POLITICS
06/22/2011 06:02 pm ET | Updated Aug 22, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL.. Jon Huntsman's Family LOVES Harry Reid

Newt Gingrich is defending his incoherent campaign in the same wounded manner that a writer defends a rejected New Yorker short story. Republicans are upset that Jon Huntsman's family members are receiving autopenned "thank you"s from Harry Reid and swigging from BPA-free DNC-branded water bottles. And drunks across Washington lamented the temporary closure of the Tune Inn. They will now have to find a new watering hole in which to eat buffalo chicken balls and blur the lines between government and media. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011:

OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE (SMALL) TROOP DRAWDOWN TONIGHT - In a televised address this evening, the president will announce that 10,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by then end of the year, with another 20,000 slated to depart by the end of September 2012. The rate and size of the withdrawal are faster and greater than had been recommended by the president's military advisers but far less than the public is calling for. If he follows his timetable, on October 1, 2012, there will still be about twice as many troops in the country than when President Obama took office. [CBS News]

David Wood: "President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan signals the beginning of the end for the ambitious counterinsurgency strategy that Army Gen. David Petraeus designed and has single-mindedly pursued in Iraq and Afghanistan. His strategy, which embraced the concept of 'winning the people' rather than simply killing the enemy, has attracted a growing number of critics -- including Vice President Joe Biden, senior members of Congress and even veteran military officers -- who contend that it didn't work in Iraq and hasn't worked in Afghanistan. Within the ranks, COIN has become known disparagingly as 'armed nation building.' ... Now, the president has declared that the short-term 'surge' of 30,000 troops he authorized 18 months ago has worked in achieving limited goals, and it's time to move on. Using counterinsurgency warfare as a means to such lofty goals as creating a constitutional democracy and a vibrant market economy in Afghanistan, even promoting women's rights, are largely gone. Even the Army is distancing itself from the COIN doctrine it has embraced for a decade. Its new strategy refocuses the Army's warfighting brigades on traditional combat formations. COIN is conspicuously absent from the revised concept, which was developed under the direction of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Obama's nominee to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The president removed Petraeus from military command and nominated him to head the Central Intelligence Agency." [HuffPost]

The Tune Inn, the Capitol Hill dive bar that is a regular staging ground for shitfaced revelry, caught fire this morning. Most of the damage was limited to the kitchen area, and the bar -- which is frequented by members, staffers, reporters and other dregs -- should be back up and running at some point this summer. The fire, like everything else in American life, was caught by a surveillance camera. [HuffPost]

Our Anonymous Radicalized Marginal House Democrat is distraught: "I am inconsolable. Where will less reputable House members meet less reputable members of the press? I'm sure Andrea Mitchell's access to her sources will be unaffected, but Huffington Post's coverage of Congress will be devastated." Our sympathies, ARMHD!

Why was Buck McKeon trying to scrap the Pakistan-Afghanistan Study Group with this letter to the Rules Committee? Either way, he failed a few minutes ago.

PATENT REFORM HOUSE VOTE LATER THIS WEEK - The House is punting on a vote on section 18 amendments; it involves patent law and we're struggling to put it into a box. Basically, the issue is what type of business practice is patent-able, and there do seem to be some abuses that make us sympathize (!) with the bank lobbyists on this one. So we must not understand it. Debate begins this evening with votes later this week.

YOU SHOULD BE IN JAIL SO I CAN BE PAID TO WATCH YOU - A new report, Gaming the System, shows how the private prison industry has been using its influence to lobby to put more people behind bars so that it can make more money. If you can think of anything more cynical than that, you should probably hang a shingle on K Street if you haven't already.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Unemployment, sex and death all wrapped together in today's Daily Delaney Downer PRO. "When somebody loses their job it's like losing someone they love," said Betty Pendarvis, who volunteers at a "job club" in Northern Virginia. Long-term unemployment is such a grief process in fact, that Labor Department guidance encouraging states to support job clubs says they should be more like 12-step grief counseling than workforce development. "When people lose their jobs they feel like crap," job club volunteer John Covington said. "On the emotional level it's not far down to losing a loved one to death or divorce." [HuffPost]

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Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

NEWT GINGRICH: STAFF QUIT BECAUSE I'M 'DIFFERENT' - During an address to the Atlanta Press Club today, Newt Gingrich tried to play down the (ongoing?) mass exodus of his staff. "Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians, and normal consultants found that very hard to deal with," Gingrich said, which is kind of the political equivalent of John Lennon getting pissed at his fellow Beatles for not getting why he made "Two Virgins" and stripped naked for the cover. "We have big ideas. I just think that's part of how you campaign. You talk to the American people about big things," he added. "If I had to choose Reaganomics or 13 staffers quitting, I think for the average working American, Reaganomics was a much better deal." Also, isn't it odd that Newt Gingrich, a man whose association with the modern conservative movement is second only to Ronald Reagan, thinks he's philosophically "very different from other politicians"? Never change, Newt. [Reuters]

Christina Wilkie and Lauren Rothman have fashion advice for interns.

Rick Perry will head to New Hampshire in October where he will headline Cornerstone Action's annual gala. Cornerstone's director, Kevin Smith (no, not that Kevin Smith), who is a conservative power broker in the state, lavished praise on the Texas governor in a statement. "Governor Perry has been a model example of both fiscal and social conservative leadership for the rest of the nation. Not to mention, he has also overseen the most robust economy of any state over the last decade," he said. Also not to mention: He's overseen more executions than any governor in modern history, including of possibly innocent and retarded people. [National Journal]

Assorted members of Jon Huntsman's family have contributed to Harry Reid, reports John Ralston. This could have potentially devastating effects on his campaign, knocking him from his commanding eighth place position in the polls. [Las Vegas Sun]

Sarah Palin will not finish her bus tour of America. Instead, she and her family will spend the rest of the summer in Alaska. Cool news, right?

Weiner's resignation letter is finally going to the floor tomorrow, maybe.

BOEHNER SABER RATTLING ON LIBYA - In the same week that John McCain and John Kerry introduced legislation to give President Obama Congress' blessing for operations in Libya, the House speaker said his conference is leaning against supporting such a measure. "If you've listened to what Sen. McCain has said and Sen. Graham, two friends of mine, and you've listened to what I and some others have said, we've said almost the exact same thing," Boehner told reporters, "except they're pushing for an authorization in Libya, and I don't think that's where the House is." As an aside, what do politicians say when they are ACTUALLY friends with another politician? -- the term "friend" has been inflated beyond the point of return. "Companion," "Fellow-traveler," "Buddy," "Confidant" ... "ManFriend"? [Politico]

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out former HuffPoster Jose Antonio Vargas' stirring account of his life as an undocumented American in the New York Times Magazine: "I'm done running. I'm exhausted. I don't want that life anymore. So I've decided to come forward, own up to what I've done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. I've reached out to former bosses­ and employers and apologized for misleading them -- a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure. All the people mentioned in this article gave me permission to use their names. I've also talked to family and friends about my situation and am working with legal counsel to review my options. I don't know what the consequences will be of telling my story." [NYT]

Michael Calderone reports that the Post was going to run the story, but then dropped it.

Nice job, WaPo.

HEY, REMEMBER ERIC MASSA? - You know, the congressman who in early 2010 resigned after being accused of grope-ticking his staffers? Sure, that was, like, 30 disgraced New York politicians with unorthodox sexual habits ago, but it was a big deal. It was such a big deal that then Minority Leader John Boehner vowed to investigate. Here's the thing: he still hasn't. Jordy Yager: "It is now nearly six months since the GOP took control of the House and the House committees and Boehner replaced Pelosi in the Speaker's chair. Yet Boehner and fellow Republicans have not issued any demands of the Ethics Committee to release its investigative findings on who among the House Democratic leadership knew about allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct between Massa and his staff, and when they knew it." [The Hill]

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Kathy Hochul, who replaced one of those disgraced New York politicians with unorthodox sexual habits, is settling in: "In her first three weeks in office, Hochul has dug in on policy--cosponsoring two bills with New York Democrat Brian Higgins to streamline the passport acquirement process, introducing a motion on the House floor to restore Republican cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and meeting with the president to talk the economy and job creation."

The Daily Caller getting meta: "Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain ripped former one-term Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney after finding out Romney's recently-released schedule didn't have The Daily Caller/Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)/YouTube debate on it."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - We owe you, our readers, a heartfelt apology for not telling you about AnimalsBeingDicks.com sooner. [http://animalsbeingdicks.com/]

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - First of all, sorry for your (temporary) loss. She will be missed. All hail the Tune Inn! Tonight: Thunderstorms popping up around the region. There's no rhyme or reason; it's simply summer weather (hooray, summer!). Tomorrow: There's a cold front coming through, but it's not expected until this weekend. Until then, you can count on some hot, sticky, humid days ahead. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- If Ron Swanson had his own Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream flavor [http://huff.to/mERZov]

- The trailer for Cars 2 but made of LEGOs. An obvious marketing ploy? Sure. Awesome? Yes. [http://huff.to/jg1Zmt]

- Guy peels coconuts with his teeth. European onlookers are concerned. [http://huff.to/mj87Di]

- The ten most bizarre-looking large insects on the planet. Not really "comfort food" unless you find disturbing insects comforting. Or if you eat them. [http://huff.to/jE12QC]

- Dog howls as kid plays the harmonica and our lives become just a little bit brighter. [http://huff.to/lriwsg]

- "8 Filthy Jokes Hidden in Ancient Works of Art" says a lot about ancient societies ... and the one we're in. [http://huff.to/iP0DPe]

- Tom Hanks went on Univsion and started to dance around during the weather report. What a likeable guy. [http://huff.to/iq7m4y]

- This cow demonstrates, without question, that cattle will soon overtake humanity. [http://huff.to/jnyJ9l]

TWITTERAMA

@delrayser: Jon Huntsman says that now that he's announced, his support in NH should grow exponentially. Quick, what's zero squared?

@wise_kaplan: 800 words is the right length for that piece you're writing.

@BenjySarlin: Handwriting analysis reveals that Anthony Weiner is no longer a House member today.

@DannyDeVito: don't raise da retirement age! you expect folks to bop till they drop? WTF you gon have a truck driver on da road till he or she's 68?

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Raul Grijalva, no doubt stricken by the temporary loss of the Tune Inn, will eat and/or drink his feelings at his "Sonoran-Style Hot Dog Fest" [National Democratic Club Townhouse, 40 Ivy Street SE].

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Richard Lugar goes to a corporate office, shakes hands with people and makes some bland speech that might be of interest to those in attendance. Lisa Murkowski and Richard Burr might join him. POLITICS!!! [c2 Group, 101 Constitution Ave NW Suite 900].

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Ron Johnson pitches his campaign to wealthy GOP types. He's joined by a trio of Jo(h)ns: Jon Kyl, John Cornyn and John Thune [National Republican Senatorial Committee - 425 2nd Street NE].

6:30 pm: Newly-minted senator Dean Heller has been fundraising up a storm lately. Akin Gump and Honeywell host. Bringing out the big guns, we see. Shelley Berkely-is-a-comin' [Honeywell International, 101 Constitution Ave NW Suite 500 West].

7:30 pm - 9:30 pm: Jim Clyburn treats his donors to the Sade/John Legend concert at Verizon Center. Something about Jim Clyburn singing "Smooth Operator" makes us smile [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].

TOMORROW

8:00 am: John Barrasso turns the key and hits the red button: he throws a fundraiser at the Podesta Townhouse. Lamar Alexander comes and says "hi." [Podesta Townhouse, 131 C St SE].

8:30 am: John Thune passes the hat for his Heartland Values PAC at a K Street office. Goddamnit we hate Washington [901 K Street NW 11th Floor Suite 500].

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e