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The Silver Lining About Wikileaks December 6, 2010

Posted by Bill in Afghanistan, barack obama, Current Events, Korea, Obama, Politics, Terrorism, Uncategorized.
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While my first reaction to the Wikileaks adventure was to prosecute them and to wonder how bad the diplomatic fallout would be, my second reaction on reading the specifics was to applaud the professionalism of what our government is doing to solve the many problems around the world.  

What really tickled me was that  Sarah Palin, in an interview about her new book, was asked what she would do differently that President Obama about North Korea.  After going on about our need for energy independence and how vulnerable she feels as an American with President Obama in charge of our security she finally answered that she would pressure China to lean on North Korea to get them to behave. 

Sure enough that is what President Obama and his people are doing.  Guess we don’t need Sarah Palin as president after all.  And ain’t that a relief, you betcha. 

Anyway, these leaks giving our diplomats an embarrassing moment.  However they do have the virtue of showing that the Obama administration is doing the right things in protecting and furthering America’s security and interests.  

I thought that this column by Leslie Gelb that appeared in the Dallas Morning News today summed up my thoughts very nicely. 

From   http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/viewpoints/stories/DN_1206edi_gelb.29020a91c.html

Leslie Gelb: How the WikiLeaks scandal actually helped the U.S.
In explaining his deed publicly, WikiLeaker Julian Assange suggests that what he’s doing is uncovering American misdeeds and lies. Yet here’s what he missed in what he turned over to the drooling press: Our diplomats were doing a good job.

Indeed, when you turn off his nonsense and stop listening to the strange commentary on cable news and even on the front pages of great newspapers, when you actually read the documents, here’s what you see: American leaders and American diplomats trying to solve crucial world problems.

U.S. policymakers and diplomats are shown, quite accurately, doing what they are supposed to do: ferreting out critical information from foreign leaders, searching for paths to common action and struggling with the right amount of pressure to apply on allies and adversaries. And in most cases, the villain is not Washington, but foreign leaders escaping common action with cowardice and hypocrisy.

Washington needs China’s help in bolstering sanctions against Iran, and China balks for fear of jeopardizing its oil and gas flow from that country. The Obama team arranges for Saudi Arabia to guarantee any loss in supply to China. If the world wants to slow or even prevent Iran’s march to nuclear weaponry, this is a key path to doing so.

The U.S. discovers that North Korea has manufactured medium-range missiles and is trying to deliver them to Iran through China. The Obama team discovers this, informs Beijing and asks Beijing to stop the transfer. Beijing declines. Really creepy.

Yemen’s leader takes public responsibility for American missile attacks against al-Qaeda in Yemen. He wants to diminish the power of these terrorists, as do Americans and most others in the world. The “lie” by the Yemeni president is a harmless way to get a critical job done — that is, the job of fighting international terrorism. WikiLeaks tears away the political cover of Yemen’s leaders.

No country has anywhere near as much influence over nutty North Korea as China. So, U.S. diplomats are searching desperately to figure out Chinese thinking about North Korea in order to compose a plan for avoiding war on the Korean Peninsula. So, the Wikileakers expose some Chinese leaders who are actually trying to give us some insight into Chinese thinking about North Korean craziness. They won’t do that again soon.

Time and again, as one actually reads these cables, one has to be heartened by the professionalism and the insights of U.S. diplomats. What are they doing? They are not lying, and U.S. leaders are not lying. They are actually, believe it or not, trying to solve problems. That seriousness of purpose and the professionalism to execute it is what jumps out at you in these materials.

So, the naïve say, it’s good to show the effectiveness of our diplomats. Give me a break. Ask any American diplomat to choose between looking intelligent in leaked cables and making progress toward avoiding war.

None of this is to say that there should not be leaks, or that the press should not pursue classified information that is necessary or very helpful to a sensible public debate on policy. If a U.S. administration is lying, or distorting the facts, or telling one story to the public and another to itself, then by all means, let’s have it out in public. If the U.S. government is concocting intelligence in order to justify wars, let’s hope an enterprising reporter finds it out for the rest of us.

But the WikiLeaks dump is not about providing essential information to Americans or to others — information they need for serious policy discussion. This massive trashing by WikiLeaks of a legitimate effort by the U.S. government to preserve confidentiality is the very least a shame and at the most, a crime.

 Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official, is author of Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy (HarperCollins 2009). A longer version of this essay first appeared in The Daily Beast, http://www.thedailybeast.com. © 2010 RTST, Inc.

I Guess It’s Only Wrong if Obama Does It May 30, 2010

Posted by Dindy in barack obama, Obama, Politics, Uncategorized.
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The other day I violated one of the unofficial Facebook rules– I posted a comment in response to someone’s message in which I disagreed with that person’s message. Facebook is kind of a warm and fuzzy place– it has a like button that you can click if you like someone’s post but there is no dislike button. It is generally understood that even if you disagree with what someone says in a post, you don’t say so in a comment. However, I had someone post a negative comment in response to a cause I signified support for a few weeks ago, so when she posted a petition yesterday about Obama’s Memorial Day plans and added a comment expounding on Obama’s disrespect for men in uniform and his betrayal of his duty to his country, I felt it only fair to ask her if she had thought the same thing when  Dubya handed off the duty to Dick Cheney in 2007? Or when Bush I handed it off to Dan Quayle in 1992. Or when Reagan handed it off to his Deputy Secretary of Defense in 1983? I also pointed out to her that Obama is NOT skipping the Memorial Day ceremony, but will be giving a speech at the national cemetery in Illinois on Memorial Day. I asked her if it only counted as doing his duty if he was in Washington.

Not surprisingly, the comments in response to mine have been very supportive of her and not of me– after all, I did break a FB rule. One guy angrily told me that he had noticed that I only referenced Republican presidents; evidently he was unaware that the last Democratic president before Obama, Bill Clinton, spent all eight of his Memorial Days at Arlington National Cemetery. However, in the spirit of fairness, I will note that Jimmy Carter apparently did not visit Arlington on Memorial Day, in 1978. Ford attended both Memorial Days while he was in office but Nixon apparently did not attend at all.

The friend on whom I posted the comment responded thoughtfully and admitted that she didn’t like Obama, didn’t think he was qualified for office, thought he was a poor president, and added that the fact that his predecessors had done the same thing did not excuse him.

I appreciated the thoughtfulness of her response, however, my point to her, which apparently was lost, is that Obama is NOT disrespecting our soldiers. On Memorial Day he WILL be attending and speaking at a ceremony at a national cemetery. However he will be attending the ceremony at the national  cemetery in Illinois and not in Virginia. Here is my problem– once again the talk show pundits are seizing on a non-issue and working people up into a frenzy about something that isn’t even true. If you don’t think Obama is a good president– fine. I thought Dubya was a lousy president. If you want to criticize Obama for his policies, fine. I thought Dubya’s policies sucked. But don’t criticize Obama for disrespecting American troops and Veterans by claiming he is ditching them on Memorial Day to vacation in his home town when it just isn’t true. That only hurts your own credibility, and makes me seriously question your motives for criticizing Obama in other areas.

Arizona Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough April 23, 2010

Posted by Dindy in barack obama, Current Events, Obama, Politics, Right wing, Uncategorized.
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The State of Arizona, in an attempt to prove that Texas does NOT have the dumbest legislature in the USA, is considering a bill requiring presidential candidates to submit documents to the Arizona Secretary of State proving that they satisfy the constitutional requirements to be president. The Arizona House passed the measure on Wednesday on a 31 to 29 vote and now it goes to the Arizona Senate for approval.

Personally I don’t think the bill goes far enough. Why not pass a bill requiring candidates to provide proof of EVERY claim they make? After all, there is more evidence for Obama being a US citizen than there is for George Dubya Bush having served his full six years in the National Guard.

Wouldn’t that be something if every time a presidential candidate opened his/her mouth to speak, s/he had to provide proof that what s/he said was true? Would SOME candidates have a hard time with that? You betcha!

Let’s face, there is nothing in this world that will satisfy the whackos who insist that Obama is not a US Citizen.Countless media organizations have rebutted claims that Obama is not a US citizen, every judicial body that has looked at the matter has concluded that Obama is a US citizen, the Hawaiian government officials who are in charge of birth certificates have stated that his Hawaiian birth certificate is valid, but the whackos are determined NOT to be satisfied. In fact, they are so busy deluging the State of Hawaii with requests for Obama’s birth certificate– up to 50 a month– that the state is considering a law of its own– one that will allow it to ignore repeated requests to produce the document.

Actually, I think the State of Hawaii is missing a golden opportunity here. Obama has already made copies of his birth certificate freely available on the internet. If these right-wing idiots insist on demanding a copy of a document that is freely available on the internet, go ahead and provide it for them– at $500 a pop. Fifty requests a month at $500 each– Hawaii could go a long way towards balancing its budget on that kind of money. As a wise person once said– you can’t do anything about the idiots in the world, so you might as well make money off them.

Finally Something We Can Agree On October 1, 2009

Posted by Dindy in barack obama, Current Events, Obama, Politics.
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In the wake of the furor over Kanye West’s actions at the MTV Video Awards- you know, when he grabbed the mike from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech and gave a shout out to Beyonce Knowles- we have some refreshing honesty from the only man in the world who could probably get away with saying publicly what we all were thinking privately.

Obama calls Kanye West a jackass

I don’t think I’ve heard anyone disagree with Obama on this– not even those critics who hate him so much they can’t accept the fact that they were born in the same coutnry as Barack Obama.

And here’s something else, too. There have been a number of accusations that Obama’s critics are racists. Most notably former President Jimmy Carter came out and said that the opposition to Obama is grounded in a deep seated racism.

“I think that an overwhelming proportion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he’s African-American,” Carter told NBC television.

Obama, however, doesn’t see it that way. According to White House Spokesperson Robert Gibbs,

“The president does not believe that the criticism comes based on the color of his skin. We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we’ve made and some of the extraordinary actions that had to be undertaken by this administration.”

Funny, I don’t think I’ve heard a single one of Obama’s critics disagree with him on this statement either. I guess they don’t disagree with Obama on absolutely everything.

What Are We Teaching Kids Anyway? September 13, 2009

Posted by Dindy in Church and State, Religion, Schools.
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In Texas, a proposal being reviewed by the State Board of Education would drop the mention of Christmas from the 6th Grade Social Studies curriculum, replacing it with information about Diwali, a Hindu religious festival. Not surprisingly, conservative Christians are up in arms and revisiting their Continuous “War on Christmas” battle cry.

Actually, to be precise, the standards being considered are a requirement that sixth graders be able to explain the significance of religious holidays such as Yom Kippur, Diwali, Ramadan and Easter. Christmas is not included in that list although it is included in the CURRENT standards and Diwali is not.

Personally, I’d include them both, however, it’s possible that the committee recommending the changes thinks that sixth graders are probably already very familiar with the significance of Christmas and don’t need the school to spell it out for them. Let’s face it, it is not possible to live in the United States and NOT be aware of the religious significance of Christmas. It’s kind of like expecting the schools to teach kids in Texas about the importance of football– oh, wait a minute, schools in Texas– Arlington, Texas– are already expected to teach students about the importance of football. That’s why the district is busing 500 fifth graders to the new Cowboys Stadium in September.

No! No! No! It’s not to teach them the importance of football! It’s so they can hear the former president, George Dubya Bush, explain the importance of a volunteer initiative that will happen during the 2011 SuperBowl.

Volunteering is important, and no one should have a problem with their kids hearing about it. After all, it’s an important value, kind of like staying in school and studying hard- but wait! This is the same school district that completely boycotted Obama’s speech to school children about staying in school and studying hard because it took 18 minutes of class time away from IMPORTANT things, presumably like teaching the significance of Christmas!

The Remark Heard Round the World September 11, 2009

Posted by Dindy in Obama, Politics.
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“You lie!”

Two words. Two small words. A challenge to be sure. An insult.

And in uttering them  Joe Wilson, a  lawmaker from South Carolina may have unwittingly ensured that health care reform will happen.

The last few months have seen a real break down in civility in the American political process. Not that it’s ever been particularly civil, but since Obama took office we have seen a huge deterioration of political civility  unlike any we’ve seen before. From town hall meetings that look more like a barroom brawl to the lies and claims about senior citizen death panels, it’s enough to make you wonder if everyone remembers that we are actually all living in the indivisible United States.

What is impossible not to see is the fact that an incredible amount of antipathy and hatred has been focused against one man, Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and I am truly at a loss to explain why. After all, his detractors keep claiming it’s not because he is black, so it surely MUST be something else.

Obama  faced uncivility and rudeness long before he took office. When Obama visited a North Carolina barbecue joint in late October, a woman at the back of the restaurant yelled, “Socialist, socialist, socialist — get out of here!” Another woman actually refused to shake hands with him. Just stop and picture this for a moment. Picture walking into your local Tony Roma’s or Spring Creek Barbecue and as you do, a voice from the back yells, loudly enough for all to hear, “Socialist! Socialist! Get out of here!” Despite this you continue to walk into the restaurant. You go from table to table and stop to speak to the folks sitting there. As you extend your hand to one woman, you politely ask, “How are you ma-am?” and she pulls her hand away and refuses to shake yours.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the guts it took to walk into that restaurant? Yet, Obama not only went into the restaurant, but he went around and spoke to each of the diners- at least the ones who WOULD talk to him. Blazing Saddles anyone?

Since Obama was elected, we’ve been treated to the harangues by the birthers, a group of nitwits who insist that Obama is not actually a US citizen and have actually tried to file lawsuits declaring his election invalid. Earlier this week we saw a protester greeting the presidential motorcade at a school where Obama had gone to speak. The protester held a sign saying, “Mr President, stay away from our kids.” And now we have a lawmaker who broke the decorum of an address to a joint session of Congress to directly challenge the President. “You lie!”

Can you imagine sitting in a meeting with your boss and the CEO with all of the stockholders of your company watching? Imagine your CEO talking, laying out proposals for the upcoming year and all of the sudden you just feel compelled to burst out with, “You lie!”

What on earth would ever make ANYONE think that this kind of behavior is permissible? Sadly, a lot of people not only seem to think it is okay, but they welcome it. GOP leaders have been quick to criticize Representative Joe Wilson, but Wilson’s SC constituency had some different opinions to offer:

“He’s the only one who has guts in that whole place. He’ll get re-elected in a landslide,” said John Roper, an insurance agent, as he sat among patrons at a diner near Columbia. ~ AP Yahoo News

However, the remark seems to have galvanized Democratic lawmakers who seem, finally, to have realized that enough is enough. Nobody likes a bully, and Wilson’s remark, combined with images of hysterical right-wingers demonizing the President for daring to tell kids to stay in school and study hard, makes it clear that Obama’s opponents are just, plain and simple, bullies.

Now the Dems have finally found their voice- and their spine. They’ve finally realized that they are in the same party with Obama and are vowing to pass health care reform with or without the GOP. The Dems are voicing their support for the president and speaking out against the rudeness. They are finally realizing that civil discourse does not mean that anything goes.

It’s about time.

Some People Need to Take a Giant Chill Pill September 7, 2009

Posted by Dindy in Obama, Politics.
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I simply cannot get over the fuss and bother from right-wingers about President Obama’s proposed speech to the nation’s schoolchildren on Tuesday, September 8. The President… of the United States… wants to talk to kids about the importance of staying in school, and you have a bunch of nutters protesting because they are afraid their kids are being indoctrinated into some liberal cult.

I frequently tell people that you can’t fix stupidity and here is a prime example of it. For my first example, we have this mother who is so distraught about the prospect of Obama speaking to her children via television that she bursts into tears.

Then we have this highly confused mother, who can’t even remember the question,  explaining why she is keeping her kindergartner home from school on the day of Obama’s speech lest her child pick up cooties or something (it’s never exactly clear what she is afraid that her child is going to pick up, only that she doesn’t want her picking up whatever it is from Obama)

Finally we have some sanity from James Carville who has the audacity to say aloud what the rest of us have been thinking– these people are nutters.

Have we become so polarized in this country that we cannot let the President of the United States talk to our children because we didn’t vote for him? Well yes, it appears that as far as some people are concerned, we have. Where were these people when President Reagan addressed the nation’s schoolchildren– On November 14, 1988 he addressed and took questions from Washington area middle school students in a program taped and distributed by C-Span. During this program he [gasp] strayed from his “stay in school and stay off drugs” message into a message about the importance of low taxes.

Then in 1991 President George Bush (the first) gave a message to the nation’s school children, urging them to stay in school and stay off drugs. Democrats fussed about the expense of the speech, but I don’t recall parents pulling kids out of school and screaming about indoctrination.

A lot of the fuss now is centered around study guides that the Department of Education prepared to accompany Obama’s speech. Parents are outraged about a question in which students were asked what they could do to support Obama. That question has since been removed. Okay, so maybe maybe the question was ill advised, but does this really rise to the level of indoctrination?

Now you have these parents who are so concerned about their children that they don’t want them exposed to a 15 minute speech from the President of the united States. These parents, who are making a big fuss about how concerned they are about their children’s education, are keeping their kids out of school for an entire day lest they get cooties from hearing this 15 minute speech. How does that compute?

I’ve even seen some politicos suggest that Obama’s opponents should be given equal time with the schools. How stupid is that? Are you going to put someone in there to tell the kids they should drop out of school and turn to drugs to solve their problems?

When our kids were growing up, when they were exposed to things that Bill and I disagreed with, we used it as a teachable moment and discussed it with the kids.  I disagreed with just about everything George Dubya Bush did as president. I think he was the worst president in this country’s history, and hold him directly responsible for the economic problems we are experiencing today. However, if he had chosen to address the schools, I would have used it as a springboard for discussion with my kids.

I have always thought that lessons will have more of an impact on kids if they understand both sides and if they are free to ask questions and explore various options. Yet, there are people who clearly do NOT want their kids exposed to anything but their own beliefs.

However, the protests against Obama go beyond that. People are genuinely afraid of him and what he stands for. If you look at the right wing blogosphere, it is full of accusations about Obama’s purported ties to socialism, to Islam, to the Antichrist. It’s easy enough to dismiss this as the irrational musings of right wing nutjobs, but there are far too many politicians who are willing to capitalize on people’s fear for their own political gain. For example, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible contender for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination, said Friday the classroom is no place to show a video address from Obama, while Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer released a statement this week accusing Obama of using taxpayer money to “indoctrinate” children.

Folks, the reaction to Obama’s speech is flat out stupid. Whether you like it or not, Barak Obama is the president of our country. A lot of the parents screeching about the speech make a big deal about how they want to be the ones to teach values to their children. Well fine; while they’re teaching your kids about values, maybe they ought to  spend some time having a discussion with them about respect. In fact, it’s a lesson they might want to learn for themselves since they seem to have missed it somewhere along the way.