POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Man Named 'Killer Mike' Offers Problematic Gender Politics Sentiment

John Boehner struggled to get Republicans to cut deals with Democrats, but Paul Ryan is one-upping him by struggling to get Republicans to agree on an imaginary budget blueprint that defunds ACORN. Paul LePage said asylum-seekers could bring "the ziki fly" into the United States, which is a type of fly that impregnates white women. And the Jeb Bush campaign isn't getting enough credit from liberals for the vast amount of wealth it has sapped from the 1 percent. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 17th, 2016:

OBAMA MAKES BOLD GAMBIT TO SHAME THE SHAMELESS - The most powerful tool the president possesses to pressure Senate Republicans to at least pretend to consider his Supreme Court nominee is public shaming. Of the people who brought you the debt ceiling crisis and 50+ Obamacare repeal votes. Okay. Sam Stein: "So party officials are turning to a shaming campaign, seeking to badger Senate Republicans and label them obstructionists, in hopes that a few of them -- presumably those with uphill re-election battles -- will stop echoing the party line. Obama, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, made the argument that refusing to consider a nominee would show clear disregard for constitutional norms." [HuffPost]

But maybe vulnerable Senate Republicans will cave?

IF OBAMA HAD KNOWN THEN WHAT HE KNOWS NOW - A decade ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama failed to anticipate that Senate Republicans would someday make up this thing where he only gets to be fully president for seven years, the White House revealed Wednesday. Jordan Fabian: "President Obama 'regrets' filibustering the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in 2006, his top spokesman said Wednesday, though he maintains that the Republican opposition to his effort to replace Justice Antonin Scalia is unprecedented. 'That is an approach the president regrets,' White House press secretary Josh Earnest said." [The Hill]

Antonin Scalia will lie in repose at the Supreme Court Friday and his funeral is scheduled for Saturday. In the meantime, check out these cool photos from memorial services for prior justices going back more than a century.

SCALIA'S SON WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOCK OFF THE CRAP - Eugene Scalia, the oldest son of the late Supreme Court justice, is justifiably upset about the nasty rumors floated by Donald Trump and others that his father was murdered. Jesse Byrnes: "'It’s, I think, a distraction from a great man and his legacy at a time when there’s so much to be said about that and to help people even more fully appreciate that. And, on a personal level, I think it’s a bit of a hurtful distraction for a family that’s mourning,' Eugene Scalia said on Laura Ingraham's radio show. [The Hill]

MEANWHILE, HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE STILL A HUGE MESS - John Boehner isn't Speaker anymore because he couldn't manage the House Freedom Caucus' insatiable hunger for freedom (and food stamp cuts). Paul Ryan might be getting jealous. Matt Fuller: "Speaker Paul Ryan wanted House Republicans to drive the policy conversation in 2016. Now, with a GOP budget suddenly in doubt if Republicans can't agree on a top-line 2017 spending number, the House is in danger of putting forward next to nothing this year. And that leaves leaders with a make-or-break question: How do they get out of this mess?" [HuffPost]

ECONOMIC ANXIETY SUPPORT GROUPS FLOURISH IN OBAMA ERA - Hate groups and right-wing extremists are having a heyday for some reason, and so are militant countermovements. Christina Wilkie: "Donald Trump earned the dubious honor Wednesday of appearing on the cover of the Southern Poverty Law Center's annual report on extremism and hate groups in America. Founded during the civil rights era to fight the Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC monitors extremist groups in America, a category that includes white supremacists, black separatists, neo-Nazis and the anti-government militia movement. After two years of cataloguing an annual drop in the number of extremist groups in the United States, the 2015 report noted a 14 percent rise in the number of hate groups operating in America during the past year." [HuffPost]

DELANEY DOWNER - The tiny town of Midland, Pennsylvania, is worried it won't be able to afford water if the company that owns a local factory gets its way. In an unusual arrangement, the western Pennsylvania town has bought water from the steel mill on the Ohio River for the past hundred years. But now the company that owns the plant, Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, wants to charge a much higher rate for the water that the town says it can't pay. Dan Donatella has worked for the Municipal Authority for the Borough of Midland as a consultant for more than 20 years. He said the town of 2,600 won't pay what the company wants to charge. "Midland Borough is an economically depressed community," Donatella said. "This is a crisis for us." [HUFFPOST]

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THIS ELECTION IS BANANAS - It shouldn't surprise anyone, but since many Americans are in deep denial about what's happening in this campaign, here goes: Donald Trump is definitely the most popular Republican candidate, while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are running pretty much neck-and-neck. Alan Rappeport: "The poll found that 39 percent of Republicans across the country support Mr. Trump, while 19 percent back Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and 18 percent back Senator Ted Cruz of Texas…. Things are tighter for the Democrats, where Hillary Clinton leads Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 44 percent to 42 percent." [NYT]

BUT IS IT GOOD FOR THE CRUZ? Yes. Janie Valencia: "The Republican primary may have just shifted in Ted Cruz's favor, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll released Wednesday. The poll, which stands contradictory to other state and national polls, shows the Texas senator 2 percentage points ahead of longtime front-runner Donald Trump." [HuffPost]

LOL Bill Kristol is always wrong.

JEB BUSH IS NOT GOING TO BE PRESIDENT - Former Florida governor and current punchline Jeb Bush isn't doing so hot in his bid for the White House. Eliot "HuffPost Hill" Nelson: "America's political dynasties regularly invite royal comparisons, and if the Bushes are our most well-known ruling family, then it's probably not a stretch to say that Jeb is our very own Prince Charles. It's not a perfect analogy -- he has enjoyed a remarkably stable and loving family life; Prince Charles has almost certainly never worn a cell phone belt clip -- but it syncs up well enough. Both men are high up in their dynasty's line of succession; both were granted lesser fiefdoms as other members of their family sat atop the throne; both whiled away their younger years as spoiled underachievers before maturing into something more respectable; and many people wish both would leave the scene for their more attractive and generally more promising progeny." [HuffPost]

Tough guy Jeb! borrows other peoples' slams to slam Marco Rubio.

JEB WILL DIE ON THIS HILL - Dough-faced disappointment Jeb Bush genuinely seems to think the path to the White House will be cleared if he awakens the American public to the threat posed by cussin'. Andrew Kaczynski: "'Donald Trump’s profanity has been one of the underreported stories, here in South Carolina. My experience is people find it repugnant that he would use foul language in crowds where children exist,' the former Florida governor told Newsmax Prime on Tuesday evening. 'Those aren’t South Carolina values.'" [Buzzfeed]

EVANGELICAL VOTERS WEIGH VOTING FOR GODLESS NEW YORKER - This has to be driving Ted Cruz nuts, right? Kevin Cirilli: "Trump maintains a dominant lead in the latest CNN poll of likely Republican voters in South Carolina, trouncing Cruz by a 38 percent to 22 percent margin. Among white evangelical voters, Trump's lead is even larger: 42 percent back Trump, compared with 23 percent for Cruz, according to the poll, which was conducted from Feb. 10-15." [Bloomberg News]

IT'S ALMOST AS THOUGH REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTERS HATE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY - Trip Gabriel: "[T]he stubborn popularity of Mr. Trump, who defies Republican orthodoxy on issue after issue, shows how deeply the party’s elites misjudged the faithfulness of rank-and-file Republicans to conservatism as defined in Washington think tanks and by the party’s elected leaders. The dichotomy is particularly vivid here in South Carolina, the most conservative state on the nominating calendar so far, where Mr. Trump holds a double-digit lead over his closest rivals in the latest polls." [NYT]

Trump has some curious ideas about why Barack Obama is president instead of Mitt Romney.

WATERBOARDING STILL NOT AS BAD AS 'THE APPRENTICE' - Donald Trump, who's probably fired people because his bathwater wasn't the perfect temperature, thinks waterboarding is kid stuff. Felicia Schwartz: "'Don’t tell me it doesn’t work,' he told about 500 people on Wednesday, to cheers. 'Torture works, OK folks? I think we should go much stronger than waterboarding, that’s the way I feel. They’re chopping off heads, believe me, we should go much stronger.'" [Wall Street Journal]

CRUZ TO TRUMP: I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I? - Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are threatening to sue other about a bunch of stupid garbage. One of these men has a roughly 50 percent chance to the be the next president. Katie Glueck: "Ted Cruz on Wednesday said Donald Trump's campaign had threatened legal action over a campaign ad. His response: Bring it on. Cruz, the former solicitor general of Texas and an ex-Supreme Court clerk, was in full lawyer mode as he stood before a hotel conference room packed with reporters and cameras and challenged Trump to file a lawsuit, relishing the prospect of personally deposing his Republican rival." [Politico]

RUBIO ACHIEVES UNSTOPPABLE 'MENTUM - Wishful-thinking beneficiary Marco Rubio reportedly will receive the endorsement of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ahead of Tuesday's primary election in the Palmetto State, which could be enough to propel him to the third-place finish he was going to claim anyway. Igor Bobic: "Haley has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential nominee. She also delivered the GOP response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address earlier this year, in which she took aim at Trump. On Tuesday, the governor sharpened that criticism, stating that the businessman represents 'everything a governor doesn't want in a president.'" [HuffPost]

OBAMA WITHHOLDS PRESIDENTIAL ENDORSEMENT - Seriously, though -- of course he prefers Hillary. Colleen McCain Nelson: "With the race for the Democratic nomination intensifying, Mr. Obama said that for now, he would let voters and caucus-goers have their say as Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders campaign ahead of several pivotal contests during the next few weeks. The president raised the possibility of making an endorsement in the future, though. 'Ultimately, I will probably have an opinion on it,' Mr. Obama said of the Democratic race." [Wall Street Journal]

The AFL-CIO also isn't planning to endorse a presidential candidate during the primaries.

RICH PEOPLE RENTING HILLARY CLINTON DEMAND ANSWERS - Hillary Clinton's campaign is trying to soothe the rich people financing her presidential run about how she's not doing as well as expected, which seems to have to something to do with all the rich people financing her campaign. Jason Horowitz: "Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager briefed some of her most loyal and active fundraisers this morning about the upcoming Nevada caucuses and responded to frustrations among some of her donors that the campaign needed to do a better job of demonstrating its successful mobilization of grassroots activists and small donors." [NYT]

The CEO of Bank of America got a huge raise, thank God.

LEFTIST NERDS DECRY SANDERS' WAR ON MATH - Four former chairpeople of the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama and President Clinton sent a letter to the Sanders campaign that can be summed up as: Stop making progressives look like Republicans by ignoring what numbers say. Shane Ferro: "'Making such promises runs against our party’s best traditions of evidence-based policy making and undermines our reputation as the party of responsible arithmetic,' the letter says." [HuffPost]

DEMOCRATS FORCED TO VISIT PLACES THAT AREN'T LAS VEGAS OR RENO - Did you know Nevada had more than two towns in it? Kurtis Lee: "The presidential campaigns of Clinton and her rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have filtered out far beyond Las Vegas’ glitzy casino core to woo rural voters who will carry an outsized influence in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses because of the way the party allocates precinct delegates. Though Democrats are sparse in these pockets of the state, rural counties are allotted more delegates than their population would be granted under a system of proportional representation. While 8% of Nevada Democrats live in rural areas, they account for 12% of caucus delegates and can be a fruitful target for candidates willing to traverse parched swaths of desert dotted by Joshua trees in search of support." [LA Times]

SLEEPY TED CRUZ HATES MORNINGS - Unlike Ben Carson, who is sleepy all the time. Katie Zezima: "There are the emails with the 1 a.m. time stamp, dinners that start when some people go to bed and meetings that stretch late into the night. Don’t expect to see him bright and early on the campaign trail -- in a field of GOP presidential candidates where 8 a.m. events happen with some regularity, Cruz starts late in the morning, often clutching a cup of coffee." [WashPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Somebody left this chimp all alone on an island, but then somebody else saved the chimp and took pictures.

KILLER MIKE GOES PROBLEMATIC - Sort of… Sam Levine: The rapper Killer Mike sparked a Twitter controversy Tuesday night by quoting a woman who told him that Hillary Clinton was not qualified to be president merely because she was a woman. The rapper, a supporter of Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, made the comments while introducing the Vermont senator at an event at Morehouse College in Georgia. 'I talked to Jane Elliott a few weeks ago and Jane said, 'Michael, a uterus doesn't qualify you to be president of the United States. You have to have policy that's reflective of social justice,'' Killer Mike said. 'Paying women a fair wage is social justice. Making sure that minorities have jobs is social justice. Ending a bullshit drug war is social justice.' After some people on Twitter accused Killer Mike of sexism, the rapper said that his comments had been taken out of context and that he was quoting Elliott, an educator and anti-racism activist famous for the 'blue eyes/brown eyes' experiments in which she divided a classroom based on eye color and gave one group more privileges than the other." [HuffPost]

BREAKING: ANDY HARRIS ENDORSES BEN CARSON - The Carson campaign says the Maryland Republican "understands the principles of leadership that we need in the White House" -- principles such as Don't Smoke Weed, Children. "As a physician, veteran, Congressman, and member of the House Freedom Caucus, I am proud to endorse Dr. Carson," Harris said in a release. "He will restore America to greatness - not as a punch line in a campaign, but as a belief in returning America to its Constitutional roots."

COMFORT FOOD

- Outrageously cute lion cub tries to roar with all his little heart, fails.

- Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make something your cat will definitely hate.

- In honor of Michael Jordan's birthday, Sports Illustrated has 100 photos of Jordan, apparently because he is 100 years old.

TWITTERAMA

@sam_baker: Let us set aside our divisions over the SCOTUS seat & give thanks together that at least this didn't happen while Aaron Sorkin had a TV show

@elisefoley: Now that Jeb stopped wearing glasses and Perry is out, Glasses Americans only have Sanders and Carson to root for.

@rgay: Just did a survey of my uterus and found the qualifications necessary to be president. They will be shed shortly so vote now.

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