Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Write Letters

From Sarah of Cat in a Dog's World and Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars (via Shakesville), I heard about two very problematic candidates for high-level positions in the Obama administration: Larry Summers for Secretary of the Treasury and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here's what I wrote on the "Contact" page of the new Obama website:
Dear President-Elect Obama,

In your campaign, you emphasized the need for change --- particularly change in the form of abandonment of the Bush administration's reckless commitment to ideology-based, counterfactual assumptions. That was the main reason I voted for you: because I wanted to see a President whose decisions would come from a thorough consideration of the evidence, not from gut feelings or party lines.

Yet I see two names mentioned for high offices in your administration --- Lawrence Summers for Secretary of the Treasury and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to head the Environmental Protection Agency --- whose selection would only propagate three of the more pernicious assumptions underlying Bush-era policy.

Those assumptions are: first, that scientific consensus can be ignored in policymaking; second, that less regulation and freer trade are always better economic policies; and third, that women are naturally second-class citizens. Choosing Lawrence Summers for Treasury Secretary (a position he held during the Clinton years) would commit US fiscal and trade policy to more of the same heedless deregulation that has destabilized our markets and caused millions of jobs to go overseas. Summers has also indicated a belief that women's continued underrepresentation in scientific, technical and mathematical professions is due to their own lack of interest or aptitude, which is a belief in conflict with the goal mentioned elsewhere on this site of including more women in those positions, both directly within your administration (and how would women accountants and financial analysts fare under a Secretary Summers?) and in academia and industry. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., impassioned environmental activist though he may be, has publicized the idea that mercury compounds in vaccines cause autism, which is believed by almost every scientist in the field of autism to be complete nonsense. Given the urgency and complexity of the environmental problems we face, it's extremely important to make sure these decisions are in capable hands.

We can do better.

Yours in hope,


You can make your voice heard in several ways: you can fill out the comment form, sign this petition, and/or email transition-team leader Valerie Jarrett at (H/T to Unapologetic Feminist for that suggestion).

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