This holiday weekend, we honor our freedom and all those who defend our right to democratically elect the dicks who run the country. Thad McCotter -- y'know, Thad McCotter!? -- is running for president. We're pretty sure Google won't artfully reconfigure its front page in recognition of its pending antitrust investigation. And hard times in Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, all the children are above average ... and all the garbage men are furloughed. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, July 1st, 2011:
GOOGLE HITTING UP K STREET TO DEFEND AGAINST ANTITRUST INVESTIGATION - It's been a rocky couple of weeks for the tech giant. First they caught a lot of flak for suggesting people contact their estranged and/or dead father on Father's Day. Then they launched Google+, which is being received well. Now, with an upcoming antitrust push from the FCC, the firm is readying itself for a torrent of negative PR that could inflict the sort of damage to its brand that Microsoft suffered in the late '90s. The company announced today that it has contracted a dozen lobbying firms to handle the impending investigation. "We have a strong story to tell about our business and we've sought out the best talent we can find to help tell it," a rep for the company said in an email. Do you think someone in Google's PR team actually Googled "k street lobbying firms"? Yeah, probably not. [The Hill]
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST TACKLES THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX - Our very own Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who sees the Microsoft suggestion paperclip pop-up even when he's not in front of a computer, has some choice words about Google's K Street spree. "Looks like Google is creating some jobs. I'm willing to take a bet that All the Presidents Men" -- that's PSLGOPLspeak for Bill Burton's Super PAC -- "had a good month as well. And I wouldn't be surprised if Politico's Tech Newsletter had a new sponsor for the month. Happy 4th boys." You too, PSLGOPL!
Because we love America, we'll spend Monday imbibing low-alcohol domestic beer, igniting legally-dubious fireworks and arranging bowls of dip that will fester in the hot D.C. sun on someone's patio. Our boys fought hard at Lexington and Concord. Honor that. We'll be back on Tuesday. Have a Happy Independence Day.
RICH LADY SAYS THE SPECIAL SAUCE THAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT IS NOT HALF-BLACK "America needs a president who understands the special sauce of what it is that makes this country great," says one Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild. "The fact of his personal story of being half black and all that is a wonderful, inspiriting story. But it doesn't qualify him to be president." [Boston.com]
14TH AMENDMENT THING GETTING SERIOUS - We were half joking about evoking the 14th Amendment as a way out of the debt ceiling debate, but it's quickly becoming a central part of the negotiations. Chuck Schumer suggested today that invoking the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which states that federal debts "shall not be questioned," to continue paying government obligations is a strategy worth considering should a debt-ceiling deal remain elusive. "It's certainly worth exploring," he said. "It's something worth looking at for the next time around, but I don't think it's had enough fermentation -- examination, to employ at this time."
WHITE HOUSE FISHY FRIDAY RELEASE: STIMULUS A SUCCESS! The White House sent word Friday afternoon that the 2009 stimulus bill has been, and continues to be, an unqualified success. "Specifically, the Recovery Act added as much as 3.2 percent to the level of first quarter GDP and raised employment by as many as 3.6 million jobs," the report says. "Overall, the Recovery Act has played a significant role in the turnaround of the economy, which has grown for seven straight quarters and has added 2.1 million private sector jobs over the past 15 months." Thanks, White House! [WhiteHouse.gov]
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the senior female member of the U.S. Supreme Court, says she will stay on the job as long as her health permits."
OBAMA DOJ RESTARTS POT WAR, CUZ WHY NOT? - Medical marijuana advocates are annoyed by a new Justice Department threat to raid and prosecute medical pot shops even in states where the drug is legal. "The term 'caregiver' as used in [a previous] memorandum meant just that: individuals providing care to individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses, not commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana," Deputy Attorney General James Cole writes. So using the product within state laws is okay. Growing it or selling it within state laws is not. "Cancer patients are going to have to grow their own product or buy it on the street somewhere," said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, which represents Big Pot.
BACKDOOR ENTITLEMENT CUTS ON THE TABLE - Budget negotiators are considering a change to the Consumer Price Index that would reduce Social Security outlays by more than $100 billion over 10 years. "The proposal to shift to the chained-CPI is actually a stealth attack on Social Security," said Joan Entmacher, director of family economic security at the National Women's Law Center. Don't let them bore you by talking about baskets of goods and crap like that, old folks. [HuffPost's Alex Becker]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Government Accountability Office has conducted a thorough investigation and come to a conclusion: Old people are screwed. More specifically, the longer they live, the more screwed they get as they risk running out of money. "While income in retirement varies widely by source, Social Security benefits are the foundation of income for nearly all retiree households," the report said. Good thing everyone in Washington agrees we should cut Social Security. [GAO]
Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill
MINNESOTA STATE GOV'T SHUTS DOWN OVER BUDGET IMPASSE - Well it's been a municipally disastrous week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown, out on the edge of the prairie. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is now the 10,000 (+) Pissed Off Furloughed Government Employees thanks to state lawmakers' inability to solve an ongoing dispute over the budget. While Governor Mark Dayton and state Democrats want to institute a progressive tax increase, Republicans are asking for more funding cuts. AP: "Negotiations between Dayton and legislative leaders were fitful, starting and stopping with no outward signs of progress, and details were scant, since the two sides agreed to what they jokingly called 'the cone of silence.' By Thursday night, Dayton and Republicans had not met for hours, leading Senate Democratic Leader Tom Bakk to remark that any hope for a last-minute deal to avert the shutdown had appeared to 'disintegrate.' ... The showdown was something of a small-stage version of the drama taking shape in Washington between President Barack Obama and the Republicans over taxes and the nation's debt ceiling." [HuffPost/Patch Liveblog]
WaPo's Erik Wemple describes the HuffPost/Patch effort: "Characteristics of the coverage: Smart, comprehensive, up to the minute. Characteristics of the web layout: Clean, easy-to-scan, transparent. The presentation is a mix of aggregation plus detailed reports from reporters throughout the state."[Erik Wemple]
This is how you lose your home state: "Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who's running for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested that the Minnesota state government shutting down could ultimately prove to be a positive thing." [HuffPost/Patch Liveblog]
@HotlineReid: Tim Pawlenty raised $4.2m last quarter. Not a terrific number for a guy who was supposed to be in the top tier.
SPECIAL ELECTION SET FOR WEINER'S HOUSE SEAT - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the great gay emancipator, has set September 13th as the date for the special election for Anthony Weiner's vacated New York House seat. David Chen: "The special election means that party leaders will select the candidates to represent the Ninth Congressional District, which covers parts of Queens and Brooklyn...But that candidate's status as a freshman member of Congress could be short-lived. New York is set to lose two House seats because of the 2010 census, and many believe that Mr. Weiner’s territory will be carved up to benefit Democratic incumbents in adjoining districts. One of those incumbents is Representative Joseph Crowley. And as the leader of the Queens Democratic Party, Mr. Crowley, with some input from the leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, and other leaders, will ultimately select the candidate to run in the special election." [NYT]
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS' HUSBAND SAYS HE'S NOT INTERESTED IN RUNNING FOR OFFICE - Even though Mark Kelly couldn't be more American if bald eagles delivered him a bacon and eggs breakfast every morning, the NASA astronaut and likeable family guy says he doesn't want to enter his wife's profession. "It must be a really, really slow summer out there," he said at a NASA presser at the National Press Club today. "In all seriousness, my main focus right now, and for the foreseeable future, is Gabby's recovery and also spending some more time with my kids," he added. "She's the politician in the family; I'm the space guy. I see no reason to change that right now." [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
HILL DEMS CIRCULATE MEMO ON REVERSING TAX MESSAGING - A memo penned by centrist think tank Third Way that highlights "a list of tax expenditures" that "could be fodder for further amendments that continue to give reasonable Republicans cause to break the [Grover] Norquist yoke" is being seized upon by Democrats as a way to make closing tax loopholes more palatable. Sam Stein: "Among the items Third Way urges lawmakers to highlight: an estimated $40 million in write-offs that owners of motorsports entertainment complexes are given; the $162 million in expensing rules for U.S. film and television productions; and $30 million (over ten years) that could be saved by eliminating a withholding provision for those lucky enough to win at horse and dog race tracks." [HuffPost]
THAD MCCOTTER TO ENTER PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN - Conservative Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter today filed the paperwork for a longshot presidential bid. He will make his official announcement tomorrow at a Fourth of July celebration in Michigan. McCotter isn't super well-known, beyond being very conservative, a friendly guy who mumbles a lot, and a lover of rock music (and, hey, that landed Mike Huckabee a Fox News program), but he is banking on ... um ... uh ... er ... we don't know ... some kind of natural disaster? He already has a website up, McCotter2012.com, which warns that "Your American Dream is endangered." Also, there's a giant photo of McCotter posing in a manner that doesn't so much suggest that he is running for president, but is interested in representing you in small claims court. [CNN]
MICHELE BACHMANN'S HUSBAND SECURED WORTHLESS GOVERNMENT CONTRACT - In the movie about Michele Bachmann's rise to power and conservative hatred of government spending, this is going to be the origin story that features prominently in the beginning of the film. "In 2005, Dr. Marcus Bachmann's mental-health counseling service, Bachmann & Associates Inc., was awarded a contract to provide outpatient counseling to drug addicts. In 2008, the service was awarded a second contract. The two could have netted Bachmann's husband as much as $4,000 per client. The sum total of the contracts could have raked in roughly $80,000 in public money. Instead, the government contract turned out to be a bust. Bachmann & Associates held onto the contract from 2005 through the beginning of 2009. During that time, the contract did not earn them a penny in government funds because the county never sent them a single potential client." [HuffPost's Jason Cherkis]
Carol Leonning reports that Gingrich staffers long worried about their boss' weakness for Tiffany jewelry: "The former employees said Gingrich’s gift-giving at first was regarded as a sign of his generosity. At annual Christmas dinners for employees, small Tiffany boxes wrapped in white ribbon were left at each place setting, each containing gifts costing roughly $100 or more. The Gingriches were generous to staff in other ways, typically contributing up to 20 percent of each staffer’s salary to their pension funds and giving a minimum year-end bonus of 20 percent of base salary -- often much more...The extravagant appearance of the purchases also generated concern among employees in 2008 when some Gingrich companies encountered financial difficulties. Over the next two years, bonuses and pension contributions were reduced or eliminated. Even though the Gingriches were using their personal funds for the Tiffany items, the disparity made some employees uncomfortable." [WaPo]
Today is Meghan Hughes' last day as Lindsey Graham's press secretary. She's heading to the private sector (to Stratacomm, a public affairs firm, to be more precise), so drinks are on her at the going away party.
At least he didn't predict that they'll "be greeted as liberators," amirite? "Last August, the Atlantic published a splashy cover story by Jeffrey Goldberg that led with a startling prediction: Israel would more likely than not launch bombing raids on Iran's nuclear sites by July 2011, according to Goldberg's mostly Israeli (and unnamed) sources. Today is July 1, and there has, of course, been no attack. It's worth looking back at the influential piece and considering what happened." [Salon's Justin Elliott]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - "Tyson, the skating, surfing, snowboarding Dog"
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Warm, with highs in the 70s and clear skies. Enjoy them, because Tomorrow, we'll see scorching heat. 90 degrees with humidity and clouds. Sunday Hot and humid, followed by patches of thunderstorms. It's a cold front coming through that could, sadly, hurt your Fourth of July barbecue plans on Monday. Sorry. Thanks, JB!
- It costs $1 million to make a hit pop song, according to a report from NPR's "Planet Money." Maybe we should have just used the stimulus to make a lot of really catchy songs. [http://huff.to/lZCBZ8]
- The ongoing trials and tribulations of Maru the Cat. This time, Maru is hot. [http://huff.to/lIhPUl]
- If your life is dull and not cinematic enough, an iPhone app allows you to augment reality with famous movie scenes set in the location you're in. [http://huff.to/k1p9Ya]
- A would-be mother-in-law's letter to her would-be daughter-in-law has quickly become an example of pre-marital scariness. [http://ti.me/m22f5D]
- Lions are fearsome creatures, arguably the most terrifying in the animal kingdom. This particular lion, however, just wants a rubber ducky. [http://huff.to/kGLJvq]
- X-rays have revealed what color the first birds were and -- not unlike the night sky, Labrador retrievers and Jesus -- they were black. [http://huff.to/iR3BUY]
- LEGO robot makes pancakes. Now if only LEGO robots could extricate us from Afghanistan. [http://huff.to/mzoNtz]
- Pruney fingers might be an evolutionary leftover from an earlier species that could grasp wet surfaces. [http://huff.to/kgyca8]
@alex_wags: Huntsman motorcycle shot w/vintage Polaroid filter. Looking forward to the Terry Richardson *H-man Unplugged* Series.
@GOP12: You know what T-Paw needs? Another endorsement from a county GOP chair in Iowa.
@pfeiffer44: Wow, it only took you 3 years, watch out Woodward MT @samsteinhp: things i've learned from the WH files: @pfeiffer44 's real name is Howard
Tomorrow: Just about the most American thing imaginable, Vern Buchanan honors America the way the Founding Fathers intended: With a fundraiser at a the Coke Zero 400. Life, liberty and NASCAR [Daytona International Speedway, 1801 W International Speedway, Daytona Beach].
Saturday, 6:30 pm: Stoner bro rapper extraordinaire Kid Cudi performs at Merriweather. Slow your roll, brah, and head on out [Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD].
Saturday, 9:00 pm: Freshlyground, the South African world (whatever that means) group that has gone big globally (they performed on that annoying Shakira World Cup track but are good, we swear) perform at Black Cat [Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW].
Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (email@example.com), Ryan Grim (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Arthur Delaney (email@example.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more