Bizarre signs of concern, and a bright spot or two

First up, what about this whole Leon Panetta as CIA director thing? On the good side, he's a civilian with long experience navigating the halls of power in DC. On the bad side, the CIA is badly screwed up and Panetta has no real prior knowledge of running an intel operation (sure, he handled some intel stuff as Clinton's chief of staff, but that's pretty different). On the good side, he is likely to do what Obama wants, and will probably be direct with Obama about any disagreements. On the bad side, he offers no signal as to what Obama wants from the CIA, and in this tea-leaf-reading exercise we call "covering the transition," we could really use a signal about that - especially given (see below) the problems with his Director of National Intelligence.

Now, on to a few other items:

In the "What, Me Worry?" department:

--It's hardly territory exclusive to progressives that it's bad policy for big industries to sue thousands of individual customers, the way the RIAA has for years. It's simple economics that companies that sue their customers will see their customers go elsewhere. So what's Obama doing choosing as a public servant a man called "the RIAA's favorite lawyer"? Unless, of course, he's not supposed to be a public servant, but an Obama servant. We need to push Obama on this.

--Obama has supported a massive domestic-spying program conceived and implemented by the Bush Administration. While Obama's Justice appointees seem generally opposed to Bush's torture decisions and other terrorism-related policy disasters, it's unclear whether they will feel the same way about spying on Americans. We need to get commitments from Obama, and from each of them in their confirmation hearings, to overturn not just some parts of Bush's terror-creating terrorism policy, but ALL of them.

--After our economy has melted down, in large part due to poor regulation of securities, who should oversee the securities market? Of course! An industry insider who's buddy-buddy with all the people who have destroyed the economy so far. We need to make sure that her confirmation fails.

--Obama's tax cuts are a larger-than-expected part of his financial stimulus plan, and are so broad as to perhaps go beyond the "middle class tax cuts" he promised during the campaign - and which are badly needed.  He's probably doing this to secure Republican votes, but he might not succeed at it anyway. We need to push him to take the bold steps we all know are needed, and to stand up to conservatives who seek to block him.

--We had previously reported on concerns about Obama's pick for Director of National Intelligence, Maine-born Admiral Dennis Blair. That reporting is being deepened and expanded over at Democracy Now. We need to hold Blair accountable for his actions by torpedoing his nomination.

--And it seems really bizarre to say this, but can it be that some of the people Obama has picked for his cabinet don't agree on global warming? Maybe he should take them all to Hawaii to watch the islands sink. We need to make sure they understand reality.


In the "Every Little Thing's Gonna Be All Right" department:

--The Daily Beast has some great ideas for how Obama's technology czar can make government better, more efficient, more open, and more responsive to the people. We need to push these ideas.

--The world community is responding very positively to Obama, and we may be restoring much of the political and moral capital we squandered during the Bush years. We need to make sure we continue this trend.

--There are some good ideas and some clear expectations being laid out for Obama by journalists and thinkers throughout the country. We need to do more of this. It's about us, not him.

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