The AP Stylebook would like to remind you that all references to "Big Brother" should be capitalized. Until today, "Joe Biden and the Chocolate Guns" was just the name of our Captain Beefheart cover band (no more). And Chris Christie gave Prince Harry a tour of the Jersey Shore, reminding us that the Garden State Governor would be fabulous in the lead role of our "King Ralph" remake. We're still waiting for a callback from Paramount. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 14th, 2013:
TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT RELEASED - In an alternate universe, President Herman Cain would already be firing half the IRS because of 9-9-9. Sam Stein: "The IRS used 'inappropriate criteria' when judging organizations hoping to gain a tax-exempt status and allowed that criteria to stay in place for 18 months, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report obtained in advance of its official release by The Huffington Post. The much-anticipated report notes that the IRS suffered from 'ineffective management' which allowed for agency officials to discriminate against Tea Party groups, often resulting in 'substantial delays' in process applications and 'unnecessary' information requests. The tax agency has taken some action to remedy this, the report found. But more needs to be done so that 'the public has reasonable assurance that applications are process without unreasonable delay in a fair and impartial manner.'" [Read the full IG report on HuffPost]
ERIC HOLDER ON AP PRYING: QUIT BEING SUCH PRUDES, YOU GUYS - Ryan Reilly and Sam Stein: "[Holder]'s defense of the department's actions could be distilled down to a simple plea: trust us, we mean no harm. As head of the department investigating the alleged leak of classified intel -- which exposed that a would-be terrorist bomber had actually been a CIA undercover agent -- Holder was in a particularly uncomfortable bind Tuesday. The AG pointed out that he had recused himself from the case, having also been interviewed by investigators as a potential source of the leak. Without his involvement, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia was leading the probe under the supervision of the deputy attorney general, who would have ultimately authorized the subpoena. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole wrote a letter to the AP on Tuesday arguing that the subpoenas -- which covered over 20 different phone lines -- 'were limited in both time and scope.' Cole’s letter said that DOJ conducted 550 interviews and reviewed tens of thousands of documents before it subpoenaed the AP. While Holder said that he did not know the details of exactly what went into the decision to subpoena AP phone records, he was 'confident' that those who were involved acted appropriately and followed all the rules and regulations." [HuffPost]
Details on just whom DOJ targeted emerged today: "Associated Press Washington bureau chief Sally Buzbee was among the journalists targeted in the Justice Department's sweeping seizure of phone records... an AP spokeswoman confirmed to The Huffington Post. On Monday, the AP's story on the matter revealed the names of five reporters and an editor targeted... Those named were: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan, Alan Fram and Ted Bridis. The AP reported that 20 phone lines were targeted, including the AP's main switchboard." [HuffPost's Michael Calderone]
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST MADE MORE PSL BY CURRENT NEWS CYCLE - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist will have to put off organizing his collection of urine-filled mason jars by color because this week of GOP political victories has given him a lot to think about. "Do you guys think they're evil or just wildly incompetent?" PSLGOPL writes. Thanks, PSLGOPL!
DEFICIT SHRINKING! "CBO’s estimate of the deficit for this year is about $200 billion below the estimate that it produced in February 2013, mostly as a result of higher-than-expected revenues and an increase in payments to the Treasury
by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For the 2014-2023 period, CBO now projects a cumulative deficit that is $618 billion less than it projected in February. That reduction results mostly from lower projections of spending for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the public debt." [CBO.gov]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Senate Agriculture committee passed a farm bill with food stamp cuts similar to the ones the panel approved last year. But this year's draft from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has deeper cuts than the House committee previously approved (neither of last year's bills became law). Here's how Lucas explained the deeper cut to David Rogers: "He said his $38 billion target owes a lot to Obama, and once the president set that 10-year target for agriculture savings in his own budget, Lucas wanted to match it. 'I was compelled to match his number. I’m saving $38 billion from the farm bill process,' Lucas said." As for how the food stamp cuts would shake out: "I sincerely believe this $20 billion won’t take a calorie off the plate of anyone who’s qualified." [Politico]
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JAY CARNEY AND THE PRESS BRIEFING FROM HELL - We half-expected to see Carney look up wistfully as the livefeed dissolved into a Corona Extra commercial featuring Carney reclining on a beach and tossing his Blackberry into the ocean. WaPo: "White House press secretary Jay Carney insists that President Obama is committed to 'unfettered' media scrutiny of his administration. For an hour Tuesday, at least, the White House got it. Big time. On the trail of a pair of juicy stories of government overreach, the press corps let Carney have it during his daily briefing, pounding him with a barrage of more than 60 questions about reports that the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately targeted conservative groups and that the Justice Department secretly obtained private phone records of the Associated Press. Over and over, reporters pressed the spokesman to explain what the administration knew about the two unfolding scandals, and time and again Carney found himself on the defensive against a wounded pack of reporters eager to look out for their own. 'President Obama’s being compared to President Nixon on this,' asked Jeff Mason of Reuters, a rival to the AP. 'How does he feel about that?'" [WaPo]
NEW BENGHAZI EMAIL - CNN: "CNN has obtained an e-mail sent by a top aide to President Barack Obama about White House reaction to the deadly attack...that apparently differs from how sources characterized it to two different media organizations. The actual e-mail from... Ben Rhodes appears to show that whomever leaked it [to ABC last week] did so in a way that made it appear that the White House was primarily concerned with the State Department's desire to remove references and warnings about specific terrorist groups so as to not bring criticism to the department...Whoever provided those quotes seemingly invented the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed. While [State Dept. spokesperson Victoria Nuland] Nuland, particularly, had expressed a desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and CIA warnings about the increasingly dangerous assignment, Rhodes put no emphasis at all in his e-mail on the State Department's concerns. Previous reporting also misquoted Rhodes as saying the group would work through the talking points at the deputies meeting on Saturday, September 15, when the talking points to Congress were finalized. While the previously written subject line of the e-mail mentions talking points, Rhodes only addresses misinformation in a general sense." [CNN]
@Chris_Moody: Reporter just asked Rep. Hoyer about the DOJ AP story. He responds with answer condemning the IRS. Hard to keep track... Rep. Hoyer corrected himself when confusing the DOJ and IRS stories. Hard to blame him, but it was funny.
IRS ABANDONED POLITICALLY-CHARGED INVESTIGATIONS BECAUSE PEOPLE FOUND OUT ABOUT THEM - Jon Ward: "Lois G. Lerner, in charge of the IRS unit that reviews applications from groups for tax-exempt status, said at first on Friday-- when she inadvertently revealed the IRS' actions --- that she had found out about her agency's abuses from news media reports. But... Lerner was briefed in detail about the matter on June 29, 2011, according to a timeline of IRS actions contained in an appendix to a report by the agency's inspector general, leaked over the weekend... The appendix, obtained by The Huffington Post on Monday, also shows that IRS officials began to express concern regarding media reports on their activities. In February and March of 2012, the timeline in the appendix of the report by the treasury inspector general for tax administration notes that 'numerous news articles began to be published with complaints from Tea Party organizations,' which led to congressional interest. On March 23 and March 27, top officials at the IRS -- including current acting commissioner Steven Miller -- 'discussed concerns with the media attention the Tea Party applications were receiving.'" [HuffPost]
Mitch McConnell used to drink the IRS' Kool-Aid. Mike McAuliff: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- and just about every other politician on Capitol Hill -- slammed the Internal Revenue Service this week for targeting tea party groups applying for tax-exempt status. But...Early in his Senate career... the Kentucky Republican seemed to believe that such groups... should be subjected to tougher scrutiny. 'There are restrictions now on the kinds of activities that, for example, 501(c)(3) and (4) organizations, charitable organizations, can engage in that are being abused -- not just people on the right, but most of the so-called charitable organizations who are involved in political activity in this country, who are, in my judgment, involved in arguable violations of their tax-free status and violations of the campaign laws, happen to be groups on the left,' McConnell said in a 1987 interview. 'So that is a problem.'" [HuffPost]
JUDICIARY BEGINS IMMIGRATION MARKUP - Elise Foley: "Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee abandoned Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Tuesday in his effort to limit the number of immigrants who could come to the United States, and helped Democrats to kill the amendment in a 1-17 vote. Even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a strong opponent of the comprehensive immigration reform bill, opposed the amendment and implied it went against American values as a nation of immigrants. The markups have stood as a test of the gang of eight's solidarity in the face of amendments that could derail the bill. Four of the eight members of the group are on the Judiciary Committee -- Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) -- and they have so far mostly voted together on amendments. But the markups have also shown the strengths of their compromise, particularly in case of the Sessions amendment, which both parties came together to defeat. The Alabama senator was left alone in advocating for restrictions on legal immigration and the future flow of workers, with his fellow Republicans saying they in fact support raising the annual number of visas issued, in part because they said such a move could deter future unauthorized immigration." [HuffPost]
JOE BIDEN ADDRESSES OUR LACK OF CHOCOLATE GUNS - There must be a deleted chapter from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" laying around someone in Roald Dahl's archives about an overly aggressive East German child and chocolate firearms. AP: "It might not be unusual for schoolchildren to write to the president or vice president. But one Wisconsin boy got an unexpectedly personal response. The 7-year-old, second-grade student at Downtown Montessori Academy wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden and other officials a few months ago with a simple idea for making the world safer. His teacher Jenny Aicher says his letter suggested that if guns shot chocolate bullets, no one would get hurt. The student -- and the rest of the school -- got a surprise Monday when Biden's handwritten response arrived in the mail. In the note, the vice president says he agrees that chocolate bullets would make the country safer and happier. The note concludes: 'People love chocolate. You are a good boy, Joe Biden.'" [AP]
@GovChristie: Greeting Prince Harry at the Jersey Shore the best way I know how; with his own Royal Fleece: pic.twitter.com/QYTplSxYZW
We're not saying a Rick Scott/Alan West ticket would be completely disastrous, but Katherine Harris and a broken fanboat could probably mount a serious challenge. John Celock: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) opened the door to a comeback for former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) Friday, saying he'd be a 'great' pick for his second in command. Scott told AM Tampa Bay on WFLA radio Friday that he believes West would be a good pick to fill the lieutenant governor's office, vacated in March by former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R). Scott has indicated he will name Carroll's successor soon, and had planned to wait until after the state Legislature adjourned last week." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog gets really caught up in "The Lion King."
Christina Wilkie on how the NRA is pulling a Joe Camel and getting kids into guns (no mentions of chocolate guns): "In 2008, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry's major trade group, launched an initiative called TaskForce 20/20... Recruiting and retaining young shooters were notable parts of the plan...The National Rifle Association closed out its annual conference in May with a 'Youth Day' event, promising 'excitement with spectacular displays' of weaponry for the youngest attendees..In 2008, the NRA also started a digital magazine called InSights, designed to communicate directly to kids...Gun makers are also targeting them, with ads that look like toy commercials." [HuffPost]
- What if Facebook updated your house the way it updated its website? [http://bit.ly/10Q99YI]
- Ron Swanson's views on love and romance -- he's like a libertarian Neruda. [http://bit.ly/YQXhvr]
- Eagle ruins man's fishing trip by stealing a fish right off of his line. [http://bit.ly/17pTWWH]
- A video camera taken from the One World Trade Center spire as it was lifted onto the top of the skyscraper. [http://bit.ly/YRqF4s]
- If you search for "atari breakout" in Google Images, you'll get to play "Breakout" with the results. [http://bit.ly/18HXzGK]
- A lightning strike captured at one-thousand FPS. Benjamin Franklin would be hot and bothered. [http://bit.ly/13YJ9Pp]
- An interactive map shows activity on Reddit from the beginning of this year. Also: Reddit can be weird. [http://bit.ly/10Q99YI]
@DanAmira: Reporter asks for President's opinion on Scandal X. Carney declines. Repeat 45 times. End of daily press briefing.
@daveweigel: Schumer walks past McCain scrum and says in high-pitched voice "Is that Senator McCaaain?" #senatelife
@HuffPoSpoilers: Probably not; she's too young to have expectations MT @HuffingtonPost Blue Ivy expecting a baby sister or brother? huff.to/19k9kk4
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