Last week, Naomi Klein's column in The Nation starts, "All is not well in Obamafanland." She then introduces her "Lexicon of Dissapoinment" by stating its a "good thing...a growing number of Obama enthusiasts are starting to entertain the possibility that their man is not, in fact, going to save the world if we all just hope really hard." Agreed. It's going to take a lot more than hope to save the world - its going to take creativity, innovation, patience, cooperation, and communication from the top-down to the ground-up.
Thus, Obamafans must not only take their man to task, but must also begin implementing change in their own lives. Admittedly, it's tough to volunteer to paint a school or grow a community garden when you're unemployed. Thus, it should be the responsibility of the new Administration (working with big business) to create lasting jobs in green industries. Obviously, things are not going to immediately get better, we must make sacrifice now and develop new machinations to outlast this and future generations to come.
Although I consider myself an Obama supporter, I don't believe I've ever been intoxicated by any illusions that Obama would -gasp- be any different than any other politician. He is just as much a gangster as anyone else, but like all gangsters he must support and put the interests of "the family" first. Thus, my only "hope" has and continues to be that Barack Obama be a great and influential leader who has the interests of "the family" (our global family) in mind.
I never believed Barack Obama would be perfect. However, I do believe he has proven himself to be a great President over these first 100 Days and I count myself as someone who continues to support his efforts. There will be many recaps of the past 100 Days throughout the media, so the below is my take (and how I've decided to waste this Wednesday morning) on President Obama's progress report - thus far.
On his first day in office, President Obama issued an Executive Order reversing the "Global Gag Rule" implemented by former President Bush, which prevented federal funding to foreign establishments that allow abortions. President Obama also announced on his first day, the closing of Guantanamo Bay Detention camp, which was also a reversal of the former Administration's policies.
President Obama then requested the passage of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which will provide health care coverage for children whose family's do not make enough to pay for insurance but make a large enough income to not meet Medicaid requirements. Way to look out for the "middle class" (which your critics say you have apparently overlooked).
President Obama signed into law a $787 billion dollar Stimulus Package. Now, this "Stimulus Package" is something I've been relectant to even comment on. After all, I (like many "average" Americans) know very little about economics. However, I know enough to know it seems to have come down to the same evil greed heads ripping poor people off like always. The bankers and investment banks guided by laisez faire Neoliberalism have for the past 20 years, acted as if they could sell-off the planet and all it's valuable/limited resources (including human capital) as if they would never have to pay anything back. Now, with the current global economic downturn (alongside the surmounting environmental crisis) it has become all the rage to talk accountability. Thus, even though things are going bad (and could likely get worse), it is at least sobering to hear Obama enforcing a more frugal economic stance that is intended to better hold investors and company heads accountable for their actions.
Of course a large part of the Economic Stimulus Package is intended to create jobs through federally funded development projects. Personally, I have not seen any of these projects and I have also not seen a lot of news reports highlighting these "new jobs" or "green projects"; however, there is a really great homepage that does at least provide news, graphs, and a way to see how these funds are being spent. This is another thing I like about the Obama Presidency - transparency. Obama has now made it the norm for government to use technology to keep the public updated on its progress. Whether or not this homepage and all that it says is bullshit, is up to us to see with our own eyes, ears, and wallets.
I'm also impressed by the way Obama continues to speak about the problems with the environment. His promotion of green jobs and projects is a step in the right direction; nevertheless, I believe more needs to be done and fast. It will take more than speeches to stop the ocean levels from rising - it will take massive sacrifice, something Obama has not initiated. Likely, because he too foolishly believes other problems are more pressing. Big mistake.
I'm also glad President Obama has suggested holding Bush Administration officials accountable for their torture memos. After all, if "The United States does not torture", than anyone who initiated or approved such "enhanced interrogation techniques" should be put on trial and punished for treason. I understand Obama would like to "move forward", but he cannot do so properly until those who committed crimes in the past are dealt with properly.
Regarding National Defense, Obama has called for the reduction and elimination of nuclear proliferation; however, he also said that the total elimination of atomic bombs "may not happen in my lifetime". I read this statement as a clever cop-out; after all, if this won't happen in his lifetime, than that means Obama intends for America (and its allies) to keep its weapons while preventing others from gaining access to them. I would like Obama to be more forceful on abolishing all nuclear weapons.
In other good news, the Defense Department has been instructed to eliminate its big budget and useless defense contracts. However, I would (like all hippie liberal peaceniks) prefer to see more cut from the defense budget and given to schools instead. I'm also in support of the reduction and withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. After all, I never supported the Iraq war and hope that "moving forward" the government will recognize it is our responsibility to rebuild the sovereign nation of Iraq it, subsequently, helped destroy (i.e. "liberate").
Of course, Obama has ordered a "redeployment" of troops to Afghanistan. I do not support any escalation of troops in Afghanistan, but hope that Obama's intent is to engage enemy extremists through special operations units instead of massive amounts of wasteful ground troops. For now, to be continued... After all, lets be honest, the United States wants to see Osama Bin Laden's head on a stick.
Finally, I'm inspired by the Obama model of "direct Presidential diplomacy" with world leaders in action. Those who've criticized Obama for meeting with Hugo Chavez, Castro, etc. are foolish detractors who unfortunately suffer from a USA superiority complex. We are all citizens of this planet, it is nice to see our President understands this as well. The best way to avoid any escalation of violence is through dialogue, when dialogue breaks down, all is lost.
Phew! Well, the above rant from this liberal, elitist, New Yorker may be a rather unlettered, misinformed, vague ramble; however, I believe it shows that within the last 100 Days, Obama has done much and we should feel empowered to know our President is not only "moving forward", but confronting the many problems that have gone ignored for so long. Admittedly, there are many things I neglected to talk about in this screed: Iran, Palestine/Israel, Stem Cell research (which I'm glad to see approved), etc. etc. Thus, Obama has many issues to juggle at once; fortunately, he has done so, thus far, without pissing me off.
Keep up the good work Mr. President - the world is watching.
(Note: I admit, I've fallen for the propaganda and bought into brand Obama. Just like I'm excited about my Mac, so I am for "Our President". Chris Hedges is a smarter man than me, which is why he writes for a living and I only continue to placate the systems of power I subsequently profit from. Nevertheless, "I got my fist/I got my plan/I got survivalism.")