mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“America Is Not A Brave Nation”: Once Again, Fear Has Made Us Our Own Worst Enemy, Has Made Us Stupid

America is not a brave nation.

Yes, that’s a heretical thing to say. Yes, our military is the world’s finest and our servicewomen and men provide daily examples of incontestable courage. Yes, police officers brave bullets, firefighters rush into burning buildings and ordinary Janes stand in harm’s way to save complete strangers on a routine basis. Yes, there are brave people all over this country, people who put self second every day.

But courage is not only about putting self second. Courage is also about who you are in stressful times, about the ability to not be rattled, to act with sound judgment, to keep your head when those about you are, as Rudyard Kipling put it, “losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

And by that standard, no. There are many words you might use to describe the character of this country, but brave isn’t one of them. Rather, we are fraidy-cats and cowards.

We’ve proven this many times since that Tuesday morning in September of 2001 when Islamic extremists kidnapped four planeloads of our fellow citizens and turned them into guided missiles in an attack that ripped away our illusions of security.

We proved it by bungling into a needless war chasing terrorists who were not there, by burning mosques and criminalizing Islam, by compromising basic civil rights for the Great Pumpkin of security.

And we proved it again last Monday when Ahmed was arrested for bringing a clock to school.

Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old ninth grader from MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, had built the digital clock at home and was eager to show it to his engineering teacher, who liked it. When his English teacher saw it, however, she thought it looked like a bomb. Next thing he knew, the teenage tinkerer, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, was under arrest.

There’s a picture of him online that’s heartbreaking: It shows a slight, brown-skinned boy in glasses, looking frightened and confused. He’s wearing a NASA T-shirt. He is also wearing handcuffs.

Ahmed says police told him he was being charged with building a hoax bomb. James McLellan, a spokesman for the Irving police, told local station WFAA, “We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only tell us that it was a clock.”

That, of course, is because it was a clock.

Eventually, whoever has custody of the brain at the Irving PD must have recognized this for the Islamophobic idiocy it was. Ahmed was released. No charges will be filed.

Word of all this set Twitter ablaze. Ahmed has received supportive tweets from Arianna Huffington and Hillary Clinton. Mark Zuckerberg invited him to Facebook. President Obama invited him to the White House. And his ordeal inspired a trending hashtag: #IStandWithAhmed.

Which is good. But one hopes it will also inspire a little soul-searching for this country, which would be better.

Because once again, fear has made us our own worst enemy, has made us stupid. The fact that a bright kid — a kid with initiative, a kid who only wanted to make his teacher proud, a kid who, by all appearances, is precisely what we wish more kids would be — was hauled away in handcuffs for those very attributes ought to make us sober and reflective about the nation we have become in the years since Sept. 11.

One is reminded of the time President George W. Bush strode out on an aircraft carrier beneath a celebratory banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.” But given that the primary goal of terrorism is to make people afraid, maybe somebody should find that banner and ship it to al Qaeda.

Judging from what happened to Ahmed, they deserve it more than we ever did.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, September 21, 2014

September 27, 2015 Posted by | 9-11, Fearmongering, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Most Striking Is What’s Not There”: George W. Bush’s Multi-Million Dollar Can Of Whitewash

Big doings in Big D — the George W. Bush Presidential Library is open for business!

What a piece of work it is: a $250 million, 226,000-square-foot edifice on 23 acres in Dallas. His brick-and-limestone structure is certainly imposing, but once inside, you quickly see that it’s a $250 million can of whitewash. Of course, all ex-presidents want libraries that show their good side, and Bush himself was organizer-in-chief of this temple to … well, to himself. What’s most striking is not what’s in it, but what’s not.

For example, where’s that “Mission Accomplished” banner that he used as a political prop in May 2003, when he strutted out so fatuously on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln wearing a flight suit to pretend like he had won the Iraq War? And how about a video loop of him finally showing up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, cluelessly praising his infamously incompetent emergency management honcho with the now notorious shoutout: “Heck of a job, Brownie.”

Also, while there are 35 featured videos, a replica of W’s oval office, narrated presentations by top Bush officials and even statues of the family dogs — where’s Cheney? Shouldn’t there be an animated exhibit of the perpetually snarling veep in his dark chamber, scheming to shred our Constitution and set up an imperial presidency (or, more accurately, an imperial vice presidency)?

Another essential element of George’s tenure that goes unportrayed could be called “The Dead Garden of Compassionate Conservatism.” It could feature such mementos as him cutting health care funding for veterans, closing of the college gates for 1.5 million low-income students and turning a blind eye as eight million more Americans tumbled down the economic ladder into poverty on his watch.

Then there’s a shady exhibit that deserves more exposure. It’s the list of 160 donors of over a million dollars to the center, with each name chiseled into bricks that form what should be called “The Brick Wall of Special Interest Government.” Among those chiseled in are AT&T, casino baron Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News empire, several billionaire funders of right-wing politics, the founder of GoDaddy.com, and even the royal rulers of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The 160 names are by no means all of the corporate and fat-cat donors — many more gave, but shyly requested that their involvement be kept from the public. Present law allows such unlimited, secret donations, even while a president is in office, still wielding the power to do favors for donors. Bill Clinton used this undercover loophole, and George W. happily chose the same dark path.

Today (May 1), the doors to Bush’s pharaonic “Presidential Center” opens to the public, allowing us commoners to dig deep into the shallowness of his achievements. The enormous building itself sets the tone: sharp edges, high brick walls and the welcoming feel of a fortress. Yet the ex-prez insists that it’s a place for public contemplation of his legacy, “a place to lay out facts,” he says.

How ironic is that? After all, the Bush-Cheney regime was infamous for its disregard of facts, as well as its hiding, twisting and manufacturing of facts to fool people. From going to war over Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction to its plan to gut and privatize Social Security — facts were whatever Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rove and Condi imperiously declared them to be.

More ironic is the centerpiece of the library’s attempt to whitewash George’s eight awful years: an interactive exhibit called “Decision Points Theater.” And theater it is, portraying George heroically as “The Decider.” Visitors to this rigged exhibit can use touchscreens to see Bush in virtual action, pondering as he receives contradictory advice on whether to save the poor people of New Orleans, bail out Wall Street bankers, rush into Iraq, etc.

The whole show is meant to make you feel sympathy for him, then you’re asked to “vote” on whether he did the right thing. Again, irony: We the People got no vote on these issues back when it would’ve mattered.

There are many, many Bush quotes in this pantheon, but the one that best characterizes him and should be engraved above the entrance to his sparkling new center is this, from August 2002: “I’m the commander. See, I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.”

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, May 2, 2013

May 4, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“History Is A Cruel Judge Of Overconfidence”: Ten Years Ago, Bush Declared “Mission Accomplished” And The Media Swooned

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Mission Accomplished Day, or as it might better be known, Mission (Not) Accomplished Day. Sadly, it comes amid another upheaval in sectarian violence in Iraq—two days ago The New York Times warned of a new “civil war” there—and a week after the attempts at Bush revisionism upon the opening of his library. We’re also seeing aspects of the run-up to the Iraq invasion playing out in the fresh, perhaps overheated, claims of chemical weapons in Syria.

In my favorite antiwar song of this war, “Shock and Awe,” Neil Young moaned: “Back in the days of Mission Accomplished/ our chief was landing on the deck/ The sun was setting/ behind a golden photo op.” But as Neil added elsewhere in the tune: “History is a cruel judge of overconfidence.”

Nowhere can we see this more clearly than in the media coverage of the event.

On May 1, 2003, Richard Perle advised, in a USA Today op-ed, “Relax, Celebrate Victory.” The same day, President Bush, dressed in a flight suit, landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major military operations in Iraq—with the now-infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner arrayed behind him.

Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a “hero” and boomed, “He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.” He added: “Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple.”

PBS’ Gwen Ifill said Bush was “part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan.” On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, “The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a—on a carrier landing.”

Bob Schieffer on CBS said: “As far as I’m concerned, that was one of the great pictures of all time.” His guest, Joe Klein, responded: “Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day. That was the first thing that came to mind for me.”

Everyone agreed the Democrats and antiwar critics were now on the run. The New York Times observed, “The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today.”

Maureen Dowd in her column did offer a bit of over-the-top mockery, declaring: “Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.

“He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics. Compared to Karl Rove’s ”revvin’ up your engine” myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer’s movies look like Lizzie McGuire.

“This time Maverick didn’t just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.”

When Bush’s jet landed on the aircraft carrier, American casualties stood at 139 killed and 542 wounded. That was over 4,300 American, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, fatalities ago.

 

By: Greg Mitchell, The Nation, May 1, 2013

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Iraq War | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Just Zip It”: GOP Attacks On Obama’s Bin Laden Success Are Hypocritical

Former Gov. Mitt Romney and his advisers and surrogates are going apoplectic over the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden and the attention President Obama is getting for the success.

They absolutely hate that he is using the events in ads and are especially defensive that the Obama campaign is pointing out Romney’s own statements that he “wouldn’t move heaven and earth” to get bin Laden and that he was against going into Pakistan unannounced.

Well, as I write this, the networks just reported that President Obama has arrived in Afghanistan on a surprise visit. My, my, now we are really going to hear from the Romney campaign, or won’t we?

If I were them, I would just zip it. The Republicans look unbelievably hypocritical on this one.

Remember “Mission Accomplished”—landing on that aircraft carrier declaring victory in Iraq? Oops. Remember the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004? Remember President Bush and the Republicans trying to use 9/11 as a political club to beat Sen. John Kerry?

Go back and review the speeches at that Republican convention from Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in particular. Or how about Ed Koch, or Bernard Kerik, or even retired General Tommy Franks? And, yes, even one Mitt Romney, who declared, “George W. Bush is right, and the ‘Blame America First Crowd’ is wrong!”

Playing politics with the tragedy of 9/11 or even the war in Iraq was the Republicans’ mantra.

I guess they were for it before they were against it, huh?

The bottom line is that President Obama did the right thing at tremendous risk to the lives of men under his command and with a real risk of failure. He knew, as we all do now, that had this mission not been successful lives would have been lost and his political career would have been over. And, yet, he had the courage, the grace under pressure, to make the call. That is what we call leadership.

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World report, May 1, 2012

May 2, 2012 Posted by | Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Swagger: Osama bin Laden’s Killing Vindicates Obama’s Approach

It was a very different Barack Obama who stood in the White House  late Sunday to deliver the astounding and satisfying news that Osama bin Laden  was dead. Or was it?

Obama was derided  during the 2008 presidential campaign for saying he would be willing to go into  Pakistan unilaterally to nab the hateful and hated leader of al Qaeda. The idea  was naïve at best, diplomatically disastrous at worst, his opponents said.  Obama’s calm tones, lack of swagger, and professed desire to repair  relationships with the rest of the world—the Muslim world, in particular—were used as a weapon to portray him as weak, someone who would not possess the  cool-headedness to destroy the most cold hearted of mass murderers. And yet,  Obama, with the able help of U.S. intelligence and military minds and bodies,  pulled it off brilliantly, and in a manner entirely keeping with the personage  he offered during the campaign.

For most of us,  the mere fact of bin Laden’s death would be enough. But the way the operation  unfolded was virtually perfect: bin Laden was hunted down by U.S. forces and shot  in the head—not killed in an air strike or explosion, but in a manner in  which we can presume that bin Laden, in his final moments, knew that it was  American troops who would personally take his life. No U.S. troops were killed,  and civilian casualties (except, possibly, for the unidentified woman bin Laden  used as a human shield) avoided. His body was identified by DNA, preemptively  silencing any “deathers” who would circulate rumors that it was all just a  public relations stunt and a lie. Bin Laden’s body was disposed of at sea—to avert the need to find a country willing to bury him, and to avoid having  his grave site used as a rallying spot for al Qaeda operatives and  sympathizers. He was buried quickly, in Muslim tradition, averting criticism  that the United States was being insensitive to the religion. Pakistan, which  Obama said cooperated in the mission, but which apparently did not know the details  of it until it was done, has not accused the United States of any invasion of  sovereignty.

In his White  House address, the serious-faced president avoided showing any glee over bin  Laden’s death, although he surely was as happy about it as the rest of America.  Nor did he take a cheap political victory lap, declaring “mission  accomplished” against terrorism; in fact, the president rightly warned, the  nation needs to be on alert for any retaliatory attacks. He reiterated that the  United States is not at war with Islam, but with terrorism. There was no comment, implicit  or otherwise, that he had managed to achieve what former President Bush had  failed to do—to get bin Laden. Obama had the good manners to call Bush  personally to tell him of the feat, and Bush responded in his statement with  grace.

Obama lacks  Bush’s aggressive style and provocative rhetoric. That does not mean he is weak  or was less determined to get bin Laden. And while the president had not  mentioned bin Laden much in public recently, that does not mean the  administration wasn’t working on it. Similarly, while the Bush administration  did not manage to kill or capture bin Laden, we have no way of knowing how many  major attacks the previous administration defused.

Obama on Sunday  night might have shown some of his critics a side they didn’t think existed,  that of a determined commander in chief. But that was exactly the approach  Obama presented during the campaign. It was just that his opponents didn’t  think he could pull it off. He did—and the fact that Obama is not hanging a  “Mission Accomplished” banner across the East Room makes the feat even more  impressive.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011 Posted by | 911, Foreign Policy, Ground Zero, Homeland Security, Islam, Justice, Muslims, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: