In it, but not of it. TPM DC

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."

One of the intriguing elements of the Minnesota election contest that we've been keeping track of is how the campaigns have a knack for taking legal action to help their own voters, and only their own voters. This might just be another example.

A group of seven voters from around Minnesota have now filed a new class action lawsuit to have their votes counted. Their absentee ballots were deemed to have been improperly rejected by the local election officials involved, but were individually vetoed by the two campaigns during that review process, under the terms of the state Supreme Court's controversial opinion that gave them this power.

Attorney Bruce Kennedy, who is representing the seven voters, told TPMDC that one of the ballots was vetoed by the Coleman campaign, two by the Franken team, and he's not aware at this time of the conditions affecting the other four. Kennedy is himself a political hand, having run for Secretary of State with the Independence Party in 2006, but said he is not undertaking this in association with any campaign.

The Franken campaign is now opposing the lawsuit, on the grounds that it has been filed too late in the process, while Coleman is supporting it.

Earlier this afternoon the special three-judge panel in the Minnesota election contest dealt Norm Coleman a defeat, denying his campaign's motion to authorize a full inspection of ballots and voter rolls that would have delayed the start of the trial on Monday.

Had the court granted the request, it would have helped the Coleman team's efforts to look around the state to find ballots for himself or to have ballots for Franken thrown out. If the Coleman team was celebrating yesterday's denial of Franken's effort to dismiss the whole case, this ruling shows that things won't be so smooth for them, either.

This excerpt from their opinion could give us a good idea of the logic the new court will use going forward: "The Court determined that it has jurisdiction over this matter in its Order Denying Contestee's Motion to Dismiss. Contestants, however, have not met their burden of showing that an inspection is needed to prepare for trial."

Translation: We might have found that Franken didn't meet the burden of proof necessary to throw out Coleman's arguments, but in this example Coleman hasn't met the burden necessary to win them.

We reported yesterday on Republican objections to moving forward on confirming two of Barack Obama's top environmental nominees.

At first the delay was reported as a Senate "hold," but it turned out to be a different breed of slowdown -- Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) had been quoted as raising the alarm, yet he told us that it was nothing but a misunderstanding. By the evening, the objection had been officially lifted and the environmental nominees were approved.

Now it looks like the same thing is happening with Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), the president's nominee to head the Department of Labor.

Read More →

Arguments just ended in today's latest round of the Minnesota hearings, and Norm Coleman's legal team had what can only be described as an awkward moment: One of the three judges began openly heckling them.

Franken attorney David Lillehaug brought up Coleman's claims that absentee ballots were wrongly accepted on Election Day, that people unqualified to vote cast ballots, and that some people voted twice -- all for Franken, of course. Lillehaug said how the Franken campaign has tried to get an answer from the Coleman team how they would know whom any such people voted for.

At this point, Hennepin County (Minneapolis) Judge Denise Reilly cut in. "I was thinking about that as a criminal witness," said Reilly, joking about the idea of summoning in individual voters and putting them on the stand, giving them counsel and demanding testimony on how they voted.

Even worse for Coleman: Reilly was appointed to the bench in the 1990's by a Republican governor.

When last we left the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Cornyn (TX) was taking a stand against accountability by insisting that Attorney General nominee Eric Holder promise not to prosecute any intelligence official for possible interrogation abuses at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took a more pragmatic view of Holder's ability to promise such sweeping immunity before court action on detainee cases is complete. But where is Arlen Specter (PA), Judiciary's senior Republican, in all of this?

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The answer is 25.

Here's a list of the Democrats who voted in favor of the financial bailout last October but changed their minds yesterday, when the House passed a resolution disapproving of President Obama's request for $350 billion more:

Michael Arcuri (NY), Shelley Berkley (NV), Marion Berry (AR), Dan Boren (OK), Allen Boyd (FL), Dennis Cardoza (CA), Jim Costa (CA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Artur Davis (AL), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Phil Hare (IL), Jane Harman (CA), Ron Kind (WI), Jerry McNerney (CA), Kendrick Meek (FL), Charlie Melancon (LA), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (NY), Laura Richardson (CA), Mike Ross (AR), Dutch Ruppersberger (MD), House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter (NY), Zack Space (OH), Jackie Speier (CA), Peter Welch (VT)

The genuinely shocking names on that list are Rangel and Davis, a longtime ally of President Obama who didn't feel the need to extend the same trust to him that the Senate did.

At a pre-trial hearing in the Minnesota election lawsuit just now, Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton made a striking accusation: That the Coleman campaign has been doctoring evidence.

As an example, Hamilton showed two photocopies of a rejected absentee ballot envelope, one of which he said was the unaltered original, and the other taken from Coleman's legal filings in his attempts to get more of the rejected ballots opened. The Coleman copy was missing the section in which a local election official explained why it was rejected.

"We would not be able to stipulate to the authenticity of a document where the key portion has been cut out," Hamilton complained.

Coleman attorney James Langdon expressed his absolute surprise. "What he has pointed out is news to me," said Langdon. "There has been no effort on our part to be anything other than absolutely truthful."

Langdon speculated that there may have been a photocopying problem.

The court took no action on this for now, instead asking the parties to first try to work out any differences on evidence between themselves.

New York Gov. David Paterson just held his press conference in Albany to announce the appointment of upstate Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to the United States Senate seat formerly held by Hillary Clinton.

Paterson started off the speech as he often does, telling an amusing anecdote about how he first met Gillibrand at the state Capitol when he was Lt. Governor, only to end up being in the middle of the 2003 Northeastern blackout. He then touted Gillibrand's work on government reform and economic issues, and for her work on the Armed Services and Agriculture committees.

In her acceptance speech, Gillibrand seemed to back away a bit from her previous "A" rating from the National Rifle Association -- which had led Rep. Carolyn McCarthy to openly threaten a Democratic primary challenge -- by pledging to work with McCarthy on a bill to require better background checks to keep guns out of criminals' hands.

Overall, Gillibrand sought to reach out from her relatively obscure upstate district to the rest of the electorate: "Over the next two years you will get to know me, but much more importantly I will get to know you."

As Politico reports, House Republican leaders took advantage of today's bipartisan meeting with President Obama to introduce their own alternative economic stimulus plan. Unsurprisingly, the theme is tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.

Instead of a tax credit for individuals making $75,000 or less or families making less than $150,000, Republicans would like to reduce the tax rate by 5 percent on those Americans in the lowest tax brackets, from 15 percent to 10 percent and 10 percent to 5 percent.

House Republican Leader John A. Boehner and his no. 2, party Whip Eric Cantor, pitched the plan to Obama during the Friday morning meeting. Boehner tapped Cantor to come up with ideas, and this plan is the result of that work.

Boehner, in remarks on the White House driveway, warned that "government can't solve this problem."


The president's vow to keep 90% of the stimulus-related jobs in the private sector wasn't enough, guys? Aw.

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