Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - MAY 10, 2010

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Today was as scripted as an episode of "The Hills." Surprising no one, President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, threatening to make the Islanders the Court's only unrepresented New York sports franchise. Surprising no one, the GOP wasted no time in voicing skepticism about her record. Surprising no one, progressives who'd been suspicious of Kagan rallied around her. Take your places, everybody: This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 10th, 2010:

BREAKING

It's official, as of 5:46PM ET: "NOMINATION SENT TO THE SENATE," an email from the White House press office reads. "Elena Kagan, of Massachusetts, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, vice John Paul Stevens, retiring."

The White House war room is celebrating today. National airwaves and DC inboxes have been littered with a steady stream of largely on-message material from Kagan backers. "A team of administration staffers, overseen by Rahm Emanuel and run out of the White House Counsel's Office, had already outlined many of the key arguments they want to dominate the Kagan conversation: Her eminent scholarly qualifications, her leadership qualities, and her bipartisan support topping the list," HuffPost's Sam Stein reports. "The team includes Ron Klain and Cynthia Hogan on the Vice President's staff, Susan Davies (an associate counsel to the President) and press officials Josh Earnest and Ben LaBolt -- both of whom pitched stories and monitored media throughout the day."

26: Number of emails about Kagan blasted out by DNC staffers in the 8 hours following Obama's speech.

Politico's Ben Smith spots the trend of analysts judging Obama and Kagan to be two peas in the same legal pod. http://bit.ly/aWUOTP A HuffPost Hill source who was invited 'backstage' before the President's announcement today said that POTUS, Kagan, and several of the gathered guests were reminiscing about how so many of them had been at the University of Chicago together.

FIRST KAGAN AD: http://bit.ly/biOziZ Spot features Obama voiceover from today's East Room remarks with photos of Kagan shaking hands with Gen. David Petraeus and one shot juxtaposing Kagan and Thurgood Marshall.

RESPONSE COMING SOON: The conservative Judicial Network has also posted an ad on its YouTube account showing Kagan in front of U.S. soldiers -- but it's still marked as "private." http://bit.ly/8ZRqz1

Push to win moderates begins. Andy Barr in Politico: "Obama personally called Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on behalf of Kagan... Brown is one of a handful of Republicans the White House is eyeing to support Kagan's nomination to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens." Two other Republican senators -- Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine -- said in statements that they had received calls from Rahm Emanuel. Both "appeared noncommittal." http://bit.ly/9Z3x3F

ALSO: CBN's David Brody, the White House's favorite reporter for moving info that will please the Religious Right, runs with "Elena Kagan's Supportive Words on Religious Liberty." Story highlights Kagan quote from last year's confirmation hearing saying that it's "utterly wrong...to say that religious organizations generally should be precluded from receiving funds" for services like teen pregnancy prevention. http://bit.ly/9tRjoH

Inhofe opposes Kagan. Well that didn't take long: Jim Inhofe says he opposes Elena Kagan's confirmation, citing her stance on military recruitment on college campuses. His statement: http://bit.ly/aySG9g

... Axelrod's response, to Jake Tapper: "One would hope that Senators would give more than 6 hours consideration to the nomination before they render a judgment. And if he had and he looked into it what he'd find is that she's been a great champion of young people who want to enlist on the Harvard campus." http://bit.ly/9c4RSc

Note to skeptical civil libertarians: "As news broke of her nomination, word began spreading of a little-noticed letter Kagan had co-signed in 2005. The letter laid out major concerns and criticism with an amendment that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had authored...that would have denied federal courts jurisdiction to consider habeas corpus petitions filed by prisoners at GITMO. The amendment also would have limited the judicial review of decisions of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals and Military Commissions.
Kagan...noted that: 'When dictatorships have passed stripping their courts of power to review executive detention or punishment of prisoners, our government has rightly challenged such acts as fundamentally lawless. The same standard should apply to our own government.'" http://huff.to/9Dm6q4

Photo of Kagan posing in judge's robes as an eighth-grader: http://huff.to/abutEi

Wall Street reform enters its (possible) final week in the Senate. Bernie Sanders' Fed audit compromise gets a vote tomorrow morning around 11:30, Chris Dodd just said on the Senate floor. Now with Obama and Dodd's backing, it's less fun for Republicans to vote for, but might have the juice to move through. After shredding it on Thursday, Ron Paul now finds some value in it. David Vitter has picked up the Sanders standard and will get a vote on the full Fed audit following Sanders. Splitting the action into two votes could give Fed defenders an opportunity to carve up the bipartisan coalition, with Republicans generally voting for the Vitter amendment and Democrats generally voting for Sanders -- leaving neither with enough to get over the top.

John McCain will get his Fannie/Freddie amendment, with a Dem side by side. The rest of the week will be a fight over the manager's amendment and jockeying for floor time for amendments. Merkley and Levin are pushing the Volcker Rule, which American Banker is calling a done deal, and Al Franken is shilling an amendment to block banks from choosing their own rating agencies. (Yes, it is still controversial to suggest ending such a stark conflict of interest.)

REGIONAL FED CHAIRMAN: NO BILL CAN END BAILOUTS - A top Fed official said Monday that the Dodd bill doesn't (and can't) end the possibility of future bank bailouts. Instead, argues the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Narayana Kocherlakota, we should tax the banks to a) pay for their future bailouts and b) structure it in a way that limits their risk taking, hence lowering the chances of future bailouts. Too late, Narayana. The GOP already knocked out such a tax, calling it a "permanent taxpayer bailout." And the Dems aren't keen on an unlimited fund like the kind Kocherlakota is calling for. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been against taxing banks to create the fund from the beginning.

WORK FROM HOME BILL COMING BACK John Sarbanes' telecommuting bill that went down to defeat on Thursday will come back under a regular rule after Memorial Day, HuffPost Hill is told. Democrats had tried to pass it under suspension, which requires a two-thirds vote, but the pledged GOP support evaporated when the CBO said it would cost $30 million to implement over ten years. That CBO score, however, was blithering nonsense: During the snowstorm, the Office of Personnel Management expected to lose $100 million of productivity for every day the government was shut down, but because nearly a third of employees worked from home, they only lost $71 million, saving in one day the amount the CBO claims the bill will cost over ten. Either way, said GOP aides, the bill was objectionable because it would require each federal agency to hire somebody to implement the telecommuting project.

WELLPOINT GOES AFTER OBAMA Politico: "WellPoint CEO Angela F. Braly has fired the latest shot in an escalating battle between the Obama administration and one of America's largest health insurers. In a letter to President Barack Obama, Braly accused Obama of repeating 'false information' about the company cutting off insurance for breast cancer patients and 'grossly misrepresent[ing]' the company's work to treat breast cancer patients. http://bit.ly/cRwMLT

HEARING TOMORROW ON THURSDAY'S MARKET DIVE - The Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets will investigate what caused Thursday's dramatic market plunge and its policy implications. The hearing will feature top officials from the SEC, NYSE and NASDAQ. 3:00 pm in Rayburn.

The Dow finished up 405 points today on word of the European rescue plan.

LABOR SCORES ONE ON CAPITAL The National Mediation Board issued rules today making it harder for capital to grease its gears with the blood of labor. Under the new rules, organizers need a majority of those who vote, just like in, you know, every other kind of election ever. "For far too long, the NMB rules have provided an upper hand to corporations encouraging voter suppression, while undermining those participating in the union representation election process," the AFL-CIO said in a statement. A spokesman for capital wasn't immediately available.

TOMORROW IN ROLL CALL - Paul Singer lays out Tom Coburn's bipartisan proposal to create an earmark database: "[It] would create a searchable, publicly available website that would include all 'congressionally directed spending items' including appropriations earmarks, limited tax benefits and specific project authorizations. The bill would also establish uniform reporting requirements for each item, including the name of the beneficiary, the amount requested and the amount approved in a final bill, and whether the request had been funded in prior years." http://bit.ly/d9vQI6

TOMORROW IN THE HILL - Sean Miller on a local dispute in Superior, Arizona has sparked a legislative battle on Capitol Hill and the outcome could affect the reelection races of John McCain and Ann Kirkpatrick.

Young Republican National Federation chair Audra Shay has "suddenly resigned, citing the toll the job has taken on her 'health mentally and physically,'" Marc Ambinder reports. http://bit.ly/bObhID

Check out Arianna's guest spot on "How I Met Your Mother" tonight at 8 on CBS.

ELENA KAGAN NICKNAME CONTEST - There is a noticeable lack of sobriquets in the highest court. Help us come up with one for President Obama's SCOTUS nominee. Thurgood Marshall called her "Shorty." The Jersey Shore nickname generator spit out "Pooker." We think you can do better. E-mail your submission to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com.

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

TRENDING

***IT'S KAGAN*** - Obama's widely-expected announcement unleashed a torrent of totally predictable reactions. The White House's talking points present the solicitor general as a bipartisan "trailblazer" who empathizes with the trials and tribulations of ordinary people. It appears the administration is pushing back against the rapidly calcifying oppo-narrative portraying the former Harvard Law dean and Washington veteran as the coddled product of elitist institutions. http://huff.to/c26GQI

LEAHY: CONFIRM KAGAN BY RECESS - Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy reacted quickly, telling reporters he would like to confirm Kagan by the August recess, allowing a fully-stocked court to reconvene in October. Poking fun at the GOP's knee-jerk opposition, the Vermont senator quipped that biblical lawmakers would not even receive bipartisan support: "We have some Republicans who would automatically oppose anybody who was nominated," Leahy said. "The President could nominate Moses the Law Giver. In fact I told the president, I said you realize if you'd nominated Moses the Law Giver, somebody would raise: 'But he doesn't have a birth certificate! Where's his birth certificate!'" http://bit.ly/9Rjddh

Leahy will be on the Bill Press Show tomorrow morning at 8:10.

SESSIONS SKEPTICAL - Judiciary's ranking member Jeff Sessions was more cautious: "We know that several areas warrant close scrutiny. Ms. Kagan's lack of judicial experience and short time as Solicitor General, arguing just six cases before the Court, is troubling. The public expects Supreme Court nominees to possess a mastery of the law, a sound judicial philosophy, and a demonstrated dedication to the impartial application of the law and the Constitution. With no judicial opinions to consider, it will be especially important that other aspects of her record exhibit these characteristics." http://bit.ly/chAty2

Bernie Sanders isn't worried that she has never served as a judge. The sitting stooges have, and look what they do, he said: "I can only say that if the Citizens United ruling, which allowed corporate cash to dominate American elections, is what results from a court made up of people who wore robes most of their lives, then Elena Kagan's experience outside courtrooms should not be held against her."

Opponents also zeroed in on Kagan's 1993 tribute to Thurgood Marshall in which she seconded her old boss' belief that the original Constitution was "defective." The RNC quickly issued a document titled "Does Kagan Still View Constitution 'As Originally Drafted And Conceived' As 'Defective'?" We wish the Republican party all the best defending a document that enshrines slavery. http://bit.ly/dxPpBd

Glenn Beck *GASP* thinks Kagan is a socialist. http://bit.ly/akwJjC

Roland Martin points out that, under different circumstances, Kagan would be catching more flack for her hiring practices. "If a white Republican president of the United States appointed a white male as his next Supreme Court justice, and upon the inspection of his record, it was discovered that of the 29 full-time tenured or tenured track faculty he hired as dean of Harvard Law, nearly all of them were white men, this would dominate the headlines." http://bit.ly/9pSEXS

ARLEN SPECTER TO KEEP AN "OPEN MIND" - The Pennsylvania Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat said he will refrain from passing judgment on Kagan, who he voted against when she was up for solicitor general. Ruh-roh. http://bit.ly/bOPSLJ

9750 WORDS ON ELENA KAGAN - Now that we've provided you an ample amount of spin and analysis, try to unlearn all of it. Check out SCOTUSblog's detailed and talking-point-free summary of Kagan's life, career and views. A must-read. http://bit.ly/d0zJSJ

So who replaces Kagan?. Marc Ambinder on the next solicitor general (if Kagan is confirmed): "Don Verrilli, an associate White House counsel, is the leading candidate...Why not Neal Katyal, the deputy solicitor general? Sources say that no one questions his brilliance, but his relationship with colleagues hasn't always been smooth." http://bit.ly/bdqy7A

BIG BANK TAKEOVER - The Public Accountability Initiative is putting out a report tomorrow morning detailing the lobbying and Hill hiring efforts of the six biggest banks and their trade associations. Most basically, it's like this: hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of former staffers who cashed out. Arthur Delaney will have the story.

GORDON BROWN STEPPING ASIDE, LABOUR & LIB DEMS IN TALKS - Across the pond, British PM Gordon Brown called for a leadership election to name his successor as Labour Party chief and announced his party would engage in formal talks with the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems had attempted to form a coalition government with the Conservatives but withdrew from the talks when David Cameron's party refused to lift its opposition to election reform. http://huff.to/bRKXZG

The Guardian outlines potential Labour leaders: http://bit.ly/9IVShX

KARZAI ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON - The Afghan president touched down in D.C. today for a four-day summit with President Obama and other administration officials. Obama will ask Karzai for greater cooperation in flushing out the Taliban and Karzai will seek assurance that U.S. support will not dry up after the its forces withdraw. http://bit.ly/c7qDcN

This as a new poll finds a majority of Americans don't think the mission in Afghanistan is "worth it." http://huff.to/8YhPzA

The DCCC is pulling out of the Hawaii-01 special election. "The DCCC will not be investing additional resources in the HI-01 (Abercrombie-open) special election. Local Democrats were unable to work out their differences," a spokesperson said today. "The DCCC will save the resources we would have invested in the Hawaii special election this month for the general election in November." The move essentially hands victory to Republican candidate and Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou. http://bit.ly/9HbJlN

Alex Pareene on the fleeting implications: "I mean, a Republican elected in the district where Obama grew up? The symbolism will be impossible to resist! Even Hawaiians reject Obama and Pelosi's big-government tax-and-spend socialism! Of course, the DCCC is only pulling out because neither of the two Democrats running to replace Abercrombie are willing to drop out, and right now it looks like they'll split the vote. The DCCC supported former Representative Ed Case. Hawaii's senators and progressive constituencies support Colleen Hanabusa. (Obama even had to cut an ad begging people to vote, vaguely, for 'a Democrat.') [Now that's audicity!] And the winner of the special election will only serve the remainder of Abercrombie's term. And that term ends, like all House terms, with this Congress. So the winner of this election will be up for re-election in less than six months. And in November, there will just be one Democrat running." http://bit.ly/az1VnL

Lena Horne died yesterday. Here she is performing "Stormy Weather" from the movie of the same name. http://bit.ly/CPiWB

OIL SPILL UPDATE - With crude still spewing into the Gulf Coast after last week's botched attempt to stem the flow, BP officials will try to cover the source with a smaller containment structure, called a top hat. The device should be in place within 72 hours, according to BP CEO Tony Hayward. Crews have also been spraying the area with chemical dispersments of unknown toxicity. http://bit.ly/diCJne

HuffPost on the long-term effects of the oil slick: http://huff.to/dtqDZC

Here's a must-see picture of Karl Rove being Code Pinked in Albuquerque. Props to reader Liz Fox and her photographer William Covert for diming us to their theatrics. The pic: http://bit.ly/aCLe1w

TWITTER BUGS OUT - Washington, D.C. nearly imploded this morning as countless egos simultaneously deflated. Apparently a network glitch made it appear as if Twitter users had -- the horror! -- lost all of their followers. http://bit.ly/bbQR7d

COMFORT FOOD

- TV's richest kids. http://bit.ly/929NG2

- The Golf Channel reported that Tiger Woods has a bulging...well...something a bit to the south of his back. http://huff.to/dbkGfN

- The funniest freeze frames from news programs. http://huff.to/9Ae5dH

- Elena Kagan or Mike Myers? You decide. http://bit.ly/ar97fQ

TWITTERAMA

@pwgavin: The good news is WashExam can bring back out its "Obama disses white guys" cover for Kagan coverage. http://bit.ly/bGfc2b

@willcfischer: Funny that no one is like, "Oh no, Twitter says I'm not following anyone!!!" #twitterfail http://bit.ly/bENMI5

@charliepolitico If Kagan confirmed, that's 4 born in NY, 2 in NJ, 2 in CA, 1 in coastal GA. No one from between Buffalo and Sacramento http://bit.ly/alu3fU

THE TUBE

TONIGHT

Dylan Ratigan spoke to Eliot Spitzer, Chaka Fattah and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Chris Matthews talks about Kagan with Amy Klobuchar. David Axelrod tows the SCOTUS line on Ed Schultz. John Barasso and Rudy Giuliani are on Hannity. Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions opine on Kagan's nomination with Greta Van Susteren.

TOMORROW

Evan Bayh appears on Morning Joe. Orrin Hatch dishes about Kagan on the Daily Rundown.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Mixing "Sex and the City" references and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) conjures some uncomfortable images. If you wish to indulge them, head over the Uptown Sports Bar and Grill for the congressman's "Sports and the City" fundraiser [Uptown Sports Bar and Grill, 9715 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax].

TOMORROW

9:30 am: Stefan Jacoby, the President and CEO of Volkswagen, visits the Hill to talk about the green benefits of diesel. There will be coffee and other fixins [Russell 158].

12:00 pm: Florida congressional candidate Karen Diebel (R-Fla.) passes the hat around at Tortilla Coast. Trent Lott will be on hand [Tortilla Coast, 400 First Street SE].

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm: Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) rails against the Democrat party's allegiance to the status quo at the offices of the Abraham Group, a lobbying giant [The Abraham Group Offices, 600 14th Street NW Suite 500].

5:00 pm: Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) coaxes the Benjamins out of your wallet at Capital Grille. The Energy and Commerce committee member has one of the largest oil stock holdings of anyone in congress so take a guess as to who will be in attendance [Capital Grille, 601 Pennsylvania Ave NW].

9:00 pm: Cafe St. Ex's iPod Jukebox gives patrons the chance to play DJ for a few moments. Bring your iPod and have your tunes vibrate through the bistro-cum-nightspot for 12 minutes [Cafe St. Ex, 1847 14th Street NW].

10:00 pm: Karaoke at Sticky Rice on H Street. A delightfully awkward cocktail of hipsters, Hill staffers and atonal renditions of history's most annoying ditties [Sticky Rice, 1224 H Street].

WEDNESDAY

12:00 pm -1:30 pm: The United Egg Producers host a make-your-own-omelet reception on the Hill [Longworth 1300].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights hosts its annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award Dinner. This year, the organization honors Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Karen Narasaki, Gara LaMarche, and Harry Belafonte [Hilton Washington,1919 Connecticut Avenue NW].

6:30 pm - 9:30 pm: The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America's "Toast to Congress" gets a bunch of people already drunk on power completely hammered [101 Constitution Ave, NW Rooftop].

7:00 pm: NoMa Summer Screen kicks off this year's film festival with the Mel Brooks galactic classic Spaceballs. Barbecue from Smoke Somethin' and music by Fatback. Take your sweetheart, your best friend or your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate [L Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets NE].

THURSDAY

7:00 pm: Aqua Teen Hunger Force brings its comedy review to D.C. The voice actors behind your favorite anthropomorphic fast food characters take their trippy and brash brand of humor to the State Theatre [State Theatre, 220 North Washington Street, Falls Church].

FRIDAY

12:00 pm: The Spring Greek Festival at St. Sophia Cathedral kicks off with a giant indoor buffet, arts and crafts, raffles and...be still our beating hearts...a moon bounce. Runs all weekend [3601 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest].

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