POLITICS
11/12/2013 06:25 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Washington Debates Interracial Marriage


Job satisfaction amongst federal employees has plummeted -- and with all the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrations and hours spent distributing Obamaphones, who can blame them? We can't wait for Richard Cohen's next column where he hyperventilates about malt shops being overrun by interracial couples using two straws to drink milkshakes out of the same glass. And President Obama's approval rating is at its lowest point ever, despite the return of White House tours. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, November 12th, 2013:

SENATE GOP TORPEDOES MORE CIRCUIT COURT NOMINEES - Jen Bendery: "Senate Republicans filibustered another one of President Barack Obama's nominees on Tuesday: Nina Pillard, a noncontroversial nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate voted 56 to 41 to block Pillard, a Georgetown University law professor. She needed 60 senators to vote in favor of bringing her confirmation to a floor vote. Instead, only two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, sided with Democrats to let her proceed. Republicans readily admit their opposition to Pillard isn't about her. In fact, they don't really have a problem with any of Obama's picks for the D.C. Circuit. They just don't want him to fill the court's three empty seats. Many of them say the court isn't busy enough to warrant filling its seats; others make the counter-intuitive argument that Obama is "court-packing" by filling routine vacancies. But both of those arguments gloss over the fact that the president, any president, has a constitutional duty to fill empty court seats, and barring extraordinary circumstances, the Senate is supposed to give nominees a vote."

DEM SCRAMBLING AHEAD OF VOTE ON UPTON BILL - WaPo: "This Friday, House Republicans are expected to vote on a proposal -- championed by GOP Rep. Fred Upton -- that would allow insurance companies the option of continuing all existing health plans for a year, in response to the loss of plans that has taken place despite Obama's vow otherwise. The White House points out that this will undermine the law. Dem leadership aides have predicted that some House Dems will vote for the plan. And CNN's Dana Bash stirred up chatter today when she Tweeted that 'lots' of House Dems will vote for it if the White House has not put forth its own fix by the end of the week -- in effect giving the White House a deadline. Obviously, 'a lot' of Dems voting for this proposal would constitute another major Obamacare headache. House Democratic leaders are privately warning rank and file Dems that a vote for this bill - and other anti-Obamacare legislation - could alienate leading Democratic donors heading into 2014, a source familiar with internal discussions tells me. 'Votes against the Affordable Care Act are going to turn off a lot of these top national progressive donors,' the source said in characterizing the arguments." [WaPo]

Okay, why would anybody vote against this? If Obamacare provides good, affordable coverage, nobody will buy the junk plans. If it doesn't, people deserve at least a chance to buy those crappy plans if that's all they can afford. Right?

@DavidMDrucker: Sen Feinstein announces she's cosponsoring Landrieu bill to let people keep health plans. Says her office received almost 31K calls on issue

Darrell Issa is apparently operating on the theory that credibility is no longer a required asset. His latest selective-transcript leak to CBS's designated right-wing conspiracy reporter Sharyl Attkisson is blowing up in her face. Not that CBS cares. She was also behind the Benghazi screw up, which they're busy pretending didn't happen.

OBAMA'S APPROVAL AT LOWEST POINT EVER - If you like your President, you can keep him. If you don't like him, you'll have to keep him, too. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "President Barack Obama's approval rating is down to its "lowest point ever," according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. Just 39 percent of American voters approve of Obama's job performance, down from 45 percent at the beginning of October. Fifty-four percent now disapprove. For the first time, a majority thinks Obama is not "honest and trustworthy" -- just 44 percent say he is, while 52 percent say he is not. Voters are about evenly split as to whether he has strong leadership qualities, and as to whether he 'cares about the needs and problems of people like you.'...Though HuffPost's polling average puts the GOP's favorable rating at just 28 percent, Qunnipiac found that congressional Republicans had a slight edge over Obama on a number of issues. Voters are now slightly more likely to trust congressional Republicans than Obama on the economy and the budget, and about as likely to trust them on health care and immigration." [HuffPost]

RICHARD COHEN'S ONGOING QUEST TO WRITE HIS WAY BACK TO 1955 - For whatever reason, the Washington Post op-ed columnist's piece about the Republican 2016 primary took a turn and found itself at the intersection of Racism Drive and Curmudgeon Lane: "Today's GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled -- about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York -- a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts -- but not all -- of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn't look like their country at all." Thanks, Richard Cohen! [WaPo]

Grim and Katherine Fung got Cohen's side of things (although technically his column is also his side of things). "The word racist is truly hurtful," he said. "It's not who I am. It's not who I ever was. It's just not fair. It's just not right." As for his "conventional views" line, Cohen insisted that he was discussing a narrow slice of society. "The column is about Tea Party extremism and I was not expressing my views, I was expressing the views of what I think some people in the Tea Party held," he said. Are people who gag at the site of a mixed-race couple racist? "Yeah!" he said. [HuffPost]

@weymouthk: Brilliant: richard Cohen on why Cruz beats Christie in iowa: http://wapo.st/1bwCzT7

Jason Linkins recreates the conversation that could have happened between Cohen and his editor (who has since said he screwed up).

Because the next three years will be filled with endless amounts of speculation about the 2016 presidential election, HuffPost has relaunched its Speculatron blog, led by the always brilliant Linkins.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Here's Louie Gohmert back in August whining on the House floor about a HuffPost piece but not remembering who had done the story. "I took grief for just telling of a constituent that had mentioned that he was standing in line at the grocery store behind somebody who had crab legs, and he was wishing he could afford to have crab legs and he was looking at his ground meat. Anyway, then when that person in front of him got ready to pay for the crab legs, he pulled out a food stamp card. I forget which Washington rag it was, but one of them -- and it may not have been a Washington rag. But the left wing went nuts talking about how I am accusing people of squandering precious food stamp money on crab legs when that was not the case at all." DDD is sad that Gohmert has no memory and doublesad that DDD missed Gohmert's factually inaccurate lament when it happened. :(

Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

OBAMACARE OFFICIALS TO APPLICANTS: COME BACK, BABY! - Obamacare is a changed man, girl, it won't let you down again. Now why don't you open that door up, babe, and let Obamacare back in? Jeff Young: "Consumers who tried and failed to start shopping for health insurance on HealthCare.gov, Obamacare's troubled web portal, will start receiving invitations this week to try again, a federal official said Tuesday...President Barack Obama's administration continues to maintain the website will be functional for most people by the end of this month. In a sign that the Obama administration is gearing up to bring more consumers into the system, 275,000 users who encountered problems with the first step in applying and enrolling -- creating an account -- will begin receiving messages this week asking them to try again. This first round of email messages will be followed by more efforts to recapture consumers who may have given up on the processwhile HealthCare.gov remains unreliable, Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. The administration is sending out these notices in "waves" as they make repairs to the technology behind HealthCare.gov and build capacity, Bataille said. "We want to make sure that we are inviting people back into the system and that their experience will be a positive one," she said." [HuffPost]

BILL CLINTON SUPPORTS LETTING PEOPLE KEEP HEALTH PLANS - Luke Johnson: "Former President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that the health care law should be changed if necessary to allow people to keep their health care plans that have been canceled as a result of the implementation of Obamacare. 'I personally believe, even if it takes changing the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got,' Clinton told OZY TV. Clinton preceded his comments by saying that the country is better off with the Affordable Care Act. The former president also recounted a story where a man he met had his individual plan canceled because of Obamacare, and his insurer offered a plan with twice the premiums, but his copays and deductibles were much lower. Despite Clinton's tempering of the criticism directed at the health care rollout, Republicans seized on his comments as an admittance of Obama's failure to fulfill his frequently-stated promised that those who like their health care plan can keep it. The White House has not said either way whether the law should be changed to allow people to keep their individual insurance plans." [HuffPost]

GILLIBRAND PREDICTS PASSAGE OF MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT BILL - Laura Bassett: "While some news reports have cast doubt on the ability of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to get the 60 Senate votes needed to pass her proposal to remove military sexual assault cases from the chain of command, she says she is confident the measure will go through. 'Oh no, we will have the votes,' Gillibrand told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. 'We are going to get to 60 votes. And we are very close already -- we just need a few more votes, and I think we'll get them over the next week.' Gillibrand's bill would allow victims of sexual assault within the military to report their cases to a special independent prosecutor instead of their own commanders...The Pentagon strongly opposes the idea of removing these cases from the chain of command and argues that it would undermine 'good order and discipline' in the military. There are currently 47 senators on record supporting Gillibrand's bill and about 30 who have not publicly decided either way. She has the full-throated support of some unexpected Republicans, including tea party Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Some other key players, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), have not declared their intentions. But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has threatened to filibuster Gillibrand's bill. Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) have also vocally opposed it." [HuffPost]

POLL: OVERWHELMING MAJORITY SUPPORT MINIMUM WAGE HIKE - Still, opposition to the "People Shouldn't Live In Their Car And Subsist Almost Entirely On Fritos And Hawaiian Punch Act" faces considerable Republican opposition. Gallup: "With momentum building at the federal and state level to increase hourly base pay, more than three-quarters of Americans (76%) say they would vote for raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour (it is currently $7.25) in a hypothetical national referendum, a five-percentage-point increase since March. About one-fifth (22%) would vote against this. Voters in New Jersey amended the state constitution last week to raise the minimum wage $1 to $8.25, by 61% to 39%. Yet a Gallup poll conducted Nov. 5-6 shows that an even greater percentage of Americans would vote for an even higher minimum wage. Of course, Congress, rather than the people via a national vote, holds the actual authority to raise the minimum wage...More recently, the Obama administration has voiced support for the Harkin-Miller bill, which would raise the minimum wage even higher -- to $10.10. A law that would raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour with automatic increases tied to the inflation rate is only slightly less popular, with 69% saying they would vote for it, and 28% against it. " [Gallup]

HuffPost Haircuts: Kate Sheppard, Dave Jamieson, Elise Foley and Ryan Grim. (H/T: Arthur.) HuffPost Hill readers: Has some random person in the Washington area that nobody else but you cares about gotten a haircut recently? Let us know at huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. For too long these events have gone unreported.

KY SEN: (PARTISAN) POLL HAS MCCONNELL TIED WITH GRIMES - "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) are running neck and neck in the 2014 Senate race, according to a new poll from the liberal group MoveOn.org. The survey, conducted by the Democratic firm Lake Research for MoveOn, found McConnell and Grimes each attracting 37 percent of likely Kentucky voters in the general election. McConnell had a commanding 50 percent to 17 percent lead over his primary challenger, tea party-aligned businessman Matt Bevin. The survey also found that 52 percent of the Kentucky voters rated McConnell unfavorably and 42 percent rated him favorably. Nationally, about 49 percent of Americans view him unfavorably -- a fact that Grimes' campaign hopes will give her a boost. Publicly released partisan-sponsored polls typically produce slightly better results for their clients than do polls with independent sponsorship...While a number of surveys have been conducted this year on the Senate race in Kentucky, all have been by partisan firms or sponsors." [HuffPost]

Meanwhile, Kay Hagan's lead in North Carolina has shrunk dramatically. PPP: "Hagan is now basically tied with her Republican challengers, leading Heather Grant 43/40, Thom Tillis 44/42, and Mark Harris 43/41 while trailing Greg Brannon 44/43. Over the last two months Hagan's approval rating is pretty consistent. It was 43% in September and it's at 44% now. But her disapproval has spiked from 39% all the way up t0 49% over that period of time. It's no coincidence that the decline in Hagan's approval numbers tracks pretty closely with a big decline in President Obama's popularity over that same period of time. He's gone from having voters in the state pretty evenly divided about him in September at 48/49 to disapproving pretty strongly at 43/53." [PPP ]

BITCOIN MAYBE COMING TO A CORRUPT DEMOCRACY NEAR YOU - Soon Richard Burr and America's heroin dealers will have something in common. Paul Blumenthal: "The digital currency Bitcoin is perhaps best known for its use in buying illegal drugs from online stores like the now-defunct Silk Road. An upcoming Federal Election Commission ruling will expand what you can buy with bitcoins into a strictly legal realm: purchasing politicians. The FEC is set to approve an advisory opinion this week allowing federal political campaigns to accept contributions in bitcoins. The agency will treat bitcoins the same way it treats donations of stock, as an in-kind gift worth the amount at which it was valued at the time of contribution. Bitcoins were valued at about $376 each (as of this writing), and the maximum contribution an individual may make to one campaign is $2,600 per election." [HuffPost]

FEDERAL WORKERS NOT HAPPY AT WORK: SURVEY - America's public servants haven't felt so disappointed after answering a call since AT&T stopped interrupting dinner to see if they were happy with their phone service. Dave Jamieson: "Federal workers are increasingly disenchanted with their jobs and frustrated by their stagnant pay and shrinking resources, according to new survey results from the Office of Personnel Management. What's more, the survey of 376,577 workers was performed before the recent government shutdown. In a preface to the survey results, which were released on Friday, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said the budget squabbles in Washington ultimately threaten the government's ability to find and hold on to quality workers. She expressed dismay at the fact that fewer government employees said they would recommend their agencies as good places to work. Among the key findings: Sixty-five percent of workers surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs overall, down from 68 percent in 2012. Fifty-four percent said they were satisfied with their pay, down from 59 percent in 2012. Sixty-three percent said they would recommend their organization as a place to work, down from 67 percent in 2012." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is Grumpy Cat facing off against Oscar the Grouch.

COMFORT FOOD

- A slideshow of Apple's proposed donut-shaped Cupertino headquarters. [http://wrd.cm/1aA20AA]

- Ninja children impress their father. [http://bit.ly/16ZorBX]

- Photographs of the farms where cork is harvested. [http://bit.ly/1dUAsL2]

- Timelapse of a Boston terrier sunbathing. [http://bit.ly/1cktrku]

- Some of the weirder happenings captured by Google Street View's cameras. [http://huff.to/182NZ1Y]

- Spaniard performs what is essentially the Willie Mays backwards catch of basketball. [http://bit.ly/17iU5rl]

- An NFL player is quitting after being inspired by Noam Chomsky and the Dalai Lama. [http://bit.ly/1dZnawV]

TWITTERAMA

@jesseberney: Does Richard Cohen have a single fan? Like, does anyone open their paper and say, "Oh boy! It's a Richard Cohen day!"

@pourmecoffee: No point arguing online about 2016 election yet. There will be much better tools to angrily talk past each other in a few years.

@KagroX: Obamacare iz Teh Deth Panelz bc old ppl cost too much!!1 But if that doesn't work, it's really a scheme to send old people all teh moniez!!1

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e