So far in the early days of the Obama administration, things have been decidedly mixed. Here are some important examples.
Good News: Obama Takes First Step Towards Limiting Pay for Banking Bailout CEOs
Here's a quote that sounds pretty good (Wall St. Journal 2/4/09)
"We're going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid -- so that when firms seek new federal dollars, we won't find them up to the same old tricks," Obama said in announcing the new limits at the White House.
This sounds good, but there's waffling in the fine print.
Under the new rules, expected to be adopted shortly, executives at large banks receiving so-called "exceptional assistance" and other financial institutions applying for capital are having their salaries limited to $500,000. However, one key provision would allow shareholders to vote to waive the $500,000 executive-pay limitation.
According to the WSJ, the CEO's of Bank of America, AIG, and Citigroup would be subject to potential pay restrictions, though others would not. This is a good first step in the right direction, but the loopholes need to be closed, and there needs to be a broader effort to cap all CEO pay.
Bad News: No Troop Withdrawals from Iraq Announced
So far, more of Obama's appointees to high level positions have withdrawn from consideration than US troops have withdrawn from Iraq. The main reason so many of us voted for Obama in the primaries was to bring our troops home. So far, all Obama has done is to hold meetings. The Iraqi people are still being slaughtered wholesale by the US military; their economy is still being obliterated; and our fragile economy is being damaged by a senseless and illegal war.
Good News: Bush Regime's Utah Wilderness Selloff Canceled for Now
From Democracy Now 2/5/09:
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has canceled a controversial last-minute Bush administration attempt to auction off nearly 150,000 acres of wilderness in southern Utah.
DN provided some of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's statement.
In its last weeks in office, the Bush administration rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases at the doorstep of some of our nation’s icons, some of our nation’s most treasured landscapes, and did so particularly in Utah. In a December 19, 2008 lease sale, they offered 130 parcels for oil and gas development, seventy-seven parcels of which are close in proximity to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument and Nine Mile Canyon. The seventy-seven parcels in total contain about 130,000 acres. President Obama and I believe strongly that we need to responsibly develop our oil and gas supplies to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but we must do so in a thoughtful and balanced way.
Amy Goodman did mention that people shouldn't relax and assume that the issue is resolved for the foreseeable future.
During the same conference call, Salazar refused to declare the public land in Utah to be permanently off-limits to drilling.
Liberals need to push Obama to spend much more than he plans on public transportation so we can do better in the fight against Global Warming and reduce our dependency on destroying our wilderness heritage.
Bad News: Obama Creates His Own Version of Bush's Hate-Based Initiatives
Living up to the threat candidate Obama made during his campaign, President Obama has created his own office to run his version of the hate based initiatives started by the Bush regime to divert government funding from inclusive charities to religious ones. The policy, which is based on the bigoted and laughable notion that religious belief makes people more moral and responsible, is a direct attack on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Obama is trying to reduce constitutional oversight and accountability by including inclusive charities in the same office's purview as those of religious charities. This will make it more difficult for advocates for the Constitution to account for how much money is being given out in illegal funding.
Some of the goals of this hate based initiative, as laid out by the White Hosue, are truly disturbing (LA Times 2/5/09):
* Making community groups an integral part of the nation's economic recovery and making poverty "a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete."
* Offering advice on supporting women and children, addressing teenage pregnancy and reducing the need for abortion.
* Supporting fathers "who stand by their families," helping young men find well-paying jobs and promoting "responsible fatherhood."
* Working with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world.
Religious leaders are the last people on the planet who should be "offering advice on supporting women and children," and the number of abortions in this country are none of the government's business. Abortion is a perfectly legitimate medical procedure, and no one has any legitimate reason to object to it. This is another example of Barack Obama's sexism that we have seen in two other recent incidents. The third item also is blatant sex discrimination. Young women need help finding decent jobs too. Hopefully, the office will face legal challenges on both sex discrimination and state/church separation grounds.
Involving the National Security Council in "interfaith dialgoue" is blatantly unconstitutional as well.
Misogyny, anti-atheist bigotry, and pandering to dangerous religious extremists are three areas where President Obama certainly does not represent a sufficient degree of change from George W. Bush.