HUFFPOST HILL – Noted Academic And Drug User Sits For Interview With HuffPost

Like Republican votes to defund ACORN and Northern Virginia residents at your favorite bar, Washington’s terrible weather just won’t go away. “I probably should have been more rigid and more scripted than I was,” said Mitt Romney about his 2012 presidential campaign, right before plugging a USB cord into his ear and fusing his consciousness with Deep Blue. And Louie Gohmert went on Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ radio show to discuss his hawkish foreign policy platform, because Iran’s uranium enrichment program is forcing far too many Americans to get divorced. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 20th, 2015:

President Obama sits down for an interview with peddlers of misinformation: The commander-in-chief has gone tete-a-tete for the first time with HuffPost, an outlet he recently urged his fellow Democrats not to believe. Awk. HuffPost will be publishing the contents of Sam Stein’s conversation with the most powerful *feelings-hurting* man in the world over the coming hours and days. [HuffPost]

MCCONNELL GOES EXTRACURRICULAR FIGHTING COAL REGULATIONS – This is really going to eat into his LARPing meetups and LAN parties in Tom Cotton’s basement. Coral Davenport: “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has begun an aggressive campaign to block President Obama’s climate change agenda in statehouses and courtrooms across the country, arenas far beyond Mr. McConnell’s official reach and authority. The campaign of Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is aimed at stopping a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring states to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions… Mr. McConnell’s Senate staff, led by his longtime senior energy adviser, Neil Chatterjee, is coordinating with lawyers and lobbying firms to try to ensure that the state plans are tangled up in legal delays…To make his case, Mr. McConnell is also relying on a network of powerful allies with national influence and roots in Kentucky or the coal industry. Within that network is Laurence H. Tribe, a highly regarded scholar of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and a former mentor of Mr. Obama’s. Mr. Tribe caught Mr. McConnell’s attention last winter when he was retained to write a legal brief for Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal producer, in a lawsuit against the climate rules.” [NYT]

PRO TIP: Neil Chatterjee is going to be very rich one day.

NARC RESIGNING – Here’s hoping they let him raid the evidence locker on his last day. Roll Call: “B. Todd Jones is resigning as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives weeks after the agency abandoned a plan to ban some bullets. Jones’ departure, effective on March 31, could mean another long slog for the agency without a confirmed director, especially given the controversy over the abandoned AR-15 bullet ban and the politically explosive gun control debate heading into an election year…Jones had been the acting director since 2011 and was confirmed in 2013 after barely clearing a cloture vote. Jones’s deputy, Thomas E. Brandon, will serve as acting director after Jones departs.” [Roll Call]

Paul Ryan urged state lawmakers never to surrender to Obamacare, the Wall Street Journal reported.

NOOOOOOOOOO – Bridget Bowman: “When Rep. Aaron Schock leaves Congress on March 31, his ‘Downton Abbey’ office will remain, though the days of the pheasant feathers and paintings could also be numbered. Whoever wins the special election for Schock’s seat in Illinois’ 18th District will inherit the Republican’s Rayburn office, but the Architect of the Capitol could repaint the bright red walls depending on the new member’s request.” [Roll Call ]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER – Congressional Republicans proposed a budget this week that could kick 11 million people off food stamps, according to an outside analysis released Friday. House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) unveiled his spending blueprint on Tuesday. The document didn’t specify how much it would reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, however, and an aide wouldn’t specify when The Huffington Post asked. But during a Wednesday hearing, committee staff revealed the cut would be $125 billion over 10 years, about 34 percent of program funding.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington, D.C. think tank, if the savings were achieved by reducing enrollment, states would need to kick 11-12 million people off the program. Another way to save $125 billion over a decade would be to chop everyone’s monthly benefits by $55. [HuffPost]

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ROMNEYBOT BACK – Philip Bump: “In an interview with Yahoo!’s Katie Couric (which is still an amazing combination of words, but I digress), two-time Republican presidential hopeful Willard Mitt Romney offered a bit of sage advice crucial to those who spend any time online: Do not read the comments…’Most candidates get in trouble telling jokes!’ he said, having already offered an unexpected summary of one of his 2012 flaws: ‘I probably should have been more rigid and more scripted than I was.’ If you haven’t yet been convinced by Romney’s concerns, one last point about the Internet: ‘You know, there’s trolling going on.'” [WaPo]

Speaking of Romney and the internet and shedding one’s self of a soul: “The Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has hired digital consulting firm Targeted Victory LLC – which was co-founded by Romney alumni Zac Moffat and Michael Beach – to ‘provide strategic advice and digital consulting service,’ according to the latest FARA disclosures. The firm will work on behalf of PR firm MLS Group.” [Politico]

INSIDE THE WORLD OF POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE – Joshua Green: “On April 1, 2013…a congressional staffer named Brian Sutter passed along to a lobbyist the kind of tip that can make a savvy investor a quick fortune: Medicare was about to raise some reimbursement rates, which would be a windfall for big insurance companies. Ten minutes later the lobbyist, Mark Hayes of Greenberg Traurig, whose clients included Humana, notified an analyst at Height Securities, a small Washington investment research firm. And minutes after that, Height issued a ‘lash report’ to 200 investor clients, including several large hedge funds and money managers…This episode is a prime example of the shadowy Washington business of ‘political intelligence’–gathering inside information on executive, legislative, and regulatory developments and selling it to Wall Street investors.. Is it legal? That’s a murkier question. SEC investigators have opened an insider-trading probe to determine whether a government employee improperly leaked the Medicare news and whether hedge funds violated securities laws by trading on the information. Humana fired Greenberg Traurig. Sutter resigned from his job on the House Ways and Means Committee staff. The SEC is fighting to subpoena him.” [Bloomberg]

LOUIE GOHMERT SEES YOUR TOM COTTON AND RAISES YOU LOUIE GOHMERT – Walk softly and blow ’em all to smithereens. Paige Lavender: “Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he thinks it’s time to take drastic measures against Iran. ‘It’s time to bomb Iran,’ Gohmert said in an interview Wednesday with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on the radio show ‘Washington Watch,’ according to Right Wing Watch. ‘We need to make clear to Iran: You can play these silly games with our president that buys into them and our secretary of state, but the American people aren’t buying it and you’re going to pay a price,’ Gohmert added. “We have got to get that message across.'” [HuffPost]

SUPERMAJORITY OF POPULATION BRAVELY DEFENDING SELF FROM OPPRESSION – Dana Liebelson: “Indiana is expected to pass a religious freedom bill that could legalize discrimination against LGBT citizens. The legislation has language that is similar to a bill that was vetoed by Arizona’s former Republican governor last year after a national outcry. The Indiana Senate passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last month and the bill is expected to get a full House vote as early as Monday. The legislation, which is co-authored by 13 Republicans, would allow any individual or corporation to cite their religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. This language is intended to protect people with strong religious beliefs, including business owners who don’t want to serve same-sex couples. ‘You don’t have to look too far to find a growing hostility toward people of faith,’ Republican state Sen. Scott Schneider, one of the primary authors of the bill, told The Indianapolis Star last month.” [HuffPost]

Our video team’s roundup of the week’s best political clips.

‘HOW I UNFAIRLY MALIGNED TWO SECRET SERVICE AGENTS IN POLITICO MAGAZINE – Marc Ambinder: “Barely a month into the tenure of the new director, Joseph Clancy, and two of his top guys are getting busted for an alcohol-fueled drunken-driving cover-up… It seemed to fit the pattern of misconduct that cast a pall over the storied agency. But the original story now seems to be greatly exaggerated and includes information that isn’t correct. In fact, the agents in question deserve an apology from those of us to who repeated the facts without slowing down and bothering to check them out…The party, a retirement celebration for Ed Donovan, the agency’s former top spokesman, ended at 7:30 pm. It played essentially no role in the incident, except for the fact that the two agents in question had attended it much earlier in the evening. The agents’ whereabouts for the next three hours are more relevant to the story, but since they aren’t known yet, reporting that they drove to the White House after leaving the party of a colleague plays into a familiar recital: namely, that agents at the party failed to take the two men aside and intervene before they drove off. I bought into it, not knowing otherwise.” [The Week]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a dog answering “yes” and “no.”

Old Jewish man moves to Florida: “Paul Wolfowitz, the former World Bank president and deputy defense secretary under George W. Bush, bought a condominium for just over $1 million at the posh 400 Beach Drive complex in St. Petersburg, Florida, according to Pinellas County records. The visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington has ties to the area through his friendship with Republican grandee Mel Sembler and via his frequent visits to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, reports the Tampa Bay Times, noting that Wolfowitz’s father also once taught at University of South Florida.” [Politico]


– Snowboarder built a tiny house atop a mountain.

– Footage of a total lunar eclipse taken in air above the Faroe Islands

– CNN made a “Too Many Cooks” promo for its 2016 coverage.


@leighmunsil: Probably may face some backlash for this but what on God’s green earth is Meerkat?

@kristoncapps: Uber, but for carrying me home like a man-sized Ariana Grande baby in this weather.

@drskyskull: Mitch McConnell isn’t a constitutional lawyer, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. J/k it was the Ritz.

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Source: Huff Post

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