Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Dems Beat GOP: Bewildered Nation Blinks, Rubs Eyes

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Can you believe it? Democrats actually got the GOP to cave on a bill. Now the Dems can move on to other pressing legislation, like the Spit Take Clean Up Act. Ron Paul walked out of an interview after being asked about his racist newsletter (that CNN reporter's mother raised her better than that). And PolitiFact published a fact check of its fact check. Wait, shouldn't someone fact check the fact check of the fact check? And shouldn't someone THEN fact check the fact check of the fact check of the fact check? Hmm. Anyway, this is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, December 22nd, 2011, and we're going to go think about the nature of infinity for a while:

"It may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world."
-John Boehner

HOUSE GOP CAVES ON PAYROLL TAX - "House Republicans on Thursday crumpled under the weight of White House and public pressure and have agreed to pass a two-month extension of the 2 percent[age point] payroll-tax cut ... The House made the move after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed to appoint conferees to a committee to resolve differences between the Senate's two-month payroll-tax cut and the House's one-year alternative." [National Journal]

EARLIER: MCCONNELL COVERS BOEHNER WITH FIG LEAF LEAVING LITTLE TO THE IMAGINATION - Mike McAuliff: "Moments after House Republican leaders dug in their heels on blocking a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered his colleagues a path out of the politically damaging position. Last week the Senate overwhelmingly passed a two-month extension of the 2 percent[age point] break, which expires New Year's Day. But House GOP leaders rejected that deal, saying they would only accept a yearlong extension, even though many in their own party have been highly critical of the opposition. So McConnell (R-Ky.), who negotiated the Senate deal, offered a new idea Thursday, suggesting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appoint members to a conference committee to work out a longer deal between the two chambers in return for the House passing the two-month stopgap now." [HuffPost]

We're going dark tomorrow and most of next week. We'll be back late next week with a pre-Iowa Caucus update. Now go wish Jesus a happy birthday, you crazy kids.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A top-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives on Tuesday defended his party's support for cutting 20 weeks of unemployment benefits, a position that has escaped much notice in the payroll tax cut debate that has consumed Washington for the past few weeks. "There are things in this bill as we pointed out that we had to make concessions on," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday in response to a question from the Daily Delaney Downer. "That's the process. We understand that," Hoyer continued. "Unfortunately there are an awful lot of tea party activists who were elected to the Congress who don't understand compromise. That provision is one of the provisions that [Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.)] has concerns about." Womp womp. [HuffPost]

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POLITIFACT: WHINE OF THE YEAR - "The paradox of the Internet age is that never before have we had access to more ideas and different thoughts. And yet, many of us retreat into comfy parlors where everyone agrees and the other side is always wrong. Each side can manufacture its truths and get the chorus to sing along. PolitiFact had its latest brush with the Echo Chamber Nation this week. We gave our Lie of the Year to the Democrats' claim that the Republicans 'voted to end Medicare.' That set off a firestorm in the liberal blogosphere, with many saying that claim was not actually wrong. We've received about 1,500 e-mails about our choice and only a few agreed with us... The critics said we ignored the long-term effects of Rep. Paul Ryan's plan and that we were wrong to consider his privatized approach to be Medicare. In their view, that is an end to Medicare. We've read the critiques and see nothing that changes our findings." And so forth. PolitiFact is so brave. [PolitiFact]

@2chambers: Charlie Rangel's Christmas e-mail to supporters features Rangel & his family standing in front of a portrait of Charlie Rangel. #winning

RON PAUL PULLS DOCTOR CARD WALKS OUT OF CNN INTERVIEW - Ron Paul's racist newsletter from the '80s and '90s got the full media treatment today, with an impressive bout of coverage on MSNBC. "Why don't you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN and what I've said for 20 something years. 22 years ago?" Paul told CNN's Gloria Borger of the newsletter which compared African Americans to zoo animals. "I didn't write them, I disavow them, that's it." TPM's Benjy Sarlin isn't buying Paul's sass: "In addition to the objectionable content of the newsletters, his odd explanation contrasts heavily with his hard-earned brand as an unconventional anti-politician who always tells the truth as he sees it and never waters down his views to pander to voters. It's hard to square this with a candidate who claims that he somehow never bothered to read a newsletter published under his own name that generated as much as $1 million in revenues in just one single year." [TPM]

GREEN GROUPS HEART OBAMA, BUT LOVE COULD PROVE FLEETING - The Environmental Protection Agency's historic new rules on mercury pollution had green groups brimming with praise for the president on Wednesday. But with Obama's decimation of the EPA's smog standards and the looming specter of his decision around the Keystone XL, can the warm, fuzzy feeling last? Author and activist Bill McKibben is holding out hope. "I of course as am bewildered by the spectacle of DC policy making as anyone," he told HuffPost Hill, "but so far I haven't seen any reason to think that the administration is less than sincere in its promise to deny the pipeline if he's pushed to the wall." DEVELOPING ...

MITT ROMNEY PLAYS COY ON RELEASE OF TAX RETURNS: 'NEVER SAY NEVER BUT...' - "In an interview that aired Wednesday night on NBC News, Mitt Romney definitively answered one of the lingering questions surrounding his presidential ambitions, saying he had no plans to release his tax returns should he win the Republican presidential nomination. 'Never say never, but I don't intend to do so,' Romney said. The statement marks an interesting point in the continuous frictions between political expedience and demands for transparency, as well as the benefits and downsides of both." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

HALEY BARBOUR RETURNS TO K STREET - Wait. Haley Barbour left K Street? AP: "When Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour leaves office Jan. 10, he'll return to the lobbying firm he founded in 1991. That's according to a person with direct knowledge of the plan who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Barbour's plans were not yet public. The person says Barbour will return next month to the BGR Group. It is a government affairs, strategic communications and investment banking firm. The person says Barbour's new office is under construction in Washington, and newly hired people will work for him. Barbour has recently worn BGR golf shirts at public events. He cannot seek a third term as governor." [AP]

AMERICA'S FAVORITE TOE-TAPPER ALSO RETURNS TO K STREET - Larry Craig is now lobbying on behalf of the coal industry, because what the hell, why not? "It's an issue that Craig's new client, Murray Energy, knows all too well. The largest privately held coal company in the nation, Murray Energy owned a subsidiary that ran the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, the site of a tragic cave-in incident that took the lives of six miners and later three rescuers. The cave-in occurred in August 2007, just weeks after Craig was arrested for allegedly soliciting sex in an airport bathroom ... The addition of a heavyweight like Craig to the coal lobby serves as a reminder of just how difficult it can be to pass mine safety reform in the face of industry influence, even in the aftermath of [Upper Big Branch,] the worst mining disaster in 40 years." [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]

'ONE STRIKE' PUBLIC HOUSING POLICY HITS VIRGINIA WOMAN WHO NEEDS KIDNEY TRANSPLANT - Sometimes Christmas comes early, and sometimes you get evicted from your home because somebody that doesn't even live there gets busted for drugs. Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development's one-strike policy, a mother of three with stage 5 renal failure may be booted from her home. Arin Greenwood: "Shelly Anderson has stage 5 renal failure and needs a kidney transplant. The 33-year-old recently found out that her mother is a match. There are more tests to do before the transplant, but within a year Anderson might have a new kidney, which she says would make her feel physically 100 percent better ... But just as her health prospects are looking up, Anderson faces another crisis: She's going to be evicted from her home in public housing unless a court intervenes. Even her illness has not stayed the hand of Alexandria public housing officials." [HuffPost DC]

'TIS THE SEASON - "It's been a frustrating, gruelingly partisan, and very weird year in America ... Here's a round-up of the 2011 Christmas season's strangest (and most painfully delightful) news stories, including the Michigan-Wisconsin mitten war and Santa Claus' machine-gun-fest for kids." You're welcome? [MoJo]

DONALD TRUMP REPEATS 'THE BLACKS LOVE ME' MANTRA Donald Trump, who's long maintained he "always had a great relationship with the blacks," on Wednesday continued to rave about how African Americans will totally flock to him as a presidential candidate. "I think I'd do great with the African American votes. I think I'd do great with that," he told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. Watch out, Mr. President. Here he comes. [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a baby polar bear so in need of milk he keeps his tongue out just in case there's an opening.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: No one likes the clouds, especially those of you hoping to escape the District before the peak evacuation days. But if you're flying, there's not much hope on the horizon. A cruddy stalled front to the south is bringing rain up to the area slowly, with some thunder in the forecast. I bet now you're rethinking the joy over 60-degree days in December, no? Tomorrow: A bit of sun returns, bringing some warmth. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Crazy French people walk out on highlines and then jump off of them. [http://bit.ly/sZsgPc]

- The trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out. [http://bit.ly/sAuuyS]

- Web video series "My Drunk Kitchen" attempts to build a gingerbread house. [http://bit.ly/uHWcZe]

- The Boston Globe's Year in Pictures, Part II. [http://bo.st/rs0OX0]

- Bullfrog challenges lizard's high score at fly-swatting smartphone game. [http://bit.ly/sDauuu]

- Dogs sneeze, are cute. [http://bit.ly/szqWX1]

- Here's a guy who spends his time disarming landmines. What did you do today? [http://bit.ly/t6T9w7]

- Have you ever wondered what happens to Christmas lights after the holidays? We haven't, either. But here's the answer. [http://bit.ly/uy6WMK]

TWITTERAMA

@drgrist: It's like that part in Braveheart where William Wallace says, "FREEEEEDOOO... oh, fine, two months then."

@pourmecoffee: In order to feel better, House GOP will want to name about 90 more things after Reagan, maybe even your town or state.

@brianbeutler: This is like the part in The Town where they demanded FICA cap be fixed at $110,000, despite the temporary tax holiday.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

5:00pm - 9:00pm: If the idea of wandering around a zoo at night doesn't make you nervous or depressed (it makes us a bit of both), then head to the Zoolights Celebration at the Smithsonian National Zoo. It'll be fun. You'll love it. [3001 Connecticut Avenue NW]

5:30pm: The Willard Hotel's Holiday Lobbying event features live music from the Capital Hearings, just a reminder from your friendK Street not to slack off just because it's Christmas. [1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW]

7:00pm - 9:00pm: The Greater Washington Fashion Chamber Of Commerce has a party to raise money for DC fashion, so we can spread horn-rimmed glasses, tweed jackets, and City Sports t-shirts around. [1525 Wisconsin Avenue NW]

Evening: The Source has a special holiday Peking duck dinner served with a 15-layer carrot cake for $49 a pop. [575 Pennsylvania Avenue NW]

TOMORROW

5:00pm - 9:00pm: Smithsonian Zoolights Celebration continues. Meanwhile, lions, tigers and bears continue to wish for one night of normal sleep. Just one. [3001 Connecticut Avenue NW]

6:00pm: The Washington National Cathedral hosts Carols by Candlelight, the perfect thing to send your visiting relatives to, because it's free, it's really pretty, and it'll keep them tied up through happy hour. [3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW]

7:30pm: Hey there, House Republicans, here's a movie about a bunch of people who help out a nice guy who lost his job. Just saying. "It's A Wonderful Life" plays at the Library of Congress. [National Audio-Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC), 19053 Mount Pony Road, Culpepper, Va.]

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