POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Taylor Swift To Entertain Teenage Girls, Lobbyists

President Obama commuted sentences for 46 federal inmates today, bringing his clemency total to 153 people and 12 turkeys. Rick Santorum called himself a "tortoise and hare guy," which made us realize gay marriage is a worse slippery slope than we had thought. And Donald Trump continues to be a major dope with unaccountably high ratings from Republican voters and people who shop at Macy's. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, July 13th, 2015:

THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS - Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Donald Trump's blusterous presidential campaign has earned him untold hours of TV mockery and cost him quite a few business partners. It's also succeeded in turning around his image in the GOP. When he entered the race, he stood out for, among other reasons, the sheer awfulness of his ratings among his own party. But a new HuffPost/YouGov poll is just the latest of several to show that Republicans are changing their mind about the business mogul. In June, voters who identify as or lean toward the Republican Party -- for the sake of brevity, let's just call them Republican voters -- said by a 19 point margin that Trump wasn't a serious candidate. Today, they're about evenly split."

Reputable news source TMZ claims Macy's is " taking it in the shorts" from customers angry the company severed ties with Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON COMES OUT IN FAVOR OF MIDDLE CLASS - Samantha Lachman: "Hillary Clinton focused on the problem of stagnant middle-class wages on Monday in the first major economic policy speech of her presidential campaign. In sweeping remarks at the progressive New School in New York City, the Democratic candidate said that higher wages are driven by strong, fair and long-term growth, offering policy proposals that fit into each of those three categories. Clinton praised the policies pursued by President Barack Obama, but suggested that more needs to be done to help middle-class families. Her message echoed themes espoused by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has made her mark on the Democratic Party by arguing that the economy is rigged against the middle class… 'The defining economic challenge of our time is clear: We must raise incomes for hardworking Americans so they can afford a middle-class life,' Clinton said. 'We must drive strong and steady income growth that lifts up families and lifts up our country.'" [HuffPost]

OBAMA COMMUTES DOZENS OF DRUG SENTENCES - Take that, War on Drugs. Dana Liebelson and Ryan Reilly: "President Barack Obama granted dozens of federal inmates their freedom on Monday, as part of an effort to counteract draconian penalties handed out to nonviolent drug offenders in the past. The 46 inmates who had their sentences reduced represent a small fraction of the tens of thousands of inmates who have applied. The U.S. Justice Department prioritizes applications from inmates who are nonviolent, low-level offenders, have already served at least a decade in prison, and would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted today, among other factors. 'I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around,' Obama wrote in a letter to the inmates. 'Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances.' The president has now issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority of them to nonviolent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules." HuffPost

Obama is still way behind previous presidents on clemency.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Scott Walker is going hard on food stamp drug testing, using his veto pen on the state budget to throw out a standard of "reasonable suspicion" for making poor people pee in cups. It's not entirely clear if the Walker administration still plans to seek a waiver from the USDA or to simply barrel into a fight with the Obama administration, since federal law doesn't allow food stamp drug testing. [JSonline]

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SCOTT WALKER RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT - @ScottWalker: I'm in. I'm running for president because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them. - SW http://ScottWalker.com #Walker16 [Twitter]

Scott Walker has tweeted about getting his hair cut 19 times since 2011.

RICHARD TRUMKA UNIMPRESSED - These two teams just don't like each other. Dave Jamieson: "Perhaps Richard Trumka has already said everything he needs to say about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). On Monday morning, Walker officially declared his expected candidacy to become president of the United States. Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO labor federation and longtime Walker foe, had a six-word statement in response to the announcement. 'Scott Walker is a national disgrace.' That was it." [HuffPost]

FIRST TO LAST - HuffPost's new recurring campaign feature takes on Donald Trump and 2016's race to the bottom.

DEM SENATORS OPEN THEIR BERNIE BURN BOOK - Also, Tim Kaine does not understand Where's Waldo. Manu Raju and Burgess Everett: "Bernie Sanders’ Senate colleagues have come to know him as a bit player in the Democratic Caucus, a gruff, rumpled protest voice to the left of even the most liberal senators. Now the Vermont socialist is drawing crowds by the thousands seemingly everywhere he goes -- and his cohorts in D.C. can hardly believe it. 'Man, when I was away on recess, I kept seeing Bernie here and Bernie there,' said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), recounting a conversation he had with Sanders. 'It was like ‘Where’s Waldo?'' Yet many are also implicitly -- and some explicitly -- warning voters not to jump on the Sanders bandwagon. He’s too far out there to win a general election, a number of Democrats who’ve worked alongside him -- most, or all, of them Hillary Clinton supporters -- say." [Politico]

THE TAYLOR SWIFT FUNDRAISING BONANZA - Even the one congressman who actually likes Taylor Swift will be attending as an electoral chore. "Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, will attend Swift's concert on Tuesday, as one of the nearly 20 members of Congress who have scheduled fundraisers at her Washington shows. But whereas other lawmakers may have organized their events as a clever way to fill their war chests, for Beyer, Swiftie-ness runs in the family: He's a fan himself, and his daughter is the proprietor of Twitter's @FeministTSwift. ... The inspiration for the Swift-concert fundraiser came from his daughters, he says, but it was also born of a desire to 'find interesting ways for [donors] to deliver the check,' and bring along their teenage children, if they have them. The concert is something different for 'these poor government-affairs people' who 'spend so much time having lunches at Charlie Palmer's,' Beyer said." Ugh. [National Journal]

O'MALLEY: EVERYONE IN THE GOP IS TERRIBLE - Elise Foley: "Donald Trump is 'a hate-spewing character' and the rest of the GOP field isn't much better, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley said Monday. ... 'I know that all of us here today share my disgust with the comments Donald Trump recently made,' O'Malley said in his speech. 'The real problem isn’t that the Republicans have such a hate-spewing character running for president -- the problem is that it’s so hard to tell him apart from many of the other candidates they have in their field.' ... None of the Republican presidential candidates will be rebutting O'Malley at the National Council of La Raza conference -- all of them are skipping the event, as all but one did for last month's National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference." [HuffPost]

SANTORUM SAD - When Republican presidential hopefuls face the television cameras -- and a national audience -- on stage at the first GOP debate next month, Rick Santorum likely won't be among them. The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom of the GOP field in national polling and probably won't meet host Fox News' top 10 criteria to participate in the Aug. 6 debate. But Santorum, a 2012 GOP runner-up who won the Iowa caucuses that cycle, isn't sweating it. The self-described 'tortoise and hare guy' on Monday dismissed using national polling data as a measure of performance so early in the campaign -- especially at a time when most voters are not paying attention to the nominating process. 'To me it’s a miscarriage by the RNC to agree to something like that,' Santorum said of the Fox News debate threshold while speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. 'Having said that, we’ll play by the rules. I don’t think our game plan has changed much.'" The game plan being to not win. [HuffPost]

JIM WEBB TRIES SOUTHERN STRATEGY - Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb on Sunday suggested that recent efforts to remove Confederate symbols from public places were as "divisive" as Donald Trump's disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants. Without prompting from "Fox News Sunday" host Bret Baier, who had been asking questions about national security, Webb asked if he could please talk about Trump, the billionaire GOP candidate who has called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Webb criticized Trump before pivoting. "This kind of divisive, inflammatory rhetoric by people who want to be commander-in-chief is not helpful, and we have seen from the liberal side as well this kind of rhetoric as it goes to Southern white cultures," the former Virginia senator said, apparently referring to recent debates over the Confederate flag. [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A collection of Donald Trump's insults -- major quality!

COMFORT FOOD by @jacobrkerr

- A dog sprays his owner with a hose.

- Canadian cop dismantles a road rage situation by yelling from an overpass.

- What would you do with a one-minute time machine?

TWITTERAMA

@morningmoneyben: The coolest thing about @ScottWalker joining GOP race is that with 15 candidates in, @PapaJohns now has to give free toppings on large pies

@pourmecoffee: If you run a prison, I don't mean to tell you how to do your job but I am going to suggest "check for tunnels" be high on your list.

@thatRamosgirl: I feel like there's a 50/50 chance that this season of True Detective will end with an amusement park owner taking off a ghost costume.

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