Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Prominent writers for DailyKos, the country's top liberal blog, are launching a new site to scrutinize and pressure the Democratic Congress.

This week, as most politicos focus on appointments in the incoming Obama administration, DailyKos bloggers began a "soft launch" for Congress Matters, which promises a "community-based political watch party" for Democrats on Capitol Hill.

"It'll be a place where we'll try to explain Congressional rules and procedure so that the netroots community gets a better handle on it and can become more effective advocates for their priorities," said David Waldman, an attorney and former Congressional aide who blogs on the front page of DailyKos under the name Kagro X.

While netroots activists often call Congress, Waldman explained, "the reality is that by the time a bill gets to the floor, it's almost too late to have any real impact by calling." The new blog will tap DailyKos' audience and brand, he told The Nation, with the aim of "getting people involved earlier in the process, teaching them about committee markups and the amendment process to eventually put them in a position where they can intervene at the critical points in the process -- the way lobbyists have learned to do." 2008-11-24-kosmsnbc.png

Another Hill staffer turned blogger, Joan McCarter, penned an open letter to the Democratic Congressional leadership after the election, and posted it on DailyKos' coveted front page real estate. Even after election fever subsided, the site remains the eighth most popular blog in the country. (It beats techie favorites like the Google blog, better-funded news sites including CNN ticker, and even the traffic powerhouse ICanHasCheezburger, which posts pictures of cats.) McCarter pressed for Iraq withdrawal, economic renewal, health care reform and dismantling the unitary executive. "We've been in election land for so long on the blog that the community needs to regroup and change gears," she told The Nation.

The new blog arrives at at time when the traditional media is questioning the netroots' influence after the Democratic Senate Caucus embraced Joe Lieberman, and as some bloggers worry that Obama's initial appointments look more like a third Clinton term than bottom-up change.

This venture rebuffs Washington's penchant for measuring clout and the (understandable) urge to assess a new president. Instead, the Kossacks are bearing down further on legislative activism. In the end, it might even be a good route to influence, too.


The Federal Reserve announced today two new programs to fight the financial crisis by increasing lending to consumers and small businesses and supporting the market for mortgage-backed securities. The Fed will buy up to $600 billion of mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in order to boost the availability of credit for purchasing houses. This means the Fed is directly subsidizing lower mortgage rates, as opposed to tinkering with them indirectly via interest rates. The Fed and the Treasury will also lend $200 billion to holders of assets backed by car, credit card, student, and small business loans. According to Henry Paulson, “It gives institutions liquidity and it’s clearly direct lending that will help consumers.”


posted from Drudge Report

A leading Russian political analyst has said the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily IZVESTIA published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

The paper said Panarin's dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year's events.

When asked when the U.S. economy would collapse, Panarin said: "It is already collapsing. Due to the financial crisis, three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street have already ceased to exist, and two are barely surviving. Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world's financial regulator."

When asked who would replace the U.S. in regulating world markets, he said: "Two countries could assume this role: China, with its vast reserves, and Russia, which could play the role of a regulator in Eurasia."

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: "A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles."

He also cited the "vulnerable political setup", "lack of unified national laws", and "divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions."

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

He even suggested that "we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all." Panarin, 60, is a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.


Goodbye Dummy #14089 by The Repository.


"One of the reasons the U.S. is in such deep trouble is that it has stopped being smart — turning its back on excellence, sophistication and long-term planning — in its public policies and corporate behavior. We’ve seen it in Iraq, in New Orleans, in the fiscal policies of the Bush administration, in the scandalous neglect of public education, in the financial sector meltdown, the auto industry and on and on. We’ve lionized dimwits. And now we’re paying the price."

Bob Herbert, New York Times - 11/25/08


By Marjorie Cohn, Jurist

Guantanamo detainee.
Judicial branch rejects Bush administration detention policies. (Photo: Brennan Linsley / AP)

Since the Bush administration began transporting men and boys to Guantanamo Bay in January 2002, it has tried to prevent them from presenting their cases before a neutral federal judge. Indeed, the naval base was turned into a prison camp precisely to keep the detainees away from impartial courts. The government argued that federal courts had no jurisdiction over men detained on Cuban soil. Twice, the Supreme Court rejected that argument, finding that the United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control over the Guantanamo Bay base.


Arthur Laffer with Ronald Reagan
posted from dailybeast...written by Arthur Laffer, former Reagan Economic Adviser

Why the proposed $700 billion stimulus plan could drive the country to economy ruin.

As you read this, our government is committing enormous sums of money above and beyond normal spending, solely to stimulate the economy and prop up failing companies and markets. These additional sums are huge by any reasonable measure, with estimates as high as $3 trillion in an economy with a GDP of about $15 trillion.

Here’s the bottom line: Instead of making things better, increased spending will only drive our economy further into the ground.

And there is still a lot more spending to come. First it was a $170 billion stimulus package in February of 2008, then material add-ons to both the housing and agricultural bills, followed by Federal Reserve asset swaps with Bear Stearns and a bailout of AIG (which, by the way, isn’t over yet) and then came the debt guarantees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

There is no tooth fairy. Every dollar given to someone comes from someone else.

Shortly after that, the administration anted up $700 billion in a bailout package, and now Obama, Reid, Pelosi and Bernanke want another stimulus package of $300 billion. Just this week the powers that be are debating bailouts for Michigan’s auto industry. With the slowdown in the economy, tax receipts are now projected to fall sharply. The logic here is totally upside down, and each new measure, far from helping the economy, does enormous damage.

It is true, as the proponents of these stimulus packages argue, that recipients of government checks will spend more than they otherwise would have spent. And, that increased spending will have a multiplier effect increasing spending even further. But this is only part of the story.

The government can only transfer resources; it can’t create resources. There is no tooth fairy. Every dollar given to someone comes from someone else. The government can’t bail some people out of trouble without putting other people into trouble, plus a hefty “toll for the troll.”

In the case of last February’s stimulus package, the government literally borrowed an extra $170 billion and at the same time sent out checks to the transfer recipients totaling $170 billion. The result was a $170 billion increase in the amount of bonds held by the public, accompanied by a $170 billion increase in the current value of future taxes to pay interest and principle on the additional debt.

From the standpoint of accounting, the government is $170 billion further in the red, and taxpayers are liable for an additional $170 billion worth of taxes. Therefore, for every dollar of transfer payment there’s at least an equivalent dollar of future tax liabilities. Those people with the increased tax liabilities will spend less, thereby dis-employing people who had been supplying them with goods they’ll no longer buy. And the reduction in spending of those with higher tax liabilities will lead to a multiplied reduction in total spending equal to and fully offsetting the increase in total spending from the recipients of government checks. There is no stimulus from the stimulus programs!

To see this point more intuitively, imagine what the “stimulus effect” would be if they borrowed the $700 billion from the same people to whom they gave the $700 billion and then promised to raise their taxes by enough in the future to pay off their bonds. Where’s the stimulus in that?

This point is hugely important. For the proponents of increased government spending to argue that their policies will increase output, it is absolutely essential that the increased spending by transfer recipients more than offset any decline in spending by others. If the income effects of fiscal policy net to zero, there is no rationale for these spending policies. And, the income effects of fiscal policy do indeed net to zero.

The diffuse and imprecise nature of just who bares the increased tax liabilities makes the point difficult to understand. We all know who benefits from government programs: mortgage holders, undercapitalized banks, auto companies, low-income earners and the like. But who bears the increased tax burden? That’s a far trickier question, the answer to which I don’t have. But in the aggregate I do know that for every beneficiary of government spending there is someone who has to pay for it. As Milton Friedman so wisely noted, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

What I don’t really know is just how far this process can go and just what it will take to stop this vicious cycle. Combine the unintended consequences of a flawed model with a crashing economy in ever more desperate need of beneficial policies, and the results are lethal. The old adage “if you don’t like government problems just wait till you see government solutions” has never been truer.

Dr. Laffer is chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy—If We Let it Happen," recently published by Threshold. He’s best known in economics for the Laffer curve, showing the relation between tax rates and revenue take.


The moment many have been anticipating has arrived: Bush has begun the traditional end-of-term presidential pardons. In today’s first round, he granted 14 pardons and two commutations, but none of the possible big names—Plame outer Scooter Libby, junk bond king Michael Milliken, or Republican congressmen in prison for corruption—were among them. Instead, small-time criminals got their criminal records wiped clean of convictions for drug dealing, bank embezzling, and improper food stamp use. “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh and imprisoned media baron Conrad Black also have petitioned the Justice Department’s Office of the U.S. Pardon Attorney, but they might not be as lucky as those pardoned today: “Bush has not been known to be generous with his power to wave away a criminal record,” The Hill reports “The president has now pardoned 171 individuals and commuted sentences for eight people, a relatively small number compared to past administrations.”

Monday, November 24, 2008


“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”

Martin Luther King Jr.


Citigroup Building.

A plan to save Citigroup has emerged. Citi will absorb the first 10 percent of losses—about $29 billion—from its portfolio of risky assets, which includes mortgages, credit cards, commercial real-estate, and big corporate loans. The United States government will stand behind the remaining 90 percent of losses, which could eventually cost $249 billion. In addition, the government will buy $27 billion of preferred stock in Citi and receive dividends at an annual rate of 8 percent. Citigroup's CFO says the plan was created in a "plain vanilla flavor" so that it can be applied to other institutions.


posted from fivethirtyeight.com

As we wrote yesterday evening, the ever-increasing number of challenged ballots in Minnesota is making it more and more difficult to determine the extent to which Al Franken is in fact gaining ground in the state's recount process. An analysis of precinct-by-precinct returns available on the Secretary of State's website, however, suggests that Franken's position is somewhat stronger than it appears, and that he may in fact be the favorite to prevail in the recount process.

Consider the following. In precincts where no challenges have been issued (these are the only precincts in which, in some sense, the results of the recount can be considered to be final and "official") Franken has gained a total of 34 votes, and Coleman a total of 6 votes, for a net gain by Franken of 28 votes. Moreover, in precincts where just 1 challenge has been issued, Franken has gained a net of 31 votes on Coleman, and in precincts where exactly 2 challenges have been issued, Franken has gained a net of 32 votes on Coleman.

By contrast, in precincts where 5 or more ballots have been challenged between the two campaigns, Coleman has gained a net of 57 votes on Franken.

In other words, the fewer the number of challenged ballots, the better Franken is doing, and the higher the number of challenged ballots, the worse he is doing; the relationship is in fact quite strong.

Precinct-Level Returns Analysis
# Challenges n Franken Coleman Net
0 2233 +34 +6 Franken +28
1 419 -94 -125 Franken +31
2 154 -90 -122 Franken +32
3-4 133 -157 -171 Franken +14
5-9 59 -158 -116 Coleman -42
10+ 26 -156 -141 Coleman -15
It is not an accident, then, that as the number of challenges has increased with each day of the recount, Franken's momentum appears to have stalled out. Very probably, a majority of the challenges are coming from Franken's pile. This is somewhat irrespective of which campaign actually instigates the challenge, since as we suggested yesterday, a potential Franken undervote could be the subject of a challenge from either campaign depending on the initial ruling of the local elections judge.

We can address this phenomenon more systematically by means of a regression analysis. In the regression, we are attempting to predict a variable I've defined as franken_net, which is the net gain by Franken per 10,000 ballots cast in that precinct. The independent variables considered in the regression are as follows:

t: the proportion of the two-way vote received by Franken in the initial count (e.g. excluding votes for third parties)

c_f: the number of challenges initiated by the Franken campaign per 10,000 ballots counted in that precinct

c_c: the number of challenges initiated by the Coleman campaign per 10,000 ballots counted in that precinct

In addition, the regression analysis contains interaction terms between each combination of two variables, as well as an interaction term for all three variables, all of which are statistically significant. The regression is weighted by the square root of the number of ballots cast in that precinct.

The results of the regression are as follows:
franken_net        Coef.     t     P>|t|
t 8.922 2.89 0.004
c_f -0.280 -3.99 0.000
c_c -0.926 -9.82 0.000
t * c_f -0.703 -8.59 0.000
t * c_c +0.565 2.89 0.004
c_f * c_c -0.013 -4.29 0.000
t * c_f * c_c +0.012 2.81 0.005
_constant -3.622 -2.36 0.019
This regression is a bit difficult to interpret, particularly with the presence of all the interaction terms, but the key intuition is as follows. Suppose that the number of challenges is zero -- as will happen once the state canvassing board finishes considering all such challenges in December. In this case, all terms in the regression equation reduce to zero, except for the constant term and t, which is Franken's share of the two-way vote in that precinct. We are thus left with the following:

franken_net = t * 8.922 - 3.622

Now, we can attempt to solve this equation at the statewide level. When we plug in a t of .499956 -- Franken was picked on just slightly very less than half of the ballots during the initial count -- we get a value for franken_net of .837. That is, Franken will gain a net of .837 votes for every 10,000 cast. With a total of 2,885,555 ballots having been recorded in the initial count, this works out to a projected gain of 242 votes for Franken statewide. Since Norm Coleman led by 215 votes in the initial count, this suggests that Franken will win by 27 votes once the recount process is complete (including specifically the adjudication of all challenged ballots).

The error bars on this regression analysis are fairly high, and so even if you buy my analysis, you should not regard Franken as more than a very slight favorite. Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that the high rate of ballot challenges is in fact hurting Franken disproportionately, and that once such challenges are resolved, Franken stands to gain ground, perhaps enough to let him overtake Coleman.

(Note: it is also possible to build a multivariate regression model that attempts to solve for both Franken and Coleman's totals in an absolute sense, rather than Franken's gain relative to Coleman. This multivariate model produces a slightly more optimistic result for Franken, suggesting that he will gain 254 votes statewide and Coleman will lose 12, producing a net swing of 268 votes toward Franken.)


Wearing a traditional Peruvian poncho, President George W. Bush gestures as Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso stands below before the official group photo of the 16th summit of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC, in Lima, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

Sunday, November 23, 2008



By Robert Reich - from his blog

Citigroup was once the biggest U.S. bank. General Motors was once the biggest automaker in the world. Now, both are on the brink. Yet Citigroup is likely to be rescued within days. General Motors may not be rescued at all.

Why the difference? Viewed from Wall Street, Citi is too big and important to be allowed to fail while GM is simply a big, clunky old manufacturing company that can go into chapter 11 and reorganize itself. The newly conventional wisdom on the Street is that the failure of the Treasury and the Fed to save Lehman Brothers was a grave mistake because Lehman's demise caused creditors and investors to panic, which turned the sub-prime loan mess into a financial catastrophe -- a mistake that must not occur again. But GM? GM is only jobs and communities. Citi is money.

The Street's view of the world is fundamentally flawed. Banks are important to the economy because they're financial intermediaries. They connect savers with investors and borrowers. This is a vital function, but there's nothing magical about it. At any given time the world contains a vast pool of money that can be put to all sorts of uses. Financial intermediaries simply link the pool to the uses.

To be sure, savers need to believe that intermediaries are trustworthy; otherwise, savers will prefer the underside of their mattresses. That's why governments regulate intermediaries, insure deposits, and do whatever else needs to be done to make savers feel safe. What governments and societies fear most are "runs" on banks -- panicked efforts by depositors to pull their money out all at once, before banks can possibly collect the money from all those who have used it to borrow or invest. That's what happened in the 1930s.

But the current panic on Wall Street is not a "run" in this sense. It has almost nothing to do with banks' roles as financial intermediaries. It's about money that's been lent to or invested in the banks themselves, in order to profit off of the banks' profits. Lehman's demise cost many investors and creditors lots of money, to be sure, but they were investors and creditors in Lehman, not in the real economy.

Before the asset bubbles burst, financial institutions were generating whopping profits, so naturally they attracted many investors and creditors. After the burst, the profits disappeared. These days, you'd be hard pressed to find many people who want to invest in or lend to financial institutions. Citigroup had a market value of $274 billion at the end of 2006. Now its value is about $21 billion. That's awful news for Citi, its executives and traders, and its investors and creditors. But it's not necessarily awful news for the economy as a whole. Even if Citigroup were to go belly up, the real economy would not be seriously harmed. The mutual funds, pension funds, and deposits overseen by Citi would be safe; fund managers would find their way to other banks.

In other words, Citigroup is not much different from General Motors. It's a company that once made lots of money but, through a series of management blunders, is now losing money hand over fist. Just like the shareholders and creditors of GM, Citi's shareholders and creditors are taking a beating.

So why save Citi and not GM? It's not clear. In fact, there may be more reason to do the reverse. GM has a far greater impact on jobs and communities. Add parts suppliers and their employees, and the number of middle-class and blue-collar jobs dependent on GM is many multiples that of Citi. And the potential social costs of GM's demise, or even major shrinkage, is much larger than Citi's -- including everything from unemployment insurance to lost tax revenues to families suddenly without health insurance to entire communities whose infrastructure and housing may become nearly worthless. I'm not arguing that GM should be bailed out; as I've noted elsewhere, GM's creditors, shareholders, executives, and workers should have to make substantial sacrifices before taxpayers should be expected to sacrifice as well.

Nonetheless, Citi is about to be bailed out while GM is allowed to languish. That's because Wall Street's self-serving view of the unique role of financial institutions is mirrored in the two agencies that run the American economy -- the Treasury and the Fed. Their job, as they see it, is to keep the financial economy "sound," by which they mean keeping Wall Street's own investors and creditors happy.

Because the public doesn't understand the intricacies of finance, it's easily persuaded that this is the same thing as keeping credit flowing to Main Street. That's why the public and its representatives have committed $700 billion of taxpayer money to Wall Street and another $500 to $600 billion of subsidized loans to the Street from the Fed -- bailing out the investors and creditors of every major bank, including , momentarily, Citi -- only to discover, at the end of this frantic and unbelievably expensive exercise, that American jobs and communities are more endangered than they were at the start.


by Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

Barack Obama in Beckley, West Virginia.

Barack Obama with weeks left before he takes office faces a country involved in two wars and the US economy in crisis. (Photo: Alex Brandon / AP)

Obama's immediate challenge is to fill the leadership vacuum created by a lame-duck president with historically-low approval ratings who seems to have lost interest in his job (at this writing, he's out of the country) and who's disappeared from the media, and a Treasury chief who has all but punted on coming up with any workable solution to the crisis. But Obama doesn't become president until 12 noon eastern standard time on January 20 - and the national economy is imploding right now. READ IT HERE»

Saturday, November 22, 2008


by: Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

Timothy F. Geithner, president of the New York Fed, Treasury Secretary.

Following a news leak that president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Timothy F. Geithner, would be named Treasury Secretary, stock prices soared 300 points. (Photo: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg News)

President-elect Barack Obama will name Timothy F. Geithner to be his Treasury Secretary, according to a knowledgeable Democrat, elevating a Treasury veteran who as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has all year been at the center of the worsening economic crisis. »

Friday, November 21, 2008


Hillary Clinton laughs

Reporters from Politico to The New York Daily News—which splashed the news on its front page with “Hill’s the One”—are all being told the same thing by unnamed Obama “aides.” Hillary is “on track” to becoming Obama’s secretary of state, the investigation into Bill’s fundraising has passed their smell test, and the appointment will be announced “after Thanksgiving.” So Obama continues to assemble his “team of rivals,” the Clinton saga takes an interesting twist and turn, and “No Drama Obama” has invited a little excitement into his administration. As The Wall Street Journal demurely puts it, quoting “foreign policy analysts”: “This contrast between Mr. Obama and Sen. Clinton could lead to some spirited policy debates in the White House.” They’re not kidding.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


By: Norman Solomon, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Obama waves, walking with Clinton.

Barack Obama and Bill Clinton exit Clinton's office in Harlem after a lunch meeting. The myth of the former president's "lurch to the left" may tinge the media's view of the president-elect's early days in office. (Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

It's been 16 years since a Democrat moved into the White House. Now, the fog of memory and the spin of media are teaming up to explain that Barack Obama must hew to "the center" if he knows what's good for his presidency. read post here»

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Hillary Clinton

The Guardian is reporting that Hillary Clinton will accept Obama’s offer to be his secretary of state. The unsourced report is an outlier so far—other media outlets are reporting only that Obama’s transition team is sifting through donations to husband Bill Clinton’s foundation and presidential library—but according to The Guardian, “Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.” Clinton would be the nation’s third female secretary of state, after Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.


Senator Kennedy returns to work.

by: J. Taylor Rushing, The Hill

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) returned to work in the Senate Monday after spending the past six months battling brain cancer back home.

A smiling, upbeat Kennedy made his second public appearance on Capitol Hill since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was accompanied by his wife and two dogs, and attended a meeting in the same Russell Office Building room where two of his brothers declared their presidential candidacies. READ POST HERE»


Republicans Nervous about Ejecting Stevens from the Caucus

Senate Republicans are meeting to choose their leaders today and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is going to introduce a motion to eject convicted felon Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) from the caucus and deny him a vote on the leadership positions. Other Republicans would prefer that the Stevens' problem just goes away by itself so they don't have to vote on it. (English translation: they are hoping he loses his reelection battle to Anchorage mayor Mark Begich). Unfortunately, the results of the election won't be known until tomorrow at the earliest, so the Republicans may be forced to decide whether they want to allow Stevens to vote today.

Democrats Nervous about Ejecting Lieberman from the Caucus

Republicans aren't the only ones facing an uncomfortable vote today. Senate Democrats are going to meet today to decide the face of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who caucuses with the Democrats (and holds committee positions as though he were a Democrat) but who supported John McCain's presidential run. Since the Democrats are within hailing distance of 60 seats, some of them want to keep Lieberman inside the tent and give him a slap on the wrist by taking away his subcommittee chairmanships but allowing him to remain chairman of the homeland security committee. Others want to strip him of his powerful chairmanship and the subpoena power that goes with it.


Despite trailing his opponent by slightly more than two hundred votes, Democratic challenger Al Franken stands a strong chance of passing Sen. Norm Coleman during the upcoming recount, according to at least one prominent political scientist.

Professor Michael C. Herron of Dartmouth College, has put together a new study of the voting patterns in Minnesota, in the process determining that the majority of voters who cast unrecorded ballots in the Senate race were likely Franken supporters.

"If someone put a gun to my head and said, 'You have to bet,' I would bet Franken," Herron said, when reached by phone. "It won't be a wipe-out. Two hundred votes is effectively tied. We just know that, in this case, Democrats tend to [screw up their ballots] more often [than Republicans]." In Minnesota, the "intent" of the voter is considered during recounts.

According to Herron's analysis, of the 2.9 million people who went to the polls in Minnesota, there were approximately 34,000 residual voters in the Senate race. In other words, there were 34,000 more ballots cast than total number of recorded votes for all the Senate candidates.

Why the difference? A good portion of voters, Herron concludes, voted in the presidential election but deliberately did not vote for a Senate candidate. These people won't matter when it comes to a recount.

There is, however, a portion of the 34,000 who intended to vote for one of the Senate candidates but messed up. Voters were supposed to fill in the circle next to the name of the candidate they supported. Some, however, marked X's. Others circled the name itself or crossed out the names of candidates they didn't like.

This group is key to determining the Minnesota Senate victor.

Monday, November 17, 2008


by: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect

President Bush with Cabinet members. (Photo: Ron Edmonds / AP)

After eight years of President Bush, we almost don't know how to function without him - almost. But before we move on, we should pause to remember just what we're leaving behind.

Just over two years into George W. Bush's presidency, The American Prospect featured Bush on its cover under the headline, "The Most Dangerous President Ever." At the time, some probably thought it a bit over the top. But nearly six years later, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the multifaceted burden that will soon be lifted from our collective shoulders.

Since last week, I have stopped short and shaken my head in amazement every time I have heard the words "President-elect Obama." But it is equally extraordinary to consider that in just a few weeks, George W. Bush will no longer be our president. Let me repeat that: In just a few weeks, George W. Bush will no longer be our president. So though our long national ordeal isn't quite over, it's never too early to say goodbye.

Goodbye, we can say at last, to the most powerful man in the world being such a ridiculous buffoon, incapable of stringing together two coherent sentences. Goodbye to cringing with dread every time our president steps onto the world stage, sure he'll say or do something to embarrass us all. Goodbye to being represented by a man who embodies everything our enemies want the people of the world to believe about America - that we are ignorant, cruel, and only care about foreign countries when we decide to stomp on them. Goodbye to his giggle, and his shoulder shake, and his nicknames. Goodbye to a president who talks to us like we're a nation of fourth-graders.

And goodbye, of course, to Dick Cheney. Goodbye to the man whose naked contempt for democracy contorted his face to a permanent sneer, who spent his days in his undisclosed location with his man-sized safe. And while we're at it, goodbye to Cheney's consigliore David Addington, as malevolent a force as has ever left his trail of slime across our federal institutions.

Goodbye, indeed, to the entire band of liars and crooks and thieves who have so sullied the federal government that belongs to us all. We can even say goodbye to those who have already gone, to Rummy and Scooter, to Fredo and Rove, tornados of misery left in their wake.

Goodbye to the rotating cast of butchers manning the White House's legal abattoir, where the Constitution has been sliced and bled and gutted since September 11. Goodbye to the "unitary executive" theory and its claims that the president can do whatever he wants - even snatch an American citizen off the street and lock him up for life without charge, without legal representation, and without trial. Goodbye to the promiscuous use of "signing statements" (1,100 at last count) to declare that the law is whatever the president says it is, and that he'll enforce only those laws he likes. Goodbye to an executive branch that treats lawfully issued subpoenas like suggestions that can be ignored. Goodbye to thinking of John Ashcroft as the liberal attorney general. Goodbye to the culture of incompetence, where rebuilding a country we destroyed could be turned over to a bunch of clueless 20-somethings with no qualifications save an internship at the Heritage Foundation and an opposition to abortion. Goodbye to the "Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva job" philosophy, where vital agencies are turned over to incompetent boobs to rot and decay. Goodbye to handing out the Medal of Freedom as an award for engineering one of the greatest screw-ups of our time. Goodbye to an administration that welcomed gluttonous war profiteering, that was only too happy to outsource every government function it could to well-connected contractors who would do a worse job for more money.

Goodbye to the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Goodbye to the lust for sending off other people's sons and daughters to fight and kill and die just to show your daddy you're a real man. Goodbye to playing dress-up in flight suits, goodbye to strutting and posing and desperate sexual insecurity as a driver of American foreign policy. Goodbye to the neocons, so sinister and deluded they beg us all to become fevered conspiracy theorists. Goodbye to Guantanamo and its kangaroo courts. Goodbye to the use of torture as official U.S. government policy, and goodbye to the immoral ghouls who think you can rename it "enhanced interrogation techniques" and render it any less monstrous.

Goodbye to the accusation that if you disagree with what the president wants to do, you don't "support the troops."

Goodbye to stocking government agencies with people who are opposed to the very missions those agencies are charged with carrying out. Goodbye to putting industry lobbyists in charge of the agencies that are supposed to regulate those very industries. Goodbye to madly giving away public lands to private interests. Goodbye to a Food and Drug Administration that acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry, except when it acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the fundamentalist puritans who believe that sex is dirty and birth control will turn girls into sluts. Goodbye to the "global gag rule," which prohibits any entity receiving American funds from even telling women where they can get an abortion if they need it.

Goodbye to vetoing health insurance for poor children but rushing back to Washington to sign a bill to keep alive a woman whose cerebral cortex had liquefied. Goodbye to the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research.

Goodbye to the philosophy that says that if we give tax cuts to the rich and keep the government from any oversight of the economy, prosperity will eventually trickle down. Goodbye to the thirst for privatizing Social Security and to the belief that the success of a social safety-net program is what makes it a threat and should mark it for destruction. Goodbye to the war on unions and to a National Labor Relations Board devoted to crushing them. Goodbye to the principle of loyalty above all else, that nominates Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and puts Alberto Gonzales in charge of the Justice Department. And goodbye to that Justice Department, the one where U.S. attorneys keep their jobs only if they are willing to undertake bogus investigations of Democrats timed to hit the papers just before Election Day. Goodbye to a Justice Department where graduates of Pat Robertson's law school roam the halls by the dozens, where "justice" is a joke.

Goodbye to James Dobson and a host of radical clerics picking up the phone and hearing someone in the White House on the other end. Goodbye to the most consequential decisions being made on the basis of one man's "gut," a gut that proved so wrong so often. Goodbye to the contempt for evidence, to the scorn for intellect and book learnin', to the relentless war on science itself as a means of understanding the world.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye to it all.

Though President Obama will be spending most of his time cleaning up the mess George Bush made, we probably won't have Dubya to kick around anymore. It's hard to imagine Bush undertaking some grand philanthropic effort on the scale of the Clinton Global Initiative, or hopping around to international trouble spots like Jimmy Carter. Republicans won't be asking him to speak on their behalf, and publishers are reportedly uninterested in the prospect of a Bush memoir. His reign of destruction complete, Bush will return to Texas and fill his days with the mundane activities of a retiree - puttering around the yard, reading some magazines, maybe enjoying that new Xbox Jenna gave him for Christmas ("I'm the Decider, and I decide to spend this afternoon playing Call of Duty 4").

This presidency is finally over. We can say goodbye to an administration whose misdeeds have piled so high that the size of the mountain no longer shocks us. In our lifetimes, we will see administrations of varying degrees of competence and integrity, some we'll agree with and some we won't. But we will probably never see another quite like the one now finally reaching its end, so mind-boggling a parade of incompetence and malice, dishonesty, and immorality. So at last - at long, long last - we can say goodbye.

And good riddance.


Paul Waldman is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the author of "Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success." The views expressed here are his own.


In Missouri, no absentee ballots or provisional ballots were counted during the weekend. Counting will resume today. It is taking a long time because every provisional ballot has to be verified before it is counted. In Alaska, 24,000 remaining ballots will be counted tomorrow in the Senate race. There is a good chance of having a result by Wednesday, although a recount is possible. In Minnesota, certification of the results will occur tomorrow. It is expected that Norm Coleman will win by 206 votes. Then a recount will begin Wednesday. There were 25,000 ballots in which no vote for senator was cast, largely in Democratic counties. In a manual recount, some of these may show votes that the optical scanner missed. In Georgia, there will be a runoff on Dec. 2 for the Senate race. No progress has been reported on the six House races still up in the air.


The election is only two weeks past and already some ideas that are probably not true are starting to become part of the conventional wisdom. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has come up with a list of five myths that don't hold much water:

  1. The Republican Party has suffered a death blow
    (The disaster was worse in 1964 and it came back in 1968).
  2. A wave of black voters and young voters was the key to Obama's victory
    (There was no significant increase in turnout by either group, although they did vote for Obama).
  3. The Democrats will now usher in a new progressive era
    (About a third of the House Democrats are from Republican districts and they will be very cautious).
  4. A Republican could have won the presidency this year
    (So many people hate George Bush that probably nothing could have saved the GOP).
  5. McCain made a huge Mistake in picking Sarah Palin
    (While she cost him independents, without her he would have lost his base, which is worse).


Posted: 06:00 AM ET

Most Americans think Barack Obama will pick the right people to fill out his Cabinet, according to a new poll.
Most Americans think Barack Obama will pick the right people to fill out his Cabinet, according to a new poll.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — At the start of a week that could see Barack Obama make his first Cabinet secretary announcements, a new national poll suggests that most Americans are confident that the president-elect will make the right decisions when it comes to picking those officials.

Forty-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday morning are very confident that Obama will make the right choices, with 34 percent somewhat confident and only 23 percent not confident.

"Obama is having the kind of honeymoon that no president-elect has had in at least 30 years," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It's no surprise that Americans have a positive view of anything Obama might do — at least until he does something controversial."

As for what which appointment will matter the most to the country's future: 41 percent say the Secretary of the Treasury; 25 percent say Secretary of State; 24 percent Secretary of Defense; and 8 percent name the Attorney General.

"Although a lot of ink has been spilled recently over Obama's choice for Secretary of State, Americans are paying closer attention to his nomination for Treasury Secretary. With the economy in such bad shape this year, it's no surprise that a plurality of Americans say the Treasury post is the one that will matter most to the country's future," said Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted November 6 to 9, with 1,246 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Sunday, November 16, 2008



Obama Will Have to Give Up His Blackberry

Barack Obama will be the first President completely plugged into cyberspace. He uses his Blackberry for everything. When a staffer prepares a report for him, it is sent to the Blackberry. Unfortunately, while Presidents get their own fully staffed state-of-the-art aircraft and many other perks, Blackberries are not among them. The Presidential Records Act requires presidential correspondence to the archived so that's the end of Obama's Blackberry. However, Obama has said he wants a notebook computer on his desk, which is OK as long as all the e-mail is saved. he would be the first President to have a computer on his desk. He will also be the first President to deliver his weekly radio address as a Webcast archived on YouTube. When Obama campaigned about bringing the presidency into the 21st Century, he clearly meant it. It is hard to imagine a President McCain communicating with the nation using Webcasts.


by: Henry Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Obama teaching
Obama teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. After Harvard Law School, Obama returned to Chicago, and lectured on constitutional law. (Photo/AP)

Needless to say, like many Americans, I am both delighted and cautious about Barack Obama's election. Symbolically, this is an unprecedented moment in the fight against the legacy of racism while at the same time offering new possibilities for addressing how racism works in a post-Bush period. Politically, I think it puts the brakes on many authoritarian and anti-democratic tendencies operating both domestically and abroad, while offering a foothold not only for a fresh critique of neoliberal and neoconservative policies, but also an opportunity to reclaim and energize the language of the social contract and social democracy. While the Bush administration may have been uninterested in critical ideas, debate and dialogue, it was almost rabid about destroying. read full post here»


Sarah Palin

The campaign over, Sarah Palin returns to an Alaska feeling the chill of the sharp drop in the price of oil. As Terry Keenan writes in the New York Post, while much of the developed world is cheering cheaper gas at the pumps, oil exporters like Alaska and Russia are facing economic mayhem and a fiscal nightmare. “Remember Palin's boast on the campaign trail that she gave every Alaskan an extra $1,200 in pocket money this summer?” asks Keenan. “Well, that and her balanced budget all goes away when oil is priced where it is today. [It is currently $57 a barrel.] Not only does Alaska have less revenue to tax, its cut goes down, too. Right now, the state's cut on a barrel of crude coming out of Prudhoe Bay is only about 25 percent, compared with a 41 percent take when oil was at $120. Budget experts estimate that oil needs to be in the mid-$70s for the Alaska state budget to break even.” Not the most promising territory from which to launch a sound money presidential bid in 2012.


By Peter Beinart

The job of secretary of state is full of political hazards for the junior senator of New York.

Hillary Clinton has a pretty good life. Sure, she’s not president, but neither are most people. What she is is New York Senator for Life, heir to an illustrious tradition that runs from Aaron Burr to Robert Wagner to Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She’s already just about the most powerful person in the senate, and if she wants to formalize that status and become majority leader one of these years, she has an excellent chance. Who knows: She might even make it back to the White House. After all, Barack Obama’s meteoric rise is the exception: Most politicians—Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I—need to lose a presidential bid or two before they finally win. Hillary still has time. In eight years, she’ll be younger than Reagan was when he entered the White House, and younger than McCain is now. (Something that can’t be said for, say, Joe Biden).

Solving the Kashmir crisis might win you the Nobel Prize. But it won’t win many votes in Portsmouth.

All of which raises a question: Why on earth would she want to be secretary of state? First of all, the job is an awful launching pad for the White House. It’s true: long-serving senators don’t have a great track record of winning the presidency, but they’re practically shoo-ins compared to secretaries of state. The last former secretary of state to even seek the presidency was Alexander Haig in 1988, and his candidacy was a joke. To find a former secretary of state who actually won you have to go back 150 years, to James Buchanan. There are reasons for this. The job of secretary of state offers little opportunity to till the fields of American politics: to go to Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners in Sioux City or slip a little campaign money to the guy running for state senate in New Hampshire. It forces you to turn your energies away from domestic issues, which is what Americans usually vote on, and towards international questions that many find exotic and obscure. Solving the Kashmir crisis might win you the Nobel Prize. But it won’t win many votes in Portsmouth.

Besides, secretaries of state aren’t meant to be politically popular. They’re not supposed to burnish their approval ratings; they’re supposed to take bullets so presidents can burnish theirs (See Powell, Colin). A stint at Foggy Bottom isn’t likely to boost Hillary’s image, and once she left the position—probably after four years, if tradition is any guide—she would be politically homeless, without a job that keeps her in the national eye, and from which to launch a presidential bid.

Fine, you say, she doesn’t want to be president. Running the foreign policy of the world’s lone superpower is exciting enough. Except that secretaries of state don’t generally run American foreign policy anymore. They used to, in the first half of the last century, when giants with names like Root, Stimson, Hughes, Hull, Marshall, Acheson and Dulles roamed the executive branch. But since about 1960, a newer, feistier breed—the National Security Advisor—has changed all that. Located in the White House, and unencumbered by a big, slow bureaucracy, the need to regularly testify before Congress and the burdens of frequent foreign travel, NSC advisors often eat secretaries of state for breakfast: McGeorge Bundy vs. Dean Rusk; Henry Kissinger vs. William Rogers (that one was downright painful); Zbigniew Brzezinski vs. Cyrus Vance; Anthony Lake (and his influential deputy Sandy Berger) vs. Warren Christopher; Condoleezza Rice vs. Colin Powell. There are exceptions, of course, powerful secretaries of state like George Schultz or James Baker or Rice today. But it’s usually because the National Security Advisor isn’t in the job long enough to develop real clout (as under Reagan, who went through them like Kleenex) or because the secretary of state has an unusually intimate relationship with the prez, which isn’t the case here. Hillary is tough, smart and incredibly hard working, but as secretary of state, the bureaucratic deck would be stacked against her.

And it gets worse. Secretaries of state were struggling even before the vice presidency—historically a dish rag of a job—got a steroid injection. With Al Gore and Dick Cheney and now, almost certainly, Joseph Biden wielding real foreign policy muscle, decision-making is becoming even more centralized at the White House. NSC advisors pop into the Oval Office all day, often alone. Vice presidents, if they have the president’s trust, have tons of opportunities to whisper in his ear when no one else is around. Secretaries of state, by contrast, often only see the president in big, scripted meetings, where they have to compete for time with the director of CIA.

So forget whether Obama should want her. Hillary shouldn’t want it. If Barack pops the question, Hillary should suggest Colin Powell instead. He knows what a great gig secretary of state is.

Peter Beinart is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

posted from dailybeast.com

Saturday, November 15, 2008


posted from fivethirtyeight.com

This is a high-risk, high-reward opportunity for Hillary Clinton. If she accepts, and serves out six or eight years in a popular Obama administration, then she is practically guaranteed the Presidency in 2016 ... However, there is always a chance she will be replaced, or that Obama will not be a popular President. In either of these scenarios, taking the job might make it the last job Hillary Clinton has in politics.
That commentary is from Chris Bowers at Open Left. I tend to agree with the gist of what Chris has to say -- were Clinton to accept Obama's offer to become Secretary of State, her political fate would be tied fairly strongly to the success or failure of his administration.

The fundamental question I am concerned with, however, is slightly different. If Hillary Clinton's goal is to become President of the United States in 2016, would she improve her odds by accepting the Secretary of State position? The answer to this question is less clear.

There's More...

Emanuel Roasts Colbert



Malia and Sasha Obama


Hillary Clinton

While we wait for Obama to make Hillary an offer, or not, and we await her reply, or not, it is good to enjoy the reprise of the old Obama/Hillary contest. “On Friday, a speaker at the City University of New York Women’s Leadership Conference mentioned the story about Hillary’s possible appointment and several hundred women burst into applause,” writes Gail Collins in the New York Times. “All around the country, the news reminded old Hillary supporters of a nagging pang of disappointment, the feeling that the great election bandwagon had left something behind.” Meanwhile, what do the Obama people think their man is up to, offering a job to his arch-rival? “I know, my little Obama hyperpartisans. You spent a year of your lives trying to keep Hillary out of the White House because she voted to let the Bush administration invade Iraq. And now, your man is talking about letting her be the point person on foreign policy. What happened to the transformative change?” We’ll find out soon enough.


Alaska Update: Begich Leads By 1,061, Then 1,022
posted from fivethirtyeight.com

There's been an update today in the Alaska Senate race, with 11,612 more votes counted. Mark Begich now leads incumbent Ted Stevens by 1,061 votes.

Later update: 1,022. An additional 3,333 votes have been counted and Stevens pulled back 39 votes.

About 510 questioned ballots from Southeast, the Peninsula and Southwest Alaska

About 5,180 absentee and questioned ballots from Mat-Su

Questioned, absentee ballots from Richardson Highway and the Interior

About 3,600 absentee and questioned ballots from Western and Northwest Alaska, and North Slope

Monday the extra Richardson Highway ballots will be counted, and Tuesday another 24,000 or so ballots will be counted from Anchorage, Southeast, Kenai Peninsula and Southwest Alaska.

There's More...

Dartmouth Study: Minnesota Undervotes Should Favor Franken

Dartmouth professors Michael Herron, Jonathan Chipman and Jeffrey Lewis have put together a terrific study of the recount situation in Minnesota. They suggest that -- while many African-American voters in the Minneapolis area may have skipped the senate race intentionally -- the majority of unintentional undervotes that will be counted during the recount process are also liable to favor Franken.

We show using a combination of precinct voting returns from the 2006 and 2008 General Elections that patterns in Senate race residual votes are consistent with, one, the presence of a large number of Democratic-leaning voters, in particular African-American voters, who appear to have deliberately skipped voting in the Coleman-Franken Senate contest and, two, the presence of a smaller number of Democratic-leaning voters who almost certainly intended to cast a vote in the Senate race but for some reason did not do so. Ultimately, the anticipated recount may clarify the relative proportions of intentional versus unintentional residual votes. At present, though, the data available suggest that the recount will uncover many of the former and that, of the latter, a majority will likely prove to be supportive of Franken.
The Darmouth guys don't offer a specific prediction about whether the number of recounted votes is likely to tip the balance of the race toward Franken, but their entire study (PDF) is worth a read.

(h/t Andrew Gelman)

There's More...


Begich Gains in Alaska as More Votes Are Counted

The Anchorage Daily News starts its story today on the slow Senate election count with: "Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is in grave danger of losing re-election." When used in a medical context, "grave danger" means "will likely die today." In a political context it means "Mark Begich is about to become a U.S. senator." His election will bring the Democrats' total to 58, with Minnesota and Georgia still undecided.

On Friday, more absentee and provisional ballots were tallied including all the ballots from Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Wasilla), the core of Stevens support. At the start of the day Begich was ahead by 841 votes but that has now grown to 1022 votes. The remaining 24,000 votes are largely from Anchorage and Juneau, areas where Begich is well known and popular, but also from the much smaller Kenai Peninsula, where Stevens is popular. The remaining ballots will be counted Tuesday. The slow counting is a result of the careful checking of each provisional ballot to see it is indeed from an eligible voter. After the final vote is in, the losing lawyers will hitch up the dogs and mush on up to the state capital to challenge the results. A recount is likely in any event.

Probably many Republican senators are secretly breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of Stevens' losing. Few of them want a public trial of Stevens followed by a vote to expel him from the Senate. It draws too much attention to Republican corruption. Better that he just quietly lose to the popular Anchorage mayor. Begich doesn't seem to be worried. He is off on vacation at Disneyland with his wife and 6-year-old son.

Charlie Brown Closes the Gap in CA-04

In CA-04, state senator Tom McClintock (R) leads retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charlie Brown (D), but his lead is diminishing. It is now 533 votes--down from 1248 yesterday. This gain by Brown was expected as yesterday's count was from Nevada County, a Democratic stronghold. The remaining 35,000 absentee and provisional ballots come from a mix of counties so the race is still a tossup. The seat is vacant due to the (forced) retirement of John Doolittle, who had close ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The 2012 Race Has Started

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are on the Sunday talk shows tomorrow to start testing the presidential waters. Jindal is young and relatively inexperienced, but the election of Barack Obama shows that these are not necessarily handicaps. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine Jindal running on a platform of change. What does he want to change from? Or to? Ultimately, reelection campaigns are always about the incumbent. If Obama does well and is popular, he will be reelected, no matter who the Republican nominee is. If he does badly, the Republicans can say "We're more competent" although the memories of the Bush administration will still be moderately fresh.

Senators Leahy and Sanders Oppose Chairmanship for Lieberman

Two Democratic senators, Pat Leahy (R-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have publicly called for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to be stripped of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. The Democratic caucus will probably vote on how to handle this situation. Many Democrats are very angry with Lieberman for supporting John McCain, but they also need his vote on cloture motions, so it is a tough call for many of them.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008


HOPE by friskypics.


by: Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch.com

Election of Obama brings hope.
(Photo: www.joshlanier.com)

Citizenship is a passionate joy at times, and this is one of those times. You can feel it. Tuesday the world changed. It was a great day. Monday it rained hard for the first time this season and on Election Day, everything in San Francisco was washed clean. I went on a long run past several polling places up in the hills around my home and saw lines of working people waiting to vote and contented-looking citizens walking around with their "I Voted" stickers in the sun and mud. READ IT HERE»


Valley fill resulting from mountaintop-removal coal mining operation.

by: Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers

Washington - In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia.

The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because, in some cases, there's a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. READ POST HERE»


The vote gap between Senate candidates Norm Coleman and Al Franken fluctuated throughout the day Thursday, with Franken closing to within 236 votes by Thursday evening.

The fluctuations are normal, said a spokesman at the Secretary of State's office, as county's double check their work and report minor changes.

A typo in Pine County got fixed Thursday, giving Al Franken 100 more votes and tightening Minnesota's unresolved Senate race even tighter.

Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's lead over Democrat Al Franken stood at 236 votes Thursday night.

With nearly 2.9 million ballots cast, the difference between the top two candidates is about one one-hundredth of a percentage point.

In Pine County, an election official accidentally entered 24 votes for Franken on Tuesday night instead of the 124 he actually received. The mistake was caught on Thursday and the numbers changed, said Jim Gelbmann from the Secretary of State's office.

Al Franken has called for the recount to go on while Norm Coleman is urging him to concede. "This is the closest Senate race in Minnesota history," Franken said. "This is just part of the process to make sure that every vote is counted fairly."


Emanuel accepts Obama's offer to become White House chief of staff.

by: Rick Klein, ABC News

President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday began filling out what will become his new administration, naming two close advisers to high-ranking leadership posts, scheduling his first post-election visit to Washington, and arranging a Friday meeting with his economic team.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) accepted the position of White House chief of staff on Thursday, a day after it was formally offered to him by his friend and fellow Chicaogan.



by: Norman Solomon, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Spreading the wealth with Obama's plan.
People raise their hands at an Obama rally when the candidate asked who made less than $250,000. (Photo: Damon Winter / The New York Times)

Posted from truthout.org

Two days before he lost the election, John McCain summarized what had become the central message of his campaign: "Redistribute the wealth, spread the wealth around - we can't do that." Oh, yes we can. The 2008 presidential election became something of a referendum on "spreading the wealth." "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody," Barack Obama said on October 12, in a conversation with an Ohio resident named Joe. The candidate quickly added, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." Read post here»