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Whatayaknow, politics is back...Bill Richardson de-appoints himself as Commerce Sec because of a grand jury investigation will go on past his confirmation hearings. Could also be because he realized he doesn't really want the job. One report says Team Obama didn't expect him to take it. But there's a lot of jibber jabber out there right now.
Like the leak of Leon Panetta for CIA Director, which a couple of reporters (including Ambinder) say didn't come from Team Obama, which planned to do it later, and the reason Sen. Feinstein wasn't consulted is that they just hadn't done it yet. Andrea Mitchell reported that Panetta was actually interested in Commerce. Well, there's formally nothing stopping Obama from switching. But despite the no-specific-spook-experience mantra, Panetta's name is getting good response for his uncompromising on the record anti-torture stance. Which is buttressed by other national security and legal nominees.
Others note Panetta's strengths as human resource manager, and that as White House Chief of Staff he learned what the President needs in terms of intelligence. If he can only stifle his need to say "obviously" at the beginning of every sentence, he should win confirmation.
Israel has to stop bombing children.
Meanwhile, as the elements of the Obama economic recovery package are discussed in Washington, news that auto sales continued to tank in December, with all carmakers (except Subaru) experiencing decline of more than a third--including Toyota. (Though they couldn't beat Chrysler, down by more than 50%.) Toyota is closing plants for awhile in Japan, and the worldwide slowdown includes China, where the government is expecting mass political protests.
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