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The Washington Post reports that the “Obama transition team yesterday rolled out a new list of officials who will help guide the process, singling out the Treasury, Defense and State departments as its first three areas of focus.”
At the helm of the Treasury Department transition team are Josh Gotbaum, an adviser to investment funds who held various Senate-confirmed positions during the Clinton administration, and Michael Warren, chief operating officer of Stonebridge International LLC.
Heading the State team are two veterans of the Democratic foreign policy establishment, both intimately familiar with the people and machinery at Foggy Bottom. Both Thomas E. Donilon, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, and Wendy R. Sherman, a business partner of former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, had senior positions in the Clinton-era State Department.
A few other items about Sherman. “From April 1996 until July 1997, she was President and CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation and a member of the operating committee of Fannie Mae,” says her bio. “At the Foundation, she set in place the groundwork for the newly recreated foundation developed to promote home ownership.” At the Albright Group, she was a door opener for American companies looking to do business abroad. “She leverages her experience as a senior-level diplomat and her expertise in foreign relations to help clients – including businesses and nongovernmental organizations – locate partnership opportunities, gain competitive advantage in the marketplace, and resolve regulatory and political disputes throughout the world,” her bio there said.
Stonebridge International, where Warren is COO, has the same business model. I’ve written about Stonebridge, in an article discussed here.
These are standard members of the permanent government. They work for the government, revolve out to the private sector when their party loses office, and revolve back in when their side wins again. Business consultancies like Albright’s and Stonebridge are pretty much indistinguishable from similar companies run by Republican foreign policy gurus (such as Al Haig and Brent Scowcroft). The people who operate them aren’t technically lobbyists, but they end up being strong advocates for the countries where they do business.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”