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Happy Hour Roundup

* Nice Joe Klein column on the Specter-Sestak showdown. Of particular note: The part about how military service made Sestak a Democrat.

* Laugh all you want: Eric Cantor's new initiative to have people vote on House GOP budget cut proposals is a huge hit, with his office confirming the total votes cast has hit 100,000 and counting.

* Even John McCain's conservative Republican colleagues can't stop themselves from laughing uproariously at his new America's Sheriff act.

* Sestak leads by nine in a new Suffolk University poll, though that seems like an outlier.

* After hearing Elena Kagan out, Scott Brown decides she's not anti-military and says he has no problem with her explanation for banning military recruiters.

* Susan Collins today parted ways with Republicans on not one, but two anti-Kagan talking points, dismissing both the "judicial experience" argument and the claim she'll be an Obama rubber stamp.

* Charlie Crist, who opposed Sonia Sotomayor when he was a Republican, now says of Kagan: "I think she'd do a great job."

* Still more evidence, this time from a Research 2000 poll for DailyKos, that Blanche Lincoln and Bill Halter are headed for a runoff. (DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas is backing Halter.)

* This is only tangentially related to health care, but check out this yarn about a massive pharmaceutical company that engaged in tax dodging so egregious that even the Tea Partyers are condemning it.

* Sam Stein does a deep dive into Obama's campaign-style operation to get health care reform passed, another sign of Huffington Post's increasing efforts to meld Web and long-form journalism.

* And others have noted this, but be sure to watch this video of GOP Rep. Lamar Smith repeatedly demanding that Eric Holder blame "radical Islam" for the recent terror threats, and growing angry with Holder for wanting to approach the topic in a nuanced way:

Ben Smith notes that Holder's answers were "in keeping with the administration's policy of avoiding any impression of a confrontation with Islam." No wonder Smith was so angry!

What else is happening?

UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Last item edited for accuracy.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 13, 2010; 5:42 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Foreign policy and national security , Happy Hour Roundup , House GOPers , Immigration , Political media , Senate Republicans  
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@Greg: "Scott Brown...says he has no problem with her banning of military recruiters."

The link didn't really say that, did it?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 13, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Scott Brown satisfied with Kagan's answer on military recruiting

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) met with Elena Kagan this afternoon and took the opportunity to ask about her attempt to bar military recruiters from Harvard Law School.

Kagan's move to bar recruiters from a campus facility – because, she said, the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was discriminatory and "profoundly wrong" – has emerged as the biggest conservative talking point against her nomination. Brown, however, seemed satisfied with the solicitor general's explanation.

"She answered it, I felt, very honestly, and it was very clear to me after we spoke about it at length that she is supportive of the men and women who are fighting to protect us and very supportive of the military as a whole," Brown told reporters after the meeting.

"I do not feel that her judicial philosophy will be hurting men and women who are serving," Brown added.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 13, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Hindsight is 20/20, but I think Meek provoking Crist about Kagan was not too smart. It's a checkers move and he needs to be playing chess. By coming out for Kagan, Crist isn't going to anger any GOPs who would vote for him anyway (moderates), but it will potentially make centrist Dems feel like it's OK to vote for a guy who isn't after Obama. Gives him a nice split with Rubio, too.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 13, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

BG -- very astute. You could very well be right. Tho it does fuel the "opportunism" narrative when you contrast it with his opposition to Sotomayor...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 13, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I'd say Crist can automatically counter the "opportunism" charge by always pointing to Rubio as forcing his hand on these kinds of decisions.

"The teaparty/club for growth made me do it."

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 13, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

RE: Kagan

I wonder if her nomination will become an issue in the KY - Sen primary. It seems like just the kind of thing Mongiardo likes to buck the national party on. I doubt he'll do it now that Conway (who is all round impressive) is closing in.

Speaking of Kagan and Kentucky, where's the coverage of the McConnell rumors?

Posted by: MichaelConrad | May 13, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Well jeeze Michael, if the new norm for women who play sports means they're gay, there's a lot more lesbians in the world than previously thought, right? I not only played softball, but field hockey, surfed and I'm still a swimmer. One of my daughters even played rugby and is a rower. I'll have to ask her boyfriend about that, it's not like her to leave me in the dark. Hopefully, this asinine "concern" is only playing out under the surface and won't make it to the front burner. If it does, I suppose you're right, we should probably check on McConnell as well. All's fair in love and war.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

From TPM:

"Softball, the Gateway Ball

Pat Buchanan and other well-known cable news gender theory experts discuss the well-known connection between softball and lesbianism."

Mrs. BG played soccer in college. Now I'm really getting worried.

And oh god, I played intramural softball in college (fast pitch AND slow pitch)! I feel like I don't even know myself anymore.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 13, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

My husband convinced the kids that he invented the color pink when they were little and he reads fortunes with dominoes.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

D'Day has a nice post up today regarding the FinReg amendments being debated on the floor of the Senate. Here's part of his take and in the link is a great quote from Dorgan.

"A lot of people are surprised by the fact that Wall Street reform seems to be improving as it moves through the Senate. I do generally agree with the premise – the strong derivatives piece, the audit the Fed amendment, the Franken amendment on credit rating agencies, the Merkley-Klobuchar amendment banning liar loans and yield spread premiums, all of these are positive, though that’s not universal (Kay Bailey Hutchison’s amendment yesterday returned a lot of power back to the Federal Reserve to oversee the banking sector, and would increase forum-shopping from community banks)."

"But if you wanted to answer the question of why this is happening, I think it’s simple – the legislating on this bill is being done out in the open. The Senate Banking Committee basically passed the Dodd draft with almost no work done on it. So that meant that Senators would get a crack at it on the floor. And the biggest victory in this entire process has been the promise on the part of the Democratic leadership not to put in artificial 60-vote thresholds for every amendment. With a majority-vote standard, Senators knew they were getting a fair shake to shape the bill. And under the watchful eye of advocates who can easily paint any vote to the public as a case of putting the interests of banks over the people, Senators were forced to vote in the interests of their constituents. And that has been very beneficial."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse


Very good point. According to this logic, pretty much everyone is a lesbian.

I'm hoping this was just a blip, but I wouldn't put it past certain media outlets to keep the Dumb Train moving.

Lawrence Lessig and Glenn Greenwald had a really substantive back and forth on Kagan today. There are important debates to be had regarding this nomination. Though I personally think James Doty at Salon, Lessig, Lawrence O' Donnell, and Elliot Spitzer -- the more pro - Kagan camp -- has been more persuasive (because it's Kagan's job as SG to make the Admin.'s case), I'd look forward to more public platforms for critics so all of this can get a thorough airing.

I knew not to get my hopes up for the kind of debate we we would all benefit from, but speculation about her sexual orientation and pictures of her playing effing softball? Really? That's beyond insulting to people who actually care about these issues. Even if it's on Morning Joe... the softball garbage is just too stupid to give any air time to. Fill the time with discussion about Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga or American Idol or whatever. Anything but "Does softball = lesbian?" with Pat Buchanan, who has absolutely zero credibility.

If it involves "teh gheyz" or "womanly folk" or "darkies" or "teh joos" you just know Pat Buchanan is going to have nothing of merit to add whatsoever. Just thinly - veiled bigotry. They should contact The Onion and get Joad Cressbeckler to take his place. He comes across as thoughtful, modern, and relevant compared to Pat.

Anyway, end rant.

Hope you're doing well.

Posted by: MichaelConrad | May 13, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes Michael, all we can do is satirize this softball=lesbian talking point. I don't know how many people out there may or may not believe something so ridiculous, but I'll be quite happy to ridicule them whenever possible.

I agree the Kagan pick is mostly fine, I was just hoping for a more substantive debate and maybe we'll still get it during the hearings, I hope so. I still think he could have picked someone a little more controversial, but then I'm partial to larger than life debates, although I usually back down at some point. I just think the dialogue is worth having.

And yeah, we're fine here, just busy. I went to NM a couple of weekends ago to check on my sister and am going back tomorrow afternoon. She took a serious fall so my services are needed. Unfortunately, she lives in the mountains with no internet access so I'm incognito when I'm there. LOL

Have a nice weekend all, I'll say Hi in the a.m. then I'm gone again!

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Big surprise of the day...

"Size of Oil Spill in Gulf Underestimated, Scientists Say"

Posted by: bernielatham | May 13, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

We're on the same wavelength tonight Bernie. It's all pretty overwhelming and after I saw the video yesterday of the leak, it was pretty obvious to even a novice like me, we were in BF trouble.

"But sophisticated scientific analysis of seafloor video made available Wednesday by the oil company BP shows that the true figure is closer to 70,000 barrels a day, NPR’s Richard Harris reports."

"That means the oil spilling into the Gulf has already far exceeded the equivalent of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil."

"The analysis was conducted by Steve Werely, an associate professor at Purdue University, using a technique called particle image velocimetry. Harris tells Michele Norris that the method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent. That means the flow could range between 56,000 barrels a day and 84,000 barrels a day."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

2nd big surprise of the day. From Townhall.

"The second attack on the World Trade Center is coming. It will stand 13 stories high, cost $100 million dollars and include a mosque. Known as Cordoba House -- the name echoing an early caliphate that, of course, subjugated non-Muslims -- it will be located two blocks away from where our magnificent towers crashed and burned, easy wafting distance for the Islamic call to prayer.

How demoralizing is that?"

Posted by: bernielatham | May 13, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

lms, have a safe trip.

And oy, Bernie, thanks for the link (I guess). The xenophobia in this country right now, which is, I hope, the last gasp of a pathetic generation, is bumming me out. We can do better than this.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 14, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Ims - We are usually on the same wavelength, you, me and bilge. I believe we must have been separated at birth. It's a great sadness what fate held in store for bilgey, don't you think? Raised in that trailer park in Lubbock, the mother with tattoos, the over-filled Nevada brothel ashtrays and coffee table covered with glued down bingo chips. There were disadvantages for our brother.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 5:40 AM | Report abuse

BG - Yeah. To some, like that woman, the absence of Muslim-hatred is a sign of weak personhood.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 5:46 AM | Report abuse

In his column today, Michael Gerson lays out the compass points of compassionless conservatism.

As I began reading him this morning it seemed as if I might have to acknowledge that the man, rarely for sure but now and again, can demonstrate that he cares about anything much past Republican electoral gains and power. But then he becomes Michael Gerson again.

"But it would be absurd to deny that the Republican ideological coalition includes elements that are anti-immigrant -- those who believe that Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, are a threat to American culture and identity."

Yes, it would be absurd.

"Never mind that the level of illegal immigration is down in Arizona or that skyrocketing crime rates along the border are a myth. McCain's tag line -- "Complete the danged fence" -- will rank as one of the most humiliating capitulations in modern political history."

All true, Michael. So, where are you going to go with this promising beginning?

"Immigration issues are emotional and complex. But this must be recognized for what it is: political suicide...

Even describing this reality invites scorn from those who regard immigration as a matter of principle instead of politics. But this represents a deep misunderstanding of politics itself. In America, political ideals are carried by parties. Republicans who are pro-business and pro-life, support a strong national defense and oppose deficit spending depend on one another to achieve influence. Each of these convictions alienates someone -- pro-choice voters, economic liberals, pacifists. But Republican activists who alienate not an issue-group but an influential, growing ethnic group are a threat to every other constituency. The vocal faction of anti-immigrant Republicans is not merely part of a coalition; it will eventually make it impossible for anyone else in that coalition to succeed at the national level."

You'll notice the abiding concern that runs through Gerson's column for the victims of bigotry and xenophobia - that is, the targets of it and the broader community within which it is fostered, justified and even celebrated. Here's a fellow who clearly has the makings of a proper modern conservative SC nominee. No sign, high or low, of that empathy thing.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I suppose I should add that after careful consideration I've reluctantly had to conclude that I really despise Michael Gerson.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

I'd mentioned earlier that the boys and girls at NRO really didn't want to see the present British electoral arrangement come into being. Why would they care? Their editorial today gives some clues as to why it mattered...

"As the coalition takes shape, it begins to look as if they may intend it to be a permanent new grouping in British politics that might even solidify into a new party. Both supporters and critics of this development have seen it as a way of depriving the Tory Right (a mythical beast in reality but shorthand in political journalism for mainstream conservatives) of any influence. This dream of a “Centre Party” that would hold government indefinitely against the “extremes” of Left and Right is an old fantasy in British politics. It was attempted by Lloyd George and Churchill in the 1920s. It is fundamentally undemocratic and — paradoxically — would lead to greater political instability as the so-called extremes grew to resent their permanent exclusion from influence...

"If the coalition becomes permanent, they will at best be kept on as pets or displayed in cages as once-powerful beasts. For American observers the stakes are higher than mere ideological sympathy with fellow conservatives. The British political tradition represented by these Tories is one that shares America’s tradition of political and economic liberty and that is willing on occasion to make common sacrifices for it."

A couple of things to note. First is that what the editors are naming as "traditional" Toryism isn't. They mean Thatcherism which was far further right that traditional Tory policy and philosophy (as Reaganism was to prior Republican philosphy/policies was here).

Second, note that they deem such a coalition as they fear might persist successfully (with the possibility of a marginalized Thatcherite wing) as "undemocratic". One suspects that the NRO editors would somehow find a persistent Republican/conservative coalition here as a wonderful and patriotic expression of "democracy".

But still, one could ask, why would these folks at the NRO care about what happens in Britain? It isn't just that there is an ideological favoritism, I suspect, though that's surely a part of it. A less savory aspect arises from their perception that to the degree their vision of proper governance (Reaganism/Thatcherism) becomes less credible if Britain turns away from it. Here's an example of what I mean...some years ago as Canada considered gun registration laws, the NRA spent a lot of time and money trying to influence Canadian sentiment away from anything like what was being considered. What they feared was a working model of gun control right next door, and highly visible to Americans.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

More on how much oil could actually be leaking into the gulf...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

ps re the above... I think that we should remember that any event such as this one or Chernobyl doesn't tell us anything at all about the magical and heroic godliness of entrepreneurial capitalism.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

All, morning roundup posted:

(with that NPR thing in it, Bernie)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 14, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Damn. I hate having to be fair (probably the consequence of being a twin..."Whaddaya mean, we each own half of the baseball glove?!")

But JP Green at DS looks at Gerson's column and writes something not too much different...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

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