POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Clinton Comes Out In Favor Of Everyone Watching Pope

Donald Trump is threatening to sue Club for Growth over its "defamatory" anti-Trump ads, because Republican voters love frivolous lawsuits. Pope Francis is in Washington, a visit that will be a traffic nightmare thanks to the pope's entourage of 500 popemobiles. And just as the pope deboarded in Washington, Hillary Clinton announced her position on the Keystone XL pipeline, eschewing the traditional plume of white smoke to indicate a decision had been made. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015:

CLINTON OPPOSES GIANT TUBE OF OIL - With Samantha-Jo Roth: "Hillary Clinton said at an event in Iowa on Tuesday that she opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. 'I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline,' Clinton said. 'I believe it is a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change, and, unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward. Therefore, I oppose it. I don't think it's in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change,' she said. Clinton was secretary of state when the Obama administration began considering whether to grant a permit for the massive pipeline from Canada to Texas. Because the pipeline crosses an international border, the decision about whether the pipeline is in the national interest lies with the State Department. Clinton has been tight-lipped about it on the campaign trail, saying she would wait for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry's decision before weighing in." [HuffPost]

SENATE DEMS BLOCK ABORTION BILL - God they love the filibuster. Peter Sullivan: "Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a Republican bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The measure failed to advance in a 54-42 vote, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed. Democratic Sens. Robert Casey, Jr. (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who all oppose abortion rights, joined Republicans in voting to advance the bill. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.), who support abortion rights, voted against it. The vote comes amid a roiling debate over Planned Parenthood funding that could lead to a government shutdown on Oct. 1." [The Hill]

THIS SUCKER COULD GO DOWN - Mike McAuliff and Laura Barron-Lopez: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set up a contentious battle Tuesday that could shut down the government, offering up a bill that links federal spending with the Republican push to defund Planned Parenthood. The federal government will run out of money at the end of the month if Congress does not act before then. But McConnell announced that rather than move a short-term measure to keep the government operating, and thus give Democrats and Republicans time to compromise on a longer plan, he will push a bill that defunds the family health care provider. Democrats are nearly unanimous in opposing such a move, meaning that government funding is all but guaranteed not to pass in time unless McConnell brings forward a clean continuing resolution immediately after the expected defeat of this one. The vote is scheduled to happen Thursday, right after Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress. By way of explaining his move, McConnell cited the series of heavily edited sting videos, released earlier this year, that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials bargaining to sell baby parts. 'I know Democrats have relied on Planned Parenthood as a political ally, but they must be moved by the horrifying images we’ve seen,' McConnell said. 'Can they not resolve to protect women’s health instead of powerful political friends?'" [HuffPost]

GOOD QUESTION: @KellyAyotte: I've asked those who are pushing this strategy,where do the votes come from to get a successful result?I have not received an answer to that

SHUTDOWN WOULD SHUT DOWN FOOD STAMPS THIS TIME - One of the U.S. government's largest safety net programs won't be there to catch people if the federal government shuts down next month. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides monthly food benefits to 45 million Americans, will go dark if Congress fails to pass a law funding government operations after Oct. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program. "If Congress does not act to avert a lapse in appropriations, then USDA will not have the funding necessary for SNAP benefits in October and will be forced to stop providing benefits within the first several days of October," a USDA spokesperson said in an email. "Once that occurs, families won’t be able to use these benefits at grocery stores to buy the food their families need." When the government shut down for 16 days in October 2013, the USDA used contingency funds to maintain benefits, but those funds are apparently gone now, according to the USDA and Senate Democrats. [HuffPost]

DONALD TRUMP HAVING TANTRUM, IS GIANT BABY - Igor Bobic: "GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to take legal action against the economically conservative group Club for Growth if it does not stop running a pair of television ads that criticize him. The ads, which are backed by $1 million, went up last week in the early caucus state of Iowa. They highlight Trump's previous liberal positions and allege that 'he's really just playing us for chumps.' Alan Garten, Trump's general counsel, addressed a letter to Club for Growth President David McIntosh calling the ads 'completely disingenuous' and 'replete with outright lies, false, defamatory and destructive statements and downright fabrications which you fully know to be untrue.' Garten also pushed back on the group's claim that Trump supports raising taxes, saying the ad's source material actually dates back to 15 years ago. 'Mr. Trump does not support higher taxes. This is the very definition of libel,' he added, before noting that Trump would, conveniently, release his own tax plan next week." [HuffPost]

'AND ANOTHER THING,' TED CRUZ SAYS AFTER NOT WINNING AN ARGUMENT - Jordain Carney: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says the Senate should use its short-term spending bill to force President Obama to hand over the 'side deals' between Iran and international inspectors. 'I believe what Congress should do is a pass a continuing resolution that funds the government, but that provides two conditions,' he told reporters on Tuesday. 'Number one, it does not give taxpayer funds to a private organization -- Planned Parenthood -- that is under multiple criminal investigations. Number two, it uses the power of the purse to force this administration to hand over the Iranian side deals.'" [The Hill]

JOINERS GONNA JOIN - Amanda Terkel: "Hillary Clinton secured her sixth union endorsement Tuesday in her bid to be the Democratic nominee for president. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America has more than half a million members. In a statement to The Huffington Post, union president Doug McCarron called Clinton 'a fighter' who has 'consistently fought for our issues on many levels of government.' 'We encourage her to continue her efforts regarding long-term and strategic budgeting for our country's infrastructure, implementing secure measures for pension reform, and eradicating the payroll fraud epidemic in our nation's construction industry,' McCarron said." [HuffPost]

DELANEY DOWNER - John Wojnowski has been protesting sexual abuse by Catholic priests outside the Vatican embassy every day for the past 17 years -- undaunted by rain, snow or a slate of health problems. The Huffington Post asked Wojnowski Monday if he hopes Pope Francis sees his sign when the pontiff visits the embassy on Tuesday. "I don't care," he said, confident his message is getting across regardless of whether the pope sees it. "At the embassy, they know." [HuffPost]

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MILD-MANNERED JEB BUSH MAKES REASONABLE POINT - Samantha-Jo Roth reports from Mason City, Iowa: "Jeb Bush disagreed with Ben Carson Monday over whether a Muslim candidate should be able to become president, saying that a person's faith shouldn't matter. 'I don’t think religion should be a criteria for being president,' Bush told a group of reporters following a campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa." [HuffPost]

A petition is calling on the pope to bless Metro so it might actually work this week. Divine intervention might be our only hope.

EVERYBODY'S GROUSING - Kate Sheppard reports on the chicken-like object of Congress's dissatisfaction: "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it will not be adding the greater sage grouse to the federal endangered species list, a final decision on a topic that has been controversial for some time. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the decision in a video Tuesday morning, calling it a 'milestone for conservation in America.' … It might seem like a decision that would please oil, gas and mining interests, which have opposed federal protections for the birds, and members of Congress who have tried to thwart listing the species through the language of budget bills. But many are still not pleased, arguing the federal conservation plans to preserve the birds' habitat is just as detrimental to development as listing it would be. The Western Energy Alliance issued a statement saying it applauds the decision that a listing is not warranted, but that the BLM plans 'persist with top-down, centralized management of sage-grouse on public lands that discourages more effective western efforts.'" [HuffPost]

RAND PAUL REASONABLE ON POPE - Andrew Kaczynski: "Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he hopes Pope Francis’ message to Congress during his visit to the United States isn’t 'overly critical' of the capitalist system and our country. Still, Paul said he’s interested in learning what his opinions are. 'You know, I hope it’s a message that’s not overly critical of our country or the system that’s made us the richest country in the world and also the most humanitarian,' Paul told Catholic Radio on Tuesday. 'I don’t know enough to understand what he’s been saying about capitalism and I hope it’s not directly an insult to our country or to our system, but I am interested in learning more about what his opinions are and seeing exactly what he has to say.'" [BuzzFeed]

Ben Carson, meanwhile, keeps the crazy coming.

HOPE ON POPE - "Climate activists are hopeful that Pope Francis will be able to bring a message to policymakers this week that has so far not permeated the nation's capital: that climate change is as much a moral consideration as it is a scientific, economic and political challenge. The moral impetus for action is at the center of the pontiff's 'Laudato Si,' the encyclical on the environment he released in June imploring Catholics take on a 'renewed sensitivity to the rights of others' and a 'greater concern for nature and the poor.' …Lawmakers have heard -- and remained impervious to -- repeated messages on the overwhelming science demonstrating the human influence on climate change and the economic consequences of failing to do anything about it. But the pope is expected to bring a message sorely needed in D.C. when he address Congress on Thursday, putting climate into a social justice context. "The biggest thing he adds politically is he makes this a bread-and-butter issue," Christopher Hale, executive director ​of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, told The Huffington Post." [

DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE PERFECTLY NICE, UTTERLY DOOMED CLIMATE BILL - Laura Barron-Lopez: "Leading Senate Democrats unveiled climate change legislation on Tuesday that is expected to go nowhere. The point: Present a united party front on the energy and climate debate. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, authored the bill, which would declare it national U.S. policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent per year. Notably, the bill doesn't attempt to put a price on carbon emissions, which many experts see as a more effective way to mitigate climate change. That omission is arguably an acknowledgement by Democrats that a tax on carbon would diminish the bill's chances of garnering Republican co-sponsors. Asked if the exclusion of such a tax indicates that the bill is a retreat from more realistic goals, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that 'compared to what Republicans are doing, it's pretty damn good.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - 'Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos,' reports America's finest Marxist news source.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN DEATHWATCH - Arianna Huffington: "Cracks are appearing in Trump's latest Trump-branded edifice -- because this one never actually had a foundation." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Looks like South Park's gonna make fun of Donald Trump.

- How to make perfect hardboiled eggs.

- How to make a pope hat.

- National Zoo panda baby finally starting to look panda-like.

TWITTERAMA

@marinakoren: "Time for some traffic problems in D.C." -leaked email from Pope aide

@igorbobic: Pope Francis arrives in DC today. Here are the areas to avoid:

@morninggloria: Expect GOP candidates to be a little quiet today as they work feverishly to build a containment wall around the Latin American Pope.

@erinruberry: Googled "Pope dog," was not disappointed #PopeInDC

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