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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bush Aides Rush to Enact a Safety Rule Obama Opposes

Source: The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department is racing to complete a new rule, strenuously opposed by President-elect Barack Obama, that would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job.

The rule, which has strong support from business groups, says that in assessing the risk from a particular substance, federal agencies should gather and analyze “industry-by-industry evidence” of employees’ exposure to it during their working lives. The proposal would, in many cases, add a step to the lengthy process of developing standards to protect workers’ health.

Public health officials and labor unions said the rule would delay needed protections for workers, resulting in additional deaths and illnesses.

With the economy tumbling and American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush has promised to cooperate with Mr. Obama to make the transition “as smooth as possible.” But that has not stopped his administration from trying, in its final days, to cement in place a diverse array of new regulations.

195 killed in Mumbai attacks

Smoke clears in Mumbai: 195 killed
MUMBAI (AFP) – Indian commandos on Saturday killed the last remaining gunmen in Mumbai's Taj hotel to end a devastating attack by Islamic militants on India's financial capital that left 195 dead, including 26 foreigners.

Shortly after dawn on the third day of the siege, heavy gunfire and loud explosions signalled the final commando offensive against the militants, who had held hundreds of security personnel at bay for 60 hours.

"All operations are over. All the terrorists have been killed," Mumbai police chief Hassan Gafoor said, as the special forces units emerged from the smoke-filled hotel and firemen moved in to douse a fierce blaze.

On Friday, elite troops had stormed a Mumbai Jewish centre and killed two gunmen -- but also found eight dead Israeli hostages, including a US-based rabbi and his wife, who were murdered as the commandos closed in.

Another luxury hotel that was attacked, the Oberoi/Trident, was declared clear of militants late Friday, with scores of trapped guests rescued and 32 bodies found.

"They were the kind of people with no remorse -- anybody and whomsoever came in front of them they fired at," an Indian commando said of the attackers.

Intelligence officials said they were "all well-built and at the peak of their health, aged between 24 and 30, and were heavily trained in military tactics."

Obama: India's 'great democracy' will triumph
Obama: Terrorists will not defeat India's democracy

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President-elect Barack Obama on Friday expressed sorrow for the victims of the attacks on Mumbai and said the militants who staged the assault would not defeat India's "great democracy" or the global coalition arrayed against them.

"Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the American citizens who lost their lives in the outrageous terrorist attacks in Mumbai," Obama said in a statement, following reports that a Virginia man and his daughter had been killed as well as a rabbi from New York.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and with all who have been touched by this terrible tragedy," Obama said.

"These terrorists who targeted innocent civilians will not defeat India's great democracy, nor shake the will of a global coalition to defeat them. The United States must stand with India and all nations and people who are committed to destroying terrorist networks, and defeating their hate-filled ideology."

In a phrase he has used repeatedly since his electoral victory on November 4, Obama said there was only "one president at a time," saying he was receiving regular updates from President George W. Bush's administration.

"I will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground in Mumbai, and am grateful for the cooperation of the Bush administration in keeping me and my staff updated.


I can't wait until these dinosaurs are extinct!

Summary: Discussing actions by individual protesters of Proposition 8, Newt Gingrich stated: "I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion." Click here to read more...


Kristol Calls On Bush To Pardon Torturers And Wiretappers, Reward Them With Medal Of Freedom»

In his new Weekly Standard column, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol lays out a to-do list for President Bush before he leaves office. He urges Bush to deliver speeches “reminding Americans of our successes fighting the war on terror.” Kristol dreams, “Over time, Bush might even get deserved credit for effective conduct of the war on terror.”
After urging Bush to fight the incoming administration’s desire to close Guantanamo, Kristol concludes with this:
One last thing: Bush should consider pardoning–and should at least be vociferously praising–everyone who served in good faith in the war on terror, but whose deeds may now be susceptible to demagogic or politically inspired prosecution by some seeking to score political points. The lawyers can work out if such general or specific preemptive pardons are possible; it may be that the best Bush can or should do is to warn publicly against any such harassment or prosecution. But the idea is this: The CIA agents who waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the NSA officials who listened in on phone calls from Pakistan, should not have to worry about legal bills or public defamation. In fact, Bush might want to give some of these public servants the Medal of Freedom at the same time he bestows the honor on Generals Petraeus and Odierno. They deserve it.
In the Bush era, the Medal of Freedom has come to absurdly represent a reward for those who carried out policy failures at the urging of the Bush administration. By this standard, the implementers of torture and warrantless wiretapping certainly qualify for such a medal.

"Been a fabulous experience to be president,"

Might have been fabulous experience for him, can't say it was a fabulous experience for the world community at large.
WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush is relishing the chance to see "the klieg lights shift somewhere else," although he admits he'll miss perks like White House cooking and flying on Air Force One.
"Frankly, I'm not going to miss the limelight all that much," Bush said in an intimate family conversation with his sister, Doro Bush Koch, about how he'll feel when he leaves the White House to make way for Barack Obama on Jan. 20.
"Been a fabulous experience to be president," Bush told Doro in the conversation recorded for the oral-history organization StoryCorps. But he said he'll be ready to go when the time comes

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dilusional Wanker"

Go-getters seek jobs in Obama administration

The transition team has received 290,000 applications, and that's not including all the calls, e-mails and Facebook exchanges inundating its staffers.
A Stimulus In His Own Image
Obama Memorabilia, Keeping Sales Aloft

Jill Biden: Untraditional, unapologetic

Jill Biden has long chartered an untraditional path for a career politician’ wife.
She has four degrees — a bachelor’s, two master’s and a doctorate. She raised three children and has five grandchildren. For 31 years she’s been married to a U.S. senator — although few of her students at a Delaware community college knew it — and she continued teaching English there four days a week while her husband campaigned for the vice presidency. She even did a little modeling in her 20s.
And now it appears Biden, 57, could become one of the nation's few second ladies to hold down a job while her husband occupies the office of the vice presidency.
Mary Doody, an English teacher at Delaware Technical and Community College who has worked with Biden for the 15 years she’s been on staff, said there is “no question” that Biden will continue teaching after completing the fall semester.”
“She’ll still teach in the spring, but hopefully somewhere near Washington,” added Doody, who said she’s discussed the issue with Biden. “And I know that she would definitely teach at a community college.”
Traditionally, second ladies stick to volunteer work and have had much lower profiles than first ladies. But the role has changed as the vice-presidential office has gained power during the past few administrations.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Obama Releases Thanksgiving Message (VIDEO)

Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect

Obama Transition Creates India Briefing Team

The Obama transition team has just set up a special team to interact with the State Department's Operations Center as well as the office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to an Obama aide. That information is then being filtered to President-elect Obama, who is getting regular updates at his residence here in Chicago. He is scheduled to be home all day Thursday celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends.
An Obama spokesman told reporters the president-elect had spoken by phone with both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen. LinkHere

Texas DA reveals evidence against Cheney

Hopes media won't 'let it die'
Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra spoke to two Texas television stations Wednesday night regarding his investigation of injustice within the prison systems which led to the indictment by a Texas grand jury of Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, along with other officials.

Cheney's stake in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies that run the detention centers, was cited in the indictment. Cheney is accused of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees through his ownership interest.

Gonzales is accused of using his position during his time as Attorney General to block an investigation into abuses at the detention centers, located in south Texas.

Democratic state Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. is also named in the indictment, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said. Lucio's attorney, Michael R. Cowen, called Guerra a "one-man circus." "In the March 2008 Democratic Primary," he added, "70 percent of the Willacy County voters elected to remove Juan Guerra...Now, with only a few weeks left in his term, Mr. Guerra has again chosen to misuse his position in an attempt to seek revenge on those who he sees as political enemies.

"Guerra told KVEO 23, an NBC affiliate in Texas, that "elected officials were embedded into the prison business and that it goes all the way to the top."

"Now that these indictments have seen the light of day, Guerra says, it's important they are not quashed," the station reported. LinkHere

Why Rachel Maddow is 'thankful' Bush administration is ending

What is it about the Bush administration that makes people so thankful it's ending? MSNBC's Rachel Maddow put together a list of Bush officials that have been indicted or resigned abruptly in order to recall "just how bad the bad old times have been." LinkHere

Lieberman Contributed to GOP Senate, House Candidates

By Paul KaneHere's a story of the Thanksgiving spirit, forgiving and forgetting senatorial style.When Democrats gathered last week to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a pair of senators-elect, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, stepped up to offer symbolically important speeches.Having ridden the wave of support for President-elect Barack Obama, Udall and Merkley spoke out in favor of the spirit of reconciliation and moving on from the campaign, in which Lieberman was one of the highest profile supporters of the Republican presidential ticket.But no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley's opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith's reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Lieberman's support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for the presidency was well known, punctuated by his nationally televised speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul criticizing Obama as not prepared to be president. His endorsement of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has served as the top Republican beside him at the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also was well known in Democratic circles.But not even Merkley knew of Lieberman's backing of Smith in their critical Senate race, until Capitol Briefing alerted his staff today.

" Halperin instructed Senator McCain to use Obama's middle name and "exotic" background to cast Obama as a Manchurian Candidate --

Bob Cesca: The Extreme and Imaginary Pro-Obama Bias
Mark Halperin, the useful monger of conventional wisdom and TIME magazine pundit, thinks there was an "extreme pro-Obama" media bias during the campaign. Ann Coulter,
coincidentally enough, is promoting a new book based upon the same theme. Halperin called the press coverage of Obama during the election a "disgusting failure." Well, then, a charge like this demands some investigation -- the kind of investigation that you probably won't find in Ann Coulter's book. Put another way: the truth. So let me see if I can smoke out this alleged "disgusting" and "extreme" pro-Obama bias.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Senators Pushing for Return of Equal-time Rules

Source: Reuters via Hollywood Reporter

The Fairness Doctrine, which forced broadcasters to offer equal time to both sides of controversial issues, was abolished in 1987, paving the way for talk radio to take the opinionated -- and popular -- form it has today.

Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and such influential Democratic senators as Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer are pushing for its return, or something like it. Could the equal-time provisions pull a Don Imus and make a radio comeback?

It could, industry insiders say. And the government-mandated programing restrictions that come with it could hobble an already struggling industry. Talk-radio hosts are unlikely to accept a new Fairness Doctrine without a fight, though. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are among those already railing against it daily.

By some estimates, conservatives on talk radio dominate liberals by a ratio of 10-to-1, hence the call by some liberals to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. But Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) inserted language into the Federal Communications Commission's current budget barring it from being reinstated this year.

White House emailing mayors to oppose greenhouse gas limits

Bush administration quietly works to torpedo global warming regulations
White House emailing mayors to oppose greenhouse gas limits, On his way out the door

President Bush seems to be taking one last shot at torpedoing court-ordered action to restrict global warming. Top Bush administration figures have been e-mailing sympathetic mayors and other allies encouraging them to oppose Environmental Protection Agency rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court last year ordered the EPA to craft a proposal to limit the emissions under the Clean Air Act, but the White House made clear it doesn't like the idea.

Obama, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News: A Look at Media in 2009

Obama "taking a back seat to no one"
Ask just about any public interest advocate concerned about the dismal state of media and journalism, and they will tell you that Obama's media policy platform is excellent: the beginning of what could be the most public interest friendly administration in presidential history. Part of this optimism stems from Obama's understanding that Internet and technology are the cornerstone of a 21st century economy and society. Another part comes from the competence and integrity of the media and telecom advisors working on his transition team. And another comes from his direct experience.
Obama-the-candidate commented several times that voters' false views of him -- that he's a Muslim, a socialist and unpatriotic -- were fed and spread by Fox News and their cohorts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham in the far-right media. Obama understands that they are the special sauce in Karl Rove's toxic recipe to discredit progressive policies and politicians, and divide Americans with wedge issues.
And Obama understands that pushing back against guys like Limbaugh - who this week blamed the president-elect for the financial crisis, calling it "Obama's recession" - requires a bold policy agenda that uses the Internet to pry media distribution monopolies away from the largest media companies. Though often underreported, Obama spoke frequently about his commitment to blocking further media consolidation, fostering more independent and diverse media, ensuring universal high-speed Internet access, and "taking a back seat to no one" in passing "Net Neutrality" laws to prevent Internet providers like Comcast and AT&T from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet. (click here for a look at Obama's important media reform pledges during his campaign).
Former mortgage lender execs under investigation into their stock trades.

Keith Olbermann, Candace Gingrich Discuss Prop 8 (VIDEO)

On his show last night Keith Olbermann spoke with Candace Gingrich, brother of outspoken conservative and "gay and secular fascism" fighter Newt. In a recent letter, Candace Gingrich responded to her relative's anti-gay rhetoric:
The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as -- and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past."


Richard Sanders, a justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, has never been one to shy from controversy or blunt language. And last week, as he sat at a Federalist Society dinner and listened to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Sanders reached his tipping point.
After listening to Mukasey defend the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies — its detainment practices at Guantánamo Bay, its interpretation of the Geneva Conventions' reach — Sanders stood and shouted "Tyrant! You are a tyrant!"
"Frankly, everybody in the room was applauding or sometimes laughing, and I thought, 'I've got to stand up and say something.' And I did," Sanders told The Seattle Times Tuesday. "I stood up and said, 'Tyrant,' then I sat down again, then I left."
It wasn't until the next morning — when he turned on the TV in his hotel room — that Sanders learned what happened after he departed: Mukasey, later in his speech, began slurring his words, slumped at the podium and passed out. He was taken to a hospital, where he was released the next day after getting a clean bill of health.
"I couldn't believe it," Sanders said of the news that Mukasey had fainted.
Mukasey's collapse occurred well after Sanders shouted at him, and the two events appear unrelated.

Noonan said the press is trying to "take Sarah Palin and make her, subliminally, the face of the Republican party"-- to the party's detriment

Obama Family's Thanksgiving Food Drive Visit

CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama and his wife took their daughters to work at a food bank on the day before Thanksgiving, saying they wanted to show the girls the meaning of the holiday, especially when so many people are struggling.
Ten-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha joined their parents to shake hands and give holiday wishes to hundreds of people who had been lined up for hours at the food bank on Chicago's south side.
Sasha wore a pink stocking hat over her pigtails and Malia had on a purple striped hat as the family handed out wrapped chickens to the needy in the chilly outdoor courtyard. Those seeking food on Wednesday at St. Columbanus also received boxes with potatoes, oranges, fresh bread, peanut butter, canned goods, oatmeal, spaghetti and coffee.
The president-elect, dressed casually in a leather jacket, black scarf and khaki pants, was in a jovial mood, calling out "happy thanksgiving" and telling everyone "you can call me Barack."
He told reporters that he wants the girls "to learn the importance of how fortunate they are, and to make sure they're giving back."
The soon-to-be first lady said the Obamas wanted to give their children "an understanding of what giving and Thanksgiving is all about."
The Obama family's activities in the courtyard quickly drew the attention of schoolchildren whose windows overlooked the courtyard. They put up a sign against the glass that read: "We love our prez" and screamed when the president-elect waved to them. LinkHere

"President Mikhail Saakashvili was itching to do battle and authorities mistook messages from the United States as encouragement to use force."

TBILISI, Georgia — Before this summer's Georgia-Russia war, President Mikhail Saakashvili was itching to do battle and authorities mistook messages from the United States as encouragement to use force, Georgia's former ambassador to Russia said Wednesday.
But Russia also takes a share of the blame because it was trying to inflame Saakashvili's itch, Erosi Kitsmarishvili says.
His statements at a news conference added new intensity to a growing debate about what and who bear the onus for staring the five-day war that saw Russia drive deep into Georgian territory, caused devastating damage to Georgia's military, and aggravated already troubled Russia-US relations.
Georgia launched a massive artillery barrage Aug. 7 on the capital of the separatist region of South Ossetia, which was backed by Moscow and patrolled by Russian peacekeeping forces. Russian forces poured into the region, drove Georgian forces out and went on to take control of substantial swaths of northern and western Georgia.
The war ended with Russian forces firmly in control of South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia. Moscow has recognized both regions as independent.

Work Gets Done by Federal Agencies Throughout the Ranks, Not Just the Top

Five Critical Foreign Policy Posts to Watch
With much of President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet still unnamed, it’s understandable that speculation should focus on who helms the different agencies. After all, running cabinet departments is a big job, and the personalities Obama has nominated so far — New York Fed President Timothy Geithner, for instance — are politically larger than life. So are those whom Obama is expected to name, like Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.
But all the focus on who will sit in Obama’s cabinet overlooks a basic fact of governance. Much, if not most, of the actual substance of policy — from its detailed conception to its experimentation to its implementation — doesn’t come from the heads of the federal agencies. It comes from deep in their guts.
This is particularly true for national security and foreign policy. When it comes to managing foreign relations and securing the country, the middle-to-upper-middle tiers of the Departments of State, Defense and Justice, along with the National Security Council staff and the intelligence community, are often critical posts. Those positions are policy laboratories and career boosters, offices where policy is refined and offices where policy gets killed by poor implementation or bureaucratic machination. As one Democratic foreign-policy expert recently put it, “These are your foreign-policy change agents.”
Not that it will — or even should — stop speculation on the composition of Obama’s cabinet, but here are five critical sub-cabinet positions that will play an outsize role in shaping Obama’s foreign policy. For the record, the Obama transition team declined to comment about who’ll fill these jobs. But those who do eventually will have a heavy burden to shoulder.

Barbara Walters Obama Interview On ABC

Obama: I Want To "Break Through The Isolation"

Barbara Walters interviewed President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama for a Barbara Walters Special to air Wednesday night at 10pm. The interview covered, among other things, a potential bailout of the auto industry, bonuses for bank executives, and Obama's negotiations to retain his BlackBerry. LinkHere

Obama Defends Cabinet: The Change Will Come From Me

Speaking to reporters for the third time in three days, Barack Obama was asked directly whether the staff choices he had made for his cabinet and advisory positions conflicted with his campaign message that the next president simply couldn't tap the same people for different posts.
Obama, who announced earlier that he was appointing former Fed Chairman Paul Volker to his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, took a bit of umbrage at the implication that staff assignments undermined the meme that defined his run for office.
"Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost," he said. "It comes from me. That's my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure then that my team is implementing [that vision]." LinkHere

We're very jealous. We loved your iPhone application,"

McCain camp lacked in high-tech
One of the major reasons Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign could not compete with the Obama-Biden Internet team was the high-tech community's enthusiasm for the Democratic nominee, advisers to the McCain campaign said Saturday. "Memo to self: next time get the co-founder of Facebook on your team," said McCain-Palin veteran Becki Donatelli. "The CEO of Google was in the Obama commercial. I mean, you don't get more out front than that."Speaking on a panel about the role of technology in the 2008 campaign, Donatelli said the McCain team had plans for using the Internet to reach voters, but ultimately lacked the resources and the personnel to put them into action. LinkHere

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama Says No Extra Help For Chicago Friends (VIDEO)

President-elect Barack Obama indicated Tuesday that his friends in Chicago and Springfield shouldn't expect special treatment for their debt-ridden governments. Obama made the remark while taking questions after his news conference announcing Peter Orszag as his budget director-designate.
After Obama said, "Where's Andy Shaw? We're going local here," ABC 7's Shaw asked the President-elect how his stimulus plan would benefit local governments and made specific reference to the street addresses of Chicago City Hall and the Springfield statehouse. "Hundreds of your friends are wondering what you're going to do because they're in desperate straights from the standpoints of their budgets," Shaw said.
After emphasizing the role local governments will have in his economic recovery plans, Obama quickly rebutted the political implications of Shaw's question: LinkHere

UBS U.S. clients with secret Swiss accounts to seek amnesty on tax evasion

Source: RTT News
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that U.S. cross-border investors of Swiss financial services firm UBS AG (UBS: News ) are seeking amnesty for evading income tax. The bank had helped about 20,000 U.S. customers evade income tax by concealing around $20 billion in assets from the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.

Reports suggest that UBS's cross-border investors are hiring tax lawyers and pursuing amnesty through an IRS voluntary disclosure program, fearing that the Swiss government would assist in the probe. Under the program, U.S. taxpayers can voluntarily acknowledge tax evasion and agree to pay taxes and penalties, in order to avoid criminal prosecution.

UBS stated on July 17 that it will cease providing cross-border private banking services to US-domiciled clients through its non-US regulated units. The company also said that it is fully cooperating with the investigation and working with all relevant authorities for a satisfactory resolution of the matter.

Meanwhile, the voluntary disclosure move is seen as a boon to IRS, as it could be impossible for the weakly staffed IRS to go after the nearly 20,000 customers. The move close on heels of the Swiss government having accelerated talks aimed at accessing data on the offshore accounts of U.S. taxpayers. LinkHere

Robert Redford Hits Last-Minute Bush Efforts To Ease Environmental Regulations

Americans Rejected 'Drill, Baby, Drill' -- Bush Should Respect Our Choice
The Bush Administration is engaged in a last-minute flurry of efforts to open up environmentally sensitive and protected wilderness in Utah to drilling for oil and gas. Renowned actor, director and environmental activist Robert Redford appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to denounce these final attempts to relax environmental regulations, an issue about which he recently blogged for the Huffington Post.


The structure of this bailout is an 'outrage':

Krugman: Citigroup Bailout Neessary, But Structured Outrageously
Citibank's "Sweet Deal" From Government

One economist who's not pleased with the way the bailout of Citigroup is structured is Nobel Prize winner, and Princeton economics professor, Paul Krugman. Krugman acknowledged that the bailout was necessary, but wrote on his blog that the structure of this bailout is an 'outrage':
A bailout was necessary -- but this bailout is an outrage: a lousy deal for the taxpayers, no accountability for management, and just to make things perfect, quite possibly inadequate, so that Citi will be back for more. LinkHere

Commerce Department: Economy Worse Than Expected

Obama Warned About Afghan Escalation: Out of Frying Pan, Into Fire?
Greg Mitchell, 11.24.2008
Few voices in the mainstream media have tackled the subject of the Afghanistan War. But now some commentators -- with impeccable pro-military credentials -- are starting to sound off on the dangers.
Andy Worthington, 11.24.2008
Salim Hamdan, who was convicted in a trial by Military Commission at Guantánamo during the summer for providing material support for terrorism, is to be flown out of Guantánamo on Monday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

WASHINGTON — America has never seen anything quite like this

Obama's unusual transition: Already a co-president
Obama announce his economics team

Dennis Blair To Be Director Of National Intelligence

Source: CBS NewsCBS News’ David Martin reports retired Admiral Denny Blair will be the next Director of National Intelligence. Blair was the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command during the Clinton administration. According to a New York Times profile, Blair brings “intimate experience with intelligence during a 34-year Navy career. A brainy retired four-star admiral whose jobs included commander of the United States Pacific Command, he is also an Asia expert who is considered adept at running sprawling organizations, seemingly a prerequisite for heading an office that is still grappling with the task of fusing 16 spy agencies.”
A Mexican scientist who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1995 will lead President-Elect Barack Obama's transition team's climate effort, according to a Latin American paper.Molina will lead the transition's team science and ecology effort, his assistant said. He "is going to be managing everything to do with science and ecology."Molina was a science and ecology adviser to Mexican President Felipe Calderon and teaches at the University of California-San Diego and the Scripps Oceanographic Institute."Since 2005, he has headed the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies on Energy and the Environment located in the Mexican capital," the Latin American Tribune added. He currently lives in Mexico City.

Candidate For RNC Chair Was Member Of Whites-Only Country Club

By Greg Sargent - November 24, 2008, 12:04PM
Now here's a good way for the GOP to make the case that it hasn't been reduced to a southern regional rump party that's held hostage by intolerant crackpots: Elect as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee a southerner who just resigned a longtime membership in a whites-only country club.
Katon Dawson, the South Carolina GOP chairman, announced his candidacy for RNC chair yesterday.
And guess what: Back in September, when Dawson was first quietly laying the groundwork for his RNC run, The State newspaper reported that he resigned his membership in the nearly 80-year-old Forest Lake Club. Members told the newspaper at the time that the club's deed has a whites-only restriction and has no black members.
Dawson claimed to the paper that he'd actually been working since August to change the club's admission practices after reading about them in the press. Nonetheless, his membership could become an issue in the RNC chair race.
After all, the paper says he was a member for 12 years, so it seems like a pretty fair question to ask whether he started working to change the club's rules this summer, and then resigned, in preparation for his RNC chair candidacy.
That seems like a particularly relevant question when you recall that the case some GOPers made against Obama over his ties to Reverend Wright was that his supposed silence in the face of Wright's rantings should raise questions about Obama's patriotism.
What's more, The State said that Dawson resigned the club after it became known that the paper was getting ready to report his membership.
Either way, it's hard to see how it sends a winning message for the GOP to pick as its chief strategist and public face someone who was a member of a club where the first African American president in history apparently need not apply. Ah, those good old Repubs. LinkHere

Daily Show Remixes Sarah Palin Hits (VIDEO)

Everyone else is polishing their Election 2008 collectibles, so why not The Daily Show? Today, the Comedy Central mainstay put together their essential mashup of remembrances of GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The montage is long on gaffes and fittingly documents one of the few times The Daily Show seemed to side with the media, as they attempted to engage her as a mature adult, capable of answering questions. What's missing, in my opinion, is more of Jon Stewart's eloquent defense of those people Palin constantly derided as not being "real" Americans. Still, I guess it's worth remembering: Sarah Palin made us laugh. Now for the bad news, montage makers -- I don't think she is done with us by a long shot. LinkHere

Obama's Replacement: Blagojevich Mulls Senate Pick

UPDATE 11/24 8:15 A.M.
Incoming White House senior advisor David Axelrod appeared on Fox Chicago Sunday and briefly discussed President-elect Obama's vacant Senate seat.
Obama has spoken with Gov. Blagojevich about the seat, Axelrod said, but did not offer a specific endorsement.
"There's a whole range of names that have surfaced," Axelrod said. "I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."
Asked if an African-American should be appointed, Axelrod echoed the now-common refrain that it "shouldn't be the only barometer or yardstick in this selection."
Axelrod also said that while Obama has an obvious personal interest in Illinois politics, he will not remain actively involved and "won't be a kingmaker or boss here in Illinois."
Full video of Axelrod's appearance is at Progress Illinois. LinkHere

Prominent Chicago businesswoman Desiree Rogers will be named the White House social secretary, according to a series of news reports. The 49-year-old Harvard MBA will be the first African-American to hold the post.
From the Washington Post:
Rogers, 49, is a friend of Michelle and President-elect Barack Obama's, and a leader in Chicago corporate and civic circles; her appointment signals that the first couple consider the job crucial to how they introduce themselves to the country and the globe. She was a major fundraiser for Obama.
"This appointment sends a strong message that the Obamas want to use the White House strategically, to maximize its use in a way that is consistent with their philosophy -- [to] open it to a broader range of people, " said Valerie Jarrett, an Obama intimate and friend of Rogers's who also will work in the White House. "Desirée is a heavy hitter -- she comes with her own range of contacts from around the country. She's close to Michelle and she knows everyone who will be working in the West Wing, so she will be able to create a synergy."
Rogers will join the White House from Allstate Financial, where she was creating a social network of clients and consumers. She was previously the president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.
From the Chicago Tribune: LinkHere

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Barack Obama is the change agent,"

Obama's cabinet -- change or Clinton era retreads?
In Washington, the president is easily the most powerful driver of policy, and it is usually the White House which dictates strategy.

"The change agent in the United States government first and foremost in the US government is the president of the United States," said David Rothkopf, author of a pioneering book on the US national security council.

"Barack Obama is the change agent," he said.

"The entire US policymaking apparatus is orientated towards the US president," Rothkopf said.

"He is the one that ultimately decides who has power, he is the one who decides which agency has the lead on which issues."

While Obama is tapping veterans, he is bringing Chicago confidants like David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett to Washington -- and his reported Treasury pick Tim Geithner is well known to the markets in New York.

Change seems assured, as Obama is already striking a sharp course away from the Bush administration, when he takes office in January.

He has vowed to end the "denial" of US policy on global warming and to close the Guantanamo Bay 'war on terror' camp in Cuba.

Obama's gestures to vanquished opponent John McCain and renegade Democrat Joseph Lieberman also suggest at least a hope for a change of tone in the US capital.

Obama Surprises Biden With Cupcakes (UPDATED WITH PICTURES)

Chicago-themed gifts: a White Sox cap, a Bears cap and a bucket of Garrett's popcorn, a hometown favorite
WASHINGTON -- What does an accomplished man of the world get for his 66th birthday?
Well, President-elect Barack Obama already gave Joe Biden the vice presidency. So, for his birthday, Obama gave Biden two ball caps and a rendition of the birthday song.
Biden's birthday is Thursday, but Obama surprised his No. 2 after their weekly lunch Wednesday at the transition office in Chicago. According to staff, Obama presented Biden _ a Delaware senator with decades of foreign policy experience _ with a dozen cupcakes decorated with candles and teased, "You're 12 years old!"
Staff reported that Biden, ever astute in the art of politics, laughed at the his boss's joke. He responded: "Maybe in dog years!"
Obama led the rest of the staff in song, then handed over some Chicago-themed gifts: a White Sox cap, a Bears cap and a bucket of Garrett's popcorn, a hometown favorite.

Answers weren't exactly provided.

A semi-repentant Joe Lieberman took to the set of "Meet the Press" on Sunday, tasked with explaining his conduct on the campaign trail, his attacks on Barack Obama, and his future in the Democratic Party.
Answers weren't exactly provided.
During the interview with Tom Brokaw, Lieberman downplayed some of the criticisms he lobbed during the heat of the election. But the Senator wouldn't actually explain which statements he regretted.
Asked to explain whether he truly thought Sarah Palin was more qualified than the now President-elect, Lieberman evaded the question.
Pressed on whether he thought he deserved to be punished by members of his own party, Lieberman insisted that now was not the time for retrospective political analysis.
"I do regret, as I said to the caucus and afterward publicly, there are some things I said during the heat of the campaign that I should have said more clearly and some things I shouldn't have said at all," declared the Connecticut Independent. "They stressed disapproval for some of the things I said. I accept that. That was the spirit of reconciliation. Now we move on together to get the nation's business done... We don't have the luxury of looking back. He is the winner, he is the President-elect."
It was act two in the rehabilitation of Joe Lieberman. The Senator spent the past year practicing a type of politicking that confounded and angered the Democratic party's leading figures, who had been promised by Lieberman that he would not let his McCain advocacy lead to sharp anti-Obama barbs.
The 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee was reminded that he had pledged not to go to the Republican convention and "spend his time attacking Barack Obama" -- only to question Obama's experience on the St. Paul stage.

Katrina Kids: Sickest Ever

Even before the storm, they were some of the country's neediest kids. Now, the children of Katrina who stayed longest in ramshackle government trailer parks in Baton Rouge are "the sickest I have ever seen in the U.S.," says Irwin Redlener, president of the Children's Health Fund and a professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. According to a new report by CHF and Mailman focusing on 261 displaced children, the well-being of the poorest Katrina kids has "declined to an alarming level" since the hurricane. Forty-one percent are anemic—twice the rate found in children in New York City homeless shelters, and more than twice the CDC's record rate for high-risk minorities. More than half the kids have mental-health problems. And 42 percent have respiratory infections and disorders that may be linked to formaldehyde and crowding in the trailers, the last of which FEMA finally closed in May. The "unending bureaucratic haggling" at federal and state levels over how to provide services and rebuild health centers for the Gulf's poor has made a bad situation much worse, says Redlener: "As awful as the initial response to Katrina looked on television, it's been dwarfed by the ineptitude and disorganization of the recovery."
Some kids may end up with permanent developmental and cognitive delays, but many can still be helped. The first step will be finding them. FEMA was supposed to provide Louisiana with contact information for the families that moved out of the trailers; it has not done so. The agency's case-management program also "has yet to provide any services for thousands of families," according to the report, and funding for the program expires in March. Redlener is optimistic that funds will be extended at least through mid-2010, since all that will require is "a stroke of the pen" from the new administration. But, he adds, he's "not Pollyanna-ish about how rapidly" the disaster-planning system will get its act together and come up with long-term plans for the impoverished families—or whether that will be accomplished in time "to make sure this doesn't happen again" with the next storm.

In the final analysis, the hard reality is that by not choosing retribution, he made you look...

Bob Cesca, 11.19.2008
I submit to you, Sen. Lieberman, that you were punished yesterday more than you realize. Stick with me on this. I'll explain: it never fully occurred to me how Obama would use his strengths in a position of leadership. Until this week.
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