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  War On Terror: Barack ObamaNovember 25, 2008 14:10 Barack Obama will confront a daunting list of priorities when he takes office on Jan. 20. Rescuing the nation's economy -- if there's anything left to rescue by then -- will obviously be at the top of the list. But it is just as important that Obama immediately declare an end to the "war on terror," and reverse all of the policies that have been carried out in its name.

George W. Bush's "war on terror" has been an unmitigated disaster. First, it is unwinnable. Terrorism is not an enemy. It is a tactic as old as humanity, and until the lion lies down with the lamb, it will continue to exist. Waging a war on terror is a category violation, like waging a war on violence. Second, it is self-defeating. By invading Iraq to preempt an alleged terrorist threat, the U.S. greatly increased that threat. And by elevating terrorist groups, which pose no existential threat to America, to the status of state actors, the Bush administration enhanced their prestige. The number of terror attacks around the world has risen greatly since Bush started his "war," and hatred of the U.S. in the Arab-Muslim world has metastasized.


In a subtler way, the "war on terror" has degraded our national psyche. It encourages the U.S. to remain in a psychological state that is simultaneously fearful and aggressive -- an infantile state, one that prevents us from thinking clearly about how to address our real foreign policy challenges. The U.S. is too powerful and self-confident to act like a three-year-old having a permanent tantrum. One successful terrorist attack, no matter how horrific, should never have led to a fundamental change in America's geopolitical strategy. A good general cannot allow his battlefield moves to be dictated by emotion, any more than a boxer can allow himself to drop his guard in a futile effort to land wild haymakers.

 
  Clinton Accepts Sec. of StateNovember 21, 2008 12:43

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has accepted an offer from President-elect Barack Obama to become U.S. secretary of state, joining her former Democratic rival to help guide U.S. foreign policy, the New York Times said on Friday.
The newspaper quoted two Clinton associates who said she came to her decision after additional discussions with Obama about the nature of her role as the top U.S. diplomat and his foreign policy plans.
"She's ready," one of the sources told the newspaper, which posted the report on its website.
Clinton emerged as a frontrunner for the secretary of state job late last week, transfixing a country which had seen her compete hard against Obama to win the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Obama clinched that nomination in June and then beat Republican John McCain in the November 4 election.
Democratic Party sources have recently said Clinton, was on track to be nominated, with an official announcement expected after the November 27 Thanksgiving holiday.
NBC news meanwhile also reported two other key Obama appointments: New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as commerce secretary. NBC said official announcements on the appointments were expected on Monday.


 
  Preparing For A New Presidency | Change.GovNovember 13, 2008 10:47

HAVING fought the longest election campaign in American history, Barack Obama is now immersed in the most difficult transition in living memory. He will inherit two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Depression. He needs to ensure a smooth transfer of power from an incumbent who is ideologically and temperamentally his polar opposite. He also needs to translate his vague philosophy of “hope” and “change” into governance. Hearts are sure to be broken and enemies made.
Mr Obama is bringing the same talent for organisation to the transition that he brought to his campaign. He has been quietly planning since the summer with John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff to Bill Clinton and the head of a Clintonian think-tank, the Centre for American Progress, studying previous transitions and mulling over appointments. And he announced an expanded transition team the day after winning the election, adding Valerie Jarrett, a veteran Chicago insider, and Pete Rouse, his chief of staff in the Senate. So far the troika’s approach has been thoroughly businesslike, with remarkably few leaks (particularly for Democrats) and a firm focus on getting things done quickly but not hastily. Mr Podesta has suggested that, given the gravity of the country’s problems, Mr Obama will try to announce several cabinet appointments, particularly the treasury secretary and the national security team, before December. But rumours that he would do so within days of the election proved to be exaggerated.

Mr Obama’s planners are heavily influenced by two previous transitions—Bill Clinton’s in 1992-93 and Ronald Reagan’s in 1980-81. They are determined to avoid repeating the mistakes that Mr Clinton made and that many of them lived through. He was slow off the mark, failing to make a single senior appointment for six weeks after he was elected and indulging instead in endless waffle. He focused on cabinet appointments rather than on the White House staff (many of the White House staff were not announced until just before Christmas). He was obsessed by questions of “diversity”, needing three attempts to name an attorney-general, for example. He annoyed key figures on Capitol Hill. And he became embroiled in a damaging argument about gays in the military. Many Clinton veterans now claim that this led inexorably to chaos in the White House, squabbles with Democratic power-brokers and the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.
They are determined instead to follow Reagan’s model. The Reaganites not only grasped that the engine of power for the administration is the White House staff rather than the cabinet. They also understood the importance of hitting the ground running. Mr Obama’s planners are even imitating some of the fine details of Reagan’s approach: by collaborating so closely with the Centre for American Progress, they are echoing the way in which Mr Reagan worked with the then relatively new Heritage Foundation.
This has allowed Mr Obama to get off to a decent start. Two days after he announced his expanded transition team he also made an important White House appointment: Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff. This suggests a clear grasp of priorities. The chief of staff acts as the president’s gate-keeper and principal enforcer. He is also soon expected to announce Robert Gibbs as his press secretary, the position that comes with the biggest megaphone in Washington.

  Hypocritye: Palin Decries 'Extreme Partisanship'November 13, 2008 08:58

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Thursday argued that she and her fellow Republican governors were ready to put aside "extreme partisanship" and act if Washington fails to provide the leadership America needs.
Speaking at her first formal news conference before the national media since the GOP presidential ticket lost last week, the former vice presidential nominee argued that her fellow Republican governors "don't let obsessive, extreme partisanship ... get in the way of doing what's right."
"I think that this group is going to be looked to and looked at for leadership that perhaps had been lacking in Congress and in Washington, D.C.," she said. "This group is going to be uniquely qualified to provide leadership in this nation."

  Pawlenty Calls For A More Diverse GOPNovember 12, 2008 13:42 Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) laid out his vision for the Republican Party and how it can move forward. It needs to get younger, more diverse and build a broader coalition, he said here at the Republican Governors Association conference a little more than a week after Republicans lost the presidency and suffered big losses in both the US House and Senate.

"If we're going to successfully travel the road, as a Republican, we need to see clearly, and be honest about where we've been and where we're headed," he said.

Pawlenty implored the room of Republicans not to give in to the emerging reform-versus-traditional arguments as to what's wrong with the party.

"If we're going to be the majority," he said, "we're going to have to see we need to grow the party. We cannot compete in the Northeast, the West; we're losing seats in the Great Lakes region. We have a large deficit with women, Hispanics, African Americans -- people with modest financial circumstances. That is not a formula for a majority."

Pawlenty stressed that the Party both needs to modernize and be true to its values. "Both are true, and both can be harmonized."
  Bush Leaving Office More Unpopular Than NixonNovember 10, 2008 12:06 On the day that President-elect Barack Obama is visiting the White House, a new national poll suggests that the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the most unpopular president since approval ratings were first sought more than six decades ago.

Seventy-six percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday disapprove of how President Bush is handling his job.

That's an all-time high in CNN polling and in Gallup polling dating back to World War II.

"No other president's disapproval rating has gone higher than 70 percent. Bush has managed to do that three times so far this year," says CNN polling director Keating Holland. "That means that Bush is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned from office during Watergate with a 66 percent disapproval rating."
  Barack Obama 'To Reverse Bush Policy On Stem Cell Research And Oil Drilling'November 10, 2008 11:13

Barack Obama, the US president-elect, will use executive powers to reverse his predecessor's policies on stem cell research and oil exploration in national parks, a senior aide has indicated.
John Podesta, who is handling Mr Obama's preparations to take over in the White House on January 20, said that Mr Obama was reviewing Mr Bush’s executive orders on those and other issues - believed to include funding family planning in third world countries - as he prepares to put his own stamp on policy after eight years of Republican rule.
“As a candidate, Senator Obama said that he wanted all the Bush executive orders reviewed, and decide which ones should be kept, and which ones should be repealed, and which ones should be amended. And that process is going on. It’s been undertaken,” Mr Podesta said last night.
“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that.
“I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set.”

  George Bush Plans To Push Through Agenda In Last Days In OfficeNovember 05, 2008 12:52

Democrats fear the president will try to ram through new rules on the environment, civil liberties and abortion rights before December 20, the deadline for changes before the new president is inaugurated a month later. The alterations could take months or years to undo.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey has already rushed out new guidelines for the FBI that make domestic surveillance easier, including the use of informants to infiltrate lawful groups and prolonged physical surveillance.
Green campaigners fear the Environmental Protection Agency may issue a rule that would weaken provisions of the Clean Air Act, which required utility companies to install modern pollution measures when they expand capacity.
Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, is believed to be planning to extend the right of doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in abortions to a wider range of health care workers. The right to refuse the provision of the birth control pill, emergency contraception and abortion referrals may also be added.
"Every transition is complicated. This is not a parliamentary system. We have no shadow government in place," said Stephen Hess, a US presidential expert at the non-partisan Brookings Institution in Washington.
Mr Bush has vowed "complete co-operation" with his successor but has made it clear he will pursue his own policy goals during his remaining 75 days in office.

  Cheney's Day Is DoneNovember 03, 2008 20:33

The most spectacular, and indeed sinister, conflict of interest in the world of politics and business must surely be the relationship between US Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton Company.
Cheney had been chairman and CEO of the oil services and construction giant Halliburton from 1995 to August 2000 when he signed up with George W Bush's election campaign. Halliburton stands to benefit every time an oil pipeline is blown up in Iraq or a meal is handed out to the troops, and Cheney still has stock options in the company.
To give the Vice President the benefit of the doubt - an exercise which counters every journalistic instinct apart from the need to report both sides of the story - his supporters say he donates the proceeds to charity.
Cheney's official position has always been: ``Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest".
Here are the available Halliburton stock option numbers sourced from the Vice President's Federal Financial Disclosure forms:
100,000 shares at $US54.5000 (vested), expire December 3, 2007
33,333 shares at $US28.1250 (vested), expire December 2, 2008
300,000 shares at $US39.5000 (vested), expire December 2, 2009.
In 2001, he was paid deferred salary by Halliburton of $US205,298. In 2002, deferred salary was $US162,392, in 2003 $US178,437 and in 2004 $US194,852.
End is nigh
Thankfully, tomorrow's US election will bring this breathtaking conflict of interest to an end - it is a issue which has been chronically under-reported in the US media - and Halliburton's stock price is faring poorly. It dropped another 7.3% to $US18.36 overnight, well down on this year's July highs of $US55 a share.
The stock was trading around $US20 a share before Operation Enduring Freedom was unleashed in March 2003 and it subsequently shot up.
Halliburton has racked up some $US20 billion in revenue from the war. Meanwhile, 4,190 US troops have been killed, an estimated 100,000 have been injured and the Iraqi body count is documented at 97,000, although the real figure is would likely to be higher as there are no accurate records.
According to Congressional research data, the cost of the ``Liberation of Iraq'' to US taxpayers is now over $US596 billion. The cost now runs at $US12 billion a month ($US16 billion if Afghanistan is included) compared with original Pentagon estimates of $US50 billion all up .


 
  Cheney's Day Is DoneNovember 03, 2008 20:33

The most spectacular, and indeed sinister, conflict of interest in the world of politics and business must surely be the relationship between US Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton Company.
Cheney had been chairman and CEO of the oil services and construction giant Halliburton from 1995 to August 2000 when he signed up with George W Bush's election campaign. Halliburton stands to benefit every time an oil pipeline is blown up in Iraq or a meal is handed out to the troops, and Cheney still has stock options in the company.
To give the Vice President the benefit of the doubt - an exercise which counters every journalistic instinct apart from the need to report both sides of the story - his supporters say he donates the proceeds to charity.
Cheney's official position has always been: ``Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest".
Here are the available Halliburton stock option numbers sourced from the Vice President's Federal Financial Disclosure forms:
100,000 shares at $US54.5000 (vested), expire December 3, 2007
33,333 shares at $US28.1250 (vested), expire December 2, 2008
300,000 shares at $US39.5000 (vested), expire December 2, 2009.
In 2001, he was paid deferred salary by Halliburton of $US205,298. In 2002, deferred salary was $US162,392, in 2003 $US178,437 and in 2004 $US194,852.
End is nigh
Thankfully, tomorrow's US election will bring this breathtaking conflict of interest to an end - it is a issue which has been chronically under-reported in the US media - and Halliburton's stock price is faring poorly. It dropped another 7.3% to $US18.36 overnight, well down on this year's July highs of $US55 a share.
The stock was trading around $US20 a share before Operation Enduring Freedom was unleashed in March 2003 and it subsequently shot up.
Halliburton has racked up some $US20 billion in revenue from the war. Meanwhile, 4,190 US troops have been killed, an estimated 100,000 have been injured and the Iraqi body count is documented at 97,000, although the real figure is would likely to be higher as there are no accurate records.
According to Congressional research data, the cost of the ``Liberation of Iraq'' to US taxpayers is now over $US596 billion. The cost now runs at $US12 billion a month ($US16 billion if Afghanistan is included) compared with original Pentagon estimates of $US50 billion all up .

  My Wife Made Me Canvas For Obama; Here'S What I LearnedNovember 02, 2008 14:34

There has been a lot of speculation that Barack Obama might win the election due to his better "ground game" and superior campaign organization.
I had the chance to view that organization up close this month when I canvassed for him. I'm not sure I learned much about his chances, but I learned a lot about myself and about this election.
Let me make it clear: I'm pretty conservative. I grew up in the suburbs. I voted for George H.W. Bush twice, and his son once. I was disappointed when Bill Clinton won, and disappointed he couldn't run again.
I encouraged my son to join the military. I was proud of him in Afghanistan, and happy when he came home, and angry when he was recalled because of the invasion of Iraq. I'm white, 55, I live in the South and I'm definitely going to get a bigger tax bill if Obama wins.
I am the dreaded swing voter.
So you can imagine my surprise when my wife suggested we spend a Saturday morning canvassing for Obama. I have never canvassed for any candidate. But I did, of course, what most middle-aged married men do: what I was told.