Obama To Name Clinton as SoS Tomorrow; Clinton Donor List To Be Made Public After

The Huffington Post reports that President-Elect Barack Obama will formally announce Sen. Hillary Clinton as his choice for Secretary of State tomorrow in Chicago.  Supposedly, Obama wanted Clinton for the position for several months and spoke to her about it directly after the election.  Thoug Clinton initially wavered at the offer, she finally accepted after considering her relatively junior position in the Senate.

In accordance with the announcement, Bill Clintion will release the names of the donors to his presidential library by the end of the year, a list of about 20,000 names.  Clinton also agreed to the following concessions to ensure his wife has a clear shot at becoming America’s top diplomat:

—The Clinton Foundation will publish the names of everyone who has contributed since its founding in 1997 (this year).

—Should Senator Clinton be nominated and confirmed as Secretary of State, during her time of service, the Foundation will also publish the names of everyone who contributes going forward on an annual basis.

—The Foundation will separately incorporate CGI from the Foundation; President Clinton will continue to host CGI gatherings, such as the one in NYC and its meetings for college and university students, as Founding Chairman of CGI.

—Although President Clinton will continue to invite participants to CGI events (which involves normal registration fees), he will not solicit ‘sponsorship’ contributions for CGI.

—CGI will also not host annual events outside the US and CGI will not solicit or accept foreign government contributions.

—Given the extensive and life-saving work of the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative which can and should continue, the Foundation will continue to fulfill its commitments funded by foreign governments (including, among others, Sweden Norway, France, Great Britain).  In the event an existing contributing country chooses to substantially increase its commitment, or a new country, or government-owned entity, decides to contribute, the Foundation will share such proposed contributions with the State Department ethics officials.  State may also share the issue to the WH Counsel’s office for review.  To whatever extent there are conflict of interest concerns raised about such potential contributions related to Senator Clinton’s service as Secretary, they will be conveyed to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for appropriate action.

—Same procedure to be followed for any foreign country contributors to CCI, CGSCI and CHDI.

—Regarding President Clinton’s private work, during her tenure, President Clinton will share proposed hosts of speeches with the State Department ethics officials for their review, and as appropriate for review by the White House Counsel.  Again, should there be conflict of interest concerns related to the Senator’s anticipated service as Secretary, they will share those concerns with Senator and President Clinton for appropriate action.

—During her tenure as Secretary of State, should she be nominated and confirmed, President Clinton will share any proposed consultant relationships with State Department ethics officials, and the same procedures outlined above will apply here as well.

These are very strict requirements, but they speak to the Obama administration’s strict ethical standards and a zero tolerance policy towards conflicts of interest.  It’s a far cry from the pay-for-play culture of corruption that defined the Bush years, and it’s a welcome change that our nation sorely needs.

Hillary Clinton will be a fantastic Secretary of State–she’ll have the potential to a lot of good for millions of people around the world.  Her selection is welcome development for the burgeoning Obama administration and good news for America, and I gladly welcome the announcement.

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Off The Mark

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has some ideas on how to get the GOP back on track.  Let’s take a look:

Our party took nothing short of a shellacking nationally. Some on the left will say our electoral losses are a repudiation of our principles of lower taxes, smaller government and individual liberty. But Election Day was not a rejection of those principles — in fact, cutting taxes and spending were important tenets of Barack Obama’s campaign.

That’s a pretty fancy strawman.  Progressives aren’t arguing that pledging low taxes and small government sank the GOP; we’re arguing–rightly–that ideals like free market fundamentalism, the primacy of business deregulation, the devaulation of government, a high-cost activist foreign policy, etc. were responsible.

And I wonder how the Governor can argue that cutting taxes and spending are conservative principles considering his admission that Barack Obama campaigned–and won–running on those two tenets.  If your opponent is taking your positions and winning with them, they’re not your positions anymore.

Let’s move on:

Instead, voters rejected the fact that while Republicans have campaigned on the conservative themes of lower taxes, less government and more freedom, they have consistently failed to govern that way. Americans didn’t turn away from conservatism, they instead turned away from many who faked it.

So then that begs the question, what is conservatism? If what conservatives do while in office isn’t conservatism, then what is? And if liberals are running (and winning) by adopting “conservative” ideals, are those ideals still conservative? How?

First, let’s go back to the principle of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. A political party is much like a brand, and brands thrive or wither based on how consistently they deliver on what they promise. Along those same lines, it’s important for brands to stick to their knitting. If John Deere’s tractor sales are declining, they don’t say, “Tell you what, let’s make cars and airplanes, too.” Instead, they focus on producing better tractors.

John McCain and other Republicans across the country were defeated by running on conservative platforms.   So, to use the Governor’s metaphor, the problem isn’t that the GOP has deficient tractors; the problem is that nobody wants to buy a tractor anymore.  Nobody wants what the GOP is selling, so no matter how good they make it, people still won’t buy it.

I make that point because there’s a real temptation in Republican circles right now to try and be all things to all people. We tried that already — it was called “compassionate conservatism,” and it got us nowhere.

Actually, “compassionate conservatism” was the only reason Bush even had a fighting chance in 2000.  And if he had remained a “compassionate conservative” these past eight years, we would probably be living in a vastly different–and probably better–country.

There needs to be a high standard for our franchisees. In other words, I believe Republicans and conservatives must agree on our core principles. St. Augustine called for “unity in the essentials, diversity in the nonessentials, and charity in all things,” and while I believe there should always be a big GOP tent, there must also be a shared agreement on the essentials — including expanding liberty, encouraging entrepreneurship and limiting the reach of government in people’s everyday lives.

Well, there’s your problem, Governor.  The GOP has been preaching those same core tenants for 28 years, but you’ve never delivered on them.  There are only so many times you can break the same promises made to the same people before you lose all credibility.  Some new ideas–and a belief in competent government–would be a good start for the GOP.

I am struck by how many of my colleagues around the country were quietly advancing the kinds of reforms and conservative principles that Washington politicians would do well to emulate.

In Louisiana, Bobby Jindal is making market-based reforms to his state’s Medicaid program, while over in Georgia, Sonny Perdue is tackling health care affordability with a Health Savings Account program. Sarah Palin has cut spending and fought corruption in Alaska. Rick Perry in Texas has balanced the budget while cutting taxes, creating more than a million jobs in the process. Mitch Daniels in Indiana is innovating when it comes to building infrastructure.

This doesn’t make any sense.  State governments are good but the federal government is bad? State governments can solve our problems but the federal government can’t? It stands to reason that, if state governments can do some good, the federal government can do even more good.  Too bad the Republican Party believes that government is always the problem and never the solution, otherwise they could be using the power of the federal government to improve a lot of people’s lives and win a few elections here and there.

It’s not only imperative that our party returns to its fiscally conservative roots but that we do so soon. As a nation, we’re on the hook for $52 trillion, and that represents an invisible $450,000 mortgage owed by every household in America.

We’ve thrown $2.3 trillion toward bailouts and a stimulus this year with little to show for it in the way of results, with seemingly hundreds of billions more being contemplated by Congress each day. Borrowing from Medicare, Social Security, our grandkids and the Chinese to remedy a problem created by too much borrowing strikes me as odd, and hardly the “change” Americans really want.

There’s a lot of “we” in there, Governor.  The truth is, our nation’s problems didn’t just materialize out of nowhere; they happened because a Republican President and a Republian Congress spent six years governing poorly or not governing at all.  “We” are not responsible for this mess; you are, Governor, and so is the rest of your political party.  That’s why you’ve lost the past two elections, and that’s why–until you come up with some new ideas and prove you can do a good job when trusted with power–you’re going to continue losing elections.

Anyone But Steele

Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor and failed Senate candidate Michael Steele is facing some serious opposition in his campaign to become the next Chairman of the RNC:

Republicans, reeling from another election defeat, have taken to arguing over whether their national leader should come from the elected ranks of the Republican National Committee or be a political celebrity such as former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

“For this association of members to choose to outsource its leadership would, I believe, be an abdication of our responsibility,” Curly Haugland, an RNC member from North Dakota and the former North Dakota Republican Party chairman, wrote in an e-mail to Mr. Steele.

Mr. Haugland called on Mr. Steele to quit the contest for Republican national chairman because he is not an RNC member.

“In my estimation, 168 committed members of the Republican National Committee are a powerful army of qualified advocates for Republican principles; certainly much more threatening to the Democrats than one celebrity spokesman,” Mr. Haugland said.

[…]

“Your chosen path to leadership of the Republican National Committee exemplifies the problem we should immediately seek to resolve, that being the practice of allowing nonmembers to exert undue influence in the process of selecting our leaders” Mr. Haugland wrote Mr. Steele. “Getting the Republican Party back on the right ‘track’ is a job rightfully left to the Republicans who have been elected to run this railroad.”

First, it’s pretty hilarious that Haugland is arguing that the same people who have been in charge of the Republican Party should remain in charge of it.  If I were a Republican, I would be pushing to replace as much of my party’s leadership as possible because, clearly, something is terribly broken.

But he does have a point–it’s going to take more than a “celebrity” (to use Haugland’s terminology) to fix the GOP.  The Sarah Palin debacle taught us that political celebrity isn’t enough–you actually have to have good ideas in order to have any chance of winning.  Like I’ve said before, despite all of the support Steele has (inexplicably) amassed, it’s difficult to tell what–if anything–he would improve at the RNC.

From what I’ve seen, it looks like the RNC would be in for a few more years of rudderless Mike Duncan-style leadership under Steele.  It’s not enough to just put someone new at the top of the RNC–the Republican Party needs a leader who will change the fundamentals of conservative politics in America.  Without that, 2010 and 2012 are on track to be a repeat of 2006 and 2008.

Which is why I’m not surprised to see some Republican asking for anyone but Steele.

Five Members Of Congress Under Investigation

That’s what the Washington Post is reporting:

Mitchell Wade, the former defense contractor who pleaded guilty in February 2006 to bribing former representative Randall “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.), has assisted the government in investigating five other members of Congress, numerous government employees and several private contractors, according to a memorandum filed by his attorney on Wednesday.

[…]

Wade’s cooperation, which was important in the Cunningham trial, “has led to the guilty pleas or conviction at trial of seven other individuals,” said the memorandum, which was first publicly disclosed by Seth Hettena on his blog.

Hettena wrote that Wade supplied a searchable electronic database of 150,000 documents, including the “bribe menu,” which described how much money Cunningham wanted for each act that he undertook.

As we saw with soon-to-be former Senator Ted Stevens, the Republican culture of corruption is alive and well; I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Republican Congressman go down by the time every government investigation runs its course.

The question is, who is under investigation? And from those five, who will end up indicted? We’ll have to wait and see, but I doubt this is the last we’ve heard of this story.

Chris Matthews For Senate?

Looks like the MSNBC host is considering challenging Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) in 2010:

According to multiple sources, who confirmed the Tip O’Neill staffer-cum-MSNBC host has negotiated with veteran Obama staffers to enlist in his campaign, Chris Matthews is likely to run for United States Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010. Matthews, 62, would run as a Democrat. Arlen Specter, the aging Republican incumbent, will be 80 if he chooses to run for re-election.

Preliminary public polling suggests Matthews would start at a deficit, in part because Matthews’ name recognition is lower than Specter’s.

As a commentator, Matthews’ history is checkered–sometimes he’s on the ball and other times he’s completely off the mark.  If he runs, I expect some of the things he’s said on-air will to cause him some difficulty (though, as Al Franken has shown in Minnesota, that might not necessarily be a disqualifier).

Of course, it all depends on how the political landscape shapes up in the next two years, as well as who else runs in the Democratic primary and whether or not Specter chooses to retire.  Until then, it’ll difficult to tell whether or not Matthews has a real shot at this seat.

Thanksgiving (UPDATED)

In honor of the holiday I’m reposting one of my most popular posts, entitled Thank A Democrat:

If you’re not a wealthy landowner and you vote, thank a Democrat: Andrew Jackson got rid of laws that discriminated against working-class Americans by restricting voting to wealthy landholders.

If you’re a woman and you vote, thank a Democrat: Woodrow Wilson supported the 19th Amendment, which was passed and ratified during his Presidency.

If you have ever voted while between the ages of 18 and 21, thank a Democrat: Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age to 18.

If you never experienced racial segregation, thank a Democrat: Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation in public schools and public places.

If you never had to take a literacy test or pay a poll tax to vote, thank a Democrat: Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed literacy tests as a requirement for voting, as well as the 24th Amendment, which outlawed poll taxes.

If you earn a fair wage, get paid overtime and/or was never subjected to child labor, thank a Democrat: Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress passed the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which set the first national minimum wage, created requirements for overtime compensation and outlawed child labor.

If you have ever received benefits through Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, thank a Democrat: Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress passed the Social Security Act, while Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed Medicare and Medicaid.

If you or your child has ever benefited from Head Start or SCHIP, thank a Democrat: Head Start was passed by Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Congress, while SCHIP was championed by Ted Kennedy and signed into law by Bill Clinton.

If you have ever worked in a clean, safe workplace, thank a Democrat: in 1970, the Democratic Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which created national standards for workplace cleanliness and safety.

If you or anyone in your family has taken time off work due to a serious illness, accident, or birth of a child, thank a Democrat: Chris Dodd championed the Family and Medical Leave Act, which required employers to provide paid time off for their employees due to sickness, injury or to care for a newborn child. The Democratic Congress passed FMLA, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton.

If you, your parents or your grandparents were helped by the G.I. Bill, thank a Democrat: the G.I. Bill granted veterans loans to pursue higher education and purchase houses, as well as providing unemployment benefits. It was one of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives, and it was passed by a Democratic Congress.

If you’re a woman who is paid as much as your male coworkers, thank a Democrat: Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, guaranteeing equal pay for workers regardless of their gender.

If you’ve never been discriminated against due to your age or physical disability, thank a Democrat: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed by Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Congress, while the Americans with Disabilities Act was also passed by a Democratic Congress.

If you enjoy clean air and water, thank a Democrat: the Clean Air Act was passed by the Democratic Congress in 1963 and signed into law by Lyndon Johnson; the Clean Water Act was passed by the Democratic Congress in 1977 and signed into law by Jimmy Carter.

If you enjoy freedom and security, thank a Democrat: James Monroe established the Monroe Doctrine, which kept Europe interfering with the free Western Hemisphere. Andrew Jackson fought against the British in the War of 1812, engineering the American victory at New Orleans. James K. Polk rebuffed an invasion from Mexico and acquired the entire American southwest in the Mexican-American War. Franklin Roosevelt mobilized America to defeat fascism, turning the U.S. into a world superpower in the process. Harry Truman created the Marshall Plan–which stopped the spread of Communism in Europe– and he took the initiative in establishing NATO. John Kennedy stood up to the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in Southeast Asia. Bill Clinton negotiated the historic Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine, and he helped to both end the violence in Northern Ireland and the genocide in Kosovo.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. And, of course, this isn’t to say that other political parties haven’t helped people or made this country better. But I doubt there is anyone in this country who can reasonably claim that the Democratic Party has not made their lives better in some way, and I wanted to take some time to point that out.

UPDATED: Happy Thanksgiving from President-Elect Barack Obama:

Indian Soldiers Raid Hotels To Free Hostages

After yesterday’s coordinated series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Indian soldiers are now going through the targeted buildings–most of them luxury hotels–to free the hostages trapped inside.

More from the Huffington Post:

Black-clad Indian commandoes raided two luxury hotels to try to free hostages Thursday, and explosions and gunshots shook India’s financial capital a day after suspected Muslim militants killed 104 people.

Rescue efforts continued throughout the day amid sporadic gunfire, with some hostages escaping and others rescued by police. Several bodies were carried out of the five-star Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, one of 10 sites seized by gunmen on Wednesday night.

More than 300 were also wounded in the highly coordinated attacks by bands of gunmen armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives.

Flames burst from the hotel’s top floors and dome shortly after the attack began Wednesday night, and erupted again after commandoes raided the building Thursday.

After dusk Thursday, the soldiers ushered several dozen captives out of the Oberoi hotel, another Mumbai landmark.

[…]

The attackers, dressed in black shirts and jeans, had stormed into the hotel at about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday and opened fire indiscriminately.

“I was in the main lobby and there was all of a sudden a lot of firing outside,” said Sajjad Karim, part of a delegation of European lawmakers visiting Mumbai before a European Union-India summit.

Suddenly “another gunmen appeared in front of us, carrying machine gun-type weapons. And he just started firing at us … I just turned and ran in the opposite direction,” he told The Associated Press over his mobile phone.

The shooting was followed by a series of explosions that set fire to parts of the century-old edifice on Mumbai’s waterfront. Screams were heard and black smoke and flames billowed, continuing to burn until dawn.

[…]

The motive for the onslaught was not immediately clear, but Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, including a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

An Indian media report said a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to several media outlets. There was no way to verify that claim.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism specialist with the Swedish National Defense College, said there are “very strong suspicions” that the coordinated Mumbai attacks have a link to al-Qaida.

He said the fact that Britons and Americans were singled out is one indicator, along with the coordinated style of the attacks.