POLITICS
07/02/2013 01:00 pm ET Updated Sep 01, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Curb Your Patriotism

Yelp says there are no hipster hangouts near the Capitol, but that's just because Rosa DeLauro uses an obscure review service you've never heard of. Sequestration is canceling Independence Day celebrations across the country, reducing discretionary freedom 5.1 percent. And what Mitch McConnell's campaign team lacks in oppo on Alison Grimes it more than makes up for with knowledge of three-year-old music trends. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 2nd:

COLLAPSE OF REPUBLIC POSTPONED - Mike Dorning and Alex Wayne: "Businesses won't be penalized next year if they don't provide workers health insurance after the Obama administration decided to delay a key requirement under its health-care law, two administration officials said. The decision will come in regulatory guidance to be issued later this week. It addresses vehement complaints from employer groups about the administrative burden of reporting requirements, though it may also affect coverage provided to some workers." [Bloomberg]

FEWER EXPLOSIONS BAD - Amanda Terkel: "Expect fewer patriotic displays this July 4, thanks to federal budget cuts. Around the country, military bases are extinguishing fireworks displays and towns are canceling appearances by military bands due to sequestration's $85 billion in across-the-board spending reductions. Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is one of the bases that won't have fireworks this year. The commanding general, Brig. Gen. Thomas Gorry, told the Associated Press that the cancellation would 'ensure that we can mitigate the fiscal challenges we are currently facing.' Last year, the July 4 event cost the base $100,000, with $25,000 spent on fireworks." [HuffPost]

SALUTE THE HARMLESS PLANT - Emily Heil: "The flag flying over the Capitol building on the Fourth of July might look like your typical Old Glory. But you probably won't notice the fibers that make it special. It's believed to be the first hemp flag to flutter over the dome since the government began outlawing marijuana's less-recreational cousin back in the 1930s. Colorado hemp advocate Michael Bowman is the man responsible for getting the flag, made from Colorado-raised hemp and screen-printed with the stars and stripes, up there. He cooked up the idea while lobbying Congress this year to include pro-hemp measures in the farm bill. That legislation failed, of course, but the seed of the hemp flag had been planted." [WashPost]

More about that flag, courtesy Nick Wing: "The Stars and Stripes will be stitched out of hemp fibers, which come from a plant that the federal government considers to be as harmful as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. As far as the Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned, marijuana plants all fall on the Schedule I list of controlled substances, regardless of their concentration of the psychoactive compound THC. Hemp strains contain very little THC, and while it is legal to import the processed fabric, there are stiff penalties in place for its cultivation." [HuffPost]

PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR SENSES DAZZLED - Mitch McConnell's vaunted campaign team has mastered iMovie and is ready for Final Cut Express. Soon they may also have something to say about Alison Grimes. Jason Linkins: "For the time being, all they can devastate Grimes with is having a last name, which rhymes with things. The video goes on to limply test the notion that 'attacking her as a tool of President Obama might do some damage.' McConnell staffers are hoping that the argument will be best made by nearly two minutes of often-unintelligible, auto-tuned slurry, because that's what the funky-fresh kids are into these days." [HuffPost]

Are these guys high on flag or what?

FRANK LUCAS IS HAVING A HARD TIME AT HOME - He's dealing with conservative constituents who want the ag chairman to push for deeper cuts to food stamps. Some of them cited the Heritage Foundation during a recent town hall in Oklahoma. "I'm under attack by those people," Lucas responded, according to the Tulsa World. "They're coming after me. They are all special interest groups that exist to sell subscriptions, to collect seminar fees and to perpetuate their goals. You've got to understand: They don't necessarily want a Republican president or a Republican Congress.... They made more money when (Democrat) Nancy (Pelosi) was speaker. ... It's a business." [Tulsa World]
Hipsters avoid Hill staffers, Yelp reveals.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Patrick McCallister said that in 2003 and 2004 he fell on hard times after a divorce and used nutrition assistance to feed his three kids. "Especially because my family was on food stamps, I felt like that was a taxpayer-supported program aimed at helping my children do as well as they could in life," he said. McCallister, now 46 and living in Stuart, Fla., had been standing at the Publix supermarket register for several minutes as the cashier sorted through his month's worth of food and his coupons when the confrontation happened. "This woman comes up behind me," he said. "The food is all tallied up, I pull out the food stamp card, which is very difficult to disguise. In Florida at the time it was a big American flag. The woman remarked, 'I wish I could eat so well. Maybe I should go on food stamps so I could that well." [HuffPost]

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ANTI-GUN ZEALOTS BOND - Ruby Cramer: "Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the gun control movement's most active and affluent advocate, will host a fundraiser at his Manhattan home later this month for Sen. Joe Manchin, according to an invitation for the event obtained by BuzzFeed. ... The fundraiser, scheduled for July 22, marks Bloomberg's efforts to reward those who supported the gun control campaign, and punish those senators who voted against it, including four Democratic senators: Montana's Max Baucus; Alaska's Mark Begich; North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and Arkansas's Mark Pryor." [Buzzfeed]

I'm Mitt Romney and I secretly do not approve this message. A tidbit from Dan Balz's new book, via Sam Stein: "Over the Christmas break of 2010, Mitt Romney and his family took an internal poll on whether he should run for president once more. Twelve family members cast ballots. Ten said no. One of the 10 was Mitt Romney himself. The doubts that the former Massachusetts governor harbored before ultimately launching his second unsuccessful bid for the presidency are one of several attention-grabbing details in 'Collision 2012,' the newest book on the 2012 campaign." [HuffPost]

Other goodies: "Romney's campaign team, Balz writes, held 'Kill Newt' meetings after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich vaulted to a victory in the South Carolina primary. ... During the vice presidential selection process, Romney assured Ohio Sen. Rob Portman that his son's homosexuality would not be an issue in the selection process. He also asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if he would resign as governor if chosen as the running mate because Securities and Exchange Commission rules prohibited employees at big banks and financial institutions from making donations to candidates who also ran states where the banks did bond business." [Ibid]

THE '80s CALLED, THEY WANT THEIR RACE-BAITING FOOD STAMP ATTACKS BACK - With Sam Stein: "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Republicans' obsession with cutting food stamps is symptomatic of a 1980s state of mind. 'This is not a situation where we're back in the '80s where there was this push for welfare reform because people were perceived to be gaming the system,' said Vilsack. 'That's not the case here.' In an interview with The Huffington Post, Vilsack said House Republican leadership's failure to move a farm bill, which included nearly $80 billion per year in food stamp subsidies, could pose major harm to the agriculture community. He also predicted that the GOP was harming itself politically, having spent the last election lambasting President Barack Obama as the 'Food Stamp President' to no success. 'I think the reason why they haven't been particularly successful with this argument is that maybe the American people recognize these food assistance programs are helping people who are struggling through no fault of theirs,' Vilsack said, 'or who have worked their entire lives but are now living on a very small and meager Social Security check, or dealing with a disability that makes it very difficult if not impossible for them to work. I think Americans have understanding and compassion for these people.'" No evidence of that in any food stamp story's comments section, but maybe he's got a point. [HuffPost]

OH NO! "Helicopters and ground crews are again searching Wyoming's Wind River Range for the brother of Colorado Sen. Mark Udall. James 'Randy' Udall failed to return from a solo backpacking trip last week. Searchers on Tuesday were looking for signs of the 61-year-old over the same 225 square mile area they've been searching since Friday. Udall is an alternative energy advocate and environmentalist from Carbondale, Colo. He's an experienced backpacker who has hiked the Wind River many times over the past 30 years." [AP]

TODAY IN UNSETTLING CORRELATIONS - Dave Jamieson: "Republican senators who support a lawsuit that could shut down the National Labor Relations Board have received more than $6 million over the years from corporations that have already benefited from the lawsuit, according to a new analysis of campaign finance data. Assembled by Public Campaign, a non-profit that tracks money in politics, the report analyzes corporate, executive and PAC donations from the 38 companies that have already cited the lawsuit, Noel Canning, in legal efforts to fight the labor board's actions. Of the 45 GOP senators who signed a brief in support of Noel Canning, all have received some amount of money from the corporations, and five have raked in more than a quarter of a million dollars apiece from the companies over the course of their careers." [HuffPost]

GUY INVOLVED IN FICTIONAL DC TO GET INVOLVED IN REAL DC - Judy Kurtz: "The creator and co-executive producer of a fictional show about life on Capitol Hill is throwing his hat in the real-life political ring himself, announcing exclusively to ITK that he's running for Congress in California's 33rd congressional district. Brent Roske is the man behind 'Chasing the Hill,' the buzz-producing Web series that stars 'West Wing' alums Richard Schiff, Melissa Fitzgerald, Robin Weigert and Matthew Del Negro. While the show, which premiered online last year, follows a California Democrat's House reelection campaign, Roske is running in the 2014 election as an Independent for Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) seat." [The Hill]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Buttercup is a duck with one leg. UNTIL NOW.

RIP WILLIAM GRAY - Ron Todt: "Former U.S. Rep. William H. Gray III, who rose to influential positions in Congress and was the first black to become majority whip, died Monday at 71. Gray passed away suddenly Monday while in London with one of his sons to attend the Wimbledon tennis championships, said William Epstein, a former aide to Gray. Born in Baton Rouge, La., Gray graduated from Franklin & Marshall College and Drew Theological Seminary in Jersey City, N.J., before being elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1978. He served as chairman of the powerful budget committee and became the first African-American in the 20th century to become majority whip of the U.S. House. During his tenure, he authored legislation implementing economic sanctions against South Africa." [Associated Press]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Esquire lists the manliest names in American history. SPOILER: Lt. Rad Heroman. [http://bit.ly/12c6LfJ]

- Behold, the horror of pooping sans smartphone. [http://bit.ly/12c78qL]

- We know you've been having trouble limboing under 18-wheelers on your BMX bike, so here's some expert advice. [http://bit.ly/12c6OIl]

- Possibly the last alchemist. [http://bit.ly/12c70r8]

- Next time you're drugged-out at a concert, remember not to stare at the dude in the horse head. It's rude. [http://bit.ly/12c8mSE]

- John Hodgman's comedy special is up on Netflix. Here's a taste. [http://bit.ly/12c8tOn]

- Sure, fireworks are dangerous, but they look SO COOL. [http://bit.ly/12c9FRy]

TWITTERAMA

@GrahamDavidA: Is "What Rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes" the "Get Lucky" of July 2013?

‏@delrayser: I assume Rafalca was 1 of the 2 who voted for Mitt to run. Such a famewhorse, that one.

@KateNocera: I like this photo of @jbendery and @GOPWhip looking into each others eyes http://bit.ly/13pw1p8

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