02/21/2013 05:47 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Chuck Grassley's Trail Of Fears

With the sequester imminent and no substantial progress made, conservatives took a break from stockpiling guns and switched to stockpiling canned goods. Asked about running for reelection, Harry Reid replied, "Sure, why not?" which is an OK answer if someone offers you half a Twix. And a House member is inviting his colleagues to "Grab free donuts and coffee before Obama grabs your gun!" Attention FBI: All the members of Congress who come to work ARMED will be gathered in the same room soon. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 21st, 2013:

OPPOSITION POLS SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER, WASHINGTON OVERJOYED - "With just more than a week before automatic spending cuts hit, President Barack Obama called Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday morning in what Republicans say were his first substantive conversations with the GOP leaders this year. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Republican aides declined to comment on the substance of the conversations -- usually a good sign in Washington -- even as they continued to trade talking points over who is to blame for the sequester and who is holding the military and other government programs hostage for political advantage." [Roll Call]

CHUCK GRASSLEY AFRAID OF NATIVE AMERICAN COURTS - Chuck Grassley, who is already the closest thing Congress has to a crotchety 1860s homesteader, does not trust America's indigenous population. Jen Bendery: "Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) didn't vote for the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill when it passed the Senate last week. And on Wednesday, he gave a blunt reason why: he doesn't think tribal courts are capable of giving a fair trial to non-Native Americans. Grassley was holding a town hall meeting in Indianola, Iowa, when a constituent asked him about his VAWA vote. Think Progress reported on the meeting and posted a video of Grassley's response, during which he argued that, since reservations are made up of Native Americans, those jurists wouldn't be fair to a non-Native American. 'If you have a jury, the jury is supposed to be a reflection of society,' Grassley said. 'Under the laws of our land, you've got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn't get a fair trial.'" [HuffPost]

Because you never get any racially uniform juries in Iowa...

STRATEGERY - Why oh why, HuffPost Hill readers want to know, does Barack Obama loved chained CPI so much? It's the alternate measure of inflation that shrinks Social Security's cost of living adjustments (because of beef), and several times Obama's nearly made it part of a "Grand Bargain" with Republicans. We asked Nancy Pelosi what she thinks. "The President has a tactic. He wanted to draw the Republicans out. And they walked away. And that's what that was." Thanks, madame leader!

It was revealed yesterday that former Senator Pete Domenici fathered a child outside of his marriage with the daughter of Senate colleague, Paul Laxalt. This is especially sad considering this tip we got from a reader on the Hill: "In the 107th Congress, there was a bill (S. 653) called the Responsible Fatherhood Act, detailing all the ways absentee fathers are destroying society. A co-sponsor of said act? Pete Domenici, natch."

HuffPost Hill's on-call professional ethicist, the Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things, is shaken by this news. "If you are looking for me this weekend I will be standing near the confession booth at St. Peter's Catholic Church." Thanks, FALPAT!

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST IS CONFUSED - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who thinks the Harlem Shake is an airborne disease he'll contract if he enters a low-income area, was incensed by a press release from the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington demanding the IRS crackdown on dark money organizations like Crossroads GPS. "Hey pals, Isn't CREW's money dark?" PSLGOPL writes. "Does this confuse you as much as it confuses me?" Thanks, PSLGOPL!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs last week. Not as many as did during the worst weeks in recent years, but still more than most weeks. "In the week ending February 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 362,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 342,000," the Labor Department said this morning. "The 4-week moving average was 360,750, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised average of 352,750." [DOL.gov]

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LEADING HOUSE GOPer OPPOSES PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP - Elise Foley: "Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee came out explicitly this week against a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, another sign of the tension between Democrats and Republicans on the issue. 'People have a pathway to citizenship right now: It's to abide by the immigration laws, and if they have a family relationship, if they have a job skill that allows them to do that, they can obtain citizenship,' Goodlatte told NPR. 'But simply someone who broke the law, came here, [to] say, 'I'll give you citizenship now,' that I don't think is going to happen.'...there are avenues for legal immigration, but many don't apply to would-be immigrants or undocumented people already in the country. A USA Today-Pew poll released on Thursday found that most prefer President Barack Obama's immigration plan, which includes a pathway, to the Republican approach." [HuffPost]

Elsewhere: "The AFL-CIO labor federation and the Chamber of Commerce announced on Thursday a compromise for dealing with lesser-skilled workers in immigration reform, by creating an independent federal bureau to track the need for employment-based immigration. But the groups also said they are still working on a more comprehensive solution...The two groups have been working together to find a deal on how to create a pathway to the U.S. for lesser-skilled workers on visas. " [Foley]

WHITE HOUSE TO BULLY SCOTUS ON GAY MARRIAGE - What, you're going to cry like a baby? Run to your separations of powers? WAH! WAH! Stop hitting yourself, Mr. Chief Justice! Stop hitting yourself! AP: "Facing heightened expectations from gay rights supporters, the Obama administration is considering urging the Supreme Court to overturn California's ban on gay marriage -- a move that could have a far-reaching impact on same-sex couples across the country. The administration has one week to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the justices outlining its opinion on the California ban, known as Proposition 8. While an administration brief alone is unlikely to sway the high court, the government's opinion does carry weight with the justices." [AP]

POLL: OBAMA WINNING SEQUESTER DEBATE - Someone might as well win. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "President Barack Obama has a public opinion edge on the GOP as he charts out his second term and delves into yet another fiscal showdown, a Pew/USA Today pollreleased Thursday finds. The debate over the sequester has drawn less attention than previous negotiations over the 'fiscal cliff,' and Americans are more willing this time to see automatic cuts go into effect. One constant, however, remains: Should the negotiations fail, Congress is poised to shoulder most of the blame. Nearly half of Americans said Republicans in Congress would be at fault if a deal isn't struck, while fewer than a third said Obama would be. While majorities in both parties wanted to avoid the cliff, opinions are more split on the sequester -- 40 percent say Obama and Congress should let automatic cuts go into effect if they can't reach a deal, compared to 49 percent who say the cuts should be delayed." [HuffPost]

REID RUNNING FOR REELECTION- When asked whether he would seek reelection in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave the same impassioned response HuffPost Hill did when asked if it wanted to see "Silver Linings Playbook" on a Sunday afternoon. Reno Gazette-Journal: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the capital press corps at the Nevada Legislature Wednesday night that he will seek re-election in 2016. The news conference came after he gave a speech to state lawmakers, like Reid does every legislative session. When asked if he would run for re-election, Reid said, 'Sure, why not?' When asked if he thought Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval would run against him, Reid said, 'Oh, I don’t know.'
When asked if he could beat Sandoval, Reid said, 'Hey, I don’t get involved in fights I don’t have to.' When reminded that he was a boxer in his youth, Reid replied, 'But I’m not stupid.'" [Reno Gazette-Journal]

GOP SENATORS TO OBAMA: DROP HAGEL KTHXBYE - Lisa Miller: "Fifteen Republican senators sent a letter to the White House Thursday, urging President Barack Obama to withdraw the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) for secretary of defense and going as far as stating that a nominee would require 89 votes for confirmation. The letter was signed by Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), along with other notable senators including Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)..Notably, Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), who have both opposed Hagel, did not add their names to the letter. The letter claims that historically, no secretary of defense nominee has been confirmed with more than 11 opposing votes and calls for a less 'controversial' and 'divisive' candidate." [HuffPost]

Like drunk, lonely House staffers mulling around Top of the Hill at closing time, Richard Shelby is settling for someone: "Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) plans to vote to confirm President Barack Obama's choice for defense secretary, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a major turn in favor for a nominee who has faced strong opposition from Senate Republicans. 'He’s probably as good as we’re going to get,' Shelby said of Hagel in a Wednesday speech, according to a report in the Decatur Daily. Shelby spokesman Jonathan Graffeo confirmed his intentions in an email to The Huffington Post." [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]

JON HUNTSMAN CONTINUES HIS RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THE 2024 REPUBLICAN NOMINATION - He's looking ahead, and this American Conservative op-ed will position him well against Governor Julian Castro: "Today we have an opportunity to do more: conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry. I’ve been married for 29 years. My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life. There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love...This is both the right thing to do and will better allow us to confront the real choice our country is facing: a choice between the Founders’ vision of a limited government that empowers free markets, with a level playing field giving opportunity to all, and a world of crony capitalism and rent-seeking by the most powerful economic interests." [American Conservative]

THE BEST PART OF WAKIN' UP IS FOLG-- A JACKBOOT TAKING TAKING YOUR GUUUUUUUN - Dey terk er fireerms update: "Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) on Thursday attempted to draw attendees to an upcoming Capitol Hill event with a brief advisory featuring pro-gun paranoia and the promise of free breakfast. 'Grab free donuts and coffee before Obama grabs your gun!' said the invitation from Stockman's office to Hill staffers... The pitch was for a Monday event called 'The Fallacy of Gun Free School Zones,' which will reportedly feature an appearance from Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America." [HuffPost's Nick Wing]

RAND PAUL HELPS FUND BIG GOVERNMENT - The Kentucky senator has given back $600,000 in unused funds from his office budget to the Treasury Department. His staffers can kiss We the Pizza Fridays goodbye. CNN: "Sen. Rand Paul cut another six-figure check to the United States Treasury Wednesday, taking the money he said he didn't need from his office's budget to make a tiny dent in the nation's massive federal debt. 'We watch every purchase,' Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, said at an event next to an oversized check for $600,000. The $600,000 reflects more than 20% of Paul's annual office budget, according to a press release. Another GOP lawmaker, Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, said he would return $160,000 to the federal government, or 12% of his office budget." [CNN]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Showdown at high noon between a cat and a CD drive.


- Adorable toddler performs a duet of the Muppet Show's "Mahna Mahna"[http://huff.to/ZujeQr]

- Speaking of duets, Taylor Swift performs a duet with a goat. [http://bit.ly/XyQLFf]

- A list of the favorite films of every modern president. [http://bit.ly/YDoJaU]

- Residents of Harlem react to "Harlem Shake." [http://chzb.gr/15vYXKX]

- Oscar nominees tell the same mildly amusing anecdotes over and over and over nad over... [http://bit.ly/157mJMe]

- This LEGO machine will light a candle for you. All you have to do is assemble it at 15,000x the time it would take to light a candle yourself and... presto! [http://bit.ly/135FzET]

- On that note, here are history's ten worst Oscar moments. [http://bit.ly/YdKsGn]


@daveweigel: IDEA: Send a reporter to CPAC this year to write a piece about how the GOP is rethinking what it stands for.

@pourmecoffee: David Gregory has signed a new contract to host Meet The Press, NBC's weekly show about the policy views of John McCain.

@delrayser: Okay, how about Frenemies of Hamas?

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