Scroll down for updates…reader Patrick e-mails: “The Office of the President-elect comes from the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. Stephanopoulos signed letters back in 1992 from the ‘Office of the President-elect.’ That said, I agree that ‘change.gov’ and all of that is ostentatious. Let Obama have his fun now. Come January, the buck stops with him, and no amount of ‘branding’ or voting ‘present’ will save him.”
Okay, it’s one thing to take your campaign website, transfer it to a dot-gov domain, and invent an “Office of the President-Elect” out of whole cloth.
But now we’ve got Sen. Obama standing in front of a podium, in front of the world, for his first transitional press conference with an official-looking sign that reads “Office of the President-Elect.” Is that the official seal of the U.S. on the sign? Do they have authority to use it? What other make-believe offices are they going to invent between now and Inauguration Day? I can’t ever recall in my lifetime any mention of such an office. Can you?
C’mon. It’s creepy.
Question: Why is the Office of the President-Elect’s .gov website still attacking the “McCain plan?” (hat tip – reader JB)
Here’s the screenshot in case they scrub it…
Related: Obama’s tasteless joke about Nancy Reagan at the press conference went beyond creepy. Just classless.
Update: Reader Stephen from Hold the Mayo e-mails: “I happened to be in a waiting room yesterday and West Wing reruns were on. The character played by Jimmy Smits had apparently just been elected president over Alan Alda’s character. Every time the phone rang in Smits’ office it was answered ‘Office of the Preseident Elect.’ I’m guessing his is where The One is getting his ideas on how the government is organized.”
Update: At the bottom of the www.change.gov site, as many have noted, is this info: “Content copyright © 2008 by Obama-Biden Transition Project, a 501c(4) organization. All rights reserved.”
Now, here’s a reminder of the .gov rules, which I mentioned yesterday. This is from Wikipedia…
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
.gov (pronounced “dot-gov”) is a sponsored top-level domain restricted for use by government entities in the United States of America. The .gov domain is administered by the General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency of the federal government. The URL for registration services is http://www.dotgov.gov 
The U.S. is the only country that has a government-specific top-level domain in addition to its country-code top-level domain, due to the origins of the Internet as a US Federal Government-sponsored research network (see NSFNET and ARPANET). Other countries typically use a second-level domain for this purpose, e.g., .gov.ar for Argentina, .gov.au for Australia, .gc.ca for Canada, .gouv.fr for France, .gov.in for India, .gov.my for Malaysia, .govt.nz for New Zealand, .guv.ro for Romania, .gov.uk for the United Kingdom, .gub.uy for Uruguay, .gov.za for South Africa.
Some U.S. federal agencies use .fed.us rather than .gov. The Department of Defense and its subsidiary organizations use .mil. Some U.S. governmental entities use other domains, such as the use of .com domains by the United States Postal Service (which uses both usps.gov and usps.com for the same location, although it only advertises the .com version) and the United States Army’s recruitment website (goarmy.com, this trend is repeated at the recruitment websites of the other branches of the U.S. Military).
Additionally, some technically private organizations having some formal association with the federal government make use of .gov, such as the quasi-public Federal Reserve System.
All governments in the U.S. are allowed to apply for use of .gov, such as atlantaga.gov for the city of Atlanta, loudoun.gov for the county of Loudoun, Virginia and georgia.gov for the U.S. state of Georgia. This was not always true; under an earlier policy, only federal agencies were allowed to use the domain, and agencies beneath cabinet level were required to use subdomains of their parent agency. There is a lack of consistency in addresses of state and local government sites, with some using .gov, some .us, some using both (the Commonwealth of Virginia uses both www.state.va.us and www.virginia.gov for the same location) and still others in .com, .org or other TLDs.
Update: Mystery solved? Reader Patrick e-mails a link to the Presidential Transition Act of 1963:
SERVICES AND FACILITIES AUTHORIZED TO BE PROVIDED TO PRESIDENTS-ELECT AND VICE PRESIDENTS-ELECT
Sec. 3 (a) The Administrator of General Services, referred to hereafter in this Act as “the Administrator,” is authorized to provide, upon request, to each President-elect and each Vice President-elect, for use in connection with his preparations for the assumption of official duties as President or Vice President necessary services and facilities, including-
(1) Suitable office space appropriately equipped with furniture, furnishings, office machines and equipment, and office supplies as determined by the Administrator, after consultation with the President-elect, the Vice-President elect, or their designee provided for in subsection (e) of this section, at such place or places within the United States as the President-elect or Vice-President-elect shall designate;
(2) Payment of the compensation of members of office staffs designated by the President-elect or vice-President-elect at rates determined by them not to exceed the rate provided by the Classification Act of 1949, as amended, for grade GS-18: Provided, That any employee of any agency of any branch of the Government may be detailed to such staffs on a reimbursable or non reimbursable basis with the consent of the head of the agency; and while so detailed such employee shall be responsible only to the President or Vice-President-elect for the performance of his duties: Provided further, That any employee so detailed shall continue to receive the compensation provided pursuant to law for his regular employment, and shall retain the rights and privileges of such employment without interruption. Notwithstanding any other law, persons receiving compensation as members of office staffs under this subsection, other than those detailed from agencies, shall not be held or considered to be employees of the Federal Government except for purposes of the Civil Service Retirement Act, the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act, the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Act of 1954, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act of 1959;
(3) Payment of expenses for the procurement of services of experts or consultants or organizations thereof for the President-elect or Vice-President-elect, as authorized for the head of any department by section 15 of the Administrative Expenses Act of 1946, as amended (5 U.S.C. 55a), at rates not to exceed $100 per diem for individuals;
(4) Payment of travel expenses and subsistence allowances, including rental of Government or hired motor vehicles, found necessary by the President-elect or Vice-President-elect, as authorized for persons employed intermittently or for persons serving without compensation by section 5 of the Administrative Expenses Act of 1946, as amended (5 U.S.C. 73b-2), as may be appropriate;
(5) Communications services found necessary by the President-elect or Vice-President-elect;
(6) Payment of expenses for necessary printing and binding, notwithstanding the Act of January 12th, 1895, and the Act of March 1, 1919, as amended (44 U.S.C. 111);
(7) Reimbursement to the postal revenues in amounts equivalent to the postage that would otherwise be payable on mail matter referred to in subsection (d) of this section.
(b) The Administrator shall expend no funds for the provision of services and facilities under this Act in connection with any obligations incurred by the President-elect or Vice-President-elect before the day following the date of the general elections held to determine the electors of the President and Vice President in accordance with title 3, United States Code, sections 1 and 2, or after the inauguration of the President-elect as President and the inauguration of the Vice-President-elect as Vice President.
(c) The terms “President-elect” and “Vice-President-elect” as used in this Act shall mean such persons as are the apparent successful candidates for the office of the President and Vice President, respectively, as ascertained by the Administrator following the general elections held to determine the electors of the President and Vice-President in accordance with title 3, United States code, sections 1 and 2.
(d) Each President-elect shall be entitled to conveyance within the United States and its territories and possessions of all mail matter, including airmail, sent by him in connection with his preparations for the assumption of official duties as President, and such mail matter shall be transmitted as penalty mail as provided n title 39, United States Code, section 4152. Each Vice-President-elect shall be entitled to conveyance within the United States and its territories and possession of all mail matter, including airmail, sent by him under his written autograph signature in connection with his preparations for the assumption of official duties as Vice President.
(e) Each President-elect and Vice-President-elect may designate to the Administrator an assistant authorized to make on his behalf such designations or findings of necessity as may be required in connection with the services and facilities to be provided under this Act. Not more than 10 per centum of the total expenditures under this Act for any President-elect or Vice-President-elect may be made upon the basis of a certificate by him or the assistant designated by him pursuant to this section that such expenditures are classified and are essential to the national security, and that they accord with the provisions of subsections (a), (b), and (d) of this section.
(f) In the case where the President-elect is the incumbent President or in the case where the Vice-President-elect is the incumbent Vice President, there shall be no expenditures or funds for the provisions of services and facilities to such incumbent under this Act, and any funds appropriated for such purposes shall be returned to the general funds of the Treasury.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES AUTHORIZED TO BE PROVIDED TO FORMER PRESIDENTS AND FORMER VICE PRESIDENTS
Sec. 4. The Administrator is authorized to provide, upon request, to each former President and each former Vice President, for a period not to exceed six months from the date of the expiration of his term of office as President or Vice President, for use in connection with winding up the affairs of his office, necessary services and facilities of the same general character as authorized by this act to be provided to Presidents-elect and Vice Presidents-elect. Any person appointed or detailed to serve a former President or former Vice President under authority of this section shall be appointed or detailed in accordance with, and shall be subject to, all of the provisions of section 3 of this Act applicable to persons appointed or detailed under authority of that section. The provisions of the Act of August 25, 1958 (72 Stat. 838 3; U.S.C. 102, note), other than subsections (a) and (e) shall not become effective with respect to a former President until six months after the expiration of his term of office as President.
AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS
Sec. 5. There are hereby authorized to be appropriated to the Administrator such funds as may be necessary for carrying out the purposes of this Act but not to exceed $900,000 for any one Presidential transition, to remain available during the fiscal year in which the transition occurs and the next succeeding fiscal year. The President shall include in the budget transmitted to the Congress, for each fiscal year in which his regular term of office will expire, a proposed appropriation for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
Approved March 7, 1964
Patrick adds: “The Office of the President-elect comes from the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. Stephanopoulos signed letters back in 1992 from the ‘Office of the President-elect.’ That said, I agree that ‘change.gov’ and all of that is ostentatious. Let Obama have his fun now. Come January, the buck stops with him, and no amount of ‘branding’ or voting ‘present’ will save him.”
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