Archive for the ‘Obama’ Tag

Of Rabbit Holes and Bubbles   Leave a comment

July 1, 2017

      I enjoy the internet. I make use of the internet. I don’t worship it and I’m reasonably certain I could live without it. Well, much of it. As the music industry changed in the 1980s and 1990s, I was within that business, allthewhile observing as technology and the internet began driving ever more  change. And much of it was unnerving to those of us who made a living helping unknown recording artists become successes, and successful artists become superstars. By the time I moved to New York in 1990 the change was even more pronounced, and within that decade a newly-formed company was getting attention.

MP3.com was a 1997 startup that drove record labels crazy, and record store owners even crazier by selling music directly to consumers, bypassing much of the established music-business order. Happily for me, at that moment I had already moved from business to academia to complete my BA and go on to graduate school. While teaching college students about music and the music business (to help pay for my own college and grad courses) I tested the changing and turbulent business waters by purchasing a new album as a download from MP3.com. (I also chose to get a CD copy as well.) The group was Red Delicious and the motivation was a song titled “Casualties”. I loved the recording but I was also learning the power of the internet to interrupt the status quo.

While MP3.com was an exciting startup, nervous recording industry leaders were aghast. Their place as gatekeepers of new music in the century-old music business had reached a moment of truth. With the approaching millennium change was more than inevitable; for some record label people it seemed like a non-stop runaway freight train was headed straight for their wallets. MP3.com, Napster, and the iPod would signal how the “new” music industry would evolve. Marketing people400px-Down_the_Rabbit_Hole copy would figure out which pieces of the business to embrace and exploit, and they would make their choices hand-in-hand with the new technology in a post-millennium internet age.

One of those emerging tech companies was YouTube. Founded in 2005 it was acquired by Google in 2006, assuring its future and making YouTube’s founding multi-millionaires even wealthier. The new company seemed perfectly fit for America’s ever increasingly narcissistic predilection. A regular feature on host David Lettermen’s Late Show on CBS, “Stupid Pet Tricks”, was about to give way to an infinitely larger audience. For example, with YouTube, cats (and their lesser intellectual support system, i.e., humans) had an infinitely larger venue to display both the cute behavior (cats) and the idiocy (humans), all to create a nano-measure of fame. And yet, this month I found myself caught up in my own YouTube moment. To get there, I had to jump into a rabbit hole. Just in case you are unfamiliar with the current application of the phrase, it is strictly metaphorical. Here are the basics. You look at something—almost anything—on the internet and are then presented with serial distractions. Kathryn Schulz described the phenomenon far more eloquently in a 2015 column in The New Yorker:

“Those online rabbit holes, while wildly variable in content, take recognizable forms. One is iterative: you’re settling down to work when you suddenly remember that you meant to look up that flannel shirt you saw in a store but couldn’t find in your size, and the next thing you know, it’s two hours later and you have scrutinized two hundred and forty-five flannel shirts. Another is exhaustive: you go in search of a particular fact—say, when Shamu debuted at SeaWorld—and soon enough you are well on your way to compiling a definitive account of captive killer whales. A third is associative: you look up one thing, which leads to looking up something distantly related, which leads to looking up something even further afield, which—hey, cool Flickr set of Moroccan sheep.”

STINGEDDYBENJENrev (1)     So I found myself on YouTube looking for a piece of music because a friend of mine, knowing my taste, had suggested I hear a particular performance. Having found the artist I listened to 8-10 tracks, including her performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”. Terrific version. But then, it got me thinking that I’d like to hear other cover versions of Springsteen songs. Click. Click. Click. Click. Suddenly I found myself watching a string of clips from the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors. There was Sting singing “The Rising”; followed by Eddie Vedder performing “My City of Ruins”; and then a duet of “I’m On Fire” featuring Ben Harper and Jennifer Nettles. These three clips are stunning in the arrangements, production values, and sheer delivery. Stunning. But there was more.

The Kennedy Center Honorees that December were, in addition to Springsteen, Grace Bumbry, Mel Brooks, Dave Brubeck, and Robert De Niro, and all five were clearly deserving of the honor. But there were a couple of other images that caught my attention. Sharing the box in the Kennedy Center that evening with the five honorees were two other people worth mentioning. Earlier this year they completed an extraordinary performance of their own. Michelle+Obama+Dresses+Skirts+Strapless+Dress+g84EM1pX9TZxNot a performance, rather, a journey. From impossible, to highly improbable, to might just happen, to reality. They succeeded.  And on January 20, 2017, their life changed again as they moved from public housing to a private residence.

Seeing the images of the Obamas from a December evening almost a decade ago was an emotional moment. It made me come to grips with just what a bubble we’ve been living in for the past eight years. It was not one of those ‘clueless’ bubbles, but rather a bubble that a majority of Americans gladly embraced. It was a good thing. The bubble that enveloped us was with an American president and his wife who spent eight years bringing dignity, humor, grace, pride, and ideas to Washington, D.C. There were successes and mistakes. But unlike most other presidents of the past half century, there were no scandals, no crazy behavior, no new wars. And let’s not forget that Barack and Michelle Obama arrived in 2009 to assess the almost total collapse of the American economy they inherited and nurture it back from the brink. The current occupant of that same unit of public housing that the Obamas left behind makes it clear how much things have changed. And not for the better. Perhaps going down a rabbit hole from time to time isn’t such a bad idea after all.

David Steffen

© 2017 David Steffen

 

Good News! A Trump-oscopy For Everyone   Leave a comment

Bend Over. President Trump Has Plans For You

June 1, 2016

I like the idea that I’m allowed to write just about whatever I wish in my monthly column, which is why it ranges through thoughts on music, the arts, life on the California coast, and occasionally politics. Of late I have been a bit reticent to write about politics in general, and Trump-mania in particular. While I’m not (yet) ready to apply for refugee status in Canada, I must admit I am a little concerned about the disproportionate fandom following Mr. Trump. And that’s just the journalists and the media.

At first I thought it was simply the TV thing. The vision of Trump walking through the State Department, the Pentagon, or the White House kitchen pointing his orange-ish red finger at every third person and arbitrarily shouting “Your Fired” seemed unlikely. Then came the adulation of an unbridled press, following him around and waiting on his every word. Like Gollum, reporters seem to be constantly waiting for the appearance of The Precious. I actually wish I could say that as the primaries went on and on, his rhetoric became more and more distasteful. But that isn’t true. His opening salvo in 2015 from the Vatican-like fortress known as Trump Tower signaled immediately that this person isn’t just provocative. He is genuinely dangerous. His admiration for Vladimir Putin and Kim Jung Un knows no bounds. CNN’s Carol Costello pressed Trump’s seemingly idiotic press spokesperson Healy Baumgardner on the point. She reminded Ms. Baumgardner of the horrific deeds of Kim, and asked “. . . what [Mr. Trump] meant when he praised the dictator in January as ‘amazing’ for killing his own family members.” Baumgardner’s programmed response was that Trump “wants to keep an open dialogue and repair relations with world leaders.” Spoken like a true automaton.

Let me be clear. Aside from the possibility that Trump will initiate a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, or use nuclear weapons in Europe, essentially provoking World War III, I don’t see Trump as an immediate danger to me. I am, as the saying goes, a man of a certain age. Nuclear holocausts aside (for the moment) there are few things that a megalomaniac like Trump can impose on me in one or two terms in the Oval Office that are going to destroy my life. If he wants to get rid of Social Security or Medicare, he’ll be sleazy enough to propose that it doesn’t go away tomorrow. Instead he’ll help engineer its dissolution over time, say a couple of decades or so, at the end of which I’ll be below the grass instead of walking on it. But my daughter and generations older and younger than she should take note. If you believe getting healthcare was difficult (or impossible) in the past, wait until Trump is in charge. That’s when we’ll learn what ‘death panels’ are really about.

And the GOP will sit by and let him do all of this. Let’s not forget that the sixteen now defeated GOP candidates were uniform in their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with something better. However, since “Obamacare” was passed and signed into law six years ago, no bill has been put forward by the GOP to replace the legislation. All of their energies have been focused on repealing the act. Forget the millions who have insurance today who were previously denied coverage by for-profit insurance companies for daring to show up with “Pre-existing Conditions”.

Trump’s unique perspective is born of never having to say please, thank you, or I’m sorry. Born (or hatched) into a millionaire’s family, he is the antithesis of Oliver Twist. As a child—assuming he actually was once a child (although there remain rumors about his roots being extra-terrestrial)— when young Trump was hungry and asked for more, I’m certain that he—unlike Oliver—always received more food rather than a smack on the head with a ladle.

Trump brings nothing to the job that will actually help average Americans. Conversely, what he can do is destroy a unique world economy by reshaping it in his own image. A suitable playground for millionaires to pay low or no taxes, have plenty of servants to do all of life’s menial labor, and of course maintain those things that society has decided we cannot do without: A personal jet, and personal helicopters, servants, limousines, replacement spousal units, multiple homes in multiple states or countries. Did I mention servants? That is, after all, what we will all be in the new and great America. He’ll turn this country into a new theme park known as TrumpWorld. It will be like WallyWorld but without the rides. Or the fun. Or even Wally the Moose.

Trump’s ability to have his hair coiffed perfectly in that beautiful Tang-esque shade of orange, should be your first clue that reality is not the strong-suit of this reality TV star. What’s in store in January if Trump is elected? A lack of affordable healthcare, women going to prison for abortion, a giant wall from the Rio Grande to Tijuana, a miraculous military, deportation of all undocumented workers, an exit from NATO, a foreign policy that is anti-British and anti-Europe, and simultaneously pro-Putin and pro North Korea, a default on America’s debt triggering economic problems (or PROBLEMS), plus a new version of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882: for Muslims now, and later you can assume, anyone identifying as LGBT, abortion doctors, and the chronically ill. All these (and more) will need to leave in an effort to make America great. You get the picture.

Trump is dangerous. To you and me, to our friends and allies, to anyone that isn’t wealthy. Sometime in January the increasingly inane Healy Baumgardner will announce that, “Top Line, Mr. Trump wants to provide America with a colonoscopy to identify and eliminate undesirables.” A Trump-oscopy.

In closing, don’t worry. Trump is planning to combine the Center for Disease Control with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department, and stick a probe up America’s ass. In the end, America will be clean again, great again; and presumably very white. As Karl the greens-keeper in Caddyshack might say, “you got dat goin’ for you, and dat’s kinda nice.”

David Steffen

©2016 David Steffen

Chuck Schumer: Senator from the Great State of Israel   Leave a comment

A Sad Day For The “Deliberative Body” that was The U. S. Senate

August 6, 2015

The Democratic members of the United States Senate should turn their backs on Senator Charles Schumer’s bid to become the majority leader with the inevitable retirement of Senator Harry Reid. When the Senator from New York sides with the Israeli government against his own government, when the Senator from New York sides with the Israeli Prime Minister against the president of the United States, when the Senator from New York sides with the GOP chicken-hawk warriors against a chance for peace, he deserves nothing. Perhaps he should challenge for the leadership of AIPAC. Or maybe even run for a seat in the Knesset. As the New York Times points out, the Senate may not uphold President Obama’s veto, and if so

“A veto override would be an enormous blow to the president’s prestige. It would torpedo an agreement between Iran and six powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — but it would not necessarily lead to the reimposition of crippling economic sanctions on Iran, supporters of the deal warn. With the other world powers supporting the agreement, the international sanctions regime would be likely to crumble, leaving the United States with far less effective tools to cripple Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

In plain English, the sanctions would fall apart, Iran would have the money and the wherewithal to resume building a nuclear weapons program, and the United States would stand alone as the rest of the world, the United Nations, et al, would chart separate courses. Many believe it would speed up Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb. Maybe Schumer shouldn’t stop with abandoning his president and a general quest for peace, but go all in: join in the calls to bomb Iran.

Senator Schumer. You are an amazing disappointment. At least we now know what country you believe in.

David Steffen

© 2015 David Steffen

The GOP: A Political Party (always) Wishing For War(s)   Leave a comment

An Iran Deal means the Presidential Wannabes will soon Start Shouting

July 14, 2015

In 2009 President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize but back then he didn’t really deserve it. In hindsight, most agree that the voters in Stockholm, or Oslo, wanted [a] to stick a thumb in the eye of “43”, George W (the “decider-in-chief”), and [b] they wanted to send a message to the new president that much was expected of him, particularly in the area of . . . well, peace. Six years later, those Scandinavian voters are beginning to feel relief, or justification, or satisfaction. Last night it became clear that President Barack Obama has opted for dialogue rather than sabre-rattling. He’s chosen to change the course of political thinking rather than be bullied into another war. He’s decided to deal with the world as it is, and not simply pro-long another stalemate. Feigning deafness has not been an Obama trait. Thankfully. After almost two years of talks—six-party talks, aka negotiations, but in reality talks primarily between America and Iran—the deal is about ready. Ready for supporters to breathe a little easier, and ready for the guaranteed opposition from the GOP candidates who wish to be president.

The thinking of the GOP is readily seen in the words of one of the conservative darlings of the “W” administration, John Bolton. Bolton B52Bolton, a man who never met a country (or an international organization) he wouldn’t bomb, continued his drumbeat to war this past spring. When the GOP invited the Israeli Prime Minister to address a joint session of congress, the invitation had one purpose: to stop any deal with Iran. On cue, Netanyahu came to Washington, D.C., and criticized the president, all to the obvious glee of his GOP subjects. And in support of the desired march-to-war and hoping to derail the Iran negotiations, Bolton offered an op-ed in the New York Times on March 26, 2015, with this particularly Bolton-esque paragraph:

The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.

Of course, Bolton neglected to deal with the reality that Iraq was never a unified country, but a creation of the post-World War II exercise in line-drawing by the winning powers, and he ignored any history of the region. Bolton also failed to mention that Syria was no military match for Israel and retaliation was highly unlikely. And in March 2015 he hoped no one would recognize that Iran is a unified society, with a long (long as in thousands of years) history. Iraqi and Syrian citizens were never likely to rally en masse  to a defense of their state, or their fearless leaders (respectively, Hussein and Assad). Consequently those two countries are in chaos and Iran as yet has not been attacked by ISIS. Iran’s population is, well, Iranian, and will certainly rise to any invasion, or respond to any attack, by ISIS or the United States. The GOP would like to keep the status quo. See how well that worked with Cuba? For the GOP it’s better to act like a 5-year old: stomp your feet, hold your breath, and refuse to speak with a nation 90 miles from Florida. That certainly made the world a better place. Now Iran is the “new” Cuba.

So instead of a rational, reasoned approach to evaluating the Iran treaty, it’s all about sabotage. Death by a thousand insults. For the GOP crazies, the time has come to ratchet up the verbalized venom, and for their conservative collection of Daddy Warbucks-like supporters to throw a couple of hundred million dollars into media-buys denouncing President Obama, the Iran agreement, and the Iranian people. As John McCain sang in 2007 (“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Iran“), eight years later John Bolton lectured that it was better to bomb Iran than, well, anything else. If that’s the best the GOP can do, the electorate has to understand that war is their preferred Republican Party option. That’s it.

At least it makes elections easy. Vote for the GOP and it’s a vote for war. Vote for Democrats means voting for rational discourse and, perhaps, a more peaceful world. Nothing is that easy, but the GOP makes it look that way. Time to work for peace, not scream about bombing Iran.

David Steffen

© 2015 David Steffen

***********************

Note: As the GOP quotes come in, I’ll add them below. I’m keeping their comments outside, separate, at the bottom of this post, sort of like the dregs they are. (of course I will probably comment on the comments….)

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: “The deal is ‘[an] historic mistake for the world’ and will allow Iran ‘‘to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region.” And so says the leader of a nation with 100-200 nuclear weapons of its own, and a stated preference for war. Time for BB to just shut up and stop encouraging its ally, the United States, to launch a preemptive war on Israel’s behalf.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN A. BOEHNER: “Instead of making the world less dangerous, this ‘deal’ will only embolden Iran – the world’s largest sponsor of terror – by helping stabilize and legitimize its regime.”

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: “This is a terrible deal. It will make everything worse and I live in fear that we have set in motion a decade of chaos.” NOTE: Look for my separate blogpost on this idiotic politician’s views.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:  “It will then be left to the next president to return us to a position of American strength and reimpose sanctions on this despicable regime until it is truly willing to abandon its nuclear ambitions and is no longer a threat to international security.”    NOTE: Senator Big Gulp whose parents, according to him, fled the Castro regime’s takeover in Cuba years before Castro ever came to power. Very prescient parents. . . . Now he wishes to impress us with his knowledge of the future of Iran. His views are much more appropriate for Mystery Science Theater 2000 rather than reality.

CARLY FIORINA: “Iran has demonstrated bad behavior for 30 years,” she said. “We know they have been trying to cheat on this deal. We know they have been funding proxies with the strategic objective of destabilizing the region.”  NOTE: Ms. Fiorina wishes to apply her success at HP to Iran. Almost tanking a company is one thing. Attempting to engage in international diplomacy is way above her pay grade (and way above her golden parachute.)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: “The deal threatens Israel, it threatens the United States, and it turns 70 years of nuclear policy on its head,” Mr. Christie said. “I urge Republicans and Democrats in Congress to put aside politics and act in the national interest. Vote to disapprove this deal in numbers that will override the president’s threatened veto.”

GOV. SCOTT WALKER: “The deal rewards the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with a massive financial windfall, which Iran will use to further threaten our interests and key allies, especially Israel.”

Posted July 14, 2015 by Jazzdavid in Education, Government, History, Religion, war

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For Benjamin Netanyahu, A Just Peace Is Not A Desired Outcome (Part 2)   1 comment

An Unnecessary Speech and a Lack of Vision

March 2, 2015

The newly re-minted and tattered Speaker of the House has, once again, proven that leadership is not what he is about. Rather than stand on principle, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has again and again opted to forsake the responsibilities of Speaker, and instead spend his energy on attempting to keep the tiger, that is the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, from devouring him whole. Accepting a subservient role has been fully embraced by Mr. Boehner. We can regularly visualize him on bended knee, or kowtowing as low as his aging back will allow, or throwing himself completely prostrate before his caucus members from the far, far right. It’s apparent that Boehner is the servant and not the master in this relationship, by virtue of his inaction on a reasonable agenda, and his acceptance of the drumbeat of the far right. The Speaker is always cognizant of the potential of the far right to overthrow his speakership (see “Welcome to Bizarro World“). Boehner has had ample opportunities to assert his leadership, yet has chosen to consistently dance to the tunes of the extremists within his coalition of so-called Republicans. For example,

• Members of the GOP caucus and members of their staff regularly hurl insults at the President, his wife, his daughters. They’ve often called the President a liar. (See Joe Wilson (R-SC)). Some have suggested that Michelle Obama could stand to “lose a few pounds”. And they’ve attacked his young daughters because they don’t dress or pose like southern belles. You know, the “family values” experts, lecturing the Obama family to conform to their Ozzie & Harriet vision of familia americanus, all the while many of these experts continue on the way to divorce court, or worse. Yet the Speaker of the House doesn’t insist, advise or even suggest to these neanderthals that they tone down the rhetoric.

• Then there’s the President vs. the dictator: Obama vs. Putin. As the Daily Kos reminds us, “Less than a year ago Rudy Giuliani was telling us Putin is what a “real leader” looks like. Lindsey Graham clutched his pearls in admiration. McCain practically saluted. Fox News wished he could run for President. That camp has grown rather quiet.”

All of this is prelude to the President and Iran. And peace. The United States has been devoting a fair amount of time (and energy) to its negotiations with Iran in an attempt to control the spread of materials and fuel that could be used for a nuclear weapon, as well as to convince Iran that the world does not need another nuclear state. And the United States isn’t alone. Representatives from six nations are part of this negotiation: The U.S. is joined by Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Senator John McCain and his soul-mate Senator Lindsey Graham will tell any reporter, any writer, any journalist at any opportunity that Iran is not to be trusted and the President should find an alternative to negotiating with Iran; perhaps McCain is till humming his 2007 campaign ditty, “Bomb Bomb Iran”. And just when you couldn’t expect the Republicans to do anything else to antagonize the political atmospherics, the Speaker invites Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lecture a joint session of congress on how America should behave vis a vis Iran. We’ll hear, I’m certain, Netanyahu declare “Nuclear for Iran bad, nuclear for Israel good.” Well not exactly, as Israel doesn’t acknowledge their own cache of nuclear weapons. (Iran—the Islamic Republic of Iran—by the way, is a signer of the United Nations’ Non Proliferation Treaty. Israel is not.)

What bothers me and should bother any clear-thinking individual is that the GOP and Mr. Netanyahu cling to the idea of having no dialogue with Iran. For them it’s preferable to have a permanent temper-tantrum than to engage. Better to threaten than to converse. Better go to war than work for peaceful coexistence. Mr. Boehner, who believes his view of foreign policy is more important than that of the Commander in Chief, chose to use a joint session of congress to stick his finger in the eye of real diplomacy. Boehner’s blatantly political act—inviting Netanyahu—is an inappropriate stand-in for American foreign policy. And the tiger loves it. After all the symbolism is anti-Obama at its core.

Late last year I wrote a piece about Benjamin Netanyahu, asserting that the Israeli Prime Minister has not been and will not be a true seeker of peace. Too many innocents have died at the hand of the Prime Minister. Responding to attacks is one thing. Annihilating families, neighborhoods, and cities is not a measured response. It’s overkill and Netanyahu knows it. But it plays well to his tiger, the right-wing of his coalition government. Fear is an aphrodisiac Netanyahu pours onto Israeli society.

Today’s speech fits perfectly into Netanyahu’s narrative of the need to cease talking to Iran about nuclear disarmament and consider the alternative. What he well knows is that an attack on Iran by Israel is not an option. This is not Iraq and the weak defense by a country with little historic unified identity. This is not a group of Palestinian extremists in Gaza with old pickup trucks and IEDs. Iran has a singular identity, a national psyche, and a formidable military. What Netanyahu wants is an American attack, an American invasion, and an American occupation of Iran. In short, he wishes to goad the United States into loading the American bombers and sending them to Tehran followed in short order by 500,000 American troops to secure the victory.

Boehner and Netanyahu are two of a kind. For each, the raison d’etre is all about their professional survival and nothing about their personal and professional responsibility. Each is riding a tiger. Both Netanyahu and Boehner should remember the words of British poet Cosmo Monkhouse:

There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
David Steffen
© David Steffen 2015

Posted March 3, 2015 by Jazzdavid in Education, Government, History

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Who’s Lying Now?   1 comment

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Say Anything? Apparently Jennifer Rubin will.

In her Right Turn blog in today’s Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin offered readers this teaser of a title: “Who’s To Blame For The Original Cairo Apology”. The problem with the title is it’s blatantly wrong. It sits right up there with “When did you stop beating your wife”, as a superficial question posed to elicit a desired response—in this case blood lust from her core readers. Rubin’s “true-believer” friends and fans on the far right—birthers, conspiracy theorists, etc.—must have loved it. Everyone else was forced to re-read her blog looking for the beef.  In this case, no beef was to be found. To offer an old cliché’, Ms. Rubin, in her blog, wrote a check she just can’t cash. So I posted a response to her blog on the Post’s website and what follows is, in large measure, that response.

Ms. Rubin.

It’s one thing for the Romney campaign, including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, John Bolton, Jim DeMint, and others to declare that apologies we’re the order of the day from the State Department and the White House, or to apply sympathizer to President Obama as a pejorative. The truth, for these same people, is much harder to deal with. There was no apology. Ambassador Anne Patterson, a respected diplomat, was not in Cairo at the time, but speaking as one who’s run businesses, I can only believe that someone of her reputation would not have a bozo working for her in Cairo, and wouldn’t be unhappy at an attempt by an understudy to quell a problem.  That attempt, as widely reported, included the following statement:

We firmly reject the actions of those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others. [Around the same time, a pair of now-deleted tweets reportedly say:] We condemn the ongoing attempts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims. . . as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.

The statement released by the Cairo embassy was one staffer’s reasonable attempt to preempt a diplomatic row or worse. Unfortunately, worse is what we got but the attempt was nevertheless, in diplomatic terms, reasonable. And the timeline of the unfolding events contradicts Governor Romney, et al. As for the President and the Secretary of State, Obama never offered any apology. Hillary never offered any apology.  But Romney, the Republican standard bearer, as well as RNC head Priebus couldn’t be bothered with any of the pesky facts, and began the drumbeat of “apologist” as just another careless campaign tactic. And now you, Ms. Rubin, extend the lie on their behalf.  Ms. Rubin, you write for a powerful newspaper. Don’t you think it’s time to hire your own fact-checker before you repeat obvious lies? And by the way, when you don’t ascribe the lies to the originator, as in the title of your column–“Who’s To Blame For The Original Cairo Apology”–then you, Ms. Rubin, become the liar.
© David Steffen 2012

When Saying “Sorry” Just Isn’t Enough.   Leave a comment

Quote Number Two.

“Give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president [President Obama] deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice-president [Joe Biden] to take his place and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.”

Andrew B. Adler, January 13, 2012.

My immediate, visceral reaction to Mr. Adler’s directive to Mossad was “What The Fuck!”. Not the one we recall from the film Risky Business,  and not even close to the contemporary derivative: “whatever”. While not often the case, once I heard my voice speak “What the fuck”, I was at a loss for words. Adler is an American citizen, a Jew by self-declaration, the publisher of a small Jewish-centered weekly. He also should know better than to threaten the life of the president.

You know, since Obama won in 2008, the anti-Obamas—mostly GOP and Tea-Partyers—have become more and more hard-core in their opposition. However, some truly believe—as evidenced by Adler—that envisaging some crime on the duly elected leader of our government is appropriate and necessary. For me, it moves so far beyond the pale that in my opinion, a simple apology won’t suffice. It’s time that one of these idiots faces his or her crime.

It was a sufficient affront when that idiot (yes I mean idiot) congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina yelled “You Lie” at Obama’s September 2009 Health Care address. A classless outburst from a South Carolina Republican. In that case, and ignoring the reality that Wilson’s premise was all wrong, Wilson wanted us to believe that the outburst was spontaneous; his emotions just got the better of him. However, shortly before the speech he was cited on Twitter as planning the “spontaneous” outburst.

Some people using Twitter suggested that Wilson’s retort was planned and pointed to a comment the lawmaker posted on Labor Day: “Happy Labor Day! Wonderful parade at Chapin, many people called out to oppose Obamacare which I assured them would be relayed tomorrow to DC,” the tweet from Wilson’s account said. However, on the way to his office [the day after the speech], Wilson said his outburst wasn’t planned. “It was spontaneous. It was when he stated, as he did, about not covering illegal aliens, when I knew we had those two amendments, and I say that respectfully,” Wilson said. . . . Shortly after Obama’s speech, Wilson called the White House and issued a statement apologizing for his “inappropriate and regrettable” comments.

To borrow a phrase from a real Republican*, “Sorry don’t get it done, Wilson.” And the same goes for Adler. The threatening nature of the GOP and their many sympathizers needs to be reined in. America is not, contrary to the belief of many conservatives, the Wild West. Differences, like elections, are settled within the law. If you, Mr. Adler, can’t handle the relationship our sovereign government has with the sovereign state of Israel, perhaps it’s time for you to seek asylum. Leave the comforts of Georgia and move to Israel, join the IDF or Mossad, and prepare to give your last full measure to whatever it is you believe in. But calling for the assassination of the legally elected leader of our country is treachery. Put up or shut up. Surrender and ask to be prosecuted for your little moment, or leave the country. Now.

*”John T. Chance” (John Wayne) spoke the line to Dean Martin in Rio Bravo, after being punched by Martin’s character “Dude”.

Prior: Corporations Are Not People Unless Someone Kills One
Next: Forget Mossad. I’ll Ask God To Do It.
David Steffen

© David Steffen 2011

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