Law School Discussion

Presidential Hopeful ...

Re: Carla Bruni Blasts Berlusconi's Obama Remark
« Reply #320 on: November 30, 2008, 11:46:50 AM »

Berlusconi had said on Thursday that Obama, who will be the first African-American US president, was "handsome, young and also suntanned". Italy's left-wing opposition parties accused Berlusconi of bringing discredit on the nation with the quip. "He forgets that his statements cast doubt on the image of our country in the world," said Dario Franceschini, member of parliament for the center-left Democratic Party. Berlusconi responded by calling them "imbeciles" with no sense of humor. Meanwhile French politicians and celebrities had published a petition calling for positive discrimination in favour of people from ethnic minorities. The program "Oui, nous pouvons!" ("Yes, we can!") demands concrete political change to make the French ideal of equality reality for the millions of immigrants living in France. Bruni-Sarkozy did not sign the petition because of her status as wife of the president but she said she supported it in every respect.

Italians are ridiculous!

Re: Clinton, Obama Conflict Trumped Up by RNC
« Reply #321 on: December 01, 2008, 06:01:36 PM »

Over the past few weeks, the Republican National Committee has made it a point of pride to send out memos portraying a great fissure between the respective camps of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Last Thursday, for instance, saw an email with the subject line "The Healing Process Was Far From Over." Earlier the party blasted out stories showing Clinton supporters demanding a vote at the Democratic Convention. Then, when that vote was granted on Thursday, the RNC sent out a clip from Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News, titled "Barack Obama blinks in Hillary face-off." It's enough to give the impression (certainly, it's designed to give the impression) that chaos is ripping apart the Democratic Party, leading waves of Clinton backers to the precipice of defecting to John McCain.

It is almost completely untrue. In actuality, as Marc Ambinder noted on Friday and as several Clinton confidantes have told the Huffington Post, the two Democrats are far closer towards political unity than imagined when their primary fight ended. "This is all a tempest in a teapot driven by a whole lot of media sources and the RNC looking to make trouble," said Mike Berman, a longtime Democratic hand and friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Thursday's announcement that Clinton would get a roll call vote at the convention -- in the process placating her supporters and providing her with the chance to state her support for Obama -- is seen even by the most hardened Clinton fanatics as an important step towards reconciliation. "I was on record saying I didn't think this was a good idea, because I was worried about the PUMA [Party Unity My Ass] supporters, people who are indifferent to a McCain presidency and are only driven by anger, which is not to criticize them, that is a genuine emotion," Lanny Davis, one of Clinton's more vocal supporters, told the Huffington Post. "That is reality and I thought that giving her a roll call vote would be destructive and counterproductive at the convention, because it is impossible to control the way the media would cover it. The most vocal Obama critics would be surround by 50 television cameras and be given their 50 seconds of fame." It turned out, Davis went on, "that I had less faith than my candidate and Sen. Obama... The compromise they have just announced pulls off the exact solution that allows people to cast their votes and allows people like me to separate ourselves from the five percent of folks who weren't going to support Obama no matter what."

Arianna Huffington is so smart! Take a look at this:

Obama rolls out national security team

(CNN -- President-elect Barack Obama on Monday announced Sen. Hillary Clinton as his pick for secretary of state, calling her an "American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence."

"Hillary's appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago, Illinois. "I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda."

Obama also confirmed that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his current post. Rounding out his Monday announcements, Obama named retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser, Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary and Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations. "I am confident that this team is what we need to make a new beginning for American national security," Obama said. Clinton said leaving the Senate would be difficult for her, but said she believes that the best way for her to continue to serve the country is by joining Obama's administration.

"Mr. President-elect, I am proud to join you on what will be a difficult and exciting adventure in this new century," she said at the news conference. Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, who was not at the event Monday, issued a statement expressing his support for his wife. "In her service to the people of New York and our nation, Hillary has demonstrated the knowledge, passion, resilience, and capacity to learn that our country needs at this critical time. "She loves being a senator from New York, but as she has in all the 37 years I've known her, she answered the call to serve. I commend President-Elect Obama for asking her to be a part of a great national security team. America will be well-served," he said in a statement. New York Gov. David Paterson thanked Clinton for her service and said he is consulting with people from all over the state in order to appoint the best possible candidate to replace her in the Senate.

"New York will lose a powerful voice in the Senate. But the nation will gain a powerful voice in the world. Sen. Clinton's wisdom and record of leadership will make her a strong advocate for the cause of liberty, human rights, and the rule of law," he said in a written statement. In assuming this new post, Clinton will have some control of her staffing, like picking the assistant secretaries, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Clinton, Obama's former rival for the Democratic nomination, also has been told by the Obama team that they will help her fundraise in the next 60 days to help clear her campaign debt, which is about $6.5 million, the sources said. Asked Monday how he can be sure that his administration will function as a team of rivals and not a clash of rivals, Obama said he has assembled a group of "outstanding public servants" who share a core vision for the country.

"I am very confident that each of these individuals are not going to be leaving the outstanding work that they are currently doing if they weren't convinced that they could work as an effective team," Obama said. Obama added that he is a strong believer in "strong personalities and strong opinions." Obama also noted, however, that he would have the final word in setting national security policy. "The buck will stop with me," Obama said. All of the selections are people who have been mentioned often during weeks of fevered speculation about the likely nominees. The president-elect has made no secret of his interest in having divergent views within his Cabinet, and Gates has served in various national security roles under Republican presidents, including as CIA director during former President George H.W. Bush's administration.

To some, the choice demonstrates bipartisanship and conveys that Obama has the self-confidence in his leadership abilities to keep one of the more widely respected members of the Bush administration. "We've got confidence, continuity, and I still think the mission to get out of [Iraq] as soon as possible will be accomplished. So I think it's a great choice," Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel told CNN's "Larry King Live" last week. Others say keeping Gates could delay the change that Obama promised during his campaign, because it could lead to potential policy conflicts over missile defense funding and a speedy Iraq pullout. "If we don't have good civilian personnel alongside our good military personnel, we're not going to reform. It can't happen. You need the right people to make it work," former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim said. As for Clinton, some observers have raised concerns about her husband and suggested that the former president's international business dealings, global foundation and penchant for going off script could present a significant obstacle for the incoming commander-in-chief. "These are issues that I'm sure are being discussed, and they will have to be worked out, and it's legitimate to ask these questions," said James Carville, a former aide to the Clintons and CNN contributor. Obama's transition team was given access to Bill Clinton's finances and post-presidential dealings, sources said. As part of the early vetting process, the team looked for any negative information that could jeopardize the prospect of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

A particular issue of concern, observers said, was the donor list of Bill Clinton's global foundation, which might show connections to international figures who push policies that could conflict with those of the new Obama administration. Since exiting the Oval Office eight years ago, Clinton has reportedly raised more than $500 million for the foundation, a significant portion of which financed the construction of his presidential library. The foundation has also doled out millions for AIDS relief in Africa and other charitable causes around the world. Amid repeated criticism from Sen. Clinton's primary opponents, Bill Clinton would not reveal the extent of the foundation's donor list earlier this year. But The New York Times has reported the list includes some foreign governments, including members of the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a fund connected to the United Arab Emirates, and the governments of Kuwait and Qatar. The former president has also reportedly solicited funds from international business figures connected to human rights abuses that his wife has criticized, including the governments of Kazakhstan and China. During the New York senator's White House bid, critics repeatedly said that foreign governments and business executives could try to exert influence through donations to the foundation, which prompted a pledge from the former president to publicly disclose all future donors.

Re: Presidential Hopeful ...
« Reply #322 on: December 04, 2008, 07:24:36 PM »

Reading this thread and watching Obama's rise brought to my mind Spiro Theodore Agnew, the 39th Vice President of the United States (and the first Greek American in that capacity) serving under Nixon. He is noted for his quick rise in politics -- going in 6 years from County Executive to Vice President of the United States.

As Richard Nixon's vice president, Spiro Theodore Agnew served from 20 January 1969 until 10 October 1973, when he resigned over matters unrelated to the Watergate scandal. Agnew, the son of Greek immigrants, grew up in Baltimore, MD, where he began practicing law in 1949. From 1962 to 1969 he served as a county executive in Baltimore before being elected governor in 1967. As Nixon's vice president he was not closely involved in policy decisions, but he was a media favorite for his staunch defense of the Vietnam War and his colorful attacks on war protesters, the press and political dissidents. Agnew's fiery rhetoric became legendary: he famously called the press "nattering nabobs of negativism" and referred to war critics as "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as 'intellectuals.'"

After Nixon and Agnew were elected to a second term, Agnew became the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in Maryland for financial irregularities while he held state office. Rather than face trial, Agnew resigned and entered a plea of no contest to charges of evading income tax. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $10,000. After he left office Agnew avoided publicity and went into business as an international broker. In 1981 he was ordered by a Maryland court to repay more than $248,000 to cover bribes he took while in state office.

Re: Presidential Hopeful...
« Reply #323 on: December 11, 2008, 09:01:48 AM »

As a result, Frum and other Republicans are urging party officials to shift the emphasis off the presidential race and on to preserving as many Senate seats as possible. Democrats, while being careful not to count their electoral chickens before they're hatched, are privately worried about winning without enough of a majority in the Senate to really change things.

The enduring theme of Obama's campaign has been fundamental change. But, with victory within sight, the question becomes: how much change can he deliver if Democrats don't reach a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate? If the recent past is prologue, the answer is: not nearly enough. In the just-ended 110th Congress, obstructionist Senate Republicans, led by human roadblock Mitch McConnell, mounted a record 104 filibusters (and that was with Bush in the White House; imagine how much more intransigent they would be with Obama). To put that number in context, in the previous Congress, the 109th, in which Democrats were in the minority, there were just 54 filibusters.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called the GOP tactic "obstruction on steroids." McConnell countered by deeming the filibuster flood an "ordinary procedure." And he makes it clear it's going to become even more "ordinary" if he's allowed to wield it in the 111th Congress: "I think the Senate works best when it makes things happen in the middle and that happens when you have 41 or more people who resist an idea to the point where you can compromise." In other words, to the point where you can derail, shut down, and gridlock real change. The specter of Democrats controlling both the executive and the legislative branches of government has become a useful late-campaign boogeyman for Republicans. In John McCain's version, voters need to elect him president to balance out a Congress led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Senate Republicans, facing potential losses in New Hampshire, Oregon, Minnesota, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky and Georgia, are making the pitch as if an Obama White House is a foregone conclusion. Elizabeth Dole, in a neck and neck fight with challenger Kay Hagan, has a new TV ad warning that if she loses, it will hand Democrats "a blank check." Norm Coleman, currently running behind Al Franken in Minnesota, ominously told voters: "If I lose this seat and one party has control across the board, then you'll see changes." Coleman's quote should go right into a Franken commercial, and commercials for every other Democratic Senate candidate. "Want real change? Put Democrats in control."

Republicans aren't the only ones warning about one party rule. On Sunday, the New York Times, falling into be-careful-what-you-wish-for mode, warned that gaining a 60 seat majority would put Democrats "at risk of overreaching." For the sake of the country, that's a risk Obama and Senate Democrats need to take. As Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse puts it: "I think we are in enough trouble in enough areas, that I would rather own it and then have to perform than continue with this back and forth, back and forth with Republicans, particularly while they are engaged in this absolute determined policy of obstruct, obstruct, obstruct."

GOP hopes rise, Dems hit rough patch

After three nearly uninterrupted years of favorable political news, Democrats have finally hit a rough patch. Over a period of fewer than 10 days, Democrats have seen their nominee go down in defeat in the Georgia Senate runoff — eliminating the prospect of a filibuster-proof majority — lost 2 winnable House races in Louisiana and witnessed House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) sink deeper into ethics trouble. Then there's the still-unfolding Illinois Senate debacle, which exposed Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich's tawdry attempts to auction off President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat and forced Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) to hold a press conference Wednesday denying any inappropriate discussions with the governor. Blagojevich's problems have a less specific timetable for resolution, and the governor has given no indication, so far, that he intends to resign his office.

Nice work, Gov. Blagojevich. Really.

Two big holiday season cheers to floppy-haired Ilinois governor Rod Blagojevich for giving us faith again. Just when we thought we couldn't squeeze out one more drop of righteous indignation. Just when continuing big executive financial sector bonuses and automaker private jet rides threatened another one of those stupid "Death Of Irony" moments, along comes Mr. Blagojevich to remind us that there are always new standards to strive towards and records to be broken.

"There's politics, then there's crime," said crusading avenging angel and US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, as though the two are so distinct. But this is clearly an Olympic gold medal moment in the history of political corruption. You have to hand it to the governor: there's something to be said for brazen self-destruction - a "teachable moment" in the Gavin Newsom meaning - in a culture always looking for new heights of chutzpah. When famous San Francisco Madam Brandy Baldwin was busted for the third or fourth time running a cathouse in Pacific heights, her lawyer, the late Art Groza, got her a deal that saved her hard prison time and had her serving her sentence in a local convent instead. I visited Brandy there to do a story and, while she was fighting with the tough sister who ran the place and shocking the nuns with risque tales late at night, she was also running an outcall escort business from the pay phone.

But this bald-faced Chicago chicanery makes Brandy look like an amateur.

I stand here though (sit here, actually) in defense of Governor Blagojevich. While he may have tried to sell a US Senate seat, held up kids' hospital funding waiting for some kickbacks and tried to gangplank journalists he didn't like through extortion, at least he didn't cheat on his wife like Elliot Spitzer and John Edwards. In fact, this faithful husband even tried to dip into his shakedown skims and get ransom money to secure his wife a grifter job. That's got to be a Cosmo cover line on a 10-great-qualities-in-a-husband story. His compulsion, like Mr. Edwards and Mr. Spitzer, was powerful, but chaste.

Now, I do have to say that Jennifer Aniston made better and more efficient use of her hometown newspaper than Rod Blagojevich tried to make of his. Even there, the Governor has done some good: He may have shined a rare and precious light on the respectable and ethical side of an otherwise vilified Tribune Company owner, Sam Zell. We don't know the details yet. But if Mr. Blagojevich's alleged lengthy blackmail scheme, page 12, subsection A (agreeing to help Tribune sell Wrigley Field in exchange for Chicago's venerated paper firing editorial page writers the Governor didn't like) actually reached Mr. Zell's ears, then whoa! That means Sam Zell, even if he does look like the deceased satanist cult leader Anton LeVay, actually stood up for principle and didn't can the journalists. And that guy just declared the Tribune Company bankrupt, so it's not like he didn't have extra pressure to say yes to the scheme. Not only that, but the Tribune both continued to hammer the governor while also holding back on stories about the investigation to let Mr. Fitzgerald do his job. Let's ignore for now that Mr. Zell borrowed from his employees pension fund to buy them worthless stock in the company; that won't get him a 6 a.m. FBI wake-up call. That reminds me of the time, at the old Examiner, when folks from the local Archdiocese tried to get us to pull reporter Elizabeth Fernandez off a beat covering the church sex scandal. The publisher at the time, Lee Guittar, wrote back one of the best "buzz off" letters I've ever read, eloquently defending the right of the paper to cover the story with whichever reporter we thought was appropriate. Or maybe Sam Zell didn't know about the scheme. Let's try and stay positive all around, though. At a minimum, Mr. Zell looks better because his financial bankruptcy pales in comparison to the Governor's general moral bankruptcy.

The other shining star of this delicious scandal is Patrick Fitzgerald. Once again, he's the avenging angel. Not since 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace has there been a guy you never, ever want to have show up at your door. So, for just a minute, even though Thanksgiving is over, let's give a big Richard Daley, Sr. thanks to Governor Rod Blagojevich for taking our minds momentarily off the full collapse of our faith-based economy, giving cable TV something else to blanket, reminding us that hubris is boundless and that actions - even among the powerful - sometimes have consequences.


Phil Bronstein
December 9, 2008

Re: Presidential Hopeful ...
« Reply #324 on: December 11, 2008, 06:18:06 PM »
The case against Blagojevich just gives a glimpse of the gangsterism and money-grubbing that characterize official politics in the U.S., involving both big business parties. Democratic and Republican officeholders routinely trade government favors for cash, whether in the form of campaign contributions or outright bribes. While it appears that the governor of Illinois is a particularly crude, foul-mouthed and stupid practitioner of capitalist politics, he is not an aberration. Conversations similar in substance, if not style, to those made public in the Blagojevich probe will be taking place today in government offices and political headquarters in every state and throughout Washington DC.

The scandal is clearly only in its early stages, however. The affidavit itself bears the signs of having been written in haste, and the decision to use that procedure rather than present an indictment to a grand jury suggests that Fitzgerald made a last-minute decision to have Blagojevich arrested, perhaps to forestall the governor appointing himself as a successor to Obama. He now must hold a preliminary hearing or formally indict Blagojevich within 20 days.

Senate Defeats a White House-backed Bailout for the Auto Industry
« Reply #325 on: December 12, 2008, 08:46:42 AM »

[...] and automaker private jet rides threatened another one of those stupid "Death Of Irony" moments [...]

Just 10 Republicans supported the $14 billion loan package on the 52-35 roll call, which fell well short of the 60 needed to move forward. It was a major defeat for the lame duck president, but more importantly underscored a larger vacuum in leadership in Washington with Bush unable to deliver his party, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke clinging to the sidelines, and the incoming Barack Obama still hesitant to use his election mandate to rally his former colleagues. Obama never threw himself into the fight in a major way, and in contrast with the mortgage foreclosure crisis, Democrats seemed almost intent on protecting him from being entangled in the fight. But if GM falls into bankruptcy now, followed quickly by Chrysler LLC, it will greatly compound the unemployment crisis the new president faces Jan. 20th. Asian markets fell Friday after the news, and Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that "Wall Street isn't going to be a pleasant sight." But in truth the markets were never a driving force in the month-long auto industry debate, which proved a poor stepchild in dollars and drama to the larger fight in September and October over Treasury’s $700 billion financial markets rescue fund.

But the Bush administration said that it will consider using the money set aside to help banks and Wall Street to rescue the auto industry. The statement -- a change in the administration's long-held position -- might be the last best chance to keep troubled automakers General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) and Chrysler LLC out of bankruptcy. The defeat of a $14 billion bailout plan in the Senate late Thursday left the administration little choice but to tap the $700 billion bailout approved by Congress in October, the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, according to White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. "Given the current weakened state of the U.S. economy, we will consider other options if necessary -- including use of the TARP program -- to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers," Perino said in a statement. "A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy.

Republican critics of a bailout have argued that the automakers should use the bankruptcy process to shed debt and provisions of its labor contracts the companies can no longer afford, the way companies in other troubled industries, such as airlines and steelmaking, have done in the past. But the automakers argued that bankruptcy is not an option for them. They say consumers will not buy cars from a bankrupt automaker because of concerns about the warranties and the resale value of the cars if the company goes out of business. And they point out that companies that reorganize in bankruptcy get funding to continue operations, funding that the automakers would have trouble getting with the current credit squeeze and weak auto sales.

"Aunti Zeituni"
« Reply #326 on: January 02, 2009, 09:19:00 AM »

So sad her grandma did not actually see him win and become Prez... I'm pretty sure this event deeply touched the hearts and souls of all his fans...

WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama's aunt, a Kenyan woman who has been quietly living in public housing in Boston, is in the United States illegally after an immigration judge rejected her request for asylum four years ago, The Associated Press has learned. Zeituni Onyango, 56, referred to as "Aunti Zeituni" in Obama's memoir, was instructed to leave the United States by a U.S. immigration judge who denied her asylum request, a person familiar with the matter told the AP late Friday. This person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one was authorized to discuss Onyango's case. Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one of them a federal law enforcment official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release. Onyango's refusal to leave the country would represent an administrative, non-criminal violation of U.S. immigration law, meaning such cases are handled outside the criminal court system. Estimates vary, but many experts believe there are more than 10 million such immigrants in the United States.

The AP could not reach Onyango immediately for comment. No one answered the telephone number listed in her name late Friday. It was unclear why her request for asylum was rejected in 2004. Onyango is not a relative whom Obama has discussed in campaign appearances and, unlike Obama's father and grandmother, is not someone who has been part of the public discussion about his personal life. A spokeswoman for U.S. ICE, Kelly Nantel, said the government does not comment on an individual's citizenship status or immigration case. Onyango's case—coming to light just days before the presidential election—led to an unusual nationwide directive within Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requiring any deportations prior to Tuesday's election to be approved at least at the level of ICE regional directors, the U.S. law enforcement official told the AP. The unusual directive suggests that the Bush administration is sensitive to the political implications of Onyango's case coming to light so close to the election. Kenya is in eastern Africa between Somalia and Tanzania. The country has been fractured in violence in recent years, including a period of two months of bloodshed after December 2007 that killed 1,500 people. The disclosure about Onyango came just one day after Obama's presidential campaign confirmed to the Times of London that Onyango, who has lived quietly in public housing in South Boston for five years, was Obama's half aunt on his father's side. It was not immediately clear how Onyango might have qualified for public housing with a standing deportation order. The campaign said it was returning $260 that Onyango had contributed in small increments to Obama's presidential bid over several months. Federal election law prohibits foreigners from making political donations. Onyango listed her employer as the Boston Housing Authority and last gave $5 on Sept. 19.

Mr. Obama - either send her back per the deportation order issued, or push for her to be able to live in the US legally, in an apartment of her own, like a normal human being, half-aunt of the US president.

Rod Blagojevich scandal a ticking bomb for Rahm Emanuel
« Reply #327 on: January 10, 2009, 12:58:44 PM »

The case against Blagojevich just gives a glimpse of the gangsterism and money-grubbing that characterize official politics in the U.S., involving both big business parties. Democratic and Republican officeholders routinely trade government favors for cash, whether in the form of campaign contributions or outright bribes. While it appears that the governor of Illinois is a particularly crude, foul-mouthed and stupid practitioner of capitalist politics, he is not an aberration. Conversations similar in substance, if not style, to those made public in the Blagojevich probe will be taking place today in government offices and political headquarters in every state and throughout Washington DC.

The scandal is clearly only in its early stages, however. The affidavit itself bears the signs of having been written in haste, and the decision to use that procedure rather than present an indictment to a grand jury suggests that Fitzgerald made a last-minute decision to have Blagojevich arrested, perhaps to forestall the governor appointing himself as a successor to Obama. He now must hold a preliminary hearing or formally indict Blagojevich within 20 days.

Posted By: Toby Harnden at Dec 23, 2008

So the Obama team's internal report into its contacts with Governor Rod Blagojevich is out -- held, conveniently enough, until late afternoon on the day before Christmas eve when Obama is in Hawaii and the normally very available Rahm Emanuel is en route to Africa. The US attorney's interviews with Obama, Valerie Jarrett and Emanuel were completed on Saturday so the report could have been released then. Instead, Team Obama waited another three days, during time which they made a strategic Sunday leak to ABC News to draw the sting. Cute (perhaps a little too cute) media management.

Surprise surprise, the report completely exonerates everyone in the Obama camp. And it's true that there is no suggestion in the report -- and no one has plausibly claimed -- that anyone close to or working for Obama was involved in the attempted sale of his former Senate seat. But the report is extremely vague about the "one or two" conversations that Emanuel had with Blagojevich and the "about four" conversations he had with John Harris, the governor's chief of staff, who was also arrested at dawn on December 9th and has since resigned. The problem with this is that it's a drip, drip that doesn't make the issue go away. The conversations were presumably all recorded by the FBI so the details will come out.

Emanuel was initially pushing Obama's buddy Valerie Jarrett for the seat with Blagojevich himself before he learned that "the President-elect had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate". It's not clear whether Emanuel was speaking for Obama, though presumably he was. Which leaves a feeling of cronyism - Jarrett has a very limited track record for a US Senator. Emanuel then gave Harris four more whom Mr Obama "considered to be highly qualified" -- Dan Hynes, Tammy Duckworth, Representative Jan Schakowsky and Representative Jesse Jackson Jnr. So Obama was not exctly taking a hands off approach to the Senate seat, as he said he would. He was involved like any other politician. Which is fine, except that Obama presents himself as being unlike any other politician.

Emanuel's six conversations about filling the Senate seat suggest a pretty close interest in the matter. Blagojevich is likely to be indicted on charges of trying to sell that Senate seat. Sooner or later, Emanuel is likely to drawn right into the centre of things. Even if -- as seems to be the case -- he was engaging in nothing more than ordinary political horse-trading, at a minimum his involvement in the case is likely to be time consuming and have unseemly connotations. It's a ticking political bomb, if not a legal one. And it's something Obama could do without.

Re: Presidential Hopeful ...
« Reply #328 on: January 20, 2009, 09:59:59 AM »


[...] In a tough fight, Rush claimed Obama was not 'black enough' and defended his turf. Obama's career looked to be becalmed. But then Obama proved he has something that all politicians envy: good luck. He had met and married a young lawyer, Michelle Robinson, and they had two young daughters. [...]

Elizabeth Alexander, the poet commissioned by Barack Obama to write a commemorative poem for his inauguration, lives a busy literary life within Black Studies, a special world of university writing and teaching. One of Alexander's poems asks "What is black culture?" That's a term she wants to expand. She thinks it has become too narrow, too often obsessed with political questions along the lines of "Is it black enough?" She seems to fear that she and other writers can be trapped in fantasies of authenticity. She sometimes complains that "African-American poetry has been read sociologically," but her own verse invites precisely that reading. Those making their way through her 4 published collections may well be tempted to respond to content more than language even though she considers language the centre of her art.

She's aware that "poetry makes nothing happen." But she knows poetry can help prepare us for what is to happen and perhaps clarify moral choices. Many will consider the inclusion of a poet no more than human decor for the inauguration, but Alexander clearly has something more ambitious in mind. She's said that poetry "moves us towards transformation."

Obama Swears In Twice
« Reply #329 on: January 23, 2009, 09:43:49 AM »
The conspiracy theorists were warming up, openly wondering whether the Chief Justice, appointed by the outgoing President Bush, had intentionally mangled the oath. So to put the crazy theories to rest preemptively, Obama retook the oath in the Map Room of the White House Wednesday. This time, however, there was no bible, no top coat, no millions around the globe hanging on his every word.

The oath is written as, "I do solemly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States." Roberts said, "I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully." Before repeating, Obama was caught tounge-tied trying to following the incorrect line. A decision was made to have a do-over Wednesday night at the White House to re-swear Obama into office. Although there was a mis-hap, according to the Constitution, Obama became President at noon on Inaguration day.