06/12/2013 05:26 pm ET Updated Aug 12, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Ted Cruz Blames Rhymes For Your Fiscal Crimes

The CIA official who helped edit the Benghazi talking points is retiring, but don't expect him to receive a gold watch the next time he appears before the House Oversight Committee. Republican Rep. Trent Franks should learn to love the phrase "incidence of rape" because it's going to show up in his Google results for a looooong time. And Ted Cruz is convinced people don't pay attention to deficits because "trillion," "billion" and "million" rhyme. Maybe we shouldn't portray the debt as a vaudevillian reptilian wearing vermillion in a pavillion? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, June 12th, 2013:

TED CRUZ EXPLAINS WHY NOBODY LISTENS TO HIM ABOUT THE DEBT - On the Senate floor today: "One of the challenges is that at times a million and a billion and a trillion can seem like the same number. They all end in illion. They all sound big." Thanks, Ted!

DEPUTY CIA DIRECTOR RESIGNS, NO DOUBT TO FIND BENGHAZI ANSWERS - Michael Morell, who was closely involved in crafting the talking points about the time when President Obama and Hillary Clinton took your gun, flew to Libya and personally executed some diplomats, is stepping aside. AP: "CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell retired from his post Wednesday, after managing the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus (peh-TRAY'-uhs) over an extramarital affair, and defending the agency's performance over the attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. Morell was passed over for the top CIA spot by President Barack Obama in favour of his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, who announced Morrell's departure Wednesday. Brennan said Morell will be replaced by Avril Haines, currently a deputy assistant to the president and legal adviser at the National Security Council. Morell agreed to the State Department's request to remove a reference to militants in a controversial memo of talking points on the Libya attack. Morell also drew criticism for stating that the CIA's interrogation program produced some useful information." [AP]

BEFORE RUSS FEINGOLD, HOYT VANDENBERG WARNED YOU - Alan Grayson staffer Matt Stoller was perusing the congressional record Wednesday and dug out this prophetic gem from CIA Director Hoyt Vandenberg in 1947: "But, it is not a thing for contract operation, because the chances of the U.S. Government in peacetime getting in tremendous difficulties behooves us to keep it right under our thumb; and you cannot keep it under your thumb if you are contracting for it. I do not care how good the contractor is, he has not the same interest in it that the people who are responsible to the Government must have." Daniel Ellsberg was a RAND contractor, too. Just sayin'.

Speaking of which, let's trip down memory lane. Here's Mike Gravel, before he took to hurling stones into ponds, reading the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record.

BILL SCALING BACK NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND PASSES HELP COMMITTEE - Both chambers have been working to reform the 2001 law, which wreaked havoc on American schools but, on the plus side, was the inspiration for the fourth season of "The Wire." Joy Resmovits: "A lengthy overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act passed through a Senate education committee Wednesday, with senators voting 10-12 along party lines. The 'Strengthening America's Schools Act' is an over 1,000-page bill authored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. It rolls back some of the more stringent aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act, but keeps in place the requirement that states set and report performance targets for their students. Senators sparred over the federal government's role in education when considering the overhaul, with Republicans calling Harkin's bill a federal overreach...Harkin says he intends to bring his bill to the Senate floor sometime this year -- hopefully by the fall -- and would allow amendments to be made during that process. But even if the overhaul makes it through the floor vote, it is unlikely to be signed into law because the predominant legislative vision in the House varies significantly." [HuffPost]

The NRA is targeting Joe Manchin, a guy who touted his NRA endorsement in a campaign ad while LITERALLY SHOOTING A PIECE OF LEGISLATION: "The TV spot launched Wednesday and urges viewers to call Manchin's office and tell him 'to honor his commitment to the Second Amendment,' according to the AP. It also claims that Manchin 'is working' with President Barack Obama and gun control advocate New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) blogs about buying groceries on a food stamps budget: "Getting your budget down to $4.50 a day is complicated. You need to try to make sure you have enough protein, limit your sodium, and find good vegetables," she wrote. "When I was a young, single mother, I was on public assistance. It was a bridge over troubled water, and without it, I wouldn't be where I am today. I spent hours debating what to buy and what to skip, all the while keeping my sons in my mind. I could go without breakfast; my sons couldn't." [HuffPost]

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GOP LAWMAKER SAYS SOMETHING STUPID ABOUT RAPE - Keep this up and Planned Parenthood will be able to construct an actual abortionplex. WaPo: "Another Republican congressman ventured into the realm of rape and pregnancy Wednesday, saying at a committee hearing that incidences of pregnancy from rape are 'very low.' Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), whose measure banning abortions after 20 weeks was being considered in the House Judiciary Committee, argued against a Democratic amendment to make exceptions for rape and incest by suggesting that pregnancy from rape is rare. 'Before, when my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject -- because, you know, the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,' Franks said. Franks continued: 'But when you make that exception, there's usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case that's impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that's what completely negates and vitiates the purpose for such an amendment.'" [WaPo]

Ohhhhh OK: "In a series of tweets Wednesday afternoon, NBC News producer Frank Thorp wrote that Franks walked back his comments about rape and pregnancy in an interview. 'I'm talking about the incidences where pregnancy from rape results in an abortion after the sixth month or beyond are very rare,' Franks said, according to Thorp." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

DEMS SPLIT ON HOW TO HANDLE MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULTS - Laura Bassett: "Senate Democrats are divided on a key amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would take military sexual assault cases outside of the chain of command and have specially trained military prosecutors handle them instead. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the amendment in the hopes that it would encourage victims of rape in the military to come forward and report the crimes without fear of retaliation. Reports have found that commanders in charge of sexual assault cases in the military often know the perpetrator of the crime. In some cases, they are the perpetrator's friend, or are the perpetrator themselves. Gillibrand's measure has 27 cosponsors, including four Republicans...But Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) announced on Tuesday that he was going to replace Gillibrand's amendment with Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) proposal to keep sexual assault cases inside the chain of command and require a senior military officer to review decisions by commanders who refuse to prosecute rape cases. The committee passed the substitute amendment on Wednesday by a vote of 17 to 9." [HuffPost]

Jeff Flake should fire his son: "Sen. Jeff Flake's high school-aged son Tanner used twitter to threaten the 'faggot' who stole his bike that he 'will find you, and ... will beat the crap out of you,' joked about an acquaintance stealing one-liners because he's Jewish, and went by the name 'n1ggerkiller' in an online game. 'I'm very disappointed in my teenage son's words, and I sincerely apologize for the insensitivity. This language is unacceptable, anywhere. Needless to say, I've already spoken with him about this, he has apologized, and I apologize as well,' Sen. Flake said in a statement to BuzzFeed." [BuzzFeed]

This White House Vine of Cookie Monster will burrow deep into your subconscious and give you nightmares.

SENATE: NSA SUPPORTERS OPPOSE BACKGROUND CHECKS - But the Fourth Amendment is TWO TIMES the Second Amendment!!! Mike McAuliffe and Sabrina Siddiqui: "Just months after many U.S. senators opposed tougher background checks for gun buyers on the grounds that they would tread on Americans' liberties, many of them are standing behind the far more intrusive intelligence-gathering programs of the National Security Agency. Senators -- mainly Republicans -- argued during the debate after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre that instituting broader background checks would violate the Second Amendment, infringe on privacy, and be the first step toward taking away people's guns... 'This bill is a clear overreach that will predominantly punish and harass our neighbors, friends, and family,' said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voted against proceeding to debate the issue of gun control. But on Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican defended the controversial NSA surveillance programs that sweep up data on phone calls and Internet activities, essentially making the case that the efforts are justified and legal." [HuffPost]

@NancyPelosi: Happy 89th to President George H.W. Bush--celebrating your birthday in style: #41s89th pic.twitter.com/Ehu1tYQsmX

@MittRomney: Happy birthday to a fellow socks fan! #41s89th pic.twitter.com/s98v9GkppK

PETER KING WANTS TO SEND JOURNALISTS TO JAIL - The outspoken Long Island congressman, who is also the IRA's biggest booster in Congress, thinks Glenn Greenwald is supporting terrorism. Branden Goyette: "Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said on CNN's 'AC 360' Tuesday night that reporters should be prosecuted for publishing stories with leaked classified information. After King explained why he believes the recent NSA leaks pose a grave threat to national security, host Anderson Cooper asked him if he thinks the reporters who break stories off of leaked information should be punished in some way. 'If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude,' King said." [HuffPost]


SENATE'S PORCELAIN CEILING BREAKING - At least one kind of Senate logjam is breaking. WaPo: "Sometimes, when a glass ceiling cracks, it's time to call in a construction crew. Such is the case in the Senate, where a historic number of female senators has meant traffic jams in the ladies' room off the Senate floor. Now there are renovations underway to make room. Once completed (after the August recess, the women are being told ), they'll have a nicer and more spacious facility befitting their number, which is 20 -- a fifth of the Senate. 'We're even going to have a window,' enthused Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)...After the elections last year, the crowded ladies' room became a running joke among the female senators, a visible indication that they had outgrown the small digs that had sufficed for years.'" [WaPo]

Vladimir Putin speaking English makes us uncomfortable the way the uncanny valley makes us uncomfortable.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby mooses beat the heat, play in a sprinkler.

WASHINGTON POST LETTING ORGANIZATIONS BUY EDITORIAL RESPONSES - Failing this, they'll just try to tie Kaplan into every article it publishes ("Why The Debt Ceiling Can Be Fixed With Higher LSAT Scores In One Chart"). DCist: "Though the Washington Post's paywall launched today, the paper is still exploring other options to increase revenue. Options like, say, letting organizations pay to respond to an editorial they may take issue with. This morning, WaPo announced its new online advertising initiative entitled 'Sponsored Views,' which allows organizations to do just that: Add their own perspective and commentary in response to any content in the Post's Editorials or Op-Ed pieces. Sure, this may seem like a glorified comments section for organizations, but according to the Post, '[this] product offers an opportunity for advocacy, communications and government affairs professionals to place their message in front of key constituents.' Those messages can be up to 600 characters and will appear at the bottom of an online column, you know, like where user comments are usually found." [DCist]


- This history of art, as told by GIFs. [http://bit.ly/16XgTBD]

- HuffPost's Benjamin Hart takes on Twitter's most overused and/or irritating phrases. [http://bit.ly/1btgtzG]

- Kanye West's interview in today's New York Times is a thing of beauty. "It's only led me to complete awesomeness at all times. It's only led me to awesome truth and awesomeness. Beauty, truth, awesomeness. That's all it is." [http://nyti.ms/11xIrWd]

- A lot of hipsters have taken to dressing like Jackie from "Roseanne." [http://bit.ly/YDFOG1]

- Passengers on a stranded Allegiant flight broke out into a rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly." [http://bit.ly/11z14Js]

- Reporters have a storied history with animals. And by "storied" we mean TOTALLY ZANY ::slide whistle:: ::bike horn:: [http://huff.to/1bw9fen]

- "Jony Ive Redesigns Things" imagines what would happen if Apple's chief designer tinkered with iconic images and logos. [http://bit.ly/19qmMra]


@joshgreenman: Superfluously, an adverb begins this tweet. MT @guardian: Remarkably, a kitten with two faces has been born in Oregon gu.com/p/3gg98/tw

@NickBaumann: Area spokesman will tell you off the record that boss hasn't decided yet.

@indecision: The NSA would be more popular if they only listened to Kanye West's phone calls and provided us all with transcripts.



6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Attention Daily Caller and Washington Free Beacon assignment editors: Charlie Rangel is hosting a birthday fundraiser. [Frederick Douglass Museum, 320 A. Street NE]

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Bruce Braley's Senate campaign gets a big lift from Martin O'Malley, who hosts a fundraiser for the Iowa congressman. Tom Harkin is scheduled to appear. [Clarkseville, MD]


8:30 am: Like your mother always said, breakfast is the most important fundraiser of the day. Orrin Hatch attends a morning fundraiser hosted by Prime Policy Group, the shop chaired by Charlie Black. [Monocle, 107 D Street NE]

5:30 pm: Steve Chabot hosts a reunion for members of the class of 1994. "What are you doing now?" "Oh, not much. Just, you know, IN CONGRESS..." [Credit Union House, 403 C Street NE]

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