HUFFPOST HILL - MAY 5, 2010
Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Los Democratas jodieron a Wall Street con unas enmiendas y Harry Reid dijo que el GOP *literalmente* se esta acostando con Wall Street. El lider de la mayoria, probablemente tocado despues de tantas margaritas, les dijo a los periodistas que el GOP le hace el amor al sector bancario. Si usted tiene un momento libre, por que no le ayuda a John Barrasso, un oponente de la reforma de inmigracion, a celebrar la cultura Mexicana en su recaudacion de fondos para el Cinco de Mayo? Este es HUFFPOST HILL para Miercoles, 5 de Mayo, 2010
JUST IN: OBAMA ON IMMIGRATION REFORM - Speaking at a Cinco de Mayo event moments ago, President Obama said, "It can be done and it needs to be done... I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me."
BOXER, DODD/SHELBY AMENDMENTS PASS - Two crucial Wall Street reform items passed the Senate this afternoon with considerable ease. The first, introduced by Barbara Boxer, prohibits taxpayer funds from being used to bailout financial institutions. The measure passed 96 to 1, with Jon Kyl the only dissenter.
Shortly thereafter, the chamber passed Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby's amendment that allows the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to liquidate large financial firms. Losses incurred by the FDIC would be covered by selling off the firm's junk assets. Cornyn, Coburn, DeMint, Hatch and Dorgan opposed.
The Fed sent four regional bank presidents to the Senate earlier today, including Tom Hoenig, to lobby a bipartisan group of senators againt losing oversight of small banks to the FDIC. Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown: "John Ensign (R-Nev.), who attended the briefing, said the Fed presidents addressed a range of issues. He said there was 'broad agreement' among the Fed officials that the bill would not eliminate the possibility of 'too big to fail' firms, and some acknowledgement that the central bank needs to be more transparent." http://bit.ly/bk5utk
SANDERS FED AMENDMENT UP TOMORROW - Bernie Sanders has been told that he can bring his amendment up tomorrow, after several days of building momentum. HuffPost Hill canvassed senators to gauge support for it today, and found extremely few willing to commit, with most undecided, saying they still had to review the language. That includes senators who have supported a Fed audit in the past, including Harry Reid, Richard Burr, Mary Landrieu, Patty Murray, Amy Klobuchar, Claire McCaskill, Orrin Hatch, Saxby Chambliss and John Cornyn. "So far, I'm on the amendment, but I have some qualms about it. I'll have to study it," said Hatch.
Killer sum-up from Alan Grayson to ABC's Top Line: "The Fed doesn't want to be audited. Who does? Do you want to be audited? I don't want to be audited, but sometimes it's necessary."
HuffPost Hill caught up with Sen. Chuck Schumer to find out if he supports closing the loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay taxes on their income at 15 percent, instead of 35 percent like normal rich people. "Talk to Max Baucus," said Schumer, who earned the nickname "Wall Street Chuck" for protecting his Manhattan constituents from the higher tax rate. Baucus, when asked, repeated the "table" mantra. "It's on the table. Nothing's decided but it's on the table," he said. "I want to get 60 votes." ... "Can we stop with the tables and just have an honest conversation about what the obstacles are?" said U.S. PIRG's Nicole Tichon, who's been lobbying for higher taxes on hedgies. "Obviously the Senate's been wavering on this for years."
Note to Wall Street: It's Richard Shelby's birthday tomorrow.
FIRST LOOK: MORE BAILOUT BANDITS - Reuters' high-powered investigative unit will be out with an expose tomorrow showing bailed out homebuilders are collecting enormous paychecks, even as the industry lost $3.9 billion, shredded its staff in the downturn, and is still getting generous government support.
SENATE CONFIRMS THREE DISTRICT JUDGES - Gloria Navarro for the District of Nevada (98-0), Nancy Freudenthal for the District of Wyoming (96-Coburn) and Denzil Price Marshall Jr. for the Eastern District of Arkansas (confirmed by voice vote).
PLUS: Claire McCaskill's office says that 15 secret holds on nominees have been dropped since she began organizing a letter (now signed by 51 senators) that seeks to end "the ability of senators to anonymously hold legislation and nominees without public explanation."
Tomorrow in the American Prospect: Tim Fernholz speaks with recently-resigned Treasury official Seth Wheeler about his work designing the Obama foreclosure plan: "We knew the intensity of [the] reality [of home ownership] and it motivated us to give it everything we had, but the complexity of implementation continues to be a baseline reality. There's never going to be an easy, breakthrough moment where we finally get it perfect." Previously: Wheeler left to join Habitat for Humanity http://huff.to/ahwLNS
AX: OBAMA WANTS SCOTUS PICK WITH STEVENS' MOXIE - David Axelrod told the AP that the president wants a SCOTUS nominee that will infuse the court with the same "spark and leadership" as John Paul Stevens. "You can't replace someone's 34 years on the court, but you are mindful of the fact that he was a leader on the court, and you want someone who can provide that kind of spark and leadership -- if not immediately, then over time," Axelrod said. http://bit.ly/8XzVMB
Roll Call leads tomorrow with environmental groups believing they are gaining traction on Capitol Hill after a frustrating stretch. From Bennett Roth: "Environmentalists Resurgent as Era of 'Drill-Baby-Drill' Wanes." In The Hill, Alexander Bolton fronts: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was an important ally in recent efforts to pass immigration reform. But the Chamber is now on the sidelines, which some lawmakers attribute to bad blood with Chuck Schumer."
FCC TO ACT ON NET NEUTRALITY TOMORROW - WSJ reports, "Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has decided to reregulate Internet lines to protect net neutrality, siding with consumer groups and Internet companies worried that Internet providers have too much power. On Wednesday, Mr. Genachowski's staff began briefing the FCC's commissioners on how they will propose to regulate Internet lines under rules that were written for traditional phone networks." The new FCC approach complies with the recent Supreme Court ruling. http://bit.ly/cQY8Ik
A senior FCC official says: "Genachowski will announce a path forward for the Commission to address serious legal issues raised by the Comcast v. FCC case. The Chairman will seek to restore the status quo as it existed prior to the court decision in order to fulfill the previously stated agenda of extending broadband to all Americans, protecting consumers, ensuring fair competition, and preserving a free and open Internet. The Chairman will outline a 'third way' approach between a weak Title I and a needlessly burdensome Title II approach."
WON THE MORNING, FIGHTING FOR THE AFTERNOON - Time's Michael Scherer takes on Politico over its story, "Obama biggest recipient of BP cash." Writes Scherer: "My concern is that the story wins the Drudge link, but fails to provide the context readers need." http://bit.ly/bnXlvZ
ISLAND OF ANTI-'MURRRICAN SOLITUDE CONTEST WINNER - Congrats to Kathleen from Jersey for solving the question of Joe Lieberman's citizen terrorists and Duncan Hunter's Meixcan children: "Obviously, they can go to Limbo. Since the Catholic Church got rid of it, there's plenty of room." Nice stuff, Kathleen. A fully-paid trip to Limbo is yours just as soon as you provide Google map directions.
Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVE OBEY TO RESIGN - House Appropriations Chair and kickass Speaker pro tempore Dave Obey announced he will not seek reelection. From AP: "He faced a potentially bruising re-election campaign this fall, and his retirement is likely to make it easier for Republicans to pick up his seat...But voters this year are souring on Washington. 'I think, frankly that my district is ready for someone new to make a fresh start,' he said."
NRCC's Ken Spain dancing on his political grave: "It is ironic that a congressman who became infamously known for his short temper and angry tirades on the House floor, is going out with such a whimper."
WSJ on the Dems' prospects for Obey's seat: "A House Democratic aide noted that Obey's congressional district, a sprawling, rural district in northwestern Wisconsin, has been won by every Democratic statewide candidate in the past 10 years, including President Barack Obama and 2004 candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. The potential Democratic field to replace Obey is fluid, the aide said, but already names of potential candidates are emerging and a crowded, contested primary is possible. Possible candidates include: state Sens. Julie Lassa and Pat Kreitlow, attorney Christine Bremer, Judge Gregory Huber, and state Reps. Donna Seidel, Ann Hraychuck, and Amy Sue Vruwink." http://huff.to/d8vvtU
PRIMARY POST GAME - Turns out all the talk about a Tea Party insurgence was just that. There were no upsets in yesterday's primary contests. From the Swing State Project: "Yesterday's primary elections in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio showed two things: one, despite all the huffing and puffing about it being an anti-incumbent year and there being a massive wave of teabaggers ready to take the system down, establishment candidates still won pretty much everything. And two, the enthusiasm gap between the parties that we've been warned about is definitely out there, and numbers from last night back that up. http://bit.ly/9nTHo7
BUT... Gallup lead poll from today (giddily blasted out by DNC's Brad Woodhouse): "Republican Advantage in 2010 Voting Enthusiasm Shrinks" http://bit.ly/ckhYMu
DURBIN: "CRAMMING" AMENDMENT POSSIBLE - Arthur Delaney: "Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is considering amending Wall Street reform legislation to allow something similar to judicial modification of mortgages, a process known informally as 'cramdown.' 'We are looking at variations on that theme that might achieve that same result [as cramdown would] and I haven't made a final decision on whether we'll offer it on this bill yet,' Durbin said on a conference call with reporters Monday. 'We are considering some variations on that but they haven't been solidified as of today. I just want to see if the support is there.' A Durbin staffer said Wednesday that if Durbin does in fact offer a cramdown amendment, it will be different from a previous version of cramdown that failed spectacularly last year in a Senate vote after passing the House." http://huff.to/9mvXou
Donald Sutherland in HuffPost: "Get rid of Morning Joe." http://huff.to/9YoEIQ Alright, then.
BEAR STEARNS EXECS APPEAR BEFORE FCIC - Former top Bear Stearns officials answered questions about the fallen financial giant's derivative trading activities. The firm's president and co-COO, CFO and head of its fixed income repo desk all refused to accept responsibility for Stearns' demise. Rather, the three placed the onus on market "rumors." http://huff.to/9kb0ij
THE GOP AND WALL STREET SITTING IN A TREE... - Woah boy: According to Harry Reid, Republicans do a lot more than simply promote banking interests. Apparently the GOP likes to take the financial industry to the basement when its parents are asleep and put on some Boyz II Men. Seriously, the GOP wants Wall Street to feel pretty. "The Republicans are having difficulty determining how they're going to continue making love to Wall Street," Reid said in a press briefing. Reid's spokesman Jim Manley: "What can I say -- it's true." http://huff.to/dhhbhR
ALLEGED TIMES SQUARE BOMBER GOT LOCKED OUT OF HIS RIDE - Should we be on trend-watch for stupid terrorists? Apparently Faisal Shahzad told investigators that he had a getaway Isuzu parked several blocks away but accidentally locked the keys in his rigged (and already smoking) Nissan. He took Metro North to his Connecticut home instead. You can't make this stuff up. http://bit.ly/cFRSnV
ALSO: MSNBC has posted Shahzad's job resume. "CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: More than seven years of diversified experience with Fortune 500 Companies... Excellent analytical, oral and communication skills, keen perception, good team player, and accomplished result-oriented employee." PDF to resume: http://bit.ly/aF1jMl
FRESH THINKING ABOUT THE BOMB PLOT - Gabriel Winant downplays the significance of Faisal Shahzad's trip to Pakistan: "But here's the thing. Shahzad actually seems not to have gotten any valuable resources or training whatsoever in Pakistan. He was in contact with a couple guys there, now arrested, but preliminarily, it doesn't seem as though they actually rendered him much material assistance...(It might even turn out to be to the ironic benefit of the United States that he took the trip: he didn't become a very good terrorist, but he probably did become a more useful source of intelligence, once captured.) Nor is it exactly clear what the trip to Pakistan tells us about how to deal with threats the U.S. faces, or what America's posture should be in, ahem, the Long War. After all, there's already an aggressive military campaign ongoing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a fat lot of good it seems to be doing." http://bit.ly/aofH4C
In TPM, David Kurtz accuses the media of glorifying an otherwise messy arrest: "It continues to amaze me how the military (see, e.g., Jessica Lynch) and the FBI (the G-man stereotype) are so adept at turning the most discombobulated, random, messy and disjointed series of screw-ups into clean, smooth narratives -- and how the media eat them up...I'm left wondering if the real problem is public relations flacks protecting their bosses by spinning tales of derring-do that make everyone involved look good but bear little relation to reality -- or if instead the problem is our collective desire to deny that reality and be spoon-fed a steady diet of too-good-to-be true narratives that make us feel good." http://bit.ly/9zCohs
Greg Sargent (in his shiny new WaPo blog!) explains Joe Lieberman's plan for stripping suspected terrorists of their citizenship: "Lieberman's law would amend an earlier statute that details other things that can cost you citizenship: Serving in the army of a foreign state, pledging allegiance to a foreign state, and so on. In those cases the State Department decides whether your disloyalty merits loss of citizen status. Lieberman's law would add involvment with a foreign terror organization -- as opposed to a foreign state -- to this list. Who would determine whether you're involved with a foreign terror group? The State Department. It already decides what is and isn't designated as a terror organization. Lieberman's law would also empower State to determine whether you are in league with one of these groups." http://bit.ly/dmA6mh
Chuck Schumer says he will not support Lieberman's plan. http://bit.ly/d9NCl4
Graham goes beyond Lieberman: Interrogate first - Politico's Kasie Hunt: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to allow the government to interrogate U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism without warning them of their right to remain silent--a proposal that would dramatically rewrite the rules regarding suspects captured inside the United States. "Miranda warnings are counterproductive in my view," Graham said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday."
ALTERMAN CONTEST COMES TO AN END - An electronic pat on the back to citizen copy editor Eric Pace for catching the remaining cliches and metaphors in HuffPost Hill's favorite Eric Alterman piece: "bills are all bullshit," "somewhere along the line," and "populist crusade." To quote Mr. Pace: "Easy as pie to identify, but Professor Alterman burned the midnight oil working on that masterpiece. Perhaps he lectures his English/journalism students to 'do as I say, not as I do.'"
JULIUS ERVING SIGHTING From a reader last night: "sitting in Jordan's 8 on 8th St SE - E. Market and Dr Dre is having a party upstairs - he met with Obama today..." Followed shortly by: "Hahaha - I'm an idiot - they said Dr J!!! I heard Dr Dre!! Dre woulda been much cooler!!"
CONTROLLED BURNING OF OIL BEGINS - Relief workers began a controlled burn of sections of the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Officials maintain the burn is designed not to harm shoreline and wildlife or affect populated areas. This is the first burn since April 28th when workers removed thousands of barrels of oil from the slick. http://huff.to/9GnUFc
This as BP capped one of the three leak points and began transporting a giant structure that siphon the oil out of the ocean. The Coast Guard cautioned that the cap will not stem the tide of oil but BP officials say the capped leak will make it easier to drop the containment box on the breach area. The siphoning device should be deployed by tomorrow. http://huff.to/9yHVPI
Some good news: "Based on careful examination, NOAA scientists do not believe that [the recent] sea turtle strandings are related to the oil spill. NOAA and its partners have conducted 10 necropsies so far - none of ten turtles showed evidence of oil, externally or internally," said Barbara Schroeder, NOAA national sea turtle coordinator.
President Obama met with Sens. Kyl and Hatch to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy. http://bit.ly/clzpzL
Hatch told Obama he wants a moderate: "A judicial activist would be a poor and unnecessarily divisive choice at any time," Hatch said in a statement. "After the highly contentious healthcare debate, it is more important than ever that the president choose someone who will get overwhelming support from the American people and the United States Senate." More from The Hill: http://bit.ly/ck9ff1
PUNCHLINE CONTEST Sen. Jim Bunning, who pitched a perfect game for the Phils in 1964, stepped out of an elevator Today with Al Franken. Bunning to Franken: "And he only lasted one inning!" Your question: What was the wind up? Entries to email@example.com
WAPO TO SELL NEWSWEEK - The Post announced that it will sell the renown periodical. Newsweek sold 26 percent fewer ad pages in 2009 and has let go nearly a quarter of its staff in recent years. http://huff.to/8ZJv5I
SELL NEWSWEEK ON CRAIGSLIST CONTEST - Place an ad on Craigslist listing Newsweek as the item for sale. Send us a screenshot, the listing's text, a link and any noteworthy offers. Winner gets a mention here and Jon Meacham's gratitude. firstname.lastname@example.org
CNN is shopping around for a news partner. It's currently in talks with CBS. http://bit.ly/9oQR7V
OBAMA LOOKING FOR NEW FBI DIRECTOR - As Robert Mueller comes to the end of his 10 year term, the White House has begun its search for his successor. Main Justice has the scoop: "While it is not known for certain who has been interviewed, the list of potential candidates discussed in law enforcement circles is growing. Among them: Ronald Noble, the head of Interpol who was a top law enforcement official at Treasury during the Clinton years; Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago and DOJ special counsel who successfully prosecuted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney; and James Comey, the general counsel at Lockheed Martin and a former Deputy Attorney General who in 2004 bucked the White House by refusing to reauthorize the Bush administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program. Others include two well-known police officials -- Raymond Kelly, the New York police commissioner whose department has sometimes clashed with the FBI, and William Bratton, the former chief of police in Los Angeles. Another possibility: Frances Fragos Townsend, President George W. Bush's respected chief counterterrorism adviser who would be the first female FBI Director." http://bit.ly/aaOQbk
SWING AND A MISS - Sens. Isakson and Rockefeller threw quite the wild pitch at their celebration for outgoing Braves manager Bobby Cox. From Roll Call: "Hosts of a celebration marking Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox's planned retirement after a 50-year tenure in professional baseball got the first two steps right, but they failed on the third, serving up a cake misspelling the sports figure's name in a snicker-inducing way ("Cocks" instead of "Cox"). Oopsie! Braves fans Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) hosted the fete, inviting Braves players, coaches and Senators -- along with a Roll Call photographer to document the important day -- but the lawmakers were red-faced when the decorated cake read, 'Thanks for 50 Great Years Bobby Cocks.'" http://bit.ly/9IiLc0
PUNCHLINE CONTEST - Sen. Jim Bunning, who pitched a perfect game for the Phillies in 1964, stepped out of an elevator today with Al Franken. Bunning to Franken: "And he only lasted one inning!" Our question to you: What was Franken's wind up? Entries to email@example.com
GUAM WATCH - Hank Johnson will join the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he announced today. Can it handle the expanded population? Will he tip it over and capsize it? Still no word on Guam, though.
- Google got a makeover, check it out: http://huff.to/9TYkeQ In other makeover news: Oprah and Tim Gunn gave makeovers to 5 gents, here are the before/after pics: http://huff.to/dc06Ml
- Joan Rivers jokingly called herself a "stupid bitch" on Fox and Friends. The hosts weren't amused. http://huff.to/9sWb06
- Apparently kids love the Betty White. Here are some pictures of her looking awesome. http://huff.to/cgQEtV
- Ten minutes of the most absurd moments in television history...mostly from the 80s. http://bit.ly/an0MDa
- A couple used Star Wars to announce they are having twins. Not exactly in the running for any subtle-metaphor awards but we like it nonetheless. http://bit.ly/aSTnMw
- The most meta kitty ever. http://bit.ly/9pIm3H
- South Florida's most controversial country clubs. http://bit.ly/bDpSDo
@Schwarzenegger Happy Cinco de Mayo! http://twitpic.com/1lccro
@brianbeutler: Wonder what magazines they'll have on the tables in the waiting room outside my death panel. http://bit.ly/dmbvIv
@RichardWolffedc: By the way, the Post's mag division reported revenues of $184 million last year. There must be a buyer who can turn a profit on that. http://bit.ly/9XK967
@tobyzieglerwh: Una bona manera de començar el dia la newsletter de @huffposthill
@ZOO_UK: Due to a production error, an inappropriate and indefensible response to a letter appeared in this week's ZOO. We apologise unreservedly. http://bit.ly/ct4HWj
ON THE TUBE
Ratigan queried Bernie Sanders about financial reform, Paul Ryan about the deficit and Silvestre Reyes about the Times Square incident. Former FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown does a heckuva job on Hardball. Ed Schultz had Ed Markey on to talk oil spill politics. Emilio Estefan talks to John King about a number of issues including Arizona's immigration law. Laura Bush discusses her new book, "Spoken From the Heart" on Hannity. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are on Larry King. Greta Van Susteren has Orrin Hatch and
Fox and Friends speak with Hassan Smith, an ex-con who did time for murder and the parents of his victim, Sonia and Anissa Booker.
6:00 pm: The Wine Institute and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance host a reception today at the Library of Congress -- traditionally, the best one of the year and attended not just by interns but their bosses. [Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, 10 First Street SE].
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm: John Barrasso's (R-Wyo.) Wyoming Values PAC hosted a Cinco de Mayo celebration at La Loma. Cinco de Mayo the way it was meant to be done: with one of congress' most conservative members who has regularly voted against immigration reform [La Loma, 316 Massachusetts Ave NE].
5:00 pm: Splashed across Sam Graves's (R-Mo.) campaign website is a photo of the congressman in a wheat field and the words "Everyday I work to represent Missouri values and priorities." Help the congressman represent his Missouri values at his wine bar fundraiser. We hear the papperdelle lamb ragu pasta has some real small town, wheat field zest [Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE].
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Biotech giant Amgen hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception for members of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association. There's a giant margarita on the invitation but we can't promise that they'll get you drunk [Lima, 1401 K Street. NW].
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Marvin hosts an evening of bourbon, barbecue and blues. The Joe Daniels Duo performs and the restaurant will serve BBQ and bourbon-based cocktails [Marvin, 2007 14th Street NW].
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: The American Sheep Industry Association hosts its annual American lamb barbecue at the Old Dominion Boathouse in Alexandria. [Old Dominion Boat Club, 1 King Street
8:00 pm: One of HuffPost Hill's favorite comedians, Eugene Mirman, rolls into the Black Cat this evening for some giggles and hahas. Joining Eugene are Michael Showalter, Leo Allen and Kumail Nanjiani. $15 at the door [Black Cat, 1811 14th St NW].
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Support the next generation of journalists, by helping build the Radio Rootz summer media training program http://bit.ly/bqVxIB [Busboys & Poets, 1025 5th Street NW].
Thanks to HuffPost blogger Rob Blair for the citizen translation of the intro. Para Ingles, oprima dos. The lack of accent marks were a tech-side problem, not Rob's fault.
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