Monday, December 22, 2008

Obama's worst Cabinet pick?

Rick Warren's getting more national publicity, but Ray LaHood (shown left, with Obama) as transportation secretary has dismayed folks in the transit-smart growth-planning worlds.

Even though President-elect Obama is taking Amtrak to DC for his inauguration, the choice of LaHood, a moderate Republican from downstate Illinois with a not-so-hot environmental record, has folks upset. A recent piece on Streetsblog by Aaron Naparstek quotes a former Federal Transit Administration official: "In terms of attracting talent, no one I know is going to want to work for this guy. He's got a horrible environmental record, he's bad on climate change and he's Caterpillar's bag man. Can we get a worse appointment?"

The Washington Post called him a centrist who grew up in Peoria and when elected in 1994 was one of only three Republicans who didn't sign Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America." OK, so he's got his moderate creds. But does he know bat-droppings about transportation? Can he even articulate the difference between light rail, heavy rail (no, that's NOT passenger trains) and commuter rail? Does he understand that transportation is an environmental issue, not just a play-with-rails issue? For that matter, does Obama? The transportation secretary should have been part of his so-called energy team. That it wasn't is, sadly, telling.

More from Streetsblog, in this roundup of opinion. Some say he's a bicycling and rail advocate. And a D.C. advocate type (unidentified) says LaHood is "potentially malleable." I suppose that's better than "complete jerk," but still ...


Anonymous said...

Obama's worst appointment? Wow, where do we start?

1. Tom Vilsack (Agriculture). A Monsanto shill who favors ethanol subsidies which have negative energy returns (i.e. it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the gallon of ethanol itself produces) and divert corn from the nation's and world's food supply.

2. Hilda Solis (Labor). Fanatically pro-union and pro-illegal immigrant.

3. Tim Geithner (Treasury). As NY Fed Chair, one of the prime architects of the financial crisis.

4. Mary Schapiro (SEC). Asleep at the switch as head of FINRA, she actually gave jobs to Bernard Madoff's son and niece.

5. Steven Chu (Energy). His radical opposition to nuclear power means he's even to the left of France (70% of French electricity comes from nuclear).

6. Eric Holder (Attorney General). Elian Gonzalez and the Clinton Pardon Express. Not a good combination.

7. Hillary Clinton (State). Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

Eric Holder, by far. Anybody who is "leaning towards favorable" on the pardon of a fugitive and a weapons dealer with terrorist nations has bad judgment.

Anonymous said...

Cry me a river mary. He probably doesn't support preserving useless old buildings either.

Rick said...

So this is the “Change we can believe in?” I think a more appropriate slogan is the saying that “the greatest trick the devil ever played was to get the world to believe he didn’t exist.” That’s exactly what Barack Obama has done. He advertised himself as a different kind of politician who will bring real change. Let’s see what we’ve gotten so far.

Obama, Clinton, and Biden all give up their senate seats. Obama’s is caught in the worst political corruption scandal of the past several decades. Clinton’s is being handed off to Princess Caroline whose qualifications make Sarah Palin’s and Obama’s look like they were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington all rolled into one. Biden’s buddy is keeping his seat warm for Biden’s son’s ascension when he returns from war - a la JFK and John Kerry. Corruption, nepotism, and cronyism. Business as usual in our political world.

Clinton, as the new Secretary of State, will bring back the bad-old-days of a Clinton in charge of foreign policy. Remember when Bill Clinton sat back and did absolutely nothing to stop Islamic terrorists as they repeatedly bloodied the nose of the U.S. all across the world? Do you think it will be any different now that he has received $500m for his foundation from the countries who generated those extremists while his wife is calling the shots? Why should Israel pay one second’s worth of attention to Hillary when her husband is in the back pocket of their enemies? When Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear facilities (and they certainly will), what will Obama do then?

On the economy, Obama truly has a mess on his hands. The jury is still out, but if the Democrats ram a $1 trillion dollar stimulus package through Congress before or soon after the inauguration, then we’ll know how that’s going to go. We saw it in the 1930s when FDR flushed the Constitution down the toilet and set us on our current path to socialism. Obama seems prepared to follow in those footsteps.

As for his other choices, they won't win over any conservatives, and if you guys hate them, then I say they are fantastic. It sets him up to go the way of Jimmy Carter - as in being a one-termer.

Anonymous said...

cry me a river Rick. we are not going back to the 50's that you and your prude pals would like to lead us to. Aren't the past 8 years any indication that those ways wern't going to work anyway. On to being a citizen of the world.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, your day will come to "Cry . . . a river." May be sooner than you think. For the record you can add Arne to your list of worst appointments. He is of the Ayers ilk as is BO. They will be bribing and brain washing our childred before you know it. As if our fed government and state governments are not corrupt enough, BO is bringing all the Chicao corruptness to DC. And putting the South out of business by giving labor unions a go ahead. I always heard, "The South shall rise again!" Perhaps our turn is at hand!!

Anonymous said...

His name is not 'BO', it's President Barak Obama. Practice now so you'll be used to saying it come Jaunary. The end of the south as we know it is a good thing. The shedding of the confederacy and assimilation with the rest of the world has begun. Time to celebrate.

Anonymous said...

"Assimilation"? What are you, Borg?

Anonymous said...

Most of them are bad starting with Tom Dashle. God help us. What a sad group.

Rick said...

Who said anything about crying or going back to the 50s? I'm laughing my butt off over the clown car of carreer political hacks, moderates, and the distinct lack of far left loons in the most important Cabinet positions.

Don't get me wrong. Rahm is a crook. Dashle and Hillary are hacks, and Arne's greatest contribution will be setting up the Obama Youth. However, those things all add up to a highly disappointed electorate in 4 years when they see they were the victims of the greatest con job in political history.

I'm patient.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame this topic has been taken over by a partisan catfight, but getting back to the intended topic, I'm a little surprised by the negative reaction to Ray Lahood. I had thought the original reaction was pretty positive, but whatever the truth about him, I still believe there is reason to be optimistic that Obama will be very supportive of transit projects and other pro environment related projects. Maybe he believes Lahood will help foster bipartisan support for some of these things.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:13:

The "partisan catfight" was launched when Comrade Mary slipped on her Brown Shirt and started typing. She saw the "R" next to LaHood's name and the prehistoric HATE gene snapped ON.

Mary STILL hasn't said where the money is coming from for Obamessiah's $1,000,000,000,000.00 infrastructure pork-barrel graft program. C'mon Mary - you're not spending any time counting the money in your MNI-stuffed 401(k), so take a few seconds to identify the source of the new trillion.

Anonymous said...

I am more disturbed by Mary's nasty portrayal of Mr. LaHood than by any of the comments posted here. She is, after all, an editor of The Observer. Would she be so willing to disparage him if he were a Democrat? "Does he know rat-droppings..." Rather crass, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Mary jumped on that R, didn't she? Just shows the Observer is choking itself into failure. It certainly does not know who it's readers are. The anonymous who said BO was President - not yet, he is not President until he is sworn in.

Anonymous said...

"Worst" Cabinet appointment in Mary's view only because he's not obviously in favor of spending us further into debt to give out government money for bike paths and light rail systems that Mary and her liberal friends want to use for free.

Mary: "I want better urban transit."

Government: "OK, but you'll have to pay a special tax for it, $500 per person."

Mary: "Oh, no, no, no, that's not fair. The wealthy should pay for it and I should get to use it for free."

Government: "Why is that?"

Mary: "Because...because....that's what I want."

Pierce Randall said...

Well, he seems like a centrist on transit. And why not qualify "horrible environmental record"? Most partisan Republicans score in the zeroes for that. A legislative record is rarely indicative of everything a legislator stands for, just everything that comes to the floor and that they were party-whipped or forced into compromise to vote for.

What I see here -- which is only somewhat troubling, as transit advocates my rightly ask, "Why can't Obama be my messiah, too?" -- is a cross-party pick who's moderate on transportation and open-minded about transit. He could have anemic policies regarding rail investment, or he could get far-reaching policies passed because he can negotiate with reluctant rural Congressional leaders from a credible center. Blumenthal couldn't do that at all.

Here's the kicker: Were I a really transit-lefty candidate for the Federal Transit Administration, and this guy were my manager, I feel like I could probably go in there and do an OK job. In fact, while he might not be my first pick, I might come to appreciate his ability to work with Congress on an issue most in Congress do not care about at all. On the other hand, if I got appointed to the FTA without any sort of vision, I'd believe this guy was someone I could forge a fine partnership perpetuating the status quo with.

So look for FTA appointment, then decide.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 12/23 @ 11:08 a.m.: "It certainly does not know who it's readers are." Well, actually, if one were to assume that the ranting Right-wing fanatics who predominate on these blog forums represent the sum total of the Charlotte Observer's readers, you're right.......Mary's horrible Republican-bashing stance, along with her interest in --- egads --- actually caring about issues that affect the Public Good, are just a slap in the face to "it's readers". That filthy Lib, that Newsom.

But you might be surprised to learn that in fact plenty of this paper's readers (like all across our great nation) are political progressives. (Just in case you weren't awake that night back in early November when all the election returns came in. Does the word "landslide" sound familiar?) It's just that a great many of them have better things to do (like follow multiple news outlets to form balanced opinions) than to rant on these forums. Ever heard the phrase "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?" --- just maybe this, or any, newspaper's responsibility is to expose you to some opinions and information that don't fit neatly into your comfortable little worldview.

Oh, one last thing: the word is "its", not "it's" with an apostrophe.

Rick said...

MNI is at 81 cents. The delisting clock started last Monday. That says more about readership than anything else.

I'd say it's a good thing the Observer allowed these forums to stay on the Blogspot platform rather than bringing them into the Observer website. Otherwise, we'd lose the blog when the Observer tanks.

(Oh, is that the correct usage of "it's" anon? That seems to be your main contribution to the discussion here.)

Wall Street buffets McClatchy stock

McClatchy stock hits all-time low

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typo on 12/23 at 11:08 am.

Anonymous said...

I did notice the trend that a disproportionate number of Obama's choices are from Chicago or at least the Midwest... but we voted for him so let's give him a chance to do the job. I doubt that everyone in Chi-town is as corrupt as Blago, who doesn't really seem to consort with Obama anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:48 on 12/28, it is obvious you have never lived in Chicago, Il. It is the most corrupt place I have ever lived!! It is blatant. You do not have to look for it, it is front and center! So Obama "distanced" himself from the governor, says the MSN. Emmanuel, not so distanced. Hope I did not leave any typos.