POLITICS
04/15/2014 06:27 pm ET Updated Apr 15, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - GOP Bravely Defends America From Counting

Vance McAllister owns an event production company, so maybe he can earn a little extra dough organizing his own ethics hearing. The only redeeming thing about Mary Landrieu reenacting a committee hearing for a campaign ad is that she didn't wear a flight suit while doing so. And Americans believe women are unfairly paid less but don't think legislation will fix the disparity, so we're assuming Americans want more poorly-filmed anti-harassment workplace videos from the 1980s? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 15th, 2014:

GOP HATING ON THE CENSUS AGAIN - This time it's more paranoid than it is outright stupid. Mike McAuliff: "Republicans who have tried for years to hamstring detailed surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau were suddenly alarmed Tuesday over news that changes to one of its surveys might in turn hamstring one of their political strategies -- attacks against Obamacare. The changes, reported by The New York Times, will alter the questions asked about Americans' health insurance coverage, potentially making it more difficult to compare past and future data. The move comes as the country is shifting over to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and people on both sides of the debate would like to be able to point to solid data on how well it's working. The problem, as the University of Minnesota School of Public Health's Kathleen Thiede Call told the Times, is that “The health insurance data reported in September of this year will not be directly comparable to what was reported last September.” Republicans quickly took to Twitter to express alarm, and hint at conspiracies...Similarly, the National Republican Congressional Committee declared in a blog post: 'Obama’s Census Bureau Is Changing How It Asks Health Care Questions To Hide The Effects of ObamaCare.'...A White House official noted that the next survey due to come out in September actually covers 2013, which means it will contain data from before the health care law went into effect. " [HuffPost]

FBI SCREWING UP GITMO PROSECUTION - Ryan Reilly: "The FBI's alleged attempt to investigate members of the legal defense teams continued to derail the trial of five accused Sept. 11 co-conspirators at the Guantanamo Bay naval base on Tuesday. Army Col. James Pohl, the judge in the case, put the military commission into recess until at least Thursday over the revelation that FBI agents had visited the home of a defense security officer last Sunday, after he returned from church. The unnamed security officer, a private contractor from SRA International Inc., works with detainee Ramzi Binalshibh's defense lawyers. The man was allegedly asked to sign an agreement that suggested he would provide information to the FBI on an ongoing basis. The FBI agents allegedly asked the defense security officer about the publication earlier this year by The Huffington Post and Britain's Channel 4 News of an unclassified letter written by Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Prosecutors had previously asked the judge for an inquiry into how the document reached the media, but the prosecution team -- which includes the chief of staff to the deputy director of the FBI -- maintained they were unaware of the FBI probe until recently." text ]

Friendly reminder that Paul LePage is still governor of Maine: "After unanimous approval from state House lawmakers on Monday, Maine's legislature appears poised to pass a lifesaving anti-overdose bill despite a veto threat from Gov. Paul LePage (R). The Maine House voted 147-0 on Monday to pass the bill, which would expand access to naloxone, a prescription drug that can reverse opiate overdoses, to first responders and family members of addicted persons...LePage said he is concerned that police and firefighters lack the proper training to administer naloxone. But addiction specialists say the drug is relatively easy to deliver and has no effect on people not experiencing an opiate overdose. The bill is supported by the Maine Sheriff’s Association." [HuffPost's Matt Sledge]

#RENEWUI GETS A GOP GOV - A Republican governor has joined Democrats in calling on Congress to reauthorize long-term unemployment insurance. Brian Sandoval of Nevada co-signed a letter asking House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to restore benefits to the 2 million workers who've missed out since Congress let federal jobless aid lapse in December. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill that restores the benefits through May, but the House won't budge despite persistent long-term joblessness. "When our country has experienced similar rates of long-term unemployment in the past, Congress has consistently acted in a bipartisan fashion to extend emergency unemployment benefits," wrote Sandoval and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D). While additional Republican support represents a modest boost for Democrats' effort to revive the benefits, it's unlikely to change Boehner's mind. House Republicans have suggested they'd only support the benefits if Democrats gave them such unlikely prizes as the Keystone XL pipeline and major changes to the Affordable Care Act. [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Ashley Schmidtbauer has the latest in our All Work, No Pay series: "You want to know how the working poor really live? My husband works an average of 50 hours per week just so we can barely make it paycheck to paycheck. We just want to give our kids a good life. We just want the American Dream. We want to have a little house and yard. Want to give our kids their own rooms, a dog, a garden. We really just want a simple life. Seems we just have to work three times as hard as anyone else." [HuffPost]

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ERIC HOLDER 'CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION - But don't expect the AG to start asking to trade Widespread Panic bootlegs anytime soon. Ryan Reilly: "Attorney General Eric Holder is 'cautiously optimistic' about how things are going in Washington state and Colorado following the legalization and state regulation of marijuana. But the nation's top law enforcement official, who spoke to The Huffington Post in an interview on Friday, also said it was tough to predict where marijuana legalization will be in 10 years. 'I'm not just saying that, I think it's hard to tell,' Holder said in a jury room at the federal courthouse in Charleston, which he visited as part of the Justice Department's Smart on Crime initiative. 'I think there might have been a burst of feeling that what happened in Washington and Colorado was going to be soon replicated across the country. I'm not sure that is necessarily the case. I think a lot of states are going to be looking to see what happens in Washington, what happens in Colorado before those decisions are made in substantial parts of the country.' Under Holder, the Justice Department has allowed marijuana legalization to move forward in Washington and Colorado and has issued guidance to federal prosecutors that is intended to open up banking access for pot shops that are legal on the state level. Based on the reports he has received out of Washington and Colorado, Holder also said he thinks things are going about how he'd expected them to go." [HuffPost]

@RyanJRielly: Holder tells me he smoked pot in college. Here's a photo from that era. huff.to/1ilkcWS pic.twitter.com/464QeiHxHt

MCALLISTER TIED TO PRODUCTION FIRM ASSOCIATED WITH EX-AIDE - We're not sure what troubles us more about Rep. McAllister's judgement: That he makes out with married staffers or the people he's hired to write copy for his website. The Hill: "Scandal-plagued Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) owns an event production company that is affiliated with the former staffer he kissed on a video that went viral last week. McAllister Promotions lists Melissa Peacock, the married former staffer that McAllister kissed, on its contact page. It’s unclear what the promotion company has done in the year since it was first registered. Its website lists just two events: a football clinic with New Orleans Saints player and 'team ambassador' Michael Lewis on July 6-7 of last year, and a 'Southern Wrestling Superstars' event on Sept. 14, 2013. McAllister has ties to Southern Wrestling Superstars, which appears to be a wrestling event production company.
 According to the 'about us' page on McAllisterPromotions.com, the company says it is 'dedicated to giving you the best entertainment possible by working hand-in-hand with the best companies in the industry!' The website also lists Kelley Holmes as a contact. Federal Election Commission filings show Holmes was one of McAllister’s highest-paid campaign staffers, earning $6,800 from mid-September through the end of November of 2013 for 'administrative consulting.'" [The Hill]

AMERICANS UNSURE ABOUT EQUAL PAY LAWS - This report gets two-and-a-half crying Elizabeth Cady Stantons out of four on our gender equality struggle scale. Emily Swanson: "Here's where the push for equal pay laws may hit a snag: Many Americans agree women have fewer opportunities at work, but few think the answer lies in new laws, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. President Barack Obama has made the passage of legislation to combat the wage gap between American men and women a key issue this year, but so far Republicans in Congress have prevented any large scale action. Last Tuesday Obama signed an executive order increasing accountability for federal contractors in order to prevent wage discrimination. The next day GOP senators blocked consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would increase reporting requirements for a broader range of employers. On the one hand, the new survey shows Americans tend to think that employment opportunities are not equal for men and women. Forty-six percent of respondents said they think men have more opportunities than women in most workplaces, while 40 percent said women and men have the same chances. Seven percent said women have more opportunities. On the other hand, only 32 percent said new legislation is needed to combat that problem. Thirty-seven percent said current laws are about right. Few dislike the measures already on the books, though. Only 11 percent said they wanted to repeal existing laws." [HuffPost]

OK GOV SIGNS MINIMUM WAGE HIKE BAN - When Governor Mary Fallin was in grade school, we're guessing her "Why I Want To Be A Politician When I Grow Up" speech didn't include preventing people from seeing their kids because of their nightshift job at a gas station Burger King/Taco Bell combination. Shadee Ashtari: "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill Monday prohibiting cities across the state from establishing mandatory minimum wage and employee benefits, including vacation or sick leave days. Advocates of the new law contend that efforts to increase the minimum wage across various municipalities could potentially harm local business communities...Opponents of the measure view the move by Oklahoma Republicans as retaliation against an initiative underway in Oklahoma City, where organizers have been gathering signatures to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10, in line with President Barack Obama's federal minimum wage proposal. The petition, filed by the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and attorney David Slane, would need to collect 80,000 signatures to reach a statewide vote." [HuffPost]

O'MALLEY TALKS POSSIBLE 2016 RUN - Or, more realistically, what it will take for him to achieve that perfect balance of charm/reliability/blandness to be Hillary's VP. Sam Stein: "O'Malley appeared at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in New Hampshire in November. He laced into Wisconsin Republicans during an appearance before the state Democratic Party's Founders Day Gala over the weekend. And he's been booked to address the Clark County Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson dinner on May 2 in Las Vegas...'I don't think it is a matter of my convincing as it is a matter of my preparing,' he said, when asked specifically what would convince him to say yes to running for the White House. 'The most important thing for anyone considering this is to have a clear understanding of the framework that you offer for the better future that all of us want for our country. And that is the most important work right now: articulating that, formulating that, crystallizing that, talking to others. A lot of that important work happens in meetings and one-on-one conversations. Other aspects happen in other ways.' And yet for all the prep work -- and a resume that should have progressives salivating on a national level (a supporter of the Dream Act, gay marriage legalization, abolition of the death penalty, offshore wind production -- O'Malley can go on...) -- the buzz about O'Malley's prospects has remained relatively muted. He's recently enjoyed a wave of positive press, both locally and nationally. But the national polls aren't his friend, yet, which seems primarily because he remains largely unknown to those not politically obsessed. At a recent speech celebrating the Center for American Progress' tenth anniversary, his flat delivery surprised reporters and attendees in the crowd." [HuffPost]

GRIMES TOPS MCCONNELL IN KY-SEN FUNDRAISING - Samantha Lachman: "Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) raised more than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the first three months of 2014, taking in $2.7 million to McConnell's $2.4 million as she campaigns to unseat the powerful senator. Grimes' campaign said in a statement that it has received donations from almost 45,000 individual supporters, with a median contribution of $25...McConnell's campaign announced Monday that the beginning of 2014 was the senator's best fundraising quarter so far this cycle. His campaign has $10.4 million in cash on hand, to Grimes' almost $5 million. Grimes also outraised McConnell in the last three months of 2013. In the most recent quarter, she got some help from former President Bill Clinton, whoheadlined a February fundraiser for her in Louisville. Before the senator can face Grimes in November, he must beat back a primary challenge from businessman and tea party favorite Matt Bevin. A Bluegrass Poll conducted in February found that just 27 percent of Kentuckians have a favorable opinion of McConnell, which could pose a problem for the senator." [HuffPost]

LANDRIEU REENACTS HEARING FOR CAMPAIGN AD - Weekly Standard: "Democratic senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is in a tough reelection battle because of her support for Obamacare. So its [sic] not surprising her latest TV ad focuses on the one high-profile fight she's had with the Obama administration, over oil and gas exploration. The 60-second spot features people watching Landrieu arguing for expanding energy exploration in Louisiana and criticizing Barack Obama for its restrictionist policies...Most of the clips the ad features are from her appearances on local and cable TV news. But watch the clips of Landrieu around the video's halfway point. They feature the senator speaking in what looks like a congressional hearing, excoriating a faceless witness. 'They have to sit here and listen to the federal government say, 'We can't share a penny with you'? I will not rest until this injustice is fixed,' Landrieu says. 'Do you think there are a bunch of fairy godmothers out there who just wave a magic wand?' The clips feature a chyron at the bottom of the screen for a program called 'Eye on Washington.' Below that is the headline, 'Obama administration says it won't support increased oil and gas revenue sharing.' The problem is that the video clip doesn't come from C-SPAN or any other real TV show. In fact, the clip is a reenactment of a real committee hearing from last year..." [Weekly Standard]

Alex Sink is tired of being a bellwether: "Democrat Alex Sink has decided not to run for Congress again this year, meaning there will not be a rematch of the nationally watched and extraordinarily costly campaign that Sink lost in Pinellas County a little over a month ago by less than 2 percentage points. 'I am so honored and humbled by the outpouring of support our campaign received, but after reflection with my family I have made a personal decision not to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in the 2014 election,' Sink said in a statement. 'I want to thank every voter, volunteer and donor for their support – we can all be proud of the strong campaign we ran. I look forward to finding new, rewarding avenues where I can continue to effectively serve the people of Florida. In the words of Bill, I look forward to continuing to do good. I remain totally convinced that a Democrat can and will win this congressional seat in the fall, and I look forward to helping the Democratic nominee.'" [Tampa Bay Times]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a charitable puppy.

HEY, WHATEVER IT TAKES FOR YOUR KID TO HAVE A STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM - Amanda Terkel: "A Republican legislator in the Alaska state House apologized Tuesday for touting the benefits of breastfeeding by calling it 'smart and sexy.' On Monday evening, a press release went out from the Republican majority in the House reading, "Smart and Sexy: Legislature Encourages Hospitals to Promote Breastfeeding." It was first noted by political blogger Amanda Coyne, who wrote, 'It’s also unclear for whom breastfeeding is supposed to be sexy: The baby? The mother? The viewer?' In a statement Tuesday, Rep. Shelley Hughes took full responsibility for the 'smart and sexy' line and apologized." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Amy Schumer rips apart "The Newsroom" with a McDonald's-themed spoof. [http://slate.me/1l1KmNp]

- The definitive ranking of Instagram filters. [http://huff.to/1iUYF3G]

- Snoop Dogg or Real Dogg? Our favorite quiz of the day. [http://bit.ly/1gz0vH9]

- Will Ferrell/Pharrell Williams face swaps are horrifying, inevitable. [http://huff.to/1l3NWXx]

- Photos of Chernobyl, almost 30 years later. [http://wrd.cm/1p7B3BG]

- The creationist version of "Cosmos." [http://bit.ly/1n8VmNj]

TWITTERAMA

@pourmecoffee: On this day in 1850 the city of San Francisco was incorporated as a national home for 20-something millionaires.

@anamariecox: Shuthers? RT @HuffPostPol: "Shoe truthers" are a thing, and they think that Hillary Clinton staged last week's incident

@KagroX: Which outlet is most likely to be furiously working on a "Who Is Toy Plane Woman?" piece?

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