Roland Burris on Monday won his bid to fill the seat in the U.S. Senate vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, overcoming objections from Democratic leaders who now stand ready to enjoy their biggest majority since 1981.
Barring unanticipated roadblocks from Senate Republicans, Burris, appointed to the seat by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in December, could be sworn in within days, giving Democrats 58 of the Senate’s 100 seats.
The decision by Senate officials to swear in Burris was a major about-face by the Democratic leadership, which initially vowed that the appointment would not stand because Blagojevich has been charged with having earlier tried to sell the seat.
President-elect Barack Obama has picked Nancy Killefer to serve as the federal government’s chief performance officer (CPO), a newly created post designed to help improve government efficiency and reform budget practices. That sounds familiar for some reason.
Obama said Killefer is “uniquely qualified” to serve as the nation’s first CPO, calling her “an expert in streamlining processes and wringing out inefficiencies so that taxpayers and consumers get more for their money.” Huh?
To illustrate her strong desire to enact reforms, Obama said that when she was offered the opportunity to serve in the Clinton administration, Killefer said “If you’re willing to embrace significant change, then you’re looking at the right person. But if you just want to keep the trains running on time, don’t ask me to do this job.”
Wait just a damn minute! Why is Obama creating a job that is already being done? Why is he creating yet another massive bureaucracy? Why not let the GAO do the job it was created to do?
The GAO was established as the General Accounting Office by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (Pub.L. 67-13, 42 Stat. 20, June 10, 1921). This Act required the head of GAO to “investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds, and shall make to the President…and to Congress…reports (and) recommendations looking to greater economy or efficiency in public expenditures” (Sec. 312(a), 42 Stat. 25).
Does anyone really know what the hell is going on? This is just absurd. To think that earmarks and inefficient programs can be eliminated is foolish. All it is doing is creating another payroll for the taxpayers to fund—wait is that not an inefficient use of funds? Maybe her first action should be to dissolve the position of CPO. The move would be efficient, would streamline government and save us money. She would be doing everything the position calls for.
Just a thought.
President-elect Barack Obama phoned key lawmakers to defend the selection of Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency and quell concerns over Mr. Panetta’s lack of first-hand intelligence experience.
In his first public comments on intelligence matters since the election, Mr. Obama also promised that his intelligence team would break from Bush administration practices that he said had “tarnished” the government’s image.
A formal announcement of Mr. Panetta’s nomination is expected later this week.
The two senators, the top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, chastised Mr. Obama on Monday for not choosing an intelligence professional for the job and not telling them of his plans to nominate Mr. Panetta. The intelligence committee will hold confirmation hearings for Mr. Panetta and the expected nominee for director of national
Only two CIA directors in the past three decades — Robert Gates in the administration of George H.W. Bush and current CIA Director Michael Hayden — have held senior intelligence posts prior to appointment. Outsiders are frequently selected to be CIA director, with mixed results.
The senators that are the most vocal in opposition were Bush collaborators. They white washed the intelligence to allow the invasion of Iraq. Their lax oversight has given the country more grief than they have given good news. Especially Feinstein who championed such stuff as the Iraq War, FISA and the Patriot Act.
The truth is that their feelings were hurt because they were not consulted in the pick. But why would Obama , who wants change, seek counsel from the very people that are the problem in the intel community?
The whole Caroline thing is nothing but tit for tat. Political pundits are just still pouting about the Palin spanking she took in the media. Here is a chance for them to return the favor and gain some air time in the doing.
The media, some not all, are doing a covert hatchet job on Kennedy and playing into the hands of the Cuomo cronies. They are holding Kennedy up to a standard that few could possess. Needlessly to say, that few Senators when arriving in Washington was an expert on foreign, domestic or fiscal policy, but yet Caroline has got to all that and so much more before she gets a chance to prove herself.
The media keeps plunging into the fact that she has made very few comments herself, yet this is not an election it will be a nomination and the Gov of New York probably does not want it to turn into something more than that–his decision on the next junior senator from the state of New York.
But alas, the media will keep massaging this story for every minute of air time they can get out of it. They are trying to turn this into something it is not–a major story.
By now, everyone has heard that Caroline Kennedy is after Clinton’s senate seat. We have been bombarded with all the pros and the cons, depending on what side of the political spectrum you sit. But the question that needs to be asked is, What are they really afraid of?
Is it the name? Is it her lack of political savvy? Just what is it?
My opinion is that she is not a political animal that the others are. They are all spilling their guts about her political dues have not been paid. Please!
Political dues? She is not a “professional” politician and that means that she would most likely not be controllable by the party. And take a good hard look at your country. Are you happy with the shape it is in, politically as well as economically? If not then you may thank all those so called “professional” politicians.
The media is as full of crap as the politicians. They, the media, are worried about access and stuff, when they should be asking her about policies she would work on. The media is aiding the “Pros” in their attacks on Kennedy. It looks like the old “you scratch my back, I will scratch yours” type of thing.
The truth is if she is appointed she will probably be a better representative of the people of New York than any of the “Pros” with their hands in the pockets of lobbyists.
If she is an independent rep then she would be a breath of fresh air in Washingtonm. God knowes does not look like it will come from the Obama team.
From an article written by Tom Eley. I had tried to write a response to the idea of a “team of rivals”, but I could never find the right words to what I was seeing in Obama’s picks for his cabinet. Now thanks to Eley I do not need to give myself a headache.
In recent weeks, numerous media accounts have referred to President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet selections as a “team of rivals.” The reference is to a book of the same name by the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin on Abraham Lincoln’s choices for key cabinet posts after his victory in the 1860 election, when he confronted the secession crisis and then the Civil War.
The media comparisons between Lincoln’s and Obama’s cabinets are specious, betraying a combination of historical ignorance and political shallowness. The false analogy serves two political functions. First, it implicitly imparts to Obama a progressive and democratic aura which is, in fact, belied by his cabinet selections, all of whom are advocates of militarism abroad and austerity at home. Second, the analogy distorts and demeans the historically progressive character of Lincoln and his government, which embodied a profoundly democratic and ultimately revolutionary agenda, centered on the struggle against slavery and the preservation of the union.
The use of the term “team of rivals” in relation to the Obama cabinet rests on the president-elect’s selection for secretary of state of his chief opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, and his retention from the Bush administration of Robert Gates for defense secretary. Obama won the nomination over Clinton, who was the early favorite, by appealing to broad opposition to the war in Iraq among Democratic voters and the population at large, incessantly reminding voters that “she got it wrong” in her support for the invasion and presenting himself as the candidate who would bring a rapid end to the war. He then won the general election based on a powerful voter repudiation of the Bush administration’s militaristic foreign policy and its pro-corporate and anti-democratic domestic agenda.
This is not only not analogous to Lincoln’s approach, it is the opposite. Lincoln’s key cabinet picks, while they had been rivals for the Republican Party nomination of 1860, in no way represented a retreat from the central principals of his campaign and the aspirations of his voters: preserving the union and preventing the expansion of slavery. These appointments included William Seward as secretary of state, Salmon Chase as treasury secretary, and Edward Bates as attorney general.
Lincoln rose to prominence in the young Republican Party by giving political voice to mass popular sentiment against the expansion of slavery to the new states and territories of the West. Largely because of his genius for clearly presenting the critical political issues related to slavery, he bested more prominent politicians such as Seward (senator from New York) and Chase (governor of Ohio) in the contest for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination. But despite numerous political and personal differences, Seward, Chase and all of Lincoln’s other cabinet selections shared the central aim of the Republican Party—preserving the union and defeating the rebellion of the Southern slave owners.
In securing the 1860 Republican nomination, Lincoln beat out his main rivals, Seward, Chase and Bates. Then, after winning the general election, he invited them to assume key cabinet posts. He did so not simply because he was a shrewd politician, but because he wished to unite the various sections of the Republican Party behind the aspirations of genuinely democratic forces in the country and create the best possible conditions for crushing the Southern planters’ rebellion.
Please stop using the analogy…it simply is not true.
The ideology of no ideology is nifty. No matter how tilted in favor of powerful interests, it can be a deft way to keep touting policy agendas as common-sense pragmatism — virtuous enough to draw opposition only from ideologues.
Meanwhile, the end of ideology among policymakers is about as imminent as the end of history.
But — in sync with the ideology of no ideology — deference to corporate power isn’t ideological. And belief in the U.S. government’s prerogative to use military force anywhere in the world is a matter of credibility, not ideology.
Along the way, the ideology of no ideology can corral even normally incisive commentators. So, over the weekend, as news broke about the nominations of Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers to top economic posts, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote an article praising “the members of Obama’s new economic team.” Reich declared: “All are pragmatists. Some media have dubbed them ‘centrists’ or ‘center-right,’ but in truth they’re remarkably free of ideological preconception. … They are not visionaries but we don’t need visionaries when the economic perils are clear and immediate. We need competence. Obama could not appoint a more competent group.”
As for competence, it seems that claims of non-ideology often go hand-in-hand with overblown claims of economic mastery. “Geithner and Summers are credited with expertise in crisis management,” economist Mark Weisbrot pointed out on Monday, “but we better hope they don’t manage the current crisis like they did in East Asia, Russia, Argentina or any of the other countries that Treasury was involved in during the 1990s with their help. They helped bring on the East Asian crisis in 1997 by pressuring the governments in the region to de-regulate international financial flows, which was the main cause of the crisis. Then they insisted that all bailout money go through the IMF, and delayed aid until most of the damage was done. Then they attached damaging conditions” to the aid.
After all is said and done, the ideology of no ideology is just like any other ideology that’s apt to be much better at promoting itself than living up to its pretenses. No amount of flowery rhetoric or claims of transcendent non-ideology should deter tough scrutiny. And Judge Judy’s injunction should apply to the ideology of no ideology as much as to any ideology that owns up to being one: “Don’t pee on me and tell me it’s raining.”
From an article written by Norman Solomon.
This is from a press release of the Green Party on Obama and his appointments.
Green Party leaders called on President-elect Barack Obama to appoint a Cabinet that will pursue real reform, in accord with Mr. Obama’s promise of change in the new administration.
“Democratic and Republican presidents alike have a record of naming industry chiefs, corporate board members and lawyers, and others loyal to wealthy, elite interests,” said Holly Hart, secretary of the Green Party of the United States. “If President Obama truly believes in ‘change we can believe in,’ he’ll appoint a Cabinet that looks like America — not just in ethnic and gender diversity, but in its dedication to the needs of working Americans and the goal of international peace and justice.”
“Barack Obama’s mantra of ‘change’ is already a lie. With Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, and with Hillary Clinton rumored to be Secretary of State, the Obama White House is ready to pursue much of the same agenda as previous administrations,” said Cliff Thornton, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. “It’s a twisted irony that some tried to tag Obama as a socialist, a perception that will make it that much easier for his administration to continue the practice of redistributing wealth from middle- and low-income Americans to America’s wealthiest. Bill Clinton was denounced as a liberal by the same right-wing pundits whose corporate buddies he was handing America over to. The same sell-out is going to happen all over again.”
“Voters who elected Barack Obama because of his promise of change and the hope of a progressive administration need to wake up and realize they’re in for yet another fight. Only if the voters hold Obama to his promises can we avoid the same pro-corporate and warhawk policies that came out of the disastrous Clinton and Bush White Houses,” added Mr. Thornton.
Do not think he is listening…..
The formal introduction of the incoming Obama administration’s national security team at a Chicago hotel on Monday provided a definitive exposure not merely of the fraudulent character of the “change you can believe in” mantra of the Democratic presidential campaign, but more importantly of the failure of American democracy itself.
There on the platform with the president-elect was Senator Hillary Clinton, his nominee for secretary of state, and Robert Gates, whom Obama has asked to remain at the post of secretary of defense to which George W. Bush appointed him. Rounding out the nominees for the key national security positions was retired Marine Gen. James Jones, tapped to serve as national security adviser.
The significance of these choices is unmistakable. They represent an open and contemptuous repudiation of the will of the voters expressed just last month. While millions turned out at the polls in November with the aim of putting an end to eight years of war and repression under the Bush administration, Monday’s announcement signaled there will be no such change.
I have heard from other sources that this is just a ploy to keep the media and the Repubs off balance while he tries an end run to the Left. I think that analysis is just wrong. He, Obama, once the nomination was his, he ran to the center and that is where he is today, if not a bit right of center. Sorry guys change is not in the cards.
At least that is what they are trying to call the Obama plan for the economy. Back on 9 Sept 08 I wrote when everyone was talking about the prospect of change coming to Washington,
“Sadly, history will repeat itself and change will not be coming to the political system. To answer the original question –NO CHANGE IS COMING!” BTW, this is my way of saying, “I told you so”!
So when I hear that Obama’s plan is the New New Deal I shudder.
The present crisis is the outcome of the protracted decline of American capitalism, which is massively indebted, has seen a decades-long decimation of its manufacturing base and whose financial system has become the destructive engine of a deepening worldwide slump. There is no modern New Deal forthcoming from an Obama administration.
Moreover, the one implemented by Roosevelt more than 70 years ago failed to overcome the Depression. That was achieved only through a second world war that annihilated millions of people.
But astonishment at this turn of events, far less satisfaction at the belated acknowledgment of the state’s proper role in the market, should not lead critics of financial capitalism astray. Rather, they should argue firmly that this plan must not be a golden parachute for a small elite of people and firms paid for by the country’s already hard-pressed citizens: rather, it must become a golden opportunity to create a new model of and a new phase in the US economy itself.
The taxpayers’ money should not go to bail out a financial sector that has brought the country to the most severe crisis since 1929 – and which will have (like the great-depression era) economic and political reverberations across the world. The US has a strong banking sector, whose regulation and capital requirements have allowed it to survive the crisis of the financial sector. The fact that the two titans of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have voted with their feet by joining the banking sector is another indication of a possibility of returning to a financial model centred more on banking – with more regulation, stiffer capital-reserves requirements, and fewer leveraging options.
As written in the magazine, The Nation:
What we really need is a new New Deal: a systematic approach to the financial and economic problems of the United States.
Firstly, we need relief for ordinary Americans. At the moment, four million households are behind on their mortgage payments and facing foreclosure. Some estimates suggest that an additional two million may face eviction next year.
Second, we need reform. In recent years, one federal regulatory agency after another has been handed over to the industries they were created to regulate. It should come as no surprise that during the Bush administration the US has witnessed the largest recall of contaminated beef in its history, thousands of deaths from unsafe prescription drugs, and one of our worst financial meltdowns.
Advocates of the free market must confront the fact that both the Great Depression and the current financial chaos were preceded by years of laissez-faire economic policies. Strictly enforced regulations not only protect consumers, they protect companies that behave ethically from those that don’t. The sale of tainted baby food in China demonstrates, once again, that when industries are allowed to police themselves, there’s absolutely no limit on what they’ll do for money.
Third, we need reconstruction, not only of America’s physical infrastructure, but also of its society. Today close to 50 million Americans lack health insurance. About 40 percent of the nation’s adult population is facing medical debts, or having difficulty paying medical bills. A universal health-care system would help American families, while cutting the nation’s long-term health-care costs. And a large-scale federal investment in renewable energy and public-works projects would build the foundation for a strong 21st century economy.
Contrary to the myth of the free market, direct government intervention has played a central role throughout American economic history, subsidizing the growth of the railroad, automobile, aerospace and computer industries, among others. It will take well-planned government investment to break our dependence on foreign oil and create millions of new Green jobs.
I would agree that a new New Deal is needed but I do not see anything changing as it stands today. Obama’s choices for his economic team have proven to be acceptable to Wall Street and that means that they will pursue the continuation of Wall Street first, Main Street….maybe.