Politicians mourned longtime New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg while journalists took extra care not to publish "FRANK LAUTENBERG DEAD AT XX." Al-Qaeda set up a complaints department but is still missing a social media editor to snazzy up its Twitter feed ("Salafist dog thinks it's people!"). And a report by the College Republican National Committee says the party needs to change its message but not its platform. Our advice to the GOP: Don't take branding advice from people who pair bow ties with lobster pants. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, June 3rd, 2013:
FARM BILL SECRETS! - Fifteen members of Congress or their spouses received $237,921 in federal farm subsidy payments last year, according to a new analysis of Agriculture Department data by the Environmental Working Group. The nonprofit advocacy group's latest survey comes as Congress begins to debate farm legislation that will reform the agriculture safety net -- and potentially reduce transparency in the government's support system for farmers, sparing lawmakers headlines about government help they receive. The House and Senate farm bill drafts eliminate most direct payments and instead boost subsidies for farmers to buy crop insurance policies that protect against losses from weather or price changes. Since the government divulges the names of people who get the payments but not the insurance subsidies, the Environmental Working Group's Scott Faber says the bills as they stand now would reduce government transparency. "Although much ballyhooed, the end of direct payments really heralds the replacement of an inequitable and transparent safety net with a more inequitable and less transparent safety net," Faber said. [HuffPost]
Former North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller has joined the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow. "Miller will work closely with the housing finance and policy team on foreclosure prevention, neighborhood stabilization, and housing-finance reform, as well as on broader financial-services issues and systemic risk concerns," the organization said in a release. [CAP]
Our thoughts are with the DCCC's Jesse Ferguson, who disclosed that he is battling cancer. He'll be blogging about his experiences here.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Sequestration deprives an unemployed person of basic human dignity in California as the policy has forced states to trim unemployment insurance: "I'm homeless, sleeping in my car. The debts I racked up during long joblessness (I'm a graphic designer who was making about 35k/year), forced me to live in motel rooms only one day per week, but the showering and rest was necessary. Now I can't even have that. $335/week fell to $276 here in California." [Hang in there!]
DOUBLE DOWNER - The San Francisco Fed, with another reminder that Congress is unhelpful: "Federal fiscal policy during the recession was abnormally expansionary by historical standards. However, over the past 2.5 years it has become unusually contractionary as a result of several deficit reduction measures passed by Congress. During the next three years, we estimate that federal budgetary policy could restrain economic growth by as much as 1 percentage point annually beyond the normal fiscal drag that occurs during recoveries." [FRBSF.org]
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FRANK LAUTENBERG PASSES AWAY - Bergen Record: "Frank R. Lautenberg, who rose from a poor Paterson boyhood to become a multimillionaire businessman and New Jersey's longest-serving U.S. senator, died Monday at 89 of viral pneumonia, his office said. The oldest member of the Senate and its last World War II veteran, Lautenberg had struggled with health problems since late last year, when he missed several weeks of votes because of what he said was flu and bronchitis... The death of Lautenberg, a Democrat, creates a vacancy that Republican Gov. Christie will fill through appointment. How long that appointee would serve is unclear, but much of the decision rests with Christie. There are two conflicting state statutes that refer to Senate vacancies, one of which says there would not be an election until 2014. But Christie also could call a special election this year. There are two conflicting state statutes that refer to Senate vacancies, one of which says there would not be an election until 2014. But Christie also could call a special election this year." [Bergen Record]
@cspan: Seen on C-SPAN2: Flowers on the desk of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). RIP. twitpic.com/cv447w
@hotlinereid: Overlooked: Frank Lautenberg gave $90k to George McGovern in 1972, and subsequently landed on Richard Nixon's enemies list.
CARNEY WON'T RESPOND TO DARRELL ISSA'S TROLLING - The Hill: "White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday sought to cool his feud with House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, saying he wasn't interested in 'a back and forth' with the GOP congressman. Asked about Issa's swipe during a CNN interview on Sunday that Carney is a 'paid liar,' Carney broke into a smile and quipped, 'I haven't heard that. That's amazing. I'm not going to get into a back and forth with Chairman Issa,' Carney added. In the CNN interview, Issa charged that Carney had deliberately insinuated that the IRS's targeting of conservative groups asking for tax-exempt status was contained to only the agency's office in Cincinnati." [The Hill]
Some Republicans are wondering if at long last, Issa has no sense of dignity.. Sabrina Siddiqui: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Monday became the latest Republican to reject Darrell Issa's comments... Graham went further than his Republican colleagues, saying there's no evidence that the White House ordered the tax agency to target conservative groups.,..Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also pushed back on Issa's 'liar' charge during a TV appearance Monday morning. But Graham took things a step further and disagreed with Issa that there was any conclusive evidence linking the Obama administration directly to the tax agency's actions." [HuffPost]
COLLEGE REPUBLICANS TELL REPUBLICANS TO NOT BE REPUBLICANS - Also, is there anyone to try Karl Rove for that rapping outbreak a few years back? Luke Johnson: "A report by the College Republican National Committee released Monday found that most students hold positions closer to Democrats on many issues, underscoring the difficulty in the GOP's push for younger voters. Yet, the report remains vague on solutions for Republicans. The report's focus groups, conducted after the 2012 election loss for the GOP, found that young people are mostly liberal on a range of issues -- not surprising given the fact that 60 percent of voters aged 18-29 voted for Obama in 2012, according to Tufts University...The report does not outright call on the Republican party to change its stances on issues to be more amenable to young voters. Instead, it calls for the party to slightly shift its message. For instance, the report states, 'focus on the economic issues that affect young people today: education, the cost of health care, unemployment,' but does not say to embrace Obamacare. It says, 'Don't concede 'caring' and 'open-minded' to the left,' but does not call for the outright backing of gay marriage.'" [HuffPost]
Rep. Steve Stockman, the member of Congress most views his job as one big work of performance art, likes to hire in his image. Laura Bassett: "Democrats who called Rep. Steve Stockman's (R-Texas.) office last week to advocate for gun control were asked a loaded question by one the congressman's staffers: Should women be able to use guns to defend themselves against rapists? Stockman tweeted on Friday, 'Democrats calling our office today to argue women should not be allowed to defend themselves with a gun if they are raped #WarOnWomen.' A spokesperson for Stockman told The Huffington Post in an email that a few 'Democratic cranks' who lived outside of Stockman's district had called his office last week to 'complain about people owning guns.' 'When we asked if women should be allowed to carry a gun to fend off a rapist, they all said no,' said Donny Ferguson, senior communications adviser to Stockman. 'They apparently believe rapists are morally superior to gun owners.'" [HuffPost]
SPURNING MONEY TO HELP THE POOR NOT FISCALLY PRUDENT: REPORT - Jeffrey Young: "States that refuse to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care reform law not only will deny health coverage to poor residents and lose access to a huge influx of federal dollars, they also will see increased spending on uninsured people's unpaid medical bills, according to a new report by the Rand Corp., a consulting firm. The Rand Corp. analyzed 14 states with governors who oppose the Medicaid expansion. It found their actions will deprive 3.6 million people of health coverage under Obamacare, forgo $8.4 billion in federal funding, and cost them $1 billion for programs that partially compensate medical providers who care for the indigent, according to the report published in the journal 'Health Affairs.' Since nearly half of states may not undertake the Medicaid expansion next year, those figures could be even higher. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia plan to broaden Medicaid in 2014, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation." [HuffPost]
MICHAEL STEELE MULLING GUBERNATORIAL BID THING TO MAKE YOU PAY ATTENTION TO MICHAEL STEELE FOR A BIT - The state of crabcakes and football is about to get the hip hop makeover it so desperately does not need. Nick Wing: "Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is weighing a run for Maryland governor, a move that could put him back into the realm of electoral politics, he said Monday. 'We're looking at it,' Steele, now an MSNBC contributor, told the network's Chuck Todd. 'You're gonna take a look at the numbers. Maryland's a tough state, there are a lot of challenges there.' Steele went on to say that new taxes in Maryland over the past eight years could give a Republican another shot at winning a statewide election in the the reliably blue state. He served as lieutenant governor under Republican Robert Ehrlich during his single term. Democrat Martin O'Malley defeated Ehrlich in 2006 and again in 2010, but is term-limited from running again in 2014." [HuffPost]
Never forget: During the 2006 Maryland Senate race Michael Steele's campaign used out-of-state homeless people to distribute flyers mislabeling Steele as a Democrat.
THE DAILY CALLER REPORTS ON THE WHITE HOUSE'S MENTAL ILLNESS INITIATIVE - Why can't depressed people just suck it up, go to work in their Ford Fairlanes, come home, pour a stiff gin drink, smile for their homemaker wife and 3 kids and die on the inside in their wood-paneled studies like the old days? Daily Caller's Neil Munro: "President Barack Obama urged depressed, stressed and disturbed Americans to depend on the U.S. government's growing corps of taxpayer-funded mental health professionals. 'We're here for you... If you're struggling, seek help,' Obama said Monday, amid cheers from advocates and psychologists...The broad definition of 'mental illness' is set by the professionals who provide government-funded services to Americans. In recent decades, the professionals have broadened the definition from severe, distinct and rare ailments, such as schizophrenia and compulsive behavior, to include a much wider set of personal troubles...Americans have typically responded to stress and sadness by urging stoicism, hard work, marriage, prayer and personal initiative, and by stigmatizing unemployment and passivity." [Daily Caller]
BRADLEY MANNING TRIAL BEGINS - Matt Sledge: "On Monday, Manning's trial begins. The 25-year-old faces life in prison for his leaks. The potential implications of the proceedings on this sprawling military base outside Washington, D.C. go far beyond his fate alone. The most serious charge the government has laid against Manning is aiding the enemy. The charge rests on the novel legal theory that Manning should have known that his disclosures could wind up in the hands of Osama bin Laden -- as they apparently did. In a cruel twist, then, Manning's decision to release the files that included the video of Reuters journalists being killed threatens to criminalize both journalism and whistle-blowing...Forced to strip naked at night, kept in solitary confinement under the unrelenting glare of guards because they alleged he was a suicide risk, some have described Manning's treatment at Quantico as similar to that of detainees at Guantanamo... The case has already been marred by public access problems: [Col. Denise Lind, the military judge overseeing the case,] and the military have kept transcripts, motions and rulings in the case secret. A coalition of activists and journalists is suing to open up access to records in the trial." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby singing the Beatles is easily today's best thing.
AL-QAEDA SETTING UP COMPLAINTS DEPARTMENT - Telegraph: "The organisation is the leading militia in the north-eastern part of rebel-held Syria, and has taken control of parts of the civilian administration in the city of Raqqa. It posted a new notice there this week saying it was open to receiving complaints from members of the public. 'Anyone who might have a complaint against any element of the Islamic state, whether the Emir or an ordinary soldier, can come and submit their complaint in any headquarters building of the Islamic state,' the notice said. 'The complaint should be in writing, provide details and give evidence.'" [Telegraph]
- Excited dog screams like a human being in intense agony. Think Nicholas Cage in "The Wicker Man." [http://bit.ly/11j5bxJ]
- The diary of sad dogs: behold the infinite ennui of man's best friend. [http://huff.to/11mmwV0]
- How much fast food does our great nation eat in one second? Allow this terrifying video to answer that for you. [http://bit.ly/11OhGlj]
- Every piece of food Ron Swanson has consumed on "Parks and Recreation." [http://vult.re/12szJtO]
- It's not from the Ad Council, but you should take this Amanda Bynes PSA seriously. [http://huff.to/14kW9ws]
- Not only was no one hurt in this multi-car crash, but... balloons! [http://huff.to/ZHGHP1]
- Pigeons have learned how to use smartphones. The end is nigh. [http://bit.ly/17gHo4o]
@pourmecoffee: 46 years ago today, @andersoncooper was born in a tiny tight black t-shirt, declaring "it was a disaster in there."ilitary
@sahilkapur: Area Spokesman Doesn't Want To Get Into A Back-And-Forth
@BuzzFeedAndrew: Where was Obama during the Twitter outage of 2013? On a plane going to a fundraiser in Las Vegas.
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Mary Landrieu staves off electoral defeat with American politics' most potent weapon: crawfish. The Louisiana senator hosts her annual "Crawfish Fest" fundraiser. [444 North Capitol Street NW]
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: John Thune and his Heartland Values PAC join forces with flyover country's most American institution: Google. The web behemoth's NetPAC hosts a fundraiser for the senator. [Google, 1101 New York Ave NW]
7:05 pm: And here you thought beers on the Red Porch were expensive: For $1,000 or more, you can go to the Nationals/Mets game with Richard Blumenthal. Proceeds go to his Nutmeg PAC. Heh. [Nationals Park]
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