Friday, December 5, 2008

Obama Transition Round-up

There's been a lot of important transition news from the transition all week, so I figured this might be the best way to quickly get through all the things that went down.

-Good: Jared Bernstein Named Joe Biden's economist. I'm with atrios here in wondering why the Vice President needs an economist, but Jared Bernstein is awesome, a progressive, and it's good that he's officially anywhere in the administration.

-Good: Xavier Becerra offered position of US Trade Rep. This could be nice since he's been a strong critic of NAFTA over the past few years. This isn't all good however, because he voted for the Peru deal and China PNTR, so that puts him in the same "doesn't get it" crowd as many dems, but slightly to the left of Obama on trade. Which is good.

-Bad: Obama goes back on his promise to install "windfall profits tax" on oil companies, saying that since the price of oil has fallen, there's no longer a need. The problem with that explanation is that if the companies don't make windfall profits... they don't get taxed. That's the whole point of the law. So it doesn't make sense for Obama to arbitrarily say that since the price has gone down, there's no need for that law. The law polices itself. If they don't have windfall profits, they won't get taxed!

-Good: Mary Beth Maxwell is rumored to be the choice for Labor secretary. She has a great record, and would be an amazing choice if the rumors are to be believe. I'd write more, but since it's still rumors I'll wait until more info comes out.

-Bad: Labor secretary still hasn't been announced, while the other economic positions have. Speaking of that, add this as another bad, and a personal one too. Bill Richardson would have made an amazing secretary of state, and would have been one of the most progressive foreign policy voices we've had in some time. So they send him to the chamber of commerce, where he'll fully be able to exercise his center-right economic views. Ugh.

Good: Susan Rice as U.N. Ambassador. I'm excited about her position just because her FP views are decently further to the left than anyone else on board. I had this whole joke set up about how this makes two people in his administration who were right about Iraq if you include Barack Obama. That was until I found out I was wrong and she wasn't really against the war. Oh. So it's back down to one person in his administration who was right on the war. I know the whole it's only him that matters argument and everything, but jesus, you'd think you could at least get one other person in there. It's not like you based your whole campaign around your opposition to the war or anything.

-Good: Gates Stripped of his top deputies. Very, very good. The Gates appointment still sucks, but this moves it from "Horrific" to "Fairly Annoying".

-Bad: Tim Geithner already sucking (who could have imagined):

Yeah, so Geithner, Obama's appointee for Treasury Secretary wants Bair, the director of the FDIC (the folks who take over failed banks) to lose her post because she hasn't been a "team player" and supposedly isn't working for the good of the economy, but for her own agency.

So why doesn't Geithner like Bair? Because she had the guts to stand up and suggest that homeowners needed real help. This may not have been the "team player" thing to do, but it was the right thing to do for the economy, contrary to what Geithner thinks. And it showed that Bair was concerned first with doing what was right for the economy, the country and ordinary people.
-Bad: Obama brushing off a question about his and Hillary Clinton's foreign policy differences as "fun for the press". I really don't get this one, and it seems like even in some netroots circles now asking this question is akin to continuing the media obsession with "Clinton vs Obama drama". This stuff matters, than ran for president with two very different views of the world. It isn't "fun" to wonder whether Hillary Clinton's policy is to sabre-rattle or negotiate with Iran. This shit matters. If she relinquished all those opinions and has adopted all of your positions, then say so. The people who voted for your foreign policy deserve that much. Oh yeah, and WHO COULD HAVE IMAGINED...

-Unbelievably Bad:
NEW YORK — President-elect Barack Obama's vast list of donors is being asked to donate to Hillary Rodham Clinton as she scrambles to reduce her massive campaign debt before she becomes secretary of state and federal ethics rule limit her fundraising, an Obama adviser said Thursday night.
I seriously hope enough people respond with an email telling them to fuck off. Ever wanted to fund union busting? Help retire a multimillionaire's debt! Makes sense to me!

-Good: The photoshoping ideas that come from this part of the same article:
Clinton also plans to sell a children's book, titled "Dreams Taking Flight" by author Kathleen Krull, about her pioneering candidacy. Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham, planned to send an e-mail to supporters later this week asking them to purchase the book to help raise funds to pay down Clinton's debt.
An kids book on the Clinton primary campaign? I can't wait for the sections on race-baiting, and invoking RFK's assassination! Those will be particularly inspirational!

-Seriously Good: Obama's speech today on the staggering job loss across the country:
But now is the time to respond with urgent resolve to put people back to work and get our economy moving again. At the same time, this painful crisis also provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people by rebuilding roads and modernizing schools for our children, investing in clean energy solutions to break our dependence on imported oil, and making an early down payment on the long-term reforms that will grow and strengthen our economy for all Americans for years to come."

46 More days...

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