Part the One
— Wow. Obama’s been president for three days and already he’s signed Executive Orders closing Gitmo; banning torture; suspending those odious ‘military tribunal’ trials; ending revolving-door lobbying; preventing lobbyists from occupying senior positions in agencies they once lobbied; requiring ethics courses for all of his staff (and he took the course himself); limiting the use of secrecy classification, even imposing Justice Department oversight on his ability to classify documents secret; and expanded government transparency, directing his administration to err on the side of Freedom of Information Act requests rather than the other way around. He also froze the pay of senior White House staff and informed them that as long as he’s president, none of them will quit and then turn around and lobby their friends still in his government, reversing years of Bush/Cheney corruption, sleaze, secrecy and illegality.
What’s more, he did all of this while acting like a grown-up, speaking in full, clear, grammatical sentences, and taking his job seriously. It will be difficult, but pleasant, to adjust to a president who doesn’t have a smirk perpetually playing about his mouth, doesn’t need someone else to run his brain, and can think on his feet. We’ve gone from Barney Fife to Denzel Washington, and the change is striking. I’ll be criticizing Obama in the future I’m sure, but for now all I can say is: Wow. I think he’s one of those rare politicians who really meant what he said when he was campaigning.
— The Dying of the Right 1: While the vast majority of America is celebrating our new competent president, the peevish drones over at Fox News, led by Chris “My Dad’s the Journalist!” Wallace, have been foaming at the mouth over whether Obama’s really president, since Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts bumbled the reading of the oath on January 20th and Obama followed him. This is the largest load of unprocessed fertilizer since the questioning of Obama’s birth certificate. (Hint to all the ‘reporters’ at Fox: As well as the certificate itself, long available online and sanctioned as genuine by fact-checking organizations, there was also a birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper welcoming Barack H. Obama Jr. into the world in 1961.) In fact, the law says that, as the victor in the last election, Obama was officially president at Noon last Tuesday, whether he was sworn in or not, and documents were signed after the inaugural ceremony signifying that official transfer of power. Just to head off frivolous lawsuits from tinfoil-hat pinheads, Obama had Roberts drop by the White House the next day and redo the swearing in. Incredibly, some of the bloviating scoundrels claimed this was a oooohhhh — ‘secret ceremony’! Horse pucky. The press was invited in, still photos were taken and an audio track was recorded it was as secret as an American Idol audition. Only the TV cameras weren’t involved, and that was likely because Obama wanted this formality completed quickly and didn’t want to get bogged down with silly questions from the Usual Media Meatheads like Fox News. (“Mr. President, will you now come clean about your place of birth? Weren’t you really born in Kenya or Cuba or Mexico? Isn’t it true that Patrice Lumumba is your real father and Squeaky Fromme is your real mother?” )
— The Dying of the Right 2: Rush “Rhymes with Limbo” Limbaugh, who once went apoplectic criticizing liberals as ‘unpatriotic America-haters’ because he had convinced himself they wanted the Little King to fail in Iraq, has now joined the ranks of unpatriotic America-haters, according to his lights. On his radio show the other day, he confessed openly, “I hope Obama fails.” Aside from the fact that about 83 percent of the public doesn’t agree with him, even some the brain-dead rubes who still give any credence to the great blubbery gasbag, suffering under the GOP economy and dying in the senseless Republican wars Rushbo helped peddle, had to be appalled by this statement. He wants the country to go down the drain to what make the era of conservative Republicans look good? That’s some patriot; George Washington would be proud. Prediction: This is the sort of nasty, psychotic hypocrisy that is losing ratings for the neocon hustlers of the broadcast media and it’s going to result in Limbo being dropped from the airwaves across the country. In eight years, Rush will have lost his syndication deal and will end his miserable existence shouting through a tin can at a little 1000-watt daytimer in North Peckerwood, Alabama. (“Hey, Limbaugh, y’all forgot to take out the trash from the studio last night!” “I’ll get it, boss, I’ll get it!” “Yeah, and don’t forget to mop them washrooms extra good while you’re at it.” )
— Laugh-A-Bullroar: If you were watching the inaugural ceremonies on CNN or MSNBC, did you notice they cut the mics picking up the crowd sounds when Bush, Cheney and the Republicans were introduced? And the band was cranked up extra loud to try and drown out the tidal wave of booing. Earlier in the day, even addle-pated ‘Morning’ Joe Scarborough remarked on the two to three million Obama fans flooding into Washington that the GOP had better pay attention to this political shift or risk being the minority party far into the future. Forget Dimmy and Dick, they’re gone, but I wonder if those Congressional Republicans got the point? (Some of them nearly lost their safe seats last election.)
— Odd that Junior didn’t pardon any of his cronies in his final days, not even Scooter Libby, who fell on his sword for the Little King. (Well, in truth, Libby didn’t spend any time in the Graybar Academy dodging kisses from Bruno on the top bunk, and he won’t be missing any meals in the foreseeable future, so it’s not quite a ritual suicide. Like any good mob boss, Dick takes care of his own.) This means that Bush, Cheney and anyone else in the administration are open to prosecution for illegally sanctioned torture or other crimes committed, such as Nixonian warrantless wiretaps for political reasons. (Soon-to-be breaking news.) There are only four reasons I can think of to explain why Bush didn’t pardon anyone in his White House: a) he really doesn’t think his administration did anything wrong; b) he’s convinced Obama’s AG and Congress will never prosecute him or his gang; c) Dumbya still thinks he has 90 days after leaving office to grant pardons (“Whut? But I signed that signin’ statement sayin’ I had the right to pardon folks for three months after I left office!” ); d) he was playing video golf and clean forgot. (Note: Nattering Nabobists in the BM have speculated that Bush issued ‘secret pardons.’ If so, what is Cheney flapping his gums about?)
— Except for Big Media pundits and idiot Republicans, swirling in their cocktail party talking points, no, it’s not that hard to close Gitmo and move whatever prisoners can be prosecuted based on solid evidence to federal prisons in the US. Ideally, we would turn over these illegally held ‘enemy combatants’ to the World Court for incarceration, trial and sentencing but, politically, that wouldn’t be a good move for Obama at this time. Next best thing: quickly review all of the cases; of the 200-plus detainees, there are certainly some who have done nothing prosecutable. They should go free and if they don’t want to return to the country where we apprehended them, or that country won’t accept them, then they should be allowed to live here at our expense. (It’s the least the US can do for illegally depriving them of their freedom for so many years.) Of the remaining number, try them in a regular federal court not a military court subject to Constitutional guarantees governing evidence and witnesses. I realize that this may expose the torture that’s been routinely practiced at Gitmo and elsewhere, but let the chips fall where they may and clean this mess up.
— Laugh-A-Bullwinkle: Sarah Palin will only be the GOP presidential candidate in 2012 if the Republicans decide they’re fine with winning just Alaska, Mississippi and Alabama. Look for the GOP Big Money Whales, what’s left of them, to start truckling up and opening checkbooks to Romney or Huckabee. The very idea of Gov. Wasilla Hillbilly becoming the party’s standard-bearer scares the bejeezus out of them. Then there’s the glacier-sized dartboard of scandals with her face in the center; a bull’s-eye by a prosecutor would bring her down like a baby caribou hit by an AK-47 at five yards. Besides, with the economy down, they can’t afford her clothes anymore.