Without rehashing all the mess that went along with it, the general consensus of the liberal faction was that a) it wasn't a big deal, b) we should be worrying about other things and c) we should give Obama some space and time to see how his policies play out. I grant "a" to a certain extent, fully agree with "b," and "c" I couldn't disagree with more strongly because I think it flies fully in the face of "b." There was also mention that I was detracting from Obama just to be contrarian, or perhaps out of some partisan agenda. Neither is true, but probably would have been 10 years ago or so, so I'll forgive the assumption.
As I've noted here before, I hoped Obama would do well and have, most definitely, gushed pride for his accomplishments. But almost all good will toward him has been erased, not for some petty reason or any fealty to the GOP--I think they'd be screwing up pretty bad too, at the moment, because only about five of them really buy the limited government argument they've been spouting since the election--but because he is what I feared he'd be: just another opportunistic Democratic politician who will pander to the typical lefty constituencies (the American Bar Association, the Big Labor, and--most disappointingly--the teachers' unions). While one would expect some deference to his party's supporters, he's going out of his way to make himself a liar and bend to the whim of Reid, Pelosi, et al. who represent anything but "change." Furthermore, he's maintained or strengthened some of the Bush administrations most awful policies: indefinite detention and state's secret privilege, which even the left is starting to howl about.
Even though he has as much political capital as W. did post-9/11 and more than Bill Clinton ever enjoyed while in office, Obama can't bring himself to use it against his own party--effectively the only group keeping him from implementing his own policy.
Between his capitulations and outright reneges, the Obama presidency has already demonstrated itself to be more of the same, instead of the change that so many--and on some levels, I must count myself here--hoped for. Below, you will find a list of his more egregious actions, none of which involve royalty, diplomacy, or foreign policy--and the majority of which come from either major news sources or respected but unabashedly liberal sites (not that there's anything wrong with that):
Farm subsidies (New York Times):
The White House plan would have prohibited so-called direct payments to farms whose annual gross receipts exceeded $500,000 — a large sum on the surface, but one that did not take account of whether those receipts yielded any real profits.
Within days, the National Farmers Union, which represents roughly 250,000 farm families, forcefully denounced the president’s plan and urged Congress to oppose it. The group’s board also raised the issue at a meeting with officials at the White HouseWhile Mr. Obama’s Democratic allies on Capitol Hill adopted much of his budget template, the farm subsidy limits never got off the ground.
State Secrets (Washington Post):
State Secrets, cont'd (Salon.com/Glenn Greenwald):
There are two things you really need to know about the "state secrets" privilege.
The first is that the government lied in the 1953 Supreme Court case that established the government's right not to disclose to the judicial branch information that would compromise national security. The widows of three civilian engineers who died in a military airplane crash sued the government for negligence. The government refused to turn over records, citing national security. But some 50 years later, when the records in question were made public, there were no national security secrets in them, just embarrassing information establishing the government's negligence. (More about the case here.)
The second thing is that the way the state secrets privilege has typically worked since then is that the government can refuse to publicly disclose a specific item of information if it explains why to the judge. The idea is not that government officials get to tell a judge to dismiss an entire case because they don't want to answer any questions at all.
But it is precisely such a sweeping assertion that the Justice Department -- the Obama Justice Department -- is making in three cases that relate to torture and warrantless wiretapping. (emphasis in original)
Every defining attribute of Bush's radical secrecy powers -- every one -- is found [in Obama's DOJ briefs], and in exactly the same tone and with the exact same mindset. Thus: how the U.S. government eavesdrops on its citizens is too secret to allow a court to determine its legality. We must just blindly accept the claims from the President's DNI that we will all be endangered if we allow courts to determine the legality of the President's actions. Even confirming or denying already publicly known facts -- such as the involvement of the telecoms and the massive data-mining programs -- would be too damaging to national security. Why? Because the DNI says so. It is not merely specific documents, but entire lawsuits, that must be dismissed in advance as soon as the privilege is asserted because "its very subject matter would inherently risk or require the disclosure of state secrets." (emphasis in original)
Education (Former DC Mayor Williams in Washington Post)
Obama's Dept of Ed killed the program
The reality of our children's deficits demands much more than we have given them. Platitudes, well-crafted speeches and the latest three-to-five-year reform plan aren't good enough. We must find ways to educate every child now, by any means necessary.
It was that spirit that led us, as elected officials of the District in 2003, to promote the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program, which provides scholarships for low-income children to attend private schools, is part of the three-sector initiative that annually provides $50 million in federal funding to the District for education purposes. That money has been equally divided among D.C. Public Schools, D.C. Public Charter Schools and the scholarship program.
Despite...obvious signs of success, though, some in Congress want to end the program. Its funding is set to expire after the next school year ends, but some have even suggested curtailing it immediately so that these students can be placed in D.C. public schools as soon as possible. Already, no more students are being enrolled. These naysayers -- many of whom are fellow Democrats -- see vouchers as a tool to destroy the public education system. Their rhetoric and ire are largely fueled by those special-interest groups that are more dedicated to the adults working in the education system than to making certain every child is properly educated.
To us, that narrow perspective is wrongheaded and impractical, especially during these perilous economic times. Rather than talking about ending this scholarship program, federal lawmakers should allow more children to benefit from it.
AIG/punitive taxation due to misinformed populist outcry (New York Times)
Medical Marijuana (reason.com):
It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:
I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.
After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.
I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.
Federal agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco Wednesday, a week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled that the Obama administration would not prosecute distributors of pot used for medicinal purposes that operate under sanction of state law.Transparency (Cato@Liberty/Jim Harper)
Domestic Surveillance (ACLU):
On the campaign trail, President Obama promised to post bills online for five days before signing them.
Last week, President Obama signed three new bills into law. None of them received the promised “Sunlight Before Signing” treatment - at least, not as far as our research reveals. (The White House has yet to establish a uniform place on its Web site where the public can look for bills that the President has received from Congress.)
The new bills put today’s podcast on Obama’s five-day pledge slightly out of date. He is not batting .091 on his transparency pledge. He’s batting .071. The substance of the podcast remains true, however: This is still a worse record than the Nationals.
A series of leaked "intelligence" reports have caused quite a dust-up over the last several weeks. A Texas fusion center warned about a terrorist threat from "the international far Left," the Department of Homeland Security and a Missouri fusion center warned of threats posed by right-wing ideologues, and a Virginia fusion center saw threats from across the political spectrum and called certain colleges and religious groups "nodes of radicalization." These are all examples of domestic security gone wrong. The way for local police to secure their communities against real threats is to focus on criminal activities and the individuals involved in criminal activities.
Just because it was totally predictable, doesn't make it any less outrageous: The man who campaigned daily against trade agreements and outsourcing has sparked an utterly pointless trade war with Mexico.
In addition to these, there has been double-talk on pork and earmarks while Democrats spread their spoils of electoral victory across their favorite constituencies, half-hearted gestures on fiscal responsibility (and I'm probably being generous about half of a heart), rushing to pass stimulus "right now" and then waiting two days to sign it in spite of few if any in Congress having the time to read it before voting, holding a proverbial gun to the head of the Senate (think "nuclear option" woo, bipartisanship!) and other tactics employed by politicians against politicians for political advantage against the better interests of the people.
The sooner America realizes that he's just another smooth-talking politician (we've seen one or two of them before, haven't we?), the better off everyone will be. But right now, so many people just think the man can do no wrong, in spite of his miserable track record of broken promises, outright lies, and self-serving political moves that only help the Democrats at the expense of the people.
I've got more change in my pocket than we've seen in 100 days.