In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The Bush administration's participation in the personnel tactic known as "burrowing" has been well-reported in recent weeks. The practice isn't unique to the Bush crowd; during presidential transitions, political appointees eager to stay on the government payroll often wriggle their way into secure civil service positions -- despite the differing political beliefs of the White House's new occupant.

But because the central objective of burrowing is for political appointees to fly under the radar while Washington changes hands, it's often hard to tell when the practice is actually occurring. Consider the case of Kathie Olsen, who just made a very curious move: going from the No. 2 post at the National Science Foundation to the far less influential job of "senior advisor" in the NSF's Office of Information and Resource Management.

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Here's another interesting wrinkle from Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) imminent promotion to the Senate: She appears to have switched her position on gay marriage from a standard "safe" Democratic stance, to now being a full supporter.

Empire State Pride Agenda has put out a press release saying that Gillibrand has spoken to them, and they are glad to say that New York will have its first Senator who endorses full marriage equality. This is a big change for Gillibrand, who previously had a conventional Democratic position of endorsing civil unions and non-discrimination laws, but not being for gay marriage.

To be sure, Gillibrand's voting record on gay rights was not anything that could be called bad. There weren't too many votes on gay issues in the last two years, but she did vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as the hate crimes bill.

Gillibrand's House district voted twice for George W. Bush, then narrowly flipped to Barack Obama in 2008. So one can see why Gillibrand was less than willing to support gay marriage. But if we're looking at this from the assumption of political opportunism, this in turn gives us a new realization: We are now in a world in which endorsing gay marriage can actually be a politically beneficial choice in a statewide setting.

You've got to hand it to Rod Blagojevich -- he really does have a way with words, and with placing his story into the great American narrative.

"December 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States," Blago told the Associated Press. "It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we'll prevail in this."

In the immortal words of U.S. Senator John "Bluto" Blutarsky: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"

Paterson Expected To Announce Gillibrand For Senate Today New York Gov. David Paterson will be holding a press conference at 12 p.m. ET to announce whom he is appointing to Hillary Clinton's Senate. Paterson has reportedly picked upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand.

Obama's Schedule For Today This morning President Obama and VP Joe Biden have a presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET, a meeting with both the Democratic and GOP Congressional leadership at 9:45 a.m. ET, and an 11:20 a.m. ET meeting with members of the National Security Council. Obama then has a series of closed meetings in the afternoon: A meeting with Joe Biden and his economic team at 12:40 p.m. ET; lunch with Biden at 1 p.m. ET; a meeting with Biden and the budget team at 2 p.m. ET; and a meeting with Tim Geithner at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Today: More Litigation In Minnesota The court battles continue today in the Minnesota Senate race, with a 1 p.m. ET hearing on motions for summary judgment. After yesterday's rejection of Al Franken's effort to get Norm Coleman's election-contest lawsuit dismissed immediately, this could be the next opportunity to trim down the various claims in the lawsuit.

Senate Confirms Six More Obama Nominees The Senate last night confirmed six nominees to serve in the Obama Administration: Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations; Ray LaHood as Sec. of Transportation; Shaun Donovan at HUD; Mary Schapiro as chair of the SEC; Lisa Jackson as EPA administrator; and Nancy Sutley to head up the White House Council of Environmental Quality.

Obama Keeping BlackBerry, Under Special Conditions President Obama has arrived at a carefully-negotiated compromise in his efforts to keep his BlackBerry. Among other conditions, only a small group of senior staff and friends will have his e-mail address, his own messages will be designed to not be forwardable, and any e-mails will be subject to the Presidential Open Records Act, which could eventually put them into the public domain.

WaPo: McCain The Maverick Is Back The Washington Post reports that the pre-2007 John McCain, the one who would occasionally irk his hard-line GOP colleagues by making peace with the Dems, appears to have made a comeback. The change in mood was most apparent when he castigated Republicans who were delaying Hillary Clinton's nomination to be Secretary of State, reminding them that the country had just had an election.

McCain To Meet With Palin Soon John McCain told Larry King that he remains close with Sarah Palin, dismissing the idea that there's any bad blood between them. "Look, we're very close friends," McCain said, "and I talk to her all the time and look forward to seeing her, I think, in a week or so."

The Albany Times Union and other outlets are reporting that New York Gov. David Paterson will appoint upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat.

Gillibrand was first elected in 2006 in a narrow win against incumbent Republican Rep. John Sweeney, then won by a landslide in 2008 against wealthy businessman Sandy Treadwell. Gillibrand proved to be a prolific fundraiser herself in that race, spending over $4 million.

So Paterson gets to a) court women voters, b) court upstate voters, and c) recruit a candidate who can bring in a lot of money in case of a tough race.

It makes sense.

I won't claim to have sorted through the whole Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg-David Paterson mess---how could two smart people have let things get so out of hand?--but I'll pass along what I heard tonite from a New York Democrat who is close to the situation. This person did not know why Caroline pulled out of the running but insisted that John Kennedy's daughter was under the impression that she was still very much a contender from Wednesday afternoon when she decided to withdraw, according to the source, through Wednesday night right until 12:00 AM in the wee hours of Thursday morning when she officially wrote the governor and pulled the plug on her short-lived bid to be appointed senator to replace Hillary Clinton. "I don't know why she did," said this source, referring to her withdrawal and adding that she'd made the decision in the afternoon on Wednesday and spent most of the rest of the day mulling it over.

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Al Franken just had his first real legal setback in a while, with the special three-judge panel handling Norm Coleman's legal contest denying his legal team's motion to dismiss the case.

The court rejected the Franken team's legal arguments that they didn't have the constitutional authority to conduct a far-reaching election contest over a race for federal office, ruling that they do in fact have the authority and that Franken's team hadn't met the very high burden of proof necessary to throw out the lawsuit on its face.

This wasn't all that surprising, as Franken's arguments seemed a little too ambitious to succeed so easily. Next up is a hearing on motions for summary judgment, scheduled for 1 p.m. ET tomorrow, at which the court might be able to work its way through some of Norm Coleman's various legal claims.

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It looks like Senate Democrats are poised to try again on Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley, the Obama environmental nominees whose confirmations were slowed down by Republicans signaling their frustration over White House climate adviser Carol Browner.

As Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) put it to TPM today, "Once we go public with [the GOP delay], it should go away."

And sure enough, drawing attention to the Republican objections did the trick. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) clarified what Boxer termed his initial opposition to the environmental nominations, deeming it nothing but a misunderstanding. We won't know for sure until Democrats call up Jackson and Sutley again, but if no objection is heard, consider it further proof that sunshine is the best disinfectant.

President Obama's isn't just coming into office with really highly popularity nationwide -- he's apparently coming into office with really high popularity in states he lost by landslides last November.

Here are his approval ratings in two deep-red states, from Rasmussen:

• Texas: Approve 62%, Disapprove 35%. This includes 41% strong approval, and 19% strong disapproval.

• Tennessee: Approve 60%, Disapprove 35%. This includes 39% strong approval, and 21% strong disapproval.

For reference, John McCain carried Texas by a 55%-44% margin, and won Tennessee by 57%-42%.