Friday, January 23, 2009


I have to admit something: although I have been public in my support of Obama through the election, I was not sure I really trusted him. I liked him, for sure. Having a president who was presentable and articulate would be a nice change, and I suspected that he would be a better president than #43 (but then again, a dead vole would be better). But trust him?

I had been burned before. I voted for Clinton the first time, largely because I thought the idea of universal health care was a good one. Should the ability to be NOT the exclusive right of those with lots of money? That didn't (and still does not) seem right. So the failure of Clinton to pursue...hell, their total abandonment of health care in general really stung. Although lots of good things did come out of those 8 years, I lost my ability to really trust politicians.

So, while I loved the rhetoric of Obama, and I definitely thought he was better than the McCain/lunatic governor ticket, I'm not sure I fully trusted him. Secretly, I was expecting the same "great run to the center" as Clinton, where many campaign promises get thrown out.

So, what has happened in the first week?

  • Guantanamo Bay has been closed. If we really are a great country, do we need a secret place offshore where we can keep prisoners outside of American scrutiny, where we can hold people forever without charges, facts, evidence? America should not need to sneak around in the dark if we are as much of a force for good as we think.
  • Also, Obama has officially banned the use of torture. This is definitely an issue of morality, to be sure, and I really didn't like being a part of a country that had to stoop to such awful methods. But there is another concern: torture simply does not work. To quote the last linked article:

    Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information." In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones.

  • Also,he has ended the funding ban on overseas abortion groups. Now, no matter how you feel about abortion, it is in fact legal in America. And by banning all funding for overseas family planning clinics who offer abortion as an option, the government was unjustly interfering with the rights of Americans living overseas (mostly military) by denying them rights available to the average citizen. Unlike many so-called conservative pundits, I'm really against the government specifically robbing US citizens of their rights.

There is a ton of stuff for which I'm still waiting, of course. I still want habeas corpus reinstated, because I don't like the idea that I can be locked away without ever being charged. I still want some movement on civil unions/marriages for gays, because I hate the idea of a large segment of our population being denied basic human rights just because of their choice of partners. I still want some good solution to the Palestine/Israel war, because, as we've had such a large hand in this conflict, we need to be part of the solution. I still need to see the US regain all the international stature we've lost and quit being seen as a power-hungry bully. The US also has to take the lead on working to preserve rather than poison our environment. I don't like the government having the power to covertly go through my private records on a whim. The list goes on.

But, for the first time, I am hopeful...and that is a really nice feeling.

PS: Obama also revives the Freedom of Information Act. Best line? "The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails." Cool.

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