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And so The “Change” Begins
09 mar 2009
As we begin the “Obama Era,” are we seeing the changes we were promised?
Finally, we have change in Washington, D. C. Entering into this year with the words of my father, “Obama is our new president, and we need to give him a chance,” I am trying to do just that. The problem for me, though, is that as much as I would like to believe we are going to get something we can believe in with President Obama, I know Senator Obama’s voting record. So the question on the table is, will we see change we can believe in, or will it be a replay of the Democratic victory of Congress in 2006? That remains to be seen.

Obama began in a positive light by signing an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay within a year. He also signed an Executive Order regarding guidelines for hiring lobbyists for his administration. Now, THAT is change we can believe in, for sure! But what about his actions surrounding both of these highly anticipated Executive Orders?

While Obama has rejected the Bush administration’s torture tactics, the taxpayers are paying government lawyers to defend Torture Memo draftsman John Woo. WE are also paying to defend Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, and Paul Wolfowitz, among others. While it is legal for our government to defend its present and former employees, the federal law governing that does not apply if said representation is in direct conflict with the interests of the United States. So…is torture in the interest of the United States or not? Obama can legally reverse that Bush administration stance and save the taxpayers having to defend them. Will he consider it? Will that become change we can believe in?

Ok, those may argue, Guantanamo Bay is closing, so why continue on and on about it? A recent study found that inmates there WERE treated humanely…so, is waterboarding torture or not? I know we heard from Eric Holder that he believes it is. So how can this Pentagon Report be accurate? A Defense Department Review did the investigation, so was it an unbiased review? Plus, what will happen to the inmates still there? There is a report of 17 inmates from China who have been there, for seven years. It has been found that their incarceration there is “grossly unfair,” yet the United States says “it has no power to order their release.” They cannot be sent back to China and the Untied States will not let them immigrate to our country. What will happen?

And what about the strict guidelines for hiring lobbyists? President Obama stipulated certain rules for hiring former lobbyists, including that they cannot have served as a lobbyist within two years for rules of law that might come under their particular job description. Yet within two weeks of taking office, he has put several former lobbyists in his Cabinet. Geithner appointed Mark Patterson, former Goldman Sachs lobbyist, as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack was, as recently as a year ago, a lobbyist for the National Teacher’s Association. Deputy Defense Secretary William J Lynn III was, within the past two years, a lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon. Deputy Director of Health and Human Services William Corr was, within the past two years, an anti-tobacco lobbyist. And there are more…

Some would argue that, out of the thousands of jobs needing to be filled, a handful of lobbyists can’t hurt anything, but that is just giving leeway to a rule that Obama, himself, specified. Why make rules you cannot hope to keep? In doing so, aren’t you inviting ridicule? Is this the type of change we are looking for?

Within his first week, President Obama gave orders for a drone attack against Palestine. Yes, he was after al-Qaeda members, and the reports say the attack took out a handful. The first article, however, said that out of fifteen killed, seven were operatives, five were civilian adults and three were children. That is eight killed as “collateral damage.” Then came an article that reported twenty-two deaths. Either way, the collateral damage for that video game-style attack was astronomical. And, since the strike was conducted from an “operations room” in the United States, only the relatives were left to mourn the civilian casualties. Why, with all the technology we have today, can we not prevent such percentages of collateral damage? And…this little aggression was started by the Bush administration…no change…

Let’s consider the nomination and subsequent approval of Timothy Geithner for Secretary of Treasury. Now, I do not miss Henry Paulson, but Geithner brought baggage. The man that will oversee the Internal Revenue Service forgot to pay taxes. He misunderstood the law. If he can’t understand it, how can we? Add to that, the IMF gave him the money to pay the taxes…unlike the rest of us who must find ways to come up with the money to pay ours. AND, Geithner had a housekeeper that became an illegal immigrant while in his employ. How many business owners have Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raided and harassed because they hired an illegal? What kinds of fines have they had to pay? What about Geithner…we know he supposedly paid fines for back taxes, but what about having an illegal in his employ? Did he pay any fines? Was he harassed?

As for other appointments, Obama has had no less than four nominees withdraw their names for appointments, two of which had tax issues and one of which had ethics issues. These are people Obama and advisors are trying to choose to hold offices that will affect us all.

As far as ethics issues go, Senator Roland Burris comes to mind. His appointment to fill Obama’s seat in the Senate was the undoing of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. If you remember, he was impeached and is standing trial for seeking bribes, among other things…and Burris himself, is now under investigation for charges of perjury. While this has little to do with Obama himself, it is that atmosphere in which Obama has previously served. Blagojevich and Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, were contemporaries, as Emanuel sent suggestions for Vicki Jarrett to replace Obama in the Senate.

And what about the Stimulus plan, the new Bank Bailout plan, and the thought that there will be a need for even more “stimulus?” In the business world in which most of us reside, when a business is mis-managed and cannot pay it’s bills, it is liquidated, not given more and more money. Yet the Bush administration passed, with the help of a Democratically-led Congress, a $700 billion bailout plan for Wall Street and Business. This didn’t represent the people. The Bush administration bailed out banks, insurance giants and home lenders, deeming them too big to fail, and taking controlling interests in some. The Democratic Congress, while complaining about the expenditures of the Bush bailout, voted for them, and when Obama was elected President, went on to write their own bloated spending legislation (lovingly called a “stimulus plan”) to the tune of $787 billion, much of which is sheer nonsense. Where is the change there?

This is just the tip of the spending iceberg for this Congress. As Congress (remember, Democratically-led) complains about the lack of “oversight” and details of Bush’s bailout, (which, remember, Geithner helped draft) they had a hand in the lack of oversight. Add to that, Geithner recently rolled out his estimated $1 trillion plan for a new bailout, minus details…but, of course, Geithner is too important, so maybe some believe that he knows what he is doing.

Investor and Financial commentator Jim Rogers has other thoughts. He points out that Geithner was head of the Federal Reserve in New York, the very “entity” that should have been supervising Wall Street, and he missed it…the biggest financial crisis this country has seen in decades.

I have high hopes for President Obama, as he seems to have so much goodwill toward America. Unfortunately, Obama, in his first several weeks as President, is questionable. I realize he is in new territory, so I am willing to give him a little time, but up to now, he hasn’t given us much change. It really is just more of the same. The hope is fading and I see that we have just another man making government bigger and doing little, if anything, to bring about real change.
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Illinois Gov. Quinn Calls on Burris to Resign

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Jim Rogers - Bloomberg Interview (February 11, 2009)

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