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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Democratic Chatter 12-31-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

President-elect Barack Obama expected to move to Washington D.C. this weekend - He, his family and friends will wind down their vacation in Hawaii by the end of the week. Yesterday, he and his daughters visited the Honolulu Zoo. The Honolulu Star Bulletin has more here. They will then travel to D.C. where they will stay in a Hotel for two weeks before they can move into the "Blair House" on January 15. The daughters begin their new school next week. has more here.


Israel continues attack on Gaza - now in the fifth day, close to 400 Palestinians have died. The French have been hard at work brokering a 48 hour cease-fire, but no agreement has been reached. Hamas remains defiant and continues to fire missiles into Israel despite the threat of an invasion by Israel. The NY Times has more here. President George W. Bush has said little and incoming President Barack Obama continues to use the line "we only have one President at a time". He now has only twenty days he will be able to use that phrase and he becomes the 44th President.


Blagojevich selection of Burris a shrewd move - by selecting Roland Burris who is an African-American with a solid political background, he has made a bad situation even more difficult for Democratic leadership. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said they will not seat him, setting up yet another political battle. After Barack Obama resigned his Senate seat, there are no African-Americans serving in the Senate. This is shaping up to be one more distraction for the incoming Obama administration to contend with. has a good read here.


Obama Transition Team informs 90 appointees at Pentagon they will not be continuing their jobs - Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates was kept in his position by the incoming President, 90 of the 250 political appointees were recently informed they would be replaced. Jim O'Beirne, special assistant to secretary of defense for White House liaisons expressed some frustration he was not informed first. has more here.


Want a Free ticket, travel and hotel stay for the Inauguration? - The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) sent out an email last night to supporters from David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager offering just that. Of course, they are using the offer as a hook to ask supporters fro donations, but you don't have to donate to be considered. If you sign up between now and midnight on January 8, they will select 10 supporters who will receive tickets for themselves and a guest, travel to D.C. and a Hotel room. Why not sign up and give it a try? To donate and register for a chance for the free ticket click here. To register without making a donation click here.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blagojevich Appoints Burris to Vacant Obama Senate Seat

George Wenschhof Bio

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich continues his defiance of all that is swirling around him by announcing Roland Burris as the replacement to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

The Governor was recently arrested for "pay-to-play" politics and is awaiting final charges from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. In addition, the Illinois state legislature has created a committee to determine impeachment proceedings against the Governor.

Mr. Burris is a former state attorney and with Barack Obama's resignation of the Senate seat would be the only African-American serving in the Senate.

However, the appointment may not stand due to the concerns surrounding the impropriety of the Governor. Jesse White, the Illinois secretary of state has indicated he will not certify Burris as the replacement. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said the Democratic caucus will not seat any appointment by Governor Blagojevich. has more on this story here.

Stay Tuned


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Democratic Chatter 12-30-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

President-elect Barack Obama continues his family vacation in Hawaii - Yesterday, he and some close friends hit the golf course at Lanikai. The Honolulu Star Bulletin has more here. As he can surely tell from his daily briefings, he will have his hands full when he is sworn in 21 days from now with serious international and domestic issues to address.


Israel air strikes on Gaza continue - the fourth day of targeted air strikes continue as Israel responds to persistent rocket attacks from Hamas. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert alluded to further escalation as he said the air strikes were the first of several stages. The NY Times has more here.


More troubling economic news - Home prices fell 18% from one year ago in 20 major cities and now are at 2004 levels. has more here.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced yesterday an additional 6 Billion in aid to General Motors. has more here.


Rahm Emanuel to resign his Congressional seat Friday - The incoming White House Chief of Staff sent a letter to embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to inform him of his decision. The state constitution requires the Governor to set a date for a special election within 5 days and for it to be held within 115 days. The Chicago Tribune has more here. It appears U.S. Senators are held in higher regard as their vacant positions are filled by appointment by the Governor.


"Blago-watch" continues - U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has asked permission from the court to provide partial recordings of four conversations of Governor Rod Blagojevich. Fitzgerald wants to provide the tapes to the Illinois state committee considering impeachment of the Governor. has more here. Although the committee is not a court of law, this could open up requests by the defense to have all the tapes released. Stay Tuned.


Minnesota Senate race hinges on ruling pertaining to absentee ballots - a recent court ruling said approximately 1500 previously rejected absentee ballots should be counted. The court gave the campaigns of Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken until the end of the month to agree with the state canvassing board on a system to be used in counting the ballots. They have not yet reached agreement and now the Coleman campaign is pushing for additional absentee ballots to be counted. It has been reported Franken holds a narrow 47 vote lead prior to the count of the absentee ballots. The Minneapolis has more here.


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Monday, December 29, 2008

Democratic Chatter 12-29-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

President-elect Barack Obama and family continue Hawaii vacation - yesterday, he visited a friend from high school. The Honolulu Star Bulletin has more here. He also continues to receive daily briefs and spoke to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice about the violence in the Gaza Strip.

For now, the standard reply from Obama is there is only one President at a time and currently it is George W. Bush. He now has only 22 days he will be able to use that line until he is sworn in as the 44th President.


Israel may send troops into the Gaza Strip - this ongoing Israel-Palestine problem that erupts periodically is in danger of further escalation. There is no question of Israel military superiority, but the longer term political and domestic solution remains elusive. has more here.


"Blago-watch" Update - The attorney for embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is now requesting the internal report prepared by the Obama Transition Team be admitted in testimony before the Illinois state legislative committee considering impeachment of the Governor.

Another strong move by Ed Gensen, who earlier requested subpoenas of key incoming Obama administration officials and was denied. His position is the report shows the Governor did nothing wrong. has more here.

The longer U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald waits to formally introduce evidence against the Governor, the weaker his case appears to the public.


Bill to end minimum tax on Municipal Bonds to be introduced - Representative Richard Neal (D-Mass.) who is chair of the House Ways and Means Committee plans to introduce this bill for inclusion in the Obama stimulus program. has more here.


GOP Party chairs call special meeting to conduct forum for those vying for the RNC Chair - seems party chairs, led by North Dakota chair Gary Emineth used by-laws language to call a special meeting for the sole purpose of conducting a forum. This would be held in Washington D.C. on January 7 for the candidates interested in the chair of the Republican National Committee. has more here.


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We hereby resolve

Ken Kerr Bio

Sources place the origin of the New Year's Resolutions tradition to 153 B.C. Rome. The god, Janus, for whom the first moth of the year was named, was placed at the head of the calendar. With his two faces, Janus looked back at the past and forward to the future. This gave him incredible insight into what went poorly and how to avoid it in the future.

Janus became the ancient symbol for year-ending resolutions as Romans looked for forgiveness and exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year. Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, otherwise known as the Roman Emperor Constantine, declared Christianity as the official religion of Rome with the Edict of Milan in 313, these traditions began their transformation for pagan to Christian.

At this time each year, we take up this ancient custom as we resolve to improve ourselves. Steven Shapiro, Author, Innovation Consultant and Speaker, found

· 34% set resolutions related to money

· 38% set resolutions related to weight

· 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education

· 31% set resolutions related to relationships

We are in a time of crisis in the United States. There is a claim, perhaps apocryphal, that the Chinese character for "crisis" is the same as the one for "opportunity." I don't know if it's true, but it's an intriguing concept. Perhaps this year it should be a national effort to resolve as a population to set to use this crisis as an opportunity and resolve to make ourselves a better people.

The United States Federal Government has an Office of Citizen Services and Communications. Curiously, they publish a list of the ten most popular New Year's Resolutions. Let's take a look at each and see how it applies to us as a nation.

#1. Lose Weight

We are at the apex of a 20-year trend in becoming an obese population. The surgeon general estimates it costs over half-a-trillion dollars in increased medical costs to address our poor diets and over eating. We evolved to be a hunter-gatherer species that eats lean meats and fruits and vegetables—not corn-fed beef and white bread. Actually, grain should not even be part of our diet. Corn syrup is the crack cocaine of the food industry. We—you and I—subsidize the corn industry to the tune of $5 billion a year to find more ways to introduce more corn into our diet. Subsidies to farmers, almost $20 billion a year, are out-of-synch with the government created food pyramid. In fact, if we all followed it, there would not be enough fruit and vegetables for everyone to eat a healthy diet.

#2. Managing Debt

The average American household has $10,000 in credit card debt. We don't have to repeat the foreclosure crisis, bailouts, the federal deficit . . . we all know we are in trouble here. I have three words for all of us, "pay-with-cash." When considering "paper or plastic," Andrew Beattie, of Investopedia, insists, "Cash is almost always the better choice." That 1950's relic, layaway, is making a comeback, and we should all take a hint. If we can't pay for it, and we don't absolutely need it, we should not buy it.

#3. Save Money

Seventy percent of us live paycheck-to-paycheck. That's really stupid. Americans save an average of $392 a year—that's three-hundred-and- ninety-two dollars. Consumer debt is at $2.5 trillion and, according to the Housing Bubble, "As of 2008, the average household debt is $117,951 and this includes credit cards, installment loans, home equity loans, and mortgages." This is not sustainable.

Get a Better Job

Good luck with this one. We should probably resolve to "keep a job" in 2009. Nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply (-533,000) last November, and the unemployment rate rose from 6.5 to 6.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Obama hopes to generate 2 million new jobs with his $210 billion jobs program. However, that will just get us back to where we were at the start of 2008.

#4. Get Fit

There is something that separates us middle-agers from our younger-agers. When we are out of shape, we buy bigger clothes and wear things to hide the fact that we are fat. Kids no longer share that shame. Whereas we wanted a six pack the past few years we have seen the "muffin top" become a fashion.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends a 30 minute walk five-days-a-week and two sessions-a-week of strength training. However, the Wall Street Journal tells us that fewer that 16% of us are physically active on any given day according to a map showing that the most active American live on the west coast, in Alaska, and Hawaii. We all saw the pictures of Barack Obama shirtless on a Hawaiian beach. That should inspire us.

#5. Eat Right

Bottom line—we eat too much. Second bottom line—we eat the wrong stuff. We are eating ourselves to death. We gotta stop that.

#6. Get a Better Education

We lag behind most of the developed world in education. According to a CNN report, "The total cost of going to a private four-year college rose to $34,132 on average for the 2008-09 academic year. In-state students at public four-year schools paid an average of $14,333 for the current school year, according to the College Board, a non-profit association of more than 5,400 schools, colleges and universities. That's an increase of 5.7% from the previous year." What makes it worse is that the cost of a college education has risen at about 7% a year while household incomes for the poorest Americans—who need access to higher education the most—rose at only 3%. As an Illinois senator, Barack Obama worked to address this issue. Let's hope he is able to affect change on a greater scale as president.

#7. Drink Less Alcohol

I have a better idea: do less cocaine. We need to communicate the message that doing cocaine is unpatriotic. Much of the money spent by Americans on cocaine leads t a destabilization of our international neighbors and finds its way into the hands of terrorists. We need to resolve to look at the War on Drugs differently. Over $10 billion-a-year has been spent and we have made no progress except to put over two-million Americans in prison. Half of all prisoners are behind bars for drugs. We need a rational drug policy that addresses the real issues of poverty, opportunity, and access. Drugs are not the problem—they are the symptom.

#8. Quit Smoking Now

We are actually keeping this resolution pretty well. About one-in-five Americans now smoke, down from 28% a decade ago. Smoking peaked in 1954 with about half of Americans smoking. Sadly, while older Americans are quitting, younger Americans are taking up the habit. I guess they need something to go with those muffin tops.

#9. Reduce Stress Overall

If our diet is not killing us, stress is. Two-thirds of Americans seek help for stress—and that is just those who seek it out. Fifty-four percent of us say it is a real concern. We have a tendency to live to work in this country. We put our jobs over our lives and families. We should resolve this year to work to live. It is becoming increasingly obvious that our employers do not share the same level of commitment and obligation to us that we have historically felt toward them. We do not owe them our lives, just an honest day's work.

#10. Volunteer to Help Others

A lot of research has been done on happiness these past few years. What it found was that more money does not bring more happiness. More things, we have found, just bring more debt. So what will make us happy? Doing things for others. We face a few tough years. There is much to be done. Let's all resolve to do things for others this year.

When 9/11 happened, we were all eager and waiting to help. We would have done anything President Bush asked of us. Anything. He asked us to shop. Well, we see where that got us.

In a few weeks, President Barack Obama is going to ask us to do something to get the country healthy again. Let's listen. Let's heed the call. Let's all pitch in and work without expectation of personal gain. Research shows it will make us happier. Let's all resolve to be happy.

Let's drink a cup of kindness. Happy New Year.


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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Democratic Chatter 12-28-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

Power restored to President-elect Barack Obama's vacation home and the rest of the Island of Oahu - the power was only out for approximately nine hours Friday night and although generators were brought to the vacation house the future first family were staying in, they waited it out as did the rest of the Islanders. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle was pleased at how fast power was restored. The Hawaii Star Bulletin has more here.


Israel Air Strikes continue in Gaza - Hamas targets continue to be bombarded as the death toll from yesterday's bombing exceeds 275. Hamas also continues to fire missiles at Israel as the UN Security Council calls for an immediate cease-fire. has more here.

President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice issued statements in support of the action taken by Israel to defend itself. President-elect Barack Obama continues to receive the Daily Intelligence Briefs but has stated as he has on other recent issues, we only have one President at a time.


RNC Chairman Mike Duncan denounces CD sent by Saltsman - Chip Saltsman, who is vying for the Chair of the Republican National Committee sent out a Holiday CD entitled "Barack the Magic Negro" which is clearly offensive. Saltsman was the campaign manager for Mike Huckabee's recent failed Presidential bid. has more here.

Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, who is an African-American is also running for the chair of the RNC. He has not commented on this issue to date.


Illinois state legislative committee considering impeachment of Governor Blagojevich denies subpoena requests - Ed Gensen who is the defense attorney for the Governor had requested subpoenas of Rham Emanuel who is the incoming Obama White House Chief of Staff, Valarie Jarret, an incoming White House adviser, Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. and Chicago Tribune executive Nils Larsen. U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald had asked the committee not to subpoena them as it would adversely impact an ongoing investigation. The NY Times has more here.

There is surely more to come to this story as we will hear the response from Mr. Gensen. This action also makes it more difficult for the state legislative committee considering beginning impeachment proceedings against Governor Blagojevich. A question that has not been asked but will certainly come up will be did U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald act too early in his arrest of the Governor?


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Democratic Chatter 12-27-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

Today, the President-elect begins week two of his vacation with his family in Hawaii - He continues to work closely with his transition team as we are now 24 days from Inauguration Day. The Hawaii Star Bulletin has a section entitled "Obama in Hawaii" - You can check it out here.


More international relations issues face the President-elect as Inauguration Day nears - Today, after several days of threats, Israel launched air force missile strikes on the Gaza Strip killing at least 155. This action was taken after Israel had received hundreds of rocket attacks from Hamas. has more here.

This comes after reports indicate Pakistan was transferring troops from the Afghanistan border to their border with India. These two countries have fought three wars since Pakistan established their independence in 1947.


Governors and Mayors across USA to plea for funds from the coming Obama administration Stimulus program - they are all feeling the pain from the struggling economy and face severe cost saving measures in their local budgets. The Washington Post has more here.


Caroline Kennedy provides insight on why she is seeking NY Senate seat - in an interview she talks about the impact the events surrounding 9/11 and the inspiration of President-elect Barack Obama has had on her seeking the position. has more here.

She has also spoken to Senator Hillary Clinton who Caroline indicated expressed how much she had enjoyed her position as Senator. Ms. Kennedy also indicated if she was not selected to fill the position, she would support the individual who was selected in the 2010 election. has more here.


Things go from bad to worse for Republicans as RNC chair decision nears - if more polarization and division is what you want and you are a Republican, you may have a new choice for chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Far right conservative Grover Norquist may become a candidate. has more here.

This comes after another right wing extremist, Chip Saltsman who is also vying for the chair of the RNC sends out a holiday card that includes a song knocking the President-elect. has more here.


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Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" 12-28-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

This morning political talk shows will have plenty to discuss as usual. There continues to be a mix of international and domestic issues at the forefront. On the domestic front, economic news continues to be less than stellar as we approach the new year.

Expect some discussion of the 13.4 Billion bailout of the auto industry, but even more on the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Turns out none of the 350 Billion allocated to date went toward the purchase of troubled assets, the original intent of the Bailout Bill. To make matters worse, none of the banks who received portions of the 350 Billion are able or willing to disclose how the money was spent. Now, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is requesting the remaining 350 Billion from Congress. Let's hope that is not given without conditions and accountability.

On the ugly side of politics, there remains the Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich saga, which does not promise a quick and merciful end. The incoming Obama administration will not want to have to deal with an ongoing impeachment of the Governor. Especially, now that the Governor's attorney, Ed Gensen has requested subpoenas of members of the Obama administration. Then, there is the grand jury investigation involving "pay-to-play" politics in New Mexico that newly nominated Commerce Secretary, Governor Bill Richardson may end up having to address.

Then, of course, there is the matter of two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The incoming Obama administration has promised more troops and more attention to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Let's hope they also provide programs to provide funds and protection to villagers for the harvesting of domestic crops instead of poppy, which they currently receive funds from warlords to grow.

In addition, there is a heightened alert between the countries of Pakistan and India after the terrorist bombings in Mumbai. Further aggravating the Afghanistan situation, Pakistan is sending troops from the Afghan border to their border with India.

And, we haven't mentioned the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. Recently Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened they would invade if Hamas did not stop the rocket attacks. However, Israel did ease a blockade of the Gaza Strip allowing medical and emergency vehicles to pass. As we go to publish, early reports indicate Israel has launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

Expect some of these topics and more to be discussed this Sunday morning. Below is a list of the shows and the guests who are scheduled to appear. Please remember to check your local listings for time and channel.

NBC "Meet The Press" - David Gregory begins week three as moderator - he is doing a good job. Today, he interviews David Axelrod, former Obama campaign strategist and now incoming White House Senior Adviser. The roundtable will have Rich Lowry, Michelle Singletary, Todd Purdum and Richard Wolfe.

ABC "This Week" - George Stephanopoulos interviews Robert Gibbs who is the incoming White House Press Secretary along with former White House Chief of Staffs Leon Panetta (President Clinton) and Ken Duberstein (President Reagan). The roundtable will include Kurt Anderson, Allison Stewart, and Andrew Sullivan.

CBS "Face The Nation" - David Axelrod is also interviewed by Bob Schieffer. Additional guests are Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and economist Paul Krugman.

Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace interviews First Lady Laura Bush.

CNN "Late Edition" - Wolf Blitzer will host "a Year in Review" program.


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Resolve before the New Year

Ann-Marie Luciano Bio

As the holidays come to a close and the New Year approaches, many of us begin to think about getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. The New Year often brings pledges of resolutions so big that we often never end up having enough resolve to follow through. With the economy still faltering and more and more people losing their jobs and/or benefits, the end of the year is the perfect time to think about efficiency and simplicity before 2009.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Do you have one of those post-holiday stacks of trinkets, over sized sweaters and contraptions that you'll never use? Do you have a basement full of items for the Spring garage sale? The end of the year, after you receive so many new things, is a perfect time to reduce all of the unwanted stuff in our lives that take over our closets, basements, attics, garages and sometimes our peace of mind.

Replace the old with the new. It's a two-for-one deal: you can reduce the clutter in your life while giving to others who are less fortunate (plus you can get a tax deduction for your donations – make sure to get a receipt). There are many local organizations seeking donations, especially during these tough economic times when more and more residents rely on donated or reduced price clothes and goods. The following is a list of some of these organizations:

Goodwill Industries
400 E. Church St.
Frederick, MD
(301) 662-0622

5831 Buckeystown Pike
Frederick, MD
(301) 668-5363

Salvation Army
223 W. 5th St.
Frederick, MD
(301) 662-2311

467 W. Patrick St. #8
Frederick, MD (301) 631-2489

As another alternative, think about how you can recycle the things that you do have. Aside from regifting, there are many creative projects you can do just by using old buttons, scrap ribbon and old candles lying around your house.

Creating gifts out of recycled materials are great projects for kids, perfect for this holiday time when kids are off from school and looking for things to do other than playing with their holiday toys. There are many websites dedicated to the subject, such as

Entire books are dedicated to this subject as well, such as the book I received on Christmas morning, Recycled Crafts Box, by Laura C. Martin. Whatever you decide, figuring out ways to eliminate the clutter in our lives often brings the spirit of renewal we long for with a New Year.


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Democratic Chatter 12-26-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

President-elect remains in Hawaii with his family - He took the time yesterday to visit a Marine Base and visit with the troops. The NY Times has more here. Later, he and his family enjoyed a traditional holiday meal of Turkey and Ham with all the Trimmings. Obama is expected to return home after New Years, after spending about two weeks on his last vacation before assuming office.


Governor Blagojevich (D-Ill.) attorney asks Illinois state legislative impeachment committee to subpoena 12 witnesses - Ed Gensen who is the attorney representing Blagojevich made this request and three of the individuals who were requested to testify are incoming chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Valarie Jarrett, and Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. - The Washington Post has more here.

This request, if approved could prove to be messy for the incoming administration. Although, nothing illegal has reportedly been done by any of the individuals, a long drawn out impeachment hearing would not be helpful to the incoming administration.

The action by Gensen appears to be more posturing on his part for his client. I would guess he is angling for some sort of limited immunity for Blagojevich in return for his resignation.


Grand Jury investigating possible pay-to-play activities that may include New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson - seems a California firm who had contributed to Richardson's political campaigns won a lucrative government contract. Richardson was recently nominated for Commerce Secretary. has more here.


Representative Gene Green (D-Tex.) informs House Speaker Pelosi he will not continue as Chair of the Ethics committee - He became acting chair after the death of Stephanie Tubbs Jones in August. The Ethics committee is presently investigating Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY). has more here.


The Inaugural Balls are almost upon us - These celebrations by each state take place in Washington D.C. prior to the swearing-in ceremonies on January 20.

My home state of Maryland is having theirs on Sunday, January 18 at the Washington Mayflower Hotel. The tickets are $125.00 - This seems to be the going price as I have been invited to Inaugural Balls from other states and the cost is the same. You can find out more about the Maryland Inaugural Ball by going to their website here.

The President-elect has also set up a Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) where you can find all kinds of information. There are also volunteer opportunities at many events for those who are interested. You can find out more here.


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Thursday, December 25, 2008


We wish all of you, your families and friends the best over this holiday season. Hopefully, if you are traveling, all goes smooth and an enjoyable time is spent with family and friends.

I am still hooked on watching the seasonal movies on TV and sometimes, more than once! My favorites remain "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart and Donna Reed and "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. I also enjoy the more contemporary "Scrooged" with Bill Murray.

Thank you for continuing to visit our site and remember to share it with your friends!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

President-elect Obama Delivers Holiday Greeting

George Wenschhof

In his weekly Democratic address, The President-elect calls on Americans to think of those in need during the holiday season and to honor the men and women who serve in our military. has the entire transcript here. Click below to listen to his address to the country.

Download high resolution .mp4 file (39 MB) here.
Audio mp3 available in English and Spanish.

Democratic Chatter 12-24-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

President-elect Barack Obama announces more White House staff - Cassandra Butts - deputy White House Counsel, Elizabeth Sears Smith - Deputy Cabinet Secretary, and two Deputy Directors of Legislative Affairs: Shawn Maher -Senate and Dan Turner -House. has more here.


Wow! 82% approve of how the President-elect is handling the transition - a CNN'Opinion Research poll released today shows Barack Obama's approval rating to be much higher than George W. Bush (65%) and Bill Clinton (67%) when they were President-elect. Certainly a good start prior to assuming office. has more here.


Will the Obama Stimulus Plan be innovative or more of the same? - states are already preparing wish lists and they all contain requests for money for roads. has more here. While road upgrades are certainly needed, so is new approaches to transportation such as mass transit coupled with job creation closer to home. Let's hope the Stimulus Program also provides new direction and not just more of the same.


Minnesota Senate race update - Democrat Al Franken has a 47 vote lead over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. This after all the challenged ballots have been ruled on by the state canvassing board. 2.9 million voted in this election which still has another 1600 absentee ballots to be counted. A Court ruling required both candidates and the canvassing to agree on a system by December 31 to count these 1600 ballots. The Coleman campaign is also challenging what they claim to be 150 duplicate votes. It is unlikely the winner will be decided by January 6, the date the new congress is sworn in. The NY Times has more here.


Colorado Senate seat musical chairs update - with Ken Salazar's (D) nomination for Secretary of interior, yet another senate seat will be filled by a Governor appointment. State Senate President Peter Groff (D) is the early favorite to be picked by Governor Bill Ritter (D). The Governor intends to have made his decision prior to January 6, the swearing in day for the new members of Congress. If picked, Groff would be the only African-American serving in the U.S. Senate. has more here.


More bad news on the economy - The Labor department reported jobless claims increased to 586, 000 for the week ending December 20. This is the highest since November 1982. Consumer spending dropped 0.7% and the sale of existing and new homes dropped in November. has more here.


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obama Transition Team Releases List of Contacts with Blagojevich

George Wenschhof Bio

The five page memo is dated today and is addressed to President-elect Barack Obama and is from incoming White House counsel Greg Craig. It is entitled "Transition Staff Contacts with the Governor's Office". You can read it at here.

As was indicated previously by President-elect Obama, it does not appear anything out of the ordinary transpired between the Governor and the transition staff. It is also apparent from reading the report that the U.S. Attorney's office interviewed the President-elect, Rahm Emanuel, and Valarie Jarrett last week.

Rahm Emanuel did speak to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on one or two occasions with one conversation pertaining to his resignation from his representative seat and taking the position of White House Chief of Staff. Interestingly, he first recommended Valarie Jarrett for the Senate seat prior to any discussions with the President-elect. When the Senate seat was discussed with Obama, Emanuel was informed the President-elect had a list of names to pass on for consideration but that he was not going to personally recommend a replacement. At that time Emanuel was also informed by Obama that Valarie Jarrett was joining the White House staff and had removed herself from consideration for the Senate seat.

The names that were referred to the Governor's office by Rahm Emanuel were Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson Jr., Tammy Duckworth and Dan Hynes.

At no point was there any attempt by the Governor or his staff to extract any benefit from the transition staff.


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Democratic Chatter 12-23-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

President-elect Barack Obama is expected to release Blagojevich contact report today - the report is said to list contacts made with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich by members of the transition team. The report has been completed for a week but the release was delayed as a result of a request from the U.S. Attorneys involved in the case. The Washington Post has more here.

Far right Republicans have attempted to blow up the delay in issuing the report while Republican Senator John McCain (AZ) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have stated it is time for everyone to be working together. We will post the report when it becomes available.


Banks unable to account for how TARP funds have been used - we reported Sunday that it was likely Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would request the additional 350 Billion from the Troubled Assets Relief Program. We also pointed out there had been no accounting as to how the first 350 Billion had been spent and called for a detailed report to be issued that would include an analysis of how the money had been spent and how effective it had been in helping to stabilize our economy. Well, it seems the banks are unable or unwilling to say how they spent the money. has more here.

The first 350 Billion was initially approved to go toward purchasing troubled mortgages, hence the name. Instead, 350 Billion was given to Banks with apparently no strings attached. In addition, no criteria has been provided as to how the Treasury Secretary selected the banks who received money. Certainly, Congress should not spend another 350 Billion without knowing where it is going and without conditions as to how it will be spent.


Obama to be sworn in using same Bible as Lincoln - certainly a lot of symbolism here. The President-elect has drawn comparisons to President Lincoln as he has reached out to former adversaries, notably Hillary Clinton and made them a part of his administration. The has more here. Interestingly, for Frederick, Maryland residents, native Roger Brooke Taney, the Chief Justice at the time, handled the swearing in proceedings of President Lincoln. It was also Taney who wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision.


Vice-President Joe Biden re-emerges on the scene - after weeks of being overshadowed by the President-elect and the efforts by the Obama transition team. Sunday, he appeared on ABC "This Week" and last night he was on CNN "Larry King Live". Today, he will chair the Economic Transition Team meeting. has more here. This meeting will take place as third quarter reports indicate the economy continues to shrink. has more here.


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Monday, December 22, 2008

Democratic Chatter 12-22-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

President-elect Obama plays 18 on first day of vacation - Reporters covering his play discovered he is a left hand golfer - a Phil Mickelson perhaps? Doubtful, Obama says his game is not that good. has more here.


"Blago Watch" continues - the name of the emissary who reportedly was asked to raise campaign funds for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) in exchange for selecting Representative Jesse Jackson Jr (D-Ill.). to fill the vacant Senate seat has been identified. He is Chicago businessman Raghuveer P. Nayak who is reportedly seeking immunity in exchange for his cooperation with federal authorities. The Chicago Tribune has more here.

The investigation into the "pay to play" schemes of the Governor have been ongoing for five years and involved many wiretaps. has more here.

President-elect Barack Obama is expected to release their internal report of contacts with Governor Blagojevich and members of the transition team early this week. Interestingly, in regard to public information requests, it seems the presidential transition efforts are not covered under the legislation, should any be requested. has more here.


Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) focuses on health care for all Americans - He is suffering from incurable brain cancer, but is back at work after recuperating from surgery and post surgery treatment to remove as much as possible of a malignant tumor. Health care for all Americans has always been his passion while serving in the Senate and now he has a President-elect and incoming Cabinet member Tom Daschle who support the same cause. has more here.


"Face The Nation" and Bob Schieffer gang up on Caroline Kennedy - yesterday, the morning talk show was basically a beat up on Caroline Kennedy discussion by frustrated seekers of the soon to be vacant Senator Hillary Clinton senate seat. Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) compared her to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) and Representative Peter King (D-NY) who is planning to run in the 2010 election, took his shots as well. has more here.

Caroline Kennedy is hardly a Sarah Palin whose total lack of knowledge on any important issue helped to boost the ratings of Saturday Night Live and have the star shine brighter on Tina Fey. The aforementioned Representative's frustrations are shared by NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who also covets the Senate seat. This is a result of all the air being sucked out of the room when Caroline Kennedy made public her interest in the job. The NY Times has more here.


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A Visit from St. Nick (of time!)

Ken Kerr Bio

'Twas the end of the year, when all through the nation

The people were stirring with mild trepidation.

Saddam had been hanged by the Sunnis with care,

But outside the Greenzone, fear still hangs in the air.

Cuba's Castro fell ill, and took to his bed,

But his brother Raul took over as head.

Will 700 billion, big banks got a big bailout,

And execs still got big bonuses—can't figure that one out.

The boys from Detroit wanted some of that action.

They tried and they tried, but got no satisfaction.

The in came George Bush, dipping into his stash.

And after some scolding, came across with the cash.

To every reporter Bush will give interview,

As Karl Rove tries to make Bush's image a-new.

And then what should assault the membrane of my ear?

Dick Chaney as well, trying to remake his career.

And they talked and they talked and they never stopped trying.

But except for Fox News—no one was buying.

Then more rapid than light speed, Right-Wing Radio came.

When Karl Rove whistles, the moths circle the flame.

Come on Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter, Ingram, and Hannity.

Will you give it a rest? For the sake of humanity!

For the past 30 years, we heard all your denying.

Yet we elected Obama despite all of your lying.

As Bush leave District, there are few who will cry.

He's been such an obstacle—time to bid him goodbye.

Soon into the Whitehouse, the Obamas will move,

With those cute little girls and a puppy dog, too.

Things are bound to get better, and for those who need proof,

Take a look at the Cabinet he's put under that roof.

With Democrats controlling both Congressional Houses,

Let's hope they turn out to be lions, not mouses.

'Cause in Russia we've still got Medvedev and Putin.

We've got to make sure they don't want to start shootin'.

In North Korea, Kim Jong Il is now back.

One thing is for sure—that dude is Whack!

Hugo Chavez is holding on in Venezuela.

He don't like us much, and he's the first one to tell ya.

We still have a few friends, like most of West Europe

Now that President Cowboy is headed back to his stirrups.

Still the stump of his legacy sticks in our teeth.

It will take quite a while for that to get some relief.

And Right here at home, we've still got lots of trouble:

A national debt we've seen double . . .and double,

Two million jobs we've lost in just one year,

With more layoffs, plant closings, and foreclosure fear.

With a wink of her eye, Sarah Palin looms large,

But her daughter's soon Mom-in-law faces felony drug charge.

The Republican Party is in total despair

That will take several decades to begin to repair.

So we place all our hopes in the man we just chose,

We can't expect too much too soon, I suppose.

All our shoulders to the wheel and in total support,

In no time, there will be some good news to report.

So now let me exclaim, as I'm ceasing to write,

Merry Christmas to all . . . may we all be alright.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Democratic Chatter 12-21-2008

George Wenschhof Bio

The President-elect and his family are in Hawaii to begin holiday vacation - They are staying in a rented oceanfront home valued at 9 million. During his time in Hawaii, Obama will attend a private service for his late grandmother Madelyn Dunham who passed away just two days before the election. He will also have time to visit with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng. The Hawaii Star-Bulletin has more here.


Obama increases Stimulus Plan to create 3 million new jobs - Christina Romer, his selection to be head of his council of economic advisers recommended the increase from the previously announced 2.5 million new jobs. She says it appears the country could suffer between 3-4 million job losses next year and unemployment could exceed 9%. has more here.


Caroline Kennedy's roll out to fill the soon to be vacant Hillary Clinton Senate seat continues to hit bumps - I reported yesterday her cousin Kerry Kennedy was unable to answer on MSNBC "Hardball" if Caroline favored a woman's right to choose. Now, she answers questions (most of them) through a surrogate. These questions were submitted to her by and you can read them and the answers here. She refused to answer the difficult question of would she support the Democratic nominee against Mayor Bloomberg in the upcoming NY City election. She also should have answered the questions herself.

Another bump came when former Democratic VP nominee Geraldine Ferraro said she did not support the selection of Caroline Kennedy for the position. Instead, she urged Governor Patterson to select one of six current women congressmen from NY. The NY Post has more here. Keep in mind, Ferraro is still not over Hillary Clinton losing the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. When referring to Caroline Kennedy she even used the same tired old refrain Hillary used on Obama by saying Caroline was not ready to be Senator on day one.


Will the Illinois Senate seat for sale controversy adversely impact incoming Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel? - It appears Governor Rod Blagojevich and Congressman Rahm Emanuel have had an ongoing relationship for some time. has more here.

There also appears to be no question Rahm Emanuel did communicate with the Governor in regard to the selection of the person to fill the vacant Senate seat. To date, prosecutors have not indicated Emanuel did anything wrong. However, when the information is allowed to come forward by the Prosecutors, expect Emanuel to have had numerous conversations with the Governor and many of them on tape. All of which will likely lead to a media frenzy. A distraction the incoming Obama administration does not need.


Vice-President elect Joe Biden to chair Middle Class Task force - the committee will be asked to examine the status of the middle class by determining if it is larger or smaller and better or worse. This will be interesting to follow to see what is reported and then what, if anything, is recommended. has more here.


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