In it, but not of it. TPM DC

One of the issues we'll be following in the new administration is the EFCA or, as it's more commonly known, "card check." The bill would make it much easier for unions to organize and already its defeat is the rallying cry for business groups inside the Beltway who agree on little else. I argue in favor of the bill in the latest issue of Condé Nast Portfolio and so does T.A. Frank in The Washington Monthly (although with less enthusiasm) where I'm an alumnus and contributing editor. I'm not willing to give unions a free ride on their many mistakes or excesses over the years but on balance I think the playing field has been tilted against union organizing and EFCA would help arrest the decline in union membership.

Thus far, EFCA opponents have won the battle for elite opinion. The Washington Post has weighed in against the measure as has George McGovern who is surely a bygone figure but whose condemnation of the bill has been used by the right to great effect as proof that the measure is way outside the mainstream. In fact, if you talk to labor advocates, they'll concede that anti-EFCA ads like this one and these ones have been very effective, at least with the chattering classes, in portraying to the bill as anti-democratic. In fact, if anyone has been more guilty of intimidation over the years its been the corporations trying to crush union organizing.

"They've done a good job," says one labor ally characterizing the business opposition. As for the larger public, there's some debate over whether the public is pro or anti-EFCA.

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As rational individuals everywhere cheer today's White House move to expedite California's auto emissions standards, there comes another encouraging sign from inside the Environmental Protection Agency.

As reported late Friday night by Carbon Control News, a subscription-only website that reports on D.C. climate change issues:

Georgetown Law Professor Lisa Heinzerling, the lead author of plaintiffs' briefs in the landmark Supreme Court case that found EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, has taken a job with EPA to advise incoming Administrator Lisa Jackson on how to address climate change, according to a knowledgeable source. ...

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One thing is clear going into today's election trial in Minnesota: The Franken and Coleman camps really don't like each other.

Yesterday, the Coleman team posted a YouTube promoting their new push to have the rejected absentee ballots reviewed yet another time -- their current goal is to have 4,500-5,000 more added into the count, which they insist are not cherry-picked -- and declaring Coleman is the champion of counting every vote, against Al Franken's disregard for the people's will.

On a conference call with reporters just now, lead Franken attorney Marc Elias ripped the Coleman team for saying they want to count every vote, after spending most of this recount litigating to stop absentee-vote reviews, and still basing their election lawsuit largely upon throwing out votes for Al Franken. Said Elias: "So don't believe them when they say they want every vote counted, because that isn't what most of their case is about, and it's not what this case is gonna boil down to."

As an extra sign of his contempt for the Coleman team, Elias referred to them as "charter members of the flat-earth club" for questioning the legitimacy of Franken votes during the recount. At today's trial, the tone isn't likely to improve more than the minimum necessary for the courtroom.

The Coleman vid is available after the jump.

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We've been talking about this for a while now, but mass transit is getting woefully little attention in the economic recovery proposals released so far by Democrats.

The House's stimulus bill, which is slated for a final vote on Wednesday, included only $10 billion for rail and other public transportation projects, compared with $30 billion for roads. (According to House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), the decision was made to leave enough room for tax cuts.)

But what about the Senate, where the second- and third-ranked leaders are blue-state mass-transit boosters Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY)? As it turns out, the upper chamber of Congress is doing even worse.

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Republicans have already settled on a five-letter messaging counter-attack to President Obama's plan to shutter the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year: NIMBY. Within the past few days, John McCain and Karl Rove have helped reinforce the perception that Guantanamo detainees could not be moved to U.S. soil without a popular backlash.

As McCain told Fox News yesterday:

Where are you going to send [the detainees]? That decision I would have made before I'd announced the closure, because I don't know of a state in America that wants them in their state. It's going to -- you think Yucca Mountain is a NIMBY problem? Wait till you see this one.


Never mind that McCain seemed to have made that decision in 2007 ...

Yes. I would close Guantanamo Bay. And I would move those prisoners to Fort Leavenworth.


Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, is the military's only maximum-security prison, making it a strong option for the Obama administration during deliberations on the future of Guantanamo's 240 or so remaining occupants. But not if Sen. Sam Brownback has anything to say about it. He and three House Republicans from the state already have introduced bills in Congress that would bar the government from moving detainees from Cuba to Kansas.

But Brownback isn't the only Republican taking a pre-emptive cue from Rove and offering bills to close off Obama's possible Guantanamo alternatives.

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Democrats have just picked up a top-tier candidate for Senate in Kentucky for 2010, with Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo announcing his candidacy against Republican incumbent Jim Bunning.

Back in 2004, Mongiardo came out of nowhere and very nearly defeated Bunning, making it a 51-49 race despite having been a no-name state Senator who was vastly outspent in a red state and in a Republican year. And since then his stock has gone up with his election as Lt. Governor.

The possibility exists that Bunning might retire -- he'll be 79 on Election Day, and his close call in 2004 was caused in many ways by his own gaffes on the campaign trail -- but so far he hasn't given any indication in that direction. Keep an eye on this race, as it could be one of the pivotal campaigns of 2010.

Obama Set To Allow Tighter Emissions Standards By States President Obama is expected today to clear the way for allowing California and other states to set their own emissions standards, something that the Bush Administration had previously blocked. Federal regulators are expected to formally approve the changes, which will then force car manufacturers to increase the efficiencies of their vehicles in order to sell their products in major states.

Obama Speaking On Economy This Morning President Obama will be speaking from the White House today on the subject of the economy, at 10:30 a.m. ET. Vice President Biden will also be joining Obama at today's briefings and meetings.

Minnesota Election Trial Begins Today The Minnesota Senate litigation enters a new phase today, with the trial beginning at 2 p.m. ET in St. Paul. Norm Coleman's legal team will have the opportunity to go first, calling witnesses and laying out their case that he, and not Al Franken, was the true winner of this super-tight race. A video feed will be available at The Uptake.

Blago Impeachment Trial Beginning Today, Minus Blago The Illinois state Senate is set to begin the impeachment trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich today, though Blago himself is boycotting the proceedings. Instead, Blago is set to appear on the TV talk circuit, making his case that he is innocent and that the trial is rigged against him.

Blago: I Thought About Appointing Oprah To Senate Rod Blagojevich told ABC News that he had considered appointing Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama's former Senate seat. But Blago says he didn't do so because it would make too much of a commotion: "she probably wouldn't take it, and then if you offered it to her, how would you do it in a way it wasn't a gimmick to embarrass her."

Cornyn To GOP: Forget The House, Give For The Senate Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, confirmed to Roll Call that he is recruiting potential candidates and courting donors by disparaging the status and comparatively limited power of the House GOP. "I would love to get a Republican majority in the House, I just don't think it's feasible this cycle," said Cornyn, describing the House campaign committee and himself as "friendly competitors."

Feingold To Introduce Amendment Banning Senate Appointments Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has announced that he will introduce a constitutional amendment to end gubernatorial appointments to Senate vacancies, instead requiring special elections as is done in several states including Wisconsin. Said Feingold, in a statement: "The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end."

Clyburn: No Health Bill In 2009 In an interview on C-Span this past weekend, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said that it's unlikely a comprehensive health care bill will pass the Congress this year, with a slower approach being more feasible. "I would much rather see it done that way, incrementally, than to go out and just bite something you can't chew," said Clyburn. "We've been down that road. I still remember 1994."

Poll: Obama Starts With 68% Approval A new Gallup Poll finds that President Obama starts his administration 68% approval and only 12% disapproval. This is at the high end of other presidents in the history of Gallup polling, better than Clinton's 58%-20% or Reagan's 51%-13%, but just short of Kennedy's 72%-6% record.

No Obama Events Today President Obama does not have any scheduled events for today.

Biden: I Am Not "Deputy President" In an appearance on CBS' Face The Nation, Joe Biden explained that his role was not to be a "deputy president" but rather to be a top adviser to President Obama. "The agreement that he and I made is that I would be available for every single major decision that he makes ... that I would have all the paper, all the material, all the meetings," said Biden. "Again, not for me to make decisions, [but] for me to give the best advice that I can give."

McCain Won't Support Stimulus Package In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, John McCain said he won't vote for President Obama's stimulus package as it stands now. McCain said there need to be more tax cuts for businesses, payroll tax cuts, and for existing tax cuts to be made permanent: " Well, the plan was written by the majority in -- a Democrat majority in the House, primarily. And so, yeah, I think there has to be major rewrites if we want to stimulate the economy."

Pelosi: GOP Ideas Will Be Included In Stimulus -- If They're Good Appearing on ABC's This Week, Nancy Pelosi said that Republicans have had the opportunity to be included in crafting the stimulus bill -- even if not many of their ideas have been adopted. "Well, we will take some," said Pelosi. "We will judge them by their ability to create jobs, to -- to help turn the economy around, to stabilize the economy, and to see how much they cost."

AP: Earmark Prohibition Might Not Stop Lobbyists The Associated Press says that the ban on earmarks in the new stimulus package won't stop lobbyists from being able to get money set aside for their local clients throughout the country. Instead of specifying that money spent for a particular project, the same result can be accomplished through manipulation of the supposedly objective formulas and guidelines used to determine where money would go.

NYT: Obama Plans Quick Action On Finance Regulations The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration is planning quick and significant action on financial regulations. "Officials said that the proposals were aimed at the core regulatory problems and gaps that have been highlighted by the market crisis," the Times reports, with such problems including lax government oversight, poor risk management, and excessive borrowing by and lending to many homeowners.

WaPo: Gitmo Case Files In Disarray The Washington Post reports that Obama Administration officials have found that there exist no comprehensive case files for many Guantanamo prisoners, with the information instead scattered throughout the government. Because the Bush Administration relied upon indefinite detention over prosecution, it could take a long time for Obama officials to figure out just what to do about the individuals currently kept there.

Obama Promotes Stimulus, Government Accountability In Video Address In his first Presidential YouTube Address as the sitting chief executive, Barack Obama promoted his stimulus plan, announcing that citizens will be able to hold the government accountable by monitoring the spending at a new Web site called Recovery.gov:



"I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan," says President Obama. "I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan must and will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable for these results. We won't just throw money at our problems - we'll invest in what works."

Obama Meets With Economic Team President Obama met with his economic team earlier this morning at 11 a.m. ET, in a closed-door gathering.

No Biden Events Today, Will Be On CBS Tomorrow Vice President Biden has no public events for today. However, he will be appearing on CBS' Face The Nation tomorrow morning, at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Obama On Mexico City Policy: We Must Find Common Ground President Obama released a statement last night explaining his decision to rescind the Mexico City Policy, saying that family planning should not be made into a divisive political issue: "I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls."

Blago's Lawyer: I Quit Rod Blagojevich's attorney Ed Genson has announced that he is quitting, due to personal difficulties with his soon-to-be-former client's behavior: "I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen." When Blago was asked for comment, he said this was the first he had heard about it.

WaPo: Obama Administration "In An Awkward Phase" The Washington Post reports that the Obama Administration is still getting settled in, as 3,000 politically-appointed posts remain to be filled and the folks who have been hired are still becoming acclimated. Says the Post: "The big boss is at his desk at the White House, but the vast executive branch is in an awkward phase, lightly sprinkled with political appointees still trying to get permanent badges and locate the restrooms."

NYT Profile: Gillibrand Always An Up And Comer In a new profile of Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Times depicts a woman skilled at forging political connections. "I wouldn't be surprised if this carried her even higher onto a national platform," said John Replogle, a Dartmouth classmate and CEO of Burt's Bees. "I could see her in the cabinet, indeed if not throwing her hat into the ring in eight years."

Michelle Obama Objects To Dolls Named After Malia And Sasha First Lady Michelle Obama is stating her objections to a new pair of dolls being marketed by Ty, the creators of Beanie Babies, that appear to be named after her daughters. Said a spokeswoman for the First Lady: "We feel it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purpose."

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