POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - JUST IN: U.S. Expecting S&P Downgrade

Job growth in July was lackluster and the market didn't regain its losses, yet everyone considered it a great day, which is seriously depressing. The Washington Post is upset that noisy blue-collar types are interrupting the composition of their article-poem hybrid pieces. And Rick Perry is fuzzy on the reproductive habits of other animals, which can be spun as a testament to his unwavering focus on traditional, one-man-one-woman marriage ... Right? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, August 5th, 2011:

U.S. EXPECTING S&P DOWNGRADE - Hey, S&P: So's your mom. [ABC News]

President Obama this afternoon signed the FAA compromise bill that will keep the aviation agency fully-funded through September 16th. Four thousand FAA employees had been furloughed -- hopefully none of them air traffic controllers -- for several weeks. Now that our nation's latest manufactured crisis is over, lawmakers can get back to haggling over the corporate tax-cut rider that will be attached to the Senate chaplain's morning invocation. Democracy!

U.S. POSTS 'MEH' JOB NUMBERS, EVERYONE CELEBRATES - After this week's dismal market activity, folks were so desperate for good news that news about some dude in Akron who picked up a side job troubleshooting his grandfather's computer would've upped the nation's serotonin levels. Luckily for everyone, the Labor Department reported that the U.S. added 117,000 dudes in Akron last month, dropping the unemployment rate a tick to 9.1 percent. It wasn't the best report ever but it beat expectations, nevertheless: "As more Americans simply give up looking for work, the employment-to-population ratio fell to 63.9 percent in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest snapshot of the U.S. labor market, a new low...While July's report inched up job gains from the past two months in revised numbers, May and June job growth still failed to keep up with population gains, stoking fears of a double dip recession for some observers. As Robert Reich, a left-leaning economist and the former U.S. Secretary of Labor, put it in a tweet last night, 'If tomorrow's job number is below 125,000, chance of double dip goes up to 50-50.'" [HuffPost]

The Dow closed up 60.55 points. The market oscillated wildly today, starting out 100-plus points up and then dropping some 245 points. If this doesn't already exist, would one of you mind splicing together video of the Dow's movement today with the "Benny Hill" theme? Thanks.

@Reuters FLASH: For the week, the Dow falls 5.8 percent, the S&P is down 7.2 percent, Nasdaq is off 8.1 percent

RAT BITES DOG - Remember back in 2009 when newspapers were always trying to show how some unexpected trend was happening because of the recession? Shahien Nasiripour has a story like that about how rats are doing awesome in Baltimore right now thanks to vacant foreclosed houses. "Richard Faison didn't mind that a neighbor's home was seized and boarded up until the rats from the vacant house killed one of his dogs. 'That's when it hit me,' said Faison, a Baltimore retiree. 'That home is hurting mine.'" [HuffPost]

WASHINGTON POST EDITORS TRY TO SQUASH THE LITTLE GUY BECAUSE OF SLIGHTLY INCONVENIENCED COMMUTE - A blog post by WaPo staffer Mike DeBonis was removed Wednesday night without any explanation. The post took issue with a WaPo editorial about the noise of labor protesters' cowbells (yep), which has become an aural fixture of downtown Washington. The editorial was pretty obnoxious, and if it were read during a Ken Burns documentary, it would likely be recited by George Plimpton. "There is the raucous chanting accompanied by bucket-banging and whistle-blowing and the incessant clang of cowbells," the editors wrote. They did mention the dubious practice of hiring homeless people to do the chanting but, generally speaking, they were more concerned that their Paris Review podcasts are being drowned out when they walk to WaPo's 15th Street headquarters. " What's most offensive, though, is the appropriation of the First Amendment as an excuse for District officials to do absolutely nothing to protect those who live and work in the city from unwelcome -- even intolerable -- noise" (Translation: SHUT UP, BELLHOP ASKING FOR A LIVABLE WAGE: WE'RE TRYING TO TEACH A MASTER CLASS!!!!11). "I think it is counterproductive for any part of our organization to be going after any other part of our organization," Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli told Alan Suderman. He did add that the decision to yank the article after it went live was "a screw up." [WCP]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The average unemployed person in July had been out of work for 40.4 weeks. The median average is pretty much holding steady at 21.2 weeks. It's the super long-term unemployed stretching out the mean average -- the Census Bureau said Friday that more than 2 million people have been out of work for 99 weeks.

DOUBLE DOWNER - New HAMP numbers! The Treasury Department announced Friday that just 15,000 homeowners started new trial modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program in June. A Treasury spokeswoman confirmed that that is the fewest new trial mods in any month since early 2009. Guess they've helped everybody?

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KAY BAILY HUTCHISON WON'T ENDORSE PERRY FOR PRESIDENT - To be fair, if you lost a primary to a guy who shoots coyotes with laser-sighted pistols and models himself after George W. Bush, would you really be able take it in stride? Appearing on MSNBC, the Texas senator insisted that the Lone Star State governor doesn't meet her qualifications. "He certainly has got government experience," she said, adding that "we need people who have been in the private sector, as well." This comes the same week that a Politico piece on Perry's presidential ambitions contained the revealing anecdote that a focus group participant once expressed admiration for the capital punishment-crazy governor because "it takes balls to execute an innocent man." That, for the record, is not the title of a Kinky Friedman song. [Chronicle]

Back in college, Rick Perry got a C in animal breeding, in case you were curious. Jason Cherkis obtained Perry's college transcript from Texas A&M. Aside from the animal sex class, other lackluster grades included a D in Shakespeare, a D in the principles of economics and a C in gym. Perry did, however, get an A in world military systems, which suggests that this was a not-stupid guy who just didn't care about effeminate liberal arts-y pursuits. Behold this quintessentially Texas quote from a former Perry classmate: "A&M wasn't exactly Harvard on the Brazos River. This was not the brightest guy around. We always kind of laughed. He was always kind of a joke." [HuffPost]

THE PRESIDENCY IN SIGHT, RICK PERRY SUDDENLY FINDS GOD - Like Lincoln! Back in 2002, notes Benjy Sarlin, Rick Perry was asked about his faith and how it guides his approach to politics. "I don't think it does, particularly," Perry replied. Then here's Perry in a video promoting his prayer event, "The Response": "A historic crisis facing our nation and threatening our future demands a historic response from the church," Perry said in a video recorded to promote the event. "We must, as a people, return to the faith and hope of our fathers. The ancient paths of great men were blazed in prayer -- the humility of the truly great men of history was revealed in their recognition of the power and might of Jesus to save all who call on His great name." You'd think that the more familiar you become with American politics, the more obvious it would become that there is no God. [TPM]

"Then-House Speaker Steve Sviggum stood at the plate during Minnesota's annual House-Senate softball game a decade ago when Tim Pawlenty, then a suburban legislator, sneaked up and yanked down his pants."

CANDIDATE WHO WON'T WIN ONCE EXPRESSED ADMIRATION FOR OTHER CANDIDATE WHO WON'T WIN - The Daily Caller got a hold of a letter written by Tim Pawlenty to his would-be fellow presidential aspirant, Jon Huntsman. In the correspondence, Pawlenty effusively praised Huntsman and lauded President Obama's decision to name him ambassador to China. "Mary and I extend our congratulations to you and Mary Kaye on your nomination by President Obama to be the next Ambassador of the United States to the People's Republic of China," Pawlenty wrote. "It was a brilliant choice by the President and a fitting recognition, of your tremendous skill, knowledge, and ability to tackle this important and demanding job." This brief show of civility will no doubt undo all the momentum the two campaigns have worked so hard to build. [Daily Caller]

FOX NEWS: ANY GATHERING OF BLACK PEOPLE MUST BE A 'HIP-HOP BARBECUE' - What do you get when you combine a mind-numbingly slow news day and a horribly narrow-minded headline from our friends at Fox News? Yep! Twitter meme time! A Fox Nation article about President Obama's birthday party in Chicago referred to the soiree as a "Hip-Hop BBQ." The article featured photos of President Obama, Charles Barkley, Chris Rock and Jay-Z, only one of whom actually has anything to do with hip-hop. They also mentioned Stevie Wonder, who is not a hip hop artist. We eagerly await other Fox News exposes of events in which more than one black person is present. You know, like Precious, that other celebrated Hip Hop BBQ. [Fox Nation]

HERE'S SOME STATE NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED - Tyler Kingkade: "Local newspapers around the country are running critical stories about how much their state legislators are spending to attend a conference in New Orleans, hosted by the new boogeyman of state politics, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Florida may lose education funding over non-acceptance of Affordable Care Act dollars. Health care reform would've paid for things such as a successful program to prevent child abuse, which Gwen Wurm, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami, praises and says is crazy to de-fund. Wurm said: 'If I just tell you, 'Do not shake your baby,' and your baby is still screaming, I have not solved your problem. They are not just telling parents what not to do.' Jimmy McMillan, best known as the New York Rent Is Too Damn High Party's nominee for governor, is being evicted from his Manhattan apartment because the 'Rent is too damn low.' Iowa was the only state to have all of its House delegation and Senate members to vote against the deal to raise the debt ceiling. Neither of its Senators are up for reelection, however, it will lose one seat in the House after the 2012 elections." Thanks, Tyler!

JERMEY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: It's time to forget this week ever happened, and I'm sure that most of you want to do that. This is a good time to do that. So when you're stumbling home (don't drive!) from Adams Morgan or -- for some of you -- Charlie Palmer, you may enjoy the nice, breezy, cloudy skies. To borrow an old Delaney-ism, "It feels like there's no weather." Tomorrow: The 90s return, and although it's just low 90s, it'll be enough to cause some thunderstorms after a pleasant morning. The storms start in the mid afternoon, and may last through the evening. Once again, like most thunderstorms, these are a few cells. So if you stay inside long enough, it'll pass right by. Sunday: The mercury climbs higher, with another afternoon-evening thunderstorm watch in the area. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Some of the most creative WiFi network names we've ever seen (Our favorite up to this point was "It's locked, bitches." [http://huff.to/nbzEOl]

- A "Save by the Bell" 16-bit interactive game? Yes, please! [http://huff.to/r2VuBQ]

- Bad idea: Owning a wallet with a giant, realistic-looking bag of weed printed on the side. [http://huff.to/pOT5oy]

- Someone has invented an invisible shark shield so, humanity as that going for it. [http://huff.to/ruQdAU]

- A mechanic for Busch Gardens has been charged with stealing roller coaster parts. So ... good luck feeling safe for the next few weeks! [http://huff.to/nBrWp0]

- Behold, the world's longest water park ride. [http://huff.to/q8lfDu]

- The ten most beautiful swamps on Earth. [http://huff.to/r2VuBQ]

- Dudes who don't like Apple products destroy a MacBook Pro. Shield your eyes, hipster nerds. [http://huff.to/nTebta]

TWITTERAMA

@saralibby: Omg this is happening. There's actually a penguin in the lobby @politico http://yfrog.com/gzfqnqrcj

@StephenAtHome: We could be in for a double-dip recession. Which is terrible: I wanted mine with sprinkles.

ON TAP

Tomorrow, 1:00 pm: We said this the other day and we'll say it again: Kirsten Gillibrand has come a long way from her Blue Dog-ish days as an upstate legislator. She attends a fundraiser at the Fire Island house of a gay couple. Hooray evolving political attitudes! [Fire Island, NY].

2:30 pm: Another Kirsten Gillibrand campaign event with the LGBT community. This time, it's a "Boardwalk Talk." [Fire Island, NY].

Tomorrow, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Zoe Lofgren hosts her annual
"Summer Barbeque" in her district. If standing outside in San Jose during the middle of the Summer while eating greasy food is your thing, here you go [History Park, 1650 Senter Rd , San Jose].

Sunday: BIll Huizenga treats his supporters (those with $2,500 in their pockets) to a day of golfing in his home state [Crystal Downs Country Club, 249 E Crystal Downs Dr, Frankfort].

Sunday - Monday: Adrian Smith also does the golf thing with a weekend retreat -- this one in Nebraska. Nothing quite like the hilly terrain of Nebraska to make a great golf course [The Prairie Club, 88897 State Highway 97, Valentine, NE].

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