Letter to the President #3

Dear President Obama,

This is not a letter I wanted to write as, like many, I have a lot on my plate.  However, after hearing your recent Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, I am convinced that, in addition to all that the underclass of this country is expected to give, like our labor for your corporate giants, like our taxes for your war profiteers, like our bodies and minds for your dilapidated forms of health care and education, all of which goes toward the comfort of those at the top, that now we must add to our lists of tasks the moral leadership of this country, and set an example for the world of how a rich country ought to use wealth, not as a means of protection but as a tool for the universal uplifting of one’s fellow man.  This sir, is an ideal, one of many ideals that you dismissed rather casually while accepting a prize for which you made clear you were not eligible for.

The surprise I felt when you did what was unnecessary to do, when you could have avoided a deeper discussion of your eligibility, when you could have taken the prize as a symbolic pledge to move toward peace, when instead you chose to lecture on the efficacy of war as a means to peace, when you did that, when you engaged in the most heinous forms of doublespeak, on the same platform where Martin Luther King Jr. once stood, and further, when you went on to dismiss the depth of the power of peace as symbolized by this man, when you disgraced him by pursuing a distinction between ideals and pragmatism, when you did this Mr. President you made very clear that you are in need of an education by those I will argue here are bit closer to the ground of being.  As you laid out your argument you did so with an appeal to history, and you used history to make the case that mankind is to be inevitably stricken by the plague of war, and you supported this argument by the claims that progressive rules of warfare would help craft a lasting peace.  I saw that the man who stood for so much more during the campaign is a naïve man, one who has read his history with a lust for power.  For there is another history taught in the state schools and much unlike the one taught in the Ivy League, this history does not celebrate the victors.  No Mr. President, when you made your claims concerning the limitations of peace, it was obvious you had never seriously considered the depth of the class struggle that faced young black men and women in the sixties and this was a conflict that was occurring at home, and yet a great countless number of men and women committed to a peaceful, ideal-driven struggle and overturned an attitude of racial inequality that had hundreds of years of entrenchment, and threatened the entire power structure of our country.  And also, as you mentioned Gandhi, you made clear here too that you lack any enthusiasm for peace, because here is a man who was able to take this simple and forceful principle of non-violence and not only defeat the largest empire this world has ever known, but did so with non-violence and gained independence and a legacy of freedom for his entire nation.  Sir, when you stood on that podium, you made clear that you are an arrogant man, and as all arrogant men, you have no deep connection to the impoverishment of spirit that makes humility possible.  For only those who have fallen in this life, who have occasionally failed, have had to reach out to ideals, to virtues that make no sense, and in practicing them blindly find that this universe is resounding with a divine presence, with a power so vast that we cannot hope to understand it, but if we decide to serve it, we might leave this world with the clear heart that comes from being good, from being uncompromising in our commitment to service.  When you made your case that peace was an end, you forgot that it is also the means.  But what should we expect, you excel at the American art of politics, which has at its heart a combative character, and no doubt you will continue to fight to uphold the edifice of your ego.  And so, it makes sense that you lack the very moral imagination you made a call for, for only in adversity is such a skill developed, an adversity that can, it must be pointed out, be chosen.  And therefore, when dealing with a small minority of radical islamists, you make a contradiction that offends the legacy of King and Gandhi, by proclaiming that here is a case where such ideals would be folly, you offend the notion King died for when he began speaking against the militarization of our society.  This!  This small group of idiotic radicals represent so great a threat to you sir, that you throw away the greatest legacy of human history, that of radical non-violence, the courage to lay down before persecution, imprisonment, even death for the good, for the ideals that make life worth living, and you do this, you throw all this out explicitly, making a case for it.  When you do this, you offend your own religion, and worse, you bring about a magnification of the very antagonism that feeds extremism.

Mr. President, when we elected you we were aware of your situation.  We were aware that certain realities would have to be engaged with concerning war, and so we expected that as a result of that burden you might find the courage to do one of two things, to respectfully decline the Peace Prize in order to uphold its meaning or rather, at least speak deferentially toward those more deserving and acknowledge the political nature of the award.  We certainly did not expect you to use that stage to argue for the necessity of war!  As we watch politics go on as usual with your administration, and we as Americans realize that Obama is simply another corporation, asking for money and delivering nothing but frustration in return, we are forced to come together as a class, as a group of global citizens who understand that power, so concentrated as it is, has a corrupting nature, and because of this we must toss aside our already crumbling dreams and do what is right for future generations and work to resist the ongoing dominance of isolated wealth, which strips men and women of everything decent, and threatens our very safety as a species.

I knew there was a great danger when you were elected Mr. President.  I knew that you had so raised the hopes and dreams of your country, that a broken heart of that magnitude would be devastating.  I have cast aside any remaining hope in you Mr. President, for a man who disgraces Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi the way that you did is not able to do what is most needed right now, which is to stand up for the kind of principles that represent the only hope of a sustainable future.  If by some miracle, you are able to recapture the support and love of your citizens, if by some twist of fate things get better and you benefit by association, then I will be happy for them, the same way I would if some man who spurned my daughter had a change of character and made her happy all the remaining days of her life.  I will be happy that this miracle took place but it will only be for those who were spurned in the first place, for they are the one’s carrying ALL the burden of this relationship, and I will never forget this again.


Ken Vallario




  1. Winslow
    December 17, 2009

    Well done Vallario.

    I for one saw not all of this coming but saw how Mr. Obama voted as a senator and was repulsed.

    He will disappoint.

    It’s sad he’s become just another presidential crook.

    There is no hope any more.

    I’m bracing myself for what comes next each year and the year after that …

  2. globatron
    December 17, 2009

    I’m sorry you feel this way. I thought it was a powerful speech and sometimes things need to be said that the world doesn’t want to hear. For instance there is no positive without a negative. There is no peace without war.

    He stood in front of the world and acknowledged the duality of this existence. Hitler would have not been defeated with peace. Do you feel the Nazis would have given up if there was a sit in? And for someone who was in Manhattan during 9/11 I know you understand the severity of the types of attacks that Al-Qaeda wishes to carry out. I do understand your perspective though and see how maybe this was the wrong place to defend the surge in Afghanistan. That there is no just war and to justify it while receiving the Nobel Peace prize is quite a jump in logic.

    You make a very interesting point. The problem is that he is actually doing what he said he would do in his campaign. The war in Afghanistan was always going to be a priority to him and he made that very clear.

    As to the health care bill. Well I give him credit for trying. I think the bill can have amendments in the future that can make it stronger. I try to look at what he promised he would do in his campaign and honestly I see him following through with more than I ever thought he would under such terrible circumstances.

    Two huge advancements in the health care reform bill that will directly impact me are:
    No caps on health care costs per patient per year.
    No pre-existing condition clause.

    So with that said I support the President and feel he needs more support. You have motivated me though to write my own letter in support of the President who happens to be President in possibly one of the worst times in our short American history.

    Do you approve of anything he has done?
    I read the headlines and I stay pretty involved with the most leading news sources. I read Al Jazeera and the BBC along with CNN, etc. I even read the crazy threads on Foxnews.com sometimes. I watch Beck and Hannity every now and again to know what is being said about him. All negative. You have approached your negativity from a totally new and different angle. I must say it is refreshing to see a new perspective on one’s unapproval of the President. I definitely give you a gold star for originality.

    Obama 2012.

  3. globatron
    December 17, 2009

    Maybe the only thing that can unite this country now is for everyone to dislike the President? I’m all for that if it brings the country together. I’m honestly tired of bickering over it with my family and friends.

  4. Akbar Lightning
    December 17, 2009

    i respectfully disagree, i am a whole-hearted believer in the unfathomable power of peace. it is often said as a truism, too often, that hitler would not been defeated without force. maybe it is true, but we don’t know that, we only know what we did, and the war itself put into affect certain causalities that make it impossible to know what came first, and let’s not forget that WW2 sprung out of the mess of a previous war, and the nazi’s were the direct result of that war, much like the al queda is a result of our failed enforcement policies of the past. peace is and always will be the only answer, it is most powerful because of how simple it is.

    those two provisions in health care can be seen as a way of increasing customers, and the fluidity of premiums are not reformed, then caps don’t matter. i don’t watch anybody on the far right, they are in my mind, domestic terrorists, but i watch bill moyer’s every week, and i watched that oberman video i posted, and there is a strong group of people out there with very reasonable and powerful evidence that Obama is heavily connected to corporate interests with a long history of evading reform.


  5. globatron
    December 17, 2009

    I agree with you that peace is the only way when fighting an ideology. But when you are fighting a dictator who is hell bent on empire expansion like Hitler was and genocide of a race of people I ‘m not too sure diplomacy will work. But who knows. Can we imagine a world where Hitler was approached with diplomacy and his military laid down their arms? Can we imagine a world where we found the concentration camps and decided to offer Hitler a treaty instead of ending the war?

    I enjoy believing peace can be the answer but in Hitler’s case I’m not too sure it would have worked out for the benefit of mankind. Maybe I can write about that. That might be an interesting topic that I’m sure is not discussed very often.

    I do think the only way to win the war in Afghanistan is to fix the issues with the ideology of Al-Qaeda. That will have to be achieved through diplomacy alone.

    As far as the corruption of Obama I’m not willing to go there yet. I honestly still want to have hope. Unfortunately, it seems hating him is the only thing that can unite Americans these days.

  6. Akbar Lightning
    December 17, 2009

    it’s worth pointing out that WW2 did not save many of the jews, millions were successfully killed by the machinery of warfare itself.

    if WW2 was about Jews, i have no doubt given good intelligence and very specific missions, we could have created an underground railroad, and for those who wanted to stay and resist we could have sent stuff in the other direction, and worked to transform public opinion, but WW2 was not about the jews, it was about a host of ideologies that war was used to solve, the jews were the victims of this conflict, just like in any war, a great number of people are destroyed as a sacrifice to ideals that do not live up to the effort, ideals like capitalism and free-markets, traded in place of true ideals like peace and fairness and equality.

    my criticism of Obama is not hatred. I think that watching so much of the right-wing stuff, the ignorant, you are seeing hatred. my criticism comes from basic decisions he is making that are clear conflicts with the primary notions of civility and fairness that he sold us on. although i have supported certain things from time to time, the largeness of some of his mistakes are for me worthy of deliberate and organized criticism.

    an equal number of private soldiers are in iraq and afghanistan as there are us troops, they make a fortune of tax money, and obama’s increase will be met by an equal number of private contractors. they are war profiteers, and Obama has simply given them a more sellable war. he is a great salesman, but his policies if looked at critically are becoming very questionable, and it was not until i saw his brazenness at the peace prize that i realized how much he truly believes in america as a dominating force, how much he is willing to defend the notion of the american military as a policing force of the world.

    it is also worth mentioning in regards to world war 2 that in our war with japan, we carpet bombed cities over and over and then became the only country in the world to use nuclear weapons, twice. these are problems, and ones that a peace-loving president would be smart to remember.


  7. globatron
    December 17, 2009

    I find nothing to disagree with you on this comment.

    There is no just war. Now that you have pointed it out I do believe trying to sell that war while accepting a peace prize was a bit much.

    I know America is not innocent of atrocities but I believe the Nazi war machine has no equal in human history on the level of evil it was able to inflict on humanity.

    Of course it is always nice to be able to hold Hitler as an example of pure evil in order to keep the war machine going.

    I would like to imagine a world where peace needs no war in order to exist. Where peace is the norm and human conflict is alien.

  8. Akbar Lightning
    December 17, 2009

    i agree with you that germany was a uniquely horrific moment, but i think a further militarization of our society could lead us in that same direction, especially with the magnification over time of ignorance and apathy, which to me make up the ingredients of such atrocity.

    let us hope my criticisms are ill-made. i hope to be wrong about such things, because that would mean the near future will give us brighter days.

    here’s hopin!

  9. Logocentric
    December 18, 2009

    ‘…war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.’ it is, in other words, a solution made necessary by, in his words, the limits of reason. what is said must be correlated to who is saying it. and with this in mind, i support Vallario’s letter. Obama is making a speech in front of scandinavian royalty, he is speaking to dignitaries from around the world, and he is supporting the continuance of an industry that employs military commanders and enriches the suppliers of materiel and technology. he is not addressing ‘the people.’ if we ask who the audience is, we see clearly that the concept of war, from the point of view of the leader of the world’s greatest military power, is predicated on the concept of elites and masses, the few and the many. implicit in the language that he uses is a veiled contempt for those without access to the kind of power he holds–both those who ask questions about power and those who don’t.

  10. Akbar Lightning
    December 18, 2009

    and what makes it worse, to agree with you logocentric, is the unconsciousness of the dismissal, a real vacuum of awareness about the larger ramifications of what he is saying.

    thanks for the support


  11. Logocentric
    December 19, 2009

    i completely agree. this type of speech is made possible only by such unconsciousness. it’s a sick game.


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