POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - AUGUST 13TH, 2010

08/13/2010 05:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We were hoping to coast into our week-long vacation without much hoopla. But just when we thought we were out, the looming baby terrorism threat pulled us back in. On top of that, Alvin Greene's second public address was overshadowed by his indictment on obscenity charges and Jeff Greene can't get his story straight about that vomit-caked yacht. We'll be back a week from Monday, when we hope to find Social Security in tact and Herb Kohl's Tuesday night drum circle no longer the only time Senate lefties meet up. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, August 13th (gulp) 2010:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOCIAL SECURITY, HERE'S A TEACHABLE MOMENT - Seventy-five years ago -- a magical time when Journolist was a screaming match among a group of bums huddled around an oil barrel fire and the only thing Ben Nelson could threaten to block was the seminal fluid transporting him into sentience -- a Democratic Senate told FDR that it only had the votes for Social Security if businesses that provided their own pensions were carved out. The votes simply weren't there, they said. FDR and the House stood firm on the principle that Social Security should be universal, rejecting the compromise and staring down the Senate. Roosevelt ultimately won in conference. Had the exemption been granted, Social Security would've been much closer to welfare than the universal, insurance-based system that we have today. This illuminating episode was featured in Nancy Altman's "The Battle For Social Security." Free yourself of some dollars and buy it here, you welfare queen: http://amzn.to/cvVllI

SOCIAL SECURITY SAVES 20 MILLION AMERICANS FROM POVERTY - Laura Bassett on the safety net's current nettiness: "As Social Security approaches its 75th anniversary on Saturday, the program is playing an especially vital role in reducing poverty across America during the worst economic crisis since the Great Recession.
If benefits were to be significantly cut, 19.8 million more Americans would be thrust in poverty, according to a recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In addition to supporting the elderly, Social Security is currently keeping more than 1 million children and more than 5 million adults below the age of 65 above the poverty line. Cuts to Social Security would be especially devastating for older women, the report shows. While 11.9 percent of women over the age of 65 are currently below the poverty line, nearly half of them would be poor if they no longer received benefits." http://huff.to/97QFnH

HEADS UP: President Obama's speech at tonight's Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan is expected to touch on religious freedom and the NYC mosque controversy.

ROBERT GIBBS SAYS WHITE HOUSE WANTS LEFT TO GIVE IT A HARD TIME - So what if "I'm not sure I accept the premise, Major" isn't the world's greatest safe word, the White House Press Secretary -- and bete noire of the professional left -- still wants the abuse from the liberal base. "There are a small number of people on cable and elsewhere who will never be happy, who will never give the President credit for anything, and who will always look for some cardinal sin to be upset about," Gibbs said in an email to the Huffington Post. "I also stand by my statement... that the vast majority of progressives and those on the left, whether that's bloggers or groups or what have you, do not hold those beliefs and are pushing in good faith for a better country as they see it," Gibbs added. "The President has urged those who want change to push for it and hold him accountable, and that's how he feels." Sam Stein: http://huff.to/9fbM3t

FRANK HAS BANK SCOURGE DEMARCO'S BACK - Two weeks back, after Federal Housing Finance Agency head Ed DeMarco began to try to force banks to take back loan losses that they had improperly dumped on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby suggested in a letter it might be a good time to replace the acting director with a new person. The message was clear, but DeMarco hasn't backed off. And now he's got backing from Barney Frank. The House banking committee chairman told HuffPost Hill that Demarco is "doing a good job. One of the things people have mistakenly said is, oh, there's been no change in Fannie in Freddie. In fact, there's been greater changes in them. Joe Nocera was complaining in the New York Times it's too tough to get a mortgage. Gretchen Morgenson wrote about how he's demanding money back from the banks. In fact, I've got people in California furious at him because he wouldn't take these PACE loans." Over the next year, as Democrats reform the federal government's role in the mortgage business, the FHFA will become such a radically changed entity that there's little point in changing directors now, said Frank. "It doesn't make sense to try to appoint someone for the last year of a job that's about to be abolished."

Frank: Fannie and Freddie are history - "A year from now," Frank told HuffPost Hill, "there won't be a Fannie and Freddie. There won't be those hybrids. But you will have the home loan banks. You'll have the FHA, you'll have Ginnie Mae, you'll have some other types."

Rep. Brad Miller is circulating a letter among colleagues in support of DeMarco.

Today is the last day for Amy Klobuchar's Communications Director Erikka Knuti. Erikka is headed to the Health Information Center where she will act as its new communications director.

KEN BUCK WANTS YOUR VOTE (NO REALLY) - Newly nominated Colorado Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck clarified to HuffPost's Sam Stein on Friday that he no longer supports the repeal of the 17th Amendment allowing for the popular election of candidates like him to the United States Senate. In a brief phone call, Buck said that he did not favor repealing the 17th Amendment, which allows the public, not state legislatures, to vote on who represents them in the Senate. As late as June 2009, Buck had held the opposite view, telling the Pikes Peak Economics Club, "I don't know that we get [repeal] tomorrow, but I think we get there in the very near future when people understand just what a horrendous effect the 17th amendment has been on the federal government's spending."

WaPo's war on Social Security continued this week in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the program's inception. The Post, though, doesn't have the stones to use the word "cuts." "We would prefer a more balanced solution, one that relies on a combination of revenue increases and benefit adjustments," the ed board wrote this week. Right. Adjustments. As in, Mike Tyson adjusted the shape of Evander Holyfield's ear.

When he's not understudying for role of "Soda Fountain Clerk # 2" in whatever 1950s period piece is queued-up in Hollywood, Paul Ryan champions this anti-New Deal standard. In today's Post, the Wisconsin Rep. says that Medicare "remains tens of trillions of dollars in the hole." Actually, the shortfall is 0.3 percent of GDP, or $2.7 trillion, over the next 75 years. HuffPost Hill put in a call to see if the error would be corrected. They say the figures are based on an infinite time frame.

Center for Economic and Policy Research's Dean Baker: "Yes, they decided 75-year horizons didn't give them scary enough numbers. No one bothered to tell them that we elect a new Congress every 2 years and a new Senate every 6, so we can't bind people in the year 2450 to what we thought was a good Medicare plan in 2010." http://bit.ly/9cJBlJ

AWWWWWWWWWWW - John Dingell's office sent around this release today: "Dingell Remembers Dad, One of the Social Security's Architects, on 75th Anniversary of the Program...'My dad considered Social Security one of his greatest accomplishments and I think history has proved him right,' Dingell said. 'We all know that the boomers will be coming into the program and the challenges that presents, but it's not like it was easy to get the program started during the Great Depression either. If we could do it then, we can keep Social Security going now - and we don't need things like Republican privatization schemes, such as the Ryan plan, to keep it alive.'"

Net neutrality supporters protested outside Google's California HQ today over the company's pact with Verizon. http://bit.ly/d02g6A

JUST IN: Hal Turner, a conservative Internet radio talk show host and blogger, "was convicted today in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., of threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their 2009 ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb," according to a Justice Department press release.

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ALEXIS GIANNOULIAS PROPOSES A SENATE PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS - As if Chuck Schumer's This American Life listening parties and Barbara Mikulski's Phish bootleg swap meets weren't enough, the Illinois Senate candidate wants to unite upper chamber liberals under a single banner. Sam Stein: "The Illinois Democrat's campaign told the Huffington Post that the objective is to provide a philosophical counterweight to the sway that conservative Democratic members often have over legislation. 'Think of this proposal as a sort of Blue Line caucus for the Senate -- a group of progressive leaders who will hold the line and set a minimum threshold of what we think should be at the bargaining table,' Giannoulias said in a statement. 'We've seen what the Blue Dog caucus has been able to accomplish through its infrastructure. And we've been able to get landmark legislation passed in the face of unprecedented Republican obstruction and conservative Democratic opposition in large part because the Progressive Caucus in the House has played a vital role in advocating for policies that help all Americans, not just the privileged few,' Giannoulias said." http://huff.to/bSXGkq

JOHN KERRY AND MARK UDALL HEART ELIZABETH WARREN, WANT WORLD TO KNOW IT - The two lawmakers hopped on the Warren bandwagon today, signing on to a statement circulated by Al Franken encouraging President Obama to nominate the Harvard professor to lead the nascent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an entity she first proposed and helped shepherd through Congress. "Elizabeth Warren has proven that she is willing to stand up to Wall Street on behalf of consumers and is the logical choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," reads the statement they signed. "If appointed by President Obama, I would vote to confirm Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau." http://huff.to/cXGTUg

"TERROR BABIES" ARE COMING FOR YOU, ELECTED OFFICIAL WITH FULLY-FUNCTIONING FRONTAL LOBE INSISTS - No, it's not a heartwarming family comedy from John Travolta and Robin Williams coming this fall, it's actually a national security threat...apparently. Dallas Morning News: "The debate over the existence of terror babies continues to generate more heat than light. First, Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, went on Anderson Cooper's show on CNN and claimed that illegal aliens were coming into America to have babies, take then back home for indoctrination, then send them back to the U.S. in 20-30 years as terrorists. A provocative story to be sure. But when questioned, Riddle couldn't provide any evidence. A retired FBI agent told Cooper such a plot is fiction. But East Texas Republican Louie Gohmert went on with Anderson last night to reassert the claim in an exchange that made up in volume what it lacked in evidence. Gohmert could provide no proof of an organized cabal to create 'terror babies.' Instead, he just yelled at the host." Video: http://bit.ly/bdjhgG

HARRY REID SUPPORTED ALTERING THE 14TH AMENDMENT, UNTIL HE DIDN'T - Greg Sargent summarizes the Senate majority leader's awkward history with the best solution to our nation's terrorist baby problem: "Right wing blogs think they've unearthed a lethal hit on Harry Reid: He apparently introduced a bill to end birthright citizenship back in 1993. Conservatives are pointing to this as proof of Reid's hypocrisy in the wake of his claim the other day that he doesn't understand how any Latinos could ever vote Republican. Ed Morrissey argued that by his own standard, Reid 'should lose his entire Hispanic vote over this.' Guess what: It happens to be true that Reid did introduce such a bill. And it was indefensible. But here's the thing: I've learned that Reid already apologized profusely for this in a speech in 2006, admitted he was wrong, and described this as the 'low point' of his career. In other words, Reid himself agrees that it was indefensible." http://bit.ly/awyfaa

SARAH PALIN NOT OVERWHELMING TEA PARTY FAVORITE - If a new poll from CNN is to be believed - and what it is claiming is a real stretch - then the Tea Party is...wait for it...fractured and unfocused. Huh. "She's appeared at Tea Party rallies across the country and long been considered the movement's de facto leader, but a new CNN poll out Friday suggests Sarah Palin isn't the group's clear favorite for the White House. According to the new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney comes in No. 1 among Tea Party supporters with 22 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is second with 19 percent, and the former Alaska governor holds the No. 3 spot with 17 percent of support from the fiscally conservative group." http://bit.ly/bjGRQD

SHARRON ANGLE WANTS TO OVERHAUL SOCIAL SECURITY, LIKE THAT VISIONARY PINOCHET DID - What better way to drive down costs than taking innocents and blindfolding them, placing them on a plane and shoving them into the ocean!? BRILLIANT! AP: "Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Sharron Angle says the nation's Social Security system needs to be privatized, and she says it was done before in Chile. Angle referred to the South American country on Thursday in North Las Vegas while explaining previous statements that the United States should phase out its current system. However, the pension system established in 1981 by right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is no longer a fully private system. Chile's system was revamped in 2008 to expand public pensions for groups left out of its system, including low-income seniors."

ALVIN GREENE INDICTED ON FELONY OBSCENITY CHARGE - In what could be a fatal blow to the Senate campaign of the most glazed-over thing to come out of America since the Krispy Kreme doughnut, Alvin Greene (D - The Place Where All Your Lost Umbrellas And Orphaned Socks Go) has been charged with showing pornography to a college student. "A grand jury in Richland County, S.C., indicted Greene on one felony charge of disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity as well as a misdemeanor charge of communicating obscene materials to a person without consent, according to a statement from the county solicitor's office." USA Today: http://bit.ly/9EYr7m

The news comes the day after Greene gave his second (SECOND!) campaign speech. It was only 23 seconds long, but he made it count. The length was "consistent with what his campaign adviser Felipe Farley had predicted weeks ago, when he noted that Greene wasn't going to be doing any long barnburners on the stump. When Greene finished, one of his newer advisers stood up. 'I would like to say that Alvin isn't being short with you -- my name is Georgean McConnell and I've been working with Alvin -- and we have a speech committee and so forth and so I didn't want him to get into no debates tonight or anything, because it's really not fair since he's been very cooperative with us.'" Columbia Free Times: http://bit.ly/cWX9JX

THE ONLY THING THAT IS VOMIT-CAKED IS THE MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF HIS CAMPAIGN, JEFF GREENE SAYS - Jason Linkins on the Florida Senate candidate: "Greene has offered a shifting account of how it came to pass that the Summerwind [his yacht] ended up docked at Hemingway Marina in Havana. First, he wasn't on the boat, then he was on the boat but he was on some Jewish mission at the time, and finally, he was forced to dock at Hemingway because of emergency repairs -- maybe related to 'vomit-caking,' who knows? -- at which time he took advantage of an unexpected opportunity to go on the aforementioned Jewish mission. According to deckhands, Greene and his girlfriend went shopping. And that's the thing: everyone has their own weird accounts of what goes on on board the Summerwind." http://huff.to/cQLgko

Greene is suing the St. Petersburg Times for a story that ties him to the housing crisis. http://bit.ly/aZ4mbk

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORTJULIAN THE HIPSTER INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - I dunno, dude. It's August, right? It's probably going to be pretty hot out. Thanks, Julian!

(JB is out today, fret not)

COMFORT FOOD

- Meat Lutnik, the four-eared kitten. http://bzfd.it/bO5J3l

- Because, hey, why not. Cats in costumes. http://bit.ly/aF4UfL

- The Office meets Star Wars. http://bit.ly/d8IAz1

- 26 album covers as Ikea catalogues. http://bzfd.it/cLUPAo

- Nothing gets a guy down quite like losing his best friend, a severed floating head. http://bit.ly/aC8hxO

- The 8 most obvious signs in the world. http://huff.to/9pbh12

TWITTERAMA

@pourmecoffe: Anchor babies should be marked so we can tell them when they come back as terror grownups

@fivethirtyeight I hope Dale Peterson and Ben Quayle run in the same primary one day.

@draznnl: Does that mean he WON'T also golf tmrw? RT @HuffPostHill CORR. Boehner is golfing for the 8 kabillionth time TODAY http://bit.ly/cFZLKs

THE TUBE

TONIGHT: John Yarmuth trashed Obama's economic team on Dylan Ratigan's show. Pat's mom Mary Tillman was on Hardball. Alan Grayson talks to Ed Schultz Tim Kaine is on Bloomberg's Political Capital.

SUNDAY SHOWS

Meet the Press: David Petraeus.

Face the Nation: Tim Kaine, Ed Rendell, Ed Gillespie, Ed Rollins, Karen Tumulty, John Harris.

State of the Union: Kevin McCarthy, Chris Van Hollen, Heidi Cullen, Tom Wagner.

This Week: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN); Jon Corzine; Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Obama economic adviser; Dr. Martin Regalia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Cokie Roberts; Matthew Dowd; Chrystia Freeland; David Ignatius

Fox News Sunday: 'Key leaders on Capitol Hill'

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm - 8:30 pm: This week, the Carsten Boe Trio performs its brand of "Django jazz from Oslo, Norway." All right [Smithsonian Sculpture Garden, 700 Constitution Avenue NW].
All Evening: The grand opening of Sweetspot, a new Dupont dance spot [Sweetspot, 1140 19th St NW].

TOMORROW

11:00 am - 4:00 pm: The perfect date for the male caller on a budget. Impress your lady with your refined tastes at the Corcoran's "Free Summer Saturdays" [Corcoran Gallery, 500 17th Street NW].
6:00 pm: If you see a pack of hipsters mindlessly waddling in the direction of Maryland, it's because MGMT is playing Merriweather [Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway].

8:00 pm: The hilarious Patton Oswalt, who cinematically-inclined Giants fans might remember from the movie "Big Fan," plays the Warner Theatre [Warner Theatre, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave NW].
8:00 pm: Get your rhythm AND rebel fix: Public Enemy plays 9:30 Club [9:30 Club, 815 V Street Northwest].

FUNDRAISING RETREATS/EVENTS

Tonight - Sunday: We're just guessing, but Mark Begich's (D-Alaska) resort getaway weekend has been canceled due to Ted Stevens-related events [Alyeska Resort - 1000 Arlberg Ave, Girdwood, AK].

Tonight - Sunday: Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) will rail against the radical liberal, coast elitist agenda AT A BEVERLY HILLS RETREAT [Beverly Hills, CA].

Today: John Boehner (R-Ohio), despite facing criticism from his opponent that he golfs like eleventy-billion times a year, attends a golf outing to support Pennsylvania congressional candidates Mike Fitzgerald (R-Pa.) and Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) [Flourtown Clubhouse, 6025 West Valley Green Rd., Flourtown, PA].

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

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