Friday, August 10, 2012

Don't Come Home Without Your Brother

Barack Obama wrote a book, "Dreams from My Father" (1995). It became a best seller. He went on to become president of the most powerful nation on Earth. Still, I wonder that his father, Barack Obama, Sr., might not be disappointed.

Besides a son that is living in the White House, Mr Obama, Sr. has a son, George, who lives in a thatched hut in Kenya. From all accounts, George has never been to the United States, much less visited his brother on Pennsylvania Avenue. This is as much a shortcoming on Michelle's as Barack's. After all, men have been know to lack in social graces. Where Barack has come up short, should not Michelle have said to him, "We need to have George over for dinner?"

When asked about this, George said, "My brother (Barack) has many responsibilities. He is trying to take care of the world. In that way, he is taking care of me, too." Sounds like a decent, well-spoken man to me. Who wouldn't invite such a brother into his home?

When we were young, my parents would issue this warning as we left out of the door:  "Don't come home without your brother."

I have not read "Dream from My Father", but I imagine Mr. Obama, Sr.'s dreams are similar to my father's. Those dreams start with the family - always - and that is where they return.

Barack Obama, for all his achievements seems to lose sight of the notion that the dreams of his father are likely the dreams of everyman:  That his children look out for one another; that his son be his brother's keeper.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Inviting Bad Karma onto the World Stage

"…never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." - John Donne

The U.S., in the person of President Obama, is urging nations worldwide to cease all trade with Iran, including the purchase of Iran oil, lest the U.S. punish those nations that persist.

Have we gone mad? There is a global epidemic of failing economies; everyone is at risk. (And we seek purposefully to reduce a nation of people to kindling and heap them upon that fire.)

The world of nations is one body - each member is a finger, an arm, a leg. We hope (out of self-preservation) that Greece survives. Though Greece is just a toe - a small tone, at that - an infection there could cause the entire body to become sick.

Iran, on the other hand, is bigger than a toe. Because it is a large country, and one of the top oil producers on Earth, it is more like half a foot. Yet, the U.S. would sever that part based upon this political imperative: Iran continues to enrich uranium.

It is a false imperative. The U.S. enriches uranium every day - so does Israel, China, Russia, and many others. Besides, according to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), Iran has a legal right to enrich uranium. It is a right Israel refuses to acknowledge, hence the falsity of the U.S. position The U.S., nonetheless, forges ahead in its twisted desire to wreck the Iranian economy. Apparently, it is reaping results.

Recently, a U.S. newspaper columnist - a Mr. Kristof - appeared on CNN's "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer. He had previously spent weeks traveling in Iran. With a smile, he told Blitzer, "It looks like the sanctions are working. The Iranian people are struggling; factories are closing." Wolf Blitzer, too, appeared pleased.

What is wrong with us? How does an American journalist travel to a foreign land, speak about how kind the locals treated him - taking him into their homes, feeding him, serving him tea - and then return to the U.S. and gloat about the insidious affect our sanctions are having on their lives.

Ascendant nations are built upon trade. Even the most successful nation on Earth - the U.S. - is ever seeking new trade alliances. The loss of one trading partner can spell doom to distinct sectors of a nation's economy. That is why governors - beyond anything the U.S. Commerce Department does - seek out international trade agreements on their own to address local economies within their states.

We are all affected by trade; we should all be sensitive to the impact the severing of trade agreements can have on poor families around the world. For any nation - let alone, the self-proclaimed "Leader of the Free World" - to purposefully destroy the livelihoods of innocent men and women, and with that, all chance they have of feeding their children - and then gloat - is despicable.