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Author Topic:   The Obama Admininstration
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posted November 07, 2008 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obama apologizes to Nancy Reagan for seance remark

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer Kevin Freking, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama called Nancy Reagan on Friday to apologize for joking that she held seances in the White House.

At a news conference in Chicago, Obama said he had spoken with all the living presidents as he prepares to take office in January. Then he smiled and said, "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances."

The 87-year-old former first lady had consulted with astrologers during her husband's presidency. But she did not hold conversations with the dead.

Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the president-elect later called Mrs. Reagan "to apologize for the careless and offhanded remark." She said Obama "expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share, and they had a warm conversation."

It actually wasn't Nancy Reagan who was linked to conversations with the dead; it was Obama's top Democratic challenger for the presidency, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

In either case, use of the word "seance" might be overstated.

Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer to help set her husband's schedule, wrote former White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan. The revelation created a furor and President Reagan even broke with his policy of not commenting on books by former White House staffers.

"No policy or decision in my mind has ever been influenced by astrology," Reagan said.

In his book "The Choice," Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward described how Clinton consulted with a spiritual adviser who led her through imaginary conversations with her personal hero, Eleanor Roosevelt. Newsweek magazine, which was promoting the book, characterized the visits as "seances," a term that White House officials quickly tried to squelch.

"These were people who were helping her laugh, helping her think," said Neel Lattimore, Clinton's spokeswoman. "These were not seances."

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posted November 10, 2008 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obama, Candidate of Change, Looks to Old Hands From Clinton Era

Catherine Dodge and Kristin Jensen Catherine Dodge And Kristin Jensen

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama, elected president as an agent of change, is building his new team with old hands from the Clinton administration.

His first appointment, chief of staff, went to Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois representative and veteran of the last Democratic White House. Leading Obama's transition team is John Podesta, who was President Bill Clinton's chief of staff.

Obama's most dramatic step would be to name New York Senator Hillary Clinton, his defeated rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, as secretary of state. Two Obama advisers confirm the idea has been discussed, though they say they don't know how seriously the president-elect is considering it or whether Clinton would accept it.

Faced from day one with an economic crisis and two wars, Obama's campaign theme of changing the way Washington works is about to be overtaken by getting to work in Washington. For that, experience helps.

``Once you become president-elect, the rubber hits the road, and you're going to want to put people in positions of power who have a proven track record,'' says Chris Lehane, who was a special assistant counsel to Clinton.

The presence of Clinton-era advisers has drawn fire on blogs: from liberals who viewed the Clinton administration as too centrist and conservatives for whom the former president remains a favorite target.

The other risk for Obama is that his administration ``can quickly look like the Clinton administration, now defined, by his campaign, as the status quo,'' says Julian Zelizer, a history and public-affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey.

New and Old

From his transition team to his economic advisers, Obama, 47, has surrounded himself with both loyalists new to government and a group of familiar Democratic Party figures who formed something of an administration in exile during Republican President George W. Bush's administration. Some of those who have advised Obama reach back to Jimmy Carter's administration, such as Paul Volcker, 81, the former Federal Reserve chairman.

The pattern is familiar, even for presidents who ran for office as outsiders.

Bush, who came to office with little Washington experience, relied on many advisers from past Republican administrations, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. His first chief of staff, Andrew Card, was transportation secretary in the administration of his father, former President George H.W. Bush.

Campaign slogans aside, when it comes to the reality of governing and finding the best people to carry out a vision, Obama needs people with Washington experience if he wants to succeed, say political analysts and historians.

Experienced Hands

``Change from President Bush was an important theme in the election,'' says Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. ``Americans will want to see some new faces in the Cabinet, but they also know that you need experienced hands to run the ship in Washington.''

Republicans, looking ahead to potential battles after Obama takes office on Jan. 20, were quick to highlight his appointment of Emanuel, who is known for his sharp partisanship in the Clinton administration and as the No. 4 ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.

House Republican leader John Boehner called Emanuel, 48, ``an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington.''

But Fred Greenstein, a presidential historian at Princeton, says voters largely aren't interested in such inside-the-Beltway maneuvering.

``Obama may get insider criticism for using retreads,'' but he ``is drawing on people who served well in the Clinton presidency.''

Reaching Out

Obama spent time during the campaign reaching out to Clinton's economic advisers, including former Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. Summers, 53, is often mentioned as a possibility to resume his post at the Treasury Department under Obama. Rubin, 70, has told Obama he isn't interested in returning to government service but would consider taking on special projects.

``The real issues on this score will crop up after Jan. 20,'' says Rogan Kersh, a public-service professor at New York University. ``Will there be a Clinton-loyalists versus Obama- faithful dynamic in the White House? That could be a hindrance to the swift, smooth start the new administration dearly needs.''

Advisory Board

An advisory board that will help with transition planning includes former Clinton administration officials Carol Browner, who was the former president's Environmental Protection Agency administrator; William Daley, who served as his commerce secretary; and Federico Pena, former transportation secretary.

Other Clinton officials who have been reported to be candidates for possible posts in an Obama White House include Richard Holbrooke, former United Nations ambassador, as secretary of state and Eric Holder, who was part of Obama's vice-presidential selection committee and deputy attorney general for Clinton, as attorney general.

``What you're going to see with Obama is a mixture of wise men and young Turks,'' says Democratic consultant Peter Fenn.

While Obama may endure criticism for calling on some ``usual suspects,'' he'd be in more trouble if his picks proved unqualified, Fenn says.

``You don't want the head of the Arabian Horse Association as your FEMA director,'' says Fenn, referring to Michael Brown, Bush's choice to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who was ousted after the botched government response to Hurricane Katrina.

Still Beloved

Clinton, 62, is still beloved by many in the Democratic Party, and his support and approval of Obama's policies might well boost the new president's efforts. When Clinton made his first campaign appearance for Obama in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 1, he veered from prepared remarks to offer special praise for the way Obama was handling the financial crisis.

``He got his advisers on the phone, then he called all of mine, then he called some more,'' Clinton said. ``And you know what he said? Tell me what the problem is and how to fix it and don't bother me with the politics. Let's do the right thing, and we'll sell it to America.''

Presidential historian Robert Dallek, a biographer of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, says Clinton veterans can be agents of change.

``They will be under Obama's command,'' he says. ``It's not as if they are going to say we've got to go back to what Bill Clinton was thinking 10 years ago.''

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posted November 11, 2008 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Renegade Is Loose. We Repeat, the Renegade Is Loose.
by Mike Krumboltz

The Secret Service takes a lot of risks for the first family. So it's only fair that the agency gets the honor of coming up with code names for the president-elect and his family. Various sources within the Buzz recently revealed the not-so-secret nicknames.

Mr. Obama will be known as "Renegade" (move over, Lorenzo Lamas). Michelle, a woman of many talents, will be referred to as "Renaissance." Malia Obama's name will be "Radiance," while little sister Sasha's will be "Rosebud."

And what of the Bidens? We were hoping the Secret Service would stick to the "R" theme and dub Joe "Rogaine." Alas, his name will be "Celtic." His wife Jill will be "Capri."

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posted November 12, 2008 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obama Declines Daughters' Hannah Montana Invite

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has cast doubt on reports his daughters are set to star in Miley Cyrus' hit TV show Hannah Montana.

Malia and Sasha Obama, both fans of the series, have become a hot commodity for the show since Disney bosses echoed Cyrus' statements on Monday with an official invite.

The cable network said in a statement, "We're pleased that Malia and Sasha are fans and, as long as their parents say it's okay, they are invited to the set of Hannah Montana, and all Disney Channel shows, for a guest role or a visit, anytime."

Inviting the pair to make a cameo, Cyrus' father Billy Ray told Access Hollywood, "They probably will. The invitation is there. The Hannah Montana film comes out in April. Maybe something might happen around then."

Cyrus was reluctant to divulge details, adding, "I can't. I have got to keep a secret."

But an Obama aide tells the New York Daily News, "It's a generous invitation, but they simply aren't going to be making decisions of that kind right now."

Explaining his decision to keep his daughters out of the limelight, Obama told U.S. TV show Good Morning America, "Generally, what makes them so charming is the fact that they're not spending a lot of time worrying about TV cameras or politics, and we want to keep it that way."

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posted November 13, 2008 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for a   Click Here to Email a     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obamas enjoy fine food, wine, but hold the beets

By DEANNA BELLANDI, Associated Press Writer Deanna Bellandi, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO – Former President George H.W. Bush famously disliked broccoli. His son, the outgoing president, is a Texas meat-eater. President-elect Barack Obama loves chili and shuns beets.

Obama's aversion to beets aside — "I always avoid eating them," he says — the new first family are foodies with a wide-ranging palate. They have hankerings for Mexican food, enjoy hand-crafted pastas and their kids dig fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.

"They are totally adventurous people ... they enjoy food," said chef Rick Bayless of Topolobampo, an upscale contemporary Mexican restaurant in downtown Chicago that's a favorite of the Obamas.

Soon, the White House staff will be catering to the family's food needs, and what the Obamas eat in their hometown of Chicago offers a hint at what might be served at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. At the White House now, Tex-Mex and barbecue are among the favorites of President George W. Bush.

At Bayless' restaurant, Obama and his wife Michelle usually begin their meals with tortilla soup and guacamole as starters, followed by something from a changing seasonal menu to reflect the freshest fare.

The Obamas aren't teetotalers, partaking of the restaurant's margaritas and wine.

"They never turn a nose up at anything we suggest to them," said Bayless, whose Frontera Grill was named outstanding restaurant by the James Beard Foundation last year.

Obama's familiarity with finer foods got him in a bit of trouble during the presidential campaign. He was talking to Iowa farmers to show he understood their plight when he mentioned the high cost of a boutique salad green.

"Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Obama said, referring to a high-end food chain loaded with organic products. "I mean, they're charging a lot of money for this stuff."

Critics latched on to the comment, painting him as elitist.

But it's not just fancy dining the Obamas like. They enjoy takeout from a neighborhood pizza joint and an island-inspired restaurant not far from their home where Michelle Obama fancies the grilled tilapia.

"She enjoys her food but tries to eat healthy as well," said close family friend Sandy Matthews.

The incoming president's taste in food can also be simple. In response to an Associated Press survey of all the primary candidates, Obama listed chili as his favorite food to cook.

But on the campaign trail, he proved himself a picky and healthy eater with an aide-assisted diet managed to prevent Obama from packing on the presidential pounds.

At campaign stops, his staff would urge him to sample the corn dogs, hamburgers and other fattening fare. Obama would take a bite, but then the food would usually be whisked away. At diners and pubs, he generally ordered his food to go — whitefish and latkes at one place, cheeseburgers or chicken at another.

Obama does have a weakness for chips and salsa and tends to put hot sauce on everything. At Dooky Chase's Creole restaurant in New Orleans, he offended longtime owner Leah Chase by pouring hot sauce all over the gumbo she offered to fatten him up.

"I hope this isn't insulting," he said. Chase, sitting at his side, stared straight ahead.

When it's time for a fancy night out on the town, the Obamas tend to go for upscale Italian.

The weekend after winning the election, the couple visited Spiaggia, a classy Italian eatery on Chicago's Michigan Avenue, where they enjoy the hand-crafted pastas and other dishes, said Chef Tony Mantuano.

"They love things out of the wood-burning oven," he said.

The Obamas are loyal customers, visiting there during the busy presidential campaign to celebrate both Michelle's birthday and the couple's anniversary.

The Obama daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, have a few favorites of their own. When they stay over at close family friend Yvonne Davila's house they often request her fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.

Another family friend, Kaye "Mama Kaye" Wilson, said Malia is a fan of her lemon meringue pie and Sasha enjoys her cobbler.

Pie made its way into Obama's stump speech late in the campaign when he began telling an anecdote about stopping at an Ohio diner and talking to the owner about hard economic times while enjoying a slice of coconut cream pie.

"It was tasty pie," Obama would often recall.

In an interview before the election, Davila said there's one dish Malia can't resist.

"I'm the only person that can make french toast according to Malia ... She loves french toast, my french toast," she said.

The White House chef has a lot to live up to.

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posted November 13, 2008 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
5 Lessons We Hope Obama Learned from Spider-Man Matt Brady

Not only has America elected its first African-American President, it's looking more and more like we've elected our first Geek-in-Chief. He's read Harry Potter, he's addicted to his BlackBerry, and his Mac laptop has a Pac Man sticker on it. Do we need any more evidence he's one of the nerd generation?

Most recently, the President Elect has acknowledged that he collected both Conan the Barbarian and Spider-Man comic books growing up (although he identifies with Batman as well as Spidey).

But let's look closely at Spider-Man for a minute.

Over the Marvel Comics icon's 45-plus year crime-fighting career, the Amazing Spider-Man learned many hard lessons about what it takes to be a true hero, something the United States sorely needs right now. Here are the Top 5 Lessons we hope the President-Elect has learned from the Wall-Crawler.

5. In Order to Get Things Done, Sometimes You Have to Reach Across the (Super Hero) Aisle.

Where Spider-Man Learned It: Virtually every issue of Marvel Team-Up and Marvel "crossover" events.

The Lesson: Marvel's recent Civil War miniseries brought the point to a head -superheroes don't always get along. Just like politicians they often bring very different approaches and ideologies to the table. In Marvel comic books Iron Man has recently become something of a big government fascist, and the Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange has extreme libertarian leanings, but Spidey's managed to serve as teammates on the Avengers with both.

Spider-Man also works closely with minority groups (the X-Men), and isn't threatened by gender differences (Spider-Woman). Sometimes in order to do good, you have to look past your differences.

4.The Press Isn't Your Friend

Where Spider-Man Learned It: From the first time J. Jonah Jameson wrote his first anti-Spider-Man editorial, shortly after he debuted. No matter what he does, Spider-Man can never catch a break with JJJ.

The Lesson: Jameson is convinced Spider-Man is a menace to society, rather than a hero trying to save it. But Spidey doesn't let it get him down or make his second guess what he knows is right. Sure, seeing anti-Spidey screed blasting down from billboards and on newsstands can grate, but he keeps rolling on. And yes, even Jameson has jumped on the Spider-Man bandwagon once or twice, but has jumped right off it again and gotten back to his normal ways.

3. Bad Things Are Going to Happen. The Important Thing Is How You Respond

Where Spider-Man Learned It: Practically every issue, including being trapped under tons of machinery in Amazing Spider-Man #33, 1966 and the death of his first love Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121, 1973.

The Lesson: As Joe's Biden and Lieberman both predicted, new presidents are usually tested early, and no one can predict exactly how. As Spider-Man has showed time and again, it's how you react to adversity that defines you. Spider-Man's probably had to deal with more tough hands over the years than any superhero alive, and while he's always flirted with throwing in the towel during the dark times, he always comes back with renewed purpose and shows himself to be the hero we know him to be.

2. Never Lose Your Sense of Humor

Where Spider-Man Learned It: From the early days of his career, up through the latest issues on the stands.

The Lesson: Putting Spider-Man's mask on freed the once nerdy and shy Peter Parker to let his constant - and sardonic - inner monologue out, and be the superhero who reacts to adversity with quick wit and even a little charm.

Over the years, Spider-Man's snappy one-liners have helped him keep his spirits up in difficult times, as well as the heroes around him. American isn't looking for a Comedian-in-Chief, but as all our 401k's shrink in size like Spidey's buddy the Astonishing Ant-Man, we could use a little levity from our leaders.

Obama ought to allow himself to occasionally relax that famous disciplined approach of his let the country see that even our leader can laugh in the face of adversity.

1. With Great Power There Must Also Come -- Great Responsibility

Where Spider-Man Learned It: His very first appearance in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, and as seen 2002's Spider-Man feature film.

The Lesson: Probably the most famous line in comic book history, this nugget, originally penned by Spidey's co-creator Stan Lee, has informed Spider-Man almost since he was first bit by that radioactive Spider, along with countless superheroes that followed.

Sure, Obama has the Supreme Court and Congress checking him, just like Spider-Man has the Fantastic Four and Captain America, but you still want the most powerful man in the world to have his head in the right place from the start, and to use his powers for truth, justice, and the American way...

Oh wait, wrong superhero...

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posted November 19, 2008 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stars Team Up For Obama Inauguration Event

Hollywood heavyweights Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee and Anne Hathaway are among the long list of stars hosting a forthcoming event to celebrate U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.

The Creative Coalition's Gala Inaugural Ball will see a legion of A-list attendees joining the five million people expected to attend the historic bash next year.

Organisers of the non-profit event are reportedly using their star supporters to solicit sponsorships of up to $150,000 (GBP99,700) from corporations and lobby firms, according to the New York Post.

The ball is scheduled for 20 January - the same evening Obama will be sworn into office.

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posted November 22, 2008 07:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obama: 'Millions of jobs' in danger next year
President-elect outlines recovery plan, warns worst may be yet to come news services
updated 6:45 a.m. PT, Sat., Nov. 22, 2008

WASHINGTON - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said on Saturday that he was crafting an aggressive, two-year stimulus plan to revive the troubled economy, warning that swift action was needed to prevent a deep slump and a spiral of falling prices.

"If we don't act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year," Obama said in prepared remarks for the weekly Democratic radio and video address.

"We now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further," he said.

A day after U.S. stock markets rallied on his apparent choice of Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary, Obama gave a bleak assessment of the economy in his most detailed comments on the subject since winning the Nov. 4 election.

Obama in October called for a $175 billion stimulus measure, but his comments in the radio address on Saturday signaled he was prepared to push for a much larger package, though he did not give a price-tag.

The economic recovery plan being developed by his staff aims to create 2.5 million jobs by January 2011, and he wants to get it through Congress quickly and sign it soon after taking office.

He called the plan "big enough to meet the challenges we face" and said that it will jump-start job creation but also "lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy."

The proposal for a two-year stimulus plan further indicated a sizable effort. Most such plans are aimed at covering a one-year period.

The number of Americans on the unemployment rolls surged to the highest in 16 years, up more than 540,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

'Ignored for far too long'
Obama said his plan would rebuild roads and bridges and modernize schools while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars.

"These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis; these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long," Obama said.

A trio of crises — housing, credit and financial — have badly damaged the economy, and financial analysts have projected the country's economic hardships will continue through much of 2009.

Obama acknowledged Saturday that evidence is growing the country is "facing an economic crisis of historic proportions." He noted turmoil on Wall Street, a decrease in new home purchases, growing jobless claims and the menacing problem of deflation.

He said he was pleased Congress passed an extension of unemployment benefits this week, but added, "We must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again."

He cautioned, "There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it's likely to get worse before it gets better." But Obama said Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, "is our chance to begin anew."

Obama said getting congressional approval for his broad economic plan will not be easy.

"I will need and seek support from Republicans and Democrats, and I'll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle," he said. "But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action."

Across the country, Americans "are lying awake at night wondering if next week's paycheck will cover next month's bills," people are showing up at work to clear out their desks and retirees are watching their life savings disappear, Obama said.

In this country's darkest hours, the American people have risen above their divisions to solve their problems, he said.

"We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together," Obama said. "That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next president of the United States, I will."

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posted December 01, 2008 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Howard Hesitated On Obama Video

Director Ron Howard nearly scrapped his plans for a pro-Barack Obama video before he even began filming - because he was convinced celebrities had no place in politics.

The moviemaker reprised his role as Opie Taylor, from The Andy Griffith Show, and acted alongside his former Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler for the video endorsement.

But Howard admits his passion for the U.S. President-elect's campaign pushed him to make his foray into politics leading up to the November election.

He says, "I'm actually one of those people that thinks celebrities should be very cautious about that sort of thing. But I felt so strong about the situation, and I had this idea that I thought could cut through the clutter. I'm glad it was, for the most part, received in the spite in which it was given. And I'm really thrilled that the nation chose Obama."

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posted December 03, 2008 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hanks Happy To Take Back Seat For Obama

Tom Hanks is so desperate to see President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony that he will happily place himself at the back of the crowd of well wishers.

The Forrest Gump star was a vocal supporter of Obama throughout his presidential campaign.

But the Oscar winning actor is not looking for any favours from America's new leader - and is so excited by the occasion that he doesn't mind watching the historic ceremony behind the mass crowd expected in Washington on 20 January.

He says, "Look, I'll be in the back. I'll sit on the Lincoln steps and just watch it from the distance on a Jumbotron. I've never been to anything like that, and finally a guy I voted for won. That hasn't happened most of my life."

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posted December 15, 2008 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Smith Stayed Sober For Obama Win

Will Smith was so determined to remember every moment of Barack Obama's election win, he refused to touch a drop of alcohol all evening.

The Men in Black star knew history would be made when America went to the polls last month - and he deliberately avoided drinking so he could enjoy it even more.

He tells USA Today, "I wanted to be totally sober. I wanted to see and feel and remember everything. The whole family was there. It was really fantastic - either way I knew it would be a historical evening. I wanted to be there and be aware."

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posted December 23, 2008 05:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
He doesn't look THAT good without a shirt.

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posted December 31, 2008 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duffer in chief?
By: Carol E. Lee
December 31, 2008 02:41 PM EST

HONOLULU — Barack Obama might have abs that are the envy of men half his age and the ability to command a crowd of 100,000 with his speeches.

But when it comes to the decidedly presidential sport of golf, well, to put it diplomatically — he’s only a little smoother on the links than he is in a bowling alley.

It wasn’t until Obama teed off as the president-elect a few times during his Hawaiian vacation that his golfing skills — or lack thereof — really showed.

Warming up at Mid-Pacific Country Club in Kailua on Monday, Obama hit drives that looked more like ground balls to the shortstop. Over the past 10 days, he’s also shanked the ball, hit a few low line drives and was described as “twisting his body wildly” when taking a swing.

“Obviously it’s not his first sport,” said Tim Dietrich, the general manager of Mid-Pacific Country Club. “But certainly he is a very good athlete, and with some right information and a little more practice he could be a really good golfer. I was really impressed with his attitude.”

Fiercely competitive by nature, Obama has admitted his shortcomings. “I’m not that good,” he confessed to reporters last week while taking a break in the Olomana Golf Links club house.

Obama wasn’t an avid golfer during the campaign, better known for his basketball prowess. But this vacation marked a shift — he had spent more than 15 hours on the golf course before shooting hoops at his former high school on Tuesday.

And he hopes to get better. Don Van Natta Jr., who wrote a book on presidents and golf, said one of Obama’s close friends told him Obama hopes to become a single-digit handicap after he leaves the White House.

The president-elect struts along the greens not in a Ping polo and Titleist visor but in more touristy get-ups of khaki cargo shorts and a baseball cap emblazoned with Honolulu’s municipal logo.

The public doesn’t hear about his score — the benefits of being president-elect perhaps, given the widely reported 37 he bowled in Pennsylvania during the campaign. But that’s to be expected. The president-elect has been playing with tight-lipped allies: Chicago friends Eric Whitaker and Martin Nesbitt, high school classmates and aide Eugene Kang.

Obama’s Hawaiian golf games have gained notoriety anyway, without the benefit of scores to back up what observers clearly see.

“Obama looks like he could use a lesson or two," notes a post on The Golf Blog.

“Obama's follow-through is not a thing of beauty,” writes Sports Illustrated’s Michael Bamberger on “But there's much to admire here,” Bamberger adds, ticking off Obama’s cargo shorts, baseball cap and “casual, pushed-down socks.”

Obama will be the 15th out of the last 18 presidents to play golf. As Van Natta aptly notes in the title of his book, "First Off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers and Cheaters From Taft to Bush," not all golfing presidents have been good — or even honest.

“Obama’s golf game is not good,” said Van Natta, who writes about it in the February issue of Golf Digest. “It’s improving, slowly.”

John F. Kennedy is hailed as the best golfing president, and Calvin Coolidge the worst. While not the most skilled golfer, Dwight Eisenhower was considered the most dedicated, playing 100 rounds a year.

"If I don't improve, I'm going to pass a law that no one can ask me my golf score," Eisenhower once said.

Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman were not golfers.

Richard Nixon enjoyed the game but was uncoordinated and didn’t play that often, even though he had a couple of holes on his San Clemente, Calif., estate. President George H.W. Bush played speed golf. And George W. Bush said he gave up the sport because he didn’t want families of soldiers killed in Iraq to see him teeing off.

Golf Digest recently ranked Obama eighth among golfing presidents.

That still leaves him behind Bill Clinton, who was said to cheat and whose Golf Digest ranking denotes that he tries to improve his score using a technique known as a Billigan.

Obama, a left-handed golfer, uses no such wizardry, Dietrich said.

“He respected the game by not trying to change his score or do anything that wasn’t up and up,” Dietrich said. “A lot of people would try to say, ‘Ah, I’m the president-elect, let me hit another ball,’ and who would say no? But he doesn’t do that.”

Dietrich also said Obama raked his own sand bunkers and filled his own divots.

And while Gerald Ford once hit a golf ball into a crowd of spectators and clunked a woman on the head, Obama managed to get through three rounds of golf in Hawaii without incident, despite throngs of onlookers.

On Monday, Obama was on a par four 18th hole shortly after 5:30 p.m. as roughly 100 people watched him from their perch along a wall. Obama got out of his golf cart and strode to the middle of the fairway.

He took three practice swings before hitting the drive low and straight onto the front, center-edge of the green. The crowd applauded.

As the president-elect got close to his ball, he turned to the spectators. “Hey guys,” he said. “That was pretty good, right? That almost made up for my 20-yard drive.”

This elicited applause and a little laughter and prompted one member of the crowd to shout, “Better than your bowling.”

“That’s right,” Obama replied, and he smiled before turning back to walk toward the green to size up his putt.

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posted January 01, 2009 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hawaii coffee traces Obama’s roots
Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

A Big Island coffee company has made a special blend inspired by President-elect Barack Obama.

Kona coffee farmers Joe and deepa Tiare Alban, owners of Kona Joe Coffee, decided after the election to honor Obama with the Barack O Blend, which is made of Hawaiian, Indonesian and Kenyan coffees.

“The presidential blend honors Hawaii and Kenya, two of the great coffee-growing regions in the world,” deepa Alban said in a statement. “It also is a way to honor Barack Obama’s personal story, which goes from Hawaii to Indonesia and back again, and now reaches all the way to the White House. It’s a way to recognize his place in history.”

The Albans have been growing coffee beans for more than 10 years on their 20-acre plantation near Mount Hualalai.

The special Barack O Blend can be purchased after Inauguration Day for $12.95 for a 7-ounce bag at the farm, or online at .

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posted January 06, 2009 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
HBO lands rights to inaugural ceremony
HBO has snagged the exclusive telecast rights to the opening ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration week. The Presidential Inaugural Committee said Tuesday that HBO will televise the ceremony, in which Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, will attend at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 18. It will be closed to other media but HBO will offer it for free not just on the Time Warner-owned channel but throughout all of cable and satellite. It may also be streamed, sources said. It's not the inauguration itself, which will happen two days later at noon from the Capitol Hill and will be covered by all the broadcast and cable news channels as well as TV One and others. But it's the opening of what will be a historic week for the nation's Capitol. HBO has a history of paying big bucks for the event. In 1993, it paid $1.5 million to televise the same event for the first Clinton administration. It featured a lot of entertainment but appeared only on HBO. It wasn't clear what HBO paid this time around.

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