POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Trump, Nihilism Holding Steady

Republican leaders floated the idea of a brokered convention, though we’re pretty sure the only thing about the convention that can be brokered at this point is whether Big & Rich will perform. Senators are trying to keep McDonald’s workers from organizing, because if there’s going to be any grouping together in McDonald’s, goddamit, it's going to involve industrially processed beef patties. And Ted Cruz won Bob Vander Plaats' endorsement, leaving him just six rich white guys shy of sewing up the election. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, December 10th, 2015:

GOP LEADERS FLOATING BROKERED CONVENTION IF TRUMP WINS - This whole piece feels like one big telegraph to donors from establishment leaders to not get scared because they feel you. Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger: "Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are now preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as Donald Trump continues sit atop the polls and the presidential race. More than 20 of them convened Monday for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, where the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting. Considering that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight, in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said." [WaPo]

More establishment-y goodness: "Attendees included Ward Baker, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Rob Simms, his counterpart at the National Republican Congressional Committee; Ron Kaufman, an RNC committeeman and Mitt Romney confidant; and pollster Linda DiVall. Whit Ayres, an adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Vin Weber, an ally of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, also were there, among others." [Ibid.]

A majority of Americans opposes Trump's Muslim ban, a new NBC/WSJ poll finds. Trump supporters, meanwhile, are nuts.

WHITE HOUSE FINALIZING BACKGROUND CHECK EXPANSION - CLING HARDER, SHEEPLE AP: "President Barack Obama's advisers are finalizing a proposal that would expand background checks on gun sales without congressional approval. White House adviser Valerie Jarrett says the president has asked his team to complete a proposal and submit it for his review "in short order." She says the recommendations will include measures to expand background checks." [AP]

HOUSE DEMS FORCE GUN VOTE - Matt Fuller: "House Democrats are using a special parliamentary procedure to force a vote on legislation that would bar people on the terrorist watch list from buying a gun. California Democrat Nancy Pelosi is using her position as the minority leader to force a vote on a privileged resolution that, if adopted, would then trigger a vote on a controversial gun measure. That bill, written by Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, would close a "loophole" that allows people on the terrorist watch list to buy a gun. Many Republicans and outside groups have contended that the bill would deny due process rights to people placed on the terrorist watch list, but Democrats clearly see election-year advantages to making Republicans block a vote." [HuffPost]

More omnibus rider skirmishing, via Dave Jamieson: "The 'joint employer' standard, which the National Labor Relations Board introduced earlier this year, says fast food brands and other franchise-based companies can be deemed joint employers alongside the franchisees that run their restaurants and stores. This could force companies like McDonald's to bargain with workers when labor laws are broken or when workers try to unionize...GOP lawmakers have introduced legislation to block the new standard, but with both parties now wrangling over an omnibus spending bill, Republicans' best shot at scuttling or delaying the reform would be adding a rider to that legislation. Given the pressure to strike a deal to fund the government, it's possible Democrats would reluctantly go along with it." [HuffPost]

DELANEY DOWNER - ATTN: Speechwriters. "After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data." [Pew]

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NRSC HAWKING TRUMP MERCHANDISE - Trump branded clothing is still better looking than most Trump brand clothing. Tarini Parti: " The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been pushing supporters in emails to purchase Trump koozies, t-shirts, stickers, and other items that say 'I’m with Trump.' The emails direct to the committee’s website for donations. Trump’s recent proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., which was widely criticized by Republican leaders in Congress, hasn’t kept the NRSC from continuing to use the GOP presidential frontrunner for fundraising. In an email sent Wednesday, the committee encouraged supporters to 'claim' the 'perfect gift' -- a Trump koozie for $12 -- 'just in time for the holidays!'" [BuzzFeed]

Down ticket races starting to feel the warm, pulsating glow of Trump: "In Colorado’s 6th District, where Rep. Mike Coffman is facing a competitive re-election, his likely Democratic opponent, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, accused him Wednesday evening of sharing Trump’s 'anti-Muslim affiliation' for having spoken at an Act for America conference, which Carroll called an 'anti-Muslim advocacy organization.'... EMILY’s List attacked each of the Republican House members it previously put 'On Notice' Wednesday, including Coffman, for sharing the 'Trump Agenda.'" [Roll Call's Simone Pathe]

CRUZ WINS VANDER PLAATS PRIMARY - Given the scheduling of the primaries, this is basically more important than winning Illinois. Betsy Klein: "Evangelical leader and powerbroker Bob Vander Plaats gave Ted Cruz's campaign a boost Thursday morning with an endorsement as the Texas Republican fights Donald Trump for the lead in Iowa. 'The extraordinary leader that we need for these extraordinary times is U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz,' Vander Plaats. the president and CEO of the conservative Family Leader organization, said at a press conference at the Iowa state Capitol. Vander Plaats is seen as one of the most influential kingmakers in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. His close alignment with political networks and activist followings could help tip the scales in the Iowa caucuses. Vander Plaats endorsed Iowa caucus winner Rick Santorum in 2012." [CNN]

THE MUSLIM IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE BUILDING - Great piece from our own Akbar Ahmed: "I was out of the country when I learned that he didn’t want me to come back. At 4:35 p.m. on Monday, as I worked out of my aunt's home in the suburbs of Ottawa, Canada, I got an email: My just-issued U.S. visa was in my Pakistani passport and ready to be picked up...Minutes later, The Huffington Post and scores of other outlets began reporting that Donald Trump, who's leading the race to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016, wanted to stop all Muslims from entering the U.S… Each ping was a reminder that someone with a lot of money and a lot of popular support would like to keep me from returning to my friends and my life. I wondered whether I would trigger Trump's 'Muslim' alert. Would my name do me in? The country I was born in? My aversion to bacon? Perhaps we could negotiate if I mentioned that I quite like chorizo?" [HuffPost]

Get off my lawn update: "The Capitol Hill headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was evacuated Thursday after the discovery of an envelope with suspicious powder. CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, tweeted the evacuation occurred 'after receiving envelope with suspicious powdered substance w/ hate message.'" [The Hill's Jesse Byrnes]

MUSLIM ALIENATION COULD HURT GOP IN SWING STATES - And, you know, in the afterlife, too. Shane Goldmacher: "Muslims remain only a tiny fraction -- 1 to 2 percent -- of America’s overall population, but many happen to be clustered in some of the most sought-after presidential battlegrounds, including Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Those pivotal swing states accounted for three of the four closest contests in the 2012 presidential campaign and each is home to more than 50,000 Muslim-American voters, according to estimates. Top Republicans have already recognized the potential of Muslim voters to sway tight elections, particularly in Virginia." [Politico]

STATE GUN UPDATE - Huge blow to the ISIS sleeper agents operating a bed and breakfast in Mystic. Elizabeth Harris: "Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut announced on Thursday that he would sign an executive order that would bar people on federal terrorism watch lists from buying firearms in the state. Mr. Malloy said Connecticut would become the first state in the nation to have such a measure. 'Like all Americans, I have been horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris,' said Mr. Malloy, a Democrat. 'This should be a wake-up call to all of us. This is a moment to seize in America -- and today I’m here to say that we in Connecticut are seizing it.'" [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's an orangutan wowed by magic.

COMFORT FOOD

- Your Christmas decorations suck.

- A very festive Venus fly trap.

- Donald Trump as Darth Vader

TWITTERAMA

@BenjySarlin: Kasich asked about his favorite music. "Well, I like Linkin Park." Now going off on a long riff about STP and Scott Weiland's death.

@BassoonJokes: i hope my obituary begins "In his attempt to be relevant..."

RepCardenas:
Hello from the other side
we postponed this 1000 times
I'm sorry
we don't know
how to legislate
Republicans
made us
wait til the last date

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