POLITICS
12/15/2014 05:26 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Mark Pryor's Subconscious Is Simply Awesome

The Senate is on the verge of finally confirming a surgeon general, presumably because he assured Republicans that guns qualify as preventative medicine. Outgoing Senator Mark Pryor is engaged to his girlfriend, but now that her time as a political prop has passed, what's the point? And Pryor called his staff "simply awful." Before he corrected himself it was the realest thing he's ever said. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, December 15th, 2014:

AMERICA TO FINALLY HAVE A SURGEON GENERAL - Someone has to write all those warnings on cigarette packs. Politico: “Vivek Murthy is expected to be confirmed Monday as the nation’s surgeon general, months after the National Rifle Association and its allies opposed him for his support of gun-control laws. Senate Democrats are expected to bring nearly all of the votes for Murthy, who would fill a position as the nation’s ‘top doc,’ which has been vacant since summer 2013. ‘I think we have enough votes,’ Sen. Dick Durbin, the majority whip, told reporters on Monday morning. ‘We think it’s going to be close, but we think he’s going to make it.’ As Senate Democrats try to close out their business for the year before turning control of the upper chamber over to Republicans in January, aides say they wouldn’t bring up the vote if they didn’t think it would pass. They plan to hold a procedural vote and then seek final confirmation on Monday evening.” [Politico]

Elizabeth Warren seems tired of telling people she's not running for president.

GOVERNMENT DIDN'T SHUT DOWN - Not that you were worried about that. Mike McAuliff and Igor Bobic: "The Senate passed the $1.1 trillion government funding bill Saturday night that will keep Uncle Sam in business through next September, while handing lucrative Christmas presents to Wall Street and political parties. The bill, which funds most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year, had been tied up in procedural disagreements. But all senators eventually relented, paving the way for passage of the bill on a 56 to 40 vote. The Senate entered a rare weekend session after Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) refused to consent to an agreement Friday that would have given their colleagues the weekend off. Forced to be in session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used the opportunity to push ahead with a slew of President Barack Obama’s nominations, which Reid wants to pass before the Senate ends the session for the year." [HuffPost]

Mark Pryor: “My staff is simply awful -- er, awesome.”

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Here is a former vice president lying about the medical necessity of anally assaulting prisoners. "Dick Cheney gave an unflinching defense of he CIA's post-9/11 torture program on 'Meet the Press' on Sunday, dismissing criticisms of the program's forced rectal feedings, waterboarding and a death. 'It worked. It absolutely did work,' said Cheney, a driving force behind the George W. Bush administration's use of harsh tactics in response to the 9/11 attacks. The Senate report on the interrogation program details forced rectal feedings that were medically unnecessary. But on Sunday, Cheney said the feedings were done for 'medical reasons.'" [HuffPost's Matt Sledge]

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WASHINGTON CLOSING RANKS AFTER TORTURE REPORT - Washington heeds warnings about civil liberty abuses the way most Americans heed warnings about trans fats ::reaches into bag of Doritos Tacos at Midnight::. Matt Sledge: “Less than a week after the release of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's wide-ranging report on the CIA's torture program, officials in Washington are closing ranks...‘Facts aren’t partisan,’ Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said on ‘Meet the Press"’on Sunday, noting that every major conclusion in the report was backed up by CIA's own documents. ‘We reviewed 6 million pages of documents. … There are a mountain of contradictions.’ But the damning facts in the executive summary seem unlikely to result in few lasting changes if the response of official Washington is any indication. Republicans are dismissing the document as a biased Democratic product. A few Democrats are calling for Brennan's resignation. Almost no one in office is calling for widespread changes at the CIA -- or for a renewal of the Justice Department investigation into whether to prosecute those who knew about or carried out torture. ” [HuffPost]

ONE REASON WHY WE NEVER GOT SERIOUS ABOUT TORTURE - New Yorker: “There was a way to address the matter that might have avoided much of the partisan trivialization. In a White House meeting in early 2009, Greg Craig, President Obama’s White House Counsel, recommended the formation of an independent commission. Nearly every adviser in the room endorsed the idea, including such national-security hawks as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and the President’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director at the time, also supported it. Obama, however, said that he didn’t want to seem to be taking punitive measures against his predecessor, apparently because he still hoped to reach bipartisan agreement on issues such as closing Guantánamo.” [New Yorker]

AMERICANS LOVE TORTURE - The Hill: “Fifty-one percent of adults surveyed in a poll from the Pew Research Center said the CIA's methods were justified, while 29 percent said they were not. Twenty percent of adults said they did not know. The poll is one of several gauging reactions to the release last week of a Senate Intelligence summary report that called the CIA's interrogation program torture and doubted its effectiveness. Forty-three percent said the release of the report summary was the wrong decision, while forty-two percent said it was the right one. Republicans and members of the intelligence community have argued that the report will provide a recruiting tool for terrorist groups. Respondents were also confident that the intelligence gathered through the CIA’s interrogation program yielded valuable intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks — something that the report argues was not the case. “ [The Hill]

AMERICANS UNDERWHELMED BY GUN CONTROL REFORMS, ALSO LOVE GUNS - Ariel Edwards-Levy: Two years after the Newtown school shootings, just 9 percent of Americans think the U.S. has gotten better at preventing gun violence, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. Sixty-three percent say American society's ability to prevent gun violence hasn't changed, while 18 percent say it's gotten worse since 2012. By a 20-point margin, 47 percent to 27 percent, Americans say most mass shootings in the United States could be prevented..A poll of likely voters taken before the 2014 midterms found that 59 percent said it's at least somewhat important for the new Congress to address gun violence, and that 79 percent favored expanding background check laws. Just one in 10, however, named it as one of the two issues most important to them. In the new HuffPost/YouGov poll, a 44 percent plurality of Americans say the media pays too much attention to mass shootings, and a third that media outlets pay about the right amount of attention. Just 12 percent think shootings receive too little coverage.” [HuffPost]

PRYOR ENGAGEMENTS, AMIRITE? - Arkansas News: “U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said Thursday he is engaged to marry Joi Whitfield of North Little Rock. Whitfield has been visiting in D.C. this week as Pryor wraps up his 12 years as a member of the U.S. Senate. He popped the question Monday evening. ‘I asked her right after dinner,’ Pryor said. ‘I brought the ring with me to Washington on this trip. She is up here visiting, so I kind of felt I would do that this week and see if she will take a chance on me.’ Whitfield accepted. Pryor mentioned her earlier in the day during his farewell address from the Senate floor. She was watching from the gallery above along with other friends and family. ‘God has also brought an old sweetheart back into my life, Joi,’ Pryor said. ‘She and I attended the sixth and seventh grades together. And so when I say God has brought joy into my life I mean it, literally.’” [Arkansas News]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s an elephant cleaning up trash.

WE’RE BEING NICKLED AND DIMED BY PENNIES - See that headline? That’s why we get paid the big bucks. Shadee Ashtari: “Production costs for the four main U.S. coins went down in fiscal year 2014, but the penny is still costing American taxpayers more to make than it’s actually worth, according to the U.S. Treasury’s December report to Congress. Producing one dollar in pennies costs the U.S. Treasury $1.66. Manufacturing a nickel also costs more than its face value, at $1.62 for every dollar of nickels funneled into the economy. As of 2013, the Treasury was incurring an annual deficit of about $105 million dollars on penny and nickel production. Quarter and dimes, on the other hand, cost considerably less. A dollar worth of quarters cost 36 cents to produce and dimes cost slightly more, at 40 cents for a dollar's worth. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for a review of U.S. currencyproduction costs and tasked the Treasury with researching alternative options for the production of pennies and nickels.” [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Cat looses its cool whenever it hears the Mario jump sound.

- Pornographically gorgeous video of a Beretta being made -- almost makes you forget it’s a shotgun.

- On that note, here’s an item about the composer behind the music in “Super Mario.

TWITTERAMA

@joshgreenman: Buber, a car service that takes you deeper into yourself and others

@elisefoley: Idea: Instead of the “I’m going to become a crazy cat lady” trope, say “I’m scared I’ll sleep with my laptop on my bed forever."

@mollyesque: Free headline: The Cromnivore's Dilemma

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