How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’ – by Peter Baker – NYT

“And yet despite criticism even from former advisers to Mr. Obama, Mr. Rhodes offers little sense that the former president thought he could have done more to counter Russian involvement in the election. Mr. Obama had authorized a statement to be issued by intelligence agency leaders a month before the election warning of Russian interference, but was thwarted from doing more because Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, refused to go along with a bipartisan statement.

Mr. Rhodes called Mr. McConnell’s refusal “staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic.” But Mr. Obama, whose Supreme Court nomination had been blocked by Mr. McConnell for months, seemed less surprised.

“What else did you expect from McConnell?” he asked. “He won’t even give us a hearing on Merrick Garland.”

Still, in preparatory sessions before meetings with the news media before the election, aides pressed Mr. Obama to respond to criticism that he should speak out more about Russian meddling. “I talk about it every time I’m asked,” he responded. “What else are we going to do? We’ve warned folks.”

He noted that Mr. Trump was already claiming that the election would be manipulated if Hillary Clinton won. “If I speak out more, he’ll just say it’s rigged,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Rhodes writes that neither he nor Mr. Obama knew at that time that there was an F.B.I. investigation into contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia, despite Mr. Trump’s recent unsubstantiated claims that the departing president placed a “spy” or multiple spies in his campaign.”

Obama’s Gorgeous Goodbye As he prepares to exit, the president makes a final plea about cooperation and common purpose. nytimes.com|By Frank Bruni

Frank Bruni soars in his admiration of Barack Obama. One example, he writes: “At Howard, Obama insisted that change “requires listening to those with whom you disagree, and being prepared to compromise.”

“If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want,” he continued. “So don’t try to shut folks out. Don’t try to shut them down, no matter how much you might disagree with them.”  ”

As he prepares to exit, the president makes a final plea about cooperation and common purpose.
nytimes.com|By Frank Bruni
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My favorite comment:
James Tynes Hattiesburg, Ms 4 hours ago

“Mr. Bruni is exactly right. All politicians have their faults, but few have the insight to pinpoint the dilemma that our nation currently faces with the poisoned rhetoric over thoughtful debate as Mr. Obama has because he’s been through his own trial by fire with a opposition Congress that was motivated by some members that have no reservations about stoking hate, not only for the democratic process and government itself, but for Mr. Obama personally.
There may have been uglier episodes in the history of the Republic, but not
in my lifetime have I seen a Congress so determined to sabotage a president
at the expense of the nation itself.
It’s a sign of how our technology has enabled people to nurture rage over
solutions by creating an infinite feedback loop of their own opinions without
having to listen and understand others. This internet age seems to have
banished the ability to seek common ground at the expense of the common
good. A current battle cry ‘I want my country back’ ignores the fact that
America belongs to every American but no one in particular, the nation
as it is will always be ‘our country’ rather than ‘my country’ alone.
I doubt that we’d have the country we claim as America if the founders
simply blogged their discontent rather than seeking solutions for
their disagreements.” ”

462 Recommended

Obama Says Thought and Compromise Are Key to Bringing Change The president, in a commencement speech at Howard University, told the next generation of black activists that passion and outrage were not enough. nytimes.com|By Michael D. Shear

Michael Shear: “WASHINGTON — President Obama told America’s next generation of black activists on Saturday that passion and outrage would fail to bring about the change they seek — unless it is accompanied by strategic thinking and tempered by a willingness to compromise.

Addressing the class of 2016 at Howard University, but speaking broadly to African-American youths who have fueled a new civil rights protest movement during his presidency, Mr. Obama urged them to adopt a more disciplined form of activism that goes beyond indignant rhetoric and uncompromising demands.

“Change requires more than righteous anger. It requires a program and it requires organizing,” Mr. Obama, the country’s first African-American president, told the graduates at Howard, one of the country’s oldest historically black universities. “Passion is vital, but you have got to have a strategy.”

That strategy, Mr. Obama told the graduates, must include listening to those with whom they disagree and compromising when necessary to achieve their goals. The message appeared to be aimed at Black Lives Matter activists who have expressed frustration and impatience with the slow pace of change by those in power.

“If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want,” the president said, adding that such an approach leads to “a downward spiral of more injustice and more anger and more despair, and that’s never been the source of our progress.” ”
……
““And you don’t have excuses,” he said. “You don’t have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap to register to vote. You don’t have to risk your lives to cast a ballot. Other people already did that for you.”

He also urged them to infuse their activism with knowledge, saying that raising awareness about problems is not enough. They must educate themselves enough to hold the right people accountable, he said.

“If you care about better policing, do you know who your district attorney is? Do you know who your state’s attorney general is? Do you know the difference?” he asked. “Find out who they are, what their responsibilities are, mobilize the community, present them with a plan.” ”

The president, in a commencement speech at Howard University, told the next generation of black activists that passion and outrage were not enough.
nytimes.com|By Michael D. Shear

President Obama Weighs His Economic Legacy Eight years after the financial crisis, unemployment is at 5 percent, deficits are down and G.D.P. is growing. Why do so many voters feel left behind? The president has a theory. nytimes.com|By Andrew Ross Sorkin

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Two months ago, across an assembly-room table in a factory in Jacksonville, Fla., President Barack Obama was talking to me about the problem of political capital. His efforts to rebuild the U.S. economy from the 2008 financial crisis were being hit from left, right and center. And yet, by his own assessment, those efforts were vastly underappreciated. “I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” he said. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.”

It was a notably grand claim, especially given the tenor in which presidential candidates of both parties had taken to criticizing the state of the American economy — “Many are still barely getting by,” Hillary Clinton said, while Donald Trump said that “we’re a third-world nation.” Asked if he was frustrated by all the criticism, Obama insisted that he wasn’t, at least not personally. “It has frustrated me only insofar as it has shaped the political debate,” he said. “We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market.” ”

Eight years after the financial crisis, unemployment is at 5 percent, deficits are down and G.D.P. is growing. Why do so many voters feel left behind? The president has a theory.
nytimes.com|By Andrew Ross Sorkin

Barack Obama: Why we must rethink solitary confinement Its overuse leads to tragic results. washingtonpost.com

By Barack Obama January 25

Barack Obama is president of the United States.

“In 2010, a 16-year-old named Kalief Browder from the Bronx was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sent to Rikers Island to await trial, where he reportedly endured unspeakable violence at the hands of inmates and guards — and spent nearly two years in solitary confinement.

In 2013, Kalief was released, having never stood trial. He completed a successful semester at Bronx Community College. But life was a constant struggle to recover from the trauma of being locked up alone for 23 hours a day. One Saturday, he committed suicide at home. He was just 22 years old.”

Its overuse leads to tragic results.
washingtonpost.com