Pulitzer prize winning Politifact has the good, the bad and the marginally ugly of president Obama’s first hundred days, First 100 Days: Obama’s Promises Broken and First 100 Days: Obama’s Promises Kept. Promises do have away of being forgotten or compromised. Sometimes the reasons are legitimate due to changing circumstances and then sometimes for political expediency – the speedy passage of the Recovery Act for example. We’ve had worse, but Obama has room for improvement.
Barack Obama and the Politics of Expectation – by Benjamin Ramm
A politics of expectation requires a polis of expectation – that is, some consensus about what would constitute a successful tenure in government. Voters tend to select their candidate on grounds of temperament, judgment and ideological affiliation, although only a small portion of the electorate weighs all three, at least equally. Nonetheless, Obama is in a position to claim as a mandate consent on a whole range of legislative issues which, had they been put to the vote individually, might not have garnered comparable support. How the president treats this capital – whether he hoards it, spreads it, seeks to make interest on it – tells us how he prospects the challenges ahead, and how he will deal with the (inevitable) dissonance.
There is a passivity about the whole notion of expectation; it suggests consideration of an action outside of our volition, and places the onus squarely on the expected. Obama anticipated this reflex when he initiated his campaign:
Too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.
That is why this campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us – it must be about what we can do together. (Declaration of Candidacy, Springfield, Illinois, 10th February 2007)
Such an appeal not only devolves expectation away from the president – a canny political manoeuvre – but emphasises that any real change begins (and, for liberals, ultimately ends) in the empowerment of the individual citizen, in the realisation of his or her agency, and in their ability to make informed choices for their families and communities. It is, in other words, about the fostering of response-ability. “We need to usher in a new era of responsibility”, Obama remarked in a crucial speech on Father’s Day 2008, in which he formulated an implicit contract of commitment between the individual and the state:
If fathers are doing their part; if they’re taking their responsibilities seriously to be there for their children, and set high expectations for them, and instill in them a sense of excellence and empathy, then our government should meet them halfway. ( Obama’s Father’s Day address, Chicago, Illinois, 15th June 2008)
The act of example is key here, in the sphere of the family as in the conduct of government, and citizens have a duty to challenge those who have “abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men” (“what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one”). This call to “shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear” echoes the approach of two great transformative Democratic presidents, F.D.R. and J.F.K., and derives from the convictions Obama formed during his years as a community organiser, when half the battle was getting residents to attend and be attentive. If Obama’s politics are anything, they are anti-passive, and contrary to the claims made by the McCain-Palin campaign, are conceived in distinction to the centralised welfarism that shirks from sharing power.
One of many reasons to find rightwing accusations of Obama as a an extremists, occupying the far right and the far left of the political spectrum simultaneously, or “The One” said with spittle flying between clinched teeth, is Obama’s campaign and subsequent presidential emphasis on the millennium version of think nationally, act locally. Form a foundation for a community, a city, a state that is built on the continuity of progressive ideals. That said there are issues that are simply far outside the power of communities to act. He has not carried his share of meeting us half way on the abuses of government power. Is not just the torture issue, but domestic spying without warrants and the manipulated intelligence the Bushies used to take us into a counter productive war. The netroots and others can keep the pressure on, but President Obama, despite the whining and crying from the Right, is giving the notion of reasonable accommodation a bad name. If he can stand up for some kind of health-care reform and send out surrogates to defend his economic plan, he can fight for the rule of law. No one has to have a crystal ball to know that Bush Part II is lurking in the presidential future. Obama’s resistance to giving up unchecked presidential powers and hold those that acted with malicious lawlessness to account is simply holding the door open for the next Cheney.
Geithner, as Member and Overseer, Forged Ties to Finance Club. Very long article that most people will not dig through. I came away thinking that Geithner is not evil, he is just not one to stray too far from the herd. Looking at his staff, again, not evil, they could be much worse, but where is the Krugman or Stiglitz mentored school. Geithner is not Greenspan, but he is not Galbraith either. Here again, Obama is a centrist, but for some reason Treasury is slightly right of center. The recovery plan is like someone shopped around for the best deal and went with the plan that seems to cost more then one that could work better and costs a little less.
To revisit Porter Goss, another genflecting Bushie that lacks the humility to admit he’s a meathead and have enough honor to retreat from the public realm,
Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.
Its almost like a law of physic that whenever a Conservative is outraged, in this case “slack-jawed”, its a signal flare indicating a huge lie is in construction, Torture Used to Try to Link Saddam with 9/11
When I testified last year before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties about Bush interrogation policies, Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz) stated that former CIA Director Michael Hayden had confirmed that the Bush administration only waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirit for one minute each. I told Franks I didn’t believe that. Sure enough, one of the newly released torture memos reveals that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. One of Stephen Bradbury’s 2005 memos asserted that “enhanced techniques” on Zubaydah yielded the identification of Mohammed and an alleged radioactive bomb plot by Jose Padilla. But FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Zubaydah from March to June 2002, wrote in the New York Times that Zubaydah produced that information under traditional interrogation methods, before the harsh techniques were ever used.
Why, then, the relentless waterboarding of these two men? It turns out that high Bush officials put heavy pressure on Pentagon interrogators to get Mohammed and Zubaydah to reveal a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers, in order to justify Bush’s illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to a newly released report of the Senate Armed Services Committee. That link was never established.
The Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that Condoleezza Rice approved waterboarding on July 17, 2002 “subject to a determination of legality by the OLC.” She got it two weeks later from Bybee and John Yoo. Rice, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and George Tenet reassured the CIA in spring 2003 that the abusive methods were legal.
Franks has been in Congress for three terms. While not on the House Intelligence Committtee, he is on the Armed Services Committee, the Judicary Committee and the Anti-terrorism caucus. He gets around. While not part of the gang of four he is obviously ready to reguritate Hayden’s blatant lie about the use of waterborading and KSM. Should we be slack jawed at the either the willful ignorance of Frank or his propelling a rightwing myth.
It seems unlikely that Speaker Pelosi knew all the details of the methods used since they involved repeated torture to get at information that would have been political dynamite for Pelosi and Democrats to use in the 2004 election cycle.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano apologized Friday to a prominent veterans’ group for a report her office put out earlier this month, warning about the threat of “right wing extremists.”
[ ]…The American Legion took issue with those comments and the Legion’s National Commander David Rehbein wrote a letter to Secretary Napolitano condemning the report.
Why is Napolitano apologizing for a report, the substantial part of which was started under the Bush administration and included finding by three branches of the military,
The FBI documents show the bureau was working with investigators inside the nation’s uniformed services “in an effort to identify those current or former soldiers who pose a domestic terrorism threat.” The other agencies working with the FBI are the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
And why apologize to the American legion who is far from being a non-partisan organization. The last eight years they have shown a strong affinity for the neocon agenda.