By Alex Leary, Times staff writer
In print: Sunday, November 30, 2008
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As a top Washington lawyer, newly named White House counsel Greg Craig has represented high-profile clients, from Bill Clinton to John Hinckley to Alexander Solzhenitsyn to Elian Gonzalez’s father.
But less well known is Craig’s work in the 1990s for at least four foreign governments or leaders facing a variety of tricky situations in Washington.
Craig represented Argentina, Bolivia, Panama and the prime minister of Haiti as a “foreign agent,” basically a lobbyist for foreign governments and businesses with issues before the federal government. But those governments, which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Craig’s power law firm Williams & Connolly, got more than just traditional lobbying from him.
When the U.S. government in 1990 unfroze bank accounts belonging to deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega so he could pay to defend himself against drug charges, Craig went to federal court to try to seize Noriega’s cash for Panama.
Soon after Bolivia elected as its new president in 1989 a former revolutionary leftist who ran as a Social Democrat, Craig oversaw the planning of meetings between him and a cadre of influential members of Congress then, including Sens. George Mitchell (D-Maine); Bob Dole (R-Kan.); Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a former Craig boss; Joe Biden (D-Del.), whose position as vice president-elect makes him a current Craig boss; and Reps. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) and Peter Kostmayer (D-Pa.).
Now who is he, exactly? According to The Politico, he is a longtime aide to Teddy Kennedy. And here’s some more:
Craig, who had been friends with Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham at Yale Law School, was recruited for the impeachment job by John Podesta, then deputy White House chief of staff and now a leader of Obama’s transition. A Washington Post profile in 1998 by Lloyd Grove and John Harris reported: “Craig brought along his best bedside manner when Clinton summoned him to the White House residence on the night of Sept. 10 — the day after independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s lurid report to Congress was published on the World Wide Web. On a balcony overlooking the South Lawn, Clinton and Craig sat talking for two hours.”
OK, so his biggest claim to fame is that he helped our ethically challenged former president beat the impeachment rap. Is that the hallmark of a new broom in D.C.?
President-elect Barack Obama’s pick for Treasury secretary is relatively young, largely unknown and a proud workaholic. He is known for staying out of the spotlight, preferring to operate quietly behind the scenes to watch over financial markets as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Timothy Geithner, 47, has had a seat at the table since the credit crisis erupted in August 2007 and eventually sparked the deep economic downturn the nation is facing now. As a result, at least until his confirmation hearing, he’ll be criticized for having a major role in a government response that hasn’t always instilled confidence in financial markets — even if it prevented a wider financial meltdown.
As the Fed’s man on Wall Street, Mr. Geithner was a key architect of the $30 billion bailout to prevent the bankruptcy of Bear Stearns Cos., leading to charges the government was stoking moral hazard. He shaped the Fed’s lifeline to investment banks that followed, and was among the officials involved in assessing the implications of the troubles around Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers Holdings, American International Group and numerous other firms (from Wachovia to Citigroup) that have come under market pressure.
WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed while giving a speech on national security to a prominent conservative lawyers' organization.
In this Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007, file photo, Attorney General Michael Mukasey addresses the American Bar Association.
Mr. Mukasey, 67 years old, appeared to slur his words about 20 minutes into his speech at the Federalist Society's annual dinner, held in the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington. Mr. Mukasey was defending the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies in front of an audience of about 400.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, who provide security for the attorney general, rushed to his aid before he fell to the floor.
Mr. Mukasey appeared to be somewhat alert as he was carried on a stretcher by District of Columbia fire department medics. He was heard to say he thought he had fainted. A medic could be heard to tell the attorney general "just relax."
He was taken to George Washington University Medical Center and appeared to be alert and in good condition, according to the D.C. Fire Department.
Mr. Mukasey became attorney general in 2007. At Justice, he has won plaudits for his no-nonsense style.Text of his prepared speech here
By MIKE ALLEN | 11/20/08 10:48 PM EST
What if Barack Obama is declared a non-citizen and ineligible to serve as U.S. President?
That is most improbable, right? Perhaps, but not impossible.
In fact, a challenge to Obama's citizenship is scheduled to be the subject of a "conference" at the U.S. Supreme Court on December 5, 2008. A conference is a meeting of the Supreme Court Justices where cases are reviewed and the court decides which ones to accept for formal review.
The formal election of Barack Obama by the Electoral College is scheduled for December 15, just ten days following the Supreme Court conference.
What if the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the case of Leo C. Donofrio against Nina Wells, the secretary of state in New Jersey, and rules that Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen as he must be according to the U.S. Constitution in order to qualify for the presidency?
Would electors at the meeting of the Electoral College simply ignore Barack Obama and choose a president and vice president from among Joe Biden, John McCain, and Sarah Palin on December 15?
A majority of 270 votes would be required for each position.
In the interest of constitutional continuity, perhaps President Bush and Dick Cheney would agree to step aside early to allow Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take over the Oval Office.
Senator Robert Byrd would, by law, become Vice President, until the swearing in of the 111th Congress, when the 90-year old Byrd would yield to youth in the person of Senator Inouye, the 84 year old from Hawaii.
A most delicious irony would occur if the electors installed Governor Palin as President and Joe Biden as her VP, leaving John McCain out in the cold where he belongs!
A Palin administration so conceived would cause moon bats at Daily Kos and elsewhere to go ballistic, providing laughs and hilarity for months, if not years.
Palin-Biden? Has a nice ring to it,right?
|President-elect promised change, picking insiders|
|Nov 20 05:20 AM US/Eastern|
By KEVIN FREKING
Associated Press Writer
Obama is enlisting former Senate leader Tom Daschle as his health secretary. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a well-known Washington personality, seemed more likely than ever to be his secretary of state. Clinton is deciding whether to take that post as America's top diplomat, her associates said Wednesday
Obama is ready to announce that his attorney general will be Eric Holder, the Justice Department's No. 2 when Clinton's husband was president. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, is another veteran of the Clinton White House.
Daschle's selection to head the Health and Human Services Department—confirmed Wednesday but not yet announced—isn't at the same level of Cabinet prestige as the top spots at the State and Justice departments. But the health post could be more important in an Obama administration than in some others, making Daschle a key player in helping steer the president-elect's promised health care reforms.
Daschle could push Obama for quick action on health care reform next year, if he follows his own advice.
Daschle said efforts during the Clinton administration, led by Hillary Clinton, took too long and went into too much detail, giving every interest group an opportunity to find something they didn't like about the plan.
"The next president should act immediately to capitalize on the goodwill that greets any incoming administration. If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it," Daschle wrote in a book he released this year, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis." "This issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol."
A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job-discrimination laws.
The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their "religious beliefs or moral convictions."
It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to "assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity" financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Rules are Hard to Change by New Administration
While executive orders and rules that are not yet in effect can swiftly be reversed or altered by Obama’s appointees or his own executive orders, rules that go into effect before he takes office will be extremely difficult to undo. Rescinding a rule would require the new administration to re-start the rule-making process, which can take years and prompt legal challenges. Another strategy that has been talked about lately – getting Congress to disapprove the rules through the Congressional Review Act — carries political risks and has been used only once before.
“The problem with what the Bush administration is doing is that these rules are extremely cumbersome to adopt, and they are every bit as cumbersome to undo,” said David Vladeck, an administrative law professor at Georgetown University. “It condemns the next administration to spend years fighting on the old administration’s agenda.”
November 20, 2008
It looks like we can forget about that dream Arizona Senate matchup between John McCain and popular Arizona governor Janet Napolitano (D) in 2010.
President-elect Barack Obama is prepared to tap Napolitano to serve as his secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. If Napolitano leaves the governorship, Arizona’s Republican Secretary of State, Jan Brewer, would become governor.
Napolitano is unable to run for a third-term in Arizona because of the state’s term limits law.
Democratic operatives have been eagerly eyeing McCain’s seat as a potential pickup in 2010 – and saw Napolitano as their strongest challenger. Arizona gave its home state senator just a five-point margin of victory in the presidential election, and the fast-growing state has been trending in a Democratic direction lately. One public poll even showed Napolitano leading McCain in a hypothetical 2010 matchup.
But the speculation involving Napolitano was a bit premature. One leading Arizona Democratic operative said that Napolitano was never likely to challenge McCain, and only would have run if he stepped down from the Senate.
...Napolitano’s heart lies with the shamnesty crowd. She vetoed a bill cracking down on phony matricula consular cards for illegal aliens and rejected efforts allowing more cooperation between local law enforcement and the feds. She opposes assimilationist measures on English language and ID requirements to prevent voter fraud; she supports in-state tuition discounts for illegal aliens.
In short, she’s a double-talker and double-doer who will ensure the immigration chaos status quo.
"A forthcoming Congressional report on the last-minute pardons by President Bill Clinton says Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was a "willing participant in the plan to keep the Justice Department from knowing about and opposing" a pardon for Marc Rich, the financier.
The 476-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, harshly criticizes the Clinton White House for its handling of the 177 pardons and commutations granted on its last day.
The most controversial pardon went to Mr. Rich, a commodities trader who fled the country in 1983 rather than face trial on charges of tax evasion, racketeering and trading with the enemy. The report says that Mr. Rich's lawyers tried to circumvent prosecutors, who would oppose the pardon, and take their case straight to the White House.
Mr. Holder, the report says, played a major role, steering Mr. Rich's lawyers toward Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel. Mr. Rich hired Mr. Quinn, whose Washington contacts and ability to lobby the president made the difference, according to the report. It says that Mr. Holder's support for the pardon and his failure to alert prosecutors of a pending pardon were just as crucial.
The panel criticized Mr. Holder's conduct as unconscionable and cited several problems. It cited his admission last year that he had hoped Mr. Quinn would support his becoming attorney general in a Gore administration.
A constitutional crisis is looming large over Barack Obama’s Election Day victory.
Alan Keyes and others have filed a petition asking that California’s 55 Electoral Votes to not be cast until Obama produces a birth certificate to verify his eligibility to hold office.
This is the latest challenge to Obama, and the first by someone as well respected as Keyes.
Some interesting and important bits and pieces:
Update: The Minnesota Canvassing Board has certified the results rebuffing last minute appeals from Al Franken. The board agreed to proceed with the recount while considering the Franken campaign’s arguments. Likewise, a Ramsey County judge will meet soon to hear a complaint from the campaign. The recount is set to begin Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, the Coleman campaign has declared victory. “Senator Coleman has, for the third time, been named the winner of the 2008 election," said campaign manager Cullen Sheehan. “We look forward to the beginning of tomorrow's recount, and to what we believe to be the ultimate conclusion of the final chapter of this year's election -- the reelection of Senator Norm Coleman.”http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2008/11/18/recount_begins/index.html?source=newsletter
CTC regards carbon taxes as superior to carbon cap-and-trade systems for six fundamental reasons:
Just who are the amorphous individuals attacking Gov. Sarah Palin as not being smart enough to have been vice president? What makes her less capable than Joe Biden? In retrospect, if Biden was such a brilliant pick, and if Michelle Obama is so intelligent, why were both kept off the main stage in the closing weeks of the presidential
I submit they are comprised of two factions – the first being those that never wanted her to be vice president – the other, those who are afraid she may succeed as a presidential candidate in 2012. Lumped into both groups are those who don't have a clue, which includes elitist Republicans who place a higher value on a person's alma mater than they do a person's ability.
The accusations now surfacing is that Gov. Palin isn't "smart enough" to even consider running for president, to which one might argue: like Al Gore and John Kerry were, and like Joe Biden is – but I digress. A pre-eminent business leader told me many years ago, "You don't have to be super smart to be successful – you just have to be smart enough to surround yourself with people who are."
To that point, Sarah Palin is not only smart enough to surround herself with smart people, but she is also both smart and capable. Her record of accomplishment in barely two years as governor of Alaska is extraordinary. She is a proven fiscal conservative who puts the best interests of the people ahead of "good ol' boy" politics and policies, and she isn't hesitant to take on malevolent factions of her own party. She holds to traditional values, not as a mace, but as a way of life.
Not likely. At first glance, the numbers do look encouraging for proponents of a new New Deal era in government: Obama claimed at least 364 electoral votes and more than 52.5 percent of the overall popular vote, while Democrats now control at least 57 seats in the Senate and 255 in the House.
But look more closely, and you see a heavy influx of moderate to conservative members in the incoming freshman Democratic class, particularly in the House. Of the 24 Republican-held districts that Democrats won in 2008, Kerry carried just three in 2004. Democratic victories on Nov. 4 included Alabama's 2nd district (where Kerry took 33 percent of the vote) and Idaho's at-large seat (where Kerry won just 30 percent). In fact, according to tabulations by National Journal's Richard E. Cohen, 81 House Democrats in the 111th Congress will represent districts that Bush carried in 2004.
The fact that roughly a third of the Democratic House majority sits in seats with Republican underpinnings (at least at the presidential level) is almost certain to keep a liberal dream agenda from moving through Congress. The first rule of politics is survival, and if these new arrivals to Washington want to stick around, they are likely to build centrist voting records between now and 2010.
4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year.
I doubt it. In the hastily penned postmortems of campaign '08, much of the blame for McCain's loss seems to have fallen at the feet of the candidate and his advisers, who (so the narrative goes) made a series of lousy strategic decisions that wound up costing the Arizona senator the White House. There's little question that some of the choices McCain and his team made -- the most obvious being the impulsive decision to suspend his campaign and try to broker a deal on the financial rescue bill, only to see his efforts blow up in his face -- did not help. But a look at this year's political atmospherics suggests that the environment was so badly poisoned that no Republican -- not Mitt Romney, not Mike Huckabee, not even the potential future GOP savior, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- could have beaten Obama on Nov. 4.
Why not? Three words (and a middle initial): President George W. Bush.
In the national exit poll, more than seven in 10 voters said that they disapproved of the job Bush was doing; not surprisingly, Obama resoundingly won that group, 67 percent to 31 percent. But here's an even more stunning fact: While 7 percent of the exit-poll sample strongly approved of the job Bush was doing, a whopping 51 percent strongly disapproved. Obama won those strong disapprovers 82 percent to 16 percent. And Bush's approval numbers looked grim for the GOP even before the September financial meltdown.
Just one in five voters in the national exit polls said that the country was "generally going in the right direction." McCain won that group 71 percent to Obama's 27 percent. But among the 75 percent of voters who said that the country was "seriously off on the wrong track," Obama had a thumping 26-point edge.
Those numbers speak to the damage that eight years of the Bush administration have done to the Republican brand. It's a burden that any candidate running for president with an "R" after his -- or her -- name would have had to drag around the country.
To be continued......
Link is executive director of the ACLU of Ohio.
I was deeply disturbed to hear that state officials approved the use of government databases to obtain information about Joseph Wurzelbacher, also known as "Joe the Plumber." Rather than using state databases for their intended purpose, it seems some officials believe they can breach private information simply to satisfy their curiosity about someone in the public eye.
The most chilling aspect of this situation came from the explanation by Job & Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelley stating that her office regularly conducts searches on peoples' personal information if they appear in high-profile news stories. Jones-Kelley had no evidence that Wurzelbacher owed any back child support, yet she still initiated the search. This is not only unethical, but a dangerous violation of our privacy.
It is appalling that government officials believe they may access a person's private information simply for being in a newspaper headline. This unethical practice only confirms that our state government does not have adequate checks in place to protect our privacy, leaving our most personal information vulnerable to the whims of a person's curiosity. Many people also could be frightened from speaking to members of the media or expressing their views because they could come under scrutiny of our state government.
This problem is crying out for immediate action by our top state leaders. All departments should have ethical procedures for accessing Ohioans' personal information, safeguards against people wrongfully accessing private data and clear consequences for violating these rules. In an age where so much information is available electronically at the touch of our fingertips, our leaders must create better safeguards against unfair breaches of our privacy.
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.
Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth
mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.
Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.
And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.
Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?
“That’s a really good question,” one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh.
(For what it’s worth, another reporter for The New York Times is an acquaintance of Mr. Gorlin and vouches for his identity, and Mr. Gorlin is indeed “Mr. Eisenstadt” in those videos. He and his partner in deception, Dan Mirvish, have entries on the Internet Movie Database, imdb.com. But still. ...)
The pranksters behind Eisenstadt acknowledge that he was not, through them, the anonymous source of the Palin leak. He just claimed falsely that he was the leaker--and they say they have no reason to cast doubt on the original story. For its part, Fox News Channel continues to stand behind its story.
Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere.
“With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find,” said Mr. Mirvish, 40.
The 2008 presidential election ended less than two weeks ago, but the mythmaking machine has already begun to churn. President-elect Barack Obama transformed the face of the electorate! The Republican Party will be a miserable minority in Congress for the next century! Cats and dogs are now living together! Below we explode the five biggest myths that have already sprung up around the election that was. 1. The Republican Party suffered a death blow.
There's no question that losing six Senate seats and 24 House seats (not to mention the White House) wasn't a step forward for the Grand Old Party. But there are two good reasons to believe that Republicans will be back on their feet sooner than many people expect.
“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
In 1995, Obama's first autobiography is released. In it he writes of his years in college, associating with radicals. "To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk rock performance poets . . . When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society's stifling constraints. We weren't indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated."
[Obama, Barack, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,
Random House, Pages 100-101]
"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's, I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's."