Wednesday, December 17, 2008

bill white announces senate run

You can read more about Houston Mayor Bill White at Capitol Annex.

salazar, vilsack chosen for obama cabinet

The president-elect made two new cabinet announcements today -- former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has been appointed as secretary of agriculture, and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar was tapped for secretary of the interior.
"Together, they will serve as guardians of the American landscape on which the health of our economy and the well-being of our families so heavily depend," Obama said in introducing Salazar and Vilsack as his latest Cabinet picks. "How we harness our natural resources, from the farmlands of Iowa to the springs of Colorado, will speak not only to our quality of life, but to our economic growth and our energy future."
Obama made several other Cabinet announcements this week -- the superintendent of public schools in Chicago, Arne Duncan, will be secretary of education, and an entire energy and climate team was announced in anticipation for combating global warming.

Obama, promising to address global warming and energy sources, formally named the rest of his team today: physics Nobel laureate Dr. Steven Chu as his Energy Secretary; Lisa Jackson as his Environmental Protection Agency Administrator; Nancy Sutley as his chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; and Carol Browner as assistant to the president for Energy and Climate Change, a new post.

At the beginning of the month, the president-elect rolled out his national security team. He has also made appointments to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce.

Friday, December 12, 2008

no open couch at white house for the obamas

The president-elect has asked and has been denied an early entrance to the Blair House in the new year, according to the New York Times.
The White House has turned down a request from the family of President-elect Barack Obama to move into Blair House in early January so that his daughters can start school on Jan. 5.

The Obamas were told that Blair House, where incoming presidents usually stay in the five days before Inauguration Day, is booked in early January, a spokesperson to the Obama transition said. “We explored the idea so that the girls could start school on schedule,’ the spokesperson said. “But, there were previously scheduled events and guests that couldn’t be displaced.”

It remained unclear who on Bushes guest list outranked the incoming President.

White House spokespeople have said that the press is making an issue out of nothing, and that they are not planning on releasing the private schedule for the Blair House.

The Blair House will become available to the Obamas on Jan. 15.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

daschle picked for health and human services

Tom Daschle will head the Health and Human Services Department, President-Elect Obama announced today in a news conference.
Daschle’s pick was overshadowed by the high drama of Obama’s first news conference since the scandal surrounding his Illinois Senate seat broke, but both men pressed on.

Obama announced that Daschle, 61, also will head the White House Office of Health Reform, and that his deputy in that job will be Jeanne Lambrew, his co-author on a book on health care reform.
In addition to the HHS post, Daschle, a former U.S. senator for South Dakota as well as Majority Leader from 2001-2003, will craft Obama's universal health care plan.

clinton would take pay cut at state department

Recent reports on the blogosphere claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton may have faced an uphill battle against the Constitution during her nomination hearings.
An obscure section on compensation for public officials, the Emoluments Clause, says that no member of Congress can be appointed to a government post if that job's pay was increased during the lawmaker's current term.
As it turns out, the position of secretary of State received a pay raise during Clinton's tenure as New York's junior senator. So in order to keep things on the up and up, her congressional colleagues have changed it back.
Clinton would make about $4,700 less as secretary of state than her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.

Congress late Wednesday lowered the salary for the nation's top diplomat to keep Clinton's nomination from running afoul of the Constitution.
Clinton's new salary will be $186,600, still an improvement over her compensation as a senator.

Not everyone is pleased, though, and conservative watchdog groups may challenge her appointment as the nation's top diplomat, not sure that Congress' pay cut satisfies the constitutional requirement.

But Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said Thursday that Congress’ action has never been tested in court, and he says his group is considering litigation in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to challenge her appointment.

“In our view, it is an end-run around the Constitution,” Fitton said. “We are contemplating our next steps.”

Clinton's confirmation hearings will likely begin next month.

will the blagojevich scandal hurt obama?

We're sure you've heard all about the Rod Blagojevich scandal by now -- the governor of Illinois thinking he could get away with basically selling President-Elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, and then getting caught, the way politicians always do.
Although the Illinois governor has been under investigation on federal corruption charges for years (as most Chicago politicians are, by default), Blagojevich’s arrest on Tuesday morning at his home definitely sealed the deal.

Aside from numerous other charges, Blagojevich was indicted for “wide-ranging criminal conspiracy,” including his efforts to “sell or trade” President-elect Obama’s vacant Senate seat in exchange for financial benefits for him and his wife, Patti. What is this, wife swapping?

On Tuesday afternoon, the governor appeared in court and was released on $4,500 bail. And now, he’s back at work. Unless Illinois lawmakers act fast to impeach, Blagojevich will still be able to name Obama’s successor. In other words, he’s still open for business.
Obama claims he did not know about and had no involvement in the scandal. In fact, some reports show that someone on Obama's staff may have actually blown the whistle on the governor's office.
The President-elect gamely fielded three questions on the issue and addressed it in his opening remarks, saying (twice) that he was appalled and disappointed "by the revelations earlier this week." He declared that he "had no contact with the governor's office" and "did not speak to the governor" about the process of who should replace him as Senator. "That I know for certain," Obama said.
Do you believe him? Do you think the public will? Or will this home-state scandal tied so closely to the new president affect his credibility? You decide.

So far, others have also been implicated in the scandal -- including Jesse Jackson, Jr., who reportedly offered up to $500,000 in fundraising for the governor in exchange for the vacant Senate seat.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

homeless in austin: an insider's view

Our friend and fellow blogger, Steve at Doing My Part for the Left, has been hit hard by the shoddy economy, and after losing his job has found himself homeless. We are helping him broadcast his story by re-posting it here. You may see it on other Texas sites, as well, because Steve has many friends in the blogosphere and we're all interested in helping in any way we can. Like Julie at MOMocrats puts it, "We're going to have to drastically change the way we think, work, and live---drastically change our expectations of what we will have and get, and fight as hard as he has to hold on to what we've got."

Hard times have hit us all at one time or another. We have seen the high unemployment numbers and the dismal forecast for economy in America. I never thought as a college graduate I would have an inside view of the day to day struggles of the homeless but I am there and will share my experiences so that people might gain a better insight and understanding of the plight we are facing in America.

I have been unemployed since March of 2008. Without unemployment benefits, I took to couch surfing and doing odd jobs for cash. Once the 2008 general elections were over and a new era in American History began, I started a new journey of my own. I spent a few weeks in a weekly motel that cost enough per week that I could have rented an apartment if I had not been evicted back in June. I realized that not only had I run out of money but I had also run out of options. I finally had to admit I needed more help than was available and I would have to take drastic steps. I moved my computer and many possessions that would not fit in a rolling suitcase and left them with a friend. I spent one last night on another friend's sofa and then I was truly on the streets and homeless.

I arrived at Sally (The Salvation Army) and found out they do a raffle every morning for beds that become available in the men's dorm. I was there at 8:45 am and waited as I watched more and more men file in hoping to get a bed for Wednesday night. The counselor came out and asked how many men were there for a bed. 15 men ranging in age from 18 to 70 raised their hands. The counselor said they only had two beds. As he walked around the room with a hat with 15 slips of paper, he informed us if we got a number we had a bed but if not we would have to try again the next day. I was not one of the lucky ones.

Realizing I had to do something I started asking questions and was told that I could try the lottery at ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) at 6pm. I took my rolling suitcase and Netroots nation bag and headed over to ARCH to ask questions. I had to wait in line to get in and then have my bags go through an x-ray security machine like the ones they sue at the airport and then file through a metal detector. I went to the desk and asked what I need to do and to verify times for the lottery. I was also informed that if the temperature was below 40 degrees, they would allow more people to stay. The first night I was lucky enough to draw a number which meant I could sleep on a mat on the floor in the lobby of ARCH.

Once the lottery was over I was led into the building and told I would have to take a shower. The ARCH does not provide towels and since I had not thought to back one, I had to dry off with paper towels. I was then given a thin pallet to sleep on. Well, I would not exactly call it sleeping. I lay on the pallet with a coat and a sweatshirt rolled up as a pillow. I had another coat that I used as a blanket. I was close to the stairs that led upstairs to the bathrooms and people were walking by my head all night. There was snoring, coughing, people crying out in their sleep and even a few arguments. Lights out was at 9:30 but if you have ever been by ARCH you know they have security lights that are on 24/7. Reading was not a problem since I could not really sleep. At 4:30 am the people on the first floor were awakened so they could start setting up the lobby for the day. They served us coffee and granola bars. I had survived my first night as a homeless person.

The next two nights I was lucky enough to win cold weather lotteries and spend the night at two different churches who fed us dinner and breakfast before sending us back to ARCH. On Saturday morning, I was finally able to get assigned a bed at Sally. I no longer have to fear not having a bed as long as I follow all the rules. There are many rules and hoops you must jump through to qualify for the different programs and I will be discussing those and my life as a homeless person in future installments. Being limited to an hour on a computer at the library and having to have others post for me, restricts what I can do as a blogger. Look for future installments soon.

You can read Part Two here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

richardson to head commerce

As President-Elect Barack Obama continues to name his Cabinet members, we're more and more impressed. The overly-qualified New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will become the Secretary of Commerce in the new administration.

Our friends at Dos Centavos argue that sending Richardson to Commerce is a good move. Richardson takes up the post with experience in creating jobs and with negotiation. He was also the governor of a border state, and is uniquely qualified to handle issues of undocumented labor.

We wish Richardson luck in his new position, and welcome him to the Obama administration!

now playing: milk

Gus Van Sant's biopic of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the U.S., is now playing in theatres.

Go see Milk today! It's sure to be nominated for countless awards, and we think it was one of the best films of the year. Just don't see it at Cinemark! Harvey Milk would not have wanted companies supporting Prop 8 to benefit from him.

The movie depicts Milk, played by Sean Penn, and chronicles his rise and fall, culminating in his assassination. This is definitely a must-see movie! It also stars James Franco, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch.

Update: Milk is already set to receive its first major award!

Monday, December 01, 2008

a resounding endorsement

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, issued a resounding endorsement today of President-Elect Barack Obama's choice of Sen. Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state designate.
The selection of Senator Clinton represents an important first step down a new path for American foreign policy -- an enormous shift represented by the selection of a champion of women's health and rights to be in charge of America foreign policy.

As first lady and as a U.S. senator, Hillary Clinton visited more than 80 nations, but for a majority of the world's population, her unique quality may be her gender. Senator Clinton understands that improving the status of women is not simply a moral imperative; it is necessary to building democracies around the globe. Improving the status of women is key to creating stable families, stable communities, and stable countries. Women's ability to control the size of their families, regardless of economics, nationality, or culture, has a direct impact on their economic well-being and that of their children. Senator Clinton understands that women's quality of life directly affects the major issues confronting the globe: national security, environmental sustainability, and global poverty.
Read the rest of the article here. We agree with Richards -- Clinton is a magnificent pick for this job. We congratulate her and are excited to continue on this journey with Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the new team for a new America.

the obama administration

This morning, President-Elect Barack Obama announced his cabinet. We congratulate the picks and hope the Senate will provide a quick confirmation for the new Obama administration. Meet the newcoming presidential team below.

Joe Biden, Vice President

Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense

Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury

Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General

James L. Jones, National Security Adviser

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security

Robert Gibbs, Press Secretary

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Following today's announcement of the national security team, we're still awaiting announcements from the president-elect on his choices for domestic leaders for Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Education, and Secretary of Health and Human Services.