Republicans are trying to recast Bowe Bergdahl as a new Benedict Arnold, though Republican hipsters dismiss him as simply a watered-down John Walker Lindh. Video surfaced of President Obama lifting weights, but clearly violated Washington protocol by not wearing a stupid red hat backward while doing so. And some conservatives are reporting that Hillary Clinton can't use her legs, suggesting doctors have been unable to contain the spread of her Benghazi fever. She is in our prayers. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, June 4th, 2014:
GOP IN TOUGH SPOT IN MISSISSIPPI - Jon Ward: "The nastiest campaign in the country likely will go on for three more weeks. Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran trailed tea party challenger Chris McDaniel in Tuesday’s Republican primary. But McDaniel could not quite get more than 50 percent of the votes because of a third GOP challenger, Thomas Carey, who pulled just under 2 percent. McDaniel held a lead of less than 1 percent, with 98 percent of the vote counted, at 49.6 percent to Cochran’s 48.6 percent. Unless McDaniel clears the 50 percent threshold, the election will be headed for a runoff on June 24, raising difficult questions for Cochran and for the Republican establishment in Washington. Do the National Republican Senatorial Committee and establishment Republicans double down on Cochran and continue to send money and bodies to Mississippi to try to crush an energetic upstart whose supporters swarmed to the polls? Is that even possible? Can Cochran continue to refuse to debate McDaniel, as he has done so far? And how will the presence of Cochran, 76, on the campaign trail shape the race, given his decidedly uneven performance on the stump so far?" [HuffPost]
SANDERS NEGOTIATING VA REFORM BILL - God what we wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall when Bernie Sanders and Richard Burr meet in private. Roll Call: "Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said he hopes to craft a bipartisan compromise to address to the lengthy wait times at VA hospitals. 'We are working on an agreement,' Sanders said. He added that a committee hearing on the issue scheduled for Thursday was postponed, in part, to give more time for negotiations. Senate Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, unveiled their own VA plan Tuesday. 'I think what the hearing was about was to hear my proposal, to hear McCain’s proposal, if we could work out an agreement I think that we could expedite a situation that needs an expeditious resolution,' Sanders said. Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., the ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was hopeful a deal could be reached as soon as Wednesday. 'I think the longer [the negotiations go] the less likely it is' a deal will be struck, Burr said. A senior Senate Republican aide said these talks are the more likely course for a solution, rather than a deal proposed Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for a vote on a House-passed veterans bill in exchange for allowing a vote on Sanders’ bill." [Roll Call]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The federal government has put the state of Georgia on formal notice that it can't make poor people take drug tests when they apply for food stamps. In April, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a law requiring the state to test any food stamp applicants suspected of being on drugs starting in 2016. The U.S. Department of Agriculture told the Georgia Department of Human Services on Tuesday that states can't make up new eligibility standards for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, so drug tests are a no-no. "Requiring SNAP applicants and recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits would constitute an additional condition of eligibility, and therefore, is not allowable under law," regional USDA administrator Robin Bailey said in the letter.
Last year, Republicans in Congress tried but failed to give states the power to screen SNAP applicants. Drug test proposals for all manner of safety net programs have been popular with Republicans in recent years despite a dearth of evidence that welfare users are drug abusers. [HuffPost]
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BOGGS CHANGES STORY ON ABORTION - Jen Bendery: "Michael Boggs raised some eyebrows during his Senate confirmation hearing last month when he defended his vote for a contentious abortion measure, saying he'd never heard of doctors being killed by radical anti-abortion protesters. But now, he's changing his tune...Democrats on the committee, many of whom are already skeptical of Boggs given his socially conservative record on abortion, civil rights and gay rights, couldn't get past his answer...This week, Boggs is offering another explanation. In new materials provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Boggs said was aware of stories of abortion providers who had been killed at the time. He just didn't link those instances to the amendment he voted for. 'By my testimony to the Committee, I did not intend to convey categorically that I was generally unaware of claims of violence against physicians that perform abortions,' Boggs says in 74 pages of written responses to questions that senators submitted to him after his hearing. 'I would have been aware of some of the cases of violence at that time, although I do not recall specifically hearing any of these concerns raised relative to this amendment.'" [HuffPost]
A CHICKEN IN EVERY POT AND POT IN EVERYTHING - Attempts to ply voters with free weed will inevitably backfire when they press their faces against the electronic voting screens because they're sooooooo smoooooth. NJ: "Pro-marijuana forces in San Jose, Calif., had an idea to flex their political muscles: Offer free and discounted weed to medical-marijuana users in exchange for voting. Surely, scores of people would turn out to cast ballots in Tuesday's primary, right? Doesn't look that way. Turnout in San Jose's primary race, where five City Council seats and the mayor's post were on the ballot, was abysmally low. This, despite Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition's 'Weed for Votes' campaign, in which participating cannabis clubs offered free and discounted marijuana to people with an 'I Voted' sticker... In a city of 415,000 registered voters—one of California's largest cities—only about 85,000 ballots were cast in a wide open race for mayor. And voter turnout county-wide is around 20 percent. Also on the primary ballot: Gov. Jerry Brown. Santa Clara County turnout during the last gubernatorial primary peaked at 43 percent. In 2006, the last time there was an open race for San Jose mayor, it came in at 37 percent. It's not all bad news for marijuana proponents: Some of the cannabis coalition's preferred candidates triumphed Tuesday, such as Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, who will face San Jose Councilman Sam Liccardo in the November runoff for mayor of the city." [National Journal ]
Maureen Dowd got so high.
THAT TIME DRUDGE THOUGHT HILLARY POSED WITH A WALKER FOR PEOPLE MAGAZINE - Talk about leaning in, amirite? Business Insider: "People magazine provided photographic evidence proving Hillary Clinton was not using a walker during a photoshoot for the cover of the publication's upcoming issue. The theory Clinton was holding a walker in the picture was first floated by conservative blogger Matt Drudge after the cover photo excerpts of the People article on Clinton were published online Wednesday. 'Secretary Clinton is standing next to a patio chair in the backyard of her home where the photo shoot took place! I have also attached another photo from the shoot – thanks for checking in on this,' Nancy Valentino, a senior vice president of communications at Time Inc., which owns People, wrote to Business Insider in an email. The flap over the cover photo comes as prominent conservatives, including Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh, have attempted to raise questions about the 66-year-old Clinton's health ahead of her widely expected entry in the 2016 presidential election." [Business Insider]
The best response to the walker brouhaha is this photoshop of Clinton on a Segway.
MEGYN KELLY INFORMS CANDIDATE OF HER LOSS... ON AIR - It's like the political version of the dudes who get rejected on the Kiss Cam. HuffPost: "Megyn Kelly had the unexpectedly awkward task of being the first to tell a candidate for a Senate seat in South Dakota that she'd lost her race. Annette Bosworth was running in the Republican primary, but she hadn't heard she'd lost until Kelly informed her about it. 'That's news to me. I didn't know that. I found out on national television,' she said. 'I'm sorry to break the news to you,' Kelly said." [HuffPost]
...and now that candidate is in jail: "Annette Bosworth is not having a good week. On Tuesday night, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate learned she lost her long-shot bid for the GOP nomination in South Dakota during a horrendously awkward live television interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly. On Wednesday morning, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported that the medical doctor had turned herself into the Minnehaha County Jail after authorities issued a warrant for her arrest. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) charged Bosworth with perjury following allegations that Bosworth claimed to have circulated nominating petitions while she was in the Philippines with her husband." [HuffPost's Igor Bobic]
THERE ARE VULTURES ON K STREET -- NO, REALLY - Unless dementors are real and chilling out in the waiting room of Patton Boggs, this is about a choice a metaphor as you'll come across this week. WaPo: "Tell people two vultures have made a home at the intersection of K and 11th streets in Northwest Washington, and they will likely ask the same question Charlie Dewitt did on a recent afternoon. 'The bird variety?' he wondered.It is K Street after all, renowned for office buildings filled with highly paid, powerful lobbyists who, along with others in the city’s political food chain, are often called scavengers — and worse...First the nation’s capital had its snowy owl. Now, it has its vultures. Both are rare sightings for such a densely populated area. But while the white fluffy night hunters are inspiration for stuffed animals, the black-winged carcass-feeders are ripe for one-liners. They are a political cartoon begging for a caption. (A group of vultures, by the way, is called a committee. Have at it). When former Washingtonian and birds of prey expert Mike Dupuy heard the location that the vultures had chosen, he offered a three-word response: 'That sounds appropriate.'" [WaPo]
John McCain and Richard Blumenthal just want Americans to kick back, enjoy the game, and think of their naked push for publicity: "Two senators are pressing the Federal Communications Commission to quickly bring an end to blackouts of National Football League games and other sporting events on local TV stations. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are keeping up their push on the matter, since the comment period for a proposed rule ran out in March. 'Now that the comment deadline has long passed, we urge the Commission to move forward expeditiously on eliminating the sports blackout rule (SBR). We believe that the rule unfairly harms consumers by insulating the NFL from market realities and punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and declining populations,' the senators wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler." [Roll Call]
That said, we totally agree.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a dog who hates mornings.
DO YOU EVEN LIFT, BROBAMA? - Republican strategists are wondering why the commander-in-chief doesn't work out by lifting burlap sacks filled with the decapitated heads of senior Al Qaeda officials. Daily Mail: "Barack Obama was at the center of a security breach today after it emerged pictures of him pumping iron in a private gym had been leaked. U.S. security experts are trying to find out how the unauthorized snaps of the President working out on his trip to Poland were secretly taken. It appears Mr Obama was in his 5-star Marriott hotel gym taking time out from his busy schedule in the capital Warsaw when it happened. Obama, who arrived yesterday, will today meet the new Ukrainian president Poroshenko, and will later attend celebrations to mark the 1989 anniversary celebrations of Poland's first free elections before flying to Brussels." [Daily Mail]
- Touching and beautiful short film on how a young man ended up buying a motorcycle. [http://bit.ly/1tFv8AO]
- If you rob someone at gunpoint, double check that you take their GoPro camera. [http://bit.ly/1tIewsj]
- "Orange is the New Black" with an intro like "Arrested Development." [http://uproxx.it/1l66x7k]
- Life lessons from Bill Murray. [http://huff.to/1maHNrn]
- What if the "Reading Rainbow" intro sequence were more... sinister? [http://bit.ly/1nPa79q]
- Time-lapse video of weed growing. [http://bit.ly/S9jZvW]
- In what is either a cute bid for publicity or sinister attempt to make everyone forget about the Tiananmen Square massacre, China is trying to predict the World Cup with panda cubs. [http://uproxx.it/1i1swrG]
@anamaricecox: Is there a Stockholm syndrome for talking to Comcast? Like, after an hour: “No, it’s ok, I love the idea of getting services I don’t use!"
@SimonMaloy: Happening now: Was it a walker? Some say yes, others disagree. On to discuss: John King, Gloria Borger, James Carville, Candy Crowley
@AlexJamesFitz: TURN DOWD FOR WHAT.
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