Category Archives: Politics

Are you overdosing on Obama's First 100 Days?

Yes, in case you haven’t been paying attention, it’s tomorrow!

Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office…that is.

Is it me, or have we been counting these days since, well, January 20th? Certainly the state of the nation’s economy has contributed to the deep scrutiny of this president’s every move. That, and a cable news netherworld which feeds on little else. We’ve learned so much about Barack Obama and his family it’s a wonder we have time for anything else.

obama-100-days

Barack’s basketball skills, Michelle’s gardening skills, Malia’s fashion sense, Bo the dog, Michele’s clothes, Barack’s smoking habit…we know so much! It’s all been delivered with the same deadly earnest with which news anchors discuss the economy. Maybe we should have expected this, what with the whole first black president thing. Still, shouldn’t we expect more from the media?

One thing is for sure. When it comes to actual policy, Americans and the cable networks might as well be in two different worlds. The faces of hosts like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity are mingled with Republican retreads like Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Cheney to create a near seamless anti-Obamathon.

This is doubtless where their bread is buttered, but the problem with their collective analysis of Obama’s first 100 days (coming tomorrow to a tv near you) is the idea they speak for America.

After all, if they didn’t have Obama to bash, what in the world would they talk about? Oh yeah, I forgot. Carrie Prejean , the Craigslist killer, and Susan Boyle. Mike Lupica of the Daily News ran a column the other day that made a whole lot of sense. Why not just let Obama do his job? Why the constant examination of all things Barack?

To be sure, not all the analysis of the president’s first 100 days will be trivial , nor should it be all positive. Is it too much to ask that it be measured? Probably. Thoughtful? Nah, doesn’t sell. Accurate? That only matters if someone gets caught playing fast and loose with the facts.

How will you handle the coverage of Barack Obama’s first 100 days? I may be an aging cynic, but it’s getting to the point where I’m scared to watch for fear of throwing something at the television. My one comfort? Almost nobody covers a presidents second hundred days like they do the first.

You tell me. Will you overdose on Obama’s first 100 days?

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How Should Obama Deal With Torture

As President Obama approaches his first hundred days, the issue of what to do about alleged Bush Administration abuses of various treaties and  conventions on the subject have taken center stage. In a way, it’s sad to see Obama get caught in a quagmire that was not of his own doing. On the other hand, maybe he didn’t handle it as well as he could have.

It certainly made sense to release CIA memos on the torturing of certain “enemy combatants”.

Cia Memos

That’s the sort of fresh air his administration promised to deliver. Yet it was a mistake to seemingly offer blanket immunity to those who oversaw America’s detour into thuggery.

Now that it’s become apparent that “we’re moving on” wasn’t working for the president, there are broad hints from the White House that it might convene a bipartisan commission to investigate possible abuses.

This comes as new reports say  no one had even bothered to look at the history of brutal interrogation techniques like waterboarding before they were approved. Nice work, GW.

waterboarding

The Obama flip-flop could have been avoided had someone in the new administration lobbied for a truth and reconciliation commission like the one convened in South Africa to probe the abuses of the apartheid system.

Now, after the president told CIA workers just the other day they were home free, he appears to be backtracking. And below it all is the specter of the increasingly vocal yet irrelevant former Vice President Dick Cheney.

He now says Obama should release CIA memos showing the success of waterboarding in wringing actionable intelligence from its victims. This tells us a couple of things.

First, Cheney must have been in the loop on the original decision to torture. Okay, how about he might have actually been the architect? Second, and just as important, this person believes the end justifies the means, that torture is okay if it works.

Leaving aside for the moment the howling of some former CIA officials at Cheney’s claim, he must know that one good turn deserves another.

If the US tortures people, why would any enemy hold back on doing the same to Americans?

But the central issue is this. President Obama must take firm action to assure the world that America rejects the use of torture, and will investigate and bring to justice people in power who think otherwise. How about he starts with Dick Cheney?

What do you think?

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Is US Right to Boycott Racism Conference?

It’s the first UN conference on racism in eight years, and the US has its first black president. Yet President Obama has elected to boycott the conference convening in Geneva Monday, albeit “with regret”. That means no US delegation to the conference, and Canada, German, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia have followed suit.
UN Conference on Racism
UN Conference on Racism

US opposition is centered on the belief that the conference will be used as a platform to criticize Israel. This issue shattered the last conference in Durban, South Africa back in 2001. Both Israel and the US walked out of that one.

How in the world does a conference on racism end up focusing on the Middle East in the first place? One of Monday’s headline speakers at the conference is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who has vowed to destroy Israel.

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Racism is a deep and pervasive problem worldwide, and to focus the discussion on the Middle East, which, quiet as it’s kept, has its own history of racism, trivializes it.

Just take a look at the nations boycotting the conference, and ask yourselves what their history regarding race has been. Australia? How about the treatment of aborigines? Italy, the Netherlands, Germany? Doesn’t anyone want to discuss the legacy of colonialism? And then there’s the US. It seems strange that a black president would pull the plug on US participation in a conference on the biggest stain on his own country’s legacy.

If we are the only remaining superpower left on earth, why haven’t we taken on a greater role in fashioning the racism conference’s agenda? How about Secretary of State Clinton standing up and saying no, this won’t be about Israel, it will be about racism? In America, reaction to the boycott has already fallen along political lines. Supporters of Israel hail it, black organizations, including the Congressional Black Caucus, aren’t happy.

In the end, President Obama has made a mistake here. He should have sent a delegation of “heavy hitters” to the conference, and used American influence to re-fashion the conference’s agenda. The argument that any gathering trying to address racism should have Israel as a primary agenda gives aid and comfort to racist groups all over this planet.

Shouldn’t we know better than this by now?

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