POLITICS
09/26/2013 06:27 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Ted Cruz (R - More Coffee, Hon?)

The NSA might be tracking domestic cell phones' GPS, though whether it's doing so to catch terrorists or hook up with nearby strangers is less clear. Joe Manchin supports the GOP proposal to postpone the individual mandate, an opinion he expressed by pinning the law to a tree and not shooting it. And Wendy Davis will enter the Texas gubernatorial contest, delighting voters who wanted to see a progressive woman run for statewide office there and disappointing voters who hoped Tami Taylor would fill that role (hey y'all, vote for me!) .This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, September 26th, 2013:

FANTASY DEBT CEILING BILL HAVING HARD TIME - Russell Berman, Bernie Becker and Erik Wasson: "House Republican leaders found themselves struggling to secure the votes on Thursday for a debt-ceiling measure they hoped to swiftly pass through the House as the latest salvo in a multi-front fiscal fight. In a closed-door meeting, the leadership outlined to their members a proposal that would demand a laundry list of Republican priorities in exchange for a yearlong suspension of the nation's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. The centerpiece of the plan is a one-year delay of President Obama's signature healthcare law. But hours after the meeting, the party had yet to formally release the legislation, and conservatives complained that it lacked specific spending cuts and failed to tackle entitlement reform." Yeah, cuz tackling entitlement reform is harder than writing a laundry list. [The Hill]

Well, that's comforting: "Asked bluntly if using the limit for leverage risked blowing up the economy, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) paused for a second and then offered a drawn-out 'Yes' that suggested the answer was obvious. 'That's why we're paid the big bucks -- to figure these problems out,' Farenthold added." [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

MANCHIN'D - "U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke ranks with fellow Democrats and said he'd support a stopgap spending plan that delays the individual mandate in President Barack Obama's health-care law. 'There's no way I could not vote for it,' Manchin said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast today. 'It's very reasonable and sensible.'" [Bloomberg]

Ted Cruz needs to stop listening to John Mellencamp, because in the Texas senator's estimation, every single working mom works at a diner. We pulled together every reference he made to such moms in his 21-hour speech and mashed them together. [Video]

Related mashup: Tom Coburn and Madeline.

THE SKINNY ON OBAMACARE 'DELAYS' - Jeff Young: "We learned on Thursday that companies won't be able to shop online for health benefits on the law's health-insurance exchange for small businesses in a bunch of states on Oct. 1, as promised. The Spanish-language version of the exchange websites also won't be able to take applications right away. It's way too soon for anybody to lose their head. For starters, the open enrollment period is six months long, so individuals have until March 31 to pick a health plan and avoid getting hit with a tax penalty for remaining uncovered. Small-business enrollment lasts year-round. And no matter whether someone chooses a health insurance policy on Oct. 1 or Dec. 15, the earliest they can use it is New Year's Day. These setbacks are embarrassing, but they don't mean individuals and small businesses can't buy health insurance next week. They just mean that, at first, some won't be able to use a website and will have to file paper applications or sign up by phone or through an insurance agent. That's an inconvenience, not a catastrophe." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Because you can't spell "food stamps" without "spam": "Just over a year ago, Miranda Childe was an assistant professor in English at Miami-Dade College. But due in part to funding cuts at state colleges, she suddenly found herself out of work. Forced into early retirement, the 59-year-old from Hallandale was left with no salary and quickly vanishing savings. Within a year, Childe was living at the federal poverty level. She and her roommate were awarded the maximum food stamp benefit in January - $365 in total per month. The average food stamp allotment is $133 per person or about $4 a day. Childe had to forego the more healthy food she used to eat as a vegetarian and subsist on low-cost food. 'We certainly never go out to eat... we're down to, like, Spam and spaghetti,' Childe said." And in November, your bennies are shrinking 13 percent or so. And then next year, depending what Congress does, you could be one of the unlucky 5 percent of SNAP recipients who will lose benefits altogether. [WLRN]

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BOEHNER GOES THROUGH MOTIONS - Just bite your lip and think of the queen *your impending partnership at Patton Boggs*, John. Mike McAuliff: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) insisted Thursday that the government would not shut down, but he also flatly refused to pass a 'clean' spending bill to keep Uncle Sam in business next week when the bank account runs dry. 'I do not see that happening,' Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill after meeting with Republican legislators. The House passed a measure last week to fund the government after Sept. 30 only if Democrats agree to strip spending from Obamacare. The Senate is in the process of removing the health care defunding and plans to send a simple spending bill back to the House by this weekend. That bill would keep the government running until Nov. 15. Boehner declared, 'I don't expect' the government to close. But he did not explain how he and his Republican caucus could amend the Senate bill, debate it, vote on it and send it back to the Senate for more action there before Oct. 1." [HuffPost]

GOP REPS TRIED TO TIE ABORTION RESTRICTIONS TO DEBT CEILING DEAL - Unless this was some kind of convoluted way to tie our debt repayments to forcing China to end its one-child policy, the GOP has gone absolutely bonkers. Luke Johnson: "Some House Republicans argued, without success, to include a ban on late-term abortions in a bill to authorize a one-year increase of the debt ceiling just three weeks before the Treasury Department expects that the United States will not have enough money to fund its obligations, according to the Washington Post. The House of Representatives already passed a ban in June, but the Democratic-controlled Senate did not take up the measure and the White House threatened to veto it. Adding the provision was previously reported as under consideration in May. While other provisions considered by the GOP had at least a plausible relationship to the debt, a late-term abortion ban does nothing. In fact, the CBO estimated that such a ban will increase the debt." [HuffPost]

WENDY DAVIS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR - Still not convinced this isn't a ploy by the illuminati and Mizuno executives. Politico: "Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis and her advisers have begun informing influential Democrats that she intends to run for governor in 2014, according to multiple sources familiar with Davis's conversations. The Fort Worth legislator made a national name for herself in June when she mounted a filibuster against new proposed abortion clinic regulations. Texas Republicans ultimately passed those restrictions into law in a special session called by outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Davis advisers declined to confirm that she will enter the governor's race, but Davis consultant Hector Nieto said the senator has made up her mind about 2014 and will unveil her plans next week." [Politico]

WYDEN: NSA MAY HAVE TRACKED DOMESTIC CELLPHONES' LOCATION - "Would it kill you to visit your mother?" NSA Director Keith Alexander wonders. Matt Sledge: "Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) suggested on Thursday that the National Security Agency has in the past collected data on the location of Americans' cell phones. Wyden was facing off with NSA Director Keith Alexander in a rare public meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wyden asked whether the agency has ever collected, or made plans to collect, records of the cell sites mobile phones connect with. Alexander first referred Wyden to a classified, written answer that accompanied a public letter from July, which said the NSA was "not currently" receiving cell site location data. But then the senator interrupted him, charging he had not answered the question..."I'm asking, has the NSA ever collected, or ever made any plans to collect, American cell site information?" Wyden said. Again Alexander dodged the question, which Wyden promised he would keep asking As a member of the intelligence committee, Wyden has special access to classified information about the NSA's surveillance programs." [publication]

PROSTITUTE PATRON FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST DEMS FOR MENTIONING PROSTITUTES - Did we mention that David Vitter used to solicit the services of a prostitute? Roll Call: "Sen. David Vitter filed another complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee Thursday, alleging Democratic misconduct in crafting an amendment that appeared to directly target him -- just two days after the panel dismissed his initial complaint. The Louisiana Republican has repeatedly charged that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer -- Vitter's partner atop the Environment and Public Works Committee -- improperly floated an amendment that would have restricted the ability of members of Congress to access health care exchange benefits if they had engaged in prostitution. The strike against Vitter, who was linked to the D.C. Madam investigation, appeared to be in retaliation for an amendment to an energy efficiency bill that would cut off employer contributions for members' and staffers' health care." [Roll Call]

A resounding golf clap for The Awl: "A Complete Guide To People That The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza Has Commanded To Call Their Offices" Quesiton: Can Progress Kentucky call it's office? Isn't it an office? [The Awl]

DOJ SPENDING MILLIONS ON DRONES BECAUSE... DRONES! - "Because all the cool kids are doing it" is as tremendously lousy excuse for policymaking. Ryan Reilly: "The U.S. Department of Justice spent millions of dollars purchasing small unarmed drones for domestic use over the last decade, but the department lacks a comprehensive policy for the unmanned aircraft -- despite growing concern about their use. In a report released Thursday, the DOJ's inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, said the department's agencies had an "uncoordinated approach" to their use of drones. Horowitz noted that the use of small drones by law enforcement raises concerns about privacy, in part because the aircraft are able to "maneuver covertly in areas where individual expectations of privacy are not well-defined, such as in the immediate vicinity of residences." The report found that two DOJ agencies -- the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- have active drone programs, with the FBI spending over $3 million and ATF spending almost $600,000 since 2004." [HuffPost]

TEA PARTY SUPPORT DROPS: POLL, COMMON SENSE - The people who are going to keep your passport renewal from being completed on time aren't the most popular people in America right now. Ariel Edwards-Levy: Support for the tea party is nearly as low as it's been since the movement's creation, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. Twenty-two percent of those polled consider themselves supporters of the tea party, while 27 percent of respondents say they oppose the movement. The remaining 51 percent say they're neither, or don't have an opinion. Those who say they "strongly oppose" the tea party also outnumber those who "strongly support" it, 17 percent to 11 percent. Overall support is down 10 points from the 32 percent who supported the tea party in the days after the 2010 midterm election, and nearly tied with the record low support for the movement in late 2011, as measured by Gallup." [HuffPost]

There is finally an organization trying to do something about all the white guys who dominate the programming world inside campaigns. Code for Progress, founded by Obama guy Dirk Wiggins, launched last night.

BIGTIME BYGONES FOR CLINTONS AND EDELMANS - Next Monday Hillary Clinton's getting an award from the Children's Defense Fund, whose president is Marian Wright Edelman, whose husband quit the Clinton administration in disgust over welfare reform. "It does not promote work effectively, and it will hurt millions of poor children by the time it is fully implemented," Peter Edelman wrote in 1997. Marian Edelman, for her part, called it a "blot" on Clinton's presidency and worse. Republicans lately are always saying how wrong people like the Edelmans were and how welfare reform reduced child poverty. It did, but thanks to the longest period of economic expansion in the postwar era. Today the child poverty rate is higher than it was back then. Whoops. Good thing for bygones. [ChildrensDefense.org]

ALLEN WEST BOOTED FROM FRINGE JOB FOR EXCESSIVE FRINGINESS - He's leaving his current position to spend time with his, um, thoughts? BuzzFeed: "Former Congressman Allen West is leaving his job at Pajamas Media after an altercation with a female staffer in which he allegedly called her a 'Jewish American princess,' BuzzFeed learned on Thursday...In a message to staff, West wrote: 'Shortly, I will be giving up my position as director of programming at Next Generation.TV to get back on the front lines to expand the message of constitutional conservatism across our country.' Two sources familiar with what happened told BuzzFeed that West had gotten into an argument with a female employee and called her a "Jewish American princess" while telling her to "shut up." Reached by phone, West told BuzzFeed he was leaving his job voluntarily, though one source familiar with the situation told BuzzFeed he had been fired. He did not deny that an exchange with the employee had occurred, but said it hadn't led to his leaving the company. 'No I didn't get fired,' West said. 'I'm leaving to pursue political aspirations. That's it. There'll be a statement that comes out and it's effective in October.'" [BuzzFeed]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a baby who laughs in his sleep.

STAFFERS MAY BE FORCED TO GIVE UP TOYS - The Hill: "Many Capitol Hill staffers will be out of work and could be asked to fork over their laptops, iPhones and BlackBerrys next week if there is a government shutdown. Aides will also be labeled into two categories: essential and non-essential. With a showdown looming, the House Administration Committee on Wednesday sent out instructions on the furlough process. Offices were told to weigh whether a staff member is essential by determining whether his/her primary job is 'directly related to constitutional responsibilities, the protection of human life, or the protection of property.'" [The Hill]

COMFORT FOOD

- Flame-powered iPhone charger is just one piece of the vast conspiracy to make us totally incapable of staying alive during the zombie apocalypse. [http://bit.ly/18rWCCy]

- A mashup of people messing up things in infomercials. [http://huff.to/1bfnWrv]

- The best men at your wedding will never be as awesome as this guy's brothers. [http://bit.ly/16t2H3R]

- Members of a chorus act as a the notes in a giant piano, like the one seen in "Big." [http://bit.ly/18sv2TO]

- An interactive map allowing you to explore planets possibly suited for life. [http://bit.ly/19jPExz]

- "Texts from Mittens" imagines what a cat would text its owner. [http://bit.ly/15xMt8D]

- Jimmy Fallon's latest twee-jam was with the Sesame Street muppets. [http://huff.to/1fHHxjt]

TWITTERAMA

@petersuderman: GOP debt limit bill asks for 300 sandwiches.

@dceiver: When will people learn to appreciate Allen West's tremendous interpersonal skills?

@mollyesque: True story: When my son wanted to read "Green Eggs and Ham" last night, thought about firing up C-SPAN and letting Sen. Cruz do it for me.

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