A Florida hedge fund manager has gone missing after being accused of defrauding investors of millions. While it is too soon to know the exact value of the alleged fraud, Arthur Nadel managed a fund that may have been worth as much as $350 million, most of which has been lost. (Associated Press)
Another "oops" at Gitmo, where Haji Bismullah became the latest detainee to be released after being deemed no longer an "enemy combatant." Bismullah was released after a military panel seemed to acknowledge a mistake of grand proportions. (New York Times)
The Government Accountability Office released a report finding that 83 of the nation's 100 largest corporations maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. Among these 83 companies were several, including General Motors and AIG, currently receiving bailout money. (Associated Press)
The Manifest Hope Exhibit is an art gallery open during the inauguration that gathers together an array of visual artwork all focused around our incoming president. TPMtv caught up with producer and curator Yosi Sergant and Shepard Fairey, the artist responsible for the iconic "Hope" poster.
WaPo: Unemployment Going Up Among Washington RepublicansThe Washington Postreports that Republican political appointees are now facing unemployment in the middle of a tough job market, and with K Street preferring Democrats. Said former George H.W. Bush advisor Ron Kaufman: "You have lots of folks in the House and Senate on the streets and 3,000 administration appointees on the streets at a time when the job market is shrinking anyways. It's just not a fun time."
Barack And Michelle Obama To Attend Community Service Lunch
Barack and Michelle Obama are attending a lunch today with community service volunteers in Washington, as part of Obama's "Renew America Together" initiative, calling for more people to volunteer.
Obama To Honor Powell, McCain, Biden
Barack Obama will be attending three dinners tonight to honor three different political figures from across the spectrum. First up is a dinner honoring Colin Powell, beginning at 5 p.m. ET, then a dinner honoring John McCain, also beginning at 5 p.m. ET, and finally a dinner at 6:30 p.m. ET to honor Joe Biden.
Michelle Obama, Jill Biden Hosting Concert For Military Families
Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will be attending the Kids' Inaugural, a concert honoring military families and for which free tickets were distributed by the Presidential Inauguration Committee and the Department of Defense. The event begins at 7 p.m. ET, featuring acts such as Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.
Sullenberger Gets Inauguration Ticket
Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who successfully landed his damaged passenger plane into the Hudson River with no deaths or serious injuries, has been given free tickets to Barack Obama's inauguration tomorrow, for both himself and his family.
NYT: Obama Reaching Out To McCainThe New York Timesreports that Barack Obama has been consulting closely with John McCain on his appointments and other areas of foreign policy, seeking to build a consensus on how to pursue his own policy goals. "He said that he understands that we had differences but he wanted to let us know that he also understands that we have got to be responsible in how we leave Iraq," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Poll: Nearly 7 In 10 Blacks Believe King's Dream Is Fulfilled
A new CNN poll finds that 69% of African-Americans believe Martin Luther King's dream has been fulfilled, to 30% who say it has not. This number is actually higher than it is among whites, only 46% of whom say it has been fulfilled, to 52% who say it has not.
Some bad news for Florida (and national) Democrats: State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has announced that she isn't running for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring GOPer Mel Martinez.
Had she entered the primary, Sink would have started out as the immediate frontrunner and probably a slight favorite for the general election, too. Rep. Kendrick Meek is running in the Democratic primary, and is currently the only announced candidate from either party. Meek could very well be a strong candidate -- and at least one other Dem, state Sen. Dan Gelber, is indicating he'll be getting in, too -- but Sink would have started out in an even better position.
So far both parties have managed to lose a top potential recruit for this seat: Sink on the Dem side, and Jeb Bush for the Republicans.
Today: The Inaugural Concert
Today is the big inaugural concert to celebrate Barack Obama's incoming presidency, featuring acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder and many more. HBO has the exclusive TV rights, but the audio will also be streamed online by NPR from 2-5 p.m. ET.
Obama And Biden Visits Arlington National Cemetery
Barack Obama and Joe Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery this morning, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Obamas Attend Church In Washington
The Obamas attended church this morning at the 19th Street Baptist Church, the oldest historically-black church in Washington. A release from the Presidential Inauguration Committee indicated that the Obamas are still looking at various churches in the area, and will settle on a permanent one at a later time.
Polls Give Obama Sky-High Ratings Ahead Of Inauguration
Multiple polls out this morning give Barack Obama some incredibly high approval ratings in the days leading up to his inauguration. A new CBS/New York Times poll has 79% of Americans saying they are optimistic about the next four years with Obama as president, compared to only 16% who are pessimistic; the new CNN poll gives him an 84% approval rating; and the new ABC/Washington Post poll gives him an 80%-15% approval ratings.
Polls Also Show Approval For Obama's Economic Plan
The new CBS/NYT poll shows a 63%-24% approval of Obama's economic plan. The ABC/WaPo poll shows that 72% of Americans are confident that Obama's plan will improve the economy, compared to only 17% who are not confident. And the CNN poll finds 58%-40% approval for increased government spending to stimulate the economy, with support jumping to 71%-28% when the spending is combined with tax cuts.
More Polls: People Don't Like Bush
The new CBS/NYT poll gives George W. Bush an approval rating of only 22%, with a disapproval of 73%. The ABC/WaPo poll gives him a 33%-66% rating. And the CNN poll shows 68% of Americans rating George W. Bush's president as a failure, with only 31% saying it was a success.
Pelosi To Obama: Don't Wait For 2010, Repeal Bush Tax Cuts Sooner
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Nancy Pelosi said that Barack Obama should not wait for the Bush tax cuts on the top-earners to expire, but should instead seek to repeal them ahead of schedule. However, she did add that any discussion on this issue is not part of the economic stimulus plan.
Axelrod Predicts Strong Action From Obama
David Axelrod told CNN that Barack Obama will take diplomatic action "early and aggressively." Said Axelrod: "I think that the events around the world demand that he act quickly, and I think you'll see him act quickly."
Obama: Let Us Celebrate The Peaceful Transfer Of Power
In his new Presidential YouTube Address, his last one before the inauguration, Barack Obama recognizes the importance of the transition of power, and how we often take the peaceful transfer of power for granted:
"Through the ages, many have struggled for the right to live in a land where power does not belong to one person or party, and many brave Americans have fought and died to help advance that right," Obama says. "Through the long twilight struggle of the Cold War, our transitions from one President to the next provided a stark contrast to the suffocating grip of Soviet Communism. And today, the resilience of our democracy stands in opposition to the extremists who would tear it down."
Obama And Biden On Whistle-Stop Tour
Barack Obama and Joe Biden are traveling today by train from Philadelphia to Baltimore, in a whistle-stop tour for people who want to see the new president-elect but wouldn't have been able to go to the inauguration itself. The Philadelphia event began earlier this morning, with Obama scheduled to met Joe Biden in Delaware at 1 p.m. ET, with another event scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET.
Obama In Philly: The Election Should Only Be The Beginning
Speaking to the crowd this morning in Philadelphia, Barack Obama declared that his election victory should only be the beginning of changing America for the better. "Starting now, let's take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union," Obama said, according to the prepared remarks. "Let's build a government that is responsible to the people, and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable. Let's all of us do our part to rebuild this country. Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning."
Obama Creates Political Organizing Committee
The Obama campaign is now being transformed into a new committee, "Organizing for America," which will leverage his database of 13 million e-mail addresses and other supporter information to set up community organizations across the country. Here's his YouTube announcing it:
Essentially, as the Associated Press points out, this will be his re-election campaign-in-waiting for 2012, as a parallel organization to the Democratic National Committee, in addition to the stated purpose of promoting his policy goals.
Obama: I Think I Can Keep The BlackBerry -- But I'll Be Careful
Barack Obama told CNN that he thinks he'll be able to keep his BlackBerry, rather than have to give it up over privacy and security concerns. "Now, my working assumption, and this is not new, is that everything I write on e-mail could end up being on CNN," Obama did say cautiously. "So I make sure that -- to think before I press 'send.'"
Obama Calls US Airways Pilot Sullenberger
The Obama transition team announced that Barack Obama yesterday called Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways flight 1549 who safely landed his damaged passenger plane in the Hudson River, and spoke to him for five minutes. Obama thanked Sullenberger for his heroism.
Earlier this week I lamented the conservative House Blue Dogs' ability to command the political spotlight in Washington while the larger Congressional Progressive Caucus seemed to sit on the sidelines. And now we have a sign that the left wing of the Democratic party is ready to flex its muscle.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler's (D-NY) office just mentioned that the Progressives are requesting a meeting with President-elect Obama "to discuss greatly increasing the size" of the economic recovery package. Nadler also rapped the House stimulus bill as too small to truly lift the nation out of recession, signaling a showdown to come over despite the legislation's likely weakening in the Senate.
The Defense Department inspector general has absolved the Pentagon of any guilt for its systematic farming-out of military officials to promote the Iraq war on TV. But Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) isn't about to let the issue drop.
From a statement his office provided to TPMmuckraker:
This report is a whitewash and did not ask the right questions. There are factual inaccuracies and a lack of depth to the investigation. It's a nice parting gift to the Bush White House from the Pentagon. I plan to continue to pursue this matter to get the answers the American people deserve to ensure that they are not the victims of propaganda and deception in matters of war and peace.
Given that the IG report essentially declared there to be insufficient evidence to prove whether the pundits program violated anti-propaganda rules, Hodes has a point about the depth of the probe. Perhaps the coming Government Accountability Office report on the military's Iraq marketing will get more substantive answers from the networks.