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Begich Wins Senate Seat

With about 2,500 votes left to be counted, Mark Begich leads Republican incumbent Ted Stevens by about 3,700 votes, enough to secure him the Senate seat from Alaska.

Stevens, the longest serving Republican Senator, was convicted on seven counts of lying on Senate forms about receiving gifts from VECO Corporation and CEO Bill Allen.

The Democrats now have 58 seats in the Senate, with the Minnesota and Georgia race still undecided. The Minnesota race is undergoing a recount, while early voting has begun in the Georgia runoff.

Obama Team Vetting Clinton (Bill)

The Obama Transition team is vetting Bill Clinton’s finances, a sign that the President-elect is very serious about naming his former opponent as his Secretary of State.

Oddly enough, it is the former President who may prevent his wife from a possible promotion. The former President is being vetted for possible conflict of interests in the event his wife becomes the nation’s top diplomat. Clinton has receieved $30 billion since 2005 in contributions from around the world for the Clinton Global Initiative and has had some questionable foreign deals. If Bill Clinton passes the vetting process, it is likely he will offer his former Democratic rival to be Mrs. Foggy Bottom, though with almost a week of speculation, not naming her to the post may result in embarrassment to both parties.

If Obama nominates Clinton has his Secretary of State, it will be very reminiscent of Lincoln-Seward after the 1860 election. Lincoln, a little known former Congressman went on to beat the frontrunner, Senator Seward from New York, for the Republican nomination in a hotly contested nominating convention. Lincoln then went on to name Seward has his Secretary of State and served in that capacity for eight years.

Since speculation began about the New York Senator, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Senator Kyl (R-AZ), Senator Dorgan (D-ND) and Governor Schwarzenegger (R-CA) have all expressed support of the possible nomination. Supporters of Obama on the progressive left, however, are spinning heads. Clinton, who voted for the Iraq Resolution, the Iran Qods Resolution and once famously said she would “obliterate” Iran in the event they attacked Israel with nuclear weapons is no flower to those who worked hard for Obama during the campaign. Clinton who said Obama was not ready to be Commander-in-Chief still has some party-building to do with these Democrats on the far left.

Other candidates in the running for State are Governor Bill Richardson and Senate John Kerry. who both endorsed Obama early in the primary.

Appointments

The following are appointments made thus far for the new Obama/Biden administration.

Cabinet

Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton
Senator of New York, 2001-2008. Served on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Chairwoman of the Legal Services Corporation in the Carter Administration. Widely traveled, visiting over 83 countries and their respected dignitaries. Co-Founded Vital Voices.
Secretary of the Treasury: Tim Geithner
President of the Federal Reserve Bank, 2003-2008. Served as Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs during the Clinton Administration. Director of Policy Development at the International Monetary Fund.
Secretary of Defense: Robert Gates
Appointed as Secretary of Defense by President Bush in 2006. CIA Director, 1991-1993. Served as Deputy Director of the CIA from 1986 to 1989.
Attorney General: Eric Holder
Served as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, 1997-2001. U.S. Attorney for D.C. District and Associate Judge on the D.C. Supreme Court. Worked as Attorney at Covington and Burling and senior legal adviser in the Obama Campaign.
Secretary of Commerce: Bill Richardson
Governor of New Mexico, 2003-2008. Secretary of Energy, 1998-2001. UN Ambassador, 1997-1998. Congressman, 1983-1997.
Secretary of Health and Human Services: Tom Daschle
Senator of South Dakota, 1987-2005. Congressman, 1979-1987. Senate Democratic Leader, 1995-2005.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs: General Eric Shinseki (Ret.)
Chief of Staff of the Army, 1999-2003. Commanding General fo the U.S. Army in Europe, 1997-1998.
Secretary of Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano
Governor of Arizona, 2003-2008. Attorney General of Arizona, 1999-2002. Chairwoman of the National Governor’s Association, 2006-2007. Served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

The White House Office

Chief of Staff: Rahm Emanuel
Congressman 2003-2008. Served as Assistant for Political Affairs and then Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy in the Clinton Administration.
Deputy Chief of Staff: Mona Sutphen
Managing Director of Stonebridge International. U.S. Foreign Service Officer 1991-2000 and served on the National Security Council in the Clinton Administration.
Deputy Chief of Staff: Jim Messina
Served as Chief of Staff to the Obama Campaign and Senator’s Baucus, Dorgan and Congresswoman McCarthy.
National Security Adviser: General James Jones (Ret.)
Supreme Allied Commander Europe, 2003-2006. Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1999-2003.
Direct of Communications: Ellen Moran
Executive Director of EMILY’S List.
Deputy Director of Communications: Dan Pfeiffer
Served as Senator Evan Bayh’s Press Secretary.
Press Secretary: Robert Gibbs
Served as Communications Director to Obama and the DSCC. Was Kerry Campaign Press Secretary and an Obama Campaign Senior Advisor.
Senior Advisor to the President: David Axelrod
Chief Strategist in the Obama Campaign. Formed political consultant group, Axelrod and Associates. Consulted several African-American Mayoral campaigns. Worked on the 2004 John Edwards campaign.
Senior Advisor: Pete Rouse
Served as Chief of Staff to Senator’s Obama and Daschle, Congressman Durbin and Lieutenant Governor Miller of Alaska.
White House Counsel: Gregory Craig
Special Counsel in the Clinton Administration. Foreign Policy Adviser to Senator Kennedy and Secretary Albright.
Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs: Phil Schiliro
Served as Chief of Staff to Congressman Waxman and the House Oversight Committee. Served as Policy Director to Senator Daschle and Staff Director to the Senate DLC.
Director of Speechwriting: Jonathan Favreau
Served as Director of Speechwriting during the Obama campaign and in Obama’s Senate office. Served as John Kerry’s Deputy Director of Speechwritng during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Director of the Office for Political Affairs: Patrick Gaspard
Served as National Political Director in the Obama Campaign. Served as the Executive Vice President of Politics and Legislation for United Healthcare Workers East.
Director of Intergovernmental Affairs: Cecelia Munoz
Serves as Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy and NCLR. Chair of the Board of Center for Community Change.
Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison: Valerie Jarrett
CEO and President of The Habitat Company. Served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Daley and as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development.
Chief of Staff to the Assistant to the President for Interngovernmental Relations and Public Liason: Michael Strautmanis
Served as Legislative Director and Counsel to Congressman Rod Blagojevich in his 2002 Gubernatorial campaign. Counsel for the American Association for Justice. Served in the Agency for International Development.
Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary: Desirée Rogers
Served as President of Social Networking at Allstate Financial
Director of the White House Military Office: Louis Caldera
Secretary of the Army, 1998-2001. CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service and served in the California State Assembly.
Director of Public Liason: Christina Tchen
Serves on the Board of the Chicago Bar Foundation. Chair of the Board of Field Foundation of Illinois. Also served on the Judicial Nominations Commission for the Northern District of Illinois.
Staff Secretary: Lisa Brown
Executive Director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Counsel to Vice President Gore. Served on the Executive Board of the President’s Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities.
Cabinet Secretary: Christopher Lu
Legislative Director and Acting Chief of Staff in Obama’s Senate office. Served as policy adviser in the Obama Campaign and Deputy Chief Counsel to Congressman Waxman.
Director of Scheduling and Advance: Alyssa Mastromonaco
Served as Director of Scheduling and Advance for the Obama Campaign. Political Director of Obama’s PAC, Hopefund. Was Director of Scheduling for Kerry’s Presidential Campaign and Obama’s Senate Office. Served as Press Secretary to Congressman Boucher.

Office of the Vice President

Chief of Staff: Ronald Klain
Served as Chief of Staff to Vice President Gore and Attorney General Reno. Chief Counsel on the Judiciary Commitee under Biden and Staff Director to Senate DLC.
Counsel to the Vice President: Cynthia Hogan
Served as Counsel for Constitutional Law, Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the Judiciary Committee during Biden’s Chairmanship.
Domestic Policy Advisor: Terrell McSweeney
Served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Director in Biden’s Senate Office and Issues Director during the campaign.
Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice President: Jared Bernstein
Served as Economist at the Economic Policy Institute and Deputy Chief Economist for the Department of Labor.
Director of Administration: Moises Vela
CFO and Senior Advisor on Hispanic Affairs for Vice President Gore. Founder of The Communidades Group.
Assistant to the Vice President for Intragovernmental Affairs and Public Liason: Evan Ryan
Deputy Campaign Manager for Biden’s primary campaign. Served as Special Assistant and Deputy Director of Scheduling for First Lady Hillary Clinton. Was Deputy Communications Director for Kerry’s Campaign.
Counselor to the Vice President: Mike Donilon
Served as an adviser and counselor to Biden since 1981. Provided strategic advice to several campaigns, including Corzine for Governor and Nelson (FL), Whitehouse, Reed, and Dayton for Senate.

Office of Management and Budget

Director: Peter Orszag
Director of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Senior Economist and Senior Adviser on the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton Administration.
Deputy Director: Rob Nabors
Clerk and Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee. Served as Senior Advisor to the Director of the OMB in the Clinton Administration. Served as Assistant Director for Administration and Executive Secretary.

National Economic Council

Director: Lawrence Summers
Secretary of the Treasury, 1999-2001. President of Harvard University, 2001-2006. Served as Deputy Undersecretary of the Treasury.

Council of Economic Advisers

Director: Christina Romer
Co-Director of the Program in Monetary Economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Professor of Economics at UC Berkley.

Domestic Policy Council

Director: Melody Barnes
Served as Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress. Served as Chief Counsel to Senator Kennedy on the Judiciary Committee.

Economic Recovery Advisory Board

Chair: Paul Volcker
Chairman of the Federal Reserve, 1979-1987. President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New Yor, 1975-1979. Served as Undersecretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs.
Staff Director and Chief Economist & Member of Council of Economic Advisers: Austan Goolsbee
Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the American Bar Foundation.

First Lady’s Staff

Chief of Staff: Jackie Norris
Served as Obama’s Iowa State Chair and Al Gore’s Iowa Political Director in 2000. In 1998 she served as Tom Vilsack’s Finance Director.
Deputy Chief of Staff: Melissa Winter
Served as Traveling Chief of Staff to Mrs. Obama in the Obama campaign. She was Staff Assistant and Executive Assistant to Norman Mineta. Served as Traveling Aide, Director of Scheduling and Senate Executive Assistant to Senator Lieberman.

Second Lady’s Staff

Chief of Staff: Cathrine M. Russell
Served as Senior Counsel to Senator Leahy, Staff Director for the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senior Advisor on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for women’s issues. Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden in the presidential campaign.

State Department

United Nations Ambassador: Susan Rice
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, 1997-2001. Served as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor for the Obama campaign.

Reaction to Clinton as Secretary of State

Here are some reactions to the possibility of Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Former President Bill Clinton

“If he (Obama) decided to ask her and they did it together, I think she’ll be really great as a secretary of state,” Clinton told an economic conference in Kuwait hosted by the National Bank of Kuwait.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

“I believe it would be an outstanding appointment. If it is true, it shows a number of things, including great courage on the part of the President-Elect. To appoint a very strong personality into a prominent cabinet position requires a great deal of courage.”

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

“It seems to me she’s got the experience. She’s got the temperament for it. I think she would be well received around the world,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. “So my own initial reaction is it would be a very good selection.”

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

“She’s worked across the aisle, has good bipartisan relationships,” Dorgan said. In the role of chief U.S. diplomat, Clinton “would have instant credibility around the world,” he added.

He said the U.S. has “a lot of relationships to repair and a lot of work to do, so I think she’d be a fine choice.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA)

“I think she is a very very bright woman and very experienced. I think this could be a great move.”

Obama to Resign Senate Seat November 16

Barack Obama will resign his Senate seat effective Sunday, November 16, 2008.

Here is a statement released by Obama:

“It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate. In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who’ve taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children’s future.

“It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation’s next President,'” Obama said in a statement.

“It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate. In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who’ve taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children’s future. It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation’s next President.”

Possible successors include Jesse Jackson Jr. and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth.

Confusion on Missile Defense

Foreign policy advisor Denis McDonough says Obama has made no commitment on Polish missile defense, at odds with a statement made by Polish President Lech Kaczynski who said Obama will move ahead with plans to install a missile defense system in Poland.

(The) “president-elect had a good conversation with the Polish President and the Polish Prime Minister about the important US-Poland alliance,” McDonough said in a statement.

“President Kaczynski raised missile defense but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it.

“His position is as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable.”

A statement from President Kaczynski:

“Barack Obama has underlined the importance of the strategic partnership between Poland and the United States, he expressed his hope of continuing the political and military cooperation between our two countries,” the statement read.

“He also said the anti-missile shield project would go ahead,” said a statement said.

The United States plans to install a missile defense shield in Poland by 2013. The U.S. says states like Iran is researching and developing medium to long range missiles, which could be deployed and nuclear tipped by 2017. Russia has been adamant against such a system voicing concerns it will blunt Russia’s nuclear deterrent and plans to counter the shield by deploying short-range missiles near the Polish border.

Rasmussen 2012 GOP Primary Poll

Here is the first poll conducted by Rasmussen for the 2012 Republican primary.

Sarah Palin: 64%
Mike Huckabee: 12%
Mitt Romney: 11%
Bobby Jindal: 4%
Charlie Crist: 2%
Tim Pawlenty: 1%

The results are far different from the three other poll taken, showing Romney the frontrunner followed by Huckabee then Palin. Considering the poll was taken the day after the election, should be taken into account as Palin is still very fresh in everyone’s memories. Plus, this is the first poll that includes some lesser known potential candidates such as Jindal and Pawlenty.

Palin is view most favorably among the potential candidates. 91% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Palin, that includes 65% who have a very favorable opinion of her. 81% have a favorable opinion of Romney, 80% of Huckabee, 40% of Jindal (39% don’t have an opinion) and 36% of Pawlenty (43% don’t have an opinion).

This national telephone survey of 1,000 Likely Republican Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports November 5, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Byrd to Give Up Appropriations Chairmanship

Robert, Byrd, the oldest and longest serving U.S. Senator in the Chamber’s history will voluntarily give up his Chairmanship on the powerful Appropriations Committee. This ends speculation on Byrd’s fate on the Committee as many began to doubt his ability to manage the Committee given his failing health and age. Byrd is approaching 91. Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, 84, will take the gavel of the Appropriations Committee.

Inouye’s ascension to the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee will set off a chain-reaction among other Senate panels. Inouye currently chairs the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee but will have to give up that post. Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is next in line on Commerce and could take over as chairman.

If Rockefeller takes the Commerce gavel, that means he has to give up his chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is next in line on that committee, and Democratic sources said she is interested in becoming chairwoman. Rockefeller’s office would not comment on his future plans.

Byrd, as the most senior Senator, will remain pro tempore of the Senate and thus third in line to the Presidency.

MSNBC Drops Olbermann and Matthews As Election Anchor

MSNBC has replaced Kieth Olbermann and Chris Matthews as election anchor for the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates as well as election night coverage.

The move follows criticisms that MSNBC has morphed into a left partisan news channel accompanied with on air brawls between the election coverage participants.

Executives at the channel’s parent company, NBC Universal, had high hopes for MSNBC’s coverage of the political conventions. Instead, the coverage frequently descended into on-air squabbles between the anchors, embarrassing some workers at NBC’s news division, and quite possibly alienating viewers. Although MSNBC nearly doubled its total audience compared with the 2004 conventions, its competitive position did not improve, as it remained in last place among the broadcast and cable news networks. In prime time, the channel averaged 2.2 million viewers during the Democratic convention and 1.7 million viewers during the Republican convention.

I personally like the move. I’m not a particular fan of Olbermann or Matthews. Their partisan biases often get in the way of objective news reporting, which severely degrades the quality and integrity of the news channel. MSNBC recently signed Rachel Maddow to host her own show, another sign of MSNBC’s left-leaning tilt. Having said that, I have hopes for Maddow, but watching her on “Race for the White House,” I cannot help but think she is the female incarnation of Olbermann.

David Gregory currently hosts “Race for the White House” which airs at 6 PM on MSNBC. My personal take–it is the best show on MSNBC.

McCain Raises $47 Million in August

Since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, the McCain campaign has pulled in $10 million bringing their total for the month to $47 million.

The numbers are not final and campaign spokesman Brian Rogers says they are still counting.

Because McCain will accept $87 million in public funds, any money raised after today cannot be spent. The McCain campaign says any excess money will be steered to state committees.

The McCain campaign plans on using Palin as fundraiser in the coming months given her success.

This is by far the most the McCain campaign has raised in a month, but it is still less than Obama’s record of $55 million.