Tag Archives: president

Politics 2012

8 Jul

There is a presidential election coming up.  Again.  If you’re one of the millions of loyal readers that I’m sure The Juno Blog has, you know that I used to post articles about politics.  I even endorsed our current President.

I haven’t been writing about politics in recent years though, and the reason is simple: I’ve lost interest.

This is, perhaps, Obama’s biggest failing.

Now I do not believe that he has been a bad President, and in fact I think he may be a really good President.  But I admit to getting a bit caught up in his rhetoric.  He wasn’t supposed to just be a good President.  He was supposed to transcend politics.  He was supposed to change the system.

He hasn’t, and honestly this is not a surprise, nor is it his fault (though the expectations that arrived with him to the White House are).  The system is designed in such a way that it cannot be quickly changed, nor can it be changed by one individual, even if he or she is President.

And I’m just not really interested anymore.  I’m interested in human beings.  I’m interested in the future of the world.  I’m interested in the evolution of humanity.  I’m interested in community.

I want a world where what each does counts for all.

This makes all things possible.

What each does counts for all, means everything can be done.

This means every individual does the work they love.

This means no one goes without.

This is the kind of thing that I want a politician to say.  I want them to be able to say this because I want the system to be working for this.  Then I would be interested.

What, drawn, and talk of peace!?

15 Oct

Recently the President of the United States of America won the Nobel Peace Prize. You probably heard.

I read and saw many responses (Garrison Keilor’s, for example) talking of “the republicans” or “conservatives” as if they are a unified group that exists for the sole purpose of hating the current president. They are not. They are individual people. I read and saw many responses referring to what “some people” think and say without naming or identifying these people in any way. Most of the things I saw and read ended with a viewpoint, a takeaway, so that I would know what to think and feel about the President’s award. We are all individuals.

Let’s talk to each other and not about each other.

The purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize, as written by Alfred Nobel in his will, is to honor “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

The winner of the prize, if there is to be one (the prize statutes say that if there is no suitable living candidate, the prize is not awarded that year), is determined by (again, per Nobel’s will) “a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting.”

So all emotional responses aside, what happened was this: Five people (chairman Thorbjorn Jagland, Kaci Kullmann Five, Sissel Marie Rønbeck, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, and Ågot Valle) in Norway decided that, out of 205 nominees, nobody had done more to be a “champion of peace” this past year than Barack Obama.

In response, Republican chairman Michael Steele said that “It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain – President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”

It’s a response I don’t understand. What is the value of such a response? What is the purpose of it?

It seems to say that Michael Steele doesn’t feel the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the right person. He feels it was undeserved, but neglects to suggest who did deserve it. He also feels that Americans agree with him, although I’m an American and I do not (Nor, it seems, does John McCain, who says that “Americans are always pleased” when their President is awarded. I guess he knows different Americans than his party’s chairperson?).

Michael Steele, you’re a human being, so I can talk to you directly. I can ask you, because I do not understand, what is the purpose of responding in this way? What is the value? Is anything positive accomplished? The purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize is to honor people who champion peace. The purpose of this response seems to be the opposite.

Look, I’m not saying it’s unfair to feel like, perhaps, someone who had accomplished more (if there were such a person) would be more deserving. That’s true, and it’s a sentiment that Obama himself agrees with. “Let me be clear,” he said, “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.” He went on to say that he felt he didn’t deserve it, but that he accepted it as a call to action.

The purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize is to honor champions of peace. It’s a good purpose. It’s a purpose fulfilled by the 2009 award. Feeling proud as an American, feeling hope that we are moving humanity towards a more non-violent world, helps to fulfill that purpose. Anything that can be done to further that purpose is good for humanity. Why do anything less?

The President leaves me wondering

22 Jul

Obama says the only way to make sure everyone is covered by healthcare is a single-payer system.

So why aren’t we implementing one?

[to be clear, I don’t really understand what a “single-payer system” is and am only slightly grokking the concept of a “public option”]

Right now I have no insurance, which most of the time saves me a lot of money that I also don’t have. Sometimes (when I actually need healthcare) it costs me a tremendous amount. It sounds like if this health care reform goes through it will mean that I’ll have to pay for my own health insurance just like I now have to pay for my own car insurance. It will be as “affordable” as car insurance, but that doesn’t actually help me until I have an income…

The three smartest things Obama said in tonight’s conference were:

1. He and everyone in congress has excellent health care now, so this isn’t about him (or them…)

2. The only way to get things done in Washington is to set deadlines because the status quo has inertia too powerful to overcome otherwise.

3. No matter what change happens, there will be at least one group somewhere that is unhappy about it, finding that they were more benefitted by the previous status quo.

Things I wish he had said (he’s just not as strong in his convictions as I’d prefer. Or his convictions are different than mine…):

1. Health care is a right, not a privilege.

2. As a country that is founded upon equality and opportunity for all, America ought to be judged by how it treats the least of its citizens, not its elite.

3. It’s about humanity. It’s not about this party or that group gaining some kind of artificial political ground. It’s not about money. It’s about humanity. It’s about every single individual getting the healthcare that is their right.

CHANGE

23 Jan

One thing that changed on Tuesday, in addition to the President, was the official website for the White House.

It now has a blog.

At one point during the television’s coverage of Tuesday’s proceedings a broadcaster made some comment about how, to people of my generation, Obama’s election is historic not because he is an African-American, but for other reasons. This is true.

For me this is very true: I couldn’t care less about the color of his skin, where his father was born, where his mother grew up, what geographical region his ancestors lived in, etc. It’s simply not important.

For people of older generations, who lived through segregation, this may not be as true. For people like my grandmother, who resonated very strongly with Obama’s comment that his father wouldn’t be able to eat in a restaurant in DC a mere 60 years ago, that’s probably not as true.

But for me race is a false classifier. It is an outmoded, divisive, and dangerous human category that has been scientifically proven to not exist.
Obama marked “this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.” I’m ready to mark this day with the vision of change which brings us into a new future. With a vision of who we will become and how far we will go. Where Obama remembers America’s tasting (and overcoming) of “the bitter swill of civil war and segregation” I’m ready to mark this day as the beginning of a new world where the old “bitter swill” of concepts like race and its underlying foundation, that view which is predicated on an us and a them as separate conflicting entities, is washed clean away, replaced with a new complete picture of our planet as host to a magnitude of gloriously complex and different individuals.

There will be no them. There will be no us.
There will only be individuality forming humanity in massive throng.

CHANGE???

22 Jan

For all the hope and inspiration caused by Obama’s election it perhaps feel a bit funny to include this criticism of him, but dissent is patriotic, and he has encouraged it.

“To those who cling to power through … the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history.”

Ask not what your country can do for you…

Paul Krugman has an interesting post on his blog about the historical nature of Obama’s call for a “new era of responsibility.”

The Daily Show on Jan 20th had a brilliant montage of segments from Obama’s speech, and speeches from former President Bush. They were largely the same.

Obama is if nothing else a brilliant politician. While he campaigned on change, his speech demonstrates his talent for saying something that pleases everyone. The oldest political trick in the book is to simply say what those who are listening want to hear. When everyone is listening, you say everything. Obama did that.
The part of Obama’s speech which gave me the most pause is this section:

“We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense.  And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken — you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

This is fire with fire. This is us vs. them. This is not change. This is not hope over fear. This is more of the same.

Part 3 tomorrow.

HOPE

21 Jan

Hope, Not Change, and Change
A three part response to Obama’s inauguration speech
In late December I wrote down the following:
“Now that we have an intelligent President, can we stop believing that the very foundational concept behind a “war on terror” is anything but a fallacy? Terrorism is an ideology. “The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims” says the OED. I wonder how it defines war then?*
Terror is a feeling. An emotion. What effect will a bullet or a bomb have on terror but to increase it?
Fighting fire with fire results in a bigger fire. Fighting terror with war results in more terror. Can we perhaps fight fire with water?”

I ask and Obama answers, “we have chosen hope over fear.”

I managed to catch the end of Obama’s inauguration speech during my lunch break and was powerfully struck by how smart the man is. Perhaps it’s easy to appear smart in that venue in comparison to what had recently been there, but even so. My overwhelming initial response was a wave of gratitude for intelligence in power. Speaking of power (intelligently):

“our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.”

Watching the whole speech later on I was struck by the thing that’s always impressed me most about Obama in the first place: for whatever reason(s) the man can inspire the masses. Two million people were there to watch this man take a 40 second oath and give a 20 minute speech. Two million people. Two million people heard him say in person that

“The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.  The success of our economy has always depended … on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”

Two million people stood in the cold and heard him say

“we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”

Countless millions more heard and saw the speech on television, the internet, the radio, etc. Who knows how many billions of people heard him say that “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” All these people heard him present a nuanced and complex view of the state of the world, and America in particular. Even my mother, the devoutly pacifist hippie sex therapist, after hearing him say

“Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life.  They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction”

was ready to enlist. Seriously. My mother told me that if Obama asked her to, depsite being physically unable to carry a gun, she would enlist and do what she could. If you know my mother at all, that may blow your mind a bit, as it did mine. She heard him give a message laced with a spiritual undercurrent of a changing world and a new inspired generation of Americans. She saw hope. So did I.

I see hope that humanity will move beyond tribes, beyond political affiliations, beyond countries, and beyond all but our humanity. I see hope that we will move toward a common good, a common humane state of being.
I hope for this “new era of peace” to be of a peace that is more than the mere absence of violence but the presence of the humane art of living.

Part 2 of 3 tomorrow.

* a state of armed conflict.

I’ll get better

11 Oct

While painting fences today I was listening to a news report about the story that a report found Sarah Palin had abused her power (Alyssa brought it to my attention on facebook earlier). The reporters/talking heads essentially came to the conclusion that the report is a mere distraction. People who support Sarah Palin will just write it off because it says she didn’t do anything illigal for her position and people who don’t support her will just add this to the list of reasons why.

This lead me to have the thought that when I have supporters (or non-supporters) I want them to be smarter than that. If I come out and start spouting about how so-and-so is a dangerous irrational monster, or that I have extensive foreign policy credentails due to my experience living on both coasts of this country, I want my supporters to call bullshit. I want them to know better.

Yet I also want them to trust me. I want them to hear what I say and believe it. Take what I say at face value. So I guess what I’m saying is that it’s my responsibility to be honest, and to thus be honest about what I might not be sure about. Trust, for the sake of humanity, is what it’s all about.

Oh, also, since several you seem to be very worried that McCain might win this election I feel the need to reitorate here that Barack Obama is the next president. He’s been the next president since before he was the Democratic nominee. This is all just formality.

Trust me.

And with that, Junorhane comes back to the LJ Town in the Blogosphere County of the Internets. There is much rejoicing.