Heckuva job, Barry: Americans think the government's handling of the oil spill is worse than its Katrina response. With Fox News and Bloomberg battling for the Helen Thomas vacancy, a two-seat solution may be the only viable path forward. Back on the Hill, Congress reconvened after the Memorial Day recess. This week, they'll be debating unemployment extensions, combining the two chambers' Wall Street reform bills, welcoming a swarm of nudists and possibly breathing a sigh of relief (if you're Harry Reid) or looking for a cushy government relations gig (if you're Blanche Lincoln). This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, June 7th, 2010:
EXCLUSIVE: WHITE HOUSE BACKS UNLIMITED LIABILITY FOR OIL SPILLERS - HuffPost's Sam Stein reports that the White House has confirmed that it favors the most recent piece of legislation that would drop any numerical ceiling to the amount of money an oil company like BP would have to pay for economic damages caused by a spill. Currently the cap is a $75 million. "The President supports removing caps on liability for oil companies engaged in offshore drilling," said spokesman Ben LaBolt. "Oil companies should have every incentive to maximize safety and arbitrary caps on liability create a disincentive to achieve that goal." The statement is the most detailed the administration has offered to date with respects to the debate surrounding BP's liability, and reflects a growing sentiment within the White House that more aggressive action is needed to stem the political fallout of the Gulf crisis. http://huff.to/bHGSkD
WALL ST REFORM CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEETS THIS WEEK - Reuters with the look ahead: "The delicate task of crafting a winning compromise will fall to Representative Barney Frank, who will chair the 'conference committee' getting under way in a few days, and Senator Christopher Dodd, a consensus builder who will lead the Senate negotiating team...Disputes loom over banks' lucrative dealings in derivative contracts, such as credit default swaps; the amount of capital they must set aside for hard times; and the trading they do on their own books unrelated to customers' needs." http://bit.ly/9Nu9j4
House conferees are expected to be appointed Wednesday. The Senate's have already been named.
LAST-MINUTE PRIMARY POLLS - Nevada GOP Senate: Angle 32, Tarkanian 24, Lowden 23 (http://bit.ly/b4bkYa). Nevada GOP governor: Sandoval 47, Gibbons 33 (http://bit.ly/b4bkYa). Arkansas Dem Senate: Halter 49, Lincoln 45 (http://bit.ly/c8ZKJL). California GOP Senate: Fiorina 37, Campbell 22, DeVore 19 (http://bit.ly/cktk50). South Carolina GOP governor: Haley 43, Barrett 23, McMaster 16, Bauer 12 (http://bit.ly/aEfwZW). South Carolina GOP 4th District: Gowdy 37, Inglis 33, Lee 9, Thomas 9, Jeffrey 5 (http://bit.ly/aEfwZW). Iowa GOP governor: Branstad 57, Vander Plaats 29 (http://bit.ly/c1FRb2).
OBAMA'S FAVORABILITY AMONG HISPANICS DROPS - To 57%, down from 69% in January. Gallup: "The two major drops in Hispanics' approval of Obama this year -- in February and May -- coincide with two periods when the president was under fire for not doing enough to promote comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. After Obama's State of the Union speech in January, several leading Hispanics and Hispanic groups criticized Obama for not devoting more attention to immigration reform in the speech -- and, more specifically, for not fulfilling his campaign promise of making comprehensive immigration reform a top priority." http://bit.ly/cHSX0y
BP TO REPLACE CONTAINMENT CAP - AP: "BP PLC said it plans to replace the cap collecting the crude with a slightly bigger device next month. The newer cap will "provide a better, tighter fit" than the current one collecting roughly one-third to three-fourths of the oil gushing daily from the sea floor...BP believes the bigger cap will fit over more of the outflow pipe than the current cap, Wine said, but the change will allow the oil now being collected to again spew out into the Gulf during the changeover." http://huff.to/bdBO8J
WATCHDOG WANTS DEEPWATER BP RIG SHUT DOWN - Lucia Graves: Food & Water Watch, in court filings, alleges that another deepwater BP well, Atlantis, is missing critical safety and operations documents and has moved for a preliminary injunction that would order the government to shut down the rig, which operates 190 miles south of New Orleans at a depth of 7,050 feet. Interior will issue a response to the case on Thursday, June 10th.
The government is urging BP to grant the media access to oil spill sites. AP: "Thad Allen, who is overseeing the federal response to the Gulf oil spill, said that "general guidance" had been issued that there were only two reasons why the media should be prohibited from an area: 'If it's a security reason or a safety reason because of personal protective equipment.' 'Other than that, we are putting no restrictions on access,' Allen told a White House news briefing." http://huff.to/ckEfGx
CHARLIE CRIST DENIES INVOLVEMENT WITH GREER SCANDAL - Elyse Siegel: "Florida Gov. Charlie Crist denies he had any knowledge of former state GOP chairman Jim Greer's alleged plot to defraud the state party despite accusations that the Republican-turned-independent Senate candidate was involved in the scheme. Greer attorney Damon Chase recently charged Crist with signing off on the ex-party chair's plan to divert state party funds to pay for his own personal expenses, but according the Florida governor, the claim isn't true." http://huff.to/doq6rZ
White House Correspondents Board releases statement on Helen Thomas: "We are saddened by her recent comments but we commend her for a trailblazing career."
DEFICIT HAWKS TAKE NOTE - Three-quarters of registered voters think Congress should forget about the deficit and preserve extended unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for laid off workers, according to a new poll commissioned by the National Employment Law Project. http://huff.to/9GO557
More from Delaney: People laid off from now on are no longer eligible for subsidized COBRA health insurance, a safety net that catching roughly 1.5 million people, unless the Senate amends the House tax extenders bill. That's all, folks. http://huff.to/ayoDgQ
REVEALED! THE NEW C-SPAN BUS - Swing by HuffPost DC headquarters tomorrow after lunch to take a look at C-SPAN's brand spankin' new 45-foot digital bus. It'll be open for tours starting at 1:30 PM at 1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. You might even get a glimpse of the mysterious Howard Mortman. Papa bear Mike Allen will be filing Playbook from the bus in the morning, and also spot it earlier in the day at 4001 Nebraska Ave. for MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" and outside the Daily Caller offices around noon.
Photo: The elaborate New York Times-styled cake at Saturday evening's farewell party for Adam Nagourney, who's off to run the Gray Lady's LA bureau. http://bit.ly/cL6Hd4
TOMORROW IN THE HILL - Walter Alarkon on how the mortgage interest tax break once thought to be untouchable is getting a hard look from lawmakers trying to lower the deficit.
CORPORATE RAIDERS DESPERATELY LOBBYING TO KEEP TAX LOOPHOLE... BY COMPLAINING OF FAVORABLE TREATMENT FOR FAMILY FARMERS - Bloomberg's Ryan Donmoyer reports on the latest argument from investment fund managers worried they might actually have to pay taxes like regular rich people: "Blackstone Group LP and other firms protesting a plan by Congress to increase taxes on executives of investment partnerships are focusing on what they say is an exemption for family farmers." Farmers have pitchforks, don't they? http://bit.ly/8ZBMZe
AMERICA'S FUTURE NOW! CONFERENCE KICKS OFF IN DC - The calves are getting restless in their pen, if today's (fairly sparsely attended) conference for is any indication. Speaker after speaker beat up the White House for turning away from a progressive agenda. "Last year, the event ended with a brunch. This year it ends with a 'March On The Treasury: We Want Our Money Back,'" observes Dave Weigel. The attendees, however, tended to spread the blame thickest on Obama's staff, rather than on the president himself. With the day's griping over, it's time to head over to the Diplomat Room & Terrace for a "Margarita Party" hosted by Campaign for America's Future. Scroll down for the rest of the night's events.
POLITICO: LEFT TO OBAMA: WE'RE NOT HAPPY - Glenn Thrush on the AFN scene: "The left has a message for Barack Obama: Shape up, or we're shipping out.
A high-profile conclave of progressives, which served as a platform for supporting Obama in years past, opened in Washington Monday amid growing disenchantment with the president over the Gulf oil spill, health care, jobs, immigration and political deal-cutting. Liberal activists warned that Obama can no longer count on a progressive base that was supposed to protect Democrats from a mass wipe-out in the midterms in 2010, and propel him to reelection in 2012. "We are not apathetic, we are not depressed -- we are willing to get out and fight for the people who fight for us," said Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn.org's campaign director, at the Campaign for America's Future annual meeting. "But no longer can they count on us for a solid Democratic vote. We are getting more sophisticated to understand that not all Democrats are created equal."" http://politi.co/d4mI2V
Dana Milbank was at the conference, so look for a liberal skewering on A2 tomorrow.
If you've got room in your evening diet for an 11,000 word explanation of how this came about, bon appetit: http://huff.to/8ZAwYU
P.S. There's a new iPhone! 15 things you need to know: http://huff.to/9C7sl5
Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to firstname.lastname@example.org
PRIMARIES TOMORROW - Voters in 11 states will head to the polls tomorrow. In Nevada, Harry Reid will at long last have a Republican challenger as Tea Party-favorite Sharron Angle will try and hold on to her lead over the establishment-backed Sue Lowden. Reid would love to see Angle pull this one out. Bill Halter tries to keep the momentum going against Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and there will probably be a dearth of y-chromosomes at the top of the GOP's California ticket.
Harry Reid might be the biggest winner tonight. WaPo's Amy Gardner: "In their zeal for a third big win this spring after victories in Utah and Kentucky, 'tea party' groups are lining up behind the most uncompromising GOP candidate they see: Sharron Angle, a former state assemblywoman with steadfast views against taxes and government spending. She has led a 12-person pack in recent polling. But by backing someone who many times was the lone "no" vote in the Nevada assembly, these groups may be handing Reid the candidate he can most easily beat." http://bit.ly/9p7iGM
With Bill Halter leading Blanche Lincoln in recent polls, the White House appears to be distancing itself from Lincoln. Sam Stein: "But over the past few weeks, as the incumbent senator's prospects for holding onto the seat have became more unsettled, the president and his team have been noticeably silent about the race...Aides won't go there on record, or even on background. But they don't correct the assertion that they've stepped back from the race. The evidence is obvious. Save a perfunctory, donate-to-Blanche-email signed on June 2 by Vice President Joseph Biden, the type of formal campaigning that team Obama rolled out prior to the first vote (with radio ads and robocalls) has been completely non-existent." http://huff.to/aFzV2p
WaPo's Sandhya Somashekhar picks up on a tech theme to California's GOP primaries: "Both Republicans vying for the nomination to succeed the term-limited Schwarzenegger earned notoriety and vast fortunes as executives in Silicon Valley. Frontrunner Meg Whitman is the well known former CEO of eBay. Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner founded two companies, one of which pioneered technology used to put GPS devices in mobile phones, according to his Web site. A former tech executive is also the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate: Carly Fiorina became a household name during her controversial stint as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. And former Facebook executive Chris Kelly is running for attorney general." http://bit.ly/ctaFz7
Via Andrew Sullivan, a hilarious new anti-Prop 8 campaign posits that subjecting homosexuals to the tedium of marriage might be, in and of itself, something of a hate crime. http://bit.ly/ayOkmM
Tea Partiers are even making inroads in New Jersey - AP: "Twenty-nine Republicans are seeking to represent the state's 13 U.S. House districts. That's more than any year since at least 1980, when the state had 14 seats in the House. The high number of candidates is especially surprising since every incumbent in the state is seeking re-election. It's usually open seats that draw crowded primary fields. Much of the boom comes from candidates backed by tea party groups, or who at least share ideas with the loose coalition of organizations that have sprung up in the past couple of years espousing limited federal government and lower taxes. Tea partiers often de-emphasize traditional conservative social positions, such as opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage." http://bit.ly/9jVo6r
Time highlights six other races to watch including House primary challenges in Virginia, California and South Carolina. http://bit.ly/9ZRk9S
In case you missed it, Rand Paul compared himself to MLK and the abolitionists in an op-ed this weekend. Nick Wing: http://huff.to/bnJ3lE
GOLDMAN SACHS WITHHOLDING INFO, CONGRESSIONAL PANEL SAYS - Shahien Nasiripour: "The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission slapped Goldman with a subpoena compelling the most profitable firm on Wall Street and the nation's fifth-largest bank by assets to turn over documents and produce employees for interviews...This is at least the panel's third subpoena pushing financial industry exes to comply with its request. The FCIC's first such subpoena was issued to Moody's Corporation in April for the firm's delay in producing documents and allowing investigators to interview Moody's Investors Service personnel. Its second subpoena was issued last month to famed investor Warren Buffett, compelling his June 2 testimony before the FCIC. Both parties complied. In a statement, the FCIC said it issued its subpoena to Goldman for 'failing to comply with a request for documents and interviews in a timely manner.'" http://huff.to/aMo8yt
"According to a lengthy new piece by Steve Fishman in New York magazine, Madoff, who apparently pals around with a former mob boss and a spy in a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina told a fellow inmate, 'F--- my victims. I carried them for twenty years, and now I'm doing 150 years.'" http://huff.to/9SanW8
OIL SPILL UPDATES - Gulf Coast residents are reeling from Thad Allen's announcement yesterday that the oil leak will continue well into the fall. "This will be well into the fall. This is a siege across the entire Gulf. This spill is holding everybody hostage, not only economically but physically. And it has to be attacked on all fronts," he said on Face the Nation. http://huff.to/aeuKgL
How much oil is the containment dome catching and how much is leaking? "The company says its new dome is diverting 10,500 barrels of oil to a tanker above. But the number again raises the still unanswered question of just how much is actually coming out of that well...The high figure that they've reported capturing would indicate that the larger estimates of how much oil is coming out of the well may be correct. Up until May 27, both BP and the federal government maintained that the release was just 5,000 barrels per day. The team of experts assembled by the federal government then offered an estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day. But a closer inspection of the government's actual report reveals that the figure is probably closer to the high-end estimate offered by the team studying video of the release site, which estimated that as much as 25,000 barrels has gushed from this well every day for almost seven weeks now."
A New ABC/Washington Post poll indicates that most Americans think the government botched the oil spill worse than Hurricane Katrina. The survey also finds that, by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans want criminal charges to be filed in relation to the spill. http://bit.ly/b3ZRST
Obama after a cabinet meeting today: "What is clear is that the economic impact of this disaster is going to be substantial, and it is going to be ongoing... I do not want to see BP nickel and diming these businesses that are having a very hard time." http://politi.co/b6o8zl
Check out HuffPost's slide show of the disaster: http://huff.to/dnpo4O
CLIMATE AMENDMENT TO BE ADDED TO ENERGY BILL - The Hill: "[Chuck] Schumer hinted that the legislation would be largely based on an underlying energy bill authored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The committee approved that bill with several GOP votes a year ago. It would be on top of that where Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would have an opportunity to offer their proposals to rein in climate change, Schumer explained." http://bit.ly/btk4I6
Women and children and investigative correspondents first. Michael Isikoff is leaving Newsweek for NBC News. http://huff.to/cOQy2r
Whoomp, there he is: Did Obama appear in an early-90s rap video? http://bit.ly/dusNzE
...no. Michael Steele's status as Washington's premier music video star is still intact (fast forward to 0:28): http://bit.ly/anzYBR
AFGHANISTAN PASSES VIETNAM AS AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR - Happy Monday, everyone! Today marks the 104th month of America's military presence in Afghanistan, surpassing the Vietnam War's 103 months.
John Conyers in HuffPost: "Clear objectives have been replaced with murky concept-slogans, like 'securing the population' or implementing 'government in a box' in previously lawless areas, which seem to have only a tangential connection to allowing our troops to complete their mission and come home. For example, as we prepare for a new offensive in Kandahar, the failure of the Afghan police to impose order following the recent operations in Marja should cause Americans to question whether the current troop surge is helping to bring the war to a close." http://huff.to/9bCocm
The American Association for Nude Recreation is hitting the Hill this week, lobbying against legislation that it claims will adversely affect their websites and publications. The press release is golden: "Nudists with the American Association for Nude Recreation say there may not be a nude beach in Washington. But they have established a "beach head" on Capitol Hill and they won't be yielding it any time soon..." The Hill: http://bit.ly/9gpqhU
THOMAS OUT - An old lady was forced to quit today for acting like an old lady. Helen Thomas announced that she is retiring from Hearst Newspapers, effective immediately. The veteran reporter, who turns 90 in August, faced mounting criticism for her comment that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and relocate to Germany and Poland. The comment brought to an end a distinguished career as an aggressive White House columnist that stretched back to the Eisenhower administration. http://huff.to/bDM56B
"I have not spoken with [the president] directly on that," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Monday. "I think those remarks were offensive and reprehensible. She should and has apologized because obviously those remarks do not reflect certainly the opinion of most of the people in here and certainly of the administration." http://huff.to/cpoICC
The rabbi who shot the video of Thomas making her controversial statement says he has more footage. http://bit.ly/9wosgQ
Happier times. Here's President Obama singing happy birthday to Thomas just last year. http://huff.to/BGhCi
PRESS SCOURS THROUGH KAGAN DOCUMENTS - The Observer: "On Friday, the Clinton Library made a document dump of some 46,000 pages of memos from Elena Kagan's time as a White House domestic policy advsier. The wonks have had a weekend with the documents, so were they able to find a pubic hair in this can of Coke? Short answer: No. Kagan's input on most of the documents is the odd handwritten notation, meaning that those looking to build a case against her were reduced to overanalyzing scribbles." http://bit.ly/dpB9OG
JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Low humidity and cool weather is your best friend in the summer. Tonight, expect low 70s with no rain. Finally a good chance for an evening barbecue. Tomorrow, it'll climb up to the 80s with a small chance of light showers in the afternoon... Let me also say that I was so right about this weekend. Thanks, JB!
- A Providence woman awoke to an intruder who had fallen asleep in her house. He claimed he was a census worker. http://bit.ly/9KlMkK
- A collection of poorly-translated subtitles. http://bit.ly/c54Tnp
- From the maker of the iPad, the iBoard and iMat. http://twitpic.com/1utwkt
- A survey of the "Keanu is sad/eating a sandwich" meme. http://bit.ly/aBw8kB
- Justice is blind FAIL: Speaking of house invasions, an African-American man was arrested for trespassing... too bad it was his own home. Paging "Skip" Gates... http://bit.ly/djc8Tj
- The most erratic for-sale flyer ever. http://bit.ly/bO7VsK
- Watch this chimp solve a difficult puzzle. We'll let you know when it's blogging for HuffPost. http://bit.ly/dBrXNp
- A classic: William Burroughs shooting William Shakespeare. Seriously ("He's dead, man"). http://bit.ly/2qCH39
@pourmecoffee: I don't think Helen Thomas retirement actually opens up a seat in the WH press room. She was very tiny. http://bit.ly/bMxkSF
@thewishnow: the new #iphone will change phone sex forever http://bit.ly/c4wfiL
@robhuebel: I am no longer dating veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas. We will continue to sleep together from time to time. http://bit.ly/bLO9ns
@gregpalmer: When I worked in Congress, we'd call letters from Henry Waxman "Henrygrams" because they put the fear of God into people. http://bit.ly/bYlewt
@bobpowers1: Fun little piece in the times! "Should we sterilize the population and end the human race?" http://nyti.ms/a5bKCk
@GregMitch: Let it be recorded, in any case, that at final press conf Helen Thomas only reporter to ask Obama: When are we getting out of Afghanistan? http://bit.ly/dxAVhi
Sue Lowden goes on Hardball. Maxine Waters is on Ed Schultz. Greta Van Susteren welcomes John McCain and John Barrasso. Anthony Bourdain is on Maddow (???).
Blanche Lincoln and our own Sam Stein appear on Morning Joe.
6:00 pm: Dollar Movie Night at Arlington Cinema and Draft House. "Hot Tub Time Machine" will be screened [Arlington Cinema and Draft House, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington].
7:00 pm: More NoVa movies - Crystal City BID hosts a summer of Star Trek. This week Crystal Screen will present the first Star Trek movie [18th and Bell Streets, Crystal City].
The three-day America's Future Now! conference debates progressive strategy in the Obama era, argues over how to curb Wall Street power and wonders about the rise of random exclamation points in progressive political nomenclature. Former aides to HCAN! will be in attendance. The schedule of speakers: http://bit.ly/bCtF9s
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: It wouldn't be a gathering of progressives without an officially designated "networking" event, now would it? Margaritas in the Omni's Diplomat Room and Terrace.
8:00 pm: At the "Laughing Liberally Comedy Hour," a bunch of stand-ups try to reconcile humor and political correctness.
9:00 pm: More networking!!! "Next Generation's Progressive Party" is in the Omni's Palladian Room.
8:30 am - 9:30 am: John Conyers (D-Mich.) hosts a information session for pregnant women at his "Labor Issues Breakfast" [National Democratic Club Townhouse, 40 Ivy Street SE].
10:00 am: OPTICS FAIL. As his state bathes in Castrol, Rodney Alexander (R-La.) hosts a country club fundraiser in Bowie. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) will make an appearance [Country Club at Woodmore, 12320 Pleasant Prospect, Mitchellville, MD].
America's Future Now! continues. Here are a few of the events:
8:30 am - 9:15 am: Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rallies the troops at the Regency Ballroom at "Making Change."
1:50 am - 11:30 am: Howard Dean discusses purple America's blueshift at the Regency Ballroom.
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm: Networking!!! Food!!! Networking!!! At the Omni's Ambassador Ballroom.
1:15 pm - 2:00 pm: The AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka and the Times' Bob Herbert discuss jobs and economic equality in the new economy.
Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (email@example.com), Ryan Grim (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nico Pitney (email@example.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e