19 December, 2008

Despite Warren, Obama's Still On Track

All right. So his taste in pastors* is teh suck, but you have to admit, his taste in Secretaries of Labor is fantastic:

President-elect Barack Obama has reportedly completed his Cabinet with the selection of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) as Secretary of Labor. Solis, a five-term representative from East Los Angeles, is a progressive leader in the fight for green jobs, as both a “stalwart friend of the unions” and the author of the first environmental justice law in the nation. At this summer’s National Clean Energy Summit, convened by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Solis spoke about her commitment to solving global warming through a clean energy economy for all:

Our nation is at a crossroads right now. We can choose to transition to a clean energy economy that secures our energy supply and combats climate change or we can continue down the same old path of uncertainty and insecurity that we’re currently in. Current economic conditions, particularly for under-served, under-represented minority communities underscore the need to transition to clean energy technology.

The liberal blogosphere, I have to tell you, is in a swoon. Sounds like she's an excellent choice.

There's also this music to my ears:

It's unclear exactly what will take immediate priority on Barack Obama's to-do list after his inauguration, but it seems clear that Americans won't have to wait too long before seeing progress on issues relating to science, health, and reproductive rights.

This includes undoing Bush's "right of conscience" regulation, which has not yet been finalized, but it goes further. The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama is closely reviewing reproductive-health issues, identifying Bush measures in need of reversals.

On abortion and related matters, action is expected early on executive, regulatory, budgetary and legislative fronts.

Decisions that the new administration will weigh include: whether to cut funding for sexual abstinence programs; whether to increase funding for comprehensive sex education programs that include discussion of birth control; whether to allow federal health plans to pay for abortions; and whether to overturn regulations such as one that makes fetuses eligible for health-care coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Women's health advocates are also pushing for a change in rules that would lower the cost of birth control at college health clinics.

The reversal on research using embryonic stem cells should come fairly quickly in the new administration, and expect early action on dropping the "global gag rule" and restoring federal funding for family planning to the United Nations Population Fund (which is way overdue).

You betcha.

It's good to see Obama's still pretty much viewing things in terms of, "Was it Bush's idea? Well, then, we already know it's bad - how do we reverse it?" I love that.

Even more delightful, he chose an actual scientist as his science advisor:
Strong indications are that President-elect Barack Obama has picked physicist John Holdren to be the president's science adviser.


Holdren is well known for his work on energy, climate change, and nuclear proliferation. Trained in fluid dynamics and plasma physics, Holdren branched out into policy early in his career. He has led the Woods Hole Research Center for the past 3 years and served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceInsider) in 2006.

And, holy shit, an actual marine biologist to head up NOAA:

President-elect Barack Obama has tapped Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, one of the nation's most prominent marine biologists, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lubchenco, a conservationist who has devoted much of her career to encouraging scientists to become more engaged in public policy debates, is also a vocal proponent of curbing greenhouse gases linked to global warming.


Andrew Rosenberg, who served as deputy director of NOAA's Fisheries Service under Clinton and is now University of New Hampshire professor of natural resources and the environment, praised Lubchenco as an "absolutely world class scientist."

"When has NOAA been headed by a member of the National Academy and a fellow of the Royal Society?" he said, referring to America and Britain's most prestigious scientific societies. "That's exactly the right signal. It establishes NOAA as one of those key scientific agencies."

I have to keep rubbing my eyes and pinching myself. After eight years of Bush bumbling, it's hard to believe we have a President-Elect who's so intent on getting brilliant scientists into the government. Oh, and if you've noticed a definite global warming theme to Obama's picks, you're not wrong. That sends a pretty clear signal he intends to solve the problem.


And Robert Gates, despite the worries of some on the left, seems to be leaping in the air, clicking his heels together, shouting "Yippee!" while scrambling to do great things:
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will continue to serve under Obama, disputed Cheney’s skepticism. While Gates admitted that shutting down Guantanamo would be difficult, he said that all the potential problems are “solvable.” “I would like to see it closed,” said Gates. “And I think it will be a high priority for the new administration.”
He thinks because mayhap it's a high priority for him, too?

In his first weeks as Bush’s defense secretary, Gates also argued that Guantanamo needed to be shut down. According to the New York Times, Gates “urged that trials of terrorism suspects be moved to the United States, both to make them more credible and because Guantánamo’s continued existence hampered the broader war effort, administration officials said.” However, he was overruled by Cheney and then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales. (CAP’s Ken Gude has put together a plan on how to safely close Guantanamo and transfer the detainees.)


Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that Gates has already ordered aides to put in place a plan for closing Guantanamo.
Is it me, or does Gates seem a little giddy?

On the whole, Obama's picks have been superb, he hasn't backed down from his most important campaign promises in the slightest, and even when he annoys me with some boneheaded stunt (like picking Rick Warren to flap his yap at important ceremonies), he still doesn't leave me shaking with outrage and revulsion, unlike a certain assclown still parading around the Oval Office.

I'll take petty irritations served with a heaping helping of good news over never-ending bullshit any day.

*No, that wasn't a dig at Reverend Wright. I actually liked Wright before he made an utter arse of himself prancing around in front of cameras. No, I was merely getting in one last good swat about Warren.

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