Egypt... the recent flurry of diplomatic visitors into Gaza, which have included the foreign minister of Tunisia and the prime minister of Egypt -- as well as an upcoming visit from Ahmet Davutoglu, the popular foreign minister of Turkey, which is a close ally of the United States -- suggests a growing legitimacy for Hamas in Palestine as the conflict drags on." [HuffPost]
Hey Hipsters: Enjoy your Pabst - The beer company is considering salvaging Hostess. Underneath the irony, is this quote from a top exec to the private equity firm that makes your PBR: "We have analyzed this opportunity very carefully for a few years now. Shedding the complications of the unions and old plants makes it even more attractive." [HuffPost]
MARCO RUBIO TALKS ABOUT THE COSMOS, BRO - And he answers the question: "What would a bible camp attendee sound like if he hotboxed the gymnasium?" Rubio to GQ: "I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States... I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries." [GQ]
HUFFPOST HILL FACTS OF LIFE: The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Give or take.
MY NAME'S JOE BIDEN AND I'M HERE TO SAY... - Vice President Joe Biden toured New Jersey's storm-ravaged coastline this weekend but still found time to fill the "Who let the dogs out? Hoo! Hoo!" chasm left by Mitt Romney's departure from the national scene. From WSJ's Andrew Grossman's pool report: "These are difficult times in terms of budgets but the president has made it clear that we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the Corps is fully funded, that FEMA has their needs and that all the programs that exist under the auspices of the federal government not only continue to exist but are funded so that we can make sure that this area of the country is fully fully fully restored. So as the president said when he was up here with the governor, we're not going anywhere. We're not not going anywhere. And you've got a homeboy in the deal who gets it."
Allen West has somehow managed to lose, like, five-trillion times this month. WaPo: "The odds of Rep. Allen B. West (R-Fla.) prevailing in Florida's 18th District race grew longer Sunday when a recount of early ballots yielded Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy a net gain of nearly 300 votes, expanding his lead over the incumbent to more than 2,000 votes. A St. Lucie County recount resulted in Murphy gaining 274 votes, the Miami Herald reported. Murphy's campaign continued to claim victory, while West's campaign refused to give in just yet, the paper also reported. But the Republican's options appear to be limited. His deficit is outside the automatic recount threshold, and time is running out." [WaPo]
Sore Loserman: "President Barack Obama won Florida by 74,309 votes out of 8.47 million cast, a margin of nine-tenths of one percentage point, according to an official count of votes from the state elections office. Obama won 50.01 percent of the vote to 49.13 percent for Republican Mitt Romney in the state that was the biggest and most competitive of the nine where the candidates spent most of their time and campaign funds." [Bloomberg]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Bored cat is bored.
ABOUT THAT THING NIBBLING YOU ON THE BLUE LINE... - HuffPost DC: "The news that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has been battling bedbugs in a section of its downtown headquarters is a disconcerting revelation to anyone fearful of the blood-sucking critters. But could bedbugs find their way onto Metro's trains and buses as well?" [HuffPost]
- The world's biggest pile of leaves. If your inner child doesn't want to dive board into that sucker, there's something wrong with you. [http://bit.ly/XVZYK3]
- We've been humming "Dumb Ways to Die," an Australian PSA, for days now. If you put Fiest, Mr. Bill and Weebles into a blender, this is what you get. [http://bit.ly/U2Lwgx]
- Miles Davis improvising to LCD Soundsystem song. It's like the Tupac hologram, but really REALLY budget. [http://bit.ly/ULRdBx]
- A 1980s promotional video for the New York City Subway, insisting it wasn't the total hellhole people imagined it was. [http://bit.ly/UvRIKb]
- Red panda has a scare. [http://bit.ly/TbHMJG]
- In honor of Movember, here's Salvador Dali discussing his mustache. [http://bit.ly/UCxG0s]
- A collection of eye-catching street art. [http://bit.ly/WgsnW0]
@KarlreMarks: Monks in Burma were showing Obama the Buddhist positions like The Crane & The Crab. Obama stretched his arms & showed them his: 'The Drone'.
@pourmecoffee: On this day in 1863, Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address which somehow totally went viral without BuzzFeed.
@jbendery: MT: @earth: I'm 4.54 billion years old. cc: @marcorubio
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