I can't decide if the past 8 years were so painful that I can't possibly be disappointed in Obama's performance or I'm in still in shock from the election that my perspective is a little off about what he has accomplished or I'm so jaded from the last 8 years that the seemingly lack of progress is nothing compared to the Bush years or our country is such shit that hearing nothing is better than hearing something (daily bank closures), but has Obama been successful or not successful? I just have no idea right now.
The only agency I know about these days is EPA. And I have to say Jackson has been moving and shaking pretty well. There is much better access and long time employees have come out of the woodwork to help push things along that were once stalled on an empty desk somewhere. Administrator Jackson has committed to investigate 6 chemicals of high concern and set out a platform for national chemical reform, one of the most important issues in making our communities, bodies and planet safer and healthier. The agency also held 73 permits for mountaintop removal coal mining projects, good for the people of Appalachia who are suffering and whose communities are being violently pulled apart because of this destructive practice. EPA also announced they would be requiring companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions for a national greenhouse gas emissions report in 2011. This of course has industry allllllll riled up. Which is always good.
Also, the White House quietly announced in September a rule stating that no federally registered lobbyist can sit on government panels. A nice little spot that has been giving corporations access to overwhelmingly influence our public officials for their clients. Doesn't that sound so DC? I've lived in DC for 7 years, give or take many months in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Brooklyn. And this is exactly what DC is. The first question you are asked anywhere in this town is what do you do and then do you know blahblahblah. Even the hipsters up in Columbia Heights ask these questions, of course they are looking for drugs or new music not seats at the table. But not much difference really.
So this new policy has people really angry. Congressional Quarterly stated: "A tide of anger and dismay is rippling down K Street as the Obama administration implements a new policy limiting the roles of lobbyists on federal advisory committees." A tide of anger rippling down K st? And this is about seats on a government panel, not DC's AIDS crisis (3% are infected) or the 200 public school teachers that were fired last Friday or the fact that DC residents don't really have congressional representation, right?
I feel really bad for the Starbucks baristas who are having to listen their whining on 17th St. Polluting corporations have been getting away with so much over the years that now you ask them to behave themselves, they are throwing themselves on the ground and crying for their mommas.
The White House actually had to say that lobbyists were not irreplaceable in defense of their own policy.
EPA also announced on September 30 ". . . a proposal requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified."
I distinctly remember this conversation I had with a health care worker in Mae Sot, Thailand right after East Timor became independent in 2002. He said there is no way that Xanana Gusmao could have been elected if he wasn't a little slimy and we don't really want to know what happened to make all of that possible. That's kind of how I feel about Obama. He isn't really progressive. He's inspiring, but he isn't progressive. Take gays in the military for instance. That would be a no brainer for a progressive president. But he hasn't even addressed gay rights at all. But I believe that he can do some great things and I want to believe that he is. That all of the things that I don't see or want to see are really going to land us in a better spot. I want that.
I'm really interested in reading more about the Great Depression. I'd like to know more about the differences and similarities between than and now. I do love when Elizabeth Warren starts talking about the trends of how we got here and the policies that were set because of the impacts of the Great Depression. She's kind of amazing to listen to. Do you know of a good book or article that I can read?
I really hope that things are progressing, that everything is getting better, that I will live in a country that I am proud of its leadership, but right now I'm just not sure. And I'm still living off of that election elation to want to dig too deep into it.