HUFFPOST HILL - Moody's Might Downgrade U.S., Hobo Clown Futures Skyrocket

HUFFPOST HILL - Moody's Might Downgrade U.S., Hobo Clown Futures Skyrocket

Mitch McConnell insists the best way to defeat President Obama is to to give him the authority to be sensible. Democrats don't want to take back the House until it's rid of Styrofoam cups. A Rockefeller wants to legally castigate Rupert Murdoch (new money is SO gauche). And Moody's might downgrade the U.S.'s bond rating, so we suggest you freshen up on your jumping-aboard-a-moving-freight-train-while-carrying-a-bindle skills. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, July 13th, 2011:

MOODYS TO REVIEW U.S. AAA BOND RATING - That $40 burning a hole in your pocket? We suggest you go out and buy a couple of DVDs before $40 won't even get you a bargain bin copy of Encino Man. * [HuffPost]

* Check that: DVDs are a terrible investment. We're feeling bullish about canned soup.

MITCH MCCONNELL DEFENDS DEBT CEILING GAMBIT - The Senate minority leader -- who might as well have unpinned a grenade, clutched it to his chest and declared an oath of fealty to the Emperor of Japan when he tried to cede debt ceiling authority to President Obama yesterday -- defended his unorthodox proposal. "[W]e knew shutting down the government in 1995 was not going to work for us. It helped Bill Clinton get reelected. I refuse to help Barack Obama get reelected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy," McConnell said during an interview with Laura Ingraham. "It didn't work in 1995. What will happen is the administration will send out notices to 80 million Social Security recipients and to military families and they will all start attacking members of Congress. That is not a useful place to take us. And the president will have the bully pulpit to blame Republicans for all this disruption." [HufPost's Sam Stein]

Harry Reid on McConnell's plan: "I am heartened by what I read...This is a serious proposal."

Tea Party Patriots: "Mitch McConnell's plan shows plainly he wants to abdicate any responsibility for fiscal matters to the President."

Can we PLEASE ditch "punt" as a political metaphor for "strategic delay"? Can't we devise a new bro-y, sports-centric phrase? How about: "Sen. McConnell wants to T-shirt cannon the debt vote to 2013"? Potato gun? Suggestions welcomed.

Pelosi like: "What Leader McConnell has put on the table recognizes that we must pass. So it has that merit in that it says what are we talking about here: We have to pass this. And let's talk about the others things that are going on."

House Speaker John Boehner got all "HELL NO YOU CAN'T" today during an appearance before Hill press. "What the President is asking us to do just won't pass," he said. "The only thing they've been firm on is these damn tax increases...Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-O. Some days it is firmer than others. Sometimes it's like they've left it out over night." [CNN]

TEA PARTY REPS OFFER WAY MORE INTENSE DEBT CEILING EMERGENCY PROPOSAL - If politics is a live-action chess match, then Mitch McConnell's proposal to give President Obama emergency debt ceiling powers was a brazen attack on his opponent's queen. Today, the House's most outspoken Tea Party-aligned members petulantly swept the pieces off the board, folded their arms and demanded to play checkers. Reps. Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert and Steve King lambasted leaders of both parties and introduced a far more extreme solution to the current debt impasse. The trio proposed a measure that would require the government to pay off interest if the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2nd. "The speaker is getting bad advice," Gohmert said at a press conference. "I guess the problem with the speaker and him saying that [the debt limit needs to be raised by Aug. 2] is that he listened to the president. I'll urge the speaker not to believe the president anymore." [HuffPost's Elise Foley and Sara Kenigsberg]

SENATE REPUBLICANS CC HUFFPOST - We love it when emails like this land in our inbox: "Please keep a close hold on these -- certainly no discussion with media and please keep within our offices." Yeah, either that or send it directly to HuffPost's Jon Ward. What's the big GOP plan that they let slip? Bleh. Floor shenanigans. Sorry, you'll have to wait for the email about Bob Corker secretly keeping Sasquatch in his hideaway office. Senate Republicans plan a "dramatic gesture" on the floor tomorrow morning, beginning with a Jeff Sessions point of order that'll give Republicans the floor on the military construction approps bill. The aides think that Dems would need 60 votes to cut off debate on their point of order, giving the GOP the floor as long as they want it. The list of Senate offices who might have accidentally sent this to HuffPost: Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, Jim DeMint, Marco Rubio, Bob Corker, Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Columbia Journalism Review Goes Long On Daily Caller - Our favorite part: "Journolisters will chuckle -- or recoil -- to hear he almost named his site Punji Stick, after the sharpened bamboo spears the Viet Cong deployed in mantraps." [CJR]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - People who don't have jobs don't move as much as people who do have jobs -- even if they are office jobs -- according to brand new scientific research: "In men, full-time employment, even in sedentary occupations, is positively associated with physical activity compared to not working, and in both genders job type has a major bearing on daily activity levels," says a new paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

SEN. ROCKEFELLER CALLS FOR MURDOCH INVESTIGATION AS NEWS CORP. DROPS BSKYB BID - A scion of one of America's most ruthlessly capitalistic families is urging U.S. authorities to investigate one of today's most ruthlessly capitalistic moguls. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, released a statement today calling for an investigation into the News of the World phone-tapping scandal that has engulfed Britain. Seeing as how a News Corp. lackey might be rummaging through your grandmother's medicine cabinet as we speak, this isn't the worst idea. "This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated," the West Virginia lawmaker said in a statement. "I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe." News Corp. announced today that it no longer seeks to acquire majority ownership BSkyB, the satellite provider. The company will keep its 39 percent stake in the company. [HuffPost's Michael Calderone]

Tonight in Roll Call from Jessica Brady: "House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King is particularly concerned about reports that News Corp.'s News of the World newspaper bribed law enforcement officials to obtain phone records of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and he called on Wednesday for an FBI investigation."

"A number of key members of the family which controlled The Wall Street Journal say they would not have agreed to sell the prestigious daily to Rupert Murdoch if they had been aware of News International's conduct in the phone-hacking scandal at the time of the deal."

COMMITTEE REPORT: ECONOMIC PANEL LEAKED FINDINGS TO K STREET - Democrats on the House Oversight Committee today released a report that claims Republicans on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission leaked sensitive information to K Street lobbyists and other allies. Constituent services is a major part of any House member's duties, so we don't get what the hubbub is about. Nevertheless, Shahien Nasiripour explains: "[T]he 400,000 emails and documents obtained by the investigative committee show that Republican commissioner Peter Wallison broke confidentiality rules by leaking documents to Ed Pinto, a colleague of his at the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent right-leaning Washington-based research and policy organization. The assistant of Bill Thomas, the panel's vice chairman and another of the four Republican commissioners, shared information about the commission's hearings, targets and investigative direction with one of Thomas's colleagues at the law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll, and Rooney, one of Washington's top lobbying shops. In one case, Thomas's colleague, Alex Brill, asked Thomas's assistant in a March 31, 2010, email about an upcoming hearing on Citigroup for his 'friend who represents Citi.' The bank was concerned it would be unfairly singled out at its hearing, wrote Brill, who is also the chief executive of economic and political consulting firm Matrix Global Advisors." [HuffPost]

GLAAD has dropped its support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. That makes sense, considering massive cooperate deals don't usually affect civil rights, unless Focus on the Family attempts a hostile takeover of Bed, Bath & Beyond or, more practically, if it involves Target. GLAAD's former president, Jarret Barrios, resigned over the endorsement. [Politico]

Democrat Janice Hahn defeated Republican Craig Huey yesterday in the special election for the House seat vacated by Jane Harman. Because political observers -- like sophomore lit majors deciphering Dylan lyrics -- will desperately seek narratives and meanings where there, frankly, might not be any, here's the storyline: Hahn was expected to win in the heavily Democratic district -- which stretches from Venice Beach to LAX and has an 18 percent Democratic registration advantage -- and win she did. However her margin of victory was only 10 percent. So Republicans didn't get the surprise upset (a redundant term that somehow works in politics) but it appears that moderates still aren't super keen on Democrats and/or Republicans are more fired up and/or Democrats still aren't motivated. But you already knew that. [AP]

Here's a nifty narrative: Republicans have failed in their last 200 attempts to pick up a Democratic-controlled California House seat

HOUSE DEMOCRATS RENEW ANTI-STYROFOAM CRUSADE - Because a resolution denouncing cow farts would be weird and likely alienate agribusiness types, House Democrats tried in vain to bring back a lower chamber ban on Styrofoam products in its premises. James Moran's bill was unceremoniously shot down in a party line vote today during a Rules Committee meeting. Womp womp. At least we still have our energy efficient light bulbs ... right, gang? [The Hill]

PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL RECIPIENT STRUGGLING TO STAY AFLOAT - "On August 4, 2010, President Barack Obama presented [Daisy Brooks] with the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian honor. He cited her years helping pregnant teenagers and wayward adolescents in northern Illinois....Less than a year later, though, Daisy's Resource and Developmental Center is struggling to stay open. The state's budget crisis and the stubborn recession have put her center some $200,000 in the hole." [HuffPost's Andrea Stone]

SIREN: CONFEDERATE NOSTALGISTS LOVE RICK PERRY - Justin Elliott reports that Rick Perry, the Texas Governor and yee-haw-ride-'em-cowboy media darling counterpart to Jon Huntsman, has long been admired by dudes who spend their Sundays swilling Shiner Bock, farting and occasionally restoring rebel graves. Some of these good ol' boys are your standard alcoholic ex-high school football stars who are just trying to escape their wives for a few hours while others are a bit more ... real. "A 1998 voting guide published by a leading neoconfederate group and obtained by Salon not only endorses Perry for lieutenant governor, it also describes him as 'a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.' Perry's office did not respond to a request for comment about the governor's possible membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans...Perry, who in 1998 was Texas' commissioner of agriculture running in a fiercely contested lieutenant governor's race, was praised by the League of the South as a 'solid, conservative candidate...In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the group experienced years of internal conflict between moderate and radical factions, essentially between those who wanted to focus on maintaining historical sites and supporting research and those who were committed to glorifying the Confederacy.'" [Salon]

Vice President Biden today tweeted for the first time -- it wasn't a complete disaster. There were no swears, he didn't pay his respects to someone's still-living father and he didn't accidentally declare himself the king of Belgium. "Just met w/Cabinet re unacceptable violence against HS+college women; tasked agencies to mobilize all assets to attack this problem - VP" he tweeted. Works for us! [@VP]

@HuffPostHill: Hey @VP! What would constitute acceptable violence against HS+college women?!

- These newborn orangutan twins are both adorable and very Benjamin Button-esque.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Well, that was fun, wasn't it? We got a nice thunderstorm -- a direct hit, even -- that popped up out of nowhere and made everything fun. It should be quiet, with cooler and dryer temperatures. Tomorrow: With temperatures sinking down into the 90s, and humidity falling, it will be an excellent day. Thanks, JB!


- "Black and WTF" is a Tumblr that only posts bizarre photographs taken in black-and-white. []

- For the Star Wars fan who has endured Episode 1 more than once, someone redid the music and sound effects of the lightsaber sequence with vocal noises []

- An animated world map detailing use of social networks by country. Apparently Mongolia loves Facebook. []

- Speaking of new social networks, here's a geographic breakdown of Twitter and Flickr use in America and Europe. []

- The Morning News -- a online magazine devoted to essays, humor, current events and a whole host of other miscellanea -- just unveiled its beautiful new redesign (It's one of HuffPost Hill's favorite websites). []

- Interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Leica lenses are assembled. Like a grownup version of those videos Mr. used to run on his show. []

- Every word imaginable has been used to describe blues music but this rare footage of Son House performing "Grinnin' in Your Face" is compelling and powerful, nonetheless. []

- We're a little late on this one but someecards really hit the nail on the head on Google+. []


@GroverNorquist: tonite: dueling beards: Wolf Blitzer and I talk debt and taxes

@daveweigel: The tough questions RT @hannityshow: What does @MicheleBachmann have to say about mainstream media hostility?

@mikemadden: No, McDonald's flack who just called to follow up on email, @wcp does not care about the renovation at the Bethesda McDonald's.



5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Sure, it's hitting 100 degrees this week, but Gwenn Moore can't reschedule her "DC Summer Reception," now can she? [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].

6:30 pm: John Thune continues to amaze us with the puzzling venue choices for his humble-sounding "Heartland Values PAC." This time, it's at Fogo De Chao, a Brazillian steakhouse. Mmmmmm, Heartland-y [Fogo De Chao, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW].


8:30 am - 9:30 am: Roy Blunt has a breakfast campaign function at Cornerstone Government Affairs. Lucky him: It's so hard to get a table there [Cornerstone Government Affairs, 300 Independence Ave SE].

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm: Jerry Moran is the guest of honor at a lunch shindig hosted by the American Healthcare Association. We're guessing most of the time will be spent praising the Affordable Care Act [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

5:30 pm: Lisa Murkowski says "hello" to her benefactors at a fundraiser to benefit her Denali PAC. Denali might be a beautiful park in Alaska, but in the East, it's probably your neighborhood gay bar [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Sam Farr celebrates his 70th birthday at the UPS Townhouse. HuffPost Hill's grandfather celebrated his 70th birthday at a restaurant but this works too. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, George Miller and Zoe Lofgren are scheduled to attend [UPS Townhouse, 421 New Jersey Ave SE].

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Keli Goff celebrates the publishing of her book, "The GQ Candidate." Carolyn Maloney, Artur Davis and others will be on hand for the book party. [Blue Duck Tavern, 1201 24th Street NW].

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