Christine O'Donnell pulled a political Kerri Strug today, simultaneously alienating groups so divergent that most people would tear a ligament attempting such a straddle. Gays, lesbians, witches and Sarah Palin weren't the only ones being offended: Jimmy Carter is hurting George H. W. Bush's feelings by professing his greatness, a New York pol is scribbling racist nonsense and a city councilwoman in Vancouver, Washington is gaveling you the hell out of her meeting. Hide your agriculture commissioners, America, 'cause Dale Peterson is back! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, September 20th, 2010:

GOP TO UNVEIL A NEW NATIONAL 'CONTRACT' ON THURSDAY - Although insiders are labeling this a 21st century "Contract With America," given the state of our economy, might we suggest this one be called "A Four-Month, Temporary Contract Position For America So We Can See Whether We Want To Bring America On Full Time." The Hill: "The GOP, which appears poised to win back the House this fall according to several independent projections, is culling the list of election-year agenda items from its 'America Speaking Out' program.... GOP leaders have already hinted at some of the ideas that could be included. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), for instance, has called for a two-year freeze in tax rates and a reduction in spending to 2008 levels. President Obama and Democratic leaders want to extend most tax cuts, but would raise taxes on families with incomes above $250,000 and individuals who earn more than $200,000."

Tonight in Roll Call: House Democrats have kicked off an aggressive, three-pronged counteroffensive to the GOP's forthcoming agenda that portrays it as a return to tired economic policies that they blame for the recent recession, writes Roll Call's Kathleen Hunter.

DADT AND DREAM VOTES - Olympia Snowe, hounded all day by Lady Gaga, finally put out a statement on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" out this afternoon, complaining that Harry Reid wasn't allowing "all related amendments that Senators may wish to offer" and lamenting that "two of the three amendments don't even relate to the military." First, Snowe knows as well as anybody that for more than 200 years the Senate has put zero value in whether an amendment is germane. But, more specifically, what's she talking about? The repeal of DADT and the DREAM Act are both related. The DREAM Act is backed by the military because it would aid recruiting; young, undocumented immigrants could find a pathway to citizenship by enlisting. (The third amendment, which hasn't been finalized, would repeal tax breaks for outsourcing.) Snowe also said she wanted to wait on the Defense Department report on how to go about repealing DADT. BUT! Her statement, and one put out by Susan Collins, left wiggle room; neither flat-out said she was filibustering.

Lady Gaga is on state in Portland, Maine, pressuring Snowe, Collins and Scott Brown to break with their party and support cloture on the motion to proceed to a floor debate on the defense bill. George LeMieux is still undecided, too.

The current Democratic offer would move to a floor debate on the defense bill and limit this week's debate to three amendments. The bill would then be set aside and taken up again after the election, when Republicans could offer all sorts of amendments. The rest of the week would be spent on a resolution continuing funding for the government and the tax cut debate. And that could be the end of it until November, with Mitch McConnell hinting he's ready to leave town, and Reid happy to oblige him.

John McCain threw a fit on the Senate floor, panicked at the possibility that an unrelated amendment might come up for a vote. Of course, McCain has introduced plenty of unrelated amendments himself, and even tried to tack a campaign finance measure onto the 2008 defense authorization bill.. A classic Sam Stein:

Does it matter to anybody that a judge already ruled it unconstitutional?

REID HAS DEM PROBLEMS, TOO - Tonight in The Hill: Alexander Bolton on how several Senate Democrats are pushing back against Reid's plan to schedule votes on DADT and the DREAM Act shortly before the midterm elections.

TEA PARTY SUPPRESSING VOTES IN WISCONSIN - A coalition of Wisconsin Tea Party groups is planning a voter suppression campaign in coordination with the Republican Party that would target African American voters in inner-city Milwaukee in an effort to purge minority voters from the rolls, according to recordings and documents uncovered by the advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. The Tea Party groups were planning to get funding for the effort from Americans for Prosperity, an arch conservative political operation funded by the oil tycoons Charles and David Koch, according to statements made by a Tea Party leader, captured on tape at a recent gathering. AFP and the GOP didn't return HuffPost Hill's calls. The docs and the recording:

The Fed meets tomorrow to chat interest rates.

TODAY'S TERKEL TAKEDOWN - Amanda Terkel: "Colorado GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck is against repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) -- and he wants to keep the military 'as homogeneous as possible.' In a debate on Friday, Buck said, 'It's one thing to deny someone access to the military and to a career in the military, it's another thing to -- for morale purposes and other purposes -- make sure that we are as homogeneous as possible in the military in moving towards the common goal of the security and the military action, as opposed to the distractions that are caused by allowing lifestyle choices to become part of the discussion.'"

OBAMA LASHES OUT AT TEA PARTY - In a town hall event broadcast live on CNBC this morning, the president offered up his most detailed attack on the Tea Party yet. On a scale of one to "have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?," however, we're pretty sure "specifically, what would you do?" doesn't rank that well. "So the challenge, I think, for the Tea Party movement is to identify, specifically, what would you do?" he said. "It's not enough just to say get control of spending. I think it's important for you to say, I'm willing to cut veterans' benefits or I'm willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits or I'm willing to see these taxes go up. What you can't do, which is what I've been hearing a lot from the other side, is we're going to control government spending, we're going to propose $4 trillion of additional tax cuts, and that magically somehow things are going to work. Now, some of these are very difficult choices." Sam Stein:

Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller will be in Washington next week to meet with GOP officials and attend several campaign fundraisers, Roll Call reports.

REPORT FINDS RECESSION ENDED IN JUNE 2009 - Which means that for the last 15 months you've been sitting around in mesh shorts, eating dried cranberries and telling yourself that you're going to e-mail that guy your uncle knows to see if he's hiring WHILE THE REST OF AMERICA PROSPERED. "The National Bureau of Economic Research, a panel of academic economists based in Cambridge, Mass., says the recession lasted 18 months. It started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. That was the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar downturns were those in 1973-1975 and in 1981-1982. Both of those lasted 16 months...The economy started growing again in the July-to-September quarter of 2009, after a record four straight quarters of declines. Thus, the April-to-June quarter of 2009, marked the last quarter when the economy was shrinking."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER: 'RECESSION OVER!?!' UTTER POPPYCOCK! - From Arthur Delaney, who did a champagne spit take when he heard this preposterous proposition: "Since 2009 a layoff victim has been more likely to give up looking for a job and drop out of the labor force than to find a job, according to Arjun Jayadev and Michael Konczal, authors of a new Roosevelt Institute paper called 'The Stagnating Labor Market.'"

The state of Obama's base was summed up well in the economic woe stories offered by questioners during today's live CNBC forum. A sample:

Q: I am a chief financial officer for a veterans service organization, AmVets here in Washington. I'm also a mother, I'm a wife, I'm an American veteran, and I'm one of your middle-class Americans. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for --


Q: -- and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people, and I'm waiting, sir. I'm waiting. I don't feel it yet. And I thought, while it wouldn't be in great measure, I would feel it in some small measure. I have two children in private school. And the financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family. My husband and I joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives. But quite frankly, it's starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we're headed again. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly, is this my new reality?

And later...

Q:Like a lot of people in my generation, I was really inspired by you and by your campaign and message that you brought, and that inspiration is dying away. It feels like the American Dream is not attainable to a lot of us. And what I'm really hoping to hear from you is several concrete steps that you're going to take moving forward that will be able to re-ignite my generation, re-ignite the youth who are beset by student loans. And I really want to know, is the American Dream dead for me?

Whoever said America is in a bad way should consider our small business owners. According the GOP, they're getting on with life: providing materials for local July 4th parade floats, sponsoring pee-wee football teams, and precipitating worldwide market catastrophe by short selling British currency. Bloomberg: "Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says President Barack Obama wants to subject half of all small-business income to a tax increase, a move that he says would strike a blow at the U.S. job-creation engine. McConnell's numbers only add up if you consider people like billionaire investor George Soros, most movie stars and Obama himself small-business owners, tax experts say. That's because the lawmaker is basing his figure on a broad definition of the term that experts say includes authors, actors and athletes who employ few if any workers. It also encompasses businesses that many people wouldn't consider small, such as Soros's hedge-fund firm and major law partnerships."

The word at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual dinner this weekend was that more than 10,000 people flooded into town for the event.

PRIVATE EQUITY COUNCIL HORRIBLY RENAMES SELF - Arthur Delaney reports: "The Private Equity Council, out to protect corporate raiders' 15 percent capital gains tax rate since 2007, has added members and renamed itself the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, a name that prez Doug Lowenstein says 'better conveys what private equity is all about: growing companies.' Law prof Vic Fleischer of the University of Colorado smells corporate raider red herring: 'They are trying to spin the story," writes Fleischer to HuffPost, adding that PE should not pretend that the proposed enterprise value tax unfairly singles them out. 'It's still typical for private equity firms to fire lots of people when they buy a company. Sometimes this creates more jobs down the road, sometimes it doesn't. But breaking up companies and growing some of the pieces doesn't always create US jobs.'" BTW remember how in August that PE guy said the carried interest tax hike is like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939? Never forget.

How Glenn Beck began his show today: - "The New York times is reporting--apparently; I don't read it..." But he does read Drudge, who splashed a Times report about a(n alleged) White House plan to tar the GOP with the Tea Party. The White House denies any such project is underway.

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

AMERICA, MEET JEANNE HARRIS, YOUR NEWEST CRAZY LOCAL OFFICIAL - They say all politics is loco: A video has been quietly going viral over the last week in Washington state of Vancouver City Council Member Jeanne Harris loudly chastising constituents and fellow council members for a number of minor transgressions during a public hearing. "WHOOP! You're done! You're done! Thank you for coming" she exclaims after one presenter violates the apparently sacrosanct procedural rule of directly addressing a panel member. Harris rebuked constituents for addressing individual council members on a number of instances. "DON'T POINT OUT TO INDIVIDUAL COUNCIL MEMBERS!" she yells at one petitioner, before quickly telling the city mayor, "OK gavel him down! Gavel him down! Gavel him down! Gavel down! OUT! You've been dismissed! You've been dismissed!" At another point, after stink-eyeing one visitor with spoon-bending intensity, Harris begins to squabble with the councilwoman to her left, accusing her of permitting such blatant disregard for the rules because of political self-interest. Harris ultimately stormed out of the room. Blue Oregon:

O'DONNELL: HOMOSEXUALITY AN IDENTITY DISORDER - Greg Sargent is reporting that Christine O'Donnell made the claim during a 2006 interview with the Wilmington News. "People are created in God's image. Homosexuality is an identity adopted through societal factors. It's an identity disorder," she said. Adds Sargent: "O'Donnell's suggestion that gays suffer from a psychological disorder is far worse than other comments about gays that have already gotten media attention, such as her claim that the government spent too much on AIDS and her insistence that 'gays get away with so much.' Also: Last week O'Donnell insisted that her rigid moralistic views represent long-ago youthful excesses. But as late as 2006, she was apparently still suggesting that gays are suffering from some sort of mental illness that has caused them to stray from God's 'image.'"

O'Donnell criticized the so-called "bridge to nowhere" that fellow Tea Party leader Sarah Palin once supported. TPM digs up this item from O'Donnell's 2008 Senate campaign website: "I will never vote for "pork barrel spending" or corrupt "earmark favors." These terms refer to the practice of slipping favors for special interest groups into the final stages spending bills. These so-called special projects have little accountability to determine if the projects were completed on time, if the money was spent the way it was intended or who profited from the deal. (For example, $250 million was earmarked three years ago for a bridge to nowhere in Alaska.)"

Wiccan organizations are taking offense to O'Donnell distancing herself from remarks that she "dabbled" with witchcraft. "Yes, this was 11 years ago she said that," said Reverend Selena Fox, the High Priestess & Senior Minister of the Circle Sanctuary a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting paganism and nature spirituality. "But the kinds of things she is saying now, saying 'well in high school you are with despicable characters' or some such thing, she is actually defaming Wiccans. Whether she intends to do that or not as a way to try and get herself out of this political problem she has created for herself, the fact is America really needs to be a place where you can celebrate diversity and practice your religion without getting ridiculed or defamed." Sam Stein:


Seeing as how we're on the topic of political candidates and the countless human beings they reduce to social miscreants, New York Rep. Nita Lowey's Republican opponent once penned an essay connecting race to intelligence and urging parents to raise their children within their own ethnic groups. "Jim Russell, who's challenging Lowey in a repeat after trying to take her on in 2008, made the statements in an essay called 'The Western Contribution to World History,' which was published in a 2001 - 2002 edition of the Occidental Quarterly, and had also been featured on infamous former politician and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's website. It's since been taken down from there." Politico:

@markos: New PPP results for dkos, will post tomorrow -- Feingold down by double digits, MASSIVE intensity gap. W/o gap, it'd be tied race. finds that Feingold has held 72 town hall meetings this year, more than any other senator

CARL PALADINO: "I'M GOING TO TAKE THEM ALL DOWN" - Looking increasingly like a sleep-deprived Ralph Nader and sounding increasingly like a lobotomized Rambo, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino matter-of-factly told Fox and Friends this morning that "I'm going to take them all down." The Buffalo businessman wasn't speaking about a group of over-zealous Hope, Washington sheriff deputies but was rather issuing a warning to the New York state government. "I'm not politically correct," he said, dismissing today's Daily News front page that reads "MEET CRAZY CARL!" "They can throw all that stuff that they want at me, I'm still coming to Albany. I'm going to take them all down." Daily News:

Christopher Hitchens: "At the beginning of the summer, my conservative friend David Frum made a joking remark that stayed with me. The evolution of right-wing abuse of President Barack Obama, he said, was not unlike the evolution of American pornography. It took a long time for the appearance of things like bare breasts and pubic hair to occur, but once those thresholds had been crossed, it didn't take long for the most lurid things to be freely depicted and for the competition for obscenity to become ever more extreme."

Speaking of there being no God: "Zoo Boise giraffe dies, the second in less than two years" Idaho Statesman:


REPORT: THOUSANDS OF DEAD FLORIDIANS REGISTERED TO VOTE - And they're all supporting Buchanan. Orlando Sentinel: "Less than two months before the general election, Florida's voter-registration rolls still include thousands of dead people and felons who by law should have been removed. Statewide, as many as 14,892 voters dead as long as two decades were still registered as of July. As many as 9,766 felons who have not gotten their voting rights restored under Florida law remain registered. In Central Florida, the rolls still carry 1,515 felons, including convicted murderers, rapists, armed robbers and drug dealers, and 1,458 dead people. The potential for election fraud in the names of dead voters is low, but ineligible felons have voted by the thousands in past elections and could decide close races on Nov. 2."

Rosa's Law (S. 2781), which is scheduled for a House vote this week, would, among other things, change all governmental references to the "mentally retarded" to "intellectually disabled." It looks like Rahm Emanuel will have to refer to lefties who attack Democrats as f*cking intellectually disabled from here on out.

Solidarity Forever! For the union makes us crave Frito pie: "As organized labor faces declining membership, one of the country's most storied unions is looking to a new growth industry: marijuana. The Teamsters added nearly 40 new members earlier this month by organizing the country's first group of unionized marijuana growers. Such an arrangement is likely only possible in California, which has the nation's loosest medical marijuana laws...'I didn't have this planned out when I became a Teamster 34 years ago, to organize marijuana workers,' said Lou Marchetti, who acted as a liaison between the growers and Oakland-based Teamsters Local 70. 'This is a whole new ballgame.'"

Beer Versus Weed - The California Beer and Beverage Distributors is officially opposing Proposition 19, the California legalization initiative, kicking in $10,000 to the opposition as an opening gift. Buzz=killed:

DFA Endorsements Out - With pundits predicting Democratic voters will be too apathetic to show up to the polls, Democracy for America, the group started by the Dean campaign in 2004, went on the offensive Monday, endorsing 23 strong progressive Democrats for the House. "The reality on the ground is that, when you're actually in a district or a state with voters who are so enthusiastic that they're willing to volunteer and participate in the process, having a strong message and standing for something just works," DFA spokesperson Levana Layendecker told HuffPost's Lucia Graves. Endorsement winners include Reps. Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio), Tom Perriello (Va.) and Alan Grayson (Fla.).

RUMSFELD MEMOIR COMING NEXT JANUARY - The autobiography, currently titled "Known and Unknown" is being published by Sentinel and will chronicle Donald Rumsfeld's life and career as an Illinois congressman and defense secretary under two presidents, according to a statement released by the publisher. "Like Donald Rumsfeld himself, this memoir pulls no punches," the release stated. Just to reiterate: this memoir will pull no punches. Only fingernails. From your hand. In a dark, leaky room in Yemen. Where you were transported under cover of darkness. In a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III transport plane. From Saudi Arabia. With a layover in Cuba.

No amount of journo-blood can sate The National Journal as it continues to feast on other outlets' staff. Veteran reporter Kathy Kiely, currently at USA Today, is joining NJ as its new managing editor for politics.

On the other hand, Newsweek (our neighbor on Penn. Ave.) is finally easing the bleeding. Mickey Kaus, "blogger and recent U.S. Senate candidate," has joined Newsweek and "will be posting his pioneering political blog 'kausfiles' several times a day on," according to a press release. HuffPost Hill also hears that the possibility of Tina Brown taking over as editor-in-chief while maintaining her oversight of The Daily Beast (possibly as part of a web-based merger) is very real.

Jimmy Carter: "I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents."

DALE PETERSON IS BACK!!! - And he's giving a R-I-I-I-I-P about Republican turnout! Speaking at the Values Voters Summit, Peterson took aim at President Obama, questioning his citizenship status and fealty to the country: "We got a guy in there who's president of the United States who doesn't like America," he said. "We've got a president of the United States doing all he can to bring down America." Birmingham News:

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: A cold front is coming through. Temperatures will dip into the 50s tonight. Get the warm coats ready. Tomorrow: It will be bright, sunny, and cooler. Like today, expect low 80s. It won't last too long, though, as warm weather will be sweeping through later in the week. Thanks, JB!


- The worst analogies written by high school students ("He was as tall as a six-foot three-inch tree.").

- What if cats could articulate their thoughts?

- In case you were in the market for a new rap name.

- The guy who wrote and produced the very excellent "In The Heights" made quite the grand (and adorable) gesture on his wedding day.

- A house with a slide built in. Can we mulligan our childhoods?

- @radleybalko: Plush, bullet-ridden dog corpse sold separately.

- A 1930s rejection letter from Disney complete with all the misogyny you know and love from America's favorite movie studio.

- The Lemmings come to life.

- From the HuffPost Comedy team, some terrible examples of photoshopping

- At least it's not 'Hitler?' This guy's last name is "Rape." He seems nice, for what it's worth.


@glennthrush: One of the all-time best pools. C-Lee asks Specter how Sestak's doing, he sez: "Ah, I'm late for the squash court."

@AnnieLowrey: Called Census Bureau for interview. They made me wait while they filled out a form with details. Absolutely brilliant.

@SenatorMenendez Excited that @Shakira is performing in AC at the Taj Mahal. Glad to have her in the Garden State, she is an amazing artist


TONIGHT: Bloomberg's Intelligence Squared debuts. Panelists will debate whether to "Treat terrorists like enemy combatants, not criminals." Our very own Arianna Huffington appears on Hardball, joined by HuffPoster-in-waiting Howard Fineman. Steny Hoyer stops by the Ed show. TOMORROW: Nikki Haley is on Morning Joe.



7:00 pm: Even as Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire are occupying Pitchfork's column inches, Britain's indie mainstays The Klaxons roll on. They perform at 9:30 Club [9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW].

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: Everyone knows the Capitol Hill Club is a bastion of Oakley's sunglasses, folding captain's chairs, NFL mudflaps and Miller Light. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) hosts a Tailgate Reception at the GOP club [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Mike Lee (R-Utah), the Republican vying to replace Bob Bennett in the Senate, is in town for a fundraiser. He'll be joined by an explosion of pastiness: Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Jason Chaffetz. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is listed but we'd be awfully surprised if she showed [National Republican Senatorial Committee, 425 2nd Street NE].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Mike Oliverio (D-W.V.), who defeated Rep. Alan Mollohan in the Democratic primary, attends a fundraiser thrown by some of the politicians he railed against during the race. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Jay Rockefeller (D- W.V.), Carte Goodwin (D-W.V.), Nick Rahal (D-W.V.) and Gov. Joe Manchin are all scheduled to attend [Bistro Bis, 15 E Street NW].

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Jon Barela (R-N.M) attempts to buttress his effort to unseat Martin Heinrich with a fundraiser featuring an appearance from John Boehner (R-Ohio) [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

6:30 - 8:00 pm: Even House leaders need to be reelected. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) solicits donations at DNC HQ [Democratic National Committee Headquarters, 430 South Capitol Street SE].

7:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) hosts his annual "Annual Southern Arizona Fall Fiesta." He told Roll Call recently that he can't find a decent burrito in D.C. so hopefully his team has been able to wrangle one [American Legion Hall Post #8, 224 D Street, SE].

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