Rick Santorum doubled down on his claim that Lucifer, the Lord of all Evil, is infiltrating the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. So long as Charlie Rangel doesn't lean back on his chair and have a bucket of water dumped on him, we're OK with his new dancing hobby. And at tonight's CNN presidential debate, the Republican candidates will debate the issues, discuss vaginal probing and share their fondest Buddy Roemer memories with America. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012:
ANOTHER DEBATE TONIGHT - The issues have changed... the polls have changed... the color of Rick Santorum's sweater vests have changed... but there probably won't be anything terribly novel about tonight's Republican debate in Arizona -- unless John King introduces some kind of XFL opening ball scramble to decide who speaks first. Our money is that he won't. Michael Calderone: "Washington bureau chief Sam Feist, who's producing CNN's seventh debate this cycle, said the 8 p.m. face-off 'comes at an important moment in the campaign' as tight races develop in Arizona and Michigan. And given the lack of debates since January, Feist said 'there are a lot of topics that are likely to come up in this debate that, frankly, haven't come up in the other debates.' Feist wasn't about to tip off the candidates about what moderator John King might throw their way, but social issues, which received increased media attention since the Florida debates, are expected to get some play. It's also possible that former senator Rick Santorum could be asked about his 2008 comments about Satan 'attacking the great institutions of America,' which had a second life Tuesday thanks to The Drudge Report. When asked if the Satan comments could come up, Feist simply said that 'nothing is off the table.'" [HuffPost]
Charlie Rangel dancing for some reason or another
WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS TO ARGUE ABOUT TAXES FOR A WHILE - Zach Carter: "The Treasury Department on Wednesday laid out a set of principles for rewriting the corporate tax code. The plan would increase the amount of money the government collects from companies by closing loopholes, but would lower the basic corporate tax rate from 35 to 28 percent. It would also require companies that stash money in offshore tax havens to pay a minimum amount in tax every year and provide a special tax break for manufacturing businesses...In the past three years, 30 of the nation's largest corporations have paid zero federal income tax. Less than 10 percent of total U.S. tax revenue currently comes from businesses. For much of the 20th century, that number was closer to 30 percent. As a percentage of total American economic output, corporate tax collections are at historical lows." [HuffPost]
CONGRESS IS OUT OF TOWN AND JIM MANLEY, FORMER TOP REID, IS ENJOYING LIFE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR - "You go back to sticking it to the man," Jim tells us, "I'm going to the gym." Stay fresh, Jim Manley!
ARIZONA LAWMAKER PROPOSES REVOLUTIONARY NEW 'RENT-A-KID' PROGRAM - Dave Jamieson: "Republican lawmakers in Arizona are pushing legislation that would lower the legal minimum wage for younger part-time workers and tipped workers such as restaurant servers, just as Florida lawmakers are considering dropping their state's tipped rate as well. In both cases, proponents of the measures are arguing that the wage floor for such employees is too onerous on businesses. The Arizona proposal, HCR 2056, would amend state law so that an employer could pay a teenage worker $3 less than the current minimum wage per hour if the worker is employed either part-time or on a temporary basis. The Arizona minimum wage is currently $7.65 -- forty cents more than the federal rate -- meaning that many teenagers could end up being paid $4.65 per hour if voters approve the proposal in a ballot initiative later this year." [HuffPost]
ADMINISTRATION ANGRY AT COMPLETELY TRUE STORY - The Department of Housing and Urban Development is annoyed with an FT story by HuffPost alum Shahien Nasiripour. The story is about how mortgage servicing companies will get credit in the big foreclosure fraud settlement by performing modifications under the terrible Home Affordable Modification Program. "Servicers cannot use HAMP incentives to meet their obligations under the settlement, plain and simple," HUD says. Then, two paragraphs later, this: "For HAMP modifications that do include principal reduction, servicers only receive credit for the portion of the principal reduction that they themselves pay for, not for the portion covered by incentives in the program." So the HUD statement doesn't contradict the FT story, but it does contradict itself. Great work guy. [HUD]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Emails of the Jobless, Linda Hall writes from Spokane, Washington: "At 62 years of age, I am on unemployment for the first time in my life. I have lost my health insurance as well. My job as a catering supervisor at a nice upscale private club was 'eliminated' after 18 years of service. Then I was replaced by several very young and less experienced people in their 20s who were willing to work for half price."
What happens to people who run out of unemployment insurance? Delaney Downer Pro has the answer.
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GOP PRIMARY TURNING INTO GOOD OLD FASHION RELIGIOUS DISCORD HOOTENANNY - The Santorum campaign is getting real in response to criticisms of its candidate over a 2008 speech where he alleged that "Satan is attacking the great institutions of America." Examiner: "Given the current grilling of Santorum, that is a source of growing frustration to Santorum's advisers. 'Why is Mormonism off limits?' asks one. 'I'm not saying it's a seminal issue in the campaign, but we're having to spend days answering questions about Rick's faith, which he has been open about.'" [Examiner]
This, this right here is why politics is terrible: "After this was posted, the Santorum adviser called back to stress that his 'off limits' point was not specifically about Mormonism but rather that Santorum alone is being questioned about religion. He asked why Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, in addition to Romney, have not faced the level of questioning about religion that Santorum has. In our original conversation, the adviser said, 'If you're going to ask us, you need to ask everybody.'" [Ibid.]
@jackshafer: Listen all of you atheistic communists in the press picking on Santorum, Satan Is Real! bit.ly/yvJBrQ
America's most reliably grumpy public official, Alan Simpson, is undergoing some kind of Gran Torino-ish anti-prejudice awakening. And he is doing so by attacking Rick Santorum... which is just absolutely fantastic. "Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.) weighed in on the Republican presidential primary on Wednesday, calling Rick Santorum 'rigid and a homophobic.' In an interview with CBS News' Bob Schieffer, Simpson faulted the Republican field for making issues like same-sex marriage and reproductive rights central to their platforms, warning that they would lose favor with voters if the conversation does not change. 'I am convinced that if you get into these social issues and just stay in there about abortion and homosexuality and even mental health they bring up, somehow they're going to take us all to Alaska and float us out in the Bering Sea or something,' said Simpson, long known for colorful commentary. 'We won't have a prayer.'" [HuffPost]
@ethanklapper: Ellis the Elephant! Via @dannyyadron instagr.am/p/HUlK0LDf4A/
CARTOONISH ASIAN RACISM DOES NOT A SENATOR MAKE - Pete Hoekstra has graciously demonstrated this. Mike McAuliff: "The fortunes of Michigan GOP Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra have plummeted since his infamous Super Bowl ad featuring an Asian woman speaking broken English. The latest evidence is a Wednesday NBC/Marist poll that finds Hoekstra trailing incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow by 21 points. A week ago, Hoekstra trailed by 14 points, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. Before that, Stabenow had averaged just a seven-point lead." Also, Pete Hoekstra has demonstrated that the members of 2 Live Crew probably don't have a future in American politics. [HuffPost]
Wherein Jake Tapper did a bang-up job on his homework, wrote an "A+" on it before his teacher could grade it, circled the "A+," took the homework to his kitchen and affixed it to his own refrigerator.
BUDDY ROEMER, WE HARDLY KNEW THEE.... WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY YOU'RE BAILING FROM THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY - That's right: Buddy Roemer, the oh right, and him Republican presidential candidate, officially dropped out of the Republican primary to
pursue his real passion of walking up to strangers and chatting them up switch parties. AP: "Roemer announced Wednesday that he is leaving the GOP after dismal performances in the states that so far have held primary contests or caucuses. Instead, he's going independent, trying to become the nominee of Americans Elect, a nonpartisan group pushing for a third-party candidate to run against President Barack Obama and the eventual Republican nominee. Also, Roemer says he'll seek the nomination of the Reform Party. The former congressman has built his campaign on lambasting special interests in politics, limiting his campaign donations to $100 and refusing money from political action committees." [AP]
A million points to WaPo's Ed O'Keefe for asking Darell Issa this question: "I’ve spent time talking to at least a dozen people who track your committee. Let me read you some of the things they said -- sadly, they weren’t willing to have me attach their names to these things, but it should give you a sense of what people think: 'He has the attention of a 4-year old,' one senior administration official said. 'A lot of sizzle and no steak,' in the words of one Republican congressional staffer. 'He gets amnesia after his office writes press releases,' said another GOP staffer. With so much being asked of the government, one of your own people told me that 'I don’t even know what the definition of an investigation is because there's so much going on around here.'" [WaPo]
To be fair, you can probably say that every single member of Congress "gets amnesia" after their office publishes press releases -- but Issa really is patient zero when it comes to that disease (him or, y'know, Chuck).
OUTRAGED GAY MAN WILL LOWER SUSANA MARTINEZ'S EARS NO MORE - Sam Stein's item on New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is, without question, the scoop of the decade... nay, century. "On Tuesday, Governor Susana Martinez (R-N.M.) lost a hairstylist who refused to clip her locks out of disgust with her opposition to marriage equality," he writes. "Antonio Darden, who had cut Martinez's hair on three occasions and runs Antonio's Hair Studio in Santa Fe, N.M., re-crafted the notion of civil disobedience when he declined to accept an appointment. 'The governor's aides called not too long ago, wanting another appointment to come in,' Darden told a local news station. 'Because of her stances and her views on this I told her aides no. They called the next day, asking if I'd changed my mind about taking the governor in and I said no again.' Okayyy, but we're pretty sure that if Darden really wanted to stick it to the governor, he would have kept giving her that haircut. Zing!!!... Aren't we just awful!?! [HuffPost]
While we're on the topic of hair and politics (ew): "The American Mustache Institute is on a mission. On April 1, these mustachioed citizens will take to the streets of Washington to march from the Capitol to the White House in the Million Mustache March." [Roll Call]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Can't we all just get along?
- M. Ward's "The First Time I Ran Away." New album on April 10. 9:30 Club on May 13. [http://bit.ly/x0pSDj]
- Here is a creepy way of looking at energy use. [http://bit.ly/z1IW1S]
- Great. Now the robots will be able to sneak up on us. Thanks, Science. [http://bit.ly/yJDbcr]
- "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs [and cats] of war." [http://bit.ly/zJ2vpS]
- A brief interview with the voice actor who played Adm. Ackbar. [http://bit.ly/yJY4Yq]
- Pop-up book for the offspring of our robot overlords (after they sneak up on us). [http://bit.ly/zjGbN2]
- Ugh. Makes you want to give up nostalgia for Lent. [http://bit.ly/wjdLEi]
@KagroX: RT @LisaDCNN: NEWT - LENT: Guesses as to what he's giving up? || Saying, "frankly"?
@BuzzFeed: Giving up Jeremy Lin puns for Lint.
@FakeAPStylebook: Acceptable synonyms for #Linsanity: "Lintestinal parasite," "Lin vitro fertilization," "Lintelligent Design."
6:30pm: Young, pro-choice, Democratic women are honored at the
6:30pm: The Motion Picture Association of, ahem, America inexplicably screens a Canadian Oscar-nominated film, "Monsieur Lazhar." Just wait until Harvey hears about this. [1600 I St. NW]
8:00pm: Watch GOP candidates awkwardly try to avoid saying mean, anti-immigrant stuff at the CNN Arizona debate. [Mesa, Arizona]
8:30pm PST: Post-debate, catch Newt looking exquisitely out-of-place at an "ultra-lounge" in Scottsdale called Mint. [7373 East Camelback Rd.]
4:00pm: We never thought we'd see it, but Michelle Obama will be fundraising in Kentucky. Brave lady. [1701 West Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville]
All Weekend: Pete Sessions and Jeb Hensarling's (Both R-Texas) annual Park City ski trip. If you spot two guys skiing in jeans and bomber jackets, that's them. [Park City, Utah]
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