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Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009

Barack Obama- The First Year

This is no Camelot, Just Another Politician

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Given that today the world will see exactly how a messiah would be treated, if one was actually descending to earth, it seems like a good time to examine the major issues that Barack Obama will have to tackle in his first year as President of the United States, and the most powerful of all world leaders. The American liberal left has high expectations for our new president, even if many of them cannot articulate these expectations beyond the words "hope" and "change". As with all new presidents of both political persuasions, it will be interesting to see whether or not the messiah can deliver on His campaign rhetoric, or if the American people have not elected a true agent of change, but instead have simply elected the best politician the world has ever seen.

Guantanamo Bay

Given that this is one of the few big issues that President Obama has chosen to speak out about in his pre-presidency period, it seems like a good place to start. President Obama has stated that he will sign an executive order closing the detention center in Cuba. Mr. Obama did not state when the detention center would be closed, where the enemy combatants would be sent, or how the inevitable court cases resulting from the closing of the detention center would be handled.

The Pentagon has claimed that 61 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to the battlefield as terrorist combatants. 18 of the 61 have been confirmed as having returned to the fight and conclusively identified through photos, DNA, or fingerprint evidence.

If Mr. Obama releases the remaining 248 prisoners, where will they be sent? Perhaps some will be sent to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin. There the enemy combatants will come face to face with Judge Lynn Adelman, who has never met a defendant he didn't like. How will the people of Adelman's district feel if this terrorist is released on bail in their neighborhood?

Mr. Obama no doubt is painfully aware of the fact that one single terrorist act on U.S. soil, committed by any one of the prisoners that would be released from Guantanamo Bay would irrevocably discredit the Obama presidency, the Democrat-run U.S. Congress, and the Democratic Party itself. President Obama likely will do nothing with regard to Gitmo for as long as he possibly can.

Wiretapping

The little-reported ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, completed in August 2008, but released just last week, does not exactly "vindicate" President George W. Bush's wiretapping activities, which began in 2005. The ruling maintains that the surveillance conducted under the Protect American Act (PAA) of 2007 (which expired in 2008) was constitutional, and that Congress can allow surveillance without prior judicial review under certain circumstances. This is largely a semantic difference, as the ruling sets a precedent for a preceding act- Bush's NSA wiretapping fell within the confines of the PAA as it was passed by Congress two years after the wiretapping started. President Obama railed against the PAA, and then voted for it, in a move characteristic of one trying to appeal to one side while still doing what he knows to be right.

Mr. Obama will be the prime beneficiary of this ruling, as he now has a precedent set that will allow him to continue the wiretapping. Not that the mainstream media would shred him to pieces for continuing this surveillance- they will almost certainly decree that Mr. Obama is acting in the best interest of the country, and is making a hard choice that needs to be made to keep us all safe from terrorism. It will be interesting to see where our own Senator Russ Feingold comes down in the issue once it's Mr. Obama who is listening in on our every conversation. (A fun diversion- try to find one single instance in which an American was arrested or harassed as a result of these wiretaps.)

The Economy

The great question of our times will be answered in the first year of Barack Obama's presidency: "Can we spend our way out of a problem we spent our way into?" Six months ago, "earmark" was amongst the dirtiest words in our lexicon. This year, we will see the biggest single pork-barrel spending bill in the form of the economic stimulus package. $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts? This is a crucial piece of economic stimulus? If the NEA is scaled back for a few years the economy will crumble? The economic stimulus package, with all of its make-work projects, will be conducted with borrowed money. Which begs another question: "Can we borrow our way out of a problem we borrowed our way into?" Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has the right idea here- no economic stimulus, please, unless it comes free of federal strings, free of a local match requirement, and free of ongoing operational costs. Why put strings, local match requirements, and ongoing operational costs on OUR OWN MONEY (by way of the Chinese, that is…)

Iraq

This one is simple. President Obama will not pull out of Iraq prematurely and jeopardize a probably victory, which he will then be able to take credit for. The surge worked, and Mr. Obama knows it, even though he will not admit it.

Afghanistan

Considering that President Obama's inauguration will require approximately 13,000 more trained law enforcement professionals than the U.S. has active troops in Afghanistan, one would think that Mr. Obama would have no problem making work for some of these ex-inauguration troops by initiating his own surge in Afghanistan. Not that surges work, mind you…

Race Relations

Race relations in the United States could be the brightest point of the Obama presidency. If the race card is finally taken away from those who use it as an end-around in every situation, everyone will be better off and everyone will be elevated as a result. On the other hand, if Mr. Obama's election is seen as a vindication of the bad behavior that plagues our inner cities, we'll be vastly worse-off.

One last note- it is patently absurd for the mainstream media to exhort us all to "hope for the new president's success." No such calls for support were voiced after the 2000 or 2004 elections. It would be foolish to wish for the success of a president whose every agenda one finds disagreeable. Instead, we should just hope that Mr. Obama does as little damage as possible to the nation, and makes a quick exit.