On the last day of we'll-deal-with-it-after-recess-palooza, the Senate decided to irrevocably tarnish American jurisprudence by confirming the nomination of a highly qualified Harvard Law dean to the Supreme Court. Elsewhere, a government panel confirmed that this year's sweeping health care bill will keep Social Security afloat until 2029 (at which point, we imagine, the costs will be offset by death panels). We're not worried about things getting slow, however: we have reporters camped out at the college Rand Paul didn't graduate from and all the Floridian palm trees Charlie Crist is aching to hug. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, August 5th, 2010:
BREAKING: CHRISTINA ROMER LEAVING WHITE HOUSE, NOT PLEASED WITH LARRY SUMMERS - "Christina Romer, chairwoman of Pres. Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, has decided to resign, according to a source familiar with her plans. Romer, an economics professor at the University of California (Berkeley) before taking the key admin post, did not respond to repeated calls to her office. 'She has been frustrated,' a source with insight into the WH economics team said. 'She doesn't feel that she has a direct line to the president. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers [director of the National Economic Council], who does have a direct line to the president.'" Hotline: http://bit.ly/aNrkLz
SENATE CONFIRMS ELENA KAGAN AS ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT - Even though her habit of ordering the bald eagle on rye at Katz's Deli before taking the 1 train to Harvard Law where she ruthlessly promotes sharia law and abducts military recruiters to flush out her softball team's outfield on orders from an Israeli judge -- about whom she has a work-in-progress tribute collage that she updates with Bill Clinton during their weekly bingo night meet-ups at Cambridge's hottest LGBT bar, The Unfurled Lotus -- is well-documented, the Senate this afternoon confirmed Elena Kagan 63 to 37 as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Stay with us in the coming days and weeks for all your End Days news, complete with that refreshing HuffPost Hill attitude you've come to know and love. You had a great run, America. http://bit.ly/15xh28
Landmark: the Supreme Court will, for the first time, have three female justices.
Ben Nelson was first Democrat to vote against his own party's nominee since 1968, the Omaha World Herald's Joe Morton (@joeindc) tells us.
The scene: The press gallery was filled to the brim with journos trying to catch a glimpse of history (a rare occurrence, as Patrick "NO PRESS?! NO PRESSS??? Kennedy will tell you). Staffers, also eager to witness the vote, lined the walls of the chamber -- they had earlier been granted floor privileges. Aides for Harry Reid took a victory lap in the gallery, chatting it up with reporters while grinning ear-to-ear. Before the final yeas and nays were read, presiding officer Al Franken let the chamber know that "any expressions of approval or disapproval are inappropriate." After Franken read the tally, there was no applause, only the hushed din of reporters and guests shuffling out. This was quickly overtaken by the sound of John McCain lambasting his Armed Services Committee counterpart Carl Levin for his "betrayal" of U.S. troops by including a hate crime-prevention bill in a defense spending measure. And D.C. rolls on...
In case you don't believe us, here's the C-SPAN screen capture of the final vote: http://cs.pn/ccp2FS
In case you don't double rainbow believe us, all the way, here's McCain FREAKING OUT at Levin: http://cs.pn/bQ2NzF
Scott Brown voted no, a position he announced just hours earlier. "The reason is simple. I believe nominees to the Supreme Court should have previously served on the bench. Lacking that, I look for many years of practical courtroom experience to compensate for the absence of prior judicial experience."
This decision was no doubt reached while standing in a cranberry bog, something the Massachusetts senator appears to be doing on his website. http://bit.ly/cb7NrS
SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION RELEASES REPORT ON STATE OF ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM - Dan Froomkin: The new health care law has significantly improved the prognosis for Medicare, extending the life of its trust fund by 12 years until 2029, and thereby delaying any need for dramatic changes in benefits or revenues, according to a new report. The annual check-up from government actuaries overseeing the nation's two central safety-net programs also found that Social Security continues to be much less of a problem than Medicare, and will remain in strong financial shape at least through 2037.'The financial outlook for the Medicare program is substantially improved as a result of the far-reaching changes in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,' concludes the Medicare report -- although the trustees warned that the improvements depend on the successful implementation of the law." http://huff.to/dtGQA8
Full report: http://bit.ly/cODg5O
AARP: "Today's report from the Social Security Trustees reaffirms that the program is financially strong in the short-term and can be strengthened for the future with relatively modest adjustments. With pensions, savings, investment values and home equity down, with many older workers unable to find jobs, and with health costs continuing their upward climb, Social Security's guaranteed benefits are more crucial than ever."
Nancy Altman, co-chairman of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign: "Every year, the trustees' reports become an excuse for fear mongering by those who should know better. This year, the news is especially good for Medicare, thanks to the enactment of health care reform. The news for Social Security is even better, revealing once again that Social Security's promised benefits are fully affordable without benefit cuts and without increasing the retirement age."
The AFL-CIO sent around a release this afternoon voicing its support for the DREAM Act, which would allow "undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years and have graduated from high school or received a graduate equivalency diploma (GED) to legalize their immigration status through pursuing a college education or serving in the U.S. military." We'll first find out how many undocumented students live in close proximity to Ground Zero before we decide if this is a good thing.
Dianne Feinstein on birthright citizenship: "The United States lived for over 200 years; this has been a respected part -- that you're an American if you're born here. And I'd fight tooth and nail to see that that doesn't change." Sombrero tip, Lucia Graves.
HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES MOVES UP DEBATE ON SEC EXEMPTION TO FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT - Seeing as how they're going to be in D.C. next week anyway, Barney Frank has decided push up Financial Services hearings on a FOIA exemption that allows some documents provided to the SEC by financial institutions to be kept secret. A release by Frank's office says they will be held on September 16th.
S TODAY - The Hill: Alexander Bolton on how Democratic leaders are facing a tough decision on how much money to spend to save Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who is trailing her Republican challenger by 20 percentage points in recent polls.
Fannie Mae announced that it's doing better financially than it has been, reducing its losses significantly. Much of the credit should go to FHFA acting chief Ed DeMarco, who has been going to battle with banks in an effort to force them to take back toxic loans they improperly dumped on taxpayers. In other words, look for Treasury to push for a new FHFA head any day now. Chris Dodd already is. WaPo: http://bit.ly/97v6q4
SENATOR INTRODUCES MEASURE TO ASSIST SUPERLONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED - Arthur Delaney: "Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced a bill Wednesday that would provide extra weeks of benefits to people who've reached the end of their unemployment insurance lifelines. The measure would provide 20 extra weeks of unemployment benefits and extend a tax credit for businesses that hire workers who've been unemployed for 60 days or longer. 'Across our state, more than 35,000 people who have lost their jobs have also exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits,' said Stabenow in a statement. 'I know that these men and women want to work and have been trying their best to find jobs in this difficult economy.'" Tell that to Jon Kyl. http://huff.to/cMk5Gu
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Uphill battle for Stabenow bill, referred to Finance Committee, chaired by Max Baucus, who worked hard to preserve existing extended benefits all year long but who believes "99 weeks is sufficient." :(
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PCCC BOMBING SENATE WITH ELIZABETH WARREN CALLS - A third HuffPost Hill was in a Senate Democrat's waiting room this evening, shirking HuffPost Hill duty, and the phones were ringing mad. The receptionist kids said that they'd gotten at least 200 calls today urging their boss, Maria Cantwell, to back Warren for the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the P Street Project are behind the flood, having called on their members to whip support. TPM: http://bit.ly/cL7X5a
LIBERAL FIREBRAND AND BLINDINGLY-BRIGHT-TIE ENTHUSIAST ALAN GRAYSON BUDDYING UP WITH TELECOMS - Rep. Alan Grayson shocked his passionate followers in the progressive online community this week when he aligned himself with the telecom industry and pressured the Federal Communications Commission not to write regulations protecting the principle of net neutrality. Conservative bloggers immediately embraced Grayson, with Andrew Breitbart's Big Government mockingly offering him a "very warm welcome to the party," while reminding readers that he "is about as rabid a Leftist partisan as there is in Congress." Both Big Government and RedState.com gleefully noted that Grayson employs Matt Stoller, a former prominent blogger and leading net neutrality advocate. On Monday, Google is expected to announce a deal with Verizon that would end net neutrality and allow telecom companies to slow down particular websites and charge fees similar to cable for access to certain sites on mobile devices. (There is increasingly little difference between mobile and stationary devices.) Verizon, under the agreement being negotiated, could crush blogs, companies or political candidates by slowing down their sites. http://huff.to/b9Gg37
HILLARY CLINTON TO JON KYL: QUIT BEING SUCH AN UNRELENTING ASS HAT - In a letter to the Arizona senator, the secretary of state requests he lift his hold of Raul Yzaguirre's nomination to be the ambassador to the Dominican Republic. In the letter, Clinton notes Kyl's opposition to elements of the Iran Sanction Act but basically tells him to STFU. Full letter: http://bit.ly/b3BIge
Life, liberty and the pursuit of annoying people on the Metro by pretending to look busy. Secretary Clinton is in talks with the United Arab Emirates over its proposed ban on Blackberry Messenger. The UAE's government has essentially said that it is too difficult to monitor and censor activity on the mobile device. "We are taking time to consult and analyze the full array of interests and issues at stake because we know that there is a legitimate security concern, but there is also a legitimate right of free use and access," she told reporters today. Reuters: http://bit.ly/bmRmpk
A GUIDE TO THE "SHADOW GOP" - The Upshot has a helpful overview of the major players in the GOP 2010 efforts. Their nifty scene-establishing lede confirms that they don't, in fact, meet in a underground pleasure-chamber dotted with fainting couches and white chocolate fountains. "The four groups--American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS, American Action Network and the American Action Forum--are all a part of a larger GOP network assembled in recent months to help rebuild the Republican brand. While dozens of former GOP lawmakers and seasoned Republican strategists are involved, the effort largely springs from the work of two former Bush aides: Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman who later served as White House counselor, and Karl Rove, the man Bush once described as the 'architect' of his presidency. All of the organizations were founded separately and organized as individual groups. But each is working closely in concert--they share the same office space within the New York Ave. building, and according to Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for American Crossroads, his group rents its offices from American Action Network." http://yhoo.it/a5J3oH
Daily Kos has announced it will use pollster PPP for some of its surveys from here on out. Writes Markos Moulitsas: "We've settled on two separate pollsters -- one to do our election horserace polling, and one to do our weekly State of the Nation national polling. We're still not ready to announce the latter, since we're still dealing with some last minute negotiations. But we can announce our horserace pollster: Public Policy Polling (PPP). We obviously wanted a credible firm to excise the ghost of R2K, but we also wanted an accurate one. Well, according to Nate Silver's pollster rankings, PPP was among the most accurate. Strip out the firms that focus on a single state (like U Cincy, Field, etc), and it's top 10." http://bit.ly/bZYwdN
MCCONNELL TO FRANKEN: THIS ISN'T SNL - Manu Raju in Politico: "When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out his opposition to Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination, someone in the chamber appeared to be moving around in his chair, gasping and rolling his eyes. It was Sen. Al Franken. Moments before Kagan's confirmation vote Thursday, the Minnesota Democrat was presiding over the Senate -- and the Kentucky Republican thought the freshman senator was mocking his speech. Upon the conclusion of his remarks, a very irritated McConnell removed his microphone, approached the dais and confronted the former comedian. 'This isn't 'Saturday Night Live,' Al,' McConnell told Franken sternly, according to people who overheard the exchange." http://politi.co/d9L23n
LATE UPDATE - Franken apologizes: "'The leader thought I was disrespectful while he was giving his speech on General Kagan,' Franken said in a statement to POLITICO. 'He is entitled to give his speech with the presiding officer just listening respectfully. I went directly to his office after I was done presiding to apologize in person. He wasn't there, so I've sent him a handwritten note.'"
RENOWN DOCTOR RAND PAUL DIDN'T GRADUATE COLLEGE - Rarely is the question asked, is our Rand Paul learning? "Rand Paul, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Kentucky, holds a medical degree from Duke University but never received a bachelor's degree from Baylor University, contrary to several media reports in recent months. Baylor officials confirmed this week that Paul was a student there from fall 1981 to summer 1984 but never obtained a degree. Instead, he left early when Duke accepted him in its School of Medicine...Other media organizations that have reported Paul graduated from Baylor include The Associated Press, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Time and U.S. News & World Report." Lexington Herald-Ledger: http://bit.ly/9cTCMq
MITCH MCCONNELL WON'T CAMPAIGN AGAINST HARRY REID - In keeping with a Senate tradition that is enforced basically whenever people feel like it (and is there anything more American?), the Senate minority leader won't campaign against his Democratic counterpart. Sam Stein: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) re-affirmed on Thursday that he will not be heading to Nevada this election cycle to campaign on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle. 'I am not going to Nevada,' the Kentucky Republican said, during a breakfast briefing sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. McConnell did not elaborate on his reasons for avoiding the Silver State. But it is likely based on the unspoken tradition that Senate leaders in their respective parties won't directly campaign against each other. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid adhered to that decorum back in 2008 when he avoided attacking McConnell during his reelection bid." http://huff.to/98HD9I
Andrew Romanoff, who is running to the left of Michael Bennet in Colorado, has been blasted by an oil executive for soliciting donations from said oil executive. Sam Stein: "With five days until the vote, the Colorado Democrat has stood by his promise to not accept money from political action committees (PACs) and to avoid special interest donors in his run for office. But an admission from his campaign manager that, should he be elected, he would take funds from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- itself funded heavily by PAC donations -- spurred a tough Denver Post editorial on Thursday morning...Tim Marquez, a major philanthropist, Democratic donor and CEO of Venoco Inc. said that months ago he received a call from Romanoff requesting a meeting -- a call that he interpreted as a fundraising plea." http://huff.to/cbLxzW
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a pug falling in a toilet: http://bit.ly/15xh28
Indiana Senate candidate Dan Coats thinks K Street after Congress is like Europe after college...no one should be denied the experience. "Former Sen. Dan Coats says he doesn't think senators should have a lifetime ban from becoming lobbyists. Coats worked as a lobbyist after leaving the Senate in 1999 and says he favors current rules that require senators to wait two years before registering as a lobbyist...Coats said Wednesday that many people have a misconception of lobbyists' work. He said lobbyists can help companies and states access their government." We're pretty positive THAT IS everyone's conception of lobbyists' work. Indy Star: http://bit.ly/aB8hiB
Kendrick Meek on the prospect of some steamy Charlie Crist-on-palm tree love: "If a poll was to come out tomorrow and say that Floridians would see you in a better light if you hug a palm tree for 30 minutes a day, he would be out there for an hour hugging a palm tree. It's the way he operates." Orlando Sentinel: http://bit.ly/9LQvi2
One of Sharron Angle's primary rivals' mom is now campaigning against her. The Hill: "Lois Tarkanian, the mother of a former GOP Senate candidate in Nevada, will join Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) campaign to hit Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate who defeated her son in a primary. Tarkanian, the wife of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and the mother of former Republican Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian, will join Reid's campaign to 'call out Sharron Angle's extreme and dangerous positions against Nevada's working families.'" http://bit.ly/cLNoWF
JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: There's a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until 10 p.m., as a cold front is sweeping in http://bit.ly/oicRM. Tomorrow: It gets a bit cooler, might touch the 90s, but doubtful. Thanks, JB!
Weather trivia time! There have been 5 hurricanes that have hit Boston, Mass. Which of these was the strongest? Send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org A real doozy, JB!
- Some anti-gay protesters getting beaten at their own game. http://huff.to/cfsDsw
- Mr. T's fashion advice. http://bit.ly/9k03x4
- Kind of suggestive. Every lightsaber unsheathing from all 6 Star Wars movies. http://bit.ly/dthq3A
- A house made of books. http://bit.ly/bqykLW
- Owl versus worm. Owl wins, looks incredibly cute doing so. Celebrates with other cute owls. http://bit.ly/d5Z2yh
- A throwback balloon sculpture instruction video. http://bit.ly/d477ue
- There are many reasons why keyboard tossing isn't an Olympic sport. This is one of them. http://bit.ly/cyy3uQ
@pourmecoffee: Get ready all y'all other branches because the Supreme Court softball team just got an UPGRADE.
@badbanana: I keep getting Lily Allen and Katy Perry mixed up. Also Justin Bieber and George Stephanopoulos.
@borowitzreport: Fine, Kagan. But who's going to replace Ellen on American Idol? #priorities
TONIGHT: Deborah Halyorson and Steve Scalise were on Ratigan. Luis V. Gutierrez, Phil Gingrey and palm tree lover Charlie Crist were on Hardball. Byron Dorgan and Sheldon Whitehouse stop by the Ed Show.
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].
5:00 pm: Jazz in the Garden features Bjorn Solli, a Norwegian jazz guitarist. Huh [Smithsonian Sculpture Garden, 700 Constitution Avenue NW ].
6:00 pm: It's First Friday again at the Hillyer gallery. $5 donation suggested but as much wine, beer and finger food as you can stomach. Plus great art [Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Court NW].
6:00 pm: A veritable indie-behemoth, Arcade Fire and Spoon, perform at Merriweather Post Pavillion. Anyone with an extra ticket who wishes to show their apprecition for HuffPost Hill knows what to do [Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD].
7:00 pm: Despite being known far and wide for its AMAZING sense of humor, there aren't enough comedy shows in D.C. Wonderland remedies that with its "Don't Block The Box Comedy show" [Wonderland Ballroom, 1101 Kenyon St NW].
8:15 - 10:15: The Rosslyn "I Love the 90s" Film Festival this week presents "Romeo and Juliet" featuring Paul Rudd's 5-foot-high haircut [Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway].
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