Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Eric Cantor's Airport Salad

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Grover Norquist is losing friends so quickly you'd think he was Mitt Romney's Facebook account. The State Department refused to appoint Andrew W. K. a cultural ambassador to Bahrain, so it's probably not a stretch to assume that GWAR won't play the next state dinner. And John McCain will meet with Susan Rice tomorrow to discuss the Benghazi consulate attack, security at diplomatic buildings and why people get all bent out of shape when he writes checks at grocery stores. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, November 26th, 2012:

SENATE TALKING ABOUT TALKING ABOUT TALKING - Mike McAuliff: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned senators Monday to oppose the growing momentum for dramatic reform of the filibuster, saying, 'It may be the most important thing you ever do.'...Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been signaling his readiness to curb the tactic, often noting that he has faced 385 filibusters during his leadership while Lyndon Johnson had to deal with only one when he ran the Senate...Making such a rule change in the Senate would normally require a 67-vote majority. But when the Senate comes back into session in January, Democrats could use a set of procedural rules often called the "nuclear option" and pass the changes with a simple 51-vote majority. It is that possibility that McConnell targeted in his Senate floor speech, saying such a move would be a pure power grab that would only make partisanship worse in the upper chamber." [HuffPost]

HuffPost Hill asked Jeff Merkley, who's leading the push for filibuster reform, why he thought McConnell was so opposed, given that he'll want to ram stuff through the Senate if he ever takes it over. "Reconciliation," he said. "Remember they put a lot of stuff through reconciliation when they were in charge before. And plus, he can change the rules when they are in the majority. He isn't actually foregoing -- there is always a new reason to do something. 'Didn't make sense four years ago; makes sense now.'"

ORRIN HATCH'S HEART BLEEDS - Orrin Hatch, after telling Grim that lazy people are gaming every one of the government's safety net and social insurance programs: "And look, let's make it very clear: I'm the first to want to take care of the truly poor. I've always been there. But we've got to find a way that people help to pull the wagon."

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today set dates for the special elections to fill Jesse Jackson Jr.'s House seat. The primary will be held on February 26th and the general on March 19th. Currently, everyone in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District -- except maybe for Bloom High School's mascot (go Trojans!) -- has expressed interest in the seat. For a list of the prospective candidates, check out this rundown at National Journal.

SUSAN RICE ON THE HILL - Fox News' composite graphic of Rice's five Sunday show appearances is going to need to take a vacation after this. The Hill: "Susan Rice is meeting with senators on Capitol Hill this week in an effort to address lawmakers' concerns about her role in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The ambassador to the United Nations is sitting down individually with senators from both parties on Monday and is expected to continue her briefings on Tuesday, according to sources, when she will informally meet with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Her visit has heightened speculation that President Obama will nominate her as secretary of State and thereby risk a tough fight with Republicans at the start of his second term." [The Hill]

@JesseRodriguez: NBC: Amb Susan Rice will meet with Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte tomorrow

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Eric Cantor keeps talking about this hard-luck cook he met in a Montana airport restaurant, so DDD talked to the guy. He is Missoula resident Timothy Thomas, 37. Reached by telephone during his shift at Jedediah's at the Airport in Missoula on Monday, Thomas said he made lunch for Cantor's entourage, and then Cantor came into the kitchen to say thanks (he had a garden salad with a side of tuna), and Thomas said he told the House majority leader his personal story. "What I told Eric Cantor was, I'm grateful to have this job and everything, but it sucks," Thomas said. "Living paycheck to paycheck, barely squeaking by." Thomas said he started working in construction in 2002 after serving four years in the Marines. When the housing bubble popped, the work dried up, and Thomas took a job working for a chef in 2009. He said he is grateful for his job, though it pays $9.50 an hour -- much less than the $25 an hour he used to make in construction. It's a common story in a lame economic recovery fueled by low-wage jobs. "Ever since the Democrats took the White House, there's no work," Thomas said. "I wished [Cantor] the best but I also said, 'You guys need to get with the program up in Washington. This isn't working, all this gridlock.'" He also predicted an Atlas Shrugged-style dystopia. [HuffPost]

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GROVER NORQUIST LOSING FRIENDS - Remember that scene from "The Wire" when a deflated Dennis "Cutty" Wise approached Avon Barksdale and confessed that "I ain't got it in me no more..."? This is kind of like that, but with a bunch of old white guys ("Got dat Lipitor..."): "Open criticism of Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform group's anti-tax pledge continued to make its way to the forefront of debate on Monday, with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) saying that his only real obligation was to serve his constituents by finding a long-term solution to avert the so-called 'fiscal cliff.' 'I'm not obligated on the pledge,' Corker told Charlie Rose of CBS News, responding to a question about growing disenchantment among Republicans who had previously stood in agreement with Norquist's strict 'no new taxes' pledge." [HuffPost's Nick Wing]

DEMOCRATS <3 SUPER PACS - Politico: "Shortly after Election Day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and top White House aides spoke at a three-day secret meeting of major Democratic donors and officials from liberal outside groups gearing up for 2014, POLITICO has learned. Among the groups represented: Priorities USA Action, the super PAC that is vowing to remain a player in Democratic politics, even though President Barack Obama won't run for office again; American Bridge 21st Century, the oppo shop that helped sink Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's GOP Senate bid; the Pelosi-backed House Majority PAC; the secret-money organizing nonprofit America Votes; and the pro-choice group EMILY's List. Some of those groups or their allies are considering expanding into state politics, policy fights or even primaries on both sides. And they have already gone back to their 2012 donors to ask for more cash while the euphoria from winning is still fresh. Their goal: a permanent network of officially blessed independent groups that leverages liberals' increasing acceptance and appreciation of outside money to compete with a much-better-funded Republican shadow party." [Politico]

IS THE THIRD TIME A CHARM FOR THIS FAILED ATHLETE AND POLITICIAN? Heath Shuler really puts his back into selling out. Charlotte News & Observer: "The day after Rep. Heath Shuler's third term expires on Jan. 3, 2013, the outgoing congressman will start lobbying for Duke Energy. The company announced Monday that Shuler will hold the title of senior vice president of federal affairs. 'We are pleased Heath will be joining our team in Washington,' said Keith Trent, speaking on behalf of Duke Energy in a release. 'Heath is well known in Washington for working with leaders from both political parties and for bringing people together in his district in Western North Carolina.'" [NewsObersver.com]

WEST VIRGINIA: CAPITO ANNOUNCES SENATE BID - West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful and The Place Where A Convicted Felon Can Nearly Upset A Democratic President With Working-Class Roots but A Scion Of One Of America's Most Wealthy Dynasties Can Handily Win Reelection Four Times. Roll Call: "Rockefeller, 75, and a West Virginia institution first elected to the Senate in 1984, is considered a top potential Senate retirement. Capito, first elected in 2000, has long been considered the Republicans' top prospect to take a Senate seat in the Mountain State. But she took a pass on running against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III this year. A popular former governor, Manchin cruised to victory earlier this month. She also passed on challenging Manchin in the 2010 special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd." [Roll Call]

Next stop, Rapegaffeville: "The Club for Growth is already pushing the 2014 GOP field in as conservative a direction as possible, questioning the Senate candidacy of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), who announced Monday that she will challenge Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.). In a statement on Monday morning, Club for Growth president Chris Chocola pointed to the 2012 losses of Senate candidates who were backed by the GOP establishment and therefore did not face a competitive primary challenge." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

ETHICS COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING MICHAEL GRIMM - This being the House Ethics Committee, the worst thing the Staten Island Republican might have to endure will be a sternly worded letter and, if the findings are REALLY bad, three hours cleaning John Boehner's ashtrays. AP: "The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that Rep. Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent, is under investigation for possible campaign finance violations, but said it is deferring the inquiry because of a separate Justice Department probe. The New York Republican may have violated campaign finance laws by soliciting and accepting prohibited contributions, actions that may have caused false information to be included in campaign finance reports, the committee said. One focus of the investigation is whether the congressman improperly sought assistance from a foreign national, by soliciting contributions in exchange for offering to use his official position to assist the person in obtaining a green card, according to a committee statement." [AP]

WE ARE NEVER GOING TO LEAVE AFGHANISTAN - Like the Cubs' World Series drought, the lines at a Broward County polling station and herpes, America's military presence in the war-torn nation is forever. WSJ: "Top Obama administration officials want to keep around 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when formal combat ends in 2014, cementing a limited, long-term American military presence in the country if Kabul agrees, said senior U.S. officials. A post-2014 troop level of that size would represent the midpoint of preliminary recommendations by Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. Gen. Allen has proposed maintaining a force between 6,000 and 15,000 U.S. troops to conduct training and counterterrorism efforts when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission formally concludes at the end of 2014, officials said. In contrast, the U.S. maintains no residual force in Iraq, a situation that has been blamed for instability in that country." [WSJ]

TERRY BRANSTAD PROPOSES CRAZY INSURANCE - Des Moines Register: "Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday morning suggested a statewide series of fundraisers featuring Republican presidential candidates as an alternative to the long-running Iowa Straw Poll. 'I think, looking to the future, we will be able to develop maybe a series of regional fundraisers and events that can help the party raise money as well as giving the candidates an opportunity for forums and visibility throughout the state,' Branstad said during his weekly press conference...In recent cycles, however, the event has grown into more of a political festival and media spectacle, even as its accuracy in choosing viable nominees has waned. In 2011, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann won the straw poll en route to a fifth-place finish in the caucuses and early exit from the race." [Des Moines Register]

Vox populi, vox smartass: "According to the latest numbers tallied by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, President Obama has expanded his share of the popular vote to 50.8 percent, while Romney has fallen to 47.49 percent...Wasserman projects that Romney's vote share will actually head more toward 47 percent flat -- 47.1 percent or 47.2 percent -- because many of the outstanding ballots in the presidential race come from California and New York, which both voted for Obama by a large margin." [WaPo]

@Jordanfabian: 58% of voters under the age of 30 are white non-Hispanic. 76% of voters over 30 are white, non-Hispanic ... uninews.us/Sp11gL

BAHRAIN NOT PARTYING HARD - This probably doesn't bode well for our whisper campaign to have Andrew Dice Clay replace Susan Rice as UN ambassador if she is nominated to head the State Department. Mother Jones: "Over Thanksgiving weekend, hard-rock performing artist and self-declared 'King of Partying' Andrew W.K. announced that he had just landed a new gig: America's "cultural ambassador of partying" to Bahrain... A State Department spokesman confirmed to Mother Jones Monday that the man behind the 2001 party-rock album I Get Wet will not in fact be partying 'til he pukes in Bahrain--at least, not in any official capacity. While Andrew W.K. was invited by a US embassy 'cultural speakers program' for a possible overseas trip to Bahrain, the embassy in Manama later determined that the program was "not appropriate" and canceled it promptly some time ago." [Mother Jones]

I know, it's only rock & roll but KIDS' PANTS ARE TOO BAGGY: "The Supreme Court used to be called Nine Old Men. That's nothing compared to the ageless Rolling Stones. The justices on average are the kid brothers and sisters of the forever young rock n' rollers. The average age for the four living members of The Rolling Stones is about two years older than the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court." [AP]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Fox and cat are best friends.

LOOK AT ALL THE MAGICAL COLORS - HuffPost DC: "Worried about the fiscal cliff? Stop worrying and just go wander around to look at all the pretty colored lights." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- "Game of Thrones" meets "Seinfeld" -- a show about nothing ... and dragons. [http://bit.ly/Tq6Uvw]

- An oldie but a goodie: Muppets auditioning to be Yoda. [http://bit.ly/ukCkNo]

- It's almost December, which means it's retrospective list time. Popular science brings us the seven greatest engineering inventions of 2012. [http://bit.ly/Qle1pb]

- Chihuahua wants Thanksgiving so badly he'll do a little jig for some stuffing. [http://bit.ly/YjgZOt]

- What if your two best friends mimicked the behavior of cats and dogs? [http://bit.ly/Tgq9oy]

- Dog loves the Redskins, hates the Cowboys. [http://wapo.st/V27Tzp]

- OMG, the first use of "OMG." [http://bit.ly/TgtcNE]

TWITTERAMA

@evanmc_s: free idea: "If ____ walks away from the Norquist pledge, I'll shave my ____."

@daveweigel: So is Scott Brown just sitting around, refreshing his "John Kerry" google alert?

@LoganDobson: Grover Norquist is people, my friend.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:30 pm: Saxby Chambliss, whose picture is undoubtedly thumbtacked to the wall of Grover Norquist's office and is the target of untold number of darts, hosts his "Quarterly Max Out Reception." We're guessing "Annual Max Out Reception" is what he calls Thanksgiving. [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE]

6:00 pm: Kelly Ayotte, who was grounded by her parents for hanging out with the Three Amigos, is let out for a campaign function. [OLA Townhouse, 330 Maryland Ave NE]

TOMORROW

6:00 pm: Will Tim Pawlenty soon be replaced by John Thune as America's most forgotten Midwestern presidential candidate? Time will tell. In the meantime, he stops by the NRSC for a function benefiting his Heartland Values PAC. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

12:00 pm: Dan Coats doesn't want to be the next Indiana Republican ousted by someone who thinks rape is just a Secret Santa gift from God, so here he is, raising money. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]

6:00 pm: Mike Crapo, Idahoan that he is, can only get more conservative over time to ward off primary challenges until he becomes a singularity of climate denialism and tricorne hats. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]

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