As widely expected, soon after reciting the Presidential Oath (again…), President Barack Obama made good on his commitment to begin the promised transition away from the nation’s current policy of rejecting due process to those the executive administration believe may be involved with terrorist operations against the United States or its allies. The New York Times reports—
In the first hours of his presidency, President Obama directed an immediate halt to the Bush administration’s military commissions system for prosecuting detainees at the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The significance of Barack Obama being the first black man to be elected to the presidency obscures another significant element of American history: the notion that immigrants must succumb to unabashed Americanization in order to be successful. Only one hundred years ago, many Irish immigrants were axing the “O’s” from the beginning of their last name in hopes that they would better assimilate without their Irish heritage. I had a teacher in high school whose ancestors had changed their names from “O’Brannan” to “Brannan” after arriving in America. In the twenty first century, Barack Obama was successfully able to obtain the highest political office in the land without having to abandon his father’s African namesake.
Ron Paul was asked to respond to a particular passage in President Obama’s inaugural address, as it relates to our constitutional tradition, in which he states that “[w]hat the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.” Obama goes on to qualify this by attempting play both sides of the small vs. big government debate, saying, “Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
Eighty-four percent of those surveyed say they approve of how Obama is handling the presidential transition. That’s up 2 points from the middle of December and up 5 points from the beginning of December.
The poll also suggests that 68 percent of those questioned are personally “thrilled or happy” that Obama will soon be inaugurated as president, 18 points higher than the way people felt in the days before President Bush’s second inauguration four years ago.
Economist Ludwig von Mises, a man who witnessed the rise of totalitarian systems of fascism and communism, noted that totalitarian governments thrive in the soil of etatism, or “the trend toward government control of business”. On Mises’ view, etatism went hand-in-hand with economic nationalism and the glorification of war. There is no better example than Nazi Germany, the home of national socialism. Before Hitler could mobilize resources and support for his Lebensraum-oriented war machine, he first nationalized businesses, turning them from entrepreneurial market ventures to servants of the state. But what does that have to do with us?
In case you missed it, George Will wrote a great column on December 21, titled “The Final Blow Against Congress” in which he shows how superfluous Congress has become in the age of presidents who prefer to govern without constraint of any sort.
Of course, our Founding Fathers wanted Congress to be the strongest branch of government—that’s why they gave them the “power of the purse” (the right to coin money, raise taxes, and spend money).
Will condemned President Bush for completely snubbing the clear will of Congress in rejecting the “Big 3” auto-manufacturer’s bailout. Not only did President Bush ignore Congress’s authority, but he thought their $14 billion proposal was too skimpy. So he authorized $17 billion from the $700 billion bailout package previously passed by Congress to be spent on the failing US auto industry.
It looks like hearts and minds aren’t the only body parts America is trying to win:
In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency’s operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.
President-elect Obama has repudiated (once again) arguably the most damaging aspect of Bush policy:
WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama said Friday his administration would not compromise its ideals to fight terrorism, adding at a press conference to announce his CIA and national intelligence nominees that he has told them to honor the Geneva Conventions.
“I was clear throughout this campaign and was clear throughout this transition that under my administration the United States does not torture,” Obama said, when asked at the news conference whether he would continue the Bush administration’s policy of harsh interrogation. “We will abide by the Geneva Conventions. We will uphold our highest ideals.”
A variant edition (which means an alternative cover, as opposed to the normal newsstand one) of The Amazing Spider-Man #583 will be available January 14. I’m pleasantly surprised to see that the artist actually drew President-elect Obama to look like the real thing, absent more than a few gray hairs.