Happy New Year! Our resolution to not fabricate the news is going… okay. Washington is about to be covered in snow, which will really put a strain on Trey Radel as he acclimates to life after rehab. And Coloradans are lining up to purchase legal marijuana. Asked how long they were waiting, one would-be customer replied, "Um, two minutes? Five hours? A day?" and then just touched his sweater. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 2nd, 2013:
OBAMACARE NOW ENTRENCHED, HOUSE GOP MOVING ON - Just kidding! Deirdre Walsh: "The GOP-led House of Representatives will kick off 2014 -- a midterm election year -- addressing an issue it spent much of last year debating: Obamacare. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Thursday the House's first order of business when it returns next week from its extended holiday break would be a vote on legislation to address potential security risks for personal information collected on the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov." [CNN]
ISSA STAFFER CHECKS IN TO K STREET - Christina Wilkie: "The review site Yelp plans to lobby Congress for patent reform and protections against abusive lawsuits for online reviewers, according to federal registration forms posted online over the Christmas holiday. Late last year, the company hired its first Washington lobbyist, Laurent Crenshaw. Prior to joining Yelp, Crenshaw was the legislative director for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the fiery chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Congressional records show that Crenshaw left Issa's office on Nov. 4 and registered as a Yelp lobbyist the same day." [HuffPost]
WHITE HOUSE PREPPING FOR FIRST WEEK OF OBAMACARE COVERAGE - America finally getting around to getting that rash checked out. Sam Stein: "In an interview with The Huffington Post, Phil Schiliro, the president's former director of legislative affairs turned health care point man, said the administration was "preparing for the worst case" scenario for the next few days, as patients head to hospitals and pharmacies with new insurance coverage in hand. There's a clear possibility that some of those patients will not have the coverage they assume because of website glitches, Schiliro said. But the White House will be working around the clock to make sure that any potential fire is put out quickly. 'If we can get through this phase without the hiccups we had with the website, that will put us in a much better position to be aggressive in getting people to sign up,' Schiliro said...According to Schiliro, the White House has a process in place to deal with worst-case scenarios. The administration has reached out at least twice to each person who submitted applications that may contain erroneous information or could be missing a page, and private insurance companies have done the same. In addition, a 24-hour call center is available to help people sort through the confusion and 'a team of caseworkers who will work to try and resolve [problems] within 24 hours,' Schiliro said. Many pharmacies are adopting flexible policies for newly covered people buying prescriptions, and Medicaid has assumed enrollment for new patients." [HuffPost]
American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Strain has put together an actual jobs agenda for Republicans. Among other things it includes more support for worksharing. Our dream of a permanent three day weekend is that much closer!
FARM BILL SOON - We're excited for food stamp-related class warfare in the new year. Christopher Doering: "Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said he was still confident Congress could complete its much-delayed work on a five-year, $500 billion farm bill this month. It looks 'more like the end of the second week of January I would expect that we get a bill to the president,' Grassley told reporters in a conference call Thursday. 'I haven’t heard anything to the contrary.'" [Des Moines Register]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Not even senior Hill staffers are invulnerable to unemployment. "David Torian is an Ivy League-educated lawyer and a onetime chief of staff to then-Rep. Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.). He has 23 years of experience in congressional and government relations, witnessed and practiced politics at the highest level, and has been well compensated along the way. On Dec. 28, he will also be among the 1.3 million Americans who will lose their long-term federal unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment is not just a blue collar problem. As Torian's experience shows, it can affect even Beltway power players. And it comes without much, if any, warning. When the consulting firm that Torian worked for after his time on the Hill folded, there were few options available. He took time off to help his sister tend to their ailing mother, who died at the end of 2012. The Washington resident then went looking for work. While he found that his government affairs experience was a draw, his age, 49, was not. 'I get interviews but lose out in the end because prospective employers tell me my experience makes me 'over-qualified' and they do not feel I would stay long in the position if it was offered,' Torian told The Huffington Post." [With HuffPost's Sam Stein]
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JOE LIEBERMAN ENDS UP EXACTLY WHERE WE ALL EXPECTED HIM TO END UP - It's not easy spending one's twilight years making 7-figures working on distressed assets and appearing at Third Way functions, but someone's got to do it. Paige Lavender: "Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) announced Thursday he has joined the private equity firm Victory Park Capital, where he will serve as chairman of the firm's Executive Board. 'While in the U.S. Senate, I fought for policies that would allow small businesses to thrive,' Lieberman said in a statement. 'I look forward to a long-term partnership with Victory Park Capital that will position the firm for continued growth.' Lieberman retired from the U.S. Senate in 2012 after serving for 24 years. In 2006, he was reelected to the U.S. Senate as an Independent after being defeated in the Democratic primary election. Brendan Carroll, partner and co-founder of VPC, said Lieberman would 'bring tremendous value' to the firm. VPC's managing partner and founder Richard Levy said the former senator would be a 'critical' player in his new role." [HuffPost]
Blow can blow: "Rep. Trey Radel, the Florida Republican congressman arrested for cocaine possession in October, plans to return to work next week after a brief stint in rehab. But Republicans in his home state aren't exactly rooting for his comeback on Capitol Hill, with a super PAC raising more than $1 million for a potential primary challenge to Radel in 2014. Values are Vital PAC hauled in $1,010,000 in December from two donors, according to a campaign finance report submitted to the Federal Election Commission, first reported by Bloomberg News. Ronald Firman, the group's treasurer, donated $525,000, while Las Vegas lawyer Martin Burns contributed $485,000." [HuffPost]
AMERICANS THINK GOVERNMENT NEEDS OVERHAUL: POLL - Thomas Jefferson once said that regular revolutions were required to maintain a robust democracy -- and that was before members of Congress started implying that fetuses masturbate. AP: "Americans enter 2014 with a profoundly negative view of their government, expressing little hope that elected officials can or will solve the nation's biggest problems, a new poll finds. Half say America's system of democracy needs either 'a lot of changes' or a complete overhaul, according to the poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 1 in 20 says it works well and needs no changes. Americans, who have a reputation for optimism, have a sharply pessimistic take on their government after years of disappointment in Washington. The percentage of Americans saying the nation is heading in the right direction hasn't topped 50 in about a decade. In the new poll, 70 percent lack confidence in the government's ability 'to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.' The poll comes about two months after partisan gridlock prompted the first government shutdown in 17 years." [AP]
RICK PERRY SETTING UP HIS BUSINESS NIRVANA WITH HELP FROM PAYDAY LENDERS - It remains unclear when and how penny stock salesmen and endangered animal poachers will help Perry privatize everything in the Lone Star State, but give him some time. We know he can find a way. Amanda Terkel: "If you want to set up an account to use the new toll road in El Paso, Texas, you may have to first stop by a payday lender. The El Paso Times reports that the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority haspartnered with payday lender ACE Cash Express to help collect tolls for the César Chávez Border Highway toll road, which isexpected to open Jan. 8. While people who want to set up an account to use the road or pay off their toll charges can do so by phone, mail or online, the only places to do so in person in El Paso are at ACE stores. Those individuals who make the transaction at the payday lender "will be charged a $3 fee to set up the account and a $2 convenience service fee to replenish a non-credit card," the paper notes. CRRMA officials did not return The Huffington Post's request for comment on whether ACE or CRRMA will be keeping the fees, and how much ACE is making from the partnership." [HuffPost]
CHARLIE RANGEL'S PRIMARY CHALLENGER DOESN'T LIVE IN NEW YORK - How hard is it in New York's 13th to find someone who has absolutely no record of criminal or ethical wrongdoing? What's the cane guy from Showtime at the Apollo doing? NY1: "One of the men looking to beat Rep. Charles Rangel this year doesn’t even live in New York. According to paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission, Pastor Michael Walrond, a Democrat running against Rangel, lives in New Jersey. Walrond confirmed his address to me this week, but said he will be ditching his Garden State rental home this month for a place in Harlem. Technically speaking, Walrond doesn’t have to live in the district in order to run for the seat; federal law only requires congressional candidates to reside in the state they want to represent 'when elected.'...Walrond is a top leader in Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the senior pastor at Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church. A Long Island native, Walrond moved back to the New York area nine years ago, after a stint in North Carolina. He told me that his two kids, who are now in college, played a big role in his decision to settle in the suburbs and not New York City, saying that moving from the relative calm of North Carolina to Manhattan would have been 'too much' for them." [NY1]
CHARLIE CRIST SHREWDLY APOLOGIES FOR SHREWDLY EXPLOITING PREJUDICES FOR HIS POLITICAL GAIN - We're pretty sure Madonna had fewer changes to her look between 1987 and 1997 than Charlie Crist has over the last four years. Luke Johnson: "Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist apologized for backing a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in 2008 during an interview with an Orlando LGBT publication on Tuesday. 'I’m sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me,' Crist told Watermark Online. When asked whether his previous statements against gay marriage and gay adoption were 'politically expedient,' he said, 'They were. They were. And it was wrong. That’s what I’m telling you. And I’m sorry.' Crist was a Republican when he served as governor from 2007 to 2011, but is now running for a second term as a Democrat. In 2008, he voted for the successful Amendment 2, which enshrined a ban against same-sex marriage in the state's constitution. At the time, he said, 'It's what I believe in.' The year before, Crist had said that he had a 'live and let live' attitude and that it was 'not an issue that moves me.'...He's the highest-profile Democrat running for Florida governor in a primary field that includes former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich. However, some Florida Democrats are skeptical of Crist, given his shifting stances on gay marriage and an array of other issues. " [HuffPost]
HELPING WORKERS HELPS WORKERS: RESEARCH - Jillian Berman: Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could help lift nearly 5 million people out of poverty, a new study finds. If Congress were to go through with a plan backed by President Barack Obama to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, it would reduce the poverty rate among Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 by as much as 1.7 percentage points, a study released Monday from University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube finds. That would bring about 4.6 million people out of poverty directly and reduce the ranks of the nation's poor by 6.8 million, accounting for longer-term effects. 'What I found is very robust evidence that minimum wage increases tend to have a moderate reduction in the poverty rate.' Dube said." [HuffPost]
CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY RELEASED FROM JAIL FOR SUPPORTING CIVIL RIGHTS - Hey, at least her added sentence wasn't for -- pace Chad Johnson -- slapping a lawyer on the butt? Matt Sledge: "Disbarred civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart was released from a federal prison in Texas on Tuesday more than four years into a 10-year sentence after a judge ordered a compassionate release because of her terminal breast cancer. But Stewart, who was convicted of providing material support to the terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman by transmitting a message from him to Reuters in 2005, might have been freed long ago if she hadn't continued to speak out after she was first sentenced. Immediately after receiving a 28-month sentence in October 2006, Stewart stood out in front of a federal courthouse and addressed reporters. One of them asked her if she had any regrets. 'Any regrets?' she responded. 'I don't think anybody would say that going to jail for two years is something you look forward to, but as my clients have said to me, 'I can do that standing on my head.'' Stewart's comment about doing the sentence standing on her head, and another in an interview with Democracy Now in which she said, "I would do it again," inflamed a federal appeals panel. They ordered a district judge to reconsider her sentence, taking into account whether she had perjured herself on the stand in her trial and whether her statements showed that she had any remorse." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a basset hound in slow motion.
COLORODANS CAN'T GET HIGH ENOUGH FAST ENOUGH - Mile High Stadium might want to consider a name change. AP: "Long lines and blustery winter weather greeted Colorado marijuana shoppers testing the nation's first legal recreational pot shops Wednesday. It was hard to tell from talking to the shoppers, however, that they had waited hours in snow and frigid wind. "It's a huge deal for me," said Andre Barr, a 34-year-old deliveryman who drove from Niles, Mich., to be part of the legal weed experiment. "This wait is nothing." The world was watching as Colorado unveiled the modern world's first fully legal marijuana industry — no doctor's note required (as in 18 states and Washington, D.C.) and no unregulated production of the drug (as in the Netherlands). Uruguay has fully legalized pot but hasn't yet set up its system. Colorado had 24 shops open Wednesday, most of them in Denver, and aside from long lines and sporadic reports of shoppers cited for smoking pot in public, there were few problems." [AP]
- The latest edition of Jerry Seinfeld's brilliant "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" features Louis C.K. [http://bit.ly/1bC5Tpv]
- Average guy tries parkour: breaks things, self. [http://bit.ly/1l4IW6q]
- True facts about the mighty armadillo, which is basically just a juicehead rat. [http://huff.to/1a4egxQ]
- One woman subsisted entirely on Starbucks products for a year. Double skim hell.[http://bit.ly/1cL8amN]
- If you try to videobomb a local news report, make sure you have shoes with good traction. [http://bit.ly/1l4Kg9l]
- Scientifically accurate "Lion King" ruins "Lion King." [http://bit.ly/1903kmv]
- Step-by-step instructional video demonstrating how to recreate the hook from Daft Punk's "One More Time." [http://bit.ly/19DmdMy]
@WYHighwayPatrol: DO NOT BRING YOUR COLORADO PURCHASED MARIJUANA INTO WYOMING
@mccarthyryanj: An Emmy should go to the first weather reporter to dress up as a Human Snow Ruler. No talking, just standing and measuring.
@JohnWaggoner: Light snow here in DC. Set fire to my neighbor's SUV as a signal for rescue helicopters.
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