POLITICS
07/07/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - MAY 7, 2010

While most folks decompressed for the weekend, others prepped themselves for major career changes. Robert Bennett might be getting the boot tomorrow, Elena Kagan (of Goldman Sachs) could be wearing robes soon, 290,000 people are heading to their new jobs and the BP robots will probably be flipping burgers after they botched the valve closing. Happy Friday and Mother's Day. This is HUFFPOST HILL for May 7th, 2010:

BREAKING

REUTERS ALERT: "Robots fail to close valves at leaking BP oil well"... Developing...

WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY COUNSEL RESIGNS - NYT's Charlie Savage: "Daniel J. Meltzer, a top White House lawyer who has played a critical behind-the-scenes role in the administration legal team, is resigning next month and will return to his tenured position as a Harvard law school professor, the White House said on Friday. Mr. Meltzer's last day as the principal deputy counsel to President Obama will be June 1. Since the administration took office, he has worked on nearly every major legal issue the White House has handled, a sprawling portfolio that ranged from domestic policies to national security matters. 'He's done everything,' said Gregory B. Craig, who served as White House counsel for the first year of the Obama administration and picked Mr. Meltzer to be his deputy. 'It's going to be a great loss for the administration that Dan is going back to the academic world.'" http://huff.to/aOp7Uo

IS IT KAGAN? - D.C.'s Boo Radley, Mike Allen, reported this morning that President Obama will almost surely announce Elena Kagan as his Supreme Court nominee on Monday.

Reporters ignored Allen's various qualifications and provisos and went racing to confirm that it was DEFINITELY Kagan -- with no success. "I can tell you, without any hedging, that he has not made up his mind yet and is still talking to and (looking) through candidates," a senior official told Fox News' Major Garrett. "It may well end up being her (Kagan), but there's no white smoke yet."

SCOTUSblog didn't buy into the Kagan-mania: "[O]ver the course of the day, this has taken on an unjustified level of confidence and certainty. If the President has in fact made his decision -- and I would put the odds at better than even that he has -- then he has told almost no one else. Probably Rahm Emanuel and Bob Bauer would know. The candidates themselves, the communications shop, the rest of the White House Counsel's Office, and the Office of Legal Policy do not know. And because the information has not been disseminated, the White House has not put into effect its plan for the announcement and for communicating with external groups. Any actual information on a decision that has been made, if it has been, is extremely tightly held." http://bit.ly/aP4T2R

Gibbs says a decision could come "at any moment." http://bit.ly/aee9xU

How big a headache? Glenn Greenwald tweets, "For those who missed it: four minority Law Professors call Kagan's diversity record 'shocking' and 'indefensible': http://is.gd/bYHXV

AND Sam Stein on Kagan's work with Goldman Sachs: "On Friday, a slew of inquiries were made to the White House and Justice Department about a post Solicitor General Elena Kagan once held at Goldman Sachs, the under-fire investment bank. Kagan served on Goldman's advisory council between 2005 and 2008, with the task of providing expert 'analysis and advice to Goldman Sachs and its clients.' For her work she earned a $10,000 stipend."

CLINTON TOUGH ON PAKISTAN - From "60 Minutes" interview with Scott Pelley to air on CBS Sunday: "'We've made it very clear that if, heaven-forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences,' Clinton tells Pelley. ... Clinton says Pakistan's attitude toward fighting Islamic terrorists has changed remarkably. 'We've gotten more cooperation and it's been a real sea change in the commitment we've seen from the Pakistan Government. [But] We want more. We expect more."

ROBERT BENNETT'S CAREER ON THE LINE - Tomorrow Utah Republicans gather at the state's GOP convention to decide the fate of their patriarch, Robert Bennett. Polls show Bennett is trailing both his Tea Party-backed challengers, Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater. If no candidate can capture 60% of the caucus vote, then the top two vote recipients will participate in a runoff. Many forecasters don't see Bennett making it that far. http://huff.to/9mLyw4

A DailyKos poll shows Mark Kirk has overtaken Alexi Giannoulias 41% to 38% in the race for President Obama's old senate seat. http://bit.ly/96Fbla

Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak are tied. http://bit.ly/bWYI2J

Chuck Grassley's Democratic challenger Roxanne Conlin is "within striking distance." http://bit.ly/cC9HY7

MORE HARRY REID GEMS From the Majority Leader's interview with HuffPost Hill:

On changing filibustering rules: "I said then, I'll say now: When people abuse things you have to respond. With baseball it was the spitball. A spitball was legal because people didn't abuse it. But then it got to where people were throwing up baseballs covered with big wet gobs of stuff. Outlawed spitball."

On his likely opponent, Sue Lowden: "Oh, I'm not so sure she'll be my opponent. Come election day, I'm going to have eight opponents. I'm going to have a Republican, I'm going to have an Independent American, I'm going to have a Tea Party candidate, I'm going to have four Independents...So I've got eight opponents. And I'm not sure she'll be one of them."

POLITICO ALERT: STEELE FIRES FINANCE DIRECTOR - "Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has fired the RNC's finance director, Rob Bickhart, on whose watch a controversial payment was made to a bondage nightclub in West Hollywood and the committee began having problems raising money from big donors. He will be replaced by Mary Heitman, who served as finance director for the Republican Governors Association from 1998 to 2001."

SANDERS EXPECTS FED AUDIT VOTE TUESDAY - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) are on a charm offensive promoting their audit-the-Fed cause. Sanders spent the day chatting up reporters; he told HuffPost Hill he expects to get a vote on his amendment on Tuesday. And he said he chatted with Ron Paul, who put out a video blasting Sanders' compromise on Thursday: "I hope and believe that at the end of the day what [Paul and Grayson] will be agreeing with me on is the need to pass the Senate bill and the need to, in conference, come up with the strongest possible language."

Audit gets boost from trio of prominent economists: http://huff.to/cRXSFs

(Grayson, for his part, is doing some stand-up about the Fed's strange, strange ownership of the Red Roof Inn -- "the absolute dead-loser assets" that Wall Street wouldn't touch. From his House floor speech Thursday: "America, congratulations, you own a hotel chain... One of the properties happens to be the Red Roof Inn convention center property, right in Orlando, right in my district - I am so proud. I think I'll stop by there and ask for a free room." Video: http://bit.ly/9YncYZ)

POST PROFITS UP, AD REVENUE DOWN - AP's Andrew Vanacore: "The Washington Post Co. returned to a profit in the first quarter as declines in print advertising slowed and the company's cable TV and education businesses continued to grow. ... Revenue grew 11 percent to $1.17 billion. With its namesake newspaper struggling, the Post Co. has been relying on its TV and Kaplan education businesses for growth. ... Advertising revenue at the Washington Post newspaper slid 8 percent to $68.7 million." http://huff.to/b1Za1e

WALL STREET GOING FOR PREEMPTION Elizabeth Warren and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan launched a preemptive strike at Senate negotiators rumored to be considering a deal over the weekend with big banks on federal preemption. "Wal-mart operates in all 50 states, but it doesn't come to Washington insisting that Congress protect it from state laws that demand workplace safety or environmental standards," said Warren. "Washington lobbyists don't want to have to have to venture out into real America; they are comfortable inside the Beltway."

U.S. CHAMBER COMES OUT AGAINST ARIZONA BOYCOTT - In a letter out this afternoon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry "in raising concerns with the various calls to boycott travel to the state of Arizona." Arizona's chamber has typically come out against the state's harsher immigration proposals but in this letter does not take a stance either way on the law signed last week. From the letter: "It is very bad policy to boycott the businesses and harm the workers of

Steven T. Dennis and Tory Newmyer in Roll Call on the Dems' pressing ahead with Don't Ask Don't Tell: "Backers of gay rights bills in the House are pressing ahead despite grumbling from moderate Democrats, an uncertain future in the Senate and some friendly fire from the Obama administration. A repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law banning openly gay people from serving in the military and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) both could be on the floor this month, according to senior Democratic aides and lawmakers. However, it's unclear if the votes are still there to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell after Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote to Congress April 30 urging a delay until after a departmental review, according to a leadership aide."

Wolf Blitzer celebrates 20 years at CNN. Congrats, Wolf. CNN's Meryl Conant tells HuffPost Hill, "About an hour ago, 100+ CNN DC-ers gathered in a conference room to surprise and congratulate Wolf. He was regaled with stories and favorite memories of years past by colleagues and toasted with cider and cake. Wolf's wife Lynn coordinated the surprise and snuck into the bureau with the gigantic cake." Here's a picture: http://twitpic.com/1ltp44

JOAN OF BARK - Meet the rebel dog of Greece: http://bit.ly/aItroX

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com

TRENDING

JOB GROWTH REPORT A MIXED BAG - More Americans found work in April than any month since the recession began according to today's report by the Labor Department. 290,000 jobs were added but unemployment ticked up to 9.9 percent. The report attributed the rate increase to an influx of people reentering the job market, likely encouraged by positive economic news over the last few months. http://huff.to/d11Eir

Arthur Delaney: "Here's the bad news: More and more people are out of work for longer and longer. The number of jobless folks out of work for more than six months rose by 169,000 to 6.7 million, constituting 45.9 percent of all the unemployed...Even though Congress has extended unemployment benefits to the point where in many states the jobless can get 99 weeks of benefits, it's still not enough -- hundreds of thousands of people are exhausting their benefits every month. The picture is especially ugly for older folks who've lost their jobs. Though the unemployment rate for workers older than 55 is lower than for the rest of the labor force, older workers are more likely to suffer long-term unemployment." http://huff.to/c3MdAR

These seemingly contradictory numbers -- job growth accompanied by a higher unemployment rate -- gave both sides ample opportunity for bloviation:

President Obama: "I'm happy to report that we received some very encouraging news."

Joint Economic Committee ranking member Kevin Brady: "[F]or the nearly 15 million Americans out of work who are waiting for Washington Democrats to finally focus on jobs, this report has got to be disheartening."

John Boehner: "Where are the jobs?"

DNC jobs ad "Wrong Then, Wrong Now" hits late-afternoon: "Republicans were wrong to play politics and oppose the Recovery Act and they know it. That's why despite the best jobs report in four years and news that the Recovery Act helped to create 290,000 jobs for American families last month the Republican Party continues to label the Recovery Act a failure despite all the evidence to the contrary." Watch: http://huff.to/9XBCng

SEC PROBING YESTERDAY'S MARKET PLUNGE - Investigators will try to determine whether the reported trading error that helped incite yesterday's market fluctuation was done so accidentally or maliciously. From Bloomberg - http://bit.ly/bVlBSI

A suspicious package was found in front of a Times Square hotel. Police cleared the area of pedestrians but no buildings were evacuated. http://huff.to/c9fRj5

UPDATE: The package was filled with water bottles. Move along, people.

CONFLICTING REPORTS ON CLIMATE BILL - John Kerry and Joe Lieberman announced they will roll out their long-awaited green initiative next Wednesday. Their joint press release sought to quell speculation that Lindsey Graham won't support the proposal. Graham has been voicing concerns that immigration reform will torpedo climate legislation.

From the release: "Over the last three weeks, we all understand Lindsey has been busy with the immigration issue and we understand his feelings on that issue, but during this period we've continued working, moving forward, and talking in great detail with our Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and with the environmental and business communities.  We’ve continued to work with the Senate leadership and the White House, and we believe we've made new progress on the path to 60 votes."

Or not. From the AP: "Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Congress needs to move forward in a political climate that gives proponents a better chance for success. 'Regrettably, in my view, this has become impossible in the current environment,' he said in a statement. 'I believe there could be more than 60 votes for this bipartisan concept in the future. But there are not nearly 60 votes today, and I do not see them materializing until we deal with the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill.'" http://bit.ly/aDfGtZ

Natalie Ravitz, one of Barbara Boxer's top aides, is moving on. Godspeed, Natalie.

LIEBERMAN'S TERRORIST BILL CREEPING EVERYONE OUT - TPM reports that Joe Lieberman's expatriation bill is even giving some conservatives the willies: "Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) captured big headlines, and interesting supporters, when he proposed the Terrorist Expatriation Act, which would amend current law to allow the State Department to revoke the citizenship of Americans they deem to be members of foreign terrorist organizations. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) joined his push. So did House Democrat Jason Altmire, who hails from a competitive district in Pennsylvania...Almost everybody else of consequence--including the conservative Boehner--has, at least, questioned the viability of the proposal, and, at most, blasted it as unconstitutional, and reminiscent of some of the uglier moments in U.S. history." http://bit.ly/bgCt5s

SCOOP: FEDS STILL GIVING EXEMPTIONS TO OIL COMPANIES IN THE GULF - "Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico," McClatchy's Marisa Taylor reports.

New DKos/Research 2000 poll: 60% of Americans still support offshore drilling, and a majority said the spill didn't impact their views on the issue. http://bit.ly/9N47C3

Mark Silva has crawled out of the Swamp and is moving to Bloomberg News. Mazel tov.

BUSH OFFICIAL BEHIND ARIZ. LAW RUNNING FOR OFFICE - Kris Kobach, a former Bush administration lawyer who helped draft Arizona's Immigrant Reduction and Talking Head Stimulus Act of 2010 is taking his show on the road. From Mother Jones: "Kobach has been the brains behind similarly tough local-level immigration measures and legal actions across the country. And he says he's discussing with officials about whether measures similar to the Arizona law could be passed elsewhere. 'I have been contacted by legislators in other states...with questions about the Arizona statutes,' Kobach says in an interview. He won't reveal where most of these inquiries were from, but said he was talking to state legislators in Kansas--where he's also running for secretary of state this fall. Already, state and national lawmakers in Oklahoma, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia have vowed to pass copycat measures." http://bit.ly/bBg93T

COMFORT FOOD

- This guy makes Jim Cramer look zenned-out. http://huff.to/aRnDNf

- The world's scariest thrill rides. http://bit.ly/aDgftX

- Forget that Robert Downey Jr. flick, here's Ironing Man. http://bit.ly/9SNgnb

- Kim Cattrall has not led a sexually fulfilling life. http://huff.to/ahUkDv

- Chronic constipation did Elvis in. http://bit.ly/dbeac9

- 10 creative uses for the iPad. http://bit.ly/d9sGSH

TWITTERAMA

@daveweigel: OK, seriously, we're reaching the level of world crisis that usually preludes the appearance of the Justice League. http://bit.ly/aWyVvK

@dceiver: Suspicious truck? NYC is trying to set the land speed record for DIE HARD sequels. http://bit.ly/cd3LpO

@brianbeutler: BREAKING: Moody's gives contents of Times Square suspicious package AAA rating. http://bit.ly/aBUc86

@Alyssa_Milano: #PETCO to send pet fur to help cleanup #oilspill: http://is.gd/bZbg6

OUR NEW FAVORITE TWITTER FEED: @COMMON_OIL_SPILL

@Common_Oil_Spill: endangered species nom nom nom http://bit.ly/a7PqbH

@Common_Oil_Spill: dome'd http://bit.ly/ddzEaW

@Common_Oil_Spill: fire. ouch. http://bit.ly/cqOhY2

THE TUBE

TONIGHT

Ratigan talked to Bernie Sanders and Hilda Solis. Chris Matthews welcomes former NY Gov. George Pataki and talks to Ed Rendell and Joe Sestak about the Pennsylvania senate primary. Ed Schultz discusses oil with John Garamendi and fed auditing with Bernie Sanders. Greta Van Susteren has on Tom Horne from the Arizona Department of Education.

SATURDAY

Situation Room: Jane Harman, David Plouffe and .

SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY

Meet the Press: Eric Holder, David Brooks, E.J. Dionne, BBC correspondent Katty Kay and author Wes Moore. Face the Nation: John Brennan, Chris Dodd, Richard Shelby and Admiral Thad Allen. This Week: Eric Holder, Rudy Giuliani, John Podesta, Stanford's Shelby Steele, USIP's Robin Wright and George Will. State of the Union: John Brennan, Bill Nelson, Richard Shelby. Fox News Sunday: John Brennan, Joe Lieberman,Peter King, FNC's Jennifer Griffin. The panel:Bill Kristol, Mara Liasson, Liz Cheney and NPR's Juan Williams.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: For those of you in the Big Apple, America's Dingleberry (he just won't let go) Rudy Giuliani hosts a reception for Rhode Island congressional candidate John Loughlin (R-R.I.). [565 Park Avenue, New York, NY].

6:00 pm: The Hillyer's Art Space First Friday, which is kind of our favorite thing in the world, features work by up-and-coming artists. Free food and booze but $5 donation is appreciated. HuffPost Hill will be there [The Hillyer, 9 Hillyer Court NW].

7:00 pm: Free screening of "Wayne's World" at Rosslyn Gateway Park [1300 Lee Highway, Rosslyn].

SATURDAY

3:00 pm - 6:00 pm: Free chocolate and wine tasting at Biagio [1904 18th Street NW].

6:30 pm - 11:30 pm: If a gathering of GW alumni with body image problems sounds like your scene, have we got an event for you! "Ball on the Mall," billed as a "glamorous and exciting black-tie fundraising gala," corrals D.C.'s aspiring scenesters in a giant tent on the National Mall. Washington Life says it's the "Best Young Philanthropic Event." $150 gets you in the aforementioned tent. Proceeds benefit the Trust for the National Mall [Madison Drive at 13th Street].

8:00 pm: Rosanne Cash plays the Strathmore in Bethesda where John Hall (D-N.Y.) will be soliciting donations. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) provides backup [The Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda].

10:00 pm - 3:00 am: Kids love the Betty White. Duplex Diner holds a Betty White Party in honor of the Golden Girl's SNL appearance. Betty White themed cocktails and prizes for the best Betty White costumes [Duplex Diner, 2004 18th Street NW].

SUNDAY

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm: Al Jazeera screens "4 Dead in Ohio," a documentary about the Kent State shootings and their effect on the U.S. anti-war movement. After the screening, a panel of journalists and Kent State alum discuss the film [Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th Street NW].

MONDAY

10:00 am - 12:00 pm: Help Chris Carney (D-Pa.) shoot things out of the sky at his "Skeet Shoot and Lunch" fundraiser. We're unsure whether they'll be dressing and serving their own clay disks [Prince George's County Trap & Skeet Center, 10400 Good Luck Road, Glen Dale].

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 Nico Pitney (nico@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e

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