Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Who's Managing the Balls in this Family?

Bill and Hillary will ring in 2009 for the nation tonight, as the Secretary of State and her husband push the button that lowers the ball into Times Square. New York Post has details.

The celebration will include the release of 1,000 balloons printed with the words "joy" and "hope." Tight security means no booze and no backpacks. Jonas Brothers provide the only indulgence.
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Why Isn't This Man Smiling?

In a year when all the cable-TV news outlets saw their audiences grow, Fox News was the ratings winner for the seventh year in a row.

Matea Gold from the L.A. Times reports that Fox News reached an average of 2.1 million viewers during prime-time hours. That's an increase of 40 percent from 2007.

MSNBC had lower numbers than CNN or Fox News but experienced the greatest growth. Reaching an average of 920,000 viewers in prime time, MSNBC's ratings represent an 82 percent jump from a year ago.
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Know Your Obama Underlings, Part 3

Editor's Note: This is another installment in the Rapier's daily profiles of one of Barack Obama's nominees to a cabinet or high-level administration post.
Today's Profile
Secretary of Homeland Security:
Janet Napolitano

Born November 29, 1957. Napolitano is the current governor of the U.S. state of Arizona, originally elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.

Napolitano was born in New York City. She is a Methodist. She was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. She graduated from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, and then received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Virginia School of Law. In 1991, while a partner with the private Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca LLP, Napolitano served as attorney for Anita Hill (who testified in the U.S. Senate that then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her ten years earlier when she was his subordinate at the federal EEOC).

In 1993, Napolitano was appointed by President Bill Clinton as United States Attorney for the District of Arizona. She ran for and won the position of Arizona Attorney General in 1998. While still serving as attorney general, she spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention just three weeks after having a mastectomy.

In November 2006, Napolitano won the gubernatorial election of 2006, defeating the Republican challenger, Len Munsil, by a nearly 2-1 ratio and becoming the first woman to be re-elected to that office (she is Arizona's third female governor). If Napolitano is confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State Jan Brewer will become the governor of Arizona, as the state does not have a lieutenant governor.

To combat illegal immigration, the governor has opted to: crackdown on employers who hire undocumented workers; catch forgers of I.D. documents; push for more Homeland Security measures to deter border crossings.

Napolitano is regarded as perhaps the most effective governor at combatting illegal immigration, although conservatives deride her refusal to support legislation targeting illegal immigrants working for U.S. employers.

Napolitano is single. According to the Arizona Republic, "Napolitano, who has never been married or had children, has long been the subject of a whisper campaign about her sexuality, including some dirty campaign tricks in 2002 when 'vote gay' fliers were posted next to her campaign signs. She is not gay, she has said, 'just a straight, single workaholic.' Gov Napolitano says she opposes same-sex marriage (as does Obama), and supports an Arizona law barring gay marriages. However, she opposed the Federal Marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution on the grounds of states rights.

After a news conference in Philadelphia on December 2, 2008, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell made a controversial remark about why he thought Napolitano being single qualified her to serve as Secretary for Homeland Security: "Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it." Rendell, it should be noted, has NOT been asked to serve in the Obama cabinet...

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And Now a Reading from "Uncle Tom's Senate Seat"...

Who is Blago's Senate Appointee and Why the Heck Is His Playing This Game?

From Teagan Goddard's

Dan Conley, a former speechwriter for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and a keen observer of Illinois politics, offers his take on today's attempt by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint a new senator:

The selection of former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace President-Elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate has very little to do with the actual seat. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has already made it clear that he will not certify any Blagojevich pick. That will give the Senate Democratic caucus sufficient cause to reject the appointment,
which they have already pledged to do. At this point, it would be impossible for the Democrats to backtrack on their earlier pledge, it would implicate them in the Blagojevich sleaze, which is something they will avoid at all costs. So while Burris seems like a winner today, he's a long-term loser.

Why did he agree to be used? Because he's desperate to return to the limelight. It's a sad end to a career that included numerous runs for governor, the U.S. Senate and Mayor of Chicago, plus a term as the state's Attorney General. The truth is, he wasn't much of an Attorney General -- the legal opinions that came out of his office in the early 90s were legally suspect and linguistically challenged -- but he has been a fixture in Illinois politics for years and he's escaped any hint of corruption.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Perhaps soon they'll merge and call themselves "Embarq"...

Today's Rapier Tutorial: Hamas vs. Hezbollah and How to Tell the Difference:
by AuH2O

"Hamas" is an acronym for the Arab words for Islamic Resistance Movement; the word itself means "zeal." It was founded in 1987 at the time of the Palestinian uprising, the "intifada," in Gaza and the West Bank. It is one of 28 groups officially declared a "foreign terrorist organization" by the State Department.

Its goal is to destroy Israel and to put in place an Islamic Palestinian state. Its methods include assassination, raids, bombing, and suicide bombing. It also runs a network of mosques and social service organizations, such as medical clinics. Its Web site lists "The Glory Record," 85 incidents of terror. Hamas opposed the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) 1988 acceptance of the United Nations resolutions acknowledging Israel's right to exist and further objected to the 1993 peace agreement and mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO. In recent years Palestinian security forces have cooperated with Israel to help keep Hamas in check. Hamas has fund-raising networks in the United States and Europe, which supplies about a third of its $30-million annual budget. It also gets money from Iran and Saudi-born terrorist Osama Bin Laden. In June 2008, an informal truce was agreed between Hamas and Israel. However, on December 23, 2008, Hamas issued a statement declaring the six months ceasefire was over, Hamas blamed Israel for the end of the ceasefire on Friday, saying it had not respected its terms, including the lifting of the blockade under which little more than humanitarian aid has been allowed into Gaza. In the following days, following the launch of more than 70 rockets from Gaza targeted at Israel, Israel launched a series of airstrikes across Gaza against Hamas.

"Hezbollah," also spelled Hizballah, means "party of God." It is a Shiite Muslim organization headquartered in Lebanon whose goal is a fundamentalist Islamic state there and beyond and the obliteration of Israel. It was created in 1982 after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and last May forced the Israeli withdrawal from that country. Hezbollah is also on the State Department's foreign terrorist organization list. Hezbollah trains Hamas militants and is seeking to further arm Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. For those Palestinians without guns, Hezbollah encourages them to stab Israelis to death. The group is believed responsible for the 1983 suicide bombing of an American Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 American military personnel, as well as the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Hezbollah has extremely close ties with Iran, from which it gets everything from diplomatic aid to weapons to an estimated $100 million a year; Syria is a substantial supporter as well. Hezbollah also runs social service organizations and has its own satellite television station, which broadcasts training of suicide bombers.

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Okay, but who do we blame for "Puff the Magic Dragon" as a song????

You can blame the "Barack the Magic Negro" Uproar on The L.A. Times and Left-Wing Sociologists -- NOT Limbaugh and the G.O.P.

Newbusters has the full story here.


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Know Your Obama Underlings, Part 2

Editor's Note: The Rapier will, prior to the inauguration, provide a daily installment with a brief profile of one of Barack Obama's nominees to a cabinet or high-level administration post. This way, you'll know who to blame...
Today's Profile
Attorney General: Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Born January 21, 1951. Holder is a former Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, United States Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He grew up in Queens, to parents with roots in Barbados. Holder attended public school until the age of 10. When entering the 4th grade he was selected to participate in a program for intellectually-gifted students. He went on to attend Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and attended Columbia University, where he played freshman basketball. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in American history in 1973. Holder also received his law degree from Columbia Law School, graduating in 1976.

After graduating from law school, Holder joined the U.S. Justice Department's new "Public Integrity Section" during an interval lasting from 1976 to 1988. During his time there, he assisted in the prosecution of Democratic Congressman John Jenrette for bribery discovered in the Abscam sting operation. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan appointed Holder to serve on the Bench as a Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Holder stepped down from the bench in 1993 to accept an appointment for U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from President Bill Clinton. At the beginning of his tenure, he oversaw the conclusion of the corruption case against Dan Rostenkowski, part of the Congressional Post Office Scandal. He was a U.S. Attorney until his elevation to Deputy Attorney General in 1997.

Clinton nominated Holder to be the next Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno. During his confirmation hearing, Holder's opposition to the death penalty was questioned, but he pledged his intention to cooperate with the current laws and Attorney General Janet Reno, saying, "I am not a proponent of the death penalty, but I will enforce the law as this Congress gives it to us." Holder briefly served as Acting Attorney General under President George W. Bush, until the Senate confirmed Bush's nominee, John Ashcroft.

In his final days with the Clinton administration, Holder was involved with Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive and Democratic contributor Marc Rich. Between November 2000 and January 2001, Jack Quinn, Rich's lawyer and former White House Counsel from 1995-96, had been contacting Holder, testing the waters for the political viability of a presidential pardon. After presenting his case to Holder in a November phone call and a last minute January 17th letter, Quinn arranged a phone call between the White House and Holder, asking the Deputy Attorney General to share his opinion on the Rich pardon. Ultimately, Holder gave Clinton a "neutral, leaning towards favorable" opinion of the pardon.

Since 2001, Holder has worked as an attorney at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.,representing clients such as Merck and the National Football League. He represented the NFL during its dog fighting investigation against Michael Vick.

While D.C. v. Heller was being heard by the Supreme Court in 2008, Holder joined the Reno-led amicus brief, which urged the Supreme Court to uphold Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban and said the position of the Department of Justice, from Franklin Roosevelt through Bill Clinton, was that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms for purposes unrelated to a State’s operation of a well-regulated militia. Holder said that overturning the 1976 law "opens the door to more people having more access to guns and putting guns on the streets."

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Monday, December 29, 2008

"Junior" Somehow Didn't Fit As Well...

Palin's daughter gives birth to son named "Tripp"

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The 18-year-old daughter of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has given birth in Alaska to a son.

People magazine reports that Bristol Palin gave birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston on Sunday. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces.

Relative Colleen Jones tells the magazine the baby is fine and Bristol is "doing well." Jones is the sister of Bristol's grandmother.

The father is Levi Johnston, a former hockey player at Alaska's Wasilla High School. He has said he and Bristol plan to marry.

Palin created a stir in September by announcing the pregnancy as she prepared to accept her nomination at the Republican National Convention.

The governor's office called the birth a private family matter.

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Know Your Obama Underlings, Part 1

Editor's Note: The Rapier will, prior to the inauguration, provide a daily installment with a brief profile of one of Barack Obama's nominees to a cabinet or high-level administration post. This way, you'll know who to blame...
Today's Profile
Secretary of the Treasury: Timothy F. Geithner

Born August 18, 1961. Geithner is currently the 9th president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In that role he also serves as Vice Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Geithner was born in Brooklyn, New York. Geithner spent most of his childhood living outside the United States, including present-day Zimbabwe, India and Thailand, where he completed high school at International School Bangkok. He then attended Dartmouth College, graduating with a A.B. in government and Asian studies in 1983. He earned an M.A. in international economics and East Asian studies from Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in 1985.

After completing his studies, Geithner worked for Kissinger and Associates in Washington, D.C., for three years and then joined the International Affairs division of the U.S. Treasury Department in 1988. He went on to serve as an attache at the US Embassy in Tokyo. He was deputy assistant secretary for international monetary and financial policy (1995–1996), senior deputy assistant secretary for international affairs (1996-1997), assistant secretary for international affairs (1997–1998). He was Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs (1998–2001) under Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.

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Gosh, I'd Hate to Live in One of Those Right-Wing States Where Privacy Rights Are Not Respected...

Oregon Governor Looking to Enforce Gas Tax Based on Mileage By Using Satellite Tracking

From the Albany Democrat-Herald:

A year ago, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced it had demonstrated that a new way to pay for roads — via a mileage tax and satellite technology — could work.

Now Gov. Ted Kulongoski says he’d like the legislature to take the next step.

As part of a transportation-related bill he has filed for the 2009 legislative session, the governor says he plans to recommend “a path to transition away from the gas tax as the central funding source for transportation.”

What that means is explained on the governor’s website:

“As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system.”

According to the policies he has outlined online, Kulongoski proposes to continue the work of the special task force that came up with and tested the idea of a mileage tax to replace the gas tax.

The governor wants the task force “to partner with auto manufacturers to refine technology that would enable Oregonians to pay for the transportation system based on how many miles they drive.”

The online outline adds: “The governor is committed to ensuring that rural Oregon is not adversely affected and that privacy concerns are addressed.”

When the task force’s study and test were in the news in 2006 and 2007, critics worried that the technology could be used to track where vehicles go, not just how far they travel, and that this information would somehow be stored by the government.

In more than one interview with the Democrat-Herald and others, James Whitty, the ODOT official in charge of the project, tried to assure the public that tracking people’s travels was not in the plans.

The task force’s final report came out in November 2007. It was based largely on a field test in which about 300 motorists in the Portland area and two service stations took part over

10 months, ending in March 2007.

A GPS-based system kept track of the in-state mileage driven by the volunteers. When they bought fuel, a device in their vehicles was read, and they paid 1.2 cents a mile and got a refund of the state gas tax of 24 cents a gallon.

The final report detailed the technical aspects of the program. It also stressed the issue of privacy.

“The concept requires no transmission of vehicle travel locations, either in real time or of travel history,” the report said. “Accordingly, no travel location points are stored within the vehicle or transmitted elsewhere. Thus there can be no ‘tracking’ of vehicle movements.”

Also, the report said, under the Oregon concept of the program, “ODOT would have no involvement in developing the on-vehicle devices, installing them in vehicles, maintaining them or having any other access to them except, perhaps, in situations involving tampering or similar fee evasion activities.”

Equipment for the Oregon test was developed at Oregon State University.

Whitty said last year it might take about $20 million to establish that the mileage tax is commercially viable. Eventually, GPS devices would have to start being built into cars, and fueling stations would have to be similarly equipped.

The gas tax would stay in force — Kulongoski has proposed that it be raised 2 cents — for vehicles not equipped to pay the mileage tax.

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He's Not a Chicago Politician But He Plays One on TV...

Seems like Rod Blagojevich is not the only governor who might have indulged in a little pay-for-play action...

New Mexico’s Gov. Bill Richardson, who is the newly named Secretary of Commerce in Obama’s about-to-be Cabinet, is also being investigated by a federal grand jury in his home state for possibly steering state bond business from the New Mexico Financial Authority toward David Rubin, a significant campaign contributor, according to an NBC News report, among others.

NBC’s Lisa Myers reports that two former state officials say they’ve recently been questioned by a federal grand jury specifically about allegations that Richardson or aides pushed state business worth nearly $1.5 million in fees toward CDR Financial Products in 2004. The company is headquartered in Beverly Hills.

Redstate has the rest of the story here.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

...which, oddly, correlates with Gore being clean-shaven all year...

"2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved" -- according to the UK Telegraph.

Read all about it here.


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Nuclear winter IS sort of peaceful, eh?

"I’ve come to Arizona on a family visit, and, faced with the perennial question of what one does the weekend after Thanksgiving, my wife and I have found ourselves staring into the hardened silo of a missile that could have delivered a nine-megaton nuclear warhead anywhere in the old Soviet Union."

Byron York of the Wall Street Journal pauses this holiday season to give thanks for the weaponry that won the Cold War. Read it here.


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Maybe gramps can get the "little brown ones" to hit the campaign trail...

Jeb Bush poised for Florida Senate run

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been working the phones since Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) announced earlier this month that he won’t seek reelection in 2010.

As Caroline Kennedy pursues her bright-lights, big-city bid for the U.S. Senate, another child of dynasty is quietly testing the waters for his own Senate run.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — the son of one president and the brother of another — has been working the phones since Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) announced earlier this month that he won’t seek reelection in 2010. Sources say Bush hasn’t made up his mind about running for Martinez’ seat, but that he’s getting green lights from would-be contributors and blessings from Republican Party leaders.

Strategists and political observers take it as a sign that Bush will run.

"Everything indicates that he's in," said David Johnson, a Republican strategist and the CEO of Strategic Vision. "You're not making calls and laying the ground work for fundraising unless you're clearing the field for your candidacy."

Read the full article at

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Hilary Clinton, 4/4/2004: Bush is not "intellectually curious" enough to be president...

58 of 95 Books that Bush Read for Pleasure in 2006 Were Non-Fiction, Rove Writes.

Bush devoured between 40 and 100 volumes per year while president - plus reading the Bible in its entirety once per year.

Perhaps up next he'll read Obama's dissertation on all the 57 states of the Union...

Read about what Bush has been reading here.


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

He was going to apply, but he, ahem, "forgot"...

Libby has not applied for a pardon, DOJ says.

WASHINGTON — The most notable feature of the Justice Department file containing hundreds of formal applications beseeching President Bush to be merciful and grant some sort of clemency before he leaves office may be the one name that is not there.

I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has not applied for a pardon, Justice Department officials have said. Mr. Libby was convicted of four felony counts in March 2007 for his role in the investigation of the leak of Valerie Wilson’s employment with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Libby, known as Scooter, has been at the top of the speculative lists that accompany the holiday season, especially in the last year of a presidency, of who might receive a White House gift of clemency, which can take the form of an outright pardon or a commutation of a sentence. Mr. Bush had already used his constitutional authority in July 2007 to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence, wiping out the 30-month prison term imposed by a judge, but leaving intact the conviction and lesser penalties including a $250,000 fine.

The conviction means that Mr. Libby cannot practice law because he had to surrender his bar membership. Many of his friends have hoped that he might be given a pardon on top of the commutation, not only to allow him to practice law but also to wipe out what they regard as an injustice. Mr. Libby was not convicted of leaking Ms. Wilson’s name, but of obstruction of justice and lying to a grand jury and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who were looking into the disclosure of her identity.

He became the most senior White House official convicted of a felony since the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration.

The New York Times has the rest of the story here.

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Can MLK Day Be Far Behind??

Iraq Declares Christmas an Official Holiday for First Year

BAGHDAD — Iraq's Christians, a small minority in the overwhelmingly Muslim country, quietly celebrated Christmas on Thursday with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.

Full story here.


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Fat Bottomed Girls They Really Can Make the Rockin' World Go Round...

Fill 'Er Up With Human Fat
Peter C. Beller,

How a Beverly Hills doctor powered his SUV using his patients' spare tires.

Liposuctioning unwanted blubber out of pampered Los Angelenos may not seem like a dream job, but it has its perks. Free fuel is one of them.

For a time, Beverly Hills doctor Craig Alan Bittner turned the fat he removed from patients into biodiesel that fueled his Ford SUV and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator.

Love handles can power a car? Frighteningly, yes. Fat--whether animal or vegetable--contains triglycerides that can be extracted and turned into diesel. Poultry companies such as Tyson are looking into powering their trucks on chicken schmaltz, and biofuel start-ups such as Nova Biosource are mixing beef tallow and pig lard with more palatable sources such as soybean oil. Mike Shook of Agri Process Innovations, a builder of biodiesel plants, says this year's batch of U.S. biodiesel was likely more than half animal-derived since the price of soybeans soared.

A gallon of grease will get you about a gallon of fuel, and drivers can get about the same amount of mileage from fat fuel as they do from regular diesel, according to Jenna Higgins of the National Biodiesel Board. Animal fats need to undergo an additional step to get rid of free fatty acids not present in vegetable oils, but otherwise, there's no difference, she says.

Greenies like the fact that waste, such as coffee grounds and french-fry grease, can be turned into power. "The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel--and I have more fat than I can use," Bittner wrote on "Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth." Bittner's lipodiesel Web site is no longer online.

Using fat to fuel cars might be environmentally friendly, but it's definitely illegal in California to use human medical waste to power vehicles, and Bittner is being investigated by the state's public health department.

Although it's unclear when Bittner started and stopped making fat fuel or how he made it, his activities came to light after recent lawsuits filed by patients that allege he allowed his assistant and his girlfriend to perform surgeries without a medical license.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So no more of that drivel about bringing a light into the world...

Scientists warn Christmas lights harm the planet

SCIENTISTS have warned that Christmas lights are bad for the planet due to huge electricity waste and urged people to get energy efficient festive bulbs.

CSIRO researchers said householders should know that each bulb turned on in the name of Christmas will increase emissions of greenhouse gases.

Dr Glenn Platt, who leads research on energy demand, said Australia got 80 per cent of its electricity by burning coal which pumps harmful emissions into the atmosphere.

He said: "Energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, and putting your Christmas lights on a timer are two very easy ways to minimise the amount of electricity you use to power your lights."

He said the nation's electricity came from "centralised carbon intensive, coal-based power stations" which were responsible for emitting over one third of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Platt added: "For a zero-emission Christmas light show, you may consider using solar powered lights or sourcing your electricity from verified green power suppliers."

From the Queensland, Australia Courier Mail.


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Sura 22-9: “There shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatever is in their bowels and skins shall be dissolved"

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to give alternative Christmas Day message

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran will give a message of seasonal goodwill on Christmas Day as an alternative to the Queen's traditional broadcast, it has been announced.

The Daily Telegraph has the full story here.


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Yeah, but Sam the Butcher will still get hammered off your eggnog when he drops by if you don't watch him...

Numerous Christmas Myths Finally Debunked by Scientists:

Poinsettias aren't poison; sugar won't crank up the kids, and you do not lose more heat from the top of your head...

NPR has the story. Read more about it here.


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Now THAT'S a stimulus

Marty Feldstein: Boost Defense Spending NOW!

"We could use some more F-22s," he writes in the Wall Street Journal.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

SHE works hard for the money...

Palin Refuses Pay Raise During Gubernatorial Term.
ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin says she didn't ask for a pay raise and won't accept one during her current term.

That's from her spokesman, Bill McAllister, who says he talked to the governor about the $25,000 raise that a new state commission is recommending this week.

It's unclear if Palin would give the money to charity — as commission chairman Rick Halford suggested — or simply not receive the extra pay.

"The point is she's not going to take it home. It's not going to end up in her bank account," McAllister said.

"We need the best people we can get to do some pretty tough jobs against some often incredibility well-financed, single-minded corporate and individual interests," Halford said as chairman of the new State Officers Compensation Commission.

Deciding how much to pay themselves is always a thorny proposition for politicians who answer to an ever-skeptical public. Today's national recession and relatively low oil prices wouldn't make it any easier.

Enter the new five-member commission, created by the Legislature earlier this year to take the decision out of lawmakers' hands. The members are appointed by the governor -- with two selected from lists recommended by legislative leaders.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ronald Reagan Where Are You?


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.

Drudge Report

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Ya know, he DOES look like the kind of guy who volunteered to take names in class...

Rahm Emanuel Passed Along Names to Blago for Obama

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Obama's incoming White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, contacted Mr. Blagojevich and his staff at least five times after Election Day, and produced a slate of suggested replacements for Mr. Obama's vacated Senate seat. Mr. Emanuel also spoke about four times to Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris to discuss the Senate seat.

Read more here.


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She Works Hard for the Money...

CNN "Student News" is pushing kids to lobby for a government salary for Michelle Obama

. . .according to Read about it here.

[End of Post]

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Maybe we can get Bobby Brown to write some Kwanzaa carols...

Kwanzaa Created by a Rapist and Torturer?

Newsbusters has the story here.

[end of post]

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Hair Stylist Obviously Not Being One of Them...

"I know Maggie Thatcher. The two women have a lot in common."

Conservative Snobs Are Wrong About Palin
Writes John O'Sullivan at the Wall Street Journal today.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Change we can believe in!

Red States to Gain, Blue States to Lose in Next Census Count

National Journal has the story:

Newly released Census Bureau population estimates show that as many as 13 House seats may shift across the country following the official 2010 Census, according to an analysis by the Washington-based Election Data Services…
The shift of as many as 13 seats for the scheduled 2012 reapportionment is based on several projections by Election Data Services that assume a continuation of current trends, though at various paces. The contrasts between what EDS president Kimball Brace terms “long-term,” “mid-term,” and “short-term” shifts are based on the current recession, the housing market downturn and related factors…
Under Brace’s “short-term” model, 12 districts would shift among 19 states. The winners would be: four to Texas, two to Arizona, and one each to Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah. Those districts would come from the following states: two from Ohio, and one each from Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Brace’s more robust “mid-term” model would add one district to North Carolina and remove it from California — which has gained at least one district in every decennial reapportionment since it joined the Union in 1850.
Obviously the shift is not exclusively from Blue to Red, but I count a shift of +8 or +9 electoral votes from reliably blue to reliably red states (counting North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah as reliably red). That wouldn’t have been enough to put John McCain in the White House, but it may help the GOP in 2012.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Rapier at Work?

Obama Intelligence Pick Torpedoed By Bloggers

President-elect Barack Obama has shown almost perfect pitch in crafting his new administration, aptly choosing old hands instead of fresh faces and bringing in the experience he lacks.

But there is one glaring void. Obama has yet to name key intelligence officials to manage the war against terrorism.

And one of the central reasons he hasn't come forward with a pick for one of the top jobs is because he's running into pressure from an unexpected source -- left-wing bloggers.

John Brennan, Obama's chief intelligence adviser and anticipated CIA chief, was recently forced to withdraw his name. There was no drumbeat of opposition to Brennan from the front pages or on cable. Rather, the pick was torpedoed by the blogosphere.

"Apparently there is a lot of pressure on the Obama team from a blog saying that Brennan couldn't be made the director of the CIA because he was involved in torture and renditions, which he wasn't," said Mark Lowenthal, former assistant CIA director.

The turn of events only emphasizes the influence of the Internet on the operation of a president-elect whose campaign was powered in large part by the Web.

"Blogs do have significant influence," said blogger Glenn Greenwald, one of those critical of Brennan. "I think the Obama team would be foolish if they just ignored what happened on blogs, and I know for a fact that there are people high up in the Obama campaign and now the transition team who read blogs regularly."

As a result, say knowledgeable sources, the Obama transition team pushed Brennan to withdraw his name. "Their knees buckled," one intelligence veteran said.

Brennan once served as George Tenet's chief of staff and later took an administrative role at the CIA, before moving on to what became the National Counterterrorism Center.

Greenwald and other bloggers blamed Brennan, though, for condoning harsh interrogation methods, as well as rendition -- the practice of capturing terrorists, like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and taking them to the U.S. or other countries for interrogation and imprisonment.

But many say Brennan had no control over those policies.

"This is one of those Washington drive-by shootings that we have from time to time where someone is near a policy issue that's controversial and is dragged down by the conventional wisdom," said Douglas Paal, former CIA senior analyst.

Brennan did say rendition was a vital tool -- after all, without it, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and others might still be free.

But when he withdrew his name from consideration, he wrote a letter to the president-elect, obtained by FOX News, in which he described himself as a Bush critic on many fronts.

"It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush administration such as the preemptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding," Brennan wrote in the Nov. 25 missive.

And Brennan said that as a result of his opposition to Bush policies, he was "twice considered for more senior-level positions in the current administration only to be rebuffed by the White House."

In that sense, it would seem Brennan was the perfect man for a job with Obama -- but not good enough for the critics.

Greenwald said Brennan's support for rendition and "all of the other enhanced interrogation techniques beyond waterboarding" makes him "unqualified" for the job.

Intelligence veterans, however, say that sets an impossible standard.

"If you were involved in a senior position in the intelligence community during the war on terror, you can't be nominated for another senior position," Lowenthal said.

Fox News
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The Kennedy Mystique Finally Explained Through Science...

Regular Drinking Women See Male Faces As More Symmetric

Even when sober women who drink more are less able to detect male facial asymmetry.

Researchers found that women who drink even moderately develop a reduced ability to rate attractiveness in male faces, even when they are sober.

Those who drank were less able to detect male facial symmetry, a marker of attractiveness and good genes which is thought to play an important role in the choice of a partner.

The report can be found here.

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Why don't they turn that machine a little. Perhaps it would explain a few things...

Fox News says that President Bush has had an MRI because of pain he's experiencing in his shoulder. Hmmm.

The article is can be found at this location.

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100% Vacation for a 5% Pay Cut? Where Do I Sign Up?

Chrysler workers will be paid 95% of salary while factories are closed during the holidays.

It's no secret that Chrysler is in the fight of its life, and the Auburn Hills automaker is pulling out all the stops to keep the lights on -- even if it means closing the doors. Chrysler is shuttering all of its plants for one month, beginning December 19. In a short release to the media, Chrysler blamed the continued credit crunch as the main reason for the shutdown, and is trying to better-align its vehicle stock with customer demand. Dealers have notified the Pentastar that they've got plenty of perspective buyers, but an astonishing 20-25% of customers are unable to obtain financing. Ouch. On the bright side, Chrysler plant workers will have a really, really long Christmas break at 95% pay, which can't be too horrible.


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Add a Ross Perot Country Drawl and They'll Buy Anything You're Selling

T. Boone Pickens is scamming the taxpayers. Read about it at this link.

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But the workers get a month off without pay this Christmas!

Bailed-Out Executives Got $1.6 Billion In 2007

Huffington Post has the details of the pay these scumbags got here.


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iPods = iTax

NY Gov. David Paterson takes aim at digital downloads.

Governor's list for Santa includes 88 new fees and taxes, including levies for beer, wine, cigars and massages.
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Christopher Hitchens: De-invite Rick Warren from Inauguration

At Slate, Hitchens describes the Saddleback sophist as a bigoted, vulgar huckster.

Hitchens: "A president may by all means use his office to gain re-election, to shore up his existing base, or to attract a new one. But the day of his inauguration is not one of the days on which he should be doing that. It is an event that belongs principally to the voters and to their descendants, who are called to see that a long tradition of peaceful transition is cheerfully upheld, even in those years when the outcome is disputed. I would myself say that it doesn't need a clerical invocation at all, since, to borrow Lincoln's observation about Gettysburg, it has already been consecrated. But if we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards."
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Next: Prone Jesse Jackson

Artist Completes Nude Gov. Blago Painting

Mired in a scandal that could strip him of his pride, his job and the misperception that anyone shares his enthusiasm for his hair, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has now also been stripped of his clothes.

A nude portrait of the governor, by artist Bruce Elliott, is nearly complete and will hang on the wall of Elliott's wife's bar, the Old Town Ale House, next to his infamous depiction of a naked Sarah Palin. It is the next installment in what Elliott loosely calls his "nude governor series."

Elliott cites many sources of inspiration for the painting, which shows the governor, who was arrested last week on corruption charges, preparing for a potential first day of incarceration. Among them: the extent of the governor's alleged misdeeds and the artist's desire to respond to criticism from Republicans and women about the Palin portrait by painting a Democrat in the buff.

"I was stunned when I found out what that criminal complaint [outlined]," Elliott said as he examined the painting in his Old Town studio. "Hopefully, someone is going to find this irreverent."

Irreverent hardly begins to describe it. The scene imagines Blagojevich handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit pulled down to his knees.

Among the onlookers is a guard, with a look of grim determination, pulling on a rubber glove.

The painting, which is taking Elliott a little over a week to finish, is titled: "The Cavity Search."

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At least he speaks more carefully than he shoots...

Cheney: I told Leahy to ‘f*ck’ himself because ‘I thought he merited it.’

This morning on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Vice President Cheney about his now infamous June 2004 exchange with Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), when he told Leahy to “f*ck yourself.” Cheney confirmed that he used the obscenity, saying, “I thought he merited it at the time”:

WALLACE: Did you tell Senator Leahy, “bleep yourself”?

CHENEY: I did.

WALLACE: Any qualms, second thoughts, or embarrassment?

CHENEY: No, I thought he merited it at the time and we’ve since patched over that wound.

Later in the program, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol remarked that he thought Cheney’s comments represented “a beautiful statement, really, of justice.” “Dick Cheney is going out defending justice in the end,” Kristol concluded.


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Secretary of Appeasement

Report: Obama Team Planning Iranian Outreach Post

Friday, December 19, 2008

Barack Obama is planning to create a new administration post meant to reach out to Iran, The Washington Times reported Friday.

Such a move would support the president-elect's pledge during the campaign to engage the rogue nation.

The Times quoted a State Department official who said Obama's team discussed naming a senior Iranian outreach coordinator in early meetings with Hillary Clinton, Obama's pick for secretary of state.

Iranian specialists also said the position was in the works. Obama's team has made no official announcement on the creation of such a post.

Obama drew criticism from his GOP rival John McCain during the presidential campaign for saying he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Though the Bush administration has traditionally refused to negotiate with Iran without preconditions, Undersecretary of State William Burns attended a meeting in Switzerland over the summer with an Iranian nuclear official.

Click here to read the full story in The Washington Times.
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"Purple haze all in my brain. Lately things just don't seem the same..."

More Palin family trouble: Levi's mom's been arrested
From the Anchorage Daily News:
WASILLA, Alaska — A 42-year-old Wasilla woman was arrested Thursday at her home by Alaska State Troopers with a search warrant in an undercover drug investigation. Sherry L. Johnston was charged with six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, the Wasilla 18-year-old who received international attention in September when Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, announced their teenage daughter was pregnant and he was the father. Bristol Palin, 18, is due on Saturday, according to a recent interview with the governor's father, Chuck Heath.

Troopers served the warrant at Johnston's home at the "conclusion of an undercover narcotics investigation," said a statement issued Thursday by the troopers as part of the normal daily summary of activity around the state.

Troopers charged Johnston with second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance -- generally manufacturing or delivering drugs -- as well as fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances, or possession.

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LAPD Agrees Officers Should Understand the Constitution

After a judge called out the LAPD for stretching the limits of the Fourth Amendment as part of an effort to clean up skid row, a police captain gives ground: "There's nothing wrong with us going back and making sure that our officers clearly understand the Constitution."

The LA Times reports on the settlement between the LAPD and the ACLU.
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USDA Going Sub-Prime -- on Mortgages, Not Beef

Think you can't find a lender willing to make one of those wacky home-mortgage loans? Try the USDA.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Ag loan program, intended to help rural home byers, allows borrowers to finance more than 100% of the home price.
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Most Corrupt Members of Congress: GOP leads 14-6

Check out the Top 20 here.

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Ya' see, the Rev. Ted Haggard was unavailable...

From the LA Times "Top of the Ticket" Blog:

Obama to gay protesters: Rick Warren's my inauguration pastor pick

No backing down whatsoever today from President-elect Barack Obama in the face of some strong criticism from gay and lesbian interests over his choice of Saddleback's Rick Warren for the invocation speaker at the Jan. 20 inauguration.

As pastor of his mega-church in Lake Forest, Warren was an outspoken proponent of Prop. 8, which passed on Nov. 4 and overturns a court decision allowing same-sex marriage in California.

As reported earlier today, gay and lesbian groups, which had been key backers of Obama but largely silent on his ostentatious other moves toward the political center since winning the White House, erupted in a loud chorus of opposition to Obama's pick of Warren.

But at another news conference at his transition headquarters in Chicago today, Obama held firm, saying an important premise of his entire campaign was that different sides can disagree on some issues without being disagreeable and unable to work together on others. After all, last spring he claimed he attended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years while disagreeing with his radical sermons, which he also said he hadn't heard.

He said he maintains his consistent support for equal rights for gays and lesbians. And he's not changing his choice of who gives the opening prayer at his historic Inauguration on the Capitol steps the morning of Jan. 20.

We'll let the president-elect speak for himself on this breaking news video just below here.

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The real question: can he challenge Obama for the nomination in 2012?...

Is Al Franken Trailing by Just Two Votes?

The AP puts Norm Coleman's lead over comedian Al Franken at 2 votes, causing many conservatives in the blogosphere to despair. There may be good reason to be anxious, if not desperate, but not because of the AP count.

Click here for the full article from the Weekly Standard.


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Same As It Ever Was

Obama Team Has Forged Another Link With Clintons

Published: December 16, 2008
WASHINGTON — It’s official. The old Clinton gang really is back together again. Answering the phones these days for the co-chairman of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition, John D. Podesta, is none other than Betty Currie.

Emerging from retirement in southern Maryland to volunteer at Obama headquarters, Ms. Currie was the personal secretary to President Bill Clinton, who became caught up in an independent counsel investigation into his trysts with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Since leaving the White House, Ms. Currie, 69, has shied from publicity and kept a low profile in Hollywood, Md., where she lives with her husband, Bob, and Socks, the presidential cat, which she took with her after Mr. Clinton left office.

Ms. Currie, who works with local nonprofit organizations and serves on the Alcohol Beverage Board of St. Mary’s County, declined to discuss her work for Mr. Obama or her recent life, citing a transition office policy against volunteers giving interviews.

Compelled to testify to a grand jury five times about Mr. Clinton’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie is widely admired in Clinton circles for her loyalty and effectiveness.

Mr. Podesta, who was Mr. Clinton’s last White House chief of staff, said it was natural for him to call Ms. Currie back to service.

“Of course I asked her because in the 30 years we have worked together, I have never known anyone with more grace, dedication and public spirit than Betty,” he said. “And she has one mean Rolodex.”

Ms. Currie is the latest familiar face from the Clinton era to assist Mr. Obama’s team. In addition to Mr. Podesta, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, his White House counsel and his economics, energy and environmental advisers all served in the Clinton administration. So did most of the cabinet officers he has chosen and many of the transition aides conducting agency reviews. And the newly designated secretary of state is Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A longtime secretary in agencies like the Peace Corps, Ms. Currie left government to work for Democratic presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988 before joining Mr. Clinton in 1992. She then served in Mr. Clinton’s transition until he picked her to be his secretary. She stayed through all eight years, calmly managing the intersection of power and policy.

Other Obama aides said they expected Ms. Currie to help out through the transition but not to return to the White House after the inauguration.

Ms. Currie has kept in touch with the Clintons and donated $750 to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this year. When she ran into Mrs. Clinton last spring, she told a writer from Southern Maryland Newspapers, Mrs. Clinton asked about Socks.

U.S. News & World Report has reported that Socks, now 19, has cancer.
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Finally, a way to insure that Chryslers don't drop a transmission at 75,000 miles...

Chrysler to Shut Factories for a Month

DETROIT — Chrysler said Wednesday that it would close all 30 of its factories for at least one month, starting at the end of this week, in response to plunging vehicle sales in the United States.

Read more from the New York Times.

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All he needs is a wheelchair and a dog named Fala...

Obama May Seek a Stimulus Plan Exceeding $850 Billion

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama may ask Congress next year to approve a stimulus plan of around $850 billion, an amount that has grown as the U.S. economy sinks deeper into recession, an adviser to the president-elect said.

To read the full report, click here.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Change We Can Believe In...

Nepotism Nation: Dems embrace dynasty politics

Barack Obama's path to the presidency included beating what had been one of the nation's most powerful families. But, in an unusual twist, his election last month is helping accelerate the trend toward dynasty politics.

His secretary of state will be Hillary Clinton, the wife of the former president. The Senate seat she’ll vacate is being pursued by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of a president and the niece of two senators. Joe Biden’s Senate seat may go to his son Beau. Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, Obama’s pick for interior secretary, could end up being replaced by his brother, Rep. John Salazar.

And Obama’s own seat could go to the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. – less likely now in light of developments in the Rod Blagojevich scandal – or to the daughter of Illinois’ current House speaker.

Read the full article here.


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