Posts Tagged ‘activists’

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QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

August 26, 2013

I’ve only read the first section of the paper this morning, and already I have been distracted with some significant “food for thought”:

First, an OPINION EXCHANGE with a eye-catching headline – OH, IT’S ONLY BIG BROTHER:

“Is it the general public’s comparative lack of indignation over the NSA surveillance scandal that is surprising, or is the real shocker that journalists, activists and politicians feel so outraged?”

Personally, I think David Rieff asked the wrong question.

 The FIRST question should be “When we pay these people to be the eyes of our country, why did they not know these things before Snowden leaked them?

 Even I, a commoner out here in the Midwest, was well aware of some of this activity since it emerged shortly after 9-11; have followed  it as much as general public could, I think, including the alterations to tamp it down a bit, and I mentally assumed risk and worth had been duly judged.  Despite concerns Obama himself expressed about the practice since it began, I sensed –perhaps inaccurately- that once he became President, he was briefed on facts not generally known in public and thus, had not yet taken action.  That, I think, was reinforced in his first official speech on the issue after Snowden when he said he welcomed a review and positive input on how to minimize the down side of this initiative.

The SECOND questions should be:  What makes common bedfellows of journalists, activists, and politicians?  Oh yes, we all like to focus on admirable words like “truth” and “love of country”, and “agents of change”, but we often overlook another: Big Egos drive them in search of name recognition, ratings, and good polling numbers.

And one more time, they manipulated the public, trying to make Snowden a Hero exposing the enemy – our government.  Ratings soared, but as the general public absorbed more facts, the hyperbole died down.

YES, there are many issues we have not faced as we transition into this digital world we have created.  There is a wealth of information available by non-political experts – a pile of it is sitting on the corner of my desk .  Whether you are “just” a citizen of the US like me, or a politician, journalist, or activist, it is our common responsibility to explore with open minds, listen to both sides and then come together to craft  new guidelines that minimize risk, and capitalize on strengths of this new world we find ourselves in.

That will not happen until we stop clinging to “This is the way we have always done it.” It might surprise most of us, but we have NEVER always done it the same way.  The strength of our US system is its flexibility to change to meet the needs of its citizens as we go forward.

 

The second eye-catcher in Section A today came from a Letter to the Editor by Neil Anderson of Richfield:

The STRIB’s Front Page (Above the Fold) shares a report that 330 people died and an additional 3000 were impacted from Syria’s use of chemical warfare.

Still first section, 10 pages later, the STRIB published Neil Anderson’s opinion.  That opinion stated that 1,100 were killed and hundreds wounded as it described the very same incident.

 Hmmm.  I will skip the additional hyperbole about a “do-nothing President Obama” and simply say…it is not hard to fact-check in today’s world.  Neil Anderson might want to try it!  That should keep him busy while Obama, his staff, the military leaders , and informed legislators continue to review and debate options in development since the first rumor of chemical weapons surfaced. 

I am not sure, but I presume this was what the FIRST President Bush did when we learned of what Hussein did as Desert Storm was launched in response to the Kurdish situation and Kuwait.  He took time to GET THE FACTS, and more importantly, HE LISTENED to experts around him, and together they crafted a plan that ensured that we could go in, alleviate the situation with minimum cost of American lives and dollars and GET BACK OUT.  He had UN support, and Saudi Arabian, UK and Egyptian troops as well as $36 million of Saudi Arabian financial support (approximately 1/3 the cost of the entire 7 month action.) He launched an effort that was supported around the world, and more importantly, succeeded in its stated mission.

Neil Anderson is certainly entitled to state his knee-jerk reaction; and likewise, is entitled to skip the facts and urge the government to act without a plan.  After all, there is a precedent set for that as well.

On 9-11 we were attacked here in the United States; the mastermind of that attack escaped to hide in the mountains of Afghanistan.  It may have been a good match, as Afghanistan is a savage place-and in my mind, bin Laden was a savage person.   But one would have expected a bit of caution along with that emotion and flag waving, as it was no secret that the RUSSIANS had fought for years and years in Afghanistan and in the end, could not win and withdrew defeated.  One would have hoped we had evaluated that, identified why the Russians could not win, and had developed a plan to ensure the same would not happen to us.  But apparently, that was too much to ask; and hubris won-we went to war.

Within days, the second President Bush and his neo-con staff launched the Afghan War – and then just six months later launched the SECOND war on Iraq.  I, for one, am still not sure how the two were connected in the beginning.  Now, they are connected by a tremendous loss of lives in both, billions of dollars spent on a credit card over 7 years with no exit plan, no plan to repay the American people, no plan to help families to gave up members of their families, no plan to financially take care of returning veterans lucky enough to survive-many who returned home gravely wounded both physically and mentally, and certainly no plan to bring back from the dead all those who died for nothing.   

So I am glad to be a part of that majority of the voting public who have voted for President Obama TWICE…because we trusted he would collaborate, listen to experts, and ultimately develop a plan that could yield the best  results for the least risk-for the crises he was sure to encounter as President.  By voting YES for Obama the majority voted for a man who represents the 21st century.  At the same time, we voted NO to a repeat of the gun-slinging cowboy of the 19th century that did so much damage to our country as this new world dawned around us-damage we still have not been able to make right.