Joining my cousins for a bath

Joining my cousins for a bath
happy or sad, at least the bath seems pleasant

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Monday, August 16, 2010

OBAMA METER UPDATED




 SEPTIMUS …THE OBAMBACY..  AT ONE YEAR PLUS NINE MONTHS, nearly half of his term, the hot air presidency…
OBAMA, PROMISE KEEPER
  a roundup of specifics ....
TO BE SUNG TO THE TUNE OF
“SMOOTH OPERATOR”
BRAND OBAMA
   STILL ROTS MY TEETH!

Severus ObamBus

At 21 of his 48 months
More Caramel, more Sugar, Sweeter smiles, Friendlier embraces Gentler noises
The same big shtick The same formula Different tactics, Same Strategy
that’s what you can call the same old same old Coke
Yup, the New Coke Tastes nearly Like The Old
The Sheeples still sort of like It
they’re still drinking it up
Yes, we will be happy earning  Chinese slave laborers wages as Larry Summers nods out at the first Cabinet meeting!
Yes we can! Keep things the same old same old!
Fill the gas bag with hope!
Laughing gas?
One more time
While the disenchanted sheeples
Are drinking a nasty brew of tea!


OBAMBI’S FIRST 21 MONTHS
a.k.a. the Goldman-Sachs Presidency
Never met a General he didn’t love
A Rubin that wasn’t Rubenesque…

20+ BROKEN PROMISES
5 KEPT [sort of]
FAR MORE CONTINUITY THAN CHANGE Ought the continuities be considered broken promises,too?
This just in: ctd. Bushies Military Commissions!!!
continues renditions
[with safeguards no less! wow!]
Bailed on not supporting the Marriage act, i.e I can’t live in bigamous bliss with my Goat Chiquita and Burro Durango
 Mountain tops in the Appalachians ctd. to be exploded off and ruining the stream;
continue signing statements!!!
 Opposes….


 No change on Nafta=broken promise
 Limit defendants rights= broken promise
 Claims sweeping executive secrecy powers.=broken promise
 USE OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS or you could call it:
CONTINUITY = I.E. NO CHANGE. so the same guys that used to work for “agua negra” now XE work for DinCorps, big diff! but not for interrogations?? who needs them anyway if you’ve got the c.i.a. doing it???
 Closes Gitmo? WELL, it’s still ¾ open but ctd.
 Bagram: no change even in hypocricy:

 Despite Obama's Disarmament Vow, Missile Shield Continues, defense, fewer of one plane, more of another; “defense” budget increases by 70 billion; same old twice a year “supplementals!!” promised not to do any!
of which I never get a one
for “EErak” and Af-Pak and Greater Waziristan!
 Vermont Single-Payer Advocates Remind President Obama of What He Once Believed!

continues drilling, broken promise,
brief hiatus on the Gulf Spill occasion
broken promise….

 SIXTEEN MONTHS WITHDRAWAL DEFERS TO PENTAGON OR ALL THOSE GENERAL AND ADMIRALS IN THE ADMINISTRATION DEFER TO HIM =
BUT LET’S GIVE THE GUY A BREAK:
PUT IT DOWN TO PROMISE KEPT,
sort of with 50 k troops and bases in perpetuity… after all, he expressed pleasure and surprise at the success of “the surge”… without seeming to understand the payoffs involved?? and he’s from Chicago??
All right we’ll give him a promise sort of kept the best that you’re gonna get anyhow…
8]TORTURE: PROMISE BROKEN = JUST SIGNED EXECUTIVE ORDER ALLOWING FURTHER RENDITIONS… AH AND WHAT CESAR WILL RENDER UNTO ME TO BE RENDERED IS EX-VEEP CHENEY, HOW THE FAT WILL DRIP OFF THE SPIT BEFORE I TAKE OUT HIS COLD ELECTRIC HEART!
It’s really Cheney’s Mom’s fault says Dr. Bialistock  [Dr. Bernard Bail] would say
Dick’s Mom bequeathed her evil
being to her son of a bitch…
FOREIGN POLICY = NO CHANGE [CLINTON] GENERAL CONTINUITY SO HE’LL TALK SOME MORE, BIG DEAL! General Jones! That’s a new one me!
 IRAN POLICY ONLY WORDS SO FAR…
He’s “troubled” by a meaningless election.
 PENTAGON = NO CHANGE [GATES] CONTINUITY
A'STAn NO CHANGE EXACTLY THE SAME, EVEN WORSE NOT A NEW IDEA TO BE FOUND, EXCEPT EXPANSION INTO PAKISTAN! divide and conquer the Taliban is US 19th century Indian policy on a global scale. But that was one promise
He certainly kept.
CHANGE
1] ENERGY POLICY - LOOKS LIKE CHANGE SO FAR
2] CIA = CHANGE, AT LEAST AT THE TOP, though Penetta at his confirmation hearing allowed that under certain circumstances he too might allow torture.

3] UN = CHANGE=ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE WALRUS AMOUNTS TO CHANGE THOUGH MS. RICE IS WHAT IS CALLED A HUMANITY HYENA WHO ARE FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE COYOTE PACK NEAR WHERE I LIVE IN SEATTLE…But hasn’t been in the news at all “our girl at the U.N.”
But she has been very low key so far.

 NAT SEC ADVISER = CONTINUITY

ECONOMIC POLICY = ABSOLUTE AND COMPLETE CONTINUITY FOR THE MONEY ELITE, some regulation in the offing, yea, you bet, caps of half a million on earnings for those who are on the government dole!
SAME FOLKS WHO GOT U.S. INTO THE FIX WE’RE IN ARE SUPPOSED TO BAIL US OUT WILL BAIL OUT THEIR KIND AT GOLDMAN SACHS.

 LABOR = SLIGHT CHANGE, BUT DID NOT MENTION THE LAW THAT HE BACKED IN HIS CAMPAIGN TO MAKE ORGANIZING UNIONS EASIER WHEN HE MET WITH LABOR LEADERS. I.E. VERY TEPIC CHANGE AT BEST COMPARED TO WHAT LABOR MIGHT HAVE EXPECTED SINCE THE REALLY WENT TO BAT FOR THE GUY DURING THE CAMPAIGN… WHAT IF THEY HAD STAID NEUTRAL???

 DEPT OF INTERIOR = VERY MODEST CHANGE

 ENLISTING SUPPORT OF EVENGALICALS AND FAITH-BASED INITIATIVE = NO CHANGE FROM THAT KIND OF UNCONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN RELIGION
 FBI = NO CHANGE, SAME GUY

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY LOOKS LIKE REALLY VERY MODEST CHANGE WITH KEN SALAZAR AS HEAD OF THE DEPT OF INTERIOR, EXCEPT FOR AFOREMENTIONED MOUNTAIN TOPS WHICH KEEP BEING CHOPPED OFF DESPITE ALL THAT HOT AIR DURING THE CAMPAIGN
Change in Cuba policy made dependent on “Cuba’s release of political prisoners “[does that include u.s. hired assassins?] sweet noises at a meeting in South America…
It’s the sweet noises presidency..
 Tax cuts on those earning more than 250 K a year, promise was to revoke, let’s see if it really happens, though the budget is now premised on it.
EDUCATION? FOR THE WORSE: SEE:

Obama pledged to veto any bill rejecting the request, meaning he is beginning his presidency not by “turn [ing] the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street,” as he once pledged. Instead, he is promising a mushroom cloud unless lawmakers let taxpayer cash continue to flow to the biggest of Big Money interests
FAIR # OF SPECIFICS STILL TO COME:

ctd. belligerence toward Russia? during the campaign just like McCain. But it appears there might be real change in the offing, too early to tell whether it is merely cosmetic and for publicity’s sake…
regulate the money people, the bundlers who put him in office???? no way, Josay!

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081205_keeping_track_of_change/

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2008/12/16-16

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/16-11

Hey, you Liberal Democrats. You may have won the election, but you're getting CREAMED in the transition.

Today, President-elect Barack Obama stuck it to you. He's chosen Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.

Who? Duncan is most decidedly not an educator. He's a lawyer. But Duncan has this extraordinary qualification: He's Obama's pick-up basketball buddy from Hyde Park.


http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/16-10

US military prepares for Obama’s expansion of Afghan war

US General David McKiernan, told journalists: "I don't like to use the term ‘surge' here, because if we put these additional forces in, it's going to be for the next few years, this three - or four-year period. It's not a temporary increase of combat strength."


http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/dec2008/afgh-d13.shtml
  MICHAEL ROLOFF [as summa.politico]
http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name

Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society

This LYNX will LEAP you to my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS
http://www.handke.scriptmania.com/favorite_links_1.html 

http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html


"Degustibus disputandum est." Theodor Wiesenthal Adorno
"May the foggy dew bediamondize your hoosprings + the fireplug
of filiality reinsure your bunghole! {James  Joyce}
"Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde." [von Alvensleben]
"Siena me fe, disfescimi Maremma." [Dante]
"Ennui [Lange Weile] is the dreambird that hatches the egg of
experience." Walter Benjamin, the essay on Leskov.


http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/ 
http://summapolitico.blogspot.com/
http://artscritic.blogspot.com/

 


 

COLOR CODE: YELLOW= CONTINUITY. I.E. NO CHANGE
:BLUE = PROMISE KEPT AND/OR CHANGE
………………….GREY=AS YET UNDETERMINED
SCOREBOARD:
11 ELEVEN NO CHANGE/BROKEN PROMISE
8 [EIGHT] CHANGES, SOME VERY MODEST
LOTS OF GREY UNDECIDED AREAS


1] USE OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS CONTINUITY = I.E. NO CHANGE


2] SIXTEEN MONTHS WITHDRAWAL DEFERS TO PENTAGON OR ALL THOSE GENERAL AND ADMIRALS IN THE ADMINISTRATION DEFER TO HIM = BUT LET’S GIVE THE GUY A BREAK: PUT IT DOWN TO PROMISE KEPT

3]TORTURE: PROMISE BROKEN = JUST SIGNED EXECUTIVE ORDER ALLOWING FURTHER RENDITIONS… AH AND WHAT CESAR WILL RENDER UNTO ME TO BE RENDERED IS EX-VEEP CHENEY, HOW THE FAT WILL DRIP OFF THE SPIT BEFORE I TAKE OUT HIS COLD ELECTRIC HEART!
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/01/31-3

4] FOREIGN POLICY = NO CHANGE [CLINTON] GENERAL CONTINUITY

5] IRAN POLICY ONLY WORDS SO FAR

6] PENTAGON = NO CHANGE [GATES] CONTINUITY

7] A'STAn NO CHANGE EXACTLY THE SAME, EVEN WORSE NOT A NEW IDEA TO BE FOUND, EXCEPT EXPANSION INTO PAKISTAN!

8] ENERGY POLICY - LOOKS LIKE CHANGE SO FAR

9] CIA = CHANGE, AT LEAST AT THE TOP

10] UN = CHANGE=ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE WALRUS AMOUNTS TO CHANGE THOUGH MS. RICE IS WHAT IS CALLED A HUMANITY HYENA WHO ARE FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE COYOTE PACK NEAR WHERE I LIVE IN SEATTLE…

12] NAT SEC ADVISER = CONTINUITY

13] ECONOMIC POLICY = CONTINUITY
SAME FOLKS WHO GOT US INTO THE FIX WE’RE IN ARE SUPPOSED TO BAIL US OUT WIL BAIL OUT THEIR KIND


13] LABOR = SLIGHT CHANGE, BUT DID NOT MENTION THE LAW THAT HE BACKED IN HIS CAMPAIGN TO MAKE ORGANIZING UNIONS EASIER WHEN HE MET WITH LABOR LEADERS.I.E. VERY TEPIC CHANGE AT BEST COMPARED TO WHAT LABOR MIGHT HAVE EXPECTED SINCE THE REALY WENT TO BAT FOR THE GUY DURING THE CAMPAIGN… WHAT IF THEY HAD STAID NEUTRAL???

14] DEPT OF INTERIOR = VERY MODEST CHANGE

15] ENLISTING SUPPORT OF EVENGALICALS AND FAITHBASED INITIAVE = NO CHANGE FROM THAT KIND OF UNCONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN RELIGION

16] FBI = NO CHANGE

17] ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY LOOKS LIKE REAL CHANGE

18] NAFTA PROMISED RENOGATIONS????

19] Change in Cuba policy made dependent on “Cuba’s release of political prisoners “[does that include u.s. hired assassins??]


20] Tax cuts on those earning more than 250 K a year, promise was to revoke, now he’s changed his mind. BROKEN PROMISE


21] EDUATION? FOR THE WORSE SEE:
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175022/andy_kroll_will_public_education_be_militarized_ BUT IT IS A CHANGE


http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/17-4


http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01/11-11


http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4039/why_cynics_are_wrong/

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/jan2009/obam-j17.shtml


http://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/20081215_rep_dennis_kucinich_on_his_battle_with_the_banks/

Obama pledged to veto any bill rejecting the request, meaning he is beginning his presidency not by “turn[ing] the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street,” as he once pledged. Instead, he is promising a mushroom cloud unless lawmakers let taxpayer cash continue to flow to the biggest of Big Money interests

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090115_fool_me_once/

http://www.slate.com/id/2208935/pagenum/2


THERE ARE OF COURSE A FAIR # OF SPECIFICS TO COME:

a] ctd. belligerence toward Russia? during the campaign just like



c] regulate the money people, the bundlers who put him in office????



http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081205_keeping_track_of_change/


http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2008/12/16-16

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/16-11


Hey, you Liberal Democrats. You may have won the election, but you're getting CREAMED in the transition.

Today, President-elect Barack Obama stuck it to you. He's chosen Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.

Who? Duncan is most decidedly not an educator. He's a lawyer. But Duncan has this extraordinary qualification: He's Obama's pick-up basketball buddy from Hyde Park.
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/16-10

US military prepares for Obama’s expansion of Afghan war


US General David McKiernan, told journalists: "I don't like to use the term ‘surge' here, because if we put these additional forces in, it's going to be for the next few years, this three- or four-year period. It's not a temporary increase of combat strength."

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/dec2008/afgh-d13.shtml




Sunday, August 15, 2010

A LETTER TO SULZBERGER OF THE NEW YORK TIMES ABOUT THEIR SUPPORT FOR THE AFGHAN WAR

Message from mikerol@gmail.com:
 Dear Mr. Sulzberger,
Below a short Brechtian poem that your frequent op-edder Michael O'Hanlon elicited from me - and which your appalling editorial of Friday the 13th
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/opinion/13fri1.html?_r=1&ref=editorials
makes me share with you. http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html
Once again, no mention of the U.S. destabilization of that country of 25 million in 1979, a monstrous crime of which Mr. Brzezinski continues to be proud; once again no mention of the world wide genii the Mujaheddin of Casey/ Reagan's devising, and now it is world wide and it means forever war, and it might break the bottle. And yet another NY Times version of "Marja" - if you want to know why people do not trust news sources, something my former county executive Ron Sims, now secretary of HUD, bemoaned the other day, just look at your own editorial and the way the NY Times reported something as simple as Marja - starting out with a reprint of the Pentagon Press release. This is not just Bush's and now Obama's war, but yours! This war again reminds me that the US is like that dog that gets stuck in the bitch and can only get in deeper, and there is no one with a bucket of ice water to help it out of its distress. It's the same old same old imperialist moron, over and over again. Sincerely, MICHAEL ROLOFF

HOW TO FAIL A STATE…




A failed state
Is like a dwarf star
It never made it, poor thing
It needs a think-tank to keep it on life-support,
Michael O’Hanlon of The Brookings perhaps…
He’s good for a new set of suggestions every month…
I’m sure he goes to church on Sunday and prays for failed and failing states…
And gives no end of Fs


Instruction on how to produce a a “failed state”:
Get a Stan of some kind, rattle its government in your money maker…
Create a fright…
Get an interested party to intervene…
Initiate an uprising against the invader…
What the hell, the U.N. won’t mind.


Lots of things you can do…
No end of opportunities…
But first you need to define a state… Well, there must be a government that holds the majority shares of violence power to dispense, yes Flower Children, that’s how things are…


Thence you find something that approximates the definition…


You destabilize something that ends in Stan… or Lia..
its becomes shaky…
the outlying provinces are not in its control..


You get a foreign power to invade it… say, some bears, or coyotes or ants…


You support an insurgency against the occupation…


You supply it with weapons…


When the insurgency is a spectacular success
You parade a few of its leaders for the media…
the invader withdraws, licking wound…
withers on the vine because congress, with mission accomplished, won’t fund it any more…


now the insurgency fends for itself in a country wide civil war between insurgency leaders transformed into war lords…
if you have a special animosity for them you call them thugs…
what the hell
call them anything you want
nothing they can do about it anyway




Now Michael O’Hanlon has his a geographic entity that he can call a “failed state”, something like a dwarf star, poor thing, that never had its shining day… and you bring in the think tanks to think upon the misery.


You hold conferences…
Someone gets another degree…
You hand out grants…
You import some left over insurgents that want to study law or maybe also start a Stan restaurant of some sort…
You find some bleeding hearts…
And everything is cool unless it isn’t.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

OBAMA THE DECISION MAKER SO WHAT IF GOING ABOUT IT "SANELY" YOU ARRIVE AT THE SAME "INSANE" CONCLUSIONS BUSH DID!


Thinking about John Dean's description of Obama's sane style of governance [see below], based as that estimate is on Jonathan Alter's book, it occurred to me what difference if any it makes if you govern sanely or insanely and from the vestigial part of the brain, your viscera, like Bush but reach the same conclusions and make the same decisions! I.. Afghanista, bailing out the bankers , keeping same national war apparat.  xx michael r.


 http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20100806.html?DCMP=NWL-pro_top

John W. Dean

How Our Decider-in-Chief Decides: Decisionmaking and the Obama Presidency

By JOHN W. DEAN
Friday, August 6, 2010
Nothing is more important in the American presidency than decision-making. It is, in fact, the very essence of the job. Presidential decisions can and do shape our history, for better or worse. Rarely, though, does the decision-making style of presidential candidates receive much attention during a campaign. One exception was the 2008 presidential race, where it was very much an issue. Now that President Obama has been in office for some eighteen months, it is appropriate to take a look at his decision-making skills.
Over time, a president's supporters and detractors will inevitably have reason to disagree with some of the decisions he makes. But I believe that it is the way a president makes major decisions that is of importance. Not even a president's top staff will agree with all his actions. But a president's ability to engage in intelligent decision-making to deal with the countless matters that arrive on his desk is vital to the well-being of the nation.
President Bush's Dreadful Decisions Made Decision-Making An Issue in 2008
Bad decisions by a president have serious consequences. We are still dealing with the fallout from the horrific decisions of the last president -- unilateral preemptive attacks on perceived enemies who were incorrectly suspected of harboring weapons of mass destruction; ever-escalating costs for two unbudgeted wars; shaming the nation with torture techniques; wrecking a strong and flourishing economy inherited from his predecessor, etc., etc. Most decisions that were made by George W. Bush employed no real process or considered thought whatsoever.
President Bush was well-known for his messianic and intuitive decision making. He bragged and boasted about it. He told Bob Woodward, during an extensive interview for Bush at War, that he was not "a textbook player," but rather a "gut player," repeatedly explaining that he relied on his "instincts" in following "God's master plan." And when his Defense Secretary was under attack for his part in the dire mess in Iraq, with calls for his resignation, Bush went to his defense, giving a further, distinctive marker to his decision-making: " I'm the decider," Bush petulantly declared, "and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." Rumsfeld was gone some six months later.
Bush's disastrous decisions regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- not to overlook his devastating decisions that all but destroyed the American economy -- resulted in serious attention being focused on the decision-making styles of the 2008 nominees during the last presidential campaign. The mainstream news media carefully examined how Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama might each make decisions as president. For example, here are a few representative looks: Some six weeks before the election PBS ran "John McCain's Decision Making" and "Confidence, Openness Mark Obama's Decision Making Style"; a month before the election the Boston Globe published "The Next Decider: The election isn't just a referendum on ideology. It's a contest between two modes of thinking"; and shortly before the voters went to the polls the Wall Street Journal rhetorically stated, "Lawyer or Jet Pilot: It's the Decision," when raising decision-making as an issue.
The fact that McCain was a Bush-style intuitive, from-the-gut decision-maker probably cost him the election. Not only did voters not want more of a Bush-style president, but McCain's impulsive campaign decisions -- selecting his un-vetted vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and then precipitously closing down his campaign in its final days to deal with the financial crisis but offering no solutions -- proved deadly. These were seen as previews of the very same peremptory decision-making style Americans had experienced for almost eight years, and the election showed that Americans did not want more of the same.
Jonathan Alter's Study of Obama as Decisionmaker: A Deductive Thinker with a Vertical Mind
With Obama now having been in the White House for a year-and-a-half, we have an early record of what kind of decision-maker he has become as president. Jonathan Alter has written the first important examination of the Obama presidency -- The Promise: President Obama, Year One -- and in chronicling Obama's first year in office, Alter looked closely at the new president's decision-making style
Alter, a Newsweek editor and author, has covered Washington and the presidency for years. As a U.S. Senator, Obama had read and admired Alter's last work, The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (2007), and President Obama granted Alter full access to his White House, an opportunity which Alter did not waste. This bestseller takes readers inside the Obama White House for a look at the players and how they work. It is a great read. But here, I am only exploring Alter's reporting with respect to Obama's decision-making, in particular.
Given the attention that Obama's decision-making received during the campaign, it is not surprising to find that, as president, he is making decisions in a very similar fashion. While Obama has had no serious executive experience, he is something of a natural, with his decision process following a pattern that he first developed as a law student when he headed the Harvard Law Review. The approaches to decision-making that Alter found in the White House are not very different from the approaches Obama developed during the campaign, and which were reported by PBS.
For purposes of comparison, however, Alter looks at the style of other presidents as well. Alter finds that Obama's decision-making style falls "somewhere between [President Bill] Clinton's deep if gauzy discussions and Bush's snap judgments based on instinct." "Clinton was volcanic and discursive; Obama [is] cool and focused," Alter reports.
Alter continues, "Clinton was an inductive thinker with a horizontal mind. He talked to people in wide-ranging college bull sessions (or late at night on the phone) to establish a broad array of policy and political options, then looked at them in context and fashioned a synthetic and often brilliant political approach out of the tangled strands of analysis." By comparison, Alter concludes, "Obama [is] a deductive thinker with a vertical mind." Obama thinks "deeply about a subject, [and] organiz[es] it lucidly into point-by-point arguments." Obama favors "decision memos that include options but contain clear policy recommendations." Obama places "more faith in logic than imagination," and insists "on a process that [is] tidy without being inflexible." Clinton constantly second-guessed his decisions; Obama makes a decision and moves on, unless new and compelling evidence arises.
Why the Charge that Obama Dithers Is Completely Off the Mark
Contrary to Dick Cheney's claim that Obama is a ditherer, Alter found that he is anything but. Unlike the Bush/Cheney White House, Obama wants all the available information, so he probes his staff (and their staff) and the departments and agencies heads (and their staff); he encourages dissent rather than yes-people; and he listens carefully when his aides and advisors speak, although he wants them to get to the point and make it. Obama instructs his White House to keep the big picture in mind, not play "small-ball" or get "down in the weeds."
If Obama does not understand, he does not pretend otherwise; rather, he will ask questions. Obama often changes his approaches on issues during meetings, so that his staff is not sure where he stands, and thus, his aides and advisors are prevented from simply telling him what they think he wants to hear. As meetings come to a close, it is Obama who typically summarizes the various positions and points-of-view under consideration -- usually more succinctly and eloquently than they have been presented by their own advocates -- before making his decision, which is a clear "takeaway" from the session and is well-understood by all. When an issue has been fully flushed out and examined, Obama does not want matters "re-litigated."
Jon Alter is too good a journalist, and spoke with too many people, to have been "spun" about Obama's decision process, which by previous White House standards is quite remarkable. If this approach is consistently employed for major and important decisions, it is an exemplar of how most serious students of the presidency would want presidential decision-making to be done. Few presidents have employed such a thorough process, or been so apparently conscious of the need to adopt a specific approach to decision-making. President John Kennedy learned the hard way, after his failed decision-making in authorizing and then abandoning the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, but then got it right during the Cuban Missile Crisis, establishing a procedure that he might then have followed consistently, had his presidency not been cut short.
President Obama, it would appear, is writing the textbook for presidential decision-making. From Jon Alter's reporting, and from observing the Obama White House from a distance, I would only raise one question.
Is Obama's Decision-Making Too Devoid Of Emotion?
Alter describes, and gives context and perspective to, President Obama's remarkable "cool" -- his self-confident demeanor, his striking calmness during crisis and troubles, and his highly-focused mind. With Obama, there are no Clinton "purple fits" or tantrums; and no Bush emotional "go with the gut" reactions, says Alter.
Yet Obama understands, apparently, that being too cool is not good. Nonetheless, Obama has often been compared to the overly-composed, emotionless and highly rational Mr. Spock from the Star Trek series, because of the way he too relies on reason rather than emotion, and uses logic to enter the minds of other people. Alter reports that the president has a good sense of humor about all this, and indeed, when a new Star Trek movie was released in early 2009, the president had it screened at the White House. For several days thereafter, President Obama "got a kick out of flashing the Vulcan salute" to his staff. The conclusion that Alter draws from Obama's unflappable nature and "no-drama" White House is that it is an "asset in decision-making."
During the past few decades, an evolving and growing cognitive science of decision-making has emerged. It is the work in part of political and social scientists, economists, and psychologists, who are empirically testing and studying decision making styles. Their endeavors are complemented by those of neurologists and neuroscientists who have literally looked inside our brains to observe them in real-time during decision- making, through the use of increasingly sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tools; this research is giving them hard facts about how our mental equipment functions. (See the Boston Globe story I cited earlier for a broad overview of these developments.)
I have been exploring this science for another project, and while my study is early and the field is vast, it seems clear that emotions are very much a part of good decision-making. This much is clear: While Vulcans may make great decisions without emotions, humans do not do so very well. The key is striking the right balance, and if Jonathan Alter has it right, and Obama's style is somewhere between that of Bill Clinton and George Bush, we may have one of the better decision-makers currently residing in the White House.
Let us hope that is the case, for as the decider, Obama will have any number of very difficult decisions to make that will affect us all; indeed, he has already had momentous decisions before him, early in his presidency. Because I am not sure, I am going to make certain that the cognitive scientists whose work I am studying (and with whom, in several cases, I have spoken) are aware of Alter's reporting, for they will know well how to evaluate our President's decision-making skills. I will keep you posted.

John W. Dean, a FindLaw columnist, is a former counsel to the president.http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20100806.html?DCMP=NWL-pro_top



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seattle, Washington, United States
MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html