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By Lisa Pease, Consortium News
It’s good to see President-elect Barack Obama studying history. How wonderful to have a President who actually reads book such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln’s inclusion of political opponents in his war-time Cabinet.
But there’s another “team of rivals” in more recent history that proved disastrous for a President's goals.
If there’s one book Obama should read before he sets any more appointments in stone, it would be James Douglass’s remarkable book JFK and the Unspeakable.
Douglass outlines in clear form how a generous-minded President Kennedy brought his rivals into his inner circle, only to find them banding together against him and working against his stated goals.
Bush Aides Rush to Enact a Safety Rule Obama Opposes
by Robert Pear | NYTimes.com
The Labor Department is racing to complete a new rule, strenuously opposed by President-elect Barack Obama, that would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job.
The rule, which has strong support from business groups, says that in assessing the risk from a particular substance, federal agencies should gather and analyze “industry-by-industry evidence” of employees’ exposure to it during their working lives. The proposal would, in many cases, add a step to the lengthy process of developing standards to protect workers’ health.
By Robert Parry, Consortium News
Surprisingly this Thanksgiving, the Washington Establishment had a lot to give thanks for. And its chief mouthpiece – the Washington Post’s neoconservative editorial page – was glowing over its good fortune in the three-plus weeks since Barack Obama's election.
On Friday, the Post’s lead editorial thanked President-elect Obama for settling on insider favorites for key jobs, especially officials with long records of promoting the neocon foreign policy agenda.
In Post speak, Obama “has so far placed an admirable emphasis on proven competence over personal loyalty or political purity.”
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, 27 Nov (IPS) - The decision by President-elect Barack Obama to keep Robert M. Gates on as defence secretary has touched off a debate over whether Obama can pursue his commitment to rapid withdrawal from Iraq even though Gates has defended George W. Bush's surge policy and opposed Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal.
Obama did not explicitly address Iraq at a press conference Wednesday, saying only that he would 'provide a vision' on foreign policy and 'make sure that my team is implementing' it. The appointments, which will be formally announced Monday, are expected to include Gates and Gen. James Jones as national security advisor, who has also been critical of Obama's withdrawal timetable.
Some legal scholars believe appointing Clinton to State would be unconstitutional
By Ron Brynaert, Raw Story
While the appointment of Senator Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State appears to be an all but done deal, there are some legal scholars who believe that the move would be unconstitutional.
"Why? Because the Constitution forbids the appointment of members of Congress to administration jobs if the salary of the job they'd take was raised while they were in Congress," NBC's Pete Williams reports.
Live in Afghanistan? Try to Leave. Gates is Staying on at Pentagon. Change We'll Have to "Believe In" Since We Can't See It
Raise your hand if you voted for this.
JURIST Contributing Editor Mary Ellen O'Connell of Notre Dame Law School and panel colleagues at a recent Washburn University School of Law symposium on “The Rule of Law and the Global War on Terrorism” offer their consensus on the appropriate way forward on critical issues in international law and policy that will confront President Barack Obama’s Administration when it takes office on January 20, 2009...
By Dave Lindorff
I was listening to Robert Reich, once the left end of the spectrum in the Clinton cabinet, talking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer a few days ago, and Reich, who has in the past sometimes made sense, was talking about how Americans’ incomes had fallen over the last eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration and that it was necessary to get their incomes back on an upward trend, so that they could “start shopping again.”
Now I understand Reich was trying to make the case that the bailout so far has been focused on the banks and the insurance industry, and that none of this will help unless ordinary people start getting some relief, but still, there’s something completely twisted and out of whack when the best we can come up with is that we need to get Americans back into the malls.
In fact, that is a good part of what’s wrong with the US economy: Fully 75 percent of GDP in America is consumer spending.
By JOHN FEFFER, FPIF
George Fernandes, the Indian socialist trade union leader and politician, was a prominent opponent of nuclear weapons. That is, until he became India's Defense Minister in 1998. That year, India detonated its first nuclear bomb and officially entered the nuclear club. Fernandes, the former peacenik, had become the country's number-one nukes booster.
Open Letter to President-Elect Obama: Break With the Dark Side. Do Not Nominate John Brennan as CIA Director
November 24th, 2008
Psyche, Science, and Society
A group of about 200 psychologists and allies has created an Open Letter to President-Elect Obama expressing concerns regarding his rumored consideration of John Brennan to be Director of the CIA. The letter:
November 22, 2008
Dear President-Elect Obama,
By Steve Clemons, Washington Note
A senior Obama campaign official shared with The Washington Note that in July 2008, the McCain and Obama camps began to work secretly behind the scenes to assemble large rosters of potential personnel for the administration that only one of the candidates would lead.
Lists comprised of Democrats and Republicans were assembled, sorted into areas of policy expertise, so that the roster could be called on after the election by either the Obama or McCain transition teams.
This kind of out-of-sight coordination is rare between battling presidential camps and provides some indication that both Obama and McCain intended to draw expertise into their governments from both sides of the aisle -- or at least they wanted to appear interested in doing so if the information leaked out about the list development process.
Fascinating tidbit on cooperation behind battle lines.
By Dave Lindorff
It’s a safe bet that within the next several months, Congress will vote to bail out General Motors. It will be a colossal boondoggle involving, probably, upwards of $50 billion when it’s through, and it will fail in the end.
The reason is before our eyes. This bloated megacorporation is being run by idiots.
For years, as it became evident to everyone that oil prices were going to soar because demand has been exceeding both production and supply and will continue to do so, it has been obvious that to succeed, a car company had to offer well-made cars that could demonstrate high gas mileage. GM, perhaps more than any other company, ignored that reality and has been paying the price, watching its share of the car market wither.
If you're having trouble remembering what the recent election was all about, rest easy: you're probably not going senile - you're likely experiencing the momentary effects of brainwashing. For weeks, your television, newspaper and radio have been telling you America is a "center-right nation" that elected Barack Obama to crush his fellow "socialist" hippies, discard the agenda he campaigned on, and meet the policy demands of electorally humiliated Republicans.
This is the usual post-election nonsense from the Braindead Megaphone, as author George Saunders famously calls our political and media noise machine. When George W. Bush wins by 3 million votes, the megaphone blares announcements about a conservative mandate that Democrats must respect. When Obama wins by twice as much, the same megaphone roars about Democrats having no mandate to do anything other than appease conservatives.
It's confusing, isn't it? We hazily recall backing Obama and his progressive platform. Yet, the megaphone's re-educative shock treatment aims to wipe away that memory and conjure eternal conservatism from our spotless minds.
by Linda Milazzo
In an effort to establish peaceful diplomacy with the government and people of Iran, and to model for the new Obama administration the power of cooperative good will, three highly regarded American peace makers have ventured to Iran. CODEPINK cofounders, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, along with former Army Colonel and decorated Foreign Service Diplomat Ann Wright, are visiting Iran on visas coordinated by the Fellowship Of Reconciliation, which similarly organized the September 24th meeting in New York City between civilian leaders of the American peace movement and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In that historic citizen diplomacy gathering, Iranian President Ahmadinejad met with approximately 120 representatives from American peace and social justice organizations, where over the course of two hours, he took unfiltered questions from the groups. The question from the women of Codepink, who travel extensively on missions of peace, addressed why the organization's founders were repeatedly denied visas to Iran. Ahmadinejad promised to remedy the situation and provide the women their visas. Thanks to the efforts of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, working in consort with the government of Iran, visas to Iran were issued on Monday to Benjamin, Evans and Wright. Seventy-two hours later, these intrepid citizen diplomats were packed and on their way.
I caught up with Evans yesterday on her stop-over in Frankfurt and asked her to explain the intent of her mission. She replied:
"We're traveling to Iran to strengthen our connections with as many groups as possible in the areas of government, culture, education, women and, of course, peace. We've come to deepen our work as citizen diplomats to model the type of diplomacy we HOPE to see from our new government."
So, here's a question. If you exclude people who've recently been lobbyists, why would you not exclude people who've recently served on the boards of corporations that present conflicts of interest?
And what about people who own stock in corporations that present conflicts of interest (something that's gotten Cheney indicted in south Texas, but that otherwise seems to go completely unremarked in Washington)?
At what point do "ethics" requirements cease to be attempts to accomplish anything ethical?
Obama's top pick for CIA would ensure that we don't get any of that change we'd hoped for.
[Note for readers: TomDispatch Associate Editor Nick Turse, has the lead piece at the Nation magazine this week and it's a sobering walk down memory lane. "A My Lai a Month" is an exposé of American war crimes and the slaughter of thousands of civilians in Vietnam's Mekong Delta in the late 1960s, events about which, until Turse uncovered them almost 40 years later, little was known and less reported. Kudos to the Nation for publishing the piece. It's hard to read it and not wonder what the Nick Turses of 2048 will be writing about our present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.]
By Ken Anderson, via Mark Crispin Miller
Actually, I find Greenwald's discussion to be a lot of hot air. Trying to discern Holder's views on "the rule of law" based on impassioned speeches criticizing the Bush administration is a fool's errand. After all, we have seen Obama flop over backwards on telecom immunity, as have any
number of Democrats, after roundly criticizing it as a violation of the "rule of law." Now we see Specter, having voted for immunity, still blabbering on about how wrong it is.
By Dave Lindorff
The ongoing and deepening global economic crisis, to which Barack Obama owes his presidential election victory, is no small thing, to be sure. It also presents us on the left with a lot of openings to press for progressive change.
President-elect promised change, picking insiders
By KEVIN FREKING, AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama promised the voters change, but he has started his Cabinet selection process by naming several Washington insiders to top posts.
Obama is enlisting former Senate leader Tom Daschle as his health secretary. Hillary Rodham Clinton seemed more likely than ever to be his secretary of state. Clinton is deciding whether to take that post as America's top diplomat, her associates said Wednesday.
Obama is ready to announce that his attorney general will be Eric Holder, the Justice Department's No. 2 when Clinton's husband was president. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, is another veteran of the Clinton White House.
By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet
U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) is pleased to announce that President-elect Barack Obama has chosen ACS Executive Director Lisa Brown as White House Staff Secretary.
"Lisa Brown has made an enormous contribution to the development of ACS over the last six years. While we are saddened to lose her, we are pleased that such an able leader and extraordinary person will be serving President-elect Barack Obama in this vital position," said Chair of the ACS Board of Directors Paul M. Smith.
Activists note that most of the candidates for top security posts voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq or otherwise supported launching the war.
By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington -- Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.
The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.
The Following is From MAMA Radio in Colombia:
Read it while considering this comment from Glenn Greenwald who addresses the good and bad in Holder HERE:
I've seen some attempts to criticize Holder based upon clients he has represented while in private practice, most notably his defense of Chiquita Brands in a criminal case brought by the DOJ arising out of Chiquita's payments and other support to Colombian death squads. Attempts to criticize a lawyer for representing unsavory or even evil clients are inherently illegitimate and wrong -- period. Anybody who believes in core liberties should want even the most culpable parties to have zealous representation before the Government can impose punishments or other sanctions. Lawyers who defend even the worst parties are performing a vital service for our justice system. Holder is no more tainted by his defense of Chiquita than lawyers who defend accused terrorists at Guantanamo are tainted by that.
Holder's Links to Chiquita Brands International Not a Good Sign for Justice For the Victims of Paramilitary Terror
By Mario A. Murillo (Bogotá, Colombia)
First the good news: We're two months away from President George W. Bush's last full day in the White House. The countdown for the end of the nightmare has begun in earnest.
By John Nichols, The Nation
Quick! Name the veteran Department of Justice insider who, shortly after the USA Patriot Act was signed into law and at a point when the Bush administration was proposing to further erode barriers to governmental abuses, argued that dissenters should not be tolerated?
Who invoked September 11, explicitly referencing "the World Trade Center aflame," in calling for the firing of any "petty bureaucrat" who might suggest that proper procedures be followed and that the separation of powers be respected?
John Ashcroft? No.
Alberto Gonzales? No.
It was Eric Holder, the man who has reportedly been selected by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States.
By Ray McGovern, www.consortiumnews.com
"As Bad As Rumsfeld?" The title jars, doesn't it? The more so, since Defense Secretary Robert Gates found his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, such an easy act to follow.
But the jarring part reflects how malnourished most of us are on the thin gruel served up by the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).
Over the past few months, Defense Secretary Gates has generated accolades from FCM pundits — like the Washington Post's David Ignatius — that read like letters of recommendation to graduate school.
This comes as no surprise to those of us – including his former colleagues at the CIA’s analytical division – familiar with Gates's dexterity in orchestrating his own advancement. What DOES come as a surprise is the recurring rumor that President-elect Obama may decide to put new wine in old wineskins by letting Gates stay.
What can Barack Obama be thinking?