Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nothing is Different

That's what some republicans say.
Like Phil Gramm, McCain's economy mentor, they say we're all just a bunch of whiners. Everything's just fine.
Some people aren't convinced that anything bad is happening. Maybe that's because it hasn't hit their world yet or they're not paying attention.
Take George Will on This Week today. He says most people are paying their mortgages and things aren't that bad.
Things look different where I live. Things are different in my household.
Peggy Noonan says that nothing looks different. She compares today with selling apples in the street during the Depression, which is a silly comparison to make. The cost of living is higher today. The cost to compete in today's world is way higher than during the Depression. Today, you can't just make a living as a cashier. You have to have a advanced college degree. Today, you can't retire on next to nothing. You need a cool million.
Comparing today to the Depression is apples and oranges. Today isn't like the Great Depression but that doesn't mean it hurts less.
Peggy Noonan: I am thankful for something we’re not seeing. One of the weirdest, most perceptually jarring things about the economic crisis is that everything looks the same. We are told every day and in every news venue that we are in Great Depression II, that we are in a crisis, a cataclysm, a meltdown, the credit crunch from hell, that we will lose millions of jobs, and that the great abundance is over and may never return. Three great investment banks have fallen while a fourth totters, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 31% in six months. And yet when you free yourself from media and go outside for a walk, everything looks . . . the same.
Everyone is dressed the same. Everyone looks as comfortable as they did three years ago, at the height of prosperity. The mall is still there, and people are still walking into the stores and daydreaming with half-full carts in aisle 3.
Everyone’s still overweight. (An evolutionary biologist will someday write a paper positing that the reason for the obesity epidemic of the past decade is that we were storing up food like squirrels and bears, driven by an unconscious anthropomorphic knowledge that a time of great want was coming. Yes, I know it will be idiotic.) But the point is: Nothing looks different.
In the Depression people sold apples on the street. They sold pencils. Angels with dirty faces wore coats too thin and short and shivered in line at the government surplus warehouse. There was the Dust Bowl, and the want of the cities. Captains of industry are said to have jumped from the skyscrapers of Wall Street. (Yes, those were the good old days. Just kidding!) People didn’t have enough food.
They looked like a catastrophe was happening.
We do not. It’s as if the news is full of floods but we haven’t seen it rain.

Performers, Poet and Other Inauguration Day Happenings

Update 12-18: full inaugural schedule here
The platform, where Obama will be inaugurated, as of 11-14

The theme for the day: "A New Birth of Freedom," commemorating the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

The day's events:
Morning worship

Bush and Obama will head to the Capitol

Joe Biden will be sworn in as vice president

Obama will be sworn in as president

Obama will give his address

We will all happily wave goodbye to Bush as he departs

Inaugural lunch, parade then ball.

Read about each of these events and the history behind them here.

Questions are being asked as to how lavish should the celebration be.
Update 12-3: Dionne Warwick to chair the American Music Inaugural Ball. There's also a Creative Coalition Be the Change Inaugural ball headlined by Elvis Costello. Just how many balls are there? 
Possible performers include Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen. 
Who will be the inaugural poet?  I hope it's someone original and not the usual suspects (Maya Angelou). George Bush did not have a poet.  Only 3 poets have read or recited poetry at inaugurations: 
Three poets have read or recited poems at U.S. presidential inaugurations:

Robert Frost recited "The Gift Outright" (PBS transcript) at John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural. Frost recited the poem from memory after he was unable to read the text of the poem he'd written for the inauguration, "Dedication" (PBS transcript), because of the sun's glare upon the snow-covered ground. For information on the location of the original handwritten copy of "Dedication," see the article "The Poem Nobody Knew was Lost" and associated video on MSNBC's Web site. A video of Frost reading "The Gift Outright" at Kennedy's inauguration is available through the Web site (
Maya Angelou read "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural. A video of the reading is available through YouTube.
Miller Williams read "Of History and Hope" at Bill Clinton's 1997 inaugural. Click here to listen to a RealAudio recording of Williams reading the inaugural poem from the PBS Online NewsHour website.
Apparently, Obama will have a poet -- 1,000 poets have been called upon to submit their work. Obama's own poetry has been published in the New Yorker.
Red Room: This morning, I saw a picture of Obama with a copy of Derek Walcott's Collected Poems in his hands. I think Walcott would be a superb choice: an excellent poet and a man who has many nations running through his veins. Here is one of my favorite Walcott poems. See what you think.
Who is Derek Walcott?

Left and Right Are Fretting Obama's Choices

Obamas on Thanksgiving eve, giving birds.
The left is fretting and the right is fretting (and trying to figure out who they will be), which probably means Obama is doing okay.
Salon: Judging by the proliferation of capital letters in the e-mail correspondence I receive, many seem worried that Barack Obama may not deliver the promised "change we can believe in."

After voters rejected the mantra of free trade and deregulation, some of those contacting me say they are upset that Obama is hiring so many free-trading deregulators who birthed today's economic mess.

With the president-elect having touted his opposition to the Iraq war, some are bothered "that Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views," as the Los Angeles Times reports.
...To my fearful letter writers, I offer three responses. Read on.

Obama's National Security Team Announcements

These folks have already been in the news for what seems like weeks, but the official announcement comes tomorrow. Obama's cabinet is expected to be in place before Christmas. 
The Obama transition team announced Sunday that Obama will unveil the full team at a press conference in Chicago, Illinois, around 10:40 a.m. ET.

CNN and will carry the event live.

The officials said Obama is also expected to finally confirm that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his current post. Obama plans to name retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser at the White House, the officials said.

Also, two sources close to the transition said Obama will nominate Susan Rice as United Nations ambassador; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary; and Eric Holder as attorney general.

Annual book author's show on Face the Nation

Face the Nation Roundtable on Obama's Economic Challenge

Will Obama Use His Middle Name in Swearing In?

Chris Matthews wonders: will Obama use his whole name when swearing in as president? I hope he does but I'm not sure he will. He didn't use it during the campaign.

Some of the past presidents didn't, including Ronald Reagan, the right wing idol, and Jimmy Carter.

This is up for full debate at democratic underground.

When you think about it, it's kind of silly that there has to be a question. It's all thanks to the extremists on the right, who have demonized his middle name, which for them, reminds them that Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist. These people are still filing lawsuits, demanding that Obama present his long form birth certificate, the so-called "certificate of live birth."

I actually talked to one of these folks who filed a lawsuit because I wanted to have a better understanding of their line of thinking. The man I talked to is a pastor. He pointed me to a site, which he says proves Obama is a Muslim.

He truly believes Obama was born in Kenya.

Why do these people believe this? Because it fits their world view, which is that a black man cannot be president of the U.S. That's what it comes down to, though they themselves could never recognize that.

Because of their deep-rooted prejudice, they've invested in the belief that Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist who's going to try and turn the U.S. into a Muslim nation. Their original skepticism has turned into denial, which has turned into mass delusion, which is unhealthy. These people go beyond partisan politics. 

Factcheck has held Obama's birth certificate and photographed it. They say the post on Obama's birth certificate is their most visited. Hawaii put out a release verifying Obama's original birth certificate. But the deniers say that Factcheck and others are conspiring with Obama. More delusion.

If you read their posts, you'll find that they're prone to conspiracy theories and wierdness. One of the headlines today from the radical right: "Stress takes toll on Obama, develops chronic facial tic; Michelle said to be distraught over spasms under right eye." There you have it.

I talked to the folks at Factcheck as well. They said there isn't any proof that they could offer that would ever be good enough. The wingnuts would always believe that something was forged, no matter what evidence was presented. Their belief in the face of evidence -- denial -- is similar to the Holocaust deniers.

Factcheck is right. These people believe they are right and they can't figure out why no one is taking them seriously. I just hope the secret service is keeping their eye on these folks because their words are venomous. The more they're marginalized, the more they'll feel threatened and inclined to take action.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Military Leaders Sizing Up Obama

They're sizing him up and finding relief.
WaPo: Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went unarmed into his first meeting with the new commander in chief -- no aides, no PowerPoint presentation, no briefing books. Summoned nine days ago to President-elect Barack Obama's Chicago transition office, Mullen showed up with just a pad, a pen and a desire to take the measure of his incoming boss.

There was little talk of exiting Iraq or beefing up the U.S. force in Afghanistan; the one-on-one, 45-minute conversation ranged from the personal to the philosophical. Mullen came away with what he wanted: a view of the next president as a non-ideological pragmatist who was willing to both listen and lead. After the meeting, the chairman "felt very good, very positive," according to Mullen spokesman Capt. John Kirby.

Military officers are looking forward to debate, not Kool-Aid.
"Open and serious debate versus ideological certitude will be a great relief to the military leaders," said retired Maj. Gen. William L. Nash of the Council on Foreign Relations. Senior officers are aware that few in their ranks voiced misgivings over the Iraq war, but they counter that they were not encouraged to do so by the Bush White House or the Pentagon under Donald H. Rumsfeld.

"The joke was that when you leave a meeting, everybody is supposed to drink the Kool-Aid," Nash said. "In the Bush administration, you had to drink the Kool-Aid before you got to go to the meeting."

Most Remain Confident in Obama

Gallup: Between 63% and 67% of Americans have said they are confident in Barack Obama's ability to be a good president in the weeks since his election on Nov. 4, a sentiment that doesn't yet appear to be have been affected, positively or negatively, by news coverage of the president-elect's staff and Cabinet appointments, or by reports of his economic and other policy plans.

Who Is James Jones?

Who is James Jones?
Here's an interesting tidbit, Condi Rice asked him to be deputy secretary of state and he declined.
He's served on the board of Boeing and was skeptical about going to war in Iraq.
Jones was rumored to be Obama's vice presidential choice.
Jones grew up in France.
NYT: James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones.

“Explain yourself!” some of the Republicans demanded, as General Jones later recalled it.

He did not. A 6-foot-5 Marine Corps commandant with the looks of John Wayne, General Jones is not given to talking about his political bent, be it Republican or Democrat. And yet, he is Mr. Obama’s choice for national security adviser, a job that will make him the main foreign policy sounding board and sage to a president with relatively little foreign policy experience.

The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.
But General Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president. Read the rest.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Good Samaritan on the Highway

I saw this on CBS tonight -- Thomas Weller pays it forward 5,000 times.

Watch CBS Videos Online

FDR's Grandson's Advice to Obama

Samantha Power Working for Obama Again

Samantha Power, author and professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, called Hillary a monster. Hillary had been stooping to low tactics at the time and called on Power to resign.
More on Samantha
Politico: Samantha Power, the foreign-policy scholar who was banished from the Obama campaign for referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as a "monster" during the Democratic primaries, is working on President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team studying State Department personnel, operations and policy.

That’s potentially a little awkward because Clinton is scheduled to be designated Obama’s secretary of state early next week.

When Power resigned March 7 as a senior foreign policy adviser to the campaign, she said in a statement: “I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign.”

Power, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2003 book “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” had been quoted by the newspaper The Scotsman as saying Clinton "is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything.”

Power was close to Obama personally, so her return is not particularly surprising. Many of her friends thought it was a case of “when,” not “if.”

Obama Chocolate Chunk Cookies in Demand

Obama is an economic stimulus.
See video of the cookie cafe at Des Moines' KCCI
DES MOINES, Iowa – Want an example of the change Barack Obama is bringing to the country?
Check out cookie sales at Baby Boomers Cafe in Des Moines.
Ever since word spread about the president-elect and his family's fondness for Baby Boomers' chocolate chunk cookies, the small downtown restaurant can't bake them fast enough.
"Two months ago I was giving these cookies away," said co-owner Rodney Maxfield. "Now, it's like 'I need two dozen cookies. I need four-dozen cookies.'"
The Obamas became frequent visitors to the cafe last summer when the Illinois senator devoted much of his time to Iowa, where the state's precinct caucuses kick off the presidential nominating process. Obama's main office was next door to Boomers, and his staff made the cafe a second home.

Former Soviet President Looks Forward to Obama

MOSCOW -- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Thursday that the overwhelming election of Barack Obama shows that Americans want change, and he called on the incoming president to extend his promised changes to U.S. relations with Russia and Iran.

"The entire world felt that America wanted change and was expecting change," Gorbachev, 77, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He noted that some in Russia have called Obama the American Gorbachev because of his promises to bring change to his country. Obama's detractors in Russia say his policies will lead to the collapse of the U.S., pointing to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 following Gorbachev's reforms.

But Gorbachev said the world needs a strong America, as shown by the current global financial crisis, and he urged Washington to use its power for the good of the entire world.

"America is needed -- an America that is strong, democratic and sure of itself -- for the entire world, not just for Americans," he said. " We are seeing that if it's bad for America, it's bad for us all."

Finger Pointing at Pakistan

At this rate, I hope that Obama will get to tackle some of the issues in the U.S. It seems India is ready to blame Pakistan for the terrorist attacks, not good for for trying to quell the violence in Afghanistan. Obama has been briefed.

The Times UK says India has itself to blame as well. The Australian says the attacks were a message to Obama. 

The Atlantic has a story about the Hindu-Muslim tensions in India. India has the third largest Muslim population.

It seems that there is a war of religions in the world, which is ironic, because all religions advocate peace.
NYT: ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The terrorist attacks in Mumbai occurred as India and Pakistan, two big, hostile and nuclear-armed nations, were delicately moving toward improved relations with the encouragement of the United States and in particular the incoming Obama administration.

Those steps could quickly be derailed, with deep consequences for the United States, if India finds Pakistani fingerprints on the well-planned operation. India has raised suspicions. Pakistan has vehemently denied them.

But no matter who turns out to be responsible for the Mumbai attacks, their scale and the choice of international targets will make the agenda of the new American administration harder.

Reconciliation between India and Pakistan has emerged as a basic tenet in the approaches to foreign policy of President-elect Barack Obama, and the new leader of Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus. The point is to persuade Pakistan to focus less of its military effort on India, and more on the militants in its lawless tribal regions who are ripping at the soul of Pakistan.

A strategic pivot by Pakistan’s military away from a focus on India to an all-out effort against the Taliban and their associates in Al Qaeda, the thinking goes, would serve to weaken the militants who are fiercely battling American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

But attacks as devastating as those that unfolded in Mumbai — whether ultimately traced to homegrown Indian militants or to others from abroad, or a combination — seem likely to sour relations, fuel distrust and hamper, at least for now, America’s ambitions for reconciliation in the region.

Twittering the news of the attacks.
Reports that many of the terrorists are from Pakistan

Obama's working holiday

Deepak Chopra: This is a world problem. Muslims need to help.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rachel Maddow Thanksgiving Special

Jill Biden Expected to Continue Teaching

Politico: And now it appears Biden, 57, could become one of the nation's few second ladies to hold down a job while her husband occupies the office of the vice presidency.

Mary Doody, an English teacher at Delaware Technical and Community College who has worked with Biden for the 15 years she’s been on staff, said there is “no question” that Biden will continue teaching after completing the fall semester.”

“She’ll still teach in the spring, but hopefully somewhere near Washington,” added Doody, who said she’s discussed the issue with Biden. “And I know that she would definitely teach at a community college.”

Traditionally, second ladies stick to volunteer work and have had much lower profiles than first ladies. But the role has changed as the vice-presidential office has gained power during the past few administrations.

Lynne Cheney has been a senior fellow at a conservative think tank and has written five children’s books and a memoir during the nearly eight years her husband, Vice President Dick Cheney, has been in office. Tipper Gore continued to speak out against violent and sexually explicit lyrics and images in pop culture while her husband, Al Gore, was the vice president. But neither second lady left the Naval Conservatory every day to go to a paid job.

Obama Administration Job Applicants Could Reach 1 Million By Inauguration

Baltimore Sun: So far, the transition team has received 290,000 applications for jobs in the Obama administration through its Web site,, and officials believe they could wind up with 1 million job-seekers by the time Obama is sworn into office Jan. 20.

By comparison, before President George W. Bush took office in 2001, he received 44,000 requests for political jobs. As former President Bill Clinton assumed the presidency in 1993, he had received 125,000 applications for jobs.

The problem is, only about 8,000 non-career service positions are available, according to the Plum Book, which lists those jobs.

Rick Rolled At the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Obamas on the Barbara Walters Special- Video

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Obama's Thanksgiving Address

Happy Thanksgiving!
What are you thankful for?

Obama visited a church and a school yesterday. More photos here.

I saw Uncle Sam in the Macy's parade and wondered if he was based on a real guy. He was a butcher who shipped meat to the US Army:
Historians aren't completely certain how the character "Uncle Sam" was created, or who (if anyone) he was named after. The prevailing theory is that Uncle Sam was named after Samuel Wilson.

Wilson was born in Arlington, Mass., on September 13, 1766. His childhood home was in Mason, New Hampshire. In 1789, he and his brother Ebenezer walked to Troy, New York.

During the War of 1812, Wilson was in the business of slaughtering and packing meat. He provided large shipments of meat to the US Army, in barrels that were stamped with the initials "U.S." Supposedly, someone who saw the "U.S." stamp suggested -- perhaps as a joke -- that the initials stood for "Uncle Sam" Wilson. The suggestion that the meat shipments came from "Uncle Sam" led to the idea that Uncle Sam symbolized the federal government.

Samuel Wilson died in 1854. His grave is in the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy.

Uncle Sam's traditional appearance, with a white goatee and star-spangled suit, is an invention of artists and political cartoonists; Samuel Wilson did not look like the modern image of Uncle Sam. For example, Wilson was clean-shaven, while Uncle Sam is usually portrayed with a goatee.

The campaign for national thanks is thanks to Sarah Hale:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Family Outing: Thanksgiving Food Drive

We finally have a president that gets it.
HP: CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama and his wife took their daughters to work at a food bank on the day before Thanksgiving, saying they wanted to show the girls the meaning of the holiday, especially when so many people are struggling.

Ten-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha joined their parents to shake hands and give holiday wishes to hundreds of people who had been lined up for hours at the food bank on Chicago's south side.
Obama then turned to his wife and suggested they go visit the kids. Secret Service agents, looking surprised, disappeared inside the building to accommodate his request.

Minutes later, hundreds of children were brought down to the school auditorium, and Obama loped onstage as they screamed and cheered.

"I just wanted to come by and wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving," he said. He then asked the children what they would be eating for Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey? Stuffing? Green beans? Sweet potato pie?

Perhaps it was a hint at the planned menu for the Obamas, who are planning to host a holiday gathering at their Hyde Park home.

The president-elect then took questions from the children, one of whom wanted to know what it was like to be followed around all the time. It is a topic that seems to touch a nerve in Obama, who has lamented the lack of privacy that comes with his new job. Read the rest and see a slide show.

Wooing Obama With Pie

Sweet potato pie.
Pie makers in DC know that Obama likes sweet potato pie -- anyone who paid attention during the election surely heard Obama's pie story -- and they're competing to be Obama's pie supply.
Root: If it's sweet potato pie that Barack Obama wants, then it is sweet potato pie that Barack Obama must have.

There are people who know this, and right now, in an obscure storefront in D.C.'s U Street corridor, these people are plotting and planning their own presidential domination. They want to conquer President-elect Obama, one slice at a time.

"My No. 1 job is to [woo] Obama," says Jermaine Smith, president of Henry's Soul Café. "And it's going to be as easy as giving him a slice."

"I don't think it'll take a slice," his sister, Henrietta Smith-Davis, manager of operations, says.
Walk into Henry's Soul Café right now, right before Thanksgiving, and you'll see folks lining up to partake of those legendary pies. Folks who thought ahead and called in their holiday orders and folks who didn't but are hoping that fate will intervene and grant them a pie—or two. (The Smiths sell around 10,000 pies each Thanksgiving, from D.C. to California to China.) But even if they are turned away, there's always the Smiths' "Pie in a Kit," to be obtained for $27 on their Web site.

Ifill, Todd, Mitchell Could Be Next Meet the Press Host

Meet the Press is close to getting a new host. I'd pick Gwen Ifill. 
LAT: NBC executives are closing in on a decision about who will take over "Meet the Press," its venerable Sunday morning political talk show, with the announcement coming possibly on Dec. 7.

According to network sources, that may be Tom Brokaw's last day on the air as interim moderator of the program, a post he assumed after the sudden death of longtime host Tim Russert in June.

People close to the process said that they did not yet know who would be ultimately named to the job, arguably Washington's most powerful journalistic perch. The deliberations have been closely guarded by NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker and NBC News President Steve Capus, who have not yet made a decision, said spokeswoman Allison Gollust.
Barring a last-minute surprise, network insiders and television news observers expect the new moderator -- or moderators -- will be drawn from a short list of candidates that include NBC chief White House correspondent David Gregory, PBS anchor Gwen Ifill, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and NBC political director Chuck Todd. Dark horses include CBS anchor Katie Couric, whose name was floated in internal discussions, according to two sources, but is apparently not interested.

Veteran ABC anchor Ted Koppel has also been mentioned as a contender. But Koppel, who announced Tuesday that he was leaving his post at Discovery Channel, said he had not spoken with NBC and had little interest in getting into "a weekly grind again."
Luke Russert talks to the Buffalo News:
“Some children of famous people have real difficulty because they feel they have to live up to expectations,” he said. “I just try to live up to my own, which are very high. I’ve often said I can be one-eighth of the man who my father was and would have accomplished a great lot. So I’m really not worried about trying to outdo him, trying to be better than him. I’m very comfortable just being me.”

He appreciates the opportunity that NBC News gave him to be its youth reporter after he was so impressive during TV interviews following his father’s death.

“NBC took a lot of criticism for hiring me, saying that was just straight nepotism,” Russert said. “But they put me in the position to be successful, and I’m eternally grateful.”

Russert may follow the youth vote this weekend to Chippewa Street. “It is refreshing to pay those Buffalo beer prices when you live in Washington and spend a lot of time in New York and Boston,” he said. “You can actually get a beer for less than $7.”

Volcker to Lead Economic Recovery Advisory Board

Turning the ship around:
CNN: The board will be headed by Paul Volcker, who served as the chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 through 1987, serving under Presidents Carter and Reagan.

Following his tenure there, Volcker worked in the private sector as an investment banker until 1996. Volcker also headed the investigation into the United Nations' oil-for-food program for Iraq.

"The reality is that sometimes policymaking in Washington can become a little bit too ingrown," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago, Illinois.

"The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking. ... This board will provide that perspective to me and my administration, with an infusion of ideas from across the country and from all sectors of our economy," he said.

Obama senior adviser Austan Goolsbee will be the chief economist on the board. With the board, Obama says he's trying to prevent group think.

Today's press conference video

Obama trying to boost confidence in the markets:

The Obama Thanksgiving

Tonight the Obamas will be on a Barbara Walters special but first they give out birds at a food drive in Chicago. video.
WALTERS, later on the 'Good Morning America' set: By the way, he's losing – so far – that negotiation about the BlackBerry. ... We sit down for the interview and Mrs. Obama's talking, and he bends over and say, 'Just a minute, dear.' And he takes, on camera, the lipstick off her teeth. ... I don't want to gush – they're very cute and very funny in this interview together. ... She says that they're going to have 60 people, at least [for Thanksgiving]. And he says, 'Yeah, mostly her relatives.' She says, 'I'm not cooking.' She said, and I quote, 'My husband ran for president. I should have an 'out' of cooking something for dinner.' More excerpts below.

The Bush girls showed the Obama girls around:
MRS. BUSH, on moving into the White House: 'The very first rooms I did were the two rooms that were for our girls, who were freshmen in college. I wanted them to be able to have these rooms to move home and come home for holidays and have their own space. So those are the rooms that Barbara and Jenna showed little Malia and Sasha when they came over to visit. And that was really fun. It was fun for the girls to get to show them not only that room, but the way the big cross hall can be an obstacle course for little kids to run up and down, and the solarium ramp that you can slide down on your bottom. So they showed them all the special tricks.'
ROBIN ROBERTS: 'Now, is it true that Sasha and Malia, they were jumping up and down on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom?'

MRS. BUSH: 'We did a little bed-jumping, the girls sort of showed them -- it wasn't the Lincoln Bedroom, it was another bedroom with a very tall bed that we usually put a step out for people to step into when they stay in that room. But instead the little girls did the running jump, and Barbara and Jenna of course aided and abetted that jumping.' Read more at Politico's playbook.
More Obama kid talk:
OBAMA, ON RAISING TWO GIRLS IN THE WHITE HOUSE: I think a lot of it just has to do with making sure that they understand that, they're special to us because we're their parents. But they're not special, you know in terms of having to do their homework or having to do chores or having...

WALTERS: They have to do chores in the White House?

MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah. That was the first thing I said to some of the staff when I did my visit. Because of course, the girls, they're so good. I said, 'You know, we're gonna have to set up some boundaries. Because they're gonna need to be able to make their beds and ...

WALTERS: Really?

MICHELLE OBAMA: They do that now.

WALTERS: In the White House they're gonna have to make the beds and clean up their rooms?

OBAMA: Doing that since they were four years old.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Uh, that's gonna be one of my goals. Don't make their beds. Make mine. (Laughs) But skip the kids; let 'em make their own beds. They have to learn these things.

BARACK OBAMA:: And they have. That's the one thing that I'm most proud about my kids is that they're kind, thoughtful kids. And they show everybody respect. Everybody they meet. ... They're ... they're ... they're kind and sweet too, and they're thoughtful. And really, if they retain that, the other stuff will take care of itself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Food Stamp Use Near Record High

This is sad because you've got to be pretty poor to get food stamps:
WaPo: To qualify for the food stamp program, whose name was officially changed last month to the Simplified Nutrition Assistance Program, recipients must have an income below 130 percent of the federal poverty level, or less than $27,564 for a family of four. The benefits, which average $109.93 a month per person, are based on a plan set by the government to represent a low-cost but nutritionally adequate diet. Participants apply locally to receive an electronic card that is used like an ATM card to buy food at most grocery stores and some farmers markets. The maximum benefit for a household of four is $588 a month.

Palin Pretends to Have Meeting With Obama

Yeah right. Why in the world, with all the problems Obama is working on, would he waste his precious time with Palin? 
ADN: Sarah Palin is going back on the campaign trail, just a few weeks after returning to Alaska from her two-month run for vice president.
The governor is planning a trip to Georgia to campaign on behalf of Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss early next week on her way to Philadelphia to meet with her old foe, President-elect Barack Obama.
Obama is meeting with governors of both parties in Philadelphia to talk about the ailing economy. It's not clear how many governors are going to attend the Obama event, which the National Governors Association helped put together.
"I don't know if she has a one-on-one with (Obama)," said Palin spokesman Bill McAllister. "It may be, given that they were both involved in the national campaign."

Sneak Peek Obama on Barbara Walters

Update: See the video here.

Barbara Walters, the overrated interviewer, has Obama tomorrow. I still like her anyway. Here is some of what Obama said:
Weeks away from his inauguration, Obama stressed to Walters the importance of personal, corporate and civic accountability in light of the cratering economy and said his presidency would be a return to "the ethic of responsibility."

Obama said "captains of industry" on Wall Street and in Detroit who took advantage of corporate perks while their companies benefited from government loans paid for with taxpayers' money, don't have "any perspective on what's happening to ordinary Americans."

He says bank execs should forgo their bonuses. Of course they should and so much more.
Asked by Walters if bank executives should forgo their bonuses , Obama said, "I think they should."

"That's an example of taking responsibility. I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, 'I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well, because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times,'" the president-elect added.
Obama's trying to find a way to communicate outside the bubble, so he doesn't end up like George Bush:
For national security purposes, a president is limited in his electronic correspondences for fear of hacking. Additionally, presidential communications are strictly monitored and archived for historical purposes.

"One of the things that I'm going to have to work through is how to break through the isolation -- the bubble that exists around the president. I'm in the process of negotiating with the Secret Service, with lawyers, with White House staff ... to figure out how can I get information from outside of the 10 or 12 people who surround my office in the White House," he said.

Alyssa Mastromonaco Director of Scheduling and Advance

Who knew there were so many exotic positions in government. More about Alyssa. 
CHICAGO – If the Obama presidential campaign would have had the title of conductor – a person to keep the trains running on time and the symphony playing together – her name would have been Alyssa Mastromonaco.

And on Tuesday, President-elect Barack Obama announced the appointment of Ms. Mastromonaco to a similar position in the White House, where she will serve as the director of scheduling and advance.
“I can keep a secret,” Ms. Mastromonaco said in an interview after the selection ended.

That skill will surely come in handy in her new role, where she will be in charge of the president’s scheduling, overseeing the army of people who will work inside the White House to make every trip the president takes a reality.

Politico's Bio of Mastromonaco:
Alyssa Mastromonaco, Director of Scheduling and Advance -- Mastromonaco served as Director of Scheduling and Advance for Obama's presidential campaign beginning at his announcement in February 2007. She has worked for President-elect Obama since February 2005, when she first joined Obama's United States Senate office as Director of Scheduling. After that, Mastromonaco was named the Political Director for Obama's Political Action Committee, Hopefund, during the 2006 midterm elections. Mastromonaco worked as the Director of Scheduling for Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004 and before that was Press Secretary for Congressman Rick Boucher (VA-9). A resident of Rhinebeck, New York, Mastromonaco received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1998.

Obama's Online Healthcare Discussion

Chime in here. 
I want to read this book:

McCain: Most Americans Saw Palin as a Breath of Fresh Air

Is he nuts?
McCain shouldn't be saying stuff like this. It just shows how truly out of touch he is. I'm so thankful, 2 days before Thanksgiving, that it is Obama owning our economic woes and tackling them head on. I feel reassured, despite the fact that the economy is bleak.
"….I knew that she would be an energizing factor, because she energized me," he added. "Our base, and most Americans, viewed Governor Palin as a breath of fresh air."

Taking a look back at the presidential contest, he said his campaign was dealt a fatal blow when public focus shifted from foreign policy to the faltering economy. “The American people — and I respect that decision, I don’t in any way criticize it – [decided] that the economy was of vital importance. And it is,” he said.

He also told reporters: “We worked hard, and we inspired a lot of people, Sarah Palin and I. I think we look back with pride."

At the press conference, he also says Americans want fiscal conservatism. That's right. I'm all for reining in the budget. But I'm glad it's Obama with his scalpel and not McCain with his hatchet.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Stay On

Robert Gates has agreed to stay and Hillary will be announced as secretary of state next week, according to Politico:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to stay on under President-elect Barack Obama, according to officials in both parties. Obama plans to announce a national-security team early next week that includes Gates at the Pentagon and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as secretary of state, officials said.

Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, former Marine commandant and commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, will be named national security adviser, the officials said.

The national security adviser heads the National Security Council, which is the part of the White House structure that deals with foreign policy, and varies in influence from presidency to presidency. Jones insisted on – and got – a commanding role, the sources said.

Obama Announces Peter Orszag for OMB

Budget reform is not an option. It's a necessity, Obama says. Look out millionaire farmers receiving crop subsidies. You're on the cutting block. 

Q&A with reporters:

More Qs

Who is Rob Nabors?
CHICAGO, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Rob Nabors, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, has worked in the OMB before.
Nabors, born in 1971 at Fort Dix, N.J., is the son of an Army major-general has a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master's from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Nabors currently is staff director and clerk of the House Appropriations Committee and has been praised by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., as someone who "doesn't take any crap from people."

Bios of Orszag and Nabors from Politico:
Peter Orszag, Office of Management and Budget Director -- currently serves as the Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), overseeing the agency's work in providing objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses of economic and budgetary issues--supervising the numerous analytical papers and cost estimates that the agency produces and, to present the results, frequently testifying before the Congress. Under his leadership, the agency has significantly expanded its focus on areas such as health care and climate change. In previous government service, Orszag served as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and as a staff economist and then Senior Advisor and Senior Economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Orszag was the Joseph A. Pechman Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution where he authored or edited numerous books and papers. Orszag graduated summa cum laude in economics from Princeton University and obtained a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics, which he attended as a Marshall scholar.

Rob Nabors, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director -- currently serves as the 13th Clerk and Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee. He is responsible for the hiring, and direction of the majority staff of the committee and for recommending overall legislative strategies with respect to discretionary spending to committee Democrats and the House Democratic Leadership. Nabors joined the Appropriations Committee in 2001. Prior to coming to the Appropriations Committee, Nabors served in the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President as the Senior Advisor to the Director and as the Assistant Director for Administration and Executive Secretary. Nabors is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he received degrees in Government and Computer Applications. He received a Masters Degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina.

Obama is Owning the Economic Problems

Obama will hold another press conference today at 11 am central time, and Politico is reporting there could be another one tomorrow.
Gloria Berger is right, Obama is owning it:
Not only is there a team, but there's also a plan.

It's a stimulus package with a price tag that could total as much as $700 billion over the next two years. It's as much as Congress allowed for the Wall Street bailout, and more than we've spent in Iraq. The incoming administration is also sending clear signals that it could delay its promise to repeal President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.
Some Republicans have predictably begun to grumble about the size of the stimulus package, but here's a question: What would you in the GOP do differently? Would you continue the deregulation that got us into this mess? And didn't you folks break the bank over the last couple of years? Aren't even some of the most conservative economists now advising spending as a way to get ourselves out of this hole?

So, when House Minority Leader John Boehner gripes, as he did Sunday in a same-old, same-old refrain that "the American people know that more Washington spending isn't the answer," the logical response is: OK, what do you suggest? Obama has already suggested tax cuts for the middle class, so you can't start with that. Got anything better to offer?

Truth is, there's no time for the old (and unproductive) political games. If the opposition party is smart, it will sit down around the table Obama is setting and become a part of fixing America's problems.

Bush pardons a Turkey, a big one.

In Thanksgiving Tradition, Bush Pardons Scooter Libby In Giant Turkey Costume

Monday, November 24, 2008

Auto Execs May Carpool to Next Hearing

They won't be arriving on luxury jets, they're planning to carpool, just like on SNL. Let's see if this time they'll have a plan.
AP: After being skewered by Congress and lampooned on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," the CEOs of Detroit's three automakers may end up making their return trip to Washington by car as they seek a federal bailout.

The Detroit area's auto industry, whose livelihood depends on the health of Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. spent the weekend e-mailing and discussing how to set up a giant car caravan to seek help from Congress.

What's for certain is GM CEO Rick Wagoner won't be going to Washington by corporate jet, although the company's policy is not to comment on executive travel plans for security reasons, said spokesman Tony Cervone. A Chrysler spokeswoman wouldn't comment on executive travel plans, and a message was left for a Ford spokesman.

Desiree Rogers To Be Named Social Secretary

What is a social secretary? 
WaPo: Although the job is associated with working with the first lady and with entertaining -- and best known for staging state dinners for heads of countries -- the social secretary's office is responsible for every event or ceremony that occurs in the White House or on the grounds. The day after the inauguration, for example, Rogers will be responsible for organizing the swearing-in of the Cabinet. Ann Stock, a social secretary in the Clinton White House, was once charged with pulling together the signing of the historic Mideast peace agreement in four days, for 4,000 guests.

"It's like running a small agency," said Stock, who briefed Rogers on the job last week. "Her business savvy, her marketing skills will all come into play. Her close relationship with the Obamas is very important because she comes to the job already understanding their preferences."
Who is Desiree Rogers?
Desirée Rogers, a prominent Chicago businesswoman and Harvard MBA, will be named the first African American White House social secretary, sources in the presidential transition office said yesterday.

Rogers, 49, is a friend of Michelle and President-elect Barack Obama's, and a leader in Chicago corporate and civic circles; her appointment signals that the first couple consider the job crucial to how they introduce themselves to the country and the globe. She was a major fundraiser for Obama.

"This appointment sends a strong message that the Obamas want to use the White House strategically, to maximize its use in a way that is consistent with their philosophy -- [to] open it to a broader range of people, " said Valerie Jarrett, an Obama intimate and friend of Rogers's who also will work in the White House. "Desirée is a heavy hitter -- she comes with her own range of contacts from around the country. She's close to Michelle and she knows everyone who will be working in the West Wing, so she will be able to create a synergy."
Rogers will come to the White House from Allstate Financial, where she was hired last summer to create a social network of consumers and clients for the mammoth business. Prior to that, Rogers was the president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, a $2 billion utility that she had headed since 2004; she worked at the company starting in 1997 as its chief marketing officer. In the early '90s, she was director of the Illinois Lottery. She received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College, and her daughter is a student at Yale.

Rogers has long been part of the Obamas' inner circle. She was once married to John Rogers, a close friend of President-elect Obama's, who played basketball with Michelle Obama's brother Craig Robinson at Princeton. John Rogers will be a co-chairman of the inaugural committee.

Last week, Desirée Rogers hosted Jarrett's birthday party, an intimate affair that included the president-elect and Michelle Obama. "She has extraordinary flair and exquisite taste," Jarrett said. "My party was perfect -- she had my favorite food, my favorite flowers."

Hello Mr. President Goodbye Freedom

Obama's trying to get used to being the big cheese with fewer freedoms. I know there are sadder tales out there and this is what Obama signed up for, but this is kind of sad.
WaPo: "This time I answered, 'Hello, Mr. President,' " Link said. "When he called, it used to just be 'Hey, Barack. What's going on?' But plain old Barack is gone."

Obama's home in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood has become a compound guarded ever more closely by bomb-sniffing dogs and Secret Service agents who peer through binoculars at neighboring rooftops. When he travels around the city, it is in an armored limousine and 20-car motorcade, so he has mainly stayed bunkered at home or a downtown transition office. Last week, Obama told one friend that he felt "a little boxed in."
This is only the beginning of the transformation that awaits the president-elect and his family. In two months, they will move into a sterile house in a unfamiliar city where they have never felt particularly comfortable. Friends say Obama is savoring these final weeks in Chicago and spending as much time as possible with his family before he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.

Axelrod on Morning Joe

Austan Goolsbee: We're Coming in With a Bang

The round up from yesterday's political shows:

Obama Press Conference on Economic Team- Video

Obama officially announced economic team members: Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury; Lawrence Summers, Director of the National Economic Council; Christina Romer, Director of the Council of Economic Advisors; Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Q&A with reporters

Obama Taps Berkeley Economist Christina Romer

Obama's on the move. He's expecting an economic package on his desk, ready to sign, day one. He's officially announcing his economic team later today.
Politico: This should come in handy: Romer was once the co-author of a paper called, “What Ends Recessions?”
The three-person council, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, is a part of the White House apparatus designed to give the president policy advice and objective economic analysis.

The Romer selection is to be announced by Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden at a news conference at noon Eastern on Monday in Chicago, where he is to present New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary and Larry Summers, who was Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, as White House economic adviser.

Romer and her husband David Romer, also a Berkeley economist, were both campaign economics advisers to Obama.

In March, National Journal had this précis on the couple: “As professors at the University of California (Berkeley), they are well-known macroeconomists -- experts on the workings of the U.S. economy -- who jointly hold one of six spots on the academic committee of economists that decides when recessions begin and end. They are both steeped in the history of the country's economy and have recently produced a series of papers looking at the causes and effects of most of the major changes in tax policy in the last 100 years.

Peter Orszag is expected to be announced tomorrow as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
NYT: On Tuesday, the president-elect will announce, as expected, that the director of his Office of Management and Budget will be Peter R. Orszag, 39, who currently is Congress’s budget director. Mr. Orszag, along with Mr. Geithner and Mr. Summers, all are protégés of former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, an informal adviser to Mr. Obama.
From Politico's Playbook:
George STEPHANOPOULOS, on GMA, re the president-elect and the economy: 'He's already doing more than any incoming president has ever done this quickly ... One Obama adviser told me what they'd like is a combination of 'Team of Rivals' and 'The Best and the Brightest,' which was the David Halberstam book about the incumbent Kennedy administration. ... [On the emerging Cabinet] We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a Cabinet in our lifetime.'

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Austan Goolsbee on Face the Nation

A Reminder of What Change Means

Just about the only criticism that anyone can make about Obama so far is that his appointments don't represent change. Well, that just shows that some folks never have really understood what Obama meant by change. Change means actually getting things, such as healthcare legislation, done. Change means reestablishing our standing in the world. Change means no more torture. Change means a new vision for the nation. Change means transparency in government. Change means working in a bipartisan fashion. Change means respecting that government can be a solution. In a nutshell, change is government working in a bipartisan way to solve problems.
Change doesn't mean hiring fresh face liberals. Change doesn't mean having a team that's inexperienced. Change doesn't mean hiring Dennis Kucinich as national security adviser.

Michelle Obama and the Red Speckled Dress

This Newsweek article irks me.
Allison Samuels is writing from a black woman's perspective. But her story seems to caricature Michelle Obama and play into stereotypes.

I never saw Michelle as the "angry black woman" but the right wing media played her that way and the rest of the media seemed to have accepted it as truth. They took Michelle's pearls to mean she was softening.

It seems that the media have largely been dismissive of Michelle. They tend to write about her only in context of race.

This article is also superficial. This article muses about her fashion style how it might be critiqued. Maybe if journalists started wondering about other things, such as what did she learn during all those meetings with military families, then Michelle will be treated like an episode of Entertainment Tonight. 

The manufactured debate around her "mom-in-chief" role is silly. Of course, her children come first. But anyone can see that she's ambitious and has a lot to offer. I think we can expect a lot from Michelle.
Newsweek: But Michelle's declaration that she plans to be the "Mom in Chief" has already ignited a minor flare-up in the ongoing white mommy wars between stay-at-home mothers and working women. (Don't all moms put their kids first, even if they're working? Is such an accomplished woman going to be content with Mom in Chief?) Still, most African-American women I know are thrilled she's in a position to make that choice. The average African-American family can't survive without two incomes—the poverty level among black families hovers above 30 percent, according to 2006 U.S. Census figures. And for single moms, that can mean working two jobs, leaving precious little time with the children. Michelle has already survived the working-mom juggling act, getting her law degree and working in government and administration before leaving during Obama's campaign.
Will she retreat if someone slams her style? Please.
Appearance could be another minefield for Michelle. First Ladies are always scrutinized—how else did Hillary end up in those black pant-suits? Though Michelle has shown a penchant for sleek hair and form-fitting dresses, her style is still evolving and wide-ranging. She's gone from $148 off-the-rack outfits to Dolce & Gabbana. When she showed up for her first tour of the White House wearing a striking red dress, she indicated she's willing to be daring. But will she retreat if critics slam her for bad hair days or talk too intimately about her shape?

Arianna on SNL

Field of Hope

See who's behind the Field of Hope.

Chinese Democracy Hits

Yes I was... a Guns N' Roses fan, that is, until Axl went bonkers. I haven't paid attention to the hoopla since, but if this song is any indication, the new CD might be good.

Axelrod: No Potted Plants

Obama has a press conference tomorrow, when he's expected to announce Tim Geithner as treasury secretary. Axelrod wouldn't confirm that Bill Richardson would be announced within the next day.
David Axelrod hits all the morning political shows. He says there will be no potted plants in Obama's administration and Axelrod says his advisory style won't be anything like Karl Rove's.
From Politico:
David Axelrod, incoming White House senior adviser, in his first Sunday interview since winning, tells ABC's George Stephanopoulos on 'This Week,' about the stock-market rally following leak that New York Fed president Tim Geithner (GITE-ner) will be Treasury Secretary: 'The response has been great, and it should be. Tim Geithner is uniquely qualified to do this job. He's someone who is steeped in the economy and in managing crises. ... In the '90s, he was the assistant Treasury secretary for international affairs and he handled a couple of international financial crises. And he's someone who, by both temperament and experience, is well-suited for the times we're in. We were gratified by the reaction to news of his pending appointment.'

On Geithner's involvement in the current meltdown: 'Tim Geithner was an early warning system in terms of the need for greater regulation and has been ahead of the curve on a lot of these issues. ... When you look at the history of what he's done over time, he IS the sort of person you'd want when you're facing the kind of economic crisis we have today.'

On whether Secretary of State Clinton would have the full backing of the president and a direct line to the White House: 'I think it's fair to say that all of these appointees will have the full backing of the president. That's why he's selecting them. And the one thing I can tell you from working for six years with Barack Obama -- that he is someone who invites strong opinions. He enjoys that -- he thinks it's an important element of leadership. And I think that he'll have a great working relationship with ... his entire Cabinet. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO BE POTTED PLANTS. ... They are going to be partners with him in governance, and he is going to encourage that. And I'm sure that that's the message that he's given to EVERYONE he's spoken to about potential positions in the administration.'

***On supporters' reaction to the relatively hawkish potential national security team (Clinton, Gates staying at Pentagon, retired Marine general Jim Jones at national security adviser): 'The president-elect was clear throughout the campaign that when he became president, that he was going to give the secretary of Defense a new mission, and that mission was going to be to wind down our involvement. Nothing has changed. And, obviously, events are moving in that direction as we speak. But our supporters can be -- and the entire nation, and the world can be assured that ... the commitments that he's made are the commitments he's going to keep.'

On his own role in the White House: 'I expect I'll do what I've done for the last six years, which is to try to help organizationally with the message of the administration. Barack Obama knows exactly where he wants to lead. I want to make sure that all communications channels are imparting that message and doing it in a way that's consistent with his vision and his values.'

AXELROD, to Chris Wallace on 'Fox News Sunday,' re Clinton in the Cabinet, and the left wing questioning that kind of change: 'There's one person who's going to set policy in this administration, and that's the president of the United States. That's true on the economy. It's true in foreign policy. And what he wants are the people ... who are most able to help advance that agenda. But the agenda will come from Barack Obama. He has a very clear sense where he wants to lead this country. The people who he's recruiting for these jobs understand what that vision is. And they wouldn't be joining the administration if they're not willing to support and advance it. And everyone who voted for Barack Obama can have great confidence that he's going to follow through on the commitments that he made.'

On the Clintons: 'Some of the obstacles that you mention have been removed. We'll probably make an announcement on some of these national security positions after the holidays. ... Let me separate that from what I'm about to say, which is that Hillary Clinton is a demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person who, ... if she were in a position such as that, would help advance the interests of this administration and this country. And that's the basis on which he would make such an appointment.'

Says he won't do the senior adviser job like Karl Rove: 'I've never accepted that comparison. My role with Barack Obama for the last six years has been to help the communications operation impart his message, his values and his vision to the American people. And I expect to continue to do that. ... My role is circumscribed to those responsibilities. I'm not trying to rebuild the Democratic Party or any of these other -- I think Mr. Rove had quite an expansive portfolio. I think mine is very focused.'

Axelrod on Fox News Sunday:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Emily's Lister is Obama's Communications Director

CNN: Ellen Moran, executive director of EMILY's List, will serve as Obama's communications director.

Moran worked for the AFL-CIO, coordinating "Wal-Mart corporate accountability activities," before returning to EMILY's, an organization dedicated to helping Democratic women get elected to office. It had endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president.

Dan Pfeiffer, current communications director with the transition team, will be Obama's deputy communications director. He began work with the Obama campaign in January 2007 as traveling press secretary before returning to Chicago, Illinois, to work as communications director.

Sol Sender: Creator of the Obama O Sunrise Logo

I love this logo. It's simple and says a new day is coming.
Sol Sender, assigned the job by Mode, a design studio in Chicago, talks about the logo, which took less than 2 weeks to create. 
Q&A from the NYT:
Steven Heller: How did you get the job of designing the Obama logo?

Sol Sender: We got the job through Mode. Steve Juras, a classmate of mine from graduate school is the creative director there. They have a long-standing relationship with AKP&D Message and Media, a campaign consulting firm led by David Axelrod and David Plouffe among others.

Q: Have you done other political logos in the past?

A: No, we had not.

Q: I have to ask, since many agencies that do political campaigns are simply “doing a job,” did you have strong feelings one way or the other for the Obama candidacy?

A: We were excited to work on the logo and energized by the prospect of Mr. Obama’s campaign. However, we didn’t pursue or develop the work because we were motivated exclusively by ideology. It was an opportunity to do breakthrough work at the right time in what’s become a predictable graphic landscape.

Q: How many iterations did you go through before deciding on this “O”? Was it your first idea?

A: We actually presented seven or eight options in the first round, and the one that was ultimately chosen was among these. In terms of our internal process, though, I believe the logo — as we now know it — came out of a second round of design explorations. At any rate, it happened quite quickly, all things considered. The entire undertaking took less than two weeks.

Q: How did David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, respond to your initial presentation?

A: Mode handled that. My sense was that there was a lot of enthusiasm about the options we developed. I was part of a presentation with Mode and Mr. Axelrod to evaluate the final two or three options. There was a general sense that they were all good, but we felt strongly that the chosen logo was the most powerful one.

Q: Did Barack Obama have any input into the symbol at all?

A: None that was directly communicated to us. I believe he looked at the final two or three options, but I wouldn’t be able to accurately portray his reaction.

Q: What were you thinking when you conceived this idea?

A: When we received the assignment, we immediately read both of Senator Obama’s books. We were struck by the ideas of hope, change and a new perspective on red and blue (not red and blue states, but one country). There was also a strong sense, from the start, that his campaign represented something entirely new in American politics — “a new day,” so to speak. read more
Some of the logos that weren't chosen, including this one below with symmetrical stripes.