Wednesday, December 14, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - John Dingell Reflects On His Past, Tries Not To Barf.. Obama Campaign 'Microlistening' (Just Not To Women).. Government Shutdown ::Yawn:: Looms

HuffPost Hill
By Eliot Nelson, Arthur Delaney & Dave Jamieson

The Obama campaign is now "microlistening," probably because civil rights groups complained that it wasn't employing enough neologisms. Mitt Romney called Newt Gingrich "zany" -- pretty heated language, even for a hardened dude who once tasted beer (!). And an administration study of the Affordable Care Act finds it has expanded health insurance coverage to 2.5 million young people. That's a damn shame: the death panels are going to have to work double time to offset that number. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, December 14th, 2011:

JOHN DINGELL: SEASONED, THOUGHTFUL, READY TO PUKE - A great bit from Roll Call's forthcoming profile of The Dingell by Jonathan Strong: "'You're talking to a guy who is really sad, but also who is really angry,' Rep. John Dingell told Roll Call in a wide-ranging interview on the eve of the 56th anniversary to his election to Congress in 1955. If a version of himself from 20 or 30 years ago were suddenly transported to the current day, he said, 'I'd probably want to go and vomit.' The Dean of the House spreads the blame though, from House Speaker John Boehner and the Tea-Party inspired candidates who wrested control of the chamber from Democrats to President Barack Obama, who he said needs to engage with the public or suffer the fate of one-termer Jimmy Carter. He even has a few harsh words for the press."

CAVE SIREN | CAVE SIREN | CAVE SIREN - "After months of arguing that millionaires should have to pay their fair share for the costs of the president's job bill, Democrats are poised to drop a provision that would make them do so. In a Wednesday meeting between Senate Democratic leaders, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, lawmakers discussed alternative methods of paying for a payroll tax cut extension, which is set to expire at the end of December and remains stuck in limbo in Congress." [HuffPost's Jen Bendery and Sam Stein]

WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS TO OBAMA: REALLY, DUDE? REALLY? - In the wake of the Plan B decision, Laura Bassett surveyed women's advocacy groups and discovered that -- go figure -- some people don't want to unexpectedly become responsible for a small creature who won't be able to take care of him or herself for 18 years. Huh. "I think the women of this country are not disappointed, they're infuriated," Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told HuffPost. "I'm gonna tell you the truth -- we're supporting President Obama as a means to get better alternatives. It's not like we think he's great for women, but we know we need to move in that direction, and frankly in this moment women must be engaged and must be mobilized to vote for the candidate that is a stepping stone toward real equality, even though there's no candidate that represents that now." Damn. The quote from Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, isn't any less critical. [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) has a plan to reduce income inequality. "Let's stop talking about 1 percent versus 99 percent," Ellmers (R-N.C.) said during a press conference on Tuesday. "Let's increase it to 2 percent versus 98. And let's keep going from there." The way to do this, according to Ellmers, is to make life harder for the unemployed via the GOP's jobs bill. "Back in my district, the 99 weeks of unemployment has been a huge issue for my small-business owners," Ellmers said. "They have jobs right now that they could be filling and yet they're not because people are living out that time and now they're dropping off. That's why we see an unemployment rate now down to 8.6 percent. Not because thousands of jobs are being created, but because people are simply not looking for jobs anymore." Shortly after the press conference where Ellmers said this stuff, her office blasted out a completely different and less-weird statement. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - The AFL-CIO wants members of Congress to watch videos of unemployed people explaining what will happen to them if their benefits are not reauthorized. Karen, a jobless bank teller, says she'll apply for welfare and her bills will not get paid. [YouTube]

LABOREM EXERCENS - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops mailbombed Congress with a 1981 encyclical from Pope John Paul II: "The obligation to provide unemployment benefits, that is to say, the duty to make suitable grants indispensable for the subsistence of unemployed workers and their families, is a duty springing from the fundamental principle of ... the right to life and subsistence." Booyah. [HuffPost]

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FEDERAL AGENCIES PREPARE AGAIN FOR A POSSIBLE SHUTDOWN - Government workers are being told to prepare for a possible scenario in which Congress cannot agree on a way to fund their work. We're pretty sure that these warnings have become so commonplace that federal employees now use them to mark the passage of the lunar calendar. Or something (Government Employee 1: "Hey Marge, what are you looking at?" Government Employee 2: "Oh nothing, just a warning from the chief about a possible shutdown." Government Employee 1: "Oh shoot, that reminds me! I gotta replace my Brita filter!" etc.). WaPo: "The Obama administration is alerting employees to the possibility of a government shutdown if talks on bills to fund the government and extend the payroll tax cut collapse later this week. With Congress facing a midnight Friday deadline to pass either a short-term or final measure to fund government operations for the remainder of the fiscal year, Cabinet secretaries and agency heads planned to send an e-mail message to workers by close of business Wednesday informing them that a shutdown could occur, according to multiple administration officials familiar with the plans. In a statement, Office of Management and Budget spokesman Kenneth Baer said Wednesday that 'There is no reason for the government to shut down.' Congress could act quickly to pass a short- or long-term spending measure, Baer said, as they have seven times already this year. 'We do need to be prepared for any contingency,' Baer said, which is why agencies were informing workers by e-mail." [WaPo]

Concern over a shutdown was exacerbated today as members from both parties refused to budge on the payroll tax extension. "The most immediate concern at this point is, despite the federal funding expiring two days from now on Friday night, my friend the majority leader is blocking action on the funding bill that would keep the government open,' Mitch McConnell said on the floor today. Mike McAuliff and Sam Stein: "The government runs out of funding on Dec. 16. Few observers expected that date to spark another shutdown fight, since House and Senate lawmakers had finished most of the work on the so-called omnibus bill designed to keep Washington running. But now a move to extend the 2 percent payroll tax holiday is suddenly getting in the way, after the House passed a GOP measure to do that Tuesday packed with items the Democrats see as poison pills. Senate Democrats want to pass a 3.1 percent cut, paid for by a surtax on income above $1 million, and believe that they have overwhelming public support on their side." [HuffPost]

A HISTORIC DAY: DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS UNITE AND DECLARE THAT NO ONE REALLY CARES ABOUT AUSTERITY - Jen Bendery: "The Senate on Wednesday rejected two efforts to insert a Balanced Budget Amendment into the U.S. Constitution. Both parties offered versions of the constitutional amendment, which would prevent the government from spending more money than it brings in. The Democratic proposal, sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.), went down in a 21 to 79 vote. The GOP proposal, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), also failed, 47 to 53. Both required a two-thirds majority vote to pass. Congress is required to vote on -- but not necessarily pass -- some kind of Balanced Budget Amendment this year as part of the bipartisan debt limit deal reached over the summer. During Wednesday's votes, Republicans took to Twitter to rail against a Democratic proposal they said had too many holes in it. 'Just voted No on weak balanced budget amdt. Won't solve the problem if it has too many loopholes and exceptions,' tweeted Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). 'Senate is currently voting on the D's Balanced Budget Amendment, which would require tax increases to balance the budget. I don't support it,' Hatch tweeted." [HuffPost]

The White House today lifted its veto threat of the defense authorization bill. The revised language "does not challenge or constrain the president's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the American people," Jay Carney said in a statement. That probably means that Guantanamo guards have to say "thesafetywordis'hubabaloo'" very quickly and very quietly before every interrogation, and/or that rights can be read to detainees in Pig Latin. Loophole fever! Catch it! National Journal: "The House is poised to pass the bill on Wednesday, despite controversial provisions requiring military detention for some terrorism suspects. The Obama administration had threatened to veto the massive $662 billion defense bill over the detainee provisions, contending it was unacceptable for legislation to constrain the president's authorities in handling the war on terror. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and head to Obama's desk this week." [National Journal]

GAME CHANGER - "Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson will drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination and instead seek to run as a Libertarian, according to the Independent Political Report." [The Hill]

Easy there, big guy! Mitt Romney had some choice words for Newt Gingrich: "Zany is not what we need in a president." Look out! [NYT]

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION BRAVELY INJECTS SELF-HELP JARGON INTO 2012 RACE - We got a kick out of a recent article in a political science journal that referred to the change of something over time as "temporal variation." The Obama campaign has now devised an equally inane term for "paying close attention." Behold: "[Will] St. Clair is among more than a dozen developers hired by the campaign to leverage technology to wring out more votes in what Obama's advisers say may be an election as close as the contested 2000 race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. From Seattle startups to International Business Machines Corp., they've left lucrative jobs to mine for swing voters. They've added a new term to the strategic lexicon: microlistening." That is so macrostupid. [Bloomberg]

EVIL HEALTH CARE REFORM LAW KEEPING MILLIONS OF YOUNG PEOPLE ALIVE, FURTHER ANGERING CONSERVATIVES - That's millions of more measly kids who won't hike up their damn pants and turn down that damn MTV ::fist shake::. Repeal. The. Bill. "Young adults trying to get traction in a tough economy are getting a welcome assist: the new federal health care law has markedly improved their access to health insurance. The number of young Americans ages 19-25 lacking health insurance has shrunk by 2.5 million since President Barack Obama's health care overhaul took effect, the administration announced in an analysis released Wednesday. That drop is 2 1/2 times as large as the decline indicated by previous government and private estimates from earlier this year, which showed about 1 million had gained coverage. The improvement comes even as the uninsured rate stayed basically stuck for those a little older, ages 26-35." [AP]

TODAY IN 'EVERYTHING IS POLITICIZED' - An excerpt from John Boehner's official State of the Union invitation to President Obama: "In the coming year, Republicans will continue our efforts to create an environment for economic growth and job creation, and we welcome an opportunity to hear your new ideas for working with the Congress. Therefore, I am privileged to invite you to deliver an address on the State of the Union on January 24th, 2012, before a Joint Session of Congress." BAM. [Office of the Speaker]

BUSINESS! - "Buried deep in American Airlines' Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is a striking asset -- a town house in one of London's most expensive residential streets that property experts say could be worth up to $30 million.The five-bedroom house in London's high-end Kensington district is a throwback to the airline's expansion two decades ago and stands a 10 minute walk from the former home of Princess Diana, with gentry and diplomats as neighbours...The plush residence in Cottesmore Gardens -- recently named Britain's 10th most expensive address by property firm Zoopla -- could become a thorn in the airline's side as it fights its way through bankruptcy. Corporate restructuring usually involves sacrifices by staff, retirees and creditors." Indeed! [Reuters]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Adorable preview of adorable sloth sanctuary show.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: okay, there are clouds. No big deal, right? Not like there's rain or anything. No, the rain comes tomorrow, but will only be around for part of the day. Aside from the showers, it should be nice and sunny. Thanks, JB!

By @bradjshannon!!!!11

- The best 6-second reindeer-related cartoon you'll see today. []

- Three and a half minutes of internet video mashup zaniness. Great editing. []

- Some comets are going to get crossbow-ned by NASA. []

- Jimmy Kimmel issues Christmas-themed YouTube challenge. []

- Now you can enjoy your favorite authors as (creepy?) dolls. Joyce Carol Oates +1. []

- Lizard is a natural at the fly-swatting smartphone game. []

- The trailer for Sasha Baron Cohen's new movie. Snap review: meh. []

- "The People's Skype" is The People's Mic 2.0. []

- If we had a dollar for every time a seal wound up on our couch... []


@dnewhauser: Tucked away in the Capitol basement

@pourmecoffee:Getting sadder and sadder for Romney. His next ad is going to be Sarah McLachlan just holding him to "Arms of an Angel."

@jamespmanley: Senator thune, You are as irrelevant to the senate right now as ever before. Don't ever change

By @tylerkingkade


5:30pm - 8:00pm: DC Vote invites you to eat, drink, and be merry about not having a voice in Congress at their holiday party. [2000 P Street, NW, Suite 200]

5:30pm - 8:00pm: Nerds unite at the Washington Statistical Society Holiday Party with a food drive for the Capital Area Food Bank. [5441 Wisconsin Ave, Chevy Chase, Md.]

5:30pm - 8:30pm: The Nuclear Energy Institute invites you to bring gifts for Toys For Tots at their holiday party. [101 Constitution Ave NW]

6:00pm - 9:00pm: Microsoft holiday party: 'You are invited to a reception filled with merriment, good cheer, the latest Xbox 360/Kinect games and a special guest via Skype from the North Pole.' Don't really have much to add to that, except you need to see this photo on their invitation. [901 K Street, NW]

6:30pm: Tagg Romney will get protested as he tries to raise money with the lobbying group that proposed a $825,000 plan to discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement for his papa, Mitt Romney. Three dozen Congressional Republicans such as Orrin Hatch, Thad Cochran, Hal Rogers, Darrell Issa, Lamar Smith and others will be there too. [1110 Vermont Ave., NW]

6:30pm: Jim DeMint will not be at Romney's shindig, he'll be passing the hat for Rand Paul's RAND PAC. Message here: The government spends too much money, but we can't spend enough with our Super PAC, donate today! [601 Pennsylvania Ave NW]

9:00pm: Opera Ultra Lounge has a monthly Wednesday night open bar in their "80s Disco-Chic New York club vibe," with a light show, drink creations and "beautiful guests." [1400 I Street NW]


8:00am: Joe Manchin raises money at the (presuming this exists) 'politician fundraising dining room' at Johnny's Half Shell. Jim DeMint, who is retiring, is also raising money there. [400 North Capitol Street NW #175]

8:30am: Pete Sessions and Bill Flores raise money Tex-Mex style at Tortilla Coast. [400 First Street SE]

8:30am: Bob Corker raises money over breakfast. [425 2nd Street NE]

12:30pm - 2:00pm: John Larson raises money with several major labor unions at -- where else? -- Johnny's Half Shell. [400 North Capitol Street NW #175]

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (, Ryan Grim ( or Arthur Delaney ( Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill ( Sign up here:

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