Category Archives: Other
An American Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens is dead. Three other Diplomats – Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and another whose name has not been released – are dead. They were killed in a raid on the American Consulate in Libya after a pastor in Florida posted a insensitive and inappropriate video mocking the prophet Mohammed. This raid was an attack on America by disgusting and deplorable people and, at a time like this, it is critical that Americans, and our allies, stand united. But that’s not how Mitt Romney and RNC chair Reince Priebus saw it. They saw it as an opportunity to criticize the President in a political attack that was, at best, dishonest and ignorant.
Courtesy of the Talking Points Memo blog, here’s what happened. On September 9, a scene from the anti-Muslim film “The Innocence of Muslims” was shown on Egyptian television. Given the timing to the 9/11 anniversary and the absolutely offensive material contained in the video, the United States Embassy in Cairo posted the following statement at 6:17 AM EST on September 11:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
Note the time here. 6:17 AM. Well before any attack and, in my opinion, a completely appropriate, balanced and important statement. It’s not apologizing for America. It’s making a statement about what America believes and taking the stand that tearing down the beliefs of others is not who we are. Around the same time peaceful protesters were gathering outside the Embassy in Cairo and the statement, it was hoped, would help to ensure there would not be violence. Hours later some protesters scale the walls of the Embassy and burn an American flag. The invasion is quickly contained the Embassy sends out a statement condemning the breach. Later, at 5:41 PM EST, and shortly after pastor Terry Jones announced he would be showing the film that evening, an attack begins on the US Consulate in Libya. We learn in the subsequent hours that several Americans have been killed in that attack.
Romney’s response is to release the following statement at 10:25 EST on 9/11 (violating the embargo on campaign attacks on that date):
I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
Preibus follows with a tweet at 12:01 AM on 9/12 (at least it wasn’t on 9/11) that reads “”Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”
Here’s the problem – the attack happened AFTER the Embassy released their statement and, in fact, after the attacks occurred, new statements were released condemning them in no uncertain terms. The Romney campaign saw this as an opportunity to further their “Obama likes to apologize for America” narrative and, rather than stand with the President and those who were attacked, chose to make it political. It is shameful. It is disgusting. It is dishonest. It is wrong. But don’t take my word for it. Congressional Republicans have refused, almost to a person, to back up Romney’s attack and many foreign policy experts, conservative ones, have criticized his response. And, the decisions he made, are markedly different from the choices made in time of crisis by two former Republican Presidents. If Romney wants to join them as Presidents, he better get a handle on when to attack and when to show unity. That judgement is something this man is severely lacking.
However, let’s assume, for a moment, that everything Romney and Priebus said was actually the truth. How much more powerful would it have been if, instead of releasing a negative statement or holding a press conference in the moments before Obama was scheduled to speak on the issue, he had done something different. Imagine if he had called the President and said something like “I’m with you today and will do whatever I can help us show a unified front. Would you like me to come to your press conference so we can stand together and say that, no matter our political differences, we mourn the loss of these courageous Americans and stand united in our condemnation of those who seek to do us harm.” If Obama declined the offer, he would come off as playing politics. And, if he accepted, Romney would be seen as a thoughtful and honorable leader who puts his country first. Instead he chose to lie and, in so doing, came across as someone truly unfit to lead.
Look, we know there is a lot of stupid in the world. And, over the past few weeks, the stupid has really been coming out to play. I was all set to do a post today about two such idiotic comments, but I’m not. I’m not going to spend much time on Tom Smith or Rush Limbaugh. Instead I want to tell you about Alice, a 16 year old girl who has been living with cancer for the past 4 years.
But before we get to Alice, let’s touch on two people who could learn a thing or two from her.
Tom Smith – Mr. Smith is a Republican running for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania. In an interview with a local reporter he compared the difficulty a woman faces when she is raped to when she has a pregnancy out of wedlock. He now claims he never intended to make that comparison, but it is clear to me from the transcript that it was a deliberate comparison. The fact that Smith has now joined the rowing chorus of men (mostly) on the right trying to minimize rape and take decisions out of the hands of the victims is horrifying to me.
Rush Limbaugh – We’ve talked about Rush once or twice on here before. In the category of “you can’t possibly believe what you are saying, Rush” comes this latest gem. Essentially he believes (or claims to believe) that, somehow, President Obama manipulated the weather forecast to make it look like Hurricane Isaac was going to hit Tampa. Then, once the Republicans canceled the first day of their convention, he redirected the forecast to what was actually going on. It would be hilarious, if there aren’t so many people who are ready to believe anything this man says. It’s dishonest and it’s shameful.
Now, on the flip side, let’s meet Alice Pyne. Alice is 16 and has terminal cancer. Last year, when faced with her prognosis, she made a “bucket list” of things she wanted to do and experience. A couple of weeks ago, thanks to the generosity of total strangers and those in her community, she completed the last item on her list. I hope you’ll all take the time to read through her blog. As someone who lives with a chronic medical condition – Marfan Syndrome – I have so much appreciation for how she has chosen to live her life and approached her medical challenges. I could write volumes on Alice an others like her – people who have taken a diagnosis as an opportunity to make a difference through their deeds. Alice has gotten thousands of people to give blood, join bone marrow registries and, I’ll bet, re-evaluate how they look at life. I’ll admit to having tears in my eyes reading about Alice and I think we call learn something from this remarkable young woman.
So why did I include her in this post? Alice didn’t start this blog for fame or to bring attention to herself. She and her family weren’t thinking about personal gain or their own ambitions. She started her blog as a way to chronicle her progress towards her bucket list. Once it went viral, however, they could have used it to promote themselves the way Rush Limbaugh loves to do. Instead, they used it to raise awareness about bone marrow registries and have, no doubt, saved many lives through their efforts. Reading through it, it is refreshingly honest and genuine. Alice demonstrates a remarkable ability to care for other people, even she battles her own cancer. An ability to care that so many, like Tom Smith, don’t seem to have.
Finally, I read about Alice’s experiences, her doctor appointments and her health struggles and I can’t help but wonder. What if Alice lived in America and was born to a poor family who didn’t have health insurance? What if she lived in America and her family had similar policies to what many middle-class families have today? What then? Alice’s parents never had to worry about choosing between medical care for their daughter and paying their mortgage. They never had to worry about being dropped from coverage because Alice is a fighter and isn’t going to give in easily to this disease. Survival doesn’t bring financial stress, rather it breeds an opportunity for this girl to inspire millions with her attitude, perspectives and accomplishments. Would that have happened here to a poor or middle-class family? If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, like Governor Romney and Congressman Paul want, will it ever?
That last post was my 100th since I started this little blog back in August. As I reach this milestone I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for giving my blog over 14,000 hits (average of more than 130 per day) and for sharing your thoughts and feelings on various posts. I am very grateful to all of you for reading and hope you continue to do so! As always, please feel free to share your thoughts (whether you agree with me or not) and feedback.
As all of you know, today is when our country pauses to honor our Veterans. This website has a list of all those US soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My thoughts go out to all those families, as well as those families who have lost loved ones in any conflict throughout time. I am truly grateful to all those who have put their life on the line for this country – thank you for all you have done and continue to do for this country and for the world. Today, we pause to honor all 23.2 million living Vets in this country (according to the US Census Bureau) as well as all those who are no longer with us.
President Kennedy once said that “War will exist until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.” However, too often we forget that what President Kennedy meant was for the reputation to be equal. We don’t diminish one in order to build the other up. No matter how you feel about wars in general or, more specifically, the current ones we are engaged in, it doesn’t change the fact that those men and women who serve in the armed forces are worthy of our respect and admiration. Disagree with the war, but support the warrior. However, the point that Kennedy was making is that people who choose to serve their country in other ways – by standing up for what they believe in – are also deserving of our respect. I would extend this to include people who serve by volunteering, working with people in need etc…)
Remember, Veterans Day was marked for the first time in 1919, as a way to, not only honor those who have served, but also to celebrate peace. Today, I celebrate and honor all those who have put their life on the line to help this country and secure a strong and peaceful future for our children. I also recognize the police officers, teachers, fire fighters, volunteers, public servants, doctors and nurses, community leaders, fundraisers, society-builders, those who fight mal-nutrition and all others who have also dedicated themselves to leaving the world a better place than they found it. Thank you to both groups from the bottom of my heart.
By now I’m sure many of you have heard the news out of Fort Hood in Texas. Apparently an army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan walked into a troop readiness center and opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding many more. Only the heroic actions of a police officer, Kimberly Munley, and ability of the soldiers to act as first responders kept even more people from losing their lives. Details are still sketchy and information changes on an hourly basis but, suffice to say, this is true tragedy.
In thinking about the events that unfolded, I find myself filled with a deep sadness. Obviously there is sadness for the lives that were lost or forever changed by the selfish and disgusting act of one man. However, there is also sadness for what this episode says about our country and means for our country. The willingness of our troops to put their lives on the line to defend this country is nothing short of admirable and inspirational. The men and women who lost their lives had indicated their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice – how tragic that that sacrifice was made on the grounds of what should have been a safe place. They were killed by a person who was so turned off by the prospect of fighting oversees that he chose to take matters into his own hands and escape from battle by killing his fellow soldiers. We have become a society where violence is too often used to solve problems, avoid constructive conflict or silence people you don’t like. This must stop. And it must stop now.
There is nothing wrong with opposing the war or not wanting to fight. However, no matter where we stand on this important issue (or any issue for that matter) we must respect those who make other choices or believe other things. Especially when those choices including putting their life on the line for our benefit and security. I mourn today for those brave men and women who were killed, not because of anything they did, but because they were preparing to defend this country. They were killed in the very place created to prepare them to defend this country and freedom everywhere.
Finally, I implore everyone out there to remember that this was one man committing an unspeakably horrible act. This has no reflection on Muslims here or anywhere. Those who are sending death threats to mosques or otherwise taking out their sadness and anger on innocent people who just happen to share religious beliefs are, at best, misguided and are no better than all those who indiscriminately hate Americans.
My heart breaks for the families of all those involved and I know justice will be done.
One thing about me is that i LOVE when people have a dream or an idea and really set their mind to doing it. Not just doing it, but doing it well. This is a great example of what can happen when brilliance meets dedication. Commitment meets teamwork. Congratulations guys! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.