Cal prof in contention for Obama economic post?

As Cal’s Boalt Hall School of Law Dean Christopher Edley advises president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, at least one other East Bay figure could be in contention for an Obama Administration post.

The New York Times reports today that Laura D’Andrea Tyson is among names “being circulated for top economic posts in the Obama administration.” Tyson, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, was chairwoman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton Administration.

I sent her an e-mail a short while ago inviting her to speculate on the speculation; her assistant just sent a reply saying that “(u)nfortunately, Prof. Tyson’s schedule doesn’t allow for any interviews at this time.”

Meanwhile, if we’re indulging in speculation, why not go all the way: Politico.com last week said House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, might be in contention for appointment as U.S. Secretary of Education…


Cal law dean to advise Obama transition team

University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law Dean Christopher F. Edley Jr. — who was among Barack Obama’s Harvard Law professors between his stints in the Carter and Clinton administrations, and who had advised this year’s campaign — is among a dozen people named today as an advisory board to president-elect Obama’s transition team.

“I’ve done two tours of duty in the White House and this is my third transition effort,” Edley told me moments ago. “My joyfulness about the election is tempered by a very deep appreciation of how extraordinarily difficult the president’s to-do list will be. The team has been working for a couple of months, but this will still be the most complex transition in our lifetime. The sleeves are already rolled up and the adrenaline is already at flood levels.”


At the Northern California Obama HQ…

…on Adeline Street in Berkeley, where volunteers are crammed in tightly around folding tables, calling Colorado voters to get out the vote. A cheer went up here a short while ago as a field organizer announced National Public Radio had called Pennsylvania and New Hampshire for Obama; now that same organizer is telling everyone Obama himself called the California field director to implore volunteers to stay on the phones.

Frankly, it looks as if you’d have to drag these people away in chains to get ’em off the phones before the polls close. They’re hunkered down with cell phones, snatching bites and sips between calls, ringing desk bells every time they hang up on a voter committed to Obama.

Now they’ve got ABC News on a projection screen… They’re so hungry for news from back east, and yet so determined to cram as many calls as they can into the time they have left, they barely know where to turn.

UPDATE @ 6:05 P.M.: Screams of joy here as ABC just projected Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for Obama. Texas looks close at this hour, but these people know better than to think the Lone Star State’s gonna go blue. They seem delighted, however, that ABC’s not yet willing to call McCain’s home state of Arizona…

UPDATE @ 6:20 P.M.: Now they’re calling Iowa voters, and the desk bells are ringing out.

UPDATE @ 6: 35 p.m.: Adam Stern, 49, of Berkeley, said it was his daughter who brought him here.

“She’s 13, and she’s been here half a dozen times in the last two weeks,” he said. “I’m very motivated to keep working for Obama; my daughter is an inspiration to me. She actually recruited two of her best friends to join her on several of her visits here.”

Sasha Stern pauses between calls, phone still cocked by her ear, to disclose that she has placed about 350 to 400 calls by her estimation. “I’ve called New Mexico, Florida, Missouri, Colorado and Iowa,” she says, before dialing the next Iowan.

Her dad said he’s been stunned by the campaign’s efficiency. “They trained us, and in 15 minutes, both my daughter and I were on the phones making calls to voters. The level of organization is very sophisticated.”

UPDATE @ 6:55 P.M.: Yvette Stuart, 67, of Oakland, pauses between calls to snap a camera-phone photo of a fellow volunteer who’s posing with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Obama. The West African native said she has never worked for a political campaign before, but the Obama t-shirt, the eight Obama buttons on her jacket and her very presence here tonight illustrates the depth of her dedication to this one.

“I’ve been really, really energized by his message… I believe it’s a chance for all of America to have someone they can believe in,” she said. “It was better to put my mouth where my energy was than to just sit wringing my hands… Change cannot happen if you don’t work for it.”

They’re shutting down the shop here, and directing people to the big campaign party starting at 8 p.m. at the Marriott in downtown Oakland. I’ll be there too, after a few other stops…


Uh, well, what was the mission?

The CodePINK folks sent out a news release yesterday saying they and their allies who’ve been protesting outside Berkeley’s U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station on and off over the past year were going to declare “Mission Accomplished” at a news conference today.

“CodePINK and our allies have prevailed! Major protest operations at the MRS have been ended, one year since covert military recruiting operations were first uncovered in Berkeley. Our coalition is now engaged in dis(as)sembling and deconstructing the U.S. military, making the world safe and secure,” the statement said.

But late last night, they announced they’d postponed the event indefinitely. Maybe they realized that it’s tough to call a storefront recruiting station “covert;” that the station is still there, doing what it did before they started; and that they have about as much chance of disassembling and deconstructing the U.S. military as I have of being President of the United States.

Seems like their “mission” was no more “accomplished” than that other one we all heard about


Bay Area activism, near and far

There’s plenty of liberal activism a-brewin’, as usual.

El Cerrito piano tuner and longtime pro-Palestinian activist Paul Larudee, a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement, and his cohorts are about to set sail from Cyprus en route to the Gaza Strip in an effort to “raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.” It won’t be a cakewalk for this international band of activists; Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Sunday that Israeli defense officials “favor forcefully blocking” the boats’ arrival, as “allowing the ships to reach the Gaza coastline could create a dangerous precedent.”

Closer to home, CODEPINK is gearing up for the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week. Bay Area doyenne of dissent Medea Benjamin and her group will be holding a “Peace Room” pre-convention party “to make art, friends, plans, and a peace platform” from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 19, in the CODEPINK/Global Exchange office on the second floor of 2017 Mission St. in San Francisco. Later this week, they’ll have an “All Aboard for Peace” send-off for six Bay Area activists getting on Amtrak to Denver; that’ll be at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22, at the Emeryville Amtrak station, 5885 Horton St. According to their news release, they’re headed to Denver and later to the RNC convention in St. Paul, Minn., to “demand, in full creative force, that an end to the occupation of Iraq, no war with Iran and a commitment to peace be at the top the political agenda… CODEPINK will also be speaking out against the financing of the conventions by oil, telecom and pharmaceutical companies, exposing how corporate money corrupts the political system.” They’ve even put their schedule of actions at the conventions online.

And, speaking of the conventions, some prominent Bay Area activists — including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg of Berkeley and “peace mom” Cindy Sheehan, who’s now running an independent Congressional campaign to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — are among those who’ve issued an open, online letter calling on people to go to Denver “to protest war, torture, and repression.” Other signatories include Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney; historian and activist Howard Zinn; and Vietnam veteran and activist Ron Kovic (“Born on the Fourth of July“).


Anti-Yoo activists unveil Berkeley billboard

The No To Torture/John Yoo Must Go coalition — targeting the University of California Boalt Hall School of Law professor, former Justice Department attorney, and torture-memo author who tried to blow a gaping hole through the Fourth Amendment — has unveiled its first billboard, located on University Avenue near Milvia Street in Berkeley.

“Not speaking out and acting against torture allows torture practices to continue uncontested in violation of treaties against torture, to which the United States is a signatory,” said the news release. “The billboard expresses a call to action to stop gross misrepresentations of the law to continue in our names.”

Speaking at a news conference Thursday were human-rights activist Gerald Gray, who wants Cal alumni to withhold contributions until the school dumps Yoo; geographer and author Gray Brechin, who wants Cal faculty to publicly disavow Yoo; and Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission member Elliot Cohen, speaking about a proposed John Yoo resolution before the City Council. Collectively, they and the coalition want Yoo — who was rotisseried by the House Judiciary Committee last month — to be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes; they’re trying to organize a “war crimes tribunal” this fall.

You might notice the billboard doesn’t actually name Yoo; coalition coordinator Curt Wechsler said a proposed design with Yoo’s name and an iconic Abu Ghraib figure was rejected by the billboard company: