While I’m on this topic….
One of the best cabinet picks in recent memory takes his job today (see Top 5 reasons Chu is a great energy pick — #1: “It’s not guaranteed we have a solution for coal”).
As E&E News PM (subs req’d) reports:
The Senate unanimously confirmed seven of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet picks today, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, but postponed debate on his nominees to lead the State Department, U.S. EPA and White House Council on Environmental Quality.
In a post-inauguration session, the Senate quickly approved Chu, Salazar, Vilsack, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.
A few nominations have hitches:
John Quincy Adams, according to his own letters, placed his hand on a constitutional law volume rather than a Bible to indicate where his fealty lay.
Interesting. The symbolism of the oath-on-bible is interesting. In some respects, you can take it as symbolizing the fact that even though in our system “no one is above the law,” including the president, in practice it’s actually extremely difficult to fully hold the chief executive to that standard. We’re putting our faith in the idea that the person occupying that office to be guided by the higher law, God’s law. It makes a certain amount of sense but I can’t help but feel that the faith is often misplaced.
Wow. Well, my inaugural good feelings were definitely spoiled a bit by the “Na Na Hey Hey … Goodbye” outburst on the Mall just now. How shamefully disrespectful. Keith Olbermann even thought so!
Wow. Well, my inaugural good feelings were definitely spoiled a bit by the realization that George W. Bush was heading off to live out his life in a lavish home as a multi-millionaire retiree rather than going to stand trial in the Hague. But hopefully Americans can put our differences aside and work together for a better future or something.
Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean shot an unarmed man who was running away from them. That’s a crime. Indeed, it’s a serious crime. And, no, the fact that Ramos and Compean were Border Patrol agents and the unarmed man they shot in the back was a drug dealer doesn’t magically make it okay. But apparently George W. Bush thought they deserve clemency and Dianne Feinstein thinks two wrongs make a right:
Nor did the furor over the case break along neat liberal-conservative lines, as demonstrated by statements made in 2007 by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat of California who is considered moderate to liberal. “It is true that the bullet left Aldrete-Davila permanently injured and that what the agents did was wrong,” the senator said. “But it is also true that Aldrete-Davila was not likely a low-level wrongdoer who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
I don’t really understand what the relevance of these considerations are supposed to be. I take it that the federal maximum security prisons are filled with people who aren’t “low-level wrongdoer[s] who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.” But still if you were to wade into such a prison and go on a killing spree, that wouldn’t be okay. It would be a big deal! Mass-murder! There’s no special rule where it’s okay to shoot at people as long as they’re “bad guys.”
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was taken away from a celebratory congressional luncheon this afternoon after experiencing convulsions. Sen. John Kerry said Kennedy “had a seizure and he’s gone to the hospital.” President Obama told the gathering that Kennedy “was there when the voting rights act passed, along with John Lewis, was a warrior for justice. And so I would be lying to you if I did not say that right now a part of me is with him,” he added. “And I think that’s true for all of us. This is a joyous time. But it’s also a sobering time. And my prayers are with him and his family and (Kennedy’s wife) Vicki.”
NBC reports that Orrin Hatch told reporters briefly that he and John Kerry went to the ambulance with Kennedy and that he looked better there. “It was a difficult thing,” Hatch said. “It looked to me like he was going to be OK” when he was with Kennedy at the ambulance.
,”He seemed to be going into a kind of seizure,” former Vice President Walter Mondale told ABC. “I’m told he’s doing much better now. He seemed to be in great difficulty for a brief period.”
It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that everything I know about the politics of social policy in the United States I learned from Theda Skocpol, but only a slight one. So as far as I’m concerned everyone should mark her words about the idea of a “grand bargain” in which the Obama administration agrees to a business-friendly bank bailout and elites agrees to support a substantial expansion of the social safety net.
As she says, you don’t need to cast aspersions on the motives or ethics of business leaders to see that this kind of deal—or comparable hypothetical deals involving free trade agreements or health care reform—can’t be made to work. The problem is with the institutions. Or, rather, with the lack of the sort of institutions that could enforce and structure a deal. The place where dealmaking can happen in the United States is in congress, where all sorts of logrolling and omnibus-creation is possible. But that means forging a legislative coalition in the moment, a bill that does a little of this and a little of that, not some kind of vague agreement to do one thing first and another thing later.
President Obama’s call to action on energy and climate: “Each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”
Considering that this was an inaugural address, a speech whose aims are primarily rhetorical and visionary, our 44th president devoted more of his remarks to clean energy and global warming than anyone could have expected.
Yet it may be these muscular and optimistic lines that offer the greatest encouragement to the nation and the world:
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
Obama believes the simple yet poweful words, “Make no small plans.”
We can preserve a livable climate, but it will require the biggest of plans. It will require a memory of what we have accomplished in the past, most especially during World War II, the only true model for the scale and speed of effort required.
Let’s look at what he said specifically related to energy and climate, starting with the fourth paragraph:
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is reportedly under consideration as Middle East envoy. Seems to me, that would be an excellent choice.
Things are looking different already at White House.gov:
Looks to be a serious upgrade from a technical and design standpoint.