Lawmakers from both parties are marking Cinco de Mayo by attending parties at lobbying firms with a bunch of dudes in suits. The Washington Post thinks the thousands of Americans, Iraqis and Afghans who died the last decade did so as part of history's greatest dry run. You're likely to find more talent on the field during the second game of a day-night doubleheader than on the stage at tonight's GOP primary debate. And even though Osama bin Laden is in a place where every package of Starburst contains only yellows, Jay Carney says the White House's Afghanistan policy will stay the same. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 5th, 2011:

SENATE GOP STRAIGHT-UP DONE WITH THE CFPB - Led by Alabama's Richard Shelby (more on that state later), 44 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Obama earlier this week promising to oppose ANY nominee from either party to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless it is significantly weakened. CFPB watchers had thought that Elizabeth Warren's chance of getting the nomination hovered somewhere around zero, but Republicans have just given her a tremendous boost. If they're promising to oppose absolutely anybody, why the hell not just nominate the best person? The law allows for Warren or another temporary head to serve until their is a permanent director. In other words, she could serve out Obama's entire second term. Thanks, Richard!

Jobs numbers come out tomorrow.

CARNEY: AFGHAN POLICY 'REMAINS UNCHANGED' - During his press briefing this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the government's policy in Afghanistan "remains unchanged," despite the fact that Osama bin Laden is now in Hell, where he is only aloud to read in the middle of a bar frequented by kickball teams. "In many ways," he added, "while the mission against bin Laden was a singular event, it was part of a general intensification of our focus on the AfPak region, on the need to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, which was the primary goal of the president's policy in the AfPak region, and it was reflective of a general success that we've been having in taking out al Qaeda members and terrorists in the region." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

GOP VOTES TO EXPAND OFFSHORE DRILLING AS OIL PRICES PLUMMET - As part of its ongoing "Hey, stop talking about bin Laden and start getting mad about how much you pay to fill up your Explorer" campaign, House Republicans, today voted to expand offshore oil drilling off the Virginia coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. The final tally was 266 for with 149 against. Thirty three Democrats broke rank and voted for the measure. An alternate proposal from Democrats to cut subsidies to oil companies received no Republican support. Alsom the price of a barrel of crude dropped by nearly nine percent today. Timing's a bitch. [AP/LA Times]

Sam Stein reports: "The chief sponsors of a bill to open up offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia have received more than $8.8 million combined in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry, a review of campaign finance records show."

AP/REUTERS DROP COVERAGE OF POINTLESS GOP 2012 DEBATE - You remember that scene from the beginning of Animal House when Pinto and Flounder are attending the Omega Theta Pi open house and Marmalard sits them on the couch with the blind guy? Tonight's primary debate is kind of like that couch. Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Hermain Cain will be on hand. The candidates, both declared and speculative, not attending include Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and, yes, Donald Trump. Compounding the disaster are AP and Reuters, both of whom are protesting the event after Fox News, the debate's host, decided to bar still photographers from the event. HuffPost, nevertheless, will be liveblogging it.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The GOP has introduced the JOBS Act. Uh oh. Congressional Republicans announced legislation on Thursday that would let states cut unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless and toughen work search requirements for benefits recipients. The Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits, and Services Act -- get it? -- would allow states to use federal funds to pay for state-level jobless benefits and to pay back federal loans to depleted state unemployment trust funds. "States will have the ability to decide fewer weeks of benefits make more sense, and use any savings to prevent job-destroying unemployment tax hikes," according to the bill summary. Makes more sense? DDD guesses it depends on who's making the sense. [HuffPost]

An actual sentence that appeared today in the second graf of a news story in the Washington Post, which will not be missed: "After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor complication."

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PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT, NATURALLY, PAYING K STREET TO MAKE IT SEEM LESS BAD - Reuters is reporting that the Pakistani government is engaged in a PR blitz on Capitol Hill to combat the growing impression that it sheltered Osama bin Laden. "Mark Siegel, a partner in the Washington lobbying firm of Locke Lord Strategies -- which is paid $75,000 a month by the Pakistani government -- told Reuters on Thursday he had spoken twice to Zardari since U.S. special forces killed bin Laden on Sunday, and "countless" times to the Pakistani ambassador in Washington..Siegel's firm was retained by the Zardari government in 2008 and has earned nearly $2 million in fees since then, according to Justice Department records. Siegel said his firm is paid $900,000 a year by Pakistan. Since bin Laden's death, Siegel says he has been on Capitol Hill every day to promote Pakistan's position on the bin Laden killing, talking to congressmen, senators and their aides." We're hearing that DLA Piper has take on Mr. Burns as a client to put a positive spin on that time he stole candy from a baby. [Reuters/HuffPost]

DEM GROUP TARGETS DNC CHAIR - The lobbying blitz surrounding debit card swipe fees has ensnared the head of the Democratic National Committee. Americans for Family Voices, a Mike Lux production, is now attacking the newly elected DNC Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.), as well as a vulnerable Democratic senator, Jon Tester, as part of a million-dollar ad campaign funded by merchants opposed to high swipe fees. The infighting exposes a deepening schism between Democrats who hope to pull the party away from Wall Street and the party establishment, which still relies on the financial sector for campaign funds. That longtime allies find themselves on opposite sides highlights the partisan confusion that often overtakes Washington when two major corporate actors go to battle against each other.

DAVE CAMP: HCR REPEAL EFFORT IS OVER - Michigan Republican and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp thinks efforts to overturn health care reform are deader than your grandmother post-death panel. "Obviously, I voted to repeal the bill and you pretty much know where I am on replacement because I put out a bill last year on that," he said. "Is the repeal dead? I don't think the Senate is going to do it, so I guess, yes." Camp added that his party will focus on repealing the individual mandate provision. "The individual mandate, I think, we need to get an answer from the courts on that," he said. "I do think we may have a vote to repeal that provision some time in this Congress ... the individual mandate." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

EXCEPT REPUBLICANS ALREADY VOTED FOR THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE - Details, details. Rep. Paul Ryan confessed at a town hall that recipients of his Medicare voucher will be mandated -- catch that?? -- to purchase private insurance. [WONKROOM]

Speaking of lofty Republican goals that aren't going anywhere, Speaker John Boehner echoed Camp, who also said that efforts to privatize Medicare are going nowhere fast: "My interpretation of what Mr. Camp [said] was a recognition of the political realities that we face," Boehner said. "While Republicans control the House, the Democrats control the Senate and they control the White House." [TPM]

SHOCKER: GOP GOVERNORS FAIL AT APPRECIATING PUBLIC WORKERS - Is it just us, or do you think Governors Scott Walker and John Kasich atone for missing their wives' birthdays by buying them a greeting card? "In Ohio, Kasich declared this week 'Public Service Appreciation Week' on Monday. The same day, Walker announced a new public employee 'recognition' program in Wisconsin. Given their high-profile battles with unions and state employees, plenty of people in the two states are wondering whether the olive branches are some kind of joke. When 'honoring Ohio's thousands of public employees,' Kasich asked his fellow Ohioans to "reflect on all that our public employees do in our communities, and thank them for the invaluable work they do each day." During his first four months in office, Kasich has made rolling back the collective bargaining rights of public workers a centerpiece of his administration's agenda. In response to the declaration, Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D) said in a statement that he had to 'check my calendar' to make sure it wasn't April Fool's Day. He continued: 'Do you thank teachers and firefighters for the invaluable work before or after you slash their wages and benefits?'" [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]

APPARENTLY IT WORKED: FEWER PEOPLE SUSPICIOUS ABOUT OBAMA'S BIRTH - A Washington Post/ABC News survey of Americans finds the number of people who think President Obama was born outside the U.S. has been cut in half. Ten percent of respondents say the president was born abroad, down from 20 percent in an April survey. Certificates are potent stuff, it would seem. We give it a week until President Obama releases his "My economic policies are sound and will lead to sustained prosperity" certificate. [WaPo]

Pete Stark, the patron saint of congressional atheism, gets his empiricism on "While many recognize today, Thursday, May 5, 2011, as the National Day of Prayer, I am writing to recognize it as the 2011 National Day of Reason. The National Day of Reason, observed by millions of people in this country and around the world since 2003, celebrates the application of reason and the positive impacts it has had on humanity," Stark, the only member of Congress to actually admit that he is an athiest, writes in HuffPost.

MIKE PENCE JUMPS INTO INDIANA GOVERNOR RACE - "Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence ended months of speculation Thursday when he announced he will run for Indiana governor in 2012, a move that quickly positioned him as a favorite to succeed Mitch Daniels in the state's top office. The conservative Republican and tea party favorite told supporters on a conference call from Washington that he plans to seek the governorship because he feels he can lead the state as it's on the verge of an era of growth, thanks in part to Daniels' leadership. 'The work isn't over,' Pence told supporters. 'To keep Indiana growing, Hoosiers know we must have principled leadership at every level to make the right choices.'" [AP/HuffPost]

Happy Cinco de Mayo: "In the wake of an expanded federal investigation of Chipotle's hiring practices, SEIU Local 26 President and International Executive Board Member Javier Morillo Medina issued the following statement..."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Man feeds a massive kangaroo. We shouldn't accustom them to our way of life, lest they decide to rise up.

ALABAMA MIGHT PREVENT UNDOCUMENTED KIDS FROM GOING TO PROM - Immigration opponents often cite alleged upticks in crime that stem from an increased flow of new residents across the border. What better way to combat that crime than to prevent a bunch of kids from partaking in afterschool activities? Those never prevent crime! "SB 256, the 'Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,' takes steps to block employers from hiring illegal immigrants, gives law enforcement more authority to check immigration status, requires voters to bring proof of citizenship with them to the polls -- and prohibits "participation in any extracurricular activity outside of the basic course of study" for K-12 students who aren't legal residents. In other words, no chess club or drama society for the kids; football might be a religion in Alabama, but that's off-limits too."' [MoJo's Tim Murphy]

As good of a time as any to tell the one joke HuffPost Hill knows (it's pretty awful): A family moves from Alabama to Minnesota. After his first day of kindergarten, the son tells his father about his day. "Daddy," the son says, "we learned how to count, and I counted higher than the other kids!" "That's 'cause you're from Alabama, son," the father replies. After the second day, the son proudly tells his father, "Daddy, we learned the alphabet and I got more of it right than the other kids!" "That's 'cause you're from Alabama, son," the father replies. And so on the third day, the son comes home from kindergarten and exclaims, "Daddy, today we measured ourselves, and I'm the tallest kid in class!" "Son," the father replies, "that's 'cause you're 35." YOU'RE WELCOME.

Gary Williams is retiring as Maryland's basketball coach to spend more time with 22-year-olds in Dewey Beach.

KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - May 5th, 1961: NASA Proves It Deserves To Be Kept Around Awhile : The Soviet Union had beaten America to space with Yuri Gagarin, and all NASA had to show for their efforts were exploding rockets on launch pads. NASA kept at it, and got Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard out into space on the Freedom 7 spacecraft. Unlike the Soviets' mission, Shepard actually piloted his rocket, and it was shown on television to the nation. After his successful 15-minute flight, Shepard became a hero, and NASA continued to get funding from Congress for more Mercury, and then Gemini flights. The Apollo Program came in 1963, all because Shepard's suborbital flight gave hope for beating the Soviets to the moon, and Shepard was the fifth to walk on its surface in 1971. Thanks, KB!


- No Cinco de Mayo is complete without a comprehensive list of videos of animals celebrating []

- A company has produce what is -- more or less -- a real life version of the fake blood drink TruBlood from the show of the same name. []

- The Star Wars/ royal wedding mashup you didn't need, but are getting, anyway. []

- From Japan -- of course -- cat ears attached to a headband that move in reaction to brainwaves. According to the video, they perk up when you see someone cute using a Bluetooth. []

- Slow motion Jello video is slow, Jello-y and TOTALLY HYPNOTIC []

- Here's a really bizarre interpretation of Britney Spears' "Till The World Ends." Expect nightmares. []

- An interesting development in the ongoing war against cat urine. []

- Could walls in the future only insulate sound from one direction? []


@GlennThrush: I am de-following the first person who Tweets that the weather today at ground zero reminds them of...

@pourmecoffee: First GOP debate tonight. Check local listings for "Extreme Makeover, White House Edition."

@daveweigel: This sounds way too much like a diarrhea euphemism



5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Why in God's name would you pay $500 to go on a run? Allen West must have the answer, because he's hosting a "Run West" fundraiser. It's a little condescending that $1,500 donors are "Marathoners," $1,000 donors are "Joggers" and $500 donors are measly "Treadmills." They gave you $500! That's so passive aggressive! [Reception and run staging ground: Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a somewhat minor holiday in Mexico, with Ed Pastor. For a mere $500 you can enjoy some rice and beans and maybe a margarita or two [The Dutko Group, 412 First Street SE, Suite 100].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Dutch Ruppersberger celebrates Cinco de Mayo the way it was meant to be celebrated: at a tony bar/lounge filled with people in suits [Lounge 201, 201 Massachusetts Ave NE].


12:00 pm - 1:30 pm: Steve Israel attends a "Financial Services Lunch." Nothing compliments sandwiches and a bag of chips quite like a lengthy discussion of derivatives [Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE].

12:50 pm: Is there a better metaphor for Congress than the Chicago Cubs? Mike Quigley *treats* (that being a relative term when you're shelling out hundreds of dollars for his reelection) [Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL].

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