HUFFPOST HILL - House GOPers Send Staffers To Christian Readjustment Camp

09/12/2011 06:36 pm ET | Updated Nov 12, 2011
  • Eliot Nelson Eliot Nelson is a politics reporter and editor in the Huffington Post's D.C.bue=reau


Americans observed the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 by getting on with their lives: watching football, going to church and, in Pete Sessions' case, golfing with political benefactors just miles from the Pentagon (You lose, Mohamed Atta!!). We learned that if Rick Santorum were to style his hair like Herman Cain, he'd looked like an escaped lobotomy patient. And the Times is set to report that President Obama is clinically depressed, so if you see the commander-in-chief shuffling around in sweatpants and a bathrobe while stuffing his face with Mallomars, you now know why. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, September 12th, 2011:

HOUSE REPUBLICANS SEND THEIR STAFF TO JESUS CAMP ON TAXPAYER'S DIME - Paul Singer: "This spring, four House Republicans used money from their Congressional office accounts to send five staff members to a training seminar run by a conservative Christian group in Indiana that is leading the charge in the state for an amendment to ban gay marriage. The expense, totaling $2,500 for the group, is a perfectly legal use of taxpayer money, but it highlights the broad array of things Members of Congress can pay for out of their office accounts. The payments also underscore the tight web of relationships Members can build with favored causes without violating rules against using taxpayer money to fund political activity." As a mental exercise, try changing "Republicans" to "Democrats" and "a conservative Christian group in Indiana that is leading the charge in the state for an amendment to ban gay marriage" to "a Muslim community outreach organization." Then imagine how much more play this article would get. Too bad this article will be forgotten about in a week. Nice work, though!

REPUBLICAN DEBATE TONIGHT! HOORAY? - It's the second of the Rick Perry-era debates and this one is being held in conjunction with the Tea Party so expect the primary field's elastic relationship to reality to be extra stretchy tonight. The lower-tier candidates, trying to improve their situations, will be super feisty: Newt Gingrich will revert back to his can't-fail strategy of berating the hosts. Michele Bachmann will try to out-insane herself to remind viewers that she still exists, which is kind of like asking something to travel faster than the speed of light. Rick Santorum might straight up punch himself in the face to demonstrate his fealty to the conservative movement. Jon Huntsman will probably get riled up and call someone a ne'er-do-well. Up at the top, Mitt Romney will step up his game on Rick Perry and Rick Perry will constantly bring up all the people who have been strapped to a dentist's chair and injected with potassium chloride on his watch, because that got everyone so hot and bothered at the Reagan Library last week. In case you aren't in the mood for another debate, A&E will be running an episode of "Hoarders," "Bad Girls Club" will be on Oxygen, Telemundo will be showcasing "Camino a la Corona" and, lest we forget, there's the "1001 Ways to Die" marathon on Spike (which isn't about Newt Gingrich's campaign, apparently). Also, football. CNN at 8:00 pm if you do want to watch. We'll be livesnarking it @HuffPostHill.

The Jim Manley Sellout Watch is over! He has sold out! The auction lasted almost a year, but Quinn Gillespie finally made a bid. The lobbying and public affairs shop represents underprivileged youth in the United States and abroad, advocates for strict environmental protections, restrictions on campaign finance and lobbying and is well known for its opposition to U.S. wars exactly who you'd think. "Quinn Gillespie is fortunate to have someone of Jim Manley's caliber. After twenty-one years in the Senate, no one knows more about Capitol Hill and how Washington works than Jim," Harry Reid said in a grotesque statement.

YEAH, BOEHNER IS GOING THERE - David Rogers: "Instead of the agreed-upon appropriations target of $1.043 trillion, a stop-gap continuing resolution or CR this week would be calibrated at a lower $1.035 trillion level. That would effectively withhold about $8 billion for the first two months of the fiscal year, with the money becoming available only as Senate Democrats come to terms with the House on the dozen annual spending that cover government operations. The strategy appears driven by two forces. First, pro-defense Republicans close to Boehner fear that the August deal was tilted too far against Pentagon spending--and Democrats will find it easier to extend the CR than bargain on the individual bills. Second, beyond the dollars themselves, Republicans will want to use the appropriations bills to advance the party's anti-regulatory agenda. Legislative riders impacting policy decisions by President Barack Obama--including his healthcare reforms--are sure to be in the offing, whereas the CR will be relatively clean of these provisions." [Politico]

The bad net neutrality rules are moving forward in the FCC.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - In June, Robert Annis lost his long-time job as a reporter at the Indianapolis Star when media conglomerate and Star owner Gannett cut 700 employees to save money. For the past few months, instead of writing about Hamilton County as he'd done for the previous nine years, Annis has been reporting via Twitter on his own search for work. So far his efforts have yielded several interviews, but no offers. "Don't know which I'm more excited for: Hearing back about potential @Zipp_USA job or the Dr. Who summer premiere Saturday," he tweeted to his 1,700 followers in August. In most of his tweets about his search, Annis has included the Twitter handle of his prospective employer, which in this case was a bike accessory company. He followed up on Aug. 22: "Terrific second interview @Zipp_USA yesterday. Great meeting Brian, @Jason_Fowler and @Rip_Zipp. Crossing fingers for good news next week." It took longer than a week to get the news, which turned out to be bad. "Didn't get the @zipp_usa job," Annis tweeted on Sept. 7. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - "The state agency responsible for handling unemployment benefits will soon be adding hundreds of people to the jobless ranks. The [Washington] state Department of Employment Security sent an email to its workers Wednesday alerting them that around 390 full-time equivalent positions will be eliminated over the next two years. This is largely because of cuts in federal funding. Most of the positions will be lost next year." [HuffPost]

The annual update on how many Americans live in poverty and with no health insurance comes out tomorrow morning.

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

WHITE HOUSE SENDS JOBS BILL TO CONGRESS - President Obama today sought to say "Pass This Bill" as much as humanly possible without having every cable news outlet cut away to Chris Jansing discussing a walrus that only eats Rolos and Fig Newtons. He succeeded, mostly. "Instead of just talking about America's jobs creators, let's actually do something for America's jobs creators," Obama said. "We can do that by passing this bill." In response, House Speaker John Boehner requested that the Congressional Budget Office analyze the bill. "While we have a different vision for what is needed to support job creation in our country, we appreciate the president's pledge to transmit legislation to Congress and will immediately request that it be scored by the Congressional Budget Office," he said in a statement. [The Hill]

Gawker: "We're told by a source inside the Times that the paper is preparing a story arguing that Obama no longer finds joy in the political back-and-forth, has seemed increasingly listless to associates, and is generally exhibiting the litany of signs that late-night cable commercials will tell you add up to depression." [Gawker]

OMB UNVEILS HOW IT WILL PAY FOR JOBS PLAN - Office of Management and Budget Chair Jack Lew today briefed reporters on how the White House will offset the costs of the American Jobs Act (side bar: whenever we hear the phrase "American Jobs Act" we think of a bunch of people in those McDonald's purple polo shirts and black visors looking proud while standing behind the president and applauding). The measure will mostly be paid for with changes to the tax code, specifically a reduction in the amount of things that people with 200K-plus incomes (and families with 250K-plus incomes) can deduct. So venture capitalists take note: As much as that J. Press leather desk organizer may help your child in their studies at Choate, or that extra study room you're thinking about building will help your wife start her throw pillow business, there's a chance the government won't help you out. Also included will be a reclassification of carried interest as ordinary gains, the end of subsidies for fossil fuel producers and the end of tax breaks for corporate jet owners. A surtax on unicorn breeders would nicely round out this totally-gonna-happen list of proposals. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

@samsteinhp: Obama's jobs act would amend the $1.5 trillion target for the super committee to make it $1.95 trillion

@BloombergGovt: President Obama's proposals aimed to spur small business growth would hand $3.1M to big employers like Wal-Mart for routine payroll growth.

WARNING: You cannot unsee "GOP Presidential Candidate Hair Swaps (PICTURES)." Rick Perry with Michele Bachmann's hair looks like Fabio's car dealer.

BOBBY JINDAL TO RICK PERRY: HI, I'M BOBBY JINDAL! - Haha! Get it?! 'Cause he's really dopey and awkward! Actually, the Louisiana governor didn't simply introduce himself to his Texas counterpart, he actually plans on endorsing the guy. Jindal will accompany Rick Perry to tonight's GOP primary debate in Florida as the current frontrunner's guest. Expect a number of references tonight from Perry to that skinny, goofy fella raht yere in the front row. [CNN]

TIM PAWLENTY ENDORSES MITT ROMNEY - When a dull, mainstream, unadventurous white guy unceremoniously drops out of a presidential race early in the cycle and proceeds to endorse the most popular dull, mainstream, unadventurous white guy, it isn't so much a surprise as it is political fetal resorption. Tim Pawlenty did just that this morning when he fused himself to Mitt Romney's robustly gestating campaign. "President Obama has failed to meet America's economic challenges ... Fortunately, America may get a second chance: Mitt Romney is running for president, and I am proud to endorse him," the former Minnesota governor said in a statement circulated by the Romney campaign. There are no explicit references to social issues, which Romney has been wishy-washy about in the past, just a passing reference to Romney being "a man of great character. He and his wife Ann have been married for more than four decades. She is the love of his life. Together, they have five sons and sixteen grandchildren." A Pawlenty endorsement doesn't exactly provide Romney with a ton of new supporters -- about as many people were upset by Pawlenty's decision to drop out as would be if Anheuser-Busch discontinued production of Bud Light Lime -- but it does signal that "establishment" Republicans are still supporting Romney despite Rick Perry's frontrunner status. [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

Romney's email blast program was obviously feeling under the weather this morning. Amanda Terkel's email was addressed to "Derek" and Jason Cherkis' was intended for "Jean." If Romney can't robotically contact his supporters correctly, how can we expect him to face Ahmadinejad? Hmmmmm???

A new CNN poll, conducted in the days after Wednesday's debate, has Rick Perry way out in front with 30 percent. Mitt Romney is a distant second with 18 percent with Sarah Palin right behind him at 15 percent. Ron Paul is in fourth with 12 percent. Michele Bachmann only earns four percent of the respondents' support. Jon Huntsman is in there somewhere, close to the bottom. Also, remember Newt Gingrich? [WSJ]

BEHOLD RICK PERRY'S SUGAR DADDY-ISH RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS BASE - Ken Vogel has a great piece detailing the way Rick Perry exploits Texas' lax campaign finance regulations to basically have his donors pay for a lifestyle that would make Imelda Marcos blush. Marvel at Vogel's innate investigative reporter's ability to make stuff sound way luxurious: "Some of the same Texas donors who have funded Perry's political rise also have footed the bills for Perry and his family to jet around the world, stay in luxury hotels and resorts, vacation in tony Colorado ski towns, attend all manner of sporting events and concerts, and to maintain, entertain -- and even pay the cable bill -- at the 4,600-square-foot mansion with a heated pool that taxpayers are renting for him at a cost of about $8,500 a month. And that's to say nothing of the wide range of sometimes-expensive gifts Perry has accepted over the years, including 22 pairs of cowboy boots, Stetson hats, belt buckles, cuff links and at least nine hunting trips." Think of it like this: If Rick Perry were the leader of a banana republic and was using taxpayer funds instead of political donations, he would ultimately be helicopter-extracted out of his heavily-guarded, palm tree-lined, all-white presidential compound by a CIA covert-ops team as throngs of pissed-off Chiquita workers converged on his residence. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. [Politico]

A recap of Pete Session's awkward 9/11 golf fundraiser not far from the Pentagon, via Christina Wilkie

DENNIS KUCINICH AND BETTY SUTTON'S DISTRICTS AXED - Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature will consider redistricting that will be introduced later this week, the Plain Dealer reported today. Democrats will be squeezed out of two seats -- the two occupied by Sutton and Kucinich -- and will gain one so a Republican district can be made safer. Expect Kucinich to begin ranting a lot more about Boeing's departure from Washington and expressing his love for bacon-flavored doughnuts. [Plain Dealer]

Rep. John Culberson, despite being one of the most frenzied anti-government Republicans in congress, is directing his constituents to websites promoting government and lobbying jobs. "As your representative, I have worked to keep tax rates low and limit the size of government so businesses can grow and create jobs," Culberson wrote. "With over 153 million people in our nation's labor force, we are a productive and hard-working country struggling through a turbulent economy. In an effort to help those of you who are looking for work, I have pulled together some resources that list a number of job vacancies in our area," he added. He then linked to USAJOBS and Public Affairs Links, which describes itself as "the world's top website for careers in the lobbying industry." Culberson's staff tells Amanda Terkel that, "Due to Franking rules, we were only allowed to include government job listings in the actual email." However, as Terkel notes, "[Public Affairs Links] doesn't actually appear to list government jobs." Whoops! [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR 9/11 gotcha down? This video of a jazz band performing for a group of cows will remind you that humanity is awesome.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT -Tonight: Hello, 60s, haven't seen you in a while! Yes, after a summer of hot and cruddy weather, we start to get a bit more normal for this time. We'll be in the high 60s, but it'll be rather pleasant. Bring a jacket if you're not used to it, or may be cold. Tomorrow: We stay in the mid 80s, with cooling at night. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Self control. [http://bit.ly/mZin10]

- Baby discovers the joys of the iPad 2. Adorableness ensues. [http://bit.ly/pmOyFx]

- Slow lorris gets its hair brushed. More adorableness ensues.[http://bit.ly/o7X6Cq]

- What happens when jungle cats are introduced to laser pointers? The same thing that happens with regular cats but more ferocious [http://bit.ly/pPLT5X]

- Darth Vader edited into classic movies. Be honest, you watched Wizard of Oz and thought it could use a lot more Vader, right? [http://bit.ly/nd1z5R]

- Photo series of 1980s London. [http://bit.ly/oJbZTZ]

- Photographs of Great Britain's famed "coin trees." [http://bit.ly/ri6wa4]

- Cat meets baby. Cat not amused. Why are cats NEVER amused? [http://bit.ly/nxY7IQ]

TWITTERAMA

@elliottjustin: Citarella in the West Village wins prize for most disgusting 9/11 memorial twitpic.com/6jy22t

@TERKELRAGE: Chugged two bottles of Beam and promptly vomited on a Capital Bikeshare station. Can't let the terrorists win.

@mikememoli: Love when Twitter acts as a Shot & Chaser-writing machine twitpic.com/6k25dz

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm: Just in time for the FAA bill! John Olver is the guest of honor at a fundraiser thrown by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. [McCann Capitol Advocates Townhouse, 209 F Street NE]

5:30 pm: Joe Baca kicks of Hispanic Heritage Month by encouraging his friends and supporters to donate money to a Hispanic scholarship fund his friends and supporters to donate money to his reelection campaign. [21st Century Townhouse, 434 New Jersey Ave SE]

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Rep. Rick Berg, who is running for Senate in North Dakota, where Manifest Destiny put in a C- effort. Charles Boustany makes an appearance. [Aqua Al 2, 212 7th Street SE]

7:30 pm: The leading members of the Senate's "We'd rather be in a golf club's reading room somewhere drinking and looking at paintings of ducks" caucus hold their monthly "Monday Meeting" fundraising event. [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE]

6:00 pm - 8:30 pm: John Larson attends a fundraiser for Synergy, which surprisingly isn't a mid-level telecommunications firm but the name of his PAC. Terrible PAC name, John. [601 Pennsylvania Ave NW]

TOMORROW

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Jason Chaffetz might not be running for Senate but, hey, House members still need some love, right? [Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America Townhouse, 53 D Street SE]

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Joe Courtney holds a fundraiser for his Husky PAC. How is there not a statute on the books that prohibits lawmakers from employing the name of a state university's mascot for fundraising purposes? Doesn't that seem kind of ... ethically dubious? [Offices of The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 25 Louisiana Ave NW]

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Bill Flores becomes the proudest C.P.A. to ever come out of Houston Baptist University with a fundraiser hosted by John Boehner. [412 First St SE]

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