POLITICS
12/17/2014 05:20 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Americans Outraged Over Fate Of Subpar Buddy Commedy

Sony’s decision not to release “The Interview” has people furiously asking: Why won’t a multinational Japanese corporation stand up to America’s enemies? Cuba might soon be inundated with American visitors, the majority of them Major League Baseball scouts and braggy people who use Instagram too much. And Rick Santorum told the Daily Caller that "sex obviously isn’t a problem for me.” At least he didn’t call it “pushing the twin beds together.” This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, December 17th, 2014:

U.S., CUBA PAVE WAY FOR ELIAN GONZALEZ’S RETURN TO DISNEY WORLD - The deal was presumably finalized over cake on Hyman Roth’s balcony. Times: “The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, American officials said Wednesday. In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 miles off the American coast...In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations, and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government. Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the administration signaled that it would welcome a move by Congress to ease or lift it should lawmakers choose to.” [NYT]

Jon Huntsman for U.S. ambassador to Cuba, because LOL.

Obama’s statement: “Where we can advance shared interests, we will -– on issues like health, migration, counterterrorism, drug trafficking and disaster response. Indeed, we’ve seen the benefits of cooperation between our countries before...I’ve instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. This review will be guided by the facts and the law. Terrorism has changed in the last
several decades.”

@business: BREAKING: Sony cancels 'The Interview' release as theaters back out bloom.bg/1wGp1lc

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS WANT TO REPEAL CUBA, ROOT AND BRANCH - Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff: “President Barack Obama will get no money for his Cuba policy, no ambassador will be confirmed and the embargo will never be lifted, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) vowed in a blistering press conference on Wednesday...The Florida senator's powers in that regard will be considerable. Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) deferred to Rubio when asked for comment on the issue. And when the new, Republican-led Senate comes into session on Jan. 6, Rubio will be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on the Western hemisphere, which has oversight responsibility for U.S. dealings in the region...Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), one of the most outspoken Republicans in Congress on matters of foreign policy, threatened to do everything in his power to block funding from being used to set up a U.S. embassy in Cuba. "Normalizing relations with Cuba is bad idea at a bad time," Graham said on Twitter.” [HuffPost]

Elsewhere in the Americas: “@AP: BREAKING: Colombian rebels at Havana talks announce indefinite unilateral cease-fire”

HUFFPOST HAIRCUTS: Jim Manley.

Budget news: “Sen. Michael B. Enzi will be the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee in the next Congress. The Wyoming Republican will get the job over current ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who announced Wednesday he’d be deferring the position. Enzi has seniority on the panel, meaning his decision to assert his position would have made his selection likely in the event it was put to a vote of the Republican members of the committee.” [Roll Call]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Damian Paletta & Mark Peters checked in on the Republican quest to make poor people pee in cups. It is still kind of a goof. "Close to a dozen states require drug testing on certain applicants for welfare benefits. So far, the tests haven’t uncovered large numbers of people using drugs." No kidding, you don't say! [WSJ]

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CROMNIBUS SADDENS IRS - Richard Rubin: "The IRS is freezing hiring, stopping most overtime pay and warning that it won’t answer about half the calls it will receive during the upcoming tax-filing season. The spending law signed by President Barack Obama yesterday gives the Internal Revenue Service $10.9 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 3 percent less than last year and 12 percent below the administration’s request." [Bloomberg]

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Muriel Bowser and Jason Chaffetz had an introductory meeting today, declined to reveal how many bong hits were consumed.

CUOMO TO BAN FRACKING - Short of participating in a Union Square die-in or disseminating photoshopped images of Martin O’Malley fistbumping Paul Wolfowitz, this is a great way for Cuomo to burnish his lefty bona fides. WaPo: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) administration said Wednesday that it will block gas development by hydraulic fracturing, bringing to an end a six-year study process and kicking off what could be years of lawsuits from developers who want to tap rich Marcellus shale deposits...New York Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, whose department has also undertaken a review of the impacts fracking would have on local communities, said 63 percent of the land available for fracking would not be eligible for high-volume fracking because of health risks, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.” [HuffPost]

SUPREME COURT OKs IDs FOR DREAMERS - Elise Foley: “Young undocumented immigrants who received deportation relief from the Obama administration should soon be able to get driver licenses in Arizona, after the Supreme Court told the state Wednesday it could no longer block so-called Dreamers from obtaining them. Arizona had asked the Supreme Court to block a preliminary injunction by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that forced the state to issue licenses to young undocumented immigrants while the issue played out in a lower federal court. A decision from the liberal-leaning appeals court back in July found that the plaintiffs challenging the law were ‘likely to succeed on the merits of their equal protection claim,’ and forced Arizona to issue licenses to some undocumented young people despite an executive order from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R).” [HuffPost]

STATE LAWMAKER BRINGS BACK ‘LEGITIMATE RAPE’ - Just another instance of overbearing dudes trying to shut that whole thing down. Mother Jones: “A Missouri Republican is pushing a bill that would allow a man who gets a woman pregnant to stop her from having an abortion. The measure would force a woman who wants an abortion to obtain written permission from the father first—unless she was the victim of ‘legitimate rape.’ Rick Brattin, a state representative from outside Kansas City, filed the bill on December 3 for next year's legislative session...The bill contains exceptions for women who become pregnant as the result of rape or incest—but there are caveats. ‘Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,’ Brattin tells Mother Jones. ‘So you couldn't just go and say, 'Oh yeah, I was raped,' and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.’” [Mother Jones]

RICK SANTORUM KNOWS A THING OR TWO ABOUT THE HANKY PANKY - The only 21st century senator who almost certainly sleeps in full pajamas -- floppy nightcap and all -- is pretty experienced beneath the sheets if you catch our drift (spoiler alert: sex). From Santorum’s interview with the Daily Caller: “I’ve spoken on a lot of college campuses and a lot of high schools, and [I've got] seven kids, so obviously sex isn’t a real problem for me — and so I would say that if you talk to young people, you know what they’re looking for? Someone who tells them the truth. No young person expects you to agree with them. Heck, they’re not even sure where they are on a lot of issues. The idea that somehow or another because you have a certain set of policy prescriptions, that you’re not going to be able to appeal young people — you know what, young people want authenticity, they want someone they can trust, they want someone who is real, they want someone who is honest with them, someone who can into go in their house, if you will, and talk with them, answer questions.” [Daily Caller]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are heavy metal cats.

CONGRESS LOSING ITS FRAT HOUSE - Times: “It was the end of the real ‘Alpha House,’ the crumbling gray-blue rowhouse in the shadow of the Capitol where a group of powerful Democratic lawmakers — including [George] Miller, [Charles] Schumer, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and a rotating cast of supporting players — have lived for more than three decades. Mr. Miller, the owner of the two-story, two-bedroom house, is retiring after 40 years in Congress and is selling the home that inspired the Amazon web series ‘Alpha House,’ as well as countless punch lines about the crash pad’s fraternity-meets-policy seminar vibe. And so, on a chilly morning last week, the house’s final inhabitants — Mr. Miller, Mr. Durbin and Mr. Schumer — gathered one last time to finish clearing out boxes and say goodbye...The surroundings, perhaps, did not suggest the historic import of the occasion. A lamp rested precariously on a stack of hardcover books, an oversize mousetrap remained in wait in the kitchen, and the refrigerator offered a lingering odor and a handful of Bud Lights.” [NYT]

COMFORT FOOD

- Tell your loved ones you’re thinking about them this holiday season with these Drake Christmas cards.

- A 1974 map of Brooklyn’s gangs.

- Sir Ian McKellen teaches Cookie Monster about the word “resist” in what is sadly not a dialogue about

- The weirdest and least practical gadgets of 2014.

TWITTERAMA

@smith83: Embargwhoa if true

@erikhinton: It's funny, because I always thought "full diplomatic relations" meant "getting to third base".

@daweiner: Andy Borowitz leans back in his chair, fingers tented.

“Uber… Cuba… Uba. Fran, call Remnick — I’ve got something.”

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