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The practice forum that participants at the UHD Center for Public Deliberation will be doing is The Energy Problem: Choices for an Uncertain Future. We have divided the 25 participants into two groups. Virginia York and Tom Workman will take responsibility for one group and Windy Lawrence and I are managing the second group. We scheduled the forum for first thing on the second day, but decided that we needed to first meet in the large group to make sure that all questions have been answered.

We had planned to give them time to work in small groups on late Friday afternoon to construct questions. Virginia’s method is to break into small groups according to the roles of the moderators (opening and personal stake, one of the three approaches, and the reflections) and have them individually construct three questions. They then discuss the questions they have written and explain why they chose those questions and how they would use the questions. In closing the exercise, participants pass their questions to the moderator to take home and consider prior to moderating the practice forum the next day. Since we ran out of time on Friday afternoon, we chose to take time this morning to make sure everyone is comfortable with their roles in the forum this morning.

Off to our forums!

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At the start of the UHD Center for Public Deliberation Workshop today, we asked the participants to complete the following statement, “By tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. I hope I have learned…” Here are their responses from our Texas Forums – UHD Flickr page!



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From Guest Blogger, Lareese Hall

I am blogging about my time at an Executive Education workshop at the Kennedy School at Harvard titled “Community Problem Solving: Skills for Civic Leadership.” Tonight was the first meeting – with general introductions, a course overview, too much food, good conversations, and homework that is mocking me…

There are people here from really diverse places – southeast Washington State, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, North Carolina. What impresses me most about these types of gatherings is how passionate people are about the work that they do – for little money and even less recognition.

One thing that I keep coming back to is the delicate balance of doing work for the good of the people and dragging people along with you. I listened to some talk about getting young people in disenfranchised communities ready for the entry level job market and it made me think about how necessary it is to get them ready to dream, too.

I know too many young people today who don’t talk about their dreams. Who don’t talk about being poets or dancers or artists. And I don’t know them all, of course, but it makes me wonder – are we aiming for something that noone wants in the long run? A young man in our group session likened the aforementioned “disenfranchised” youth to consumers. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) “If you were marketing a product and knew there was an issue with it or wanted to get feedback, you would go to the consumer. Why don’t people do that with these kinds of programs? Get the people on their teams that they want to USE their product?”

Good question.

Tomorrow is the first full day – we will talk about leadership. Stay tuned…

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In his homecoming speech at Bergstrom Air Force Base, January 20, 1969, President Johnson said, “We have the best system in all of the world, but it takes all of working all of the time to make it work.”

That’s the charge to all of us who work with Texas Forums, to find a way for all of us to work together all of the time. Given his record on civil rights, it is not a stretch to imagine President Johnson also charging us, “to make this system work for all of us.”

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From President Johnson’s Diary:

June 23, 1967, was the first day of the Glassboro Summit Conference in Glassboro, New Jersey. President Johnson met with Aleksei Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Soviet Union. Upon meeting Johnson, Chairman Kosygin congratulated the President on the birth of his new grandson, Patrick Lyndon Nugent. The two leaders discussed problems in the Middle East, disarmament and nuclear arms control, and Vietnam, among other issues. In the evening the President left for Los Angeles, California, for a President’s Club Dinner.

Read President Johnson’s diary from the Glassboro Summit

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Just a couple of interesting items at the LBJ Library in addition to the documents stored in the archives:

Letter from a very young 71/2 year old Brian Williams now the famous news anchor who said, “I have not been in the White House before, but I will someday.”

An old dictaphone machine that is used to play the dictabelt audios.  The old machines held two belts. One belt would only hold about 15 minutes. If the recording exceeded that time, the machine would switch over to the second tape:

  • These tapes were restricted for 50 years, but Mrs. Johnson agreed to make them available sooner.
  • The library holds 643 hours of conversation and have processed about 552 hours, but hopefully will be completed in 2008, the 100th birthday of President Johnson.

Replica of the hotline that was in the Situation Room. The hotline was put into place in August 1963, but not used until the conversation with Robert McNamara June 5, 1967. President Johnson’s first message was reportedly addressed to Comrade Kosygin because the U.S. operators did not know how to address Kosygin and the Soviet operators reported that the correct title, “Comrade.”

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Bess Abell, former social secretary of the White House told how President Johnson would always let you know where you stood. If you did something good, he’d compliment you and suggest you should be on his cabinet. If you did not perform well, he would say, “if there’s a mistake here that you haven’t made it’s only because you haven’t thought of it.”

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This seems to be a common reflection from Mrs. Johnson in the home movies she took of President Johnson! Every comment on his physique, brings a chuckle from the audience here at the LBJ Library watching the live broadcast taking place from the Oval Office just down the hall.

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Betty Sue’s response, “I’m a federal employee so I’m going to toss it right back to you

But these comments from Richard Norton Smith, while they don’t answer the question, they shed some light on the thinking Presidents bring to bear when considering war:

President Johnson expended a great deal of his political capital on the war, so you have to wonder why.

Presidents can easily become prisoner of the past. Johnson experience taught him that, “you don’t reward a bully.”

But there was a run up to Vietnam even before Johnson. Eisenhower introduced the idea of “domino theory” and Kennedy had consulted with many advisors investigating what should be done.

To put it in context, one has to consider what would have been the political consequences of walking away? Johnson believed those consequences were worth the risk.

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Dr. Flowers put his ranking at B+

Historian Richard Norton Smith responded, that ranking President Johnson requires balancing his extraordinary legislative accomplishments that are unfortunately undermined by the Vietnam War and seeds of mistrust that have poisoned the well of attitudes toward government that prevails.

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