Proof that Washington needs a guidance counselor: Steve King and Sheila Jackson Lee can't solve their problems like adults, David Vitter has all the self-awareness of a recently-hatched carp and Jake Tapper came *this* close to insisting Jay Carney remove all the brown M&Ms from his dressing room. The Senate honored Bill of Rights Day by passing legislation that unburdens Americans of the Bill of Rights. And Newt Gingrich insists he's just a dude trying to open his advent calendar windows, but can't because MITT ROMNEY IS TOTALLY HARSHING HIS HOLIDAY BUZZ. This is HUFFPOST HILL for a surprisingly awful Thursday, December 15th, 2011:
DAVID VITTER: CHAMPION OF WOMEN - Lucia Graves: "Sen. David Vitter raised eyebrows on Thursday when he questioned Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko about his alleged mistreatment of women, claims that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Thursday dismissed as baseless and politically motivated. Vitter -- whose longtime aide resigned last year after being arrested for attacking his ex-girlfriend with a knife [Editor's note: And then there was that other Vitter-related incident] -- was particularly concerned with the accusation that Jaczko had once, in a particularly stern meeting, made a woman leave in tears."
WHY CONGRESS IS LIKE HIGH SCHOOL BUT MORE... PARLIAMENTARY-ISH: A CASE STUDY - During a House Judiciary Committee session today on online privacy, Steve King was apparently lulled into a near-coma by his colleague, Sheila Jackson Lee. King made the very un-Steve King decision to go public with his dissatisfaction, tweeting that "We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Shiela [sic] Jackson has so bored me that I'm killing time by surfing the Internet." According to a Hill staffer familiar with the exchange, Jackson Lee was offended and apparently excoriated King for the tweet. Republican Jim Sensenbrenner asked that Jackson Lee's use of the word "offensive" be removed from the record. After some off-mic huddling, Jackson Lee then asked that "offensive" be replaced with "impolitic and unkind." And then, in accordance with the rules of the House, the Earth continued to spin on its axis. Never change, Washington! [@SteveKingIA]
DEBATE TONIGHT - Hey, you there. Yeah, you. Do you like the democratic process? You do? Well, BUCKLE UP, BROSEF, because tonight is the... um...uh... 47th Republican debate? No? Never mind. Anyway, this one will be different from all the other debates that were different because of one singularly important difference: this will be Newt Gingrich's second (er, maybe third) debate as the frontrunner. BOOM. So, yeah, get ready for TWICE the Mitt-Romney-calling-people-"zany" excitement and DOUBLE the Rick-Santorum-lighting-himself-on-fire-in-hopes-of- burning-the-whole-thing-down-ness. The debate, which is being held in Sioux City, Iowa and will begin at 9:00 pm EST, is the final one before the Iowa caucuses. So whatever is said tonight will ABSOLUTELY be the cause of whatever happens on January 3rd. We'll try our best to livetweet the debate but, quite frankly, we don't know anything about this primary, anymore... and anyone who does is totally full of it.
SENATE CELEBRATES BILL OF RIGHTS DAY IN THE MOST HIPSTER WAY POSSIBLE - Cheer up, indefinitely detained American citizens! It looks like you won't have to waste your time with pesky trials and all that other due process BS. Huzzah! Mike McAuliff: "The Senate passed a defense bill Thursday that authorizes indefinite detentions of American terrorism suspects, coincidentally acting on the controversial measure on the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, passed 86 to 13 and is expected to be signed quickly by President Obama, who withdrew a veto threat against the bill Wednesday. Six Democrats, six Republicans and one independent opposed the bill. Though the legislation passed overwhelmingly, several senators argued that it was threatening fundamental provisions of the Bill of Rights, which is celebrated every Dec. 15." [HuffPost]
Mother Jones' holiday party is on Monday. It's BYOB. Sweet baby Jesus, please do
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Between the Washington City Paper holiday party and the Treasury Department shindig for reporters tonight, we don't expect there to be much of a town left tomorrow morning.
TOM PERRIELLO LANDS BUTTERSIDE UP - Former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) a beloved progressive who many activists and party officials wanted to run for governor of Virginia, will instead head one of Washington's premiere Democratic-leaning advocacy organizations. The Center for American Progress Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the liberal think tank, announced on Thursday that Perriello would become its next President and CEO. Joining him in the group's top ranks will be Tara McGuinness, a well-travelled party operative who will take on the dual titles of Senior Vice President of the Action Fund and Senior Vice President of Communications at CAP. The announcement caps off a major period of transition for the influential think-tank and advocacy organization. CAP's founder, John Podesta, recently stepped down from the post of president and was replaced by Neera Tanden, a former top adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama. Jennifer Palmieri, who headed CAP's Action Fund, recently left to take on a communications position inside the Obama White House. Her former job, which included the title of Senior Vice President of Communications at CAP, will be split between Perriello and McGuinness. If you're keeping score, this is some of that post-Clinton page turning we heard a bunch about in '08. The FOBs are fading. [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Republicans want to slash the duration of federal unemployment insurance by more than half, with some members arguing that the extended compensation in place since 2008 discourages the jobless from seeking out new work. Today congressional Democrats countered with a report that finds workers who are eligible for benefits search for work more vigorously than workers who are not eligible. "[S]ince Congress enacted federal unemployment benefits, time spent looking for a job has tripled among the long-term unemployed who are out of work as a result of job loss," the report says. Citing data from the Labor Department's American Time Use Survey, Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee estimate that from 2008 to 2010, the amount of time long-term jobless eligible for benefits spend looking for work increased 203 percent compared with previous years. For workers who are likely ineligible for benefits because their unemployment was not caused by job loss, the amount of time spent search for work increased 120 percent. [HuffPost]
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THIS WEEK HAS NOT BEEN KIND TO JAKE - @jbendery [from the fourth row]: ABC's Jake Tapper miffed that Carney skips past him to ask reporter in back a question. "It's annoying," says Tapper...Carney reassures Tapper he'll get to him. National Journal's George Condon, who gets ? before Tapper, says, "I thought we were friends?"
@jaketapper [from the first row]: @jbendery not accurate. I don't care about him calling on me. Don't like him skipping the front row as a new policy. He should mix it up tho...@theartofpolitik like all press secretaries, jay goes to reporters he thinks will ask q's other than the ones he doesn't want to answer...@jashsf @jbendery I think it's great for them to mix it up, and to some days not go to front row first. Just not every day.
Let's go to the tape: " MR. CARNEY: Let me move around and then I'll come to you, Jake. George. Q Any reaction from the White -- MR. CARNEY: Jake, I've been doing this for months. Q It's annoying. MR. CARNEY: Oh, I'm sorry. Tell it to your colleagues. Q I like it. MR. CARNEY: I'll get to you. (Laughter.) Q You just decide you're going to break with decades of precedent and just going to -- instead of every -- MR. CARNEY: I'm going to ensure that 49 people in these seats -- Q Okay, then take a question about bestiality, go for it. MR. CARNEY: -- and move back and forth and -- Q No, America wants to know about your position on bestiality . MR. CARNEY: I'm absolutely going to take care of everyone in the front row. Yes, George. Q Here I thought we were friends. (Laughter.)"
@jbendery: In other news, "Bunk" from The Wire stopped by the White House press gallery today. I mean, that's cool. pic.twitter.com/BviDiX35
POLITICIANS FROM OPPOSING PARTIES COME TOGETHER AND PROPOSE MASSIVE OVERHAUL OF GOV'T ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, GUESS HOW THIS ENDS - Sam Stein: "The Obama administration expressed concern Thursday over the bipartisan Medicare reform proposal that has been hammered out between Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), saying it believes the plan could weaken the program. 'We are concerned that Wyden-Ryan, like Congressman Ryan's earlier proposal, would undermine, rather than strengthen, Medicare,' said White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. 'The Wyden-Ryan scheme could, over time, cause the traditional Medicare program to 'wither on the vine' because it would raise premiums, forcing many seniors to leave traditional Medicare and join private plans.'... It is also clear, however, that the new bipartisan model has the potential to cause major political headaches for both parties -- particularly Democrats. Ryan's original plan, which turned Medicare into a voucher system, was widely unpopular and served as an anchor around the neck of virtually every Republican...For Democrats, Wyden's work with Ryan is giving Republicans cover on an issue that seemed destined to hurt their congressional reelection chances." [HuffPost]
MITT ROMNEY MEETS THE PRESS, FINALLY - NYT: "But in an acknowledgment that he might not be able to reverse Mr. Gingrich's momentum quickly, Mr. Romney and his team are bracing for a far rougher slog through the early Republican nominating contests than they had envisioned even a few weeks ago and preparing for months of a state-by-state, delegate-by-delegate fight...Mr. Romney and some of his aides and advisers suggest that their revised campaign strategy will rely on advantages in organization and financing for the long run while moving quickly in the short term to turn Mr. Gingrich's own words against him...Mr. Romney, whose aides have been debating the wisdom of keeping him cloistered from news media interviews and aggressive campaigning for much of the year, has abruptly shifted course. He has conducted nearly as many interviews this week, including with The New York Times, as he has since declaring his candidacy in June." [NYT]
@BenjySarlin: National Review devoting entire next issue to bashing Newt. Establishment is in full freakout mode. bit.ly/tP0Qs1
NEWT GINGRICH: MITT ROMNEY IS COAL IN MY POLITICAL STOCKING - OK, a C- on the metaphor execution but you get where we're going. "I think it's counterintuitive," Gingrich said of Romney's recent attacks on him during a hit on Iowa Public Television. "We have an ad that will come up next week where Callista and I are wishing people a Merry Christmas, and we're talking in a totally positive way. I just think if these guys keep up this negative junk, it's discordant with the spirit of Christmas." Catchy! You're discordant with the spirit of Christmas, Mr. Grinch / You reaallllly arrrrrrrree a heeeeeeel... [The Hill]
Good news: The FBI is updating its definition of "rape" to something that doesn't sound like it was devised by Herbert Hoover in the Union Club's library. Amanda Terkel: "FBI Director Robert Mueller has accepted a recommendation to update the way the law enforcement agency defines rape, telling a Senate panel that the change is expected to go into effect in the spring. Currently, the FBI defines rape as the 'carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.' The definition has not been updated since 1929. This definition is narrower than the one used by many police departments around the country, and women's rights advocates say it leads to the under-counting of thousands of sexual assaults each year. On Dec. 6, an FBI advisory board voted overwhelmingly to expand the definition, sending the final decision to Mueller." [HuffPost]
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SCROOGE McDUCK GOLD COIN POOLS - "While the incomes of so many Americans remain the same size or get smaller, corporate chiefs can't say they're suffering in quite the same way. American CEOs saw pay increases of between 27 and 40 percent last year, according to a GovernanceMetrics International survey cited by the Guardian. In addition, the median value of CEOs profits on stock options jumped to $1.3 million from $950,400. This, even after Congress passed financial reform regulations that included provisions aimed at making CEO pay more transparent by allowing shareholders to weigh in. The survey's findings may resonate with Occupy movement activists, who have been railing against income inequality since the protests first started. Indeed, CEO pay by itself exceeded the amount that his or her corporation paid in income taxes in at least 25 cases last year. And in the year before America's highest-highest-paid corporate chief netted more than $145 million, U.S. median income fell to below $27,000, meaning half of all earners made less than that." [HuffPost]
Hey journos, you will never again capitalize "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" thanks to ***TECHNOLOGY***. "Called AP StyleGuard, the new software functions like Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar proofing tools and intuitively checks Word documents for AP Stylebook's fundamental spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style guidelines, says an AP press release that's after the jump. "We have had Stylebook fans asking for a product like this for years," says AP Stylebook product manager Colleen Newvine." [Jim Romenesko]
HEY EVERYBODY, WE'RE PURPOSEFULLY KILLING FEWER OF OUR OWN PEOPLE! - Laura Bassett: "The number of new death sentences issued in the U.S. dropped from 112 in 2010 down to 78 this year, marking the first time the number has fallen below 100 in the modern era of capital punishment, according to a report released on Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center. Executions also declined by nearly half over the past decade, from 85 in 2000 to 43 in 2011. The dramatic drop in sentences reflects a slow decline in U.S. public support for capital punishment, although a majority of Americans still support its use in some cases. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 61 percent of American voters agree that capital punishment should be legal, compared with 67 percent in 2000. Various factors have contributed to the death penalty's declining popularity. Maintaining it is extremely expensive for taxpayers, even in states like California where it is rarely used. And due to flaws in the criminal justice system, prisoners are sentenced to death in an unpredictable manner, leading some reports to suggest that whether a prisoner will receive the death penalty is as impossible to predict as whether a person will be struck by lightning." [HuffPost]
Ride 'em cowboy: "The federal government issued a scathing report Thursday that outlines how Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office has committed a wide range of civil rights violations against Latinos, including a pattern of racial profiling and discrimination and carrying out heavy-handed immigration patrols based on racially charged citizen complaints. The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its release, is a result of the U.S. Justice Department's three-year investigation of Arpaio's office amid complaints of racial profiling and a culture of bias at the agency's top level." [AP]
@AriMelber: Rick Perry's "Strong" may be the most disliked video in YouTube history, doubling Friday w. 675k dislikes(!)
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby rhinos make weird squeaky noises.
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: We'll see more rain, unfortunately, but nothing too severe. Tomorrow: Aside from the threat of rain, there shall be more sun. So, in other words, a mixed bag. Thanks, JB!
- A beautiful animation done in chalk. [http://bit.ly/t6ycrW]
- Matt Damon tries to persuade children that they want water bottles for Christmas. [http://bit.ly/t580mu]
- YouTube user "thfemale" teaches inappropriate expressions in American Sign Language. [http://bit.ly/vaDxXJ]
- Another great mashup of this year in cinema. [http://bit.ly/svHeHm]
- Dads learn they will be grandparents and get totally gay. Or happy. They're already gay. [http://bit.ly/uhGJi3]
- If you think tattoos are a way to express yourself, take a look at this one of a QR code that links to a different site every time it is scanned. We think it expresses, "I can't decide on a tattoo." [http://chzb.gr/tp1IxO]
- Photos of Picasso making light paintings. [http://bit.ly/tgOjtE]
- Google's annual video summarizing the year in search. [http://bit.ly/vxKKjT]
@DStraussTheHill: Pelosi to reporters "Happy holidays to all of you. I hope that may be the last time I say that to you"
@LOLGOP: Paul Ryan coming out against Paul Ryan is really going to hurt him with the GOP establishment.
@jasoncerkis: Spike Lee has his ending. RT @mikedebonis News release: 'Councilmember Barry Continuing to Irradiate Federal Tax Liability' [sic]
4:30pm - 5:30pm: Thad Cochran raises money at the FedEx townhouse. [300 Maryland Ave, NE]
5:30pm - 7:00pm: Allyson Schwartz wants to have a conversation with people over pizza at We The Pizza. [303 Pennsylvania Avenue SE]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Rugby and Ralph Lauren (same company) are having a holiday party in Georgetown, where you could win $250 -- which is enough to buy one sweater from them. [1065 Wisconsin Ave.]
6:00pm - 9:00pm: Washington City Paper staffers and various local celebrities at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan for their holiday party. [2436 18th St NW]
8:00pm: Comedian Eddie Griffin is going to make people who donate money to Hank Johnson chuckle. [801 E Street, NW]
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