S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What did we learn this week?

[1/30/09] What we don't know about Obama" has diminished just a bit since Jim VandeHei and John Harris' piece in Politico last week (1/22). The authors posed some questions "still left hanging as the Obama administration begins:" Their answers of a week ago make for very good reading. To quote the queries:

  1. Does he really think Afghanistan is winnable?

  2. Do deficits matter?

  3. How fast is too fast in Iraq?

  4. What's in the files?

  5. Do unions wear white hats?

  6. Can U.S. power save Darfur?

  7. How much does he have to placate the Left?

Today's post looks for clues in the news of the past few days that shed further light on the above questions. How is our new President leading, using his powers of persuasion and his deft touch? In a way, his task is as delicate as it would be if he were driving on the ice and snow of the states he declared weather disaster zones, Arkansas and Kentucky. How is he doing? What do we know?

1. Afghanistan? President Obama told the wider Muslim world, "The U.S. is not your enemy" in an Al-Arabiya TV interview. One of President Obama's principles is that we must win the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims, and of Afghans. This will certainly be a good first step.

2. Deficits? Yesterday's Obama stern lecture to greedy Wall Street executives, calling their $18 B in bonuses "shameful#," gives a strong clue about how President Obama feels about government waste. He has said repeatedly that the high deficits will be only temporary and that entitlement shortfalls must be addressed next. Time Magazine helpfully explains "how to understand a trillion-dollar deficit#."

3. Iraq? President Obama has said he will take "conditions on the ground" into consideration when finalizing the plans for Iraq. Tomorrow is the day set for Iraq's provincial elections. Juan Cole has some thoughts on the implications and possible outcomes of those elections. So we must wait and see what develops.

4. Accountability? There is rather stark contrast between how the new White House plans to deal with official records and how that was done in the Bush White House. ProPublica has published a comprehensive list of the "Missing Memos," in case you are interested. We have yet to see any movement by the new President to hold wrong-doers accountable. But I have not given up hope.

5. Unions? Though President Obama is reportedly considering Republican Senator Judd Gregg for Secretary of Commerce, today he reversed several of the Bush executive orders that have been considered unfriendly to Labor.

6. Darfur? Presidential appointee, Susan Rice, U.S. Delegate to the United Nations, has had a powerful passion about the situation in Darfur for quite some time. See the Washington Times—"Susan Rice offers Obama promise of ‘cooperation’" regarding Darfur.

7. Left Dems? Women's groups reportedly were somewhat upset by President Obama's move to get family planning funds removed from the House stimulus package now in the Senate. CQ Politics is currently saying that a coalition of labor unions and liberal advocacy groups will soon start lobbying for a health care system overhaul that would make the government the "single payer." Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore makes a good persuasive argument that Obama's agenda is truly progressive.

Ending on an idealistic note, I want to quote from AlterNet's -- (1/28/09) story, "The Economic Crisis Isn't All Bad; It's a Chance for Us and Obama to Reimagine How We Live Our Lives#" It begins, "Capitalism is on its knees and now we have a chance to create higher ideals beyond career climbing and mindless consumerism." To continue by quoting the opening:

As America, recession mired, enters the hope-inspired age of Barack Obama, a silent but fateful struggle for the soul of capitalism is being waged. Can the market system finally be made to serve us? Or will we continue to serve it? George W. Bush argued that the crisis is "not a failure of the free-market system, and the answer is not to try to reinvent that system." But while it is going too far to declare that capitalism is dead, George Soros is right when he says that "there is something fundamentally wrong" with the market theory that stands behind the global economy, a "defect" that is "inherent in the system."

Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo*" and Jon#.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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