POLITICS
07/27/2011 05:45 pm ET | Updated Sep 26, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - That Crashing Sound You Hear Is Your Portfolio

The closer we get to Tuesday, the more Western Civilization will be forced to familiarize itself with the dos and don'ts of a barter-based economy. Ben Affleck struck back at Republicans ... because that's what the debt ceiling debate has come to. Liberals love President Obama so much you'd think he was made of Kashi-brand breakfast bars and Coachella ticket stubs. And the small crowd at today's D.C. Tea Party rally was impressive if you think of it in quantities of Rick Santorum's donor base. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, complete with handy tips for how to deal with our looming national default:

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: Pigeon meat has a gamey, pheasant-like texture and pairs well with moonshine.

WASHINGTON ENGAGES IN POTENTIALLY USELESS/POTENTIALLY SIGNIFICANT 14TH AMENDMENT OPTION DEBATE - The 14th Amendment, which has become so fashionable that you'd think Michelle Williams was spotted wearing it in the pages of OK!, is under discussion again as a way out from the debt ceiling imbroglio. Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn today urged President Obama to employ it. "I am convinced that whatever discussions about the legality of that can continue," Clyburn said. "But I believe that something like this will bring calm to the American people and will bring needed stability to our financial markets." Jay Carney doubled down on the administration's opposition to the 14th Amendment option, telling reporters that, "The Constitution makes clear that Congress has the authority, not the president, to borrow money and only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling. That is just a reality." Eh. The Constitution says a lot of things. [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

Even as Jay Carney was all "OH NO YOU CAN'T TOUCH THE 14TH AMENDMENT! AHHHHHH! HOT LAVA!" Reuters called bullshit. "...legal experts say it would prove difficult to challenge [President Obama] in court should he change his mind. But if the country is about to go into default, the temptation to act to avert calamity will grow. Legal experts say if the president were tempted to act unilaterally he might escape without his actions being overturned in court. Regardless of how controversial a 14th Amendment maneuver might be, a legal challenge would be very hard to mount and so far, no one has stepped forward to say they would challenge him in court. Nor has anyone said they would sue him if he took the alternative, equally controversial, step of using his broad authorities as guardian of the constitutional order to unilaterally raise the borrowing threshold." This whole 14th Amendment thing was basically kicked off by HuffPost Hill. Is it too late to say we were kidding? [Reuters]

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: Children should never start an oil drum fire unsupervised.

@EricCantor: I'm Honored RT @DenisLeary 4 words: Eric Cantor Dunk Tank.

GOP SUPPORT FOR BOEHNER'S DOOMED BILL GROWS - Prognosticators started multiplying things by zero today as they chronicled the non-momentum momentum of John Boehner's debt ceiling proposal -- legislation that has absolutely ZERO chance of getting through the Senate and being signed by President Obama. While it still isn't clear whether the House Republican leadership will be able to muster the votes -- they can sustain no more than 23 defections without Democratic support -- what is clear is that the likelihood of it passing the lower chamber grew today. The bill's second wind was due largely to John Boehner getting real with his conference behind closed doors and, apparently, Allen West's positive reaction to a Ben Affleck vanity project (see below). The chances of it passing the Senate, however, are holding steady at "fat chance." Fake momentum! Something to talk about! [The Hill]

@jbendery: In out-of-left-field news: Carney says Obama doing Friday event to announce latest round in fuel efficiency program.

The Senate today unanimously approved a two-year extension of Robert Mueller's ten-year term as FBI director (and this wasn't fake unanimous, this was some pure, uncut, 100-0 unanimous). This being an encore, we fully expect Mueller to play "Freebird" in its entirety at some point. Tune-up, Bob.

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: T-Notes can kindle even the most stubborn fire.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The authors of the health care reform bill signed into law last year did not mean to create an incentive for people with private insurance to abandon their coverage, but that's what some people are doing. On June 28, Irene Schmoller sent an email to her health insurance company, Health Net of Arizona, letting them know she wanted to drop her policy. "I just can not afford paying over $1200 a month!!" wrote Schmoller, 63. "I've been a member for over 20 years, but you have outpriced yourself. I am a very healthy person who eats healthy, exercises and does not smoke or am I overweight. Just because I have pre-existing conditions which no longer apply you charge me a fortune! Goodbye!" Schmoller's plan is to ditch her private health insurance in favor of a new government program for people with pre-existing conditions. The catch is that the program, a product of the 2010 health care reform law, requires applicants to have been uninsured for six months. Schmoller is one of several people around the country gambling they can make it that long without a catastrophic injury or illness. Full story forthcoming on HuffPost!

FOX NEWS COLUMNIST: OBAMA DELIBERATELY SICKENING AMERICANS WITH 99 WEEKS OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. [Actual Argument Inside Article]

SCUFFLE OUTSIDE OF CHAMBER OF COMMERCE - "This morning, two guys tried to distract passersby from the giant 'JOBS' banner that always hangs outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by putting up a (much smaller) banner reading, 'Where are the jobs? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sucks.' A security guard quickly came outside and tried to stop them, resulting in a tug of war over the banner that ended up with the security guard on the ground and struggling to get up. (The protesters were kind enough to help him back up.) A man who identified himself as 'Tom Joad,' an unemployed electrician living in D.C., said the protest was organized by a loose group of frustrated people around the region, although he wasn't one of the guys putting up the sign. 'I know what they're doing in the halls of Congress, and they're not helping guys like me get jobs. So a lot of us want that [Chamber of Commerce] sign taken down,' said Joad, adding, 'This is about calling out the people who are part of the inside job that took the economy down three years ago.'" [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel and Sara Kenigsberg]

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

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION INSISTS TUESDAY IS FINAL DEBT CEILING DEADLINE - With a "That's What She Said" relentlessness, various administration officials today reiterated that August 2nd is a "hard and fast deadline" (Jay Carney). "Tax receipts were as expected for June and July," Treasury said in a statement provided to CNBC. "The fact remains the U.S. will exhaust borrowing authority on August 2nd. After that date there is no way to guarantee we will be able to meet all of the nation's obligations." We're feeling bullish about gold and water rights. Are you feeling bullish about gold and water rights? [HuffPost's Debt Ceiling Live Blog and Go-Kart Track]

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: Freight trains don't have snack cars or WiFi.

TEA PARTY HOLDS ANTI-BOEHNER RALLY, LITERALLY ONES OF AMERICANS FLOCK TO THE CAPITOL - A Tea Party Express event/protest today featured movement heavyweights Jim DeMint, Mike Lee and Rand Paul. The event was held to urge Republicans not to compromise with Democrats. However the crowd size was more reminiscent of open mic night at the Bean Hut than the Tea Party rallies of yore, where the pale, hairy ankles of pantaloon-wearing men in colonial outfits were so shiny and ubiquitous that you had to wear sunglasses lest you lose your ability to see. Seriously, there were a handful of people in attendance today ... at best. [TPM]

REPUBLICAN STAFFER DEEPLY REGRETS NOT TAKING THAT MANAGEMENT CONSULTING JOB AFTER COLLEGE - A Republican staffer today was the target of THREATENING CHANTS from MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Really! This is insane! Mob rule is setting in and we haven't even defaulted on our debts yet! What the hell?!? It went down after news broke that Study Committee staffer Paul Teller, among others, pulled a Bardella-plus and leaked private emails to conservative groups, urging them to lobby Republicans against voting for John Boehner's debt proposal. Republicans were so enraged by this that some of them started to chant "Fire him!" at a closed-door meeting while Teller was present. It's like the Prime Minister's Question Time but without the accents and with more guys named "Billy." [Politico's John Bresnahan and Fast Break]

John Stanton and Humberto Sanchez have background in tomorrow's Roll Call: "According to aides familiar with the situation, [Jim] Jordan aide Paul Teller and top [Jim] DeMint aides, including Communications Director Wesley Denton, have worked closely for years in coordinating their work. To a large degree, the cooperation makes sense: the RSC and Steering Committee act as the conservative caucuses for their respective chambers, and the groups view themselves as the "conscience" of the GOP. Both organizations have long been a thorn in the side of leadership, in part because of they view themselves as ideological watchdogs. But since last November's elections, which for the first time gave DeMint a natural base of four to six GOP conservatives in the Senate and swelled the ranks of the RSC in the House, both organizations have grown increasingly bold."

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: Read a book on the Donner Party. Study it closely.

OBAMA'S POPULARITY AMONG DEMOCRATS REACHING MT. RUSHMORE-LIKE LEVELS - Of course, if there WERE a liberal Mount Rushmore, its caretakers would have to find room for Obama's face in-between the giant, granite busts of Steve Jobs and the guy who invented frozen yogurt. Besides, tree-hugging Dems would never get behind any sort of mountaintop removal, even the aesthetic kind. Plus there aren't any big enough mountains in Marin County. Sorry. Anyway, a Gallup poll finds Democrats support the president more than any Democratic president at the same point in their term since Truman. Seventy-eight percent of respondents approve of Obama, while 77 percent of Democrats approved of Presidents Clinton and Kennedy during July of their third years. Liberal Mount Rushmore. Heh. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

The White House Rickrolled someone today over Twitter. While we appreciate the effort, the joke is about five years late. But, hey, better late than never, right? Also it's pretty ridiculous that the White House did something that originated on 4Chan. All right, everyone keep your eyes peeled for Joe Biden's inevitable bro icing of Jake Tapper. [Twitter]

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: Misdirection is a great way to cut the breadline.

POLL: RICK PERRY COMPETITIVE WITH MITT ROMNEY - A Gallup survey pitting Rick Perry against the declared and speculative GOP presidential candidates finds the Texas governor and rejected "Friday Night Lights" character (he'd be an overly involved booster dad, or something) is in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney. Romney clocks in with 17 percent with Perry at 15 percent. Bachmannmentum has clearly subsided a bit. When only the declared candidates were polled, Romney leads Bachmann 27 percent to 15 percent. [Gallup]

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: There's always another town.

JUDGE OKS STEM CELL FUNDING - A U.S. district judge today threw out a lawsuit that threatened to undo the Obama administration's push for stem cell funding. The lawsuit claimed that the research violates the 1996 Dickey-Wicker (heh) act that prohibits taxpayer funds for bankrolling initiatives that harm an embryo. "This Court, following the D.C. Circuit's reasoning and conclusions, must find that defendants reasonably interpreted the Dickey-Wicker Amendment to permit funding for human embryonic stem cell research because such research is not 'research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed,'" Well, OK! Not that any of this matters, because once America defaults on its debts, the primary source of our organ harvesting will be other living people ... in alleys. [AP]

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days ... unless you eat your guests (there won't be any fish).

Massachusetts' congressional delegation has a message for LGBT Americans: It Gets Bettah*

*Except Scott Brown.

BEN AFFLECK SOMEHOW DISTRACTS EVERYONE FROM DEBT CEILING FOR A MOMENT - Everyone lost their marbles this morning when Ben Affleck responded to reports that the GOP conference got all steeled up after watching The Town, the actor's caper flick about a bunch of degenerate Bostonians. "I don't know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation," Affleck said in a statement provided, quite naturally, to HuffPost, "but if they're going to be watching movies, I think 'the company men' is more appropriate." It's a good thing they didn't watch Gigli, 'cause then they would have incentive to end society. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

The Hill released its "50 Most Beautiful" list. G.K. Butterfield was snubbed...AGAIN. No link for you, The Hill.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog tucks himself in for bed.

DEBT DEFAULT TIP: Fingerless gloves never go out of fashion in the rail yard.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Rather nice. Once again in the pleasant 70s, and humidity will stay reasonable. That's just for the night. Tomorrow: Mid-90s with humidity creep. It will get unpleasant, with pop-up thunderstorms at night. Heat wave is approaching. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- On last night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" people were asked to explain the debt ceiling ::face palm::. [http://huff.to/qmDdeH]

- Do you want to pause your dog? Follow this one easy step. [http://huff.to/oKaVOM]

- Software developed at Cornell can spot fake reviews on Yelp and the like. [http://huff.to/oqakNe]

- Jedi gang fight. [http://huff.to/recqVa]

- The video to LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" re-shot with LEGOs. [http://huff.to/pTPg79]

- In case you were wondering how to prepare an $80 dollar hot dog, here you go. [http://huff.to/qKMRv8]

- Animal memes without the animals. Prepare to feel a lot more creeped out by the internet. [http://huff.to/qnsv1b]

- Glow in the dark golf. Prepare to have your 8-year-old-boy and 50-year-old businessman parts be equally elated. [http://huff.to/mSsxIZ]

TWITTERAMA

@em_um: If Tami Taylor gave Obama's speech instead of Obama, the debt ceiling would be raised and in college by tomorrow

@samsteinhp would obama fight a bear if it meant the debt ceiling were raised? that one hasn't been asked

@LEBassett: STANDBY... HuffPost is putting together a list of the Hill's 50 Most Vulnerable

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: Steve Israel, who's just doing his best to not think about David Wu, attends a campaign function [Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Dean Heller revels in his newfound Senateiness at a campaign fundraiser. This time, the food spread will have shrimp! [515 19 St NW #6D].

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Republican senators who come from empty places (is there any other kind, really?) gather to raise funds for John Barrasso. Lisa Murkowski and Jim Inhofe will be on hand [Fed Ex Townhouse, 300 Maryland Ave NE].

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Don Young is still ... alive. Celebrate that fact by giving him some money [203 Maryland Ave NE].

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Todd Akin, who just this weekend called President Obama a "flaming socialist," tries to stop his big flaming agenda with a fundraiser hosted by Honeywell [Honeywell International, 101 Constitution Ave NW Suite 500 West].

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Sander Levin, the top Democrat on Ways and Means, hosts a "Financial Services Industry Dinner" at Charlie Palmer. That's democracy, kids [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].

6:30 pm: Pete Sessions is the guest of honor at an AT&T-hosted fundraiser. Guess Pete wants to learn more about that T-Mobile merger, huh? [Bobby Van's Grill, 1201 New York Ave NW 809 15th Street NW]

TOMORROW

8:00 am: The patron saint of xenophobic fear-mongering, Pete King, scares donors by telling them how the world will spin off its axis if he is not reelected. Also something about scary Muslims, probably [Johnny's Half Shell - 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].

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 Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e