Is this a change (of) team we can believe in? (Updated)

From Jim Houle

Ukiah, California 02/13/09
Dave Lindorff, reporter for Salon, the Nation and Businessweek,/ writes: ”Just two weeks after his historic inauguration ceremony, Obama’s presidency is lurching towards failure, and not because three of his administration picks have been found to be tax cheats, but because nearly all of his administration picks are corporate whores and shills”. Lets look at the list:

William Lynn: A former Raytheon Co. lobbyist, confirmed today as deputy secretary of defense, (the department’s chief operating officer – which includes overseeing acquisitions). He has agreed to sell his stock in the military contractor but will not be forced to step back from decisions related to Ratheon, the Defense Department said Friday. Instead, Obama wrote Lynn a special permission slip to exempt him the new revolving door ban. Allowing Lynn to do business with his former employer makes a mockery of Obama’s new ethics rules.

Tom Daschle: Nominated as Secretary of H&HS – dropped out after acknowledging that he had belatedly paid more than $128,000 in taxes owed to the federal government.

Nancy Killefer: Intended to become the government’s first “chief performance officer”, bowed out, after admitting she never paid payroll taxes for her household employee.

Timothy Geithner: a key official of the Bush years, has now been confirmed at Secretary of the Treasury, although he admits not having paid the Social Security and Health Care taxes he owed to the US Treasury., while working at the IMF. He had avoided paying them, despite his signed acknowledgement that he owed these taxes and hid behind the 3 year statue of limitations, thus had saved himself $41,000. He only paid up after his nomination was confirmed. And this guy will supervise the IRS?

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) dropped out after having accepted the job of Commerce Secretary. A deeply conservative man, he is opposed to the very existence of the Commerce Department he will head. To top it off, Obama had worked out a deal to have the Democratic governor of New Hampshire fill Gregg’s vacated Senate seat with a Republican appointee, thereby forfeiting the right to add a Democrat to the Senate and eliminate any chance of Republican filibusters. Gregg explained that he didn’t like Obama’s economic stimulus program. It sounds like his ego got ahead of his ability to keep current on the news.

Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture: A Strong supporter of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered crops and of unsustainable ethanol manufacture from corn and soy beans.

Senator (D-Co) Ken Salazar, Obama’s choice for Secretary of Interior: a loyal servant of the big ranching, and mining interests. Energy stocks climbed over 10% on expectations that his taking charge of Interior would assure continued opening up of federal lands for minerals exploitation”. WSW.org 12/18/08. However, on February 10th, he surprised us by extending the review period for oil and gas leases in western states by 6 months. Should we wait and see if this leopard changes his spots?

Arne Duncan (currently CEO for the Chicago Public School System) will become Education Secretary. He is seen as a strong supporter of the “No Child Left Behind” initiative of the Bush administration.

Dr. Steven Chu has headed the Lawrence Berkeley Labs these past 4 years and is a scientist, not a businessman. His lifelong support for the nuclear power industry is why he’ll be DOE Secretary.

Keep reading Obama-Watch.us Eighth Edition

[Update -DS]

See also Obama and Liberals: A counter-productive relationship by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

and An Open Letter To President Obama About Republicans (From a Former Republican)

and The obstructionists dilemma at Daily Kos→

and They Sure Showed That Obama by Frank Rich, NYT→

Guiding the Ship of State

From Jim Houle
Redwood Valley

Amongst all the euphoria about our entering the Obama Era, I find the sardonic words of Alexander Cockburn somehow appropriate:

Successfully Guiding The Ship Of State During Its Sunset Cruise

Alexander Cockburn writes in Counterpunch 1/17/09 that/: “I’ve always been a fan of George Bush, on the simple grounds that the American empire needs taking down several notches and George Jr has been the right man for the job. On Bush’s Jr’s fitful watch Latin America edged nervously out of Uncle Sam’s shadow. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia boldly assert their independence and thumb their noses at Uncle Sam. Twenty years earlier the ‘strong leadership’ craved by Americans of all political stripes would have seen Chavez and Morales briskly toppled by the CIA and their local right-wing allies.”

“Barely a month went by in Bush Jr’s second term but that some liberal or left pundit would predict a US attack on Iran. It turns out that the Israeli high command made numerous requests for clearance for its planes to overfly Iraq on their way to Iran, but were adamantly nixed by George Jr. “

“Jr’s greatest single triumph in reducing America’s standing was his insistence that the assembly elections in Iraq go forward as planned, in December of 2005. Many seasoned counselors advised Bush to suspend the elections he’d pledged because they would lead to a majority Shi’ite government. Nevertheless, the 43rd president obstinately rejected these counsels, and the elections resulted in a mortal blow to U.S. objectives in Iraq and in the entire region.”

“Somewhere in late 2003, blaming everything on Bush became a national pastime and alibi. He took the hit for fifty years of venal failure by the city fathers of New Orleans and the legislators of Louisiana to protect their city. He’s even had to shoulder the blame for the Wall Street meltdown and the sub-prime crisis, for which Congressional legislators and overseers can far more justly be held responsible.”

“Blessed blunder dogged his every step: He made so half hearted an effort to ‘reform’ Social Security – the last defense of older Americans – that Wall Street, the instigator of the ‘reform’, remembered with profound nostalgia that Bill Clinton was well on his way to destroying Social Security until the Lewinsky scandal forced him to abort the mission. Bush passed his final White House years in morose seclusion, despised by all, obeyed by none – a welcome rebuke to the concept of ‘unitary power’ and an omnipotent executive.”

“Now Obama proclaims his mission of renewing America, always a sinister prospect. We’re heading back into the high country of moral uplift, and dispiriting talk of America’s ‘mission’.”
This is an excerpt from Obama-Watch.us Sixth Edition now available on the Internet:

Also see The Obameter

Letter To Obama – Krugman

From Dave Smith

Universal health care, then, should be your biggest priority after rescuing the economy. Providing coverage for all Americans can be for your administration what Social Security was for the New Deal. But the New Deal achieved something else: It made America a middle-class society. Under FDR, America went through what labor historians call the Great Compression, a dramatic rise in wages for ordinary workers that greatly reduced income inequality. Before the Great Compression, America was a society of rich and poor; afterward it was a society in which most people, rightly, considered themselves middle class. It may be hard to match that achievement today, but you can, at least, move the country in the right direction.

What caused the Great Compression? That’s a complicated story, but one important factor was the rise of organized labor: Union membership tripled between 1935 and 1945. Unions not only negotiated better wages for their own members, they also enhanced the bargaining power of workers throughout the economy. At the time, conservatives warned that wage gains would have disastrous economic effects — that the rise of unions would cripple employment and economic growth. But in fact, the Great Compression was followed by the great postwar boom, which doubled American living standards over the course of a generation.

Unfortunately, the Great Compression was reversed starting in the 1970s, as American workers once again lost much of their bargaining power. This loss was partly due to changes in the world economy, as major U.S. manufacturing corporations started facing more international competition. But it also had a lot to do with politics, as first the Reagan administration, then the Bush administration, did all they could to undermine the ability of workers to organize.

You can make a start on reversing that process. Clearly, you won’t be able to oversee a tripling of union membership anytime soon. But you can do a lot to enhance workers’ rights. One is to start laying the groundwork to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it much harder for employers to intimidate workers who want to join a union. I know it probably won’t happen in your first year, but if and when it does, the legislation will enable America to take a huge step toward recapturing the middle-class society we’ve lost.

Go to Krugman’s Letter To Obama in Rolling Stone

When sending no message is the message

From Jim Houle
Redwood Valley

Comments to: obamawatch@willitsonline.com
Excerpt from www.Obama-Watch.us

A biweekly news blog commenting upon our 44th President’ s actions and providing a scorecard on promises made and kept, promises undone or abandoned, and compromises made.** Our intent is not to tell you what to think, but to give you a few facts and let you think for yourself. We will not tell you where to mount your protests or how you can change the world.

Israel’s intensive 5-day bombing of the world’s most densely populated refugee camp, the Gaza Strip, has put the incoming Obama Administration in an untenable position: While Obama has defended Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket’s fired into Jewish settlements from Gaza, he has avoided any support for the Gazan’s right to medicine, water, electric power, and even food. Neither has he condemned the targeting non-military buildings and densely-packed housing for bombing by Israeli F-16s.

When does his studied neutrality become an implicit approval of genocide? Most international observers do not believe that prevention of relatively harmless attacks by home-made short-range rockets is a justification for bombings by US made F-16s that have so far killed 450 Palestinians. The efforts of Israel to terrorize the civilian population were indicated in a January 1 report by the /New York Times/, which wrote: “Tens of thousands of Gazans have received recorded phone calls from the Israeli Army warning them that their houses have been marked as targets because they harbored either militants or weapons facilities like rocket workshops. Noncombatants were urged to clear out. Hundreds of thousands of leaflets gave the same message.” In an area 25 miles long and only 3 to 7 miles wide, the 1.4 million Palestinians have no where to go to avoid becoming targets for the F-16s.

Israel has now initiated a very ill-advised ground invasion of Gaza. Hamas is well dug-in and, while lacking tanks and artillery, is said to be as well-prepared to disable IDF tanks as the Hezbullah was in the summer of 2006 in South Lebanon. Now is the opportunity for a few sane words from Washington by both Obama and Rice. By maintaining silence, they are both complicit in further Israeli actions.


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