Reasons to Go Into the Weekend with a Little Touch of Optimism:
The Rude Pundit will talk next week about Barack Obama's breath of fresh air budget that says, in essence, "Take your bipartisanship and shove it up your ass." He's actually reading some of the huge damn thing. But in the last few days, outside of the whole economic implosion and the constant are-you-fuckin'-serious new statistics and revelations, let us take stock, good liberals, of the direction that things are heading, even if the path seems steeply uphill and perilously rocky, even if sometimes it's two steps up and one step back. And, even as we watch our backs for what we think is the inevitable knife, let us acknowledge a couple of signs that shit's changed.
1. In a move that says if you wanna do some jobs, you gotta get that Bible or Koran out of your ass, the Obama administration is moving to overturn the Bush administration's last minute yahoo-orgasm-inducing "conscience rule" that said health care workers could deny any family planning treatment to patients if it "violated their conscience." So, if, say, a woman is raped in Texas and gets a prescription for a morning after pill, the pharmacist can refuse to fill it. Oh, wait. That's not an "if." It did happen, and the pharmacist was rightfully fired. And the Bush administration, in one last little "fuck you" to reason and empathy, wanted to "protect" such health care workers.
But now the Obama administration, recognizing that women don't actually have rights if individuals can legally deny them because an imaginary sky wizard says so, is putting the rule through a review that will inevitably lead to its overturning.
2. There will be time to criticize the Obama administration's apparent embrace of at least some of the reasoning for the previous administration's stand on rights for terrorism suspects and random detainees (although the Rude Pundit thinks it's more about putting something on the back burner while dealing with every other fucking mess, and, sadly, that's a pot that can simmer for a little bit without burning other shit down). However, in one of the more encouraging moves so far on the issue, the Justice Department is going to actually charge, and bring to trial in a civilian court, the one detainee held in the United States, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri.
Al-Marri's case is the focus of Jane Mayer's recent New Yorker article, and if Obama had intended to maintain the notion that the President can declare someone an enemy combatant and keep them locked up forever, there would have been no reason to go ahead with actually trying the Qatari man, who has been held for 7 years in a brig in South Carolina. Instead, we're now seeing the beginning of the fulfillment of Obama's pledge to use the American judicial system in the way it was meant to be used.
In other words, the Obama administration, in both of these decisions, is saying that it's time to stop fucking with the Constitution. Whether it's the individual rights of women or the habeas corpus rights of prisoners, the law professor in the President knows that "liberty and justice for all" is an actual pledge.