TPM News

Republicans raised eyebrows yesterday when they criticized the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, as a way to attack nominee Elena Kagan, his former clerk. One would think that, to avoid any appearance of racial dog-whistling, the senators attacking Marshall's record would be able to name the decisions or opinions with which they so vociferously disagreed.

After the hearing broke last night, TPMDC asked three of the top Republicans on the Judiciary Committee which of Marshall's opinions best exemplified his activism. And while two of the three were careful to praise Marshall the man, none of them could name a single case.

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Jon Stewart talked to Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod last night and wanted to know: "What's more annoying? Obstructionist, reflexive antipathy towards the President and his goals, or insatiable, never-satisfied, always-want-more people who want this President to succeed, but only if that means doing everything exactly the way they want him to do it?"

When Axelrod responded that it's basically "a choice between a punch in the nose and a knee to the groin," Stewart asked: "Which one am I?"

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A study by the Government Accountability Office has found seven instances of improper burrowing -- political appointees shifting to career civil servant positions in a given agency -- during the Bush Administration, though none of the seven occurred close to the 2008 presidential election.

Regular TPMmuckraker readers will remember our reporting on burrowing back in late 2008 when several Bush Administration officials made eyebrow-raising shifts to career positions.

The GAO did an exhaustive study of these so-called "conversions" from political to career positions between May 2005 and May 2009. It found 139 conversions in that period, with the most -- 32 -- occurring at the Justice Department, and the second-most, 17, occurring at the Department of Homeland Security. The GAO found the vast majority, 117, followed "fair and open competition" and proper procedures to ensure that the conversions were justified.

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Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) continues to look like a shoo-in for reelection, according to a new poll from Rasmussen out this morning. The poll shows Vitter leading likely Democratic nominee Rep. Charlie Melancon 53%-35%, with a 4.5% margin of error.

The new numbers follow the storyline of the race laid down in previous polling. The TPM Poll Average for the contest shows Vitter leading 49.6%-34.0%.

The Rasmussen survey of 500 likely voters was conducted June 24.

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Byrd's Death Complicates Democrats' Strategy The New York Times reports: "The death of Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia threw into doubt the ability of Democrats to win approval this week of a financial regulation bill and underscored how the smallest changes in the size and composition of their Congressional majority have complicated their efforts to pass ambitious legislation over near-unanimous Republican opposition...'We are down a vote,' said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat. 'We have got some work to do.'"

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET. He will meet at 10:50 a.m. ET with a bipartisan group of Senators, to discuss passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year. He will receive a briefing at 12 p.m. ET on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He will have a working lunch at 1:05 p.m. ET with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and meet in the Oval Office with King Abdullah at 2:10 p.m. ET. He will meet at 3:40 p.m. ET with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

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The Democratic National Committee today is launching a new effort to allow citizens on their side "keep track" of Republican candidates on every ballot nationwide, in hopes of a voter capturing a so-called "macaca moment." The DNC's latest effort to influence the midterm elections, called the Accountability Project, will act as a database of campaign events and, Democrats hope, every gaffe, goof and outlandish policy position.

The task: take a camera to a political event and "hold Republicans accountable for misleading claims, lies, and unseemly behavior," the DNC says. The site will allow for uploads but also provide clips for download so voters can make their own mashups or ads.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) this evening, putting herself back into the undecided column on Wall Street reform legislation, after House and Senate negotiators added new fees on banks to the final bill late last week.

"It was not part of either the House or Senate bill and was added in the wee hours of the morning. So I'm taking a look at the specifics of that and other provisions as well," Collins told reporters this evening outside the Senate chamber.

If both she and Brown oppose financial reform over bank fees, it could stall or even kill the legislation. Democrats would have to sweep the remaining swing votes--Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA)--to pass the legislation. They want to pass the bill this week, but the death of Sen. Robert Byrd has thrown into doubt whether they'll have the votes lined up before the fourth of July recess.

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