Patience: Not Very 2009

Is it just me, or is what’s coming out of various political circles something like the following —

“Obama: He’s been in office almost a week. So why isn’t everything better already?”

— with the subtext being that if the man hasn’t solved everything in the first 100 hours, his administration is clearly a failure.

To which I have to say: Dudes. Expectation management is your friend. People are still finding their offices. Certainly it makes sense for, say, Fox News to act like we’re all going to die a horrible death at the hands of the swarthy as of 12:01 pm January 20, but everyone who isn’t in fact suckling from Rupert Murdoch’s withered, reactionary grandpa teats or otherwise engaged in banally predictable conservative panic might want to consider taking a run through shady glens, hugging a box full of kittens, swilling down an Xanax smoothie or whatever it is they need to do to relax and let the man and his administration get up to speed. And it’s not like they haven’t already been busy enough.

So please: Calm. You will have at least four whole years with the man and his administration. Give him at least a couple of weeks to settle in before accusing the lot of them of slacking off on the job. It’s just a thought.

113 Comments on “Patience: Not Very 2009”

  1. I am pleased with his direction and governance so far. We were years, if not decades, getting into this mess, it’s not going to be cured overnight, and I have no expectations that he’ll manage to do that.

  2. I’m agreeing. And agreeable.

    Let’s see how things go before we declare him a failure.

    He really hasn’t done anything yet.

  3. I think the fact that he is or will be “fixing” things is one of the things that upsets a lot of folks. To many people, things weren’t broken. Or perhaps they were only broken because there are gays and non-fundamentalist Christians making God hate America and we didn’t do enough to torture terrorists into submission.

    Expecting folks like that to admit that Obama is doing a good job will take more than Obama doing a good job.

  4. I agree with the sentiment as it relates to Obama in general, but I have to confess I am quite upset with the lack of results from the TARP/bailout/stimulus/whatever we are calling it.

    I mean, the sheer size of it (hundreds of billions), should be able to have some immediate impact, shouldn’t it? Give me a trillion dollars and I will fix America.

  5. Who’s even been calling out about this? I try to read a pretty decent variety of news articles, and I’ve not seen whiff one of this.

    I mean, yeah, a bit of the Fox News we’re-all-doomed angle, sure, but none of the ‘his Care-Bear-Stare is powerless!’ angle.

  6. That President Obama is, in fact, making a teenie, tiny dent in the gianormous pile o’ crap he inherited from his predicessors, is encouraging. Even better, going straight from the floor of the Senate to the Oval Office, he knows full well how to play the games and the players involved.

    We didn’t get into this mess overnight, nor is there a magic wand he can wave to fix the country, or the world, overnight. Or, for that matter find me a full-time job that will pay me more than a subsistance wage.

    Mr. President – Keep at it. We’re behind you. That’s why we elected you.

    A pleased member of the electorate

  7. Interesting…while I know that expectations have reached ridiculous levels, my impression of the first (almost) week is that he’s done a lot already – way more than I expected in the first week. He’s made it clear that this country has changed its attitude and that’s a brilliant thing.

  8. “suckling from Rupert Murdoch’s withered, reactionary grandpa teats”

    Dude. That’s gross.

  9. Funny because I’m impressed by how much he’s already managed to accomplish in the first week of his presidency.

  10. I agree. Patience. Unfortunately, the Internet, TV, and advertising have all promised ‘quickness’ and ‘instant’ relief to what ails you. As a society we are forgetting how to live at a human pace, and struggle at machine speeds. Why then do slow food and slow living find niches among the frustrated, why then all the ‘back to simplicity’ rejection? I’m more interested in the one crying out for more action. Makes me think they have something to hide.

  11. From a few thousand miles away, across the ocean, I am amazed almost hourly at how much gets done and how important everything that is getting done is: I don’t see any impatience. Perhaps that is because I get my info from: Spiegel, D Welle, the NYTimes, the Washington Post, the Guardian, BBC and CNN international, as well as a bunch of political blogs both US and Europe based? Where do you see this impatience? All the loonies I know think a lot is being done, although they are very unhappy with what: I, by the way, am deliriously happy so far, to the point of tears of amazement and joy.

  12. What I want to know is, where/when did this “unreasonable expectations” meme come from ? I don’t know anyone who voted for Obama who believed he was going to turn the economy around by noon on Wednesday, or snap his fingers and get people’s jobs or houses back for them.
    Seriously, who started this nonsense? It needs to stop.

  13. Nah, the nonsense needs to continue. It’s traditional to have unreasonable expectations. I’m not sure that I want a gold-farting pink unicorn, btw.

  14. @WaltzInExile #14 – I don’t know, I’ve seen some not small amount of impatience and anger being expressed on Twitter, which means it’s more around and about the populace.

    I don’t see any economic package making an impact that’s visible on “Main Street” for some time, maybe a year or so. Don’t underestimate the amount of messed-up this economy is in; even all of Europe is having problems.

    One very visible indicator that TARP is in the right direction, however: the TED spread has stopped sky-rocketing and is recovering.

  15. It’s amazing how the high resulting from Obama’s inauguration can be brought crashing down to earth by your forcing us to contemplate sucking Rupert Murdoch’s teats. Why have you done this to us?

  16. suckling from Rupert Murdoch’s withered, reactionary grandpa teats

    I had to do that for a (thankfully!) brief time during the nineties, when they weren’t as withered. Not gut-retchingly sickening as one may think, especially when you’re in need a paycheck, but still pretty awful. I try not to dwell on it, though—avoids the night tremors.

    I do wonder how the likes of Brit Hume, Bill O’Reilly and even Sean “The Conservatives’ Last Freedom Fighter” Hannity are able to accomplish it day after day in an ongoing fashion considering they’re now deep into a second decade nursing at that shriveled, now likely rancid milk bladder.

    I guess you can acclimate yourself to anything if you do it long enough. I’ve heard that’s how sadism works.

  17. G@13

    Where do you see this impatience?

    Well, Pakistan wants change sooner:

    Islamabad urged US President Barack Obama on Saturday to halt US missile strikes on its territory after civilians were killed in the first such attacks since his inauguration.

    Remote-controlled US drones fired missiles into the village of Zharki in North Waziristan on Friday, killing 22.

    And Hamas is not feeling the love

    Hamas said Thursday that US President Barack Obama’s position toward the Palestinians does not represent change and will lead to the same mistakes as his predecessor, shortly after the new leader made his first public comments on the Gaza crisis since his inauguration.

  18. Yeah, I have to agree that Murdock image was quite … vivid.

    We’ve been wondering if any other incoming president had either reversed or stopped more of the previous president’s initiatives so quickly. President Obama seems to be doing so fairly aggressively – thankfully.

  19. Justme with a small m @25

    President Obama seems to be doing so fairly aggressively – thankfully.

    I repeat, he hasn’t done anything yet.

    At least, nothing substantive.

    So I wait and watch.

  20. Patience? That is SO 20th Century. What use have I for patience when I can get everything I need on my fancy shmancy internet phone device? When I can communicate with people all over the world with shocking immediacy? What has patience ever gotten me? I demand results right away or you have failed. Nothing is worth waiting for.

    Except chili. God, I love chili. All slow cooked and spicy and delicious. I hope that Obama’s presidency turns out to be delicious chili.

  21. The man ordered GTMO shut down after being in office for 2 days. He’s already issued a half dozen orders regarding open and transparent government, stem cell research, pay freezes for government jobs over $100K and — did I mention GTMO? It’s closing?

    Dude’s done more in a half week than Bush did in the last 6 months. Obama’ll probably sign Kyoto by Friday and while all of this is low hanging fruit, again, it’s stuff that should have been done years ago but was ignored.

  22. #30: Yes, GTMO is closing!!! Whoo whoo! No plan on what they are going to do with the bad guys. Or, do you think there are no bad guys?

  23. Keith

    The man ordered GTMO shut down after being in office for 2 days.

    Gitmo is not closed. And he hasn’t told us what is going to happen to it’s residents yet. Gitmo ain’t a place, it’s a state of mind.

    You can have Gitmo right here in America and it will still be Gitmo. Nothing has changed…..yet.

    Obama’ll probably sign Kyoto by Friday

    Um, Bill Clinton signed Kyoto too. But the way I remember things, Kyoto is a treaty and requires 2/3 of the Senate to go along.

    Has that changed?

  24. This sounds just plain nuts to me — so far as I can tell he’s hit the ground running and has already exceeded my expectations.

    He’s closing Guantanamo, putting teeth back into the Freedom of Information act, is generally improving government transparency — and people are saying he’s not doing enough?

    That’s just crazy talk.

  25. I agree with some of those above, I haven’t been seeing a lot of people complaining about lack of action. I think I even read (or saw) a news report that claimed, with some surprise, that the American public was acting with more patience than they had expected.

    On the other hand, AS Obama continues to take actions, I think that some people will start to realize he’s less radically left than they assumed, and THEN we’ll start to see the complaints roll in…

  26. Oh, you mean like Wired panicking because OMG Obama’s name was substituted in for Bush’s on some awful legislation – which, you know, is supposed to be done automatically because he’s the President now but OMG OMG why hasn’t he STOPPED that case already?!?!

  27. I’m curious about Frank’s definition of substantive. We’re pointing out all the executive orders that Obama is signing and Frank seems to be saying that while that’s nice and all those orders haven’t actually accomplished anything yet.

    That’s an odd way of looking at things. Unless there’s an assumption that these orders won’t actually be carried out or that Obama is supposed to literally go to California and choose our new emission standards, this makes no sense. The president’s job is to execute the laws. He’s doing that even if the results haven’t rolled in yet. Just starting the process seems pretty substantive to me.

  28. Keith @ 30: “Dude’s done more in a half week than Bush did in the last 6 months.”

    Unfortunate comparison, that. Bush did more in the last 90 days (at least in terms of “midnight regulations”) than he did in the past 7.75 previous years.,8599,1873602,00.html?imw=Y

    Not that Bush was particularly unusual in that respect.

    “At a press conference on Thursday afternoon at the Center for American Progress, Anne Joseph O’Connell, assistant professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley, presented a new report analyzing data on federal rule-making between 1983 and 2008, focusing on transition periods. The study indicates that the spike in regulations coming in the final year, and particularly the last several months, of the Bush administration is typical of most outgoing presidents. That said, O’Connell noted that some steps taken by Bush’s team were “unprecedented,” in that they were designed specifically to make his regulations harder to overturn.”

  29. I guess I could argue with Frank, or I could obsess over exactly what has and hasn’t been done yet, or a dozen other political junkie things. But I’m thinking of taking it in another direction entirely, and dropping out of the 24-hour news cycle for a while. Maybe I’ll catch up on politics over the weekend with the Sunday paper, and let the Prez take care of things the rest of the time. That’s the advantage of hiring good people.

  30. Vincent

    Frank seems to be saying that while that’s nice and all those orders haven’t actually accomplished anything yet.

    Yes. Precisely.

    Unless there’s an assumption that these orders won’t actually be carried out

    It will take more than fiat to deal with the reality of Guantanamo Bay and there is no substantive plan for doing that yet. That it is not easy is belied by the fact that he gave a deadline for one year. So there will be nothing to see on this for a year, and maybe never.

    You talk about emission standards. That’s great. I would love automobiles to get 1000 miles per gallon. But it won’t improve my life any if such a vehicle costs a million dollars. So while I say “Great, more miles per gallon” what will that mean in the long run? And will the result be OK? We’ll see. California doesn’t have a great track record for successful public policy.

    Obama also signed an executive order restricting interrogations to the Army Field Manual. That’s great! I want us to treat everyone as if they were as precious as my own son or daughter. And if that works, fine. But if it doesn’t…

    And I notice in that same executive order he gave himself an out: A way to add protocols in addition to the AFM if necessary. So that’s great too. All of the people who want to believe we won’t do anything but talk to people and give them candy when they cooperate can continue to believe that. Hey, it’s Obama after all. But we have the ability to do something more when necessary (just like Bush) and everyone will look the other way (unlike Bush).

    Fine by me. I’m a results oriented kinda guy.

    Look, I’d love for Gitmo to be shuttered and if Obama can find a way to do that without compromising security, I’m all for it.

    But he hasn’t done it yet.

    I’m all for being able to gather intelligence with milk and cookies rather than having to use enhanced interrogation methods. But he hasn’t done that yet either.

    In each and every case I reserve judgment, I give the President the benefit of the doubt, and we’ll see how it goes.

    But nothing has really been done, yet, and and there are no real results to evaluate.

    So, we’ll see how things go.

  31. Frank @39: You raise fair points. Of course one can’t judge the merits of what’s being done until it’s actually done, but one can still be excited about what Obama is planning to do. I have no problems with a wait-and-see approach, but I think I have the reverse of your attitude. I’m not going to wait for the other shoe to drop until it actually drops whereas you’re not going to celebrate anything until tangible good results come by. It’s the old ‘is the glass half-empty or half-full’ dichotomy. Fair enough.

  32. Right, we definitly need to kick this freak out and get Bush back in there. Or maybe Rush. Yeah, he’d have the guts to bomb Iran, and maybe China too, and um Mexico. They could do with a few nukes too. Yeah, bomb ’em all and fight Global Warming with Nuclear Winter. Thats the ticket. Lets all do something we can be proud of….

  33. Bob@38,

    I’ve been following that policy for quite a while. I don’t watch TV news or [rarely] follow the online news sites, but wait to see what my daily paper tells me. It keeps the stress levels waaaaay down. Almost as good as those Xanax smoothies.

  34. Well, hell, he’s already done one thing which will affect our image in foreign countries very positively (something we sorely need): by Executive Order he’s removed the restriction on US aid to planned parenthood clinics and other organizations which have anything whatsoever to do with abortion, even if only counseling. And that’s _done_, it only required the order. And I wasn’t even aware that was on his priority list, so I’m extremely happy about it. Now US money can be used in a lot of places it was prohibited from in the last few years to fund contraception, programs to treat and prevent the spread of STDs, and a lot of other public health initiatives that desperately need doing all over the world.

  35. Vincent @40

    Of course one can’t judge the merits of what’s being done until it’s actually done, but one can still be excited about what Obama is planning to do.

    You misunderstand: I don’t think Obama will able to pull off closing Gitmo. If he closes the physical facility, I think he will simply be forced to relocate it here at which point we will then be subject to a whole host of other civil rights complaints.

    So generally I think this is a stunt.

    Further, his executive order on torture I believe is also a stunt. Why did he leave the door open to enhanced techniques if he is morally opposed to them? Because it knows he may have to use them.

    And someone mentioned the Wired article regarding Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation et al. v. Obama, et al, the “warrantless” wiretapping case as if placing Obama’s name on the court case was only a technicality. Well it was that but also it’s about Obama’s apparent decision to continue the program

    “The Government’s position remains that this case should be stayed,” the Obama administration wrote (.pdf) in a filing that for the first time made clear the new president was on board with the Bush administration’s reasoning in this case.

    So you misunderstand because I am cautiously optimistic about Obama.

    But I really don’t know what it is you are celebrating.

  36. Andy 3: Expecting folks like that to admit that Obama is doing a good job will take more than Obama doing a good job.

    Indeed, it would require Obama doing a worse job than I can currently imagine.

    Jeremiah 10: “suckling from Rupert Murdoch’s withered, reactionary grandpa teats”

    Dude. That’s gross.

    Yeah, but so is watching Faux News and acting like it’s, you know, journalism.

    And as for Gitmo, I think they should all be transferred to onshore custody at once, and treated like the Constitution says people who haven’t been convicted yet are to be treated. The ones against whom there is no evidence at all should be granted asylum in the US, if there’s no country willing to take them and safe for them to go to.

    And if they’re “too dangerous”—well, tough fucking shit.

  37. Steve: The link you provided instantly lost me when it claimed “Why Israel Can’t Win” is an example of liberal bias, and Bill O’Reilly is -not- an example of conservative bias.

    Sorry, but Israel’s current strategy can’t win. The only way bombing terrorists can actually eliminate them is if your bombing is actually genocide – which Israel’s bombing isn’t. The simple fact is that Israel’s methods are not effective, as witnessed by the fact Israel’s been using them for decades with minimal gain. Does it make Israel evil? No – but that’s because “good” and “evil” are orthogonal to “effective”.

    And at that display of incomprehension, I gave up; there’s no point reading the claims of bias rendered by someone who doesn’t even know what the positions he’s claiming have bias are.

  38. As a conservative, I’ve actually been relatively pleased so far with Obama. I mean, sure, he’s moved in the direction of making the country less safe, but that was to be expected – he’s a Democrat. And the moves have (so far) been mostly symbolic and not actually hurting our national security very much.

    I think that this comes from the fact that most of the senior political talent in the Democratic party right now came from the Clinton administrations. And by and large they weren’t moonbats, unlike, say, your typical dKos reader who’s not nearly as pleased as I am. It also comes from the fact that he wants to get his pork bill, er, “economic stimulus package” passed quickly, so he doesn’t have time for bruising fights on political censorship or taking away the secret ballot for unionization efforts. Just wait, come spring he’ll get to that.

  39. Frank: You seem unaware of what the problem with Gitmo is.

    There are two problems with Gitmo. The first is that our treatment of the detainees there has in some cases spoiled real-world evidence that we might have otherwise had, thereby making us less safe.

    The second is that people were being held indefinitely without trial.

    That problem, in fact, is easily solved.
    You put them on trial. And if they’re found guilty, well, then you punish them.

    And if they’re found innocent, you let them go. Either into the US, back into their home country, or into a neutral third party country such as Switzerland (which has declared willingness to accept them!).

    That’s not actually hard, but it does take time; after all, you have to put them on trial. And that’s why Obama has issued orders restarting the process of putting the Gitmo detainees on trial; because it had been stopped, and that was the entire problem.

  40. President Obama plans to close Gitmo—-that’s so much better than an administration which thought gitmo was a good idea.

    States will be allowed to increase their environmental standards—yeah.

    The family planning “gag rule” was lifted—double yeah!

    The Freedom Of Information act is no longer the freedom FROM Information.

    It’s a start, a good start. There are eight years of mess to clean up.

  41. The Republican Spin Channel (i.e. Fox News) will never give Obama an even break. Never. God is on thier side, and whatever our fine, fair new leader does, they will cut him down and tell thier lies. But at the very least thier protestations give Jon Stewart something to talk about, and that bids well for continued viewing of the Daily Show.

  42. ADX Florence, if it’s good enough for Unabom and Rudolph, it’s good enough for a terrist who faces East when he prays.

    Frank: Army Field Manual != “milk and cookies”
    But you knew that already, right?

    Yoo’s memo said Agent X could take a cheese grater to Frank’s son’s testicles if X suspected Frank had information. God bless America…

  43. John, you are one of only a handful of people who could have written a sentence that long and still kept my snickering attention in its elegant snarkiness.

    …suckling from Rupert Murdoch’s withered, reactionary grandpa teats…

    That’s just brilliant.

  44. His first week was pretty fine.

    And at least now we can be pretty sure our President won’t haul off and start a war because he wants a legacy.

  45. Hehe, welcome to power. That round thing on your chest is a bullseye and around half the population will be verbally aiming for it. The fact that what ever issue they are complaining about is or is not your doing is irrelevant, they will be blaming you for it. If you think it’s bad now just wait a couple of years.

  46. Michael Ralston @48

    That problem, in fact, is easily solved.
    You put them on trial. And if they’re found guilty, well, then you punish them.

    Well, then, I suppose that’ll be happening pretty quickly then.

    That’s not actually hard, but it does take time; after all, you have to put them on trial. And that’s why Obama has issued orders restarting the process of putting the Gitmo detainees on trial; because it had been stopped, and that was the entire problem.

    Um, I think you are misinformed. In fact, President Obama halted trials on the day one was to begin, for a 120 day review

    Hours after taking office, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered military prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to ask for a 120-day halt in all pending cases and a judge granted the request on Wednesday in the case against a young Canadian.

    Fiona @49

    States will be allowed to increase their environmental standards—yeah.

    This is yet another case of Obama appearing to be doing something he’s not. In fact, the President’s order only required the EPA to “reconsider” whether or not California will be allowed to set the emission rules they want. Bush did the same thing. The EPA said no. The EPA could say no again. Or not. We’ll see.

    But are we seeing a pattern here? Lots of fanfare about things President Obama has done, when in fact he hasn’t done what is being touted at all.

    I’m wondering if he will become the first Illusionist In Chief.

    Which is fine, I suppose since he seems to be bamboozling the Left.

    But again, I’ll wait and see what happens.

  47. Skip: Not going to engage on the less safe point. Show me evidence that Bush’s policies made anyone in the world safer than Obama’s (somewhat limited) changes to it will, then we’ll talk. Just wanted to point out that the proposed card check doesn’t take away secret ballot rights. It introduces another option to indicate your desire to join a union. As a supplementary form of voting.

    Also, note the Heritage Foundation has recently put out its world economic freedom ratings for the year. The Heritage Foundation. Really rather right wing organisation.

    The five countries ahead of the US on the list all have (much) higher union density: . [I realise its a nasty liberal blog, but the numbers are solid] Maybe neither increasing union membership nor Obama predict the apocalypse :).

  48. To your original question, “Is it just me, or is what’s coming out of various political circles…” I would reply: It’s just you.

    Do yourself a favor. Turn off Fox Noise (I have my TV configured to skip them when using the CH up/down buttons). Ditto with AM talk radio. Aside from those two sources, I really haven’t noticed the impatience you describe.

  49. fathercrow: sounds like you have sand in the nether regions…. get over FoxNews already. It cannot be helped if it is the number 1 news show. That anyone gets their news from John Stewart is laughable.
    Obama has started off doing a bunch of things that he indicated he would, that much is sure. What is unknown is whether any of it will be effective or cause more harm. One week in office just is not long enough.

  50. Steve, it’s a shame you feel the need to preface your otherwise unobjectionable comments on my site with a gratuitous insult of someone else.

    First, I would like you to apologize to fathercrow for being an asshole to him for no particularly good reason.

    Second, the next time you think insulting someone just to insult them makes you look all clever, please scratch out “all clever” and substitute “like a jackass.” Perhaps it will stop you before I feel the need to drop you into the moderation queue.

    Clearly, Steve, the point here is either you will learn to make your points on this site without resorting to juvenile name-calling, or you won’t make your points here at all. It’s really up to you. But inasmuch as I’ve had to hound you about this sort of crap over three separate threads, consider this your final warning on the subject.

  51. Unforuntatly fixing the economy, especially in light of the numerous layoffs is not going to happen overnight or even in just a year or so. But on a brigher note according to Obama’s already made good 5 out of 500 of his campaign promises and annother 14 of them are in the works. At that rate he could very well get through all of his campaign promises in about 2 and a half years, give or take.

  52. Eddie Clark @56,

    Re card check, of course it gets rid of the secret ballot, effectively. That’s it’s only purpose – to allow coercion in the unionization process, and retaliation where someone wouldn’t sign it, where that isn’t available today. Let’s do a little thought experiment. You have a hundred workers Fifty one of them want to be unionized. Under a secret ballot and card check, both efforts succeed. Now, on the other hand, lets say only fourty-nine of them want to be unionized. Under a secret ballot it fails, but under card check peer pressure and threats convince a couple more people to sign. Now, on the gripping hand, consider the case where only thirty five or forty want to unionize, and they can’t create enough peer pressure to talk enough into it. Guess what, you’ve just given the management a list of people to look for reasons to fire. 30 seconds late? So sorry. Card check provides zero benefits in cases where the unionization effort should succeed and huge negatives in the cases where it shouldn’t. It’s a bad idea, and frankly, it’s un-American.

    Oh, and Yglesias is basically sane, and as such is readable. Unlike, say, dKos or DU, where on the very infrequent occasions I’ll check there I feel like I need to shower afterwards, several times. Unionization itself isn’t evil, or bad, inherently, but too often it leads to situations like the auto industry today.

  53. Even though i didn’t vote for him, I agree.

    Though, I’m willing to take bets as to when the tabloids are going to turn on him. I’m trying to figure out what kind of scandal it’s going to be this time. I don’t think it will be bimbos like with Clinton, or cocaine abuse as with W. The birth certificate thing seems most likely, but I would have thought it would have already happened if there was any substance to it.

  54. Skip:

    Fair enough. Not sure I agree with you, but I don’t understand unionisation in a US context enough to be able to get into a detailed argument with you on it (I’ve seen unionisation in Canada (awful) and New Zealand (relatively sane)).

    Although as a non-American, the phrase ‘un-American’ has no real meaning to me. Like most countries, the US has many great things and a few shi tty things about it. What does the phrase actually mean? [sorry for partial thread jack on this, John, but I am curious]

  55. Frank, didn’t President Obama stop the trials for 120 days to get them out of the military courts, review them, and get them into the Federal courts? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Also, Yay on the Global Gag Rule – even though that is one of those rules that gets signed and rescinded every time the office changes hands from right to left.

  56. The truth-o-meter keeps track of Obama’s promises.

    So far, he’s doing OK.

    As for closing Gitmo, it was just discovered that Bush’s crack team of half trained assclowns lost, records, misfiled records, and kept no central clearinghouse on many detainees. And the remaining loyal Bushies are finger pointing as to who’s to blame. CIA blames DOD. DOD blames CIA. Army just doesn’t care. Oh, and Marbles McCain is leading the charge to stop Gitmo from closing, despite campaigning on closing it.

    So big delays are because Bush fucked things up, or because Republicans are being obstructionist idiots.

    Obama accomplishes positive change just by not being Bush. Clearing out as many of Bush’s inept, corrupt appointees as is possible will help the entire world. Taking a fire hose to clean out Interior and the DOJ is a good start.

  57. Steve @ 32 – some Afghan ude with a grudge pointing at a guy and telling us he’s Al Qaeda is not actually evidence any court would or should accept. But that’s actually what was used to send people to Gitmo. No joke.

    So, because of the Bush administration’s incredible ineptitude, we either abandon the pretense of a trial, or we let the people go we have no case against.

    This is like a court case against a possible mobster who was arrested because a couple of cops planted evidence. But life is not like a TV show, where we see the mobster chuckling and committing crimes, then getting set up because Jack Bauer is frustrated with the law.

    We did hold innocent people without trials. In fact, we “accidentally” sent at least two guys off to be tortured who were proven to be innocent.

    Given the amount of fuckups Bush & company managed to fit into 8 years of running the country, I instinctively mistrust anything they were in charge of.

  58. Eddie Clark@64
    Unionization in itself isn’t a problem, but forced unionization is (and I include states that don’t have right to work laws in that category). If someone, knowing both the good and the bad, chooses to join a union, and if a group of people knowing the same decide to form one, more power to them. But as to answer your question as to what I mean by un-American, without thread-jacking too much…

    There’s a common culture in the US that contains the idea that one can make his or her own choices, and succeed and fail on the merits of them, and that one can improve his lot in life with hard work and good choices. When Superman, in his comics back in the forties, fought for ‘truth, justice, and the American Way’ this is what was meant. Amazingly, wikipedia has a fairly balanced article on this. I suppose it will probably be marked for deletion or major editing soon.

    Obama appealed directly to this culture in his campaign, with his theme of Hope. And I approve of that whole-heartedly. I just probably won’t approve of his methods, or think them likely to succeed.

  59. I have to admit I am fascinating reading these threads. Liberal reasoning has always been beyond my grasp when facts are thrown in. For the record though if I was king for a day I would clean house in Washington and start over with a new group that had actually worked for a living at least once in their lives. I hold no expectations for Obama because he has never done anything in his life to date except read speeches. Anything he actually accomplishes will be a mark in his favor in my book.

  60. Josh@67

    Gitmo was an imperfect solution to a very difficult problem, and yes, the Bush administration made mistakes there. But my suspicion is the things that I see as mistakes are not what you see as mistakes.

    The problem is that without something like Gitmo, what do we do with unlawful combatants when we catch them on the battlefield? They don’t qualify as prisoners of war under the Geneva conventions. The traditional answer to combatants that didn’t carry ID, wear uniforms, and follow the laws of war was to hold a summary court martial and shoot them. When you watch old war movies and you hear them talking about ‘shooting someone as spies’, this is what they were talking about.

    But what do you do when all of the combatants on the other side fall into this category? You can’t shoot them all, because then there’s no incentive for anyone on the other side to ever surrender. So you take their surrender and you have to do something with them. If you’re still following Geneva (which you’re certainly not obligated to do against a foe that does not) there are only a few options. You can decide to give them prisoner of war status even though they don’t deserve it, at which point they fall under the normal rules laid out in the third Geneva Convention, or alternatively you are supposed to treat them as POWs until they’ve had their hearing to determine their status.

    And this is where the Bush Administration (and Congress) screwed up. Within days or weeks of being detained, each should have had a hearing determining their status. But consider, after each gets his hearing and it’s determined that he’s an unlawful combatant, what then? There simply was no good answer. Congress could have (and should have) stepped in to set up the laws under which we’d handle this. They did not. Alternatively they could have granted the combatants POW status. If they’d done that, there would have been no question that they would stay detained for the duration, but there are definite downsides to granting this, which I can get into.

    So we ended up with a situation where people were held for indeterminate, extended, lengths of time, and the courts were understandably unhappy with this. And now Obama has declared that Gitmo will be closed at some vague point in the future. But this won’t bring us any closer to answering the question of ‘how do you fight an enemy that refuses to follow the laws of war?’

    President Obama is going to have to decide how his administration will handle that question. And the answer will likely have definite implications on our safety, and national security.

  61. I’ve tried. Oh, I’ve tried. But in the context above I cannot read “Banally” so it doesn’t rhyme with “anally”.

    I’m sorry. I did my damnedest. That atop the thought of pendulous, withered Murdock funbags is just too much. The hope is crushed, and the change turned out to be a wooden nickel. It’s all over.

    In less massively self-centered news, the overall reaction from media both side has gone five AUs past the Loony Tunes event horizon and is still accelerating hard. “Obama raises a hand, lifts a nation” on one side to “Terrist Muslin (sic) Not Actually Preznit (sic) dint put hand on bibble (sic and tired of it all)” on the other. Oh dear me. Anoxia-height pedestal one side, tar coming to the boil and pillows ripped open on t’other.

    It’s tolerably safe to say that the current shituation in the US and worldwide was exascerbated to a greater or lesser extent by media over-reaction, and people just believing what the media told ’em. So maybe part of this new Hope and Change should be turning the frakking news off. If everyone stops watching, maybe they’ll stop trying to out-XTREEM each other and actually resort to, you know, investigative journalism and actual reportage.

    A boy can dream.

  62. Yay, welcome back Political Scalzi.

    Personally, I’m reeling from all the intelligent governing Obama has already done.
    Not to be mean, but it is not something I am used to from your side if the ocean (I’m Dutch). Nor on this side in these quantities either.

    My ratio is telling me that Obama necessarily will disappoint in some aspects at some stage, but so far he has done nothing to get me out of cheering-fanboy mode.

  63. Skip, thanks for the response. I rather like arguing with you even when we totally disagree :).


    *bites lip and fails in attempt not to feed troll*

    Oh really, tga, being a politician isn’t working? I don’t know how things work in America, but in my country our politicians often work 18 hour days and don’t complain about it. Not to mention the law school teaching Obama did. My dad taught biochemistry at university for 40 years. You want to tell him the time he spent researching, teaching, and marking wasn’t a job? What about Obama getting into Columbia then Harvard law school? Having done both undergrad, law, and postgrad degrees myself, I can tell you its hard work no matter where you do it, let alone at places like Harvard or Columbia.

    In short: spare us your genius until you know what you’re talking about. And spare us your snark about liberals until you can actually back up your assertions about liberal arguments being fact-challenged [facts from Joe the Plumber, Worldnetdaily, or Fox News don’t count].

    Other than that, have a nice day :).

  64. It’s strange… I swear that every president before Obama was reviewed at 100 days, not 100 hours.

    But I guess back in those days, we counted lives in years or something ridiculous like that.

  65. But who, outside of the right-wing, is even kvetching about this stuff? I’ve read the thread and the answer seems to be ‘dudes on twitter’.

  66. Skip @70: If you’re still following Geneva (which you’re certainly not obligated to do against a foe that does not)

    I want to correct this, though without undermining the overall point that deciding what to do with prisoners at Gitmo is tough. In Vietnam, the North Vietnamese didn’t follow the Geneva conventions, but we were still supposed to. The Iraqis didn’t follow the Geneva conventions during Gulf War I or II (in those few cases where Americans were captured), but we were still supposed to.

    The issue with Al Qaeda, so the argument goes, is that they don’t fall under the conventions. They aren’t soldiers in the way that the North Koreans or the North Vietnamese were.

    That may be a BS argument: I try to follow people arguing on both sides and they most often sound like they’re shouting at each other to get a desired result, so I don’t pretend to really know.

    Back to the main topic, I don’t know anyone who seriously thinks Obama’s acting too slowly. I’ve seen some jokes about it, but that’s all.

  67. Skip @70

    There you go trying to be all reasonable in your analysis and what do you get for it? Troll designation.

    To recap, we won’t know if Obama differs from Bush on Guantanamo until he actually closes the place and dispositions the prisoners.

    We won’t know if Obama differs from Bush on California standards until the EPA gives its ruling (again)

    We won’t know if Obama differs from Bush on interrogations until, well until, hmmmm, actually we may never know until well after he leaves office. (Unless the New York Times or some other publication blows his cover).

    With regards to the Al-Haramain case, we already know that Obama (as Senator) supported and voted for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in July of 2008 which was in direct opposition to his public campaign rhetoric used to get him the nomination. So we don’t how he will proceed, but at this point FISA is law and he’s the chief Executive, not a law-maker. Of course he could choose not to wiretap anyone…

    What else, oh yeah. We don’t know how he will deal with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran yet.

    So we pretty much don’t know alot.

    Again, I’m cautiously optimistic that he will disappoint the Left. But I’m not sure.

  68. Scalzi, 2007: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism! Fight the power!”

    Scalzi, 2009: “Any criticism of the Dear Leader is treason!”

  69. Eddie Clark@73, Well that didn’t take long to go from civilized posting to insults, that aren’t even particularly responsive to the post in question. Who said anything about politicians not working? I sure as heck didn’t. In fact, Obama, and Clinton before him are relatively extreme examples of the American Way, as the post described. Both came from very modest means and through their hard work and choices they reached the pinnacle of their chosen profession, becoming very well off in the process.

    Just to connect the dots for you, the reason I consider card check to be against this is because it removes choice from the equation. Voting for, or against, unionization in a secret ballot is definitely American, and can be a good thing. It’s the sending Guido over to someone’s house to force him to sign a card ‘or else’ that’s un-American.

  70. MiniTru:

    Well, no. I think criticism is fine in a general sense. I do suggest waiting a couple of weeks to let the Obama folks find the restrooms and get their e-mail working first.

  71. Skip, card check does not ‘remove choice from the equation’. It does remove a lot of employer intimidation and union-busting from the equation, though, especially because the net result of illegal anti-union activity (like firing pro-union employees) is that, three or four years later, the NLRB might make the naughty employer pay the fired person back wages. It’s a small price to pay for showing your employees not to get any funny ideas.

    There are certainly arguments for and against card check, but yours boil down to ‘unions are evil, nigh-criminal organizations’.

  72. Frank, Skip: Eddie Clark was calling tga a troll. All his remarks from the troll accusation onward were directed to tga, not Skip, if I read correctly.

  73. Ryan and sptrashcan

    My bad. Glad to hear Skip’s not a troll.

    I’ve probably spent more time under bridges (literally, not figuratively) than he has, I suspect.


  74. It’s been said before, but I thought administrations were generally reviewed after 100 days, not 100 hours. Either way, the second link had plenty of stuff that has been accomplished already. I’m pleased, thus far, with what Obama has accomplished.

  75. IMO the reason why Fox News and other similar right-leaning and/or conservative news sources are jumping on this meme is to pad things for the future.

    Obama came into office with a lot on his plate, not just in the form of his campaign promises but also with a lot he had to clean up after Bush left office (Gitmo, the “torture debate”, two wars, crumbling economy, etc.). If Obama is made to look like he can’t make good on his campaign promises the first time around, why should we elect him to another four years of failed leadership and empty promises?

    They’re working a long plan, is all.

  76. Skip Gitmo was an imperfect solution to a very difficult problem,

    If goes beyond imperfect. it was so badly bungled that courts needed to start making decisions about letting people go because the Bush administration decided that evidence was unimportant, and “trust us, we’re the government” was legal reason to lock people up for as long as they felt like.

    And Geneva *has* rules for combatants out of uniform. And our military had rules we ought to have applied to people we captured. And no, not all of the people in Gitmo were even captured on the battlefield. Many of them were just handed over by people we paid a bounty to.

    And this is where the Bush Administration (and Congress) screwed up. Within days or weeks of being detained, each should have had a hearing determining their status.

    Actually, it’s about the second place in a long chain of monumental screw ups, and we’re still getting in news about how badly things were screwed up, because the Bush administration wasn’t sharing any information. even with it’s self.

    President Obama is going to have to decide how his administration will handle that question. And the answer will likely have definite implications on our safety, and national security.

    If a cop plants drugs in a Mafia kingpin’s home in order to bust him, that arrest is invalid, and so the mafia kingpin goes free and probably commits more crimes. Same goes with rapists and murderers and drunk drivers and so on.

    But we don’t change things around so we can shoot people out of hand without trials, unless they’re shooting back. Once someone is a prisoner, battlefield or not, we don’t just execute them because we say they’re a bad guy. That would be a war crime.

  77. I was curious whether “closing Guantanamo Bay” meant freeing the prisoners at what used to be called Camp X-Ray, or closing the entire naval base. The base’s existence, beginning as a trophy from the Spanish-American War and enduring long after Castro’s revolution, is still contested by Cuba, who probably still have hard feelings about the Bay of Pigs. Not that they can do anything about it.

    But a check of the new awesome site indicates that Obama just meant closing the detention facilities and reviewing the detainees’ cases. Our Cuban occupation continues–why is Obama dragging his feet on this critical issue?!

  78. Just popped in to say that reading “Rupert Murdoch’s withered, reactionary grandpa teats” in my Google reader just turned the taste of my afternoon tea to ash in my mouth.

    And sprayed said tea everywhere. Now I have to go clean up my monitor. Shame, sir. Shame. :D

  79. Our Cuban occupation continues–why is Obama dragging his feet on this critical issue?!

    Because it’s not a critical issue. We’re not “occupying Cuba”; we don’t have any say in their government or their economy. We have a legal presence there that the current Cuban government (which is not one we make concessions to) doesn’t like.

    Obama has a lot of stuff to do. Closing down Gitmo Naval Station is so far down the priority list — if we assume that it should be done at all — that if he’s even thinking about it he’s wasting brain cells. In the spirit of John’s initial comment, I suggest we give him some time to sort out the important stuff before he starts worrying about wangling with our Cuban landlord.

  80. I’d thought multiple punctuation marks were enough; in retrospect, I should have included smilies and possibly the [blink] tag.

  81. Sorry. I deal with sincere-multiple-punctuation-mark people all day (why, yes, it is hell, thanks for asking), which sometimes makes me stupidly serious. I hereby retract my statement and applaud yours…

  82. John, Fox watching, conservative thinking people like me are not burdened by overly high expectations of our President. You have missed who is complaining by 180 degrees. We are amazed that the damage has not started rolling in.

    If my expectations are not met by this Presidency I will be happily wrong.

    Think about it, it is the folks on the left who are wondering where the there is. Why did the President send two killer drones into Pakistan? Why is he taking a year to close Guantonamo prison? Where dem stimulus checks at?

    These are NOT the questions conservatives ask. The expectation problem is closer to your home than mine, philosophically speaking. 8)

    Trey – who would be overjoyed to have his expectations of President Obama be wrong!

  83. Ski, come on, man! Read my post, not Frank’s misinterpretation. I in fact said I enjoyed arguing with you – ranting was reserved for the genuinely trollicious tga :).

  84. Trey #93.

    “Wheres dem stimulus checks at?”

    I can’t even begin to describe how offensive I find that.

  85. John:

    Fair point, but I think it was a pretty reasonable expectation that the Obama Administration would take a little longer than three days to be issuing waivers to its own loudly trumped ethics rules!

    WASHINGTON — A former Raytheon lobbyist nominated to be deputy defense secretary despite President Barack Obama’s ban on hiring lobbyists will sell his stock in the military contracting firm.

    However, William J. Lynn won’t be forced to step back from decisions related to his former employer, the Pentagon said Friday.

    Instead, Lynn’s dealings at the Defense Department will be subject to ethics reviews for one year, said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

    The Obama administration’s decision ended around an executive order that the president signed Jan. 20. His “revolving door” ban, part of Obama’s “ethics commitments,” ordered officials who had been lobbyists for up to two years prior to their hiring to recuse themselves from decisions involving their former employers.

    Under the ban, former lobbyists could not “participate in any particular matter” they had been involved in as a lobbyist or “participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls.”

    But Lynn avoided a total recusal under the decision announced by Pentagon officials Friday.

    On Thursday, the administration delivered to the Senate Armed Services Committee a waiver to Obama’s “ethics pledge” for federal employees, exempting Lynn from two specific sections: a two-year prohibition on employees from participating in decisions related to their former employers and a more specific section banning individuals from taking jobs in the agencies they recently lobbied.

    OK, I think the Administration is going to get a pass on this — because the GOP don’t have any moral high ground to occupy where lobbyists and ethics are concerned. But it’s going to be one they don’t deserve.

  86. Craig Ranapia @98

    He’s going to need to issue more than one waiver

    George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s special Middle East troubleshooter, was chairman of a law firm that was paid about $8 million representing Dubai’s ruler in connection with a child-trafficking lawsuit. . . . Mitchell, who is traveling in the Middle East this week, may need a waiver from Obama’s new policy on ethics and lobbying, which says government officials must wait two years before working on matters ‘directly and substantially’ related to pre-government employers or clients even if they weren’t registered lobbyists

    And that new open government the Executive Order on the Freedom of Information Act apparently doesn’t apply to Whitehouse Press briefings. It used to be I could get a transcript of the briefings, now all I can get are “highlights” from

    “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

    Tru’ dat

  87. Hugh, my point was not to offend you, and for that, I appologize. The quote is quite simila to one I heard first hand while doing relief work in New Orleans after Katrina. Of course, down there, it was “Where dem FEMA checks at?” Perhaps it sounded like I was lampooning people of a particular race, but the person I heard it from was whiter than I, it is a regional, not a racial dialect.

    And, it is an actual quote. I used it to try to raise a warning flag about OPM addiction. You know OPM, Other People’s Money. It is more addictive and destructive than all the illegal drugs and the government is the pusher. To me, the so called stimulus is just a new, big batch of OPM.


  88. Yeah Trey, cause those people down in New Orleans definitely didn’t deserve any disaster relief money. It was just a slightly larger than normal storm.

  89. Eddie, If I disagree I am a troll. Hm. That’s pretty much my point. It is interesting to see more insults hurled at those who have not jumped on the Obama bandwagon. Some of us are simply waiting (patience) to see what Obama does since he does not have much of a track record. It is far too early to judge. I truly hope he succeeds but I fear too much abstract “hope” has been put on his shoulders. Let’s just wait (patience) and see what he really does. The my job is better/harder than another is ripe for another discussion and pointless.

  90. Fair enough, tga. It will require a lot of patience over the next four years to deal with people who slander the work ethics of others without any justification, and refuse to justify themselves when called on it.

  91. Todd wrote: “Yeah Trey, cause those people down in New Orleans definitely didn’t deserve any disaster relief money.”

    Now let’s think for a moment Todd. Not emotionally reason as that approach is so prone to gross mistakes such as you made, but let us think logically.

    Read the words of my posts. Did I at any time say that the Katrina survivors did not deserve help? That would be no.

    Was I addressing Katrina in any way shape or form? Again, no. As you read, you can see that I was giving context to a quote that someone else who emotionally reasoned found offensive. If I were critiquing the Katrin aide I would say things like “Those lazy rednecks should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” or “My money should never go to those Cajuns, they should move from the swamps” or some other bigoted statement. But there is nothing even remotely like that in the post, is their Todd?

    Would someone give up a week of their vacation to help people that he thought were scammers? That would be no as well.

    So what happened Todd, was that you had an emotional response to someone who disagreed with you. You responded by thinking that I must be a bad person because I am against addicting people to OPM, or because disagreeing people just make you nervous in general. This makes no logical sense Todd. You can do better if you note your emotions but then pay attention to the words the other person said or wrote. The words matter more than your feelings when you are in a discussion. If you ignore the reality of the words, you are having an argument with your own emotional reactions and projections and that is not very productive or fun. Once you have ascertained what the other person actually said, then you disagree with them based on the points they raised and show them where they were in error.

    For an example, see above. 8)

    You see Todd, there is help that is effective and “help” that hurts people. It takes wisdom to distinguish between the two at times. Addicting people to OPM is never helpful.

    Now, do you agree or disagree, and why? Let’s have a discussion. Or you can just call me a condescending asshole. Your choice! 8)


  92. This reminds me of a line from Mort Sahl’s Watergate album. It goes something like this:

    “I promise you that whoever’s the president at the end of the week, I will attack him. I will wait the customary period after he finishes the oath for his hand to drop, but I will attack him…”

  93. “This reminds me of a line from Mort Sahl’s Watergate album.”

    Nice point, I have not heard that record in years. Gotta git me one as it was milk spitting funny if I recall correctly.


  94. Frank:

    It is a little weird that they still haven’t provided full transcripts of the briefing. But I think that falls under the “Patience” category. Give ’em a bit and I expect (hope) it’ll be up. If you’re really all that hot-and-bothered to find out what Gibbs said, go here (PDF link) and find out for yourself.

    Oh, and emissions aren’t directly related to mileage. So your comments about a car that gets 1000 mpg are off-base.


    BushCo claims notwithstanding, many (most?) Gitmo detainees were not captured “on the battlefield.” Deciding what to do with them is legitimately a problem. Deciding what not to do with them is a little easier. Not destroying or misplacing evidence, obeying US law regarding prisoner treatment…stuff like that.

  95. Trey,

    I have no political comment at all — really, I stay out of this stuff — but I’m guessing that the problem Todd had with your example as heard post-Katrina is that you were quoting someone with, as you seem to agree, legitimate reason to expect governmental aid due to extreme emergency, in the context of dependence on public money = bad. That is, something like quoting a terminally ill cancer patient who really wanted his morphine* in the context of saying watch out for prescription drug addiction!

    * I use this example solely because I remember my grandfather’s last homecoming two days before he died, in which almost his only lucid statement was a request for the morphine. I am not making any generalizations here; please do not attack me for the quality of the comparison. I’m just trying to convey what I think someone else might have read a comment as, so there are a lot of filters here.

  96. Robin, what a wonderful post. I totally see what you are saying. Thanks!

    And I appreciate your personal example, it was brave to post and helped me understand. I am sorry for your loss. I am also feeling incredibly blessed that my father’s last words were I love you. I wish it had been the same for you.


  97. I wasn’t sure if anyone would actually look back and see my post; I really appreciate your personal reponse.

    While he requested morphine just before, the last lucid things Grandpa said, according to my mother, were to me: “Get out while you can” (his usual wry humor), then “Thank you” (while I was trying to thank *him* and getting too choked up to say it). That was the last time I saw him; he died a day and a half later, while I was holed up in a motel in the middle of California due to tule fog (quite an interesting start of December 25; just as well I don’t celebrate holidays). I am forever grateful both that he thought of me and told me so while he still could think and that I was not there for his actual death, peaceful though it was, so I can remember him in life.

  98. That is a touching story Robin. Thanks for sharing it. I always come back to threads to read interesting stuff!

    Thinking about his situation, I think that asking for the morphine was likely lucid as he probably needed it.

    Take care, I hope you will set me straight again. I know you will have a chance! 8)


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