HUFFPOST HILL - Rand Paul Holds Forth, Holds It In

Nebraska’s legislature voted to abolish the death penalty, meaning innocent Americans will never again die at the hands of our criminal justice system. No sir. Fox News will only allow the top ten leading GOP candidates to participate in its debate, which will be awkward when the 11th, 12th, and 13th ones eventually become Fox News contributors. And Bobby Jindal will likely be excluded from the debate, but given his strict adherence to Republican orthodoxy, he’ll probably agree with the decision. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 20th, 2015:

NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE VOTES TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY WITH VETO-PROOF MAJORITY - Kim Bellware: "Nebraska lawmakers voted to abolish the death penalty Wednesday with enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto. Lawmakers voted 32-15 on a bill to replace the death penalty with life without parole as the state's highest penalty. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) has vowed to veto the bill, but the legislature is expected to have enough votes to override the veto. Stacy Anderson, executive director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, told The Huffington Post last week that a shift in numbers on the anticipated veto override vote is unlikely. 'I think the senators have made up their minds,' Anderson said. 'They've studied the issue and they're ready to get this bill through.' If lawmakers successfully override Ricketts' veto, Nebraska will be the first state to repeal the death penalty since Maryland eliminated the punishment in 2013. Nebraska's repeal would bring down the number of death penalty states to 31." [HuffPost]

CAPITOL POLICE WILL BE TOLD NOT TO LEAVE GUNS IN BATHROOMS - Employees must wash hands, not leave firearm on toilet seat. Rachel Roubein: "Capitol Police officers will soon get enhanced weapons-safety training and a very specific reminder: Don't leave your gun in the bathroom. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said at a House Administration Committee hearing Wednesday that the department is beefing up its biannual training, both in-person during weapon re-qualifications and also online. The change comes in the wake of at least two embarrassing incidents in which officers left their guns in Capitol bathrooms; in one case, the weapon was found by a child who was visiting House Speaker John Boehner's suite." [National Journal]

FOX NEWS: NO LOSERS AT DEBATE - We Report, You Go Home, George Pataki. Matea Gold: "Fox News, which is hosting the first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign, will require participants to place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent national polls in the run-up to the event, according to details obtained by The Washington Post Thursday. The standard will winnow what is expected to be a field of 16 or more GOP presidential candidates by the Aug. 6 event in Cleveland." [WashPost]

@joshuagreen: How awkward for Fox News if Carly Fiorina falls outside top 10 + the only woman is barred from debate?

@aedwardslevy: Candidates who'd be knocked out of debate, per current Pollster average: Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, Graham

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Ben Carson told the Vegetarian Times in 1990 that a meatless diet would eventually catch on. "It might take 20 years," Carson said. "But eventually there will no longer be a reason for most people to eat meat. And animals will breathe a sigh of relief." Unfortunately for animals, the rate of vegetarianism in the United States hasn't gone up. In 1999, just 6 percent of Americans told Gallup they avoided meat. In 2012, it was only 5 percent. [HuffPost]

This makes Carson the only candidate who definitely won't be eating white turkey chili in 2016.

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RAND PAUL TAKES CAMPAIGN TO SENATE FLOOR - Then again, "takes campaign to the senate floor" is the most redundant thing to say about a senator. Laura Barron-Lopez: " Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor Wednesday to press President Barack Obama to eliminate a provision in the Patriot Act that gives the National Security Agency access to bulk collections of ordinary Americans' phone data. Paul's office said on Wednesday that the senator was filibustering an extension of the Patriot Act, which the Senate plans to consider this week. However, the legislation is not actually under consideration yet, since the Senate is still working on trade legislation, making Paul's takeover of the Senate floor -- which began shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday -- more of a long speech than a filibuster. 'The president began this program by executive order, he should immediately end it through executive order," Paul, who is a candidate for president in 2016, charged. "For over a year now he has said the program is illegal.' In 2011, Obama signed a four-year renewal of a number of Patriot Act provisions, including the one authorizing the NSA to search phone records and conduct wiretaps. While the program was initially established during the George W. Bush administration, Paul on Wednesday placed the blame squarely on Obama's shoulders." [HuffPost]

REID TIRED OF BEING OBAMA'S MAN IN THE SENATE - At least Bo and Sunny aren't fat. Mike McAuliff: "The push by President Barack Obama and Republicans for gigantic new trade deals meets the definition of insanity, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) charged in a Senate floor speech Wednesday….The much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement of the 1990s covered about 10 percent of the world's trade, and Reid said that deal and many since have all been disastrous for American workers, costing millions of jobs. 'It causes huge job losses,' Reid said. 'As Einstein said, you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and you expect a different result, that's the definition of insanity.' 'We can look at these trade bills over the years -- every one of them without exception causes to American workers job losses. Millions of job losses,' Reid added. 'But yet they're going to try the same thing again and hope for a different result. That's insanity.'" [HuffPost]

Bonus points for attributing the quote to Einstein.

HOUSE BRINGS UP BENGHAZI BECAUSE WHY NOT - How could they not? It's the pumpkin in the Hillary Clinton scandal horn o' plenty. Martin Matishak and Scott Wong: "House Republicans are threatening to shut down part of the State Department if the Obama administration doesn’t cough up more documents related to Hillary Clinton’s helming of the agency during the Benghazi attacks. Frustrated Republicans believe using the power of the purse could force the administration to hand over documents related to the 2012 assault on a U.S. compound in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. 'There’s a discussion. We haven’t come to a conclusion yet,' said Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for State and foreign aid. Funding could be withheld from the agency’s programs and efforts “unless it relates to our own national security or our allies,” she added. In interviews with The Hill, Granger didn’t go into detail about what exactly could lose funding, but other GOP sources said divisions such as Legislative Affairs and Public Affairs and the Office of the Secretary could be affected at the department. Critical areas, including embassy security, would not be targeted." [The Hill]

Barney Frank joined us to discuss the gay rights movement on the latest Drinking & Talking episode.

JEB BUSH OFF GAFFES NOW - He promises to stay clean this time, but friends and family worry he might find him in an alley one day, murmuring about the benefits of Common Core. Igor Bobic: "The former governor of Florida -- who is all but certain to enter the 2016 presidential race -- returned to the campaign trail Wednesday after a storm of negative headlines over his comments on the Iraq War and a confrontation with a college student who shouted 'Your brother created ISIS.' He reassured supporters that, at least for the moment, smooth sailing was ahead. 'It got a little bumpy, but all is well now. The ship is stable,' Bush said at a luncheon with local business leaders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the beginning of a two-day swing through the Granite State. Rather than re-litigate his brother's unpopular war, as he was forced to do in four painful answers last week, the governor sought to address the challenges facing Iraq today -- as many conservatives who took issue with his original comments have urged him to do. 'I totally get the past being an issue, but I think the focus now is what strategy do we have to take out [the Islamic State],' Bush said, adding that President Barack Obama and his administration 'abandoned' the Middle Eastern country in the aftermath of this brother's administration." [HuffPost]

BIN LADEN DIDN'T WANT AMERICANS TO GO TO K STREET… OR SOMETHING - Though QGA Affairs is trying build up its international terrorism team. Nick Gass: "Osama bin Laden warned Americans of 'the despotism of the Big Money' in a brief video released as part of a larger tranche of materials recovered from the deceased Al Qaeda leader’s Pakistan compound. 'I begin by reminding you that if you had reflected on a little of what has been said, you would have been able to avoid wasting much blood and money,' he said, according to English translation of a speech draft provided by Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 'A good example is what one of your former presidents previously warned you about with the despotism of the Big Money and about a day when you would become its laborers.' … In another undated, previously classified letter marking Ramadan, bin Laden addressed 'climate changes,' referring to them as judgment from Allah. He referenced natural disasters and drought in the Islamic world, calling on the establishment of 'a distinct relief organization' to deal with them." [Politico]

Nice to see OBL was down with the online media revolution: "Among the materials made public were previously classified documents, non-classified documents, and a trove of English-language materials found at Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound following his death in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in 2011. That includes letters, public American government documents, religious sermons, scholarly books written in English, and several digital issues of Foreign Policy, in addition to maps, dictionaries, and a suicide-prevention guide (which the ODNI believes was for someone else in the house)." [Atlantic]

Here's an application form for joining al Qaeda.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a bulldog in a life vest.


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- A collection of history's strangest senior portraits.


@MeganAmram: The Hamburglar was a way better name than their first draft, "The Breadophile"

@clairemc: Kinda depressing that so many more people have opinions about #GOT than reform of US intelligence gathering that I also tweeted about ystrdy

@daveweigel: The editor’s dilemma: To put “filibuster” in the headline or not? It’s inaccurate but gets hot clicks.

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