The Obama administration is unfairly targeting non-profits who help the poor and downtrodden by warning them about the perils of a higher capital gains tax. President Obama publicly announced that he is taking two turkeys off of his kill list. And the Supreme Court will consider the legality of Obamacare's employee contraception mandate, a cruel and unfeeling law that forces all employees to take Yaz. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, November 26th 2013:
SCOTUS TO TAKE UP OBAMACARE CONTRACEPTION MANDATE - This will either result in a terrible day featuring blog posts excerpting the most ridiculous parts of Antonin Scalia's opinion or one of relief featuring blog posts excerpting the most ridiculous parts of Antonin Scalia's opinion. Laura Bassett: "The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it will take up the question of whether a for-profit company can refuse to cover contraception for its employees because of religious objections. Dozens of companies have sued the Obama administration over a rule in the Affordable Care Act requiring most employers -- with the exception of churches and religious non-profits -- to cover the full range of contraceptives in their health insurance plans. The Supreme Court will hear the most high-profile case, filed by the Christian-owned craft supply chain Hobby Lobby, as well as Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, a case filed by a Pennsylvania-based furniture company owned by a family of Mennonites. The cases will be heard together, likely in March 2014, with a decision expected in June. Hobby Lobby's attorneys argue that the provision forces it to pay for four methods of contraception to which the owners morally object: the Plan B morning-after pill, an emergency contraceptive called Ella, and two different kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs) that may sometimes work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus." [HuffPost]
Programming note: We will be off for the rest of the week in observance of Thanksgiving, America's first bailout.
EMBARRASSING WIKIPEDIA EDITS BY CONGRESSIONAL STAFF - Our fave: "A section of Republican Rep. Jack Kingston’s page was removed noting he was skeptical of evolution." [BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski]
FARM BILL SADNESS YIELDS SYMBOLISM - At least we're getting something out of the farm bill. David Rogers: "Ignored by the national press, it’s one of the great untold policy battles of this Congress. But it’s also now reached a breaking point, where each side has tied itself in such knots that Washington will soon enter its third year of debate on a five-year bill — an apt symbol of the Capitol’s dysfunction." [Politico]
Rogers reports that the November food stamp cut has greatly complicated the picture, partly because Democrats want to count the cut as new savings -- even though they already counted the food stamp money when they grabbed it in 2010. No double dipping, you guys.
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST GIVES THANKS - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist isn't just thankful for the backup generator in his panic room, he's appreciative of a great many other things. "I'm thankful MSNBC continues to make me feel better about myself," PSLGOPL writes. "I'm also thankful for President Obama's cratering presidency and the tots at the Bottom Line." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Obama administration is hitting Republicans on the head with a turkey leg because they want to cut food stamp spending and it's Thanksgiving. "At a time when people are about to sit around the table with their families to celebrate a meal, it hardly seems the right time to be pulling food off the table for millions of our neighbors," White House economic advisor Gene Sperling said on a Tuesday conference call with reporters. Republicans in the House of Representatives want to trim Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program spending by 5 percent, or roughly $4 billion per year. A conference committee is currently hashing out differences between the House proposal and Senate legislation that makes a much more modest reduction. House Republicans are unlikely to get their way, but if they did, the cuts would take effect next year, not this week. [HuffPost]
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NEW REGULATION PUTS CHECK ON DARK MONEY GROUPS - Right now David Koch is dropping one of Jack Lew's hairs into a bubbling caldron in a cave somewhere. Paul Blumenthal: "The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced on Tuesday new guidelines clarifying the definition of political activity for nonprofit organizations. The new rules, which still face many procedural hurdles, would limit the political activities of nonprofit organizations and help prevent political actors from using these groups to provide anonymity to donors... Much of this [post-Citizens United] spending was allowed because of the lack of clear guidelines for political spending by nonprofits. The statute governing political activity by these nonprofits says that they must work 'exclusively' on their social welfare purpose, but the regulatory interpretation of that statute says that 'exclusively' means 'primarily.' The term 'primarily,' has been criticized since it does not specify the acceptable percentage of political spending for tax exempt groups...The proposed guidelines... would provide clear lines to judge whether a given action is political...The proposed guidelines do not directly address the issue of how much a nonprofit can spend on political activity, but the IRS stated that it plans on issuing further guidance on that issue in the future." [HuffPost]
SEBELIUS: HEALTHCARE.GOV READY FOR MORE TRAFFIC - If the site continues to fail it will be the most embarassing prodcut relaunch in our coutnry's history -- except for that time Dominoes admitted its pizza sucked and proceeded to promote it's new, equally terrible pizza. Sam Stein: "As problems have continued to plague HealthCare.gov, private health insurers and the Obama administration have been hesitant to direct consumers to try to use it, believing it counterproductive to direct people to a health care marketplace that was at best dysfunctional and at worst non-operable. So it was noteworthy on Tuesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius encouraged local and state elected officials to begin directing people to use the website to purchase insurance...'We get feedback on a regular basis from user experiences. We want to continue to update this,' [Sebilius said on a conference call with local and state lawmakers], 'But I would urge you and your folks on the ground to not hesitate to recommend that people go to HealthCare.gov and get signed up.'" [HuffPost]
Republican state senator Mark Obenshain plans to ask for a recount in Virginia's attorney general race: "Obenshain currently trails State Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudon) by 165 votes out of over 2.2 million cast. The race is the closest statewide contest in Virginia history. The Board of Elections certified Herring as the winner on Monday, but state law allows the trailing candidate to request a recount at taxpayers' expense if the margin of victory is less than one half of one percent. A Herring win would give the Democrats the top three political offices statewide, all of which are currently held by Republicans." [HuffPost's Luke Johnnson]
LAMAR ALEXANDER TO AMERICA: TMI, DUDE! - The Tennessee lawmaker issued a statement urging the FCC to block an FAA decision to allow cell phone calls on airplane flights. The statement, via Roll Call, will impress John McCain and Chuck Grassley, co-chairs of the Lawn Freedom Caucus: "Imagine two million passengers, hurtling through space, trapped in 17-inch-wide seats, yapping their innermost thoughts.The Transportation Security Administration would have to hire three times as many air marshals to deal with the fistfights. Stop and think about what we hear now in airport lobbies from those who wander around shouting personal details into a microphone: babbling about last night’s love life, bathroom plans, next week’s schedule, orders to an assistant, arguments with spouses. Imagine this noise while you travel, restrained by your seatbelt, unable to escape. The FCC commissioners will earn the gratitude of the two million Americans who fly each day by deciding: text messages, yes; conversations, no.” [Roll Call]
Barack Obama redistributes wealth like a wimp, says socialist: "Socialist Kshama Sawant, who was elected this year to the Seattle City Council, said Tuesday she does not count President Barack Obama as a comrade in socialism. In an interview with HuffPost Live, Sawant said it was difficult for her to label the president as a socialist when, she said, advocates for single-payer health insurance were ignored during negotiations around the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010." [HuffPost's Byron Kittle]
LOGAN TAKING LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOLLOWING DEBUNKED BENGHAZI REPORT - Look on the brightside, Lara. Dan Rather is now an endless source of free drinks. Times: "CBS News announced Tuesday that it had imposed a leave of absence on its correspondent Lara Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, in the wake of an internal investigation that found serious errors in their report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya. The moves follow weeks of criticism directed at the program for the report, which aired on '60 Minutes' and was based on an interview with a hired security agent, Dylan Davies, who CBS News later said lied to them in the report. Beyond Ms. Logan, the review could have implications for the leadership of Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News, who is also the executive producer of '60 Minutes.' Mr. Fager sent an email to the staff Tuesday, saying: 'As executive producer, I am responsible for what gets on the air. I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.'" [NYT]
Haircuts: Andy Foley (h/t Elise Foley), Steve Nelson (h/t Eliot).
TRAINWRECK ENDS IN TRAINWRECK - Alec Baldwin is out at MSNBC, proving that a lifetime of service as Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming gets you nowhere in NBC Universal. HuffPost Media: "The New York Post reported Tuesday that the host has been fired. A spokesman for Baldwin raised objections to the word 'fired,' but told the Post, 'The show is not coming back. He had questions on whether he wanted to continue.' MSNBC and Matthew Hiltzik, Baldwin's personal spokesperson, also confirmed to The Huffington Post, 'We are jointly confirming that UP LATE will not continue on MSNBC.' MSNBC added, 'This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best.' A spokesperson for MSNBC added, 'Every episode of ‘Up Late’ has beaten CNN and the show has increased msnbc’s audience in the time slot...' Baldwin's hosting gig has been in question for over a week now, since the actor appeared to get angry at a photographer and call him a 'c-cksucking fag.' He was subsequently suspended from the network for two weeks. In a blog post for The Huffington Post, Baldwin denied saying the anti-gay slur and also addressed the fate of his MSNBC show. It debuted just one month before the incident. 'Whether the show comes back at all is at issue right now,' Baldwin wrote." [HuffPost]
WHITE HOUSE LAUNCHES MOB RULE INITIATIVE - Third Way has already decried the absence of a fiscally conservative, socially liberal turkey to rally behind. Mollie Reilly: "On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a tradition going back to the Kennedy White House. But in a new twist put on the pardon last year, this year's spared turkey will again be put to a public vote. This year, the American people will decide between Caramel and Popcorn. Voters can learn about each bird on the White House website -- including which bird likes Beyonce -- and cast their votes via Facebook or Twitter. However, the vote isn't an avian version of The Hunger Games. As the White House notes, both turkeys will ultimately be spared the fate of ending up on someone's plate this Thanksgiving. But while both Caramel and Popcorn will survive the holiday season, their brother isn't so lucky." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a real dog fighting with a toy dog.
PORN TO THE RESCUE! - Listen, Mr. President, it's this or the World of Warcraft guys. Your call. Esquire: "Pornhub has offered its services of building and maintaining a complex website to the flailing Affordable Care Act website. In an open letter published last week, the porn clip magnate graciously offered its services. We talked to Corey Price, the Vice President at Pornhub, about the plan...'Overall, I’d offer to lend them our engineers,' [Price said,] 'We work very hard to train everyone to be able to handle any challenge. It’s no small task to accommodate the traffic volume they intended to. Since we specialize in high traffic websites, we are one of few companies who would have been able to get the site back on track. That’s why we made the offer -- we have the utmost confidence in our teams to accomplish anything.'" [Esquire]
- Protect yourself from baby attacks with this helpful video. [http://bit.ly/18kA4Xv]
- Ginko trees are basically disgusting dinosaur food. [http://bit.ly/1icJ3ht]
- "Virginia is My Eagleton" uses "Parks and Recreation" GIFs to convey the awfulness of Northern Virginia. [http://bit.ly/19WXBaR]
- If you get fired from BuzzFeed, your HR representative will slap a "CUTE" sticker on your pink slip. [http://bit.ly/IdPpwC]
- Internet usage today compared with 18 months ago. [http://bit.ly/1iO6c7z]
- Feminism, as depicted by stock photography. [http://nym.ag/1aMOBIS]
- Generate your own uplifting clickbait with this Upworthy generator. [http://bit.ly/17IPbJN]
@thisisjendoll: Grandpa, tell me that story again about when you were a little boy, before you were a brand?
@pourmecoffee: Replace vacant Alec Baldwin spot with a half-hour show of @ChuckGrassley giving out volleyball scores and naming town hall meeting topics
@mollyesque: Why have a Hobby Lobby when you can have a Pastime Foyer?
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