Archive for the first 100 days Category

Starting to Clean Up the Mess

Posted in first 100 days, politics on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Some more good news a few days in to the Obama Administration. As promised and expected, Obama moved fast on changing the direction of our energy and environmental policies. From Reuters news service:

Obama takes steps to reverse Bush climate policies

By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama began reversing the climate policies of the Bush administration on Monday, clearing the way for the government to allow states to set stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars.
The president told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California’s request, denied under President George W. Bush, that would allow it to impose stricter limits on vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for contributing to global warming.
As many as 18 other states have indicated they may follow California’s lead, putting tailpipe emissions standards that are tougher than federal requirements into effect.
“The federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Obama said at the White House, taking a stab at his predecessor’s policies.
California has shown bold and bipartisan leadership through its effort to 21st century standards. And over a dozen states have followed its lead.”
The president also directed the Department of Transportation to move forward with setting vehicle fuel efficiency standards for 2011 by March, giving automakers an 18 month period to impose them.
He also instructed the U.S. government in general to become more energy efficient.
“The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts. We will be guided by them,” he said.
Obama laid out broad principles that he said his administration would follow. It was time for the United States to lead on climate change, he said, and reduce its dependence on foreign oil.
“It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil,” he said, adding previous administrations had made similar goals.
“We need more than the same old empty promises. We need to show that this time it will be different,” he said.

Breaking News: Pen Still Mightier Than Sword

Posted in first 100 days, politics on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Some great news already. I know some of this might only be symbolic, but it’s just so refreshing after the last 8 years. From today’s Washington Post:

President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects. With the stroke of his pen, he effectively declared an end to the “war on terror,” as President George W. Bush had defined it, signaling to the world that the reach of the U.S. government in battling its enemies will not be limitless.

While Obama says he has no plans to diminish counterterrorism operations abroad, the notion that a president can circumvent long-standing U.S. laws simply by declaring war was halted by executive order in the Oval Office.

Key components of the secret structure developed under Bush are being swept away: The military’s Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where the rights of habeas corpus and due process had been denied detainees, will close, and the CIA is now prohibited from maintaining its own overseas prisons. And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration’s lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.

It was a swift and sudden end to an era that was slowly drawing to a close anyway, as public sentiment grew against perceived abuses of government power.

Day One, er Two?

Posted in first 100 days, politics on Thursday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

When they say “the First 100 Days,” does Inauguration count as the first day? Do weekends count or is it “The First 100 Business Days”??

Either way, I cant promise a post every day, but I’ll try to keep track of what PRESIDENT OBAMA does for a little while.

From various wire reports:

In his inaugural address Tuesday, Barack Obama identified “a sapping of confidence across our land” as one of many worrisome symptoms of American crisis. On Wednesday he moved remarkably quickly to restore national confidence in a dizzying day of action on symbols and substance, all of it pretty much pitch-perfect.

By noon on his first day in office, Obama had called the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to talk about next steps for peace; asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to halt Guantánamo trials and circulated a draft executive order to close the prison within the year; and attended a prayer service that included the first-ever sermon by a woman minister and the prayers of a Muslim imam.

In the afternoon he signed two executive orders and three presidential memoranda, tightening ethics rules for his staff, strengthening the Freedom of Information Act and giving the public greater access to presidential records. “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” he said as he signed the documents. Then he watched Vice President Joe Biden swear in his senior staff, and stayed to shake hands or embrace every one of them. After that he met with senior economic advisors and top military staff to discuss plans for the economy and Iraq; later, he hosted an open house for the American people, a new symbol of his commitment to access and transparency.

Obama signs order to close Guantanamo in a year

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

With his action, Obama started changing how the United States prosecutes and questions al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to Americans — and overhauling America’s image abroad, battered by accusations of the use of torture and the indefinite detention of suspects at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba.

“The message that we are sending the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism and we are going to do so vigilantly and we are going to do so effectively and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals,” the president said.

The centerpiece order would close the much-maligned Guantanamo facility within a year, a complicated process with many unanswered questions that was nonetheless a key campaign promise of Obama’s. The administration already has suspended trials for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo for 120 days pending a review of the military tribunals.

In the other actions, Obama:

_Created a task force to recommend policies on handling terror suspects who are detained in the future. Specifically, the group would look at where those detainees should be housed since Guantanamo is closing.

_Required all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while interrogating detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture. However, a Capitol Hill aide says that the administration also is planning a study of more aggressive interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual — which would create a significant loophole to Obama’s action Thursday.

“We believe that the Army Field Manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don’t torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need,” Obama said. He said his action reflects an understanding that “we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard.”

A task force will study whether other interrogation guidelines — beyond what’s spelled out in the Army manual — are necessary for intelligence professionals in dealing with terror suspects.

But an Obama administration official said that provision should not be considered a loophole that will allow controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” to be re-introduced. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the administration’s thinking.

The order also orders the CIA to close all its existing detention facilities abroad for terror suspects — and prohibits those prisons from being used in the future. The agency has used those secret “black site” prisons around the world to question terror suspects.

_Directed the Justice Department to review the case of Qatar native Ali al-Marri, who is the only enemy combatant currently being held on U.S. soil. The directive will ask the high court for a stay in al-Marri’s appeals case while the review is ongoing. The government says al-Marri is an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

An estimated 245 men are being held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, most of whom have been detained for years without being charged with a crime. Among the sticky issues the Obama administration has to resolve are where to put those detainees — whether back in their home countries or at other federal detention centers — and how to prosecute some of them for war crimes.

“We intend to win this fight. We’re going to win it on our terms,” Obama said as he signed three executive orders and a presidential directive.

The administration official said Obama’s government will not transfer detainees to countries that will mistreat them, including their own home country.

In his first Oval Office signing ceremony, Obama was surrounded by retired senior military leaders. He described them as outstanding Americans who have defended the country — and its ideals.

It’s Got Great Flourish

Posted in first 100 days, misc.blurbs, politics on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

At 1:04pm eastern time, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tells us that Barack Obama has extraordinairy penmanship. David Gergen concurs.

Cheney In a Wheelchair

Posted in first 100 days, politics on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

So Dick Cheney is in a wheelchair allegedly cuz he twisted his back “moving boxes” in his new house. And First Lady Michelle Obama looks like she’s wearing green rubber gloves. It’s so wierd to see the Bushes and Obamas standing there together sorta joking a bit as they wait to approach the helicopter that will take them back to Texas.

They’re smiling… Barack looks like a kid who cant wait for his parents to leave on vacation or something. W looks like he’s finally un-clinched his asshole. And as the helicopter leaves, the Obamas and Bidens noticibly sigh with a shoulder shrug like “phew, they’re finally gone.”

He Just Gives Good Speeches

Posted in first 100 days, politics on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

That’s right. And the world is listening, and now we have a brilliant new POSITVE message. Words do matter.

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”

It was a grand and subtle send-off to George W. Bush. It was like ding dong the witch is dead and we really do want to start fresh.

Musical Interlude

Posted in first 100 days, misc.blurbs, music, politics on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

My 13-month-old son is taking a nap. I’ll show him this later when he’s old enough to understand. But when we were watching the motorcades and introductions he would clap and then bounce to the marching-band music.

I remember when I was a kid, if Itzak Perlman was playing his violin it must be a pretty big important event. I was told and felt like I always knew that he is Jewish, and has some physical handicap. And that he was the greatest violinist in the world. It was a subtle “you can be anything in this world” feeling I guess.

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