POLITICS
05/22/2013 05:58 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Dogs On Trains: Congress Is On It

Eric Holder admitted the U.S. killed four Americans with drone strikes, though his decision to stare at James Rosen the whole time was a little creepy. A distressing number of people are "tornado truthers," an even more repulsive development than 2012's derecho deniers. And Tom Corbett couldn't name a single Latino on his staff, but sadly didn't defuse the situation by making the obvious "binders full of Latinos" joke. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013:

HABEAS CORPUS UPDATE - "The Obama administration is set to restart transfers of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. officials said, kick-starting a long-stalled drive to close the prison." [WSJ]

U.S. ADMITS TO KILLING AMERICAN CITIZENS IN DRONE STRIKES - Times: "[The Obama administration] on Wednesday formally acknowledged that the United States had killed four American citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. In a letter to Congressional leaders obtained by The New York Times, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. disclosed that the administration had deliberately killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was killed in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen. The American responsibility for Mr. Awlaki's death has been widely reported, but the administration had until now refused to confirm or deny it. The letter also said that the United States had killed three other Americans: Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike, Mr. Awlaki's son Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, who was also killed in Yemen, and Jude Mohammed, who was killed in a strike in Pakistan." [NYT]

HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, fresh from firing his maid for being in the Illuminati, weighs in: "Shit, they still have two days left in this week."

DEM SENATORS LINING UP TO REFORM 501(c)(4) LAWS - Sam Stein: "[D]uring a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday... Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) homed in on the law that states 501(c)(4) groups must spend their funds 'primarily' on social welfare functions -- a vague term that good-government groups argue has been routinely exploited... Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), another Finance Committee member, has introduced the Follow the Money Act, which would require groups spending $10,000 or more on campaign activity to disclose the names of those contributors giving them more than $1,000. The legislation would also require the IRS and the Federal Election Commission to team up on rules defining what constitutes political activity for outside groups; the two organizations now have different definitions of 'campaign communication.'...A spokesperson for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said she was 'considering something in that realm.' Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said at Tuesday's hearing that he believed the regulation written by the Treasury Department for tax-exempt groups 50 years ago was being mangled by 501(c)(4) groups today... Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), meanwhile, queried how IRS officials could have allowed groups with tax-exempt status to spend heavily 'on these political campaign expenditures.'" [HuffPost]

DAVID VITTER OFFERS AMENDMENT TO BAN SELF FROM FOOD STAMPS - Just kidding! Even former clients of prostitutes benefit from a statute of limitations. Here's some info on Vitter's food stamp amendment, which would ban ex-convicts from food stamps for life: "In today's Senate debate on the farm bill, Senator David Vitter offered -- and Senate Democrats accepted -- an amendment that would increase hardship and will likely have strongly racially discriminatory effects. The amendment would bar from SNAP (food stamps), for life, anyone who was ever convicted of one of a specified list of violent crimes at any time -- even if they committed the crime decades ago in their youth and have served their sentence, paid their debt to society, and been a good citizen ever since. In addition, the amendment would mean lower SNAP benefits for their children and other family members. So, a young man who was convicted of a single crime at age 19 who then reforms and is now elderly, poor, and raising grandchildren would be thrown off SNAP, and his grandchildren's benefits would be cut." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

THIS TOWN, BURNED OUT, WENT DOWNTOWN REMAKRS TO SELF - HuffPost Hill's resident K Street transplant, Burned Out, Went Downtown, took a break from memorizing the names of Equinox's waitstaff to send us a dispatch about life after the Hill. "Prepare for the surreal world of contradictions," BOWD writes. "That legislative assistant you worked with on a post office naming? She's now running a weird acronym trade association you can't remember for a really important widget you can't pronounce. That guy you thought killed it out here? Drinking at PJ Clarke's bar. Alone. At noon. On a Tuesday." Thanks, BOWD!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Republican Reps. Stephen Fincher and Doug LaMalfa both cited the Bible in remarks against "spending other people's money" during a debate on cutting food stamps last week. Naturally, both have received millions in farm subsidies over the years. Donald Carr: "Fincher's $70,000 farm subsidy haul in 2012 dwarfs the average 2012 SNAP benefit in Tennessee of $1,586.40, and it is nearly double of Tennessee's median household income. After voting to cut SNAP by more than $20 billion, Fincher joined his colleagues to support a proposal to expand crop insurance subsidies by $9 billion over the next 10 years." [Environmental Working Group]

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REID, MCCONNELL TRADE BARBS OVER LOOMING FILIBUSTER FIGHT - We all know this ends with a verbal agreement that is ultimately broken after a few months. Jen Bendery: "During floor remarks, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took direct aim at threats by Democrats to use the so-called 'nuclear option' to change Senate rules to require a simple majority, versus 60 votes, to clear a procedural hurdle ahead of debate on a nominee's confirmation...[McConnell said] the Senate has been 'stunningly fair,' confirming 19 of Obama's judicial nominees so far this year -- a contrast to the four judicial confirmations President George W. Bush had by this point in the first year of his second term...It didn't take long before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appeared on the Senate floor to give a fuller context for McConnell's numbers -- and explain that GOP obstructionism is real...Reid cited a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service that found..The median wait time for a Senate vote on Obama's district court nominees that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee was five times longer than Bush's. The wait was 7.3 times longer for Obama's circuit court nominees. For Obama's nominees that cleared the committee with unanimous support, the median wait time was 130.5 days, compared to 14 days for Bush's nominees." [HuffPost]

@RyanLizza: The prosecutor in both the Rosen/Kim leak case & the AP leak case is US Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. He deserves a lot more scrutiny.

From the Dept of Things That Won't Die: "Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) was astounded on Wednesday when former IRS commissioner Doug Shulman said he did not know how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) obtained information on Mitt Romney's taxes during the 2012 election...During a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday, however, Gosar suspected foul play within the IRS. 'Do you know how Mr. Reid obtained that information? Did you look into this?' he asked Shulman. Shulman stumbled, then said, 'I have no idea.' 'Doesn't that alarm you that all of a sudden, this pertinent information comes up, and you're the head of this agency, and you're not asking questions? Shame on you. Absolutely shame on you,' Gosar responded." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

TED CRUZ IS GOING ROGUE - Even money says Ted Cruz was the type of kid who sustained multiple concussions during his childhood after holding his breath for a minute straight in protest of broccoli. Mike McAuliff: "Cruz made a remarkable admission on the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday, admitting in a dispute with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that not only does he not trust Democrats, he doesn't trust Republicans, either. McCain had challenged Cruz, as well as fellow tea party Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.), to let the Senate appoint conferees to work out a federal budget with the GOP-controlled House for the first time in four years. The tea party members, however, are insisting on a highly unusual set of pre-conditions first, including requiring that the conferees be barred from raising the debt limit. Normally, McCain argued, the Senate gives them instructions, but recognizes that there needs to be room for negotiations in conferences...'Let me be clear. I don't trust the Republicans,' Cruz said, casting it as a broader distrust of a government that has rung up more than $16 trillion in debt. 'And I don't trust the Democrats. And I think a whole lot of Americans likewise don't trust the Republicans and the Democrats because it is leadership in both parties that has gotten us in this mess.'" [HuffPost]

Paul Ryan is writing a book, which will undoubtedly be about restoring the promises that make America great and/or proud and/or free: "According to a source close to Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican is working with attorney Bob Barnett to release his first major book next year, and it'll feature a mix of autobiography, political analysis, and policy prescriptions. So far, Ryan has been doing the writing by himself. The early theme of the draft is a broad discussion of American renewal, with an emphasis on the Republican future and the party's need to articulate what he calls the 'American idea.'" [National Review]

TOM CORBETT MISPLACES HIS LATINOS - Preston Maddock: "Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) raised eyebrows last week with his answers during a roundtable discussion hosted by a Spanish-language newspaper in Philadelphia. After suggesting that he was unaware of any Latinos serving in his administration, Corbett told the attendees at The Union League of Pennsylvania, 'If you can find us one, please let me know.' Pennsylvania's Latino population grew by more than 80 percent to a total of 720,000 in the decade between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census. At least 77 percent of Hispanics residing in Pennsylvania are American citizens by birth, and more are citizens by naturalization.' During the roundtable, Corbett also appeared to be confused about the distinction between ethnicity and 'nationality.' 'Trying to grow jobs in Pennsylvania is in the interest of whatever nationality we are talking about,' Corbett said. 'When it comes to the economy, trying to grow jobs is in the interest of every nationality,' he repeated." [HuffPost]

Former Bush 43 adivser Dan Bartlett is staying on the same side of the revolving door, taking a job in Walmart's government relations office.

ANTHONY WEINER ENTERS NYC MAYORAL RACE - Sure, he sent an untold number of photos of his member over the internet, but at least he isn't impolite, like some people. Braden Goyette: "Anthony Weiner officially kicked off his New York mayoral campaign late Tuesday with a video announcement posted to YouTube...Weiner addresses the scandal directly in the first official message of his campaign, and makes an appeal for a second chance. 'Look, I made some big mistakes. And I know I let a lot of people down. But I've also learned some tough lessons,' he says. [His wife Huma] Abedin is featured prominently in the video, which is also posted on top of Weiner's revamped campaign website. It opens with a shot of the couple and their son having breakfast, and closes with the two of them sitting next to each other on a stoop. "We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony," Abedin says. Speculation had mounted for weeks that Weiner was going to throw his hat into the ring. He hired Danny Kedem as his campaign manager last week, and was spotted filming what was rumored to be a campaign video outside of his childhood home Thursday. A recent NBC New York/Marist poll showed Weiner in second place, behind Christine Quinn, in the crowded field of 2013 Democratic mayoral candidates." [HuffPost]

Goddamnit, America: "Lest you think that the Boston Marathon bombing had brought America to peak Trutherism, rest assured, we are nowhere near that point yet. Because, naturally, the Alex Jones conspiracy set is pretty sure that the tornadoes that hit Moore, Okla. were probably maybe some sort of 'false flag' event, brought on by the 'weather weapons' that of course the federal government has at its disposal..." [HuffPost's Jason Linkins]

The president will visit Moore, Oklahoma on Sunday.

YOUR CORGI WILL SOON BE ABLE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT AMTRAK'S WIFI - And feel guilty about ordering the burger from the dining car. Sam Stein: "[T]wo members of the House of Representatives introduced legislation on Tuesday that would require Amtrak -- the government-subsidized rail system -- to allow passengers to travel with domesticated cats and dogs on certain trains. The Pets on Trains Act of 2013 would reverse standing policy prohibiting animals from being brought on trains unless they are traveling with people with disabilities. Its bipartisan co-sponsors -- Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) -- fully acknowledge that they are personally vested in ensuring its passage. 'My dog, Lily, is a part of our family and travels with us to and from California all the time. If I can take her on a plane, why can't I travel with her on Amtrak, too?' said Denham. 'Allowing families to bring their animals with them will facilitate transportation and efficiency while also providing a much-needed source of revenue for Amtrak.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Nothing these dogs love more than a walk.

And we thought the the Boston Marathon bombings had reached peak weirdness: "A man in Orlando, Fla., who was being interviewed early Wednesday morning by law enforcement officers about his ties to the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect was fatally shot after he tried to attack the officers with a knife, according to a federal law enforcement official. The officers -- who included an F.B.I. agent from the Boston field office and two Massachusetts state troopers -- were questioning the man, Ibragim Todashev, about whether he had played a role in a triple murder on Sept. 11, 2011, in Waltham, Mass., which had been one of the biggest mysteries in the aftermath of the bombings." [NYT]

@NBCNews: JUST IN: Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and man killed by FBI in Orlando responsible for 2011 triple homicide, sources say

COMFORT FOOD

- True facts about the Aye Aye by the unapologetically sardonic Ze Frank. [http://bit.ly/1a6szOz]

- People asked to name three living Germans, can't. [http://huff.to/16OtBlh]

- The background from 1990s fighting games without the fighters. [http://bit.ly/11YaDaU]

- "Fast Five" -- A brutally honest take. [http://bit.ly/11YxMtQ]

- Humanity's greatest human, George Takei, has taken to writing entertaining product reviews on Amazon. [http://bit.ly/18hPgjR]

- Unbelievable facts that are, well, facts. [http://bit.ly/1a60iHZ]

- The always amazing John Green corrects society's most popular misquotations. [http://bit.ly/10TPCHV]

TWITTERAMA

@pourmecoffee: Someone on @reddit made a Hillary Clinton Pantsuits Rainbow, and it's beautiful pic.twitter.com/qufUE07nAG

@ddayen: As a presidential scheduler now, do you just build in one blank day a month to fill with the eventual visit to a natural disaster site?

@chashomans: Free tech idea: the Ira Glass, which divides everything you look at into three thematically linked segments, one narrated by David Sedaris.

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