Star-Advertiser readers offer their top issues for Barack Obama to tackle in the next two years
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 29, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 02:20 a.m. HST, Dec 29, 2010
I am so honored and in awe knowing you are staying just minutes from my home, viewing the same scenery and skyline and hopefully relaxing and enjoying our beautiful island. You belong here because you really do employ the "aloha spirit."
So, mahalo, and continue to spread the aloha spirit throughout the world. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize proves, at least to other countries, how able you are to reach around the world and show respect, compassion and the willingness to strive for world peace. This should continue to be a strong focal point, ascooperation is the answer to all that is wrong in this world. Please continue to embrace unity.
You are tackling so many issues and it is beginning to show in many ways. So regardless of what the critics say, maintain the kindness and connection that we islanders call the "aloha spirit," and the world will truly be a better place.
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Congratulations on the past two years of your administration. Job well done!
What follows are five areas in which there should be major progress over the next two years.
» Solve the Israeli-Palestinian standoff. Peace in the Middle East is essential to a tranquil world.
» Expedite the ending of the Iraqi and Afghan wars and bring back our soldiers as early as possible. Ten years of war is a strain on our economy, and fosters an erroneous U.S. imperialistic posture to the world.
» Close down the more than 500 U.S. military bases we have spread around the world. World War II is over.
» Reduce dramatically the Defense Department budget and redirect the money toward domestic social benefits. We should spend less on guns and more on butter.
» With the funds saved by action on the above items, put triple the amount of stimulus money into our economy. Increase research and development, fund college education, enhance health care, provide more help for the needy, increase the State Department's budget, reduce our national deficit and save Social Security.
» Please request every citizen to assume some self-sacrifice and to take personal responsibility when it comes to lowering the deficit.
» Consider expanding your circle of advisors while adding some legitimate anger toward obstructionists who are on the far left and far right fringes.
» Stay on your philosophical course, but lecture less and speak more in anecdotes about why we need a certain moral compass; adding a little humor wouldn't hurt.
» Promote and highlight some balance in public policies between the common good and individual rights; self-promoting personalities feed on the absurdities of legalese out of control.
» Re-examine the scope of expansive programs, consider costs and aim for reasonable progress.
Happy 2011 to you and your family.
» Stop the Predator drone war now. It doesn't make us safer; it makes new enemies, is ineffective and is morally wrong. Oh, and no more lying to us about where we are bombing.
» Remove all our military from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan before your first term ends. These wars drain our budgets, kill and maim thousands, fracture our society and destroy other countries, making us less safe, not more.
» Redirect your focus to support quality, affordable education kindergarten through college. We are way behind the world and falling further.
» Commit to reducing emissions and battle climate change seriously. No more "America plays by its own rules."
» Initiate new efforts to make public transport viable nationwide, reinvigorate and revitalize our cities and encourage and support small farming. We need to transform our automobile society, make our cities more attractive for living and become more independent from unsustainable corporate farm practices.
That's at least five priorities right there. Let's start immediately.
I wish you would do the following:
» Investigate the corruption and lies of the Bush administration. By allowing this to go unchallenged, you are compromising our legal system. This country will not be a nation of laws but of raw power.
» End the wars. Withdraw our troops and let the various factions fight it out. Afghanistan appears to be a hopeless quagmire, and I suspect that Iraq is not much better.
» Investigate 9/11. The official story is a conspiracy theory, so let's see how the official story really stacks up against the facts.
» Cut back on the military-industrial complex. The United States pays almost as much for defense as the rest of the world combined. This will just destroy America, as it did the old Soviet Union.
» Bring our soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Our mission is completed in Iraq. The Afghanistan war is useless and costs a lot of life and money. Even if we would control the Taliban, they will be re-established after our forces leave.
» Reinstate the practice adjusting Social Security to the cost of living increases. Make adjustments according to geographical locations. (Hawaii's cost of living is much higher than most of mainland locations.)
» Stop overspending. Congress should curtail foreign aid. Americans should come first!
» Bring back vocational schools offering opportunities in trades and professions for those who seek to become skilled workers in various fields.
» Congress should regulate and punish outsourcing. CEOs of some of our big corporations betrayed our country and they are still rewarded with huge bonuses.
Mr. President, where would you like to have your presidential library: in your hometown of Chicago or here in Honolulu where you were born?
I hope you and your family are enjoying your time here in the islands. It's a well-deserved break from an environment of tremendous responsibility.
Those of us who shared in your days at Punahou are honored by the inter-connections of this relationship and are grateful for the contributions you are making to our nation and the world. We take delight in hearing about your accomplishments and have profound empathy for the challenges that daily confront you.
I hope your memories of the beauty and the harmony of Hawaii will sustain you during the difficult times and provide inspiration for the work still to be done; that the inclusive, accepting qualities of our island culture might become the framework for finding solutions to the issues that divide America.
I wish you all the best (also for your wonderful family) and trust the aloha you experience during these few days will infuse you with renewed hope.
You are doing a spectacular job while surrounded by very negative people in Congress.
Here are some foreign policy suggestions for this holiday season.
» Early January: Fly to Kansas. Visit a farm. Tell farmers (mostly Republicans) that you want them to sell their crops everywhere. Announce removal of the Cuba trade embargo. Drink good farm coffee. Fly home. Try not to smile when the Republicans in Congress fail to explain why Kansas farmers should continue to be frozen out of new markets in Cuba.
» Mid January: Fly to Miami. Meet Cuban-descendant students. Tell them our 50-year travel embargo has failed to weakened Cuba's political system.
Tell them dictators do not like tourists running around talking about the good times back home in Miami (or Honolulu).
» Finally, announce that you are giving Fidel Castro a gift that will just keep ticking; the removal of restrictions on travel to Cuba for all Americans.
Happy holidays. Thanks for your good work.
It is my view that your top priority for the next two years should be to set aside class warfare and wealth redistribution issues in favor of policies that create jobs and encourage investment.
I believe the best way to do this would be to cut spending drastically and lower taxes, as both would have a positive effect on economic activity.
The second priority should be a reform of the current income-tax system and elimination of the Internal Revenue Service. A national sales tax or "flat tax" would better serve the country and be more equitable.
Third, secure the borders and have legal immigration rather than illegal.
Fourth, make drastic reform of government agencies a priority -- eliminate waste with a focus on Department of Education and Environmental Protection Agency cutbacks.
Last, focus on energy policies that work and develop what natural resources we have, rather than have a total reliance on unproven "green energy" initiatives.
One final comment -- I happen to believe you were born in Hawaii but many people don't. Release your Hawaii birth certificate.
While 54 percent of the American people supported the DREAM Act, and despite the majority passage by the Congress, the Republicans were able to defeat the act. You have spoken on immigration policies, talking at great length about the broken system and the need for bipartisan support to fix it. You have gained much support from those who were hoping that you would be a counter to the growing anti-immigration group around the country.
You have told us to be patient while the Department of Homeland Security has broken records every year for the most people deported, and mass-deportation is now the default immigration policy of the U.S. While you spoke softly on DREAM Act-eligible students, they have been deported, unless they hired a lawyer and brought in the press to their plight. Please, Mr. President, before we turn even more cynical, use your powers as president, as presidents have done before, and do what is right. These students need more than soft speeches; they need action.
Mr. President, for God's and humankind's sake, stand up to the forces that have created our nation's entangling alliance with Israel. This situation has cost us -- and the hapless Christians and Muslims of Palestine -- untold treasure in human and other resources. It has also earned us the scorn and enmity of the world.
I know that you know the right thing to do. I beg you: Stand up and do it. Such a small thing as a one-term presidency would be well worth a place of true honor in the books of history.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We will publish more letters from Star-Advertiser readers directed to the president tomorrow and Friday.