Tuesday, December 02, 2008

About Team Obama

President Barack Obama is in a position that is unprecedented in many ways. No need to recount all the perils he faces that we already know about. No need to speculate about what unforeseen troubles will suddenly appear, to demand attention.
Until Obama takes office next year, the eerie vibe that is coming out of the White House is likely to continue. Which means until the current occupant moves out, about all Obama can do to help a nation that is sinking deeper into a bog of despair is try to soothe jangled nerves, appoint respected chief advisers that inspire confidence in the future, and keep his cool.

From what I've seen of Obama's choices and deportment that's exactly what he is doing. So, rather than nitpick each nominee, or carp about his moving to the center, or exaggerate the hardboiled political aspects of this move, or that one, it's the big picture we should focus on.

We should remember that Obama did a pretty good job of assembling the team that got him elected. After all, a year ago, what were the odds against him being elected president?

Obama's staff selections and cabinet nominees are all part of the team he wants balanced around him when he has to hit the ground running on Jan. 20. They likely will need to be a team that's greater than the sum of its parts, in order to pull America out of that damn bog.

Not only does Obama appear to be trying to promote calm and confidence, he seems to want a range of advisers that will present a variety of perspectives and opinions. Clearly, he's not assembling a team made up of cronies and spooky ideologues whose loyalty is valued over their competence.

Well, I don't know about you, but just that change, itself, is enough to make me feel better already.

-- Words and art by F.T. Rea


Meade Skelton said...

I'm sorry but Obama does not have my support. The man is a creep!

F.T. Rea said...

Meade Skelton,

Somehow, Obama will have to press on without your support. Will he still be a creep, if he does a good job?

F.T. Rea said...

Meade Skelton,

OK. Having just read your screed about a bad radio signal, I'm thinking now that you were pulling SLANTblog's leg with your comment, in order to promote yourself as a comedian. That's fine.

Have fun ... and, good luck.

Meade Skelton said...

Its just that I get bad vibes from Obama. I really don't think he is a good man. Also, I can't get over how liberal Richmond has become.

Preston M. Yancy said...

You could not make up a Meade Skelton. Truth is often stranger than fiction. Preston M. Yancy

Scott said...

Meade Skelton is not conservative, he is a radical like Bush.

We all should should wish Obama luck as the country depends on him. Right now, a lot of Americans are blindly following the media by giving themselves a slap on the back for this election. Its understandable- this country, this state, successfully elected a black man for President. It is a great thing for democracy and society. I am celebrating it and I urge everyone to celebrate it. However, as the anti-drunk driving ads suggest, celebrate responsibly. The fact is that there were many, many voting irregularities, many cases where votes were not counted at all. This is atrocious. The Republicrats have a vested interest in NOT rocking the system, but we should be screaming bloody murder about it.

But I also find F.T. Rea's reasoning flawed. Obama's cabinet choices beyond criticism? Hell no.


Greens urge Obama to appoint Cabinet members dedicated to real change, not more corporate operatives and warhawks like Rahm Emanuel


For Immediate Release:
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614, mclarty@greens.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, starlene@gp.org

A Cabinet full of corporate honchos, lawyers, and shills will not "look like America," say Greens

WASHINGTON, DC -- 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."

Greens called Mr. Obama's choice of Rahm Emanuel for White House Chief of Staff especially unfortunate, citing Mr. Emanuel's position as managing director of investment banks Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, earning him $18 million between 1999 and 2002 and his track record in Congress since 2003.

The appointment of Mr. Emanuel confirms Mr. Obama's pledge to AIPAC that he will maintain the same uncritical support for Israel as the Clinton and Bush administrations, whose policies resulted in increasing human rights violations against Palestinians and greater instability in the region. Mr. Emanuel was also one of the original drafters of NAFTA and now favors similar antidemocratic 'free trade' pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, which would cost more US jobs and suppress environmental and labor protections.

Green Party leaders said that Rahm Emanuel's appointment was consistent with Mr. Obama's choice of Sen. Joe Biden as his Vice President. Despite his reputation in the media as a defender of working people, Mr. Biden helped draft a law signed by President Bush that relaxed regulations on financial institutions, giving them more power over Americans facing financial problems and transferring risk from predatory lenders to borrowers. As an architect of mandatory minimum drug laws (including the RAVE Act), Sen. Biden helped put the children of working families behind bars.

Among the corporate-connected names on the list for the Obama Cabinet are Eric Holder, Jr. for Attorney General and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. Holder is a partner at Covington & Burling, which represents the National Football League, Chiquita, and Merck, and Gov. Vilsack is an enthusiastic advocate of genetically engineered crops and corn- and soy-based biofuels, with ties to Monsanto, whose products and policies have destroyed independent and family farms around the world.

"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.


Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org

tbsamsel said...

Richmond? Liberal? Don't lick the pump handle, dude.

Meade Skelton said...

Trust me, I live in the Fan and all these Obama stickers and signs everywhere. I feel like a rooster out of a coop! Richmond has gone to tell in a handbasket. Obama is BAD NEWS. He is an evil man. He could be the next Hitler. We like the Germans, fell for his lies.Nobody can say that I didn't warn them! Kiss your personal freedoms goodbye!

Tom Sanchez Prunier said...

Meade = troll. Do not feed the troll. The Green Party will never ascend to legitimacy if it continues to make such outrageous remarks. Decorum is the key to the realm; and, considering the potential demise of the Republican Party (if not just the Conservative movement), the Greens should seize this opportunity instead of distinguishing themselves as fringe nutbags.

BTW, Meade, it's "hell in a handbasket," and Richmond was there for eight years.

This whole not trusting or labeling of our President-Elect as evil is sooooo 2002. Get with the times.

And if you would be so kind, unplug your keyboard for the next four to eight years while we repair the country. DIAF.

Tom Sanchez Prunier said...

I should obey my own advice, but hey - some people need to understand that there are people with differing opinions... over 60 million in this country alone, to be exact.

No Hitler, no Nazi, just a real American from the real America - not a country club deserting chickenhawk and the remaining Reaganites that weren't convicted.

[I really enjoy knowing the First Amendment - heck, the whole Bill of Rights - will be restored in a little over six weeks.]

Scott said...

If protesting the corporate bail-outs and war ministers makes us 'finge nutbags' (now there's decorum for you), then I will join many, many Americans as nutbags.

How should we "seize this opportunity"? By calmly going along with more war and bail outs (like many Democrats have)?

Tom, which Green Party comments do you find outrageous or untrue?

Seriously, answer the questions.

Tom Sanchez Prunier said...

Scott, answering your questions is like the relentless "Why?" continuum of a three-year-old. The copy-pasted press release heavily criticizes Rahm Emmanuel, then draws a bunch of conclusions, and you mention protesting the bail outs (a stance I share with you), but the one thing I'll address is this statement from the co-chair of the Green Party:

"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."

I never thought I'd have to rely on (not)Joe the (not)Plumber for assistance, but please take a moment and google that.

My point is that the Green Party should not fall in line with a Sarah Palin stump speech. That's asshattery of the highest order.

Obama is neither Clinton nor Bush. This is why our country selected him. 20 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush was enought. He hasn't taken office yet and you're condemning his actions and judgment.

Give the man a chance. He literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders and you're accusing him of exactly what he said he would not do. When troops leave Iraq for Afghanistan (and, maybe Pakistan), or start coming home, and our budget stops leaking taxpayer money, maybe you will reconsider.

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Perhaps if the Green Party didn't continue the 2008 Election (it's been over for a month now) and stepped up to the plate and asked what they can do to help, then maybe they could be part of the discussion. Right now, they're off in a corner like the neocons, assuming and complaining.

Now is a time to work together, not tear apart. We've been there, and look what it's done to our economy, our reputaton as a nation, the the general health and mortality of 100,000 civilians in Iraq, not to mention all the coalition soldiers returning injured or not at all.

Thing is, it looks like our incoming President does not want to engage in petty arguements, but instead wants to right the country as quickly as possible. I repeat: Give the man a chance.

Tom Sanchez Prunier said...

Also: "Voting irregularities"?

Please. Stop it.

Scott said...

Rather than disproving Green Party concerns AND FACTS about Obama's cabinet choices, you continue a condescending attack on the Green Party.

You didn't address anything. You just said "Stop it" and say that we are not allowed into the discussion. How very Republicratic Party of you.

I hope Obama does bring troops home, and stop budget from leaking. He has his chance. And as he has said, its OUR chance as Americans. We need to hold Obama to his promises and high standards.

Voting irregularities:



Scott said...


Greens Oppose Nomination of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State
Capital District Greens

For immediate release, December 1, 2008
For More Info: Mark Dunlea 518 283-6512, Howie Hawkins 315 425-1019

The Capital District Greens criticized President-elect Obama today for nominating Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to be his Secretary of State, saying it contradicted the anti-war rhetoric he initially based his campaign on.

The Greens said Obama has put together a hawkish, right of center foreign policy team that is opposed to the positions of most Americans.

The Greens also called upon Governor Paterson to appoint a Senate replacement for Clinton that was more in touch with New York voters on issues such as peace, combating climate change and supporting single payer universal health care than Clinton was.

"When Senator Obama launched his campaign, much of his appeal to voters in the primaries was his initial opposition to the invasion of Iraq during his time as a state senator. During the presidential primaries, Obama positioned himself as a peace candidate, despite his consistent votes for funding the Iraq War during his time in the U.S. Senate. Senator Clinton has refused to admit that her support for the invasion of Iraq was a mistake," said Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for US Senate from NY in 2006.

The Greens pointed out during her 2006 campaign for US Senate, Hillary Clinton boasted that it was her husband, not Bush, that had first implemented the doctrine of pre-emptive invasion with his attacks on Somalia and the Balkans.

"The Democrats told the American people that the best way to reject Bush and his various wars was by given the Dems control of the White House and Congress. Now that they won, once again the Democrats are giving the American people something quite different. Putting the Clinton White House back together was not the change the Senator Obama talked about during his campaign," noted Mark Dunlea of the Capital District Greens.

"The man who vowed to deliver us from 28 years of Bushes and Clintons has been stocking up on Clintonites," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote. "How, one may ask, can he put Hillary -- who voted to authorize the Iraq war without even reading the intelligence assessment -- in charge of patching up a foreign policy and a world riven by that war?"

The Obama transition team recently announced that President Bush's Defense Secretary Robert Gates will retain his position. There are many troubling questions about Gates' role in Iran-Contra, as well as his shaping of intelligence about Russia. Vice-President Joe Biden, who backed the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, was selected for his hawkish views John Brennan, who played a major role in extraordinary rendition, torture at Guantnamo and warrantless wiretapping, was picked to lead the review of intelligence agencies. Obama sent former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, famous for stating in a 60 Minutes interview that the death of up to 500,000 Iraqi children by U.S. sanctions was worth the price, to represent him at the recent G20 meeting. Not one of the US Senators and House members who voted against the war in Iraq are being considered by Obama’s foreign policy team.

With so many former Clinton staff moving into the Obama Presidency, the Greens said it was important to look at President Clinton's foreign policy record. It was President Clinton who first initiated the policy of overthrowing Saddam Hussein by force with the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998, which led to covert operations and increased bombing of Iraq intended to destabilize Iraq at enormous cost to innocent civilians Under the pretext of enforcing the No-Fly Zones in Iraq, he initiated the longest sustained U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam. Yugoslavia was bombed and dismantled. Clinton has strongly defended her husband's decision to attack Yugoslavia, saying in 1999, "I urged him to bomb. You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?"

As reporter Jeremy Scahill recently pointed out, under Bill Clinton, Sudan and Afghanistan were attacked, Haiti was destabilized and "free trade" deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) dramatically accelerated the corporate-dominated globalization that hurt U.S. workers and devastated developing countries. Clinton escalated the militarization of the so-called War on Drugs in Central and Latin America and supported privatization of U.S. military operations, giving lucrative contracts to Halliburton and other war contractors. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to countries like Turkey and Indonesia aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the East Timorese.

Hillary Clinton was an ardent defender of her husband's economic and military war against Iraq. As a U.S. senator, she enthusiastically embraced the Bush administration's propaganda campaign in the lead-up to the invasion. "Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability and his nuclear program," Clinton said when rising in October 2002 to support the invasion. "He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members. I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and for our support for the president's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction."

Senator Clinton voted for the anti-civil liberties Patriot Act. She has consistently opposed any efforts to end the illegal occupation of Palestine, including the recent brutal blockade of Gaza. In 2006, she gave unconditional support to the bombings and attacks on civilians in Lebanon by Israel.

The Green Party of the US recently noted that along with Clinton, the appointment of Cong. Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff means that Obama is likely to maintain the same uncritical support for Israel as the Clinton and Bush administrations, whose policies resulted in increasing human rights violations against Palestinians and greater instability in the region. Mr. Emanuel was one of the original drafters of NAFTA and now favors similar antidemocratic 'free trade' pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, which would cost more US jobs and suppress environmental and labor protections.

The Greens also called for a full public disclosure of the Clinton family finances and fundraising. Clinton herself has raised enormous sums of money from a slew of corporate interests to fund her Senate and Presidential campaigns. Clinton's husband, Bill, poses numerous conflicts of interests for her as Secretary of State. He has been widely accused of raising funds by use his stature as former President to put together shady deals. The most notorious involves receiving a $31 million donation to his Presidential library shortly after he helped broker a deal between Canadian financier Frank Giusta and the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Giusta ended up with a contract for access to Kazakhstanâ's Uranium, and Nazarbayev got appointed the head of an international election-monitoring organization that had ruled his election fraudulent.

Hawkins added that "The US cannot afford to continue spending over a trillion dollars a year maintaining a global military empire of over 700 military bases in over 100 countries. We face a choice: empire or economic recovery. Obama's stated commitments to increased military spending, deficit reduction, and trillions for financial corporation bailouts will mean a radical reduction in the living standards of Amerca's working families through increased regressive payroll taxes coupled to cuts in Medicare and Social Security, as Obama's budget manager, Peter Orszag, advocates. Economic recovery requires deep cuts in military spending of at least 50 percent and investing the peace dividend in economic recovery by building a green economy of renewable energy, mass transit, green buildings, sustainable manufacturing, and organic agriculture. Unfortunately, the neoliberals on Obama's economic team complement the neoconservatives on his national security team and indicate that his green energy rhetoric has been as disingenuous as his peace rhetoric."