The GOP released a report advising its members to show more empathy, which is probably why Ted Cruz objected to commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. Republicans were also urged to court women voters, but first the CPAC pickup artists need to stop courting women voters. And the man cast as Satan in a History Channel series resembles President Obama, so maybe now Chuck Grassley will enjoy the network's programming. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, March 18th, 2013:
PROSTITUTES LIED, DAILY CALLER TRIED - The Daily Caller regrets the error. Ha, ha, we are kidding. Erik Wemple: "The video in which women from the Dominican Republic allege that U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez paid to have sex with them was a sponsored affair, according to the Dominican National Police. Those women were paid to supply their testimony, which they were led to believe was related to a divorce case. It's an account squares with a story in the Washington Post reporting that one of the women had made an official statement saying she had been paid to make a video framing Menendez. The police investigation challenges a Nov. 1 story by the Daily Caller. It said that Menendez had indeed done business with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and used this very recording as the basis for the story." [WaPo]
Good luck, you guys: "TheDC has not independently verified the identities of the women involved in the Dominican National Police investigation, but will continue to investigate the case."
HOUSE DEMS UNVEIL BUDGET - Given the revenue and stimulus components of the proposal, it appears that Chris Van Hollen is playing the bad cop. President Obama will be in the interrogation room shortly to loosen the GOP's cuffs. The HIll: "House Democrats on Monday unveiled a 2014 budget proposal that includes $1.2 trillion in new taxes and $200 billion in stimulus spending. That's about twice the level of stimulus spending that what was in the Senate Democratic budget, which included $975 million in new taxes. House Republicans have a budget that would lower tax rates and cut spending by $5.7 trillion compared to the Congressional Budget Office baseline. The House Democratic budget, authored by Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), would raise $1.2 trillion in revenue over ten years by ending tax breaks for both corporations and individuals...Van Hollen said his budget included more spending cuts than tax increases if the $1.5 trillion in cuts approved by the last Congress are included." [The Hill]
OPTICS DERP: PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT TED CRUZ OPPOSES MS RESOLUTION - Because voting against VAWA reauthorization just wasn't endearing enough. Politico: "In an unusual move, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) objected last week to a routine Senate resolution commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.... He was unhappy with a clause in the resolution describing the purpose of the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition, according to a Democratic staffer...Cruz's staff said the problem was timing. 'The Senator, like many of his colleagues, will not grant consent to call up and pass a resolution or bill at the last minute without time for review,' spokesman Sean Rushton said in a statement." [Politico]
Optics win (poop ship edition): "New York Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the cruise ship industry to adopt a 'bill of rights' to guarantee passengers certain protections while aboard their ships. The New York Democrat says... he'll be asking industry leaders to voluntarily adopt the guidelines which include guarantees that ships have sanitary conditions, back-up power, medical staff and other standard procedures." [AP]
Can't wait for the the Preventing Onboard Ordure in Perpetuity Act!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Local reporters across the country are dutifully reporting the consequences of sequestration for their local long-term jobless. Here's one from Alabama: "The long-term unemployed in Alabama will be among the first to feel automatic federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect Friday. A spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Labor says federal officials have advised the department to prepare for a cut of 9 percent to 10 percent in unemployment benefits for Alabamians who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits and are now getting the extended 37 weeks of federal benefits. Spokeswoman Tara Hutchinson said the unemployment cuts are supposed to take effect Sunday and will affect 16,000 people." [Associated Press]
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THE FIRST STEP IS ACCEPTANCE: GOP RELEASES 2012 POST-MORTEM REPORT - Chris Gentilviso: "The Republican National Committee (RNC) released its wide-ranging 'autopsy' report on Monday... the document includes market research from voter focus groups around the country. 'Asked to describe Republicans, they said that the Party is "scary," "narrow minded," and "out of touch" and that we were a Party of "stuffy old men." This is consistent with the findings of other post-election surveys," the report states. Hours before the report was live, RNC Chair Reince Priebus leveled about the GOP's struggles in an interview on CBS' 'Face The Nation,' telling host Bob Schieffer that the party did a 'lousy job' of marketing itself...Within the same CBS interview, Priebus revealed several proposed changes for the next election cycle. Among the possibilities being considered: a shorter presidential nominating calendar, fewer primary debates and a $10 million minority outreach program to promote the GOP brand in local communities." [HuffPost]
Some of our favorite lines from the report: "The perception that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the Party." It references "non-Republican ethnic groups." Um, what's a "Republican ethnic group?" A bit later the report refers to a group of people known as "ethnic conservatives." It does get a bit more specific later on. The GOP begins its analysis by identifying where its support is soft: "Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth." In other words, most of America.
Good luck, gang! "Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Monday dismissed [the] Republican National Committee report...Limbaugh argued instead that the party is not conservative enough...'The Republican party lost because it's not conservative, it didn't get its base out,' he said, adding, 'People say they need to moderate their tone -- they don't.'" [HuffPost's Will Wrigley]
POLL: SUPPORT FOR GAY MARRIAGE AT AN ALL TIME HIGH - C'mon, America, if we break 65 percent Rick Santorum will start to dissolve into the ether, Marty McFly-style. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "A record high 58 percent of Americans believe gay marriage should be legal, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday. The result represents an almost complete reversal in opinion since 2003, when 55 percent of Americans said same-sex marriage should be against the law. Support for legalizing same-sex marriage is up among virtually all demographics, including Catholics, evangelical Christians and both the Republican and Democratic parties. The biggest gap remains across age groups, with those under 30 almost twice as likely to support gay marriage as those over 65. Americans also increasingly say that homosexuality is an innate characteristic rather than a choice, with 62 percent of respondents saying it's 'just the way' people are." [HuffPost]
Here's the Human Rights Campaign video of Hillary Clinton endorsing same-sex marriage.
It's HuffPost Hill's opinion: We have Karl Rove to thank for this. If he hadn't made it a partisan issue in '04, a lot of Democrats would have stayed where they like to be, comfortably on the fence. But he forced them to choose sides. It soon became required for Democrats to be pro-marriage equality. That hastened the victory. Thanks, Karl!
Former Rep. Denny Rehberg is joining a lobbying firm to be "involved in issues he cares about," though we're pretty sure that's the language former presidents use when announcing their global poverty initiatives, not former congressmen trying to get Defense contracts for Alcoa. AP: "Former Montana U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg has become the co-chairman of a Washington, D.C.-based public-strategy firm, a job that he says will keep him involved in issues that he cares about. Mercury/Clark & Weinstock describes itself as a bipartisan government-relations firm that specializes in crisis communications, polling, issue ads and strategic communications. The firm also reported $7.65 million in lobbying income for 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Its clients included railroads, airlines, investment groups, various businesses and state and local governments." [AP]
NO-BID GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS ON THE RISE - Washington Post: "President Obama in 2009 told federal agencies that no-bid contracts were 'wasteful' and 'inefficient.' Four years later, his administration spent more money on non-competitive contracts than ever before. Federal agencies awarded $115.2 billion in no-bid contracts in fiscal year 2012, an 8.9 increase from $105.8 billion from 2009, according to government data. The jump unfolded even as total contract spending decreased by about 5 percent. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon were top recipients of sole-source contracts...Still, Obama ended his first term spending more on non-competitive orders. In 2009, contracts awarded without competition made up about 20 percent of total dollars awarded, compared with about 23 percent in fiscal 2012. The figures may be understated because the data excluded contracts for indefinite quantities of goods or services." [WaPo]
Elsewhere in our meritocracy: "Thirty-two members of Congress dispensed more than $2 million in campaign funds to pay relatives' salaries during the 2012 election cycle, a USA TODAY analysis of the most recent campaign records shows. Lawmakers have hired their children, spouses, aunts, parents and in-laws as consultants, accountants and record keepers, the examination shows. In some cases, multiple members of the family joined the payroll. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., for instance, paid his daughter, Lisa Lowe, more than $73,000 between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2012. Another daughter, Ginger Robinson, also works for the campaign and collected $57,000 in salary during the 2012 election cycle. The campaign also underwrote 17 auto payments, totaling $32,700, Federal Election Commission records show." [USA Today]
OUR ANTICHRIST PRESIDENT FINALLY GETS DEVILISH TELEVISION PORTRAYAL HE DESERVES - The History Channel aired a miniseries about the Bible featuring what appears to be the hybrid of President Obama and Emperor Palpatine. HuffPost Entertainment: "'The Bible' has been an incredibly successful miniseries for the History channel, so it's no wonder viewers took to the internet after noticing that the actor cast in the role of Satan looks quite a bit like President Barack Obama. Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni plays the role of the fallen angel. A number of Twitter users noticed the similarity between Ouazanni and Obama on Sunday. Among them was Glenn Beck, who first tweeted that the series was "one of the most important shows in decades," then posted a screenshot of Ouazanni and asked if others thought he looked like 'That Guy,' Beck's preferred term for Obama." [HuffPost]
Our antichrist president might place his presidential library in the foreign Duchy of Hawaii: "The battle for President Obama's library appears to have boiled down two finalists: Chicago and Hawaii. Universities and community groups in both places are busy lobbying the president's people for the facility that the contestants see as an economic and cultural boon." Proposed compromise: Hawaii gets it until it's completely underwater. [USA Today]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Move over, Marlene Dietrich: Accordionist and cat make beautiful music.
BREAKING: HETEROSEXUAL URGES FELT AT CONSERVATIVE GATHERING - Sometimes, when you're seeking signatures for a petition to end direct elections of senators or laser printing a life-sized cardboard cutout of Rand Paul, loneliness sets in. ABC News: "For the young women of CPAC, life can be rough, as awkward advances and failed pickup lines abound. 'It's been a long weekend,” said Marianne Smith, 23, eyes rolling and her face resting in her hand. 'Somebody asked me to join their "Capital Club."' Asked for the worst pickup lines they'd heard at the conference, several young CPAC women revealed exceptionally bad ones. '"Why don't you give me your number so I can give you information about my radio show?"' recounted Evelyn, a young woman affiliated with the group Network of Enlightened Women, who didn't want her last name to be printed. 'I was like, "Ohhhh,"' she said, mimicking her own disappointment. 'It was ineffective.' '"So who's your favorite for 2016?" -- that's [the line] everyone [is using],' said Megan Roberts, 23, who attended CPAC with the group Students for Liberty. 'I've been getting a lot of, "So where do you go to school?" Which I don't -- I graduated.'" [ABC News]
- A new tumblr replaces guns from movie stills with thumbs up. [http://bit.ly/133V4OX]
- A mashup of every time Metallica's James Hetfield screamed "YEAH!" [http://bit.ly/YMDwS8]
- A mashup of movie characters breaking the fourth wall. Before Kevin Spacy adopted a terrible southern accent and starred in "House of Cards," these people were talking at you. [http://bit.ly/16ENl99]
- A look at New York State drivers licenses from the last century. [http://bit.ly/YiVuMV]
- Two things you should know about Pickles the Kitten. 1. His name is Pickles. 2. He sounds like a goat. [http://bit.ly/115LFBo]
- When you play the game of thrones, PREPARE TO DIE! "Game of Thrones" meets "Princess Bride." [http://bit.ly/108vYKR]
- A 200-foot Bill Cosby would totally dig the world's largest sweater. [http://bit.ly/11auDpu]
@timothypmurphy: Someday I'm going to write a short story comprised entirely of Twitchy sentences. "And then the fearless commenters sprang into action!"
@samsteinhp: Schumer's poop cruise bill shall be known as the FECES Act: Fully Ending Cruise Excrement Situations Act
@delrayser: RIP Traditional Marriage & Vince Foster
5:30 pm: The Republican Party is doing its utmost to rebrand itself, which is exactly why Darrell Issa, James Jordan Tom Price , John Kline and Frank Lucas attend a fundraiser for history's greatest poster child, Scott Desjarlais. [The Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE]
5:30 pm: For $1,000 you could buy an on-sale Armani suit and get yourself some Italian style or you could attend Bill Pascrell's "Italian Style" fundraiser. If you're a lobbyist, go for the latter; if you're not one, go for the former. [Erickson & Co. Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE]
6:00 pm: A whole boatload of lobbyists, including ones representing BNSF, anti-labor interests and Second Amendment advocates raise their glasses to Rand Paul, who'll hopefully keep his remarks to under 12 hours. [UPS Townhouse, 421 New Jersey Ave SE]
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