Monday, December 08, 2008

Auto deal likely with new 'car czar'

WASHINGTON – The White House and a top Democratic lawmaker said they were likely to strike a deal Monday on a multibillion-dollar automaker bailout that would put a government "car czar" in charge of overseeing a restructuring Detroit's Big Three. Congressional officials said Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who oversaw the federal Sept. 11 victims' compensation fund, is under consideration for the post. "It sounds like we have agreement on those basic principles that would be required for a bill that the president could sign," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters. The developing measure would provide about $15 billion in emergency loans, but it also would give a presidentially named overseer the power to require payback early next year if the companies failed to take the steps necessary to overhaul themselves. Congressional aides outlined the plan on condition of anonymity because it was not yet completed. Under the plan, the carmakers' could get emergency loans on Dec. 15. Then the overseer — a kind of "car czar" — would write guidelines, due on the first of the year, for a restructuring of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. If the car companies hadn't taken enough steps to reinvent themselves by Feb. 15, the overseer could recall the money. That would essentially mean that a person selected by President George W. Bush would set the terms for an auto industry restructuring, but the decision about whether the terms were being met would not be made until President-elect Barack Obama had been sworn in. Congressional Democrats and the White House were working to find a broadly supported candidate who could span the two administrations. Congressional officials said Feinberg was under consideration for the position. Asked if a deal could be struck for a vote as early as Monday, Perino said, "I think it's very likely." She prodded senior Democratic lawmakers to send their proposal, particularly if they expected initial votes within 24 hours. "It seems pretty soon if we haven't seen the language yet," she said. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the Financial Services Committee chairman, said that he, too, expected a deal by the end of the day on a proposal that would draw emergency aid from an existing loan program meant to help the automakers build fuel-efficient vehicles. House and Senate Democratic aides were finalizing the package, which was expected to provide between $14 billion and $17 billion. "There should be agreement by the end of today," Frank said on CNBC. He said he expected the bailout would clear Congress and be signed by Bush "before the week (is) out." Some issues remain, however. Several lawmakers are eager to force the automakers to bring in new top executives as a condition of federal aid. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wants a requirement in the bailout bill to separate the jobs of chairman and chief executive officer, which would strip GM's Rick Wagoner and Chrysler's Bob Nardelli of some power and bring in new people to transform the companies. Ford already splits the two positions, between CEO Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said Sunday that Wagoner "has to move on" as part of a government-run restructuring. "I think you have got to consider new leadership," Dodd said on CBS' "Face the Nation." In return for the rescue money, the carmakers would have to agree to terms similar to those placed on banks that receive funds under the $700 billion Wall Street bailout: to limit their top executives' pay packages, cease paying dividends, give the government a chunk of future gains and guarantee that taxpayers would be reimbursed before any other shareholders, congressional aides said. Some lawmakers still want to create a Cabinet-level oversight board to help run the bailout, although the proposal appeared to be losing traction, with the White House pushing for a single adviser who could send the companies into bankruptcy if the companies don't make progress on fundamental shifts. Criticized for staying on the sidelines until now, Obama voiced support Sunday for the bailout legislation being drafted in Congress. He accused car industry executives of a persistent "head-in-the-sand approach" to long-festering problems. ___ Associated Press Writers Ben Feller and Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.

US Supreme Court refuses to take up Obama citizenship case

US Supreme Court refuses to take up Obama citizenship case WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected a case filed by a New Jersey voter who questioned whether president-elect Barack Obama was a "natural born" American, a prerequisite for running for the White House. In the case, plaintiff Leo Donofrio also alleged that Obama's rival for the presidency, Republican John McCain, was not an American citizen from birth because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936. The Zone was controlled by the United States until 1979. The court did not give a reason for rejecting the case, which was the second such challenge the justices have refused to take up in recent weeks. In the earlier case, which the court threw out on the eve of the historic election in which Obama beat McCain to become the first African-American to be elected president of the United States, Pennsylvania lawyer Philip Berg alleged that Obama was born in Kenya, his father's homeland. According to a birth certificate for Obama made public by his campaign, the president-elect was born in Hawaii in August 1961, two years after the archipelago became a state. The US constitution provides the framework for the law on who is a citizen, saying in the 14th amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Laws passed since the constitution are more specific about who is a citizen at birth. They include anyone born inside the United States, a person born in a US possession if one parent is a citizen and lived in the United States for at least a year; and anyone born outside the United States to at least one US-citizen parent who has lived in the US for a minimum of five years. Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AFP News report may not

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why The Double Standard On Detroit?

Why The Double Standard On Detroit? Bill Press 11/21/2008 No wonder people don't trust politicians. Americans just voted overwhelmingly to steer this country in a new direction, yet Congress has ignored the pleas of Barack Obama and voted instead to continue the disastrous economic policies of George W. Bush by letting the American auto industry collapse.In the acrimonious debate over an emergency loan to Detroit, we saw some of the worst examples of political preening, pretending and pontificating ever. And not just by Republicans.Suddenly, before approving any financial help to automakers, members of Congress demanded answers from them that they never demanded from Wall Street. Everything they wanted to know was reasonable: What kind of changes are they going to make in their day-to-day operations? What structural changes have they agreed to? What limits are they going to put on executive salaries? What guarantees exist that we'll get our money back?Again, those are all good questions, and questions Congress should ask. But Congress members were hypocrites in demanding answers to those questions from Detroit automakers when they had so recently approved a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street banks and financial institutions with nary a peep: no oversight, no accountability, no conditions, no restrictions.Have Ford, Chrysler and General Motors made mistakes? Absolutely. For years, they stubbornly ignored all the signs and all the warnings that their business plan was headed for disaster. They fought congressional pressure to raise make more fuel-efficient cars. They dragged their feet on research into alternative fuels or electric cars. Instead, they kept turning out bigger and bigger gas guzzlers. Now the turkeys have come home to roost. Detroit automakers are stuck with outmoded plants and a huge inventory of cars nobody wants to buy. And they're still years from producing anything close to Toyota's hugely popular Prius.Should Ford, Chrysler and General Motors be forced to change their ways? Absolutely. Indeed, this is the chance for Congress to force automakers to make the structural changes they have so long resisted: retooling plants to produce smaller, greener cars; dumping SUVs and Hummers; speeding up production of electric, photovoltaic or hydrogen non-fossil-fuel vehicles; and placing limits on executive compensation. Those are fair demands to make of Detroit in exchange for a federal bailout.There's nothing wrong with putting strings on federal dollars. But here's my question: Why the huge double standard? Wall Street firms, remember, also screwed up. Indeed, they're the ones that drove us into the ditch in the first place. So why should they get all the dollars they want with no questions asked and no strings attached, yet Detroit be forced to jump through so many congressional hoops? Or why, as decided by George Bush and Hank Paulson -- and endorsed by Congress -- should banks and financial institutions get the entire $700 billion, while automakers most likely get not a penny of federal assistance?For Republicans, we know the answer: because Wall Street is non-union, and Detroit is all-union. Because Wall Street is white-collar and Detroit is blue-collar. Because Wall Street is upper-class and Detroit is middle-class. And Republicans would rather swallow glass than help a middle-class, blue-collar union member.But what's wrong with Democrats, who got re-elected with the help of labor unions and are now gleefully stabbing them in the back? Do they really want to make their first post-Obama-election move the death of the American auto industry? Apparently so. Massachusetts Democrat Michael Capuano set the tone by telling leaders of the Big Three: "Damn it, I don't want to give you this money and have it stuffed back in my face."Instead, Capuano and fellow self-righteous Democrats decided they'd rather help George W. Bush kill 3 to 5 million more jobs, cause 775,000 retirees to lose their pensions, and force 2 million workers to lose their health benefits. You think the economy's bad now? Imagine how much worse it will be when U.S. automakers go belly up, wiping out 20 percent of all retail sales in America, eliminating one out of 10 American jobs and destroying what little is left of America's manufacturing sector.This is the time to change Detroit, not to kill it. If Congress can suddenly find $700 billion to bail out the banks, certainly it can find $25 billion as an emergency loan -- not bailout, but loan -- to help the auto industry retool and regroup. Letting Detroit go bankrupt is a risk we simply can't afford.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I guess Romney is going to skip Michigan when he runs again

Romney: Detroit 3 should go bankruptRejection of auto aid called a slap in faceBY CHRIS CHRISTOFFFREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF As a Republican presidential candidate this year, Mitt Romney said he'd help the U.S. auto industry retool and recover. Romney, a Michigan native and son of former Gov. George Romney, stunned even some Michigan political backers on Wednesday by saying that the automakers should go bankrupt rather than obtain a $25-billion government bailout. "A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs," Romney said in a New York Times opinion column that derided auto executives' pay and perks, high labor costs and inferior products. "I can't believe those words tumbled out of his mouth," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, one of Romney's influential supporters for the Republican presidential primary this year. "I think Mitt is way off base on this one. I'm disappointed because I'm a big fan of his." Patterson said the industry needs a government bailout to avoid collapse. He said bankruptcy would chase away car buyers from Detroit Three products. Consumers still would fly on an airline that is in Chapter 11 reorganization, but "You're not going to spend $30,000 on a car while the companies are in Chapter 11," Patterson said. "If that company isn't around, what are you going to do with that piece of junk you can't get parts for?" David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said Romney has incorrect notions of the industry, adding, "We see a lot of people who say, 'I drive a car, therefore I know the auto industry.' " Cole said independent research has shown consumers won't buy cars from a company in bankruptcy if they can buy other brands. Even more troubling, he said, is that automakers' bankruptcy would put their suppliers out of business because they couldn't absorb losses. And that, Cole said, could collapse the entire U.S. auto industry. Romney, in his Times column and in broadcast interviews Wednesday, said a structured bankruptcy should be backed by the government to guarantee vehicle warranties and financing. He did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday. Before he was Massachusetts' governor, Romney ran a private equity investment firm that specialized in leveraged buyouts of struggling companies. In the op-ed piece, Romney said bankruptcy would allow the companies to rewrite labor contracts and eliminate retiree costs and excessive pay for executives. State House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, one of Romney's supporters in his presidential bid, said while he doesn't necessarily agree with bankruptcy as a solution -- he favors some government financial aid -- Romney makes good points about the need to restructure the auto industry. But Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano called Romney's suggestions a slap in the face to Michigan voters after he promised to help the state's auto industry when he ran for president. "It's all part of a shortsighted view of how they think the market will straighten this out," Ficano said.

News from the west coast: Courts to check in prop 8

Top Court in California Will Review Proposition 8 By JESSE McKINLEY SAN FRANCISCO — Responding to pleas for legal clarity from those on both sides of the issue, the California Supreme Court said Wednesday that it would take up the case of whether a voter-approved ban on same-sex unions was constitutional. The court, however, stopped short of suspending the ban, which California voters passed as Proposition 8 two weeks ago after an expensive and hard-fought campaign. The proposition, which overturned a May decision of the California Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage, has been challenged by a number of cities and civil rights groups, which say it is a substantial revision of the state’s Constitution, and therefore requires legislative approval. In agreeing Wednesday to take the case, the court suggested in a two-page order signed by six of its seven justices that it would take up that question, as well as lingering questions over the legality of some 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in the state this year. Those ceremonies were halted after Proposition 8 passed. The court has also been asked to consider whether same-sex couples are being denied equal protection under the state’s Constitution. An amendment banning same-sex marriages has never been challenged in a state where the marriages had been legal. Dennis Herrera, the city attorney of San Francisco, a petitioner in the case who opposes the ban, said, “I have confidence that this court is going to make this decision on the facts and on the law.” Supporters of the ban said they were pleased that the court had declined to suspend the ban. “This is a great day for the rule of law and the voters of California,” said Andrew Pugno, general counsel for Protect Marriage, the leading group behind the effort to pass the ballot measure, which received 52 percent of the vote. “This order means that voters will get their day in court.” The first legal briefs are due Dec. 19, with a reply from opponents of the ban due in early January. Oral arguments are expected to be heard in March.

Add one more to Dems lead

Congratulation and a Concession for Alaska’s Senator-Elect By WILLIAM YARDLEY Irascible will be out. Approachable will be in. That oil drilling and federal earmarks? They will still be a go. Alaska’s senator-elect, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, held a news conference in Anchorage on Wednesday, the morning after he unseated the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, Ted Stevens, and promised to be more of a listener and a consensus builder than he said Mr. Stevens had often been. “What you have here is a state in transformation,” said Mr. Begich, who will become Alaska’s first Democratic senator since Mike Gravel left office in 1981. “What I want to do,” he said, “is repackage some of the messaging of what we have here that will have an impact on this country.” Mr. Begich said that would mean convincing Democrats in Congress that the nation’s energy policy, not just Alaska, would benefit by drilling for oil in controversial areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as by developing a natural gas pipeline that would provide fuel for other states and by pursuing renewable and alternative fuels. But Mr. Begich said he wanted to broaden the story of Alaska beyond oil. He said he wanted to bring Democrats to Alaska to see impoverished rural areas, to see its distinctive challenges in areas like education and health care. “I want to explain this differently,” he said. Mr. Stevens, a 40-year incumbent known for delivering billions of dollars in federal money for Alaska and often throwing sharp elbows in the process, conceded the race shortly after Mr. Begich’s news conference. After a prolonged count of absentee ballots, Mr. Stevens trailed Mr. Begich by more than 3,700 votes, out of 315,000 cast, with an estimated 2,500 votes still to be counted next week. “Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected,” Mr. Stevens, who was in Washington, said in a statement. “My family and I wish to thank the thousands of Alaskans who stood by us and who supported my re-election.” Eight days before the election, Mr. Stevens, 85, was convicted in federal court in Washington of seven felony counts of failing to disclose gifts and free home renovations he had received. He returned to Alaska six days before the election to campaign, running advertisements that said he had been wrongly convicted and would be vindicated on appeal. “I am proud of the campaign we ran and regret that the outcome was not what we had hoped for,” Mr. Stevens said. Mr. Begich said he had received a congratulatory call Wednesday morning from Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s junior senator and a Republican who supported Mr. Stevens. He said Gov. Sarah Palin, also a Republican, had congratulated him at an event both attended. In a statement released later, Ms. Palin said: “This is a new era for Alaska, and I look forward to working with Mark on the many issues that are important to our state. I am confident he will add a compelling new voice to the U.S. Senate.” On the thorny subject of federal earmark spending, though, Mr. Begich sounded a familiar tone Wednesday. He said he still expected the state to pursue and receive the federal money. His approach would echo what he said was current thinking in Congress: pursue projects that are consistent with long-term planning for transportation and other infrastructure, to create jobs and economic growth. “A holistic approach,” Mr. Begich called it. One specific project he mentioned was federal financing for Alaska’s ferry system.

Waxman ousts Dingell for post

Waxman ousts Dingell for top House post By ANDREW TAYLORAssociated Press WASHINGTON — Rep. Henry Waxman — a liberal ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will take over the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee when the next Congress convenes in January. Waxman is a liberal California Democrat. In an election among House Democrats, he toppled veteran Michigan Rep. John Dingell from the post. Dingell is the longest-serving member of the House. Waxman won the panel chair by a 137-122 vote, capping a bitter fight within the Democratic Party caucus on the Hill. Dingell has been the top Democrat on the panel for 28 years and is an old-school supporter of the auto industry. Waxman has complained that the committee has been too slow to address environmental issues like global warming.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Abramoff said he had agreement with White House aide just a month after Bush took office

Abramoff said he had agreement with White House aide just a month after Bush took office 11/17/2008 @ 9:38 amFiled by Larisa Alexandrovna Email noting relationship with White House came just a month after Bush took officeConvicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff told his colleagues at his former law firm that he had an “agreement” regarding communications with a former assistant to then-Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, perhaps the most substantial documented tie between Abramoff and the White House to date.In the email, dated Feb. 27, 2001, Abramoff reprimands a colleague who asked him to use Susan Ralston – Special Assistant to the President George W. Bush and then-Bush senior adviser Karl Rove – to arrange a meeting with the President for one of his clients.In response, Abramoff writes that Ralston and he have an “agreement with her as to what we are going to ask her and when.”Prior to joining the White House staff, Ralston was Abramoff’s assistant at the lobbying giant Greenberg Traurig. Prior to Greenberg, she had also worked with Abramoff at the lobbying shop Preston Gates & Ellis. “This is not the proper way to go about this,” Abramoff writes when a colleague suggests that he approach Ralston himself about setting up a meeting for a client and the President, through Rove. “Susan is not going to be able to do things like this, and we have an agreement with her as to what we are going to ask her and when.”The email was obtained by RAW STORY from an individual close to the federal investigation that has netted Abramoff, several of his staff, members of Congress and Bush Administration officials in a wide-ranging bribery probe. Coming just a month after the Bush Administration took office, it suggests that Abramoff's relationship with the White House began earlier and was more substantial than has previously been disclosed.[Click to enlarge.]Certain parts of the email have been redacted to protect individuals not under investigation.The White House has previously denied any significant relationship between Bush administration officials and Abramoff.Asked about the nature of the agreement last Tuesday, Abramoff’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, declined to comment.“I can’t comment on any of this,” Lowell said. Ralston did not return calls seeking comment. Ralston told Abramoff, associates to use other email accountsRalston's name previously surfaced in an investigation into deleted White House emails. The emails accounts were hosted on Republican National Committee servers, which some believe were set up as a way to for the White House to avoid Congressional oversight.In a June 2007 report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 88 White House officials were identified as having had RNC e-mail accounts. Included among them were Ralston and Rove.Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House is legally obliged to maintain backup records of emails. Because the emails are sent using taxpayer resources, many of them are open to Freedom of Information Act Review. The White House, however, has argued that in an effort to comply with laws that disallow use of government resources for political activities the Republican National Committee set up separate email accounts for numerous Bush Administration officials.When the Democratic-controlled Congress sought emails relating to the US Attorney firings, the White House said millions of the emails had been accidentally deleted.According to the Washington watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, “the Executive Office of the President had lost over five million emails generated between March 2003 and October 2005.”Ralston had two accounts hosted on RNC servers: and According to an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight, Ralston told Abramoff and two of his colleagues at Greenberg Traurig, to use her RNC accounts as well as her private AOL account. According to a March 2007 letter sent to the White House by Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight, Ralston asked two Abramoff associates at Greenberg Traurig to use her RNC account because there are no “security issues like my WH email.”“Susan Ralston, who was Karl Rove's executive assistant, invited two lobbyists working for Jack Abramoff to use her RNC e-mail account to avoid "security issues" with the White House e-mail system, writing: "I now have an RNC blackberry which you can use to e-mail me at any time. No security issues like my WH email,” the report said.In another email exchange, this one directly with Abramoff, Ralston alerted him to do the same in the event that she could not be reached on her AOL account.“Ms. Ralston similarly wrote Mr. Abramoff: "I know [sic] have an RNC laptop at the office for political use,” the report added. “I can access my AOL email when necessary so if you need to send me something that I need to read, you can send to my AOL email and then call or page me to check it.”Of the emails that were preserved by the RNC, only 130 emails sent to Rove were provided to the Committee and none of them prior to 2005, despite Rove sending email through RNC servers 95 percent of the time. Federal authorities were already investigating Abramoff in 2005, the point at which all emails were deleted by the RNC. The “agreement” email acquired by RAW STORY is dated at 2001, suggesting that the bulk of correspondences between Abramoff and Ralston would have taken place between 2001-2005.In 2006, Abramoff plead guilty to several counts of bribing political officials and defrauding his American Indian tribal clients. That same year, Ralston – who resigned from her White House post in 2005 – started a lobbying firm called SBR Enterprises, LLC. SBR Enterprises is registered in Virginia.

GOP no longer relevant?

Hold your nose this was from the "Washington Times" EXCLUSIVE: Cantor says GOP is no longer 'relevant' (Contact) EXCLUSIVE: GLEN ALLEN, Va. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, poised to ascend to House Republicans' No. 2 leader this week, said the Republican Party in Washington is no longer "relevant" to voters and must stop simply espousing principles. Instead, it must craft real solutions to health care and the economy. "Where we have really fallen down is, we have lacked the ability to be relevant to people's lives. Let's set aside the last eight years, and our falling down in living up to expectations of what we said we were going to do," Mr. Cantor told The Washington Times in his district office outside of Richmond. "It's the relevancy question." As chief deputy whip, Mr. Cantor, 45, was the logical choice to move up when Republicans' current whip, Rep. Roy Blunt, stepped aside - something Mr. Blunt announced days after Republicans lost at least 20 seats in the House. A week before Wednesday's leadership elections, Mr. Cantor offered a bleak assessment of his party and where it's fallen: technology, preparedness for political realities, such as the next round of redistricting, and pursuing its ideals. Most of all, he said, Republicans have been content to offer principles, rather than concrete solutions. Voters, he said, have punished them for it. "It's the roads, it's going to the gas station, that's still there when the price will bump back up. It's education, it's health care. These are the issues, frankly, that we have not been on offense with," he said. Some conservatives argue that President-elect Barack Obama should be given some leeway on his mandate, with the expectation he will overstep. Those strategists say Republicans should pick their battles, perhaps forgoing a fight over tax increases to save their firepower for issues such as health care. Mr. Cantor said Republicans should "be very wise about the battles we fight," but that they should fight every time there's a principle involved. For example, he disagrees with pundits who say Republicans should forgo issues such as immigration. "It's not a dead issue. It's about how do we go about finally enforcing the law, and that's both in the interior as well as at the border," he said, adding that Democrats are likely to overreach if they go for a bill that offers citizenship to illegal immigrants, which he said is "amnesty." "This whole notion of comprehensive immigration reform, just like comprehensive Middle East peace, you know, that is too high of a bar. You've got to be incremental about it. If they were smart, they'd be incremental about it, but they can't hold back some of their factions," he said. As one of those pushing for a House Republican alternative to the Wall Street bailout package the Bush administration and congressional Democrats crafted, he ended up voting for the Democrats' bill. He said Republicans have to be able to draw lines on future votes such as an automobile manufacturers' bailout, even if it means losing some of their members' support. "Somebody in Michigan, let's say, they're going to be hard-pressed, because they've got a lot of constituents who say, 'You've got to do this.' OK, and so you don't get everybody's vote. But right now, the message of our party needs to be, it is not the answer to forestall the inevitable," he said. "We have a failed model of our auto industry in our country. For decades now, they've been on the decline. For decades, they've been conceding in terms of their labor contracts, that have saddled management's ability to look beyond the next pay period, when they should be looking five years down the road and designing the cars people want to buy." Formerly a steady defender of President Bush, Mr. Cantor doesn't attack the president directly, but he repeatedly refers to "eight years," using the term as if it were a symbol of dark times for Republican principles. That drives his call for Republicans to make themselves relevant while remaining true to their principles - the pitch he said he's making to colleagues. "I'm not one to say I'm the right guy, but I would hope, my case for this position is, I very much believe our party is one of limited government, lower taxes, belief in free markets, belief in a strong national defense posture with a cautious approach to making sure that happens. "I also believe, though, that the country is not only poised, it is desperate for us to use those principles to fashion solutions to everyday challenges, and I believe that this country will accept that because we're not a country that is all about big-government solutions, and I think that's where the other side goes." Some House Republicans had looked to Mr. Cantor to challenge Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, the party's leader since 2006. But for someone who spent the past six years as chief deputy whip, the whip's post is a logical fit. There were times over the past two years of Democratic control when Mr. Cantor was ready to fight, and Mr. Boehner decided appeasement was a better path. Mr. Cantor nods slightly when asked whether he'll stand up to the House Republicans' leader, should the need arise in the next Congress. Mr. Cantor said the losses in the past two elections have stripped away pressure to go along simply to get along. Mr. Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in the House. That has given him a high profile on Middle East issues, and has made him a key fundraiser for Republicans. He was a surrogate for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign this year, and was even reported to have been considered for the vice-presidential nomination. Virginia Republicans used to joke that the congressman was not the most famous Cantor. That honor went to his wife, Diana, who as the former executive director of the Virginia College Savings Plan, used to be a ubiquitous presence on commercials advertising the program. Mr. Cantor's Republican leanings started early - something of an oddity for a Jewish family in Richmond. His parents got involved in Republican causes through their friendship with the Obenshain family, a mainstay of Virginia politics. That meant as a boy Mr. Cantor manned precincts, put up yard signs, and, he admitted, occasionally took down a Democrat's signs. John S. Reid, a former member of Virginia's House of Delegates and one of Mr. Cantor's mentors, said he remembers political bull sessions at the congressman's parents' house in the 1970s, and he said even then, as a high school student, Mr. Cantor would sit in. Mr. Cantor made his first run for office in 1991, winning a race where the primary was the key challenge. He topped two candidates much older than him in a convention at a high school gym. Nine years later, he won a brutal primary for the House seat being vacated by 20-year veteran Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. in a matchup that pitted Mr. Cantor, seen as the business candidate from north of the James River, against state Sen. Steve Martin, seen as the social-issues candidate from south of the river. Thanks to his experience bridging that gap in the years since, Mr. Cantor could be the right man to help bridge what some Republicans say is a coming national rift between those two factions of their party. Mr. Reid, who once held the whip's position for Republicans in the House of Delegates, said Mr. Cantor will bring a needed balance to the position at the congressional level. "He's smart. He's a well-educated young man. But besides that, his temperament is exemplary. He knows how to get along with people. He can walk into a room with a group of people who don't agree and find common ground," he said. Mr. Cantor also can help with the cash. His political action committee raised as much as Mr. Boehner's this election, and Mr. Cantor topped Mr. Boehner when it came to contributions to Republican incumbents and challengers. In a season in which Republicans took a beating, Mr. Cantor can give his colleagues some advice about thriving in a bad environment. He won 63 percent of the vote Nov. 4 - 10 percentage points more than Mr. McCain won in the district, which stretches from Richmond and its western suburbs up through Culpeper and Skyline Drive. Mr. Cantor ran only 1 percentage point behind his 2006 total. That performance came as three congressional districts and a state Senate seat switched from Republican to Democrat.

Sen. Nelson: New auto leadership should be among loan conditions

Sen. Nelson: New auto leadership should be among loan conditionsBy TODD SPANGLERFREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF WASHINGTON – Even some Democrats in the U.S. Senate have harsh words for Detroit’s automakers as a bailout bill for the industry is bandied about. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said a $25 billion bailout of the industry may be necessary given the state of the economy but it must be conditioned on the loans being paid back and the senior management of General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC being removed. He said there needs to be assurances the money is being used to create a new, sustainable auto industry in the U.S. and that means “new eyes, new ears to steer us out of this mess.” Nelson also said executive compensation must be limited, sweetheart deals for retiring or departing executives curtailed and a halt to dividends while the companies are still losing money. Perhaps most importantly, Nelson also said a condition of his support is a demand that American fleets get 40 miles per gallon by 2018 and 50 m.p.g by 2020. Under rules set last year, fuel economy standards would be 35 m.p.g. by 2020. “Technically, it can be done if only we have the will,” said Nelson of his tougher standards. The Florida senator also said he worries that, unlike 1979, when Chrysler got $1.2 billion in a government bailout, there is no figure like Lee Iacocca – the company’s head back then – to soothe doubts that the auto industry was ready to change. “Where are the Lee Iococca’s?” he asked. “We don’t see them.”

Libby might ask for get out of jail free card

As President Bush gets closer to leaving the White House, expectations are mounting that he will follow his predecessors in issuing a slew of last-minute pardons on his way back to Texas. Former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, perhaps the best-known federal convict of the last eight years, may have filed a request for a pardon from President Bush, CNN's Sonny Hostin reported Monday. Libby was convicted of lying in the CIA leak case, but Bush commuted his sentence last year.A Justice Department spokesman told Newsweek that Libby has not personally requested a pardon. But investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball note that "speculation is rampant that Libby's allies will press Bush for one."Libby was found to have obstructed justice and lied to investigators probing the leak of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity in 2003. Convicted in June of last year, Libby served no time for his crimes, as Bush stepped in to commute the prison sentence before he was forced to go to jail. Bush left intact a $250,000 fine and community service requirements that were part of Libby's sentence. It's unclear whether Libby would get his money back if Bush pardons Libby, although such an outcome is possible.This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Nov. 17, 2008.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

President-elect Obama wants Lieberman to caucus with Dems

Obama wants Lieberman to caucus with Dems WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Obama says he'd be happy to have Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman continue to caucus with Democrats. But Obama adds that he won't get involved in the fight on Capitol Hill over whether Democrats should take away Democrat-turned-independent Lieberman's chairmanship of a key committee to punish him for supporting Republican John McCain for president. "We aren't going to referee decisions about who should or should not be a committee chair," Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement Tuesday. "President-elect Obama looks forward to working with anyone to move the country forward. We'd be happy to have Sen. Lieberman caucus with the Democrats. We don't hold any grudges." Lieberman's affiliation with Democrats is in question after his high-profile support of his pal McCain. Although he caucuses with Senate Democrats, Lieberman angered many Democrats by criticizing Obama during the presidential race. Lieberman spoke at the Republican National Convention and accompanied McCain on the presidential campaign trail. Lieberman has met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, but there has been no word on whether Reid intends to try to oust Lieberman as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Last week, Lieberman pledged to put partisan considerations aside and work with Obama. Lieberman, who was Democrat Al Gore's running mate in 2000, was re-elected to the Senate from Connecticut in 2006 as an independent after losing his state's Democratic primary. He remains a registered Democrat and aligns himself with Senate Democrats. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spoke to Lieberman last week about the possibility of Lieberman's caucusing with the GOP. In the past, Democrats tolerated Lieberman's political straddling because he held their slim political majority in his hands. Now that Democrats have strengthened their hold on the Senate, there could be added pressure to punish Lieberman.

For South, a Waning Hold on Politics

November 11, 2008 For South, a Waning Hold on Politics By ADAM NOSSITER VERNON, Ala. — Fear of the politician with the unusual name and look did not end with last Tuesday’s vote in this rural red swatch where buck heads and rifles hang on the wall. This corner of the Deep South still resonates with negative feelings about the race of President-elect Barack Obama. What may have ended on Election Day, though, is the centrality of the South to national politics. By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush — voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say. The region’s absence from Mr. Obama’s winning formula means it “is becoming distinctly less important,” said Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. “The South has moved from being the center of the political universe to being an outside player in presidential politics.” One reason for that is that the South is no longer a solid voting bloc. Along the Atlantic Coast, parts of the “suburban South,” notably Virginia and North Carolina, made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama. Those states have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years, pointing them in a different political direction than states farther west, like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Appalachian sections of Kentucky and Tennessee. Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter, a statistical analysis by The New York Times shows. Mr. Obama won in only 44 counties in the Appalachian belt, a stretch of 410 counties that runs from New York to Mississippi. Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas. The increased turnout in the South’s so-called Black Belt, or old plantation-country counties, was visible in the results, but it generally could not make up for the solid white support for Mr. McCain. Alabama, for example, experienced a heavy black turnout and voted slightly more Democratic than in 2004, but the state over all gave 60 percent of its vote to Mr. McCain. (Arkansas, however, doubled the margin of victory it gave to the Republican over 2004.) Less than a third of Southern whites voted for Mr. Obama, compared with 43 percent of whites nationally. By leaving the mainstream so decisively, the Deep South and Appalachia will no longer be able to dictate that winning Democrats have Southern accents or adhere to conservative policies on issues like welfare and tax policy, experts say. That could spell the end of the so-called Southern strategy, the doctrine that took shape under President Richard M. Nixon in which national elections were won by co-opting Southern whites on racial issues. And the Southernization of American politics — which reached its apogee in the 1990s when many Congressional leaders and President Bill Clinton were from the South — appears to have ended. “I think that’s absolutely over,” said Thomas Schaller, a political scientist who argued prophetically that the Democrats could win national elections without the South. The Republicans, meanwhile, have “become a Southernized party,” said Mr. Schaller, who teaches at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “They have completely marginalized themselves to a mostly regional party,” he said, pointing out that nearly half of the current Republican House delegation is now Southern. Merle Black, an expert on the region’s politics at Emory University in Atlanta, said the Republican Party went too far in appealing to the South, alienating voters elsewhere. “They’ve maxed out on the South,” he said, which has “limited their appeal in the rest of the country.” Even the Democrats made use of the Southern strategy, as the party’s two presidents in the last 40 years, Jimmy Carter and Mr. Clinton, were Southerners whose presence on the ticket served to assuage regional anxieties. Mr. Obama has now proved it is no longer necessary to include a Southerner on the national ticket — to quiet racial fears, for example — in order to win, in the view of analysts. Several Southern states, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee, have voted for the winner in presidential elections for decades. No more. And Mr. Obama’s race appears to have been the critical deciding factor in pushing ever greater numbers of white Southerners away from the Democrats. Here in Alabama, where Mr. McCain won 60.4 percent of the vote in his best Southern showing, he had the support of nearly 9 in 10 whites, according to exit polls, a figure comparable to other Southern states. Alabama analysts pointed to the persistence of traditional white Southern attitudes on race as the deciding factor in Mr. McCain’s strong margin. Mr. Obama won in Jefferson County, which includes the city of Birmingham, and in the Black Belt, but he made few inroads elsewhere. “Race continues to play a major role in the state,” said Glenn Feldman, a historian at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. “Alabama, unfortunately, continues to remain shackled to the bonds of yesterday.” David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, pointed out that the 18 percent share of whites that voted for Senator John Kerry in 2004 was almost cut in half for Mr. Obama. “There’s no other explanation than race,” he said. In Arkansas, which had among the nation’s largest concentration of counties increasing their support for the Republican candidate over the 2004 vote, “there’s a clear indication that racial conservatism was a component of that shift away from the Democrat,” said Jay Barth, a political scientist in the state. Race was a strong subtext in post-election conversations across the socioeconomic spectrum here in Vernon, the small, struggling seat of Lamar County on the Mississippi border. One white woman said she feared that blacks would now become more “aggressive,” while another volunteered that she was bothered by the idea of a black man “over me” in the White House. Mr. McCain won 76 percent of the county’s vote, about five percentage points more than Mr. Bush did, because “a lot more people came out, hoping to keep Obama out,” Joey Franks, a construction worker, said in the parking lot of the Shop and Save. Mr. Franks, who voted for Mr. McCain, said he believed that “over 50 percent voted against Obama for racial reasons,” adding that in his own case race mattered “a little bit. That’s in my mind.” Many people made it clear that they were deeply apprehensive about Mr. Obama, though some said they were hoping for the best. “I think any time you have someone elected president of the United States with a Muslim name, whether they are white or black, there are some very unsettling things,” George W. Newman, a director at a local bank and the former owner of a trucking business, said over lunch at Yellow Creek Fish and Steak. Don Dollar, the administrative assistant at City Hall, said bitterly that anyone not upset with Mr. Obama’s victory should seek religious forgiveness. “This is a community that’s supposed to be filled with a bunch of Christian folks,” he said. “If they’re not disappointed, they need to be at the altar.” Customers of Bill Pennington, a barber whose downtown shop is decorated with hunting and fishing trophies, were “scared because they heard he had a Muslim background,” Mr. Pennington said over the country music on the radio. “Over and over again I heard that.” Mr. Obama remains an unknown quantity in this corner of the South, and there are deep worries about the changes he will bring. “I am concerned,” Gail McDaniel, who owns a cosmetics business, said in the parking lot of the Shop and Save. “The abortion thing bothers me. Same-sex marriage.” “I think there are going to be outbreaks from blacks,” she added. “From where I’m from, this is going to give them the right to be more aggressive.”

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Now for sports: A.I. might be in for long haul

Iverson might be in for long haul At 33, star guard said Pistons are the type of organization he'd like to end his career with. Chris McCosky / The Detroit News TORONTO -- He's been here two days, hasn't even played a game yet and already people want to know how long he's staying. "I am starting to feel like a journeyman," Allen Iverson joked before Pistons shoot-around Wednesday. All kidding aside, though, Iverson wouldn't mind if his third team, the Pistons, was his last. "I want to finish my career mainly at a spot where I can be happy first, and have a chance to win a championship," he said. "Hopefully, everything will work out and I can stay right where I'm at. Honestly, I know with the personnel that's here and the organization, with the way they run everything first class, I am going to have an opportunity to win a championship. I have a big-time resume, but there is a big-time hole in it." Iverson, 33, is in the final year of his contract. What he won't do, he said, was chase money. He's looking for the best fit, not the biggest paycheck. "My whole thing is winning a championship," he said. "I have money. I have all the individual accolades. I've done the All-Star thing. I've been the scoring champ and an MVP. What I haven't had was the chance to feel the feeling of winning a championship. That's the most important thing right now." Pistons president Joe Dumars said Monday he had no preconceptions about whether he would pursue keeping Iverson here beyond this season. He's taking the same tack he took with Rasheed Wallace back in 2004. Let it play out and assess it after the season. Iverson said he wants to play until he's 39 -- six more seasons. "I know you guys have put me in a rocking chair already," he said. "When the time comes and we have a game and you put that scouting report up and my name isn't one of the first or second names on that scouting report, and I can't dominate like I used to, then I don't want to play no more. I won't do anything to tarnish my legacy." Iverson wasn't allowed to play Wednesday because Chauncey Billups and Cheikh Samb hadn't yet taken their physicals in Denver. Running with Rip There has been media speculation Iverson's presence will force the Pistons to move Richard Hamilton into a sixth-man role because Iverson and Hamilton couldn't play together without a true point guard. Coach Michael Curry doused that theory. "I look at it as being the same as if Chauncey were still here," he said. For one, Curry said, Rodney Stuckey isn't ready to be the full-time starting point guard. Secondly, Curry thinks Iverson and Hamilton can be a lethal duo. "Stuckey is still learning," Curry said. "He has a lot of talent, but he still has a ways to go. I've always said, if you don't give young guys things and you make them earn it, they will keep it. "If you give them something, you can take it away. He's earning his keep, and he's earning his time on the court." Curry also loves the idea of having two high-energy, aggressive offensive players like Iverson and Hamilton creating mayhem together. Iverson agrees. "I think it's going to be a positive," Iverson said. "(Defenses) can't give me the attention on the court they usually give me with a guy like Rip out there with me, and they can't give him the attention they usually give him with me out there. "Hopefully, I can make the game a lot easier for him and he can do the same for me." Slam dunk TNT has picked up the Pistons game next Thursday at Golden State. Tip-off will still be 10:30 p.m. It will not be carried on FSN.

Dems vow to pursue an aggressive agenda

Democrats Vow to Pursue an Aggressive Agenda By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and CARL HULSE WASHINGTON — Flush with victory built on incursions in the South and West, Congressional Democratic leaders promised to use their new power to join President-elect Barack Obama in pursuing an aggressive agenda that puts top priority on the economy, health care, energy and ending the Iraq war. By reaching deep into traditionally Republican turf, the Democrats in Tuesday’s elections expanded their majorities in both the House and the Senate. They picked up at least five Senate seats, in Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia. And they picked up at least 19 House seats, with new Democrats coming from Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia. The full extent of the new Democratic majorities remained unknown, with tight Senate races still undecided in Alaska, Minnesota and Oregon and a runoff scheduled on Dec. 2 in Georgia. At least six House races remained too close to call. Still, the promise of strong control of Congress also left Democratic leaders grappling with challenges of balancing a wider spectrum of views within their own party while confronting a diminished House Republican conference now decidedly more conservative. The exuberance of Tuesday night’s victories was also tempered by unease over the public’s high expectations for a party in control of both Congress and the White House amid economic turmoil, two wars overseas and a yawning budget gap. On the day after the election, leadership battles were breaking out across Capitol Hill as lawmakers contemplated the prospects of new power and opportunity. The quick start to the skirmishing signaled that some of the more bitter fights in the next Congress could be internal battles among Democrats. For instance, Democratic aides said that Representative Henry A. Waxman of California was expected to challenge Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, the longest-serving House Democrat, for chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Energy issues are expected to be a major focus of the Obama administration. And before the week is out, Democrats could try to oust Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the independent who campaigned for Senator John McCain, from the chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spoke with Mr. Obama by phone on Wednesday morning, said that they had made plans to discuss coordinated efforts for the transition and the new Congress, but that a more ambitious agenda would unfold next year. “Our priorities have tracked the Obama campaign priorities for a very long time,” Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference where she cited the economy, health care, energy and the Iraq war as topping the agenda. She said Democrats were talking with the Bush White House about a potential $61 billion economic stimulus that could be approved in a lame-duck session. But Ms. Pelosi said Democrats could open the 111th Congress in January with efforts to adopt measures blocked by President Bush, including ones to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and embryonic stem cell research. She said Democrats had no choice but to chart a centrist course. “The country must be governed from the middle,” she said. But Democrats on both sides of the Capitol were just beginning to digest the new faces in their expanded caucuses. Those new members include Jim Himes, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated former Goldman Sachs banker turned affordable-housing advocate who ousted Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, the only Republican House member in New England. But even as Democrats tightened their grip on the traditionally liberal Northeast, roughly one-third of this year’s gains in the House came in the West, including two seats in New Mexico and one each in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Nevada. In Idaho, the Democrats scored an unlikely House victory when Walt Minnick, a self-described “gun-owning outdoorsman” who once worked in the administration of Richard M. Nixon defeated Bill Sali, a Republican incumbent. Mr. Minnick, who emphasized his résumé as a businessman and longtime executive in the lumber industry, will join a Democratic conference long dominated by urban liberals and led by Ms. Pelosi, of San Francisco. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and other Democrats pointed to their successes in the West as evidence that they were building an enduring majority. They said new lawmakers from the region would bring a pragmatic approach driven less by partisanship and more by common sense. Representative Tom Udall, a Democrat who won a Republican-held Senate seat in New Mexico, said, “I feel like I am coming in as a Western problem-solver, as somebody who has had success working across the aisle on many issues in my home state.” Mr. Udall’s cousin Representative Mark Udall won the Senate race in Colorado. Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, a Democrat who won a second term on Tuesday, said the results showed that Republicans no longer had a guaranteed hold on the West. “When Democrats win in Idaho, that means that there is not a single place that’s safe left anywhere,” Mr. Schweitzer said. New Mexico was a showcase of Democratic strength in this election, partly because of strong support from Hispanics, as the party won a Senate seat and two more House seats, turning the state’s Congressional delegation thoroughly blue. But even as Mr. Reid was crowing about gun-loving Democrats in the West, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, was part of a separate conference call focusing on how many Democrats won by embracing progressive economic policies. Mr. Brown said that he expected Republicans and more conservative Democrats to join an array of legislation related to alternative energy, trade, jobs and tax policy. “With a popular president leading,” he said, “we are going to see all but the most closed-minded Republicans joining us.” The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, issued a statement on Wednesday offering Mr. Obama cooperation. Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said he believed that the new House majority would coalesce on most major economic issues but that some disagreements were inevitable. “Clearly we are a big-tent party, and when it comes to social issues there will be some different perspectives in the caucus,” Mr. Van Hollen said. Although Democrats fell short of their goal of a 60-vote Senate majority, which would have given them the power to break filibusters, Ms. Pelosi said it would be far easier to get Republican support for Democratic bills with Mr. Bush out of office. She said Republicans often blocked bills to protect the president. House and Senate Democrats said they believed the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats could mesh in a way that Capitol Hill Democrats and the Carter and Clinton administrations could not. As senators, Mr. Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., built strong relationships on Capitol Hill. President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, as former governors, were outsiders to Congress. Republicans are already warning that Mr. Obama, a relatively junior lawmaker, will be outmaneuvered by more experienced operators on Capitol Hill, a proposition Democrats dismissed, noting that Mr. Obama would benefit from the counsel of Mr. Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware. “I think both sides realize we need one another and both sides realize that we better not blow this,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Waxman to take on Dingell for house chairman

Californian Waxman targets Dingell's House chairmanshipBY JUSTIN HYDEFREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF WASHINGTON -- It took congressional Democrats less than 12 hours after a sweeping victory on election night to start fighting among themselves for power on Capitol Hill -- and the main target is U.S. Rep. John Dingell. The Dearborn lawmaker and longest-serving current member of the House faces an unexpected challenge from California Rep. Henry Waxman for his job as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- a gavel Dingell first took hold of 27 years ago. The post ranks as one of the most powerful in Washington, and Dingell has used it to influence thousands of bills, from the breakup of AT&T through the 1990 Clean Air Act to this year's $25-billion loan program for automakers. With the Obama administration on the horizon, the committee will serve as the front line for important debates such as health care reform, controlling greenhouse gases and renewable energy. If Dingell loses the chairmanship, Michigan's influence on Capitol Hill will be diminished, as Dingell has been the point man for much of the auto industry's efforts, among other things. Waxman, who runs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has called for stronger fuel economy rules for automakers along with other tougher environmental standards. "I hope Mr. Waxman would reconsider. I don't think this is a battle he wants to put in motion," said Rep. Bart Stupak, a Menominee Democrat and one of Dingell's closest allies on the committee. "No one has articulated to me any reason why Chairman Dingell should be replaced," he added. "You better have a good reason to challenge a sitting chairman." Shortly after Waxman called Dingell on Wednesday morning to announce his challenge, allies of the 82-year-old lawmaker rushed to his defense. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Dingell has clashed with in the past, could side with her state ally and press for his campaign, House Democrats would make the final decision -- if the fight goes that far. "This is unhealthy and does not benefit the party in any way," said Jodi Bennett Seth, a spokeswoman for Dingell. "Tearing a leadership apart is something the Republicans should be doing after their big loss. It shouldn't be the first order of business for the Democrats after a historic election." Waxman confirmed in a statement that he is seeking the post. "Some of the most important challenges we face --energy, climate change, and health care -- are under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee," he said. "In large measure, our success as Congress will depend on how the Commerce Committee performs." Several Washington sources said they were puzzled by Waxman's challenge because the committee had run smoothly in recent years, steadily producing complex bills. Committee chairmanships usually go to the member who has served the longest, although junior members have pulled upsets in cases where a chairman was clearly ineffective. Dingell has been recovering from knee replacement surgery last month after spending much of the past year on crutches, sometimes moving slowly and in visible pain around the Capitol. But Dingell, first elected in 1955, has shown few other signs of age. "He's sharper than most members on his bad days," Stupak said. While Waxman has held several high-profile hearings in his oversight committee, such as a recent one focusing on the collapse of Lehman Brothers, he has made little headway in legislation. It's also unlikely that a Democratic administration will create the same kind of opportunities for a Democratic-run oversight committee. While Waxman may count on support from the large California delegation and Pelosi, Dingell could respond with backing from several other parts of the party, including conservative and black Democratic members. Earlier this year, Dingell set up his first leadership political action committee to send donations to freshmen House members and Democratic challengers.

Dems add one more to the senate

Democratic challenger wins Senate race in Oregon By BRAD CAIN, Associated Press Writer Brad Cain, Associated Press Writer 48 mins ago PORTLAND, Ore. – The Democratic challenger in Oregon's Senate race, Jeff Merkley, has defeated Republican Sen. Gordon Smith. The victory will bring at least 55 Democrats to the new Senate, with three more races involving Republican incumbents yet to be decided in Alaska, Minnesota and Georgia. The party breakdown so far includes two independents who caucus with Democrats and 40 Republicans. It was one of the last Senate races to be decided. A flood of votes Oregonians delivered on election day kept election workers tallying ballots for two days. Merkley, speaker of the House in Oregon, planned an appearance Thursday morning to claim victory, and Smith planned a press conference in the afternoon. Smith's spokeswoman Lindsey Gilbride said she couldn't say whether Smith would concede at the press conference he scheduled for 2 p.m. The Democratic tide led by Barack Obama's election overwhelmed Smith, a moderate Republican who was seeking his third term. Smith was the lone Senate Republican on the Pacific Coast. Early Thursday, about 81 percent of the vote had been counted statewide. Merkley had a margin of nearly 40,000 votes.

Add North Carolina to the list

Obama adds symbolic NC victory to White House win By MIKE BAKER and BARBARA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writers Mike Baker And Barbara Rodriguez, Associated Press Writers 27 mins ago RALEIGH, N.C. – President-elect Obama won North Carolina on Thursday, a symbolic triumph that underscored his political strength as he turned nine states that President Bush won in 2004 to Democratic blue. The Associated Press declared Obama the winner after canvassing counties in North Carolina to determine the number of outstanding provisional ballots. That survey found that there are not enough remaining ballots for Republican John McCain to close a 13,693-vote deficit. North Carolina's 15 electoral votes brings Obama's total to 364 — nearly 100 more than necessary to win the White House — to McCain's 162. Missouri is the only state that remains too close to call, with McCain leading by several thousand votes. Obama's win in North Carolina was the first for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976. Of Bush's 2004 states, Obama captured Virginia, Florida and North Carolina in the South, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa in the Midwest and Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico in the West. Obama ran an aggressive general election campaign in North Carolina after his wide primary victory in the state over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested he could win a trove of electoral votes that most assumed would belong to McCain. McCain spent months watching North Carolina from afar during the summer as Obama visited regularly, but the GOP nominee returned to the state in the campaign's final few weeks as polls suggested an Obama victory was possible. Obama spent millions of televisions ads that were buttressed by hundreds of staff members in dozens of offices to take advantage of North Carolina's rapidly changing demographics and a large bloc of black voters galvanized by his bid to become the first African-American president. North Carolina's growing population includes a booming urban corridor from Charlotte to Raleigh along Interstate 85, while retirees from northern states — who are more willing to vote for Democrats — are filling the state's coast and mountains. Exit polls also showed that some 30 percent of voters considered race a factor in their decision, with the numbers split evenly among voters who backed McCain and Obama. Nearly one in five voters considered race an important factor. The economy also played a role — with 60 percent of voters considering it the top issue, with those voters breaking slightly to Obama. The state's manufacturing industry has been devastated by competitive imports, and the state's banking economy centered in Charlotte was struck by economic turmoil that led to the downfall of Wachovia Corp., in the weeks before Election Day. Obama's win completed the party's sweep at the top of the North Carolina ticket. Beverly Perdue was elected the state's first female governor, while Kay Hagan unseated one of the GOP's most respected figures in Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Emanuel accepts job as White House chief of staff

Emanuel accepts job as White House chief of staff By LIZ SIDOTI and NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writers Liz Sidoti And Nedra Pickler, Associated Press Writers 8 mins ago CHICAGO – Barack Obama's fellow Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel, the hard-charging No. 3 Democrat in the House, has accepted the job White House chief of staff, Democratic officials said Thursday. One of Obama's first decisions as president-elect was to ask the Illinois congressman to run his White House staff. The selection of the fiery Democrat marked a shift in tone for Obama, who chose more low-key leadership for his presidential campaign. Emanuel, who served as a political and policy aide in the Clinton White House before running for Congress, weighed the family and political considerations before accepting. He will have to resign his seat, relinquish his position in the House Democratic leadership and put aside hopes of becoming House speaker. Democratic officials who disclosed Obama's acceptance did so on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Obama's team; it had not planned to announce the chief of staff position on Thursday. In offering the White House post to Emanuel, Obama turned to a fellow Chicago politician with a far different style from his own, a man known for his bluntness as well as his single-minded determination. House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio called Emanuel "an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center." Before accepting the job, Emanuel told Chicago's WLS-TV that he was honored to be considered but needed to weigh the impact on his family. "I have a lot to weigh: the basis of public service, which I've given my life to, a career choice. And most importantly, what I want to do as a parent," Emanuel said in an interview aired Wednesday. "And I know something about the White House. That, I assume, is one of the reasons that President-elect Obama would like me to serve. But I also know something about what it means to a family." As word of Emanuel's acceptance spread Thursday, Obama was meeting privately in Chicago with U.S. intelligence officials preparing him to be commander in chief and transition team leaders tasked with building his entire administration in 10 short weeks. The president-elect planned his first public appearances since his victory for Friday. Aides said he planned to meet with economic advisers to discuss the nation's financial woes that Americans listed as their top concern on Election Day, and also was slated to talk to the news media afterward. They also said Obama and his wife, Michelle, will visit the White House on Monday at President Bush's invitation. Obama advisers said he was selecting the leaders of the new government with a sense of care over speed, with no plans to announce Cabinet positions this week. Aside from Emanuel, several Obama aides said other White House officials were being lined up, including Robert Gibbs as the likely pick for press secretary. Gibbs has been Obama's longtime spokesman and confidant and was at Obama's side from his 2004 Senate campaign through the long days on the presidential campaign trail. Obama planned to stay home through the weekend, with a blackout on news announcements so that he and his staff can get some rest after a grueling campaign and the rush of their win Tuesday night. He is planning a trip to Hawaii in December to get away with his family before their move to the White House — and to honor his grandmother, who died Sunday at her home there. Obama began Thursday as he usually does, with a workout. Later, he planned to visit with the transition team he officially announced Wednesday but had been under way for weeks. Officials had kept deliberations under wraps to avoid the appearance of overconfidence in the weeks leading to Tuesday's election. He also spent time at the FBI office in Chicago, a secure location for him to receive his first president's daily brief. The document is mostly written by the Central Intelligence Agency and includes the most critical overnight intelligence. It is accompanied by a briefing from top intelligence officials that typically lasts 45 minutes to an hour, although Obama's first is expected to be longer. ___ Liz Sidoti reported from Washington. Associated Press Special Correspondent David Espo in Washington and AP reporter Beth Fouhy in Chicago contributed to this

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

For our Republican friends

Yesterday was rough you lost more seats in both house and John McCain got beat badly so this song is for you.

Other election night results

Prop 1 and 2 passed: Diane Hathaway wins: Democrats gained more seats:

Peters win, Schauer beats Walberg

Peters ousts Knollenberg; Schauer declares victory over Walberg Deb Price, Mark Hornbeck and Marisa Schultz / The Detroit News
BATTLE CREEK -- Democrat Mark Schauer declared a narrow victory this morning over
Republican Rep. Tim Walberg in Michigan's 7th Congressional District -- hours after fellow Democrat Gary Peters defeated longtime Republican Rep. Joe Knollenberg in Oakland County. "It's been a long night and I wanted to make sure you were able to get some sleep tonight and went to bed with some certainty on how this is going to turn out," Schauer told his supporters at a hotel in Battle Creek. "Bottom line: Tim Walberg can't catch us," Schauer said as the crowd erupted into cheers. "... We did it!" But Schauer spokesman Zach Pohl said Walberg had not conceded he'd lost the seat that he won just two years ago, when he ousted Rep. Joe Schwarz in the Republican primary. Walberg's campaign didn't return a call for comment. The Schauer campaign said that with 96 percent of precincts reporting, Schauer had 137,527 votes to Walberg's 129,657 votes. The unofficial Associated Press tally showed 324 of 356 precincts -- 91 percent -- had Schauer with 145,388 votes (48 percent) to Walberg's 141,023 (47 percent). In the 9th District, Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills, was soundly beaten by Peters, a former state senator and lottery commissioner. Neither result was a huge surprise, because Democrats had targeted both districts with money and resources, and the electorate in both had been trending away from the GOP. They were among the Republican congressional districts targeted nationwide. If final numbers confirm Schauer's proclamation, Michigan's U.S. House delegation will swing from nine Republicans and six Democrats to eight Democrats and seven Republicans. The last time an incumbent U.S. House member from Michigan was defeated in a general election was in 1996, when Debbie Stabenow -- now Michigan's junior U.S. senator -- ousted freshman Republican Dick Chrysler in the Lansing-area congressional seat. Meanwhile, the state's senior senator, Democrat Carl Levin of Detroit, cruised to winning his sixth term against Republican Jack Hoogendyk. A somber Knollenberg, who thanked supporters beside his tearful wife and two sons, said late Tuesday night he was overtaken by a "perfect storm" of Barack Obama's popularity and a deluge of money sent to unseat him. Peters acknowledged he was helped by Obama's huge national wave. "But it also takes a lot of effort on the ground. It was a very tall mountain. We climbed it one step at a time," Peters said. Oakland County hasn't been represented by a Democrat in Congress in more than a half century. In the campaign, Knollenberg told voters he deserved re-election to the two-year term because of his ability to bring home money as a senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, as well as his record of fighting for the domestic auto industry. But he struggled to withstand a bare-knuckles challenge by Peters. Beverly Liberty, 48, who has lived in Farmington Hills for more than 20 years, said she chose Peters. "Sometimes people (Knollenberg) are in a bit long and need fresh ideas," she said. In the Walberg-Schauer contest, Walberg accused Schauer of being a tax-and-spend liberal; Schauer portrayed Walberg as an ineffective extremist who failed to help average people battered by job losses, rising health care costs and home foreclosures. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shoveled more than $1.6 million into each of the two hotly contested House races, helping Peters and Schauer with TV and radio ads and mailings. The Levin-Hoogendyk race was never competitive. Hoogendyk, a state representative from Kalamazoo, had an uphill battle from the start. "A lot of people think Carl Levin is too liberal for them, but they vote for him anyway because they think he's a good senator and more important than anything else, they like him," said pollster Bernie Porn of EPIC-MRA of Lansing. Levin, a 74-year-old Detroit native, raised $8.2 million to $247,326 for Hoogendyk, 53, who boasted that he had never voted for a tax increase. Bobby Atanasovski, 40, of Allen Park said he voted for Levin because "he's good for the working class. He's been in for a long time and has done a good job."

History: Barack H.Obama: 349, John S. McCain:147

Invoking Lincoln and promising “a new dawn of American leadership,” Barack Obama assumed the historic mantle of president-elect of the United States on Tuesday night, capping a campaign that saw him rise from unlikely candidate to the first Democrat since 1976 to win 50% of the popular vote. Obama, who five years ago was unknown nationally, is now poised to become the first African-American president in U.S. history. Speaking to tens of thousands gathered at Grant Park in his adopted hometown of Chicago, the 47-year-old junior senator from Illinois said the nation faces enormous challenges but “at this defining moment, change has come to America.” With the crowd chanting “Yes, we can,” Obama spoke of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and economic turmoil facing the country. He said, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But America, I have never been more hopeful. I promise you, we as a people will get there.” His rival in the hotly contested campaign, Republican John McCain, called from his home state of Arizona to concede the race shortly after news media outlets, including the Free Press, declared Obama the winner with the closing of polls on the West Coast. He held a 338-159 Electoral College vote lead over McCain with several states still in play. Obama needed 270 to win. “Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country,” McCain said in his concession speech to supporters in Arizona, calling on them to show “goodwill and earnest effort to come together.” In a lighter moment in Chicago, Obama said he would make good on another promise — to get a puppy for his daughters, Malia and Sasha. His historic rise was felt intensely by people in metro Detroit and across the nation. “I'm extremely proud of him,” said Nicole Jackson, a 35-year-old Detroit real estate broker who took her son, 10-year-old Horatio Williams, with her to vote for Obama on Tuesday. “He has stood out.” Indeed. For Michigan, which was called based on exit polls for Obama just after voting concluded at 9 p.m., and the rest of the country, there's much on the line. The nation's economic struggles that have been felt here for years and the credit crunch is hitting automakers at a time when they can ill afford it, sapping consumers' ability to buy cars. Obama, hoped many, could turn things around. Like Royal Oak's Susan Payne, who is in real estate and said she's hoping Obama “will bring confidence back to consumers.” It's a tall order perhaps — but voters turned out in record numbers to give their full-throated approval to his message of change. Inevitably, his election will be greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm for its historic nature. But he takes on a nation divided by partisan politics that is fighting two wars and is wrestling with how best to answer questions about its economic future on Wall Street and Main Street. His calibrated, careful, dogged campaign paid off Tuesday on a night as Democrats picked up congressional seats across the nation, and a sense of history pervaded the electorate. One by one, the battleground states that McCain needed to compete — New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Nevada — fell to Obama, meaning that even if McCain took the others in play, like Missouri or North Carolina, he still couldn't catch the Democrat. Obama was the first African American to be the presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party — and he entered Tuesday as the front-runner. McCain had proven through the years — and through this campaign particularly — to be a formidable candidate, one capable of preaching a bipartisan message tied to a conservative agenda. But he failed to hang onto the coalition of states courted and won by President George W. Bush four years ago. The campaigns took vastly different paths to get to this point. Announcing his candidacy on the steps of the old Statehouse in Springfield, Ill., Obama was virtually unknown before a Democratic convention speech in 2004 and his election that year to the U.S. Senate. Improbably, he mounted a campaign that burst fund-raising records, invigorated a generation of young voters and methodically defeated the favorite — former first lady and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. McCain, on the other hand, had been seen as a player in this election as far back as his 2000 loss to Bush. Those chances seemed to disappear in the summer of 2007, when his campaign suffered organizational disarray and a lack of money. He put together a shoestring campaign and, building off a win in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, defeated all comers, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who grew up in Bloomfield Hills. Labeling himself “the original maverick,” McCain's campaign was characterized by strong — and sometimes erratic — moves in the general election season. He named the virtually unknown Palin his running mate — energizing the conservative base which had been slow to warm to McCain but raising questions about her level of readiness to take over for him in a crisis. McCain — a prisoner of war in Vietnam, former Navy pilot and Arizona senator — would have been the oldest man ever to ascend the presidency at age 72. Meanwhile, Obama's reserve came in handy as an issue that already worked to the Democrats' benefit, the economy, came to the center of the race. Across metro Detroit and the nation, the election generated record interest — and turnout, which was widely expected to benefit Obama. Voting at the William A. Pfromm Educational Center in Warren, 77-year-old Bob McBean backed McCain but expected Obama to win. “I don't like either one of them very well,” he said. At Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit, the mostly African-American congregation was far from being so cynical. Said the Rev. Edgar Vann to his flock during a prayer session Tuesday: “History's being made and you're here. You're part of it.”
Before you say ah he's jumping on the bandwagon now.. Here's the deal after long hours of soul searching I came to understand this is larger then my disappointment of Hillary losing or how other dems treated one another during the primaries. A McCain victory would mean four more years of Reagan and Bush like policies something the US couldn't withstand. Now I ask for forgiveness because I was wrong and I hope those who voted for Obama in 2008 will come back and ensure an existing Democratic majority in 2010. The Republicans might took the lose this round be sure they will be back.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't let Knollenberg buy his seat

Knollenberg has more cash than Peters Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg has a huge money lead over his Democratic opponent Gary Peters, a former state Lottery Commissioner, going into the final weeks of one of the most watched congressional races in Michigan. Based on reports filed Wednesday, Knollenberg of Bloomfield Township had $1.9 million on hand to Bloomfield Hills resident Peters' $472,108. The reports also showed that for the election cycle, Knollenberg has raised $3.1 million to Peters' $1.9 million. The 9th Congressional District covers a large portion of Oakland County. In Michigan's other hotly contested congressional race, Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, has come up short in money raised against challenger state Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek. Schauer has raised $1.8 million and has $856,158 cash available, while Walberg raised $1.5 million with $691,635 left. By Kathleen Gray

Auditor to get Kilpatrick's office credit card records

Auditor to get Kilpatrick's office credit card recordsBY ZACHARY GORCHOWFREE PRESS STAFF WRITER Credit card records requested as part of an audit of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration were deliberately withheld from auditors while Kilpatrick was still in office, the city's new chief financial officer said Wednesday. Joseph Harris, named chief financial officer by Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr., said the Finance Department has the records sought by auditors and will make them available. "I was told by my staff for political reasons, they were told not to respond," he said. The Detroit City Council ordered an audit of spending in the Mayor's Office after the text message scandal broke earlier this year, but just before Kilpatrick resigned on Sept. 18, the Office of the Auditor General reported it could not complete the audit because it had not received all the information requested. Kilpatrick's staff has insisted it cooperated with the auditor general and made its staff available, but said auditors kept coming back with excessive follow-up requests. Norm White, who was chief financial officer this year until Cockrel took office and reassigned him to be director of the Detroit Department of Transportation, could not immediately be reached Wednesday. One of the areas in question was credit card records, according to an Oct. 6 letter from Auditor General Loren Monroe to the council. Kilpatrick came under scrutiny in his first term after the Free Press reported he used his taxpayer-funded credit card to pay for swanky meals, spa visits and chauffeured sedans, purchases the former mayor said were made while he was traveling on city business. Under the city's Finance Directive 137, the chief financial officer must maintain a list of all city credit cards, gasoline cards, purchasing cards and telephone cards. The list must include the authorized user and credit limit. Without the records, auditors could not complete an audit, Monroe said. Monroe also said the Finance Department had failed to turn over records regarding travel expenses for the mayor's Executive Protection Unit. Finance Directive 150 requires the Mayor's Office to provide the Finance Department with travel expense records each month related to the Executive Protection Unit. But Harris said the Finance Department has no such records in its possession.

Obama moves in on GOP ground

Obama moves into GOP states after final debate By CHRISTOPHER WILLS, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 49 minutes ago Leading in polls and exuding confidence after last night's debate, Democrat Barack Obama is edging into traditionally GOP states — now including West Virginia — as Republican John McCain looks to protect his turf less than three weeks before the election. On the heels of the campaign's final debate, the Democrat is launching TV ads in West Virginia, which George W. Bush won four years ago and hadn't been on the list of target states until recently, according to two Democrats with knowledge of the strategy. Obama lost West Virginia's Democratic primary to Hillary Rodham Clinton by 41 percent last May as he struggled to win over working-class whites. But Democrats say the economic turmoil in the hard-hit state and TV ads Obama has been running in its neighbors have made West Virginia competitive. These Democrats spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the campaign. They say Obama's campaign also is considering pouring money into reliably Republican Kentucky and may yet return to the airwaves in North Dakota and Georgia. Those are two states Obama had tried to put in play over the summer, but he pulled out when they appeared out of reach. The Illinois senator sounded increasingly optimistic at a breakfast fundraiser at the New York City Metropolitan Club. "We now have 19 days," Obama said. "We are now 19 days not from the end but from the beginning. The amount of work that is going to be involved for the next president is going to be extraordinary." But, he said, for anyone getting cocky or giddy, "two words for you: New Hampshire. I've been in these positions before where we were favored and the press starts getting carried away, and we end up getting spanked." Obama won the Iowa caucuses, only to lose to Clinton in New Hampshire in the primary. McCain, for his part, was returning to the argument that Obama's credentials are too thin for the White House, his campaign and the Republican National Committee releasing ads focusing on experience and judgment. McCain planned to visit swing state Pennsylvania, but he also was being forced to go to Republican territory as polls show Obama with the edge in such places as Virginia, Colorado and Florida. Obama was heading in the next few days to Virginia and Missouri, states often out of reach for Democrats but up for grabs in a year with Republicans under fire. Wednesday night, McCain tried to blunt a familiar line of attack when he asserted, "Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush." But Obama quickly turned that argument against his rival in a new TV spot. "True," the ad's announcer responds, "but you did vote with Bush 90 percent of the time." One unique debate watcher was "Joe the Plumber" — Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, whose exchange with Obama about taxes and small businesses a few days earlier elicited dozens of references from the candidates during the debate. "It floored me. It's not something I expected, ever," Wurzelbacher told "Good Morning America" on ABC. Though he wouldn't say for whom he was voting, Wurzelbacher said Obama had a "very socialist view" of taxes "and that's incredibly wrong." The 90-minute debate at Hofstra University marked the beginning of a sprint to Election Day. Obama leads in the national polls and in surveys in many battleground states, an advantage built in the weeks since the nation stumbled into the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Looking to shake up the race, McCain questioned Obama's character and his policies. He linked Obama to a 1960s radical, accused him of planning tax increases that would cripple the economy and said he was dishonest about a promise to accept public campaign financing. "You didn't tell the American people the truth," the Arizona senator said. Obama ignored that charge and remained calm throughout the debate. He often turned the accusations against McCain, calling them examples of the petty politics harming the country. "The important point here is, though, the American people have become so cynical about our politics, because all they see is a tit-for-tat and back-and-forth," the Illinois senator said. "And what they want is the ability to just focus on some really big challenges that we face right now." McCain went on offense from the opening moments, accusing Obama of waging class warfare by seeking tax increases that would "spread the wealth around." He also demanded to know the full extent of Obama's relationship with college professor William Ayers, once a Vietnam War protester and part of a group that bombed government buildings, and the Democrat's ties with ACORN, a liberal group accused of violating federal law as it seeks to register voters. McCain said the group could be on the verge of "destroying the fabric of democracy." Obama condemned Ayers' violent activities and denied any significant ties to ACORN, mocking McCain for bringing them up. "I think the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me," he said.