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During a press conference earlier today, CNN’s Ed Henry challenged President-elect Barack Obama on his naming of some recent appointees who have had experience serving in the government. “What do you say to your supporters looking for change?” Henry wondered. Obama noted that there is a “conventional wisdom floating around Washington that ‘well, there’s a recycling of people who were in the Clinton administration.’”

Addressing the media criticism directly, Obama explained:

    It would be surprising if I selected a Treasury secretary who had had no connection with the last Democratic administration because that would mean the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever. And I suspect you would be troubled and the American people would be troubled if I selected a Treasury secretary or a chairman of the National Economic Council…who had no experience whatsoever.

Obama said his personnel selections will “combine experience with fresh thinking.” But he underscored that the buck stops with him:

    But understand where the vision for change comes from first and foremost. It comes from me. That’s my job — is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure that my team is implementing it.

Watch it:

Obama concluded, “What I don’t want to do is to somehow suggest that because you served in the last Democratic administration that you’re somehow barred from serving again — because we need people are going to be able to hit the ground running.”

Source: Think Progress

Political squabbling over how to store waste could hold back the industry.
us_nuclear_map

US Nuclear Map: Click to Enlarge+

It must be noted that New Zealand derives 10% of its electricity from geothermal energy and they are building more plants – this is just one of the options that could be used to safely replace nuclear. Another crucial thing to note – is that there is not enough nuclear material to supply the all the world’s needs – and it is not a renewable energy source. Obama is right to be sceptical. At the moment a clean nuclear energy is being developed – something called bottling the sun – where a type of hydrogen called tritium is used instead of uranium – in a similar way as the sun burns hydrogen to remain hot. More there is also a high powered laser technology that can be shot at the hydrogen – which could produce abundant energy that could generate electricity. Although these things are in development – geothermal is something that we can do today – instead of sinking a well for oil. We sink a well to go down far enough to where the earth’s temperature is much hotter – water is then pumped down and heated and the hot water that returns can move a turbine, which can then produce the electricity we need. Think – nuclear power – with all its glorious spectacle and promise – is just heating water – we could do the same thing by sending the water down towards the earth’s mantle – and have the water heated there safely cleanly – no one is injured and there is no waste – just plug the hole back up when it longer produces the same amount to heat.

It was one of Barack Obama’s big applause lines. At nearly every campaign stop, the candidate promised to end our dependence on foreign oil and slash carbon emissions 80 percent by midcentury. “I will set a clear goal as president,” he said in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination. “I will tap our natural-gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.” He also promised to back biofuels and wind, water and solar power. The crowd cheered.

Now all he has to do is make good on the promise. But despite all the inspiring talk about windmills and solar panels, it’s difficult to see how Obama will reach that goal without relying, in large part, on nuclear power. Commercial reactors currently provide 20 percent of the nation’s power—but accounts for 70 percent of the country’s emission-free energy. “We cannot get to the reduction of CO2 in a big way without relying on nuclear energy even more than we do today,” says Mujid Kazimi, the director of MIT’s Center for Advanced Nuclear Systems.

So does that mean Obama will become the nation’s cheerleader in chief for nuclear power? Not likely. Obama has been cautious whenever he’s been asked about the issue. In a “Meet the Press” appearance in May, he hedged when the subject came up. “I think we do have to look at nuclear, and what we’ve got to figure out is can we store the material properly? Can we make sure that they’re secure? Can we deal with the expense?”

Not exactly a full-throated endorsement. Obama’s lack of enthusiasm is easy to understand politically, especially given the apprehension many voters have about the safety of nuclear-power plants. Three decades later, Three Mile Island still haunts—despite the pleas of industry advocates who say the technology has improved to the point that accidents are almost unheard of. Most Americans probably have no idea that there are 104 commercial nuclear-power plants currently operating in the United States today. None has suffered a malfunction that led to a major leak of radioactive material. Nuclear-power proponents often point to France, which depends on nukes for 80 percent of its power.

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koppel_ted_cp_7376718 Ted Koppel, possibly angling to get back into the news game by taking the late Tim Russert’s role on “Meet the Press,” has formally dissolved his ties to Discovery Communication.

Koppel had six months left on his contract, but sources said he’s better off if he’s disentangled from any network or cable contract.

Koppel had not made any formal statement about the Russert slot, but TV sources said it’s a well-known desire for the former host of “Nightline” for 25 years. Koppel signed a three-year deal with Discovery right after he left “Nightline.”

A number of internal NBC candidates are up for the job as well.

Variety reported that The Koppel Group had produced 15 hours of documentary programming for Discovery under the “Koppel on Discovery” label. This year’s projects included the four-part China profile “The People’s Republic of Capitalism” and October’s “The Last Lynching.”

The parting of ways was described as “amicable,” but Koppel in a statement made no bones about the reason for the split.

“Producing our kind of news-related programs is an expensive proposition,” Koppel said. “It has long been clear that neither of us is interested in an extension of the current contract. Discovery and I worked on terminating the contract a few months early under terms that both sides found acceptable.

Daily Fish Bowl LA

Forget audacity and the changes so many of us voted for and are hoping for. Like so much about the GOP, Fox is steeped in negativity and doesn’t want to let it go. That’s what I take from a new promo Fox is airing. I saw it for the first time yesterday. When I saw it again today (November 25, 2008), I figured they were serious.

Checkout the explosions. The fires. The terror, despair and anger in people’s faces. Listen to the music. Note the countdown at the end (10, 9, 8, etc.) and the explosion that caps it all off. Oh, and look – the only nationally known people pictured are Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama.

Source: News Hounds

The Obama girls will be the youngest kids to live in the White House in decades.

The Obama girls will be the youngest kids to live in the White House in decades.

As incoming President Barack Obama ponders economic-bailout plans in the Oval Office, some pretty heavy action will be taking place in the private quarters of the White House, too.

Malia and Sasha Obama, ages 10 and 7, respectively, are the youngest children to inhabit the White House in decades. And they will be facing some seismic challenges of their own, in child-development terms. The Obama girls will pass from childhood into the upheaval of the pre-teen and early teenage years in a venue that past presidential kid Luci Johnson termed a “museum, a public fishbowl and a prison.”

The loss of privacy, continuity and constancy imposed by their move to the White House — coupled with the monumental new opportunities it offers — will have a huge impact on the Obama children’s sense of identity and competence at a critical stage, child-development experts say. While the glare of the spotlight has burned some presidential kids, others have emerged unscathed and strong. A look at the risks and rewards, based on research and past examples, holds lessons for any parent raising children under unusual stress.

Malia and Sasha are facing some core “developmental tasks,” in child-development parlance: the need to build their own sense of personal identity, or their concept of who they are in relation to others and the world at large, and their belief in their competence as individuals. These growth stages must be accomplished in an ever-widening context of friendships, school, the neighborhood and the world at large.

The Obamas, child-development experts say, seem to be a picture of health, based on the deep affection and easy communication family members displayed last July in their only video interview together. Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, have vowed to hold life as steady as possible for the girls, and are taking grandmother Marian Robinson to Washington to help.

Read on…

President-elect Barack Obama, right, with Budget Director-designate Peter Orszag, left, during a news conference in Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama, right, with Budget Director-designate Peter Orszag, left, during a news conference in Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008

CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama is naming a board of economic experts outside government to advise him on ways to create jobs and bring stability to the ailing financial system.

Obama was expected to introduce members of the advisory board Wednesday at a news conference, his third in as many days as Americans moved into the long Thanksgiving weekend. It was a remarkable burst of public activity for Obama, who has sought to assure nervous consumers and financial markets that he will bring swift economic relief as president.

Tuesday, Obama introduced Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag as his candidate to run the White House Office of Management and Budget. The president-elect also pledged a “page-by-page, line-by-line” budget review to root out unneeded spending.

On Monday, Obama tapped New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner as his treasury secretary and named several other top economic advisers.

His economic team largely complete, Obama was expected next week to introduce national security officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state. Aides said the New York senator had not yet formally accepted the offer, but transition officials have indicated that the nomination is on track.

Source: AP

liebermanwinslucasuploa_043819_2087507912 HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman took another step Tuesday toward mending his relationship with Democrats, saying that Barack Obama’s actions since winning the presidency have been “just about perfect.”

“Everything that President-elect Obama has done since election night has been just about perfect, both in terms of a tone and also in terms of the strength of the names that have either been announced or are being discussed to fill his administration,” Lieberman said during a visit to Hartford.

Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, was re-elected to the Senate in 2006 as an independent but continues to caucus with Democrats. He supported Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign, going as far as to criticize Obama and make a speech at the Republican National Convention.

Democrats threatened to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee but instead removed him as head of a smaller environmental subcommittee.

Connecticut Democrats meet Dec. 17 and are still considering a possible censure of Lieberman for his actions during the presidential campaign.

“I will ask them to judge me by my record,” Lieberman said. “Generally speaking, I’ve had a record, a voting record, which is really ultimately what it’s about, not unlike most Democrats.”

Lieberman said he believes the rift between himself and the party stemmed mainly from his support of President Bush’s policy in Iraq and will close as that becomes less of an issue.

“It appears to me that the war in Iraq is coming to a successful — I don’t want to say conclusion yet, but it’s moving in a way that it will not be a divisive issue either in the Democratic Party or between Democrats and Republicans in the time ahead,” Lieberman said. “And therefore, I think we’ll return to more normal times, which I welcome.”

Source: AP

President-elect Obama will appoint Paul Volcker to head an advisory board.

President-elect Obama will appoint Paul Volcker to head an advisory board.

President-elect Barack Obama will appoint former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker on Wednesday to be the chairman of a new White House advisory board tasked with helping to lift the nation from recession and stabilize financial markets, Democratic officials say.

University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee, one of Mr. Obama’s longest-serving policy advisers, will serve as the board’s staff director, along with his duties as a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Members of the panel will be drawn from a cross-section of citizens outside the government, chosen for their independence and nonpartisanship.

[..]

Wednesday’s event was more of a surprise, but with it, Mr. Obama has found a place for the former Fed chairman who is largely credited with halting inflation in the early 1980s. Since the financial crisis erupted in September, Mr. Obama has leaned heavily on the 81-year-old Mr. Volcker for advice.

[..]

Advisers familiar with the team selection said Mr. Volcker’s advanced age always made it unlikely he would get the Treasury job, but Mr. Obama wanted him in the White House with Mr. Summers, who, like Mr. Volcker, moved into the center of the Obama policy orbit in recent months.

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President-elect Barack Obama’s team has confirmed reports about another news conference, set for 10:45 a.m. ET tomorrow. This one, like those yesterday and today, will also be related to the economy and its troubles.

On the lighter side of things out in Chicago at Obama HQ, it would appear the president-elect is sensitive to the sporting preferences of the reporters who are covering the transition. The room where he’s holding his news briefings has been jokingly divided into a north side for fans of the Chicago Cubs and a south side for fans of the Chicago White Sox. That unusual arrangement came up at today’s briefing.

    Obama: “All right. We’ve got — I’m going to call on Steve Thomma (of McClatchy Newspapers). Where’s Steve? And the reason I’m going to call on Steve, I understand that, as a lifelong White Sox fan, you were placed in the Cubs section yesterday, and I want to apologize for that. This is also part of the new way of doing business. When we make mistakes, we admit them.” 

    Thomma: “Well, thank you, sir. That’s the change we need on behalf of White Sox fans.”

Source: USA Today

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has served for two years under President Bush.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has served for two years under President Bush.

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama’s security team came into sharper focus, with officials confirming that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would retain his job and that retired Marine Gen. James Jones would likely join the incoming administration as national security adviser.

The picks, which are expected to be formally announced in Chicago Monday, signal Mr. Obama’s desire for experience and continuity with the nation embroiled in two wars.

The probable appointments — along with Sen. Hillary Clinton’s likely ascension to the secretary of state position — also mean that Mr. Obama is entrusting his foreign policy to centrist figures who have at times advocated policies that were more hawkish than his own.

Lawmakers from both parties had been urging Mr. Obama to retain Mr. Gates for weeks, arguing that it would improve the new administration’s ability to oversee the war effort. It would also put a Republican in the cabinet of a president who promised to bridge partisan divides.

Mr. Obama appears to have made a similar calculus in asking Gen. Jones to be his national security adviser. The former North Atlantic Treaty Organization supreme commander and Marine Corps commandant hasn’t decided whether to take the job, but people close to him said the general appears likely to accept.

The job would make Gen. Jones, a nonpartisan figure, the chief policy coordinator between the State Department, the Pentagon and other national-security agencies.

Gen. Jones would become the first former military general to serve as the top White House national-security adviser to a president since retired Gen. Colin Powell worked alongside President Ronald Reagan 20 years ago. He is close to Sen. Clinton, and has close ties to many lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where he worked for years as a Marine liaison.

Gen. Jones also has deep knowledge of two of the biggest challenges Mr. Obama will face in his first term: the need to redesign America’s energy infrastructure and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama’s decision to retain Mr. Gates, while expected, is the clearest indication to date of the incoming administration’s thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan. The defense secretary has opposed a firm timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, so his appointment could mean that Mr. Obama was further moving away from his campaign promise to remove most combat troops from Iraq by mid-2010.

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president-elect-barack-obama-talks-about-choosing-orszag-as-his-choice-for-director-of-the-office-of-management-and-budget-during-a-news-conference-in-chicago CHICAGO (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama takes another step toward tackling the ailing U.S. economy on Wednesday as part of an aggressive effort to demonstrate that his administration will face the global financial crisis head-on.

In his third news conference this week, Obama will make an “economic announcement” at 10:45 a.m. EST, his transition office said, following a similar event on Tuesday, when he presented his picks to head the White House budget office.

The Wall Street Journal reported Obama would name Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to chair a new economic advisory panel designed to stabilize financial markets and steer the country out of a recession.

Quoting Democratic officials, the newspaper reported on its Web site that University of Chicago economist and Obama policy adviser Austan Goolsbee would serve as the panel’s staff director.

It said the board would not supplant the Treasury Department, but give Obama an official forum for getting expert advice outside bureaucratic channels.

Obama, who succeeds President George W. Bush on January 20, seems already to be taking the reins as financial market players increasingly tune out the current president and focus instead on the country’s next leader.

In addition to naming his top economic advisers, Obama has come closer to forming his national security team, with reports saying that Republican Robert Gates will stay on as defense secretary and retired Marine Gen. James Jones will take over as national security adviser.

Those appointments, along with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, are likely to be made early next week, after the November 27 Thanksgiving holiday.

For now Obama has put his focus squarely on the economy, pledging a costly stimulus package that he urged the next Congress to pass quickly.

On Tuesday, he vowed to cut billions of dollars in wasteful government spending.

But questions remain about both goals. Obama declined to put a figure on the stimulus package — other Democrats have estimated it could cost hundreds of billions of dollars — and he did not identify specific government programs to be cut.

Analysts said Obama’s daily economic pronouncements showed the next president stepping into a leadership chasm.

“Confidence in Bush as an effective president has eroded so substantially that he is no longer taken seriously,” said Paul Beck, a professor of political science at Ohio State University.

“There is, of course, much more confidence in Obama or he would not have been elected as president. And, he is the president-in-waiting, so the only alternative the country has to Bush as a leader, especially in a period when the markets have failed and government must play an enlarged role in them.”

Obama has not shied away from telling struggling industries like banks and automakers to take responsibility for their ailing position in the economy.

In an interview with ABC television network, Obama said bank executives should forego their bonuses this year.

Source: Reuters

office-of-management-and-budget-omb-and-rob-nabors-r

CHICAGO (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama announced his top budget officials on Tuesday and promised significant spending cuts to partially offset a costly stimulus package that aims to revive the U.S. economy.

As the top two officials at the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag and Rob Nabors will closely examine federal spending to cut out wasteful programs, Obama said.

“If we are going to make the investments we need, we also have to be willing to shed the spending that we don’t need,” Obama said at his second press conference in as many days.

One obvious example: Crop subsidies to farmers who make more than $2.5 million per year, Obama said.

Though he does not take office until January 20, Obama’s team of economic advisers are already working out the details of a two-year package to save or create 2.5 million jobs that could cost several hundred million dollars.

Obama himself meanwhile has dropped his former low-profile approach and spoken directly to the American people with two news conferences this week. A third Obama press appearance is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. EST Wednesday.

Bush administration officials continue to extend massive life support efforts to the ailing U.S. financial system.

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday announced a $600 billion program to buy mortgage-related debt and securities, and a $200 billion program to increase the availability of consumer debt, such as credit cards and auto loans.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson urged patience and said any effort will take time to work.

Orszag now heads the Congressional Budget Office and Nabors currently serves as staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. Both previously held White House positions under President Bill Clinton.

Their announcement follows on Monday’s unveiling of New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner as Obama’s Treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary under Clinton, as director of his National Economic Council.

Obama’s aides are in contact with Bush administration officials, who said they would work closely with Geithner and other incoming officials on any new rescue plans.

The scope of the economic crisis has widened since Obama’s November 4 victory over Republican John McCain, with auto companies warning that they are short on cash, unemployment numbers rising and the government bailing out yet another gigantic financial institution, Citigroup Inc.

New figures released on Tuesday showed that the U.S. economy shrank more severely during the third quarter than previously estimated as consumers cut spending at the steepest rate in 28 years. Corporate profits and business investment fell as well.

Obama has kept a low profile until this week’s news conferences, which are intended to show the priority he places on addressing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

He said on Monday he has not yet decided whether to roll back President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts for the wealthy, which would provide the government with much-needed revenue, or simply allow them to expire at the end of 2010 as scheduled, a move that would avoid what would likely be a bruising fight in Congress.

Source: Reuters

Three weeks after his election as president, the public’s confidence in Barack Obama remains “remarkably consistent” and “doesn’t yet appear to be have been affected, positively or negatively, by news coverage of the president-elect’s staff and Cabinet appointments, or by reports of his economic and other policy plans,” Gallup reports this morning.

The polling firm’s daily tracking poll now shows 65% of those surveyed say they’re confident in the Democratic president-elect’s ability to be a good president. The figure has stayed between 63% and 67% since Election Day. Margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points.

obama_confidence

Source: USA Today

Obama and Maliki at their Baghdad meeting

Obama and Maliki at their Baghdad meeting

WASHINGTON – The top U.S. military officer said Tuesday the Pentagon is developing plans to get troops quickly out of Iraq and into Afghanistan to battle a more confident and successful Taliban.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the AP in an interview that the military has already identified and practiced traveling out of Iraq along exit routes through Turkey and Jordan to determine “what the challenges might be.” The governments in those two countries, he said, have supported that effort.

While he was careful to note that he is still following the orders of President Bush, Mullen said he was clearly aware of President-elect Barack Obama’s battle plan to withdraw from Iraq in 16 months.

“I’ve been listening to the campaign, and I understand,” Mullen said. “And he has certainly reinforced that since the election, so from a planning standpoint we are looking at that as well.”

He said he is working to get as many troops into Afghanistan as quickly as possible and noted he’s not surprised that Taliban leaders said this week that they would not entertain settlement talks with the Afghan government as long as foreign forces remained in the country.

“It’s my belief that you negotiate from a position of strength and right now the Taliban is doing pretty well,” said Mullen. “I think that’s important as we discuss how we negotiate, and with whom we negotiate, that we do so from a position of strength.”

Source: MSNBC

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Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. spoke at a news conference at the Treasury Department on Tuesday in Washington.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. spoke at a news conference at the Treasury Department on Tuesday in Washington.

The United States government unveiled $800 billion worth of new loans and debt purchases on Tuesday, hoping another massive infusion of cash would smooth troubled credit markets and make borrowing easier for homebuyers, small businesses and students.

The Federal Reserve said it would buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets from government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It would buy up to $100 billion in debt directly from the companies and up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

“This action is being taken to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses, which in turn should support housing markets and foster improved conditions in financial markets more generally,” the Federal Reserve said in a statement.

Separately, the Fed and Treasury Department announced a $200 billion program to ease commercial lending on debt like student loans, car loans or business loans. The Fed would lend up to $200 billion to holders of asset-backed securities supported by car loans, credit card loans, student loans, and business loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.

The program would be seeded with $20 billion in “credit protection” from the Treasury Department, which is drawing the money from the original $700 billion bailout.

“It gives institutions liquidity and it’s clearly direct lending that will help consumers,” Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said Tuesday at a news conference.The announcements came one day after President-elect Barack Obama unveiled his economic team and tried to assure Americans that he was seeking to fill any leadership vacuum, and said his economic advisers would begin working “today.” The advisers include Timothy F. Geithner, his choice for Treasury secretary. 

 nyt-logoprinter

barackobamacampaignscolorado_kffqorjz5jl

WASHINGTON — Despite attracting millions of new contributors to his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama received about the same percentage of his total political funds from small donors as President Bush did in 2004, according to a study released today by the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute.

The analysis undercuts Obama’s claim that his supporters “changed the way campaigns are funded” by reducing the influence of special-interest givers.

“The myth is that money from small donors dominated Barack Obama’s finances,” said Michael Malbin, the institute’s executive director. “The reality of Obama’s fundraising was impressive, but the reality does not match the myth.”

About $156 million, or a quarter of Obama’s record-shattering campaign account, came from donors of $200 or less, according to the institute’s analysis of federal election reports through Oct. 15. That compares with $205 million, or about a third, from those who gave between $2,300 and $4,600, the maximum allowed by law.

Forty-eight percent of Obama’s total take came from donors of $1,000 or more, compared with 56% for John Kerry and 60% for both Bush and John McCain, the analysis found.

The small-donor percentage is lower than figures previously reported in news stories because the institute’s analysis accounted for people who gave several small donations over the course of the election that added up to a larger sum, Malbin said.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an e-mail that the campaign had more than 3.95 million donors, and “91% of our contributions were in amounts of $100 or less. … There’s no doubt that small-dollar contributors played a critical and unprecedented role” in Obama’s victory.

The study said Obama brought in a total $638 million, the most ever raised in a political campaign, compared with $206 million by McCain, who accepted $84.1 million in taxpayer financing for the general election. Obama reported 580,000 donors who gave more than $200.

Donors giving $200 or less need not be disclosed, but by the Obama campaign’s count, there were nearly 3 million of them.

McCain reported 170,000 donors of $200 or more.

Obama opted out of public financing, raising private money through November and significantly outspending McCain in battleground states.

When Obama announced in June that he would forgo public financing, he told supporters in a video message that “instead of forcing us to rely on millions from Washington lobbyists and special-interest PACs, you’ve fueled this campaign with donations of $5, $10, $20, whatever you can afford. … You’ve already changed the way campaigns are funded, because you know that’s the only way we can truly change how Washington works.”

Meredith McGehee, a campaign-finance reform advocate at the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center, said Obama cannot claim “this election somehow created an alternative system for public finance. … The data doesn’t show that.”

Obama did not accept contributions from political action committees or registered federal lobbyists, but many of his top fundraisers have keen economic interests in federal policies.

Source: USA Today

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Since Barack Obama’s election, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun groups have been warning that the new president will take away their second amendment rights. This multi-million dollar campaign is already having effects. Not only is the NRA trying to profit off this fear-mongering by increasing its membership, many gun sellers are holding “Obama Sales.”

On Friday, ThinkProgress visited The Nation’s Gun Show in Chantilly, VA, where 1,000 vendors took over a building the size of two football fields. The NRA’s fear-mongering was all over the event. An ad in the Washington Post read, “GET YOUR GUNS WHILE YOU STILL CAN!!!” While we waited in a long line in the cold, visitors willing to begin or renew their NRA membership were able to get in free and skip the line.

We spoke with an NRA coordinator at the event who confirmed that the organization had seen a dramatic increase in membership after Obama’s election and noted that the turnout at this gun show was much higher than at one two months ago. When we asked whether Obama would revoke gun owners’ rights, she strayed from the official line and admitted that with important issues like the economy, he may not go after it right away. Some of the materials that were being handed out at the NRA booth:

gunsticker1Click for pdf.

Traces of these myths infiltrated some of the vendors’ tables as well:

nobama2

One vendor with Liberty Firearms was wearing a button with Obama’s name crossed out and warned a couple, “Get ready for the Obamanation.” He told us that he was actually having trouble restocking and ordering new wares because suppliers were canceling orders and getting ready to dramatically increase prices to take advantage of the hype, as they did in 1994. The man selling the “NObama” shirts said that his business was also way up. “People are afraid,” he said.

Despite the NRA’s best efforts, many individual gun owners recognize the campaign as nothing but hype. ThinkProgress spoke with Gary Foster of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, who said that while he could not speak for his organization, his personal opinion was that many media stories about a rush on guns are overblown:

As FactCheck.org has explained, much of the NRA’s information is completely inaccurate: “Obama has spoken in favor of government registration of handguns, for example, but has not called for registration of all ‘firearms’ including hunting rifles and shotguns. [Many of NRA] TV spots and fliers also make claims that are directly contrary to what Obama actually says about guns.” Obama has also reassured voters that he has no intention or desire to take away their guns.

ThinkProgress

11-10-2008-11-04-36-am1 We’ve never had a First Lady quite like Michelle Obama. How she’ll change the world’s image of African-American women—and the way we see ourselves.

NEWSWEEK: Allison Samuels

At a recent Sunday brunch after church, my “sista friends” and I sat on the patio of a Los Angeles restaurant gabbing about the election of Barack Obama. Sure, we were caught up in the history of the moment. Most of us never thought we’d see an African-American president. But as a group of six black women in our 30s and 40s, we were equally excited by who is coming along with Obama to the White House—his wife, Michelle, and their two young daughters. We all praised—OK, maybe even envied—Michelle’s double Ivy League pedigree, her style, her cool but friendly demeanor. And yet we’re all aware of how much we have riding on her. At 44, Michelle Obama will be the youngest First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy. And many are expecting her to usher in a similarly glamorous era in Washington. (“Bamelot,” as some are already calling it.) But Michelle’s influence could go far beyond the superficial. When her husband raises his hand to take the oath of office, Michelle will become the world’s most visible African-American woman. The new First Lady will have the chance to knock down ugly stereotypes about black women and educate the world about American black culture more generally. But perhaps more important—even apart from what her husband can do—Michelle has the power to change the way African-Americans see ourselves, our lives and our possibilities.

Read On…

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his economic team on Monday in Chicago. From left are, Timothy F. Geithner, Christina Romer and Lawrence Summers.

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his economic team on Monday in Chicago. From left are, Timothy F. Geithner, Christina Romer and Lawrence Summers.

Citing an “economic crisis of historic proportions” President-elect Barack Obama announced the key members of his economic team at a news conference in Chicago.

Update | 12:34 p.m. The Q & A was over pretty quickly, and Mr. Obama and his newly introduced economic team filed offstage.

Here’s a quick thumbnail that Mr. Obama gave in introducing each of them:

Mr. Geithner: “offers not just extensive experience shaping economic policy and managing financial markets – but an unparalleled understanding of our current economic crisis, in all of its depth, complexity and urgency. Tim will waste no time getting up to speed. He will start his first day on the job with a unique insight into the failures of today’s markets – and a clear vision of the steps we must take to revive them.”

“Growing up partly in Africa and having lived and worked throughout Asia; having served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs – one of many roles in the international arena; and having studied both Chinese and Japanese, Tim understands the language of today’s international markets in more ways than one.”

Mr. Summers: “Larry helped guide us through several major international financial crises – and was a central architect of the policies that led to the longest economic expansion in American history, with record surpluses, rising family incomes and more than 20 million new jobs. He also championed a range of measures – from tax credits to enhanced lending programs to consumer financial protections – that greatly benefited middle income families.”

“As a thought leader, Larry has urged us to confront the problems of income inequality and the middle class squeeze, consistently arguing that the key to a strong economy is a strong and growing middle class. This idea is the core of my own economic philosophy and will be the foundation for all of my economic policies.”

Ms. Romer: “Christina is both a leading macroeconomist and a leading economic historian, perhaps best known for her work on America’s recovery from the Great Depression and the robust economic expansion that followed. Since 2003, she has been co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research Monetary Economics program. She is also a member of the Bureau’s Business Cycle Dating Committee – the body charged with officially determining when a recession has started and ended – experience which will serve her well as she advises me on our current economic challenges.”

“Christina has also done groundbreaking research on many of the topics our Administration will confront – from tax policy to fighting recessions. And her clear-eyed, independent analyses have received praise from both conservative and liberal thinkers alike. I look forward to her wise counsel in the White House.”

Ms. Barnes: She has a “brilliant legal mind” and is “one of the most respected policy experts in America, will be serving as director of my Domestic Policy Council.” She will be “working hand-in-hand with my economic policy team to chart a course to economic recovery. An integral part of that course will be health care reform – and she will work closely with my Secretary of Health and Human Services on that issue.”

“As executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, Melody directed a network of policy experts dedicated to finding solutions for struggling middle class families. She also served as chief counsel to the great Senator Ted Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee, working on issues ranging from crime to immigration to bankruptcy, and fighting tirelessly to protect civil rights, women’s rights and religious freedom.”

Related: What Economic Blogs Are Saying

Auto Industry | 12:32 p.m. Question: What should be done about the auto industry?

Mr. Obama gets tough on Detroit and says he was “surprised” that the auto execs went to Washington last week without being better prepared.

“We can’t allow the auto industry to simply vanish,” he says, but “we can’t just write a blank check.” Nor, he said, can taxpayers be expected “to pony up more money to an auto industry that has been resistant to change.”

Then this: “I was surprised they didn’t have a better-thought-out proposal when they arrived in Congress.” He says Congress “did the right thing to say you guys need to come up with a better plan and come back.”

But any additional money for the industry, he says, should assure a long-term sustainable auto industry and is not just “kicking the can down the road.”

Economic Approach | 12:27 p.m. Question: How will your approach to the economy differ from the “ad hoc” approach of the last year?

Mr. Obama says he wants to make sure that moving forward he is “clearly articulating” his end goals, what he is trying to achieve and that there is “clarity and transparency” to his plan. Markets have been confused about the overall direction of the economy, he says, and he wants to provide clarity.

Stimulus Package? | 12:25 p.m. Ah, now we’ve got sound. But he still declines to discuss the size of the stimulus package. He says there is a consensus “across the spectrum” that we need an economic stimulus package and that it’s big enough to give a “jolt” to the economy. He is vague about how to pay for it beyond “reforms” in Washington.

On to Questions | 12:19 p.m. In the question-and-answer period, the questions, alas, are inaudible. But Mr. Obama declines to put a price tag on his stimulus package. Apparently he was asked about the Bush tax cuts because Mr. Obama says he isn’t sure exactly how those tax cuts will be repealed.

No Shortcuts | 12:15 p.m. “We need a recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street – a plan that stabilizes our financial system and gets credit flowing again, while at the same time addressing our growing foreclosure crisis, helping our struggling auto industry, and creating and saving 2.5 million jobs – jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing our schools, and creating the clean energy infrastructure of the twenty-first century,” he says. “Because at this moment, we must both restore confidence in our markets – and restore the confidence of middle class families, who find themselves working harder, earning less, and falling further and further behind.”

He adds: “Again, this won’t be easy. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making – and the economy is likely to get worse before it gets better. Full recovery won’t happen immediately. And to make the investments we need, we’ll have to scour our federal budget, line-by-line, and make meaningful cuts and sacrifices as well – something I’ll be discussing further tomorrow.”

‘Crisis of Historic Proportions’ | 12:09 p.m. “We are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions,” Mr. Obama says, and we need the best minds to bring sound judgment and fresh thinking. He said his team are people who share his fundamental belief that we can’t have a thriving wall street without a thriving Main Street.

The News Conference Begins | 12:03 p.m. The market continues to cilmb as Mr. Obama opens his news conference. The Dow is up 306 points so far.

In addition to Mr. Geithner, Mr. Summers and Ms. Romer, Mr. Obama announces Melody C. Barnes will be director of the Domestic Policy Council, which will Ms. Barnes previously served as executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and as chief counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee from December 1995 until March 2003, according to the transition team. Mr. Obama said that an integral part of Ms. Barnes’s job will be working closely with the Secretary of Health and Human Services on health care reform.

Prepared Text

The Economic Team | 11:53 a.m. President-elect Barack Obama is about to hold a news conference in Chicago and announce the members of his economic team, including Timothy F. Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, as his Treasury secretary.

Mr. Obama also plans to name Larry Summers, who was Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration, as the head of his National Economic Council and Christina Romer, a well-regarded economist at the University of California at Berkeley, to lead the Council of Economic Advisers.

And he is expected to make the case for an expanded economic stimulus package to create or preserve 2.5 million jobs during the next two years.

thecaucus75

barack-obama-audacity-of-hope

Barack Obama’s presidential victory permeates this month’s list of best-selling political books, with both of his own works returning to the top and several by others landing among the 15 most popular.

President-elect Obama’s “Audacity Of Hope,” a former mainstay since the inception of the Caucus’s Poli-Book list, returns at No. 1, and his earlier memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” lands at No. 2.

An overwhelming focus continues on the 44th president-elect in pictorials and essays: “The American Journey Of Barack Obama” by the editors of Life magazine is No. 4; “The Rise Of Barack Obama” by Pete Souza is No. 8; “Obama” by Deborah Willis and Kevin Merida is No. 15. And “Michelle” by Liza Mundy falls at No. 13, as the first book on First Lady Michelle Obama to grace the list.

Also new this month is “American Lion” by Jon Meacham at No. 6. The controversial seventh president, founder of the Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson, made a radical stir in the political hierarchy, with lasting effects to date, by shifting from government concerns to giving more power to ordinary citizens.

The full list follows:

Poli-Book Best Seller List

Based on sales for weeks ending Oct. 25 through Nov. 15, 2008

1. The Audacity Of Hope, by Barack Obama. (Crown, $25.) The president-elect asks Americans to move beyond political divi sions.

2. Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama. (Crown, $25.95.) The president-elect on life as the son of a black African father and a white American mother.

3. Hot, Flat, And Crowded, by Thomas L. Friedman. (Far rar, Straus & Giroux, $27.95.) How a green revolution can renew America, by The New York Times columnist.

4. The American Journey Of Barack Obama, by the editors of Life magazine. (Little, Brown, $24.99.) Photographs and essays, starting with Obama’s birth in Hawaii.

5. Fleeced, by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann. (Harper, $26.95.) Americans are fleeced by government, business, labor unions and lobbyists.

6. American Lion, by Jon Meacham. (Random House, $30.) An drew Jackson, the seventh president, in the White House, by the editor of Newsweek.

7. Tried By War, by James M. McPherson. (Penguin Press, $35.) Abraham Lincoln as commander in chief, from the author of “Battle Cry of Freedom.”

8. The Rise Of Barack Obama, by Pete Souza. (Triumph, $27.95.) Photographs of Obama’s career, from his first day in the United States Senate to the Pennsylvania primary last April.

9. Ted, White, And Blue, by Ted Nugent. (Regnery, $27.95.) A manifesto by the rock star, gun advocate and host of an Outdoor Channel hunting show celebrates “what so many Americans em brace as abundant truth, common sense and inescapable logic.”

10. Kill Bin Laden, by Dalton Fury. (St. Martin’s, $25.95.) The siege of Tora Bora by the elite counterterrorism unit Delta Force, by the senior ranking military officer at the battle.

11. The Limits Of Power, by Andrew Bacevich. (Holt, $24.) A retired Army colonel argues that American citizens are ultimately responsible for the country’s military and economic woes. (†)

12. Goodnight Bush, by Erich Origen and Gan Golan. (Little, Brown, $14.99.) A requiem for the Bush administration, based on the children’s book “Goodnight Moon.”

13. Michelle, by Liza Mundy. (Simon & Schuster, $25.) The Washington Post writer paints an intimate portrait Of Michelle Obama’s life.

14. The War Within, by Bob Woodward. (Simon & Schuster, $32.) White House debates over the Iraq war, 2006-8.

15. Obama, by Deborah Willis and Kevin Merida. (Amistad, $26.95.) Photographs capturing Obama’s 18-month campaign to the presidency.

thecaucus75

Something for the prediction lovers out there!
He’s someone who says things are going to be looking up!

On the Chris Matthews Show today, Matthews argued that one of the major differences between President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama is the fact that Obama is intellectually curious. As an example of Bush’s lack of intellectual curiosity, Matthews played a 2004 clip of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward saying on 60 Minutes that Bush “is not an intellectual” or what “would be called a deep thinker.”

Asked by Matthews to explain why Bush “shows little intellectual curiosity,” Woodward said it was essentially because Bush “doesn’t like homework”:

    WOODWARD: I think he’s impatient. I think, my summation: He doesn’t like homework. And homework means reading or getting briefed or having a debate. And part of the presidency, part of governing, particularly in this area, is homework, homework, homework.

Watch:

Woodward, who has written four books on the Bush White House, has reported multiple instances in which Bush has put his distaste for homework on display. In 2004, Woodward told PBS’s Frontline about how Bush describes himself as “a gut player” who doesn’t “play by the book“:

    QUESTION: What does that tell us about this president, how his mind works and how he functions as an executive? …
    WOODWARD: Bush looks at problems. And he told me, he said: “I’m a gut player. I play by instincts. I don’t play by the book.” And of course the book is Policy 101 about how you make these kinds of decisions, and all of this [is] coming from the gut.

In his most recent book, Woodward reported that Bush actually bragged about not attending meetings where key decisions about the surge were made, telling Woodward, “I’m not in these meetings, you’ll be happy to hear, because I got other things to do.” Woodward has said that in his eyes, Bush has “often displayed impatience and a lack of interest in open debate.”

Transcript:

    MATTHEWS: Bob, he obviously relies a lot on instinct and is proud of that fact. Is that why he shows little intellectual curiosity about other people’s thinking?
    WOODWARD: I think he’s impatient. I think, my summation: He doesn’t like homework. And homework means reading or getting briefed or having a debate. And part of the presidency, part of governing, particularly in this area, is homework, homework, homework.
    MATTHEWS: And Obama?
    WOODWARD: Obama is the opposite. He mainlines homework. He does, you know, where is extra credit.

Source: Think Progress

Timothy Geithner is a seasoned crisis manager with a temperament to match that of Barack Obama

timgeithner

STOCKMARKETS soared on Friday November 21st when investors learned that Barack Obama would nominate Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary. That might seem odd. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was already a favourite for the post. And he brings no magical solution to the financial crisis: he has been battling it for over a year, with no end in sight.

The 494-point (6.5%) jump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average is more a statement about investors’ anxiety over the unsettled state of economic policymaking. News of the Treasury nominee holds out the prospect of a more coherent and forceful approach to the crisis. The current treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, is reworking the $700 billion bail-out plan on the fly, policymakers are struggling over a new approach to foreclosures, the status of the mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is in limbo, and Congress has just sent the carmakers, teetering close to insolvency, home empty handed. The two months before Mr Obama is sworn in seem like an eternity.

Investors were also relieved that their darkest fears of a Sarah Palin-like shock announcement did not come to pass and that Mr Obama, as in his other important appointments, has chosen ability over connections. Mr Geithner does not know Mr Obama well and has no notable ties to the Democratic Party. But for this cabinet post more than any other, an overtly political appointment would have been corrosive to investor confidence.

Assuming he is nominated Mr Geithner brings two crucial qualities. First, he represents continuity. From the first days of the crisis last year, he has worked hand in glove with Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Mr Paulson. He can continue to do so while awaiting confirmation. If Citigroup, for example, needs federal help, Mr Geithner will be involved. An unknown when he joined the New York Fed in 2003, he is now a familiar face to the most senior executives on Wall Street and to central bankers and finance ministers overseas.

Second, he represents competence. He has spent more time on financial crises, from Mexico and Thailand to Brazil and Argentina, than probably any other policymaker in office today. Mr Geithner understands better than almost anyone that in crises you throw out the forecast and focus on avoiding low probability events with catastrophic consequences. Such judgments are excruciating: do too little, and you undermine confidence and generate a bigger crisis that needs even bigger policy action. Do too much, and you look panicked and invite blowback from Wall Street, Congress and the press. At times during the crisis Mr Geithner would counsel Mr Bernanke on the importance of the right “ratio of drama to effectiveness”.

Mr Geithner looks a lot younger than his 47 years. He skateboards and snowboards and exudes a sort of hipster-wonkiness, using “way” as a synonym for “very” as in “way consequential” and occasionally underlining his point with the word “fuck”. 

In temperament he seems similar to Mr Obama: he is suspicious of ideology, questions received wisdom

 

In normal times, risk aversion damps economic cycles; in a crisis, it accentuates them, leading to withdrawn credit, evaporating liquidity, margin calls, falling asset prices, and more risk aversion. “The brake becomes the accelerator,” as he puts it. Indeed, although he worked alongside Mr Paulson on the crisis, he has at times advocated a more aggressive approach. For example, news reports say that he was not comfortable with Mr Paulson’s decision to take public money off the table in the ultimately unsuccessful effort to save Lehman Brothers. He has not always got it right: he was the most important architect of the original bail-out of American International Group, an insurer, which in time has proved flawed, requiring significant amendment.

Mr Geithner looks a lot younger than his 47 years (though not as young as he did before the crisis began). He skateboards and snowboards and exudes a sort of hipster-wonkiness, using “way” as a synonym for “very” as in “way consequential” and occasionally underlining his point with the word “fuck”. In temperament he seems similar to Mr Obama: he is suspicious of ideology, questions received wisdom, likes a competition of ideas and is keenly aware of how uncertain the world is.

Mr Geithner learned about crisis management as an aide to Lawrence Summers who rose to Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. Mr Summers was the other candidate for the job under Mr Obama, and his appointment would probably also have been greeted enthusiastically. He will reportedly join the administration in a White House advisory role.

Mr Geithner leaves a big hole; the New York Fed president is by tradition the financial system’s go-to crisis manager, and that job has never been more important in the modern era than it is now. A probable candidate to succeed him is a Fed governor, Kevin Warsh. Though young (he is just 38) he has been a central player in the crisis thanks to his extensive contacts in the financial world and closeness to Mr Bernanke, who puts great store in Mr Warsh’s feel for politics and markets (see our recent blog post). That appointment will be made by the board of the New York Fed.

Mr Geithner faces a huge job. He will have critical decisions to make on whether to enlarge or alter the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Programme, what sort of firms will qualify for its money, whether and how to bail out the carmakers, what to do with the flailing mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and how to deal with countless other chapters in the continuing crisis. Unlike Mr Summers he is not an economist and brings no expertise to many of the big economic-policy questions that the Obama administration will confront such as health care, fiscal policy and taxes, even though he will be the primary spokesman on the administration’s economic policies.

He is a quick learner: within a year of joining the New York Fed he could debate the intricacies of monetary policy with academic experts. But he will join an administration rapidly filling up with heavyweights on economic policy, not least of them Mr Summers. Indeed, one of the big questions of the new team that Mr Obama is expected to unveil on Monday is just how Mr Summers, a brilliant but intimidating and sometimes abrasive figure, will fit in.

Mr Obama is assembling a formidable economic team. With the economy perhaps on the precipice of its worst recession since the Depression, he will need it.

Source: Economist

::

AT HIS RIGHT HAND Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett getting lunch last week in Chicago. Ms. Jarrett took Mr. Obama under her wing nearly two decades ago.

AT HIS RIGHT HAND Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett getting lunch last week in Chicago. Ms. Jarrett took Mr. Obama under her wing nearly two decades ago.

 

CHICAGO — On a dark afternoon last week, the road to Jerusalem and Beijing momentarily veered through the office of a real estate company here.

Valerie Jarrett, the company’s chief executive, had signed her resignation letter an hour earlier, and now she was taking phone calls from potential top diplomatic appointees.

“You don’t need to thank me,” she said soothingly to a booming male voice on her cellphone. “I just wanted you to have a chance to make your case.”

If someone were to rank the long list of people who helped Barack and Michelle Obama get where they are today, Ms. Jarrett would be close to the top. Nearly two decades ago, Ms. Jarrett swept the young lawyers under her wing, introduced them to a wealthier and better-connected Chicago than their own, and eventually secured contacts and money essential to Mr. Obama’s long-shot Senate victory.

In the crush of his presidential campaign, Ms. Jarrett could have fallen by the wayside, as old mentors often do. But the opposite happened: Using her intimacy with the Obamas, two BlackBerrys and a cellphone, Ms. Jarrett, a real estate executive and civic leader with no national campaign experience, became an internal mediator and external diplomat who secured the trust of black leaders, forged peace with Clintonites and helped talk Mr. Obama through major decisions.

She “automatically understands your values and your vision,” Michelle Obama said in a telephone interview Friday, and is “somebody never afraid to tell you the truth.” Mrs. Obama added: “She knows the buttons, the soft spots, the history, the context.”

In January, Ms. Jarrett will go to the White House as a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, where she will be “one of the four or five people in the room with him when decisions get made,” as Anita Dunn, a Democratic strategist close to Mr. Obama, put it. Ms. Jarrett, who is a co-chairwoman of Mr. Obama’s transition effort, will also serve as the White House contact for local and state officials across the nation and the point person for Mr. Obama’s effort to build a channel between his White House and ordinary Americans.

Less formally, she intends to help Mr. Obama preserve his essential self as he becomes president, even as she becomes the type of person who chats with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, mingles with Warren Buffett and is now sometimes greeted by strangers.

Washingtonians who assess the new White House crew sometimes cast Ms. Jarrett in parochial terms: she is the hometown buddy, they say, or the one who will hear out the concerns of black leaders. They note that presidential friends do not always fare well in the capital, that confidants from Arkansas and Texas have stumbled in the corridors of the West Wing.

Asked what was her biggest worry about the job, which is a major leap from anything she has undertaken before, Ms. Jarrett said she sometimes feared she did not know enough. “I will try to do my homework,” she said.

Ms. Jarrett, 52, has often been underestimated: perhaps because she is often the only black woman at the boardroom tables where she sits, or perhaps because she can seem girlish, with a pixie haircut, singsong voice and suits that earned her a recent profile in Vogue.

A protégée of Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, Ms. Jarrett served as his planning commissioner, ran a real estate company, the Habitat Company — whose management of public housing projects has come under scrutiny with Ms. Jarrett’s rise — and sits on too many boards to count. She is an expert in urban affairs, particularly housing and transportation, in an administration expected to lavish more money and attention on cities than its predecessors.

And she has something no other adviser in the Obama White House ever will: ties to the president-elect and future first lady that go deeper than a political alliance. Ms. Jarrett is only a few years older than the Obamas, but her relationship with them can seem almost maternal. “I can count on someone like Valerie to take my hand and say, You need to think about these three things,” Mrs. Obama said. “Like a mom, a big sister, I trust her implicitly.”

During big speeches, Ms. Jarrett watched Mr. Obama with a gaze of such intensity that he and their other friends laugh about it. “Barack always jokes, You can’t look Valerie in the eye, she’s going to make you cry,” said Martin Nesbitt, the treasurer of the campaign.

Read on…

President-elect Barack Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who will have a desk near the Oval Office, during a pre-election stop on Sept. 29.

President-elect Barack Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who will have a desk near the Oval Office, during a pre-election stop on Sept. 29.

Loyal allies to dominate inner sanctum but Clinton vets will abound

WASHINGTON – Two main quarries are supplying the building blocks for President-elect Barack Obama’s new administration.

Longtime, deeply loyal associates will dominate the White House inner sanctum. And veterans of Bill Clinton’s presidency will hold vital jobs throughout the government, although a bit farther from the Oval Office.

The structure suggests Obama is confident enough to hand top posts to former rivals whose loyalty is not guaranteed, a strategy many presidents have avoided. But most of those on Obama’s team who will have his ear everyday will be old friends and experienced advisers who are seen as having no ambitions beyond his success.

Obama raised eyebrows this month when he tapped some of Clinton’s closest allies for important jobs.

John Podesta, Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, is heading the transition effort. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a former top Clinton adviser, is Obama’s chief of staff. Former Clinton appointees Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano appear in line for Cabinet posts.

Even more startling to many, Obama has signaled plans to name former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

Some Obama supporters have praised him for reaching out to his toughest primary opponent. But others question why they worked so hard to defeat Clinton only to see her, and many close to her, grab prizes in the new administration. They note that Obama repeatedly campaigned against “the politics of the past” and Washington “dramas,” thinly veiled jabs at the Clinton presidency as well as President George W. Bush’s tenure.

Stephen Hess, a George Washington University authority on presidential transitions, said Obama is playing it smart.

“It’s easy to make a leap that this is going to be a repeat of the Clinton administration and there’s no way that’s going to happen,” said Hess, who first worked for the Eisenhower administration.

Value of ‘old-timers’
Obama needs a core of Democrats with federal government experience, Hess said, and veterans of Bill Clinton’s administration are virtually the only source.

“The old-timers are exceedingly valuable to him now,” he said, but Obama “also has his own group of advisers, and he will merge the two groups.”

That merger began taking shape last week. Obama’s three “senior advisers,” who will have desks near the Oval Office, are some of his closest and longest-serving allies:

  • David Axelrod, his Chicago-based media strategist, will focus on message and communications.
  • Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago businesswoman and close family friend, probably will concentrate on intergovernmental relations and community outreach.
  • Pete Rouse, who was Obama’s Senate chief of staff, is expected to work closely with Emanuel on White House operations and congressional affairs.
  • :.
    Read on…
    :.

    🙂

    Today on “Fox News Sunday,” Obama adviser David Axelrod talked to Chris Wallace about the economy and the upcoming appointments that the President-elect plans to make.
    Real Clear Politics

    President Bush, who not so long ago argued that it was defeatist to insist upon a timetable for a withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq, now tentatively has negotiated — drum roll, please — a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

    The status of forces agreement reached recently between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki calls for pulling American forces out of Iraqi cities by the end of next June and the departure of all U.S. military units by the end of 2011.

    The situation may not look ideal in Iraq for a while.

    The situation may not look ideal in Iraq for a while.

    Moreover, the President agreed to other Iraqi demands he once dismissed: no permanent U.S. bases in Iraq; a ban on use of Iraqi territory to attack neighbors, including Iran and Syria; and more Iraqi control over U.S. military operations and movements.

    Of course, nothing in Iraq is simple or certain. The Iraqi parliament must approve the deal in a vote scheduled for this week. Any plan would be carried out on the U.S. end not by Mr. Bush but by Barack Obama, who has favored a faster pullout. Shiite cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr demands the immediate ouster of the American “invader,” and some Sunni and Kurdish leaders fear being left at the mercy of Mr. al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government.

    Still, in the byzantine world of Iraqi politics, such wrangling may have less to do with how to deal now with the Americans than with how various factions are positioning themselves for a post-American future.

    That is a consideration that Mr. Obama should be weighing as well.

    It is going to be tempting for the incoming president — particularly considering the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the war’s cost of more than $10 billion per month — to speed up the American withdrawal.

    And perhaps that will be possible. We hope so. At the same time, if Mr. al-Maliki is able to win approval of the pact, American involvement is going to be needed to prod the Iraqis toward political consensus and real sharing of oil revenues, accelerate training of Iraqi security forces and encourage responsible Middle Eastern countries to foster stability in Iraq.

    Leaving Iraq as quickly as feasible is desirable. Doing everything possible to prevent a need ever to return is imperative.

    Source: c-j

    :.

    23hillary-600

    WASHINGTON — The thaw in the resentful relationship between the most powerful woman in the Democratic Party and her younger male rival began at the party’s convention this summer, when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave such a passionate speech supporting Senator Barack Obama that his top aides leapt out of their chairs backstage to give her a standing ovation as she swept past.

    Mr. Obama, who was in the first steps of what would become a strategic courtship, called afterward to thank her. By then, close aides to Mrs. Clinton said, she had come to respect the campaign Mr. Obama had run against her. At the least, she knew he understood like no one else the brutal strains of their epic primary battle.

    By this past Thursday, when Mr. Obama reassured Mrs. Clinton that as secretary of state she would have direct access to him and could select her own staff, the wooing was complete.

    UNHAPPY TOGETHER President Bush and Colin Powell had a strained relationship. Enlarge+

    UNHAPPY TOGETHER President Bush and Colin Powell had a strained relationship. Enlarge+

    “She feels like she’s been treated very well in the way she’s been asked,” said a close associate of Mrs. Clinton, who like others interviewed asked for anonymity because the nomination will not be formally announced until after Thanksgiving.

    Few are predicting that this new relationship born of mutual respect and self-interest will grow into a tight bond between the new president and the woman who will be the public face of his foreign policy, though some say it is not impossible. They argue that a close friendship between the two powerful officials is useful but not essential, and is not a predictor of the success of the nation’s chief diplomat.

    While James A. Baker III was extraordinarily close to the first President George Bush and is widely considered one of the most successful recent secretaries of state, Dean Acheson was not a friend of Harry S. Truman and Henry A. Kissinger did not particularly like Richard M. Nixon.

    “Two of the nation’s greatest secretaries of state in the modern period, Dean Acheson and Henry Kissinger, were not personally close but were intellectually bonded to their presidents,” said Walter Isaacson, the author of a biography of Mr. Kissinger and the co-author, with Evan Thomas, of “The Wise Men,” a book about America’s postwar foreign policy establishment. “I think that Obama and Clinton could form a perfect partnership based on respect for each other’s view of the world.”

    TIGHT TEAM James A. Baker III’s success lay in his ties to the first President Bush Enlarge+

    TIGHT TEAM James A. Baker III’s success lay in his ties to the first President Bush Enlarge+

    Colin L. Powell, who was President Bush’s first-term celebrity secretary of state, would appear to be a cautionary tale for Mrs. Clinton since his relationship with the president was strained, and he left office an unhappy man. But Mr. Bush’s second-term secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is generally not viewed as having the success her unusually tight bond with the president might have engendered.

     

    In the Obama-Clinton relationship, advisers say, the relatively smooth nature of their talks about the secretary of state job indicate that both, for now, have a working chemistry. The advisers say that Mr. Obama was clearly interested in bringing a rival under his wing, and that he also recognized that Mrs. Clinton had far more discipline and focus than her husband.

    At the same time, Mr. Obama’s advisers said, he had the self-confidence to name a global brand as his emissary to the world. He recognizes, they said, that after Jan. 20, he will have to build the kind of relationship that ensures that foreign leaders know that when Mrs. Clinton speaks, she is speaking directly for him.

    Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson. Enlarge+

    Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson. Enlarge+

    “It helps to have a relationship that Bush had with Baker, that’s no doubt true,” said Martin Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel, who was a supporter of Mrs. Clinton in the primary battles. “But if they are seen as working together effectively, I think that can be easily overcome. I don’t think he would have decided to appoint her if he didn’t want her to be effective.”

     

    One close adviser to Mr. Obama said the president-elect also saw that Mrs. Clinton’s political skills would serve her well in the job, as happened with Mr. Baker and Mr. Kissinger. “They understood that statecraft is politics by another name,” the adviser said.

    Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton first spoke after their primary fight on a flight in June to Unity, N.H., their first stage-managed appearance after he won the nomination. As they settled into their seats on his plane, the conversation, according to people on both sides, was far less awkward than they had feared. Over the passing weeks, the relationship gradually improved.

    “They got past this long before their supporters and the party activists did,” said one Democrat who is close to both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

    Henry A. Kissinger and Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Enlarge+

    Henry A. Kissinger and Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Enlarge+

    After Mrs. Clinton’s speech in support of Mr. Obama at the Democratic convention, she crisscrossed the country tirelessly to campaign for him — so much so that he told aides he was impressed by the sheer number of events she was doing on his behalf.

    Mrs. Clinton, it should be said, was herself diligent in advertising how hard she was working for the man who defeated her. When announcing her appearances, her press office included tallies of how many events she had held for Mr. Obama, and in how many states. At some rallies, organizers would distribute “Hillary Sent Me” buttons, as if Mrs. Clinton was being magnanimous by “sending” her followers to vote for Mr. Obama.

    But Mr. Obama began calling Mrs. Clinton after some of the events — he dialed directly from his cellphone to hers one day in Michigan and another day in Florida — to check in and thank her for helping. By then, their intense primary fights over policy, which both sides now insist was more about heat than substance, had long receded.

    “The reality at the end of the day was, whether it was Iran or health care or some of these other issues, we were always fighting big battles over small differences,” said a senior aide to Mr. Obama, adding that “in a campaign, conflict is what you go to.”

    Substantively, the two were at odds over the Iraq war — Mrs. Clinton voted to authorize it and Mr. Obama said he would have opposed it had he been in the Senate then — and to a lesser extent over negotiations with Iran. But although Mrs. Clinton criticized Mr. Obama for being willing to sit down and talk to dictators, he has said he would have a lower-level envoy do preparatory work for a meeting with Iran’s leaders first. Mrs. Clinton has said she favors robust diplomacy with Iran and lower-level contacts as well.

    In the weeks just before the election, the relationship between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton further mellowed, even as she found herself in a startling role reversal with her younger rival. As a celebrity senator and powerhouse on Capitol Hill, she had helped Mr. Obama in his Senate race and offered advice when he first came to Washington; now she was the workhorse for a political phenomenon.

    Since the election, Mrs. Clinton has talked to Mr. Obama only a handful of times, even as two close advisers to Mr. Obama who held top positions in the Clinton administration — Rahm Emanuel and John D. Podesta — have served as key negotiators between her and the president-elect on the secretary of state position.

    But Mrs. Clinton has talked several times to Michelle Obama about raising a family in the White House and private schools in Washington. On Friday, Mrs. Obama said the two Obama girls, Malia and Sasha, would attend the Sidwell Friends School, just as Chelsea Clinton did.

    Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Chicago, and Mark Leibovich from Washington.

    nyt-logoprinter

     

     

    :::.

    Heather Zichal, a member of the Obama-Biden Transition’s Energy and Environment Policy Team, responds to questions submitted to http://www.change.gov on topics ranging from increasing the number of hybrid cars on the road to making the White House green.

    barack-obama-dropping-his-daughters-malia-and-sasha-at-their-private-school-in-chicago-they-will-attend-sidwell-friends-school-in-washington

    WASHINGTON — After a school search that set off weeks of frenzied speculation among parents here, President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, announced Friday that their two daughters would attend Sidwell Friends School, the prestigious academy that has educated generations of this city’s elite.

    The Quaker-run Sidwell, which was established in 1883, has educated the children of at least three presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton. And there was an added bonus: grandchildren of Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who are friendly with the Obama girls, attend Sidwell.

    The Obama family had considered two other private institutions, Georgetown Day School and Maret School, for their girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

    But Sidwell has long been described by some as the Harvard of Washington’s private schools. Its tuition runs as high as $29,442 a year.

    “A number of great schools were considered,” said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama. “In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now.”

    Mayor Adrian M. Fenty of Washington strongly lobbied the Obamas to consider a public school, but that was apparently never an option.

    The Obama girls currently attend private school, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where annual tuition runs as high as $21,480, and the family did not tour any public schools on their recent visits.

    Since Election Day, guessing which school the Obamas would choose became one of affluent Washington’s most popular parlor games.

    Camera crews staked out the schools in hopes of a glimpse of Mrs. Obama (who visited Sidwell and Georgetown Day twice) and the girls (who visited schools once this week). Parents hotly debated the merits of each.

    nyt-logoprinter

    See no exhaust pipe! 0-60 3.6 seconds! Cost $4 per 240 mile charge to run!

    Tesla Roadster: See no exhaust pipe! 0-60 3.6 seconds! Cost $4 per 240 mile charge to run!

    I think the whole aim of the car industry has been to keep us on oil – and so for years they have been suppressing any and all viable alternatives. While we advance in leaps and bounds in computers and technological industries — aside from the outer cover and some new electronics – cars have virtually stayed the same. In today’s technological world this is unacceptable.

    Not surprisingly sympathy is thin on the ground for the Big Three automakers – and in order to survive they are going to have to decouple from the oil industry. This is where policy comes in – as the Bush administration has been all about oil – and how to get us all to spend more on it – he got his wish – but it was a bit like the king who touched his daughter and turned her into gold. Up until recently the whole aim was to make us believe – that we needed more and more of this oil – this coming directly from the addict-in-chief. The mindset is so bad – that at the RNC you had Republicans chanting Drill Baby Drill, because the thought of a technological way around the oil – is unthinkable to them. 50 years down the line they still see us using the same technology – needing roughly the same amount of oil. Palin – an oil addict and others like herself – first need to line up the belief that we need this oil and we can not do without it – for a long long time – then they place themselves in the position to be the providers of that oil. Even better than the measly cash that a guy would make as a lobbyist. This is like Beverly HillBillies’ cash – no wonder they are addicted.

    But here is the trap for the car industry – The Big Three – Republicans are into little or no government intervention – their philosophy is bankruptcy would do them good – ironically the Drill Baby Drill – was for the hungry engines the Big Three were making – that they refused to modernize [in ways that inventors have done time and time agian in their garages] – more a Republican-conservative idea – oh the betrayal!

    On the other hand the Democrats’ position – is that the Big Three have been too arrogant for too long – and they are actually holding up real progress – if you want us to bail you out – then we are going to have to see some electric cars, some hybrid/electrics and cars that are going to largely bypass the burning fossil fuels to run. The oil addicts should be getting really uncomfortable – but these are the same guys who are willing to let the car companies fail.

    Alternatively, by letting the car industry collapse – the Obama administration can then divert more funds to the smaller car industry – which are willing to produce the cars of the future – like the Tesla.

    Porsche (eRuf Model A) the first fully electric version of the car.

    Porsche (eRuf Model A) the first fully electric version of the car.

    This whole bailout/loan deal with the auto-industry will hinge on what kind of plan these automakers will come back with in two weeks – we can only hope that it will not be a plan to help the oil industry – but one with a view of the future – that will instead help themselves and the people who will be driving their cars. I’m all for the fully electric SUV. Who says we have to make them small – just energy efficient. Today the best car batteries can take us 200 miles/300 km on a single charge – tomorrow 400 miles/600 km on a single charge? We may end up having to charge our cars once a week – today it cost 2¢/mile to run – tomorrow it might 2¢/10 miles? If the present car industry isn’t willing to do it – perhaps we need an alternative car industry.   


    data

    No v. 21 (Bloomberg) — President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team is exploring a swift, prepackaged bankruptcy for automakers as a possible solution to the industry’s financial crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    A representative of Obama’s team has already contacted at least one bankruptcy-law firm to say that Daniel Tarullo, a professor at Georgetown University’s law school who heads Obama’s economic policy working group, would call to discuss the workings of a so-called prepack, according to this person.

    U.S. lawmakers yesterday delayed until December a vote on whether to give General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC a $25 billion bailout. GM today said it would idle production at four plants an extra week and return some corporate jets to conserve cash. Automakers could use a judge-supervised bankruptcy to reduce debt and reject expensive contracts.

    “It creates the environment to deal with GM’s problems but limits government financial commitment,” said bankruptcy lawyer Mark Bane of Ropes & Gray in New York.

    Bankruptcy is just one option being examined. Obama told CBS News’s “60 Minutes” on Nov. 16 that government aid to automakers might come in the form of a “bridge loan,” advanced if the industry could draw up plan to make itself “sustainable.” The president-elect earlier urged Congress to approve as much as $50 billion to save automakers, using the model of Chrysler’s bailout in 1979.

    Tarullo referred questions on a prepack to the transition team press office. Team spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said, “We have not put out anything specific for the auto industry except that something needs to be done immediately.”

    No Cash

    GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said it might run out of cash as early as the end of the year and that the risk was even greater by mid-2009. GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said this week GM would have to liquidate if it filed for bankruptcy.

    The automaker probably has weeks rather than months left before it runs out of money unless it gets federal aid, Jerome York, an adviser to billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and a former GM board member, told Bloomberg Television yesterday.

    In a prepackaged bankruptcy, an automaker would go into court with financing in hand after reaching agreement with lenders, workers and suppliers on what each would give up and on the business plan to be followed. The process might take six to 12 months, compared with two to five years if the automakers followed an ordinary Chapter 11 proceeding and worked out agreements under a judge’s supervision, Bane said.

    Government Financing

    Automakers would have to depend on government financing to restructure in bankruptcy court and probably couldn’t attract private loans until they were ready to emerge from the process, Bane said.

    Officials of the three automakers told members of Congress this week that they had studied a pre-arranged bankruptcy, championed by Republican lawmakers such as Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, before dismissing the idea as unworkable.

    Read more…

    s-obama-infomercial-large Backing Obama – with whatever he decides.

    All press reports on Hillary as Secretary of State are at the moment pre-mature.

    11-13-2008-12-44-08-am1

    First lady Laura Bush said today that Michelle Obama did not ask for advice when she visited the White House earlier this week with her two daughters.

    Instead they discussed closets.

    “We talked about is what any women would talk about as one is moving out of a home and somebody is moving in,” the First Lady told “Nightline.”

    The White House she noted, has great closets.

    Traveling to Panama for her last solo foreign trip as First Lady, Mrs. Bush gave her only television interview to “Nightline.” In a candid and wide-ranging interview to air Monday night she talked about a range of issues, including her meeting with Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Shasha.

    In fact, one of Mrs. Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara, accompanied Mrs. Bush on the trip and also agreed to a rare interview.

    “It was great,” said Barbara Bush of the Obama girls visit. “They’re really sweet and they’re excited, but they also have the same concerns that we had when we were 18 when our dad became President.

    “I mean, it’s a huge adjustment, and they’re not used to Secret Service, and they’re not — and they’re switching schools, and they have to make new friends. I mean, we felt… people feel like that regardless of how old they are. So it was really fun to get to meet them and to get to see them being excited about their move, and to get to talk to them about the same things that we had to deal with, regardless of age.”

    Barbara said she and her sister Jenna showed the Obama girls the bedrooms they occupied as first daughters.

    She and Mrs. Bush both said they imagined the Obama girls would select the same rooms that the Bush girls chose for themselves. They were the “obvious” children’s rooms, said Mrs. Bush.

    Asked what her advice to the Obama girls would be, Ms. Bush said, “I think my advice to them is just when they move, just make really good friends and surround themselves with people that will protect them because they love them, regardless.”

    “We were lucky” she contined. “We had great friends in Texas, and we were talking with them, and Malia has really good friends that are in fifth grade with her and at home, so they’re going to come visit her. I mean, they’ll be fine. They’re really cute, smart girls. ”

    Mrs. Bush reflected on her own children’s lives.

    “We really wanted Barbara and Jenna to be able to have a totally normal life, to not take advantage of the so-called podium that they might have, because we wanted them to get to be high school, college-age kids, which they were when we moved there,” she said.

    “So it’s, you know, it’s really a balance as you work through the whole idea of how your family can accommodate the publicity and the klieg lights that are on the President of the United States.”

    Mrs. Bush said if she was asked for advice she would urge anyone occupying the White House with children to ” err on the side of privacy for children. I think it lets children grow up and make childish mistakes, which, of course, they will out of the limelight. And I think that’s really the best.”

    Watch Cynthia McFadden’s interview with First Lady Laura Bush Monday on “Nightline” at 11:35 p.m. ET.

    11-11-2008-7-54-11-am1

     
    Source: ABC NEWS

    obama-clinton_1012811i1

    I was agnostic on the matter of Hillary Clinton’s possible appointment as secretary of state–until last night.

    If Barack Obama, the president-elect, wanted to pull a Team of Rivals play, that had seemed fine to me. And placing Clinton in Foggy Bottom would remove her from the dicey business of passing health care reform. Would it unite the party? Well, judging from the election results, the party is pretty darn united already. Despite the griping of a few Hillaryites at the Democratic convention, her voters certainly swung behind Obama in the general election (see Pennsylvania), after HRC and WJC campaigned for BHO in the fall. Unless an explicit deal was made between Obama and Hillary Clinton, it did not seem that Obama, after bypassing her for veep, had to appoint her anything for the party’s sake. Still, if Obama and his savvy band of advisers thought that handing her one of the best jobs in the Cabinet would generate political benefits they could use to advance their agenda, I, as a non-fan of Hillary Clinton, was willing to say, okay–for what that was worth.

    But then this happened: the presidential transition of no-drama Obama became infected by the never-ending soap opera of the Clintons. And it really is time to turn that program off. There are plenty of policy and political reasons for a progressive not to fancy Hillary. She served on the Wal-Mart board when the mega-firm was fighting unions; she screwed up health care reform for almost a generation; she voted wrong on the Iraq war and then refused to acknowledge she had erred. But, worst of all, as the cliché goes, with the Clintons, it always does seem to be about the Clintons.

    So we’ve had a week of will-she-or-won’t-she and what-about-him. Couldn’t this have been handled with a little more grace? Maybe not, since it involves the Clintons.

    I don’t know how the Obama camp approached the issue. But before Obama met last week with Hillary to talk about this, his team should have done a pre-vetting of Bill. And then Obama, at this meeting, ought to have said something like this to her:

      If you might be interested in the State position, there are a few issues that would come up concerning Bill. Let me run through a few. Would he be willing to release the names of his foundation’s donors, as well as those who contribute to his presidential library? Would he be willing to forego contributions and speaking fees from foreign governments, foreign heads of states, and major foreign companies that would have an interest in US foreign policy decisions? Would he be willing to discuss with my national security adviser his foreign travel plans and his foundation’s projects before they are announced and undertaken–and would he be willing to defer to us if we believe they are not appropriate or helpful at the time? I know that these are big things to ask. But given his global activity and standing, there’s not much choice. And if it’s a deal-breaker, I certainly would understand. But before you and I go down this road, we should make sure there are no major obstacles. Can you talk to him and get back to me in a day or two? And, to be helpful, Rahm has come up with a list….

    Hillary’s answer would have to have been either (a) of course, or (b) thank you for considering me, but I don’t believe this would be a good fit. Two days would pass, and then the drama–or at least this part of it–could be over.

    Today the news is that Bill will do what he can. AP is reporting:

      Former President Bill Clinton has offered several concessions to help Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his wife, become secretary of state, people familiar with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition vetting process said Wednesday.
      Clinton has agreed to release the names of several major donors to his charitable foundation and will submit future foundation activities and paid speeches to a strict ethics review, said Democrats knowledgeable about the discussions.
      They also said that Clinton would step away from day-to-day responsibility for his foundation while his wife serves and would alert the State Department to his speaking schedule and any new sources of income.

    Does that take care of it? Note the use of the word “several.” It’s hard not to see some sticking points arising about what is disclosed and when. The negotiations between the Obama camp and the Clinton team are supposedly proceeding smoothly. But why should there be negotiations? And could it end up with news reports saying Bill Clinton is willing to reveal X, but the Obama side wants him to release X plus Y? That is, more drama. According to AP, “One Clinton adviser noted that former President George H.W. Bush has given paid speeches and participated in international business ventures since his son, George W. Bush, has been president–without stirring public complaints or controversy about a possible conflict of interest.” This does raise the suspicion that the Clintonites might not agree to all the necessary limitations. And don’t they–or at least, this aide–understand there’s something of a difference between their case and that of the Bushes (though it was probably not appropriate for Daddy Bush to engage in that activity).

    Bottom-line: if HRC came fuss-free, then maybe there’d be no reason to kick up a fuss about her appointment. Yet that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.

    But there’s another issue to consider, one that has been overshadowed by the drama: if she runs the State Department in a fashion similar to how she managed her campaign, then the country will be in trouble. Her spinners went beyond the boundaries of fair and reasonable spinning. Her team was a snake pit of competitive aides. She did not master the art of refereeing internal disputes. She signed off on strategic blunders. Hers was not a steady hand.

    Perhaps that’s the better argument against her. Being secretary of state isn’t just about giving speeches and touring the world as a celebrity, it’s about managing (and now reviving) the creaky and beleaguered foreign policy apparatus of the United States. And Clinton’s résumé is not strong on that front.

    Source: Mother Jones

    Harvard Law

    Harvard Law

    By DAVID BROOKS

    Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

    The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law).

    This truly will be an administration that looks like America, or at least that slice of America that got double 800s on their SATs. Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes. If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.

    Already the culture of the Obama administration is coming into focus. Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists. They typically served in the Clinton administration and then, like Cincinnatus, retreated to the comforts of private life — that is, if Cincinnatus had worked at Goldman Sachs, Williams & Connolly or the Brookings Institution. So many of them send their kids to Georgetown Day School, the posh leftish private school in D.C. that they’ll be able to hold White House staff meetings in the carpool line.

    And yet as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition.

    The fact that they can already leak one big appointee per day is testimony to an awful lot of expert staff work. Unlike past Democratic administrations, they are not just handing out jobs to the hacks approved by the favored interest groups. They’re thinking holistically — there’s a nice balance of policy wonks, governors and legislators. They’re also thinking strategically. As Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute notes, it was smart to name Tom Daschle both the head of Health and Human Services and the health czar. Splitting those duties up, as Bill Clinton did, leads to all sorts of conflicts.

    Most of all, they are picking Washington insiders. Or to be more precise, they are picking the best of the Washington insiders.

    Obama seems to have dispensed with the romantic and failed notion that you need inexperienced “fresh faces” to change things. After all, it was L.B.J. who passed the Civil Rights Act. Moreover, because he is so young, Obama is not bringing along an insular coterie of lifelong aides who depend upon him for their well-being.

    Read on…

    New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was once seen as a good bet for secretary of state. Now, some are concerned that neither he nor any other Latino has yet been named to a high-ranking position in the Obama administration. AP

    New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was once seen as a good bet for secretary of state. Now, some are concerned that neither he nor any other Latino has yet been named to a high-ranking position in the Obama administration. AP

    As Hillary Rodham Clinton inches toward becoming secretary of state, Latino advocates are asking: Whither Bill Richardson?

    The New Mexico governor has been the best hope for a Latino to land a high-ranking post in the new administration. But Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador and energy secretary, appears to have lost out to Clinton — although he could land another Cabinet post, perhaps at Interior.

    Still, anxiety is running high among Latino leaders because Obama has yet to name a Latino to a top White House or Cabinet position. This is on the minds of senior transition officials — including Obama’s designated chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel — who are said to be considering Latino candidates for several Cabinet posts.

    “The Obama transition team and the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, understand the role that the Latino vote played in this election, and I think we will see representation in the Obama Cabinet and at the White House,” said Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza.

    Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), a member of the House Democratic leadership, said he has been forwarding the names of Latino candidates “for every type of position you can think of in the federal government, from Cabinet on down.”

    “We can remember the days when people said we had no applications, or there’s no one qualified,” Becerra said. “Everyone understands that the days of excuses are over.”

    Becerra, who’s been mentioned as a candidate for labor secretary, said he is “not looking” for an administration job.

    At least four Latino candidates are said to be under consideration to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; Adolfo Carrion Jr., a longtime New York pol, and Bronx borough president; Saul Ramirez Jr., a former deputy HUD secretary; and Nelson A. Diaz, who has been a judge and a HUD general counsel.

    As for Richardson, Murguia suggested he could serve as secretary of commerce or the interior. “Perhaps there’s an ambassador role to China,” she added.

    washington-post_logo

    BOSTON (Reuters) – Passions flared in a Maine town on Thursday over a sign in a store asking customers to place bets on an assassination of President-elect Barack Obama.

    The Town Council in Standish condemned the sign on Thursday in a 6-0 vote and declared it reprehensible at a meeting where some residents defended the store owner, saying he had a right to free speech even if in bad taste, local authorities said.

    “The town of Standish condemns in the strongest terms any such alleged activity calling for violence against any individual no matter their position, race or ethnicity,” said the resolution posted on the town’s website.

    The sign in the Oak Hill General Store asked customers to place a $1 bet on the date of Obama’s assassination, and said “Let’s hope someone wins,” the Portland Press Herald reported. It was called the “Osama Obama Shotgun Pool.”

    The store in the town of 9,285 people in southwest Maine has remained closed since reports of the sign appeared in the media on Sunday.

    About 80 people attended the meeting, including some who defended the store owner, said town clerk Mary Chapman.

    “There were folks on both sides of the issue,” Chapman said in a telephone interview. “People were passionate of their opinion but very respectful of others.”

    Obama’s historic election victory as the nation’s first black president has sparked racist incidents nationwide, according to groups that monitor hate crimes.

    Obama, an Illinois senator, won the November 4 presidential contest in Maine over Republic Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

    Source: Reuters

    Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has reduced the size of her presidential campaign debt to less than $7.5 million as of Nov. 1, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

    The documents show Clinton raised nearly $690,000 in October, a minor sum compared with the $218 million she amassed in her failed presidential bid.

    11-18-2008-2-39-59-pm

    Of the $7.5 million owed to vendors, nearly $5.4 million was to her former adviser and pollster, Mark Penn. Clinton owed vendors a high of $12 million at the end of June. That was the month she abandoned her presidential campaign and ceded the Democratic nomination to now President-elect Barack Obama.

    The amount she owes Penn has been her longest outstanding debt.

    She also lent herself nearly $13.2 million. Under federal law Clinton can only repay herself $250,000 with private donations. The report also showed that she had nearly $1 million cash on hand at the end of October.

    Obama is considering Clinton for secretary of state. As a Cabinet member Clinton would face fundraising restrictions to retire her vendor debt.

    A 2001 advisory opinion by the federal Office of Special Counsel said a federal employee who still had a campaign debt would be prohibited from “personally soliciting, accepting or receiving political contributions.”

    Clinton could name an agent from her campaign committee to continue to organize and hold fundraising events to retire the debt. Clinton would be limited to attending a fundraising event and simply stating her appreciation to donors.

    Source: AP

    11-20-2008-3-02-03-pm

    TIME

    Daschle appearing here at DNC - is looking forward to his job in the Obama administration.

    Daschle appearing here at DNC - is looking forward to his job in the Obama administration.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told CNN Thursday that he is excited about the possibility of heading Health and Human Services in an Obama administration where he would be a point person in helping to reform the nation’s healthcare system.

    Daschle, a close advisor to President-elect Barack Obama, is expected to be nominated for this Cabinet-level position if he passes the vetting process. His top priority as HHS secretary would be healthcare, one of Obama’s signature policy issues during the campaign.

    “I hope to have the plan enacted by next year, and then it will take several years to implement,” said Daschle, as he waited to board a plane in Washington, DC bound for Obama’s hometown of Chicago.

    When asked if the U.S., in this current economic climate, could afford to reform the healthcare system, Daschle said it is imperative.

    “We can’t afford not to do it,” he said. “If we do nothing, we’ll be paying twice as much on healthcare in 10 years as we do today.”

    Daschle served as Democratic leader in the Senate from 1995 until he lost reelection in 2004. Representing South Dakota, Daschle was first elected as a congressman in 1978 and served in the House until he was elected to the Senate in 1986.

    Daschle recently authored a book on healthcare titled “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.”

    Source: CNN PoliticalTicker

    Ayman al-Zawahri used the words of Malcolm X, right, against President-elect Barack Obama.

    Ayman al-Zawahri used the words of Malcolm X, right, against President-elect Barack Obama.

    WASHINGTON — In a propaganda salvo by Al Qaeda aimed at undercutting the enthusiasm of Muslims worldwide about the American election, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy condemned President-elect Barack Obama as a “house Negro” who would continue a campaign against Islam that Al Qaeda’s leaders said was begun by President Bush.

    Appealing to the “weak and oppressed” around the world, the Qaeda deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, said in a video released Wednesday that the “new face” of America only masked a “heart full of hate.”

    For years, the terrorist network sought to fuel anti-Americanism with prolific audio and video recordings vilifying President Bush as the leading American “crusader” against Muslim nations. The election of Mr. Obama, a black man who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia and whose father was from a Muslim family, has muddied Al Qaeda’s message.

    The Qaeda leader described the victory by Mr. Obama, who has called for a troop withdrawal from Iraq, as the American people’s “admission of defeat in Iraq.” But he warned Mr. Obama that the United States risked a reprise of the Soviet Union’s failures in Afghanistan if the president-elect followed through on pledges to deploy thousands more troops to Afghanistan to carry on the fight against Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies.

    And in a blunt personal attack on the incoming president, Mr. Zawahri painted Mr. Obama as a hypocrite and a traitor to his race, comparing him unfavorably with “honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s black Muslim leader.

    The Qaeda video, provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant Web sites, drew extensively on archival film of Malcolm X, and much of the message juxtaposes a still picture of Mr. Obama wearing a yarmulke during a visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem with a photo of Malcolm X kneeling in prayer at a mosque.

    The video shows Malcolm X speaking about the docile “house Negro,” who he said “always looked out for his master,” and the “field Negro,” who was abused by whites and was more rebellious. The video also insulted two prominent black diplomats, the former and current secretaries of state, Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

    “And in you and in Colin Powell, Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning ‘house Negroes’ are confirmed,” Mr. Zawahri said, according to an English-language transcript, which SITE says was provided by As-Sahab, a Qaeda media outlet that produced the video. In the original Arabic, according to SITE, the words used are “house slave.”

    The video by Mr. Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who has long been Al Qaeda’s second-ranking operative, contains no specific warning of an attack against the United States. But he tells his followers that America “continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it, in order for it to come to its senses.”

    American officials said they believed that the video was authentic.

    American antiterrorism officials and other experts dismissed the video as a desperate tactic by a terrorist group that suffered a defeat in the global war of ideas with Mr. Obama’s election.

    Read more….

    resumes An Obama transition official tells NBC News that they’ve received more than 200,000 work applications through the official transition web site, www.change.gov. since it went operational shortly after the election.

    The same official points out: “There was an incredible amout of enthusiasm in the campaign and people all across the country are carrying that same energy into the transition.”

    And they don’t seem terribly surprised by the influx of applications coming their way — pointing out, after all, that more than three million people donated money to the campaign.

    Still, that’s quite a stack of resumes.

    Source: NBC

    11-20-2008-11-04-41-am

    Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear programme, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog reported on Wednesday, deepening the dilemma facing US president-elect Barack Obama over his campaign promise to engage with Tehran.

    The latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency reveals that Iran is rapidly increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium, which could be rendered into weapons-grade material should Tehran decide to develop a nuclear device.

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    Iran: nuclear timeline +

    The agency says that, as of this month, Tehran had amassed 630kg of low enriched uranium hexafluoride, up from 480kg in late August. Analysts say Iran is enriching uranium at such a pace that, by early next year, it could reach break-out capacity – one step away from producing enough fissile material for a crude nuclear bomb.

    “They are moving forward, they are not making diplomatic overtures, they are accumulating low enriched uranium,” said Cliff Kupchan, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy in Washington. “These guys are committed to their nuclear programme: if we didn’t know that, they just told us again.”

    The IAEA report also says there has been a breakdown of communication between the agency and Iran over alleged research on an atomic weapon. “The Iranians are making good progress on enrichment but there is absolute stone-walling on past military activities,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s very disappointing.”

    Reaed it all

    qaedaobama_s_201108 By Walid Phares

    Watch Al-Aqaeda tape

    As observers were awaiting the release of the “official” al Qaeda position regarding the election of Barack Obama as the new President of the United States, seasoned experts on the Jihadist movement had little doubts as to the substance of the main message. As I have outlined in my appearances on Arabic television channels since November 4, Bin Laden or his second in command was expected to declare that their “Jihad” will continue despite the election of an African American President and despite Obama’s intention to withdraw from Iraq. Ayman Zawahiri did just that on Wednesday in his latest message to his supporters and his enemies: even if the war ends in Iraq, the global war will continue everywhere. […]

    Read complete version

    The al Qaeda’s number two had to address the election of a Black President of the United States because of the two massive changes this choice has brought to the Jihadist agenda: On the one hand, Obama is very popular in the eyes of international public opinion; on the other hand the President elect is planning on withdrawing from Iraq and pushing forward in Afghanistan. All this changes al Qaeda’s game. Zawahiri’s tape had to address these “challenges” as pressure was mounting among Jihadists to deal with this election. Hence, the main points presented by the audio message are as follows:

    1. The election of Obama is a defeat to the United States in Iraq and a victory to the Jihadists

    In his tape Zawahiri congratulates the Muslim world [..original message..]

    In al Qaeda’s lexicon it is crucial to demonstrate to their supporters that it is “their” actions (terror in Iraq) which convinced, if not intimidated, American voters into voting against McCain and electing Obama. Zawahiri wants al Qaeda to be credited for the behavior of America’s voting majority in the same way it took credit for the change in electoral direction that took place in Madrid after the March 11, 2004 attacks.

    2. A warning to Obama: Don’t send additional troops to Afghanistan

    Zawahiri then sends a warning to President elect Obama: [..original message..]

    If victory has been achieved by the Jihadists against the United States in Iraq by forcing the new Administration to pull out of that country, in Zawahiri’s mind, another defeat awaits America in Afghanistan according to al Qaeda’s latest message. The logic of endless Jihad seems to be that wherever American forces would be sent, the Jihadists will meet them for a fight until the US redeploys its contingents from around the world, back to “its borders” as previous al Qaeda messages have underlined.

    4. The same US aggression remains

    Concerned about the sympathy emerging from around the world and within the Muslim community regarding the new President, Zawahiri reminds his Islamist followers that “crimes have been committed and the mentality that produced them is still around.” He doesn’t want to see a shift in pubic opinion towards a “nicer” America. He says: [..original message..]

    Clearly, Zawahiri is trying to draw red lines for the acceptance of Obama by the Arab and Muslim world. This audiotape is probably the prelude to a campaign by the Jihaidists to minimize Obama’s emergence and classify him as just “another US President, with a different face.”

    5. You’re not real (Meaning not a real Christian)

    Then Zawahiri begins the Jihadi deconstruction of Obama’s image. He declares:

    “You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him). 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. And so you promised to back Israel, and you threatened to strike the tribal regions in Pakistan, and to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, in order for the crimes of the American Crusade in it to continue. And last Monday, your aircraft killed 40 Afghan Muslims at a wedding party in Kandahar. As for Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him), he was born to a black pastor killed by white bigots, but Allah favored him with guidance to Islam, and so he prided himself on his fraternity with the Muslims, and he condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation, and he spoke about the worldwide revolution against the Western power structure. That’s why it wasn’t strange that Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him) was killed, while you have climbed the rungs of the presidency to take over the leadership of the greatest criminal force in the history of mankind and the leadership of the most violent Crusade ever against the Muslims. And in you and in Colin Powell, Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning “House Negroes” are confirmed.”

    Zawahiri’s words are strong and are aimed at putting pressure on all those in the region who rushed to announce that Obama will radically change the “regime” in the United States. The number two of al Qaeda is painting the President elect as an opportunistic politician who used all three faiths to access power. One can see that Zawahiri is trying to achieve two goals: maintaining his own flock fully indoctrinated against Washington regardless of the change in the White House; and pressuring the radical clerics in the Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood circles – who are welcoming Obama’s victory – into retreat from such “apostasy.”

    Read whole analysis here

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    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:

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    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

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    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.

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    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

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    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

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    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

    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

    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…

    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!

    (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

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