Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - AUGUST 4TH, 2010

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With Washington still thumbing through George Packer's article on the lunacy of the Senate (which Chris Dodd calls a "ridiculous story"), our federal government mustered a win today: A district court judge ruled that California's Proposition 8 violates some of our nation's most cherished principles. The Senate okayed a bill that provides state funding for teachers and Medicaid. Rather than let the bill languish over recess, Nancy Pelosi tweet ordered (tworded?) the House to reconvene next week to pass the measure -- to the collective groan of staffers with vacation plans and fundraisers with fundraising plans. We'll be back tomorrow, when the Senate is expected to confirm Elena Kagan and Gabrielle Giffords will try to squash accusations that her campaign is "pathetic and stupid." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, August 4th, 2010:

JUDGE RULES THAT PROP 8 IS SO GAY In a landmark ruling today, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the California proposition that outlawed same-sex marriage "violates their due process and equal protection rights." Hooray! Looks like civil rights were able to eke out a win in a news cycle dominated by 14th Amendment repeal. http://huff.to/d318E7

Conclusion: "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."

Full ruling: http://huff.to/c6CfTa

Judge Walker has stayed entry of the judgment for six days -- we won't be seeing gay couples getting married at City Halls around California for at least a week or so.

White House: "The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans." http://bit.ly/amEQZD

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Today's decision is by no means California's first milestone, nor our last, on America's road to equality and freedom for all people."

Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal: "It is not only a home run, it is a grand slam." http://huff.to/d318E7

LDS Church: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today's decision. California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We agree. Marriage between a man and woman is the bedrock of society."

Matthew Shepard's mom Judy on HuffPost: "The plaintiffs in this case are law-abiding, family-oriented, tax-paying citizens whose privacy was invaded, and whose dignity was affronted, by a misguided and unconstitutional law. Their victory at trial shows that our courts still play a vital role in safeguarding the rights of minorities from majorities who misunderstand them." http://huff.to/9krN7M

APPROPRIATORS GETTING BOUNCED - The CW has long been that the well-paved road to easy reelection ran through the Appropriations Committee. But voters don't seem to be such bacon lovers anymore. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) lost his Senate bid, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, an appropriator, lost to Rep. Jerry Moran, who isn't one, in the primary for Kansas governor. Arlen Specter, of course, is a big time appropriator, as are Dem House losers Alan Mollohan (W.Va.) and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (Mich.). They all had their own issues going on, but winning bread didn't translate into winning votes. (Thanks to trend-spotter Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense for spotting the trend.)

A HuffPost Hill Volcker Rule Told Ya So - Remember when Fox was freaking out, saying that Goldman Sachs had figured a way around the Volcker rule's ban on prop trading? To paraphrase us at the time: "B*tch, be cool." Today, CNBC reports that Goldman is giving serious consideration to spinning off its prop-trading desk because of the new restrictions.

HOUSE TO BREAK FROM RECESS TO VOTE ON STATE AID - Speaker Pelosi today tweeted (Ohhhhh my Goooooooddddd) that the House would reconvene next week (Nooooooooooooo) to vote on the Senate's bill (I already booked my flight to Flagstaff) which allocates funds for municipal programs including teacher pay and Medicaid funding assistance (I had Guster tickets). Understanding the urgency of the situation, Washington insiders reacted with characteristic perspective and maturity (Ughhhhhhhhhhhhh). http://huff.to/daQRKW

Earlier in the day, the Senate passed the bill. The vote was 61 - 38 with Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe the only two Republicans to break ranks with their party.
No word yet on exactly when the House will be voting -- or how. The House was so sure that it was done for the month that construction around the chamber's 30-year-old main voting display is already in the works. "They're not going to like that, but they're going to have to come back. Who's going to have to make that call to Nancy Pelosi? I'd like to hear that one," said Chris Dodd. A few hours later, she'd tweeted the House back in session.

Scott Brown, on why he voted against aid to the states and how it raises taxes but doesn't really so QUIT MISUNDERSTANDING HIM: "We can't afford it. I filed a bill, as you know, that would have fully paid for it, and wouldn't have raised taxes. Businesses are hurting and those are the folks that are creating jobs."

Reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell: "Can you explain how it raises taxes?"

Brown: "I didn't say it raised taxes. It actually changes the tax code for businesses and puts more of a burden on them. Obviously, the way that they're going to try to tax foreign profits on corporations who do business overseas is problematic, especially in Massachusetts where we have a lot of businesses just like that."

Google Inks Evil Deal With Verizon - Google sold out backers of net neutrality today, a betrayal that has long been predicted, given the power the search engine wields relative to blogs or non-Google-sized companies. Rather than pressing the FCC to craft regulations that would keep the Internet open, it cut a side deal with Verizon that would restrict the telecom "from selectively slowing Internet content that travels over its wires, and wouldn't apply such strictures to Internet use on mobile phones," Bloomberg reports.

HARRY REID WILL HOLD SEPTEMBER VOTE ON BUSH TAX CUTS - A clear signal that Reid believes there is political traction in letting 43's tax breaks for the wealthy expire, the majority leader's office today signaled the Senate will debate the matter shortly after the August recess. "Senior Democrats had expected the controversial issue to be postponed until after the election, when a fiscal responsibility commission appointed by President Obama is due to release its recommendations...'I expect it to be on the floor in September,' said Reid spokesman Jim Manley." The Hill: http://bit.ly/9LAov6

Tim Geithner went populist with his opposition to extending the tax cuts for the wealthy during his speech at the Center for American Progress today. "The most affluent 400 earners in 2007 -- who earned an average of more than $340 million dollars each that year -- paid only 17 percent of their income in tax, a lower rate than many middle class families," he said. "The legacy of the crisis is millions of unemployed Americans, idled factories, a national debt swollen by eight years of deficit spending and growing income inequality." He continued: "We live in one of the richest economies in the world -- but one in eight Americans is on food stamps today."

A reminder: Yesterday Senate Republicans were treated to this video at their caucus meeting, meant to hype them up for a tax battle: http://bit.ly/butaUc

A double reminder, all the way: "The Economic Freedom Act of 2010 -- introduced by Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) -- proposes deep tax cuts favoring the wealthiest in America, a reduction in regulatory oversight and the elimination of a federal tax on the estates of millionaires, which will allow wealthy investors to escape taxes entirely on a significant portion of their income." Laura Bassett: http://huff.to/ajO4ke

Also on tap for the fall, a measure that would eliminate "secret holds" in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has backed the effort to reform the filibuster, said Wednesday that he'd schedule a vote in the fall. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), and Claire McCaskill (D- Mo.) have gathered more than 60 backers for their elimination of the secret hold. http://huff.to/aSt9gN

CHRIS DODD TELLS FRESHMAN SENATORS TO CUT IT WITH THE PRAGMATIC IDEALISM - Chris Dodd gathered with the Democratic Senate freshman class on Tuesday night at a dinner organized by Mark Warner to persuade them to back off their push to change Senate rules when the chamber returns in January, the first opportunity there will be to do so. "I made a case last night to about ten freshman senators, you know, you want to turn this into a unicameral body? What's the point of having a Senate? If the vote margins are the same as in the House, you might as well close the doors," Dodd told reporters in the Capitol. http://huff.to/aSt9gN

Dodd on George Packer's New Yorker article about dysfunction in the Senate: "These articles about 'the empty chamber' -- what a ridiculous story. With the exception of '64, '65-'68, it's probably been the most successful session of this Senate in 50 years. We take two issues that have been defying resolution for 60 years and get it done, dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, how is that empty? Now, you know, Democrats have a conflicting message. On the one hand we're b*tching about the fact that the Republicans won't let us bring up certain matters so we can't get certain things done, so we're arguing against ourselves in a way. I mean, the fact is, yes, that's true, but in spite of that we've gotten a great deal done."

TOMORROW'S PAPERS TODAY - The Hill: The Hill's editors and reporters sit down with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who talks about the future of climate change legislation and the November elections. Roll Call: House Democrats should be careful what they wish for, writes Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis and Emily Pierce. After grousing for months that the Senate had failed to act on jobs legislation, House Democrats now have to cut short their summer break after the Senate finally managed to advance the legislation. Financial Times: US banks with Wall Street operations are bracing for a slump in trading profits this year after the third quarter got off to a poor start, with global economic uncertainty and Europe's sovereign debt woes leading to a slowdown in market activity in July.

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

SCOOP I, via Hotline's Reid Wilson - "The RNC's Budget Committee as approved acquiring a $10M line of credit in order to cover the party's financial shortfall, a move committee members called essential to winning Dem-held seats this fall." http://bit.ly/dwu4QD

SCOOP I, via FT's Edward Luce - "George W. Bush insisted that publication of his forthcoming memoirs, 'Decision Points,' ...be put back until after the midterm elections, according to people close to the former president. ... According to friends of Mr Bush, he resisted plans by the publisher to launch the book in September, which is traditionally a better time to maximise sales." http://bit.ly/aTsdBO

SCOOP III, via NPR's David Gura - "According to three sources, Virginia A. Seitz, a partner at Sidley Austin, has emerged as a leading candidate to head the Office of Legal Counsel, a critical job at the Department of Justice. ... The Office of Legal Counsel's chief job has been unfilled for years. During the Bush administration, it attracted international attention for approving harsh detainee interrogation tactics. President Obama had nominated Dawn Johnsen, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, for the job, but she withdrew her candidacy this year after the Senate failed to act."

KAGAN RECIEVES ENOUGH BACKING FOR CONFIRMATION ON DAY TWO OF SENATE DEBATE, AMERICANS SOON WILL CHOKE ON SOOT AND ASH OF CRUMBLING REPUBLIC - It looks as if our fears of living in a Zabar's-infested, socialist co-op hellscape where we're forced to sing "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" continuously will be realized. Howard Mortman emails: "C-SPAN has confirmed that at least 61 Senators intend to vote for cloture, moving forward the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Of these, only Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) says he then intends to oppose Ms. Kagan in the final confirmation vote, which only requires 50 Senators to approve the nomination. C-SPAN's confirmed tally for the final confirmation vote commitments now stands at 60-33. See member-by-member commitments at http://c-span.org/kagan.

ERIC CANTOR HELPS SENATE DEMOCRATS REDUCE THE DEFICIT - From Arthur Delaney: "Looking to offset the $26 billion cost of FMAP funding, Senate Democrats decided to end the Advance Earned Income Tax Credit, a cut that will save $1 billion. It happens to be the very same cut recommended last week by House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who this year launched YouCut, an initiative that gives Internet voters a chance to nominate the U.S. government's most wasteful spending program. But Cantor will probably not savor returning to Washington next week to vote on the Senate's measure. Says spokesman Brad Dayspring: 'While we welcome the Democrats' embrace of the YouCut initiative, the purpose of the program is to start cutting spending, not to use the cuts that Americans want as an opportunity to increase government spending somewhere else.' FUN FACT: The CBO estimates that the measure approved by the Senate today reduces the deficit by $1.371 billion."

ONE-QUARTER OF OIL STILL IN GULF, STUDY FINDS - "Federal scientists say about one-quarter of the BP oil that spilled out of its broken well remains. A new government report says nearly three-quarters of the oil - more than 152 million gallons - has either been collected at the well by BP's cap, burned, skimmed, chemically dispersed, naturally deteriorated, evaporated or dissolved." http://bit.ly/bnohRr

"The vast quantities of oil and dispersants that have flooded the Gulf of Mexico are now disappearing into the water column, leading scientists to worry about the long-term toxic effects. One species of particular concern is the Gulf sturgeon, a remarkable "living dinosaur" of a fish that can reach 1000 pounds, and can cause serious injury with its armor-plated skin as it leaps through the air." Wonk Room: http://bit.ly/dyCUhj

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour: Gulf seafood is safe and has been "tested more than any other food in the history of the universe." http://bit.ly/9vcCwc

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' self-aware Republican opponent Jonathon Paton: "The only way Gabrielle Giffords is going to win this race is by trashing me personally," Paton said. "They're pathetic and stupid." http://bit.ly/9DQJ03

Today is President Obama's birthday and the RNC would like you to send him a card. http://bit.ly/cRK29W
It's as if they purposefully released this today. A CNN poll finds 27 percent of Americans don't believe President Obama was born in the United States. http://bit.ly/bqWVdD

Obama's horoscope via today's Washington Post: "You have given your love to the loveless and befriended the friendless -- the fantastic karma comes back to you this year." (HT: Reuters' Toby Zakaria)

CITING A HIGHER POWER, SHARRON ANGLE ATTACKS HIGHER POWERS - A clip has emerged, dug up by Jon Ralston, of an interview with a Christian radio station in which Angle accuses President Obama and Harry Reid of blasphemy. No word on whether the president has coveted his neighbor's ox or donkey yet. "And these programs that you mentioned -- that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward -- are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that's really what's happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We're supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government." Via Greg Sargent: http://bit.ly/aG7A6W

Bill Clinton will stump for Pennsylvania Senate candidate Joe Sestak this Tuesday. Clinton, who encouraged his former employee to quit his primary challenge to Arlen Specter in a widely publicized telephone call, will appear at a rally in Scranton. Sestak previously worked on Clinton's National Security Council as the director of defense policy. Morning Call: http://bit.ly/bI7W0Q

The Connecticut Senate race between Richard Blumenthal and Linda McMahon is heating up, if ever so slightly. A new poll from Quinnipiac finds the Nutmeg State A.G. and proud public servant during Vietnam leading former WWE executive and person who kicks dudes during in the groin Linda McMahon 50% to 40%. That is a step up for McMahon who hasn't been this close to single digits in some time. Chris Dodd chalks up the tightening to the $20-plus million McMahon has already spent -- more, he says, than he spent in all five of his races. http://bit.ly/byx3Ur

BIKE RIDING SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR ANNOYING FRIEND'S SANCTIMONIOUS BRAGGING POINT, CANDIDATE SAYS - Denver Post on the conspiracy: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor [and candidate himself] John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are 'converting Denver into a United Nations community.' 'This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,' Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial. Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes 'that's exactly the attitude they want you to have.'"

RNC VOTES TO INVESTIGATE SOURCE OF EMBARRASSING, POLITICALLY DAMAGING LEAKS - Two suggestions -- One: http://bit.ly/anjAum and Two: http://bit.ly/M1VYB . TPM: "An anonymous source in the Republican National Committee told CNN today that the committee, at its summer meeting in Kansas City, has voted to investigate the source of recent leaks to the media. The RNC has had a series of embarrassing leaks lately, some silly and some more serious: A memo from the treasurer accusing top officials of hiding the committee's debt; the departure of top fund-raisers; and weird emails, written by interns, asking foreign ambassadors to meet with Steele." http://bit.ly/a3hqlO

Interestingly, Norm Coleman, who is rumored to be pining for Michael Steele's chairmanship, is skipping the RNC's summer meeting in Kansas City. "The decision is being taken as a sign that the former U.S. senator wants to squelch rumors about a possible challenge to RNC chairman Michael Steele. Coleman, currently running the American Action Network, a group raising money for Republican candidates around the nation, has avoided questions about any ambition he may have to take over the RNC from the gaffe-prone Steele." Star Tribune: http://bit.ly/ds3ufX

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Isolated storms have been popping up. BE PREPARED. Tomorrow: This is where the fun begins. It's going to get really hot (mid-90s, but will feel like it's over 100.) so get shade and hydrate. Moderate to severe thunderstorms will come through the area in the mid-afternoon through early evening. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- The best news freeze frame ever? Or the BESTEST news freeze frame ever? http://huff.to/aAjEHj

- A woman dialed 9-11 for a date. We just dial to alleviate the crushing loneliness...oh the crushing loneliness. http://huff.to/adr2Bz

- Star Wars cupcakes. http://bit.ly/dm5Ktx

- Brick versus washing machine. Brick by KO. http://bit.ly/augoov

- Lindsay Lohan has been given the Taiwanese CGI treatment. Complete with hypothesized soap dropping and Al Gore. http://youtu.be/0rpUjWujSng

- A picnic table in a suitcase. http://bit.ly/cTEDyV

TWITTERAMA

@friedmajon: Prop 8 is overturned! This is the best Shark Week ever!

@mattduss. BREAKING: Christian Church discovered one block from site of Oklahoma City bombing http://bit.ly/cSlH8F

@pourmecoffee: Ground Zero should be zoned "NR-1" -- only permissible use is for huge Norman Rockwell Superstore.

@ConanOBrien: Newsweek was just sold for $1. To show you how media has changed, the asking price for my twitter account is 65 billion

@denisleary: Bristol Palin refudiates fiancé.

@JoyVBehar: Happy 49th Birthday @BarackObama. I've been 49 for a couple of years myself, and I can tell you from experience it's a very good age.

@KremlinRussia_E: My congratulations to @BarackObama on his birthday http://krln.ru/NNM3

THE TUBE

TONIGHT: Debbie Stabenow, Jim Moran and Alan Grayson are on the Ed Show. David Boies and Ted Olson discuss the Prop 8 ruling on Rachel Maddow.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: A group of California congressional staffers will host a happy hour fundraiser benefiting the Gulf Coast [The Ugly Mug, 723 8th Street SE].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: You line his pockets, he'll line your arteries. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) hosts a "Krispy Kreme Breakfast" fundraiser [National Republican Senatorial Committee, 425 2nd Street NE].

11:00 am: New Hampshire Senate candidate William Binnie (R-N.H.) makes a D.C. trip for a meet and greet [National Republican Senatorial Committee, 425 2nd Street NE].

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who has been contending with some pretty scary poll numbers as of late, throws a pre-primary reception [The Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave NE].

6:30 pm: Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) empties wallets at a dinner in his honor [Bobby Van's Grill, 1201 New York Ave NW].

TOMORROW

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Hacks and Flacks brings together, well, hacks and flacks. Erikka Knuti, Ryan Rudominer, Jack Pfeiffer, Matt Thornton, Doug Thornell, Brad Bauman and The Democratic Communicators Network host [18th Amendment, 613 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE].

8:45 pm - 10:45 pm: The Capitol Riverfront Outdoor Film Festival continues with a screening of "Rocky" [Canal Park, 200 M St SE].

All Day: We thought fundraisers like these only happened in movies and John Girsham novels. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) hosts a golf outing with none other than Arnold Palmer (or so says the invite) [Latrobe Country Club, 346 Arnold Palmer Drive, Latrobe, PA].

8:30 am: Even though it's recess, Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is scheduled to attend a breakfast fundraiser (his scheduler couldn't be reached to confirm) [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm: A bevy of GOPers past and present come together to raise funds for Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) including Bill Paxon, Tommy Thompson and John Sununu [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].

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