Morning Briefing: August 16, 2011

For Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) constituents, it will cost $15 per person to question Ryan during the August recess. He and other members of Congress, including Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), are jumping on the trend of outsourcing town halls to third parties that charge entry fees to town halls instead of holding open, free events back in their districts, limiting the chance of angry interactions with constituents.

13 percent of Americans approve of Congress, tied for the worst on record, according to a Gallup Poll conducted over the weekend.” The poll results also found a record low 39 percent approval rating for President Obama.

In the deadliest day in Iraq for years, 42 apparently coordinated attacks killed 89 people and injured another 315 across the country, “underscor[ing] the reality that few places in Iraq are safe” despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent and tens of thousands of lives lost to quell the restive country. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia appears to be behind the attacks, though nobody has claimed responsibility yet.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s call for individuals and businesses to cease political donations until Congress arrives at a debt deal is gaining traction. “NYSE Euronext Chief Executive Duncan Niederauer and Nasdaq OMX Group Chief Executive Robert Greifeld” both pledged their support this week.

NYU economics professor Nouriel Roubini responded to Rick Perry’s accusation of treason against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. “Perry’s Remarks on Bernanke are criminal. This Texan thug is making murder threats on the Fed Chairman,” Roubini wrote on Twitter.

A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser’s alleged choking of his female colleague, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett, a Republican who is not seeking re-election next year, will serve as special prosecutor. The incident allegedly revolved around the court’s decision on Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) contentious anti-union bill.

President Obama is looking for ways to maintain the government’s role as an insurer of mortgages for most borrowers. Obama has reportedly tasked a small group of advisers to come up with a proposal, which could include preserving mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “although under different names and with significant new constraints.”

And finally: What is it about pork chops on a stick that appeal to front-running former governor Republican presidential candidates? Both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have professed their love for the food in oddly similar ways, with Perry tweeting, “Can’t beat a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa State Fair,” and Romney proclaiming, “Pork chop on a stick. Doesn’t get better than that!”

For breaking news and updates throughout the day, follow ThinkProgress on Facebook and Twitter.