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HUFFPOST HILL - Someone Hand Clint A Tissue: Congress Debates 'Buy American' Rule

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Republican lobbyist Edwina Rogers will lead an atheist organization, meaning that those newsflashes about a possible Romney/Rogers campaign were false. If passed, a trade bill would free government contractors of the "Buy American" rule, infuriate Detroit and alleviate your guilt about purchasing that used Accord. And Michele Bachmann endorsed Mitt Romney for president today, fueling speculation about a Romney/Bachma-- BWHAHAHAHA. Sorry! We just can't finish it! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 3rd, 2012:

BIPARTISAN LAWMAKERS DENOUNCE ANTI-'BUY AMERICAN' PROVISION - Meanwhile, government-funded NGO employees are overjoyed that they might not have to suffer through thirteen American Airlines layovers to get from Washington to Mogadishu. Zach Carter: "A group of 68 House Democrats and one Republican sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday urging him to reconsider an element of the controversial free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the administration. If approved in its current form, the pact would effectively ban 'Buy American' policies in government contracting. Although the deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has received relatively little media attention in the United States, it has sparked international friction among consumer groups and environmental activists who worry that terms demanded by the Obama administration will eliminate important public protections. Domestically, however, the deal's primary source of political tension is from a portion that could ban 'Buy American' provisions -- a restriction that opponents emphasize would crimp U.S. jobs." [HuffPost]

Not all the news here is totally hopeless. ABC News: Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who suffered a stroke in late January, has recovered enough to leave the rehabilitation center he's been living at for the last three months and will continue his recovery from home, his Senate office announced today. 'Mark has progressed to the point where he can move home with his family,' his family said in a statement today. 'He has begun a rigorous walking study program to further his mobility and independence while maintaining his schedule with staff.'" [ABC News]

EDWINA ROGERS TO FLOG FOR THE GODLESS - High-profile GOP lobbyist Edwina Rogers has been brought on to lobby for the nation's atheists. From the release: "The Secular Coalition for America -- the nation's only full time nontheistic lobbying organization -- proudly announced the selection of longtime Republican lobbyist, Edwina Rogers, as its new Executive Director today...'For too long, the 50 million secular Americans have been ignored, underappreciated and undervalued -- that's what drew me to the Secular Coalition for America,' Rogers said. 'It's time to change that.'"

Edwina's (soon-to-be ex-)husband explains why his lobby revenue is down (man alive, DC is small). HuffPost: "A top Republican lobbying shop lost major business over the past few years because clients thought 'Obama was going to be dictator,' and only firms closely aligned with the administration would have access, Ed Rogers, the head of BGR Group, said....'There was a spike in people thinking that Obama was going to be dictator and to get a fair hearing, which is all you're ever really going to get or all you literally want, you had to be close to the Obama administration. We were not,' Rogers testified in a deposition taken as part of his divorce filing. [HuffPost]

SAME AS IT EVER WAS: GINGRICH PLANS TO MILK MEDIA ATTENTION - CNN: "A day after a seemingly lukewarm embrace of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich said Thursday he had fully endorsed the former Massachusetts governor and would enthusiastically campaign on his behalf. 'I thought I was endorsing him,' Gingrich said of his speech Wednesday, in which he formally announced he was suspending his bid for the GOP nomination... As for potential names on Romney's vice presidential short list, Gingrich offered a slate of oft-mentioned politicians: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels." [CNN]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST NOTICES SIMILARITIES BETWEEN POTS AND KETTLES - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist -- who recently uploaded the same song to his iPod 3,000 times ( "Somebody's Watching Me") -- thinks President Obama is stealing a page from someone. "Are you three disappointed that the sh*t that drove you nuts about Bush (mission accomplished, too cute correspondents' dinner speeches, super PAC courting, Axelrod is the same as Rove) are being doubled down on by Obama?" PSLGOPL writes. Point well taken, PSLGOPL!

BONUS PSLGOPL FOLLOW UP: "I kind of like the new macho Obama." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - American workers are earning more money than they used to, but the rate of wage growth has been slowing down since the Great Recession technically ended in 2009. According to a report released Thursday by worker advocacy group the National Employment Law Project, the rate of wage growth has declined steadily during our nearly three-year recovery. And in real terms, wages have actually declined slightly. "However you look at it, wages for most Americans are just limping along, and it's become a real sap on the recovery," NELP director Christine Owens said in a statement. "You can't rebuild an economy when so many have so little to spend." [HuffPost]

UPSIDE DOWNER - The latest report on weekly jobless claims is better than it's been in the past several weeks. "In the week ending April 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 365,000, a decrease of 27,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 392,000," the Labor Department announced this morning. Things still suck though: "The 4-week moving average was 383,500, an increase of 750 from the previous week's revised average of 382,750." [Labor Department]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

MERYL STREEP, AMERICA'S GREATEST PERSON, WORRIED ABOUT NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY MUSEUM - And if Meryl's easy charm, intelligence and everywoman relatability can't save the museum... GOOD GOD WHAT WILL?!?! Christina Wilkie and Andrea Stone: "Support from donors and elected officials for a National Women's History Museum appears to have evaporated after a recent Huffington Post investigation revealed a pattern of mismanagement and lack of accountability by the organization's top officers... Meryl Streep told HuffPost she sent a letter to the NWHM's board soon after the April 8 article was published. 'Apart from a cordial acknowledgment from Joan Wages (the museum's president and CEO), I have not heard from other members of the board in response to a letter I wrote outlining my concerns. I am hopeful that the museum's board will set out a vigorous, serious course of action to achieve their goals along a suitable timeline.'" [HuffPost]

IT'S EVENING IN AMERICA: NEGATIVE ADS OUTPACING POSITIVE ONES - Put another way, there are way more 30-second spots featuring opponents grimacing and Photoshopped with the static/noise effect than ones featuring the actual candidates' families walking around in pastoral farms. WHAT HAS BECOME OF OUR COUNTRY WHEN WE'VE DONE AWAY WITH THE PASTORAL FARMS?!? Sam Stein: The percentage of negative ads run during the 2012 election is up dramatically over the previous cycle, with candidates and interest groups choosing to go after opponents far earlier than in 2008. A new analysis put together by the Wesleyan Media Project shows that 70 percent of ads aired so far in the 2012 presidential race have been negative, meaning they mentioned an opponent by name. In 2008, the percentage of negative ads at this juncture in that campaign was 9.1 percent, the study found. The acidic change in tone is owed to the rise of interest groups and super PACs in the electoral process, the study concludes. Whereas in 2008, candidate-sponsored ads made up 96.6 percent of total 'airings,' as of April 22, 2012, that percentage had dropped to 35.8 percent." [HuffPost]

Jason Linkins: "'If You Vote For My Opponent, Everyone Will Die': A Historical Compendium Of Fearful Political Ads"

WHAT IS RON PAUL UP TO? - Aside from neglecting his true calling as a folksy voice over actor for Walt Disney World rides (imagine him saying "Please Keep Your Hands And Feet Inside Your Log While On Splash Mountain" -- it totally works). Jon Ward: "A prominent Iowa Republican, and a major supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, did not hesitate to answer when asked recently how many of the Hawkeye State's 28 delegates he expects Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to have heading into the national convention in Tampa this August. 'Twenty,' he said. Conversations with numerous Iowa Republicans confirms the same thing: The state party establishment is dreading a Paul rout on June 15 and 16 at the two-day congressional district/state convention in Des Moines." [HuffPost]

The Nation is zeroing in on Romney's foreign policy. We're close enough to an election now that the Left can begin beating up Mitt's plans for America abroad-- you know, the ones that will be an extension of Obama's, which were an extension of Bush's. [The Nation]

ROMNEYBOT RUNNING VIRUS SCAN ON POTENTIAL RUNNING MATES - LA Times: " When Sen. Kelly Ayotte joined Mitt Romney for a tour of fishing boats this week, she was doing more than campaigning in her home state for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and for slashing President Obama's regulatory policies. She was one of a number of political stars who have shared the stage with Romney in recent days, auditioning -- in the view of many -- to be his running mate. The campaign trail with Romney has felt like a series of tryouts lately as he tests the chemistry and optics of potential vice presidential picks. The next will take place Thursday, when he campaigns with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Though Romney is not expected to make a formal decision anytime soon, the vetting has clearly begun, with the campaign scrutinizing potential running mates' electoral experience, geographic desirability and affinity with GOP constituencies that remain wary of Romney." [LA Times]

Michele Bachmann, who has kept a low profile since dropping out (and before dropping out) endorsed Romney today. NYT: "And at a rally [in Portsmouth, Virginia] on Thursday with Gov. Bob McDonnell, Mrs. Bachmann officially threw her support behind Mr. Romney, calling the choice in November between him and President Obama 'very easy.' 'We're all here together to have a welcome party here in the Tidewater area for the next president of the United States, President Mitt Romney,' Mrs. Bachmann said, giving her endorsement three months after quitting the race. 'I am honored to be able to be here to introduce not only Gov. Bob McDonnell, the fabulous governor of the state of Virginia, but also to lend my voice and my endorsement to Mitt Romney as our president and take the country back.'" [NYT]

Jen Bendery reports that Ayn Rand fanboys and girls aren't phased by Paul Ryan's recent attempt to VP-up his image by distancing himself from Rand: "[Ryan's] move didn't sour relations with The Atlas Society, a group that actively promotes Rand's capitalist vision and one that Ryan spoke to in 2005 about how Rand inspired him to enter public service. In fact, the group's spokesman doubled down this week and endorsed Ryan for president. 'I'd like to see Paul Ryan as president one day,' Edward Hudgins, director of advocacy at The Atlas Society, said Tuesday in an interview with The Huffington Post." [HuffPost]

OBAMA CAMPAIGN RELEASES ANOTHER COMPOSITE LADY: JULIA - The Obama campaign today released an infographic that shows the progression o f"Julia"'s life as affected by Barack Obama's policies (except for when Julia is conscripted into one of Barack Hussein Obama's militant feminist War on Women platoons). Laura Bassett: "[It] walks users through the life of an average, middle-class woman, in hopes of showing how Obama's policies benefit her more than Romney's at every stage. The website points out that when Julia is 17, Obama's Race to the Top program will help her get into a good college, while the budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which Romney supports, cuts funding for public education...In response, the Romney campaign criticized Obama's handling of women's economic issues. 'Each night, too many women go to sleep wondering if they can pay the mortgage, if they can afford to put food on the table, and if their children will have a job after graduating from college," said Amanda Henneberg, a Romney spokeswoman." And if you reelect President Obama, 200-year-old Julia will live again thanks to 2013's Affordable Cryogenic Care Act." [HuffPost]

CHARLOTTE 2012: DEMOCRATS HAMSTRUNG BY THEIR OWN DO-GOODERY - Dave Jamieson: "Democrats' self-imposed ban on corporate donations has made it tough to raise cash for the Democratic National Convention, and their hope that unions would step in to fill the void appears to have hit a snag, the Wall Street Journal reports. Wary of their budgets and upset that the convention will be hosted in right-to-work North Carolina, organized labor won't be giving Democrats the money they're requesting for the Charlotte festivities, union officials told the paper. Some unions, including UNITE HERE, the large service workers union, will not contribute to the convention at all. Of course, donating money to the convention would pull dollars away from other political causes that unions have a stake in. A spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers told the Journal that it has more pressing priorities than Charlotte. 'Registration drives, get-out-the-vote drives and leafleting -- that's where we can make our best contribution,' he said." [HuffPost]

Burning Man meets D.C.. Burners are here in Washington lobbying for a bigger permit for their sold-out event. WaPo: "[U]nderneath it all, says the festival's co-founder, Larry Harvey, is 'old-fashioned capitalism.' There's not a corporate logo in sight at the countercultural arts festival, and nothing is for sale but ice and coffee. But at its core, Harvey believes that Burning Man hews closely to the true spirit of a free-enterprise democracy...That's part of the message that Harvey and his colleagues have brought to Washington this week, in his meetings with congressional staffers and the Interior Department to discuss the future of Burning Man. In fact, the festival is already a known quantity on the Hill: Harvey and his colleagues have been coming to Washington for years to explain the festival to policymakers, in least part because Burning Man takes place on public land that's managed by the Interior Department." [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog protects owner's bike, rides off into the distance

WASHINGTON TAKES ON FLOWERS - HuffPost DC: "At a Trust for the National Mall luncheon today, winning redesign schemes for Constitution Gardens, the Washington Monument grounds and Union Square were announced."

FRUIT WINE DISTRIBUTORS BEWARE - HuffPost DC: "If you are making large amounts of 'fruit wine' in your garage in Virginia, please note that you will displease the commonwealth's alcohol authorities. Especially if you've been arrested previously for illegally making fruit wine."

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- BEHOLD: Three grandmas examine a bong. [http://bit.ly/IpKJi2]

- "How To Talk To Your Parents About Spotify" [http://bit.ly/IpJP3y]

- Fire department rescues a cat with a Doritos bag on its head from the top of a telephone pole. Can't make this stuff up. [http://bit.ly/IpKh1Q]

- A capella dubstep. We're not sure if this is more or less annoying than the regular flavor. (TRIGGER WARNING: Dubstep) [http://chzb.gr/IpKt1g]

- Scientists believe they have located the last Creed fan. [http://bit.ly/IpLt5e]

- You know that guy, Phoenix Jones, who goes around Seattle "fighting crime" in a costume? Real heros need real villains. Same goes for fake ones, apparently. [http://bit.ly/IpMx9w]

- Cat schooled by fish. Get it? Yeah, you do. [http://bit.ly/IpKnaZ]

TWITTERAMA

@LifeOfJulia: It's not fair to say that Obama will take care of me from cradle to grave. At 72 my organs will be harvested to make biofuels. = No grave!

@LOLGOP: It's great that Romney thinks McCain is a great surrogate. McCain was so effective in 2008 that he needed Sarah Palin to speak for him.

@StephenAtHome: Newt Gingrich may have officially dropped out, but he will never be forgotten. Take care of yourself, Newt ... um, I want to say, Gretzky?

ON TAP

Tomorrow, 7:00pm: David Plouffe is deployed to scare up a few young Obama voters. You know, those kids who are totally staying home this time around? Take note, this party is in a nightclub. Very hip. [1150B Peachtree St., Atlanta]

Tomorrow - Sunday: The NRSC hosts its Spring Retreat in Austin. If you spot John Cornyn munching on a food truck Korean taco, please, PLEASE send us a photo. [Austin]

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