Monday, January 21, 2013

Four years of President Obama

Four years ago today, Barack Obama was sworn into office as President of the United States. I don't think any non-partisans expected much in the way of fiscal austerity from the President, but there was still hope some things would change. Many of us (myself included) thought America's wars in the Middle East would come to an end, that Guantanamo Bay would close, that illegal spying and invasive actions by the government toward Americans (and, you know, visitors) might end and that the federal government would ratchet back the war on pot, if not all drugs. Though it seems silly in hindsight,* I (and many others) even believed that the Obama, as POTUS, would put new measures in place to increase transparency in the White House.

"Sometimes I think a Peace Prize winner shouldn't have a kill list."  

The last four years have been an important lesson in public choice

Obama did move combat (not all) troops out of Iraq, but into Afghanistan. He intervened in Libya. He dramatically ramped up remote killings in Pakistan, where the US is not at war, via drone strikes: the number rose from five in 2007 under Bush II to peak at 117 in 2010 before falling to 46 in 2012 under Obama. These strikes target funerals and other public gatherings, have killed innocents, including children and the American government has dramatically altered the definition of "combatant" to reduce the number of recognized civilian deaths. A generation of Pakistani children in the targeted region are growing up petrified. Their parents are often too worried to send them to school. You could make the argument that America has moved away from war against Al Qaeda, but it has done so by moving into terrorism.

Obama has a institutionalized a Presidential kill list (er... "disposition matrix") that he personally approves, ordering deaths without charge or trial including (so far) assassination of  three American citizens which includes one teenager targeted for the communications he had while trying to find out what happened to his father (also assassinated). 

An act was quickly passed to close Guantanamo Bay, but it remains open and Obama's administration has not moved away from indefinite detention but instead codified it into law. He extended warantless wiretapping. Under Obama the TSA has moved past removing shoes and into invasive pat-downs.

In spite of the President's promise to move away from targeting medical marijuana as a focus in America's war on drugs, the number of raids against medical marijuana dispensaries has increased under his tenure - far beyond anything attempted under Bush II. (If you were familiar with Joe Biden's role in establishing the office of the drug czar, it was a lot harder to be optimistic on this front pre-inauguration, but Obama's promise to stop medical marijuana raids after his inauguration fooled a lot of us.)

His record on transparency has been abysmal - Obama runs perhaps the most secretive administration ever.

Four years ago it was hard for even a political cynic like me to watch the President's inauguration without feeling moved. Little did we know we were in for four (eight?) years of ramping up some of the worst George W. Bush policies. Now there is no excuse for a principled liberal or progressive to support the President without some regret.**

I will not be watching the inaugural address this time around. 

*why would someone in power increase transparency? Silly Janet.
** If you are inflicted with partisanship, it's hard to see how not supporting Obama (and therefore being complicit in a Republican victory) can be OK, but you ought to recognize the harm that comes along with this decision, even if it's taken in spite of it out of a fear that more harm would come from withdrawing support.

1 comment:

billydunn said...

The United States used to be a God fearing country that had morals and respect for the rule of law. Now the U.S. is just a liberal smorgasbord of government corruption and immorality. Abortion, gun control, appeasing illegal immigration, affirmative action, gun free zones, slowly abolishing the death penalty, massive Islamic immigration, massive welfare entitlement culture, restriction of civil liberties such as free speech and search and seizure, same sex marriage, massive government spending resulting in major deficits and debt, socialized health care, outsourcing manufacturing jobs, 8% unemployment rate, handing out foreign aid by the hundreds of billions to enemy countries, aiding and appeasing the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, the list goes on…….. I thank God everyday that here in Canada we still cherish our Conservative Christian values and we have none of the aforementioned issues that are plaguing the U.S. The united States of America has been destroyed by President Barack Obama and Joe O’Biden. Lord have mercy.