POLITICS
05/14/2010 05:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - MAY 14, 2010

Crude continues to foul up the waters of the Gulf Coast but at least D.C.'s won't taste like chlorine anymore. A number of lawmakers will avoid tainted agua altogether this weekend on their fundraising sojourns at golf resorts and...plantations? Happy weekend and be mindful of the HAIL tonight, this is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 14th, 2010:

BREAKING

VOLCKER RULE VOTE COULD NEED 60 - Wall Street lobbyists are pushing to require 60 votes to pass the Merkley-Levin amendment, which reflects the Volcker Rule, and aides are being told that 60 may be the threshold. So far, of 21 amendments, Dick Durbin's credit-card crackdown was the first to need 60, with the rest requiring only a simple majority. A vote could come as early as Monday night. The amendment would bar commercial banks from engaging in day-to-day trading with taxpayer-backed money. "Senator McConnell flew up to New York to tell the Wall Street giants that he would have their back. Republicans couldn't deliver in keeping the bill off the floor so they're going to do everything in their power to kill Merkley-Levin," said a Dem aide.

JUST IN: JUSTICE DEPT. CONFIRMS CRIMINAL MINE PROBE - AP's Sam Hananel: "The Justice Department is investigating whether there was 'willful criminal activity' by the company that operates the West Virginia mine where 29 workers died in an accident last month. The U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of West Virginia says in a letter that investigators are looking into the actions by the mine's operator, Performance Coal, its directors, officers and agents." http://huff.to/bYI0Nw

THE KAGAN CHRONICLES - Exclusive: A White House aide tells Sam Stein that it was Elena Kagan who relayed details about her sexuality to the White House, not the other way around. (Karen Tumulty reported today that "administration officials asked Kagan directly about her sexual orientation when she was being vetted for her post as solicitor general.") The conversation happened recently, not back in 2009. "Solicitor General Kagan volunteered the information to the White House when media reports surfaced in the pre-nomination process for the Supreme Court," said a White House aide. http://huff.to/b5fsvO

She's already winning over Anthony Kennedy. In a speech in West Palm Beach, Justice Kennedy said Kagan should be grilled on her judicial temperament, not how she will rule on issues. http://huff.to/d2EejS Despite her old comments about the "vapid" confirmation process, Kagan demonstrated during her Solicitor General hearings that she will not be overly-forthcoming, and the White House has confirmed as much. VPOTUS's CoS Ron Klain said as much in little noted comments: "It will be a robust and engaging conversation about the law, but she will obviously also respect the conventions about how far a nominee should or shouldn't go in answering about specific legal questions." http://bit.ly/doKKgq

First anti-Kagan TV ad from Judicial Crisis Network: http://bit.ly/d4GaqJ Response from Kagan Defense Squad aka Media Matters: "The ad dishonestly claims that Kagan 'kicked the military off campus' during her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School. In reality, Kagan upheld longstanding university policy, facilitated military recruitment through the law school's Veterans Association, and complied with court rulings." http://bit.ly/cfF9sv

OBAMA: FIRED UP AND READY TO BLOW - After receiving a briefing on the oil spill, President Obama had some harsh words for those involved with the slick. "There's enough responsibility to go around. That includes, by the way, the federal government," Obama said. On MMS' ties to the drilling industry: "For too long, for a decade or more, there's been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill...It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust, but we will verify." The president also called industry finger-pointing in the BP, Halliburton and TransOcean hearings a "ridiculous spectacle." Video: http://huff.to/b9M0l0

Andrea Mitchell: "I frankly don't remember a Rose Garden scene like that against the industry since JFK and the steel industry." JFK flashback: http://bit.ly/czaFB6

Janet Napolitano will appear before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Monday on the government's response to the slick.

Dems to hammer GOP with votes on BP liability. - Greg Sargent busts out his favorite lede for this whopper: "This could get interesting: Senate Democratic leaders plan to repeatedly push legislation next week to lift the liability cap on oil companies, in an effort to dare Republicans to side with Big Oil and oppose lifting the burden on taxpayers to clean up disasters like the Gulf oil spill, aides tell me. With the politics of oil seemingly as slippery as ever, Dems already tried to pass such legislation by unanimous consent yesterday, only to have it blocked by GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The bill would have hiked the ceiling of liability for oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion after an oil spill." http://bit.ly/cgJoJL

Sam Stein on the similarities between Obama's oil slick response and George H.W. Bush's reaction to the Exxon-Valdez spill, pulled from C-SPAN archives: "The tone and the message with each are remarkably parallel... The whole video of Bush is worth a watch, and not just for a nostalgic sense of how much access the White House press corps once had, or for the footage of Dick Cheney peeking over Bush's shoulder. But also for the realization that for all the talk at the time of Exxon agreeing to full liability, the company eventually went through successful court maneuvering to get out of paying maximum punitive damages." http://huff.to/b8zyEX

What will Obama's tough language do to his numbers, which ticked up to 52% in today's Gallup tracking poll? http://bit.ly/lS4ZF AP poll

EURO CRISIS - "The euro slid to the lowest since the aftermath of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s collapse and stocks tumbled, paring a weekly rally, on concern the sovereign debt crisis will trigger a breakup of the European currency. Oil fell to a three-month low, while U.S. and German bonds rallied."

Volcker's view: "You have the great problem of a potential disintegration of the euro," Paul Volcker said in a speech in London yesterday. "The essential element of discipline in economic policy and in fiscal policy that was hoped for" has "so far not been rewarded in some countries." http://bit.ly/afHLDo

GEITHNER CONFIDENT LINCOLN DERIVATIVES MEASURE CAN BE BEATEN BACK In an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt, Geithner said he'd leave the debate over Blanche Lincoln's derivatives provision between Chris Dodd and Lincoln, but was bullish that her provision that would bar commercial banks from trading derivatives would be beaten back. "I'm very confident they'll work out an appropriate solution that preserves the key thing, which is we bring these markets out of the dark, make them safer, more stable, better protection for investors," said Geithner.

He's ready to wrap it up: "It's a very strong bill. I think we're very close now. It's time to get this done. We want to bring it to Earth now so we can get on to other challenges and make sure that we're doing as much as we can to make sure this recovery is strengthening going forward."

Bad news for Republican senators: Grover Norquist's ATR is scoring Vitter's audit-the-Fed amendment as the one that counted, not the compromise Bernie Sanders came up with, Grover tells HuffPost Hill.

ROLL CALL TONIGHT: FED-EX LOBBYING BLITZ - From Bennett Roth: As they continue to wage a high dollar and nasty lobbying campaign, arch rivals FedEx and UPS are awaiting final delivery of legislation that will determine whether they must abide by the same union organizing rules. The two giant transportation companies have been at loggerheads for years over federal rules that make it harder for FedEx drivers to organize and strike. The House is pushing a provision that would place FedEx drivers under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act, as UPS drivers have been for decades." http://bit.ly/bijQXY

WYDEN RAGES AT DEMINT A bipartisan effort to bring increased transparency to the system that allows individual senators to secretly hold up legislation and nominations collapsed in acrimony Thursday evening. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) accused Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) of having "kneecapped" the legislation he'd offered with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Declaring himself "flabbergasted," Wyden railed against DeMint for attaching an unrelated amendment related to a southern border fence to his transparency measure. "I can't recall another instance where the cause of open government took a beating -- took a blindsiding -- like the cause open government took this afternoon," said the generally mild-mannered Wyden. "We didn't win this afternoon because we got kneecapped."

DEMS FEELING GOOD ABOUT MURTHA SEAT - The DCCC today reported dropping another $40,000 in IE spending into PA-12, bringing the total to just shy of $1M. With GOPer Tim Burns facing a tough primary, and a poll this week showing Dem Mark Critz up, they're starting to feel optimistic.

Also feeling confident: Rand Paul, who's just announced he's pulling all of his negative ad, and Joe Sestak, who has suddenly stopped ripping Arlen Specter and instead saying his challenger deserves "respect."

OBAMA SIGNS CONGRESSIONAL PAY FREEZE INTO LAW - The largely symbolic bill - it deprives legislators of a cost-of-living adjustment - was voted on by both chambers this year. The Hill: "The move marks the third consecutive year lawmakers have voted to halt their automatic cost-of-living increase." http://bit.ly/9NmwYK

More hard times ahead - no more heated towelettes for our nation's legislators: "International travel will be restricted to instances where it will be 'necessary to facilitate the work of the Committee' in question, according to a press release from the Speaker's office. Spouses of members and staffers will have to pay their own way and will only be allowed to travel when it is necessary for 'protocol purposes.' A representative's personal staff will also be barred from traveling internationally. House members and staffers will have to fly coach for flights under 14 hours. According to the release, these restrictions will bring the House in line with regulations established by the Department of Defense. Most flights will also have to be commercial -- military transports will be restricted." http://huff.to/c7spaa

Former Thomas Carper aide Tom Lawler has signed on to the Accord Group as a principal. One of Accord Group's major clients is Duke Energy and Tom Carper is a member of the Energy, National Resources and Infrastructure subcommittee.

Rachel Racusen is leaving House Ed&Labor after four-and-a-half years to become FEMA's Director of Public Affairs. We wish her all the best and know she'll do a heckuva job. But first get beers with her at Union Pub tonight.

It's also HuffPost intern Shriram Harid's last day. The former analyst with Goldman Sachs' Global Investment Research (2007) is off for depositions, followed by a month in Europe.

Big moves at ABC News: Congrats to Tom Nagorski who will be heading their international coverage and to Tom Johnson who is replacing him as World News's Senior Broadcast Producer. Kudos are also in order for Rick Klein who is the new Senior Washington Editor for WN.

Just posted to White House YouTube account: "The President and the Hovercraft" http://bit.ly/9m1pXs Includes POTUS quote, "You got a rocket-launcher?"

BENNETT EYES WRITE-IN BID - Sen. Robert Bennett, ousted last week in Utah's GOP primary, is "seriously contemplating running as a write-in candidate," Mary Ann Akers reports. "That's one option on the table," Bennett told her. http://bit.ly/aC3o8y

HAIL THIS EVENING? - "The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch effective from now until 9PM for the entire D.C. metro area. A storm system that was responsible for violent thunderstorms in the Midwest is moving over our area this afternoon and evening, ahead of a cold front. Winds of greater than 60 mph, lightning, hail of 1" or more, and torrential downpours will all be possible within thunderstorms. Graphic at http://bit.ly/cYsjXp"

The space shuttle Atlantis embarked off on its final journey this afternoon. NASA held a special Twitter event to mark the occasion. Of course. http://bit.ly/bI6FRi

Speaking of Journey, last night Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga and Sting performed "Don't Stop Believin'." Happy weekend, everyone: http://bit.ly/ash5Np

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

TRENDING

WHITE HOUSE KEEPING PRESS FROM KAGAN'S FAMILY - The Times reports the administration is attempting to shield Kagan's family from the media circus: "Reporters trying to conduct standard interviews with Kagan's family members or sit in on a constitutional law class taught by Kagan's brother Irving have been shut down by the White House, in the latter case after Irving Kagan and his school had already tentatively agreed to the request. Even Kagan's cousin, Gail Katz-James of Minneapolis, was silenced a mere two days after telling the New York Times her family "just really enjoyed debating and discussing everything." When the same reporter tried to get more comment from Katz-James after the story ran, she replied, "I'm sorry, I'm not able to talk to you." http://huff.to/blQiVQ

Ninth Justice has a nice photo slideshow of Kagan's second tour of the Capitol yesterday and all its surrounding hoopla. http://bit.ly/aQh1aN

Chris Beam has a look at Kagan's questionnaire: http://bit.ly/atWkbx

HOTTIE WITH A SMOKIN' LITTLE BODY... .COM - A Buffalo news anchor snatched up the domain hottiewithasmokinlittlebody.com. From Daily Intel: "Scott Levin, an anchor for NBC affiliate WGRZ in Buffalo, went online during his dinner break last night and bought hottiewithasmokinlittlebody.com, for the sole purpose of reselling it to someone who could turn it into something special. 'I certainly have no time whatsoever to do anything with the domain,' he tells us, but it was worth snapping up in case anyone wanted to buy it off of him. 'It's the capitalism that runs in my blood,' he says." No word from the BFD t-shirt guys. http://bit.ly/cxhqJP

THE QUOTABLE PALIN - All from today:

- "You don't want to mess with moms who are rising up. If you thought pit bulls were tough, you don't want to mess with mama grizzlies." http://huff.to/coyGYj

- "We won't forget those who promised to hold firm against government funding of abortion but caved at the last minute in exchange for a non-binding Executive order promised by the most pro-abortion President to ever occupy The White House." http://bit.ly/dwMsrF

- "We need to keep drilling." http://bit.ly/dBaqLd

RAHM BEGGED OBAMA NOT TO PURSUE HEALTH CARE - From Plum Line: "Rahm Emanuel spent nearly a week in the summer of 2009 aggressively trying to talk Obama out of moving foward with an ambitious version of health care reform, and by his own admission 'begged' him not to do it, a book out next week reports. The book, Jonathan Alter's The Promise, goes much further than previous accounts in documenting just how opposed Rahm was to proceeding with ambitious reform -- something that was widely suspected at the time but never proven in detail. Excerpts of the book were made available in advance of its release next Tuesday." http://bit.ly/b0Kjef

John Boehner says House Democrats haven't moved up a budget vote because they don't have enough support for one. http://bit.ly/dxMfI2

BOEHNER OPPOSES MONEY FOR TEACHERSTake a deep breath, relax and calmly read Boehner's reasoning for why the federal government shouldn't chip in to prevent teacher layoffs: "Unfortunately, the Administration's call for another $23 billion to pad the education bureaucracy will only make state governments more dependent on the federal government and more vulnerable when the federal funding explosion disappears. This latest state bailout proposal promotes the same flawed logic as the failed 'stimulus' bill that has contributed to a record $1.5 trillion deficit and left one in every 10 Americans from our workforce out of work."

Lloyd Blankfein sold his Central Park West apartment for $13.5 million, down from the original asking price of $15 million...but not before he bought a new one for $26 million. It's a real buyers market out there. http://huff.to/95EoqJ

FOX APOPLECTIC ABOUT MOSQUE IN DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN - This morning Fox and Friends discussed a proposed mosque that would be built several blocks away from Ground Zero. Guess how that went: "Host Gretchen Carlson called it a 'slap in the face' for 'this mosque' to be built 'right at the same site as where the World Trade Center towers fell down.' Carlson then asked Rep. Peter King (R-NY), 'where do you come in on this?' 'It is very offensive,' replied King." HuffPost Hill, which is one-third New Yorker, welcomes the plan and thinks diversity in all forms makes the Big Apple the greatest city in the world. ThinkProgress with the righteous indignation: http://bit.ly/9Yx5z0

Next week D.C.'s tap water will stop tasting like chlorine and will only poison you with lead, the way it should be. http://bit.ly/bm5t1B

SPECTER-SESTAK DOWN THE STRETCH - A Muhlenberg tracker shows Specter ahead 45-43 http://bit.ly/c1WuCI while the new Kos poll says it's Sestak over Specter 45-43 http://bit.ly/b6UeCw. Yesterday's Suffolk poll put Sestak up by nine, 49-40. Sestak's doing better against Toomey: Quinnipiac has Toomey beating Sestak by two and Specter by seven. HuffPost Hill wonders: Is there a single undecided PA primary voter who's gonna break Specter's way? People have had time to make up their minds on him.

Will field campaigns yield a Specter-Sestak surprise? - Open Left's Chris Bowers isn't so sure: "Have the mobilization efforts of the unions, Organizing for America, and the Philadelphia Democratic party somehow escaped the results of public opinion surveys to date? Of course not. The efforts of those groups to persuade voters and make them more likely to vote are already included in the public opinion surveys measuring the Pennsylvania Senate primary (which, on average, give Sestak a narrow lead). Field campaigning does not operate in a different plane of non-muggle existence from other forms of voter contacts (paid media, free media, new media). Field campaigning is also not excluded from polling. Voters who have been contacted by phone calls, yard signs, or by person-to-person canvassing on the ground, are, just like all other voters, contacted by pollsters. The likelihood of these voters turning up to the polls is, just like all other voters, also measured by pollsters." http://bit.ly/aN5JD2

PA. HOUSE PRIMARIES PREVIEW - From Hotline: "Ex-Congressional aide Mark Critz (D) and businessman Tim Burns (R) are battling over the late Rep. John Murtha's (D) Johnstown-based seat. Both parties can lay legitimate claim to the district; Dems enjoy a huge voter registration advantage, but the economic and demographic makeup of the district favor GOPers. Dem and some recent public polling puts Critz in the lead, but GOPers say the race is still a toss-up. Burns, the NRCC and outside groups have all aired TV ads linking Critz to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Pres. Obama, both of whom are viewed negatively in the CD. They've also attacked Critz on ethics." A thorough summary of the rest of Pennsylvania's primaries here: http://bit.ly/cUNw74

Charlie Crist's sister will run his independent Senate bid. http://bit.ly/aCEaeI

TALKIN' SOFTBALL - Politico Click on the congressional women's softball team and all we have to say is, you go Grace Napolitano: "The 12 women -- eight Democrats and four Republicans -- are a committed, bipartisan group. They practice at 7 a.m. up to three times a week, even in the freezing cold. Team members include Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jo Ann Emerson, Betty Sutton, Jean Schmidt, Grace Napolitano, Nydia Velazquez, Laura Richardson, Betsy Markey, Donna Edwards, Shelley Moore Capito and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. For the team's first (and only) big game last spring, they got creamed by a team of Capitol Hill staffers. So this year, they're doing things differently. Attendance is checked. There are two coaches -- Emerson's daughter Tori Barnes and Gary Caruso, a vet of Capitol Hill baseball. They stretch, run and practice plays." http://bit.ly/aG6rw0

COMFORT FOOD

- Heinz is changing its ketchup recipe for the first time in four decades. http://huff.to/9cKzX3

- Jonathan Rhys Meyers has been banned from United Airlines. http://huff.to/bdYQQt

- Major news anchor fail. http://bit.ly/bkeoyA

- The 1980s movie bully, an appreciation. http://huff.to/aKmN4A

- A dog was blown off a roof in New York and lived to..well..bark about it. http://bit.ly/de9zHe

TWITTERAMA

@daveweigel Hope Jack Conway wins in KY if only because "Brandy McCool" is by far the best flack name ever.

@Common_Oil_Spil: underestimate'd

@deceiver: If THE WIRE was still shooting today, you think the dealers would be on the corners, calling out, "Yo, I got that Deepwater Horizon!" http://bit.ly/c7an2q

@pwgavin: So there's video of an oil spill thousands of feet below sea level, but no one captured Obama's "Smoking body" compliment on video? http://bit.ly/diDDO0

@pourmecoffee: If Space Shuttle flew low over oil spill on way up, burning it up in huge streaking fireball, that'd be fine with me. http://bit.ly/c6GiNJ

@owillis joe biden reads popular science online. that is all.http://bit.ly/c9z8Dm

THE TUBE

TONIGHT

Steve Scalise was on Ratigan. Chuck Todd guest hosts Hardball with an impressive Friday night lineup: Bill Nelson, Ed Markey and Mike Pence. Ed Rendell and Bill Halter appear on Ed Schultz. Olbermann talks to Earl Blumenauer. Maddow discusses financial reform with Bernie Sanders.

TOMORROW

The Situation Room: Laura Bush.

SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY

Face the Nation:Dianne Feinstein and Jon Kyl.

Fox News Sunday: Laura Bush and Newt Gingrich.

Meet the Press: Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.

This Week: Patrick Leahy and Jeff Sessions.

State of the Union: Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak and Bob Bennett.

Political Capital with Al Hunt: Tim Geithner.

Washington Watch with Ascot Martin: Valerie Jarrett.

Fareed Zakaria GPS: Lawrence Summers.

MONDAY

The always entertaining Anthony Weiner visits Morning Joe. So does Ed Rendell

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:00 p.m.: "A casual gathering for media with the officers and senior staff of the AFL-CIO." [Meany Room and Terrace, 8th Floor 815 16th St.]

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Head over to Buffalo Billiards' patio room and help vicitms of the Tennessee flooding. Enter the $5 raffle for a chance to win prizes. All proceeds benefit the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. We'll be there [Buffalo Billiards, 1330 19th Street NW]

6:00 pm - 11:00 pm: Support CrisisLink, a suicide prevention group, while drinking away your own sorrows. A $5 donation helps the group do its really good work and gives you access to drink specials [Town Tavern, 2323 18th St. NW].

6:00 pm - 9:00pm: A bottle of wine and a beautiful sunset: sounds romantic doesn't it? Why not soak it in with Republican Congressman Douglas Lamborn (R-Colo.) [3200 Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway]?

7:00 pm: The 2010 Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival rolls on with a screening of My Best Friend's Wedding [Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, Arlington].

TOMORROW

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

MONDAY

7:30 am: We just love the image of Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) playing golf. The Maryland Senator will be teeing up at Whiskey Creek [Whiskey Creek Golf Course, 4804 Whiskey Court, Ijamsville].

A bevy of fundraising retreats this weekend...

Tonight through tomorrow: So Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) is hosting a "Reynolds Plantation Weekend" getaway tonight and tomorrow. This had to have gone through a planning stage and someone, surely, must have commented on the imagery (I believe the kids are calling it 'optics' these days) of a Republican holding a plantation getaway at the Ritz [Ritz-Carlton Lodge, 1 Lake Oconee Parkway, Greensboro].

Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) confirm other GOP stereotypes at their golf getaway weekend benefiting the House Conservatives Fund [80 Carolina Vista Drive, Pinehurst, NC].

Joe Barton (R-Texas), a member of the party of family values, hosts a Las Vegas retreat [Palazzo Resort, Las Vegas, NV].

Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) gets in on the luxuriating with his "Golf and Spa Retreat" fundraising trip. The event raises dough for Badger PAC [The American Club and Kohler Waters Spa, Kohler, WI].

For a paltry $2,500 you can join Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on his "Texas Trip" [Four Seasons, Austin, TX].

So what, there aren't posh country clubs in the Hawkeye State? Unlike his Republican colleagues, Tom Latham (R-Iowa) refuses to haul his ass home for a weekend fundraiser [Country Club at Woodmore, 12320 Pleasant Prospect, Mitchellville, MD].

Ditto, Joe Baca (D-Calif.) is hosting his golf retreat in Miami. We've been to Baca's district. He's forgiven. [Blue Monster at Doral Golf Resort, 4400 NW 87th Ave, Miami].

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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