In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Report: Military Tribunals To Return, With More Detainee Rights The Obama Administration will reportedly announce a restart of some military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, under revamped conditions with new legal protections for terror suspects. Detainees will have greater leeway to choose their own attorneys, evidence obtained through torture will be banned, and hearsay evidence will be restricted.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will welcome the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team to the White House at 12:20 p.m. ET, at the South Portico. At 1:05 p.m. ET, he will meet with Sec. of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.

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A new SurveyUSA poll, conducted for the ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities, finds that Minnesotans don't want Norm Coleman to take his case against the Senate election results to federal court in the event that he loses his appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The poll asks: "If the Minnesota Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling that certified Al Franken as the winner of the U.S. Senate race, what should Norm Coleman do? Appeal the decision? Or concede the race?" The numbers are overwhelming, with only 27% for an appeal, to 70% who would want him to concede.

Democrats would quite understandably want a concession by a 94%-5% margin. Republicans are for an appeal, but by a weaker margin of 58%-37%, showing some fatigue with even the GOP base. Independents would favor a concession by 65%-29%.

The DSCC is offering a new incentive for small-money donors to contribute to the Dems' 2010 Senate efforts: A chance to attend a big fundraising dinner and have your picture taken with President Obama.

A new fundraising e-mail offers donors of only $5 or more to be entered into a drawing for a trip to Washington -- with airfare and hotel included -- to attend the June DSCC dinner and get the photo with Obama.

This is the sort of privilege usually reserved for big-money donors (and there can be no doubt it will continue in that department) but the Dems are offering even the small donor a chance at it. Obviously, the wager here is that the sweepstakes will bring in more money than the cost of the lucky winner's airfare and hotel.

Full letter after the jump.

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Over 3000 members of the nearly three million-member strong Chamber of Commerce have sent a letter (PDF) to Congress expressing "strong opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act."

EFCA has three provisions, each of which we oppose. The first provision would require union recognition based on authorization cards signed by a majority of employees. This provision would allow organizing to be conducted in secret, would effectively eliminate the secret ballot election, and would hinder or even eliminate an employer's ability to tell its side of the story and correct misleading union rhetoric. Card check recognition also would effectively disenfranchise employees who oppose unionization and, as courts have repeatedly recognized, is inherently less reliable than traditional election processes for determining whether employees wish to have union representation.

The second provision would enable a union seeking a first contract to require the employer to enter into binding interest arbitration if a collective bargaining agreement were not reached within as little as 130 days.... The third provision would significantly increase penalties on employers for certain violations of labor laws.
That's just about every provision of the bill.

On the one hand, 3100 signatories represents a very, very small percentage of the Chamber's members. On the other hand, there are a lot of big names on this list, including General Electric and, crucially, Wal-Mart. And there's little doubt that the business community is pulling out all the stops on EFCA.

On the third hand, the letter itself runs one page, and the list of signatories goes on for 30 more. And that strikes me as a huge waste of paper.

A new Rasmussen poll in New Jersey finds Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) in trouble for his re-election bid this November against either of the potential GOP nominees -- but on the other hand, a Republican victory is not any sure thing.

The numbers: Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie leads Corzine by 47%-38%. Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, the conservative insurgent candidate against Christie in the June 2 Republican primary, now edges Corzine by 42%-41%. The margin of error is ±4.5%. As the pollster's analysis notes, however, this is an improvement for Corzine -- in March, he trailed Christie by 15 points, and Lonegan by eight.

Rasmussen, who like myself is a New Jerseyan, is also very cognizant of a pattern in state politics: "New Jersey polls often shows Republican candidates polling well in the spring and then shows Democrat gaining ground in the fall." Essentially, there tend to be a lot of reluctant Democratic voters who hold off as undecideds for a while, and then give in on Election Day.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told the Houston Chronicle that his co-Senator, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, could potentially resign her Senate seat pretty soon in order to campaign full-time in her GOP primary challenge against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry.

"My guess," Cornyn said, is that Hutchison will resign "this fall sometime."

A resignation at that point in time would allow Perry to appoint an interim Senator who would serve until a May 2010 special election -- an affair that Cornyn would very much prefer to avoid, given the potentially strong Democratic campaigns of Houston Mayor Bill White and ex-Comptroller John Sharp.

My requests for comment from Hutchison's office were not returned.

According to the Associated Press, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) announced Thursday that the "prospects are pretty good" for an Employee Free Choice compromise.

"[H]e said he's been meeting with labor leaders and fellow senators in hopes of coming up with a compromise he could support."

The details of that compromise will be crucial, and, for labor to be happy, would probably have to be pretty cosmetic. But, as the AP reminds us, "Specter has said he opposes the "card check" and arbitration provisions of the bill, [leaving] the door open to other changes that would help unions, such as speeding up the election process and giving unions more access to campaign at work sites."

"Card check" and arbitration are the key components of the bill, and Specter, who was once and EFCA co-sponsor, knows how important they are. It would be hugely disappointing to labor if he didn't come back around to supporting both provisions, at least in watered down forms. But if Specter went from full support of a bill to no support of the same bill in the span of a few months, it stands to reason he could turn right back around and support it all over again. We may have an answer soon.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the FBI has expanded its probe of ethics allegations that dogged Norm Coleman during the final days of the 2008 campaign (insofar as that campaign can be said to have ended!), relating to whether wealthy donor Nasser Kazeminy paid for clothes for Coleman and his wife Laurie at Neiman-Marcus:

The questioning of at least one person in Minnesota within the last two weeks -- and the topic of clothing -- signifies an expansion of an FBI inquiry that touches Coleman. In December, a different source told the Pioneer Press that FBI agents had talked to or made efforts to talk to people in Texas following allegations, contained in a pair of lawsuits, that Kazeminy had tried to steer $100,000 from a Houston firm he controlled to Coleman via Coleman's wife's employer in Minneapolis.

The Colemans have not been accused of wrongdoing, and they, Laurie Coleman's employer and Kazeminy have all denied doing anything wrong.

When asked whether Coleman himself had been contacted by the FBI, Coleman's spokesman Tom Erickson did not answer Wednesday evening. Instead, he said: "The senator called for an investigation by the appropriate authorities and has promised to cooperate fully with them. To that end, any further comment is not necessary."

House Republican Leaders have sent President Obama a letter seeking "common ground" on the issue of health care. Obama has insisted that his efforts to reach out to members of the Congressional minority are sincere, and this letter largely mimics that language.

The signatories say they agree with Obama that a health reform plan ought to pave the way for all citizens to enjoy coverage, while allowing Americans, if they choose, to keep their existing, employer-based health insurance, and and achieving savings through wellness initiatives.

Unfortunately they want to accomplish this without ceding any ground on other key issues.

We believe it is possible, and necessary, to achieve these objectives through common sense reforms without rationing care, eliminating employer-sponsored health benefits for working families, raising taxes, or empowering government bureaucrats at the expense of patients and doctors. We also believe these goals can be accomplished through health reform that maintains current law provisions regarding restrictions on federal funding of abortion services, restricts federal funds from flowing to abortion providers, and does not impose mandates either on insurance carriers or medical providers to participate in activities that violate their religious and moral beliefs.

There's a lot of code in there, but a loose translation suggests that they still oppose a public plan, and want the government to pay for up-front costs either by slashing spending elsewhere, or by magic. You can read the full letter below the fold.

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Arkansas state Sen. Kim Hendren, who is currently the only announced Republican candidate for U.S. Senator against Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in 2010, has apologized for referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as "that Jew," at a county Republican meeting last week.

"I don't use a teleprompter and occasionally I put my foot in my month," Hendren told Arkansas blogger Jason Tolbert.

"At the meeting I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on 'The Andy Griffith Show,'" he explained. "I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as 'that Jew' and I should not have put it that way as this took away from what I was trying to say."

Late Update: Hendren gave a further apology to the Associated Press. "When I referred to him as Jewish, it wasn't because I don't like Jewish people," he said. He also added: "I shouldn't have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue."