Sunday Op-Ed: Being Bold

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There’s been a lot of back and forth about President Obama’s style.  I’ve heard some outlandish proclamations that he will not change his style, this is how he’s ALWAYS been, we must adapt to him, he’s not a drama queen, on and on.

I read an article today in the Times-Picayune and the title sort of captures my feelings on this subject:  “Obama keeps close tabs on New Orleans recovery — from a distance.”

It’s not a great article, that’s for sure.  It too often quotes Republicans and “experts” I’m not terribly impressed by.  It touts the fact that Mary Landrieu, she of the “oh I’m not sure I’ll vote for the public option” mentality as saying:

With “federal agencies finally working as partners and not adversaries, ” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, said, “in its first seven months, the Obama Administration has made significant progress toward making the Gulf Coast recovery effort quicker and more efficient.”

I have no reason to disbelieve that the Obama Administsration is trying to work as a partner and not an adversary.  I think, though, that’s setting the bar a wee bit low.  But that could just be me.  Well hell, who cares, this is my Op-Ed so of COURSE it’s just my opinion!  Jaysus.

I shall reiterate something Duke1676 said about an entirely different issue, immigration, in a comment over at the orange:

Has nothing been learned from past policy failures?

You simply cannot enforce your way out of a failed system.

Until this administration starts to tackle the hard realities of this issue and is willing to address the global forces, both economic and social, that drive migration…. nothing will ever change.

And so far what we have seen on this and other issues is that Obama does not so much deliver on the promise [of] meaningful change as much as he attempts to more efficiently and effectively administer the same failed policies of the past. He does not want to build a better mousetrap … he’s just try[ing] to make the old one work better.

Unfortunately, after eight years of the worst government mismanagement in history …Mere competence can pass as change …but it’s not.

The entire “no-drama Obama” argument is, to me, irrelevant.  It’s foolish to assume that those of us who really believe in transformative change are asking Obama to change his character or personality.  What we are demanding is what citizens have been demanding since the founding of this nation, we are demanding redress of our grievances, as is our right and duty.  How President Obama responds to those demands, who he listens to, who influences his decisions, all of those things are important to us as citizens and we have the right and duty to add our voices to that national conversation.

Over at the orange,  Meteor Blades puts it very well:

That’s very interesting. Do you know how many comments I’ve read recently saying that people who think Obama is a progressive champion didn’t listen to what he wrote in his books or what he said in his campaign? That anybody who took his hope and change to be progressive hope and change obviously didn’t pay attention to what he was saying?

I don’t know how many either, but it’s been scores, at least.

These are the unofficial “Obama interpreters” telling us that all that talk about change was really not progressive at all and if we read him the way they do, we’d see their superior perspective.  Silly of me to believe my lying eyes over these unofficial interpreters.  Silly of me to have a pretty clear recall of Obama talking a hell of a lot about real change during his campaign and even making campaign promises to that effect.  But most of all, silly to believe that regardless of what Obama said and wrote, my duty as a citizen is to petititon the government for redress of my grievances – that my duty is not just at the voting booth or writing out checks to campaigns or phone banking and canvassing.  That my rights are equal to those of the President of the United States.

I think President Obama should not keep his “distance” from New Orleans.  I think it is important both to New Orleans and to him as President to go there on the anniversary of Katrina, the first of his Presidency.  I think that would be bold.  Not waving arms, shouting rhetoric, just real action, just being there.  Not keeping a distance.

And I think President Obama should not keep his “distance” from the left wing of the Democratic Party, his base.  Listening to us and engaging with us would be bold … it wouldn’t be waving arms, shouting rhetoric, just real action, just listening and then really engaging with us.  Not keeping a distance.

Boldness is no more hysterical macho posturing than “yelling louder” is.  Boldness is not keeping your distance.  And I for one am sick of the army of strawmen built by those voices who would try to paint it otherwise.


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  1. … and VERY glad to hear from Lady Libertine!  Get well soon, LL.

    • Edger on August 23, 2009 at 16:50

    Has Obama lost the trust of progressives, as Krugman says?

    “In essence, this is the mindset of Rahm Emanuel, and its precepts are as toxic as they are familiar:  The only calculation that matters is maximizing political power.  The only “change” that’s meaningful is converting more Republican seats into Democratic ones.  A legislative “win” is determined by whether Democrats can claim victory, not by whether anything constructive was achieved.  The smart approach is to serve and thus curry favor with the most powerful corporate factions, not change the rules to make them less powerful.  The primary tactic of Democrats should be to be more indispensable to corporate interests so as to deny the GOP that money and instead direct it to Democrats.  The overriding strategy is to scorn progressives while keeping them in their place and then expand the party by making it more conservative and more reliant on Blue Dogs.  Democrats should replicate Republican policies on Terrorism and national security — not abandon them — in order to remove that issue as a political weapon.

    If those Emanuelian premises are the ones that you accept, if you believe that Obama should be guided by base concerns of political power, then you’re likely to be satisfied with the White House’s approach thus far — both in general and on health care specifically.  That would also likely mean that you’re basically satisfied with the behavior of Democrats during the Bush era, and especially since 2006 when they won a majority in Congress, since that is what has driven them for the last decade: all that matters is that we beat the Republicans and we should do anything to achieve that, including serving corporate donors to ensure they fund Us and not Them and turning ourselves into war-making, civil-liberties-abridging, secrecy-loving GOP clones in the national security realm.

    But that isn’t what Obama pledged he would do when he campaigned.  He repeatedly vowed he would do the opposite — that he would reject that thinking and battle aggressively against domination by what he called “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long” —  and he convinced millions of people that he was serious, people who, as a result, became fervent devotees to his cause.  Those are the people who New York Times columnist Frank Rich recently said have been “punked by Obama” because it is precisely that same narrow group which continues to be the prime beneficiaries and masters of Washington behavior during the Obama presidency.

    More than any betrayal on a specific issue, it is Obama’s seeming eagerness to serve the interests of those who have “run Washington for far too long” — not as a result of what he has failed to accomplish, but as a result of what he has affirmatively embraced — that is causing what Krugman today describes as a loss of trust in Obama from those who once trusted him most.  This approach is not only producing heinous outcomes, but is politically self-destructive as well.

    Obama Job Approval

  2. We’ll probably still be in Iraq and Afghanistan, who knows about the economy.  One thing is for sure, I won’t believe a single word any of em say.  Zippo!  

  3. Are you up to the task? Are you willing to risk life and limb to lead us into taking those actions needed to create a viable system of governance? Are you motivated enough to join the ranks of our brothers Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and John F. Kennedy to take bold actions toward a peaceful, just and sustain-able future for humankind? Are you willing to evict the money-changers and militarists from the temple?

    At some level, I think that you’re aware that your definition of “change” in no way resembles the kind of “change” any sensible and knowledgeable person not beholden to vested interests would feel is truly necessary for our own survival.

    What would a world of positive systemic change look like? Generally, it should have the following features in which you will need to take the lead:

    1. Restore the letter and spirit of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This is the most major

    structural change we should do immediately.

    2. Fearlessly initiate a program of truth and reconciliation, overseen by a jury of citizens without vested interests in the current system. Truth-telling cannot any longer be dismissed as conspiracy theory. The greatest conspirators are now holding all the political and economic cards, and their crimes must be exposed, whether it be electoral fraud, excessive private campaign financing, illegal surveillance, torture, illegal war, false flag operations, pollution or the embezzlement of the public treasury. All these things, and many more, will need to come to the light of public scrutiny. The process of reconciliation seeks to return us to the rule of law and to serve justice upon those who have violated it, with fairness and compassion for all.

    3. Dissolve or stop funding those influential institutions with agendas that are blocking change toward global peace, justice and sustainability. Start over. Dismiss the leaders

    of most of our public institutions and build new ones from the ground up. Stop funding those private institutions that dip into the public treasury in ways that are clearly immoral and unproductive. This will require a courageous stand to dissolve the current federal bureaucracy as it is (Dod, CIA, NSA, the current treasury, the FBI, Department of Justice (sic), Department of Energy, etc.). Expose international institutions such as the Illuminati, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, the Federal Reserve and other central banks, big oil, big pharma, big agriculture, weapons manufacturers, and other groups representing existing elite monied interests. The current priorities of the U.S. federal government and of globalist New World Order organizations directly fly in the face of what we must do to survive the crisis of civilization. We need a clean-up like we’ve never seen before and some heads are likely to roll. So be it. The world can only be thankful for getting out from under this oppression.

    4. Start over the entire systems of federal and global governance. Yes, we can still have a Constitutional executive, legislative and judicial system. We can still have a (much

    smaller) military, a justice department, an energy department, a treasury, publicly funded health care, environmental protection, quality education, infrastructure and all the rest. Yes, we can formulate a transition strategy to convert institutions and manpower toward the public interest, free of vested powers. Yes, we can convert our massive military, dirty energy and aeorospace capabilities toward innovation in energy, the environment, food, water, health, education and infrastructure. Yes, we can create an Earth corps to clean up the environment instead of having an aggressive Army, Navy and Air Force. We can do all this without workers having to lose their jobs. Yes, we can come to peace with the rest of the world through diplomacy and compassion. The world awaits a restoration of good will coming from a rogue nation that has outlived its usefulness as a warmongering and fearmongering empire.

    5. Form a global green democracy whose agenda would be almost diametrically opposed to the New World Order agenda. Representatives of all nations must come together to

    formulate and enforce a system that would ensure peace, sustainability and justice for all peoples, while encouraging local rule wherever possible. In no case should special interests, money or secrecy determine the agendas of these governments. At the root of this should be the principles of life, liberty, equality, justice, peace and sustainability.

    6. Fearlessly foster (suppressed) innovation such as free energy. Any systemic change will require our utmost attention to honestly assess those new sciences and technologies

    that can change the world. Only these systemic changes will be able to open the door to authentic transformation of the culture. We must get beyond the rhetoric of weak policies that would only slightly mitigate the effects of global climate change and pollution. We’ll have to think outside the box and get into the meat of the matter. We should quickly develop those energy sources that are truly cheap, clean, safe and decentralized, such as vacuum energy, cold fusion and advanced hydrogen technologies. No existing technologies such as solar, wind or biofuels are up to most of the task; we will need to innovate and transcend the promotions of the multitude of special interests that become vested in this or that existing technology. Following the latest fad can only cloud our judgment and action. No existing public or private institution wants to support these hidden truths and so it will become necessary to dissolve those institutions vested in old ways and start new ones that can support rather than suppress the deeper truths and opportunities of our times. The unsung heroes of innovation will need all the help they can get to team together in an Apollo program for new energy development, frontier science and consciousness. These research and development projects will become the cornerstones of a whole new civilization that could save us from ourselves and from those of us who insist that change can only be incremental or structural.

    Mr. President, you must know we all are entering the gravest crisis the world has ever experienced and that the situation can be addressed only by implementing the kinds of systemic changes listed above. Many of us are willing to support these efforts in teamwork with you. I believe you will have no other choice but to move into these changes briskly. Otherwise, the degree of unrest, fear and repression will be too great to allow us to act without further violence, totalitarian control and ecological and economic collapse. We don’t want that kind of world. We want to have room in which to innovate our way from the very systems that have become so decadent, so destructive, so tyrannical.

    Is this an impossible task? Not if we act radically, decisively and quickly. We can only try. Crisis breeds opportunity. It is time to restore the ideals upon which our nation was founded. We have grievously lost our way from practicing those principles. We are also rapidly losing a natural environment that can nurture us all on this fragile spaceship we call Earth.

    Mr. Obama, I appeal to your intelligence, wisdom and compassion to begin to facilitate the dialogue that will allow us to create those new systems that can foster the kind of future world we really want to enjoy for ourselves, our children and their children. I in no way mean my critique to be personal. I only want to help build a fire under all of us to begin the journey toward an exciting and positive new paradigm. Thank you.

  4. style instead of substance. Politics which are upside down. Like in a basketball game in which the rules have been changed to allow for commercial breaks. The sponsors revenue being more important then the actual outcome.  We let them define the political reality of what’s possible and define what winning is.  We often get so blinded in our fervent attachment to the persona and the hero villain mentality, or team spirit we forget that at this point they all are working for the same entities. We fight over our positions of where we stand in a fictitious and murky landscape they concocted.  

    Armando was/is right no matter where you sit on the right left spectrum drawn by those who broadcast the game, you cannot let the love or hate of the image projected, blind you to the reality that they are all pols and we are the citizens the ones who give them in the end their power. Audacity comes to mind, we need to have it, and not just hope for some pol or party to use it on our behalf.  

    When Obama voted for the odious FISA and the left properly objected, he said if this is a deal breaker then so be it. I so not intend to walk away from the deal. The ‘deal’ is not take it or leave it, it is not his to declare, it is not his alone to decide. Being a citizen means your part of the deal not an outsider petitioning or a fan cheering the win that never comes, the deal that doesn’t include the citizens, the common good or the laws.            

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