President-elect Barack Obama introduces the team that will head up the nation’s major scientific departments in his weekly video/radio address.
** OBAMA TODAY – SUNDAY. President-elect Barack Obama is in Hawaii today for the Christmas holidays with wife Michelle and their two daughters.He has no public events.
With signs of a deepening economic downturn, Obama has upped his goal for job creation/retention – set only last month – from 2.5 million jobs to 3 million.
The new job target was set after a meeting last Tuesday in which Christina D. Romer, who is Mr. Obama’s choice to lead his Council of Economic Advisers, presented information about previous recessions to establish that the current downturn was likely to be “more severe than anything we’ve experienced in the past half-century,” according to an Obama official familiar with the meeting. Officials said they were working on a plan big enough to stimulate the economy but not so big to provoke major opposition in Congress.
Mr. Obama’s advisers have projected that the multifaceted economic plan would cost $675 billion to $775 billion. It would be the largest stimulus package in memory and would most likely grow as it made its way through Congress, although Mr. Obama has secured Democratic leaders’ agreement to ban spending on pork-barrel projects.
As I previously noted, the Obama team expects it to end up around $850 billion.
Meanwhile, the Blago scandal, at least insofar as it involves Obama and his team, doesn’t look like much. Notwithstanding the incessant cable chatter.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reports that the Obama review of contacts with the embattled Illinois governor doesn’t show all that much. Incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel evidently had only one recent conversation with Blagojevich, about his congressional seat, which Blago held before him. He talked with Blago’s chief of staff four times about the governor’s prospective appointment to replace Obama in the Senate. In which it was clear that there would be no quid pro quo (much less a financial deal) for a favored appointee, Obama’s longtime friend and top advisor Valerie Jarrett, who will be a major force in the new White House.
It’s important to keep in mind that the federal prosecutor going after Blago has already stated that there was no impropriety on the part of the Obama camp.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appears Sunday night on 60 Minutes. I saw that CBS News had correspondent Scott Pelley and a crew following him around at last month’s Governors’ Global Climate Summit in LA and other events.
The 60 Minutes story will focus on Schwarzenegger’s role as a global figure on climate change and renewable energy policy.
** JERRY BROWN ASKS CALIFORNIA’S TOP COURT TO TOSS GAY MARRIAGE BAN. Former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown moved late yesterday to have the state Supreme Court invalidate Proposition 8. This will have Brown, two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination, going against the lead lawyer for Prop 8, controversial Whitewater special prosecutor Ken Starr, now head of the Pepperdine Law School.
Brown had said after the election that he’d defend the initiative, a standard practice. He changed his mind after he and his staff of lawyers researched the matter. As the LA Times reports …
The California Constitution protects certain rights as “inalienable,” Brown wrote. Those include a right to liberty and to privacy, which the courts have said includes a person’s right to marry. The issue before the court “presents a conflict between the constitutional power of the voters to amend the Constitution, on the one hand, and the Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, on the other,” Brown wrote.
The issue “is whether rights secured under the state Constitution’s safeguard of liberty as an ‘inalienable’ right may intentionally be withdrawn from a class of persons by an initiative amendment.”
Voters are allowed to amend other parts of the Constitution by majority vote, but to use the ballot box to take away an “inalienable” right would establish a “tyranny of the majority,” which the Constitution was designed, in part, to prevent, he wrote.
In an interview, Brown said he had developed his theory after weeks of consultation with the top lawyers in his office. “This analysis was not evident on the morning after the election,” he said.
** PALIN SCANDAL. Alaska State Troopers have arrested the mother of Bristol Palin’s boyfriend on drug charges. Sherry L. Johnston was arrested Thursday after troopers served a search warrant on a Wasilla home. The 42-year-old Johnston has been charged with six felony drug counts. The charges involve the drug OxyContin, a strong prescription painkiller. Johnston is the mother of 18 year-old Levi Johnston. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced in September that her 18year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant and Johnston is the father.
** OBAMA TODAY — SATURDAY. President-elect Barack Obama leaves Chicago today for a 10-day holiday trip to Hawaii. He will spend the holidays with family and friends and, with the Cabinet appointed, continue to do transition work during his stay in the Aloha State. Vice President-elect Biden will be in Delaware.
Here’s Obama’s weekly video/radio address, excerpted: Over the past few weeks, Vice President-elect Biden and I have announced some of the leaders who will advise us as we seek to meet America’s twenty-first century challenges, from strengthening our security, to rebuilding our economy, to preserving our planet for our children and grandchildren. Today, I am pleased to announce members of my science and technology team whose work will be critical to these efforts.
Whether it’s the science to slow global warming; the technology to protect our troops and confront bioterror and weapons of mass destruction; the research to find life-saving cures; or the innovations to remake our industries and create twenty-first century jobs – today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology. Right now, in labs, classrooms and companies across America, our leading minds are hard at work chasing the next big idea, on the cusp of breakthroughs that could revolutionize our lives. But history tells us that they can’t do it alone. From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way: leaders like President Kennedy, who inspired us to push the boundaries of the known world and achieve the impossible; leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process.
Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. …
Dr. John Holdren has agreed to serve as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. John is a professor and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center. A physicist renowned for his work on climate and energy, he’s received numerous honors and awards for his contributions and has been one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change. …
John will also serve as a Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology – or PCAST – as will Dr. Harold Varmus and Dr. Eric Lander. Together, they will work to remake PCAST into a vigorous external advisory council that will shape my thinking on scientific aspects of my policy priorities.
Dr. Varmus is no stranger to this work. He is not just a path-breaking scientist, having won a Nobel Prize for his research on the causes of cancer – he also served as Director of the National Institutes of Health during the Clinton Administration. … Dr. Eric Lander is the Founding Director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard and was one of the driving forces behind mapping the human genome – one of the greatest scientific achievements in history. …
Finally, Dr. Jane Lubchenco has accepted my nomination as the Administrator of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is devoted to conserving our marine and coastal resources and monitoring our weather. As an internationally known environmental scientist, ecologist and former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Jane has advised the President and Congress on scientific matters, and I am confident she will provide passionate and dedicated leadership at NOAA. …
I am confident that if we recommit ourselves to discovery; if we support science education to create the next generation of scientists and engineers right here in America; if we have the vision to believe and invest in things unseen, then we can lead the world into a new future of peace and prosperity. Thank you, and happy holidays everybody.
President-elect Barack Obama appointed the new secretaries of labor and transportation and other posts yesterday in Chicago.
** CALIFORNIA CRACKING. From my latest column.
** 12 KEY THINGS ABOUT THE MUMBAI CRISIS. From my December 5th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW POWER TROIKA FACES CRISES OLD AND NEW. From my December 3rd column.
** HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MR. PRESIDENT-ELECT! While Barack Obama promised “a new and brighter day yet to come” in his Thanksgiving address, an old and darker day yet to leave reminds that events — and perhaps political fate itself — can turn on a dime in presidential politics. …
For a political operation that prefers to focus on its preferences, it’s a sharp reminder to Team Obama that the presidency can be every bit as reactive as it is proactive. … From my November 28th Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included.
Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil closed on Friday at $42.36 per barrel. Energy markets are closed on the weekend
The drop of $105 per barrel since the record high over the summer comes on acknowledgment that the weak US economy will cut future demand and on the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. It is clear that that, contrary to much chatter, neither the US nor Israel is about to launch a strike against Iran. And the Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium in the oil market.
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