The Washington Post

Quotemeister Alan Simpson stays on curse with a Social Security advocacy group

Alan Simpson. We miss him every day. He was the most colorful quote-meister ever when he was the distinguished Republican senator from Wyoming.

And he clearly hasn’t lost a step since his retirement in 1997.

Take, for example, a letter he sent last week to the California Alliance for Retired Americans, which had protested an appearance in Oakland in March by Simpson and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles .

The two appeared in Oakland to tout the Simpson-Bowles budget-cutting plan, which included proposed cuts in Social Security benefits. The protesters handed out fliers at the event that apparently upset Simpson a teensy bit.

He dictated a letter — date April 7, but delivered last week — to the group.

“Your little flyer entitled ‘Bowles! Simpson! Stop using the deficit as a phony excuse to gut our Social Security!,’ ” he wrote, “is one of the phoniest excuses for a ‘flyer’ I have ever seen.”

Warming to the task, as he always does, Simpson said the group should stop “push[ing] out your blather and drivel” and urged members to “read the damn report.”

“What a wretched group of seniors” — ah, he’s being polite? — “you must be,” he wrote, and then said they included in the flyer the faces of young people “while ‘the greedy geezers’ like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of cr--.”

Ah, there we go!

After a few more expletives, he again urged them to read the Simpson-Bowles report and the news from the Social Security trustees.

“If you can’t understand all of this you need a pane of glass in your naval [or, perhaps, navel] so you can see out during the day!” (Had to pause for a second to work that one out.)

Vintage Simpson!

Name that missile site!

The deadline approaches!

It looks as if the Senate is not going to go along with the House’s approval last week of an East Coast missile-defense system.

The House, in passing the $642 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 2013, included a requirement that the system be operational by 2016. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday he’s “skeptical” about the proposal, CQ Today reports.

If McCain, the key national security Republican in the Senate, is skeptical, then the idea is in deep trouble. And that means the East Coast will be vulnerable to Iranian long-range missiles — if Iran gets them — and maybe really long-range North Korean ones that might somehow slip through the West Coast system.

But would McCain be in favor of it if he knew exactly where the system would be installed? That would give him a better idea of what national treasure it would protect.

That’s why it’s important to enter the Loop contest to pick the best site for the system. We’ve gotten great entries but could always use more — and the deadline is Friday.

You can leave your entry as a comment on the blog — you may want to double-check that there’s an active e-mail address associated with your washingtonpost.com log-in.

You can also e-mail us at intheloop@washpost.com. (Please make sure you include a home or cellphone number so we can contact you.)

The top five winners will receive a coveted In the Loop T-shirt and the usual bragging rights when we announce winners. (If you need to enter “on background,” that’s fine.)

Good luck.

Bigwigs, catching a wave

Our item Wednesday about which Cabinet secretaries visit the White House the most often — and least often — triggered outrage in some quarters.

It’s true that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton only showed up on visitor logs 33 times. Her spokesman, Philippe Reines , informed us that’s only a fraction of the 681 trips his boss has made to the storied structure.

The Washington Post’s database of White House visitor logs doesn’t tell the whole story. The logs only reflect the information the White House chooses to record. It certainly doesn’t show what regular guests some Cabinet secretaries are at the campus centered around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — which we explained by noting that “bigwigs most often get waved in,” rather than having to get logged in like the commoners.

Cabinet secretaries sometimes get the formal log-in treatment at official events at the White House — often when they are accompanied by spouses or other family members to events like state dinners or barbecues.

So in case it wasn’t clear, Clinton and other members of the Cabinet are hardly strangers to the White House. Just, apparently, to the visitors’ logs.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop Twitter: @InTheLoopWP

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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