POLITICS
12/11/2014 06:37 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Hail, Hail, Mighty Cromnibus

The fact that the "Democrats nearly sank the cromnibus" reminds us that "cromnibus" should be the name of a tugboat. Bureaucrats dusted off their shutdown procedures, and by "dusted off" we mean "looked up at office bulletin board where the procedures were from the last shutdown." And Meanwhile, the White House hosted its annual Christmas party, where the president takes a break from his job to moonlight as a cardboard cutout of himself. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, December 11th, 2014:

DEMS NEARLY SANK CROMNIBUS PROCEDURAL VOTE - Mike McAuliff and Sabrina Siddiqui: “Democrats rebelled against the government funding bill Thursday, joining with a handful of Republicans to nearly vote down a measure that would keep federal offices running but was also packed with policy riders walking back financial reform. The inelegantly named 'cromnibus' appropriations bill would fund the government after current funding expires on Dec. 11 [you know, like, today]. But lawmakers are also trying to use the must-pass legislation to gut campaign finance rules and undo Dodd-Frank provisions designed to curb risky Wall Street trading at heart of the 2008 financial crisis. A procedural vote that sets the rules for debate on the measure and allows it to move ahead barely passed, 214 to 212, with 17 Republicans spurning their own leadership, angry that the bill isn't conservative enough. GOP leaders managed to convince other members who intended to vote against them to stay in line.” [HuffPost]

After the procedural vote the White House came out in favor of the cromnibus. Then Nancy Pelosi doubled down on hating the cromnibus. Right now Democratic and Republican members of Congress are huddling separately at the Capitol. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is at the Dem meeting.

"We're fighting anybody who is lobbying for this bill," Maxine Waters said, according to HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui. Waters said she has launched her own anti-cromnibus whip operation.

WHITE HOUSE READIED FOR SHUTDOWN - WSJ: "The White House’s budget office held a conference call Thursday with all federal agencies to review plans for a possible government shutdown, an administration official said, reviewing protocol in the event Congress doesn’t pass funding legislation by midnight. A similar preparatory call was held on Dec. 4. The Obama administration doesn’t expect a shutdown to occur on Friday because lawmakers are still trying to round up support for a spending bill. But if the talks falter, and a short-term bill isn’t agreed to quickly, a partial shutdown could happen as of midnight. With this in mind, the conference calls with management-level officials from all federal agencies were held out of an abundance of caution...Most agencies didn’t have to look far to come up with their shutdown plans. The federal government partially shutdown for more than two weeks in October 2013 after a dispute over the Affordable Care Act, breaking a streak of more than a decade without a similar lapse in funding.” [WSJ]

BRENNAN SHOWS A BIT OF CONTRITION - Ali Watkins: "In an unusual media address at CIA headquarters Thursday, CIA Director John Brennan conceded that his agency had been unprepared to operate the torture program it ran in the years following 9/11. But Brennan continued to defend the CIA against charges that the use of harsh interrogation techniques failed to produce valuable intelligence from terror suspects. ‘We were not prepared. We had little experience housing detainees, and precious few of our officers were trained interrogators,’ Brennan said. But he added: ‘Our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart terror attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives.’ ‘Whatever your views are on EITs, our nation and in particular this agency did a lot of things right to keep this country strong and secure," the CIA director said, referring to enhanced interrogation techniques, the agency's term for harsh tactics that would normally be considered torture.” [HuffPost]

A battle for hearts and minds, but mostly minds: "An anonymous Wikipedia user on Wednesday tried to scrub the word 'torture' from an entry corresponding to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture, which revealed 'enhanced interrogation techniques' employed by the CIA in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The person, whose IP address is registered to the U.S. Senate, attempted on Tuesday and again on Wednesday to remove a line describing the CIA's tactics as ‘a euphemism for torture.’ Both times the user argued the action was ‘removing bias’ from the entry, and both times the change was rebuffed by other editors. The entry now defines the report as ‘compiled by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)'s Detention and Interrogation Program and its use of various forms of torture (described in U.S. government communiqués as 'enhanced interrogation techniques') on detainees between 2001 and 2006.’” [HuffPost’s Igor Bobic]

THE OBAMACARE METHOD FOR PRETENDING THE CROMNIBUS DOESN'T BAN DC WEED - District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says the cromnibus language that blocks legal weed in the city was written incorrectly, therefore D.C. can have legal weed. "Based on a plain reading of the bill and principles of statutory interpretation, it is arguable that the rider does not block D.C. from carrying out its marijuana legalization initiative," Norton said on the floor today, referring to the omission of the words "carry out" from the relevant part of the bill. Rep. Andy Harris, the Maryland Republican spearheading the anti-pot effort, says, "I think legislative intent is clear." Hmm… Where have we heard this argument before? It sounds awfully familiar to the Republican lawsuit arguing the people who wrote "established by a state" in the Affordable Care Act did not intend to help poor people buy health insurance. City Democrats should take this sucker to the Supreme Court.

D.C. residents have been calling Harris' office to bug him about trash collection and stuff, since he cares about them so much.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - After police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown to death in August in Ferguson, Missouri, he claimed the teenager had reached into his waistband, causing Wilson to fear Brown had a weapon. Brown was unarmed. "Guns do come out of waistbands," said Eugene O'Donnell, former police officer and current lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Yet the waistband claim has become a cliche of the aftermath of police shootings. We scoured recent news archives and turned up dozens of "waistband shootings" of unarmed suspects from the past few years. Here's a partial list.

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GROUP OF LAWMAKERS ACTUALLY ACKNOWLEDGE WE’RE AT WAR - And here we thought we simply got off to the wrong foot with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Jen Bendery: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Thursday to pass new war authorization legislation for the fight against Islamic State militants. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, passed the committee on a 10-to-8 vote. No Republicans voted for it. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman, laid out the authorization's details: It limits military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL, to three years; it requires the administration to report to Congress every 60 days; and it prohibits the deployment of U.S. combat troops, except in specific cases such as those involving the rescue or protection of U.S. soldiers or for intelligence operations.” [HuffPost]

PATRIARCHY FINALLY GETS A WIN - It’s been thousands of years, but, gosh darnit, our male-dominated culture finally put one up in the victory column. Laura Bassett: “Nearly a year after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-N.Y.) military sexual assault reform legislation fell five votes short of passing the Senate, she asked for unanimous consent on Thursday to bring her bill to the floor for another vote. But a group of senators blocked Gillibrand's effort, accusing her of taking her cause too far. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) objected to Gillibrand's request. ‘All I can say is the people behind this, I respect your passion to a point, but you're going too far,’ said Graham, who opposes Gillibrand's proposal to take sexual assault cases out of the jurisdiction of military commanders. ‘Members on the other side of the aisle have been threatened with money being cut off if we vote against this idea. This is no longer about reforming a system. This is a political cause going out of control.’” [HuffPost]

Stay strong, Lindsey!

BOEHNER DEFENDS WALL STREET DEREGULATION - I mean, we wouldn’t dare piss off our future employers. On a totally unrelated note, Arby’s makes some of the best sandwiches this side of the Mississippi! Mmm mmm. Arby’s! Sabrina Siddiqui and Zach Carter: “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) scrambled Thursday to defend a plan to subsidize risky Wall Street derivatives trading. The controversial provision of a bill to avert a government shutdown has sparked tremendous pushbackfrom Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been urging her caucus to vote against any funding bill that includes the Wall Street language. As a result, Democratsnearly tanked the omnibus during a procedural vote on the House floor, with not one of their members joining Republicans to advance the bilL. The measure would repeal a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that removed government backing for contracts called "swaps" that were at the heart of the 2008 financial meltdown. Pelosi is also pressing Democrats to reject a provision that would increase the amount of money wealthy donors could contribute to political parties.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s an obese cat.

ANNIVERSARY OF TOTALLY INCONSEQUENTIAL ELECTION - “Fourteen years ago this week, on Dec. 13, 2000, George W. Bush declared victory as the 43rd president of the United States, 36 days after the November election. In a head-to-head matchup with then-Vice President Al Gore (D), Bush was elected president ‘by one of the tightest margins in history, crowning a spectacular and exceptionally brisk political rise only eight years after his own father was turned out of the White House,’ The New York Times wrote in a piece this November. The outcome of the race hinged on who won Florida's electoral votes. By Florida law, Gore was allowed the option of "manual vote recounts" in the counties of his choosing because the race was so close.” [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Drag this button onto your toolbar and turn any website into Space Invaders.

- The worst movies of 2014.

- Behold: duck dog.

TWITTERAMA

@JFKucinich: 'Twas the day before shutdown and all through the House ... not a creature was voting because...its the House.

@cushbomb: Actually, Harvard Business School professors should have the right to summarily execute any member of the lower order who displeases them.

@JaredRizzi: Crow-nibus, because the WH will eat it

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