03/19/2014 05:39 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Bro President Fills Out Bracket, Excited To Spend Winnings On Sick Gym Tote

A new poll finds Americans believe politicians are getting stoned -- not surprising considering that time they passed The American Jobs And How Long Have I Been Talking Is Everyone Looking At Me Am I Being Weird Act. Peter King thinks the Malaysian Airline pilot may have crashed the plane out of "shame," though the congressman's familiarity with that emotion is slim to none. And long-term unemployment benefits will likely be delayed, meaning George W. Bush better start selling some paintings, stat. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, March 19th, 2014:

BOEHNER POOPS ON SENATE UNEMPLOYMENT BILL - House Republicans undercut Senate legislation to extend unemployment benefits on Wednesday, pointing to criticism from state workforce agencies that argue the bill would be unworkable. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the Senate should listen to the workforce agencies and drop its bill. "We have always said that we’re willing to look at extending emergency unemployment benefits again, if Washington Democrats can come up with a plan that is fiscally-responsible, and gets to the root of the problem by helping to create more private-sector jobs," Boehner said in a statement. "There is no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate by Leader [Harry] Reid meets that test, and according to these state directors, the bill is also simply unworkable. Frankly, a better use of the Senate’s time would be taking up and passing the dozens of House-passed jobs bills still awaiting action."

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies, a nonprofit that advocates for state labor departments, said Wednesday that the Senate bill would be hard for state agencies to deal with. It would reauthorize federal unemployment benefits that lapsed at the end of December, making 2 million long-term jobless eligible for the checks they could have received since then. But the bill would restore the benefits only until June, giving states just two months to gear up the system -- apparently not enough time for some. "Most states are struggling with antiquated and rigid computer systems -- averaging 25 years old -- thus making it very hard to implement program changes quickly and effectively," the workforce agency association said in a letter to Senate leaders on its website. [w/ HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]

Republicans demanded the reforms Republicans now call unworkable. Check and mate!

DOJ REVIEWING CIA SPYING CLAIMS: HOLDER - Roll Call: "The Justice Department is reviewing allegations made by the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee accusing each other of improper activity. Asked about the matter on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., stopped short of calling the Justice Department’s involvement an investigation. 'We get referrals all the time. The fact that we get a referral does not necessarily mean we make a decision that we’re going to investigate on the basis of that referral,' Holder said at a news conference. 'And so, we are looking at the matters that have been referred to us before we make any determinations about what action, if any, the Justice Department will take.' Holder was asked whether it was a matter best worked out between the parties involved. Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein alleged in a bombshell floor speech on March 11 that the CIA had improperly accessed computer files being used by the California Democrat’s committee staff. In a related matter, the CIA has asked the Justice Department to review potential illegal acts by committee staffers in removing documents from the secure facility." [Roll Call]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Good story by the New York Daily News … I mean, it is a bad story. You know, a well-written story about a sad thing: "Food stamp cuts have dealt a double blow to Luis Marin and his family. Marin’s hours have been cut from 30 to 20 a week at Red Apple Deli Supermarket in uptown’s Hamilton Heights, where his boss, Ramon Murphy, is losing business because of the stamp cutbacks. And Marin, 56, his wife and their two little girls — who subsist on his $8-an-hour income — also saw their food-stamp benefits drop to $397 a month in November and have had to change their eating habits. They used to dine on tostones con salchichon, or plantains with sausage, for breakfast. Now, they eat bananas and an egg. A typical dinner consists of cheese dumplings, oatmeal, bread and chocolate." [Daily News]

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POLITICOS WEIGHING IN ON THING THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND, POPE STILL CATHOLIC - This would be cute if the subject at hand were more of the "Who shot J.R.?" variety. Politico: "The mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet has captivated one elite set of frequent fliers: members of Congress. Depending on who’s doing the theorizing, the Boeing 777 is either somewhere at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, courtesy of a suicidal pilot. Or it could have been stolen by modern-day pirates. Or maybe terrorists secretly parked it somewhere with plans to load it with explosives and use it in a spectacular, Sept. 11-inspired attack. Just like everyone else debating Flight 370’s fate around water coolers or on Twitter, members of Congress are all over the map on the strangest international aviation mystery in years — even the ones who have the benefit of intelligence and Pentagon briefings. 'Right now it’s leaning toward suicide, either the pilot or co-pilot or someone else who got into the cockpit,' Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who serves on the Intelligence and Homeland Security committees, surmised in an interview with POLITICO on Tuesday. 'So then the question is why did he fly over the Indian Ocean? It could be for religious reasons or professional shame, or his family is collecting on his insurance policy.'" [Politico]

Peter King LOL

Rand Paul really needs to stop telling black people what to think: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) escalated his criticism of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs Wednesday by invoking race to argue that President Barack Obama should be more sensitive to spying on citizens. During an interview with The New York Times, Paul brought up the government's response to dissent in the 1960s, when leading civil rights advocates, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali, were spied on. 'The first African-American president ought to be a little more conscious of the fact of what has happened with the abuses of domestic spying,' Paul told Times reporter Jeremy Peters. 'Martin Luther King was spied upon, civil rights leaders were spied upon, Muhammad Ali was spied upon, antiwar protesters were spied upon.'" [HuffPost]

SCOTT BROWN REVERSES ON 'PEOPLE'S PLEDGE' - Mike McAuliff: "Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) may be opposed to signing a 'people's pledge' against outside electoral spending now that he's preparing to run in New Hampshire, but he was singing the praises of that pledge as recently as last month, and even patted himself on the back for coming up with it. Brown hatched the idea for the pledge and persuaded then-Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to sign on in their 2012 Senate contest. Once each had promised to take a financial hit if a third party ran a supporting ad, spending from outside groups in their race plummeted. Though Brown lost that election, he's been talking up the pledge ever since. In February, he told students at Cornell University how successful it was, according to a video clip of the event provided to HuffPost." [HuffPost]

Ted Cruz 2016: "A staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is leaving his office to head up a group drafting the conservative favorite for a 2016 White House run. Cruz regional director Raz Shafer is now running Draft Ted Cruz for President, a group that aims to collect 1 million signatures on a petition urging Cruz to seek the Republican presidential nomination. Shafer announced the group's launch in a piece for RedState.com Wednesday...Cruz made his fourth trip to Iowa in eight months on Tuesday, signaling that he is keeping the state that holds the first presidential caucus in his sights." [HuffPost]

GRASSROOTS VERSUS ESTABLISHMENT IN HAWAII SENATE PRIMARY - It's odd that a senator supported by the governor could be considered anti-establishment but... politics! Mike McAuliff: "One of America's more aggressive progressive organizations is wading into Hawaii's Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, throwing its weight behind the appointed incumbent, Sen. Brian Schatz. Schatz was named to replace the revered Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) in December 2012 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), despite a deathbed wish from Inouye that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) be selected. Hanabusa and Schatz are now locked in a tight contest to win the Aug. 9 primary. While both candidates can tout their liberal bona fides, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is supporting Schatz...Although Hanabusa, 62, has signed letters asking President Barack Obama to oppose cuts to Social Security, PCCC noted that she did not sign a letter pledging to vote against such cuts...Schatz has also landed endorsements from several other progressive groups, including Democracy for America and MoveOn.org. Hanabusa has the backing of Inouye's widow, as well as former Sen. Daniel Akaka (D)." [HuffPost]

Ted Strickland is not running for Senate (for now): "Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor often mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate for federal office, will instead become president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. In an interview with the Huffington Post on Tuesday, Strickland said the position was the ideal fit for him at this point in his career. An arm of the progressive think tank Center for American Progress, the Action Fund serves as a communications and organizational hub for progressives and oversees the influential blog Think Progress...Asked what observers should read into his new job, based in Washington, Strickland replied: "Really nothing. I have no plans to run for the Senate."" [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

YOU GET A THORNY PR SITUATION! YOU GET A THORNY PR SITUATION! - Lavern Chatman is soon going to know what James Frey felt like. WaPo: "A spokeswoman for Oprah Winfrey said Wednesday that Winfrey had been unaware of a fraud conviction involving a friend who is running for a Virginia Congressional seat, but added that the 2001 conviction would not impact the talk-show magnate’s plans to attend a fundraiser for the candidate in April. Lavern Chatman, one of 11 hopefuls competing for the Democratic nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D) in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, is the former head of the Northern Virginia Urban League. Her announcement on Tuesday that Winfrey would host a fundraiser for her in Arlington County was overshadowed by revelations that Chatman was found liablefor her role in a scheme to defraud hundreds of District nursing home employees of at least $1.4 million in owed wages." [WaPo]

AMERICANS THINK CONGRESS IS A LITTLE HIGH, DOESN'T CARE - "Americans suspect that a pretty significant number of their representatives in Congress smoke marijuana, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds...While one politician, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), estimated that about 5 percent of his colleagues currently use marijuana, most Americans have a, well, higher estimate: On average, Americans guess that 30 percent of lawmakers smoke weed. The poll found wide variation in Americans' estimates: Fifty-eight percent guess a quarter or less, while 16 percent think that half or more of Congress gets stoned...Not only that, but 23 percent of Americans suspect that their own member of Congress smokes marijuana, while another 40 percent aren't sure." [HuffPost]

Plus who can find the time when they're on laundry duty: "Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) drummed up support for his newly-announced Congressional bid on MSNBC's 'The Daily Rundown' Tuesday by explaining his political leanings in his typically candid fashion...The 86-year-old candidate told host Chuck Todd that he couldn't vote for President Barack Obama in 2012, though not because of ideological differences. 'Well I'm sorry to say, where I was there were no voting machines,' Edwards said. 'Would you have supported him?' Todd asked, to which Edwards clarified: 'I was in prison.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a wolf getting its belly rubbed.

ANNEX CANADA - We're tired of figuring out what to do with their goddamned pennies. Guardian: "Vladimir Putin may have taken Crimea for Russia, but in Washington on Wednesday the talk was of US annexation of Canada – all 4m square miles of it. That at least was the 'thought experiment' conducted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a prestigious DC think tank, which hosted a debate featuring the author of a book advocating political union of the two North American neighbours...Though few, if any, of those on Wilson’s panel of experts believed it could ever happen, the whimsical nature of their debate belied more serious discussion of the merits of European-style border reform and growing talk of greater economic integration even among North American political leaders." [Guardian]


- The last trailer for the new season of "Game of Thrones." [http://bit.ly/1gHtFa2]

- And here's a "Wolf of War Street" and "Game of Thrones" mashup. [http://bit.ly/1j7hKBE]

- The trailer for the film version of "The Giver" is a bit underwhelming. [http://bit.ly/1ihvrP5]

- Infrared photographs of hockey are what we imagine Bon Iver's imagination to look like. [http://bit.ly/OBSB8j]

- A truck hits a motorcyclist, which dislodges the mattress the truck is carrying, which pads the motorcyclist's fall. Thanks, God! [http://bit.ly/1dd9IZP]

- President Obama's NCAA bracket. [http://usat.ly/1gGzcxA]


@ChuckGrassley: Visiting History Channel American Pickers store in LeClaire tomorrow. Look forward 2 seeing some history

@nickbaumann: And if I refuse, Crimea'll be fused/To Russia on the fly/The bridges are burned, now it's Ukraine's turn/To cry/Crimea River

@indecision: Is Liam Neeson in charge of CNN? Because their coverage of the missing Malaysian plane has been NON-STOP.

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