Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Friday, December 19, 2008

OBAMA'S INTERIOR DEPARTMENT PICK - NO REAL CHANGE

I thought I'd post a few things about some of Obama's cabinet picks in the coming days. Most people don't have alot of time to follow all of these things.

The earlier "economic team" has already been looked at quite closely so I won't do much with them. I've already had a couple blogs on some of the key players on the "national security team" as well. For now though, before moving on the Obama's choice for Secretary of Interior, let me just open with these words from William Greider, national affairs correspondent for The Nation.

"A year ago, when Barack Obama said it was time to turn the page . . . I, for one, failed to foresee Obama would turn the page backward. . . . Virtually all of his leading appointments are restoring the Clinton presidency, only without Mr. Bill. In some important ways, Obama's selections seem designed to sustain the failing policies of George W. Bush."

Then from The Progressive let's hear from columnist Ruth Conniff, "The economic crisis calls for massive, bold action, not pouring money into firms that now have the temerity to pay out the taxpayer-financed bailout money as dividends, which is what they are doing. Tim Geithner [Treasury Secretary designate] and Larry Summers [Chair of Nat'l Economic Council designate], who helped create the lax regulatory environment [during the Clinton administration] that led to this crisis, as well as the bailouts that followed, can't be counted on."

Now for Obama's man at the Interior Department. He is the current Senator from Colorado, and timid mainstream corporate Democrat, Ken Salazar. My friends in Colorado say he is from the rancher class and before becoming a U.S. Senator was the Attorney General in Colorado. Loring Wirbel from Colorado Springs says, "Well, Ken Salazar is a known right-of-centrist guy who was a staunch defender of [Sen. Joe] Lieberman after everyone else dissed him. He has consistently played both sides of the fence on the Pinon Canyon Army-expansion issue, to the point where many ranchers called him a Bushie."

While the Colorado Attorney General Salazar worked hard to ensure that corporate mining, ranching, and agriculture interests prevailed in cases concerning water use, Indian land rights, and the like.

“He is a right-of-center Democrat who often favors industry and big agricultural interests in battles over global warming, fuel efficiency and endangered species,” Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, which tracks endangered species and habitat issues told the New York Times.

Daniel R. Patterson, a former official of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and now southwest regional director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, described Mr. Salazar as the most controversial of Mr. Obama’s cabinet appointees.

“Salazar has a disturbingly weak conservation record, particularly on energy development, global warming, endangered wildlife and protecting scientific integrity,” said Mr. Patterson, who was elected last month to the Arizona House of Representatives from Tucson and supported Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona [a real progressive] for the Interior Department job. “It’s no surprise oil and gas, mining, agribusiness and other polluting industries that have dominated Interior are supporting rancher Salazar — he’s their friend.”

Much is made of the fact Salazar grew up in rural Colorado without electricity. Less is made of the fact his family has received over $200,000 in farm subsidies over the last 10 years. Not surprisingly, the Salazar family are stout defenders of these agri-business subsidies – a stance seemingly at odds with Obama’s promise to eliminate waste in government.

Don't see any real change here. I'll keep looking.

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