POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Make America Debate Again...And Again...And Again...

There will be another Republican debate tonight, and we're excited to see Jeb Bush finally stand up to that big bully Donald Trump and be effortlessly swatted away for like the fifth time. Rand Paul won't be onstage -- the RNC said he could sit at the kids' table, and he refused, so he's spending the evening with his chainsaws and flamethrowers and a novelty-sized thing of red tape if anyone else wants to hang out. And Fox Business debate moderators promise tougher questions this time, like asking Donald Trump what he plans to do about all those scary Mexicans who live in Mexico. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 14th, 2016:

PRATTLE ROYALE: THERE'S ANOTHER ----ING GOP DEBATE TONIGHT - As America steels itself for the 789th tete-a-tete between the dozens of angry people seeking the Republican presidential nomination, HuffPost Hill would like to remind everyone there are other things on TV. Igor Bobic: "Unlike the previous Fox Business debate in November, where both candidates and moderators struck a decidedly civil tone, the gathering on Thursday evening is likely be more of a raucous affair." Oh, good. This campaign has been lacking in raucousness. [HuffPost]

At least it's not on a Saturday or a Sunday.

RNC HASTILY BUILDING RICKETY CAGE FOR THE MONSTER THE GOP CREATED - Because you can't spell "brokered convention" without "bickered," the Republican National Committee is preparing for an absolute ----show on the convention floor at the close of this ugly, endless primary campaign. "In the GOP field this year, Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have the edge in the most recent preference polls, much to the dismay of many party leaders who fear neither man is electable in a general election. The centrist wing of the party has yet to coalesce around an alternative to Trump or Cruz. Those fighting for that role include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich." [AP]

POOR RAND PAUL - He got booted from the main stage tonight, and he's refusing to go on the little stage. @daveweigel: It gets worse: Rand Paul now downgraded to congressman

@AaronKatersky .@RandPaul has a message for the media today after his #debate demotion

Plus, Paul's episode of "Drunk History" was the most boring, least drunk yet.

SPOTTED: Ed Schultz doing lunch at Oceannaire.

LUCKY FOR TRUMP HE'S LOUD ENOUGH TO BE HEARD FROM CEDAR RAPIDS TO SIOUX CITY - Because he hardly seems to have anyone working for him in Iowa (and one of his volunteers is an enthusiastic 9/11 truther). Trip Gabriel: "Mr. Trump, who Iowa polls show is neck-and-neck with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, may well win the caucuses, now less than three weeks away. But if he does, it will probably be in spite of his organizing team, which after months of scattershot efforts led by a paid staff of more than a dozen people, still seems amateurish and halting, committing basic organizing errors…. Compared with the well-oiled machines of other leading candidates in both parties, particularly that of the Cruz campaign, the Trump ground game in Iowa seems partly an afterthought, as if Mr. Trump’s strategy is to leverage his charisma -- the appeal that draws thousands to his rallies -- to motivate voters." [NYT]

DELANEY DOWNER - Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) has called for a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Flint water crisis. “We trust our government to protect the health and safety of our communities, and this includes the promise of clean water to drink and clean air to breath," Lawrence said. “Unfortunately, the people of Flint have had their trust violated."

Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

DO NOT GET BETWEEN SHEILA JACKSON LEE AND HER SOTU AISLE SEAT - Jennifer Bendery: "There are few things in life you can count on. The sun rising in the east. Taxes. Having 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife. But there's another one that people outside of D.C. may not know about: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's death grip on an aisle seat for the State of the Union. She's had the same seat on lockdown for two decades. Lawmakers typically sit wherever they want in the House chamber, but during the State of the Union, it's an unspoken rule that this particular seat on the aisle -- a prime spot for personally greeting the president, vice president and other notables -- goes to the Texas Democrat…. 'Along that aisle, I've gotten increased money for community health funding. I've gotten almost $1 billion in transit monies by getting the secretary of transportation to visit my district,' said Jackson Lee. Spoken like a pro. But how does she keep other lawmakers from claiming the old "first come, first served" rule? Does she politely ask for the seat at every State of the Union? Are there threats of repercussions? Her response did have a bit of a Tony Soprano feel. 'Because of so many good friends, I am welcomed in that seat,' she said with a smile." [HuffPost]

HILLARY CLINTON <3 BANKS - Hillary Clinton's breathtaking attacks on Bernie Sanders not being tough enough on Wall Street -- Bernie Sanders! -- are somewhat undercut by her lengthy record on banking issues. Zach Carter: "Like the Clinton campaign's recent broadside against Sanders' Medicare-for-all health care plan, the attack is misleading and dishonest. It also sidesteps her complicated record on shadow banking as a senator, which includes a vote in favor of a bill that eventually fueled shadow banking in the mortgage market and exacerbated the financial crisis. Clinton's team, moreover, continues to criticize legislation supported by both Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would ameliorate the problems created by that bill." [HuffPost]

On the bright side, Clinton passed a fact check on Bernie Sander's gun control record with flying colors.

TREY RADEL HIGH ON NEW HUFFPOST PODCAST - The former congressman busted on coke charges endorses the newest HuffPost podcast about political losers: "As someone who has had plenty of ups & downs, here's a great interview with Howard Dean." The podcast details Dean's insurgent '04 campaign, which started falling apart shortly before the Iowa caucuses. Here are some choice Dean quotes: "I am very cheap." "Life is full of assholes." On his "I have a scream" speech, he notes people there, who could hear the crowd noise, didn't notice anything strange about the moment -- but his mic was plugged directly into TV cameras, so it sounded real different on cable. Listen to the podcast HERE.

GITMO PROVING EASIER TO LEAVE THAN THE HOTEL CALIFORNIA - During the State of the Union, President Obama dusted off his 2008 campaign pledge to shutter the human rights disaster that is the detention site for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Gitmo population is now in just double digits. Maybe Obama's been slowly keeping that promise all along? [AP]

HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS LOOKS TO KILL TIME BEFORE HASSLING PAUL RYAN - The gang that sent John Boehner to the smoking lounge at the retirement home isn't sure what to do with all that power. Maybe pass some legislation or something? Nah, they'll probably just make Speaker Ryan's job impossible instead. Lauren French: “'I think he needs to start putting up real conservative reform in the House and doing the things that are necessary to show the voters that he is a different speaker than John Boehner because, frankly, everything he has done so far is no different than what John Boehner would have done,' Labrador, a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, said last week." [Politico]

JEB CONFESSES UNFAMILIARITY WITH HUMAN EMOTION - Exclamation point misuser and last-name-haver Jeb Bush admits he doesn't understand the voters who don't care about him and never will. "Bush told AP he failed to predict Trump's popularity, reflected in the real estate mogul's sustained lead among GOP voters in preference polls and the large, raucous crowds he draws to his rallies. 'This is dramatically different, because the country is dramatically different, and people are reflecting their anger and angst in a way that is very different than any time that I can recall,' Bush said." [AP]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is an upsetting video of young children singing Donald Trump's praises at a rally, an exploitation of the innocent that would make Kim Jong Un jealous.

YOU HAVEN'T HEARD THE LAST OF MARTIN O'MALLEY! - The former Maryland governor and sort of surprisingly unloved Democratic presidential candidate is going to be allowed to stand in the vicinity while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debate, the DNC says. Maggie Haberman: "The threshold for making the debate was a 5 percent average in five recent polls recognized by NBC News either nationally or in one of the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, raising the prospect that Mr. O’Malley would not qualify. He has polled at roughly 5 percent in Iowa, and two recent surveys by NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist and by The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics apparently did not bring his number down." [NYT]

Marco Rubio is WEAK like Ukraine, people running against him for president declare.

IT'S TRUE THAT TWITTER IS THE WORST - But is the world's most popular place to be Mad Online really to blame for ISIS? One woman whose husband was killed by the terrorist organization wants an American court to say so. Dana Liebelson: "The lawsuit, filed by Tamara Fields in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims that Twitter has enabled the Islamic State, also called ISIS, to carry out numerous terrorist attacks, including a shooting rampage that left Fields' husband dead. Lloyd 'Carl' Fields Jr. was killed in the cafeteria of a police training center in Jordan on Nov. 9, 2015. According to the lawsuit, the Islamic State took responsibility for the attack." [HuffPost]

Maine's meanspirited, kind-of-racist governor, Paul LePage, is bulletproof, man.

HAIL - Jake Sherman reports on the former NFL player hired for state outreach by Paul Ryan: "Derrick Dockery played football at the University of Texas under Mack Brown and appeared in the Cotton Bowl. The offensive lineman was drafted by the Washington Redskins and later got a $16 million signing bonus to join the Buffalo Bills. He went on to play for ten seasons in the NFL, and earned an MBA from George Washington University." [Politico]

VLADIMIR PUTIN HIRES EX-MSNBC HOST - Sadly, it's not Ronan Farrow, a singular voice the world sorely misses. No, it's Ed Schultz, who's going to host a show on RT (aka Russia Today), the Kremlin's U.S.-based, English-language TV station. No word whether Putin will insist Schultz broadcast shirtless. Nick Holdsworth: "RT says the new show will 'focus on exploring issues that most affect working Americans, particularly within the context of the upcoming US presidential election.'" [Hollywood Reporter]

BEN CARSON'S ELABORATE BOOK TOUR HITS ANOTHER SNAG - Dean Parker, the lead fundraiser for softspoken neurosurgeon/madman Ben Carson's presidential "campaign," has debarked the crazy train, even though the good doctor was paying him a boatload of money. Kyle Cheney: "Since he joined, some campaign insiders told POLITICO, his operation has piled up unnecessary expenses and paid hefty consulting fees to an inexperienced staff. Parker recently began earning a $20,000 monthly salary, which veteran campaign operatives say is unusual for what is typically an unpaid, honorary role." [Politico]

IMPERIAL PRESIDENT DENIES MICHELLE HIS THRONE - Anti-feminist Barack Obama would rather see Donald Trump in the White House than his own wife. Greg Robb: "'Let me tell you there are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and Michelle is not running for president, that I can tell you,' Obama said to laughter from the audience." Uncomfortable laughter. [MarketWatch]

RICH, SEPTUAGENARIAN LOBBYIST BEMOANS WANING INFLUENCE - When Democrats are evil socialists and Republican presidential frontrunners are rabid nationalists, what's big-business handmaiden Thomas J. Donohue to do? Answer: whine. Lydia Wheeler: "The leader of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday assailed the 'very loud' voices in the Republican presidential race who advocate 'walling off America,' taking what appeared to be a swipe at Donald Trump…. The Chamber president also took aim at Democrats who he said are 'promising to double down on the current administration's policies.'" [The Hill]

COMFORT FOOD

- Nation's loud, doughy guys sluggishly outraged as "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" is cruelly snubbed by the elitists at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who wouldn't know funny if it fell off its Segway and crushed their delicate feet.

- Flatulent Filipino with too many lit candles devises two-birds-one-stone solution to his problems.

TWITTERAMA

@KStreetHipster: I'm only watching the debate tonight to maintain my #brand

@Reductress: Tasteless Ways to Make the Next Celebrity Death About You: http://reductr.es/Re8x2e

@MEPFuller: Asked about Nikki Haley seeming to ding Trump, John Thune ducks the question as best he can. "Different people have different ideas."

Oh.

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e