POLITICS
01/04/2012 05:10 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - On To New Hampshire! Let's All Feign Interest In Seat Belt Laws For A Week!

New Hampshire Republicans want to connect every law to the Magna Carta, an obvious play for the Granite State's sizable population of barons and stewards. Michele Bachmann suddenly has a lot more time to focus on her job in the U.S. Congress -- and liberals are happy about this for some reason. And the Obama campaign joined Instagram, so expect its photos of the president touring factories to be slowly phased out and replaced by artfully grainy images of coffee cups, interesting cloud patterns and random cats. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 4th, 2012:

WHITE HOUSE TAKES OFF PROVERBIAL SHIRT, HOLDS OUT ARMS AND ASKS GOP IF IT WANTS TO GO - Jen Bendery: "In a bold move sure to infuriate Republicans and possibly draw a court challenge, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he will use his executive power to bypass Congress and put Richard Cordray in charge at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The move is a rare instance of the president invoking his authority to override a months-long effort by Senate Republicans to block Cordray. They rejected his confirmation in a December vote and reiterated that, even though they like Cordray, they would keep opposing him or any other CFPB nominee until changes are made at the agency. Obama's recess appointment on Wednesday trumps their effort. The president announced Corday's appointment during a speech on the economy in Cleveland, Ohio. Cordray, who previously served as the Ohio attorney general, flew on Air Force One to stand alongside the president at the event. Once appointed, Cordray can begin serving as CFPB director later this week and could stay in the role for at least two years." [HuffPost]

The CFPB is creating a lot of jobs -- six-figure jobs! #recovery

Yeah, it wants to go: "Doubling down on President Barack Obama's bold recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the White House announced Wednesday that Obama would also use his recess powers to fill three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency charged with enforcing labor law. The move is sure to further infuriate Republicans, many of whom feuded all last year with an NLRB they view as overly union-friendly and anti-business. The labor board lost its quorum yesterday as the term of board member Craig Becker came to an end -- essentially crippling the agency, no doubt to the pleasure of many conservatives. Although the recess appointments will probably be challenged legally by business groups, the move could allow the board to continue operating without disruption. According to the White House, Obama plans to appoint Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Grifin to the board." [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson and Jen Bendery]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Republican schemes to drug test the poor and jobless keep bubbling up across the country, despite a dearth of evidence the poor and jobless waste government money on drugs. In fact, there's some fresh evidence to the contrary in Indiana, where just 1 percent of participants in a new state workforce training program failed their drug tests. Indiana's Department of Workforce Development launched its drug testing scheme last July in response to complaints from local businesses that job applicants couldn't pass drug tests, a department spokeswoman said. But of 1,240 job applicants tested from July to December, only 13 failed the test. The workforce department director said the low rate may owe to people avoiding the test. "When people understand you're going to drug test them, they walk away...It discourages people from going through the process." No doubt because they're all high on government cheese! [HuffPost]

EXPERT FAIL - Casey B. Mulligan is an "expert" economist who blogs about unemployment insurance for the New York Times. In today's post, he compares the 99-week duration of jobless benefits Congress first created in 2009 to the number of weeks Congress gave the unemployed in previous recessions. Maybe Congress should consider reducing the number of weeks, he argues, like in the good old days. "The programs could be continued but perhaps with a lesser duration, such as 52 or 65 weeks as in previous severe recessions." Ugh. Memo to Mulligan: Congress already reduced the duration of benefits to 79 weeks in December, so the entire premise of your item is busted. Yet he remains employed. Must be nice. [Economix]

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MICHELE BACHMANN SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN FOR WHITE HOUSE, COMMENCES CAMPAIGN FOR A FOX NEWS GIG - Seriously, can you think of a better fit for "Fox and Friends"? Really. Just think about it, Roger Ailes. Anyway, after finishing in sixth in the caucuses last night (she finished just ahead Jon Huntsman, who didn't even campaign in Iowa, and four spots ahead of Herman Cain, who dropped out) the Minnesota congresswoman announced that she is suspending her campaign for president. "Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside," she said in her announcement. She added that she has "no regrets" and that she eagerly awaits "the next chapter in God's plan." If the Fox News job doesn't pan out, we can see Michele and Marcus hosting a really killer HGTV show ("This Old Den of Sin," etc). [HuffPost]

Goodbye, Michele Bachmann

The template of the Des Moines Register's Iowa caucuses front page

OCCUPY ACTIVIST HEADS UP GOP PRECINCT IN IOWA - "When the Occupy Des Moines movement announced a campaign in November to 'Occupy the Iowa Caucuses,' few anticipated it would play out quite as it did in the Sherman Hill neighborhood of Des Moines last night. By virtue of a novice college age Caucus Chair brought in from Wisconsin to fill some last minute precinct location vacancies, Precinct 66 nominated well-known Occupy organizer Ed Fallon to serve as Republican Caucus Secretary, customarily a rather innocuous role when held by a traditional member of the party...Among the recommendations he put up for a vote, was a proposal urging the state Republicans to drop any effort to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. It passed, 10-9." [HuffPost's Off The Bus]

ANOTHER REASON NOT TO CARE ABOUT LAST NIGHT - ABC: "We won't know the real winner until Iowa selects its Republican National Convention delegates in June, and the possibility remains that Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, or another candidate, will earn that distinction. Iowa will send 28 delegates to the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla...Iowa, unlike most states, will leave all of its delegates "unbound," free to support any presidential candidate. And Iowa won't choose its delegates until June 15 and 16, when the state GOP holds its congressional-district and state conventions." [ABC News]

What happens when you mix a cable news channel, sleep deprivation and all the cutting edge technology from Hackers? Why, CNN's Iowa caucuses coverage, of course!

WHO NEEDS AMERICAN BRIDGE WHEN YOU HAVE THE TIMES? - "Now that Mitt Romney has squeaked through with the narrowest of victories in the Iowa caucuses, President Obama and his campaign aides are facing a conundrum as they decide how to tarnish the man they see as their likely opponent in the battle ahead. Do they go the flip-flopper route? Or do they go the out-of-touch, protector-of-Wall-Street route?" We're going to go with route number three: Just let Helene Cooper do the heavy lifting. [NYT]

John McCain endorsed Mitt Romney today in New Hampshire. He is still bitter about, you know, that whole presidential election thing. "You can run but you can't hide - from your record of making this country bankrupt; from destroying our nation security, and from making this nation one that we have to restore." Ouch. [CBS News]

LIVE FREE OR DIE EATING AN ENTIRE BOX OF DOUGHNUT HOLES - If you can formulate a joke about this that incorporates the term "yeoman farmer," please, PLEASE let us know. "During a town-hall style appearance in Concord, former House Speaker Gingrich (R-Ga.) said he had no interest in exploring the decriminalization of drugs, arguing the efforts to do as much in Europe hadn't worked. Pressed about the incarceration rate related to petty drug crimes a bit later, he responded: 'I think the best thing is to get young people not to do drugs and then you won't be dealing with criminals that you just described.' Unconvinced that Gingrich understood he was living in the Live-Free-Or-Die state, a third person tried his hand, arguing to Gingrich that the founding fathers had been far more lenient about marijuana than the current political class. 'I think Jefferson or George Washington would have rather strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana and their techniques with dealing with it would have been rather more violent than our current government,' Gingrich replied." Gingrich is one of those people who sounds smart until he starts talking about something you know about, and you remember that he's an idiot. And HuffPost Hill knows its drug history. Gingrich doesn't. [HuffPost]

The Montana Supreme Court doesn't much care for your conflation of money and speech. Mike Sacks: "By a 5-2 vote this past Friday, the Montana Supreme Court declined to recognize the common understanding that Citizens United bars all laws limiting independent electoral spending. Instead, Chief Justice Mike McGrath, writing on behalf of the majority, called on the history surrounding the state law to show that corporate money, even if not directly contributed to a campaign, can give rise to corruption." [HuffPost]

GIVE US YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR BISHOPS, YOUR ABBOTS, YOUR EARLS, YOUR JUSTICIARIES, YOUR FORESTERS, YOUR SHERIFFS, YOUR SERVANTS, YOUR BAILIFFS AND LIEGE SUBJECTS, YEARNING TO BE FREE - "New Hampshire Republicans are taking textual originalism to a whole new level: three lawmakers have proposed a bill that requires that all legislation find its origin not in the U.S. constitution, but an English document crafted in 1215. When the legislature reconvenes this month, Republicans want their colleagues to justify many new bills with a direct quote from the 800-year-old Magna Carta." And that's the moderate position. Don't get us started on the Hammurabi's Code wing. [ThinkProgress]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Fawn and kitten are friends.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: CALM, COOL, SEPIA-TONED - "As Republicans focused on the Iowa caucuses and President Barack Obama made a pitch to Iowans of his own over streaming video on Tuesday, the Obama 2012 reelection campaign took its message to Instagram. The president's campaign staff, which is also looking to reach voters on Tumblr and Google+ (along with a few Republican rivals), has posted two photos thus far, both of the president speaking with Iowa's caucus voters via video chat, making his case for another term in the White House. Although Instagram -- a photo-sharing app known for retro filters that allows people to share photos with one another from their iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads -- is new territory for Obama, the move by his 2012 campaign shouldn't come as a surprise. In the 2008 election, Obama's team was so well known for its use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging to help build up an overwhelming amount of support that the Technology blog described Obama as 'the first social media President.'" [LA Times]

COMFORT FOOD

- "The saddest video of a cat playing a piano you're ever going to see." [http://huff.to/wyqRX2]

- The single coolest photo you will see all day. [http://huff.to/ABtc6i]

- "A Young Frank Zappa Plays the Bicycle on the Steve Allen Show." [http://huff.to/xMatfN]

- Orangutans use iPads. This is how the uprising begins. [http://huff.to/zpVlcR]

- Time lapses with world music are second only to infographics in smart person meme popularity. Here is the magnum opus of video of time lapses with time lapses FROM AROUND THE WORLD. [http://huff.to/xFrkfh]

- "D'Angelo Covers 'Black Hole Sun' By Soundgarden" [http://huff.to/yZiVru]

- It's Isaac Newton's birthday. Here's an actual list Newton made when he was 19 of sins he committed ("Making pies on Sunday night:). [http://huff.to/x2AkDu]

- This is the greatest map of America, apparently. [http://huff.to/Ap5HNV]

TWITTERAMA

@daveweigel: Old and busted: Asking GOP congressmen to trash Newt. New hotness: Asking GOP senators to trash Santorum.

@delrayser: Was really hoping Bachmann would blame her campaign's failure on too many Iowa voters getting the HPV shot.

@LOLGOP: Newt Gingrich is heartbroken that his party is leaving him for a candidate who is younger and more presentable.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Members of the National Symphony Orchestra play a free concert at Busboys and Poets. String instruments and spinach paninis: the perfect antidote to the Iowa caucuses. [14th & V St, NW]

7:00 pm - ???: Newt Gingrich headlines the inaugural "Substance Over Soundbites" lecture at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. Series slogan: "No time limits. No subject limits." So who's up for 6 hours of Newt on the Civil War and why Mitt Romney sucks? [100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester]

7:30 pm - Bedtime: Rick Santorum holds one of his signature Faith, Family and Freedom Town Halls at the Rockingham County Nursing Home. "Shhhh! Mildred is asleep!"

TOMORROW

All Day: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) rakes it in at a skiing fundraiser in Park City - the first of at least 7 ski vacations fundraisers that members of Congress plan to write-offhost in 2012. The cost is $2,500 PAC/$1,000 per person to "host" (whatever that means), and $1,500 PAC/$500 for plain old ski bunnies. [Park City, Utah]

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

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