Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

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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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EXONERATION?

September 28, 2013

A couple days ago, David Korn had an “Eureka” moment and speculated that perhaps what the “world” viewed  [READ:  The Press] has thought was bungling and weakness – just MAYBE was exactly what the Obama campaign in  2008 said he would do.  Unfortunately, he was not able to immediately implement what he promised as our economic world had collapsed at the end of the Bush administration, and their two wars had also gone a “bit off track”-to put it mildly!  As a result, Obama was forced to spend his first four years in office cleaning up the messes left by the neo-cons before he could move forward with his own agenda.

Remember that campaign?   “Diplomacy before War?”   Remember why you chose him over McCain who also has not changed his stance –” war first, then think about other options”.  Remember those initial moves Obama made to implement his thinking that did indeed lead him to be named as winner of Nobel Peace Prize?  We probably all remember the brouhaha over that.   But how many of us remember the Obama discussions of a “Just War” that accompanied that recognition – along with the reiteration that diplomacy should always come first?

Let’s not forget that as he entered office, it was very evident that his own agenda had to be put on hold as he mopped up after the Bush campaign.  Do we remember how surprised we were when he reached out to –not a friend- but Hillary Clinton to carry the ball for him as Secretary of State …so that diplomacy still remained the focus even if he, himself, was distracted?

Fast Forward to last week.  As it unfolded, the US proceeded with “caution”:  The Syria situation seemed to be moving forward in the right direction and Iran’s Rowhani seemed to be making positive overtures.

And yesterday, history was made TWICE! 

For the first time since 1979, heads of US and Iran had a conversation!  And for the first time, the UN Security Council approved a resolution on chemical weapon use and stockpiles in Syria.

By yesterday at noon, Andrea Mitchell was backing off her negative leading questions and  comments ; by evening, Rachel  Maddow  joined Chris Hayes on MSNBC for a long discussion that furthered David Korn’s statements earlier in the week.

As they looked back at what has happened leading up to Syria and the stance on sanctions in Iran, they recognized that quietly, without a lot of fanfare, Obama was acting exactly like he did as a Senator-and doing exactly what he said he would do during the 2008 Presidential Campaign.  In fact, they had a “eureka” moment.  It all made sense now that Hillary became Secretary of State and covered a million miles  rebuilding diplomatic relations around the world  for the US! And it made sense that John Kerry was selected to “carry on”.

Why, they even speculated that he had NOT put campaign promises aside after all. Instead, recognizing he had his hands full with the Bush economic disaster, he strategically picked Hilary to keep a strong focus on foreign affairs  while he mopped up the messes at home.

Has he been exonerated?  Probably not yet. 

Has the 20th century perspectives of Press, Congressional leaders and the general American people finally figured it out?  Probably not yet.

No, it will take some time to break the habit of applying 20th century norms to a 21st century thinker…but finally, there is a leak in the dam those angry old birds put up to protect themselves, and soon the dam will fail.

But for all those Americans that did not become disillusioned, discouraged and disappointed, but continued to watch patiently understanding the first to forge a new path often stumbles and falls and is “hit in the face by the brush” as they make it easier for others to follow…I say, YEAH TEAM! Indeed, “it’s working” and I , for one, feel it is almost exoneration time – even though I know that will only totally happen when the naysayers are GONE and Obama is viewed from a less emotional historical perspective.

Nevertheless, it’s been a good week….despite the Repo suicidal bent not only on their own destruction, but that of our country!

 

 

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MEET THE PRESS REACTIONS to “Unprecedented Actions” about Syria:

September 15, 2013

I have watched this unfold from a different perspective than most…I watched with a brain full of ideas and thoughts I’ve gathered in the last ten years as I noticed a new way of thinking emerge in 2004-6.  I have experimented with that way of thinking  in my business with unbelievable good results, even though it was a “messy” way of doing things. And so, I don’t think of myself as that borderline traditionalist/boomer – I think of myself as an older person who sees a bright future ahead and tested that in the business world.  That continues to impact my business; it swayed how I voted in the last two elections, and has allowed me to watch Obama as the first president experimenting with a philosophy that will rule the 21st century.  And it keeps me re-evaluating over and over and still thinking our BEST option going forward is with Obama and other 21st century thinkers leading us carefully through the mine fields.

Indeed, it may cloud my thinking on Syria  so I am not feeling the same gloom and doom as I watch Obama maneuver through this latest crisis in Syria.  No, we are not the world fixers; and Syria is definitely not a clean right vs. wrong situation…so I was okay with cautiously remaining on the sidelines as the civil war progressed.  And I was okay with the use of chemical weapons creating a new crisis because it did cross a “RED LINE” – which was set almost 100 years ago-despite the spin politically to make it an “Obama Red Line”.  I have been okay with the behind the scenes negotiating attempts one last time; even as Obama went from saying “I am undecided” to “yes, we have to demonstrate consequences” and then went off to G20 for one last attempt to get the Russians to help control their stepchild.  As that all played out last week, I did not see that as weak; I saw it the continuation of testing consensus and collaboration as a governing style.  I was proud and hopeful.  Of course there are risks; of course there is Putin playing games; of course this will not bring ever-lasting peace to the Middle East.  Excuse me, but the middle east was at war throughout most of the history captured in the Christian Bible.  Do we really think we go from an ever-lasting mess to ever-lasting peace all in one week?

The only thing good I can say for sure about my thinking as I sat down this morning to watch Meet the Press is that I admit I am conflicted, and do not see this as BLACK or WHITE, and I still had hope to learn more as I listened to experts discuss their views.

9:00AM brought me into my miniature den to learn more.  I listened to the pros and cons (mostly negative comments) and I continued to come to the same conclusion I have reached in the past.

Judgment and advice are all wrapped in a myth – that myth that the US can continue with 20th century thinking and actions; it is as if we can reset, do it again and get it right.  We could have been discussing any number of world “crises” that have come before.  Each commentator (with the exception of 1-2) had a position- staked out over 50 years and that was the RIGHT way – no matter what.  A telling comment slipped out at one point – “the last victory we had in the Mideast was under Jimmy Carter.”

NO one challenged that, so if that’s the case, perhaps we need to RETHINK  what our expectations should BE about the mideast. It has been the cause of most skirmishes and political discussions my entire adult life.  If we have not figured it out in 50 years and “put them on the correct” path, perhaps it’s time we pause and ask why are we doing this.  Are there other options?

We don’t because we know the answer- we do it for OIL; that gets tangled in RELIGION; and then we wrap it all up in PRIDE…Pride that tells us that only the Americans know the right way to do anything… and we have been charged somehow with bringing democracy to the world – so all peoples can share the good life of the Americans…even if that Good LIfe is mostly concentrated in the top 1% of our citizens, and some think at least 47% cannot be helped. 

Really, folks?  One of these days, I would like to see Meet the Press take a little risk.  Instead of asking the  old men and women who are so tightly trying to hold on to influence and power, perhaps we should have a panel of 21st century commentators – perhaps we should acknowledge the US is not all aging “angry old birds” .  Those young commentators? They are not all Obama fans; they are not all wanting to go off to war; but they THINK DIFFERENTLY.  And that is the important thing.  Give the world a chance to hear how Americans coming INTO leadership positions think and why.  This old bird thinks we would be a better country for doing so.

 

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PUTIN TAKES STAGE FROM OBAMA….

September 13, 2013

…Read the STRIB headlines yesterday.  And I said, do we care if the problem get’s resolved?

It is certainly “fitting” since Russia has been the MAJOR supplier of ingredients to MAKE the chemical gases  so I prefer to think the US may have just out-maneuvered Russia on this one.  After all, whatever you think of Obama, you cannot say is not intelligent and matching the Obama/Putin ego, whose do you think is bigger?

So only if trying  to “get” Obama is a greater motivator for the US Press than stopping the evils of Russia and Syria, will we all be sucked in on this one.

REPEAT TO YOURSELF:  21st CENTURY NOT 20th CENTURY.  Are you judging using old guidelines; or are you looking at this from the world we live in today?

Then ask yourself just one question:  Which would you rather have?  Peace through collaboration or Peace only after a war?  This is not about WINNING, it’s about SAVING LIVES.

 

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OBAMA AND SYRIA

September 11, 2013

I woke up this morning thinking…why am I still conflicted on Syria; why can’t I seem to be as strongly  “YES”  or “NO”  as everyone around me?  I made my coffee, unfolded the paper, and read the headline ”Obama Backs Diplomacy; Keeps Strikes as Option”  and decided….I need to sort this out in my own mind – everyone else I know has.

Who is the man named Barak Obama?

Obama is anti-war in general; as a senator, he voted NO to the Iraq War…one of the few at the time that, like me, was not drawn into the neo-con nonsense.  I had watched 7.5 months of the Bush campaign and preparations to go to war against Iraq that started the day he was inaugurated; and I was leery.  I believed then, and I still believe, that the Neo-Cons manipulated Little George into a position of war to show up his father and finish a job that George Sr. did not finish.  And then 9-11 happened; masterminded by a man NOT from Afghanistan; but by a man that  took refuge there; so despite the fact history had just shown us the difficulty of winning a war in Afghanistan-based on the Russians then recent long attempt- we went to war without Congressional approval…..a war that is 12 years old and still continues.    So yes, Obama voting no to war was a good signal to me.

Obama was concerned about the Syrian civil war but clearly drew the line on entering a war and putting Americans at risk.  The US offered aid when it could be assured that aid would not end up in Al Qaida hands.

 Of course, that put Republicans against him; united in the belief that he is weak in foreign policy…because it does not follow the bluster of the second half of the 20th century; but then, SO FAR, it has not yielded wars that drag on and on and on…think Viet Nam; Afghanistan; and Iraq.

Most Americans were relieved we were not jumping in; many of us were still troubled that through the longest war since Viet Nam, the Bush Administration had given NO THOUGHT to what war in the 21st century would be like….NO THOUGHT to the kinds of injuries that would be incurred; NO THOUGHT to increasing veteran services to accommodate returning wounded soldiers – both physically and mentally.

All that was left to Obama; along with the slow process of ending the Iraqi War, working through a plan to extract us SOMETIME soon from Afghanistan; and trying to play “catch-up” with getting help for all the GIs that followed the Bush command to go to war. And let’s not forget to add to the list that in 2006, the Bush Administration started stockpiling cause and money to extend our wars in the Middle East to include Syria as well…Had McCain won the Presidential election in 2008, I have no doubt we’d be in the thick of that war as well – with similar disastrous results.  Fortunately Obama won.

Seriously, folks, do you really think what he inherited made him a war-monger?  Come on; get real!

Take a deep breath and think of the timeline.  The most recent chemical bombings happened on August 21 and were well-documented.

For some amount of time the battle of what to do raged inside the White House.  How many times did we hear Obama say “I’m still undecided”; and how many times did you hear the Press criticize him for that?  How many times did you hear your favorite commentator say:

“He’s ready to bomb; can’t he just wait for the UN inspectors to get out?”

or

“What is he waiting for?  The battle ships are in place.  If he doesn’t do it this weekend, we will lose the advantage of surprise?

Really folks, do you REALLY think anyone interested in the world wasn’t listening in on your constant evaluations?  Even in pre-WWII days, the world knew a debate was happening in the US so you can be sure, the world was tuned in to the blathering Press this time around.  But maybe the blathering  gave good coverage for the President to work through the possible action steps.

Nevertheless, through all that, I was hesitant and confused.

  •        I voted for Obama twice because he thought differently than our 20th century leaders.
  •         He was a man that believed leadership was reaching consensus through discussion-not unilateral decisions based on “power”.
  •          He filled his Cabinet and advisory positions with a mixture of folks- both Republican and Democrats that were experts on the task     at hand.
  •          I voted for him as the best representative of an emerging USA of the future.  For me that meant:

 

    1.    No ingrained philosophies of the good old boys; he was an independent thinker
    2.    A strong belief in consensus building through collaboration-something I know from experience on a smaller scale yields GREAT results, but is very “messy along the way
    3.    A first step in US leadership that reflects the USA of 2040 – multiculturalism
    4.    He was not an “angry old bird” from my generation trying to protect a myth that those of us who came into adulthood by 1970 “KNOW BEST”

So in spite of doubts, I reminded myself to watch the signals- he was doing exactly what I should expect.  He was preparing for retaliation, but he was struggling- as war goes against everything he believes in, and he was sharing that with the American people.  Over and over, he said he was undecided.

This brings us to the weekend before the G20.  The Press had already decided war was beginning that weekend as he had to do it before he left for Europe.  What?  Would any responsible President start a war on Sunday and leave for Europe the following week?   Well, obviously had the Press been in charge, we would have been foolish enough to do so.

Remember Andrea Mitchell bitching about the cost of repositioning the warships if they were not going to be used, and What was he doing playing golf on Friday with a war starting the next day or so?!!!

So that weekend, I went back to the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and the discussion of “Just Wars”.  I read again the yeahs and nays and was reminded once again why I voted for Obama twice.

He is not a man of the world in which I was born, grew up, and formed my beliefs.  He’s a man suited to leading us in small steps to a better world of the 21st century.

I will not always agree; I do not have the same perspective.

But I believe his hesitancy was real; his actions were based on assessment of divided views within his advisory groups; and that it was well worth the delay that weekend to give diplomacy one more chance to work as he put a hold on action and tried one last time to work out an equitable plan with Putin at the G20, while Kerry continued discussions with his own Russian counterpart.

Personally, I think they fooled the Press…one more time…and now we have a reprieve-short as that may be.

Of course the naysayers and the Press will continue to shout WRONG – the wires were burning with Andrea Mitchell’s attempt just this noon.  She even did a whole segment on Nancy Reagan running the government as she questioned why Obama mentioned Michelle.

 No Andrea, I think most of country heard him say:  This is really hard and I know most people do not want war – I do not want war; Michelle does not want war.  THAT is totally different than the spin you are putting on things because of your own personal opinion…and forever more, I will think less of you for your presumption that as a reporter you know more than the President of the United States.

But as I look at what’s unfolded and how…I’d say one more time, his country underestimated a man of the 21st century.   As we continue to judge him against old standards that obviously did not quite make our world a better place for all.  Today’s 12th anniversary of 9-11 is certainly a testament to that as are the resulting wars that still continue with or without us in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the incredible debt piled up for starting  and paying for those wars on a credit card.

Obama is the first to try to blaze this new trail into a whole new world where no precedents have been set and for which there is no tested playbook.  Will he be right all the time?  Probably not, but will he have done a better job than all the Angry Old Birds including McCain and Andrea Mitchell?

I think so; so I’m sticking with him.

 

 

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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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THE WORLD KNEW…FOR 30 YEARS

September 8, 2013

Interesting article in STRIB A17 entitled “World Watched as Syria Stockpiled” – to learn this all started in the 1980s, that First George Bush raised it as issue in 1991, that George W admin personnel admit they were well aware but had too many other “priorities” and that as Obama took office in 2009 and learned of the behind the scenes inactivity of 8 years of George W, it was flagged in high classified document to diplomats around the world by the STATE DEPARTMENT.

 

None of that helps the situation- so far I still can’t say with certainly where I personally stand on intervention issue except that, indeed, my instincts were correct – this is not an OBAMA issue but a 30 year failure of the US to act that has now come to a head.

 

And of course, Russia will block it in UN – they were a primary supplier of materials to accomplish this from the beginning…along with Iran, some Western European suppliers AND a few AMERICAN companies.

 

Fortunately, the  article ended on a positive note -Syria still depends on Russia and the Czechs for key resources – so perhaps the West can exploit this vulnerability to get Syria to stop.

 

Guess since this crossed Democratic and Republican Presidents both, we all should have a hard time looking at ourselves in the mirror – but at a minimum – it makes it hard to point the blame to Obama – he might be the only President in 30 years who had the courage to raise the issue and try to act to stop it.