The World Is Messy And There Are Ambiguities

I’ve been wanting to say something like this here at AVC for several years and have held back for a host of reasons, mostly because it’s a sensitive topic and it would be misunderstood.

But after watching Obama say this, I had to repost it. I could not agree more.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    I liked this part:“Governing is not about saying: ‘You don’t agree with me, then you can’t be part of the conversation.'”- But the assumption is that whoever disagrees with you is able and willing to have a decent conversation about those differences.If you extend openness, it must be met with openness.

    1. Frederic Mari

      And what happens after? When instead of being met with openness, you’re met with conspiracy theories and naked power grabs and physical assault?

      1. William Mougayar

        Exactly, then you have the right to change tactics. But at least, you know you have tried.

        1. Frederic Mari

          William – Fine. But, frankly, I think we have had the “let’s be open” stuff already multiple times. We’re well past the point where we/elected D can delude ourselves/themselves into thinking elected Rs are going to be willing to cooperate.Conservative people are different from elected R officials. Plenty of conservative people are reasoned, or individually nice and pleasant and simple politeness implies treating them as we would want to be treated. But elected Rs have proven beyond a doubt they’re into a “take no prisoners” strategy. It’s hard to compromise with that…

          1. William Mougayar

            I hear you, but being a non-US citizen I can’t influence much what happens in the US.

      2. antonin the best kk

        are we sure this is really obama talk?I’ve seen some fake movies…so real!

    2. awaldstein

      In this our optimism aligns.

  2. awaldstein

    I bookmarked this the other day to remind myself that posting is not work. Making noise is not marketing. And as Obama says very clearly, it is certainly not activism with a purpose.I am curious (and hopeful) to see if in the spirit of nuanced conversations, the Obama haters continue to rant or embrace the idea of something different with a more open approach.

    1. DJL

      Same with all the Trump-haters. Right?

      1. awaldstein

        I expressed curiosity whether an important and youth targeted, non biased, non partisan message could be accepted by vociferous Obama haters within the community. Nothing hypothetical.What is your question specifically, non hypothetically and I will answer it honestly.

        1. Richard

          Here are four, Non-Partisan acts by Trump -Young Black Leadership Conference – held at the White House each of the past 3 years.Stewardship of the NIH – Francis Collins was selected by Obama and Continues to run it today.Open access to experimental therapies for those with terminal diseases.Canadian Mexican Trade Agreement

          1. awaldstein

            I didn’t know the experimental therapy one, thanks and looking it up.

          2. Richard

            And there is more:New Action Plan to Lay Foundation for Safe Importation of Certain Prescription DrugsAccess for veterans to healthcare specialists outside of the VA when the VA doesn’t meet certain wait criteria.

          3. DJL

            Have any of these had positive or even neutral coverage by the media? NO.

          4. JLM

            .First Step ActJLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. DJL

          So what I thought you were saying is this: Separate the message from the messenger. If someone you don’t personally like has a good message – don’t dismiss or attack the idea.So my question: Would you give Trump the same break?

          1. awaldstein

            You can never separate the message from the messenger no more than you can separate the process from the end, nor the words from the idea.I was saying can a good, non partisan idea come from someone you dislike in their own worlds be a vehicle for bringing people together.Yes.If you have such a thing please provide the link.Something good, for the common good, put out to be consumed by all from all sides.

        3. Richard

          Trumps proclamation of July 26, 2019, as a day in celebration of the 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities.

    2. Peter J. Mills

      Posting isn’t work, but building a following is. Social media’s filters will improve, to the extent that the reputation markers or brands will be in place and we won’t be forced to assess everything ourselves.Remember the first portable video cameras? Everybody became a film-maker. Recall desktop publishing? Anyone could produce a book. Right now, we’re all journalists, but thankfully that won’t last.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks!Agree on the thought in your first para.Not in the second.Self publishing will become more powerful and more widespread and more critical IMO.Already happening with Zoom.

        1. Peter J. Mills

          (Sorry, I went back to bed.) Technology is an enabler, and overturns the established hierarchies.But I think the distinction between amateurs and professionals always asserts itself in the end, simply because the marketplace needs that distinction in order to make judgements about its suppliers.

  3. WA

    The call out culture has become pervasive, and is far from creating the healthy discourse on issues we don’t agree on. It stifles the synthesis of ideas and knowledge achieved in the context of “agreeing to disagree”. It seems to fixate on the Me in Social MEdia. Perhaps editors and publishers were more needed gatekeepers than originally realized.

  4. Vinish Garg

    It is like talking about the annoying plastic pollution or climate crises in the world. Even when we see the mess around, and that the mess is multiplying, there are organizations and communities who are working to address it and restore it as much as possible.Likewise, for any other mess, including social media or being judgmental about people and subjects around us. The startups and product teams worldwide can arrest the slide by investing in designing solutions that question this mess, validate the solutions, and that at least promise a sustainable life in sustainable cities.

  5. Emily Steed

    Thanks for sharing this. Well said.

  6. Vendita Auto

    Digital generation receptors can quantify data from a young age and needs to:

  7. David A. Frankel

    Great example of understanding how to use your megaphone as a leader wisely and to affect positive change.To a whole generation (particularly the one mainly participating in this behavior), this is the only president they really knew growing up. His message about understanding the difference between hashtag activism and real activism was both powerful and authentic.I hope he and Michelle continue to publicly beat this drum — it is one of the ways we can start to bring people back together instead of being divided.

  8. Mark Gavagan

    At 1 minute and 30 seconds he uses the filler word “Ahm”; )

  9. Tom Labus

    Taking pot shots from a distance is like being a sniper!!

  10. jason wright

    Obama says it and he’s right. You say it and you’re wrong? That’s fucked up.

    1. Vendita Auto

      Reminded of George Orwell: To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.

  11. DJL

    I rarely agree with what Obama says, but this is right on the money. I don’t really think he ran his political campaign in that spirit, but if he is out teaching young people a different way, I applaud him. He’s always been a dynamic and entertaining speaker.This running around, throwing rocks, swearing, beating people, Antifa-style protest has got to go. Time to re-civilize our youth.

    1. Rob Underwood

      You bring up Antifa, whose ideology is on the political left.I think it’s important to note that it’s not just the left (and not just the youth) who need to be “re-civilize(d)”.From my vantage it appears that much of the animating energy amongst the American right and the GOP — perhaps in response to the post-modernism “there are no individuals as everyone is nothing more and nothing less than the intersection of their race, creed, gender identify, and sexual orientation” view that appears to be the philosophical basis for much of the current wave of “wokeness” — is nothing more than “burn it all down” nihilism in service of “owning the ‘libtards'”.For example, in what way does the shirt below worn by these folks contribute to a productive, constructive national dialogues amongst fellow citizens?

      1. DJL

        So here is my best response:1. Conservatives will observe that the number of truly violent incidents taken by leftists is 100x compared to conservatives. f (for example)2. You have Democrat Congresspeople (Maxine Waters, etc.) actively promoting physical violence and “get in their face” rhetoric. Republicans do not do this.3. You had professional venture capital firms (some referenced here) who wrote “F*CK TRUMP” on their web sites. No such thing was done when Obama was elected.4. You have a group of Lefist women marching on Washington and praising violence and saying “I have thought about blowing up the whitehouse”5. There is not a conservative version of Atifa – ANY where. And do not say skinheads because they do not represent conservative America and are routinely condemned on both sides.)Serious – These are T-shirts – which fall under Free Speech. Antifa is running around trying to maim people.Is that enough??

        1. Rob Underwood

          Which side drove through a street full of protesters in Charlottesville, killing one, after the night before marching with Tiki torches chanting “Jew will not replace us”? Team Woke or Team MAGA?

          1. DJL

            C’mon, Rob! You have to do better than that. I already addressed this in Point 5 before you even brought it up.Trying rebutting any of the other items with a factual example.And by the way, the Democrats are now proudly holding the “we hate Jews” torch.

          2. Rob Underwood

            We’re probably quickly slipping into the your side/my side Team MAGA/Team Woke duality our host, and maybe perhaps our former President, is hoping we’ll try and do less of, but I feel compelled to reply.My read of your comments above is that your implying that Antifa and the American left are one and the same, while, contrast, further declaring that 1) “skinheads … do not represent conservative America” and that 2) Charlottesville protesters are included in your definition of “skinheads” (“I already addressed this in Point 5 before you even brought it up”), as part of framing your declaration that “There is not a conservative version of Atifa – ANY where”, to which I’d add, along with the Charlottesville tiki torch marchers, the Proud Boys, as a 2nd “factual example” to refute that clam (“that there is not a conservative version”).

          3. Richard

            Someone tells me the that your life’s work is not centered around standing up for sound as delusional – seriously! – as Hillary Clinton’s recent Russian outburst.There is ample criticism about trump that one can levy – being Antisemitic and a supportive of this little gang of Charlottesville thugs isn’t one of them.

          4. Rob Underwood

            Trump literally said there were “very fine people on both sides”, one of those sides being the “little gang of Charlottesville thugs”. He literally called them “fine people.” Those were his words.I’ll reply to @InformationShield:disqus in a separate reply but it seems disingenuous to imply that the American left and antifa are essentially one and the same but then also imply there is no connection or overlap between the American right and the Charlottesville protesters, the Proud Boys, etc.Side note: While it’s neither a requirement of Disqus nor this blog, in my view it’s a lot healthier for discussions, especially ones like this, when comments come associated with the posters picture and full name rather than have an asymmetry where you know who I am but I can’t know who you were. That asymmetry is a huge problem with the discourse, inasmuch as there is any, on places on Twitter (the asymmetry of the paused and flawed “blue check” program being another issue preventing more productive discourse on Twitter). Personally one of the things I value about the AVC community is most people have the courage to associate their real life identity with their comments.

          5. Richard

            trump speech often has the accuracy of a little league pitcher rather than Justin Verlander. He explained his statement and said the “both sides” were the sides of statute removal.I never equated the left to Antifa – it’s just another gang of white kids.As for Courage – Its a precious asset , I don’t have much to spare and certainly won’t spend it on this platform.That said – your comments are a little looney. Listen to Obama.

          6. Rob Underwood

            Another thing that’s great about the AVC community is that, generally, we avoid ad hominem attacks here. @InformationShield:disqus and I may disagree but we can and will do so respectfully.It’s too bad you need to resort to ad hominem attacks to make your points, which you’ve now done twice.

          7. Richard

            Point them out and I’ll correct them

  12. Emil Sotirov

    Intelligence (the world is messy and ambiguous) is not mutually exclusive with Dr. King’s “moral imagination”. Dr. King and Gandhi are the ultimate model for “activism” with all the passion you can imagine… but still not dehumanizing – even its enemies. A good discussion here:

  13. Sebastian Wain

    I strongly recommend the rare documentary The Gatekeepers where some former Shin Bet directors talk about the importance of not cutting the communication with your enemies, even more we need better ways to deal with disagreements in a peaceful society.

    1. JLM

      .Most people on this blog will have no idea who Shin Bet/Shabak is so they will have no sense of your zaniness in suggesting that Shabak “communicates” with Israel’s enemies.Moreso, they infiltrate their enemies. Capture them. Torture them. Execute them. Did I mention torture them?Shin Bet has made some of the most horrific judgments in the history of “counter terrorism” including failing to protect the safety of Yitzhak Rabin, resulting in his assassination. In fairness, this was a huge failure of the SB/S Protective Division.In the infamous Kav 300 incident they killed two Arab terrorists, captured two — who they tortured, killed, and then tried to frame an IDF (Army) officer they didn’t like. [Do not get me wrong. I think Israel was fine in killing the kidnappers of the school bus. No problem with that.]So, the Shih Bet/Shabak as an example of how to communicate with one’s enemies? Thank you, no.But, I must say that was an original view. Top shelf.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Sebastian Wain

        If you watch this documentary I would appreciate an addendum to your comment.

        1. JLM

          .Here are some Shin Bet/Shabak facts to consider:1. In the Kav 300 affair, Shin Bet captured and murdered two Arab terrorists thereby resulting in the removal of Avraham Shalom from office.2. In addition, the 1987 Landau Commission found evidence of ShinBet/Shabak guilty of routine torture.3. In 1995, the Miriam Ben-Porat Report found Shin Bet guilty of torture in the Kav 300 Affair as well as the First Intifada (1988) and he 2nd Intifada (1992).4. In 1995, Shin Bet blew it and alllowed Yitzbak Rabin to be assassinated.5. Carmi Gillon was subsequently removed as Director of Shin Bet.6, Even though the 1987 Landau Commission found the Shin Bet guilty of torture, and new guidelines were issued, Shin Bet ignored the proposed and agreed to changes. Ignored them.7. In 2008, 8 Shin Bet agents beat Mohammed Omer, a doctor for his temerity to come to Israel to treat Palestinians.8. Shabak has continued its controversial role in targeting IDF drone and helicopter attacks against HVTs.Don’t get me wrong, Israel is in a very tough neighborhood and as the most import counterintel org in Israel, dealing with Hamas, et al, they have a very difficult job to do.What I take issue with is your characterization as being folks to whom America should look to as exemplars for how we might want to communicate with our enemies.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Sebastian Wain

            I was not talking specifically about USA but to the general topic of communicating with your enemies, which is something much older in the human civilization.

          2. JLM

            .You’re just making it worse.Shin Bet communicates with its enemies by rocketing them with drone rockets.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  14. JLM

    .Pres Obama has always talked a good game — no, a great game. I never missed one of his speeches in the early years.His ability to speak, to give a speech, his timing was excellent. High entertainment.He never governed like he spoke. His actions never matched his rhetoric.The first time he met with the Republican leaders (the Dems controlled both the House and Senate when Pres Obama was inaugurated), he reminded them that HE had won the election and that HE was now calling the shots.Sen McConnell famously responded it was his job to make Pres Obama a “one term President.” McConnell was completely unsuccessful.I have often wondered what might have happened if Pres Obama had simply sat down with McConnell and said, “Mitch, I have the votes. Let’s identify the 10 pieces of legislation we can agree on. Let’s pass those and wait on the other stuff.”When given the chance to pass unprecedented legislation — Obamacare — Pres Obama didn’t draw even his own party into the conversation. He jammed through a lobbyist written bill that nobody had a chance to read. Nancy Pelosi contributed one of the all time great lines saying the House had to pass it so they could figure out what was in it.We were then treated to a decade of trying to figure out how it would work.So, I am left with the odd state of loving the guy’s words, but having not even the slightest sense that they are either sincere or that he himself could or would act upon them.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. DJL

      That’s what i said – Only less eloquently and with fewer words. :>)

    2. Frederic Mari

      FWIW, my belief is that it wouldn’t have made a jolt of difference. You can’t exactly fault Obama for refusing to work with the other side of the aisle. And to say that Obamacare was jammed? IIRC, it was called Romneycare for a reason. Still didn’t get a single R vote…R elected officials hit on an “oppose everything” strategy early on (even on stuff they might have agreed with in the abstract), they sticked to it and, TBF, it has worked pretty well for them. From a purely tactical pov, they shouldn’t change a thing.

      1. JLM

        .I can and do fault Pres Obama for not even trying. He didn’t work with his own party and certainly didn’t even give a passing glance to the Republicans.He never even tried.So, yes, I do fault him.I also fault the Republicans who failed to accomplish anything.What is good is things like the First Step Act — a prime example of what can happen when legislators focus on what is good for America.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. sachmo

      While I think you see many of the things about our current political environment with a high degree of clarity, I have never understood your viewpoint on Obama. Taking a step back from the Democrats / Republicans never ending politics, the country was in a terrible place when he assumed the oath of office. We could have easily had a major banking collapse or great depression.When historians look back at presidents, they judge them by what the ‘other guy’ would have done.Lincoln and Washington are untouched in this regard.Jefferson is overrated in my opinion, because one way or another the US would have expanded into the Lousiana territory.Eisenhower, JFK, and yes even Nixon, will get recognized some day for keeping us out of nuclear conflict at a time when the world was trigger happy.In Obama’s day — the other guy — John McCain — stated for the record that he would not have done things like provided emergency loans to the US Auto companies.Give the man credit where credit is due.

      1. JLM

        .The easy one first: Jefferson (spoke French, had been the Minister Plenipotentiary (chief treaty negotiator), US Minister to France, US Sec of State, Vice President before becoming President) was the only man who could have closed the Louisiana Purchase.First, TJ recognized the wisdom of acquiring the west side of the Mississippi. We already owned the east side. Before he was elected President he saw the power of owning the Mississippi River Valley and New Orleans. This would give the USA free transit from the north to the sea which was currently impossible because of foreign ownership of New Orleans.He recognized that we would either have the Spanish or the French as the limit of our westward expansion and we would have New Orleans at the mouth of the all important Mississippi as a city that we did not own.Napoleon was desperate to raise money to invade England.TJ had sent James Monroe and Robert R Livingston to France to buy New Orleans for $10MM when they stumbled on a deal to buy the entire French holding for $15MM.Spain transferred the territory back to France and TJ bought it 3 weeks later. it was all about timing.What Jefferson did — doubling the size of the USA was brilliant and he was the only guy who could have gotten it done.What exactly did Obama do to deserve favorable note?He kept us in unproductive, disastrous, expensive wars for 8 years while dangling the Nobel Peace Prize around his neck. His feckless foreign policy and withdrawal from Iraq spawned another decade of war with ISIS.He butchered Obamacare in a truly incompetent display of rolling out a monumental program that nobody understood and the website for which was a disaster.He allowed the Russians to steal Crimea, the Russians to wiggle into Syria, sent blankets and bandages to Ukraine, the Chinese to militarize the S China Sea, the Chinese to steal anything not nailed down, and entered into several treaties without Senate approval — Iran Nuke Deal, Paris Agreement, Pacific Trade Partnership.He promoted social generals who spent all their time dealing with social issues while our military lost its fighting edge, our aircraft carriers were tied up in port, and military readiness plummeted to the lowest level since pre-World War II.He wrecked NATO and he let our allies send us all the bills.The guy funded a decade of terror by releasing funds to Iran.The guy got owned on Syria thereby solidifying the Russia – Syria alliance.He abandoned Syria and pissed off Saudi Arabia. At last pick one side.I personally would have preferred to see the auto industry restructure under bankruptcy laws. As it turned out, he did not solve the problem and gave the lion’s share of the equity to the unions.He presided over the slowest recovery in the history of recoveries while destroying the coal industry and emasculating the energy industry thereby leaving us vulnerable to Middle East mischief.He strangled American business with oppressive regulation and destroyed our immigration system.It was the Fed’s zero interest rates and QE that put the country back on its feet.I give Pres Obama full credit for all of the above.So, I have to ask you — WTF did the guy touch that prospered?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  15. Richard

    Obama got this right – but as he said he is basically a wealthy (house with a 30 foot fence /open boarders) republican now. The problem with Obama has always been authenticity and essentially being an empty suit / no original ideas.

  16. werpor

    Saul Alinsky influenced both Hilary Clinton and Obama. The fact that our top political leadership has embraced Alinsky’s amoral set of tactics for political gainought to alarm all those with their own private soapbox.Alinsky’s mission was to incite constant struggle and agitation so that the oppressive“System” would eventually be brought to its knees.ACORN is Alinsky’s amorality and Obama was an ACORN trainer.Far too many people should know better. Unfortunately the media bubble is almostimpossible to escape. Indeed most people aspire within societies constructs no matterhow repugnant.The dark side is seldom admitted even if it is shadow is evident. We ought to more carefully consider the shadow. This requires much tedious study and reflection.Consequences are often thought of as accidents, rather than the product of intention.Agency always seeks power to promulgate some or other agenda. Reflect carefully anddiscover how often we vote against the wider public’s best interests. Usually the obviousagents are merely puppets whom have sold their proverbial souls.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Nicely done.”Always look for the hidden agenda.”

  17. sigmaalgebra

    I am reminded of the, IIRC,Win with honest trifles in order to deceive in deepest consequence.No, I still remember a LOT of the outrageous stuff Obozo did. Even if I forget, I have a file system directory with lots of quotes to have me remember.E.g., where for nothing but brain-dead nonsense he was eager to see US electricity rates “necessarily skyrocket” as in…He signed the Paris Accords — effort to shoot the US in the feet.Obozo HATED the US as in his buddies, Weather Underground, Rev. Wright “God DAMN America”, and more.Obozo was the first POTUS who actually was an enemy of the US.

  18. JLM

    .The best ex-president in recent US history is Jimmy Carter, a man who was also a truly awful President.President Obama may be staking out ground to give him a run for his money.With the passage of time, students of history are able to assess what really happened during a President’s term of governance.Every President’;s reputation is enhanced by the passage of time and the public’s loss of memory as to how they governed and what they accomplished or failed to accomplish.I was amazed to find out that Ronald Reagan had been canonized when I wasn’t looking.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  19. Pradeep Rathi

    I can see lot of comments going for or against Obama.But if you keep Obama out of it, these 2 minutes can change a lot of things the way youngster want to change the world.

  20. Sierra Choi

    I think President Obama is right, we have too much “virtue signalling” in the media. People who are quick to point out a problem but do not offer any solutions nor meaningful feedback.I think President Obama did the best he could under a broken political system. As long as lobbying and filibustering are allowed on Capitol Hill, nothing can get passed. Everything has to be a compromise and each politician may be out for his own gain as opposed to doing the collective good. Even as President of the US, you cannot work under that kind of system.We should have a separation of State and Corporation just as in the past our Founding Fathers had a separation between State and Church. When corporations lobby politicians, politicians become nothing more than puppets.

  21. Mauricio P. Castro

    Polarization is the digital side effect of multiple narratives being built without accountability just the need of finding protection in the comfort of supposed thinking alike and not acting at all.

  22. Francois Royer Mireault

    The question here is: is it possible not to be triggered by the video and focus on the content itself?Reading this and watching the video, I’d focus on the word “messy”. A lot of situations are messy and the more we acknowledge it, the better. It’s not productive to think people in power (social, politics, business) are immaculate white knights. I feel the web has done a good job and a bad job in this regard. People are more comfortable showing who they are/what they did in the past. But also more paranoid who they are/what they did in the past. We’ll find our balance.I’m happy I grew up with the web and with the understanding of the inevitability of my self, my mistakes and my flawed thoughts being out there.

  23. jason wright

    Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (1843).The common fear that we should find ourselves censoring our own thoughts to avoid expressing a politically uncomfortable or difficult thought. We need to have courage because this fear is how others exploit us for their gain and our loss. The politically correct.