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POLITICAL NEWS HEADLINES with EXCERPTS...
ChicagoSunTimes accuses Obama of breaking his transparency promise: fails to disclose transition meetings... The Obama team, pledging the ''most open and transparent transition in history,'' gets an ''A'' for disclosing donors to the Jan. 20 inauguration and a ''F'' when it comes to revealing transition meetings with groups. Contrary to its own ''seat at the table transparency policy,'' meetings are not posted on a Web site...
Huckabee campaign manager gives 'Barack the Magic Negro' parody on CD as Christmas present... On Friday, the news broke that former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman, who ran Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, had distributed a CD to Republican National Committee members for Christmas featuring a song called "Barack the Magic Negro."
Saltsman hopes to become RNC chairman. The current chair, Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, who is seeking another term, said he was "shocked and appalled" by the decision to send the CD, which also included songs like "Love Client #9" and "Down on the Farm with Al Gore."
"Barack the Magic Negro" is a parody set to the music of "Puff The Magic Dragon" and sung by an Al Sharpton imitator; it references a Los Angeles Times column of the same name.
"Yeah the guy from the LA paper said [Obama] made guilty whites feel good," the Sharpton-imitator sings on the track, which aired on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. "They'll vote for him and not for me 'cause he's not from the hood."
You can hear the whole thing here.
Obama's presidential picks...
Chief of Staff... Rep. Rahm Emanuel, of Illinois
Secretary of State... Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, of New York
Interior Secretary... Ken Salazar, of Colorado
Health Secretary... former Sen. Tom Daschle, of South Dakota
Labor Secretary... Rep. Hilda Solis, of California
Republican Ray LaHood, of Illinois, for transportation secretary
Commerce Secretary... Gov. Bill Richardson, of New Mexico
Homeland Security... Gov. Janet Napolitano, of Arizona
Agriculture Secretary... Former Gov. Tom Vilsack, of Iowa
Defense Secretary... Robert Gates, a holdover from President George W. Bush's administration and a former CIA director under Bush's father
Attorney General... Eric Holder, who was deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton
Treasury Secretary... Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
National Economic Council director... Lawrence Summers, a former treasury secretary
Trade Representative... Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk
Energy Secretary... Steven Chu, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California
Obama's tax cuts likely soon... President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan will include an immediate tax cut for middle-class families, and the incoming administration hopes to enact permanent tax cuts soon thereafter, a senior adviser to Obama said Sunday.
David Axelrod said the stimulus package will be implemented soon, given the worsening economy, and could cost $675 billion to $775 billion. The massive recovery plan will seek to create or save 3 million jobs, he said in appearances Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS's "Face the Nation."
Blago's attorney [Genson] to submit Obama report to Impeachment Panel... Last week, the impeachment committee rejected Mr. Genson's request to subpoena incoming Obama administration chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, whose testimony he said would also bolster Gov. Blagojevich's claims of innocence.
"Since I can't subpoena anyone, this is the next best thing," Mr. Genson told the Sun-Times.
Mr. Genson's defense comes a day after Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said he expects Mr. Blagojevich to be impeached by the Illinois House and convicted by the state Senate, clearing the way for a special election in June to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Mr. Obama...
Does THIS explain it?
Caroline "you know" Kennedy...
"I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party," Kennedy told the Daily News Saturday during a wide-ranging interview.
"I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor."
Watch the 'You know' video
Harry Reid in uphill re-election bid in 2010... Sen. Harry Reid will command the biggest party majority of any Senate leader in a quarter century when the new Congress convenes in January. But the Nevada Democrat is already worried about his own re-election fight in 2010.
Sen. Reid, perhaps the most-vulnerable Democrat who will face re-election in a midterm race that is likely to favor his party once again, began interviewing campaign managers last week. The Senate majority leader also recently stepped up fund-raising.
Starting early could help Sen. Reid avoid the fate of his predecessor, Tom Daschle, who was Democratic leader for a decade before losing his re-election bid in South Dakota in 2004. The current Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, narrowly won re-election in Kentucky this year.
ISRAEL HITS HAMAS
Jerusalem: no international pressure to end Gaza operation... The seeming contradiction between officials' comments about unprecedented international support, an assessment widely echoed throughout the diplomatic and security echelon on Sunday, and the harsh statements beginning to issue from capitals around the world was chalked up to a difference between what is being said in public and in private...
Jerusalem was also taking solace from supportive comments that have come out of the US, with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice holding Hamas responsible for the renewal of violence, and Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying that Israel "has a right, indeed a duty, to defend itself in response to the hundreds of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza over the past week."
Israeli airstrikes on Hamas in Gaza continue... Israel's air force obliterated symbols of Hamas power on the third day of its overwhelming assault on Gaza on Monday, striking a house next to the Hamas premier's home, devastating a security compound and flattening a five-story building at a university closely linked to the Islamic group.
... Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak told Israel's parliament in a special session that Israel was not fighting the residents of Gaza "but we have a war to the bitter end against Hamas and its branches."
News media falsely portraying Gaza attack... The U.S. and international news media are falsely portraying an Israeli air strike against a Hamas-run university in the Gaza Strip, claiming a "woman's wing" was targeted, when, according to the Israeli military, the target was a weapons lab at the school's chemistry department.
Opinion: The recklessness of Hamas... As soon as the six-month ceasefire ended, with Hamas refusing to lay down their weapons and resuming their attacks on Israeli civilians, it was plain that Israel was being invited, if not provoked into, an operation to cut the head off the hydra. Hamas knew that with tens of thousands of Israeli men, women and children within range of the Kassam rockets, public opinion would demand action to protect those in the line of fire...
Opinion: Palestinians need Israel to win... Israel must be allowed to conclude this operation with a decisive victory over Hamas; the untenable situation of intermittent rocket fire and widespread arms smuggling must not be allowed to resume. This is an opportunity to redress Israel's failure to humble Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, and to deal a substantial setback to another jihadist proxy of Iran.
It may also be the last chance to reassure Israelis of the viability of a two-state solution. Given the unfortunate historical resonance, Israel should refrain from calling its current operation, "Peace for Southern Israel." But without Hamas's defeat, there can be no serious progress toward a treaty that both satisfies Palestinian aspirations and allays Israel's fears. At stake in Gaza is nothing less than the future of the peace process...
The evidence points to the
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