Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - There's No AARP Discount For This Salon

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Mitt Romney is constructing a gigantic addition to one of his basements, freeing up space for a children's play room, a home entertainment system or ... you know ... a dog kennel. Republicans will dress in "Euro Leprechaun" attire for tonight's St. Patrick's fete at the Capitol Hill Club -- an event we hope absolutely NO REPORTERS stake out. And if you think being at the bottom of a kickball team's lineup is dispiriting for a Beltway insider, imagine if Osama bin Laden proclaimed that you're totally and completely incompetent. Hang in there, Mr. Vice President! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday March 16th, 2012:

WHAT IF NEWT QUITS? - Mark Blumenthal: "Some Santorum supporters have argued that Gingrich voters would flock to their candidate if he exited the race. For example, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told ABC News that the combined Santorum-Gingrich vote 'drowns Romney...It just totally eclipses him.' Should Gingrich withdraw, 'the lion's share would go to Santorum.' The survey results counter that contention. Gallup shows Gingrich supporters dividing evenly, and argues that Santorum has less room to grow his support among 'very conservative' Republicans who already back his candidacy. Fox News reports that Gingrich backers "mainly say they would go to Santorum, yet the shape of the race would look about the same" with Gingrich out of the race. But that said, history shows that these second choices, like all poll results are a snapshot in time subject to change. Should Gingrich actually withdraw, it could alter the dynamics of the race and affects voter preferences in a way that may be hard to predict."

AARP RIPS PAGE FROM WAPO, HOSTING EXCLUSIVE SALONS - We got our hands on an invitation to an off-the-record "Relaxed and Robust Evening of 'Salon Style' Conversation" with a bunch of fancy types, hosted by AARP's CEO. We called up the insurance company for comment. Their response? To invite us to the thing. Free shrimp? Fantastic. "The senior citizens lobby AARP on Monday will kick off a national Social Security and Medicare 'listening tour' called 'You've Earned a Say and We're Listening.'...But while AARP staffers fan out across the country to hear from members, the group's CEO, Barry Rand, will be listening to a different cast of characters...An AARP invitation to a secret 'Relaxed and Robust Evening of 'Salon Style' Conversation' to be held at a Capitol Hill home on March 27, obtained by The Huffington Post, indicates that the organization is still very much interested in a "grand-bargain" style deal that puts Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table. "AARP is not pursuing any closed door deals or grand bargains," said an AARP spokeswoman...The list of principals-only invitees to the salon event includes a gallery of powerful Washington establishment figures who are on record favoring cuts to Social Security and Medicare." [HuffPost]

FireDogLake is organizing a campaign to persuade AARP to cancel the salon. If it succeeds, we won't go. No shrimps.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Eight states are set to "trigger off" one of the federal government's two extended unemployment insurance programs early in April. "I'm a little surprised," Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner told South Carolina's TheState.com. "You've got a lot of rural areas in the state, some of which have the highest unemployment rates in the country." Memo to economists: You wouldn't be surprised if you read The Huffington Post! Memo to unemployed people: Recession's over, government ready to leave you hanging now. [TheState.com]

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

MITT ROMNEY LAYING GROUNDWORK FOR A LASTING PARTNERSHIP WITH CHINA - Actually, he might be profiting from one of its more despotic practices. Same thing....ish. Times: "As the Chinese government forges ahead on a multibillion-dollar effort to blanket the country with surveillance cameras, one American company stands to profit: Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney. In December, a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government's Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts." For what it's worth, the idea that every CCTV camera in China has Mitt Romney's mug plastered on it made us laugh. [NYT]

The Times also reports that President Obama is probably going to win reelection (in its own New York Timesy way...kind of): "For President Obama, the fainting spells are back. A woman listening to the president discuss his energy policy in Maryland on Thursday fainted among the standing-room-only crowd. At a rally at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md., Mr. Obama had veered off his prepared remarks to attack his Republican critics when he interrupted himself to alert officials that someone had fainted. Before returning to his message, he dispensed a little advice." [NYT]

MITT ROMNEY'S UNDERGROUND WEALTH DUNGEON - Being a Republican candidate for president and owning a lot of homes is so 2008. Being a Republican candidate for president and spending money on ridiculous additions to your many homes is so now. WSJ: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has filed an application to replace a single-story 3,000-square-foot beach house in La Jolla, Calif., with a 7,400-square-foot home with an additional 3,600 square feet of finished underground space, according to public records. A representative declined to comment. Tony Crisafi, one of the project's architects, declined to comment on Mr. Romney's motivations but says that these days, most of his clients want to be discreet about the scale of their home, and one way to do that is 'by pushing things underground.'" To be fair, the guy has 500,000 children and grandchildren. They need room, y'know? [WSJ]

There once was a dog named Seamus / Mitt Romney is making him famous. In 2006, when he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney declared September "Responsible Dog Ownership Month" in the state. Eleven dogs and 35 humans gathered at the State House for an event celebrating the governor's proclamation on Sept. 21 of that year, according to a contemporaneous newsletter from the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (PDF). "We have a pervasive problem because of people who don't act as responsible dog owners," Jennifer Callahan, then a Democratic member of the state legislature, said at the time, citing the hundreds of thousands of dogs that wind up in shelters every year. [HuffPost]

IS THIS HISTORY'S GREATEST EGO BRUISE? - We report, you decide: "Osama bin Laden wanted Joe Biden to become president of the United States because he believed he was incompetent, new al Qaeda documents show. 'Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President Joe] Biden take over the presidency,' bin Laden wrote, according to The Washington Post's David Ignatius. 'Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis.' Administration officials said Friday that the plot, which aimed to kill Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, never got off the ground, the Post reports." Osama bin Laden, along with being one of history's greatest monsters, was also kind of an a-hole. You learn something everyday. [WaPo]

Also this (far more substantial) choice segment: "Like any good global corporate CEO, Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden didn't think the operation's behavior or product was the problem. No, it had a messaging problem. So he considered taking a page from Blackwater's playbook. Kill innocent civilians in Iraq, change your name. Ignatius: "Bin Laden's biggest concern was al-Qaeda's media image among Muslims. He worried that it was so tarnished that, in a draft letter probably intended for Atiyah, he argued that the organization should find a new name. The al-Qaeda brand had become a problem, bin Laden explained, because Obama administration officials 'have largely stopped using the phrase 'the war on terror' in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims,' and instead promoted a war against al-Qaeda. The organization's full name was 'Qaeda al-Jihad,' bin Laden noted, but in its shorthand version, 'this name reduces the feeling of Muslims that we belong to them.' He proposed 10 alternatives 'that would not easily be shortened to a word that does not represent us.' His first recommendation was 'Taifat al-tawhid wal-jihad,' or Monotheism and Jihad Group." [Ibid.]

'STAUNCH ENVIRONMENTALIST AND SENATOR JAMES INHOFE' IS THE 21ST CENTURY'S 'EBONY AND IVORY' - Perhaps world peace is within reach! The Hill: "Conservative Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) offered high praise Thursday night for a trio of ideological foes, including MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. 'By the way, you and Lisa Jackson and Barbara Boxer are my three favorite liberals, because I enjoy watching you very much,' Inhofe told Maddow during an interview about global warming. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, are frequent sparring partners for Inhofe, the panel's top Republican... However, Inhofe frequently points out that he has a friendly relationship with them. 'Lisa, she even has a picture of my 20 kids and grandkids hanging on her wall. She and I get along fine,' Inhofe said on MSNBC. (An EPA spokeswoman confirmed his comment about the picture.)" [The Hill]

The ACTUAL CONFIRMATION, via Lucia Graves: "Administrator Jackson does have a picture of Senator Inhofe and his family on a shelf in her office. He gave it to her as a gift early in her tenure as Administrator."

This is hot. He is so hot (oh and some congressmen were arrested): "Numerous religious leaders and four members of Congress were arrested here this morning at a protest outside the Embassy of Sudan. Among those arrested were Rabbi David Saperstein, president of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.); Martin Luther King III and the actor George Clooney. Also present at the protest were Anglican Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, of the diocese of Kadugli, capital of the Sudanese state of South Kordofan, and Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Gutow was later arrested, along with Saperstein, Clooney, King and Fred Kramer, executive director of the Jewish World Watch. The arrested congressmen were Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Olver (D-Mass.), Al Green (D-Texas) and Moran." [HuffPost's Christina Wilkie]

Maybe it's our home team bias, but Christina holds her own quite well next to George Clooney

@JohnKerry: I leave you three alone for 5 mins... MT@dbernstein McGovern & Olver reportedly arrested at Sudan embassy. Oh, also George Clooney. #mapoli

WHY A POLITICIAN WAS CAUGHT ON A YACHT WITH HOOKERS, EXPLAINED - Neil Livingstone, counterterrorism expert and candidate for governor in Montana, was once on a yacht with a gaggle of ... how shall we put it ... public women. Why? The AP explains: "Montana GOP gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone's titillating biography gets the AP treatment, with an explanation from the counter terrorism expert of why he once ended up on a yacht with numerous hookers: 'Without going into detail that I can't, I have served as a liaison for my government and others in terms of dealing with most of the difficult people on Earth,' Livingstone said in an interview. 'There is a necessity to work with some of the bad guys in the world. You are not going to find these people in church or wherever.' 'I am not recommending prostitution to anyone, nor did I say I engaged with prostitutes,' Livingstone said of the yacht episode. "I took my wife. She was the only non-hooker on board." [Via Politico]

HUFFPOST HILL FACTS OF LIFE - This is probably our favorite fact check ever. It's so much fun we don't want it to end. But yes, Livingstone actually HAS recommended prostitution to anyone. In a book he wrote. In a how-to chapter called "Nightlife: Adult Entertainment Districts." We're not kidding. [MTCowGirl]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Guinea Pig long jump world record.

YOUR BRUNCH WILL BE RUINED - HuffPost DC: "A marathon route through the middle of D.C. will cut off and isolate neighborhoods on Saturday."

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- The Carl Weathers ad campaign you probably missed. [http://bit.ly/FOtkMg]

- A nerdy song about alcohol to get you in the mood for St. Patty's Day. [http://bit.ly/xo1dbc]

- Here is a person doing something no person should be doing. [http://bit.ly/xDxLia]

- Be careful with your cell phone around Will Ferrell.[http://bit.ly/yZwV9c]

- Oh, a new shiny Apple product! [http://bit.ly/x7bhi3]

- Foto Friday: Pretty places without people. [http://bit.ly/yF3BJW]

- Get your ambience on with this 24 hour YouTube track of the Enterprise's engines. [http://bit.ly/FOaP1p]

TWITTERAMA

@FamousDC: [Insert snarky, inside baseball DC comment here] // shameless push for @HuffPostHill mention

@benjy_sarlin: I see you driving round town with the girl I love / and I'm like "no comment" (oo, oo, ooo!)

@RyanLizza: Dept. of irony: "monologist Mike Daisey join journalists...to discuss the dramatic blurring of fact and fiction in the news this week."

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

THIS WEEKEND

Friday 8:30pm: Paging all you 40-something gamers: There's a screening of "Tron" on the National Mall tonight. But you already knew that. [8th and F St. NW]

Friday 10:00pm - 1:00am: The glorified GOP frat The Capital Club's "Shamrock Soire." If rowdy, entitled prepsters are your type, then this a great party. [1606 20th St, NW, Attire: Euro Leprechaun (seriously?)]

Saturday morning: Downtown DC is going to be blocked off for something called the "Rock and Roll" marathon. Don't. Drive. Anywhere.

Saturday 8:00am - Last Call: P.J. Clarke's is celebrating with drink specials, cheer, etc. You know what to do. [1600 K St. NW]

All Weekend: Loretta Sanchez's St. Regis Weekend And Golf Getaway! How much recession do they need before members of Congress give up the five-star hotels?? [Dana Point, Calif.]

All Weekend: Proving that poor taste is bipartisan, Republican Dean Heller is hosting a March Madness Weekend! at the biggest, splashiest hotel on the Vegas Strip. [Palazzo, Las Vegas]

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

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