Republicans say the militarization of America’s police is necessary, or at least until the Sunni Awakening takes hold in East St. Louis. Mike Allen Playbook-shamed Wesley Lowery for being young and not understanding that real journalists stay out of riot zones and stick to hotel conference halls where they toss lawmakers softball questions about their golf game. But in spite of it all, the world seems to be coming to its senses ahead of the weekend with tensions lowering in Ferguson, Iraq and -- oh, GOD DAMNIT, RUSSIA. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, August 15th, 2014:
SENATE WILL REVIEW POLICE MILITARIZATION, SAYS LEVIN - Roll Call: "The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee will look into the program that provides Pentagon surplus to local police before the full Senate considers the next defense authorization. The Armed Services panel has already approved the fiscal 2015 defense programs bill for Senate floor consideration, and staff for Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and ranking member James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., are working over the August recess to try and develop a defined universal set of amendments to set up for floor consideration. 'Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals. We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents,' Levin said in a statement Friday. 'Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended.'" [Roll Call]
Damn: "A Missouri state senator who was tear-gassed while protesting in Ferguson, Missouri, vented her frustration with Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in blunt terms early Thursday morning. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D), who represents parts of Ferguson, was angry enough at the way that Nixon had handled the situation in Ferguson that she tweeted 'FUCK you' to the governor early Thursday morning, also telling him to 'get on your knees.' The tweets all came before Nixon visited Ferguson on Thursday and announced the Missouri Highway Patrol would assume control of policing in the town. Even after Nixon's announcement, Chappelle-Nadal continued to criticize the governor for not visiting protesters, calling the turmoil in Ferguson Nixon’s 'Katrina.'" [HuffPost]
POLS LOVE VEGAS, BABY - Politico: "Sin City may have been too risqué for the Republican National Convention, but it’s just fine for Hillary Clinton, Nathan Deal, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. Home to billionaire Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and an early presidential caucus, Las Vegas’ status as a political hub is on the rise, despite its withdrawing from consideration to host the 2016 GOP convention under pressure from social conservatives. A parade of candidates and political groups are making their way through the city, drawn by the combination of campaign cash, industry gatherings and R&R. Politicians, political committees and parties have spent more than $330,000 this cycle at top hotels and restaurants on and near The Strip, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission data. Top out-of-state spenders included Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi ($34,000 at the Aria and MGM hotel casinos), Aaron Schock of Illinois ($21,000 at the Bellagio, MGM and Wynn) and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor ($10,000 at the Venetian, Palazzo and Wynn). The availability of campaign cash, speaking fees and elite audiences often make it worth risking the taboo that opponents invariably try to attach to jaunts to the U.S. capital of debauchery, but sometimes politicians still prefer to sneak in and out with minimal attention." [Politico]
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LAWMAKERS USING WAR ON TERROR TO DEFEND POLICE MILITARIZATION - Grim and Jen Bendery: "Local police forces need military equipment to fight terrorism, members of Congress argued in June when they successfully beat back legislation that would have restricted the Defense Department's ability to transfer such weaponry to police departments. During a late-night debate on an annual defense appropriations bill, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) tried to attach an amendment to demilitarize the police. Specifically, his measure would have blocked a Defense Department program that provides surplus military equipment -- Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and M16 assault rifles, among other things -- to local law enforcement, free of charge. The House crushed Grayson's effort, with 355 votes against it and 62 for it. Ahead of the vote, lawmakers argued that it's good for local law enforcement to have access to weapons used in war zones. One member warned it would 'devastate' police departments if they didn't have access to such equipment. 'As a past sheriff, we utilized that equipment in a responsible way,' said Rep. Richard Nugent (R-Fla.). 'End of the day, you can always find misuses of any equipment that's given or utilized by law enforcement. It's the responsibility of those communities to keep that law enforcement agency in check. But to just outright ban the usage of that equipment would devastate local law enforcement agencies across the nation.'" [HuffPost]
SHOT: Some Playbook Facts Of Lifesplaining from Mike Allen in this morning's Playbook: "YA CAN'T MAKE IT UP - Wesley Lowrey, 23-year-old Congress/politics reporter for the WashPost, responding on CNN to suggestions that he should have obeyed police amid a riot: '[L]et me be clear about this: I have LITTLE PATIENCE for talking heads.'"
CHASER: Jason Linkins: "Here are a few things that Mike Allen has had two days to get right, but probably struggled with, given the fact that he and Chevron were probably doing some over-the-shirt stuff for the past forty-eight hours. 1. Wesley Lowery's last name is spelled L-O-W-E-R-Y. Like Camper Van Beethoven's David Lowery. Or 'flowery' with the "f, for failure' removed. It is not spelled L-O-W-R-E-Y, like New York Magazine's Annie Lowrey. You can just check Wesley Lowery's Twitter account, where his name is spelled correctly. Or anywhere else his name is mentioned. 2. Wesley Lowery is 24 years old...3. Wesley Lowery was not 'amid a riot' at the time he was arrested. He was 'amid' a McDonald's. For some, McDonald's is a 'riot of flavor' or a 'riot of savings,' or a 'riot of coming gastrointestinal distress.' But there was no other 'riot' occurring. Lowery was charging his phone at a McDonald's. There wasn't a riot inside the McDonald's nor was there one outside it. This is not in dispute. Had there been a nearby riot, Lowery would have said, 'Hey, I'd better go cover this riot, for the Washington Post.'" [HuffPost]
MONTANA DEMOCRATS' 8,000TH SENATE CANDIDATE IS THE ONE... FOR REAL!!! Samantha Lachman: "Amanda Curtis, a 34-year-old math teacher seeking Montana's Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate at a last-minute Saturday convention, suddenly is fielding calls from media outlets wondering how she feels about challenging Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) with only 80 days left until the general election. 'If we're going to overcome this, it's going to come from a pure, true, grass-roots effort, and the fact that the base is reinvigorated,' Curtis told The Huffington Post over the phone Friday. 'People who have thought of themselves as non-participants are going to have to get involved.' 'It's an opportunity to hit the reset button,' she added. Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) dropped his bid after The New York Times revealed that he plagiarized parts of a thesis paper for his master’s degree. His departure led to a special state Democratic convention in Helena, Montana, to pick a replacement. Rancher Dirk Adams is also seeking the nomination, but momentum appears to be on Curtis' side...Curtis gained notoriety for her daily video updates on the actions of the Montana state House, where she served for one term. The 87 videos she posted on YouTube and Facebook recapping that day's legislative action blended her unapologetically progressive views on issues such as workers' rights and public education with her teacher's proclivity to explain the bill-making, budget-writing process in the vernacular." [HuffPost]
THE U.S. GOVERNMENT CARES ABOUT PRIVACY - The Privacy Act has turned into our government's very own incognito tab, except it's not using it to watch porn or read Perez Hilton (as far as we know). Matt Sledge: "When the National Security Agency wanted to block the public release of former contractor Edward Snowden's emails, it found an unlikely ally: His privacy. The government cited a federal law protecting privacy rights to deny journalist Matthew Keys' request for Snowden's messages. Experts said Snowden is far from an exception. From Osama bin Laden to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, 'privacy' claims are the government's latest excuse to keep its secrets secret. 'For an agency whose core mission is the violation of our privacy, privacy is an especially Orwellian rationale for the NSA to invoke in justifying its non-compliance' with the Freedom of Information Act, said Ryan Shapiro, an MIT graduate student who frequently files public records requests with the NSA and other agencies. 'That it’s Edward Snowden’s privacy the NSA now claims to defend only heightens the irony.' Privacy provisions in two laws are often cited by the federal government to deny records requests: the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act. While striving to open the government's inner workings, the 1966 Freedom of Information Act's drafters also wanted to make sure the privacy of ordinary Americans or low-level government workers was respected from 'unwarranted invasion.' Since the passage of those laws, researchers and the government have engaged in a game of transparency Whac-A-Mole. Rather than simply making files public, government agencies routinely cite new excuses to withhold documents until they are shot down by Congress or the courts." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a penguin slap fight.
PAUL RYAN IS TAME, WANTS YOU TO KNOW IT - What could be more of a buzzkill than tsk-tsking a raunchy TV show in the pages of Parade Magazine? Maybe a million mayonnaise-and-American cheese white bread sandwiches... but only maybe. From the interview, when Ryan is asked about "House of Cards": "I watched the first couple of episodes until he cheated on his wife with that reporter. It turned my stomach so much that I just couldn’t watch it anymore. His behavior was so reprehensible, and it hit too close to home because he was a House member, that it just bothered me too much. And what I thought is, it makes us all look like we’re like that." [Parade]
- Bill Gates gets crafty partaking in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
- "A UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch report revealed an incident in February in which a pilot was landing a small commuter jet in Belfast when his arm fell off."
- Bird serenades a dog.
- A list of 19th century street gang names.
- A photographer unknowingly took pictures of a young and undiscovered Robin Williams performing a mime act in 1974.
- Happy Friday, here's a dancing goose.
@OKnox: [Loud crash as "The Scarlet Letter" hits the wall of @RepPaulRyan's office] "Fool me once, Hawthorne. Never again."
@toddzwillich: Are Question Headlines a Tell that A Story's Not Yet Ready for Reporting?
@pourmecoffee: "Cadets, tomorrow we'll be studying how not to handle a shooting. Study the Ferguson chapters in your textbooks."
Police School, 2025
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