Change.gov is going through some changes


Mike Webb of ProPublica says, "I thought you guys might be curious about the changes to Obama’s Change.gov website which was supposed to describe how the president-elect would use technology to involve more people in government. They shut it down over the weekend, so we flagged it in a post (since then they responded that they’re “retooling” the site)."

Snip from the ProPublica post:

We noted Friday that President-elect Barack Obama’s transition Web site, Change.gov, included pages describing how he will use technology to increase public participation in government and provide more information to the public.

But sometime over the weekend, those pages went away. All that remains on the Agenda portion of the transition team’s site is a two-paragraph overview of what the agenda will include:

President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden have developed innovative approaches to challenge the status quo in Washington and to bring about the kind of change America needs.

The principal priorities of the Obama Administration include: a plan to revive the economy, to fix our health care, education, and social security systems, to define a clear path to energy independence, to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and to work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, among many other domestic and foreign policy objectives.

If you go directly to the two pages we linked to last week, you get the message: "Not Found: The page you requested is not available right now." (Here are cached versions of the pages.)

Also now gone are pages outlining how the new administration plans to revitalize the economy, end the war in Iraq and provide healthcare to all.

Snapshots of some of the pages are on the site whitehouse2.org.

Obama’s ‘Agenda’ Disappears From Change.gov. Here's the campaign's response today. UPDATE: A few folks asked what I thought, and here's what I think: As noted in the previous BB post, the speed with which the website was launched was pretty impressive. Obama and his team may been taken over by space aliens or Dick Cheney laser mind control rays -- anything's possible. But I doubt that. And given how hard they've worked and how little time they've had since winning the election to pull together a transition plan, I am impressed that anything was published at all. I'm inclined to give them some room to get their act together. If backsliding follows, I'll be the among the first to blog about that, too.

Previously on Boing Boing: Change.gov

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  1. As long as the “retooling” includes adding all of my suggestions to the list of priorities I’m cool with it.

    1. As I added to the blog: A few folks asked what I thought, and here’s what I think: As noted in the previous BB post, the speed with which the website was launched was pretty impressive. Obama and his team may been taken over by space aliens or Dick Cheney. But given how hard they’ve worked and how little time they’ve had since the election to pull together a transition plan, I am impressed that anything was published at all. I’m inclined to give them some room to get their act together. If backsliding follows, I’ll be the among the first to blog about that, too.

  2. Does anyone seriously believe Obama’s organization would think that no one remembers those bits, or that no one took a copy? They’re manifestly not that stupid.

  3. Xeni – If backsliding follows, I’ll be the among the first to blog about that, too.

    And I really do appreciate that.

  4. Me thinks that perhaps the website was designed months in advance (with a few last minute changes) and then launched without a proofread from Obama’s policy wonks. Policy wonks freak, site gets pulled “for re-tooling.” Still, I’d cut them some slack – they campaigned with a consistent message all along (er, at the very least, more consistent than McCain)

  5. Not an issue to me. I’ve never held any politician to his/her campaign bullshit. I get a sense of where they are philosophically and assume they’ll approach the real problems with that mindset. The only cold stone lock about Obama – he will get a dog.

  6. The anti-gun “agenda” pages have disappeared too, of course.

    The tense of the prose on that page made it pretty clear that most of the “impressive” site was hastily repurposed campaign material…some of which obviously not vetted by the message-control cops, because it was at variance with what Candidate Obama was saying publicly.

  7. to be fair, it did need “retooling”. I even sent in a bug report about some duplicate content I found in the “Economy” part of the agenda. there were four identical paragraphs, right in a row. it could use a quick proof-read.

  8. @Teresa:

    Does anyone seriously believe Obama’s organization would think that no one remembers those bits, or that no one took a copy?

    Just today I had a colleague, a enormous Obama booster, saying how “terribly sad” it was to see Obama “meeting with that war criminal” in reference to his tour of the White House with President Bush.

    I think there’s a certain portion of the true believers who are perched on the edge just waiting for Obama to disappoint them. While on the other side of the divide there are Obama’s opponents waiting for any misstep to pounce.

    Hell of a job the man has worked so hard for.

  9. I wouldn’t be surprised if they slapped change.gov together out of whole chunks of barackobama.com. I see nothing wrong with doing that, or with the updates Mike Webb seems to take issue with. it’s just a PR site right now; if it’s May and it’s still just a PR site, then we have something to talk about.

    anybody else notice the “first 100 days” link commented out in the source code a couple days ago? looks to be gone now.

  10. Wemgadge is probably right. There’s just a single paragraph in the Agenda section right now. They’re not being selective about what they’ve redacted; they’ve pulled just about everything. I’m sure it’ll be back in some (reworked) form, but a diff with what was originally there once it’s back will be interesting.

  11. anybody else notice the “first 100 days” link commented out in the source code a couple days ago? looks to be gone now.

    Wha, huh? People look at the html code too?

    Huh, well, of course they do – because people are awesome.

  12. I’m glad that Obama’s transition team is so quick to act. He’ll have a lot of things to deal with (not the least of which is hundreds of signing statements!). What stood out for me was the fact that a .gov domain had a copyright statement:

    CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 2008 BY OBAMA-BIDEN TRANSITION PROJECT, A 501C(4) ORGANIZATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    I wrote them a letter asking them to instead put a statement in support of the public domain — under which most govt information falls according to Copyright Law 17 U.S.C. § 105. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’d like to ask boingboing readers to ask that same question. For more discussion see this thread on freegovinfo.info. (Full disclosure: I’m one of the bloggers on freegovinfo.).

    1. Were people expecting invites for a slumber party at the White House? I view President-Elect Obama with a somewhat jaundiced eye, but I don’t find this particularly indicative of a betrayal of trust. I can barely manage to skim BB comments. I don’t imagine that everything that everyone sends to our new President is going to be referred to a think tank for urgent implementation.

  13. @iamcantaloupe:

    In best Spock impression: “Fascinating.”

    This is appropriate since Obama is our first Vulcan President. Did you see the election night photos? If I had just won the Presidency I would start laughing maniacally and call everyone fools, do a happy dance and some cartwheels, refer to myself as the God-President, pull out a map of the Moon and start estimating how many nuclear bombs would be needed to cut my visage into the near side, ride Secret Service agents piggy back style, and completely destroy the hotel room. Obama just sat there looking at the TV thinking “I have over 270 electoral votes so logically I am the President-elect.” He has to be Vulcan, there is no other explanation (once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth).

  14. This is a no-brainer. Not hte Obama camp’s first dropped ball. For reference, see Nancy Reagan seance reference in first press conference. Reagan Dem’s ain’t gonna like that one.

    When you’re playing the expectations game, the last thing you want is a list of goals that people will expect you to accomplish. A list that a year from now, anyone with a particular interest in a particular item from the list who doesn’t feel Obama has done enough can point to and yell “SEE, SEE HOW MANY OF THESE THINGS HE’S NOT DONE! EPIC FAIL!” or that Publicans can point to and scream “TOLD YOU HE’S A COMMUNIST TROTSKYIITE MUSLIM TERRORIST!” because he doesn’t have enough about defense and national security on there.

    Obama has gotten as far as he has by being everything to everyone. When you put it down on paper, someone’s gonna be disappointed that your not what they thought you were.

    Expectations game. Pure and simple.

  15. Here’s what I posted under “Vision”:

    I imagine war criminals, duly convicted in the Hague, sentenced to live out their natural lives in open-topped cages atop 50-foot posts, on a freeway median strip somewhere, just close enough together that they may shout curses at one another. Weekly supplies could be lofted cheaply and engagingly by catapult.

    File under “accountability”, please.

    Oh, for for that sweet accountability.

  16. thom,

    There is nothing ‘pure and simple’ about peoples expectations.

    Expectations are influenced hope, fear, or ignorance. I choose hope, how ’bout you?

  17. He just named his Chief of Staff. It makes complete sense to take down the content while they figure out the agenda, because Emmanuel will have a lot of say in what happens and in what order.

  18. Of course he needs to take stuff down and retool content in advent of actual happenstance.

    He was only elected a week ago. Chances are he had some announcement thingies planned out wel ahead of time.

    now he nees to go back through and clarify. Only natural. Not going back on anything, just solidifying previously stated positions.

  19. mgfarrelly, are you sure that your colleague was actually expressing disappointment in Obama for making the visit, rather than just seeing a particular sadness in its objective irony?

    I mean, it’s also “sad” that Obama’s greatest task now is to unfuck that which has been fucked over the past eight years. Am I being somehow disloyal to the guy for seeing that? I can’t see how.

  20. I agree with Thaddeusmt (#12). When I visited the page, the signup form for updates had a paragraph of Lorem Ipsum instead of actual text below the usual boxes for name, email address, etc.

  21. From Obama’s first meeting with serious National Security Dude:

    NSD: Mister President Elect, sir, there are a few things on your website that should not really be public coming from an elected official of your stature, sir.

    Obama: OK, what do we need to take down?

    NSD: Well, sir, you see, the only way to do it now is to take it all down, sir.

    Obama: Oh . . .

  22. @ Xeni
    @ MDH

    “If backsliding follows, I’ll be the among the first to blog about that, too.

    And I really do appreciate that. ”

    We should start a website called Backstop.org
    1) Lets them know they have all the support to go forward with thier originally stated agendas
    2) Reminds them that we’re here to be very annoyed if they don’t.

  23. t wldn’t mttr.

    Lk, lv bngbng. vst vrydy, svrl tms dy, nd lv t. Bt vn f thr ws phtgrphc prf- wth fw mjr nws rgnztns s wtnss- P bm tng prtlly brtd bbs, y wld STLL gv hm fw dys t ‘sttl n’.

  24. I agree, if they backslide, we should call them on it. However, we should first give them the benefit of the doubt. Cheers, peeps!

  25. Has the question been asked as to how a non-government organisation has been granted a .gov domain? The rules seem fairly ambiguous on http://www.dotgov.gov but I remember that the Labour Party attempted to register labour.gov.uk with Nominet (the UK registrar) and were firmly rebuffed as being party political, which really should apply to an incoming Democrat president as well. I can’t get to whois.nic.gov to find out when it was registered either.

  26. As of monday, everthing was back up. What’s the big deal? you could give it a day or two before crying foul… anyway, Obama also has a link where you can sign up to apply to work for the administration. It will be interesting to see if he puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to telecommuters….

    http://jessicamarlo.blogspot.com/2008/11/obama-brings-hope-for-telecommuters.html

    You can get your point of view across at:
    http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory

  27. Change?
    I think the Wars will escalate. Both in Asia, and on the streets (against “drugs”, actually against poor people…).
    Now it is time to go to war with a popular president!
    Just look at his staff…
    http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts11102008.html
    The first clue was Biden as VP…now that’s real change! Right? Right?
    I fear that the youth of America has been taken in by political theatre, but the proof will be in the pudding.
    My gut feeling is that your entire leadership class comes from the same (expensive, exclusive and private) school, well versed in deception of, and contempt for, others they think/feel are not as good (or as wealthy) as themselves, and that you’ll eventually have to get these people out of power, if you wish to preserve what little is left of your egalitarian democratic republic. Business-wise, the US already looks like Mussolini’s Corporatist state. How long before your society becomes outright fascist?
    If he’s not actually with them, Obama will be obstructed by them. They keep spending your social surplus on expanding your armed forces, torture camps and wars – all profit centers for this bunch – while cutting back on free at the point of use education and health care – regardless of the obvious benefits such has for people in general, in order to gain still greater profits for themselves and their friends and families.
    On the other hand, time will get rid of them too, as it will us all (except sadly the poor).

  28. Xeni wrote – If backsliding follows, I’ll be the among the first to blog about that, too.

    The tough thing is protecting yourself (or your president elect) from the forces of evil, without becoming so stainless and watered down that you have in effect become evil.

    I consider Hillary to have gone that route–consider her fairly courageous if somewhat naive push for unviversal healthcare…how did she get from the to voting for the Iraq war to threatening to “obliterate” the Iranians?

    My own theory was that she voted in some instances in such a way as to give herself political cover, cover she could use (like The One Ring of Power) ostensibly for good.

    We’ve got to watch Obama and camp and help keep them on the straight and narrow–Obama voted for telecom immunity after all, which I guess he did at a critical juncture to ‘prove’ he wasn’t weak on ‘terror’. But this means he is indeed a politician after all.

  29. I’m glad to see other people saved a copy. All of the agenda material was directly copied from the barrackobama.com site which is now down as well.

    I was horrified by the service plank in his agenda. Some friends and I were arguing about it over the weekend on facebook. I made reference to the service agenda and then poof it was gone. I don’t know about anyone else, but forcing middle school children into service to the state sounds like servitude to me.

  30. Yes you are right SKR – community service is just the thin edge of Obama’s plan to turn your children into spy’s for the Great B. HUSSEIN. They will be watching you and you friends for signs of revolutionary impurity.

    Please report to Obamam Central Command and await further instructions, comrad.

  31. I think I’ll reserve judgement until I see what makes its’ way back up but this is a disappointment. I was so impressed with the quick rollout of change.gov and the aggressiveness in stating issues.

    This move makes me think that they want the blog to be a lot more calculated and careful, rather than spontaneous and flexible. In other words- they want a “frontstage” blog. Otherwise known as a website.

    I guess part of what excited me about change.gov was that it demonstrated a willingness to lower the administration’s guard just a little, and invited citizens to roll up their sleeves and think about things together. It was like we had an administration that was taking advantage of the traditions of new media to promote democracy.

    Given the polished creative direction of change.gov- the only thing they can be retooling is the copy. I’m not going to run around yelling that the sky is falling until I see what makes its’ way back up there- but this doesn’t bode well.

  32. Before we all jump on the Orwellian Godwin train, while totally forgetting that bush’s DHS created “citizen spies” to snoop on ordinary Americans, in addition to all the DARPA unconstitutional shit that O vowed to investigate even as he voted for the FISA bill, I’d invite you to view this bit regarding the fairness of making the same accusations of those on the left and those the right. Maybe it was just a proposal for a kind of non-homophobic alternative to the Boy Scouts? (Speaking of which, here’s more from the same source about Prop 8.)

  33. Phikus – Glen Greenwald has a post on holding Obama accountable. Obama should devolve the unitary executive but it will be difficult. The temptations are strong and the conservative extremists will be howling nonstop. The Dem base needs to pressure him to do what we want. He’s not my commander in chief, he’s my employee.

  34. OK; choice-torture time:

    Would you: A. have Bush/Cheney/et al given fair, impartial trials and then publicly executed?

    OR

    B: Hold Obama fifty percent accountable to his campaign promises?

    Choose now in thirty seconds…..

  35. Simon Greenwood @ 35: Has the question been asked as to how a non-government organisation has been granted a .gov domain?

    Not that I know of — because it hasn’t happened. Change.gov was set up by the General Services Administration as part of their charge:

    The Presidential Transition Acts of 1963 and 2000 give the General Services Administration (GSA) a prominent role in this process. They authorize the Administrator of GSA to provide the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect the services and facilities needed to assume their official duties.

    Some of GSA’s responsibilities in support of the President-elect include:

    * Providing temporary office space, parking, furniture, telephones, furnishings, supplies, IT equipment, mail management, payroll, financial, contracting and other administrative services for the transition team;

    * Consulting with Presidential candidates prior to the general election, to develop a plan for computer and communications systems that will support the transition between the election and the inauguration…

    The breathless, almost paranoid tone to many of the questions about Change.gov makes me want to say to people Chill out! Do you think the people in Washington didn’t realize they were going to have to manage a changeover between now and January 20? Do you think they wait until November 5 and say “OMG! There’s going to be a new president! Eeek! Change the letterhead! Get new keys!” They’ve done this before. They do it every four years, pretty much. They’ve got an idea of how to do it by now.

  36. I can’t believe that anyone, looking at the wreckage caused by eight years of having Dubya in the White House, can keep regurgitating the same old tired cliches about how it doesn’t matter who you elect, nothing’s going to change, whine whine whine.

    (No, I don’t mean you. I mean that other, far more irritating commenter. You know the one.)

    How can you argue that if Dubya can do that much damage, it’s impossible for Obama to do good?

    Okay, some text disappeared from a website. Lots of people have copies of it. It was put up, and taken down, by the most responsive, transparent campaign organization I can remember seeing in all my fifty-mumble years. If you’re deciding on that basis that All Is Lost, then I’ve got a bridge I’d love to sell you, because you are way too easily led.

    As for all the organizations that are pressuring Obama to take a certain line: that’s normal. That’s what’s supposed to happen. You elect the best candidate you have, and then once he’s in office you cajole, encourage, and threaten him on behalf of the issues you care about. It’s a crucial piece of the democratic process. You’re just seeing it more clearly now because a lot of undergrowth has been cleared away.

    MGFarrelly @13, I’ve observed them too. I think they’re dealing with the fear of disappointment by rushing to embrace disappointment before it can happen. This guarantees that they get the emotional experience they say they don’t want; but if they do it often enough, it starts to feel safe and familiar.

    SKR, you’re being foolish. Even if Obama were dead set on requiring 50 hours of community service work during middle school, which he isn’t, that works out to less than two hours a month. Have you ever looked at the bite taken out of school curriculums by Bush’s ill-thought-out “No Child Left Behind” programs? Read this, and this.

  37. My comments, though they come off as churlish, are meant as just a reminder that these people (ie politicians) need to have their feet kept to the fire, to keep their promises, to use their power to help the powerless.
    It’s been two years since the dems got majority control of Congress by promising to end the War.
    If you’re not careful Obama may pull a Blair (ie start a War) and then who would you vote for?
    I hear Obama may re-appoint Gates as SecDef. How’s that for “change”? Or maybe a Repub in the post, a la Bill Clinton?
    Respect must be earned by deeds. This time the world is waiting and watching along with Americans.
    After all who could have predicted that W. would end up destroying a good part of the Nation of Iraq, as his primary accomplishment?

  38. Teresa, at the risk of being moderated for not touting the party line, I’ll bite.

    How did Bush manage to create the wreckage he did, over the past eight years? By not having anyone to stop him. The past two terms have seen the greatest increase in the power of the executive branch since FDR. Bush and his administration honestly felt they were above the law, and did everything they could to abuse and increase their power.

    Obama right now is facing the same situation, only more so: anything they want, they can do. Congress is on their side, the judicial system has been stacked with judges who favor powerful government, and they’ve just had two terms of mad power-grabbing. Sure, maybe he can do some good, largely by dismantling the previous administration’s gaffes, but what then? Do you really think he’s going to put down the reins of power and ride off into the sunset?

    No one’s perfect, certainly politicians aren’t. But even if Obama is an unrealistically benevolent dictator, in eight years he’ll be gone and for all I know Dark Lord Sauron will be President Elect. The powers lie with the office, not the man. And if Obama’s going to voluntarily surrender that power he has to do it now, before his administration sinks its teeth into it and decides it likes the flavor.

    I know he’ll do some good (at first), but everything he’d do could be done by the rest of the government, if he instead ensures that no one can ever fuck up the country the way Bush did. THAT’S my vision for change.

    Sadly, it may already be too late. Read this and tell me the Obama administration isn’t rubbing its hands together and cackling softly to itself.

  39. Teresa, at the risk of being moderated for not touting the party line, I’ll bite.

    That old saw?

    ‘the party line’ is what stands between you and Theresa, and really, you’re imagining it.

    Red and Blue, or United. Your call.

  40. “at the risk of being moderated for not touting the party line,”

    how about having your guts stamped out for being insulting?

  41. Beezelbuddy. Oh dear. I just followed your link, then re-read your comment.

    Obama – a renowned constitutional scholar, a state and federal Senator, has had a team of lawyers poring over the documents that Bush used to claim the power you say he never should have had….

    and in the next breath you say the best we can really expect is a benevolent dictatorship from someone who has spend the last 16 yeas in the legislative branch of Gov’t?

    You really don’t think we’ll see a rebalancing of the checks and balances into something more sane than what you’re saying Bush did?

    Really?!?

    Son, you got the bull by the wrong end.

  42. You really don’t think we’ll see a rebalancing of the checks and balances into something more sane than what you’re saying Bush did?

    Oh, I hope we will. I fear we won’t.

  43. @#60: ahh ad hominem attacks very nice. I could have sworn that websters dicitonary defines servitude as “the condition of being bound to service”, among other meanings. Since we have compulsory education for middle-school children, there would be no choice in whether they perform this service or not. That is pretty much the definition of servitude. It doesn’t matter how many hours a week it is, or whether you like it would be good for their character. It is a question of liberty. It also doesn’t matter what Bush did, unless you want to prove the concept of a slippery slope, and shifting baselines.

    As far as the 1984 comment, saying “service-learning sounds like a newspeak neologism,” just doesn’t have the same flare.

    To all those bringing up Godwin, the comparison has to be inapt for the application of Godwin’s Law to be meaningful. Arguing that compulsory service for children is servitude, considering the above definition, and arguing that service-learning is an Orwellian neologism for compulsory labor is APT. You might not think so if you can’t imagine Obama doing anything wrong, but what happens when someone else is in charge. You might not trust them.

  44. Beelzebuddy @62:

    Teresa, at the risk of being moderated for not touting the party line, I’ll bite.

    The party line says that you should read the moderation guidelines. They’re linked from the front page. They’ll help keep you from saying such wrongfooted things in the future.

    How did Bush manage to create the wreckage he did, over the past eight years? By not having anyone to stop him.

    First, by being willing to do it. That took everyone by surprise. Bush & Co.’s agenda involved using the mechanisms of our government to do things they aren’t intended to do. From everything Obama’s said, he’s committed to making the government do what it’s supposed to.

    Second, Bush & Co. did that by being very good at obscuring what was going on. That lot lies reflexively and habitually. They lie when it’s unnecessary. The truth is just not in them. In the beginning, before that characteristic became evident, there was a great deal more confusion about what Bush was doing.

    Third, by being a relentless and vindictive SOB. Look at the South Carolina campaign against McCain in the 2000 primaries, or the retaliation visited upon Valerie Plame and her husband. Bush’s unstated message to those who opposed or disobeyed him was, “I’m not just going to win this fight. I’ll damage you personally, destroy your career, and hurt those close to you.” The only real use George H. W. Bush had for Dubya was as his torpedo. It was one thing Dubya was good at.

    (I’ve long thought the real reason Dubya has personally insisted on continuing to hold people long past any real utility, and use force while questioning them, is that he’s never stopped believing that if you hurt someone enough, they’ll do what you want.)

    But really, the main thing he did was surround himself with people who would let him get away with it. Here’s the problem with electing people who are unqualified for the office: They have to pay too dearly to get in. When the smoke of the election clears, the more unqualified the candidate, the more beholden they are to their supporters, and the worse their supporters are.

    One of the things I like best about Obama is his ability to attract and keep top-notch people. Staff like that isn’t nearly as willing to sit still for gross misdeeds and violations of the Constitution. Unlike Rumsfeld and Cheney, they have reputations to maintain, and they can get good jobs elsewhere.

    Joe Biden certainly won’t sit still for that. Remember, he’s the guy with the lowest net personal worth in the entire Senate. Hanging on to power and a plum job isn’t the most important thing in his life.

    The past two terms have seen the greatest increase in the power of the executive branch since FDR. Bush and his administration honestly felt they were above the law, and did everything they could to abuse and increase their power.

    Obama right now is facing the same situation, only more so: anything they want, they can do.

    No. Not true. A huge amount of Obama’s support would evaporate like dry ice in Death Valley if he and his people started abusing the office the way Bush & Co. did.

    Congress is on their side

    A surprising amount of Congress is on their constituents’ side, and on the side of the Constitution and good government. You’re thinking that everyone in government is just like the Bush people who’ve gotten in over the last decade or so. A few are. Most aren’t.

    the judicial system has been stacked with judges who favor powerful government,

    No. The attempt was to stack the judicial system with judges who would carry water for the Republican Party. That’s why all those state Attorneys General got canned and replaced — they refused to prosecute Democrats for nonexistent cases of election fraud. Now think about all the ones who didn’t get fired. They are not Obama’s friends.

    and they’ve just had two terms of mad power-grabbing.

    So what? It was wrong, and everyone knows it. I don’t know how old you are, but let me tell you: presidential elections don’t normally end in wild impromptu parties in streets all over the country. More than one commentator has said that the U.S. looked like a country celebrating being liberated from a dictatorship.

    No way does Obama inherit all that illegitimate power Bush had for a time. Even Bush doesn’t have it now.

    Sure, maybe he can do some good, largely by dismantling the previous administration’s gaffes, but what then? Do you really think he’s going to put down the reins of power and ride off into the sunset?

    Yes, I think he is.

    The kind of politicians who become presidents aren’t the sort to give up power unnecessarily. They can always think of some good thing to do with it. But one of the core myths (as in the sense of semi-sacred story) of our democracy is that when our officials leave or get voted out of office, they go quietly, and take up their business again. George Washington did it first, and thereby astonished the Eighteenth Century. If you want to read about it, the word to google on is Cincinnatus plus George Washington.No one’s perfect, certainly politicians aren’t. But even if Obama is an unrealistically benevolent dictator,You’ve lost track during the bad times just passing. He’s not a dictator at all. He’s the President of the United States: a limited office, subject to the weights and balances built into the system, and bound by law. It has tended to accumulate power over the years, but I don’t think a former Professor of Constitutional Law is going to abuse it the way Bush did.

    in eight years he’ll be gone and for all I know Dark Lord Sauron will be President Elect.

    Not if we can help it. Florida 2000 took us all by surprise. Not again.

    The powers lie with the office, not the man.

    I think your error is that you’re thinking that the office of president can be judged by what Bush did. That man stopped the recount and essentially seized power. How surprising is it that someone who got into the White House on those terms didn’t give a damn about the law?

    And if Obama’s going to voluntarily surrender that power he has to do it now, before his administration sinks its teeth into it and decides it likes the flavor.

    Oh, for pete’s sake. You’ve talked yourself into an overdramatic all-or-nothing position. Obama respects the law and the Constitution, and he’s surrounded himself with people who do the same. If he was going to decide he liked power more than law, he’s already had plenty of chances to do it. You don’t have to be president to run into that one.

    I know he’ll do some good (at first), but everything he’d do could be done by the rest of the government,

    Wrong. The presidency is part of an integrated system. There needs to be someone holding that office.

    if he instead ensures that no one can ever fuck up the country the way Bush did. THAT’S my vision for change.

    It doesn’t work. I’ve seen that tried, and it doesn’t work. Power doesn’t go away just because the person who supposedly has it refuses to wield it. It takes power to cut power down to size and get it running in its proper channels again. It’s a tough job to do.

    Sadly, it may already be too late. Read this and tell me the Obama administration isn’t rubbing its hands together and cackling softly to itself.

    You fantasize about what it’s like to have power, but you’ve never held it, and you don’t know how it works. You think it’s all about saying “Go there, do this,” and having people go there and do that. Sure, that’s one of the things you do; but the heart of it is knowing which actions will get the results you want without generating other unwanted effects, and working with others to set up situations where your exercise of power can happen at all. Different presidents are better and worse at that. Johnson had his moments of being frighteningly good at it. He got a lot done.

    The executive orders they’re talking about in that Washington Post article are a lawful executive power. Obama’s talking about making it very clear from the start that Bush policies which every sane person has known were bad are going to be turned around on a dime. Why is he in such a hurry? I expect it has many other benefits, but my guess is that at least one reason he’s doing it is to help prop up the world economy, and keep the recession as short and shallow as possible.

    The rest of the world has been watching the Bush years with a mixture of anger, disappointment, and plain flat-out disbelief. The biggest single reason I supported Obama is because he’s a huge signal to the rest of the world that We’re Not Really Like That, It Was An Aberration. Turning around bad policies that everyone knows are bad policies will help underscore that message. With any luck, that’ll help restore some of the confidence lost under Bush, which in turn will help get the world financial market running again.

    Anyway, that’s my guess. It’ll also help discourage the crooked we-got-clout right and the hardcore loony right. The stem-cell research ban and drilling in fragile environments are things Bush gave them that they ought not have gotten. Obama’s letting them know that they don’t get to keep them. This sends a whole lot of messages to a whole lot of people.

    So calm down, will you? This isn’t just a replacement band of brigands. What you’re seeing there is legitimately constituted authority. It’s a whole different vibe.

  45. As far as the 1984 comment, saying “service-learning sounds like a newspeak neologism,” just doesn’t have the same flare.

    No, SKR, it does not have that same flair.

    But it does have a certain… clarity that your original comment, and nearly everything else you’ve said in this thread has lacked.

    Seems to me you’re afraid, and you’re projecting your fears of the unknown onto what appears to most voters (52% of voters anyhow) to be an honest, capable, trustworthy man.

    As far as your aptness test for the application of the Orwell Corollary to Godwains Law – Obama isn’t the one who started a war in Eastasia with the assisatance of Airstrip One. That was Bush.

    further, Obama isn’t the one supporting a massive surveillance state where the people are transparent to the gov’t – rather than vice versa. That has been Bush too.

    Still further – Bush does not seem particularly capable of using language in any sort of nuanced way. Bush speaks in jungoistic slogans and substitutes easier words for precise words. “The Decider” “with us or against us” “Crusade”…. While Obams speaks in complete sentences with a strong vocabulary and good diction.

    Funny thing about slippery slopes, they occasionally leave you on your own ass, flailing hopelessly.

    Personally I reaaaaaly doubt we’re going to see screw-ups so preventable that they seem intentional, such as the last 7.5 years have given us on a weekly basis.

    As for an ad hominem. Saying you sound foolish is not an ad hominem, but saying you’re a clueless asshat would be one.

  46. Bah. Bush went to war in Iraq with the entire American political elite supporting the war. That elite has gone nowhere, and are still in power.
    Obama is and was member of that elite – a nobody until after Bush took/seized power, not on the raadar screen in 1999, – who won by superior organization.
    Dominating a political party by focusing on organizational matters is a neo-con trait (read Strauss) – and Bush’s Chief of Staff’s father is openly prejudiced against Arabs. An Israeli citizen as Head of Homeland Security (Chertoff), an Israeli citizen (Emmanuel) as Obama’s Chief of Staff.
    I think you have your second neo-con in the Presidency.
    Watch for “continuity” and “bi-partisanship” to be the order of the day when it comes to your Wars in Eastasia.
    Why no Chinese citizens in top appointed posts?
    Or am I ignorant, are dual-citizenship Americans common in the highest corridors of American state power? Anybody got any info on this?

  47. Double Bah, I meant Obama’s chief of staff, not Bush’s, in the above – I think Obama and Bush wearing almost identical suits at their meeting got to me more than I thought. If their purpose was to emphasize continuity by that fashion choice, it worked with me I guess, nice (inadvertent? In this age of politics as theater?) subliminal messaging.

  48. Politics as theater. Hmmm….
    I think that’s why my response to anybody expressing outrage that a politician has deceived or lied to them is a wry smile (sometimes inward).
    It is the same response I would have to someone asserting that an Actor has deceived or lied to them ( with their performance) – IMO it is in reality their nature, the very purpose and object of their efforts.
    I think this character trait (always present in some degree amongst leaders, of any age in history, in any society) has been thrown into much higher relief today in the case of both types (ie both actors and politicians) due to the tech advances in communications and entertainment which occurred during the 1900s.
    Always on, and right in the living room/bedroom. Politics as a sub-branch of the media business…
    I guess they are both about freedom of expression.

  49. Actors and politicians are not really “lying”, but performing, being in the public eye.
    They are both seeking to convince us, to persuade us…seeking our ‘trust’?
    Of course the contexts differ, but the similarities of these professions in some things are striking. Must come from the “being in the public eye” thing, I reckon.

  50. The age-old tension between truth and rhetoric (ie techniques of persuasion), appearances and realities.

  51. Just out of curiousity, why do people think that arguing, “Bush is/was bad”, answers any argument I have posited? Do you really think I am a Bush supporter since I don’t like a specific policy position of Obama’s? As Alexander Cockburn recently wrote, “If there’s one thing defenders of civil liberties know, it’s that assaults on constitutional freedoms are bipartisan. Just as constitutional darkness didn’t first fall with the arrival in the Oval Office of George W. Bush, the shroud will not lift with his departure and the entry of President Barack Obama”.

    I think it’s great that he wants to roll back some of the habeus corpus violations enacted under Bush. But then again I guess I’m a foolish, raving asshat, so I could be wrong.

    Mmmm, ad hominem attacks taste like candy from the mouths of insufficient minds.

  52. SKR – Just out of curiousity, why do people think that arguing, “Bush is/was bad”, answers any argument I have posited?

    1) Because you basically said “it’s getting very Orwellian in here now that Obama is taking office”.

    2) Because while previous presidents do exist, Bush is the one we’re changing direction from today.

    3) And the truth is that,. since you brought Orwell up, the gov’t has been quite orwellian for the last 7 years.

    It proves you wrong becaue it is becoming LESS and LESS Orwellian every day for the next 98 days.

    Do you disagree with my assertions? Do you have enough respect for us to debate your poitns rather than crying that we’re all just picking on you?

    If you can convince me Obama is more Orwellian than Bush, I’ll eat your asshat.

  53. Mmmm, ad hominem attacks taste like candy from the mouths of insufficient minds.

    it’s only ad hominem if you don’t try for them.

    You’re just such a fckng victim, aren’t you?

  54. Theresa, can you give this troll (SKR) a few days off?

    You can ban me for a spell at the same time if you like.

  55. I think it’s great that he wants to roll back some of the habeus corpus violations enacted under Bush.

    really? First hint you’ve made of that was right there.

    But then again I guess I’m a foolish, raving asshat, so I could be wrong.

    you forgot contemptuous and smug.

  56. SKR @78, I don’t think that. I do think that on this issue, it’s easy to find lots more information, and better-quality information, than whatever source[s] you’ve been using.

  57. SKR – let’s take a tour of your comment history.

    how does a free market make it harder to keep morality operating? Morality is a constraint in any system. Morality prevents people from making as much money as possible in any system”.

    O, RLY? Well, you were wrong there. People taking home 8 figure salaries were regularly making immoral loans to subprime candidates. Not all of them, but far too many. Now we’re all paying for it. To the tune of 700+ billion dollars. You were wrong there. Own it.

    Also from august – “href=”http://www.boingboing.net/2008/08/21/mayor-shuts-down-hom.html#comment-266001″>Is anyone else sick of this particular brand of self-pity? As a white male living in East LA, am I permitted to whine that the man is keeping ME down when we have a black president since the mayor of LA is Latino and our governor is an Austrian immigrant?”

    you decrying self-pity in others is very sad making. Not wonderful at all. You are permitted to whine, of course, but know this – you are – in fact – whining. Own it.

    In a comment directed to me, from a september FED discussion –

    One problem is that the politicians have convinced an economically ignorant citizenry that they, the politicians, can manipulate the economy with fiscal policy. So by extension it is just a matter of voting for the right person and all will be fixed.”

    YES. AND that’s what WE are saying TODAY. Obama is that right man. Sniping at the man becuase you doubt your own words is not classy. Own it.

    Finally –

    Mitnick sux, always has always will.

    Yeah, you’re SO clearly above the ad hominem.

    Listen, you’re a smart guy – clearly. Theresa said you sounded foolish. Then you proceeded to prove it.

    Your pride, your sense of innate superiority (as evidence by your comment tone) you’re choking on it.

    Check my comment history guy. I’m funny sometimes. I admit when I am wrong. I even occasionally get disemvowelled and called names too, but I ALSO don’t generally contradict myself, nor would I dare to cast aspersions on the mental inferiority of my audience – when what happened is that someone else has quite accidentally misunderstood my position.

    But hey, you’re both superior AND a victim.

    I recognize that when I fail to communicate effectively is my own fault, I don’t attribute it to my own innate superiority, as you have.

    You, SKR, could ponder on that some.

  58. holding my last comment for moderation was probably for the best. Though it is a shame, SKR deserved a good fisking.

    I strongly recommend those who think SKR has a pentient for rightness should check his past comments.

    Were I the one with his comment history. the current market crisis would make me rethink my positions, not dig in and lob water baloons.

    But being backed into a corner is what makes some people put on the asshat. It’s an accessory you’re wearing today sir, and it is clearly not your best face.

  59. hello all
    i’ve noticed that change. i was reading all detailed plans for change and improvements for specific issues like – war, bills, same sex rights, environment, etc:. on sunday 11/09/08 and yesterday when i wanted to continue (read above) all’s gone (???) bit odd for me, personally but as i can see, not only. what i did? i’ve send them a message, asking why it happened? still waiting for response.

  60. interesting thing i read on sunday: before signing any bill 5 days before (number of days is still questionable), people (pretty much around the whole world) would have a chance to read about (sometimes very worldwide) issues and…comment on them. did something like this ever existed? did i miss something? how it will affect making important decisions? if not, i think it’s a great idea and i hope i will see that message again and…those bills ;)

  61. O, RLY? Well, you were wrong there. People taking home 8 figure salaries were regularly making immoral loans to subprime candidates.

    That was actually my point precisely. If hey had acted morally, they wouldn’t have been able to make that much money, because they defrauded the people to whom they were giving loans.

    They self-pity comment. I don’t pity myself for being attacked personally. I just wanted to point out that I don’t care, so you might as well stop if you are trying to hurt me. If it makes you feel better about yourself, have at it. Actually, I don’t try for ad hominem attacks, but as my gf says, “you have an amazing aptitude for pissing people off.” Sorry.

    “One problem is that the politicians have convinced an economically ignorant citizenry that they, the politicians, can manipulate the economy with fiscal policy. So by extension it is just a matter of voting for the right person and all will be fixed.”
    YES. AND that’s what WE are saying TODAY. Obama is that right man. Sniping at the man becuase you doubt your own words is not classy. Own it.

    Actually, you misunderstood my comment here. The argument is that the president can’t fix the economy, but the citizenry BELIEVES that if they pick the right man all will be fixed. Although this is not the case. You can find many economist arguing the position that while the politicians can’t fix a broken economy, than can break it with horrible policy that causes market distortions.

    As far as the Mitnick comment, I had problems with him when I was a punk cracker back in the 80’s. I was personal, and I’m sorry if it bothered anyone.

  62. As for the current crisis disproviing free-markets, our current system is more like corporatist Italy every day. The government was distorting the housing market by flooding the streets with easy credit. How exactly is that a free-market?

  63. Are you people too busy bickering to have noticed that the agenda has been re-posted, as pointed out waaaaaaaaay back by #67 Anonymous

    http://www.barackobama.com/issues/

    Granted, they’re “issues” and not an “agenda,” but a quick look at part of the economy page (under the trade section) looks as it did last week. Might someone do a A/B comparison between versions with some fancy software or your intern staff for me, please? KThx.

  64. Correction and apology: I was too busy being pompous to notice that anon#67 (and I) linked to barackobama.com, not change.gov. Funny nonetheless that the content is similar (if not identical) to what had been on change.gov for a few days.

    [slinks back to lurk mode]

  65. So the answer to the above question as to why people are trying to lump me in with Bush is that it is also an ad hominem attack. It is a higher form of attack than the “you are stupid” variety. Here they are trying to associate me with a hated figure (b/c if I am criticizing Obama, I must be for Bush) in order to invalidate an argument. This is a logical fallacy. I don’t like Bush either, and it is not germane to the argument that involutary service is bad. I do agree that some civil liberties may be restored under Obama, but it seems as though they have their sites set on restricting other civil liberties. Only time will tell whether there is a net loss or gain. This however doesn’t preclude speaking up against the potential loss of liberty before it happens.

  66. SKR @94, it is not an ad hominem attack to suggest that your arguments and responses here aren’t adding up to a nuanced, well-informed set of views on the subject.

    I’d argue that you’re the force behind the personalization of this argument. You say you’re uneasy about the Obama administration doing X, Y, and Z, but you’ve done a haphazard job of explaining, substantiating, and extending your arguments in response to others’ counter-arguments. This failure to engage necessarily shifts the balance of your overall argument from The following evidence suggests that it is not unreasonable to hold this opinion, and toward Because that’s how I feel about it, that’s why.

    IMO, if your feelings were prompted by the issues you brought up, you’d have collected more and better information about them, and you’d be keeping track of the developing story.

    You haven’t, so here: I’ve done some of your research for you.

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