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Obama's World

Why are we so addicted to the instant fix?

If the short game gets us only into tomorrow while the long game gets us into next year slowly but more surely, which do we prefer?

Actions for tomorrow must be done today whether or not they can be thought through. Effective long-term actions unfold over weeks, months, even years.

How many of us can recognize and appreciate a long game if it unfolds so slowly?

In fact we did not; it took time and close attention. Even after becoming aware, it took time to soak into our psyches, for those on this site anyway.

How many of us do, or even can, play the long game with care and patience?

Are we so engrossed in the pixels, we fail to read the screen?

It would seem so. Tomorrow is here and too few of us are even aware of the long game Obama has been playing.

How can we change that?
The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release -- May 02, 2011

Press Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on the Killing of Osama bin Laden


Via Conference Call
5 Jan 2011

Dear Mr. President

Since mid 2008, we have had an unease that grew into concern that you do not connect well with your constituents. In contrast, the Tea Party folks do, and this is scary. They connect with how folks feel in their distaste for government. Never mind that they are without a rudder or program, they appeal to many at all levels among people we know.

  • You easily get down to the brass tacks. And you are flexible enough to work with those less able with the brass tacks. Have we seen that side of you?
  • You are most insightful, yet that skill too lies hidden. It could be your strongest suit. You have a great opportunity in your State of the Union message to find words that connect, that resonate with the dissatisfied, that raise hope instead of despair. You just may give all of humanity a badly-needed boost by capturing a deeper insight in a few memorable words.
  • Your predecessor used rhetoric to cover his real intentions, and rhetoric to cover his mistakes. The opposite doesnít work. Being guileless to a fault wonít get it either. You need to connect with sincere empathy. As much as we admire you, we have seen precious little empathy in your speeches or demeanor.
  • Town meetings were one of your strengths in 2008. There is nothing to prevent you from continuing that practice. Listen; provide feedback; and where reasonable and possible, follow through with action. Show you care. Be present at every oneóby video as necessary. Quarterly should be often enough.
  • Inspire with a new path forward and provide just enough detail to show it is plausible and reasonable. Go one better than the Tea Party: Follow through on a give-and-take plan flexible enough to avoid the swamps of unreason.

Political action from the roots is needed; you have the talent and persistence to inspire. And you do an excellent job of reaching heads on your level. But how many hearts do you reach? Isnít it time you returned to your roots and reached out to those of us in the trenches who can help you?

Very Truly Yours

Harry Rosenberg Editor, Roadtopeace.org
Revised 10 Feb. 2010

As in K12, the first year is always toughest; several subjects must be graded, and report cards are due. Unlike K12, there are no standardized scores, nor is there just one pupil. There were only expectations born of hope and exuberance. America faced a herculean task on election day 2008. The list is as long as it is incomplete.
Commentary

Here is real comedy, if you can stomach its real intent, with [comments].

"As Iíve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war.

[Cheney is projecting. What is more: this is mind rape.]
Editorial

How many rants have we read to the effect that Obama's Peace Prize is a travesty?
Too many.

Nuclear terror is certainly the overriding issue in our times.

So what has Obama accomplished?
The common theme is that nothing has been accomplished. The loudest noise comes from the extreme right and the fundamentalists. Let's examine the public record a bit.
Editorial

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.

Astonishing? you bet. Gratifying? Even more so. There is hope in this world. We quote from the news announcement.

      "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

What more can be said?

Let's read it from Obama.

Not that long ago we feared, rightfully as it turned out, that the White House could seriously erode or even threaten our Constitution, and pave the way to a unitary presidency that transcends all other branches of government. Fortunately, Americans saw the danger. How much danger still exists? None during Obama's term or terms. Beyond his era, we worry. We worry too, that he will not address the several structural problems America faces today in the way it is governed. A four year administration that accomplishes some of the below will be better than an eight year administration that accomplishes none.
As we well know by now, the Obama administration has outlawed those procedures most of us consider to be torture. Other rulings included a target date for closing Guantanamo and exempting low-level CIA personnel from punishment. We approve these steps. We also prefer that our president look forward for the future is now.

However, letting criminal behavior go unrestrained provides ammunition to critics both at home and foreign who can claim Obama is copying Bush and is himself a polarizing president. That is not true of course, but it is the appearance that counts. We strongly suggest action be taken to punish criminal behavior, provided that the solution is bi-partisan, the Constitution is amended to prevent criminal behavior on high and at the same time that we as a people look inward for the deeply seated roots of this problem that most of us may not even realize.
A score of years is a long time--a generation in our natural history as a species. In that time, the Chinese Communist Party has recovered from the brink of disaster brought on by its use of tanks to put down unrest that resulted in 241 dead, including soldiers, and 7,000 wounded, according to the official count. Accurate or not, the point is the party recognized the crisis for what it was--legitimate protest with wide support.

For perhaps the only time in history, an absolutist regime looked for and found the real reasons for the protests and, more importantly and critically, did something about it.
There are moments in history that become turning points. The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States may be such a moment. Time will tell. But we can be hopeful that recent mutual divisiveness becomes one of outreach and dialogue. Among the hopeful signs is Obama's speech in Cairo on 4 June 2009. Not only was it well received by most governments in the world of Islam, it was well received by Islamic moderates as well. A second harbinger of a turning point was the vocal responses by bin Laden and other radical groups--the Egyptian Brotherhood prominently. A single banner of "protest" was the only mar on the day. No shoes flew. There was warm applause on occasion. In the interest of accuracy we bring you Obama's own words as published by THE HUFFINGTON POST.

For upadates and commentary see also: Google and Yahoo.

See James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, for an accurate, succinct recap.

See Commentary for some of our thoughts.

This thorny issue has its roots in our genes for psychopathology. Criminal psychopaths torture their victim. Criminal commanders order their troops to torture captives and even civilians. Torture is justified on the grounds that it gets results. On occasion that may be true. But it is a rare event. Torture is basically identical to the Witch Hunting of earlier centuries, where the act of torture was an end in itself. Torture was discarded in WWII because it did not work. People soften up through friendship, kind treatment and regard, not by painful torture. People softened up will talk more freely and honestly than they will when wracked with pain in fear of their lives. Two quotes from WWI veterans assigned to interrogate German prisoners of war.

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong
than they do today, with their torture,"
Henry Kolm, 90, MIT physicist assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.
Editorial

A campaign promise is a promise made to get elected. Few are really kept; some should not be. Others cannot be--even when honored. Iraq may be a latter case in point. A US troop draw down has begun slowly. Whether it ends on time or not, it is not likely to leave a government that can survive for long as a democracy.
Editorial

A Wall Street Journal OPINION article began:

MARCH 4, 2009, 11:18 P.M. ET
By ROBERT BRYCE

"Let's Get Real About Renewable Energy.

We can double the output of solar and wind, and double it again. We'll still depend on hydrocarbons."

Mr. Bryce is quite correct--as far as he goes. He may even be correct that Obama over-reached in predicting a doubling of renewable energy sources in two years. Whether Obama is right or wrong, is not the issue. What is in store for us, is. If we do not get serious about renewable energy, if we do not shed our myopic view of the future soon, our descendants will have a lot of mean things to say about us.

If that doesn't fly in our thinking, maybe the real immediate danger will. We are in the Middle East for one big reason: America does not have enough energy sources to sustain itself. So we get it from elsewhere. That may be all well and good, except energy trade is grossly out of national balance. America and Europe have built modern economic empires to replace the obsolete political ones. Each serves the same fundamental purpose, economics. They differ only in style. Either way, the riches accruing to empires fester in the forms of humiliation and alienation of those exploited. These are the seeds that germinate terrorism, war and genocide.
Editorial

Thanks to a totally inept administration, opportunities abound! Excerpt from Fareed Zakariah; Newsweek 8 Dec 2008

 "President-elect Obama has powers of his own... I will not exaggerate the the importance of a single personality, but Obama has become a global symbol like none I can recall in my lifetime. Were he to go to Iran, for example, he would probably draw a crowd of millions, far larger than any mullah could dream of. Were his administration to demonstrate in its day-to-day conduct a genuine understanding of other countries' perspectives and an empathy for the aspirations of people around the world, it could change America's reputation in lasting ways."
Dear Mr. President Elect

This note is to provide a perspective on peace from the trenches. Our view leans heavily on natural and human history--backed up by science--but only lightly on dogma. Dogma is good in many ways, but on the question of peace, dogma has had a net negative effect, at least historically.
Updated 08 Nov 2008

What will be Obama's biggest temptation when he sits in a chair that has corralled more power than any president in history?
To gather still more power!
But that won't happen if his campaign oratory is to be believed.
We expect he'll roll back the unitary presidency.
The statesman with insight endorsed Barack Obama. Powell said many insightful things. We bring a transcription of his interview on Meet the Press as we heard it. To not bring you the entire text would be a disservice to Colin Powell, his presidential choice Barack Obama, and his patriotic friend John McCain. All three of these great men are well qualified to be president. However, the real question is, who is best prepared to lead in these critical times? Barack Obama has the insight and detailed knowledge needed for wisdom. Obama is inclusive, knows the value of dialogue in diplomacy. He understands hardship and what it is like to be Mr. and Mrs citizen. He has already revolutionized our political system. That is leadership! John McCain is a warrior like George Bush. And he has ties with the Neocons, whose ideas led us into this mess. We endorse senator Barack Obama for president.
In critical times we need to be cool. Equally important we need insight, concise and to the point. Andrew J. Bacevich of the Boston Globe provides just this. We excerpt:

What Bush hath wrought

      By almost any measure, [The Bush administration] constitutes a record of substantial, if almost entirely malignant, achievement
Editorial
07 Sept 2008

Neocon George Bush, the great divider has done it up brown. A unipolar, but relatively safe, world is disintegrating into a multipolar world that feels less safe all around. That is not all bad for sure. But once upon a time, the world knew and trusted Uncle Sam more than any other nation on earth. Those days are gone, perhaps forever. World leadership is now up for grabs. And some grab it is. Mostly that came about because of Iraq--a shameless, needless, petulant, and totally unnecessary grab for hegemony over a reluctant Middle East.
From People Who Know Her

Editorial

This page came into existence for a very important and fundamental reason: In politics no holds are barred. Anyone can say anything they want to, true or not. Some people of all political stripes will say anything to demonize a perceived political opponent. And what may be worse, some people pick up on such statements, believe them and repeat them as gospel. It is most immoral, regardless of our political affiliation, to use misstatements to destroy the political career of another human being. Yet the propaganda mill does just that. Just now, the Republican mill is in high gear. In a sense that is great news--they are running scared that a revolution in American politics may be in the making.
Editorial

Closer than a black person has ever been to the top job on earth, Barack Obama is already looking beyond the convention, planning, and firming up policy. And well that he might. If his primary campaign means anything at all, it means he is a consummate organizer, communicator, fast on his feet in unfamiliar situations, and quick with a comeback. Beyond that, he is able to weather blows that would unsettle a lessor person. Given all that, he has some deficits in experience. How he handles them will define his probable presidency--for better or worse. He needs a team of experts, each capable of leading in his own area of expertise. Will he find them? Some comments follow:
Editorial

Just what does the politics of fear have going for it? Well, for one thing, it worked well in 2002 and 2004, so it will work forever. Or so the propaganda went.

In 2006, a funny thing happened, the Republicans lost both the house and the Senate. And since then, too, Democrats have won seats to the House from red states. So much for the Neocon agenda--they overplayed their hand. America is now seeing reformation in politics.
21 March 2008

Editorial

Barack Obama makes no bones about ending US involvement in Iraq. For the most part he fits our thinking to to a "Tee"--almost! When he gives a timetable, he makes us pause. Consider his most recent pronouncements; we quote:
Editorial

We have been hearing and will continue hearing about this one. Just what is it that "qualifies" a president? Millions of words have been written with no clear and concise agreement. American presidential histories have been so varied one can make almost any case for any set of desirable set of traits. Bias is built in from the commentator's own set of traits.
Editorial

Two barriers to high office in America have lost traction, thanks to these people. It used to be that being a woman or a black foreclosed the possibility. Now it seems America has begun discarding racism and sexism and, we hope, prejudice and bigotry. The coming weeks may be the most exciting in history as Americans weigh their future in the voting booths.
Editorial

Of all the procedures at our disposal, executing this one is the starting point.

Of all the traits needed to effect reconciliation, honesty and openness with and about one's self comes first. Honesty with all others involved is equally important, but cannot happen without personal honesty. How can we be totally honest with others if we are kidding ourselves?
Editorial

2008 Election

The next president will doubtless encounter problems as yet unforeseen. As if that were not enough, the traditions of violence, rivalries, witch hunts and empire as historic solutions will surely cloud his vision. At least clouded vision will be so for the mainstream candidates already running for president.