You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2008.

Legacy of Destruction at Stake

Legacy of Destruction at Stake

Confounding the conventional wisdom that he is a lame duck president with no agenda as his days in office dwindle, President George W. Bush is redoubling his efforts to mutilate the country before his term expires, aides confirmed today.

“President Bush has spent the first seven years and ten months of his presidency doing everything in his power to leave the United States in smoldering ruins,” said White House spokesperson Dana Perino. “He certainly is not going to let the final days of his tenure go to waste.”

While Ms. Perino said that President Bush is proud to have led the U.S. into a “pointless and totally avoidable catastrophe in Iraq” and “the most terrifying financial cataclysm since the Great Depression,” he is “in no way prepared to rest on his laurels.”

Mr. Bush is “delighted,” Ms. Perino said, that the stock market has lost one trillion dollars of its value in the last three days, but “that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the damage he hopes to wreak in his remaining time in office.”

Among the targets for destruction that the President is currently eyeing, Ms. Perino indicated that the demise of the Big Three automakers was at the top of his list.

“If the President could preside over the disappearance of the Big Three and the millions of jobs they represent, that would be the ultimate feather in his cap,” she said.

For his part, Mr. Bush took few questions from reporters today, saying that he had to return to the Oval Office to order random airstrikes over Belgium.

Source: BorowitzReport

Advertisements

14f7b449-a9c3-4463-bc3b-693d4a2a88e2

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama’s appearance on CBS’ “Sixty Minutes” on Sunday witnessed the president-elect’s unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama’s decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it “alienating” to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.

“Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement,” says Mr. Logsdon. “If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist.”

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, “Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate – we get it, stop showing off.”

The President-elect’s stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

“Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can’t really do there, I think needing to do that isn’t tapping into what Americans are needing also,” she said.

Source: BorowitzReport

In Chicago today, at Obama Transition HQ, President-elect Obama surprised the Vice President-elect, who will turn 66 tomorrow.

After their weekly lunch, Mr. Obama presented Mr. Biden cupcakes, Obama aides say.

Here is a picture from the Obama Transition Team:

vpe_bday_with_pe_001_2_2

Obama lit the candles on the 12 cupcakes and brought them over to Biden.

“You’re 12 years old!” Obama joked, referring to the dozen cupcakes.

“Maybe in dog years!” Biden laughed.

Mr. Obama led the staff in singing him “Happy Birthday,” and then gifted his loquacious running mate with a Chicago White Sox Hat, a Chicago Bears Hat and a bucket of Garrett’s popcorn as gifts.

Source: ABCNewsBlog

ph2008111901557

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) conceded his reelection race to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) on Wednesday afternoon, averting a potential recount and solidifying a seventh takeover for Senate Democrats.

Stevens congratulated Begich, who less than a half-hour earlier told reporters that he had not heard from the incumbent.

Begich’s win was called by The Associated Press on Tuesday night and hands Democrats a 58th seat, with two GOP-held seats still outstanding. A large portion of absentee ballots delayed the result.

Stevens’s campaign said in a statement: “Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected.

“My family and I wish to thank the thousands of Alaskans who stood by us and who supported my reelection. It was a tough fight that would not have been possible without the help of so many Alaskans — people who I am honored to call my friends. I will always remember their thoughts, prayers and encouragement.

“I am proud of the campaign we ran and regret that the outcome was not what we had hoped for. I am deeply grateful to Alaskans for allowing me to serve them for 40 years in the U.S. Senate. It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with Alaskans of all political persuasions to make this state that we all love a better place.

“I wish Mayor Begich and his family well. My staff and I stand willing to help him prepare for his new position.”

The Hill

080403_na01_wide-horizontal

Incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s career as an investment banker was short but, oh, so sweet. Emanuel left the Clinton White House in 1998 as a senior adviser on a government salary. By the time he won election to the House in 2002, he had earned an astonishing $16 million.

How did he do it?

Partly, it was simple luck: Emanuel dipped quickly into the world of investment banking in time to catch the tail end of the 1990s boom economy as a Chicago-based managing director at Wasserstein Perella & Co., where he worked from 1999 to 2002. While he was there, the firm was sold to the German Dresdner Bank for $1.37 billion in stock, netting Emanuel much of his Wall Street windfall.

Returning to Chicago in 1998 after his White House stint, Emanuel soon ran Wasserstein’s small Midwestern office, developing a reputation as a deal guy who focused on mergers and acquisitions among companies that were subject to heavy government regulation. There, he deployed his skills as a born negotiator who knew the inner workings of government bureaucracies.

Frequently, Emanuel turned big Democratic donors and others he’d met during his White House years into clients for Wasserstein Perella, a firm that was led by Bruce Wasserstein, a hefty financial supporter of Clinton.

Emanuel is “tireless,” said John Canning, a managing director of Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Partners, a multibillion-dollar private equity firm.

Canning became friendly with Emanuel while he was setting himself up in Chicago business circles and has remained close to him through his congressional career. “He’s got a nose for a transaction, a sense for what each party’s looking for and where each party can concede,” Canning said.

Emanuel was unavailable for comment. But in 2003, he described his investment banking career to the Chicago Tribune.

“Fundamentally, I brought in business and worked on business that was very successful,” Emanuel said then. “I didn’t work on one deal. I didn’t work on two deals. I think it was close to six or seven, of which a couple of them were over $1 billion.”

The Democratic congressman from Illinois will be starting out as White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama during a severe global economic crisis. And as a former investment banker himself, Emanuel may be well-positioned to understand the problems and priorities of the nation’s struggling financial system.

While Emanuel lucked into the timing of the Wasserstein sale, the deals he worked on contributed in a significant way to the firm’s bottom line, generating hefty bonuses for him along the way.

One signature transaction was the $16 billion merger of Unicom Corp. and PECO Energy Co. into Exelon Corp., now one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, with nearly $19 billion in annual revenue. The company owns 17 nuclear reactors, which produce about 20 percent of the nation’s nuclear power.

Read it all…

11-16-2008-12-19-41-am

Foreign income makes up only a small part of Bill Clinton’s post-presidential speaking-circuit bounty.
Photo: AP

Bill Clinton’s apparent willingness to forgo foreign income in order to smooth his wife’s path into the Secretary of State’s office won’t put the couple into the poor house, publicly available financial records show.

Of the $111 million the Clintons have pulled in since leaving the White House, a little more than $8 million came from foreign sources, according to joint tax returns the couple released during Hillary Clinton’s contentious battle for the Democratic presidential nomination with President-elect Barack Obama, who is reportedly close to offering his vanquished rival the top diplomat’s post.

The Clinton’s foreign income, for which the tax returns show they claimed more than $650,000 in foreign tax credits, “was from speeches President Clinton abroad and income from the blind trust,” Jay Carson, a campaign spokesman, told Politico when the Clintons released their taxes in April.

The trust was dissolved last year, revealing that the couple had investments with Quellos, an asset manager accused of structuring offshore tax shelters.

Still, foreign income was only a small slice of Bill Clinton’s post-presidential speaking-circuit bounty, which came to nearly $52 million. The couple also collected more than $40 million for the two books each penned, including an eye-popping $15 million advance paid to Bill Clinton for his 2004 autobiography “My Life.”

If Hillary Clinton were to become Secretary of State, she would be legally barred from receiving most outside earned income, but Bill Clinton wouldn’t—provided it could be shown that it did not conflict with her duties as the nation’s ambassador to the world.

Plus, taxpayers would continue to fund the Clinton’s lifestyles to the tune of about $1.4 million a year. That’s accounting for the Secretary of State’s salary of more than $190,000 a year— a $20,000 raise from Hillary Clinton’s salary as a New York Senator—plus more than $1.2 million a year that Bill Clinton receives in presidential retirement benefits. Those include everything from a $200,000 annual pension to upwards of $50,000 for travel, about $160,000 in staff salaries and benefits and about $735,000 to rent and equip Clinton’s 8,300-square-foot Harlem penthouse office, which offers views of Central Park, the George Washington Bridge and most of Manhattan.

politico-logo

cartoon111908

Weyant’s World : November 19, 2008

BERLIN, Nov. 19 — Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command used a racially demeaning term to refer to President-elect Barack Obama in a videotape released Wednesday, and said Obama’s election represented “the American people’s admission of defeat in Iraq.”

In the 11-minute video, posted on the Internet, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, repeatedly and unfavorably compared the first black U.S. president-elect to Malcolm X, the black Muslim leader and activist who was assassinated 43 years ago.

“You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X,” Zawahiri said, according to English subtitles of his Arabic remarks provided by al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm. “You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America.”

Zawahiri said Obama, Colin Powell and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “confirmed” Malcolm X’s definition of a “house negro,” a term the militant black leader often used to describe black leaders who were subservient to white interests.

The biting comments were the first time al-Qaeda’s leadership has reacted publicly to Obama’s election since he defeated Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) two weeks ago. Some analysts said the delayed response reflected uncertainty within al-Qaeda’s ranks over how to respond, given that Obama is widely seen in the Muslim world as the mirror opposite of the group’s longtime archenemy, President Bush.

“Zawahiri and others in al-Qaeda recognize that Obama has a certain appeal, not just to Americans but to people in the developing world,” said Evan F. Kohlmann, a terrorism analyst and senior investigator for the Nine/Eleven Finding Answers Foundation. “They feel a need to dampen this sense and enthusiasm and excitement for Obama.”

Zawahiri, 57, an Egyptian physician, is the second-ranking leader of al-Qaeda, behind only Osama bin Laden. According to U.S. intelligence officials, he is believed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan. He has distributed dozens of video and audio recordings in recent years, eluding capture despite a $25 million reward offer posted by the U.S. government.

In Wednesday’s video recording, Zawahiri welcomed the pending withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq but warned Obama not to send additional forces to Afghanistan, as the president-elect has pledged to do.

“If you still want to be stubborn about America’s failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them,” Zawahiri said, referring to the former president of Pakistan, who resigned under pressure this year. “And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them.”

The video consisted of an audio recording of Zawahiri’s remarks in Arabic, with English subtitles scrolling underneath a still photo of the bespectacled doctor, dressed in white in front of a bookcase.

On the tape, Zawahiri is flanked by two separate photographs of Obama and Malcolm X. In his picture, Obama is wearing a skullcap and surrounded by Jewish leaders as he visits the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. Malcolm X is shown on his knees, praying in a mosque.

washington-post_logo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former U.S. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle to be Health and Human Services secretary, news media reported on Wednesday, citing sources close to Obama’s transition team.

Daschle, of South Dakota, was an early supporter of Obama’s, encouraging the first-term senator from Illinois to make his presidential run.

daschle-obama

He currently serves as the head of Obama’s health-care policy group as the president-elect prepares to take office on January 20.

His appointment was reported by CNN and Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper.

Daschle served as the top Democrat in the Senate between 1994 and 2004, and was as majority leader when Democrats controlled the chamber between 2001 and 2003. He was elected to the Senate in 1986 and before that served eight years in the House of Representatives.

Since losing his re-election bid, Daschle has worked as a public-policy advisor for the law firm Alston and Bird.

He was not immediately available for comment.

Daschle was reported to be a candidate for Obama’s chief of staff before that job went to Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

washington-post_logo

11-9-2008-12-01-01-pmPresident-elect Barack Obama, in the latest of several moves to heal election wounds, persuaded Democrats to reject stiff punishment for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) despite his campaign efforts for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Lieberman is the beneficiary of the president-elect’s emerging tactic of binding former enemies close to him — which reportedly includes offering the State Department to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), his bitter rival for the Democratic nomination.

Obama is wielding his newfound political dominance to its fullest extent and leaving his fingerprints almost daily on decisions that are not technically his — such as shaping Democratic congressional action on the auto industry rescue.

Soon after Election Day, Obama told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a telephone call that he wanted Lieberman to stay in the Democratic Conference, taking the momentum away from efforts to snatch up his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — which could have driven him into the arms of the Republican Conference.

The call for reconciliation with Lieberman, who attacked Obama as unfit for the presidency, represents the first clear example of Obama’s influence among Senate Democrats and his willingness to stiff-arm his Democratic base, which had been calling for Lieberman’s head.

“He single-handedly delivered change today,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), one of Obama’s closest Senate allies. “The old politics would be revenge, punishment, retribution. The new politics would be, ‘Let’s get busy and solve some problems.’ ”

Source: The Hill

inslee-sims-full1
President-elect Barack Obama signaled his eagerness to address climate change by addressing a bipartisan group of governors in a “surprise” taped message.

Obama’s transition team said the president-elect addressed the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning to “discuss his commitment to marking a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.”

Obama said that there are few challenges facing the world that “are more urgent,” adding that the scientific evidence of climate change is “beyond dispute.”

The president-elect pledged to implement a federal cap-and-trade system with “strong annual targets” that would reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and an additional 80 percent by 2050.

He said the U.S. will invest $15 billion a year in safe nuclear energy, clean-coal technologies, solar power, wind and biofuels.

    “This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” Obama said.

Governors present included Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoevich (D), Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).

The transition team said that there were also representatives from 22 other states and officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and the U.K.

    “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” Obama said. “Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious. Stopping climate change won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I promise you this: When I am president, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America.”

Source: The Hill

The Democratic pursuit of the magic number of Senate seats received new life when Ted Stevens lost his Senate seat. AP

The Democratic pursuit of the magic number of Senate seats received new life when Ted Stevens lost his Senate seat. AP

The Democratic pursuit of 60 Senate seats received new life Tuesday night after Alaska Democrat Mark Begich was declared the winner against Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate.

Begich defeated the Senate giant by a 3,724-vote margin after absentee and early votes were counted, a stunning end to a 40-year Senate career marred by Stevens’ conviction on corruption charges a week before the election.

Begich’s victory gives Democrats their 58th Senate seat, with the party still awaiting a pending recount in the too-close-to-call Minnesota Senate race and the Georgia Senate runoff next month. If Democrats win those two seats, they will reach a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Democratic prospects of reaching 60 seats didn’t look so bright the day after the election. In Alaska, Stevens led Begich by more than 3,000 votes. In Minnesota, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman was holding a narrow lead. GOP Sen. Gordon Smith had not yet been declared the loser in the Oregon Senate race and in Georgia, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss was just over the 50 percent mark necessary to win re-election in Georgia.

But over the ensuing two weeks, the landscape began to tilt in the Democrats’ favor. The Associated Press declared Jeff Merkley the winner over Smith in Oregon, Coleman’s lead shrank to 215 votes, Chambliss fell just short of the 50 percent threshold necessary for an outright victory, and Begich captured a majority of the nearly 90,000 absentee and early votes that were counted after Election Day to win the Alaska Senate seat.

Now, with the prospect of 60 Senate seats hanging in the balance, both parties are throwing everything they can at the two remaining undeclared races, pouring money, lawyers and field organizers into Georgia and Minnesota.

Developments on the ground suggest Democrats have a fighting chance of picking up both seats.

Read it all

By Kathleen Parker

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

god-is-a-republican-e

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.

Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here’s the deal, ‘pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn’t that culture doesn’t matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party — and conservatism with it — eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one’s heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they’ve had something to do with the GOP’s erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can’t have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She’s not entirely wrong, but she’s also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

“I’m like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is…. And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it’s something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”

Let’s do pray that God shows Alaska’s governor the door.

Meanwhile, it isn’t necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world’s architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.

The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won’t get whiter. And the nonreligious won’t get religion through external conversion. It doesn’t work that way.

Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base — or the nation may need a new party.

washington-post_logo

r-torn-large

Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t certain she would accept the Secretary of State post even if Barack Obama offers it to her, several people close to the former first lady say.

Press reports that portray Clinton as willing to accept the job – once the Obama transition team vets Bill Clinton’s philanthropic and business ventures – are inaccurate, one Clinton insider told Politico.

“A lot of the speculation and reporting is out ahead of the facts here,” said the person, who requested anonymity. “She is still weighing this, independent of President Clinton’s work.”

Clinton, the person said, remains deeply “torn” between the possibility of serving in Obama’s cabinet and remaining in the Senate to “help pass health care and work on a broad range of domestic issues.”

That comment jibes with what others close to Clinton have been saying since the Secretary of State chatter began last week: that Clinton is conflicted and the deal far from done, despite screaming headlines in outlets including the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper claiming the offer was made and accepted.

Most of the speculation about Clinton’s frame of mind in the last few days has been off-base, sources say, because she’s played her cards close to the vest, consulting only her husband and two or three kitchen cabinet advisers.

“We’ve gotten rid of all the other idiots,” joked one Clinton confidant, a reference to the Clinton campaign’s propensity for leaks.

The Clinton camp’s effort to downplay her interest in the post might simply reflect her need to create an alternative storyline if the deal falls apart for other reasons, including the possibility that insurmountable problems arise during the vetting process, Democrats not connected with Clinton cautioned.

Another possible motivation: Pushing back against the perception that she’s at the mercy of Obama’s team.

“Everybody wants to be perceived as being in the driver’s seat,” said a top Democratic official. “She’s no different.”

Obama isn’t likely to make a formal offer of the post to Clinton unless he’s given assurances that Bill Clinton’s global charitable foundation won’t create future conflicts of interest with foreign governments.

The Clinton Foundation has earned praise for its efforts to eradicate AIDS, malaria and poverty in Africa. But it could prove problematic if the former president continues to arrange donations from foreign countries at the same time that his wife serves as secretary of state.

Obama’s vetting team expressed similar concerns about Bill Clinton’s overseas fundraising when Hillary Clinton was briefly considered for the vice-presidency.

politico-logo

Fourteen years after failing to deliver health reform for her husband’s White House, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will play a key role in advancing the issue in 2009 — if she remains in the Senate.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) designated Clinton to head a task force to develop a Senate Democratic proposal to expand health insurance coverage as part of his larger push to move a major overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system next year.

Kennedy’s designation of Clinton as one of three senators to lead a healthcare task force provides her with an opportunity to make a significant contribution to an issue that has defined her political career.

Clinton, however, may have her sights on foreign policy, not domestic concerns. She is reportedly under consideration to serve as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of State, a position that would take her out of the healthcare debate.

Clinton is a junior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Kennedy chairs, but has been a prominent Democratic voice on healthcare issues dating back to President Clinton’s first term, when she led the administration’s ultimately unsuccessful effort to reform healthcare.

Were Clinton to remain in Congress, there are no clear avenues for her to assume a formal leadership position or chair a committee.

Being given a influential position on health reform may serve as some consolation, and expanding healthcare coverage is arguably the most important and contentious component of the Democratic health reform platform.

During the primary campaign, Clinton and Obama frequently clashed over healthcare. The biggest point of dissension was whether individuals should be required by law to obtain some form of health coverage: Clinton said yes, Obama said no.

Kennedy and his aides have repeatedly indicated that they will base their legislation on Obama’s health plan, but they not have not disclosed whether the bill would include such a mandate. Despite Obama’s position during the campaign, he would be unlikely to oppose a major Democratic healthcare bill on that point alone.

Kennedy also assigned Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to lead the committee’s efforts on prevention and public health and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) to tackle healthcare quality.

“Our committee is fortunate to have the services of major leaders who are committed to improving healthcare for the American people. Sen. Harkin, Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Clinton have generously offered to step forward and assume an expanded role on critical aspects of health reform,” Kennedy said in a statement.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who controls a large portion of the jurisdiction over health reform in the Senate, issued a white paper laying out options for health reform, which include an individual mandate. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), another key lawmaker on health issues, is the author of a bipartisan bill that also has a mandate.

Source: The Hill

In this Nov. 10, 2008 file photo, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, the children of President-elect Barack Obama, not pictured, walk to school after their father dropped them off in Chicago. Malia and Sasha are in Washington with their mother checking out new schools. AP

In this Nov. 10, 2008 file photo, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, the children of President-elect Barack Obama, not pictured, walk to school after their father dropped them off in Chicago. Malia and Sasha are in Washington with their mother checking out new schools. AP

WASHINGTON — Malia and Sasha Obama are in Washington with their mother checking out prospective new schools.

Michelle Obama brought 7-year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia to visit the future first family’s top choices, her spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said Tuesday. She would not name the schools.

“She brought the girls to visit choices for their new schools to make sure they find the right fit,” she said. “Their move to Washington is her top priority.”

A small motorcade was parked at the back entrance of Georgetown Day School on Monday afternoon, with a few Secret Service agents standing around. The motorcade left after a group of people emerged, but Michelle Obama was not seen among them.

When asked if Michelle Obama had visited the school that day, some parents and students said they did not know. Other students who appeared to be in middle school said that they were not allowed to answer reporters’ questions.

The Obamas were expected to tour Sidwell Friends on Tuesday. Officials at both schools did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The soon-to-be first lady visited both elite schools last week, without her daughters, when she also toured the White House with first lady Laura Bush.

Georgetown Day, founded in 1945, was an early pioneer in integration and prides itself on its diversity. A report posted on the school’s Web site says about 35 percent of its estimated 1,000 students are of color.

Sidwell Friends is a private Quaker school that Chelsea Clinton attended.

The president-elect’s family has also discussed public school options for the two girls, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said last week.

washington-post_logo

Barack Obama owes his historic election victory in no small part to the transcendent power of his oratory. The question now is how he will use those oratorical skills — and his campaign’s mastery of 21st-century communications techniques — to lead the American people.

ph2008111500685

At times of national crisis, words matter. Teddy Roosevelt coined the term “bully pulpit,” and his cousin Franklin used “fireside chats” during the Great Depression to sell his plan for economic renewal to the American people. Decades later, Ronald Reagan proved time and again his ability to rally voters behind him, to the point where he achieved many of his legislative gains despite the fact most Americans opposed them: Such was the power of his ability to use language and images to connect with voters on a personal level. Bill Clinton relied on his talent for relating to average Americans, as well, to win two White House terms.

All modern leaders, it seems, subscribe to Winston Churchill’s maxim that “of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king. He is an independent force in the world.”

Of course, Churchill never envisioned the Internet — President-elect Obama’s greatest potential weapon going forward.

If his campaign was any indication, Obama could be the first chief executive to build on the lessons of presidents past and use new technology to create a power base out of the new voters and large blocs of disaffected Americans who otherwise might not have supported him. His clear understanding of the Internet’s potential can also help him manage Congress and provide some powerful communications lessons for businesses.

His campaign stayed in touch with supporters via e-mail, Twitter, text messages, videos on YouTube and social networking websites, all of which augmented its use of traditional communications tactics such as direct mail, phone banking and a reliance on traditional media to get its message out. All told, Obama woke up the morning after his historic election with a database of 10 million American citizens, 3.1 million of them donors. Many of them also volunteered time.

(…)

So for Obama to make the most of his bully pulpit, he’ll need to institutionalize in the White House the things that made his campaign tick. None among them is more important than maintaining contact with the hundreds of thousands of first-time voters and first-time donors, the people who served as the backbone of his victory, the vast majority of whom connected with the campaign through the Internet.

Connecting with supporters this way will be new and revolutionary.

That’s because Obama will truly be able to reach past the national media and the Washington chattering class that has so defined issues and presidential politics in the past, and communicate directly with voters on his policy proposals and where he wants to lead the country.

Maintaining these connections increases the chances that Obama can truly be the transformational leader he promised to be on the campaign trail. And regardless of whether his presidency is ultimately viewed as a success or a failure, he’s created a new map for how politicians connect with supporters.

Read it all…

john20kerry20wind20surfingIf Sen. John Kerry doesn’t become Secretary of State, will he be disappointed?

Probably.

But there’s (at least) one more cabinet position that Kerry wouldn’t be opposed to taking: Secretary of the Interior.

As the Bush Administration’s recent moves suggest, Interior has a major say in creating and implementing natural resource policy, an obsession of Kerry’s ever since he came to the Senate.

Source: Marc Ambinder

42-18060810

Several Obama transition staffers have put a version of that quotation in transition co-chief John Podesta’s mouth.

Many of the major staff appointments so far – Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, Greg Craig as White House counsel, the fact of the Clinton meeting, along with details about internal thinking on Gitmo and other subjects – have escaped whatever barriers the Obama team has set in place.

Every transition staffer and adviser has signed a non-disclosure agreement, and staff members are regularly warned by their superiors not to talk to the press.

My guess is that the sheer size of the universe that Obama’s now dealing with – huge agency teams, reams of outside advisers being asked for their opinions – renders silence virtually impossible.

It’s important to remember where the “No Drama Obama” meme started: it has less to do with information getting out about decisions than about information getting out about internal deliberations or arguments.

It’s kind of amazing, if you think about it, that Obama, according to reports, is a step away from picking his chief political rival to be Secretary of State, and not one hint of serious anxiety about the choice has gotten out.

Seriously – think about the legions of former staffers Daschle and Kerry staffers who work for Obama; they’re not talking to the press about their disappointment. If the decision’s been made, then the drama’s done. No looking backwards.

Source: Marc Ambinder

r-jlieb-large

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Lieberman will keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite hard feelings over his support for GOP nominee John McCain during the presidential campaign.

The Connecticut independent will lose a minor panel post as punishment for criticizing Obama this fall.

Lieberman’s colleagues in the Democratic caucus voted 42-13 Tuesday on a resolution condemning statements made by Lieberman during the campaign but allowing him to keep the Homeland Security Committee gavel. He loses an Environment and Public Works panel subcommittee chairmanship, however.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was very angry by Lieberman’s actions but that “we’re looking forward, we’re not looking back.”

Added Reid: “Is this a time when we walk out of here and say, ‘Boy, did we get even?'” said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Lieberman’s grasp on his chairmanship has gotten stronger since President-elect Barack Obama signaled to Democratic leaders that he’s not interested in punishing Lieberman for boosting McCain and criticizing Obama during the long campaign.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter, and I know that my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus were moved not only by the kind words that Senator Reid said about my longtime record, but by the appeal from President-elect Obama himself that the nation now unite to confront our very serious problems,” Lieberman said after the vote.

Anger toward Lieberman seems to have softened since Election Day, and Democrats didn’t want to drive him from the Democratic caucus by taking away his chairmanship and send the wrong signals as Obama takes office on a pledge to unite the country. Lieberman had indicated it would be unacceptable for him to lose his chairmanship.

Lieberman, who was Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, was re-elected in 2006 as an independent after losing his state’s Democratic primary. He remains a registered Democrat and aligns with the party inside the Senate.

“It’s time to unite our country,” said Lieberman supporter Ken Salazar, D-Colo.

On the other side were senators who feel that one requirement to be installed in a leadership position is party loyalty.

“To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement Friday. “Appointing someone to a major post who led the opposition to everything we are fighting for is not ‘change we can believe in.'”

Source: AP

11-18-2008-5-04-46-pm
It was likely that Barack Obama genuinely believed that he would take or have to take public financing. But when the primary was unexpectedly extended, the Obama team saw their money raising potential – and more they knew they were going to need fist fulls of it – if they were going to have any real chance of defeating the Republican election machine. With Al Gore’s loss in 2000 and Kerry’s Swift-Boating back in 2004 – they concluded that public financing would place serious limits on their ability to act. And they were right. John McCain promised to run an honorable campaign, and without adequate finance – Obama would likely not be President-elect – as was McCain’s plan. It is doubtful that in 2012 the Republicans will allow themselves to be hamstrung by public financing either. They might be moaning right now – but they are also learning. It was just a little TKO!

President-elect Barack Obama and vanquished rival John McCain talked Monday about reforming parts of the political process, but they skipped a good governance issue of mutual interest over which they sparred bitterly during their campaign: fixing the public financing system.

Obama this summer said he was “firmly committed to reforming the system as president,” even as his reversal of a pledge to participate in it drew fire from McCain, editorial boards and campaign finance reform advocates, all of whom accused Obama of virtually killing the system.

Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team, said Obama and McCain “share a common belief that the system needs to be reformed,” but she said “they didn’t speak about it today.”

Instead, a different Obama aide said, the discussion focused on “a common sense of reform being needed” on government spending, earmarks, military procurement, corporate welfare, climate change, immigration and Guantanamo Bay, among other areas.

McCain’s Senate and campaign staffers did not respond to questions about why campaign finance reform wasn’t discussed, but it clearly is a sore point for the Arizona senator and his team. They believe Obama was never held to account for his public funding flip-flop, which put him at a huge cash advantage over McCain in the final months of the campaign.

McCain did participate in the system, which limits candidates to spending only the amount of a taxpayer-funded grant. This year, the grant was $84 million for the general election. Meanwhile, Obama’s historic fundraising effort pulled in well more than $640 million for the primary and the general, allowing him to dramatically outspend McCain on ads, offices and get-out-the-vote efforts.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, McCain blamed Obama’s rejection of public financing and his prolific fundraising for “completely breaking whatever idea we had after Watergate to keep the costs and spending on campaigns under control.”

McCain told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace in October that Obama had “unleashed now in presidential campaigns a new flood of spending that will then cause a scandal and then we will fix it again. But Sen. Obama has broken it. And he broke his word to me and the American people when he signed a piece of paper, when he was a long-shot candidate, that he would take public financing if I would.”

That was a reference to a questionnaire Obama submitted last year to a coalition of non-profit groups advocating a reduction in the role of money in politics.

The questionnaire, from the Midwest Democracy Network, asked, “If you are nominated for president in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?”

Obama answered “Yes.” Then, in the space provided for comments, he wrote: “I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests.”

In response to another question, Obama wrote that he supported strengthening the public financing system, which was enacted after Watergate to minimize the corrupting influence of money on electoral politics.

Obama’s policy advisors still consider it a priority to revamp the public financing system, according to David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, a non-profit group that pushes for stricter campaign finance rules.

Obama’s “priorities Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are the economy, but I don’t think his commitment to (public financing) has changed,” said Donnelly. Still, Donnelly added “it’s important for him to take up this issue and show that he’s willing to follow through on his commitment.”

If Obama does champion campaign finance reform from the White House, McCain could be a key ally in Senate, predicted Donnelly, whose group during the campaign accused McCain of backing away from the issue.

McCain’s seminal legislative accomplishment was a 2002 overhaul of the campaign finance system, and for years before and after that, he sponsored legislation to revamp the public funding system. But Donnelly and other McCain critics accused McCain of shying away from campaign reform as he positioned himself for his 2008 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

politico-logo

Hardball questions continue to swirl around the Clintons in Secretary of State position.

Hardball questions continue to swirl around the Clintons in Secretary of State position.

Chris Matthews, whose negative feelings for Hillary Clinton were made very clear during the primary season Matthews (and who was ultimately forced to apologize for what many perceived as sexist comments he made about her), was overheard trashing the idea of Clinton as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. The MSNBC host “didn’t take a good look around on the Acela train from Philadelphia to Washington Saturday before he started bad-mouthing the New York senator,” Page Six reports Tuesday:

An avowed Clinton lover who was sitting next to Matthews reports: “He was in business class wearing a red baseball hat that said Penn on the back, and the fat [bleep] fell asleep on the train and snored with his mouth open.”

During the ride to DC, Matthews awoke from his nap. A fellow passenger asked him, “What’s the news tomorrow?” – to which Matthews loudly started talking about President-elect Barack Obama possibly picking Hillary as his secretary of state.

    “I don’t understand it,” Matthews bellowed. “Why would he pick her? I thought we were done with the Clintons. She’ll just use it to build her power base. It’s Machiavellian. And then we’ll have Bill Clinton, too. I thought Obama didn’t want drama. He’s already got [chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel and [transition team leader John] Podesta. He’ll have even more drama with her.
    “She’s just a soap opera. If he doesn’t pick her, everyone will say she’s been dissed again, we’ll have to live through that again.”

As Page Six points out, Matthews is singing a different tune publicly. On his show Friday, he praised Hillary Clinton’s support for Obama in the general election, calling her “illustrious” and “admirable.”

Source: HuffP

11-18-2008-3-28-19-pm Conservative personality Glenn Beck was accosted at his local Wendy’s Saturday night, he said Monday on his radio show. In his attempt to procure a Frosty — “Everybody wants a Frosty,” he said — he was stopped by a truck driver with food in his hair and called a “racist bigot.”

“I wanted to say, I think you have me mistaken for someone else, but I knew he knew who I was and he just hated me for who I was,” Beck said.

Beck’s full Wendy’s rant below:

    It happened to me at Wendy’s Saturday night. We are on the bus and we stop to get fuel and I said, I’m going to go in, I’m treating. Everybody wants a Frosty. I’m going to go get Frosties. And one of the security guys, said, No, you’re not. I said, Yeah, I am. I mean, it’s a truck stop. How much trouble am I going to get in in a truck stop? Everybody here you can trust. You’re not going in. I went in, but I had to bring the swat team with me and so I’m just, I just want to Frosty, please, the guy standing next to me, who, by the way, I may point out. Had food in his hair, is a truck driver and he turned around. He looked at me and the recognition was immediate and he said, You racist bigot! And I just said — I wanted to say, I think you have me mistaken for someone else, but I knew he knew who I was and he just hated me for who I was. You conservatives that have destroyed this country! And the hatred was so deep, it was breath taking. Luckily the swat team was there and I just separated myself from him and he just shouted through other people and there were children in the restaurant and he blamed me for everything, I believe including the Holocaust, and the hatred was palpable. The guy screamed at the restaurant, you better not let me see you in the parking lot because I’ve got a truck and I’ll run your ass over! Wow. Is this who we’ve become? Is this who we’ve become?

The TV and radio personality recently signed a deal to jump to Fox News, where he will host the 5PM hour starting in spring 2009.

Source: HuffP

obama-clinton_1012811i

Barack Obama’s serious flirtation with his one-time rival, Hillary Clinton, over the post of secretary of State has been welcomed by everyone from Henry Kissinger to Bill Clinton as an effective, grand gesture by the president-elect.

It’s not playing quite as well, however, in some precincts of Obamaland. From his supporters on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, to campaign aides of the soon-to-be commander-in-chief, there’s a sense of ambivalence about giving a top political plum to a woman they spent 18 months hammering as the compromised standard-bearer of an era that deserves to be forgotten.

“These are people who believe in this stuff more than Barack himself does,” said a Democrat close to Obama’s campaign. “These guys didn’t put together a campaign in order to turn the government over to the Clintons.”

An overlooked theme in Obama’s primary victory was his belief that the Clinton legacy was not, as the Clintons imagined, a pure political positive. The Obama campaign had no compunctions about poking holes in that legacy and even sent out mailings stressing the downside of the last “8 years of the Clintons” – enraging the former president in particular.

And the clearest opposition to the Clinton appointment comes from Obama’s backers on the left of his own party, whose initial support for him was motivated in part by a distaste for the Clinton dynasty, and who now view her reemergence with some dismay.

“There’s always a risk of a Cabinet member freelancing and that risk is enhanced by the fact that Hillary has her own public and her own celebrity and that she comes attached to Bill,” said Robert Kuttner, a Clinton critic and former American Prospect editor whose new book, Obama’s Challenge, implores the president-elect to adopt an expansive liberal agenda. “The other question is the old rule – never hire somebody you can’t fire. What happens if her views and his views don’t mesh?”

“The silver lining, for those of us who are skeptical, is that it drastically limits the number of other Clinton administration alums that he can appoint, and that’s a blessing,” Kuttner said.

Kuttner hastened to add that Clinton is “very smart” and capable, and that her appointment would be “greeted very well worldwide. And other Democratic foreign policy thinkers who are eager to work in, or with, the Obama administration declined to comment on the record, though they noted that foreign policy was an area that marked some of the deepest disagreements between Clinton and Obama.

Some key Obama-Clinton differences: Whether to meet face-to-face with leaders of hostile regimes (he was more open to the idea than she was) and her vote to authorize the war in Iraq.

“The specific policy area at issue seems to be one in which the two of them aren’t all that well-aligned,” wrote the liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias.

On Capitol Hill, however, even some of the left’s most normally unshrinking violets publicly backed a plan that appears to be almost a fait accompli.

“Sen. Clinton is one of the brightest people in Congress and she would be an excellent choice,” Vermont’s independent senator, Bernie Sanders, told Politico through a spokesman.

Read on…

Enigma

National Review Cover: Enigma

In a span of 252 days, the National Review lost two Buckleys — one to death, another to resignation — and an election.

Now, thanks to the coarsening effect of the Internet on political discourse, the magazine may have lost something else: its reputation as the cradle for conservative intellectuals and home for erudite and well-mannered debate prized by its founder, the late William F. Buckley Jr.

In the general conservative blogosphere and in The Corner, National Review’s popular blog, the tenor of debate — particularly as it related to the fitness of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska to be vice president — devolved into open nastiness during the campaign season, laying bare debates among conservatives that in a pre-Internet age may have been kept behind closed doors.

National Review, as the most pedigreed voice of conservatives, has often been tainted — unfairly and by association, some argue — by the tone of blogs, reader comments and e-mail messages. “Bill was always very concerned about having a high-minded and thoughtful discourse,” Rich Lowry, the magazine’s editor, said. “If you read the magazine, that’s what it was and that’s what it is.”

In October came the resignation of Mr. Buckley’s son, the writer and satirist Christopher Buckley, after he endorsed Barack Obama for president. He did so on Tina Brown’s blog, The Daily Beast, to avoid any backlash on The Corner.

“I am really and truly frightened by the collapse of support for the Republican Party by the young and the educated,” David Frum said.

Now David Frum, a prominent conservative writer who enmeshed himself in a minor dustup during the campaign by turning negative on Governor Palin, is leaving, too. In an interview, he said he planned to leave the magazine, where he writes a popular blog, to strike out on his own on the Web.

“The answers to the Republican dilemma are not obvious and we need a vibrant discussion,” he said. “I think a little more distance can help everybody do a better job of keeping their temper.”

Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor at National Review and probably has a bigger store of institutional knowledge than anyone, having written his first article, in 1970. “I think the tone of what we do, I’m certainly proud of,” he said. “You can’t be responsible for the world.”

Against the Wind

National Review Cover: Against the Wind

The magazine faces the twin challenges of re-energizing the conservative movement while trying to stay relevant itself amid a shifting media landscape that is challenging the authority of all old-line media institutions.

“There’s a lot of thinking to be done,” said Mr. Lowry, in the magazine’s mostly empty New York offices two days after Mr. Obama won the presidency. Nearly all the staff was getting ready to go to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a postelection fund-raising cruise in which readers, editors and guest speakers mix for a week of conservative conversation, but Mr. Lowry stayed behind to put out the new issue.

“We’ve always had rigorous internal debates,” he said. “But the advent of the blogosphere and e-mail and the rest of it have made it easier to blast out their impassioned instant reactions.

Read more…

This undated file photo provided by Gary and Alina Grewal of Hardwick Township, N.J., shows a charred cross that had been burned on the lawn of their home. The Grewals placed a banner congratulating President-elect Barack Obama on his election victory in their yard and found the banner wrapped around the charred cross Nov. 6, 2008. (AP / Courtesy of Grewal family)

This undated file photo provided by Gary and Alina Grewal of Hardwick Township, N.J., shows a charred cross that had been burned on the lawn of their home. The Grewals placed a banner congratulating President-elect Barack Obama on his election victory in their yard and found the banner wrapped around the charred cross Nov. 6, 2008. (AP / Courtesy of Grewal family)

Barack Obama’s election as America’s first black president has unleashed a wave of hate crimes across the nation, according to police and monitoring organisations.

Far from heralding a new age of tolerance, Mr Obama’s victory in the November 4 poll has highlighted the stubborn racism that lingers within some elements of American society as opponents pour their frustration into vandalism, harassment, threats and even physical attacks.

Cross burnings, black figures hung from nooses, and schoolchildren chanting “Assassinate Obama” are just some of the incidents that have been documented by police from California to Maine.

There have been “hundreds” of cases since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

The phenomenon appears to be at its most intense in the Southern states, where opposition to Mr Obama is at its highest and where reports of hate crimes were emerging even before the election. Incidents involving adults, college students and even schoolchildren have dampened the early post-election glow of racial progress and harmony, with some African American residents reporting an atmosphere of fear and inter-community tension.

Signs hang on the office door of University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as Houston posted a message against racism after someone defaced a previous poster of Barack Obama and his family with a death threat and racial slur. (AP Photo / Jay Reeves)

Signs hang on the office door of University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as Houston posted a message against racism after someone defaced a previous poster of Barack Obama and his family with a death threat and racial slur. (AP Photo / Jay Reeves)

In North Carolina, four students at the state university admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: “Let’s shoot that (N-word) in the head.” Mr Obama has received more threats than any other president-elect, authorities say.

Marsha L. Houston, a University of Alabama professor, said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. “It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork,” Ms Houston said.

Second and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted “assassinate Obama,” a district official said.

Read on…

r-rga-large

Famous for being famous! This election was amazing in that the things which were first said to hurt Obama – came back in the end to help defeat McCain – for example, Obama’s ability to attract large crowds – would go on to mean he would attract 200,000 plus in Germany – but rather than admit this was a great accomplishment (given Germany’s history) – Republicans chose to deride it – saying that Barack Obama was merely a celebrity – not to be taken seriously. Enter Sarah Palin, who for some really is a celebrity – who literally doesn’t know enough – to put together a concise argument on any number of critical issues – important to those seeking the highest office. Without substance Sarah Palin becomes famous for being famous – a celeb politician – who ‘ain’t in it for naught’.

She failed to save John McCain from presidential election doom, but Sarah Palin, the Republican senator’s controversial running mate, may yet emerge as the saviour of the American publishing industry. Literary agents are queueing up to sign her to a book deal that could earn her up to $7m.

With Barack Obama’s election victory certain to generate dozens of volumes from politicians, strategists and journalists – and with another shelfload of memoirs expected from members of President George W Bush’s administration – Palin’s personal account of her tumultuous introduction to national politics is widely regarded as the book most likely to repay a multi-million-dollar advance.

“She’s poised to make a ton of money,” said Howard Rubenstein, New York’s best-known public relations adviser.

“Every publisher and a lot of literary agents have been going after her,” added Jeff Klein of Folio Literary management.

Palin’s profile showed no sign of diminishing last week, despite McCain’s defeat and embittered Republicans seeking a scapegoat for the party’s collapse.

She now finds herself in a position similar to Obama’s in 2004, when the then mostly unknown Chicago politician delivered a mesmerising speech to the Democratic convention, was elected to the Senate and swiftly wrote a bestselling book – The Audacity of Hope. This proved to be the springboard for his presidential launch.

Like Obama, Palin has come from nowhere – in her case, Wasilla, Alaska. She is considered a likely candidate to move to Washington as Alaska’s senator if one of the state’s two seats falls vacant next year. Her book may reach a vast audience fascinated by her journey from the moose-hunting wastes of the Alaskan tundra to a historic battle for the White House.

Undaunted by her poll defeat, Palin was in fighting form last week, inviting cameras into her home, serving visiting interviewers home-cooked moose chilli and haddock and salmon casserole.

She scoffed at untrue reports that she initially thought Africa was a country and that she didn’t know members of the North American Free Trade Agreement. She said much of the criticism levelled at her came from “bloggers in their parents’ basements just talking garbage”.

At a sombre meeting of Republican governors later in the week, Palin’s megawatt celebrity far outshone her more experienced colleagues. Frank Luntz, a prominent Republican consultant, called her a “rock star”, but Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, warned that she would be only “one of the voices” leading the party forward.

Yet there are already signs that conservative Republicans, thrilled by Palin’s right-wing views, are manoeuvring to keep her in the public eye with a view to the 2012 elections and beyond. One group, called Our Country Deserves Better, last week collected tens of thousands of dollars to pay for television advertisements to run over the forthcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The adverts are to thank Palin for her efforts.

Despite polling evidence that Palin failed to make much impact on any of the groups that McCain strategists hoped she might deliver – women, independent voters and suburbanites – her supporters insisted that she should not be blamed for either McCain’s shortcomings or the legacy of the Bush administration’s failures. Palin herself noted that in view of the Bush record, “it’s amazing we did as well as we did”.

Although anonymous McCain aides had variously described her as a “diva” and a “whack job” and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times derided her last week as “Eliza Know-little”, she has earned plaudits from a surprising range of friends and former foes for keeping her cool under fire.

Camille Paglia, the radical feminist, declared that she had “heartily enjoyed [Palin’s] arrival on the national stage”. She had been subjected to “an atrocious and sometimes delusional level of defamation”, Paglia added. “I can see how smart she is and, quite frankly, I think the people who don’t see it are the stupid ones.”

Joanne Bamberger, the liberal author of the popular PunditMom blog, praised Palin for not “fading into the Alaskan woodwork”, and added: “She’s got some serious chutzpah . . . Palin has taken charge of this moment . . . and she’s making the most of the notoriety that was offered her”.

With publishers as nervous as everyone else about next year’s economic prospects, Palin’s popularity has become a boon. “Nobody is waiting for George W Bush’s memoirs,” one New York agent noted.

tol-logo-222x25

2/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

3/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

4/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

CHICAGO (AP) _ The bitter general election campaign behind them, President-elect Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain met Monday to discuss ways to reduce government waste, promote bipartisanship and find other ways to improve government.

President-elect Barack Obama, right, meets with Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, at Obama's transition office in downtown Chicago. AP Photo

President-elect Barack Obama, right, meets with Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, at Obama

The two former rivals met in Obama’s transition headquarters in Chicago. Obama said before the meeting that he and McCain planned “a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country, and also to offer thanks to Sen. McCain for the outstanding service he’s already rendered.”

Obama and McCain sat together for a brief picture-taking moment with reporters, along with Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff, and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s close friend. Obama and McCain were heard briefly discussing football, and Obama cracked that “the national press is tame compared to the Chicago press.”

When asked if he planned to help the Obama administration, McCain replied, “Obviously.”

After the meeting, Obama and McCain issued a joint statement saying:

    “At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time.”
    “It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family,” it said. “We hope to work together in the days and months ahead on critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy, and protecting our nation’s security.”

Obama and McCain clashed bitterly during the fall campaign over taxes, the Iraq War, and ways to fix the ailing economy. Things got ugly at times, with McCain running ads comparing Obama to celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and raising questions about his rival’s distant relationship with a 1960s-era radical, William Ayers.

Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, labeled the 72-year old McCain “erratic” and ran a campaign ad falsely suggesting that McCain and Rush Limbaugh shared similar anti-immigration views.

McCain delivered a gracious concession speech on Election Night, paying tribute to Obama’s historic ascendancy as the nation’s first black president. The two agreed that night to meet after the election when McCain called Obama to concede defeat.

Source: AP

US President-elect Barack Obama meets with former Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain at Obama's transition offices in Chicago. Obama extended a bipartisan olive branch by meeting his vanquished Republican rival John McCain Monday, but a cabinet job was not expected to be on offer

US President-elect Barack Obama meets with former Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain at Obama

CHICAGO (AFP) – President-elect Barack Obama extended a bipartisan olive branch by meeting his vanquished Republican rival John McCain Monday, but a cabinet job was not expected to be on offer.

The meeting in Chicago between the victor of the November 4 election and the Arizona senator put substance to Obama’s promise of reaching out to old opponents as he crafts an expansive agenda for the next four years.

Before reporters were ushered out of the meeting at Obama’s transition headquarters, the president-elect anticipated a “good conversation about how we can work together to fix up the country.”

Obama said he would also “give thanks to Senator McCain for his outstanding service.”

Update: First word is that the meeting between Obama and McCain has been wrapped up.

According to reports, Obama’s transition team is conducting an in-depth vetting of the finances of his former primary rival Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton with a view to naming her his secretary of state.

Source: AFP

All electric Porsche 911

All electric Porsche 911

    What: eRuf Model A
    Where: Pfaffenhausen, Germany
    Price: £150,000+ / $225,000+
    Available: 2009 – 2010
    Key rivals: Tesla Roadster, G-Whiz

Summary
Caring about the environment has never been so easy now Ruf has ripped the combustion engine out of a Porsche 911 and slotted in a motor.

    Likes: it’s green, fast and comfy, too
    Dislikes: lardy handling, no luggage space, rough edges inside and understanding new technology

GALLERY: eRuf Model A

First impressions

Click images to enlarge

Click images to enlarge

Alois Ruf’s calling card is a firebreathing 911 that eats ozone like a small child chews through chocolate, so the car rolling silently out of the company’s skunkworks, just a mile from the main factory, is what’s technically known as a turn up for the books. It’s the start of a whole new chapter for Ruf Automobile: the eRuf Model A, Germany’s first electric sportscar.

The future of cars

The future of cars

Ruf knows there’s only so much fuel left to be wrung from the earth. And while the tuning community on the whole is happy to bury its head in the oil rich sand, he is already looking to the future with the eRuf brand that will provide environmentally friendly sportscars for petrolheads with a conscience.

This is the first step, essentially a Carrera S with the internal combustion engine ripped out and replaced with an electric motor and batteries.

With no major cooling requirements, or exhaust, Ruf could smooth out the styling, but this is just the first step on a journey long into the future. By the time Model A hits the open market it will have evolved into a whole new animal: lighter, sleeker and much, much faster.

Tesla Roadster ~ electric

Tesla Roadster ~ electric

Tesla proved that electric cars could be sexy, but with a real, working electric 911, Ruf has produced a fast and comfortable car that simply plugs in at the end of the day.

And for the sake of convenience we’ll ignore the fact that electricity currently comes from smoke belching power stations.

Performance

Battery pack

Battery pack

Even the most efficient combustion engine loses 75% of its output to internal friction and the ancillary systems. An electric motor is a much simpler system and 80% of the output goes straight to the wheels, with all the monumental 480 lb/ft of torque coming direct from the off, from 0rpm, which renders the traditional six-speed manual in this car almost redundant.

It’s there, for now, but the car takes off in sixth and eventually the ‘box will make way for a more conventional automatic set-up with forward, reverse and park. And with all that torque it doesn’t really matter that the actual power output is 150kW, the electrical equivalent of 204bhp. That’s warm hatch territory at best.

no exhaust pipe shapelier design

no exhaust pipe shapelier design

But still the eRuf can break through the 60mph mark in seven seconds, in sixth gear, with the whirs and clicks of the gearbox and external hydraulic pumps giving way to the dull roar of tyre meeting road and the electric three-phase brushless motor winding up to 5,000rpm. And that whirring, dull noise will keep on rising until the 140mph limit – not bad for a green machine.

As for the brakes, right here, right now, they’re standard. But that will change as the nature of the motor means it can be turned into a generator at the flick of a switch, or the press of a pedal. So, in the end, hitting the brake will engage generator mode and the car will slow in just the same way while regenerating the batteries. But the traditional disc brake will all but disappear, remaining only as an emergency brake.

Ride and Handling
Ruf worked hard to keep the same basic front/rear weight balance and retain the basic handling characteristics of the 911 Carrera S, kind of.

But there’s one critical problem, the car weighs slightly less than a moon thanks to 96 of the 5.6kg iron phosphate/lithium ion batteries that replace the conventional tank of fuel. They’re rammed everywhere, in the storage space, throughout the back end and anywhere else they could think of to achieve the 200km range that was deemed an essential part of the equation for a usable commuter car rather than a near-pointless technical demonstration.

Simply recharge

Simply recharge

And that leaves this less powerful car with 1,910kg of kerbweight to contend with, which is a lot. That extra mass drags on its hips through the bends and, while it’s still basically a 911, it feels slow to react, ponderous and less like the surgical weapon we have all come to expect from cars this shape.

But Ruf has made no rampant claims about this being the ultimate electric sportscar, not yet. They have billed this as a commuter that can get to the office, cover 130 miles on a seven-hour charge and ease the conscience of the owner who probably has a gas guzzling monster at home for the weekends. Next generation batteries and a simpler gearbox will cut 300kg from the kerbweight and send the performance skyward, though.

As for the ride, it’s a Porsche 911 with sports seats, so it’s magic carpet smooth. And the eery silence of the electric motor means it’s as quiet as a Mercedes S-Class.

Interior

Interior

Interior

Someone had been hard at work with the label maker on this prototype and the dashboard is a rough concoction of switches, buttons and hastily connected lights right now. Aside from that there is a race-style digital readout that contains a whole new world of information, like the kW/hour, remaining battery life and the current efficiency of the brushless three-phase motor.

But the final version will feature a 911 interior so expertly modified that you’ll swear it left the Zuffenhausen production line and only the important information, like how much juice is left in the batteries and how much you’re using, will be on show. And, hopefully, there’ll be some luggage space once the next gen batteries are fitted as even the rear seats have been ripped out.

The MSN Cars verdict: 3/5

Rims

Rims

The real genius in this is that every other electric car requires some form of sacrifice: either looking like a berk in a G-Whiz or folding creaking joints over the sill of a Tesla, which is basically a Lotus Elise when all is said and done. Model A combines green, electric power with Porsche 911 style, comfort and practicality.

It’s rough around the edges, but this is just the first step and with the finest tuner in the Porsche business putting his full weight behind the project it will go forth in leaps and bounds.

We cannot wait for Model B.

Source: MSN

Moscow aims to restore trust with U.S.

I agree with those who are concerned that it would have been nice to see more women, said Kim Gandy.

I agree with those who are concerned that it would have been nice to see more women, said Kim Gandy.

Early indications that men might dominate the hierarchy of Obama administration have women’s groups worried, even as a growing chorus of advisers reportedly pushes Hillary Rodham Clinton for secretary of state.

“There’s definitely been a reaction to the few groups that have been named so far,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. “I agree with those who are concerned that it would have been nice to see more women.”

Women’s rights advocates acknowledge it’s still early in the transition process, but they say early staff picks and the lists of rumored Cabinet nominees send the wrong signal.

“It’s appropriate that Obama’s vetting Clinton, but she’s one women,” said Amy Siskind, co-founder of The New Agenda, a nonpartisan women’s rights group founded by former Clinton supporters. “We want to see parity in the representation of women in the Cabinet.”

Some women’s rights advocates believe the new administration is conducting a broad search across a diverse pool of candidates.

The Obama transition team asked NOW to send suggestions of qualified female candidates, according to Gandy.

“The transition team is going to take the time to look at and vet the people they don’t know,” she said. “Because frankly, the people who are already well-known in Washington tend to be men and tend to be white.”

The early teams released by the Obama administration have tended to be male-dominated. On Wednesday, four women and eight men were named to Obama’s transition advisory board. His agency review team is headed by seven women and thirteen men. And last week, Obama met with his key economic advisers — four women and 13 men.

So far, Obama has named four members of his top White House staff. Three are men – chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, press secretary Robert Gibbs and chief congressional liaison Phil Schiliro. And one is a woman – senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Additionally, Vice President-elect Joe Biden has named Ron Klain as his chief of staff.

The senior staff assisting with the transition is more evenly divided, with Jarrett, a mentor and close friend one of the three top aides overseeing it.

While Obama has not made any Cabinet appointments, the names that are circulating have worried some in the women’s rights community.

“I have been struck by how few women have been mentioned for high-level positions,” said former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, who worked on the Clinton transition. “It’s still very early, so I don’t want to reach conclusions yet. But the rumors are a flashing yellow light.”

Read it all…

Senator Barack Obama with two campaign constants - his BlackBerry and his chief strategist, David Axelrod.

Senator Barack Obama with two campaign constants - his BlackBerry and his chief strategist, David Axelrod.

WASHINGTON — Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry.

Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days.

For years, like legions of other professionals, Mr. Obama has been all but addicted to his BlackBerry. The device has rarely been far from his side — on most days, it was fastened to his belt — to provide a singular conduit to the outside world as the bubble around him grew tighter and tighter throughout his campaign.

“How about that?” Mr. Obama replied to a friend’s congratulatory e-mail message on the night of his victory.

But before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.

For all the perquisites and power afforded the president, the chief executive of the United States is essentially deprived by law and by culture of some of the very tools that other chief executives depend on to survive and to thrive. Mr. Obama, however, seems intent on pulling the office at least partly into the 21st century on that score; aides said he hopes to have a laptop computer on his desk in the Oval Office, making him the first American president to do so.

Read it all…

RNC audio slide show

RNC audio slide show

Click to see audio slide show of conventions

Click to see audio slide show of conventions

Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON

Do you see the election results as a repudiation of your politics?
Our new president-elect won one and a half points more than George W. Bush won in 2004, and he did so, in great respect, by adopting the methods of the Bush campaign and conducting a vast army of persuasion to identify and get out the vote.

Karl Rove

Karl Rove

But what about your great dream of creating a permanent Republican governing majority in Washington?
I never said permanent. Durable.

Do you think John McCain attacked too much or not enough?
Dissecting the campaign that way is not helpful.

Have you met Barack Obama?
Yes, I know him. He was a member of the Senate while I was at the White House and we shared a mutual friend, Ken Mehlman, his law-school classmate. When Obama came to the White House, we would talk about our mutual friend.

Did you have lunch together? Talk in the hall?
We sat in the meeting room and chatted before the meeting. He had a habit of showing up early, which is a good courtesy.

Are you going to send him a little note congratulating him?
I already have. I sent it to his office. I sent him a handwritten note with funny stamps on the outside.

What kind of funny stamps?
Stamps.

Do you have any advice for him? You already criticized Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s new chief of staff, as a sharply partisan choice.
I raised a question as to whether this would be the best use of Rahm Emanuel’s talents. If you’re trying to work through a big legislative priority, it is sort of hard if you have a guy who has a reputation as a tough, hard, take-no-prisoners, head-in-your-face, scream-and-shout, send-them-a-dead-fish partisan.

What about you? You were always seen as very partisan.
I wasn’t the chief of staff. And you’d be surprised by the Democrats I actually met, got to know and worked with.

Do you like Joe Biden?
I think he has an odd combination of longevity and long-windedness that passes for wisdom in Washington.

Do you regret anything that happened in the White House during your tenure?
Sure.

You’ve been booed off stages recently.
No, I haven’t. I’ve been booed on stages. I’m a little bit tougher than to walk off a stage because someone says something ugly.

Do you think the era of negative politics is over?
No.

Do you see yourself as being associated with it in any way?
Look, in 1800 the sainted Thomas Jefferson arranged to hire a notorious slanderer named James Callender, who worked as a writer at a Republican newspaper in Richmond, Va. Read some of what he wrote about John Adams. This was a personal slander.

What did he say?
He said he lacked the spine of a man and the character of a woman. Negative politics have always been around.

Do you think you’re negative?
No.

You’ve never repudiated President Bush.
No. And I never will. He did the right things.

What about Iraq and the economy?
The world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone.

Do you have any advice for him at this point?
With all due respect, I don’t need you to transmit what I want to say to my friend of 35 years.

Remember, attack politics are out. It’s a new age of civilized discourse.
You’re the one who hurt my feelings by saying you didn’t trust me.

Did I say that?
Yes, you did. I’ve got it on tape. I’m going to transcribe this and send it to you.

nyt-logoprinter

Click to enlarge+

Click to enlarge+

By FRANK RICH

ELECTION junkies in acute withdrawal need suffer no longer. Though the exciting Obama-McCain race is over, the cockfight among the losers has only just begun. The conservative crackup may be ugly, but as entertainment, it’s two thumbs up!

Over at Fox News, Greta Van Susteren has been trashing the credibility of her own network’s chief political correspondent, Carl Cameron, for his report on Sarah Palin’s inability to identify Africa as a continent, while Bill O’Reilly valiantly defends Cameron’s honor. At Slate, a post-mortem of conservative intellectuals descended into name-calling, with the writer Ross Douthat of The Atlantic labeling the legal scholar Douglas Kmiec a “useful idiot.”

In an exuberant class by himself is Michael Barone, a ubiquitous conservative commentator who last week said that journalists who trash Palin (more than a few of them conservatives) do so because “she did not abort her Down syndrome baby.” He was being “humorous,” he subsequently explained to Politico, though the joke may be on him. Barone writes for U.S. News & World Report, where his 2008 analyses included keepers like “Just Call Her Sarah ‘Delano’ Palin.” Just call it coincidence, but on Election Day, word spread that the once-weekly U.S. News was downsizing to a monthly — a step closer to the fate of Literary Digest, the weekly magazine that vanished two years after its straw poll predicted an Alf Landon landslide over Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936.

Will the 2008 G.O.P. go the way of the 1936 G.O.P., which didn’t reclaim the White House until 1952? Even factoring in the Democrats’ time-honored propensity for self-immolation, it’s not beyond reason. The Republicans are in serious denial. A few heretics excepted, they hope to blame all their woes on their unpopular president, the inept McCain campaign and their party’s latent greed for budget-busting earmarks.

The trouble is far more fundamental than that. The G.O.P. ran out of steam and ideas well before George W. Bush took office and Tom DeLay ran amok, and it is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America. The proof is in the vanilla pudding. When David Letterman said that the 10 G.O.P. presidential candidates at an early debate looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club,” he was the first to correctly call the election.

On Nov. 4, that’s roughly the sole constituency that remained loyal to the party — minus its wealthiest slice, a previously solid G.O.P. stronghold that turned blue this year (in a whopping swing of 34 percentage points). The Republicans lost every region of the country by double digits except the South, which they won by less than double digits (9 points). They took the South only because McCain, who ran roughly even with Obama among whites in every other region, won Southern whites by 38 percentage points.

Blue areas show Democrat gains.

Blue areas show Democrat gains.

Read it all….

HuffP

President-elect Barack Obama and Baby.

President-elect Barack Obama and Baby.

E&P

In the wake of McCain’s defeat, Sean Hannity appears to be going through his own personal five stages of death: Anger, Denial, Anger, Denial, and Denial. [23/6] We’ll be checking in on him from time to time to see how he’s holding up.

We are worried about you Buddy.

We are worried about you Buddy.

The stage he’s in today: Anger. Well, actually, more like “pissy.” Well, “pissy and completely divorced from reality.” Here are a couple highlights from last night’s chat with Mike Huckabee, after the jump…

An “Obama recession?” No, Sean, you can’t do that. You can’t just put the name of someone you hate in front of a problem and use that as proof that they’re to blame. If we could we’d stop telling people we have herpes and start telling people we have “McCain herpes.” How do we know McCain caused our herpes? His name’s right in front of the word herpes ain’t it? The defense rests.

This is a common step in the grieving process. In the griever’s mind, the cause of his grief becomes elevated to an all-powerful being, responsible for all of his pain and heartbreak. Hannity’s friend, the GOP, is dead, and he blames Barack Obama. So in Sean’s mind, if there is something wrong in the world, Obama must be to blame. Whether it be the recession or the fact that he looks like an effeminate Fred Flintstone. It’s all Obama’s fault.

He should get through this step in about eight years.

As for the “New York Obama Times” comment, that’s just baby Sean throwing a quick tantrum. But we gotta admit, it is kind of catchy.

Source: 23/6

Hannity finds peace in Ohm-Baa-Maa chant

Hannity finds peace in Ohm-Baa-Maa chant

Update: Yesterday Sean Hannity was raking over his favorite subject – that of Bill Ayers – as a follow up to the Ayers/GMA interview. During the show Hannity was visibly shaken and could hardly get the words out of his mouth – it was clearly too much for him – to think after all his ranting and raving – Obama still won. On top of having to consider the possibility that he was sidelined – ignored – marginalized – not taken that seriously. It must be bad ~ in his head right now ~ so for Hannity – don’t do it buddy – here’s a how you can cope ~ take a few slow deep breaths ~ and chant Ohm-Baaa-maa at least 5 times a day ~ this will help you to calm down and adjust to the new reality!

From pipes to politics - Joe is your man!

From pipes to politics - Joe is your man!

Joe the Plumber a.k.a. Samuel J. Wurzelbacher may yet reach that higher income bracket – the 5% percentile with earnings over $250,000 – that he ran by Obama on that fateful encounter down the street from where he lived. How you might ask? Forget about the pipe dream of owning – his own plumbing business (or was that a partnership) Joe the Plumber has been offered a book deal (which in an earlier post I predicted he might) and he has opened a grand new website to dispense his pearls of wisdom!

But ouch but it’ll cost ya! Although Joe has been kind enough to offer free membership to all those who can’t afford his ‘fee’ – but it is $14.95 for the rest of ya! You betcha! Wouldn’t make more sense to put a charity button on his site – like all the other bloggers ~ get in line!

Read more at…

(CBS) President-elect Barack Obama has agreed to give his first post-election interview to 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft. The interview includes future first lady Michelle Obama and is to take place on Friday, Nov. 14, in Chicago.

11-10-2008-11-49-27-pm

The interview is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

60 Minutes has covered the campaign and the election closely. Most recently, Kroft and 60 Minutes cameras were with Obama’s top aides on election night for a segment broadcast on last Sunday’s 60 Minutes that drew 18.5 million viewers, ranking it America’s number-one program for the week.

Source: CBS

11-11-2008-7-55-03-am1

By Jonathan Mann

(CNN) — Who is the president of the United States? The real president?

Right now, the US may have two of them — neither entirely up to the job.

In constitutional terms, George W. Bush occupies the Oval Office until his term ends on January 20 with the inauguration of his successor.

But a new CNN/Opinion Research Poll finds that Bush is the least popular president since pollsters first began measuring approval ratings half-a-century ago.

His Republican party has, of course, just been defeated in presidential and congressional elections and many Republicans blame him personally. Democrats blame him for a whole lot more. So even though the calendar gives him two more months, he has virtually no mandate left.

Barack Obama isn’t president. His supporters in the United States and around the world can barely contain their excitement about what’s ahead, but for now he has only the nebulous position as the next guy in line, the “president-elect.”

In constitutional terms, the president-elect doesn’t have any legal authority, but that hasn’t stopped him. Obama is exercising all the authority he can.

He’s come forward quickly to talk about his plans. He’s pushing Bush to support a bailout for the US auto industry before Bush leaves office. Obama’s made it clear that he expects measures for the economy from the Congress too.

“While we must recognize that we only have one president at a time and that President Bush is the leader of our government, I want to ensure that we hit the ground running on January 20 because we don’t have a moment to lose,” Obama said.

There are 11 weeks between the election and the inauguration, the in-between time known as the Transition. But Obama is compressing the calendar.

It could be that the crisis in the US economy demands strong leadership right now and the American people expect him to offer it. It could also be that Obama doesn’t want to wait.

“He is immediately muscling his way into power,” complains former Bush speechwriter David Frum. “Barack Obama said at his first press conference that the US has only one president at a time. He didn’t say who that president was.”

Maybe there isn’t just one president – more like two half-presidents, one wounded and one waiting, and both trying to make the most of the two months ahead.

Source: CNN

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Barack Obama’s election as president of the United States won’t see a change in American relations with the Taliban, a senior Taliban leader in Pakistan says.

“For us, the change of America’s president — we don’t have any good faith in him,” said Muslim Khan, a grizzled Taliban spokesman who is one of the most wanted men in Pakistan, in a rare interview with CNN. “If he does anything good, it will be for himself.”

With an assault rifle on his lap, Khan answered 10 written questions, sharing his view on a range of topics from slavery to Obama’s middle name — Hussein.

He spoke in the remote Swat Valley of northwestern Pakistan, the site of frequent and fierce clashes between Pakistani troops and Taliban and al Qaeda militants.

There was no opportunity for follow-up questions.

Khan said Obama’s election may change conditions for black Americans.

“The black one knows how much the black people are discriminated against in America and Europe and other countries,” he said. “For America’s black people, it could be that there will be a change. That era is coming.”

He said he doubted Obama’s victory would lead to changes in relations between the United States and the Taliban.

Watch the Taliban spokesman on Barack Obama »

U.S. forces dislodged the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

America and its allies have battled the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan ever since, with fighting spreading across the border into Pakistan.

“American should take its army out of the country,” Khan said. “They are considered terrorists.”

Obama has minced no words in describing how he would administer U.S. policy toward the Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in August, Obama pledged to “finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

And the president-elect included a blunt warning in remarks on the evening of his election victory: “To those who would tear the world down,” he said, “we will defeat you.”

Khan noted that Obama’s middle name was fairly common in the Muslim world, referring to him at times as “Hussein Barack Obama.”

“If he behaves in the way of a real Hussein, then he has become our brother,” he said. “If Barack Obama pursues the same policies as Bush and behaves like Bush … then he cannot be Hussein. He can only be Obama.”

Source: CNN

knoxvillepauljrichardsafpge

“On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will meet in Chicago at transition headquarters,” Obama Transition spox Stephanie Cutter just announced. “It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality.”

McCain ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff, will be there. Graham and Emanuel worked well together on negotiating the presidential debates.

In May, Obama alluded to putting McCain in his Cabinet when discussing how former President Abraham Lincoln put rivals in his Cabinet.

“Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was how can we get this country through this time of crisis,” Obama said. “And I think that has to be the approach that one takes, whether it’s vice president or Cabinet, whoever, and by the way that does not exclude Republicans either. You know my attitude is – is that whoever is the best person for the job is the person I want.”

Obama had been answering a question about naming Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, as his running mate, but he added, “if I really thought that John McCain was the absolute best person for the Department of the Homeland Security, I would put him in there. I would, if I thought that he was the best. Now, I’m not saying I do. I’m just saying, that’s got to be the approach that you take because part of, part of the change that I’m looking for is — is to make sure that we, we’re reminded of what we have in common as Americans. We spend so much time, our politics is all built around trying to divide us.”

There is no indication Obama intends to offer McCain a position in his Cabinet, or that McCain would accept, but the two are expected to discuss areas where they can work together — the environment and national service, for instance.

abc-news-logo

‘Good Morning America’s’ Chris Cuomo Grills ’60s Radical Bill Ayers

William Ayers, the 1960s radical whose violent history became a focal point in the 2008 presidential election, said today that the Republicans unfairly “demonized” him in an attempt to damage the campaign of President-elect Barack Obama.

Ayers remained militant in his defense of his bomb-throwing past and repeated a statement that has infuriated his critics: “I don’t think we did enough.”

The college professor also argued to “Good Morning America’s” Chis Cuomo today that the bombing campaign by the group he helped found, the Weather Underground, was not terrorism.

The Weather Underground bombed the Capitol, the Pentagon and the New York City Police Department to protest the Vietnam War.

“It’s not terrorism because it doesn’t target people, to kill or injure,” Ayers insisted.

Ayers became a bogeyman for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, who demanded to know more about Obama’s relationship with his Chicago neighbor. Palin accused Obama of “palling around … with a terrorist.”

Breaking his silence, Ayers told Cuomo that the GOP attack was a “dishonest narrative…to demonize me.”

He added, “I don’t buy the idea that guilt by association should have any part of our politics,” he said.

Ayers scoffed at the Republican effort to make his ties to Obama appear suspicious.

“This idea that we need to know more, like there’s some dark, hidden secret, some secret link,” Ayers said. “It’s a myth thrown up by people who want to exploit the politics of fear.”

But he was unapologetic about his militant actions during the Vietnam War.

“What you call the violent past, that was a time when thousands of people were being murdered every month by our own government… We were on the right side,” he told “GMA.”

The co-founder of the Weather Underground was, as McCain has claimed, unrepentant about the the bombings his group committed during the 1960s.

“The content of the Vietnam protest is that there were despicable acts going on, but the despicable acts were being done by our goverment… I never hurt or killed anyone,” Ayers said.

“Frankly, I dont think we did enough, just as today I dont’ think we’ve done enough to stop these wars,” he said.

Ayers Says He Is ‘Family Friend’ of Obama
Ayers did soften his stand on violence during the “GMA” interview.

“We knew it was wrong. We knew it was illegal. We knew it was immoral,” he said, but they felt they “had to do more” to stop the Vietnam war.

He urged people today “to participate in resistance, in nonviolent,direct action” to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ayers, 63, currently a distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, became a political piñata for McCain, R-Ariz., and Palin during the presidential campaign.

Despite Obama’s attempt to portray their relationship as a distant one, Ayers, in a new afterward to his book “Fugitive Days,” describes Obama as a “neighbor and family friend.”

On “GMA,” Ayers again downplayed any close ties to Obama despite the reference to”family friend.”

“I’m talking there about the fact that I became an issue, unwillingly and unwittingly,” he said. “It was a profoundly dishonest narrative… I’m describing there how the blogosphere characterized the relationship.”

“I would say, really, that we knew each other in a professional way on the same level of, say, thousands of other people,” he said.

He added, echoing a phrase that Obama used to describe Ayers, “I am a guy around the neighborhood.”

Ayers acknowledged that he held a reception in his home when Obama began his political run for state office.

“He was probably in 20 homes that day,” Ayers said.

During the campaign, Obama tried to defuse the Ayers issue by condemning Ayers’ past actions as “detestable.”

“The notion that … me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense,” Obama argued.

Sarah Palin Still Concerned About Ayers Tie
Ayers made a point of remaining silent during the presidential race, but his proximity to Obama was highlighted on Election Day when the two men nearly ran into each other in the same polling place. As recently as Wednesday, Palin was still raising the Ayers’ issue, telling NBC that she was still concerned about Obama’s relationship to the former radical. Palin was the fiercest critic of the Obama-Ayers tie, accusing Obama of “palling around with a domestic terrorist.” Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical anti-war group said responsible for a militant bombing campaign against government targets.

While he was a fugitive, he married Bernardine Dorhn, another member of the Weather Underground.

Obama and Ayers have several connections. The two men have also served on boards together, including the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

abc-news-logo

With just weeks to go before taking office, the economy is hurting and oil and gasoline prices are dropping, all presenting challenges for President-elect Obama’s green energy proposals. Stacey Delo reports. (Part 1 in a series.) (Nov. 12)

For more political videos, check out www.wsj.com/video.

11-10-2008-11-33-10-am1

Though Bill Richards might be very good for relations with South America. Although I like Clinton’s stance on dealing with the Arabs on oil ~ when she say Bush begging the Arabs to lower the price that this was his administration’s energy plan. Then we have to remember that Hillary’s big thing is health ~ she might better serve here. 

Andrea Mitchell has a huge scoop — or a big red herring.

The part that really jumps out is the secret trip to Chi-town.

The Clinton camp –which has shot down these kinds of reports before — isn’t denying (read after excerpt):

    Two Obama advisers have told NBC News that Hillary Clinton is under consideration to be secretary of state. Would she be interested? Those who know Clinton say possibly. But her office says that any decisions about the transition are up to the president-elect and his team.
    Clinton was seen taking a flight to Chicago today, but an adviser says it was on personal business. It is unknown whether she had any meeting or conversation with Obama while there.
    Other Democrats known to want the State Department post are Sen. John Kerry and Gov. Bill Richardson. A possible compromise choice would be former Sen. Tom Daschle.

Clinton, who ridiculed Obama during the primaries as inexperienced on foreign affairs, has previously poo-pooed SoS chatter.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines: “[A]ny speculation about cabinet or other administration appointments is really for President-Elect Obama’s transition team to address.”

The first Obamaaide we got on the phone wouldn’t confirm or deny.

politico-logo

11-14-2008-1-14-40-pm1

Barack Obama spent much of his presidential campaign decrying the influence of Washington lobbyists. In the 10 days since he was elected, he already has had an impact: He has touched off a mini-boom on K Street.

Top lobbying firms are gearing up to handle increased demand from corporate clients who fear that the Obama administration will expand its regulatory reach and target them for tax increases. Some firms, such as Patton Boggs, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Alston & Bird, are also preparing for new business resulting from the ongoing effort to stabilize the economy.

And who is cashing in on this boom? Democrats who supported Obama, such as Jaime R. Harrison.

Harrison helped mobilize voter turnout for Obama in South Carolina, and for the past two years he directed floor operations for House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) — credentials that made him a sought-after addition to firms looking for an edge in a new administration.

“I built a lot of strong relationships with members, as well as their staff, and some of my very best friends worked on the campaign,” Harrison said. He will start with the Podesta Group next week.

For some Republicans, this is bad news. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Comcast have recently replaced Republicans in top corporate lobbying posts with Democrats. But most Republicans, especially prominent ones, profess little concern about Obama’s desire to shake up the culture in Washington, or seem chastened by strict new rules aimed at weakening their influence.

[..]

This week, Obama transition chief John D. Podesta told reporters that the president-elect would impose “the strictest and most far-reaching ethics rules of any transition in history,” including a series of rules defining how the group that is planning the new administration will interact with the lobbying industry.

Political scientist Norman J. Ornstein said that while the rules “may exclude some good people with deep experience in their fields . . . it will also exclude those who see government service as a springboard to financial success, or who are more intent on pleasing future potential employers or clients than making tough choices in the public interest.”

But almost from the start of his campaign, Obama made clear that he would not be slamming the door on interactions with lobbyists. In a December 2007 speech in Iowa, he said he was “running to tell the lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over. They have not funded my campaign. They won’t work in my White House.” But the candidate quickly backed away from that second part. A few days later in Waterloo, Iowa, he changed the phrasing to say that lobbyists “are not going to dominate my White House.”

One bright line Obama will continue to draw is his prohibition on campaign contributions from lobbyists, now extended to cover the nonprofit accounts he has set up to pay transition costs and fund inauguration festivities. That is in keeping with the ban on donations Obama enforced during the campaign.

Read it all…

Stiff Republican Resistance Could Force Democrats to Wait for Obama and Their Party’s Enlarged Majority to Take Office

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats are scaling back plans for an economic-stimulus package as partisan deadlock clouds chances for passage of either that measure or a proposed bailout of Detroit’s auto makers until the party’s enlarged majority convenes in January.

Former auto worker Willie Daniel leaves a United Auto Workers hall in Brook Park, Ohio, on Wednesday. Like many UAW members, he took a buyout amid fears that jobs could disappear as car sales continue their steep decline.

Former auto worker Willie Daniel leaves a United Auto Workers hall in Brook Park, Ohio, on Wednesday. Like many UAW members, he took a buyout amid fears that jobs could disappear as car sales continue their steep decline.

Democratic leaders want to move legislation that would give a jobs-producing jolt to the economy. They also support proposals to toss a $25 billion financial lifeline to Detroit. But it isn’t clear either of those steps can pass before January, when President-elect Barack Obama and a new, more heavily Democratic Congress take office.

The biggest problem is in the Senate, where Democrats have only a 51-49 edge until year’s end. The Bush administration is balking at the Democratic agenda, and Republicans in the House and Senate are growing more vocal about their concerns, especially concerning the auto package.

“The financial situation facing the Big Three [auto makers] is not a national problem, but their problem,” said Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

In the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, the Ohio Republican, assailed the proposed aid to Detroit as “neither fair to taxpayers nor sound fiscal policy.”

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said Thursday that he knew of no Republicans who would support the $25 billion proposal by Democrats, and said he is disinclined to move a bill without bipartisan support.

“I’d want to be careful about bringing up a proposition that might fail,” given that a rescue plan would be more likely to pass under an Obama administration, the Connecticut Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill. “There’s some political considerations that need to be made over the next few days.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada still plans to move forward next week. “Senator Reid still believes it is important to address this crisis plaguing our auto industry,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley, adding that bipartisan cooperation will be needed. “We cannot do it without the support of Senate Republicans, who I hope will join us to pass a bill that saves the jobs and protects the livelihoods of millions of hard-working Americans.”

Mr. Dodd, meanwhile, wants to add foreclosure relief to an economic-stimulus package. He expressed frustration Thursday with efforts to help distressed homeowners by the private sector and the Bush administration, which was supposed to make foreclosure relief a top priority in the $700 billion rescue packaged enacted earlier this fall to stabilize financial markets.

“We want to see more progress,” Mr. Dodd said, adding he is prepared to legislate — “now, if possible” — to address the problem.

Read more

Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne Cheney welcomed Vice President-Elect Joseph Biden and his wife Jill Biden to the Naval Observatory for a private meeting and tour of the Vice President’s Residence in Washington.
CSpan

November 12, 2008: The Day in 100 Seconds

Obamas Hyde Park home now a fortress

Obamas Hyde Park home now a fortress

CHICAGO — A couple of weeks ago, Barack Obama headed to the Hyde Park Hair Salon for a trim. He greeted the staff and other customers and plopped down in the same chair in front of the same barber who has cut his hair for the last 14 years.

But when he wanted a trim this week, the Secret Service took one look at the shop’s large plate-glass windows and the gawking tourists eager for a glimpse of the president-elect and the plan quickly changed. If Mr. Obama could no longer come to the barber, the barber would come to him and cut his hair at a friend’s apartment.

Life for the newly chosen president and his family has changed forever. Even the constraints and security of the campaign trail do not compare to the bubble that has enveloped him in the 10 days since his election. Renegade, as the Secret Service calls him, now lives within the strict limits that come with the most powerful office on the planet.

“It’s always just the two of them,” said Tony Mantuano, the chef and co-owner of Spiaggia. “Now it’s just the two of them and 30 Secret Service agents.”

He has chosen to spend this interval before his Jan. 20 inauguration at his home in Hyde Park, which has in some ways been transformed into a secure fortress for his protection. After two years of daily speeches and rallies, he has retreated into an almost hermitlike seclusion, largely hidden from public view and spotted only when he drops his two daughters off for school or goes for a workout at the gymnasium in a friend’s apartment building.

“This is a tremendous personal transition, as well, far beyond what anyone could imagine,” said Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois state treasurer and a close friend. “Little things, like going to the gym, going to the movies, going to dinner with his wife, none of that will ever be the same again. Things that we take for granted.”

Mr. Obama is putting off the change as much as he can by remaining in Chicago during the transition. “I am not going to be spending too much time in Washington over the next several weeks,” he told someone in a telephone conversation overheard by reporters on his chartered plane heading back to Chicago after a White House visit on Monday.

Catching a glimpse of Obamas motorcade

Catching a glimpse of Obamas motorcade

Read more…

Thanks Rachel !!

Thanks Rachel !!

Last night, on her eponymous show on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow took up the cause for a nation of bloggers who are tired of being stereotyped in the sad, stupid, and tired way that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin did whilst shooting her moosemeat infomercial with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren:

    “…sitting there in their parent’s basement wearing their pajamas.”

Le sigh! Suffice it to say, I know bloggers who have written books, bloggers who wear body armor in war zones, bloggers who are immersed in scholarship, and bloggers who can take their experience of driving a taxicab and turn it into a transporting read. I also know a bunch of bloggers who can cook WAY BETTER than Sarah Palin! But more to the point: what the heck is wrong with wearing pajamas? Especially footie pajamas! Especially footie pajamas that you buy yourself, with your own money, instead of the RNC’s! This is Rachel Maddow’s cause.

Source: HP

490px-ted_stevens_109th_pictorial_photo ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Just as Sen. Ted Stevens appeared set to return to Congress, felony conviction and all, his re-election bid has faltered. If he loses, it also closes a possible door into the Senate anytime soon for Gov. Sarah Palin.

As counting of early and absentee ballots continued in Stevens’ race against Democrat Mark Begich, the contest for Alaska’s only House seat was settled Wednesday, with the re-election of Republican incumbent Don Young for his 19th term.

In the Stevens race, Begich jumped to an 814-vote lead, after trailing by 3,200 when the day began. The tally late Wednesday was 132,196 to 131,382, with an estimated 30,000 ballots remaining to be counted, some on Friday and some next week.

“After watching the votes today, I remain cautiously optimistic,” Begich, a two-term Anchorage mayor, said in a news release. “We ran an aggressive campaign, especially when it came to early voting and absentee.”

Stevens’ campaign did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Last month, a federal jury in Washington convicted Stevens of lying on Senate disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from an oil field services company.

That might have spelled quick political doom for a lesser figure, but Stevens is revered here for his decades of public service — and especially for scoring the state enormous sums of federal money.

Begich would be the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Alaska since the mid-1970s, and a victory would put his party one step closer to a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate. Democrats are also trying to unseat Republicans in unresolved contests in Georgia and Minnesota.

Fellow senators have called on Stevens to resign if he wins, and he could face expulsion if he declines to step down. In either case a special election would be held to determine his replacement. Palin, fresh from her failed run at the vice presidency, said Wednesday she’d be interested in serving in the Senate.

“My life is in God’s hands,” Palin said. “If he’s got doors open for me, that I believe are in our state’s best interest, the nation’s best interest, I’m going to go through those doors.”

In the House race, The Associated Press declared Young the winner with 50 percent of the vote compared with Democrat Ethan Berkowitz’s 45 percent.

Berkowitz campaign spokesman David Shurtleff said the Democrat was not ready to concede, although he acknowledged dim prospects.

Election officials Wednesday counted 57,000 of the estimated 90,000 outstanding ballots, which include absentee, early, questioned and provisional ballots.

Should the Senate results remain close a recount is possible. In Alaska, the losing candidate or a collection of 10 voters has three days to petition for a recount unless the vote was a tie, in which case it would be automatic.

If the difference between the candidates is within 0.5 percent of the total votes cast, the state pays for the recount, to be started within three days of the recount petition. The state Elections Division has 10 days to complete the recount.

If Stevens holds onto his seat, he might remain in the Senate for some time. As a practical matter, Stevens can’t be expelled by the full Senate until after an Ethics Committee investigation and a majority vote of that panel. That won’t happen until next year at the earliest.

Stevens also plans to appeal his conviction after he’s sentenced, in February at the earliest. The appeal could take months or years.

President George W. Bush could also pardon him.

latimes-logo

After much anticipation from a room full of reporters and other curiosity-seekers, Sarah Palin this morning took four questions from reporters in a press conference that lasted 11 minutes.

Actually, taking away Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s opening statement, the session lasted under 10 minutes.

Palin was on stage with 13 other Republican governors — all men — who received zero attention from the assembled crowd.

After the third question, an RGA aide tried to end the session but Perry interjected and allowed for a fourth question.

Palin sought to deflect attention from herself and talk about the governors as a group, but all the questions centered on her past and future.

politico-logo

13palin-600a

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska spoke at The Republican Governors Association in Miami on Thursday

MIAMI — Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska did something here on Thursday that she did not do in her entire campaign as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee: she stood behind a lectern and held a news conference. She was asked what had changed.

“The campaign is over,” she said.

Granted, the question and answer session lasted only four minutes, and for only four questions. As she stood on a stage in a hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay, surrounded by 12 fellow governors, Ms. Palin was asked what message she hoped to get across.

“I’m trying to convey the message that Republican governors are a unique team,” said Ms. Palin, who said she was uninterested in discussing the campaign.

But Ms. Palin did allow herself a look back after the brief news conference ended, as she addressed a session of the Republican Governors Association and told them that she had managed to keep busy since their last conference.

“I had a baby, I did some traveling, I very briefly expanded my wardrobe, I made a few speeches, I met a few VIPS, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey,” she said.

And yes, she spoke again of “Joe the Plumber,” the Ohio man who briefly dominated the McCain-Palin campaign and its talk about taxes.

Ms. Palin thanked the people who attended her rallies, including young women she hopes she has influenced.

“I am going to remember all the young girls who came up to me at rallies to see the first woman having the privilege of carrying our party’s VP nomination,” she said. “We’re going to work harder, we’re going to be stronger, we’re going to do better and one day, one of them will be the president.”

That raised again the question surrounding Ms. Palin since the election ended: will she run in 2012?

“The future is not that 2012 Presidential race, it’s next year and our next budgets,” she said. It is in 2010, she said, that “we’ll have 36 governors positions open.”

Ms. Palin tried to downplay her celebrity (even after a week in which she was featured in interviews on NBC, FOX News and CNN). In her speech, she tried to change the focus from herself to the work that Republican governors must now do, including developing energy resources to health care reform.

“I am not going to assume that the answer is for the federal government to just take it over and try to run America’s health care system,” Ms. Palin said. “Heaven forbid.”

She implored her fellow Republican governors to “show the federal government the way,” while also reforming their own party.

“We are the minority party. Let us resolve not to be the negative party,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us build our case with actions, not just with words.”

Her appearance was the highly anticipated moment of the conference, coming a day after other emerging governors spoke about the direction of the Republican Party. Entering the political wilderness after its losses this month, the group that many consider its future met to talk about what went wrong, and what to do next.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who was very nearly Senator John McCain’s running mate this year, told the decidedly subdued, post-election conference Wednesday about a revelation he had recently while looking into the bathroom mirror at his home in Minnesota.

Mr. Pawlenty said that after wearily returning from the campaign trail, he looked at himself in the mirror and complained about what he saw to his wife, Mary. “I said, ‘Mary, look at me,’ “ he said. “ ‘I mean, my hairline’s receding, these crow’s feet and wrinkles are multiplying on my face by the day, I’ve been on the road eating junk food, I’m getting flabby, these love handles are flopping over the side of my belt.’

“I said, ‘Is there anything you can tell me that would give me some hope, some optimism, some encouragement?’ “ he said. “And she looked at me and she said, ‘Well, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.’ “

As his fellow governors laughed, he came to the moral of the story: “If we are going to successfully travel the road to improvement, as Republicans, we need to see clearly, and we need to speak to each other candidly about the state of our party.”

The long, sometimes painful post-mortem of the election — where Republicans were widely repudiated, losing the White House and more seats in Congress — began in earnest here among Republican governors, a group that has traditionally served as a wellspring of new ideas and talent for the party. It was, at times, a bit glum.

Frank Luntz, the communications strategist, gave the Republicans a slideshow describing how Republicans have just endured their worst back-to-back elections since 1930 and 1932. And Mr. Luntz said that the prospect of sharing his polling research with a group of Republicans gave him pause. “I understand how Dr. Kevorkian feels at an AARP convention,” he said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, another rising star in the party who is considered potential presidential fodder, said that the party needed to recapture the high ground on the ethics and good government, and that it could draw lessons from the high-tech campaign that Barack Obama waged.

“We should learn from that,” Mr. Jindal said.

Mr. Pawlenty kicked off the conference with a somewhat gloomy appraisal of where things stand for the Republican Party.

“We cannot be a majority governing party when we essentially cannot compete in the Northeast, we are losing our ability to compete in Great Lakes States, we cannot compete on the West Coast, we are increasingly in danger of competing in the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Democrats are now winning some of the Western States,” he said. “That is not a formula for being a majority governing party in this nation.”

“And similarly we cannot compete, and prevail, as a majority governing party if we have a significant deficit, as we do, with women, where we have a large deficit with Hispanics, where we have a large deficit with African-American voters, where we have a large deficit with people of modest incomes and modest financial circumstances,” he said. “Those are not factors that make up a formula for success going forward.”

“There will be calls, and voices across the country for Republicans to return to traditional conservative approaches in almost all respects,” he said, adding that there would also be calls to modernize the party.

“The good news is both are true, and both can be harmonized in my view,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “We can be both conservative and we can be modern at the same time.”

nyt-logoprinter

Ron Paul strikes again!

Opposing view: Lieberman Must Go

A look back: Joe Lieberman Attacks Barack Obama, Democratic Party

Bush

WASHINGTON — When a Congressional committee subpoenaed Harry S. Truman in 1953, nearly a year after he left office, he made a startling claim: Even though he was no longer president, the Constitution still empowered him to block subpoenas.

“If the doctrine of separation of powers and the independence of the presidency is to have any validity at all, it must be equally applicable to a president after his term of office has expired,” Truman wrote to the committee.

Congress backed down, establishing a precedent suggesting that former presidents wield lingering powers to keep matters from their administration secret. Now, as Congressional Democrats prepare to move forward with investigations of the Bush administration, they wonder whether that claim may be invoked again.

“The Bush administration overstepped in its exertion of executive privilege, and may very well try to continue to shield information from the American people after it leaves office,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, who sits on two committees, Judiciary and Intelligence, that are examining aspects of Mr. Bush’s policies.

Topics of open investigations include the harsh interrogation of detainees, the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, secret legal memorandums from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the role of the former White House aides Karl Rove and Harriet E. Miers in the firing of federal prosecutors.

Mr. Bush has used his executive powers to block Congressional requests for executive branch documents and testimony from former aides. But investigators hope that the Obama administration will open the filing cabinets and withdraw assertions of executive privilege that Bush officials have invoked to keep from testifying.

“I intend to ensure that our outstanding subpoenas and document requests relating to the U.S. attorneys matter are enforced,” said Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I am hopeful that progress can be made with the coming of the new administration.”

Also, two advocacy groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First, have prepared detailed reports for the new administration calling for criminal investigations into accusations of abuse of detainees.

It is not clear, though, how a President Barack Obama will handle such requests. Legal specialists said the pressure to investigate the Bush years would raise tough political and legal questions.

Read more here

Ronald A. Klain will be the VP-elect's chief of staff.

Ronald A. Klain will be the VP-elect's chief of staff.

Ronald A. Klain, former chief of staff and counselor to Vice President Al Gore, has accepted an offer to be chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Democratic officials said.

The position will put Klain, a seasoned political hand, at the heart of West Wing activity.

Biden, who has kept a low profile since Election Day, will head to the vice president’s official residence at the Naval Observatory at 5:15 p.m. Thursday for a private meeting with Vice President Cheney. Biden and his wife, Jill, will also receive a tour of the residence from Cheney and his wife, Lynne.

The appointment enhances the continuity between the two Democratic administrations. Veterans of the Clinton-Gore White House have been given top jobs in the Obama-Biden transition.

Biden decided some time ago to offer Klain the job, but Klain’s friends weren’t sure he would take it. But he accepted the offer Wednesday afternoon, the officials said.

Klain was part of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign policy and debate preparation staff, was Gore’s chief of staff during the 1996 reelection; and led debate preparation for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.

Klain, a key member of the Clinton-Gore legal team during the recount fight of 2000, was played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO movie “Recount.”

After the recount, Klain became a partner in the Washington office of the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
National Journal wrote in 1997 that Klain “may have the best resume in town.”

From Klain’s official biography: “Prior to his appointment to the White House, Klain was the staff director for the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees, the chief of staff for Attorney General Janet Reno, associate counsel to President Clinton, and chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary. …

“Klain graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University, and he obtained his juris doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, winner of the Sears Prize, and a research assistant to Professor Laurence Tribe. For the 1987-1989 Supreme Court terms, Klain served as law clerk to Justice Byron R. White.”

politico-logo

Sarah Palin clearly doesn’t know when to give it up ~ here she is going on about Ayers again.

As we saw on election day ~ Ayers voted at the same polling station as Barack Obama and his family – Ayers as he said lived in the neighborhood.

As for associations this is a person who addressed the Alaska Independent Party’s convention – just this year – a group which her husband was a member of for seven years and whose founder blow his head off making plastic explosives.

Imagine if McCain had won this knuckle-head would have been one heartbeat away from the presidency.

I think the people on the McCain side were so obsessed with being negative and literally trying to destroy Barack Obama – over getting out their message. What they done is to feed the media with one haphazard negative attack after another — was Obama a terrorist or a socialist, and naturally the media seized on these — Palin’s famous ‘palling around’ rendition – over what they had planned to do for the country.

The atmosphere at McCain and particularly Palin rallies became so negative – that if the McCain camp had a message it wasn’t getting out over reporters of mob-like crowds shouting ‘kill him’, ‘off with his head’, ‘traitor’ and ‘terrorist’. While the McCain camp got what it wanted – in it’s calculated decision to go extremely negative – there were reports of campaign staff going out with the message that Osama and Obama are the same in that they both have terrorist friends. Or the racist overtones of the leaflets – and the sick joke gone-to-far robo-call calls – what the McCain camp got is a marginal constituency of people to go along with this – under the over arching message that if you didn’t come on their side then you were not pro-American, and likely were not putting Country First – what the McCain camp didn’t get was the support of the majority – who saw this as going in the wrong direction.

The way the McCain campaign was run was similar to the way he conducted himself in the debates, where McCain was more interested in sniping, taking off the gloves and kicking some you know what…, Barack Obama wasn’t as interested in scoring points – in realizing that this was one of the biggest audiences he was going to get, and therefore there was no better time to get across his message as clear and succinctly as he could. This was crystallized particularly in the second debate. And the following press coverage and American public came away with the view of just how well Obama did get his message across, versus the McCain coverage which was more about what was he doing during the debate, all the face pulling, the arrogant posturing, and the ‘that one’ comment. What McCain should have realized is that those antics and the antics of his and Palin’s stoked-up mob-like rallies – was off message, it created a new focus away from his campaign message. McCain and Palin lost because they were not connecting with anything people wanted to hear.

Two of the 63 requests for personal and professional records from a questionnaire for applicants to the Obama administration. Some requests cover applicants’ spouses and grown children.

Two of the 63 requests for personal and professional records from a questionnaire for applicants to the Obama administration. Some requests cover applicants’ spouses and grown children.

WASHINGTON — Want a top job in the Obama administration? Only pack rats need apply, preferably those not packing controversy.

A seven-page questionnaire being sent by the office of President-elect Barack Obama to those seeking cabinet and other high-ranking posts may be the most extensive — some say invasive — application ever.

Questionnaire for Job Applicants (pdf)

The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.

Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says. Applicants are asked whether they or anyone in their family owns a gun. They must include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their Facebook pages.

The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.”

The vetting process for executive branch jobs has been onerous for decades, with each incoming administration erecting new barriers in an effort to avoid the mistakes of the past, or the controversies of the present. It is typically updated to reflect technological change (there was no Facebook the last time a new president came to town).

But Mr. Obama has elevated the vetting even beyond what might have been expected, especially when it comes to applicants’ family members, in a reflection of his campaign rhetoric against lobbying and the back-scratching, self-serving ways of Washington.

“President-elect Obama made a commitment to change the way Washington does business, and the vetting process exemplifies that,” said Stephanie Cutter, chief spokeswoman for the Obama transition office.

Read on…

Super Laser at the National Ignition Facility – KQED QUEST 10 mins

It’s the largest laser beam in the world and it’s being built in the Bay Area. The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will shoot tremendous bursts of energy at an area the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? To recreate fusion — which powers the sun and some nuclear bombs — perhaps harnessing a new source of clean energy for the 21st century.

Watch: The National Ignition Facility; Making Star Power on Earth 59 mins

11-11-2008-7-51-29-am

Michelle O. made the power statement of her political career yesterday, and she did it without uttering a word. The red dress that she wore on her first visit to the White House said it all, and it said a lot.

#1: It announced: I’m ready to be Page One, top-of-the-news-hour, insta-blog news. I’m dressed to pop off any web screen or any sheet of news spread.

There’s nothing demure about a stylish red dress. Michelle was stating boldly that she acknowledged her position as The Top First Lady of The World bar none. Hear me Carla Bruni-Sarkozy–you’ve been surpassed as a First Lady force in the news, and yes, even as a force in fashion.

#2: The red was a not-so-subtle reminder that yes, she is a patriot. Whether she has an American flag tattooed to her forehead or not, there will be no further questioning of Michelle’s feelings about her country. Yes, dressed in her favorite Chicago designer Maria Pinto, she is RED, white, and blue, so American through and through.

11-10-2008-11-02-52-pm

#3: She is powerful, but she is not threatening. There’s no coincidence that Michelle chose a dress, not a suit. Ever since she began getting criticized, like many smart working women, because she seemed “too strong,” Michelle has made The Dress her uniform. There’s something about a woman in a suit that American men and women still find intimidating. A suit strikes them as too cold, too impersonal, and too ambitious.

All these perceptions are ridiculously unfair. They are unfair to all working women including Michelle. But the reality is that she realized that it wasn’t worth fighting the battle of the working woman’s perception while her husband needed to win the battle for president. It wasn’t worth the distraction.

When she gave up suits for dresses, especially those shifts, her handlers also went on a campaign to reinforce her image as a mom versus an executive. It worked. Expect a lot more dresses–in fact, expect Seventh Avenue to be knocking off this fabulous red number in milliseconds.

11-13-2008-7-07-50-am

#4: She will be Barack’s Best Friend and Life Partner, not his political partner. Her dress was too feminine, even too subtly sexy, to say that she’ll be sitting in cabinet meetings-she wants you to know that that won’t be her M.O. The red dress says she’s stepping into the First Lady role, even if she does revolutionize it. I predict she will be the most powerfully activist First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt with her chosen causes, but with the inspirit-ability of another stylish mother of young children: Jackie Kennedy.

#5 The red dress says she’s totally modern. Modern enough to choose a dress with enough curve to flatter her pear shape. Modern enough to have the confidence to stand out in red. Modern enough to understand that one dress can speak to the American people, and make many, many crucial points.

Source: HP

There’s been a lot of speculation that Michelle Obama’s 71-year-old mother, Marian Robinson, will be moving to the White House with her family in January. It would certainly be practical: Mrs. Robinson helped care for granddaughters Sasha and Malia while their parents were on the campaign trail, and the first couple’s new schedule will be no less punishing. Below is an introduction to the woman America now knows as ‘First Granny.’

Watch the documentary that played before Michelle Obama’s DNC speech, which Marian narrated:

s-katie-couric-largeThe NY Post caught up with CBS anchor Katie Couric and asked her about former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin:

    Couric thinks Sarah Palin has a thing or two to learn about politics before she contemplates a White House run in 2012. “I think she should keep her head down, work really hard and learn about governing. But I’m not anyone to give advice to anyone about anything,” she told Page Six at Glamour Magazine’s 2008 Women of the Year Awards dinner at the Essex House. Although her interview with Palin made the Alaska governor look dumb, Couric won’t give herself too much credit. “I was really just a conduit that allowed her to air her views,” she said. “I don’t want to judge. I’ll let the voters do that.”

Source: HP

Experts wonder if our first African-American president has more of an imperative to appoint minorities to high-ranking positions.

Experts wonder if our first African-American president has more of an imperative to appoint minorities to high-ranking positions.

By the sound of this discussion, it appears that Obama faces more pressure to pick a diverse Cabinet and not less. In any case it certainly seems his selection will be  scrutinized more [by some].

Oh to be the first!!

Since everyone else seems to be having a go….. I would think one of the most underrepresented groups in US administrations is… the Native American. Any talented Native Americans out there?

In 1992, Bill Clinton famously promised to appoint a Cabinet that “looks like America.” He followed through, tapping women and minorities for high-ranking positions and overseeing an administration more diverse than any that had come before it. President Bush continued this tradition, appointing two African-Americans to his national security/foreign policy team.

But now all this progress seems to pale in comparison to the history made Nov. 4, with this “first” being less groundbreaking than plate-shifting. To borrow the oft-used sports analogy, after years of seeing Jackie Robinsons take the field in different professions, the American people finally put one in the owner’s box.

But now that we have a black Branch Rickey in Barack Obama, what does that mean for the rest of the team? Put in political terms, does our first African-American president, elected with a rainbow coalition, have more of an imperative to appoint an administration that includes minorities in high-ranking positions?

Not really, is the answer supplied by a group of prominent African-Americans. Having a team of varied faces is preferable and in keeping with Obama’s pledge to represent all Americans — but these veteran black politicians and public officials say the president-elect should tap into the best talent available without taking a head-counting approach, in which slots are determined by demographics and symbolism trumps substance.

To some degree, Obama’s election is so historic that he is post-racial when it comes to choosing those who will work most closely with him.

“He will assemble a Cabinet that I think reflects a modern-day array of talent,” said Rep. Artur Davis, the Alabama Democrat who endorsed Obama early in the primary. “I don’t think he has any special obligation to play the quota game to have so many blacks and so many whites.”

It’s a potentially dicey decision. Obama campaigned around the notion that old divisions should be consigned to the past, a belief his election underscores. But he also won with overwhelming support from black Americans and is the very embodiment of the hopes and dreams of that community. To surround himself with a mostly white coterie of top advisers could turn off African-Americans.

To be sure, Obama’s instincts clearly seem to be inclusive — and given his background, how could they not be? To see Obama’s transition team and the group of economic advisers that stood behind him at his first news conference Friday in Chicago, it seems likely that a man of Kansas, Kenya, Hawaii, Indonesia and Chicago will appoint a team that reflects the diversity of his own extended family and unique life.  […]

“If you’re going to do diversity, put some significance on party diversity,” Espy said, noting that the new president could keep Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon or tap Colin Powell for a high-ranking post and help himself with those Americans whose votes he didn’t receive.

Transition chief John Podesta said Tuesday that Obama would look hard at making non-Democratic appointments. Obama will make more than “token-level” appointments of Republicans and independents, Podesta said. […]

But while Obama may not need much in the way of outside advice to grasp the issues facing black America, there are others who will call for representatives of underrepresented communities.

“The way the Latino population is growing and the immigration issue is becoming, you’d be nuts not to have Hispanics in the Cabinet to express their views,” Wilkins said, noting that Native Americans should be afforded similar opportunities about their unique challenges and opportunities. […]

Donna Brazile, who became the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign when she ran Al Gore’s 2000 bid, agreed, noting that the times demand top talent.

“The important thing is that President-elect Obama selects the very best people to help his administration with the multitude of challenges we face,” Brazile said. “Some people will look to see if the new Cabinet looks like America in terms of diversity, but as strongly as I personally believe in diversity, I must also state for the record: Good appointments speak for itself.” […]

Read it all

John McCain joked with Leno Tuesday that his defeat was the media's fault.

John McCain joked with Leno Tuesday that his defeat was the media's fault.

Making his first public comment a week after he lost the election to Barack Obama, John McCain joked with “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno that his defeat was “all the press’ fault” and that he’s “ready to go again” in 2012.

McCain’s appearance, which was tied to Veteran’s Day and follows two days of televised interviews with his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was to air later Tuesday night on NBC stations.

In keeping with the Veteran’s Day creed of remaining a “good soldier,” McCain refused to place any blame for his loss on Palin and offered several familiar refrains about his running mate and the campaign.

“The one thing I think Americans don’t want is a sore loser,” he noted after Leno tried several times to corner him about Palin’s reported problematic behavior, the media’s perceived tilt toward Obama and other issues that plagued his run for the White House. “I’m a fighter,” he said, with a laugh. “I knew I had a headwind. I can read the polls. They tried to keep them away from me. But I knew we had a real headwind.”

McCain said that since the election ended he’s been “sleeping like a baby — I sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours. . . .” He seemed relaxed and comfortable, happy to be rid of the Secret Service protection that guarded him 24/7 as a candidate and amused at all the post-mortems that have filled the papers and cable news shows after the race ended.

Asked the main reason he lost, he joshed that it was because of his “personality — maybe too many people saw me on the Jay Leno show.” The late night host did prod him about the dichotomy of his personality during the campaign, however, and how the amusing and friendly McCain seen on Saturday Night Live and the Al Smith dinner contrasted so sharply with his often gruff and angry posture on the stump. “These are tough times,” McCain replied. “People didn’t want a stand-up comic.”

Among other subjects discussed during The Tonight Show appearance:

*Anonymous McCain campaign aides critical of Palin:

    “I think I have at least a thousand quote top advisers. [It’s always] ‘a top adviser said. . . ‘ [They’re probably] people that I’ve never even heard of, much less a top advisor or a high-ranking Republican official. These things go on in campaigns and you just move on. I’m just very proud to have had Sarah Palin and her family, a wonderful family [join the campaign.]”

*Joe Lieberman’s future in Congress:

    “One of the finest, most wonderful men I’ve ever known in my life. . . . I obviously don’t know what’s going to happen. On national security issues, he’s really really good. . . I think that Joe will remain what he is: an independent who stands up for what he believes in. And we need more people like that. “

*Joe the Plumber:

    “I loved him, a great guy. I got to know him a bit. He’s the classic American trying to get ahead, trying to make it. I’m not kidding you, because we took polls all the time, that guy went from zero to 70% in name ID in 48 hours. It was amazing, amazing.”

*Running again in 2012:

    “I wouldn’t think so, my friend. It’s been a great experience and we’re going to have another generation of leaders come along.”
    *The GOP’s future: “Our party has a lot of work to do. We just got back from the woodshed.”

politico-logo

McCain on Jay Leno: Reflects campaign experience

11-12-2008-11-03-21-am

WASHINGTON — Turning to campaign promises in which he pledged sweeping ethics restrictions, President-elect Barack Obama will bar lobbyists from helping to pay the costs of his transition to power or working for it in any area in which they have represented clients in the last year, his transition team said Tuesday.

Mr. Obama’s aides indicated that they expected the rules to apply to his inauguration as well as the transition, but said they had yet to make a final decision on how the inauguration would be paid for.

John D. Podesta, a co-chairman of the Obama transition, called the restraints “the strictest, the most far-reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history.”

“If someone has lobbied during the past 12 months, they’re prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied and will have to cease all lobbying activities during their work on the transition,” Mr. Podesta said, speaking to reporters in the first official briefing by the transition team.

But the new rules do seem to leave some wiggle room. Aides to Mr. Obama, who declared during the campaign that lobbyists would not “find a job in my White House,” said the guidelines allowed for lobbyists to work on the transition in areas where they have not done any lobbying.

Further, the rules apply to lobbyists who must register with the federal government; many people who work for lobbying firms or in other areas of the influence business in Washington do not have to register, because they do not personally lobby federal officials on specific issues.

Mr. Podesta said he expected the transition to employ some 450 people and have a budget of about $12 million. Of that amount, $5.2 million will be paid by the government, with the remaining $6.8 million coming from private sources, he said. Contributions will be limited to $5,000, he said, and the transition will not accept money from political action committees.

During a presidential campaign in which he raised $650 million, Mr. Obama changed the rules of fund-raising, declining public financing and creating his own multimillion-member chain of donors. At least some of those contributors will be solicited for the transition.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama laid out more detailed and onerous ethics rules than any previous prospective president, pledging to bar appointees for two years from working on matters involving their former employers, to prohibit departing officials from lobbying his administration for its duration and to require all political appointees to disclose publicly every meeting with registered lobbyists.

The rules have led to some grumbling that at a time of immense challenges, an Obama administration could be excluding a pool of substantial talent by stopping people from working for the White House in the areas they know best.

“I’ve heard the complaint,” Mr. Podesta said, “which is we’re leaving all this expertise on the side, because we’re leaving all the people who know everything out in the cold. And so be it. This is a commitment that the American public expects, and it’s one that we intend to enforce during the transition.”

It remains unclear how the rules will affect the inauguration. President Bush raised more than $40 million for his second inauguration, mostly from companies and executives.

While aides to Mr. Obama say they are keenly aware that a lavish celebration might not be well received given the faltering economy, they indicate that the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s inauguration and the expectations of high turnout all but guarantee that the occasion, on Jan. 20, will be a huge one.

Yet in one early sign that the celebrations are likely to be somewhat scaled back, Mr. Obama canceled fireworks on election night in Grant Park in Chicago, telling his advisers that the times were too serious for that type of festivity.

“It’s going to be a balancing act,” one Obama aide said, “and I’m not sure how it’s going to be done.”

nyt-logoprinter

President-elect Barack Obama, right, hugged Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth after a wreath laying ceremony at the Bronze Soldiers Memorial in Chicago in honor of Veteran's Day. Ms. Duckworth is the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. NYT.

President-elect Barack Obama, right, hugged Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth after a wreath laying ceremony at the Bronze Soldiers Memorial in Chicago in honor of Veteran's Day. Ms. Duckworth is the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. NYT.

green-job-crossroads

President-elect Barack Obama is hearing from private sector economists, and some members of his economic advisory team that Congress should consider — and he should sign into law in January — a far broader stimulus package than anyone has publicly discussed to date.

Instead of $300 billion dollars, which has been the upper limit, they are now talking about $500 billion, which is 3 to 4 percent of GDP.

These advisers are looking at analysis that says next year unemployment could top eight percent, private sector spending could drop six percent of GDP, and the Federal Reserve is basically out of room to do anything more with monetary policy.

So they argue the nation’s economy will need that injection of capital.

How? They’re talking about implementing it through infrastructure — roads and bridges. Tax cuts. Investments in so-called green-jobs and alternative energy development. Unemployment extensions. And other aid to state and local governments.

But the big question is: how do you get the stimulus without making it permanent spending that increases the deficit over the long term?

President-elect Barack Obama has made no final decisions on a stimulus package, but this is what they’re contemplating right now.

Source: ABC News

11-12-2008-7-39-56-am When a CBS correspondent reported last month that Barack Obama’s campaign had a malodorous airplane and a dismissive attitude toward the media, Robert Gibbs, the candidate’s top spokesman, was not pleased.

“Robert wrote a rather tendentious note to me,” Dean Reynolds says. “He would get in your face, not in a very heated way, but he would question your stories.”

Gibbs, who transition officials say is in line to become White House press secretary, can be funny, gossipy and an invaluable source of information about his boss, journalists say. He also monitors coverage intensively, pushing back against the smallest blog post he considers inaccurate.

“This is not someone who stays above the fray,” Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe says. “His manner allows him to do tough stuff in a softer way. He could deliver a harsh message, but do it with a little sense of humor, so you’d feel punched in the stomach but not in the face.”

Asked about complaints that he retaliated against reporters who were deemed unfair, Gibbs invokes the pressure of the campaign. “In hindsight, there are discussions I had in the heat of the moment that if I had to do over again, you would do differently,” he says. “I don’t doubt there’s countless episodes you would go back and do over again. I think you do better when you treat people with respect. There were a couple of times that I flew off the handle.”

Now the sparring will take place in the glare of televised briefings. After a career spent working for Democratic candidates and lawmakers, the 37-year-old Alabama native is about to become the public face of the Obama administration.

While he can be combative in private, Gibbs is affable and smooth-talking on camera, often deflecting uncomfortable questions with a quip. Colleagues say Gibbs channels the president-elect in a way that goes beyond their shared passion for college football. Obama had an initial tendency to overanswer questions, but Gibbs has taught him how to pivot back to his scripted point.

“He’s the last person Barack talks to when he’s thinking about how to handle reporters’ questions,” says Linda Douglass, a campaign spokeswoman. “We call him the Barack Whisperer. He completely understands his thinking and knows how Barack wants to come across.”

That quality was not lost on journalists covering the highly disciplined campaign. “A huge asset that Robert has is that he’s in the room with the president-elect,” says Jake Tapper, ABC’s senior White House correspondent. “He has his trust and his ear. He’s not just a press flunky who gets handed a piece of paper with talking points.”

Read more here

President-elect Barack Obama (center) during his first press conference, in Chicago, following his election victory, Nov. 7, 2008.

President-elect Barack Obama (center) during his first press conference, in Chicago, following his election victory, Nov. 7, 2008.

It’s proving difficult to peer inside Obama’s still tightly closed Cabinet. But so far his presidential transition has looked deliberate and impressive.

Nov. 11, 2008 | Amid the fervid speculation over the identity of the next secretary of state or even the next assistant secretary of labor for administration and management, there is a truth that is galling to gossip-mongers — Barack Obama and his closest advisors know how to keep secrets. With nearly 10 percent of the transition period between administrations already gone, we know more about the factors that will dictate the selection of the White House puppy than we do about the reasoning behind the choice of a would-be Treasury secretary.

As Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Obama’s transition team, put it with deliberate blandness on “Meet the Press” Sunday: “I think one of the real strengths of Sen. Obama’s campaign and now President-elect Obama’s transition is that he really does like to think this through thoroughly and not telecast what he’s going to do until he’s ready to make a decision.”

No one wants to read articles titled “Entire Obama Administration Shrouded in Mist and Mystery.” So to accentuate the positive, we do have a pretty reliable handle as to who will be in the room with Obama (and presumably Joe Biden) when the major personnel decisions are made. There will be Jarrett, an African-American Chicago real estate entrepreneur who has been close friends to the president-elect and the incoming first lady for two decades; Pete Rouse, the press-shy former chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who performed the same role for a newly elected Illinois senator named Obama; the Chicago-born John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, who stealthily organized the Obama transition during the fall campaign from his Washington perch at the Center for American Progress; David Axelrod, the Chicago-based political strategist, who was the inspiration behind both Obama’s up-from-nowhere 2004 Senate victory and his 2008 run for the Rose Garden; and incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a sharp-elbowed veteran of the Clinton White House who was elected to Congress in 2002 (from Chicago, natch) with the help of Axelrod (double natch).

With all these Chicagoans (aside from Rouse) creating the Obama administration, it is time to drop the Second City urban inferiority complex. If there is an ideological orientation to this team, it seems to be Democratic centrism rather than full-throated liberalism. Bill Galston, a former top domestic advisor to Clinton now at the Brookings Institution, notes that Obama “has a great respect for expertise. His instinct is that in any field, gather the leading experts and go after them.” As Galston puts it, “This is not amateur hour — this is not crony time.” Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University and an expert on governmental organization, said admiringly, “Obama is extremely well-prepared. There is a lot of talk coming out of the Bush administration about a seamless transition. But in many instances, the Obama people know as much about what is happening in the Cabinet agencies as the Bush people do.”

Read it all

joe_lieberman-746022

The full Democratic caucus will vote on whether Joe Lieberman is allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee at its caucus meeting next week, a leadership aide confirms to us.

Previously, Reid’s office had held this possibility out but hadn’t made a final decision on whether to throw Lieberman’s fate to the full Dem caucus for a vote.

In the wake of Obama’s statement today that he doesn’t hold any “grudges” against Lieberman and his decision not to take a position on whether Lieberman keeps his chairmanship, I emailed a leadership aide to ask whether the vote would definitely go forward. His response:

    “Yes — this is a decision that will be made by the caucus next week. Absent a stunning series of events there will be a vote next week in the caucus on whether to strip Senator Lieberman of the chairmanship.”

That would appear to make it official.

logo_tpm

A U.S. newspaper says President-elect Barack Obama is considering a more regional approach to the war in Afghanistan that could include talks with Iran.

The Washington Post Tuesday cites unnamed national security advisers to Mr. Obama, who also say he intends to deploy thousands more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden Message

The newspaper also reports Mr. Obama plans to intensify the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who is widely blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The Post quotes one of Mr. Obama’s advisers as saying bin Laden is America’s enemy and should be its principal target.

Mr. Obama has pledged to end the war in Iraq, and defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Post quotes a senior U.S. military official explaining mainly-Shi’ite Iran’s interest in cooperating as saying Iran does not want “Sunni extremists in charge of Afghanistan any more than” the U.S. does.

Source: VOA News

Mr Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said yesterday that the plight of automakers was one of a number of issues discussed in a two-hour meeting with Mr Bush to discuss the transfer of power at a time of war and financial crisis. Other issues included housing, mortgage foreclosures, and, more generally, “the need to get the economy back on track”.

The parlous state of the American car industry was highlighted last Friday when General Motors – the biggest US car manufacturer – reported a $2.5 billion net loss for the third quarter, bringing its total losses to nearly $57 billion since the beginning of 2005.

Ford Motor Company’s $129 million quarterly loss, meanwhile, brought to nearly $24.5 billion the deficit it has run up since plunging into the red in 2006. The privately-held Chrysler LLC is also thought to be fast running out of cash – one reason, analysts believe, why its parent, Cerberus Capital Management, was so eager to sell Chrysler to General Motors.

The New York Times, citing unnamed people familiar with the discussion, said that Mr Obama went into his post-election meeting with Mr Bush primed to urge him to support emergency aid for the car industry.

The Bush Administration is reluctant to give carmakers access to the bailout fund, even though the Democrats say it could legally do so.

Linking the issue with the Colombia free trade deal could delay any move until after Mr Obama’s inauguration on January 20. US union leaders oppose the agreement because of numerous murders of trade unionists in Colombia at the hands of right-wing paramilitary squads closely linked to the Colombian armed forces.

tol-logo-222x25

pope-benedict-xvi-blesses-his-faithful-as-he-leads-his-urbi-et-orbi-message-to-the-city-and-the-world-from-the-central-balcony-of-saint-peters-square-at-the-vatican-december-25-20071

The Vatican has fired a warning shot over the bows of Barack Obama in response to the President-elect’s intention to lift the US ban on embryonic stem cell research.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan of Mexico, who acts as the Vatican health minister, said that stem cells taken from human embryos and involving the destruction of the embryos “serve no purpose”.

Asked whether the Vatican was concerned about reports that Mr Obama might reverse the Bush Administration’s ban, the cardinal said that embryonic stem cell research had not resulted in any significant health cure so far and was “good for nothing”.

Research on adult stem cells and umbliical cords had been shown to have “positive value”, by contrast, although even that was not “a panacea for everything.”

He said the Vatican would seek clarification of the new administration’s position on stem cells, and he himself was not “fully aware” what it was.

Aides to Mr Obama indicated this week that he will reverse Mr Bush’s stand on stem cell research. The US Senate voted in July to remove restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, but the President vetoed the legislation the following day.

Mr Obama has supported stem cell research to find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. His views are supported by Joe Biden, the Vice-President-elect, who is a Roman Catholic.

John Podesta, who is handling the President-elect’s preparations to take over in the White House on January 20, said Mr Obama wanted “all the Bush executive orders reviewed”.

He added: “I think across the board, on stem cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country.”

Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, John Allen, a leading American Vatican watcher, said the Vatican would have “deep differences” with the Obama administration over abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

These, however, must not be allowed to impede US-Vatican co-operation in promoting “religious freedom and human dignity worldwide” or on issues such as immigration, economic justice, peace, and environmental protection, he said.

Carinal Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, made the remarks at a press conference on childhood disease and illness and infant mortality.

He called for an intensive effort to improve “both medical and pastoral” aid to children, saying that four million babies in the world died each year in their first 26 days of life.

tol-logo-222x25

17stem_xlarge1
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama could reverse some of President Bush’s most controversial executive orders, including restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, shortly after taking office in January.

Two other executive orders from Bush — one dealing with a so-called “gag” order on international aid organizations regarding abortion, the other with oil and gas drilling on federal lands — also are receiving increased scrutiny.

Obama’s transition team is reviewing hundreds of Bush’s executive orders, according to John Podesta, Obama’s transition co-chair.

New presidents often use executive orders to put their stamp on Washington quickly. Unlike laws, which require months to complete and the consent of Congress, presidents can use their executive authority to order federal agencies to implement current policies.

“Much of what a president does, he really has to do with the Congress — for example, budgeting, legislation on policy — but executive actions are ones where the president can act alone,” said Martha Kumar of the White House Transition Project, a nonpartisan group established to help new presidential administrations.

Source: CNN

Colleagues coined a phrase during the Clinton years to fit Emanuel's ability to mangle the English language. AP

Colleagues coined a phrase during the Clinton years to fit Emanuel's ability to mangle the English language. AP

Newly coined Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was on his best behavior during his Sunday show debut this weekend – measured, calm, bi-partisan.

But when it came to the notorious ability of the Illinois political street fighter to mangle the English language – well, let’s just say Rahm hit a touchdown.

Friends and colleagues – particularly in the Clinton White House – have dubbed this phenomenon “Rahmbonics” over the years and on “Face the Nation” and “This Week,” Emanuel engaged in a veritable festival of mixed metaphors.

The jumbling began during a discussion of how Washington leaders have put off dealing with energy issues since the oil crisis in 1974 and health care for nearly just as long.

“We had a crisis, we kicked it down the can,” Emanuel explained to “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer.

“These are – just taking those two examples, these are crises you can no longer afford to kick down the can,” he continued. “The crisis we have here, the American people know we have one and they are ready and willing to start to tackle those problems. You cannot afford now to kick those down the can any longer.”

To which Schieffer simply replied, “All right,” and moved on.

“Kicking the can down the road” has been a favorite metaphor politicians have used to describe someone who is postponing a decision or avoiding an issue.

But Emanuel’s Yogi Berra-style translation of the phrase should come as no surprise to those who know him well. Speechwriters in the Clinton White House, where he was an aide, used to collect choice examples of “Rahmbonics” and post them on a bulletin board. Oftentimes they involved sports.

“He’d say something like you can’t kick a field goal in the ninth inning,” recalled Jake Siewert, a longtime friend as well as a former Clinton press secretary and longtime admirer of Emanuel’s verbal skills.

Shutting a revolving door was another Emanuel classic. He used the phrase in 1998 to explain a Clinton plan to require states to report illegal drug use among inmates before receiving federal money for prisons.

“We have to slam shut the revolving door between drugs and crime,” he told The New York Times.

“We kept tabs on them,” said a former Clinton speechwriter who asked not to be named. “There was a certain kind of admiration in involved in this.”

The mix-ups that made it into newspapers, as opposed to those he blurted out in staff meetings, were the ones that intrigued Emanuel’s White House colleagues the most.

Quoting Emanuel-style metaphors even became a game among some members of the Washington press corps.

“You figure if he’s quoted in the newspaper he’d given it more thought,” said Siewert, adding that Emanuel has a sense of humor about his way with words. “He’s pretty well aware of it. I mean he thinks fast and talks fast.”

Emanuel’s appearances last Sunday made clear his metaphor mixing is a treat the public will get more of in coming months.

Despite the disorienting image of “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos addressing his longtime friend and former Clinton White House colleague with the formal “Congressman Emanuel,” Emanuel kept familiar when he attempted the “kicking the can down the road” line again in reference to energy, health care and economic crises.

“So this provides an opportunity to finally tackle the issues that for too long have been postponed, kicked down the road – kicked down the road, basically,” he said.

He also suggested bridging the auto industry, when discussing government’s role in helping country’s struggling car manufacturers.

“President elect Obama has asked his economic team to look at different options of what it takes to help bridge the auto industry,” he said. “So they are part of not only a revived economy but part of an energy policy going forward.”

So, to sum Emanuel up: don’t expect an Obama administration to let the clock run out in the final quarter when the bases are loaded – even if the blitz of crises facing the country makes them want to kick the road down the can.

politico-logo

A Toyota Venza nears the end of the assembly line at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant in Georgetown, Ky., on Monday, Nov. 10, 2008. AP

A Toyota Venza nears the end of the assembly line at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant in Georgetown, Ky., on Monday, Nov. 10, 2008. AP

The change we need! It just doesn’t make sense to continue to give the auto-industry money to make gas-guzzlers. We should still be able to have big cars – but a big car run on electric or hybrid electric is a lot cheaper to run. Electric cars cost 2cents/mile to run and are more powerful and faster than cars run on gas. If the tax payers’ money should be given for anything – it should be for the cars of the future. If the auto-industry was reluctant to move on these new technologies – because of some regard for the oil industry – well the oil industry is doing fine and the auto industry is hanging on for dear life.

President-elect Barack Obama wants a high-profile point person to oversee reforms in the ailing auto industry, according to members of Obama’s transition team.

Specifics about the proposal remain unclear. But the transition team says Obama suggested to President Bush on Monday that aid to the auto industry could be coupled with the appointment of “someone in charge of the auto issue who would have the authority” to push for reforms. The details came from a more extended readout of the White House meeting provided Tuesday.

The person would assist in efforts to create an “economically viable auto industry,” a transition aide said – a move that could alleviate concerns about protecting taxpayer interests if more money is directed to assist automakers.

The financially reeling American auto industry has emerged as a top issue facing Obama and Bush as they work through the two-month transition period, and for Congress as it plans to convene next week for a lame duck session.

Automakers have asked for up to $25 billion in emergency loans in order to keep the industry from collapsing amid slumping sales. General Motors, the biggest U.S. automaker, reported a $4.2 billion operating loss last quarter and has warned that it may run out of cash by the end of June. Ford Motor Co. reported a nearly $3 billion for the quarter.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Tuesday that Bush was open to considering proposals to accelerate loans from $25 billion funds that have already been appropriated through a recent law aimed at helping automakers retool their business.

“We’re open to ideas from Congress to accelerate funds they’ve already appropriated in the auto loan program – as long as funding will continue to go to viable firms and with strong taxpayer protections,” Fratto said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter Saturday to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asking that the administration consider tapping another source of funds: the $700 billion bailout to include car companies.

Obama used his meeting Monday with Bush to call for auto assistance, “including accelerating the $25 billion Congress already passed, exploring other authorities that exist under current law,” the transition team said.

Obama also pressed for passage of a second economic stimulus package, while Bush “raised the need” to pass the Columbian free trade agreement, the transition team said.

Obama’s newly appointed chief of staff Rahm Emanuel suggested Sunday that the president elect wasn’t interested in a deal to remove White House opposition to a stimulus package in exchange for congressional approval of the trade agreement, which has been opposed by unions and some Democrats.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Tuesday that Bush did not link support for a stimulus package or auto industry aid to passage of the trade agreement.

“In no way did the president suggest that there was a quid pro quo,” said Perino. But Bush did, she said, “talk about the merits of free trade.”

politico-logo

I think Palin was the golden goose who couldn’t lay McCain his egg.

Palin does interview with Greta at Fox News

Palin does interview with Greta at Fox News

Sarah Palin sat down with Fox News’ Greta van Susteren to discuss the 2008 campaign and her political future. The wide-ranging interview covered such familiar topics as the $150,000 spent on Palin’s wardrobe for the campaign, as well as the report that she was unable to name all the countries in North America and did not understand that Africa is a continent rather than a nation. Palin denied any knowledge of the RNC’s extravagant clothing bills, going so far as to say that she’s never set foot in a Neiman Marcus (one of the upscale stores where the RNC racked up a $75,000 bill). Palin also denied the report that she was unaware Africa is a continent.

The governor also lashed out at bloggers “sitting in their parents’ basement, wearing their pajamas” for some of the questions that were raised about her record and credibility. She was particularly incensed at the questions that were floated about whether or not she was the mother of her youngest son, Trig.

A gift for Sarah Palin as winking and nodding may not always be enough!

A gift for Sarah Palin as winking and nodding may not always be enough!

Palin refused to say whether she was planning a run for the White House in 2012, but the devoutly faithful governor said she would wait for a sign from God, and that she is confident God would show the way to the White House.

    Faith is a very big part of my life. And putting my life in my creator’s hands – this is what I always do. I’m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.

Palin puts faith in God for 2012

:: ::

Fox News Greta Van Susteren interviews Sarah Palin Part 1

Fox News Greta Van Susteren interviews Sarah Palin Part 2

Fox News Greta Van Susteren interviews Sarah Palin Part 3

Source: HP

11-10-2008-2-03-05-am

(CNN) — As Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin heads to Florida to attend the Republican Governors Association annual conference in Miami, she says she’d consider a run for the White House in 2012 or beyond.

Less than one week after the victory by Barack Obama and Joe Biden over the GOP ticket in the presidential election, John McCain’s running mate is speaking out about her political future in national politics.

“Don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is and even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll just plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door,” Palin said in an interview with Fox News Monday.

> Palin also sits down Wednesday for a one on one interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Tune into the Situation Room, starting at 4 pm ET Wednesday to see Wolf’s candid conversation with Palin.

Source: CNN