Inauguration weekend begins! Here are the headliners and headlines making news today:
Obama's campaign: Does Barack Obama's brand transcend politics? The Obama campaign apparatus will soon become .. well, the name will be announced today. Let's call it Organizing for Action for now. It will be a 501(c)4 and headed by campaign manager Jim Messina. Hotline's Josh Kraushaar is skeptical that the new group will help build support for Obama's legislative agenda, noting that past outside efforts failed and most of the members of Congress Obama has to convince are not partisan Democrats. OFA (OFA 3.0) means to do for Democrats what groups like Crossroads GPS tried to do for Republicans — serve as a central bank of money and direction for both short-term and long-term party crusades. It's ironically much easier to control a party's agenda from outside the party itself, thanks to a bunch of trends in American politics over the past three decades. Voting reforms, redistricting, legislative crusades, initiatives and referenda — the left will have a new compass to follow. Obama will not make the mistake that Bill Clinton did and leave the party (minus the actual party organization) weakened and listless.
The White House, per the Huffington Post, is considering a push for universal pre-K for middle-and low-income 4-year-olds.
Algeria: There are many excellent hostage-rescue units in the world, and the United States cautioned Algeria from acting too quickly and using its own commandos to rescue dozens held by al-Qaeda-linked militants at a BP plant, but the government there ignored advice and many people are dead. We don't know how many.
Filibuster reform: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't support TV-friendly talking filibuster reform, which would require anyone who wanted to filibuster a bill to actually take the floor and talk until they could talk no more, but he is leaning towards several significant procedural reforms, including ways to block filibusters for bills that need to go to conference (and thus get reconciled and then re-voted upon), filibusters that prevent critical presidential nominees from getting a vote, as well as a sort of a pressure-switch that would require those who want to block majority action in the Senate to put forth 41 votes to continue debate, rather than 60 votes to stop it.
Guns: The NRA insists it doesn't oppose more stringent background checks for gun owners, but that's not exactly, well, true: They oppose background checks for gun buyers at gun shows, which account for about 40 percent of all purchases annually. Maybe the emphasis was on "strident" — the NRA just opposes more background checks but doesn't mind if regular gun buyers are subject to more strident measures. Meanwhile, here's a good guess at what the FBI's secret domestic surveillance strategy amounts to.
Dope: Livestrong! is disappointed by Lance Armstrong's confession, but the group says it is grateful for his leadership and generosity. Reaction to Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey, a second part of which airs tonight on her television network, was fairly negative. Armstrong's inability to recall the ruinous lawsuits he filed against people who allegedly defamed him struck many as cold and insensitive. The New York Times wonders why Armstrong confessed without really explaining himself; he allowed that he had been narcissistic, but that explanation falls way short of accounting for a decade or more's worth of repeated, deliberate lies.
Votes: After endorsing changes that made voting much more challenging in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott now supports expanded early voting days, longer polling hours, and shorter ballots.
And don't miss this: The Cayman Islands may not be the place to go hide your misbegotten cash anymore. The island says it will expose those corporations residing there to more scrutiny by international regulatory bodies. Every fund registered in the Caymans would be part of a public database, and every funds' directors would be listed alongside his or her fund.