Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Obama Watch

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:25:15 AM EST

Note - Obama has overturned the Bush rule that a jacket must always be worn in the Oval Office!

The Golden Rule for starting a new job has always been to "Start as you intend to continue." Impressed as I am by Obama's oratorical and organisational skills, the acid test for me has always been what Obama actually does while in office. No dissembling.  No excuses.  Just give me the actions and decisions please.  What I find particularly fascinating is the priorities he has set for his first day, and the tone he has been setting by his first decisions. Note that his actions speak directly to the values he enunciated in his campaign and inauguration speech.


So what has Obama actually been doing to date?  The early signs have been quite encouraging.  I've got a little list!  Please feel free to add to it as his decisions and actions mount up.

Actions/decisions to date:

1.    Guantanamo:  
Obama Seeks Halt to Legal Proceedings at Guantanamo - washingtonpost.com

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Jan. 20 -- In one of its first actions, the Obama administration instructed military prosecutors late Tuesday to seek a 120-day suspension of legal proceedings involving detainees at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- a clear break with the approach of the outgoing Bush administration.

The President is expected to issue an Executive Order providing for the Closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre within 12 Months shortly.

2.    Palestine:
AFP: Obama plunges into Mideast with snap call to Palestinian leader

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- President Barack Obama plunged straight into the Middle East conflict on his first day in office calling the Palestinian president on Wednesday after the last Israeli soldier withdrew from Gaza.

Obama assured Mahmud Abbas that he intended "to work with him as partners to establish a durable peace in the region," the Palestinian leader's spokesman told AFP.

The new US leader told Abbas that the Palestinian president was the first foreign leader he called since taking office, said spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina.

"This is my first phone call to a foreign leader and I'm making it only hours after I took office," he quoted Obama as telling Abbas.


3.    Transparency
On Day One, Obama Sets a New Tone - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- President Obama moved swiftly on Wednesday to impose new rules on government transparency and ethics, using his first full day in office to freeze the salaries of his senior aides, mandate new limits on lobbyists and demand that the government disclose more information.

Mr. Obama called the moves, which overturned two policies of his predecessor, "a clean break from business as usual." Coupled with Tuesday's Inaugural Address, which repudiated the Bush administration's decisions on everything from science policy to fighting terrorism, the actions were another sign of the new president's effort to emphasize an across-the-board shift in priorities, values and tone.

"For a long time now there's been too much secrecy in this city," Mr. Obama said at a swearing-in ceremony for senior officials at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House. He added, "Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

Conservatives have been quick to spot the implications of this new transparency for the Bush regime.

Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community

LIMBAUGH: What I'm afraid of is that what Obama did with this executive order is actually make it easier for the media to go get Bush documents. Because you know Pelosi and some of the guys over in congress are talking about war crimes trials and charges and so forth. [...]

What I'm afraid of is what Obama's done here is made the gathering of the information for this kind of stuff- This is not American. This is not America. This is not what America does. We don't- This is Banana Republic kind of stuff.

4. Iraq
Barack Obama retakes oath--and then proceeds to govern -- chicagotribune.com

The president spent part of the afternoon in a meeting with top military commanders running the war in Iraq. In a statement released afterward, Obama said he asked them to "engage in additional planning necessary to execute a responsible military drawdown from Iraq."

Guantanamo, Palestine, Transparency, Iraq withdrawal.  Not a bad start when it comes to overturning the worst aspects of the Bush regime!

Display:
Well, he'll need to get better on Palestine: he still hasn't contacted Hamas, as far as we know. Assuming there's anything left of them to contact of course.

You can't find a solution unless you have all the parties at the table.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:08:56 AM EST
Depending on what his ultimate agenda is, he may have difficulty getting Israel to the table, never mind Hamas.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:35:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. Hamas might be easier; I think they're resigned to a two-state solution. I'm not sure the people with the power in Israel (or their supporters in the US) are.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:37:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right now its looking more like a multi-state solution- with Hamas running Gaza, Fatah in the unoccupied parts of the West Bank, and who knows what's going to happen to all the refugees in the refugee camps.  Zionists like to suggest they could be shipped off to Sudan or some Islamic state. Bantustanisation might be the most appropriate vterm.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:03:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much support do Fatah actually have? Negotiations could easily lead to a situation where they were eclipsed in the same way that Sinn Fein eclipsed the SDLP (not to draw any other parallels between Fatah and the SDLP!!).
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:07:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One parallel is inescapable.  George Mitchell is the US Special Envoy.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 02:04:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And he has some experience of pulling in terrorists from the cold.  The problem is that in Israel/Palestine you are dealing with terrorists on both sides

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:03:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if he knows how to arm the Shekel Bomb?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't it be terrible if budgetary cutbacks forced Obama to cut all aid to Israel?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:28:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that, of course, is point of strategic leverage, and always has been.  

Israel's militarist policies (including the latest slaughter in Gaza) have always been dependent, not merely on American acquiescence, but on active American funding and support.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Jan 25th, 2009 at 09:50:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect there's going to be a fair amount of diplomatic dancing between both Obama and Hamas before they sit down.  If you'll check page 247 of the Village Rulebook....

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:05:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure: he may have initiated back channel contacts already. That's how it worked in NI.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:09:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably.  Mubarek was his first phone call, not Olmert or Abbas, and isn't Mubarek in contact with them?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Was it? The news article I saw listed the phone calls in this order, without actually saying this was the order the calls were made. According to The Times, Abbas's spokesman said that Obama told Abbas he was the first foreign stateman he was calling.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:14:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what the story quoted in the diary above also says.  I think there is extraordinary symbolism in the fact that Obama spoke to Abbas before all other world leaders - he's not even a head of state or Government.  Has Obama even spoken to Brown/Sarkozy/Merkel yet?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:50:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That must have been where I read it. I couldn't remember, so I searched on the web - I don't usually read The Times. I guess I should check on ET first....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:52:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Abbas claimed that, but immediately after the White House issued a press release stating Obama had called Mubarek, Olmert, Abbas, and the Jordanian King, and they (TPM) stated that the ordering was meant as a mild rebuke to Abbas after he'd bragged about being called first.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 02:48:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The executive order banning torture will also include shutting down the CIA black sites in Europe.

Health care reform is set to begin in late-winter/early-spring.  Then climate change.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:55:36 AM EST
Do you have a location list?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:06:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Erm?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:07:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just asking.  What with all this transparency now and all....

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:13:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dunno if there's a list or not.  It was in an article on (I think) HuffPo.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:14:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've not heard of a list. But it should be one of the first questions asked.

Probably arouse a little Ire worldwide (and it was worldwide, not just in Europe wasn't it?) but the poison has to be drawn.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 07:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought he meant a list of time lines for the agenda (health care in a couple months, climate change in summer, etc)?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 11:11:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
???????

The request for a list of black site locations - so we can see what Governments were complicit.  If some were in the EU (Poland?) there should be consequences.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 11:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can open...worms everywhere....

I'm sure such a list exists.  Will it ever be released?  Sure, but I wouldn't hold my breath, because it probably isn't going to happen anytime soon.  That political clusterfuck would probably make Guantanamo look like the OJ trial.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 11:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good Guantanamo should look like the OJ trial. (and lets face it any trials around that place are going to bunder the light of Publicity so bright it will be untrue).

Public pillorying of the creators of that place should be carried out in such a way that people never want to do it again.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 11:43:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree.  I'm just saying.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 11:51:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... oh, wait, you probably mean Administration action on climate change ... OK, that'd make the timeline more credible.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jan 25th, 2009 at 02:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know.  Gitmo would be a fine location for scamming financial guys like Bernie Madoff.  Far more of them than Al-cia-duh "terrorists.
by Lasthorseman on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 07:47:54 AM EST
No it wouldn't. It's not a good location for anyone. That's the whole point of the opposition to it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 08:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a good location for Cubans.  Time for the USA to hand it back to them.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 08:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You got a slightly more precise link for the second-to-last quote? There's a lot of material on old Limbaugh on Booman, and dumpster diving through his - ah - contributions to public discourse is really not my thing.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 02:48:58 PM EST
http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2009/1/21/23533/8686

That's all he says really

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:04:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]