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  Obama: Quit Listening To Rush Limbaugh If You Want To Get Things DoneJanuary 23, 2009 21:16 President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts.

"There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats," the official said. "We shouldn't let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done."

That wasn't Obama's only jab at Republicans today.

While discussing the stimulus package with top lawmakers in the White House's Roosevelt Room, President Obama shot down a critic with a simple message.

"I won," he said, according to aides who were briefed on the meeting. "I will trump you on that."

The response was to the objection by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to the president's proposal to increase benefits for low-income workers who don't owe federal income taxes.
  Vowing Transparency, Obama Oks Ethics GuidelinesJanuary 21, 2009 11:05 Promising "a new era of openness in our country," President Barack Obama signed executive orders Wednesday relating to ethics guidelines for staff members of his administration.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency," Obama said.

Among other things, Obama said he would issue a pay freeze for his senior staff.

During the campaign, Obama pledged that "no political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointees will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration," according to BarackObama.com.

Obama began his first full day in office with a moment of solitude in the Oval Office, reading a note from his predecessor, before making phone calls to Middle East leaders.

Obama arrived in the Oval Office at 8:35 a.m., according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The president spent 10 minutes alone, reading a note left for him in the desk by outgoing President George W. Bush. The note had been placed in an envelope with a note saying: "To: # 44, From: # 43."

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met with the president 10 minutes later to discuss the daily schedule, Gibbs said.

Obama called Middle East leaders, including King Abdullah of Jordan, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Gibbs said.

On Sunday, Israel and Palestinian militants declared a cease-fire after 22 days of fighting in Gaza.
  Most See Bush Presidency As A Failure, Poll ShowsJanuary 18, 2009 09:15

As George W. Bush spends his final days in office, a national poll suggests that two-thirds of Americans see his presidency as a failure.
Sixty-eight percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Sunday said that Bush's eight years in the White House were a failure, with 44 percent saying this was because of his personal shortcomings and 22 percent blaming the failure on circumstances beyond his control.
Thirty-one percent said they consider Bush's presidency a success.
Half of those polled say the United States could be better off today if Al Gore had been elected president in 2000 rather than Bush, with 27 percent saying the country would be worse off if Gore had won. Twenty-two percent say things would be about the same.
"Due to the Florida recount, Bush had the misfortune of coming into office under controversial circumstances," CNN polling director Keating Holland said. "A lot of Americans apparently remember those circumstances and now wish things had gone a little differently."
Only 3 percent of those questioned say Bush was one of the greatest presidents in the nation's history. Forty-six percent rate him a poor president.
"That's three times higher than the number who gave a failing grade to his father or Ronald Reagan when they left office, and it's 27 points higher than Bill Clinton in 2001," Holland said.

  Former Bush Officials Used Leverage In Private Sector, Report FindsJanuary 12, 2009 20:32 Shortly after leaving his job as U.S. energy secretary in early 2005, Spencer Abraham took a $60,000-a-year post as a director of Occidental Petroleum, which soon became the first firm in 20 years to ship oil to the U.S. from Libya.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge accepted director's fees and consulting work from several firms seeking contracts with his old agency.

Tommy Thompson, the former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has consulted, lobbied or worked as an employee for 42 companies since leaving office in January 2005.

All told, 17 of 24 former Bush Cabinet members have taken positions with at least 119 companies, including 65 firms that lobby the government and 40 that lobby the agencies they headed, a liberal-leaning watchdog group said in a report Monday.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that the group's six-month investigation "has shown that most of these former Bush administration officials have cannily leveraged their time spent in the public sector" and "made a mint on the backs of American taxpayers."

"It may be legal, but it is certainly not honorable," she said.
  Franken Declared Winner In Minnesota Senate RaceJanuary 05, 2009 14:13 Two months after Minnesota voters went to the polls, Democrat Al Franken has been declared the winner of the U.S. Senate race, but his opponent, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, is ready to challenge the results in court.

The Minnesota Canvassing Board ruled Franken, the comedian and former radio host, won the razor-close election recount by 225 votes out of nearly 3 million cast Nov. 4.

Though Franken has been declared the winner, the contest will not end today. Coleman has a seven-day window in which to file a lawsuit contesting the board's ruling before Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie sign the election certificate.

An attorney for the Coleman campaign said in a statement this afternoon that they will file a lawsuit "within the next 24 hours" to contest the results announced by the state Canvassing Board today.

"The actions today by the Canvassing Board are but the first step in what, unfortunately, will now have to be a longer process. This process isn't at the end; it is now just at the beginning," attorney Tony Trimble said in a statement. "While we appreciate the effort of this board to do the work, the reality is that any certification of vote totals at this point is only preliminary."

A senior Coleman official said today that the election challenge would be filed and the fight would continue. If the lawsuit contesting the results is filed, Minnesota Chief Justice Eric Magnuson would appoint a three-judge panel to oversee the legal process.

Coleman entered the recount, which began Nov. 19, ahead by 215 votes, but state law calls for a recount when the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent of the total vote.

Earlier today, the Minnesota State Supreme Court rejected a request from Coleman to count 654 additional rejected absentee ballots. Before the canvassing board met, the Coleman campaign said the court ruling makes a lawsuit inevitable.