Happy May Day! For some reason, people across the globe marked the pagan festival of Walpurgis Night by dressing all in black, marching in the streets and performing awful Clash covers. President Obama enjoyed R&R from the War on Women in sunny Afghanistan. And if Scott Walker's campaign is any indication, "villainous out-of-state Super PAC contributor" will soon be the most popular type of bad guy in formulaic Hollywood blockbusters. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 1st, 2012:
OVERSIGHT DEMS FIND THEIR OWN FAST AND FURIOUS - Mike McAuliff and Ben Hallman: "Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday accused the head of the Federal Housing Financing Agency -- who has refused to follow President Barack Obama's recommendation to help underwater homeowners reduce their loan debt -- of withholding from Congress evidence that principal reduction works. In a letter to FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.) argued that they had obtained documents from the agency -- that DeMarco had never provided to them -- that show housing officials were well on their way to a plan to help struggling homeowners reduce the principals of their Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. The FHFA oversees the mortgage lending giants." [HuffPost]
SCOTT WALKER TAKING MONEY FROM SUPER PACS, WEALTHY DONORS - Conclusion: He'll probably win. Amanda Terkel and Paul Blumenthal: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) made headlines on Monday when he announced that he had pulled in an unprecedented $13.2 million in three months to fend off a Democratic attempt to recall him from office. His campaign said 'grassroots donors' had boosted his haul, with 76.4 percent of the contributions coming from donations totalling $50 or less. But a closer analysis of his contributions by The Huffington Post shows that Walker was aided by individuals outside the Badger State, as well as by deep-pocketed donors who are fueling the conservative super PACs that have become major players in national races. Two-thirds of Walker's donations came from outside of Wisconsin, and $3.57 million came from individuals giving $10,000 or more... Walker, however, was playing by different rules. Under Wisconsin state election law, contributors can give a maximum of $10,000 to a gubernatorial candidate. But the the targets of recalls can raise unlimited funds from when the first recall petition is filed until the processing of the signatures is completed. Therefore, Walker was able to raise contributions of unlimited amounts until March 30, while Democrats were gathering and processing signatures to trigger the recall. Democrats, meanwhile, were forced to abide by the stricter contribution limits during the whole reporting period, since they were not the target of the recall." [HuffPost]
NO ONE LIKES THE SUPREME COURT - Or, put another way, nearly half the country feels like it's not getting its way. Mike Sacks: "Fifty-two percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the Supreme Court, a quarter-century low according to Pew Research Center, which released the polling data on Tuesday. The court's new numbers, compiled during the first half of April through interviews with more than 3,000 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reveal similar ratings among Republicans, Democrats and independents. 'There are virtually no partisan differences in views of the Supreme Court: 56% of Republicans, and 52% of both Democrats and independents rate the Supreme Court favorably,' Pew reported." [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - In several states over the past few weeks, people without jobs are receiving notices from the local labor departments that their unemployment insurance will be stopping short because the unemployment rate's not as bad as it used to be. Local newspapers and TV stations everywhere are doing a great job chronicling the disappointment, which Congress arranged in February. "The equation of lower unemployment rate equals loss of extended benefits for jobless workers doesn't make sense to Vince Johnson," reported North Carolina's WSPA. "'It's really hard to find a job around here,' said Johnson. Johnson can no longer rely on help from the federal government if his employment situation doesn't improve. During the next two weeks, 17,000 people in North Carolina will lose their long-term benefits." [WSPA]
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HIS REELECTION CAMPAIGN IN FULL SWING, PRESIDENT MAKES 'SURPRISE' TRIP TO AFGHANISTAN TO ANNOUNCE 'STRATEGIC AGREEMENT' - When it comes to campaign backdrops, nothing trumps bunting and patriotically-colored balloons... except of course the charred moonscape of a war torn country we haven't really rebuilt. But whatever! National Journal: "President Obama has arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, on a surprise trip to sign a strategic agreement with Afghanistan. He will address the nation at 7:30 p.m. EDT from Bagram Air Base on Tuesday evening. In going to Afghanistan on the ninth anniversary of the most notorious example of premature presidential gloating, Obama risks turning the high point of his presidency into a political weapon for his enemies. But it will be how the president conducts himself while in the war zone that will determine if this trip is lumped in with George W. Bush's donning of a flight suit and appearing on an aircraft carrier under a 'Mission Accomplished' banner." [National Journal]
Howard Fineman: "Mission Accomplished?"
ROMNEY TO VISIT RNC - Where we imagine he'll try to make party bigwigs less gloomy about his candidacy but end up awkwardly remarking on someone's watch, thereby making things worse than when he arrived. Roll Call: "Mitt Romney is scheduled Wednesday to make his first visit to Republican National Committee headquarters since becoming the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, according to a party source. The former Massachusetts governor is expected to drop by the RNC's Capitol Hill offices around midday, in a visit described as being meant to rally the troops. He'll be campaigning in Virginia on Wednesday and Thursday. Such visits are typical of newly minted presidential nominees, who, in securing the GOP nod, become the leader of the national party -- at least until Election Day." [Roll Call]
Romney met with possible future vice presidential nominee/possible future Romney bundler/possible future campaign surrogate Michael Bloomberg today. Luke Johnson: "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney met Tuesday morning for breakfast, according to multiple media reports. The meeting, which was the first between the two, took place at the Bloomberg Foundation offices on East 78th Street... During a press availability with Giuliani, Romney said that he and Bloomberg had a 'very nice' meeting. 'You have to look at what New York has done under this mayor and under Mayor Bloomberg and say the city is just a remarkable place doing a superb job, from everything he reported,' Romney said." [HuffPost]
FACEBOOK TAGGING ORGANS Facebook has added organ donation to its timeline thing. Not to be outdone, Dr. Bill Frist posted a photo of his 1989 book jacket that had an organ donor card in it. But here's the real question: If one of your organs is transplanted into somebody else, can you tag them in photos as yourself? [Frist's Facebook]
OBAMA CAMPAIGN GOES AFTER ROMNEY'S SWISS BANK ACCOUNT - Fun fact: Romney's Swiss bank account number is also his serial number (which his handlers have memorized in case he ever breaks down and they need to call tech support). Sam Stein: "[I]n an interview with The Huffington Post just a day before the vote took place, Ohio's former governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, said he wasn't worried that Romney was establishing firm roots in his home state... 'We haven't even started really talking in Ohio about Mitt Romney having a Swiss bank account and Mitt Romney putting a portion of his wealth, having it invested in the Cayman Islands,' said Strickland. 'I mean, trust me, that's not going to go over well in Ohio. Why would any person who aspired to be president, as Mitt Romney has for probably much of his life, open a Swiss bank account? What does that say about his political judgment and what does it say about his commitment to the United States of America?' On Tuesday morning, the Obama campaign followed Strickland's script to a T, putting out an ad in Ohio called, of all things, 'Swiss Bank Account.' The spot will air in Virginia and Iowa as well, and according to a campaign aide, has a significant amount of money behind it." [HuffPost]
GINGRICH DROPS OUT VIA PRE-RECORDED VIDEO - Put another way, he went out doing what he did best: giving his supporters the false impression that everything is ok. Amanda Terkel: "One day before he is set to drop out officially of the GOP presidential race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich released a video thanking his supporters.'I want to take this opportunity to give you an insider, advance notice that on Wednesday, I'll be officially suspending the campaign as part of a press event,' he said, confirming press accounts that reported May 2 would be his official pull-out date. 'I wanted you to know first, because your help was vital. We had nearly 180,000 people who donated to the campaign, we had thousands more who worked as volunteers, we had 2.5 million voters -- all coming together at the grassroots level to try to fight for a better American future.'" [HuffPost]
SCOTT BROWN INSISTS HE <3 THE PRESIDENT MORE THAN ELIZABETH WARREN <3 THE PRESIDENT - Elise Foley: "Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts called 'standing with President Obama' a great experience in a radio ad posted to YouTube on Tuesday. In the ad, part of an effort to tout his efforts at bipartisan compromise, Brown talks about his bill to help unemployed veterans. Congress passed the bill in November 2011 in a rare moment of agreement between Democrats and Republicans. 'A bill I introduced to give a tax credit to businesses that hire veterans was passed with bipartisan support,' Brown says in the ad. 'Standing with President Obama on the day he signed it into law was another one of those great experiences.'" [HuffPost]
Scott Brown also <3 the President's $$$. Luke Johnson: "Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), a longtime opponent of the Affordable Care Act who has voted to repeal it, said that his 23-year-old daughter, Ayla, is on his congressional health insurance plan, taking advantage of a provision in the federal law. Brown told the Boston Globe that his daughter was covered after he was endorsed by two former Democratic mayors, Boston's Ray Flynn and Worcester's Konstantina Lukes. He told the Globe, 'I've always said that I love covering my daughter until 26 years old.' He added that she could also be covered under the Massachusetts health care law, which he voted for as a state senator." [HuffPost]
LAZY JOHN RAESE MAKES OBAMA/HITLER COMPARISON - Seriously, Pol Pot, Stalin and Genghis Khan are collecting dust on the shelf. Can't someone get more creative with their history's-greatest-monster comparisons? Elise Foley: "West Virginia Republican Senate candidate John Raese, who previously compared smoking bans to forcing Jews to wear the Star of David under Adolf Hitler, made another veiled reference to Nazism when talking Saturday about President Barack Obama's stance on child labor. 'Barack wants to stop all children from working on the farm. ... Can you imagine this? I just, I can't fathom that,' Raese, campaigning against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, said at a Saturday event. 'Did you ever think we'd grow up in America and see something like that? Let me take it one step further. He wants to disallow the 4-H from training children to work on a farm. Jawohl.' 'Jawohl' isn't necessarily a Nazi term -- it's a German equivalent of 'yes sir' used in military contexts -- but it is commonly associated with the German dictator, especially when combined with 'mein fuhrer.'" [HuffPost]
@ryanjreilly: The Secret Service has declined my offer to sit in on their ethics training.
JIMMY JOHN'S SECRET INGREDIENT: THE PUREED DREAMS OF THE PROLETARIAT - Dave Jamieson, with the reason: "Last March, Erik Forman was fired, along with five of his friends, from his job at a Jimmy John's sandwich shop in Minneapolis...What Forman and his friends had started to do was organize as a union with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a labor group well to the left of most traditional American unions. With many of them working for around minimum wage, they felt the pay was too low and the benefits too skimpy. But Jimmy John's franchises, like virtually all fast-food restaurants in the U.S., are union-free. The IWW narrowly lost an election for representation at 10 Jimmy John's. Amidst a very public and ugly spat between employees and managers over the shops' sick-day policy, six workers were given their walking papers." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan.
A METRO RELIC THAT MAKES THE RED LINE TRAINS SEEM NEW - HuffPost DC: "There's an outdated Metrorail system digram from more than 10 years ago being used on a Red Line train, reminding riders of a time before 'NoMa,' 'Penn Quarter' and Yellow Line service north of Mount Vernon Square."
- May Day newsreel, 1961. [http://bit.ly/K5o67l]
- Live stream of May Day occupy activity in NYC. [http://www.livestream.com/]
- Whistling through the ages. [http://bit.ly/K5hxBN]
- Berkeley student automates his dorm room, gives it awesome name. [http://bit.ly/K5j4aS]
- Come on, Siri, now you're over the line. [http://bit.ly/K5jv4Z]
- What do Justin Bieber and Reinhold Niebuhr have in common? [reinholdbieber.tumblr.com/]
@indecision: Did Barack go all the way to Afghanistan just to find the one person on Earth who still doesn't know he killed Osama bin Laden?
@pourmecoffee: I think Obama went to Afghanistan to get away from people talking about the meaning of HBO's Girls.
@brianbeutler: Can someone explain the difference between a "ding" and a "slam" to me? There's important journalism at stake.
6:00pm: New Orleans Musicians for Obama host a kick-arse fundraising concert in the Big Easy, while the president continues to dominate Romney in a tally of support among sweet bands, by a score of about 1,000 to zero. [New Orleans, La.]
5:00pm: Mitt Romney over-charges for photos at a hotel in the Pentagon City Mall, demanding approximately 10,000 times more than his jollier counterpart, the mall Santa, would demand. [Pentagon City Mall]
6:00pm - 9:00pm: Spring, they say, is all about baby animals, rainbows, and flowers. What better way to celebrate than at the American Sheep Producers' annual Lamb Barbecue? Yeah, we can't think of one, either. [1 King St., Alexandria, Va.]
6:00pm - 10:00pm: Paging Gen-Xers with overly fond memories of "Reading Rainbow": La Var Burton emcees the annual Gift of Reading Gala. Trekkies, you're invited, too. [1127 Connecticut Ave, NW]
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