Category Archives: Cabinet Appointments
Actor Kal Penn, whom most of us met during the campaign, will soon be working in the White House as the associate director of the White House office of public liaison. Penn, who has said he wishes to enter politics, likes public service, despite the significant pay cut, because of what his grandparents taught him:
It’s probably because of the value system my grandparents instilled in me. They marched with Gandhi in the Indian independence movement, and that was always in the back of my head. [Source]
Penn describes his new office as “the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House.”
In another “off the hook” move, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele announced late last week that the Party has named its first-ever official New Media Director. Todd Herman, formerly of Microsoft, will take on the mantle beginning this April 6 as part of the GOP’s ongoing attempt to take over the Internet communications.
For me personally, it is scary to see Republicans even attempting to utilize the Internet as a tool. As Twitter has illustrated, while they may be vastly inept, the Party’s eagerness is intimidating. As of late February the GOP boasted that nearly 25 percent of Republican lawmakers used Twitter, compared to only 8.5 percent of their Democratic counterparts. Not only are more Republicans using Twitter, but they’re also using it smarter, sending our more personal messages and fewer self-aggrandizing tweets (in 160 character or less, of course). All of this makes me fear the day I cannot find 984329 blogs that reinforce my liberal leanings.
Luckily, we’re not there yet.
In a state of panic, I decided to do my research into this Todd Herman character.Â And here’s what I could discover.
+ He is the guy that invented those ads that interrupt your 30 Rock episodes (basically the guy behind commercials on the Internet)
+ AdAge (now closing its DC office, fyi) named him “the media guy”
+ He was one of the 25 initial inductees into the Streaming Media All Stars (oh boy!)
+ You can friend him on facebook.com
+ He founded SpinSpotter.com, a entirely predictable Republican “spin” site that uses some good wordplay (Spinoculars?!? Kind of brilliant)
+ He writes his own really jank blog, Got Liberty? (Seriously, how do you not know how to use Photoshop, Mr. New Media?)
+ He is a former radio talk show host (Oh lord)
+ And he is a proud member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
So, take my research for what it’s worth. The bottom line is that Mr. Herman appears to be a tech guru in the world of online advertising and video streaming who happens to be an excellent,Â respected software programmer. However, my interpretation is that in all of this Republicans have missed to point and the potential of the Internet. In the official GOP press release, Steele emphasized his success in advertising and financial success as a business leader and CEO. Repbublican leaders seem to be more focused on the economic potential of the Internet rather than its implications is organizing the grassroots. In the next several months, it will be interesting to see how, if at all, the Republican Internet identity shifts. At the very least, expect lots of video content from Todd and friends.
Time to step up the viral videos!
Also, on a personal note, I was surprised to see this gem at the bottom of Herman’s press release: “He currently lives in Washington State, where he works at his most important roles: Christian, husband and father.”
Jody Gillette was selected to be the deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, where she will help oversee tribal, local and state relationship s with the federal government.
President Obama was adopted into the Crow Nation as an honorary member during his campaign, and was given the name “Awe Kooda bilaxpak Kuuxshish”, which means “one who helps people throughout the land”. Â At this ceremony he promised to have more direct contact with Indian Nations, while at the same time “shaking up” the BureauÂ of Indian Affairs to make sure Native American issues aren’t ignored by the Federal Government. Â It’s good to see President Obama is well on his way to fulfilling his campaign promises to the Native Americans.
- Former Bush Administration Officials Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have agreed to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee.Â Congressman Conyers (D-MI), as the chairman of the committee, has attepmted to subpoena both officials multiple times, which they dodged by claiming “executive privelege.”Â The Congressman called their appearance “a victory for the separation of powers and congressional oversight.Â It is…a vindication of the search for truth.”
- Dr. Sanjay Gupta withdrew as a candidate for the Surgeon General position.Â Congressman Conyers, a staunch single-payer health reform advocate, was intensely opposed to Dr. Gupta’s nomination because of his ambivalence towards a single-payer system.Â In January, Conyers made his concerns known publicly (on his blog), and these charges tainted his candidacy.
- Congressman Conyers was invited to the White House Health Care Summit.
Sorry about the nasty headline, but it’s true: Sanjay Gupta has removed himself for consideration for the position of Surgeon General. According to the Huffington Post (article here), the CNN Chief Medical Correspondent was concerned abou the paycuts he would be taking as well as the fact that he would have to report to two bosses. Seriously, Sanjay? Less money? It’s for the good of the country. And two bosses? Whoa…..scary. I hate to say it, Sanjay, but GET OVER YOURSELF. You are one of the Leaders and Best. Represent properly. And hail.
Finally, the wait is over. The Obama Administration has tapped Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, for the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius, if you remember, was an early supportor of President Obama and also a possible vice-presidential choice for a while. Governor Sebelius, currently in the middle of her second term, will only serve the Secretary position and not pick up the new White House Office of Healthcare Reform position Daschle had previously negotiated for himself.
+ Eight years experience as Kansas’s insurance commissioner, helping draft a “bill of rights for patients and blocked the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield to an out-of-state company because it would have raised premiums” (New York Times).
+ Six years as governor managing a state Medicaid program (New York Times).
+ A record of reaching across the aisle and a very helpful addition to the Obama administration in that sense, especially when the parties are so divided on health care.
+ Served as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners — understanding the insurance system is probably critical to understanding health care.
+ Personally believes abortion is wrong, but has vetoed abortion regulations on legal or policy grounds.
+ Health care was the one issue she really couldn’t “bridge the gap.” Tried to raise cigarette tax to fund health care — failed, because of Republican legislature. Proposed universal health care system, nothing came to fruit.
+ A lot of people want Sebelius to run for Sam Brownback’s (R-KS) Senate seat in 2010. Many thought she would be Democrat who “break” the Republican trend in her state.
+ Anti-abortion activists will be fighting this tooth and nail. The archbishop of Kansas City already refused her communion on the basis of her abortion views. The Catholic League called her an â€œenemy of the unbornâ€ and will fight her nomination.
I really don’t know much else about her to determine whether or not she is indeed a good pick for HHS. Any thoughts?
Someone made an oopsie.
Oh, Judd Gregg. Maybe it is a good thing you turned down that Commerce Secretary post on the grounds of “irresolvable conflicts” in early February. (In reality, it is because the position is now cursed — much like the Defense Against Dark Arts post. Yes, I did just make a Harry Potter reference.) It’s a good thing, Senator Gregg (R-NH), because you definitely have a little conflict-of-interest mess on your hands now.
Just by looking at him, you may not recognize him. Even hearing his name, it still might not ring a bell. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)’s name, however, has been one of many thrown into the ring for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) or even the White House Office of Health Reform (OHR). As I like to research these things, I thought I would share some basics.Â Even if Wyden does not get either position, his Wyden-Bennett healthcare bill will certainly get some attention this year.
A Little History:
- In his early career, Senator Wyden taught gerontology at several Oregon universities and founded the Oregon chapter of the Gray Panthers, an organization associated with bringing about economic and social justice through advocacy. From what little I have read, the group was generally associated with senior issues. Also, former director of a non-profit, Oregon Legal Services Center for Elderly.
- Wyden was co-director of the Gray Panthers chapter from 1974 to 1980, whereupon he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives at age thirty.Â He served Oregon’s 3rd congressional district until 1996, where, in a special election, Wyden was elected Senator. (Wikipedia)
Those Glasses Did Not Help Him See His Tax Problems.
Sad news came from the Obama Administration today. Tom Daschle officially withdrew from consideration as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle was seen as the great hope for delivering comprehensive health care reform. As a former Senator he has the necessary connections in Congress and the Administration to put the essential pieces together.
Unfortunately, Tom Daschle forgot that accepting free limousine and chauffeur services from lobbyists and not paying taxes on them are both unethical and illegal. It is unfathomable to many taxpayers how an Obama nominee would forget to pay for something as extravagant as a limousine service. Additionally, The New York Times made a strong argument concerning Daschle’s ethical stance due toÂ prior work for corporate health care companies and friendship with the industry.
Joan Walsh, managing editor for Salon, makes an impassioned argument on why this is, in fact, good for Obama. She hopes this will remind our President of the promises he made to the American people concerning lobbyists in his administration. His campaign was built on the foundation of giving the ordinary American a fair chance in petitioning and being representing in our government – something missing in the last eight years when the wealthy were given unfettered access.
Someone needs to rewrite the rules of wealth and fairness in this country, and if it’s not Obama, it will be someone else. I never thought candidate Obama entirely understood the economic and political anger and populism his campaign tapped into, but he’s smart enough to see it now, and it’s time he got out in front of it.
If Obama does not live up to his promise to sweep aside the connection between money, power, and access in our government then his promises to the people cannot be delivered. If he continues to allow lobbyists into his administration or ignore tax problems then he will lose the faith of an American public desperately searching for fairness in their government. In some ways it is sad to see Tom Daschle go, but fundamentally this is good for the Obama Administration.
Take a look at these two quotes from the January issue of Time Magazine:
“I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge.”
Now try this one:
“Whether it’s Mr. Panetta or someone else, it’s critical that the agency move in a new direction.”
I realize that Dianne Feinstein (the first quoted here) was a little upset about not being in the fold regarding Leon Panetta’s appointment to head the CIA, but can you believe the second quote came from Michigan’s 2nd district representative in the US House, Peter Hoekstra?Â Time reported that Hoekstra (R) was commenting that Obama’s appointment brought someone with a “Civilian background [that] would bring a much needed ‘change in culture at the CIA.’”