Monday, December 29, 2008

The Accountablility Question...

1st Chicken Little the Sky is Falling!!!!
Government needs $700 Billion to Bailout Banks!

2nd Yes Dorothy there is Oversight in the Bailout
The Treasury Department, the architect of the plan, reportedly agreed to modifications to include strong congressional oversight.

3rd Oversight, There’s No Stinking Oversight
An Inconvenient Fact: Congress had not required the Treasury to follow the money!

4th Hey You Get Off of My Cloud
Despite the fact that Congress wrote more than one hundred pages about oversight in the bailout bill, they left a gaping hole.
This "bailout" was just carte blanche to corporate greed-mongers and friends of Bush and Cheney who stuffed it in their pockets and helped nobody but themselves.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Damage that Can Be Done

Coal Mining Debris Rule Is Approved

Yesterday, the White House approved "one of the most contentious" regulations officials are trying to push through in Bush's final weeks in office, making it "easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys."

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson claimed that the new rule would "protect fish, wildlife and streams."
But a coalition of environmental groups said the rule would accelerate “the destruction of mountains, forests and streams throughout Appalachia.”

Edward C. Hopkins, a policy analyst at the
Sierra Club, said: “The E.P.A.’s own scientists have concluded that dumping mining waste into streams devastates downstream water quality. By signing off on this rule, the agency has abdicated its responsibility.”

Mr. Bush has boasted of his efforts to cooperate with President-elect
Barack Obama to ensure a smooth transition, but the administration is rushing to complete work on regulations to which Mr. Obama and his advisers object. The rules deal with air pollution, auto safety, abortion and workers’ exposure to toxic chemicals, among other issues.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another View

From Daily Kos

Makes sense to me

The Rude Pundit
gets chill:

[L]et's just say this as Barack Obama introduces his national security team and people huff and puff about whether they're hawks or not progressive enough or problem children or disappointing or what the fuck ever: Ultimately, the cabinet does the bidding of the president. Sure, they offer ideas and guide the departments. But they are policy implementers. Nothing less and nothing more. You have to be willing to go along with the boss to do the job, or you don't take it. And it's all a political game. If we know anything at all about Barack Obama, it's that he's one crafty motherfucker in the realm of politics.

If you wanted to, say, change the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our strategic relationships around the globe, who's gonna do it without pissing people off? Secretary of Defense Dennis Kucinich? Fuck no. You get the guys and gals who were proponents of the war in at least some way or have cozy goddamn Capitol Hill relationships. If the great and glorious David Petraeus and the shiny Robert Gates are saying, "Bring the troops home," then you've defused your enemies. It ain't Clintonian triangulation, which involved embracing a watered-down version of your opponents' beliefs. It's just fuckin' smart. The same goes for economic policy and it will go for domestic.

Yeah, if Obama lets his hawks run the place and make him break his promises, then we can squawk. But for now, can we just take a breath and see how it all works

Some Federal Workers Lose Bargaining Rights

President Bush issued an executive order on Monday that denies collective bargaining rights to about 8,600 federal employees who work in law enforcement, intelligence and other agencies responsible for national security.

The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 gave bargaining rights to federal employees, but allowed the president to exclude groups of employees from coverage.

Mr. Bush’s order affects certain employees at the Energy Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Air Marshal Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Real Rivalry In the Team: The Cabinet vs. The Campaign Promises

By David Sirota

Just as an add-on to my column this week, I wanted to add two more macro thoughts about Obama's appointments, and progressive unrest about those appointments.

First, I think there's a psychological aspect to what bothers progressives about Obama's refusal to appoint movement progressives to key positions. The
public opinion data overwhelmingly confirms that Obama won with a clear progressive mandate - to argue otherwise against cut-and-dry numbers is to mimic an ostrich shoving its head in the sand, or to mimic the Braindead Megaphone's insistence that this is a "center-right nation." Additionally, nobody argues that his victory wasn't the product of huge progressive grassroots support. So in light
of that, there's a perception that he's delivering the spoils of that victory to those who embody what the election rejected.

In that sense, there's a Rodney Dangerfield harrumph - we progressives get no respect. That's understandable, but we're going to have to keep our eye on the policy, understanding that personnel impacts policy, but isn't policy itself. And the policy is ultimately what defines true respect (and disrespect).

Second, the meaningless "pragmatic Team of Rivals" nonsense - and it
truly is media-created nonsense - is clearly being used as a rationale to pack the incoming administration with Establishment figures.

Indeed,the "rivalry" isn't between the "team" of appointees (most of them come from the same team - ie. the center-right team of permanent Washington). The "rivalry" is between the positions/ideology of the appointees and the positions/ideology Obama explicitly campaigned on.

It's certainly possible that Obama will not be affected at all by the voices he puts around him, and that -
as I wrote earlier - he is banking on getting center-right Establishment figures to carry center-left Establishment-challenging policy. We should withhold final judgment until we see the policies come January 2009 and beyond. We don't know that this conservatives-carrying-progressive-legislation strategy is his goal, but we can certainly hope, and we can additionally hope that he didn't appoint center-right Establishment figures to carry a center-right Establishment agenda.

That said, I think those who say that the latter isn't possible and that the only rationale thing to do is simply trust
Obama's "buck stops here" promise yesterday are being willfully stupid and dishonest - both to themselves and to those they are arguing with.

The truth is, we all want Obama to do well - but there's nothing
disloyal, silly or uniformed about looking at his appointments and asking why many of them seem to individually represent positions and ideologies at odds with the positions and ideologies he campaigned on.

It’s no accident that the conservative noise machine from
Karl Rove on down is praising Obama's appointments, and effectively creating that
rightward pull. If there isn't similar progressive pressure now, don't be
surprised if the debate - and thus the policy - starts slowly creeping