I'm faintly amused by the already-swirling speculation surrounding President-elect Obama's first "Hundred Days". What will he do? What will he UNdo? What will his priorities be: health care? The economy? Wars? Should he "reach out" to moderate Republicans or does he need to give the Democratic base some of their wish-list..? Should he kill Joe Lieberman and, if so, where should he bury the body? What kind of puppy should be the new First Dog?
ISTM that there's a hell of a lot of tempest for what has yet to be even the beginning of a teapot (and, let's not forget, we have another seventy-so days of Pot Bush and Kettle Cheney yet to endure...). But speaking as another one of those Palin-hating bloggerssitting in his basement in his pajamas, I have a handful of modest proposals for the first Hundred Days that would help ratchet my confidence in the incoming Administration a notch.
1. Rescind Executive Order 13292, and any and all other EOs transferring additional powers to the Vice President. The VP needs to be reduced to what he has traditionally been; an opener of county fairs and the bored president of the Senate. If the Framers had intended a "co-President", they'd have given us one.
2. Rescind Executive Orders 13425, 13440 and any and all other EOs and internal directives relating to secret detention, incarceration, prosecution, rendition and interrogation of individuals foreign and domestic.
The closure of Gitmo and the "black sites" is going to be extraordinarly difficult and probably not for the announced reasons. The intelligence value or loss of same from a bunch of raggedy-ass Islamic (if that is in fact what they are) neoconservatives is hardly going to be the functional equivalent of catching-and-releasing Joe Goebbels.
But ISTM that there are a hell of a lot of U.S. government officers, from CIA interrogators through senior military officers and, particularly, Democratic Senators and Representatives (i.e. some of the incoming President's own partisans and supporters) who are dirty; dirty as hell. Torture dirty. War-crimes dirty. International Criminal Court dirty. I suspect that there's a LOT of this filthy iceberg hidden below the troubled waters, and people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and people like Waxman, Rockefeller, Bond and the other intel committee chairs are probably included in the group that, in the parlance of criminal prosecution, have "guilty knowledge" of this illegal torture, imprisonment and rendition.
The revelations we will see and hear will be revolting and will hurt us internationally. But the alternative is little better, and is toxic for the Republic. The Obama Adminstration MUST daylight this disgrace or risk contaminating itself and disgracing our country further. We need to reject these foul means of "fighting" the Phony War on Terror and expose them for what they are: our own moronic, militarily and politically worthless version of the Bloody Assizes and the Court of Star Chamber.
3. Recind any and all Executive Orders and internal regulations that increase and extend government secrecy. Declassify everything but that which is genuinely critical to national security. I'm not sure how you do this, but starting with the simple guideline that probably 90% of everything a bureaucracy writes down is just a matter of making a note to file, you can then start dealing with the remaining 10%.
4. Publicly reject "signing statements".
Officially and publicly restrict the use of Executive Orders, these 20th and 21st Century lettres de cachet that have become such a toxin on the body politic and played strongly in the reduction of the Legislative Branch to its current shadowpuppet condition, to matters not amenable to legislation.
And that's just off the top of my head.
There has been a lot of loose talk about what Obama can "do" with the power of the Executive once he attains it. But IMO that isn't a solution - that's part of the problem. For too long too many people have looked to the Executive to act like our king; to save us from ourselves and take the burden of government off of our shoulders. But the very purpose and promise of the United States is and was that we, the People, are DEMANDED to rule ourselves. We must be involved, informed and intelligent, in that as much as Natural Law demands that you are punished for everything you believe that is not true our stupidity, detatchment and greed will bring in their own revenges.This is not without risk. In the delightful old PBS adaptation of "I, Claudius" (and how many of you little rascals remember that, eh? God, I'm older than dirt...) I remember the BBC cast conveyed Robert Graves' intriguing (and probably bullshit) hypothesis that the emperor Claudius was not, in fact, a feebleminded idiot but was a secret Republican (!?!) determined to force the Senate to resume its ancient and long-abandoned role as the government of Rome. To that end he forces hard choices on the Senators, sharpens the contradictions of a single man ruling a supposed "republic" and tries to show the Romans the worst side of imperial rule. According to the Graves book he practically forces the Senators to choose between despotism and the Republic.And in the end came Nero.