05/23/2013 06:24 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - President Interrupts Medea Benjamin

President Obama talked at length about detainee policy today but don't expect Mumia to be freed anytime soon. Chuck Grassley doesn't know what "packing the court" is, a tragic consequence of the History Channel not airing any history programs. And Medea Benjamin heckled the president, meaning she only needs to shout down Chuck Hagel to get nonviolence BINGO. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 23rd, 2013:

ERIC HOLDER SIGNED OFF ON ROSEN SEARCH WARRANT - After which he immediately criticized the president's kill list... for using an Oxford comma. NBC News: "Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a 'possible co-conspirator' in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday. The disclosure of the attorney general's role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists...Rosen, who has not been charged in the case, was nonetheless the target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators to secretly seized his private emails after an FBI agent said he had "asked, solicited and encouraged ... (a source) to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information.'" [NBC News]

LOIS LERNER PLACED ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE - The IRS' director of exempt organizations, who phoned President Obama daily on her Oval Office hotline phone powered by solar cells manufactured by Solyndra, is out (for now). National Review: "Lerner on Thursday afternoon sent an e-mail to employees in the exempt organizations division she oversees stating, 'Due to the events of recent days, I am on administrative leave starting today. An announcement will be made shortly informing you who will be acting while I am on administrative leave. I know all of you will continue to support EO's mission during these difficult times.' She concluded, 'I thank you for all your hard work and dedication,' adding, 'The work you do is important.'" [National Review]

Via Mike McAuliff, Ted Cruz's floor speeches have been getting increasingly intense worrisome this week: "Mr. President, in Gulliver's Travels, Swift told us of two fictional lands, Liliput and Blefuscu, that had been at war for years over which end of the egg to open first. In Liliput, they opened up the little end and in Blefuscu they opened the small end of the egg, and the big-enders and little-enders battled endlessly. I'm sorry to say that satirical depiction often reflects what occurs in this august body."

More: "It has been suggested that those of us who are fighting to defend liberty, fighting to turn around the out-of-control spending and out-of-control debt in this country, fighting to defend the constitution, it has been suggested that we are whacko birds. Well if that is the case, I will suggest to my friend from Arizona, there may be more whacko birds in the Senate than is suspected."

FARM BILL UPDATE - The Senate today overwhelming rejected a Bernie Sanders amendment that would allow states to require genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, objecting to reconsidering the Monsanto Protection Act, with Roy Blunt speaking on its behalf. And no vote yet on hemp. (Tammy Baldwin said last night she's a longtime supporter and wants Wisconsin farmers to be able to grow it.) Food stamp opponents, meanwhile, are still collecting farm subsidies, and still quoting the Bible.

Burned Out, Went Downtown, HuffPost Hill's in-house K Street transplant gets real: "What's faster to the Hill: A) Uber, B) D.C. cab, or C) Metro? Answer: C). How many lobbyists use it? Answer: Zero."

DAVE DOWNER - Dave Jamieson: "In the past three years, Marcus Hedger has lost a good-paying manufacturing job and a nice home in Antioch, Ill. Thanks to the dysfunction on Capitol Hill, there's no telling when he'll get either of them back. Hedger, 56, worked as a pressman at a label-making plant run by the Fort Dearborn Company in Niles, Ill. In 2010, he was fired from his job. According to a federal judge, plant management illegally discriminated against Hedger in the firing because of his standing as a shop steward with the Teamsters union during a contract battle. The ruling entitled Hedger to backpay and reinstatement on the job. Unfortunately for Hedger, his case went before the GOP pincushion that is the National Labor Relations Board, the quasi-judicial federal agency that enforces labor law. His favorable ruling -- first issued by an administrative law judge in 2011, then affirmed by the labor board itself in 2012 -- is currently tied up in the appeals process and could be tossed out amidst a legal and political fight over the board's legitimacy. [HuffPost]

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PRESIDENT FINALLY TALKS ABOUT PRISON REFORM... OH, NOT THAT KIND? NEVERMIND - Ryan Reilly, Luke Johnson and Matt Sledge: "President Barack Obama said Thursday that he has codified the process his administration goes through before launching a drone strike. 'To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance,' Obama said...Speaking at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., Obama offered a wide-ranging view of his vision for the future of U.S. national security policy. He spoke of returning to his plan to close the military detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, renewing the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and adjusting to an environment where homegrown terrorists pose more of a threat than an organized 9/11-style attack...He argued the government's lethal strikes were essential and had prevented numerous attacks from taking place...He indicated he was open to working with Congress on imposing additional oversight on the drone program, including proposals for a special secret court to review strikes or an independent entity within the executive branch." [HuffPost]

Hans Moleman must have been running security because Code Pink's Medea Benjamin was able to go beyond heckling and basically engage the president in conversations.. Ryan Reilly: "Even Medea Benjamin was surprised she managed to get into President Barack Obama's major national security address at National Defense University on Thursday... 'I had my head down for about two hours and was talking on the phone for about two hours. I tried to be inconspicuous. I think sometimes I must be invisible,' Benjamin said. 'There were a couple of journalists that came over to talk to me, but that's about it'...After she had been escorted out, Obama referred to Benjamin as a 'young lady.'... 'That's very nice,' Benjamin said, 'given that I'm older than him.'" [HuffPost]

Eventually POTUS will run into the problem of the level 5 detainees. These are the ones who can't be prosecuted because evidence against them was derived through torture, but they're too dangerous to release. What's a law-abiding president to do?? Our legal advice, based on what the administration currently describes as ok: Release the level 5 detainees to the tribal areas of Pakistan and immediately kill them with drones. All tidy and legal. #Freedom #YOLO

Time published the president's prom photo and nearly irrefutable evidence that he tried to steal his buddy's girlfriend.

CHARLESTON LEADING SITE FOR MILITARY TRIBUNALS - Each prisoner will be given a copy of "Lords of Discipline" and will then be promptly shoved into a windowless room where they will rot for two years, accompanied only by their thoughts and Pat Conroy's rich prose. WSJ: "The leading candidate for the U.S. location for military commissions is the Naval Brig at Charleston, S.C., according to a senior administration official... Still moving the commissions to the U.S. will face high hurdles in Congress, and may sit particularly poorly with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C), a key member of the Armed Services Committee. The 2013 Defense authorization act continues the ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. That prohibition will expire at the end of the year, but Republicans have long wanted to make it permanent." [WSJ]

JOHN BOEHNER'S FATALISTIC VIEW OF IMMIGRATION REFORM - The House speaker was definitely the type of father who'd bark "BECAUSE IT IS" after being repeatedly asked about why the sky is blue by his kids... and then go back to sipping his dark and stormy. Elise Foley: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he's confident the House will 'work its will on immigration' reform and come to a deal -- he's just not sure how. 'We're not going to be stampeded by the White House or stampeded by the president,' Boehner said at a press conference. 'The Senate is working its will, a lot of good work that's going on over there, but the House will work its will. Don't ask me how, because if I knew I'd certainly tell you, but the House is going to work its will.' Boehner has stayed largely out of the immigration debate, stating his support for the members working on a deal but without weighing in on the details...When asked whether he thinks the group is on the brink of collapse, Boehner said, 'Well, I've heard that before, too.'" [HuffPost]

Cicada livecam is gross, lousy with cicadas.

Much as he might be loath to do so, Chuck Grassley should read up on FDR: "D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Sri Srinivasan won unanimous approvalThursday by the Senate. But before he did, his nomination led to one of the more amusing moments on C-SPAN in recent memory. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) used a hearing on Srinivasan's nomination to accuse the Obama administration of trying to 'pack' the D.C. Circuit. And then repeated the accusation another five times. The only problem, as his colleague Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) gently pointed out, was that the term does not mean what Grassley thought it meant." [Video, via WaPo]

DARRELL ISSA SEES YOUR FIFTH AMENDMENT INVOCATION AND RAISES YOU A LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA - Once again, the House Oversight chairman has employed the legal version of grabbing Lois Lerner's hand and yelling "STOP HITTING YOURSELF!`" The Hill: "House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is poised to bring IRS official Lois Lerner back before his committee. Issa said Thursday he had concluded that Lerner waived her rights against self-incrimination when she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at a Wednesday hearing. Lerner, who runs an IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, defended her actions in an opening statement before invoking the Fifth, and Republicans say that meant she had waived her privileges against self-incrimination. 'After consulting with counsel, Chairman Issa has concluded that Ms. Lerner's 5th Amendment assertion is no longer valid,' Ali Ahmad, a spokesman for Issa, said in a statement Thursday. 'She remains under subpoena, the Committee is looking at recalling her for testimony.'...Issa told reporters on Thursday that he had no plans to trick Lerner into waiving her Fifth Amendment rights, and that the IRS staffer brought the current situation on herself." [The Hill]

Jo Bonner will leave congress so he can have better tickets to Crimson Tide games for a job at the University of Alabama: "U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, informed friends and supporters today that he intends to resign from Congress later this year and take a job at the University of Alabama...Bonner will leave Congress effective Aug. 15 for a position as vice chancellor of government relations and economic development at the University of Alabama System, according to friends. Bonner is the younger brother of Judy Bonner, who was named president of the university in Tuscaloosa last fall." [AL.com]

@mcalderone: Jonathan Martin leaving Politico for New York Times, per memo

JONATHAN MARTIN LEAVING POLITICO IN MOST POLITICO WAY POSSIBLE - Excerpts from his letter to the newsroom, which is a journalist's version of a bride-to-be casually waving her left hand around to show off her HUGE ROCK: "There is only one job for which I would ever leave Politico: national political correspondent at the New York Times. That's not to say this was an easy decision... When I first heard from the Times, I was very flattered and quite curious... As much as I love politics, I'm just as passionate about history. To work at such a storied institution -- the famous front pages of which I can I see in my mind's eye as I type this - is humbling... The Times is the most important news organization in the world and I couldn't be more happy to join their team."

We also enjoyed the implicit dig at National Journal in VandeAllen's memo to staff: "One of the more memorable episodes in POLITICO's early history came in December 2006, a few days after we announced that we were creating a new publication, at the Carlyle restaurant in Shirlington. We were meeting a young and inexperienced reporter named Jonathan Martin, who until recently had been with the Hotline."

SCOTT WALKER HEADS TO IOWA - Buoyed by the support of the Wisconsin 1848 local (hat tip: Politico), the Badger State governor is heading to Iowa to test the presidential waters. Des Moines Register: "Scott Walker, the controversial governor of neighboring Wisconsin, comes to Iowa tonight amid speculation that he'd be a smash with Republicans here if he were to run for president, as some top Iowa politics watchers predict. Walker says he's delivering a speech tonight to Iowans not because Iowa is first in the president-picking process, but simply because his friend, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, invited him. But neutral politics watchers and GOP operatives believe Walker has presidential aspirations. While Walker has traveled the country quite a bit since the recall election, his pace has ticked up recently, with events in Connecticut on Monday, New York on Tuesday and Iowa today." [Register]

The group of lawmakers who considered a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was made up entirely of, natch, dudes.

WEINER BEGINS CAMPAIGNING, GOES EXACTLY AS YOU'D EXPECT - This Times dispatch reads like the zaniest "Talk of the Town" ever published: "Anthony D. Weiner, the long exiled, ostracized and written-off former congressman, re-emerged on the city's political stage Thursday as his essential, unadulterated self, at once gratingly self-mythologizing and charmingly self-effacing. He told a young woman in Harlem she should remember Thursday as the day she had met him on her way to the White House. His suggested recollection: 'Little bit skinny, big nose, but I liked him. And he inspired me.' She walked away, slightly dazed. He exhausted a subway heckler named Lori Coad who sought but failed to outsmart him, hurling question after question about education and homelessness, which he deftly parried. 'What else?' he asked her. She brought up his raunchy tweets: 'Stop going online and texting stuff, man. Leave that alone.' 'You know, we were doing so well there,' Mr. Weiner told her, in mock disappointment as the train erupted in laughter. 'I a-a-a-almost got off this train with everything going fine.'" [NYT]

Matt Sledge and Jay Boice take a look at who is donating to the mayoral candidates.

@mikiebarb: Iconic city skyline on Weiner's Web site appears to be from....Pittsburgh, side by side photos show....

In Soviet Russia, government chooses you! John Celock: "Singer Tony Orlando and comedian Yakov Smirnoff have both endorsed a candidate for Arkansas state treasurer in next year's election. As first reported by Politics1.com, Republican Dennis Milligan has unveiled videos on his website touting the support from Smirnoff and Orlando in his run for the state's top fiscal post. The endorsements came after Milligan, currently circuit clerk for Saline County, was introduced to the two minor celebrities by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckebee (R), who is the honorary chairman of Milligan's campaign." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Stressed-out pug gets a much needed massage from a cat.

DC SUMMER NOT BE LESS STIFLING - Capital Weather Gang: "We expect this summer to be quite pleasant in the scheme of things. All summers in D.C. have periods of uncomfortable heat and humidity. That is unavoidable. But given that context, we should mostly avoid the incredible heat that plagued the last 3 summers. We favor lots of days in the 86 - 93 range with heat waves short-lived. Thus, we anticipate our coolest summer since 2009, and a 50-50 chance at our 2nd coolest since 2005." [WaPo]


- Elderly man carts around his elderly dog in a makeshift wagon. [http://bit.ly/158d3EC]

- Helpful law enforcement expert teaches you how to identify satanic cults. [http://bit.ly/11YNzJ2]

- You're eating food wrong. [http://bit.ly/1a3Htow]

- Highlights from this year's Webby Awards. [http://bit.ly/16c3CVv]

- "Animals Are Awesome," a video intended to get you stoked about... animals. [http://huff.to/10U5z4f]

- The sounds produced by the magnetic vibration of planets and other celestial objects. [http://bit.ly/10kMsk7]

- A collection of geeky cookies. [http://bit.ly/188t0v1]


@DCjourno: senior administration official tells me this speech is an effort by POTUS to explain his national security policy to the american people

@dceiver: @PaulBlu: you only go on administrative leave once / #YOGOALO

@delrayser: Tyler Perry's "Madea Heckles The President"

@mikiebarb: Weiner on Politico today: ""Actual people don't read that."

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