POLITICS
01/23/2015 05:52 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Stoned Andy Harris Devours Entire Cake

Lindsey Graham clarified that the GOP does not favor rape, this on the heels of the press release put out by his office, “Senator Graham Sees News Report About Local Serial Killer, Shakes Head In Disapproval.“ Immigration activists with videocameras are going to give Republicans a great chance to develop their calf muscles in Iowa this weekend. And seeing as how the GOP has taken responsibility for the economic recovery, we can’t help but notice the correlation between a Republican Congress and a national dialogue about balls. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, January 23rd, 2015:

HARRY REID ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE - Manu Raju: “He has been beginning his days earlier than usual, calling his press assistant, Brian Ahern, for his news briefing at 6 a.m. Moments after his executive assistant, Adelle Cruz, gets into office around 8 a.m., Reid retrieves his messages and begins fielding and placing calls all the way until after 9:30 p.m., according to his aides...learly Reid is fighting to retain his political clout, even as he’s had to cede leadership of the Senate to Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell. From his telephone, he’s quieted speculation internally that he’ll retire, telling the new Senate Democratic campaign head, Jon Tester, on a conference call that he’s running for reelection next year so he wouldn’t have to worry about finding a replacement in Nevada. He’s been involved in recruiting decisions for next year’s Senate races, even making clear his preference that the party establishment not endorse a Democratic candidate in the California Senate primary, several people said.” [Politico]

Adelle Cruz gives no damns. Not even one.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDY HARRIS! - We see you enjoying that cake. You know what makes cake taste really great?

The Supreme Court is going to address the issue of states inventing mystery death cocktails with whatever they find under the sink.

JONI ERNST'S WELFARE PAST EXPOSED - Michael Hiltzik: "I has almost become a cliche that the politicians who bray most loudly about cutting government waste and slashing 'entitlements' turn out to have learned what they know about the government trough from the inside. The latest example is Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who rode her tea-party small-government platform to victory in the 2014 election….The District Sentinel, a Washington, D.C., news co-op, reports that despite her campaign pitch that her parents 'taught us to live within our means,' her family members collected $463,000 in federal farm subsidies from 1995 through 2009." [LATimes]

Glenn Kessler gives Rand Paul three Pinocchios for his claim that half of Social Security Disability Insurance recipients have anxiety and back pain.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From the BLS, a reminder of Big Labor's startling smallness: "In 2014, the union membership rate -- the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions -- was 11.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today….In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers….Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($763) were 79 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($970)." [BLS.gov]

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GOP STILL HAVING RAPE ISSUES - If Republicans were hamsters in a lab, they would never stop touching the electrified morsel of cheese. Politico: “Once again, the party of Todd Akin and transvaginal ultrasounds seemed to undo its own imminent victory...So House Republican leaders were caught off-guard when women in their own ranks — joined by at least one man — revolted. Anti-abortion activists in town for the annual March for Life were furious...Republicans are urging their colleagues to distance themselves from discussions of rape. ‘The less we engage on this issue, I think, the better off we are as a party,’ said Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who backed pulling the 20-week measure although he has voted for some anti-abortion legislation in the past. “Would somebody try to explain the difference between rape and forcible rape to me?” he added. ‘Rape is rape. I don’t know the difference, and I don’t want to have to explain this to anyone.’” [Politico]

Jesus, when you have to say this, you’re in trouble:: “The lead Senate sponsor of anti-abortion legislation that was pulled from the House schedule late Wednesday said Thursday it should not move forward without changes to the rape provision. But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he was looking forward to a debate on abortion policy once the issues with the bill are resolved. ’This is going to be about wholesale abortions on demand in 20 weeks, five months into pregnancy, and it won’t be about rape,’ Graham said. ‘Nobody’s for rape.’ The House moved forward and passed a bill Thursday against federal funding for abortion services, after pulling back from the floor a measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks. House Republican leaders have said the original bill is not dead, and Graham intends to bring it to the Senate floor once modifications are made.” [Roll Call]

WHITE HOUSE IS COMING FOR YOU, LIGHT POLES - Guess everyone is properly inflating their tires now. Kate Sheppard: “The White House is planning to announce Friday an initiative to help convert 1.5 million light posts in the United States to more efficient technologies. The announcement will be made as part of the annual winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., according to a White House official. President Barack Obama will address around 200 mayors from across the country Friday afternoon. The Obama administration had previously set a goal of working with cities and municipalities to upgrade 500,000 light poles as part of its Better Buildings program. But the White House said that strong interest in the program convinced the administration to triple its goal to call for 1.5 million by May 2016. The "Presidential Challenge for Outdoor Lighting" will be run through the Department of Energy.” [HuffPost]

THE WHITE HOUSE IS NOT COMING FOR YOU, DANGEROUS CHEMICALS - Center for Public Integrity: “On her first day on the job, Lisa Jackson, the new EPA administrator, sent employees a memo echoing the president's promise to divorce politics from science. The agency has said it needs to assess 50 chemicals a year to do its job properly. Yet in the Bush years it was averaging only five assessments a year. Jackson quickly rolled out a plan to break through the logjam. The plan seemed easily achievable. It required no congressional approval and involved tweaking the inner workings of bureaucracy. Republicans never passed any legislation to block it. Yet the Obama administration's plan has been a failure. In the past three years, the EPA has assessed fewer chemicals than ever. Last year, it completed only one assessment. Today, the agency has even embraced measures sought by the chemical industry that have led to endless delays.” [CPI]

LEVIN TRYING TO SPEED TPP ALONG - Secretive dealing? Trade deals? Now here's a narrative that'll really get you stoked for the third seasons of "House of Cards" … minus the Sander Levin and Orrin Hatch part. Dana Liebelson: “One of the most powerful House Democrats on trade offered a ray of hope to President Barack Obama on Thursday, seeking to draw attention away from a controversial proposal that would allow the president to pass massive international trade deals with little congressional oversight. Speaking with reporters, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Committee on Ways and Means, presented a number of outstanding issues he has with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. But Levin did not criticize Trade Promotion Authority, also known as ‘fast track,’ the legislation the president is seeking in order to get the trade agreement passed.Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants to introduce legislation to grant the president fast track authority by the end of the month, which would strip Congress of its ability to amend treaties, instead restricting lawmakers to a yea or nay vote. Fast track legislation is the primary area where Congress has leverage over TPP.When asked whether he thinks fast track authority gives the President too much power, Levin refused to criticize the authority. "I see it differently," he said. "I think the focus should be on TPP.’” [HuffPost]

STEVE KING IS MAKING A LIST - And not just of undocumented immigrants who are undoubtedly sneaking in anthrax, drugs and communism across the border. TPM: “Conservative immigration hawk Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has kept a list of between a dozen and 16 ‘prominent’ Republicans who have lobbed personal attacks against him. ‘Their agenda has been marginalized,’ King said in an interview with MSNBC. ‘Mine's been strengthened.’ King has won attention for saying that young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children were used primarily as drug mules and that they had ‘calves the size of cantaloups’ thanks to carrying bales of marijuana. Those comments caused House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to say that was ‘hateful language’ and privately call King an ‘asshole’ according to Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). King's comments come ahead of his Iowa Freedom Summit where a number of potentially serious 2016 Republican presidential candidates —New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) among others, are slated to attend.” [TPM]

GOP 2016 CANDIDATES LINING UP IN IOWA… SIGH - The Hill: “More than a half-dozen likely candidates are gathering in Des Moines on Saturday to woo conservative activists and hone campaign messages just over a year before Iowa's Feb. 1, 2016, caucuses. The Iowa Freedom Summit, organized by controversial Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Citizens United, is drawing many of those hoping to become the right's standard-bearer...Speakers include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and neurosurgeon Ben Carson. The gathering could be crucial for many of the candidates who are hoping to unify enough of the state’s Evangelical Christian, Tea Party and libertarian activists, as they seek to be this cycle’s insurgent favorite. The caucuses helped launch Huckabee in 2008 and Santorum in 2012 as the conservative alternative.” [The Hill]

More sigh: “The 2016 Democratic National Convention will be held the week of July 25, the Democratic National Committee announced Friday. The convention will take place the week after the Republican National Convention, set for July 18 to 21 in Cleveland. Democrats have not announced where the convention will be held—the committee is currently choosing among Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, or New York.” [Bloomberg]

Remember when Rand Paul put down his hamburger mid-bite so he could run away as quickly as possible from an immigration activist with a camera? Elise Foley reports that there are going to be more unfinished burgers… "The effort will gather steam this weekend, when several potential Republican contenders go to Des Moines, Iowa, for the Freedom Summit, hosted by King and the group Citizens United."

Who? “‘Just before she heads to Iowa for the first major conservative showcase of the 2016 election cycle, Sarah Palin said ‘of course’ she’s interested in the 2016 presidential election. ‘Yeah, I mean, of course, when you have a servant’s heart, when you know that there is opportunity to do all you can to put yourself forward in the name of offering service, anybody would be interested,’ Palin told ABC News' Neal Karlinsky while serving wild boar chili to the homeless in Las Vegas Thursday.” [ABC News]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a dog with googly eyes.

COMFORT FOOD

- Bob Dylan will be giving away 50,000 copies of his next album to AARP members. Know your demo. Know your demo.

- Mama bear rescues cub from garage.

- The Maple Leafs’ opening light show is trippy.

TWITTERAMA

@pareene: "Maybe there's work in the content mines, Ma?"

@theonion: Lonesome Alito Declares Marriage Only Between A Man And The Sea onion.com/1Jip1vX pic.twitter.com/OBFPTfJOtE

@timothypmurphy: Inbox: "Celebrate the final year of my eligibility for one of those 30 under 30 lists" god this town

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