It was a bit hard to figure out what Obama did most recently because two articles on my favorite Dutch news website (but other Dutch news outlets are also guilty of this) merely mention that Obama signed ‘a law’. Because the stupid Dutch news didn’t bother to mention which law it concerns I had to do a bit of searching myself, and I figured out that it is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (you have to love these cool names they give to their laws in the USA, we should have that in the Netherlands too). We already knew that Obama wasn’t living up to his promise to close Guantanamo Bay, but this is the nail in the coffin for the promise, which has been reneged on by Obama completely now. Maybe Obama felt himself cornered by the Republicans when he signed the NDAA, but the idea that he can use discretion in applying the Act to prevent the harm to civil liberties is not at all convincing because the damage has already been done. Sure, the NDAA was necessary because the defense forces need funding, but when these highly objectionable provisions for which you threatened to veto the Act are still in and you sign it ‘with reservations’ you lack spine.
According to the article in The Washington Post funding was going to expire on Monday 2 January, so Obama signed it on Saturday 31 December after last-minute modifications were made by Congress at the request of the White House. Seems to me like they had better done it a few months in advance instead of waiting for the last minute if you ask me, procrastinating is supposed to be something what university students like me do, not presidents. So Obama had his hands tied because the funding was about to expire, but in that case why did you wait so long? Did (Obama allow) the House of Representatives with its Republican majority stonewall the process so they could force Obama’s hand when the deadline for new funding came?
If Obama has so much difficulty with closing Guantanamo, maybe the Cubans can kick the USA off their territory? They would have good reasons to do so. At least Ron Paul (among others, of course) has a mind of his own and realizes the value of civil liberties with his opposition to the NDAA Unfortunately I find many of his other ideas such as those on abortion, climate change and higher taxes objectionable, so I wouldn’t want him to be the next president.
Yes, of course Obama has also achieved change for the better, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). But then again, it doesn’t make up for this unforgivable mistake he made with the NDAA. But there’s more. There’s the upcoming Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which is another great danger to freedom, but it’s unlikely Obama would veto it. While Bradley Manning rots in jail, he thinks the treatment he gets is appropriate. He might have the intention to raise taxes for the rich with the Republicans preventing him from doing so, but as I wrote earlier his government is still too friendly towards Wall Street.
Concluding, I think the Democrats and Republicans which have been controlling the government in the USA for such a long time are what we would call “regent’s parties” in the Netherlands. Meaning, they have become so used to governing that they don’t represent the people of the USA properly anymore and care more about their own position. But in the USA it’s much worse than in the Netherlands where some of the parties who were accused of being regent’s parties have been punished by the electorate. Almost half of Congress consists of millionaires who are in the pocket of the special interests. I hope Americans Elect would have the power to break this duopoly of the Democrats and Republicans.