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, March 13, 2009

Half-way to a hundred --


The Obama administration's first 50 days has been characterized in part by "transparency," by high expectations from the public for a quick fix to its ailing economy, by the synthesis of a number of policies into a single, long-term budget plan, by an apparently change-oriented approach to national security, and by its amazing speed of action.

President Obama's transition to a "transparent" administration started with his inaugural address, and progressed quickly after that. The Obama administration was instructed on January 20 and 21 that it would be doing business in the sunlight. Memos were issued on transparency and open government, as well as how the Freedom of Information Act was to be implemented. The MSM coverage continues to benefit from that transparent governing style, but that brings with it the likelihood of quick criticism of whatever the administration does.

There are those who see the future of capitalism* in President Barack Obama's hands. A recent WSJ/ABC poll of economists revealed some dissatisfaction with the administrations handling of the economy to date. Responses pointed particularly to delays in enacting key elements, that have led to uncertainty about the bank rescue plan. If the criticism came from Wall Street from the beginning, it also came from Republicans in Congress.

President Obama has used a policy-based budgeting style. The GOP has launched a united attack on President Obama's budget, CQ Politics reports (3/11/09). They plan to challenge the assumptions and content in President Obama’s budget and offer alternatives," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana). In general congressional Republicans have resisted everything the administration has proposed. They have adopted a "just say 'no' " approach, and have remained fixed in the post 9/11 reactive view that all that matters is the "War on Terrorism."

While congressional hearings in recent days have highlighted the persistent threat of terrorism, our chief spy master , Director of National Intelligence, Ret. Adm. Dennis Blair, says, "It's the economy [as the main] intelligence" issue according to CQ Politics (3/7/09). The article raises the question of whether the intelligence community is up to the task of gathering the requisite amount of economic intelligence information. To quote:

. . . a reeling world economy [is] again forcing economic matters to the forefront of intelligence concerns. In an annual global threat briefing to Congress, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said in prepared remarks that “the primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis.”

After seven years of intelligence community reports that placed a heavy emphasis on terrorism, Blair’s declaration was a “sea change,” said John Parachini, director of the Intelligence Policy Center at the Rand Corp.

Who knows what the next 50 will bring as the president reaches the magical "first 100 days" mark. With the fast pace adopted by President Obama, it is a big challenge to remain abreast of what is happening. Among several other e-mail resources, I rely on this national security newsletter from Congressional Quarterly - Behind the Lines (newsletter of 3/11/09) by David C. Morrison. I conclude with a couple of excerpts that apply to the preceding paragraphs. To quote:

Feds: The global financial crisis threatens U.S. national security, The Associated PressStephen Manning has military and economic experts telling a House panel yesterday. Federal cybersecurity efforts would be in “grave peril” if passing oversight from DHS to the NSA led to intel community domination, Threat Level’s Kim Zetter has an ex-homelander testifying this week — and check The Washington Post’s Brian Krebs on the mounting power struggle. U.N. human rights investigators have announced a global investigation into secret detention practices, saying they would not relax scrutiny of U.S. counterterrorism policies under President Barack Obama, ReutersStephanie Nebehay notes. The Obama administration will appoint a senior diplomat as a special Guantanamo envoy, underscoring the importance it places on persuading other countries to accept detainees, The New York TimesWilliam Glaberson and Mark Landler relate.

. . . Unlike other officials recently, a Pentagon intel chief testified Tuesday that Iran does not have highly enriched uranium to power a nuclear warhead, AP reports — while a Boston Globe op-ed underlines the dangers of “intricate and foolproof verification schemes.”


  1. *The Financial Times In Depth: "The Future of Capitalism" - A major new series.

  2. Secrecy News from the Federation of American Scientists, by Steven Aftergood: Includes Presidential Policy Directive on "Organization of the National Security System," and "Opening the Files on Bush's Secrets."

  3. Pipes: Change Tracker - by ProPublica. This is a great resource for tracking any changes made at the several White House and government websites.

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.

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