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PONDERINGS

January 9, 2014

SNOWDON AND THE NSA

A short STRIB feature this morning raised a thought-provoking question as debate continues on the NSA and the FISA courts.

Apparently, the general consensus is that the Supreme Court represents some of the least tech-savy people in the country.  www.startribune/politics/national/239124211.html  Reading the article, it becomes clear why there is controversy over Snowdon as a whistleblower vs. a traitor, as well as a growing discussion on why similar activities conducted by commercial and corporate entities (especially world-wide-web participants) are acceptable but less-intrusive government data gathering is not.

Even members of the Supreme Court are suggesting a reliance on the Fourth Amendment to resolve this issue in cases currently bubbling up in the system may not be the answer to resolving these issues of the 21st century.

In a way, that is comforting as it does point out the wisdom of the founding fathers as they drafted the constitution to become guiding principles, but at the same time allowed for amendments as necessary to change it to cover unforeseen future circumstances.

On the other hand, can you imagine the angst, emotion, and drama that would accompany any movement to amend the Constitution to clarify this issue in our world today?  I am afraid it would rank up there with slavery, women’s rights and the civil rights movement in terms of tearing the country apart.

ISRAEL AND REFUGEES

Keep an eye on this one…at least on the surface, the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” mantra does not seem to be applicable – at least in all cases.

It is surely a complicated question that does indeed confront the Jewish state with key questions about its identity, who is a refugee, and do Jews have a special duty to be accommodating in light of their own history.

It does not appear to be a black/white issue; there have been attempts at accommodation; there have been concerns; and definitely there has been unequal treatment of Christian and Muslim refugees.

Sadly, as I read it, I could not help but draw some parallels to our country and our conflicted stance of  freedom and immigration – especially in view of the fact the US was also founded by early settlers often looking for refuge from persecution….and in so doing, created tremendous conflicts with the indigenous peoples already living in the land we wanted.  And yet, we are not always welcoming to those modern immigrants seeking refuge in what we built as a white man’s world.

 

AN ECONOMIC WORD GAME

A New York Times report on Obama’s comments yesterday following the Senate decision to debate the Jobless Benefits bill pointed out a truism that actually made me smile.

Yes, there is a careful “balance” going on in the 2014 message of “despite an improving economy, too many people are being left behind.”

The NY Times ended the article by citing critics calling it a “muddled economic message the White House has been delivering for years under Obama”.

And yes, the economic is not a right/wrong or black/white situation…it is a mixture.  There is not just a single“right” answer;  the situation is complex.

We are too used to right vs. wrong with no nuances depending on our own political leanings along with the color of our skin.  We forget there is truth and fiction in both.

So perhaps that is why I see Obama and the way he thinks as a mixture of white and African-as a good thing. He, like our world, is complicated.  He, like our world, challenges both sides.  That, in my mind, makes him a good leader.

Maybe we are so critical of him only because it is scary – because whether we agree or disagree, we cannot go backwards.   There is no winner in black vs white or left wing vs right wing.

The way forward for success in the future is collaboration – from which will come a better way than either stance today.

OIL, PIPELINES, TRAINS and the MIDDLE EAST

We’ve tipped the scale; most of our oil comes from within our own country today; North Dakota is booming; jobs are plentiful…all good things.

Enter the pipeline vs environment debates and the reality of unsafe trains causing concern over hazardous materials…one more time, proof there is often on easy answer to almost anything in today’s world!

Then another question popped into my head to confuse the situation more.  With our capacity increasing, it is creating more self-sufficiency in terms of fuel.  What is that impact on the US relationship with the Middle East?  As far as I know, we have not heard much discussion on that.

  But obviously, if we produce most of our own oil, we are not reliant on the Middle East and that could well mean less dollars are flowing there from us – despite  financial help to various countries in need.  We most likely no longer carry the mantra of Good Customer in the Middle East – we have become something else.  Are we SURE that it is the tensions of “Obama’s” US policy goals alone that has changed the tone and attitudes?    Food for thought as you listen to the next rant from your favorite commentator claiming Obama’s approach is not working well.

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