On January 5, the nation's new media learned that President-elect Barack Obama would nominate former congressman and Clinton administration official Leon Panetta as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Obama's choice reportedly caught some veteran Democratic senators who had not been briefed of the decision off-guard, and some voiced their skepticism that that Bill Clinton's former chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget possessed sufficient experience in the intelligence field to handle the job.
ITEM: The Chicago Sun-Times reported on December 8: "As gun sales shoot up around the country, President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday that gun-owning Americans do not need to rush out and stock up before he is sworn in next month. 'I believe in common-sense gun safety laws, and I believe in the second amendment,' Obama said at a news conference. 'Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition. I think people can take me at my word.'"
A leader of what became known as the "New Right," veteran conservative activist Paul Weyrich passed away on December 18 after a long bout with diabetes. A native of Wisconsin, he began a career in the world of politics as an aide to Colorado Senator Gordon Allott in 1967. While attending a gathering of Washington operatives, he became aghast at the way they openly planned to manipulate public opinion in favor of some liberal causes. So he decided to create a counterforce to propagate conservative thinking.
ITEM: In an article entitled "5 Myths About Our Ailing Health-Care System" in the Washington Post for November 23, 2008, Shannon Brownlee and Ezekiel Emanuel write that the United States lags behind "many developed countries on virtually every health statistic you can name. Life expectancy at birth? We rank near the bottom of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, just ahead of Cuba and way behind Japan, France, Italy, Sweden and Canada, countries whose governments (gasp!) pay for the lion's share of health care."
Is Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration purposefully driven? The news media, Evangelicals, the gay community, pro-lifers, and the general public are all agog either positively or negatively, over Obama’s choice of Rick Warren, pastor and founder of the mega Saddleback Church to give the inaugural invocation.
Marine Sgt. Heather Cerveny has exposed torture at Guantanamo, despite high-level pressure to suppress the information. Though the military initially dismissed her allegations, the patriotic Marine sergeant has now been vindicated.
On Tuesday, President-elect Barack Obama nominated the head of the Chicago school system, Arne Duncan, to serve as education secretary for the new administration. Nationally, little is known about Duncan, who served in the Chicago school system for seven years.
On December 10 the Judiciary Committee of the Ohio House held a hearing on House Joint Resolution No. 8 (HJR 8), “Applying to the Congress of the United States pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution to call a constitutional convention for proposing amendments.” A couple days earlier an AP article had stated that there could be a “possible vote” on HJR 8 at the hearing. However, pro-constitution citizens, including members of the John Birch Society, Campaign for Liberty, and other like-minded groups, had been alerted about the hearing late in the preceding week.
Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.) wonders how the government could successfully run the Big Three automakers when it cannot even run itself. On December 11, before the $14 billion bailout bill died in the Senate, Ensign rose on the Senate floor and asked his colleagues: