Economic growth slowed drastically this winter, probably because the economy figured it was too cold out and would instead binge watch "House" on Netflix and heat up that old rice/spinach/chicken thing in the fridge. Joe Biden proved he's learning when he discussed how to treat a lady and the news cycle DIDN'T crash. And Jim Inhofe strongly implied that President Obama is "suppressing Judeo-Christian values" and promoting a pernicious brand of Islam, a claim the commander-in-chief plans to vehemently deny during his weekly radio fatwa. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, April 30th, 2014:
SENATE REPUBLICANS BLOCK MINIMUM WAGE VOTE - It's high time all these lazy poor people returned to what made this country great: selling your kidney for rent money and eating soup out of a boot. Dave Jamieson: "Senate Democrats could not advance their bill to raise the minimum wage on Wednesday, failing by a vote of 54-42 to clear the filibuster threshold. The vote was an early hurdle for legislation that Democrats have put at the top of their economic agenda for the year. Even if the measure eventually garners the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate, it still faces long odds in the GOP-controlled House, where Republicans have shown no interest in bringing it to the floor. Senate Republicans were expected to block the bill, which would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour and tie it to inflation so that it rises with the cost of living. Democrats are hoping the issue will play well for them in this midterm election year given the overwhelming support among the general public for hiking the minimum wage...Discussion on the measure fell along familiar ideological lines on Wednesday. Democrats pointed out how the wage floor has eroded in recent years, leaving more low-income workers below the poverty line. Republicans argued that a wage hike would hurt the very workers it was meant to benefit." [HuffPost]
Linda Tirado, author of a viral essay on why poor people make bad decisions, was invited to today's White House event on the min wage.
SENATE TO VOTE ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE AMENDMENT - There's no way this will produce a constitutional amendment, but it almost certainly will produce a DSCC email campaign asking you to help in the fight to stop the corporate takeover of politics. Paul Blumenthal: "The Senate will vote in 2014 on a constitutional amendment to reverse Supreme Court rulings that prevent limitations on campaign spending, campaign contributions and independent group spending. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the planned vote at a hearing on undisclosed "dark money" held by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on Wednesday. Schumer said the Senate will vote on a constitutional amendment introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). The amendment would roll back the 2010 Citizens United and 2014 McCutcheon rulings by re-instituting the power of Congress to pass legislation limiting campaign contributions and expenditures. In particular, this change would reverse a part of the court's 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling that upheld the original Federal Election Campaign Act's limits on campaign contributions, but struck down the act's limits on campaign spending. 'We have to bring some balance to our political system,' Schumer said." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The economy is not very good. "Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the first quarter," the Commerce Department said today. "In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.6 percent." Ick.[BEA.gov]
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 email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill
INHOFE: OBAMA 'SUPPRESSING JUDEO-CHRISTIAN VALUES'- For real. Why the guy had to cap off the White House Easter Egg Roll by chucking the Senate chaplain into a pit of lions is beyond us. And that passage from "Dreams from My Father" where he was in Kenya and punctured the tires of that church mission's bus? What a jerk. Mike McAuliff: "Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) all but accused President Barack Obama Wednesday of promoting Islam while 'suppressing our Judeo-Christian values.' The senior senator from Oklahoma held forth on the Senate floor on the greatness of George Washington, marking the 225th anniversary of the first president's inaugural address... ;Washington's leadership was grounded in God, and his leadership was God's gift.' He then suggested that Obama is betraying that holy gift, attributing the implication to his constituents. 'Oklahomans regularly ask me -- and I don't really think this is unique just to Oklahoma, I think it can be in almost any state -- but how they regularly ask me why we have an administration that suppresses our Judeo-Christian values while praising Islam,' Inhofe said. He also seemed to say that he agrees with that take on the Obama administration...With the charge that Obama promotes Islam, Inhofe was treading into some fringe territory. In a 2012 election Gallup survey, 34 percent of Americans correctly named Obama as a Christian. Just 11 percent thought he was Muslim." [HuffPost]
WHITE HOUSE WEIGHS IN ON OKLAHOMA EXECUTION - MSNBC: "President Obama’s top spokesman on Wednesday said the botched execution in Oklahoma 'fell short' of humane standards. It was the latest volley in a deluge of criticism for the state’s execution procedure and its Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who promised a thorough investigation while defending the state’s handling of the matter...As the drug was being administered, [condemned prisoner Clayton] Lockett reportedly shook uncontrollably and gritted his teeth, even licking his lips, before the eventual failure of his vein, according to reporters from The Associated Press who were present at the prison for the execution. He remained unconscious and was pronounced dead in the chamber 45 minutes after personnel administered the drug, according to the governor’s office...President Obama believes there are some crimes so heinous that the death penalty is warranted, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. 'But it’s also the case that we have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely. And I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard,' he said." [MSNBC]
GOP STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT TECHNOLOGY - It must be really difficult for GOP technology experts when their client primarily wants them to make desktop shortcuts for email and the Yahoo! home page and also demand they write everything down on Post-its that are then stuck to the side of the screen. Jon Ward: "Andy Barkett, the former senior Facebook engineer who was hired less than a year ago to oversee the Republican National Committee's data and technology overhaul, will be taking a diminished role at the committee, two sources told The Huffington Post, attributing the information to the highest levels of the RNC's leadership. Barkett, 33, was named RNC chief technology officer in June. He has been working out of a satellite office in San Mateo, California, and has spent much of his time building the RNC's Beacon, a national voter database search tool that has repeatedly been delayed... HuffPost was contacted Monday by a Republican operative with close ties to the RNC who said that Barkett was being 'shoved out' but would stay on at the RNC in some capacity, at least through the midterm elections this fall, to avoid negative publicity. A second source in touch with senior RNC officials, when asked by HuffPost, said Barkett would be leaving altogether, but acknowledged that he could be kept on in a titular role to avoid unflattering news coverage...A demotion for Barkett would be a blow to the RNC's effort to make itself the GOP's hub for tech innovation. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has made data and technology key to the committee's mission and identity since the 2012 presidential election." [HuffPost]
PROPERTY RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IGNORING KEYSTONE XL - Don't expect legions of gun-toting, "Don't Tread On Me" flag-waving, disgruntled grandparents to descend on the Nebraska Plains. Kate Sheppard: "Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has become something of a folk hero among the anti-government, pro-property rights crowd...Some landowners in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline want to know where the support for them has been, since their private property will actually be taken away without their approval. Bundy and his supporters don't recognize federal ownership of the land where his cattle have been grazing illegally for more than two decades. He refuses to pay grazing fees, arguing that he has 'ancestral rights' to the land -- an argument that a federal court has rejected, and which may not be historically accurate... many of the pundits and talking heads who rallied behind Bundy (at least before his racist outburst) are also advocating the Keystone XL pipeline -- despite the ranchers and farmers up in arms about pipeline owner TransCanada Corp. trying to force its way onto their land. That includes third-generation Texas farmer Julia Trigg Crawford, who has been fighting for years to prevent TransCanada from running the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline through her property. Crawford's 600-acre farm is in Direct, Texas, where she raises soybeans, wheat, corn, and cattle. She turned down TransCanada's original offer for her land. The company took her to court to claim eminent domain to take it anyway." [HuffPost]
BIDEN DISCUSSES SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION - Jen Bendery: "Vice President Joe Biden says it's time for men to step up when it comes to curbing sexual assault. But it's not the abusers he's looking at, it's the guys who see something horrible unfolding and don't do anything about it. 'It's not good enough not to be an abuser,' Biden said in an interview with The Huffington Post. 'The overwhelming majority of men are not abusers, but they still feel like ... prisoners of social status, which says if a man is mistreating his girlfriend, another man has no right to intervene,' he said. 'We've got to change this vast middle of the male population to say, 'You have an affirmative obligation to intervene.' Biden is targeting men as part of the White House's latest push to curb sexual assault on college campuses -- something experienced by one in five women, according to a 2007 National Institute of Justice study. The vice president met Tuesday with more than a dozen groups that have the ear of males between the ages of 15 and 35, with the goal of coming up with ways to communicate that 'being a man' means speaking up if they see a woman in danger of being raped or assaulted.'... The vice president said one need look no further than advancements in LGBT rights to see how cultural change comes about. Ten years ago, if a group of men met for lunch and one of them made fun of a gay waiter, chances are nobody would speak up, he said. 'Today, someone would say, 'You horse's tail, what the hell are you doing?'" [HuffPost]
We could read a volume of Joe Biden's imagined conversations that men have with one another.
Don't mess with the Vogel: "Democratic attacks on the Koch brothers for secretive campaign spending have become a virtual plank in the party’s platform, but it turns out big-money liberals can be just as defensive when their own closed-door activities are put in the spotlight. During a gathering here of major Democratic donors this week that has raised more than $30 million for liberal groups, questions about the party’s split personality on the issue were dodged, rejected or answered with an array of rationalizations. That is, when they weren’t met with recriminations or even gentle physical force...Democracy Alliance staff chastised a reporter during an attempt to interview major donor Jonathan Soros as he headed toward a panel on campaign finance reform. 'Sir, you’re not allowed to go past here,' said one staffer, as another grabbed this reporter’s arm to prevent him from walking with Soros, who co-founded a super PAC, called Friends of Democracy, that intends to spend as much as $6 million in 2014 boosting candidates who support campaign finance reforms including enhanced disclosure." [Politico]
HARRY REID TARGETS DAN SNYDER, CITES DONALD STERLING'S RANT - Harry Reid also has it on good authority that Donald Sterling has paid a black person a compliment in ten years. Mike McAuliff: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) argued Wednesday that the National Football League should steal a play from the National Basketball Association and treat racism just as seriously by making the owner of Washington's professional football team change its name. Reid, who has appealed to team owner Dan Snyder before, never mentioned the word 'Redskins' as he argued that the name is deeply offensive to Native Americans and should have been changed long ago. And he pointed to the NBA's lifetime ban and fine against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for going on a racist rant as an example for the NFL. 'All America watched while Commissioner Adam Silver and the National Basketball Association punished Donald Sterling for his racist behavior,' Reid said in a Senate floor speech...'I wonder today ... how the leadership of the National Football League, the NFL, that money-making machine -- I wonder if they have taken notice of the NBA's decisive action. How long will the NFL continue to do nothing, zero, as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?'" [HuffPost]
The team should be called the Washington Department of Football. Go Doffs!
The President voiced his support for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to ban Sterling, meaning Adam Silver is probably hiding some Benghazi truths. Jen Bendery: "President Barack Obama backs the move by the National Basketball Association to suspend LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, after he was caught on tape making racist comments. 'The president believes the NBA has done the right thing,' White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his Wednesday briefing. An avid basketball fan, Obama weighed in on Sterling's comments over the weekend, calling them 'incredibly offensive racist statements.'" [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are two little girls having a judo battle.
SHEP SMITH REPORTEDLY DEMOTED FOR TRYING TO COME OUT - And here we thought the network's primary reason for demoting anchors -- not being blonde and professing peculiar views about the race of Christian prophets -- was bad. Gawker: "In the summer of 2013, according to multiple sources with knowledge of their exchange, Shepard Smith approached Fox News president Roger Ailes about publicly coming out. The newly attached anchor was eager, at the time, to finally acknowledge his sexuality. 'It’s time,' he told Ailes and other colleagues. 'It’s time.' Instead, Ailes informed Smith that the network’s famously conservative audience would not tolerate a gay news anchor. Ailes’ answer was definitive: Smith could not say he’s gay. 'This came up during contract negotiations,' a Fox insider told Gawker. 'Shep wanted to and was ready to come out, and Roger just said no.' Smith, one of Ailes’s first and most loyal disciples, acquiesced to his boss’s demand, and dropped the matter. But the discussion worried enough Fox executives to prompt Smith’s removal, in September 2013, from the channel’s coveted prime-time lineup. According to a Fox insider with direct knowledge of negotiations, Smith’s desire to come out was a large factor in the dramatic move." [Gawker]
Update: Smith and Ailes have issued a statement denying the story outright: "This story is 100% false and a complete fabrication. As colleagues and close friends at FOX News for 18 years, our relationship has always been rooted in a mutual respect, deep admiration, loyalty, trust, and full support both professionally and personally. "
Politico identifies a number of holes in the story.
- A decidedly NSFW supercut of Louis CK talking about... ahem.. the phallus. [http://bit.ly/1o41jZr]
- "Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos" falls under the same "peak internet" category as "dogs with people hands" and "Jennifer Lawrence making faces." [http://bit.ly/1iykz21]
- The Onion is launching a BuzzFeed spoof, ClickHole.com. We're excited for ""Six kinds of hay." [http://nym.ag/1iAaKR6]
- What happens when dog shaming goes to far. [http://huff.to/1pPChCb]
- Dogs versus goats. [http://huff.to/R0V9hN]
- A history of the "me irl" meme. [http://bit.ly/1koCpRN]
- E-ZPass' hold music sounds like a terrible mix of musical spoons and a bug's mating call. [http://bit.ly/1kiHN7T]
@anamariecox: Watching Fox’s “Outnumbered” and female anchor just said, “We have to be careful to avoid promoting women just because they’re women.” Huh.
@NYTMinusContext: Heaven, as they say, is real
@delrayser: Conservatives: the NBA can't kick out a super racist rich dude, but the Boy Scouts have the Constitutional right to exclude all gay people.
Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ryan Grim (email@example.com) or Arthur Delaney (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e