The House has given up on defunding ACORN, perhaps to lay the groundwork for shutting Solyndra down. A former postmaster general is disgusted by Harry Potter-themed stamps, probably because of the fantasy series' reckless portrayal of letter carriers as owls. And John Walsh announced he's dropping out of his Senate race, because if there's one thing we've learned from Rand Paul, Joe Biden, and Ted Kennedy it's that the world's greatest deliberative body has a zero-tolerance plagiarism policy. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, August 7th, 2014:
WALSHOUT - Charles S. Johnson: "Sen. John Walsh said Thursday he is pulling out of the Senate race because his campaign was distracted by the controversy over allegations that he plagiarized a U.S. Army War College research paper. Walsh, a Democrat, said he decided to drop out of the race. He had canceled campaign events this week as he and his family discussed what he would do. The New York Times reported July 23 that Walsh had plagiarized large portions of the research paper in 2007. Walsh will serve out the rest of his Senate term, which ends in early January 2015. 'I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator,' Walsh said in a statement to supporters. 'You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will.'" [Billings Gazette]
OBAMA SIGNS VA REFORM INTO LAW, VETERANS UN-SCREWED - HuffPost: "The VA bill was different. Its passage marked the end of a months-long negotiation process sparked by the revelation of scandalously long wait times for veterans' health care. The sides agreed to a fairly even trade. In exchange for more money to lease VA facilities ($1.5 billion) and to hire doctors and nurses and improve operations ($5 billion), the legislation gave veterans the option to pursue treatment at private medical centers, provided they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. It also made it easier for the VA secretary to fire employees who failed to perform their jobs or, worse, deceived their superiors about wait times. Part of the legislation ($5 billion) was paid for. The remaining $12 billion was treated as 'mandatory emergency money.' The Huffington Post asked this question of congressional aides from both sides of the aisle in hopes of unlocking the key to future legislative activity. The answer shocked us.'Clearly everyone wanted to help the veterans,' said a House GOP leadership aide. 'Everyone had stories in their districts from veterans and the system worked.' Added a senior Senate Democratic aide: 'I think it's because vets seem to be the last group you can't oppose.' So, basically, the key to legislative success is not screwing over veterans? 'That's the answer,' the Senate aide replied." [HuffPost]
SHAGGING FOLLOWUP - Yesterday we made fun of Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) for tweeting and quickly deleting that he loved beach music and shagging. We thought he intended it in the Austin Powers sense, but several readers suggested his tweet was about a type of beach-music dancing popular in the Carolinas. Sure enough, Fincher's spokeswoman, who is a North Carolina native, tells HuffPost Hill she inadvertently sent the tweet from the congressman's account. So we were wrong when we said "shagging" means human reproduction; it is also a prelude to human reproduction.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) announced this week that certain poor people in the state will have to relieve themselves if they want to get a different kind of relief. Anyone convicted of a drug-related felony who wants welfare in Maine will have to take a drug test in order to qualify. It won't matter if an ex-con has already served his or her time. "Maine people expect their tax dollars to be spent supporting our most vulnerable citizens -- children, the elderly and the disabled," LePage said in a statementWednesday. "We must ensure that our tax dollars do not enable the continuation of a drug addiction." [HuffPost]
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OBAMA WEIGHING AIRSTRIKES IN IRAQ - Shouldn't he be more focused on shipping arms to our allies in their fight against Ebola? Times: "President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among as many as 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said on Thursday. The president, in meetings with his national security team at the White House on Thursday morning, has been weighing a series of options ranging from dropping humanitarian supplies on Mount Sinjar to military strikes on the fighters from ISIS now at the base of the mountain, a senior administration official said. 'There could be a humanitarian catastrophe there,' a second administration official said, adding that a decision from Mr. Obama was expected 'imminently — this could be a fast-moving train.' The administration official said that 'the president is weighing both passive and active options,' defining passive action as dropping humanitarian supplies. He added, using an alternative name for ISIS, 'More active, we could target the ISIL elements that are besieging the base of the mountain.'" [NYT]
RAND PAUL: GOP CAN'T 'COMPLETELY FLIP' ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE - Even though conservatives are increasingly relying on the controversial "pray the anti-gay away" tactic. Igor Bobic: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) doesn't think the Republican Party can simply 'flip' on the issue of same-sex marriage, but he does believe that it can be more tolerant of differing 'opinions' ahead of the midterm elections. The possible 2016 presidential contender made his remarks in a New York Times interview published on Thursday. 'The party can’t become the opposite of what it is,' the libertarian-leaning senator said. 'If you tell people from Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia, 'You know what, guys, we’ve been wrong, and we’re gonna be the pro-gay-marriage party,' they’re either gonna stay home or -- I mean, many of these people joined the Republican Party because of these social issues.' ... Paul has previously said that while he favors the idea of 'traditional' marriage, the matter should ultimately be left up to the states." [HuffPost]
Time for some image rehabilitation in Fort Lee: "New Jersey voters are divided in their opinions about Gov. Christopher Christie as 49 percent approve of the job he is doing, while 47 percent disapprove, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. Voters are divided 48 - 48 percent on whether Gov. Christie is more of a leader or more of a bully. This is the governor's lowest net job approval rating since a 47 - 46 percent score in an August 17, 2011, survey by the independent Quinnipiac University. The split bully-meter rating is unchanged from the results of an April 9 survey. There are party and gender gaps in Christie's rating: Men approve of Christie 54 - 42 percent, as women disapprove 50 - 44 percent. Democrats disapprove 71 - 23 percent, while Republicans approve 86 - 12 percent. Independent voters are divided, with 47 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving. Christie's favorability rating also is divided 47 - 47 percent." [Quinnipiac]
CONGRESS DEBATING NATIONAL GUARD'S NASCAR SPONSORSHIP - Still better than our "You Can Always Tell A Navy Man!" urinal cakes. Roll Call: "Lawmakers are predictably split on the National Guard’s announcement it will be slashing motorsports sponsorships — just days after a car sporting the Guard’s livery won a major NASCAR race. [Claire] McCaskill led a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing in May that was critical of sports-marketing efforts by the military. The primary function of such campaigns, including NASCAR and IndyCar sponsorships, has been as a recruiting tool. Several House members have long fought to end military sponsorships of such events, including not only NASCAR, but bass fishing and mixed martial arts. Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum and Georgia Republican Jack Kingston, are also appropriators who have pushed — with mixed success — for amendments along these lines to spending bills over the past several years. Others lawmakers, especially those hailing from North Carolina, disagree. 'The motor sports industry is a critical economic driver in North Carolina and states across the country, and I am disappointed that the Army National Guard chose to end its sponsorship of NASCAR,” Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina said in statement. “With a strong fan base of 77 million men and women, this partnership with NASCAR has resulted in significant exposure for the Army National Guard that has strengthened recruitment and retention.” Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., expressed a similar view." [Roll Call]
HOW A SERIAL PHILANDERER AND ABORTION ENTHUSIAST REMAINS A GOP CONTENDER - There's no good answer but Jason Linkins identifies three reasons for the perseverance of Scott DesJarlais, including the fact that the guy simply won't resign. [HuffPost]
AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A COLUMBUS PARTY BECAUSE A COLUMBUS PARTY... ... has lots of space: "Columbus, Ohio, officials are touting the 'Shoe as their major selling point in hopes of snagging the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Visiting delegates were greeted by a rally and a tour of Ohio Stadium on Wednesday, including other venues around the city, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The 100,000-seat venue known as the Horseshoe would offer a future Democratic presidential nominee a scenic experience similar to President Barack Obama's 2008 nomination at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Columbus is one of five cities vying for the Democratic nomination, including Birmingham, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Phoenix. Cleveland will host the Republican National Convention. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is deploying a similar strategy by attempting to draw the convention to Brooklyn by highlighting Barclays Center. Democrats expect to announce a decision on a host city in late 2014 or early 2015." [HuffPost's Igor Bobic]
What have we become?!? "Former Postmaster General Benjamin F. Bailar recently resigned from the secretive Citizen's Advisory Stamp Committee because he believes the U.S. Postal Service should not 'prostitute' itself by featuring stamps with pop culture subjects like Harry Potter." [TPM]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some bear cubs.
ACORN WINS - Zach Carter: "After voting 13 times to block funding to an anti-poverty organization that does not exist, House Republicans appear to be throwing in the towel....Again and again, the House GOP passed appropriations bills with language specifically banning the use of any funds for ACORN -- even though ACORN did not exist. But since the passage of a budget bill in January, which included four different sections blocking funds to the non-existent ACORN, the GOP appears to have abandoned the cause. None of the appropriations bills that have passed the House after Jan. 14 have included anti-ACORN language. Not the Veterans Affairs reform bill, not the recent border crisis bill, not even mundane bills to fund the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration...Boilerplate language to deny funds to ACORN typically makes its way into legislation at the Appropriations Committee, which declined to comment for this story. The committee has previously said that anti-ACORN provisions are 'standard' language that make their way into 'most' appropriations bills. Many appropriations bills have not included ACORN items, and those that do invoke different boilerplate variants -- sometimes within the same bill. At times, the language has banned funding to ACORN "or its subsidiaries," and at others 'its subsidiaries or successors.'" [HuffPost]
A 1984 "Sesame Street" segment on computers
- "The Matrix" with 8-bit music and sound effects really adds layers of dimensionality to the films.
- Vice created a virtual lady and signed her/it up for Tinder (NSFW).
- Can computers write songs? Here are some samples.
- Livestream of a fish playing Pokemon.
- Real story behind the Apollo 11 astronaut's custom form.
- Duck and puppy are friends.
- In 1994, Microsoft's website looked terrible.
@pareene: someone make an app or w/e that just adds ", it is claimed" to every viral headline
@swin24: coulter? writing something… morally hideous and… *standing* behind it after web-traffic-generating outrage??
doesn't sound like her.
@eliasisquith: NYT is proud to unveil its new series, APPETITE FOR DISRUPTION, a weekly podcast w/ Tom Friedman & David Brooks on the latest hot new apps
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