Sunday, November 30, 2008

Atlanta Rapper Ludacris Campaigning For Jim Martin Monday

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It's a battle of the stars in Atlanta Monday as former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin stumps for Saxby Chambliss and three-time Grammy award winning rap artist Ludacris headlines a rally for Jim Martin.

Both Martin and Chambliss are trying to encourage their supporters to get out and vote in Tuesday's run-off election; an election that will determine who represents Georgia in the U.S. Senate for the next six years.

The Martin for Senate campaign announced that Jim Martin would spend December 1st campaigning throughout the state with Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson, state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, and other Georgia leaders before closing out the day with a "rally for change" with Ludacris on the steps of the State Capitol.

Republican Saxby Chambliss will spend Monday campaigning with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

When will Clinton Resign?

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With Hillary Clinton set to be named tomorrow (10:40 EST press conference) as Secretary of State, another Senate seat opens up. But when will that happen?

Her staff isn't saying, but [Lloyd] Bentsen is the most recent sitting senator to join the Cabinet, and a likely guide. The Senate Finance Committee met and voted the nomination out on Jan. 12. Bill Clinton was sworn in on Jan. 20, and the Senate briefly convened hours later to hear Bentsen's nomination, along with those of Les Aspin and Warren Christopher.

Only then did Bentsen resign. - Politico
See here for a discussion of who might replace Clinton, and here for a look at whether Bill Clinton might get the position.

63% Approve of Obama's performance

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Apparently the country is very happy with Obama right now. From Rasmussen:

Forty-two percent (42%) of the nation’s voters now Strongly Approve of the way Obama is performing his role as President-elect while 19% Strongly Disapprove. Those figures give Obama a +23 rating in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Approval Index, matching his highest rating yet (see trends). (The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve.)
...
Overall, 63% of voters somewhat or strongly approve of Obama’s performance so far while 34% disapprove.
Oh, and by the way:
14% of all voters Strongly Approve of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove. That gives the current President a -29 rating on the Presidential Approval Index.

Small Donor Myth?

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The LA Times blog is reporting on a study that states that Obama's small donor base is a myth. It's an interesting read, but in an election year that was unlike any other, it dismisses some key facts.

The basis for the claim comes from the notion that roughly one quarter of all Obama funds came from small donors (a small donor being defined as someone who gives $200 or less). The study points out that, by way of comparison, George W. Bush had the same amount of small donors in 2004.

Yet the study also points out that though an unusually high percentage (49%) of Obama's funds came in discrete contributions of $200 or less, and that only those with cumulative contributions totaling $200 or less for the entire cycle were included in the definition of small donors.

This is intellectually dishonest. Because in defining a small donor this way, it disregards the enthusiasm that people have for Barack Obama, and thus does not factor in the people who could only afford to give a small amount but did so repeatedly. This enthusiasm is the same thing that saw record voter turnout and participation by all demographics around the country in 2008.

A more accurate reading might have been to look at the small donors as defined in the report, but also to look at the number of donors who reached the maxed out limit without giving the total sum at one time.

So it this a legitimate finding or is it simply a press grab by the Campaign Finance Institute? You be the judge.

Sunday with the Senators: Senator Chris Matthews?

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We reported back in August on the Quinnipiac poll matching up Arlen Spector and Chris Matthews in the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate race. Also, on Friday, that Chris was really looking at it seriously. The LA Times is saying Chris has sat down with the appropriate parties, and HuffPost is saying it's a done deal, based on a 538 post.

According to Chris Matthews, it's not true.

Through a spokesperson, Matthews gave the following statement to Politico about the FiveThirtyEight report: "It is absolutely not true."
HHHMMMNNN.

The first inkling of a possible run was buried in the NY Times Magazine piece back in April. A lot has happened since then.

There are some reasons why Chris would want to run: he has a political pedigree. That is, he didn't get his start in journalism, he got it on the Hill. He really does love politics, and he is a proud Pennsylvanian, so running here would not make him a carpetbagger. He has family here, and his brother is an elected official in Montgomery County.

There are some reasons Chris would NOT want to run: likely, he'd be going up in the primary against Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell, the popular term-limited governor, potentially against Joe Hoeffel, who drew 42% of the vote against Arlen Spector in 2004, and possibly Allyson Schwartz, a popular Philadelphia-area Congresswoman. And those are just the people we know about, all of whom would be better known to the Pennsylvania electorate, and would likely poll higher in popularity.

One of the questions is who the Republican candidate will be. Arlen says he's running. While this should be taken as a "yes" on its face, there are two things. First, Arlen will be 80 in 2010, and his health is not good. If he's undergoing yet another round of chemo that year, it would make campaigning difficult. Second, over the years, Arlen has become more moderate. Wait, that's not fair, he hasn't personally become more moderate, the Republican Party has become more right wingnut.

In 2004, in the Republican primary, Arlen took on Pat Toomey, and Pat received 49% of the vote to Arlen's 51% -- the only close primary race in which Arlen was involved since his first run in 1980. If you don't know "Pat Toomey" but you do know "Rick Santorum", yes, you do know Pat.

So one of the questions for Chris, in his internal deliberations, will need to be whether he feels he is positioned for his first race against a known quantity (Arlen) or a potential opponent who is very far right. Chris, based on what I know about him, is more moderate than progressive (as Democrats go). To run as a Democrat, he has to be concerned not just with winning or losing, but recapturing a Republican seat, in a year when "60" will once again be the magic number.

Further, I can't think of someone who has run for office while doing two hours of TV hosting Monday through Friday. (I'm sure if I'm wrong, one of y'all will come up with the name.) In this environment, would MSNBC allow for that dual role? Probably not, first because it would seem unfair to have a nominee as a broadcaster, and secondly because there are probably not enough hours in the day to hold both jobs simultaneously. So the question becomes, does Chris want to give up his TV gig? Then again, if you read the Times article, that decision may be independent of whatever Chris may want.

So, we'll keep you posted. But in the interim:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

National Security Team to be Named Monday

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ABC News says it has confirmed the names for Monday's announcement:

Pending Senate confirmation, the President-elect's national security team will include: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who will serve as Secretary of State in his administration; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano who will be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; attorney Eric Holder, Attorney General; Retired Marine General Jim Jones, National Security Adviser; retired Adm. Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence; Susan Rice, Ambassador to the United Nations; and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will stay on in that role for at least a year. - ABC News
Note that Gates will not need to be reconfirmed by the Senate.

Inauguration travel advice

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The New York Times gives an overview of the lodging and travel situation:

Most downtown hotels are either sold out Jan. 20 or charging exorbitant prices and requiring at least three-night minimum stays. Rooms at Washington bed-and-breakfasts are going for $800 a night. And the suburbs are booking up fast.
...
There are about 95,000 hotel rooms in the Washington area, including Fairfax and Arlington, Va. A few were still showing availability in a recent search at Destination D.C.’s Web site, www.washington.org, but rooms weren’t cheap. The Kellogg Conference Hotel, located on the campus of Gallaudet University, listed rooms from $618.75 a night from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21. Starting rates at the Hilton Washington Embassy Row were listed from $949.
...
There’s also Craigslist.com, where entrepreneurial Washingtonians have begun to list their homes for rent. Concerned about scammers? Vacation rental sites like Homeaway.com and VRBO.com still have some availability for the inaugural week and offer a $5,000 guarantee if the listing does not exist or you are wrongfully denied access to a vacation rental property for your stay.

Georgia Senate Update

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The Martin-Chambliss runoff election is this Tuesday, three days away. The Pollster polls indicate that Chambliss is in the lead, 50.9% - 46.2%. R2k/Kos says 52% - 46%. Insider Adantage and internal Democratic polls have it down to 2 or 3 points, with Chambliss still in the lead.

Prior to the General, Chambliss had raised about 4 times the money of Martin, $12 million to $3 million, and that hasn't changed much in the past month. While we won't know the total amount donated until after the election, the FEC requires that large donations (over $1,000) are reported within 48 hours during the waning days of a runoff campaign. That data indicates that Chambliss has raised about $1.6 million to Martin's $462,000.

On the Martin side, Bill Clinton and Al Gore have been down to campaign, and Hillary Clinton threw a fundraiser in New York for Jim Martin. On the Chambliss side, the big name is Spunky Sarah Palin.

The question is, can Martin pull it out? As Andre posted, the early vote numbers are very low compared to turnout for the General, and blacks are voting in lower numbers and percents than whites both in raw numbers, and in comparison to the General.

Under the radar, more than 200 Obama field operatives are in Georgia working to get out the vote on election day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Obama statement on India attacks

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

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.

There is one president at a time. 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. We fully support the Bush Administration's efforts to protect American citizens and assist the government of India during this tragic time," said President-elect Obama.

Tom Davis resigns

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Rep. Tom Davis resigned from Congress on Monday. Davis considered, but then decided not to run for the Senate seat just won by Mark Warner. Then he announced in January that he wouldn't be running for re-election this year.

The seat will remain vacant until filled by Democrat Gerry Connolly when the new term starts in January.

Preview of the Inauguration Site

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On Wednesday I had a chance to walk over to the U.S. Capitol and take photos of the grounds. As you'll see, the podium is still being constructed - and the areas that are said to be ticketed span quite farther than they have in the past.


There are a good assortment of views here, including the view from First Street and Third Street (both of which are said to be tickets areas). You can click here to get an idea of what Barack Obama's view will be like from the podium. There are lots of photos on staging and construction - for the full album, click here.


Wednesday was also the day that grounds workers were putting up the Capitol Christmas Tree.

Jim Martin Unveils New Ad Criticizing Chambliss' Votes On Veterans Affairs

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Jim Martin’s campaign released a new ad focused on the importance of taking care of our nation’s veterans.

While Saxby Chambliss has voted against increasing veterans’ healthcare and voted to stop the new G.I. Bill, Jim Martin knows the importance of serving our nation’s veterans because of his time serving our country. Chambliss, a member of the Armed Services Committees, missed an important hearing on military strategy the week before troops were sent to war in Iraq while he was vacationing on the special interest dime in Boca Raton, Florida and raising money from these same special interests.



"Answered"


"Georgia needs a leader who will fight for our men and women in uniform, not a politician who votes against critical funding for our veterans," Martin for Senate spokesperson Kate Hansen said. "Georgians know that we must show our gratitude to our veterans in actions as well as words, but all Saxby Chambliss has given our men and women in uniform is empty rhetoric. As a veteran, Jim Martin knows firsthand the importance of caring for our men and women in uniform and he will work with Barack Obama in Washington to ensure we fully honor our veterans."

Less Than 10% of Georgians Voted Early for the December Run-off Election

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As of the last day of advanced voting for the December 2nd run-off election, 345,564 Georgians cast their ballots early. That represents a nearly thirty point drop between the number of people who voted early for the November General Election and the people voting early for the next Tuesday's run-off.

According to data provided by the Georgia Secretary of State, 4.5% of the state's registered black voters voted early. In comparison, early voting for the November General Election saw 42.8% of Georgia's black voters casting early ballots representing 35% of the total number of early votes.

Below is the demographic breakdown of Georgia's early voters (To see a similar chart for the November election, click here):

Number of
Registered Voters
Number of
Early Votes Cast
Percentage of
Early Votes Cast
Voter Turnout
(Percentage)
Black Female
1,001,462
47,491
13.7%
4.7%
Black Male
720,257
30,360
8.8%
4.2%
Black Vote (Total)
1,721,719
77,851
22.5%
4.5%


Number of
Registered Voters
Number of
Early Votes Cast
Percentage of
Early Votes Cast
Voter Turnout
(Percentage)
White Female
1,909,093
130,883
37.9%
6.9%
White Male
1,703,473
126,944
36.7%
7.5%
White Vote (Total)
3,612,556
257,827
74.6%
7.1%


Number of
Registered Voters
Number of
Early Votes Cast
Percentage of
Early Votes Cast
Voter Turnout
(Percentage)
Asian/Pacific Islander
Female
35,722
683
0.2%
1.9%
Asian/Pacific Islander
Male
33,010
522
0.2%
1.6%
Asian/Pacific Islander
(Total)
68,732
1,205
0.3%
1.8%


Number of
Registered Voters
Number of
Early Votes Cast
Percentage of
Early Votes Cast
Voter Turnout
(Percentage)
Hispanic/Latino
Female
43,509
589
0.2%
1.4%
Hispanic/Latino
Male
38,253
528
0.2%
1.4%
Hispanic/Latino
(Total)
81,762
1,117
0.3%
1.4%


Number of
Registered Voters
Number of
Early Votes Cast
Percentage of
Early Votes Cast
Voter Turnout
(Percentage)
Native American
Female
636
16
0.005%
2.5%
Native American
Male
502
16
0.005%
3.2%
Native American
(Total)
1,138
32
0.009%
2.8%


Number of
Registered Voters
Number of
Early Votes Cast
Percentage of
Early Votes Cast
Voter Turnout
(Percentage)
Other
272,218
7,532
2.2%
2.8%


Number of
Registered Voters
Number of
Early Votes Cast
Percentage of
Early Votes Cast
Voter Turnout
(Percentage)
Statewide
5,758,135
345,564
100%
6.0%
Female
(Statewide)
2,990,422
179,662
52.0%
6.0%
Male
(Statewide)
2,495,495
158,370
45.8%
6.3%

Black Friday

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The other morning, there was the Black Friday shopping poll. It appears that most of you don’t partake, either because you hate shopping or crowds, or you only shop on-line.

Me, I’ve been a long time Black Friday shopper, albeit not in the way most people think about it. This year, though, I’m not really shopping on Black Friday. And it’s all political and economic. (Surprise)

In general, Black Friday is a great time to shop for toys, and I buy a lot of toys. Also gloves, scarves, hats, coast, aspirin, and those mixed gifts of teas, coffees, jams and candies. Highly impersonal things. None of which end up with anyone I know personally. It all goes to the drives for people who need these things – Toys for Tots, the local Senior Center drive, those trees at the mall where you can pull a tag and fill a wish.

My adult friends and family know that for holiday presents they get little notes saying things like “I took the money that would have gone for a present for you and instead, sponsored in your name….” I do this because I don’t personally know people who need things. I do have friends who are having a harder time this year than last, but we all are lucky enough to have roofs over our heads, and food in our pantries, and therefore, my money goes to people who are cold and hungry and joyless.
Read more...

The thing about this that relates to politics and the economy is some of the code that President-elect Obama has been using in his economic pressers this week. He has alluded to the sacrifices people will be making, and how things will be changing. He says it in relation to both economics and medical care. It’s subtle, but I’m pretty sure I can see where it’s going.

Years ago, banks used to have something called Christmas Clubs. You would put a dollar, or five, in a savings account every week. You got it back in one lump sum in early December. They did away with the clubs a while ago, but I kept putting a few dollars in a jar every week, and that’s my Black Friday money. It doesn’t sound like much, but you’d be amazed what you can do with $250 and a bunch of good sales. Last December, I lucked into 150 pairs of gloves for $100.

The point is, it’s current money. It’s not HELOC money, nor any other form of debt.

And that’s one of the things our economy is going to require of us. To use current funds, to save for things, While the $800 billion released earlier this week by the Fed will help with the availability of mortgages, car loans and tuition, it will no longer be a case of “I want it, I can have it.” The oversight that everyone wants will not just be for executive salaries and an end to front-end loaded derivatives, but also to the availability of funds for those “regular folks” who look at borrowing.

This is likely not going to play well with most political views, because most people like “ideals” but hate any implementation which involves them directly.

The first example is that of a home mortgage. “Back when” getting a mortgage meant filling out a stack of paperwork which documented one’s income, debts, assets, and sometimes included references. The information was reviewed by a banker, or a board at the bank, and the mortgage was granted if the amount of the monthly payments came out to less than 30% of income and the person/couple was putting down 20%. (The percentages might have varied depending on certain local customs, but not by much.) The idea was that one shouldn’t have more house than one could afford.

By insisting in the 20% down, it was close to impossible that the value of the mortgage would ever be more than the value of the house. It was a HOME, not an investment.

For more than a decade, that hasn’t been the case. While people may argue whether the fault of the mortgage crisis was due to the people who pushed no-doc mortgages, or the people who took them out, the point is, by not requiring downpayments, any loss to the house value made the mortgage upside-down. That is, the economic dependence on housing only worked so long as people lived temporarily in housing and then traded up, made possible by “values” which kept rising.

The government shares some culpability in this due to the fact that the tax code allows for an interest deduction for mortgage interest. In fact, for most Americans, the difference between whether one can itemize or not is a function of whether one has a mortgage. No mortgage, and it’s standard deduction for you. Be able to itemize, and all of a sudden the ability exists to write off all sorts of other things which, by themselves, won’t cross the threshold.

As a political and economic reality, to “right” the housing market means that either the cost of housing needs to fall to where more people can afford a median-priced house on a median income, or there will be a gap of many years where people need to save substantial amounts of money to put a downpayment on a house.

But the other reality is that the economy needs more people in new houses (new to them, not necessarily new stock) because that is the driving force for the purchase of new appliances, furniture, fixtures, paint, curtains, etc. to furnish the new house. But this time, those purchases will need to occur with current money, or the fundamentals of the economic meltdown will still exist.

So what to do? It may be that the tax code is altered to support saving and not borrowing. It may mean certain above-the-line deductions. (For those of you who are not American, you can deduct from net income certain deductions granted without having to itemize. This lowers the net income one actually pays taxes on.) These deductions could be for things like savings, but also green improvements to one’s current home, interest on car loans to encourage car purchases, interest on credit cards to help people get them paid off more quickly, or any other behaviour the government wishes to encourage.

And as for cars: for a long time, Americans have liked to buy (in general) all the car they could afford. To allow people to have more car than they could afford, the idea of a lease was hatched. A car lease is like a 36 month car loan. One pays less per month than he would to buy the car, and at the end of the lease the lessee would either pay off the remaining value and keep the car, or return it.

In the next economy, it may be that people go back to only buying cars that are affordable. When I was in high school, these were called “beaters”.

To get our economy back on track, are you willing to give up anything? Will people IN GENERAL be willing to live within their means? Will the far left demand that the government provide all that the left believes it is entitled to? Will the far right populists?

Remember that the value of America, of the world, has shrunk by trillions in the past several months. The argument can be made that “the value” was always imaginary, but still, people believed their homes, retirement accounts, stocks, etc, were worth a certain amount, and now they aren’t. With the monies that are left, do we fund national health care? Better schools? Use everything as seed money? Do we take easy fixes, or stick to the values necessary to build an economy on a strong foundation independent of political expediency?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Leftovers

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  • In Minnesota, the state canvassing board on Wednesday denied a Franken request that it review absentee ballots rejected for technical reasons by local elections officials.
  • President-elect Barack Obama is already making presidential history by naming -- or at least his transition team is leaking to the press -- his Cabinet picks faster than nearly all of his predecessors. - CNN
  • The transition team has now received 290,000 applications for jobs
  • Bands in the inaugural parade are finding it really hard to find hotels
  • Counting across the country continues, and Obama is now at 69 million votes, and leads McCain by 9 million, up from 7 million on election night.
  • The White House accidentally sent out Christmas-themed Hanukkah cards
  • Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki of Nevada, a possible opponent of Harry Reid in 2010, will likely be indicted.
  • Chris Matthews continues to look at a Senate run
  • Gwen Ifil has talked to NBC about hosting Meet the Press

Obama-Biden Thanksgiving Guidance and Early Radio Address Release

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Good morning.

Nearly 150 years ago, in one of the darkest years of our nation’s history, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving. America was split by Civil War. But Lincoln said in his first Thanksgiving decree that difficult times made it even more appropriate for our blessings to be – and I quote – “gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”

This week, the American people came together with families and friends to carry on this distinctly American tradition. We gave thanks for loved ones and for our lasting pride in our communities and our country. We took comfort in good memories while looking forward to the promise of change.

But this Thanksgiving also takes place at a time of great trial for our people.

Across the country, there were empty seats at the table, as brave Americans continue to serve in harm’s way from the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of Iraq. We honor and give thanks for their sacrifice, and stand by the families who endure their absence with such dignity and resolve.

At home, we face an economic crisis of historic proportions. More and more Americans are worried about losing a job or making their mortgage payment. Workers are wondering if next month’s paycheck will pay next month’s bills. Retirees are watching their savings disappear, and students are struggling with the cost of tuition.

It’s going to take bold and immediate action to confront this crisis. That’s why I’m committed to forging a new beginning from the moment I take office as President of the United States. Earlier this week, I announced my economic team. This talented and dedicated group is already hard at work crafting an Economic Recovery Plan that will create or save 2.5 million new jobs, while making the investments we need to fuel long-term economic growth and stability.

But this Thanksgiving, we are reminded that the renewal of our economy won’t come from policies and plans alone – it will take the hard work, innovation, service, and strength of the American people.

I have seen this strength firsthand over many months – in workers who are ready to power new industries, and farmers and scientists who can tap new sources of energy; in teachers who stay late after school, and parents who put in that extra hour reading to their kids; in young Americans enlisting in a time of war, seniors who volunteer their time, and service programs that bring hope to the hopeless.

It is a testament to our national character that so many Americans took time out this Thanksgiving to help feed the hungry and care for the needy. On Wednesday, I visited a food bank at Saint Columbanus Parish in Chicago. There – as in so many communities across America – folks pitched in time and resources to give a lift to their neighbors in need. It is this spirit that binds us together as one American family – the belief that we rise and fall as one people; that we want that American Dream not just for ourselves, but for each other.

That’s the spirit we must summon as we make a new beginning for our nation. Times are tough. There are difficult months ahead. But we can renew our nation the same way that we have in the many years since Lincoln’s first Thanksgiving: by coming together to overcome adversity; by reaching for – and working for – new horizons of opportunity for all Americans.

So this weekend – with one heart, and one voice, the American people can give thanks that a new and brighter day is yet to come.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thanksgiving Menu

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Free-Range Roast Turkey
Cornbread Dressing
Cranberry Sauce
Sautéed Green Beans
Morelia Style Gazpacho with Spinach Salad
Zucchini Gratin
Whipped Maple Sweet Potatoes
Buttered Mashed Potatoes
Giblet Gravy
Fresh Clover Rolls with Honey Butter
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Topping
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Mousse Trifle
Fresh Fruit Platter - Chicago Sun Times

While most of us enjoy our turkey and fixin's tomorrow, lets not forget, as the Obama family reminded us today, that there are many going hungry this Thanksgiving.

And one thing we can all be thankful for is that next year at Camp David, the menu above will be enjoyed by a Democrat.

From everyone here at DemConWatch, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Terrorist Attack in Mumbai

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From the Transition Team:

"President-Elect Obama strongly condemns today's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and his thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of India. These coordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism. The United States must continue to strengthen our partnerships with India and nations around the world to root out and destroy terrorist networks. We stand with the people of India, whose democracy will prove far more resilient than the hateful ideology that led to these attacks,” said Brooke Anderson, Chief National Security Spokesperson.

Mumbai (Bombay) is on the west coast of India.

Update:
This evening, President-elect Obama called Secretary of State Rice to get an update and status report on the situation in Mumbai. President-elect Obama then called Indian Ambassador Sen and conveyed that his thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragic situation. He said that there is just one president at a time. He also told him that he is monitoring the situation and has been in communication with Secretary Rice.

President-Elect Obama Names Two New White House Staff Members

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WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama today announced two new members of the White House staff. Jonathan Favreau will serve as Director of Speechwriting, and Cecilia Muñoz will serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

“We’re continuing to build a White House team that can rise to the challenges facing this country – and I couldn’t be more excited to announce Jon and Cecilia. I’m confident that at a critical time in our history, this White House will restore openness and accountability to our Executive Branch and help to put government back in the hands of the people it serves.”

Jonathan Favreau, Director of Speechwriting
Jon Favreau served as Director of Speechwriting during the 2008 presidential campaign. He has worked for President-elect Obama since February 2005, when he joined Obama’s United States Senate office as Speechwriter. Previously, Favreau served as Deputy Director of Speechwriting on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. A resident of North Reading, Massachusetts, Favreau received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the College of the Holy Cross in 2003.

Cecilia Muñoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Cecilia Muñoz currently serves as Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), where she supervises all legislative and advocacy activities conducted by NCLR policy staff. Muñoz is the Chair of the Board of Center for Community Change, and serves on the U.S. Programs Board of the Open Society Institute and the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Philanthropies. She is the daughter of immigrants from Bolivia and was born in Detroit, Michigan. In June 2000, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in recognition of her work on immigration and civil rights.
In case you're wondering... no it's not that Jon Favreau.

Schadenfreude

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n. Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.
That although we didn't think it would be possible to silence Ann Coulter, the leggy reactionary broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut - NY Post

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner Ann.

Remarks of President-elect Obama: Economic Recovery Advisory Board Announcement

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Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Economic Recovery Advisory Board
November 26, 2008
Chicago, Illinois


Good morning.

It has become increasingly clear in recent months that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions. At this defining moment for our nation, the old ways of thinking and acting just won’t do. We are called to seek fresh thinking and bold new ideas from the leading minds across America. And as we chart a course to economic recovery, we must ensure that our government – your government – is held accountable for delivering results.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the formation of a new institution to help our economic team accomplish these goals: the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. This Board is modeled on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board created by President Eisenhower to provide rigorous analysis and vigorous oversight of our intelligence community by individuals outside of government – individuals who would be candid and unsparing in their assessment. This new board will perform a similar function for my Administration as we formulate our economic policy.

The Board will be composed of distinguished individuals from diverse backgrounds outside of government – from business, labor, academia and other areas – who will bring to bear their wisdom and expertise on the formulation, implementation and evaluation of my Administration’s economic recovery plan. The Board will report regularly to me, Vice President-Elect Biden and our economic team as we seek to jump-start economic growth, create jobs, raise wages, address our housing crisis and stabilize our financial markets.

The reality is that sometimes policymaking in Washington can become too insular. The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking – and those who serve in Washington don’t always have a ground-level sense of which programs and policies are working for people, and which aren’t. This board will provide that perspective to me and my Administration, with an infusion of ideas from across the country and from all sectors of our economy – input that will be informed by members’ first-hand observations of how our efforts are impacting the daily lives of our families.

I’m pleased to announce that this Board will be chaired by one of the world’s foremost economic policy experts, a former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and one of my most trusted advisors, Paul Volcker.

Paul has been by my side throughout this campaign, providing a deep understanding of financial markets, extensive experience managing economic crises, and keen insight into the global nature of this particular crisis. Paul has served under both Republicans and Democrats and is held in the highest esteem for his sound and independent judgment. He has a long and distinguished record of service to our nation, and I am pleased that he has answered the call to serve once again.

I am also happy to announce that Austan Goolsbee, another one of my key economic advisors, has agreed to serve as Staff Director and Chief Economist of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board and act as the primary liaison between the Board and the Administration. I also plan to nominate Austan to serve as one of the three members of my Council of Economic Advisers.

Austan is one of America’s most promising economic minds, known for his path-breaking work on tax policy and industrial organization. He is one of the economic thinkers who has most shaped my own thinking on economic matters, and I look forward to continuing our close collaboration in the White House.

I plan to announce the remaining members of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board in the coming weeks, and I look forward to their contributions to our urgent work to rebuild our economy and restore prosperity across America.

Thank you, and I’m now happy to take questions.

President-Elect Obama Announces the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board

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From the Transition Team:

CHICAGO – Today, President-Elect Barack Obama announced the establishment of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Modeled on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to provide an independent voice on intelligence issues, the new Economic Recovery Advisory Board will be charged with offering independent, nonpartisan information, analysis and advice to the President as he formulates and implements his plans for economic recovery. The Economic Recovery Advisory Board will provide regular briefings to the President, Vice-President and their economic team. The Board will be established initially for a two-year term, after which the President will make a determination on whether to continue its existence based on its continued necessity.

"At this defining moment for our nation, the old ways of thinking and acting just won’t do. They call for us to seek fresh thinking and bold new ideas from the leading minds across America. And they demand that as we chart a course to economic recovery, we ensure that our government – your government – is held accountable for delivering results. Today, I’m pleased to announce the formation of a new institution to help our economic team accomplish these goals," said President-elect Barack Obama.

Paul Volcker, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979-87, will serve as Chair of the Board. Volcker is one of the world’s foremost economic policy practitioners with vast experience in managing economic crises. He will bring a deep understanding of financial markets and the global nature of this economic crisis to bear in leading the Board’s work. Austan Goolsbee will serve as Staff Director and Chief Economist of the Recovery Advisory Board and act as the primary liaison between the Board and the Administration. The President is also nominating Goolsbee to be one of the three Members of his Council of Economic Advisers.

Members of the Board will be drawn from among distinguished citizens outside the government who are qualified on the basis of achievement, experience, independence, and integrity. The Board will bring a diverse set of perspectives and voices from different parts of the country and different sectors of the economy to bear in the formulation and evaluation of economic policy. Additional members will be announced in the future.

The Board will meet regularly and provide advice directly to the President on the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs to jump-start economic growth, create jobs, raise wages and living standards, address the housing crisis and stabilize financial markets. The Board will also focus on how the response to the short-run economic crisis is laying the groundwork for the reforms necessary for longer-run prosperity.

The economic appointees announced today:

Paul Volcker, Chair of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Paul Volcker has served under five presidents of both parties in a life committed to public service. He was chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System from 1979 to 1987. Prior to that he served as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Undersecretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs. He is professor emeritus of international economic policy at Princeton University and has served as chairman of the board of trustees of the International Accounting Standards Committee and of the Independent Inquiry Committee for the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program and Chairman of the Board of the Group of Thirty.

Austan Goolsbee, Staff Director and Chief Economist of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board & Member of the Council of Economic Advisers

Austan Goolsbee is the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business where he has taught since 1995. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the American Bar Foundation. Goolsbee, a Fulbright Scholar and Sloan Fellow, co-directs the Chicago Booth Initiative on Global Markets and formerly served as lead editor for the Journal of Law and Economics. He has been a key economic adviser to the President-elect since 2004.

Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes Talks About the Economy

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From change.gov:

Convention computer equipment donated to local schools

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GOLDEN - The job of Jan Strand is to make sure all the technology is working at Golden High School. The building and grounds may be new, but the computers are not.
Advertisement

"Our server right now is very old, the teachers didn't have enough space," said Strand, technology coordinator for Golden High School.

The building was opened this year - a product of a 2004 bond issue. It is equipped with high-end infrastructure and wiring, but Strand does not have the computer equipment to fully utilize it.

Soon, that may all change.

Cisco Systems provided about $5 million worth of computer equipment and hardware for the Democratic National Convention. After tearing down the DNC, Cisco promised to donate it all to local schools. Strand just found out Golden High School will be getting about $150,000 in servers, switchers, routers, phones and services to maintain their new gear.

"I had no idea," said Strand when we told her the news. "Oh my gosh, would you like to get a shot of me doing a cartwheel?" - 9News
Even though the convention is over, things are gearing up for 2012. Matt started DemConWatch in 2005 when Howard Dean announced the 2008 convention would be in late August. We're already hearing news about 2012. Stay tuned and see you in (insert 2012 convention city here).

You Heard It Here First...

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A couple months ago, in an article relating Hank Paulson to John Erlichman, I was talking about the upcoming bailout and wrote:

First, let's look at whether or not anyone knew about the problems with the market prior to last week. And we come to Eliot Spitzer. He and a number of other Attorneys General started acting against predatory lending several years ago. He had a recap-type article in the Washington Post earlier this year. It's an interesting connection to what the Bush administration would and would not do. I'm not willing to start wearing a tin foil hat, and I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but approximately 24 days after that article was published, Eliot Spitzer was brought down by a Federal sting involving a hooker. I'm just saying.
Turns out I'm not the only one with questions. Next year, the House Financial Services Committee will be taking up the issue of whether Spitzer was targeted based on his attempts to go after Wall Street in his position as NY Attorney General and the potential for what he could have authorized as Governor. There will be hearings. And by the way, this is not simply a partisan investigation. One of the people pushing for it last summer (it's been delayed due to the overall financial crisis) is Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH).

More details here, and I'll be following this once the hearings begin.

Senator Clinton?

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Mr. Super wrote about the choices for Hillary Clinton's replacement as junior Senator from New York. In our poll, Andrew Cuomo has a small lead over Caroline Kennedy, who has a lead over her cousin Robert.

But there may be another name thrown in the ring. You're not going to find this information elsewhere because it is a rumour. It's not even a published rumour, it's something I heard from someone who may know something under the radar.

So let's consider the possibilities. Is there any Constitutional reason that Bill could not be a Senator? No. It hasn't happened before, but one ex-President became a member of the House of Representatives.

Trivia question: name him, and cite what issue position he held and argued for, which was used by a later President on an important issue. (Answer this afternoon if no one gets it first.)

One of the reasons cited that Hillary Clinton would want to be Secretary of State is that as the junior Senator from NY, she holds no committee chair, she is low in overall seniority, and she is one of one hundred. Potentially not where she'd want to be.

One of the reasons cited against selecting Hillary for Secretary of State is Bill's business dealings around the world. It may be difficult for her to argue for military and/or geo-political concessions from a head of state who is donating to Bill's charity. Therefore, Bill may be stymied in being able to live the life he's been living since ending his presidential term.

So what is Bill going to do? It's unlikely that he'd be put up as a candidate for the Supreme Court. (The trivia question is too easy, the answer is Taft.) Not that he wouldn't be competent, but my gut says that the impeachment thing wouldn't sell. Plus, the position doesn't seem, um, active enough for him. Sure, the possibility to shape history would appeal, but on a personality level, the position is not a good fit for him. He's not going to run against David Paterson in the 2010 primary. You know that's not going to happen.

So that leaves the Senate as his best option for public service. The "one in one hundred" tag is irrelevant where Bill is concerned. For starters, the Senate is congenial place, and most people are on a first name basis. I'm betting that Bill's first name would be "Mister" and his last name would be "President". That honour never goes away. Plus, there would be absolutely no learning curve for him. Not to mention the fact that being in the club allows him to do all sorts of good work (and good works) and allows him to have an active position working with lots of people, multi-tasking, shaping policy: things he both excels at and greatly enjoys.

Would he be the best choice for the position? My personal feeling is that the seat belongs to the Kennedy's and if they want it, by rights it's theirs. Carolyn, Robert, another cousin: it's their seat. And there is something interesting about the possibilities of a Clinton going up against a Kennedy, with the recent taste of Caroline and Uncle Teddy having passed the Kennedy choice to President-elect Obama. But you never know.

Floor is open.

It's A Ball

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MTV will be throwing an inaugural ball.

They've decided to call it "Be the Change Inaugural Ball" and they'll be broadcasting it live.

They did this once before, in 1993, when both the Clintons and Gores attended for part of the evening. Performers included the Eagles and U2.

MTV held a party, not a ball, in 1997. They didn't do anything for either of the Bush inaugurals.

This year, they'll be teaming up with ServiceNation, an organization which helps to mobilize grassroots efforts.

"ServiceNation looks forward to partnering with MTV on a historic inaugural event that will call on all Americans to act on their idealism and answer President-elect Obama's call to serve," said Michelle Nunn, CEO, Points of Light Institute. "By uniting Americans on the common ground of service, we can roll up our sleeves and help solve the nation's great challenges and inspire every American to be the change they wish to see in the world."
I've not yet found out how to get tickets, but I haven't given up. THIS looks like fun!

Economics Today

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From the Transition Team:

Today, President-elect Barack Obama will make an economic announcement at a press conference in Chicago. The press conference will be held at the Hilton Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time. Vice President-elect Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.
We're sure this will be carried on TV and the net. We'll have the text and video up as soon as possible.

John Dingell

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We mentioned earlier that Henry Waxman won the House Caucus election to serve as the head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and that there would be more to follow.

I had planned to put up a post pointing out that as winter turns into spring, John Dingell will become the longest serving House member (two Senators are still ahead for total Congressional time), when he surpasses Jamie Whitten (D-MS) who served from 1941 to 1995.

There was also going to be the mention that Dingell's wife, Debbie, is a GM executive. I was going to say something snarky about how I'm sure that had nothing to do with Dingell's lifelong stance against CAFE standards, nor his commitment to support of the Big Three.

I would have, but instead, there's this:

Congressman Dingell was taken to a DC area hospital yesterday afternoon, suffering "discomfort". He was treated on the Hill, and then was able to walk to the ambulance. As of the lastest information, they're still running tests and keeping him for observation. He is 82.

Congressman Dingell, I haven't always agreed with your votes on environmental issues, but you have done your job of representing your constituency in the Michigan 15th. Sometimes, in believing in the overall issue, I forget that "All politics is local", as Tip O'Neill always said.

Please get better. We need you: history should have as its longest serving Congressman someone who fought for ALL his constituents, not a segregationist who only fought for those consituents who were white.

Shopping Note

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This is off-topic politically, but much of the current political concerns relate to the economy, so I'm calling it a weak link to topic.

Friday is Black Friday. So called because, historically, that was the day that stores went from operating in the red, to operating in the black. Back when "Christmas Shopping" was relegated to one month a year. When I was very little, my grandmother used to take me to Fifth Avenue on Black Friday, which late on Thanksgiving Day was metamorphosed into a wonderland of lights, and window displays, and music.

This year, thanks to the new Fed money release, if what you wanted to buy on Friday was a house, a car, or a college education for your kids, there are more funds available, and rates are below what they were a few days ago.

But probably, if you're going out, you'll pass a store or two with a "Going Out of Business" sign in the window. Caveat Emptor.

Often the prices at the going out of business sales are HIGHER than at stores in the same chain which are not going out of business, and higher than they were before the liquidation.

This is because stores don't liquidate themselves, professional liquidators do. And the first thing THEY do is to raise all prices to MSRP, and take discounts off of that. So, if you're going, check prices on-line first, to find out what the actual value of an item is at other places.

Are you going shopping on Friday? Doing your bit for the economy which is 70% driven by consumer spending? Note that you can make two selections in today's poll, so you can say if you'll be shopping, and how much you'll spend.

Inauguration: Big party on the National Mall

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What to do with 2 to 4 million people?

The Obama inauguration will feature a massive celebration on the National Mall, the newly formed Presidential Inaugural Committee announced on Tuesday.
...
The Mall event--designed to provide a low cost, accessible venue for the possibly millions of people who will come here for the Jan. 20 inauguration--will be created along the lines of other mega Obama events at Invesco Field in Denver, Grant Park in Chicago and in Berlin, near the Brandenburg Gate. - Chicago Sun-Times

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thank You Sarah Palin!

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No... seriously. Thank you!


Should we give money to Republicans like this that want to keep The Turkey Pardoner Sarah Palin in the spotlight more than most Democrats do?

Inauguration Committee needs volunteers

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The official Obama Presidential Inauguration Committee is looking for volunteers:

The Presidential Inaugural Committee is seeking volunteers for Inaugural events. Thank you for signing up now to volunteer.

How You Can Help: We need volunteers with different skills and backgrounds to assist with Inaugural events.
Click here for the volunteer web sign-up site.

More Staff Announced for Obama and Biden Offices

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From the Transition Team:

President-Elect Barack Obama Announces Director of Scheduling and Advance
WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama today announced the following White House staff: Alyssa Mastromonaco, Director of Scheduling and Advance.

President-elect Obama said, “I am honored to have this hardworking and trusted advisor join my administration as we work to tackle serious challenges and bring the change that we need to Washington. This talented and dynamic individual brings diverse skills to the White House, and is ready to work hard in service to the American people at this defining moment in history."

The White House Staff Announcement is below:
Alyssa Mastromonaco, Director of Scheduling and Advance
Mastromonaco served as Director of Scheduling and Advance for Obama’s presidential campaign beginning at his announcement in February 2007. She has worked for President-elect Obama since February 2005, when she first joined Obama’s United States Senate office as Director of Scheduling. After that, Mastromonaco was named the Political Director for Obama's Political Action Committee, Hopefund, during the 2006 midterm elections. Mastromonaco worked as the Director of Scheduling for Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004 and before that was Press Secretary for Congressman Rick Boucher (VA-9). A resident of Rhinebeck, New York, Mastromonaco received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1998.
And from Biden's Office:
WASHINGTON – Today, Vice President-elect Joe Biden announced the following key Vice Presidential staff: Michael (Mike) C. Donilon, Terrell P. McSweeny and Evan M. Ryan.

Mike Donilon will serve as Counselor to the Vice President; Terrell McSweeny will serve as Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President; and Evan Ryan will serve as Assistant to the Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison.

“These talented individuals build on the professional, dedicated and diverse team being assembled to lead the Obama-Biden Administration,” said Vice President-elect Joe Biden. “Mike Donilon has been one of my closest advisors for more than 25 years, is one of the most astute counselors in national affairs I have ever met – he provided advice that was invaluable on the Obama-Biden campaign in 2008. Terrell McSweeny is an expert on domestic policy and has established herself as someone highly-regarded and experienced in national policy matters. Evan Ryan has a unique blend of White House management experience and public outreach skills, which will make her an indispensable asset to the Obama-Biden Administration.”

Mike Donilon, Counselor to the Vice President
Mike Donilon has been an advisor and consultant to Vice President-elect Biden since 1981. He was an instrumental part of the Vice President-elect's debate preparation team and was his traveling advisor during the general election campaign. Donilon has been part of some of the most remarkable breakthrough campaigns in the country, including Governor Douglas Wilder's historic victory in Virginia in 1989, Senator Harris Wofford's upset victory over Dick Thornburgh in 1991 and President Bill Clinton's win in 1992.

He has provided strategic advice and led the creative efforts in a number of statewide campaigns, including those for Governor Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and former Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN). In 2006 and 2008, Donilon created the advertising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure campaigns for Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Donilon received both an A.B. and a J.D. from Georgetown University.

Terrell McSweeny, Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President
Terrell McSweeny has advised three Presidential candidates on domestic policy and related matters. In 2008, she worked for Vice President-elect Biden in various capacities, serving as his Issues Director during the general election campaign and his Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Director in the U.S. Senate where she managed domestic and economic policy development and legislative initiatives, as well as his principal domestic policy advisor during his own Presidential campaign. In 2004, McSweeny served as the Deputy Policy Director for the Wes Clark for President campaign in Little Rock, Arkansas; earlier, in 2000, she worked in the Gore for President campaign in Nashville, Tennessee. Her government service includes her work as Counsel to Senator Biden, where she worked on Judiciary Committee issues such as women's rights, domestic violence, judicial nominations, immigration and civil rights. In addition to her policy work in Presidential campaigns, McSweeny was also an attorney at O'Melveny & Myers LLP. McSweeny is a graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University Law Center.

Evan Ryan, Assistant to the Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison
Evan Ryan possesses a unique blend of White House management, international outreach and policy expertise. She was an Adviser to the Vice President-elect during the general election campaign and served as his Deputy Campaign Manager during the primary cycle. Ryan served on the White House staff from 1994-2000, working for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton as Special Assistant to the First Lady’s Chief of Staff and then as Deputy Director of Scheduling. In the latter capacity, Ryan traveled to 22 countries to prepare Mrs. Clinton’s foreign trips, representing the First Lady’s office with senior governmental officials, U.S. embassy personnel and non-governmental leaders. In 2000, Ryan was hired as Director of Scheduling for the Hillary 2000 U.S. Senate campaign in New York. In 2003-2004, during the Presidential primary season, Ryan was Deputy Communications Director for John Kerry’s campaign. In 2005, Ryan was Deputy Chair for the Governance track of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Ryan is a member of the Executive Committee of the conflict-management NGO, PeacePlayers International and has served as a consultant for the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, an NGO co-founded by Angelina Jolie and Gene Sperling. She is also a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ryan received a B.A. in political science from Boston College and a Masters in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

GA-SEN: Martin Releases New Ad. . ."Go To Work"

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In a new ad released today, Jim Martin responds to Saxby Chambliss’ false, vicious attacks on Martin’s record. The truth is that Jim Martin voted to return $100 million of surplus taxes to taxpayers and voted for the largest middle class tax cut in Georgia’s history. While Jim Martin will go to Washington to fight for the middle class, Saxby Chambliss has spent his time there fighting for CEOs and lobbyists.



"Go To Work"

"Saxby Chambliss has resorted to false, vicious attacks because Georgians know there’s only one candidate who will work with Barack Obama to cut middle class taxes, and that’s Jim Martin," Martin spokesperson Kate Hansen said. "Voters are rejecting Saxby Chambliss’ tired, bitter politics because they know that in these perilous times we need a fighter for the middle class, not a politician who stands up for special interests. In Washington, Jim Martin will get to work fixing America’s economy for middle class Georgians again."

Americans making plans for inauguration

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From Florida:

TAMPA - Carolyn Collins sat on her couch the night Barack Obama was elected president and thought about her late parents, who had drilled into her that she had the right to vote.

Then she thought about her 18-year-old grandson, who had called her with pride the day he got his voter registration card. Suddenly, Collins said, "my hands flew up and the tears began flowing."

The next day she put her name on five different lists of people seeking tickets to Obama's inauguration, set for Jan. 20. Active in Florida A&M University alumni groups and the Hillsborough County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she's hopeful. But tickets or no tickets, she and her husband are heading to Washington to get as close as they can to the ceremony.

"We just want to be there," she said.
From New York:
When Susan Gilbert was 10, her parents bundled their seven children into the family car and drove to Washington to witness John F. Kennedy's funeral procession.

Forty-five years later, on Jan. 20, most of those brothers and sisters, plus many from the family's next generation, expect to gather again in the nation's capital, this time for Barack Obama's inauguration.

"My parents are deceased but they would have been out there working for Obama," said Gilbert, principal of Siwanoy elementary school in Pelham. "My mother is smiling, I know. ... I'm doing it for them."
And from North Carolina:
Pattie Brew, daughter of a North Carolina sharecropper, had let almost a century go by without casting a vote for president or joining the inaugural crowds only three miles from her home in the nation's capital.

"I never had no interest in it because my vote don't matter anyway, so I never even took the time to fool with it," said the 97-year-old woman known as Mother Brew. "I knew white people had the right of way here, you know."

But on Nov. 4, she slipped on white gloves and pearls and found her way to a polling booth. And on Jan. 20, she wants to see the country's first inauguration of a black president — not from a couch at home but from somewhere closer by.

"So much history in this, honey," Brew said. "You gonna get me a ticket?

President Elect Obama's Office off Management and Budget Press Conference

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Remarks of President-elect Barack Obama
OMB Announcement
November 25, 2008
Chicago, Illinois


Good morning.

I speak to you today, mindful that we meet at a moment of great challenge for America, as our credit markets are stressed, and our families are struggling. But as difficult as these times are, I’m confident that we will rise to meet this challenge – if we’re willing to band together and recognize that Wall Street cannot thrive so long as Main Street is struggling; if we’re willing to summon a new spirit of ingenuity and determination; and if Americans of great intellect, broad experience, and good character are willing to serve in government at this hour of need.

Yesterday, I announced four such Americans to help lead the economic team that will advise me as we seek to climb out of this crisis. Today, Vice President-elect Biden and I are pleased to announce two other key members of our team – Peter Orszag as Director and Robert Nabors as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Read more...

Before I explain why I selected these outstanding public servants, let me just say a word about the work I am asking them to undertake. As I said yesterday, the economic crisis we face demands that we invest immediately in a series of measures that will help save or create two and a half million jobs and put tax cuts in the pockets of the hard-pressed middle class. Many of those new jobs will come in areas such as energy independence, technology, and health care modernization that will strengthen our economy for the future.

But if we’re going to make the investments we need, we must also be willing to shed the spending we don’t. In these challenging times, when we are facing both rising deficits and a sinking economy, budget reform is not an option. It is an imperative. We cannot sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a politician, lobbyist, or interest group. We simply cannot afford it.

This isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about building a smarter government that focuses on what works. That is why I will ask my team to think anew and act anew to meet our new challenges. We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.

Let me give you one example of what I’m talking about. There’s a report today that from 2003 to 2006, millionaire farmers received $49 million in crop subsidies even though they were earning more than the $2.5 million cutoff for such subsidies. If this is true, it is a prime example of the kind of waste I intend to end as President.

And we will also focus on one of the biggest, long-run challenges that our budget faces – namely, the rising cost of health care in both the public and private sectors. This is not just a challenge but also an opportunity to improve the health care that Americans rely on and to bring down the costs that taxpayers, businesses, and families have to pay.

That is what the OMB will do in my administration – it will not only help design a budget and manage its implementation, it will also help make sure that our government – your government – is more efficient and more effective at serving the American people.

There is no better person to help lead this effort as Director of the OMB than my friend Peter Orszag. Peter has been one of our nation’s leading voices on budgetary issues. It is said that a nation’s budget reflects its priorities. I believe that is true. And I know that Peter will bring to his work at the OMB a set of priorities that I – and the American people – share.

Throughout his career, he has made significant contributions in our understanding of all the major economic challenges we are now confronting – from reducing medical costs to saving Social Security to fighting global climate change to helping put the dream of a college degree within reach for more students.

As Director of the Congressional Budget Office, he reenergized and reinvigorated the agency, while shifting its focus to confront the health care crisis that is not only a cause of so much suffering for so many families, but a rapidly growing portion of our budget and a drag on our entire economy.

But it is not simply Peter’s past career that makes him qualified for his new appointment, it is his vision for the future. He believes, as I do, that even as we take steps to restore discipline to our budget, we must also take the steps right now that are necessary to solve our immediate crisis.

Peter doesn’t need a map to tell him where the bodies are buried in the federal budget. He knows what works and what doesn’t, what is worthy of our precious tax dollars and what is not. Just because a program, a special interest tax break or corporate subsidy is tucked into this year’s budget, does not mean it should survive the next. The old ways of Washington simply can’t meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

And no one is more able or more qualified to assist Peter in this work as Deputy Director of the OMB than Robert Nabors. Rob will bring to this post experience in the executive branch, at the OMB, where he helped the Clinton administration achieve balanced budgets, as well as in the legislative branch, where he led the appropriations committee staff as a driving force for a responsible budget. Together with Peter, Rob will help steer our budget through Congress so that I can sign it into law.

Now, let me be clear: these appointments and the appointments I announced yesterday are not the sum of my economic team. These appointees will work with those I have yet to announce – including the secretaries of Energy and Labor, Commerce and Health and Human Services and others in my administration – to design a recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street, and to put our economy on a path to long-term growth and prosperity.

Because at this moment, we must not only restore confidence in our markets. We must also restore the confidence of middle class families that their government is on their side – that it’s working for them – on their behalf – to meet their families’ needs. And that is exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States of America. Thank you.