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. 

 

 

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ANOTHER FINE MESS WE’RE IN

August 31, 2013

All week, the rabid Press has been in an uproar.  Despite the President saying over and over that he had not made a final decision on what was to be done in terms of Syria, we saw feature after news feature outlining how wrong he was. 

First, he was wrong because he did not wait for the UN Inspectors to return.  Hmmm.  Far as I know, he prepared for, but had not decided during the very same time the UN Inspectors were in Syria.  Nevertheless, the Press screamed and (almost worse) kept spitting into the microphones – unable to contain themselves in their stirring up the pot of how wrong the President was.  One impassioned commentator almost cried as he asked why Obama couldn’t just wait two days so the inspectors trying to help were “out of harm’s way”.  

Personally, that term is one that makes ME want to cry.  Do we have to mimic the drama of the Bushman?  What is wrong with the word “danger”?   But I digress.

And on and on they raged.  Couldn’t he at least let the UN Inspectors do their jobs?  Far as I could tell, he was doing that; but from the Press angst, something must have happened I was unaware of-but I listened to news until 8:30PM and never was enlightened as to what that was!  By this morning I had figured it out-just a bad case of Press hype – gone astray.

In the meanwhile, the Press continued to focus on the weekend of terror coming up; because after all, the President was leaving shortly for Russia and the G-8, and he had to get this done before he left.

And yet, coming from Obama was …”I have not made up my mind yet”.  Maybe you hadn’t, my friend, but the Press had and not only that, they had moved on to critiquing how it was going to roll out.   In fact, we were really into polls last night.  The Public does not agree with Obama not having Congressional support when he bombs Syria tomorrow…well, that’s not exactly what the figures on the screen said.…79% approve if Congress also approves, but Obama is earning his lowest support in 5 years…only 20% are with him in his plan to bomb Syria tomorrow-without asking for Congressional support.

Today, more of the same…..until the President announced what he was going to do.

He decided that 1) we needed to move against Syria; and 2) that we would go to Congress for their consent (just like he advised AND voted, by the way, when Bush declared war.)

He also indicated he would not call Congress back due to the upcoming Jewish holiday, but instead, will take this to Congress on September 9.  As I understand it, that was in response to conversations with Congressional leaders last night.  However, today the Military have started to whine.  They of course, think that it should happen tomorrow as it won’t be a surprise next week.  I don’t understand why they think it would be a surprise if it happened tomorrow; the press has been telling us it would be today or tomorrow for a week! Go figure.

 

And now, those very same Press that were criticizing yesterday did a 180 today, and they all have their undies in a bundle about how wrong his decision was…..

I cannot count the number of times I have heard on two different stations in that last hour speculation about “what caused the President to change his mind”.  I am not sure the President DID change his mind.  I think he had NOT decided – just as he said. And late yesterday, he did decide.  It just was not what the PRESS had decided several days ago…so to them, of course, he changed his mind.

But according to the Press, I am wrong.  Britain made him lose his determination….Just what is this costing to have those ships standing by….and why did he leave this hanging and go off to play golf this afternoon?

Excuse me?  Yesterday he was wrong because he was acting too fast.  Today he is wrong because he is holding off for a week and will go to the G-8 for additional discussion.  And he is especially a bad boy because he is out playing golf with VP Biden this afternoon.  The NICEST thing said about Obama today was that after all, he was a Constitutional scholar, and philosophically, during the Bush Administration did not think Bush should have initiated war without Congressional approval.  As a result, this has been a difficult philosophical struggle for him.

As the day went on, I found out so much more.  Little did I know the ships that were repositioned had been in dry dock and the crew was on leave.  What?  You say that is not the case? They were just patrolling elsewhere?  Well, then why is it costing so much more money now?  Oh, I see.  Just another Press fabrication; it is not costing more money. Despite the Press angst, we should not be worrying about the money it was costing to have five ships readied.

Andrea Mitchell for one, is particularly irritated both about the cost of the ships and about the golf.  She raised it as a major issue on a show I happened to be tuned to.  Then she raised it again. And then she did her own War Report at 4 PM, and after getting no traction the first two times, the person asked the third time sided with Obama; indicated it has been a hard week, and with another hard week ahead, it might be good for a couple hours down time.

But the “we know best” Press continued on.  First, we now look bad because the President changed his mind and now we are regarded as wishy-washy through- out the world.  How will we live that down?   Further, we have lost the surprise.  What Surprise, I think.  We have talking about this on every news program for a week!

Second, the focus has moved to “a strike will do nothing”  based on input from two military experts –well known from ten years ago.  Now, I don’t mean to complain, but really?  We are calling on Bush war advisors to show us what Obama is doing wrong?  Another bunch of retired angry old men with expertise rooted in Viet Nam.    It brought to mind that old military guy that was pushing for trained horses before WWII…or was that a myth?

Third, I guess the afternoon really showed me how much we keep our President in the dark and only the Press has the facts and expertise to handle these issues. I also learned that military trump both the President and the Congress.  So the latest at 5:30 was that we are now headed for a total disaster.

Seriously, I do not know what the right answer is, but I definitely know not to trust the Press of today. But then again, I am sure if we look at the ratings for the news shows this afternoon, they sky-rocketed.  Never mind if the public was better informed.  It’s all about the ratings.

 

 

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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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July 23, 2013

A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY PRESIDENT

For some time now, America has been very critical of Obama for one reason or another.  He is either not going to war and killing people like the Republicans want; or not handling things the way Democrats want-based at least on what Democrats who came before him have done.

And over and over, I question – is that a bad thing?  I was comfortable that he was not predictable; he did not tout party lines but thought in terms of what is best for each individual situation.  Nevertheless, the continual outcries sometimes made me doubt because I certainly seemed to be in the minority!  But I continued to listen, understand, and support his reasoning for any given action… despite thinking  perhaps I was out of step with America.

And then, Steve Chapman’s column this morning entitled “If Obama is a wimp, hail to the wimp” gave me hope.  Finally, a columnist who succinctly and honestly assessed each situation in question and told it like it is – as it relates to Obama and his foreign policy in Egypt…Syria…and, Afghanistan.

“None of these situations is working out in a way that is pleasing to us.  So it must be his responsibility to fix them, right?”

“Well, no.  The beginning of wisdom about the international realm is that those are not our countries.  We don’t have the responsibility to dictate what direction they take and we don’t have the means to impose our preferences.  When we get deeply involved, we’re apt to produce results very different from what we hope…the path to wise policy does not run through a field of daisies.”

So to all the naysayers – Stop and think for a minute folks!  Almost half our country thinks our OWN government which was elected by the majority of us has no right to tell us as individual citizens what to do.  Think of the outcries we’d voice if China – disagreeing with the way we operate as a country, dropped in, took charge, and dictated what we do. 

We would not like it one bit; so why do we think citizens of other countries would welcome manipulation and interference from us- whom they often see as the “Ugly American”?  To think differently brings to mind the term “hubris” a trait that always creates conflicts!

Look at the three examples in Egypt, Syria, and Afghanistan and tell me why one size fits all and US interference is the “size” they all should buy!

From my persective, Obama has looked at each unique situation carefully, getting input from all sides before he wades in, then makes a unique decision best suited for that situation.

Is it consistent?  If you mean the same proposed solution over and over whether it will yield results or not – no, it is not consistent.  If you think consistent is spelled WAR as the last adminsitration did, then no, it is not consistent.  If you think, yes the process is the same:  he looks at each instance as unique, follows the same process to get input and then determines the best option for that situation… then, YES, he is consistent.

And I am especially happy that he is not consistently applying a favorite outdated 20th century single solution to  every circumstance.  What he has done is what he TOLD us he would do when he ran for President.  That is what gave me and a lot of other people hope; and that is why he was elected –a new way of thinking for new situations in a new time.

As Steve Chapman said so well this morning:

“For now, at least, Obama is carrrying out a foreign policy that errs on the side of caution, patience, restraint and economy.  As for the critics, you know what?  We tried their way.”

RIGHT ON, STEVE (and Obama)…I’M WITH YOU ON THAT THOUGHT FOR SURE!