With hundreds of parks attendants moving through the city spiking up litter, and the rest of the population staggering through the streets with crushing hangovers — half-hoping that someone would spear them in the brain with one of those things and end it all — the Obama administration hit the ground running, with a series of meetings arranged between the new President and military brass regarding the two wars that Dubya didn’t take to Texas with him, some preliminary stuff on the economy, a series of phone calls to international leaders, the issuing of a range of new regulations, and the cancelling of some old Bush ones.

One of the first moves had been announced last night, as the Obamas went from ball to ball, the new President giving the same line each time: “I came with the one who brung me,” (old Chicago expression apparently), and “she does everything I do backwards and in high-heels” (the old line about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire*) which the crowds loved but on TV seemed demented, especially as Chris Matthews was commentating and was well off the meds.

In the midst of all that malarkey, news was quietly leaked that the new President had instructed prosecutors to request that the judiciary suspend all military commission trials of Guantanamo inmates in preparation for a new policy. “And so,” noted Kathryn Jean Lopez, the alarming den mother of National Review‘s ‘Corner‘ blog, “it has begun.”

Indeed it hath, indeed it hath. Thufferin thucotash. In the afternoon, Obama announced new policies on lobbyists, banning former lobbyists from working in their own field if they entered the administration (which remember, has around 4,000 senior posts to fill) and banning those who leave from lobbying the government for two years.

The President had earlier made a bunch of calls to the leaders of Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian authority. The Times reported that the first call was to Mohammed Abbas — which is, as they say, interesting if true. He froze the pay of White House staff earning $100,000+, as a measure of solidarity with the country, which is a great way to get your coffee pissed in on day one I suspect.

Tomorrow, the thirty-sixth anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, President Obama will reverse Bush’s hardline ban on funds for NGOs that provide abortion information or services outside of the US — a policy that’s been around in one form or another since Reagan and the abolition of which will save thousands of women’s lives and make it possible for NGOs to do their job. The old rules were known as the “Mexico City” policy after the 1984 development conference at which they were announced; the new ones are known as the “John James suffer in your jocks” provisions.

Other late-period Bush regulations will be more difficult to uproot — especially a related provision which allows any medical professional to refuse to administer a service on ethical grounds — abortion being the biggie obviously. However, the law (which exists in certain states) also makes it possible for pharmacists to refuse to provide anti-retrovirals — no laughing matter in high HIV areas like rural New Mexico and West Texas (big drug areas) where shopping around is not a huge option. Just another piece of the everyday barbarity we’re leaving behind.

There’ll be other stuff we haven’t heard about yet, but the day was capped off by Obama, being ultra-cautious, re-taking the oath of office in the Map Room just in case some smart-arse makes enough out of the botched job first time round to turf Obama out on a technicality, at which point the country would dissolve into civil war.

Progress on getting the economic plan going was somewhat impeded by the continued grilling of Treasury secretary Tim Geithner’s failure to fill out his tax form properly — THE BIG DUMMIE. But in a nice vinegar stroke, Caroline Kennedy withdrew from the NY Senate race, thus removing the possibility that the new administration, changing the country would be greeted with the most otiose of dynastic successions.

Man I can’t wait to see what this does on the open road — or even better how FOX News will report it. Pull up the Jason and pop the corn, this’ll make The West Wing look like like like a TV show.

*And not really true incidentally — if you look at the movies most of Fred’s really original stuff is done as a solo break within the dance numbers. Sorry, bloodnut.

Peter Fray

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