Posts Tagged ‘Snowden’

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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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NSA HEADLINES AGAIN

December 18, 2013

I think Snowden and the NSA is a good example of generational differences we all struggle with in our world today.

On one side are the Traditionalists and early Boomers who remember not only PARTYLINE phones and 4-digit phone numbers, but telephone operators and neighbors listening to our phone conversations,  McCarthy witch hunts, constant threats of nuclear war, air-raid drills in grade school, and scary confrontations with the Communists/Soviet Union…all elements that represent the 20-25 years of life in the world emerging post-World War II…and the rise of US dominance in that world.

Patriotism and pride in our country trumped what we viewed as inconvenience in communications.  As a country, we all could relate story after story of how that early precursor to the CIA gathered data to aid in the “war effort”…tapping phones  and telegraph systems to gather information that helped us win a world war-eventually stopping enemy attacks against our country from Pearl Harbor forward.

And so, in general, we had an out-dated perspective when we experienced terrorists attacks of the 90s- first off-shore, and eventually with 9-11 on our own soil once again.

Unfortunately, a very different world had emerged in America by 2001, and we were still governed by traditionalists and early boomers who made some significant miscalculations as they combined WWII-era thinking and 21st century technology to “fix” the new emerging problems and attacks.  And as I continue to say over and over, what worked and was applauded in 1950 is a great misfit in today’s world.

For all the good that can be credited to the Greatest Generation and the emerging Boomers – they also pushed hard for the changes and advances in technology that soon outgrew their wildest imagination… without really understanding the consequences.

Not only that, they raised later-generation Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Gen Y offspring with very different perspectives.  “ME FIRST”, “I know better”, “I’m worth more” reigned supreme; the idea that “no pain; no gain” was lost.  Individualism emerged with all its foibles AND advantages.  It led to different thinking and technological advances that have changed the world–one more time…and brought with it both good and bad attitudes in our “American” thinking of “what’s best”.  With that came the birth of the NSA…perhaps one of the last contributions of 20th century thinkers but fueled and criticized by emerging leaders for the future.

However, there are no “tested” rules for this emerging group of leaders…just as there were no rules as we progressed through a colonial life to an agrarian society powered by slaves, to the beginnings of industrialization and eventually, a century of world wars.

Every transition in our history has been painful; so far, every transition has led to a better, stronger America, and every transition has needed leadership…not from the elders but from the visionaries of the young – working WITH the elders to prepare us for the future.

Transitional leaders do not always emerge as heroes; they make mistakes, they change their course based not on “here is how it has always been done” but on “here’s the vision of where we need to go; I am willing to explore the best way to get there as we search for a path through uncharted territory together.”

If we reflect on the past, those early visionaries of change often seem to be lost; but in the end, they teach us not only how to get “there”, but also how to avoid costly detours along the way.

I supported Obama for President (twice) for just that reason…he was grounded in a world I knew and understood, but he represented new thinking that reflected the need for change, for testing new approaches as we forged ahead into unknown territory for which the playbook was yet to be written.

I do not support Snowden as a whistleblower for exactly the same reason – in reverse.  He witnessed something he did not agree with.  He chose not to have a dialogue with anyone on how best to proceed for the good of all, but chose a path of instant “personal recognition” with very high risks – to himself, and to our country.  His actions continue to beg for the spotlight and not for a discussion and solution. He chose a path he knew would bar him forever from the very country he said he was concerned about.  Why?  I can only believe it was for instant gratification, personal fame and recognition-not concern for the country or its citizens.

With roots so firmly planted in the second half of the 20th century, I recognize that without constant monitoring, I am subject to that immediate post-WWII thinking first, and then slowly, listen, learn, and rethink.  That paid off for me as an early “pioneer” of women leadership in the business world.  I disagreed with the attitude of the times; I did not draw attention to myself with rowdy protests; I quietly outsmarted the system, changed attitudes, and helped break ground for the advancement of women in business.

And so, Snowden’s approach is unthinkable to me.  Traitor/Spy vs Whistleblower ?  Although I believe his motivation was personally motivated, in the end, I think he will prove to be both.  He has made us focus on NSA and given us an opportunity to discuss what it was meant to be, what it is, and if/how adaptations can be made in the 21st century context going forward.

Yet, Snowden’s individual immediate gratification, “ME FIRST”, “I know better” attitude has hurt the very country that give him the right and freedom to speak out.  I think there was a better way.  Craving spotlight and fame, he chose not to take a preferred route.  For that he will never be a hero to me.

Nevertheless, we as Americans, still have to address the issue.  What is the NSA; what is its mission; what are the wins and what are the risks?  And are they worth it?

And then, for me, is the second question:  Why do we object and protest when the government gathers meta-data and yet most of us seem JUST FINE with the hours stolen from us every day by the corporate world doing exactly the same thing?

 

  • How much time do you spend watching commercials on TV-targeted to you because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much time do you spend scrolling through hundreds of unsolicited e mail commercials you receive every day because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much time is stolen from you deleting, unsubscribing and blocking unwanted commercial intrusions because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much time do you spend on-line trying to get rid of pop-up commercial intrusions as you search for a fact or data you need/want because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much junk snail mail does your postman deliver (and how much do you PAY the government to PAY him) because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • Why is it okay for the commercial world to intrude, take over your life, brainwash you into believing you have a NEED for something you did not even know existed?  Why is it okay for corporate executives to be paid $millions annually to SPY ON YOU; and pay their workers minimum wage for doing the dirty work?

THEN ask yourself what the big deal is with NSA having your phone number.  Do they bother you with incessant robo-calls all evening?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE EVOLUTION OF MEET THE PRESS

October 28, 2013

THE EVOLUTION OF MEET THE PRESS

We got our first television in the late 50s – and MEET THE PRESS became a “Must See” event in our family.  It has always been the weekly resource for well–researched current events that reported without a bias, and gave equal time to multiple sides of an issue- whether that be political or otherwise.

Enter David Gregory.  For a long time, I thought it was just me.  I didn’t particularly care for him, but I felt I was not giving him an unbiased chance simply because I was so vested in his predecessor, Tim Russert .  However, over time, I became more disenchanted…sometimes to the point I would just turn it off.

Sunday might have been a turning point. 

My first clue was when the Governor of Kentucky pushed back on Gregory and flatly told him he was wrong.  Hmmm…Gregory is the Moderator, not the opposing viewpoint, right?  What is wrong with this picture?

Next, we had a single guest – Andrea Mitchell.  She was introduced as NBC’s expert  and together she and Gregory had a public discussion about Obama…filled with ”Is not”, ”will not”, and ”did not”  which culminated  with  a justification that Obama was wrong and weak based on Saudi Arabia and Israel’s  unhappiness with him.

Even at this point, I am thinking:  OK, Cheryl…the whole world seems to think this is a mess Obama created; perhaps you should rethink some of what you understand to be the situation.

And then the conversation transitioned to the latest Snowden leak.

And Meet the Press failed the test.  (see below)  They did not even bring up the most important question.

I shut off the TV because Meet the Press in my mind has crossed the line.  Instead of reporting and discussing news of the day and its possible impacts, its mission has evolved to “GOTCHA”.

It makes me sad that this oldest program on TV, long the friend of America, has fallen into the pit of sensationalism and ratings only.  Although, it does free me up to get to church ON TIME instead of a few minutes late!

 

MY PLEAS TO THE PRESS:  Just the facts AND THAT MEANS ALL the facts:

The latest in the Snowden epic is a release of a document that indicates eves-dropping activities from 80 US embassies and consulates.  It included several countries in Europe we consider our allies, including Germany.  Here are the dates I can find so far:

2002       NSA MAY have included Merkel’s personal phone in the dragnet

2005       The document leaked by Snowden indicates Merkel’s phone number was accessed.  However that document reveals the number being caught in the dragnet, but one cannot determine if the number was actually listened to.   

2009       Obama is inaugurated as President of the United States.   (NOTE:  This is at least four years and possibly seven years after the reported incident occurred.)

2010       NSA reports to Obama they have the numbers/are eves-dropping. I presume the actual date of that is recorded someplace, but I could not find if it was January or December.

20XX      At some point, NSA was told to STOP by Obama. Obviously, someplace there is a record of that.

20XX      Snowden steals document – I am sure by now, investigations could tell us the date it was stolen, but I do not have at hand. Nevertheless, the impression from Press was “IS”  listening in not WAS listening in.

2013       Snowden reveals the leak.

2013       Obama/Merkel phone call;  Obama assures Merkel the  US is not now nor will in the future eves-drop on her conversations.

Now, I am not a reporter; I am not expected to be the one who digs into the facts, but really, am I the  only one in the world that wonders why the dates above in red have not been revealed?  And am I the only one in the world that recognizes this began in 2002 and NOT after Obama became President?

I’m just saying, fill in the blanks and report the story in full.

 That was the reputation of what Meet the Press would do in the past.  That is not the story of Meet the Press today.   This may indeed be a major misstep that can be attributed to President Obama himself or it could be a risk taken that starts a movement toward meaningful conversations and actions; or it may be a twisted fact that sells magazines, newspapers and TV program ratings.    What I most fear it is that some of the continuing propaganda is being seeded by the Tea Party who are so intent on discrediting Obama as a man that they forget some of the spin discredits us as a nation.  And as a citizen, that really irritates me.

 

MY OWN TAKE ON THE MIDDLE EAST TODAY

For as long as I can remember, the Middle East has been an issue…early in my growing-up and adult life, it was trumped by Viet Nam a bit, but it has ALWAYS been a delicate balancing act because we have brought together in a very small place three major religions of the world (READ:  Commitment and Emotion) and a whole lot of oil (READ: Economics and Riches ….and somehow, that all means trouble.

Of course, we need to heed voices of concern from Israel and Saudi Arabia re Iran and Syria…but we also have to acknowledge that bellicose confrontations have not yielded results in the Middle East despite 45 years of trying to out-shout one another.

Of course, there is a possibility that movement in discussions toward eliminating chemical weapons and  nuclear capabilities could all be a ruse…but it could also be an opening to talk to one another and initiate possible change.  Does anyone expect that Israel will be worry-free (or even happy)?  No, but responsible countries cannot ignore the possibility that change could ultimately come and the bellicose confrontations and threats have not achieved much to date except death-so I think it is worth the effort to test it.

So when I read headlines like “Syria files plan to destroy (chemical) weapons” and “Anti-US signs ordered removed in Iran”…I continue to think:  “It’s working; proceed with caution; and see where this takes us.”

Of course, those complaining that Obama is foolish and weak; Obama is not following through; and all the other common Republican talking points that the Press has swallowed up as truth are really MOST INTERESTED in short term results – the Press wants ratings so they can keep their jobs; the politicians want votes  so they can keep their jobs.  And too bad about the viewers and readers that are searching for the truth.

Neither seem to understand  changes predicted for our world are here and now-not something that might happen in the future.   The Digital World has connected us all and that change alone calls for collaboration and compromise.

Unfortunately, all we know is WIN /LOSE, military might and wars.

All I can think of is another headline today that is also pretty thought-provoking – “Iraq crumbles under new attacks.”  To me that raises the question – how much money did our little boys spend playing live war games for ten years and with what result?

Sometimes I think that men will never give up their toys; thus their inbred-looking-backwards stupidity will be the death of us all.

 What I DO know is that in my mind, Meet the Press has moved from a thoughtful trusted resource to Edutainment at best.  I only hope the “evolution” has not stopped there but will survive this hiccup and that soon it will right its ways and continue on.

 


 

 

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TUESDAY’S FOOD FOR THOUGHT

September 18, 2013

NSA Noise But No Changes

Isn’t it telling that despite the clamor when NSA practices were “uncovered”…our Congressional leaders most likely will take little or no action?

That says to me, one more time, the Press was looking for something to fill “airtime”.  Or – although it seemed like a good Obama “gotcha” as it surfaced, when  they dug for the dirt, they finally figured out Obama inherited this mess from George W and the neo-cons.

Perhaps they also found that Obama himself has been uncomfortable with the practice – just like he said; but his advisors (mixed Repo/Demo) had not been able to offer acceptable alternatives that balance safety and privacy in a better way.

So it looks to me like the Press and Snowden created a lot of “noise”, but those responsible in our Congress have not yet been able to find their way out of a mess they allowed to happen.

This may just become the story to trump another uncomfortable one in our past when as we went to war with Japan in WW11, we rounded up the Japanese – Americans on the west coast and sent them to US concentration camps – at the same time we were going off to fight Hitler justified partly by German concentration camps for the Jews.

When will we learn as a country not to be quite so self-righteous?  Often gray is the right solution; not black or white.

 Laying Down the Conservative Law

In the midst of the debate on economic recovery, has the legislature once again been maneuvered into a “gotcha” by that darn Obama?

Think about it.  The House has done little but plot against this administration. But fractious divisions within the Republican Party may have just gone one step too far.

Trying to overturn Healthcare which was passed into law by Congress and the Administration, the House is now backed into a corner.  So they’ve laid down the Conservative Law.

  • Unless Healthcare is repealed (not gonna happen) they will deny support for financing the government beginning October 1.
  • They will not increase borrowing limit in mid-October.
  • This means Government Shutdown.

We shall see what happens, but I am betting on Obama.  Monday, while the world watched the tragedy at the Navel Yard unfold, Obama did what he is so good at doing…he quietly made his case.

Oh yes, you can argue that he should have postponed the speech in view of the crisis unfolding at the Naval Yard and I admit, it seemed a bit incongruous ; but as the audience waited for him to appear, cameras continued to pan the briefing room and it was full of waiting reporters…so I guess they were part of the” problem”, weren’t they?  If Obama is being criticized for  bad judgment, what about the waiting audience- pencils poised to capture the “scoop”?

First, he reminded the American Public that this “crew” tried this in 2011; the result was a slow down in economic recovery…just as the predicted.

He then quickly outlined what his administration has done since 2008…it’s an impressive list for a man who some continue to call a do-nothing president.

Next, he pointed out that the 2011 threats from these folks included the rationale that they had to be listened to because of our deficits (conveniently, as usual, overlooking George W and the Neo –con actions that created that crisis).  Unfortunately for the Conservatives, deficits did not increase as they predicted, but instead, they declined, as the Democrats knew they would….thus, leaving “egg on their conservative faces” so to speak.         

Fast forward to 2013.  The naysayers needed a switch in tactics to cover up how wrong they were.  But as they looked around for a new hook, what did they pick?  Healthcare!

  • Yes, the bill that was sponsored by the Obama Administration
  • Yes, the bill that was passed in the House
  • Yes, the bill that was passed in the Senate
  • Yes, the law the conservative Supreme Court ruled Constitutional.
  • Yes, the same law these folks have tried to repeal over 40 times.

Three branches of government just like outlined in our Constitution have disagreed with the conservative nutcases; attempts to repeal the law have failed over 40 times.

We all know the bluster of these folks won’t work but I bet this quote from the President will be found for generations in our history book:

“I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants.”

Sets them up pretty well for the idiots they are, “dontcha think”?!!

 

Fracking Update

“Industry” study indicated gas leaks from fracking sites fewer than thought.

As I read the headline, I thought- great; we are learning more; maybe I am wrong to take such as firm anti-fracking stance.

Not so fast, Cheryl!  The study was done by the University of Texas (they certainly were picked because they are a “neutral” party, aren’t they?) along with nine GAS PRODUCERS!  The group responding to the study with doubt was a Washington-based environmental group. (Lobbyists, perhaps?)

So with opposite parties most likely representing extremes on either side of the issue…who should concerned citizens believe?

How do we get a NEUTRAL assessment instead of this craziness?

 

 

 

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POTPOURRI

September 9, 2013

 

SYRIA Becomes Excuse….

 

Who ARE these people we vote into office?  Looking for an excuse, the US Congress is finding one.  SYRIA trumps Immigration….it’s now unlikely immigration will be addressed for “months” if at all this year. 

 

Again, this is one more reason for change big time in the 2014 election.  Two years of DO-NOTHING should signal VOTE NO from constituents!

 

MN REPIBLICAN PARTY

 

One almost has to feel sorry for those Minnesota Republicans trying to move forward after the damage done by their one-time leader Tony Sutton.   Hard to stomach his picture on the STRIB front page this morning…it took me back to 2008 and the slimiest person I have ever encountered in my professional career.  Unfortunately, it is not surprising today’s news reports he has personally filed bankruptcy – why not, I guess – he had already bankrupted his party!

 

NICOLLET MALL FACELIFT

 

The tentative facelift to Nicollet Mall would be SO welcomed!  Finally, we could have a chance to fix the half-done design from the 1960s.  The magic worlds are more green connections – perhaps we could include a vertical farm and market along the way.  Can’t wait to see the three finalist designer plans revealed on September 17th!

 

MORE GOOD HEALTHCARE NEWS

 

Allina is experimenting with different ways to diagnose high blood pressure….with preliminary findings that indicate 30% of those on meds do not really need them!  Good for them…and good for me.  I have long held the opinion that many docs over-medicate. 

 

MAALOULA ATTACKED

 

The Syrian War has now impacted Maa loula – the oldest Christian community in the world – so ancient they still speak the language of Jesus – Aramaic.

 

For the second time in four days, rebels swept through the town which had been abandoned a few days earlier by citizens and priests who oversaw the Mar Takla Nunnery.  The 27 nuns had remained to care for the dozen orphans housed at the nunnery.

 

Apparently no one was hurt, but this certainly shows the complexity of issues attached to this trouble from yet one more perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

NSA and SMARTPHONES

 

More fallout from Snowden re the NSA….this time Germans protesting both NSA/GCHQ (British) eavesdropping on specific individuals.

 

I am still isolated out here in the world saying we’re approaching this all wrong,   Again, one more time…start familiarizing yourself with input like that discussed in “the New Digital World”….then rather than taking a path of 20th century knee-jerk reactions, let’s have a conversation based on the REALITIES of today’s world – what we gain and what we lose AND THEN debate what citizens of the world want going forward and how to accomplish that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.   

 

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DEVIL OR SUPERMAN?

August 22, 2013

The headline this morning read “2011 ruling:  NSA violated Constitution”; the subtitle read “The e-mail collection program was later fixed to the court’s satisfaction.”

The opening two paragraphs summarized that the NSA program violated the Constitution for several years according to a top-secret court ruling from October 2011 which was made public yesterday.

And then the third paragraph “below the fold” if you will:

“The release of the ruling, under pressure by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was the latest effort by the Obama Administration to contain revelations about NSA surveillance prompted by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.   A side bar in bold in that paragraph proclaimed : ”Volume and nature of the Information [the program} had been collecting is fundamentally different than what the court had been led to believe.”    This quote was attributed to the 2011 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion.

Eight inches of print into the article, we learned that the problems were relatively small compared to surveillance on non-citizens abroad.  And we learned that NSA quickly fixed the problem to the court’s satisfaction.   Nevertheless, the remaining 5 inches of print indicated the court was still troubled, and that what was being collected was far different than what  FISA had been led to believe.  It reported this was the third time in less than three years in which the government disclosed a substantial misrepresentation of the volume and nature of information.

As I finished the article, despite knowing a small amount about the NSA/FISA Court history rooted in the Bush Administration, I admit I had to take a deep breath and say…wow-this is not only disconcerting;  it is enough to make me think I better think through my support of Obama.

For some of you reading this, I imagine it was enough to send you off to the organizing groups with your donations to support impeachment of the President.   And hopefully, there are some of you out there that know much more than I and recognized this immediately as Press manipulation.

I however, fortunately had a nagging voice in my brain telling me to think through that timeline.  And I listened to it.

 If Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, how could there possibly have been time to move into the White House, learn all there was to know just about  how the White House itself operated, get all the appointments announced and people in place in all the government agencies and arms that represent the nation, have them get acclimated in their new roles, dig deep, learn the nitty gritty details, review, and report back to the President recommendations and actions; get those actions implemented and enforced  and still have been able to  pull off some MAJOR disturbing practices….all the while butting heads with an opposing party who announced  their mission over the  four years from January 2008, to January, 2013, was to ensure  that Obama would have no second term.    How could one man, who also crafted a major change in US healthcare and GOT IT APPROVED despite that same opposition by the Republicans, and got us out of Iraq, and on track to get out of Afghanistan, and finally found Osama bin Laden and killed him, and weathered a Republican plan – at least in the short term – to bring down the country financially – be able to launch this plot successfully?  How could one man already fighting GREAT ODDS accomplish all this?   He was not a” White Man” with all the privilege that implies; he did not bring decades and decades of experience about how Congress worked, nor decades and decades of relationships within the Legislative bodies, nor did he have the family connections and money of a Kennedy, nor the benefit of being a Governor like a Clinton.

Amidst all that, how could he campaign and be selected to a second term of office – thereby showing the weakness of the opposing party NOT ONCE, but twice?

 And even more perplexing, Obama believes in building a better world through collaboration, listening and learning from one another; in a world where individual people helping others do make a difference.    He set out to change the Best World ever built – that one built by the Boomers  – a world that brought power and fame and money to those that knew how to play by Boomer rules.  Those rules that say  if we just surround ourselves with others like us and boycott, we will be ok….and the rest of the world will go away.   How in the world did he overcome those barriers we put in his way?

The timeline made no sense to me in view of all of that.  And then there was the fact that I knew nothing about the organization that brought the suit.  Who is Electronic Frontier Freedom anyway? 

And so I detoured off to do a little research – fully expecting to find that this group was another Republican propaganda arm – masking as a do-good non-profit.   And I was proven wrong, at least in the short amount of time (about two hours) I have spent on it this morning.

But what I learned as FACT was the timeline.

This organization came to be in 1990 – just a few years into the DIGITAL AGE – as a result of some very forward thinkers imagining a future in which individual rights would be fighting a tough battle in terms of privacy rights issues.  It seemed to be legitimate; it scores well on consumer/public ratings of whether to invest/believe or not.  And it sounds good on its web and in Wikipedia, and its actions to defend personal and individual rights speak well of its intent.

1990 – yes,  in the midst of Reagan/Bush Senior era – but as I read about it, its focus did not show political philosophies, it clearly was focused on what will this digital world we are entering do to our personal freedoms.  I know, you can’t believe everything you read, but my gut feel led me forward.

The initial interest and filings in this specific case went back to 2005-2006. This lawsuit itself was filed in SEPTEMBER 2008.  Hmmm.  That’s a red flag, is it not? 

The Republicans had just nominated John McCain as their presidential candidate; the Democrats had just nominated Obama.  We were in the midst of debates…and the American public was immersed in the issues and teetering on the brink of the worst collapse of our economic world since the Great Depression – an amazing turn of events in eight Bush years.   And there as a candidate was an unthinkable possibility that just maybe we could have a President that would be a mixture of both white and multi-cultural race that could lead us through this transition to that time in 2040 and beyond when whites would become the minority.  And even better, this candidate thought differently.  He did not emulate power and out-trumping an opponent, he professed listening, dialog and collaboration – just what all the futurists were saying was needed around the world in this new 21st century.

 

But I digress.  Back to the timeline.

  1. Issues surfaced 2005-2006.
  2. Lawsuit was filed September, 2008, while Bush was still Presidet of the United States.  Translation:  This was a lawsuit against Republican actions during the Bush Administration.
  3. The ruling made in October, 20ll, with extensive review and necessary adjustments made by the Obama Administration to comply with that ruling.
  4. No data uncovered to date to when plan for those implemented adjustments began, but I presume that it had to be a priority fro mthe beginning in order to have a plan and be able to implement it successfully immediately in case the ruling demanded it.  I would call that foresight.
  5. Although the changes were quietly implemented, there was no publicity at the time and Obama defended the right to keep them secret. (Ed:  Think:  Suporting the right of the Office ofthe President; and hence the person who initiated the action – George W. Bush)
  6. Obama refused to give out details to the Press, but at the same time told the nation in his address this summer that he welcomed the review of this (21st century) issue.

Today, that has all been played out in the Press with a definite slant of sensationalism aimed at Obama.

This feeds right into the damage and trouble that I believe is being caused by the PRESS in this country whom we have allowed to move from reporting facts to telling us what we should believe about those facts- which today are interspersed with non-facts and simply personal opinion of what is rapidly becoming irresponsible commentators looking for ratings to keep their jobs.  

That, and the difficult issues emerging in this century for which we have no precedent, puts us right where we were at the beginning of the 20th century…fumbling our way through a whole new world of individual rights that were expanding past white men to women to native and other non-white men and women at a disturbing pace because of new means of communication.  I’d like to think we learned something over a hundred years, but perhaps we have not.

That aside, the time I have spent on this morning’s STRIB article leads me to one conclusion only: 

Perhaps the sin of Obama is only that his strong morals and thoughts about how to better prepare the United States for the 21st century  led him NOT TO BLAME THE CAUSE  – the Neo-Cons under the weak leadership of nice man – George W.

Many have questioned why he as a ”Constitutional Scholar “could even think that what was being done would not be unconstitutional.  Perhaps what they scoff at is exactly why he did not take a personal stand – his knowledge and confidence in that document may have led him to the knowledge that change would come without his intervention. He did not dishonor a former President;  and did not yield to political pressure to do so as he has no further political aspirations. 

 I listened to that nagging doubt and invested the time to think it through and it brought me right back to where I was in 2008.  I voted for a man I admired for his principles and new thinking.  I stand on that. I believe he has been motivated by those same things as well as commitment to the Office he holds as the leader of the country he loves…even though standing against releasing the details of a system established by his predecessor has made him the bad guy.   

He is neither the DEVIL nor SUPERMAN.  He is not even acting as a politician, although he has done that well  along the way.  He is a product of his time with deep beliefs and motivation to help his country where he can.  And I personally cannot wait until he is released from this sentence we have given him so that he can return to the real world and we learn of how he next intends to influence the world and help guide us through the turmoil ahead for which we refuse to prepare!

That is why I spent today – my first time off in almost 40 days – to think this through.  It was worth every minute.