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Eye Opener: Nov. 21, 2008

By Ed O'Keefe

Good morning!

Enjoy the above highlights video from the "National Lampoon Vacation" movies, because The Eye is headed out of town for a quick four-day, post-election break. (We'll reveal the vacation location on Monday.)

But no day is complete without the Eye Opener, so before The Eye heads out the door, a review of the day's headlines:

Eye Opener

Mukasey Collapses: The attorney general collapsed last night during a speech to the Federalist Society at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. "Mukasey remained at the hospital overnight for observation but a Justice Department spokesman said Mukasey had strong vital signs and was 'in good spirits' after the incident, which occurred at an annual Federalist Society gathering. A person who attended the dinner said Mukasey was visibly shaking and perhaps slurring his words before he fell to the floor," reports The Post's Carrie Johnson and Clarence Williams. "Audience members said they began praying, fearing a stroke," according to Politico. Ironically, Mukasey spoke to the Federalist Society as The Post's Robert Barnes notes that it's "welcome to the wilderness" for the group. "The group now finds itself sorting through the role it should play in scrutinizing President-elect Barack Obama's forthcoming efforts to bring about a similar change of his own."

More Midnight Rulings: "The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act that would ensure that federal agencies would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to imperiled plants and animals," reports The Post's environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin. "The proposed rule changes, which were obtained by The Washington Post, are under review by the Office of Management and Budget and are close to being published in the Federal Register. The main purpose of the new regulations...is to eliminate a long-standing provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires an independent scientific review by either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of any federal project that could affect a protected species. ... individual agencies could decide on their own whether a project would harm an imperiled species."

Napolitano Good Choice (!) (?): "Immigrant advocates, business groups and civil libertarians said that the choice of [Janet Napolitano,] a two-term governor from a Republican-friendly border state could lead to a reversal of policies that they contend unduly punish illegal immigrants, commerce and Americans' privacy," finds The Post's Homeland Security reporter Spencer S. Hsu. "Agency observers on the right and the left say that her selection appears to reflect a calculation that she could do so without appearing weak on terrorism." More: "Napolitano is 'someone who's fair. She listens. She understands complex issues,' said Grant Woods, an Arizona Republican whom Napolitano succeeded as state attorney general in 1998, and who likened her to Obama. 'Most importantly, she's someone who has excellent judgment.'"

Homeland Security's Money Management: "Tens of billions of dollars worth of Homeland Security Department contracting programs were approved and funded without receiving adequate oversight or top-level review, a new audit finds.
The result is that many of those projects have gone over budget and behind schedule," according to a Government Accountability Office report, as reported by Federal Times. "In all, the department failed to provide adequate oversight necessary to control cost, schedule and performance on 45 of the department’s 48 major contracting projects, GAO said."

Out of the Loop: The Federal Times also notes that "About a fifth of the government’s senior executives are unaware of their agencies’ presidential transition plans, according to a new survey. "According to the survey, sponsored by the National Academy of Public Administration, senior executives are most concerned with long confirmation delays of their yet-to-be-named bosses. They also expressed a strong desire for building trust with their politically appointed bosses. The survey generated 1,116 respondents, out of 4,799 career SES contacted. There are a total of about 6,000 career senior executives across government."

Events: The public gets its first look at the Smithsonian's renovations to the National Museum of American History.

This Day in History: On this date in 1922, Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 21, 2008; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: Eye Opener: Nov. 24, 2008

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