12/16/2014 05:51 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Happy Hanukkah! Molotov! Light The Manure!

Jeb Bush's path to the Republican presidential nomination lies in South Carolina, so he might as well go ahead and make spurious claims about John McCain's daughters. A judge ruled that Obama’s executive action on immigration was illegal, so we guess there will be a bunch of self-deporting now. And Mitch McConnell announced his first bill will be the Keystone Pipeline, because if there's one thing that's politically resonant right now, it's high fuel costs. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, December 16th, 2014:

MITCH WANTS KEYSTONE - Mike McAuliff: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will take charge of the chamber next month when the new GOP-led Congress takes office, offered a taste of his priorities Tuesday, telling reporters the first action taken on his watch will be passing a bill to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. A bill offered by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) that would mandate the construction of the pipeline from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf Coast almost passed in the waning days of this Congress, and would be nearly certain to succeed in a Republican-led Senate, much as it was repeatedly passed in the GOP-led House. 'The first item up in the new Senate will be the Keystone XL pipeline, the Hoeven bill,' McConnell told reporters at his final Capitol Hill news conference of the year. 'It will be open for amendment, and I hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments,' McConnell said. 'There will be no effort to try to micromanage the amendment process. But we'll move forward and hopefully be able to pass a very important job-creating bill early in the session.'" [HuffPost]

Associated Press has a tip for Scott Walker: "A Molotov cocktail is a crude incendiary device, like gasoline in a jar, that's typically lit with a rag. Mazel tov is a Jewish phrase expressing congratulations or good luck."

JUDGE HATES OBAMA AMNESTY - Elise Foley and Ryan Grim: "A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's administrative actions on immigration, which could grant deportation relief to up to 5 million people, go beyond'beyond prosecutorial discretion' and are therefore unconstitutional. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, a George W. Bush appointee, was the first to address the constitutionality of Obama's executive actions. Schwab's decision, however, does not appear to carry any real-world consequences." [HuffPost]

ABOUT THAT JUDGE… "The judge, who has a highly unusual history of being removed from cases due to temperament and charges of bias, was not asked to rule on the issue and instead inserted his opinion into a criminal case. Schwab was removed from a case in 2008 to bring about what a higher court called 'a reduced level of rancor,' a rare if not unprecedented move that a law professor told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the time was 'considered to be a disciplinary action.' He was pulled from a case again in 2012. Schwab recused himself from 17 ongoing cases in 2011 because of bias allegations. He was the first federal judge to advance the scope of religious protections created by the conservative Supreme Court justices in the recent Hobby Lobby decision." [HuffPost]

WHO WAS ON THE CROMNIBUSMAS 'NICE' LIST? - Corporations with money and influence, of course. Andrew Taylor: "A Michigan boot-maker, potato farmers and more than 1,200 contractors that supply parts for a next-generation fighter plane are among the many winners in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress. Supporters of manufacturers added a provision that would create public-private partnerships to accelerate the transition of new technologies from basic research to commercial applications. The travel and tourism industry won a six-year renewal of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, or Brand USA, to promote tourism in the United States. Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans, which benefit from a unique tax break that's threatened by the Affordable Care Act, won a provision that makes sure they keep it." [Associated Press]

’BUT IS IT GOOD FOR THE CRUZ?’ GOP SABOTAGE EDITION - AP: “Unhappy Republicans say Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has given President Barack Obama a present this holiday season — a gift certificate good for confirmation of 12 judicial appointments, not long after the voters had delivered the Democrats a lump of coal in midterm elections...But there was no dissent that Democrats, who must turn over power to Republicans in January, were in position to confirm not only the judges, but 11 other appointees before the Senate wraps up work for the year...At the root of the dispute lay a combination of the Senate's all-but-indecipherable rules, Cruz's attempt to use their murky corners to his advantage, and a bipartisan desire of many lawmakers to finish work for the year and return home for the holidays...Had Cruz not made his move when he did, according to officials in both parties, Reid would have had to wait until Monday night — more than 48 hours later. Disgruntled Republicans said they felt confident that Reid's rank and file would not have been willing to remain in Washington in that case, and only four or five nominees would be confirmed instead of 23.” [AP]

CRUZ SORRY - Manu Raju reports Ted Cruz apologized to his colleagues during lunch today for screwing up their weekend. "According to five senators who attended Tuesday’s caucus lunch, Cruz offered the apology in unsolicited remarks, saying that he regretted if any of his colleagues’ schedules were ruined by his maneuvering. He didn’t say whether he would do something similar again, senators said." [Politico]

BUT NOT TOO SORRY - @amandacarpenter: Just so everyone is clear. Cruz is not apologizing for actions to stop amnesty. Apologized for surprising, inconveniencing sens on Fri/Sat

HUFFPOST HAIRCUTS: Elise Foley, Bill Press.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Ignoring an effort among congressional Republicans to block marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia in the recently passed “cromnibus” spending bill, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) says he intends to submit the new law to Congress anyway. “The Chairman’s position is that it is his duty to transmit the initiative to Congress and that he intends to do so,” Alana Intrieri, legislative counsel to Mendelson, told The Huffington Post in an email Tuesday…. A spokesman for Rep. Andy Harris, the Maryland Republican leading the congressional anti-pot effort, told HuffPost Tuesday that the review period is irrelevant because the cromnibus forbids the city to "enact" a new law relaxing penalties for drugs that are illegal under federal law." [w/ HuffPost's Matt Ferner]

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JEB BUSH ANNOUNCES PLAN TO POSSIBLY ANNOUNCE PLAN TO RUN CAMPAIGN WE ALL ALREADY KNOW HE’S PROBABLY RUNNING - From the makers of “Aloof Patrician Bush” and “Befuddled Texan Bush” comes the latest in Bush technology, “Unassuming Center-Right Bush Without Any Real Distinguishing Socioeconomic Qualities.” ABC News: “Jeb Bush announced this morning that he will ‘actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.’ The former Florida governor, 61, said he made the decision over the Thanksgiving holiday in consultation with his family. ‘As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States,’ he said in a message posted on Facebook today. ‘In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans,’ Bush said in the message, which he also tweeted. "In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.’” [ABC News]

Jeb will be giving a buttload of speeches at the Citadel: “The first two primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, present potential challenges to the former governor. Iowa, a caucus state, has in recent years been won by candidates deemed most conservative; New Hampshire is often most friendly to libertarian-minded candidates — someone, perhaps, like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is likely to run. South Carolina, which is traditionally next in the primary lineup, could be friendlier terrain, people close to Bush say. Its Republican voting pool is larger and more ideologically diverse, and it has long supported Republican presidential contenders seen as most in line with the GOP establishment, including Bob Dole, John McCain and Bush’s brother and father. ‘It’s his road to the White House,’ said Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina Republican Party chairman. ‘It’s where he rights his ship.’” [HuffPost]

HOUSE MODERATES’ CLOUT UPGRADED FROM ‘ZILCH’ TO ‘PALTRY’ - Here’s to you, Blue Dogs! Roll Call: “In the wake of the ‘cromnibus,’ a new governing coalition may have emerged in Washington. For the first time in eight years, it doesn’t necessarily include Nancy Pelosi. It does include Steny H. Hoyer. The coalition doesn’t seem to need Sens. Ted Cruz, Elizabeth Warren or Jeff Sessions. But it does need the more moderate wing of Democrats personified by Hoyer, the minority whip, who helped pass the compromise forged by Speaker John A. Boehner, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with appropriators Harold Rogers and Barbara A. Mikulski, among others. Most importantly, the new governing coalition includes President Barack Obama. The hard right and the hard left ended up out in the cold last week — free to raise their fists and their profiles and make a ruckus, but ultimately powerless to stop the cromnibus. The deal represents a return — at least for a week — to the fabled establishment Washington dealmaking of yore, warts and all, like it or loathe it. It’s a return that could put the “do nothing” label back on the congressional shelf — with Republicans and the president eyeing deals next year on trade and taxes, in addition to keeping the government open for business after four years of serial shutdown and default dramas.” [Roll Call]

OH GOD - Not all Blake Farentholds. Mike Sacks: “A former staffer in the office of U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Tex., is suing her old workplace alleging she was illegally fired in a sexually-charged environment after she complained about mistreatment. Lauren Greene, who had served as Farenthold’s new media director and then communications director, alleges her former boss ‘regularly drank to excess’ and once told his executive assistant he had ‘sexual fantasies’ about Greene. Those fantasies, Greene’s lawsuit says, created what she perceived as a mutual awkwardness in which neither person seemed eager for one-on-one meetings. Still, Farenthold, according to the complaint, ‘regularly made comments designed to gauge whether [Greene] was interested in a sexual relationship.’ ...The lawsuit, filed on Friday in Washington federal district court, alleges Farenthold and Bob Haueter, his chief of staff, created a hostile work environment, committed gender discrimination, and then retaliated against Greene for complaining about these issues—in violation of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995. Greene says she was fired this summer.” [National Law Journal]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a dog with perfect zen.


- Escape from your awful life with this digital snow lodge.

- Superfreedraw is a shared internet sketch pad where visitors doodle at the same time -- it’s the internet bar bathroom wall.

- Because babies aren’t much smarter than your standard housecat, here’s a wee lad chasing a laser pointer.


@daveweigel: A reporter who always runs late. A source who shows up 20 minutes early. Hijinks ensue.

@JenniferJJacobs: I asked Bernie Sanders his reaction to Jeb Bush's decision to explore running for president. "Free country," he answered and shrugged.

@EvanMcSan: the news is all about cheap gas and a Bush running for president. time really is a flat circle.

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