HUFFPOST HILL - FEMA Finds Some Extra Change Under A Couch Cushion Somewhere, National Crisis Averted

09/26/2011 06:35 pm ET | Updated Nov 26, 2011
  • Eliot Nelson Eliot Nelson is a politics reporter and editor in the Huffington Post's D.C.bue=reau

Despite his blistering anti-Ivy rhetoric, Mitt Romney is in the hand-tailored, cashmere-wool-blend pocket of Big Harvard. Because Texas government officials couldn't find a way to grind puppies into school lunch meat, they instead decided to siphon education funds off to the oil industry. And somewhere deep in the recesses of Northern Virginia, Jim VandeHei is demanding a cub reporter cold call every single dietitian in New Jersey to find out if Chris Christie is running for president. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, September 26th, 2011:

FEMA WILL CONTINUE TO DISTRIBUTE GOVERNMENT CHEESE FOR A LITTLE WHILE LONGER...MAYBE! - Hooray! Cheer up, Citizens of America who are currently shedding a tear as you stare at a cracked and moldy portrait of your family that you found in the giant pile of wreckage that used to be your house! The government won't completely abandon you! So don't bother looking for your great grandmother's jewelry that blew into the next county, because someone from the government will help you. Or maybe not! A representative for FEMA says that the agency in charge of the government's disaster response operations should have enough funds to last through Thursday or possibly Friday. "Under law, FEMA would be forced to temporarily shut down disaster recovery and assistance operations, including financial assistance to individuals until Congress appropriated more funds," FEMA Public Affairs Director Rachel Racusen said. "This would include all past and current FEMA recovery operations." [HuffPost]

DOES THIS AVERT A SHUTDOWN CRISIS? - The need for emergency FEMA funds was the genesis for this whole government shutdown crisis, with Republicans wanting the funds to be offset in the continuing resolution to fund the government and Democrats arguing there's no need to punch grandpa in the face just because grandma's basement flooded. BUT! If FEMA can make it to Saturday without running out of money, the need for an altered continuing resolution goes away. Everyone should go to the Gulf Coast and shake their fists at the sea. Or wire Poseidon some money via PayPal. Or something. There would still be a shortfall, but the shortfall would be kicked down the road, which is the only way this Congress knows how to govern anyway, so what's the difference? So, the upshot: Democrats are going to ask for a clean CR that continues funding for the government and it's awful hard to see opposition to it. The air's coming out of this shutdown puff up. Good.

SO: HERE IS WHAT'S HAPPENING - The Senate will vote on three bills tonight: A vote on a CR with the extra FEMA funds not offset. A second vote on a clean CR. And finally the upper chamber will vote on a one-week clean CR by voice vote that the House can pass by unanimous consent. This way, the House will have a nice little legislative sampler platter and the Senate more or less guarantees it doesn't have to come back this week.

Politico just sent out the following BREAKING NEWS ALERT: "The Senate appears to have reached a deal to avert a Sept. 30 government shutdown, and will vote this evening on a funding agreement that keeps the government running through Nov. 18." Appears to have reached? Shouldn't the subject have been: POSSIBLE BREAKING NEWS ALERT?

HuffPost's Paul Blumenthal joined Dylan Ratigan today on a cable channel owned by one of the world's largest corporations to discuss the corrosive effect of money in politics. Clearly, nobody at this corporation is watching the 4:00 programming. But you can, here .

BORED LAZY OVERPAID BUREAUCRAT STARTS THE WEEK OFF RIGHT - HuffPost Hill's Bored Lazy Overpaid Bureaucrat (BLOB) hit the ground running this week by brainstorming ways to eliminate payroll redundancies. "I spent most of the day internally debating if it would be more efficient to just shoot myself and bring an end to the agony instead of letting these people slowly kill me with their crazy bureaucratic ways," BLOB wrote. "But then i realized there's no place for efficiency in the federal government. So I'm here for another day, I guess. Percentage of the day spent actually doing work: 90. Percentage of that work that could have been done by someone making at least half my salary: 100. Percentage of that work that could have been done in 1/4 the time if not for a bunch of self-important morons trying to be relevant: 100. Likelihood of going to a bar and drinking heavily tonight: medium to high." Thanks, BLOB!

STEVENS ON CITIZENS UNITED - HuffPost's Supreme Court reporter, Mike Sacks, sits down with the retiree: "Justice John Paul Stevens sits in his chambers, typically reserved for the retired Chief Justice, as his former colleagues -- and his successor, Justice Elena Kagan - are behind closed doors on the floor below spending all day digging out from the backlog of appeals that built up over their summer recess. "I must say I'm enjoying the retirement and enjoying the fact that I don't have to do all the preparation that goes into getting ready for the next term," the 91-year-old retired justice says with a glimmer in his eyes. But as anyone who has followed the justice since his retirement in late June 2010 knows, the man has kept up a work ethic and travel schedule that hardly befits a nonagenarian retiree. Next week, he comes out with Five Chiefs, a "Supreme Court memoir" that reflects upon over six decades of the Court's history through the lens of his relationships with the presiding Chief Justices during that time. In the book, he is liberal with both praise and criticism of his Chiefs, taking particular issue with conservative victories in death penalty and campaign finance cases. In his office today, Stevens is not surprised with the news of the rise of Super PACs. Citing his 90-page protest to the Citizens United decision, Stevens matter-of-factly says, "there's nothing about what has happened that is inconsistent with what I suggested in my dissent might happen.""

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Oklahoma lawmakers are the latest to say they want to drug test welfare recipients. They want to model their proposal on a new Florida law that yielded just 2 percent positive results. "It's an opportunity for them to confront their addiction, and for us to provide a source of help so they can get some rehabilitation," State Sen. Frank Simpson said, apparently describing every single welfare recipient in Oklahoma. [KXII.com]

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PERRY APPOINTEES WANT TO FUNNEL MONEY FROM SCHOOLS TO OIL COMPANIES - The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality -- an oxymoronic state governmental agency that was likely dreamed up at the same time as the Massachusetts Commission on Pronouncing Rs -- is siphoning money that could have gone to public schools and redirecting it to oil companies. For real. The commission will likely recommend granting a number of large refineries $135 million in tax breaks despite massive budget shortfalls in the state's public schools. AP: "The refund would mean more pain for some communities after a year in which state lawmakers had to grapple with a $27 billion shortfall and slashed spending on public schools by more than $4 billion. Nearly half the refund would be taken from public schools, and those in cities where the refineries are based would be hurt the most." This can only end with GOP debate audience responding with thunderous applause to a moderator's question about the matter. Actually, this will end with a Lubbock classroom with 82 kids in it. [ThinkProgress]

Rick Perry's latest video is titled "Words Have Meaning." A real coup for the structural linguistics lobby.

POLL: PERRY STILL IN LEAD DESPITE SUB-PAR DEBATE PERFORMANCES - A new survey from CNN of likely Republican primary voters indicates that Rick Perry maintains a healthy lead over Mitt Romney, 28 percent to 21 percent. Questions about Perry's viability as a candidate have been swirling around after Perry's questionable debate performances. In his first debate, he pretty much convinced Republican voters that his first act as president would be to forcibly inject every American girl with a virginity-stealing socialist serum. In the second debate, when asked about how he'd respond to a 2 A.M. national security phone call, Perry essentially replied that he'd stroke out and mumble nonsense at the phone without ever actually picking up the receiver (then he'd give immunity to illegals). Still, he's in front! Good for him! Mitt Romney fares better in a general election match-up with President Obama, trailing the president 49 percent to 48 percent. Perry is down 51 percent to 46 percent. Newt Gingrich is in third with 10 percent. Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Sarah Palin all earn seven percent. [CNN]

"Politicians Eating Pizza" is the slideshow you didn't know you wanted, but absolutely needed. Wait, no it isn't. Joe Lieberman wins for style.

IS MITT ROMNEY IN THE POCKET OF BIG HARVARD??? - Willard Romney, a son of a governor, a graduate of Harvard Business School and co-founder of one of nation's largest private equity firms, is fond of criticizing a self-made black guy who was raised by a single mom for taking too much advice from people from the "Harvard faculty lounge." Now this: "A review of campaign finance records shows that since 2002, Romney has received more than $56,000 in donations from people who either serve as, or are married to, professors at Harvard University. One of those donating (during both Romney's first presidential run and his current White House bid) was Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School who also co-founded the Monitor Group, a consulting firm that came under fire for the work it did on behalf of now-former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

SUPER CONGRESS BUILT ON A SUPER LIE - Psssst! The supposed "automatic, across-the-board cuts" that would hit the federal budget if the Super Congress deadlocks don't begin to take effect until 2013. Alan Grayson, in a HuffPost column posted today, has it right: "Here is a simple fact, which seems to have eluded this tea-infused Congress. One Congress cannot dictate to any other Congress...Under Article I, Section 7 of our Constitution, each Congress has the same right as another other Congress to legislate. This includes "raising Revenue" and "Appropriation of Money." (The Founding Fathers were pretty wacky when it came to initial caps, weren't they?) So our 112th Congress can "pass a Bill" setting the federal deficit for this year and next year, but that's about it. Anything that goes beyond the first week of January, 2013, when the 113th Congress will be sworn in, is subject to change by that Congress, and every subsequent Congress." [HuffPost]

CHRIS CHRISTIE WON'T RUN FOR PRESIDENT...WILL CHRIS CHRISTIE RUN FOR PRESIDENT? - Probably because the government shutdown narrative makes for boring copy -- and because you can only run so many "will an independent get in the race" stories -- there is renewed speculation about Chris Christie's White House ambitions. Christie has previously said that he would sooner marinate in a vat of acid until the end of time than run for president in 2012, or something. The point is, he's OBVIOUSLY leaving the door open to it. Here's a summary of the famously corpulent and rude governor's comings and goings. [National Journal]

PRESIDENT OBAMA HATES ELEMENTARY EDUCATION - President Obama is attending a fundraiser tonight at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. This will naturally downgrade the state of L.A.'s already horrific traffic from "molasses slow" to "glacier on weed." Administrators at a nearby elementary school are so afraid of the extra security and its attendant vehicular gridlock that it is straight up cancelling its classes and daycare programs today, forcing wealthy Los Angeles parents to actually spend time with their children. What horror. Michelle Rhee is such a game changer. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

The post office is desperate. How desperate? The USPS announced that living celebrities might start appearing on stamps. Previously, a stampee had to be dead for five years before he or she was immortalized on tiny perforated pieces of gummed paper. And we're not talking about Desmond Tutu or Sully Sullenberger, either. Well, we might be, but the post office wants to make money off of this venture. So you might soon be serving your spouse divorce papers with Dr. Phil stamps. That would be fun. [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Puppies attack cat. Cat not comfortable.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Humid, for now. The region is stuck in between a low pressure system to our west and warm, moist air being dragged from the ocean. That gives us 80-degree temperatures for a bit, while increasing the chance of rain this evening. That great low pressure system moving in from the Midwest, producing an awesome line of storms like a tail in advance of the low. That's going to come through tomorrow. This has a possibility of bringing strong storms with it, so don't be shocked. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Incredible footage of the auras seen from the International Space Station. [http://huff.to/n34tSB]

- A supercut from television and movies of people saying the capitals of all 50 states. We always forget about Lansing. [http://huff.to/mPuHTf]

- Allow this graphic to blow your mind about where we store our photos. [http://huff.to/q8GfGN]

- Tommy Wiseau of The Room fame has a really weird web series. In this edition, he plays Mortal Kombat. [http://huff.to/njQNcn]

- Preview for "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey," a documentary about Kevin Clash, the voice and hand behind Elmo. [http://huff.to/nUX5nS]

- Color film footage from Berlin in 1936. It would be a beautiful film except it's filled with, well, uh, er, um, you know, all that Nazi stuff. Oh Nazis, what didn't you completely ruin? [http://huff.to/pluI0o]

- Gorgeous microscopic photographs of the organisms that reside in a drop of water. [http://huff.to/nBz9mZ]

- "The Office" recut as a Toby-centric drama with Toby as a perverted arsonist serial killer. [http://huff.to/nDvw7N]

TWITTERAMA

@meredithshiner: Resolved: FEMA funds are the Hanukkah miracle of our generation

@jaketapper: LinkedIn Network Updates, 9/26/2011 President Obama is now connected with LinkedIn Employees

@brianbeutler: Our shutdown fight, as explained by a 13 y/o girl: "the Dems wanted to give FEMA an extra billion now cuz of all the earthquakes and stuff."...But the Republicans were all "no way, unless we cut a billion from elsewhere. How about your gay hybrid car thing?"...The Dems were all, "Nah, man. We don't accept the principle of offsetting disaster aid."...So the GOP was all like, "Well, screw you, we're gonna pass it just before recess and then leave town..."..."...and when FEMA runs out of money it'll be your fault for not passing our bill."...But then FEMA was all like, "Woah, we've got enough $ to last til the fiscal year begins and then whatevs cuz after that money's like free."

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Get 'em while they're vulnerable! A day after the Bills' upset victory over the Patriots, Louise Slaughter asks Buffalonians to open their wallets for her reelection campaign. [Buffalo, NY]

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Steve Rothman hosts his campaign event at the Stony Hill Inn. Wonder how many of his Jersey constituents will attend because they thing "Stony" is some kind of Stone Pony hybrid. Probably none! That would be dumb. [Stony Hill Inn, Polifly Road, Hackensack]

TOMORROW

12:00 pm: Shutdown vote notwithstanding, Henry Cuellar will get to hang out in Austin in September, which is way more awesome than Washington in September (it's hitting 80 degrees this week! Gross). [Austin Club, 110 East 9th St, 3rd Floor, Austin]

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