Archive for the ‘president-elect’ Category

Obama’s Genius, Inauguration Day, and Hope

January 17, 2009

Inauguration day is America’s unique day of hope. Whatever the speech, whoever the president-elect: a key player in every inauguration day is bound to be the Almighty and his right hand man: Hope.

I wrote that four years ago in a newspaper story published the morning of George W. Bush’s second inauguration.

Barack Obama made “hope” his watchword.  And that makes him more like all the other presidents than many might expect.

Trying to find a common thread among all those many inauguration day speeches, it occurred to me that “hope” was the most common thread linking all of America’s presidents.

We Americans don’t discuss hope much. Hope, it seems, is for sissies. Americans like action: like John Wayne kicking in the bad guy’s door, six-shooter in hand.

And some people shy away from discussing hope because the concept of hope puts one on the road to prayer and this, WE KNOW, is taboo to a segment of the world’s population.

But there is a day, every four years, when Americans celebrate hope. And that day is Inauguration Day.

And we listen to our elected president’s words. We judge our president-elect by these, his first words, as our commander in chief.

In history, there are many themes that seem to resonate through the inaugural addresses. Education, poverty, crime, war, and peace all appear over and over in inauguration day speeches. But the importance of God’s guidance and the wonderful goodness of hope permeates many of the great American inaugural addresses.

We should not be surprised that many presidents invoke the name of God, maybe even offer a prayer themselves for the success of the nation (and their presidency?), and offer us hope at the inauguration. Their task is looming large; their support sometimes fleeting. One might wonder at the overconfident man in such a difficult situation. Normal men ask for God’s help and offer us all a hopeful vision of the future.

On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, “Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” He asked us to answer a “call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’ –a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

On another January 20, in 1969, Richard M. Nixon reminded us, “Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time, the hope that many of man’s deepest aspirations can at last be realized.” He also said, “We see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of today.”

President Lincoln, in his second inaugural, looked with hope at the end of the Civil War. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln delivered these words on March 4, 1865. Just one month and 10 days after he delivered this speech, on April 14, Lincoln was assassinated.

President Eisenhower evoked hope. On January 20, 1953, he reminded the nation that “we view our Nation’s strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men everywhere.”

President James A. Garfield suggested a halt in the march of mankind, just for a moment, to reflect upon the importance of hope. In his March 4, 1881 inaugural, he said, “Before continuing the onward march let us pause on this height for a moment to strengthen our faith and renew our hope by a glance at the pathway along which our people have traveled.”

Inauguration day is a day of hope and prayer. No other day in American life is so steeped in prayer. No other day in the American calendar so often reverberates with the theme of hope.

Oh, many moments in American life begin with prayer: including the opening of House and Senate sessions in the capitol. But at our inaugurations, one can feel the sincerity of men thrust into the maelstrom. Greater Washington seems to become a great cathedral of hope and prayer: before it immediately returns to a nation that separates church and state.

What, exactly, is hope? You can’t buy anything with it and nobody can prove that it helps you in life. So what is hope?

Hope is an amputee veteran of the war in Iraq who wants to learn to ski. Hope is the cancer victim who won’t give in. Hope keeps the terminally ill calm and the pinned- down platoon together. Hope is the antithesis of despair, the enemy of our darkest fears.

Hope and prayer drive my friend in South Carolina to fight his multiple sclerosis.

Hope is one of those emotions unique to mankind. It sometimes defies reason and fights off evil thoughts of surrender.

Prayer goes hand-in-hand with hope; and America was founded by men deeply governed by their hope and prayer and belief in God.

The Founding Fathers established the United States, wrote the Declaration of Independence; the Bill of Rights and the Constitution; and created a nation firmly rooted in the belief in God and freedom of religion protected by the separation of church and state.

Many of the Founders and their forefathers fled Europe to escape religious prosecution. They wanted this new nation to allow them freedom of religion and thus the very nation is rooted in a belief in God.

The Declaration of Independence starts this way: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

After signing the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, who was called “the firebrand of the American Revolution,” affirmed his obedience to God by stating, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come.”

James Madison, the fourth president, made the following statement, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Madison is often referred to as “The Father of Our Constitution.”

When historians at the University of Houston conducted a 10-year study of the ideas that shaped our republic, they found 94 percent of the Founding Fathers’ quotes in 15,000 documents were based on the Bible.”God created all men equal,” one of the most fundamental and important acclamations of our government, became an underlying reason for the Civil War, a fundamental reason for the Emancipation Proclamation and a keynote of equality ever since.

Every president of the United States is sworn into office, by reciting an oath while he has one hand on the Bible. The oath ends, “So help me God.”

Every session of Congress since 1777 commenced with a prayer by a minister paid by the taxpayers.Every military service of the United States pays uniformed religious ministers for the officers and men in service. These ministers are from all faiths that recognize the importance of God in human life. Nearly every base has a chapel.

The Ten Commandments are carved into the doors of the Supreme Court and appear prominently in the court’s chambers.

Every piece of U.S. currency bears the words “In God We Trust.”

In America, you are even free to start your own religion. Nobody (except possibly the Internal Revenue Service) will interfere, so long as you don’t do anything outside the normal bounds of decent behavior.

So, as we all celebrate the blessings of American freedom, justice and government every day, perhaps we should reflect upon the roots and tenets of our democracy. We are not a Godless people. Or are we?

Yes, our democracy is evolving and we are open and accepting to that evolution. But let us not allow the evolution to turn into a careless revolution or even an unintended erosion of the principles by which we live and we are governed.

I am one of those historians that thinks the Founders were pretty smart. Their belief in God, hope and prayer encourages me every day.

So help me God.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

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Obama: “Utmost Respect” for CIA Choice Leon Panetta

January 6, 2009

Just about 24 hours after the news was released that the President-elect would probably nominate Leon Panetta to head the CIA, Mr. Obama had to defend his choice before reporters this afternoon.

Panetta, a former Congressman from California and Clinton White House Chief of Staff, has already come under fire because he has no intelligence service experience, even on the House Intelligence Committee.

Barack Obama praised Panetta’s management skill and experience and said when he formally announces his intelligence team that anouncement will show balance, skill and experience.

Obama went out of his way to say Panetta as “one of the finest public servants that we’ve had.”

“He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity,” Obama said, adding — perhaps in answer to grumbling from some members of Congress that Panetta has no direct experience in intelligence-gathering — that “he is somebody who obviously was fully versed in international affairs crisis management, and had to evaluate intelligence consistently on a day-to-day basis.”

Los Angeles Times writers  Greg Miller and Christi Parsons  said, “In choosing Leon E. Panetta to be the next CIA director, President-elect Barack Obama appears to have concluded that a spy chief who understands politics may be better equipped to carry out the incoming administration’s national security agenda than one who understands espionage.”

But despite Panetta’s known political acumen and that of the Obama team, one small detail was left unattended.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who this week begins her tenure as the first female head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was not consulted on the choice and indicated she might oppose it.

“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director,” Feinstein said. “My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

Panetta’s lack of “intelligence experience” is probably seen as a good thing by Obama and his advisors.

George Tenet came up through the CIA to become the Director of the CIA team that made the wrong call on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And Porter Goss, a well respected member of the House Itelligence Committee, went to head the CIA where most said he failed….

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Related:
 Obama’s CIA Pick from “Left Field” Agents Say; President-Elect Wants It That Way

What’s so bad about Panetta?
http://johnmcquaid.com/2009/01/06/whats-
wrong-with-panetta/

Read the Los Angeles Times story:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation
/la-na-obama-cia-panetta6-2009jan06,0,5514283.story

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Read the Huffington Post

There are lessons to be learned from Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reaction to the nomination of Leon Panetta as CIA head. One is that powerful Democratic Senators can be no less sensitive or arbitrary than their GOP counterparts. Another is that the phrase “intelligence professional” can be used like a mantra without being properly defined for the public. Nevertheless, the appointment of a “politician” to run the CIA is not inherently wrong. It can be a good or bad thing — depending on how it’s done, and by whom.

Read the rest:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/feinstein
panetta-senatori_b_155627.html

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From Politico:

Did the appointment of Panetta — a 70-year-old veteran of the Democratic establishment with a blue-chip name but no record of fresh thinking about intelligence issues — indicate a dearth of creativity and options within the Obama team as time runs out on the transition?

Read more:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090106
/pl_politico/17107_1

NBC Banning Conservatives?

January 6, 2009

NBC TV, widely criticized for its left-leaning and Pro-Obama agenda during the election campaign, has apparently continued its biased ways.

The Drudge Report is saying the the leading conservative writer Ann Coulter has been “banned from NBC.”

Coulter has a new book that is widely critical of the liberal media including NBC….

Related:
The Woman Unafraid to Rip Into Other Women (Like Caroline Kennedy, Sarah Palin….)

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter watches play at the U.S. ... 
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter watches play at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 4, 2006.(Jeff Zelevansky/Reuters)

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From The Drudge Report
http://www.drudgereport.com/
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The nation’s top selling conservative author has been banned from appearing on NBC, insiders tell the DRUDGE REPORT.
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“We are just not going to have her on any more, it’s over,” a top network source explains.
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But a second top suit strongly denies there is any “Coulter ban”.
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“Look for a re-invite, as soon as Wednesday,” said the news executive, who asked not to be named.

NBC’s TODAY show abruptly cut Ann Coulter from its planned Tuesday broadcast, claiming the schedule was overbooked.
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Executives at NBC TODAY replaced Coulter with showbiz reporter Perez Hilton, who recently offered $1,000 to anyone who would throw a pie at Ann Coulter.
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Hilton is also launching a new book this week, RED CARPET SUICIDE.


Above: Perez Hilton….


Paris Hilton

Coulter was set to unveil her new book, GUILTY. One network insider claims it was the book’s theme — a brutal examination of liberal bias in the new era — that got executives to dis-invite the controversialist.
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“We are just not interested in anyone so highly critical of President-elect Obama, right now,” a TODAY insider reveals. “It’s such a downer. It’s just not the time, and it’s not what our audience wants, either.” Others inside the peacock network strongly deny the book’s theme is at issue.
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For the book, Coulter reportedly received the most-lucrative advance ever paid to a conservative author. The TODAY show eagerly invited the author months ago, for her first network interview on GUILTY. The exclusive was to air during the show’s 7 AM hour. The cut came Monday afternoon.
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Coulter was also to appear on the TODAY’s fourth hour. A host even teased the segment saying the ‘conservative pit bull and bestselling author’ would be a guest.
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NBC’s cable outlet, MSNBC, will also become a Coulter-free zone, insiders explain.
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Morning host Joe Scarborough is said to be concerned with the new ban. “He’s working to overrule it,” tips a source.

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By Paul J. Gough, Reuters

NBC News denied Monday that conservative author Ann Coulter has been banned from the network after “Today” dropped her from Tuesday’s program because of breaking-news events.

The Coulter incident garnered huge headlines on the Drudge Report, which reported that network sources said NBC was not going to allow the frequent guest to appear any more.

That’s not true, NBC News said Monday. Coulter’s segment was dropped from the schedule because of news that the show was expecting to cover in the Gaza Strip with the Israeli military action there and in Washington with the Obama transition. “Today” had booked former British prime minister Tony Blair. Coulter was to promote her new book, “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America.”

“We’ve had Ann Coulter on ‘Today’ many times, but because of the news in Washington and the Middle East, we decided to cancel her appearance tomorrow,” NBC News said in a statement Monday. “Understanding the media as well as she does, we are sure she knows this happens from time to time. We look forward to welcoming her back in the future.”

Instead, Coulter will appear on CBS’ “The Early Show” to promote her book, according to an announcement on Coulter’s Web site. It wasn’t confirmed immediately by CBS.

“I guess this ends the ‘they just want to get ratings’ argument about liberal media bias,” Coulter wrote on her site of NBC. She was scheduled to appear January 9 on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.”

Coulter has a history with NBC, particularly “Today.” She went toe-to-toe with former co-host Katie Couric in 2002, whom she called “the affable Eva Braun” in her book “Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right.” Couric protested Coulter’s portrayal of the “Today” interview with Ronald Reagan biographer Edmund Morris that called the former president “an apparent airhead.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090106/tv_nm/us_coulter_1

Obama’s CIA Pick from “Left Field” Agents Say; President-Elect Wants It That Way

January 5, 2009

One might think some experience in the intelligence business a prerequisite for an American leader of Central Intelligence.

But that has not always been the case and Barack Obama picked a “dark horse” or “a man right out of left field” according to  retired CIA officers who spoke to us today.

Leon Panetta  served as Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff after years as a Congressman from California (1977 to 1993).  Insiders say he will be named to head the CIA by Barack Obama.

Panetta never even served on the House Intelligence Committee.

A serving CIA agent said to us, “This sounds like the President-elect wanted someone loyal to him; not someone loyal to the best intelligence.”

The CIA is known to be a very “closed organization” with people that sometimes fail to embrace their politically appointed leaders.

President-elect Obama’s choice of Panetta will cause some discussion, especially since George W. Bush earlier in his term picked a congressman with lots of Intelliegence Committee experience.

Goss, Bush’s pick and a veteran of the House Intelligence Committee was widely considered a failure at CIA and unable to understand its culture and people.

Mr. Obama is probably going to rely upon his Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, to take the lead in holding  things in place….

Expect the far right not to like Panetta, just as the far left didn’t like Obama’s idea of  John Brennan, Obama’s one-time chief intelligence adviser and an earlier anticipated CIA chief….

Related:
Blair, Master at Intelligence, Joins Obama Administration
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Even Democrats Cools To Obama’s CIA Pick
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From CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/05
/panetta.cia/index.html

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  CIA: At Least One Obama Nominee Idea Derailed

Porter J. Goss
Porter Goss
Leon Panetta 
Above: leon Panetta Photo by AP

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From the Associated Press:
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By NEDRA PICKLER
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Two Democratic officials say President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to run the CIA. Panetta was a surprise pick for the post, with no experience in the intelligence world. An Obama transition official and another Democrat disclosed his nomination on a condition of anonymity since it was not yet public.

Panetta was director of the Office of Management and Budget and a longtime congressman from California.

He served on the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel that released a report at the end of 2006 with dozens of recommendations for the reversing course in the Iraq war.

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President-elect Barack Obama‘s decision to fill the nation’s top intelligence jobs with two men short on direct experience in intelligence gathering surprised the spy community and signaled the Democrat’s intention for a clean break from Bush administration policies.

By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer

Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, a longtime congressional veteran and administrative expert, is being tapped to head the CIA. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair is Obama’s choice to be director of national intelligence, a selection expected for weeks, according to two Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not officially announced the choices.

The Obama transition team‘s long delay in selecting new CIA and national intelligence directors is a reflection of the complicated demands of the jobs and Obama’s own policies and priorities.

The search for Obama’s new CIA chief had been stalled since November, when John Brennan, Obama’s transition intelligence adviser, abruptly withdrew his name from consideration. Brennan said his potential nomination had sparked outrage among civil rights and human rights groups, who argued that he had not been outspoken enough in his condemnation of President George W. Bush’s policies.

Obama had hoped to send an unequivocal message that controversial administration policies approving harsh interrogations, waterboarding and extraordinary renditions — the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments with a history of torture — and warrantless wiretapping are over, said several officials.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090105/ap_
on_go_pr_wh/obama_spy_agencies

Russia: Why So Coy About Missiles? “Protecting Iran’s Nuclear Facilities”

December 22, 2008

Sources in the U.S. and Israel have both told us that Russia’s deployment of A-300 air defense missiles to Iran is an effort to negate any air attack from the U.S. and or Israel.

More specifically, Israeli and U.S. military experts said Russia was preparing to “protect Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

By Paul Herbst
Peace and Freedom

Over this last weekend, several sources in Iran and Russia said the missiles were being moved from Russian warehouses to sites within Iran.  But then suddenly, Monday, Russia said it was not moving A-300s to Iran.

 
A-300

Israel is worried about Iran’s nuclear development effort, the work of Russia and China to block effective U.N. sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, and the “unknowns” of a new American President.

Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has said for some time that he was developing nuclear technology.  Iran also has a robust long range ballistic missile program.  Iran’s missiles can easily reach Isreal, sources said.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has said “Isrel should be wiped from the map,” and just last week said he would not negotiate with a “Zionist regime.”  Zionist regime is Ahmadinejad code for Israel.

Related:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,470886,00.html

Get the Feeling Russia and China Are Slicing Up The World and the U.S. Will Be Left Out?

 Russia Denies Putting New Missiles Into Iran

Chutzpah: Admire Russia’s Arrogance

 Russia starts missile delivery to Iran

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081222/
wl_mideast_afp/russiairanmilitarydefence_081222131324

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Illinois Gov. Blagojevich Corruption Could Still Touch Obama, Emanuel

December 20, 2008

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is legendary in Illinois political circles for not picking up the phone or returning calls, even from important figures like the state’s senior senator, Dick Durbin.

But there was always one call Blagojevich regularly took, say his aides, and that was from Rahm Emanuel — his congressman, his one-time campaign adviser and, more recently — and troubling for Emanuel — one of his contacts with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition staff.

The friendly rapport Blagojevich and Emanuel shared over the years has suddenly become a troubling liability for Emanuel and the new president he will serve as chief of staff.

Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich makes his first substantial public ...
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich makes his first substantial public comments since his arrest last week on federal corruption charges at the State of Illinois Building Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Emanuel and Obama have remained silent about what, if anything, Emanuel knew of the governor’s alleged efforts to peddle Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Emanuel did contact the governor’s office about the appointment, and left Blagojevich with the impression that he was pushing Valerie Jarrett, a close Obama friend, so he wouldn’t have to compete with her in the White House for Obama’s attention, said a source close to Blagojevich. The source requested anonymity because the person were not authorized to talk about the governor’s discussions regarding the vacancy.

It was not clear whether Blagojevich inferred Emanuel’s motive for advocating Jarrett, or whether Emanuel discussed the appointment with Blagojevich directly or with John Harris, the governor’s then-chief of staff who also is charged in the case, according to the source.

Emanuel’s refusal to discuss the matter publicly, and the few comments offered by Obama to date, have prompted questions about Emanuel’s ties to Blagojevich and what fallout he’ll face as the criminal case unfolds, although sources have said he is not a target of prosecutors. Even so, any hint of scandal for Emanuel threatens to tarnish Obama’s promise of new political leadership free of scandal and corruption.

Obama has said he will release a full accounting of his transition staff’s interaction with Blagojevich and his aides over his Senate replacement once he receives the OK from prosecutors sometime this week. Until then, Obama has said it would be inappropriate for him or his aides to comment further.

Prosecutors refer in the 76-page complaint to the governor’s discussions on FBI tapes about a ”president-elect advisor,” believed to be Emanuel, but they do not specifically cite contacts with Emanuel or anyone on Obama’s transition staff.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2008/12/20/u
s/AP-Illinois-Governor-Emanuel.html

Obama’s Inaugural Mistake: God Awful

December 20, 2008

Barack Obama has selected televangelist Rick Warren, author of  “The  Purpose Driven Life” and an outspoken opponent of  abortion rights and same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration Jan. 20. Why? What was he thinking when he picked this particular religious spokesman—a publicity hound who fights against causes of great moral importance to many of Obama’s supporters—for such a prominent role in the inauguration?

I consider this Obama’s first big misstep, and not only because of Warren’s stance on abortion and gay rights. He represents a combination of evangelicalism and boosterism , in the tradition of Norman Vincent Peale and Billy Graham, that is a particularly repugnant part of American religious tradition. Many have suggested that the choice of Warren puts him in a position to succeed Graham as the nation’s  best-known pastor. No religious leader should occupy the role that Graham played in successive  administrations—as an unofficial counselor to presidents, a predictable functionary on all ceremonial occasions, and a spokesman for one brand of religion. It is a brand of religion that has always been allied with American anti-intellectualism, and that is yet another reason why Obama’s choice is so puzzling and disturbing. 

Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren participates in a panel ... 
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren participates in a panel discussion during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York in this September 26, 2008 file photo. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Warren, who opposes gay marriage, as a speaker at his inauguration, creating a commotion over what inclusiveness will mean for his administration.REUTERS/Chip East/Files

How wonderful it would have been if a humanist had been included in the inaugural ceremony for the first time.  Secularists, unlike evangelicals, voted overwhelmingly for Obama. It is truly disappointing to me  to see Obama catering those who make up a significant share his enemies and disregarding the views of his friends….

By Susan Jacoby
Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/community/groups/index
.html?plckForumPage=ForumDiscussion&plckDiscussionId=Cat
%3aa70e3396-6663-4a8d-ba19-e44939d3c44fForum%3a7cce
b09e-a8ae-44b4-b7af-92605cbce240Discussion%3af422deb
9-a507-4c9a-bea2-573740cc523f

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Related:
http://sheblogan.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/praying-for-obama/

Blagojevich: Terrifying; Didn’t Just Fiddle While Rome Burned

December 13, 2008

Taking a page out of the playbook of the Roman emperor Nero, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has done so many bad things in such a short period of time that some of his worst actions are likely to be swept under the rug. Nero, as even the dimmest schoolchild will recall, is famous for fiddling while Rome burned to the ground — a flamboyantly insensitive gesture that has obscured the fact that he also kicked his pregnant wife to death, murdered his predecessor, masqueraded as a wild beast at gladiatorial events so that he could mutilate helpless captives bound to stakes and diverted himself on evening promenades by disguising himself as a street urchin, stabbing tipsy pedestrians to death and then chucking their bodies into the sewer. 

By Joe Queenan
Washington Post
Sunday, December 14, 2008; Page B01

It just so happens that Nero set fire to Rome not once, but several times, and did so as part of an impromptu urban-renewal project that served no purpose other than to line his own pockets. But because of the sheer impudence of setting the capital of the civilized world ablaze and then amusing himself on a musical instrument, Nero’s other crimes are less well remembered, if they are remembered at all.

Plaster bust of Nero, Pushkin Museum, Moscow.
The only “bust” of Blagojevich was made by police….

It would be a great tragedy if Blagojevich’s crass attempts — as described in juicy detail last week by prosecutors — to auction off President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat and shake down the Tribune Co. diverted the public’s attention from his other misdeeds. Politicians are always demanding some kind of payback for favors, and Blagojevich wouldn’t be the first pol to try to get journalists fired because he didn’t like the things they wrote about him. In Illinois, in New Jersey, in Louisiana, this kind of brazen scuzziness is par for the course. Society can deal with it.

What’s far more worrisome is Blagojevich’s bizarre confrontation with the Bank of America. The day before he was arrested on charges of massive corruption, Blagojevich visited a group of striking workers at a North Chicago firm called Republic Windows & Doors. After being laid off the week before, the employees had begun a sit-in, demanding benefits they were still owed by their employer, which said it could not meet their demands because the Bank of America had cut off its financing. At this point, Blagojevich informed bank officials that unless they restored the shuttered window-and-door company’s line of credit, the state of Illinois would suspend all further business with Bank of America. A few days later, the bank caved in and ponied up a $1.35 million loan.

The idea that the governor of a state as prosperous and important and sophisticated and upscale as Illinois would make this kind of threat is terrifying. Even more terrifying is that Bank of America saw no alternative but to give in. Yet even more terrifying is that nobody outside Chicago seems to have gotten terribly worked up about the situation, riveted as they are on the governor’s more theatrical transgressions. But peddling a Senate seat or using scare tactics to shake down a newspaper are nowhere near so serious a menace to society as letting the government arbitrarily intervene in financial transactions between banks and creditors. A crooked governor we can all handle. But a governor who capriciously decides which commercial enterprises a bank must finance and which it can ignore is a scary proposition indeed.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic
le/2008/12/12/AR2008121203299.html

President-Elect Obama Overexposed with TV, News Conferences, Adulation?

December 4, 2008

Do you ever recall a President-elect being on TV this much?  No, but Peace and Freedom can’t recall an economy and a world this worrisome either….

Related:
Obama’s Many “Number One” Priorities

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From Slate

After holding four press conferences on four consecutive business days, Barack Obama took today off. (On the fifth day, as it is written, he rested. …) For those of us who dissect his every word, a day without a press conference poses a challenge. The solution is to turn our attention from figuring out what it means when he does speak to figuring out what it means when he does not.

President-elect Barack Obama listens to a reporter's question ...
Fatigue?  President-elect Barack Obama on TV again.  Here he listens to a reporter’s question after introducing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as nominee for commerce secretary during a news conference in Chicago December 3, 2008.(Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

Since winning the election, Obama has sought the right balance between saying too much and too little. He’s saying, “Help is coming, we’re on our way.” But since he can’t actually do anything yet, he’s quick to point out that “there is just one president at a time.”

This is good training for the balancing act he’ll face in office. He is the third president to govern during what I’ll call the news hyper-cycle, which demands a presidential response to nearly every incremental development. The questions for Obama and his aides are two: How often does he respond to the demand? And can he do anything to lessen that demand?

Logos.

Read the rest:
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