Liberals voice concerns about Obama
“He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it’s all over we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment,” said Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America.
OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive plea: “Isn’t there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?”
Maybe I was reading different articles when Senator Obama was running, but my impression was that he was for the most part a centrist. So while I am very disappointed with Lawrence Summers as head of the National Economic Council. While not happy about keeping Robert Gates on as SecDef, I do understand both the logistics and politics behind it enough to understand Obama’s reasoning. This comment from Jonathan Tasini of workinglife.org pretty much captures where I’m at,
“It’s complicated,” said Tasini, who challenged Clinton for Senate in 2006. “On the one hand, the guy hasn’t even taken office yet so it’s a little hasty to be criticizing him. On the other hand, there is legitimate cause for concern. I think people are still waiting but there is some edginess about this.
So far President-elect Obama has tried to lead as much as possible considering he hasn’t officially taken office yet and Bush is the lamest duck president we’ve had since Hoover. All most all his energies seem to be toward economic issues. His weekly address focused on the economy and I didn’t hear anything I hated. He seems very focused on creating jobs. Nott just make work jobs, but rebuilding our infrastructure – which according to this 2005 report card would be money well spent. We know that in his previous incarnations Lawrence Summers hasn’t been labor’s dream come true on economic policy, but remember that just before the Thanksgiving week-end Obama, probably having heard some concerns about his choices said that change starts with him. He has recently given his public support for the workers at Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors. Frank Rich brings up parallels to the Kennedy administrations “best and brightest”, The Brightest Are Not Always the Best – horrible title aside,
Summers and Geithner are both protégés of another master of the universe, Robert Rubin. His appearance in the photo op for Obama-transition economic advisers three days after the election was, to put it mildly, disconcerting. Ever since his acclaimed service as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, Rubin has labored as a senior adviser and director at Citigroup, now being bailed out by taxpayers to the potential tune of some $300 billion. Somehow the all-seeing Rubin didn’t notice the toxic mortgage-derivatives on Citi’s books until it was too late. The Citi may never sleep, but he snored.
Geithner was no less tardy in discovering the reckless, wholesale gambling that went on in Wall Street’s big casinos, all of which cratered while at least nominally under his regulatory watch.
A little too hard on Geither, but in keeping with the best and brightest meme and the Kennedy years; what if it was more like McGeorge Bundy, Walt Rostow and Robert McNamara were rehired for a Democratic president in 1968 – having the benefit of 20/20 hindsight wouldn’t it be fairly safe to assume they do things a little differently. Its a difficult line to walk, but there is a difference between expressing concerns over apointments and shifting into hypercritical mode of a president that will not be sworn in for another forty days. Then once he takes office time to get up and running. There is some consolation for liberals in that Bill ‘wrong about everything’ Kristol is warning of a liberal Obama overreach, Small Isn’t Beautiful
President-elect Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress are about to serve up a supersized helping of big-government liberalism.
[ ]…Similarly, if you’re against big government, you’ll oppose a huge public works stimulus package. If you think some government action is inevitable, you might instead point out that the most unambiguous public good is national defense. You might then suggest spending a good chunk of the stimulus on national security — directing dollars to much-needed and underfunded defense procurement rather than to fanciful green technologies, making sure funds are available for the needed expansion of the Army and Marines before rushing to create make-work civilian jobs. Obama wants to spend much of the stimulus on transportation infrastructure and schools. Fine, but lots of schools and airports seem to me to have been refurbished more recently and more generously than military bases I’ve visited.
Kristol admits in another part of the column that no matter which party controls the government there is little chance that gov’mint will shrink. He’s willing to make the admission, in fact reassure all Americans that government has grown under every Conservative presidents since Nixon. Yet, based his personal visits, money to schools and airports is money down the pit. Since Bill is terribly afraid that we’re not spending enough on the military lets reassure him that the defense budget will continue the way it has been, an out of control ill focused spending, Smart Defense
Even a senior Pentagon advisory group–the Defense Business Board –recently concluded that the current budget is “not sustainable.” And according to the Boston Globe, “Pentagon insiders and defense budget specialists say the Pentagon has been on a largely unchecked spending spree since 2001 that will prove politically difficult to curtail but nevertheless must be reined in.”
The current budget allots over $500 billion to defense, and an additional $200 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a recent editorial in the New York Times tells us, the budget is “nearly equal to all of the rest of the world’s defense budgets combined.” It represents 57 percent of the total discretionary budget.
[ ]…The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and its Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) network of progressive experts also released a report last year– Just Security–which details how $213 billion could be cut from US military spending. Even with this cut the US would retain the largest military in the world and spend over eight times more than any of the next largest militaries.
I read a report like this every year. Wasteful spending and ways to reign it in that will not compromise our national security. The defense budget gets larger every year. There is little reason to think the next few years will be any different. More advice for President Obama – Need cash? Cut nuclear weapons budget
Transfers to domestic programs will help jumpstart the economy. Military spending provides some economic stimulus but not as much as targeted domestic spending. This is one reason Representative Barney Frank has called for a 25 percent reduction in military budgets that have exploded from $305 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $716 billion in fiscal year 2009, including the $12 billion spent every month for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We must, of course, spend what we need to defend the country. But a good part of the military budget is still devoted to programs designed for the Cold War, which ended almost 20 years ago. This is particularly true of the $31 billion spent each year to maintain and secure a nuclear arsenal of almost 5,400 nuclear weapons, with 1,500 still deployed on missiles ready to launch within 15 minutes.
We can safely reduce to 1,000 total weapons…
Wasted ink. What are even a thousand nuclear weapons for – launching a few means we’re in a war of mutually assured destruction of not just who we’re at nuclear war with, but pretty much the planet. Obama has little to gain politically from making such common sense choices because the political fray will be too costly. Bill has nothing to worry about in regards to continued wasteful defense spending – the the military industrial culture is too entrenched for any president to stop. Kristol should worry about his awful habit of including some nonsensical antedote, some VIP name dropping or obsure cultural reference to drive home the image of him as an elite intellectual in every column,
I can’t help but admire some of my fellow conservatives’ loyalty to the small-government cause. It reminds me of the nobility of Tennyson’s Light Brigade, as it charges into battle: “Theirs but to do and die.”
Clinging to the Right’s well known foriegn policy, econmic and culture war debacles is exactly the same thing as a brave, but suicidal and ill concieved military tactic? Maybe its the ill concieved part of the charge, the result of miscommunication and some personal animosities that Bill relates to. It also jumps the shark a bit to compare the political movement that supported the most imperial presidency to the nobility of the British rank file cavalry at the Battle of Balaclava.
Some are weatherwise, some are otherwise. ~ Ben Franklin