Obama will win. Book it and take it to the bank! But right after the November 4 election, Team Obama must hit the ground running. They should have a solid plan of action in place to address the most serious problems facing America as a result of the destruction that has taken place over the past eight years. The wounds inflicted on this nation are very deep and extensive; while the healing process will be difficult and painful, it can and will be done.
While we don’t know what the Obama strategies are, I can envision this team developing solutions to our major problems by using wise and judicious priority setting. There are scores of problems that one day must all be solved, but to begin with, only the most critical should be addressed. Secondly the choices for the major leadership posts and advisers in this administration must be done very expeditiously, but those chosen will have to be the best and brightest individuals available. I would venture to say that there will be plenty of dedicated, competent candidates who will step forward during this most critical time. There is no room for anything less. No Michael Mukasey or Donald Rumsfeld types need apply.
Besides the Vice President, there are 15 cabinet posts, all of which are very important in conducting the affairs of our nation and contributing to solving major problems. But, in this writing I will discuss only the 7 that I believe are the most important. Here they are, not necessarily listed in order of importance:
Defense – this department, being operated as a department of offense, must be transformed to one emphasizing defense. This would be the perfect time to back off the current emphasis on nation and empire building. In recent years we have developed a very aggressive, non-cooperative stance in our relations with the world and that must be changed. To help to reduce our massive deficits, we should review the more than 700 US military bases and other installations around the world and scale back to only those that are considered absolutely essential. The entire budget for military weaponry, chock full of potential reductions, must be cut back significantly. Doing this astutely will in no way endanger our national security and it will help to minimize the influence of the military/industrial complex.
As Obama has stated time and time again, the war and occupation of Iraq must be ended and our troops must return to America. That immoral, illegal occupation of Iraq, a scar on the soul of America, never should have been initiated by this sorry administration and has to end. Proper planning and diplomatic discussions with countries in that region should be initiated to determine how the future of Iraq as a sovereign nation can be assured, and how the potential for civil war when we leave can be mitigated. Ending this occupation will also contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to deficit reduction.
Treasury – this department will face one of the most challenging financial times in our nation’s history. Henry Paulson and his Wall St. financial connections will be replaced with someone that has the interests of the American people foremost in mind. What is left of that $700 billion bailout/rescue plan must be managed using new strategies to solve the problems in the system. The giveaway to bankers must end. What strategy will replace it and what individual is best qualified, who knows? But the choice must be determined very soon after the inauguration, and deliberations on how to use our taxpayer money most effectively need to begin quickly.
The complete failure to properly regulate the financial markets on the part of Congress, the Federal Reserve and the SEC must be addressed by Congress passing strong, appropriate types of regulation that will stop the deceitful schemes created and promoted by the Wall St. robber barons and manipulators.
Justice – the next department head must in no way resemble Mukasey or Gonzalez. It must become a true department of justice rather than the current department that largely refuses to carry out its mission, which is: “To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”
Instead, it has become a tool of the White House to oppose any and all challenges to its authority. And it has been very successful. Can anyone name any major action that it has taken that shows it to be the prime enforcer of the laws of our land, one that promotes the administration of justice for all Americans? Bet you can’t and I’ll bet that we can list many areas of justice that it has ignored or refused to address. What a monumentally important choice this will be.
Energy – talk about a quick start. Whoever heads this department must be very knowledgeable about the massive problems that we face with regard to energy and have positive, workable solutions for the development of alternative energy sources. The future of America depends on a complete change of direction and policies relative to how we fuel our autos and trucks, how we provide energy to industry, make fertilizers, heat our homes, as well as many other uses of this critical resource. Whether you believe in the concept of Peak Oil, that contends that the world demand is rapidly overwhelming world productions capacities or not, our recent experiences with petroleum costs portend massive problems in the future, even though the current recession has sent the cost of a barrel plummeting downward. This administration and the head of this department must not be fooled by this temporary reprieve and must lay down firm, solid plans for the development of alternative fuels.
Education –Education is extremely critical to the future well being of America and our ability to regain our place as the leading world force in technology, manufacturing, engineering and other key areas of skills that will ensure a strong economy. We are no longer the leader of the world in many important academic areas. When you look at America’s standing against other world nations in such education sectors as science, math, and others, America lags behind much of the world in many of them.
That must change and the process needs prompt, thoughtful action. The future of America clearly depends on this nation regaining many of the skills that once made us the leader of the world. In the future, as we address our energy problems by developing new sources of energy, millions of jobs will be created which will call for a multitude of managers, engineers, scientists and many other positions requiring higher educated and trained Americans.
State - Mission Statement: “create more secure, democratic, and prosperous conditions for the benefit of the American people and the international community – this department head is the top adviser to the President on foreign policy.” The first thing that needs to be done is to stop the aggressive policy that has constantly been used to warn other countries and to intimidate them when they refuse to do things our way. Instead, the head of this department must retrieve the book, How To Use Diplomacy In World Affairs, dust it off, and put it to immediate use in our relations with our allies, as well as those nations who we now consider as “unfriendlies”. The days of Condi and other ranking members of the State Dept. flying around the world issuing warnings are over – we have lost the art of diplomacy and working with others to solve serious problems but we can get it back.
Homeland Security - a department that will be more and more important in future years. It appears to have a long way to go to manage the security of this nation effectively. The response to Hurricane Katrina and the massive problems experienced in New Orleans must be improved significantly in future crises. One of the biggest areas of potential threat to our safety is with incoming overseas shipments at our major ports. It is estimated that only about 5% of incoming containers get an appropriate inspection. A plan to correct this needs immediate attention. And there are numerous other areas of critical need that must be targeted for attention.
There can be no more indiscriminate use of the color-coded warnings. While hard to prove, it seems that in the past yellow or orange warnings have been issued that smelled of political motivation. This is not something to be used to frighten Americans needlessly; it must be used only when a known, potential threat exists that needs citizens’ attention. Whoever fills this position must be a professional that has a clear grasp of how to carry out the responsibilities of this department. We can ill afford any of the political cronies and hacks that have occupied important positions in the past.
As related to Congress the Democratic majority, without a doubt, will be given a larger mandate yet by the electorate on November 4th. As this new administration makes plans to reestablish some version of FDR’s New Deal, this Congress must transform itself from a dull, lifeless, debating society into an effective legislative process that will find the ways to restore America’s foundations.