POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Pizza Rat Won't Back Down

After days of presidential candidates talking about whether Muslims are fit for office, our political discourse may have been saved by a video of a rat carrying a slice of pizza. Scott Walker is reportedly ending his presidential campaign, because while he fared poorly in the polls, he fared even worse among the handful of rich guys in charge of the Republican primary. And congressional leadership is going to great lengths to prevent lawmakers from touching the Pope on Thursday, but the Pope can still wash everyone's feet if he wants to. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, September 21st, 2015:

POOR SCOTT WALKER - So much for "Won't Back Down." Alexander Burns and Patrick Healy: "Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has concluded he no longer has a path to the Republican presidential nomination and plans to drop out of the 2016 campaign, according to three Republicans familiar with his decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr. Walker called a news conference in Madison at 6 p.m. Eastern time." [NYT]

@StevenTDennis: So, right now, #AskTrump and #PizzaRat are out-trending #ScottWalker.

WHAT IS THE WALKER RUMOR? Semi-loose lips sorta sink ships! BuzzFeed reported last week that there was… something bad … and Liz Mair said this today: "Walker's timing is good. Word is he just avoided getting tied to a very bad story that could well have been coming."

DEAR COLLEAGUE: DO NOT TOUCH POPE - David Hawkings: "Too many members cannot be trusted to behave themselves when Pope Francis comes to the Capitol, the congressional leadership has decided. And so, to enforce decorous discipline, some extraordinary measures are being readied. Each party is assembling teams of lawmakers to essentially act as blocking tackles, willing to restrain any of their colleagues intent on trying to reach out for a papal touch as he walks onto the floor of the House. And after the historic speech, the doors to the cloakrooms and the hallways will be blocked -- and in some cases, locked -- to prevent lawmakers from leaving the chamber for perhaps half an hour, until Francis has appeared on a West Front balcony to greet the ticketed throng and then departed the Hill by motorcade." [Roll Call]

MCCONNELL'S PLAN TO SHUT DOWN THE SHUTDOWN - As soon as tomorrow the Senate Majority Leader will introduce his stopgap plan, Kelsey Snell reports: "Under the plan, the Senate would first vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would include language blocking funds from going to Planned Parenthood. Democrats will almost certainly have the votes to filibuster that bill. McConnell would then bring up a CR that would extend current discretionary funding levels for up to two and half months without any significant policy changes." [WashPost]

BEN CARSON JUST NOT THAT INTO MUSLIMS - Hallie Jackson: "Ben Carson's campaign pushed back against outrage over his comments regarding Islam, saying there was a 'huge gulf' between the Muslim faith and 'American values.' A national Muslim civil liberties group has called for Carson to withdraw from the race after he told 'Meet the Press' that he would not agree with having a Muslim in the White House." [NBCNews]

@HillaryClinton: Can a Muslim be President of the United States of America? In a word: Yes. Now let's move on. -H

CARSON SAYS MANY NUTTY THINGS - Jamelle Bouie: "Of course Carson believes in the disloyalty of American Muslims. His genial reputation conceals a deep commitment to paranoid politics, honed over years of conservative activism and deployed in speeches, op-ed columns, and now a presidential campaign. At the Values Voter Summit in 2013, for example, he compared the Affordable Care Act -- President Obama’s signature health care law -- to chattel slavery. 'You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,' said Carson in his remarks to the conservative gathering…. There’s no question this is outrageous. But it pales next to the reactionary paranoia of much of his other rhetoric. 'I mean, [our society is] very much like Nazi Germany,' he said last year, in a rant against 'political correctness.' 'You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.'" Thanks, Ben! [Slate]

CHRIS CHRISTIE WAS ONCE NICE TO MUSLIMS - Amanda Terkel: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) so far hasn't weighed in on the controversy, but the 2016 GOP contender has faced past criticism from his party on this issue for another reason: He stood by his nomination of a Muslim man to be a state judge, despite concerns from some Republicans that the man was a terrorist and would implement Sharia law." [HuffPost]

The Washington City Paper has a nice Pope schedule, with tips on how to see or not see the See.

JEB! PROTESTED! Elise Foley: "Protesters for immigration reform interrupted Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush during a speech Monday, prompting him to vow that he will support a path to citizenship for certain undocumented immigrants regardless of the political implications. 'No hope without our vote,' the protesters chanted as Bush began his speech at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce conference in Houston. The former Florida governor, who has drawn a tough line on immigration during his bid for the White House, paused to listen. Then he attempted to assure the crowd of his support for reform, particularly for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children." [HuffPost]

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WHY JOHN BOEHNER IS SUCH A GROUCH - Because he is a prisoner in garbage. Jake Sherman: "John Boehner spends his weeks in Washington getting bashed by House conservatives, some of whom are itching to try to oust him from the speakership. Then, on the weekends, he darts around the country to raise money for a Republican majority that can be described charitably as inefficient, but in reality is closer to unmanageable. 'Garbage men get used to the smell of bad garbage. Prisoners learn how to become prisoners, all right?' Boehner said in a phone interview this weekend from Seattle during a fundraising trip to the Pacific Northwest, referring especially to the grind of constant travel. 'You can teach yourself to do anything, especially if you’re committed to a cause. I came to Washington to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government.'" [Politico]

Boehner used to be a toy monkey.

SHORTER FRANK RICH: HUFFINGTON POST IS RIGHT - Trump's "passport to political stardom has been his uncanny resemblance to a provocative fictional comic archetype that has been an invigorating staple of American movies since Vietnam and Watergate ushered in wholesale disillusionment with Washington four decades ago. That character is a direct descendant of Twain’s 19th-century confidence men: the unhinged charlatan who decides to blow up the system by running for office — often the presidency — on a platform of outrageous pronouncements and boorish behavior. " [New York]

Rich also compares Trump to Jay Billington Bulworth, the fictional "senator from California who abandons his scripted bromides to take up harsh truth-telling in rap" in the eponymous 1998 film. No word yet on whether Warren Beatty and Pras are working on a Ghetto Supastar followup.

LIKE OBAMAPHONES, BUT FOR COPS - Ryan J. Reilly: "Seventy-three law enforcement agencies across the country will receive $20 million in federal grants to help them purchase and implement the use of body cameras, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance announced Monday. The grants will help the departments to purchase 21,000 body-worn cameras -- fewer than half of the 55,000 cameras that 285 law enforcement agencies have requested." [HuffPost]

CLASSIC KRISTOL - From August 29th: @BillKristol Could his strong & substantive foreign policy speech mark the beginning of a @ScottWalker comeback?

YOU KNOW WHO ELSE TRIED TO TRICK PEOPLE? Jo Confino: "The world’s largest automaker has just given more ammunition to those who don’t trust that businesses are serious about preventing runaway climate change…. Volkswagen, which has publicly signed a pledge to be a leader in “consistent, positive business engagement with policymakers on climate issues,” [was] caught by the Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly cheating on emission-control standards…. [T]he German company could face penalties of up to $18 billion for allegedly installing … illegal 'defeat devices' to falsify emissions tests. Volkswagen shares plummeted on the Frankfurt DAX index in response to the news." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is some British gossip about David Cameron doing something real naughty.

RIP JAKE BREWER - President Barack Obama mourned the passing of Jake Brewer, 34, a White House staffer who died Saturday while taking part in a bicycle ride to raise money to combat cancer. "I am heartbroken at the tragic loss of one of my advisors, Jake Brewer. We set out to recruit the best of the best to join their government and help us harness the power of technology and data to innovate new solutions for the 21st century. Simply put, Jake was one of the best." [HuffPost]

Friends of Jake's family have set up a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of educating his children.

COMFORT FOOD

- Arnold Schwarzenegger as windshield wiper.

- New York rat carries entire slice of pizza down subway steps.

- John Boehner's Freedom Project PAC received $500 from the American Sun Tanning Association, possibly from the guy who happens to be Boehner's landlord.

TWITTERAMA

@anamariecox: This year for Halloween I'm going as a sexy racist.

@heerjeet Unfortunately, atheists have no way of excommunicating Richard Dawkins.

@timothypmurphy: The Problem With Pizza Rat

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