In it, but not of it. TPM DC

WaPo: Unemployment Going Up Among Washington Republicans The Washington Post reports that Republican political appointees are now facing unemployment in the middle of a tough job market, and with K Street preferring Democrats. Said former George H.W. Bush advisor Ron Kaufman: "You have lots of folks in the House and Senate on the streets and 3,000 administration appointees on the streets at a time when the job market is shrinking anyways. It's just not a fun time."

Barack And Michelle Obama To Attend Community Service Lunch Barack and Michelle Obama are attending a lunch today with community service volunteers in Washington, as part of Obama's "Renew America Together" initiative, calling for more people to volunteer.

Obama To Honor Powell, McCain, Biden Barack Obama will be attending three dinners tonight to honor three different political figures from across the spectrum. First up is a dinner honoring Colin Powell, beginning at 5 p.m. ET, then a dinner honoring John McCain, also beginning at 5 p.m. ET, and finally a dinner at 6:30 p.m. ET to honor Joe Biden.

Michelle Obama, Jill Biden Hosting Concert For Military Families Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will be attending the Kids' Inaugural, a concert honoring military families and for which free tickets were distributed by the Presidential Inauguration Committee and the Department of Defense. The event begins at 7 p.m. ET, featuring acts such as Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.

Sullenberger Gets Inauguration Ticket Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who successfully landed his damaged passenger plane into the Hudson River with no deaths or serious injuries, has been given free tickets to Barack Obama's inauguration tomorrow, for both himself and his family.

NYT: Obama Reaching Out To McCain The New York Times reports that Barack Obama has been consulting closely with John McCain on his appointments and other areas of foreign policy, seeking to build a consensus on how to pursue his own policy goals. "He said that he understands that we had differences but he wanted to let us know that he also understands that we have got to be responsible in how we leave Iraq," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Poll: Nearly 7 In 10 Blacks Believe King's Dream Is Fulfilled A new CNN poll finds that 69% of African-Americans believe Martin Luther King's dream has been fulfilled, to 30% who say it has not. This number is actually higher than it is among whites, only 46% of whom say it has been fulfilled, to 52% who say it has not.

Some bad news for Florida (and national) Democrats: State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has announced that she isn't running for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring GOPer Mel Martinez.

Had she entered the primary, Sink would have started out as the immediate frontrunner and probably a slight favorite for the general election, too. Rep. Kendrick Meek is running in the Democratic primary, and is currently the only announced candidate from either party. Meek could very well be a strong candidate -- and at least one other Dem, state Sen. Dan Gelber, is indicating he'll be getting in, too -- but Sink would have started out in an even better position.

So far both parties have managed to lose a top potential recruit for this seat: Sink on the Dem side, and Jeb Bush for the Republicans.

TPMtv will be bringing you coverage of the presidential inauguration from Washington, D.C. through Wednesday. Here is our first report. Stay tuned for more!

Today: The Inaugural Concert Today is the big inaugural concert to celebrate Barack Obama's incoming presidency, featuring acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder and many more. HBO has the exclusive TV rights, but the audio will also be streamed online by NPR from 2-5 p.m. ET.

Obama And Biden Visits Arlington National Cemetery Barack Obama and Joe Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery this morning, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Obamas Attend Church In Washington The Obamas attended church this morning at the 19th Street Baptist Church, the oldest historically-black church in Washington. A release from the Presidential Inauguration Committee indicated that the Obamas are still looking at various churches in the area, and will settle on a permanent one at a later time.

Polls Give Obama Sky-High Ratings Ahead Of Inauguration Multiple polls out this morning give Barack Obama some incredibly high approval ratings in the days leading up to his inauguration. A new CBS/New York Times poll has 79% of Americans saying they are optimistic about the next four years with Obama as president, compared to only 16% who are pessimistic; the new CNN poll gives him an 84% approval rating; and the new ABC/Washington Post poll gives him an 80%-15% approval ratings.

Polls Also Show Approval For Obama's Economic Plan The new CBS/NYT poll shows a 63%-24% approval of Obama's economic plan. The ABC/WaPo poll shows that 72% of Americans are confident that Obama's plan will improve the economy, compared to only 17% who are not confident. And the CNN poll finds 58%-40% approval for increased government spending to stimulate the economy, with support jumping to 71%-28% when the spending is combined with tax cuts.

More Polls: People Don't Like Bush The new CBS/NYT poll gives George W. Bush an approval rating of only 22%, with a disapproval of 73%. The ABC/WaPo poll gives him a 33%-66% rating. And the CNN poll shows 68% of Americans rating George W. Bush's president as a failure, with only 31% saying it was a success.

Pelosi To Obama: Don't Wait For 2010, Repeal Bush Tax Cuts Sooner During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Nancy Pelosi said that Barack Obama should not wait for the Bush tax cuts on the top-earners to expire, but should instead seek to repeal them ahead of schedule. However, she did add that any discussion on this issue is not part of the economic stimulus plan.

Axelrod Predicts Strong Action From Obama David Axelrod told CNN that Barack Obama will take diplomatic action "early and aggressively." Said Axelrod: "I think that the events around the world demand that he act quickly, and I think you'll see him act quickly."

Obama: Let Us Celebrate The Peaceful Transfer Of Power In his new Presidential YouTube Address, his last one before the inauguration, Barack Obama recognizes the importance of the transition of power, and how we often take the peaceful transfer of power for granted:

"Through the ages, many have struggled for the right to live in a land where power does not belong to one person or party, and many brave Americans have fought and died to help advance that right," Obama says. "Through the long twilight struggle of the Cold War, our transitions from one President to the next provided a stark contrast to the suffocating grip of Soviet Communism. And today, the resilience of our democracy stands in opposition to the extremists who would tear it down."

Obama And Biden On Whistle-Stop Tour Barack Obama and Joe Biden are traveling today by train from Philadelphia to Baltimore, in a whistle-stop tour for people who want to see the new president-elect but wouldn't have been able to go to the inauguration itself. The Philadelphia event began earlier this morning, with Obama scheduled to met Joe Biden in Delaware at 1 p.m. ET, with another event scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET.

Obama In Philly: The Election Should Only Be The Beginning Speaking to the crowd this morning in Philadelphia, Barack Obama declared that his election victory should only be the beginning of changing America for the better. "Starting now, let's take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union," Obama said, according to the prepared remarks. "Let's build a government that is responsible to the people, and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable. Let's all of us do our part to rebuild this country. Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning."

Obama Creates Political Organizing Committee The Obama campaign is now being transformed into a new committee, "Organizing for America," which will leverage his database of 13 million e-mail addresses and other supporter information to set up community organizations across the country. Here's his YouTube announcing it:

Essentially, as the Associated Press points out, this will be his re-election campaign-in-waiting for 2012, as a parallel organization to the Democratic National Committee, in addition to the stated purpose of promoting his policy goals.

Obama: I Think I Can Keep The BlackBerry -- But I'll Be Careful Barack Obama told CNN that he thinks he'll be able to keep his BlackBerry, rather than have to give it up over privacy and security concerns. "Now, my working assumption, and this is not new, is that everything I write on e-mail could end up being on CNN," Obama did say cautiously. "So I make sure that -- to think before I press 'send.'"

Obama Calls US Airways Pilot Sullenberger The Obama transition team announced that Barack Obama yesterday called Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways flight 1549 who safely landed his damaged passenger plane in the Hudson River, and spoke to him for five minutes. Obama thanked Sullenberger for his heroism.

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Earlier this week I lamented the conservative House Blue Dogs' ability to command the political spotlight in Washington while the larger Congressional Progressive Caucus seemed to sit on the sidelines. And now we have a sign that the left wing of the Democratic party is ready to flex its muscle.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler's (D-NY) office just mentioned that the Progressives are requesting a meeting with President-elect Obama "to discuss greatly increasing the size" of the economic recovery package. Nadler also rapped the House stimulus bill as too small to truly lift the nation out of recession, signaling a showdown to come over despite the legislation's likely weakening in the Senate.

Nadler's full statement after the jump.

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I'm starting to dig into the differences between House transportation panel chairman Jim Oberstar's $85 billion proposal for infrastructure funding in the stimulus bill (available for download on the right-hand side of the committee page) and the actual final product, released yesterday.

David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington has a chart that tells the tale well. But my first question is: Where did you go, Amtrak Joe?

When the perennially cash-poor train system got a $15 billion authorization signed by George Bush last fall, it represented a big win for Acela-loving Vice President-elect Biden. Now, however, it would seem that Biden's administration has given mass transit the short end of the stick.

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The three-judge panel in the Minnesota election contest has just released their official schedule for the trial, after the Coleman campaign submitted a plan for a lengthy, multi-phase trial while the Franken camp wanted a prompt, single-phrase trial.

And as it turns out, the essential parts of their schedule were taken from the Franken team, Al's first big victory in this phase of the never-ending Senate election. The key point is that that the judges appear to be going with a single-phase trial, beginning on January 26, two weeks before Coleman wanted to begin the first of his several mini-trials. The schedule also corresponds closely with the Franken team's other dates for when arguments are to be filed, witnesses and evidence are to be listed, and other such procedural guidelines.

Coleman's proposed schedule has been almost entirely scrapped, with the only major remnant being a January 21 hearing on Franken's motion to dismiss the case -- perhaps the only example in which the Coleman camp picked the earliest feasible date.

One caveat: The Franken camp did ask for the trial's length to be capped at 15 trial days -- that is, three work weeks -- but the court's order is silent on this matter. There's only one way to find out how long this thing will take.

Late Update: Lead Franken attorney Marc Elias has released this statement applauding the court for adopting this schedule -- and making it clear how much Franken really wants to get to the Senate soon:

"With urgent matters pending before Congress, it is essential that we move forward and resolve this lawsuit in a timely fashion so that Minnesota may have equal and full representation in Washington. We're pleased that the panel set this matter for trial on January 26th and has rejected former Senator Coleman's attempt to slow-walk this process and further delay the seating of a second Senator from the state of Minnesota."

The sheer complexity of the $825 billion economic stimulus bill unveiled in the House yesterday means that it may take some time for stakeholders in the effort to digest the Democrats' spending choices. But the environmental community was on the ball right away, shooting out statements that were sadly little-noticed in the flood of news.

Green advocates mostly like the stimulus, particularly its investment in modernizing the nation's electricity grid and remodeling buildings to promote energy efficiency. But the transportation portion of the bill left several major environmental groups very underwhelmed -- and rightly so.

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