The ISIS threat is continuing to grow and spread still without a plan or strategy from the United States or world community to confront it. This organization and the radicals who are bastardizing and distorting a religion as a justification for their barbarism must be stopped and destroyed. It is an attack not just on our values, but on the civilized world as a whole. As more and more nations are directly affected by this, they are looking to the United States for support and leadership. President Obama must step up and provide this with the support of Congress and the international organizations willing to join. Making statements acknowledging that there have been Christians in the past (more than 700 years ago) who used their religion as a justification for war does nothing towards providing this leadership and will only embolden the radicals we are fighting. Appeasement will only lead to the continued growth and spread of radicals of the Muslim faith. The entire civilized world community, including Muslim nations, are looking to the United States for support and leadership. The United States, more than any other nation, has a responsibility to do this. The values of freedom and democracy are what defines us as a nation. The leadership which has been provided during the past century by the United States in securing and spreading these values is still needed. The sacrifices made by those who gave their lives fighting for these values would be for naught if we fail to confront and defeat the evil of ISIS and radicalism which we are now facing. More than 40 nations have agreed to join a coalition that will be led by the United States against ISIS. The world is waiting for the United States to lead.
This past week, we lost two former elected officials – Gov. Mario Cuomo from
New York and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke from Massachusetts – who led fairly principled careers. They often stood for what they believed regardless of how popular or unpopular it might be. Mario Cuomo opposed the death penalty even though it was not a popular stand and likely cost him many votes. He often used his keen mind and oratory skills during his 12 years as Governor to try to convince others of his beliefs rather than seeking the expedient way. Edward Brooke, the first African-Amercian popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, likewise stood for and fought for his beliefs. He ran and was elected as a Republican in the mostly Democratic state of Massachusetts and spent his 12 years in the U.S. Senate often seeking to work in a bipartisan manner for what he believed was for the good of our country, including civil rights. Regardless of whether your beliefs coincided with theirs, you cannot help but respect them for their abilities and approach. Our governments can use more people like them.
The report issued by the Senate Select Committe on Intelligence has not done anything towards creating a better policy on permissible interrogation methods to be used with people apprehended during the fight against terrorist organizations. The report was prepared only by the Democratic members of the committee without interviewing any of the people who were involved with the decisions on the methods of interrogation to use. The report, if prepared by a bipartisan group which looked at all of the relevant facts (such as the report prepared by the 9/11 commission), could have helped in creating a better policy which protects the values of our democracy while allowing us to effectively obtain intelligence information that would be useful in the ongoing fight against these terrortist organizations. Instead, it was done in a partisan one sided manner not for purposes of creating a policy going forward, but for being able to place blame. It did not put forth any recommendations and does nothing for those on the front lines who are responsible for gathering information and intelligence but create greater uncertainty going forward. An opportunity for constructive dialogue and progress has been missed and we are left with people talking past each other yet again.
While the recent elections hinged largely on economic issues and to a lesser degree, foreign policy issues, there were a fair number of election ads dealing with the environment. As a matter of fact, it continues to be an issue with the Keystone Pipeline and with the recent U.S.-China Greenhouse Gas Emissions Pledge/Agreement. Putting aside whether the Pipeline and the agreement with China are good ideas, what these show is that the environment continues to be an issue of some importance. While the science in support of the global warming theory is not very conclusive, there is enough evidence there to make us pause and wonder what the long-term effects of it will be. People are more concerned with the economy, but if one tenth of what those most concerned with global warming believe will occur comes true, the impact on the economy and the day to day lives of many would be catastrophic. The earth’s environment is resilient and can adjust to most things, but why take the risk if one of the outcomes of global warming can be dramatic climate shifts and rising sea levels. It is better to err on the side of caustion and take pragmatic steps to minimize the effects of global warming.
What the mid-term elections tell us this year (as well as during past years) is that the electorate as a whole does not like policies on either extreme of the political spectrum. When the President’s party over-reaches or pushes policies too far to the left or right, the mid-term elections have a way of pulling back towards the middle. This is an example of democracy at work. The elected officials in Congress and President Obama would be wise to try to reach compromise where they can and enact policies in a united manner for the good of the country. Hopefully, both sides realize this as the country needs the President and Congress to work together at this critical time for our country.
A former CBS Invesigative reporter (Sharyl Attkinsson) has written a book (“Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington”) detailing how the network killed many of her reports because they were critical of the Obama Administration. Sadly, this is not surprising. It seems to be the norm that news networks, newspapers and media outlets all have a bias of some type. Killing a respected investigative reporter’s stories is just a very glaring example of this. This type of conduct chills objective journalism and deters reporters from going against the desire of their bosses to tilt the news being reported a certain way. A healthy democracy requires a free and unbiased press that will question the government that we have and seek to ensure that it is acting in a responsible manner. What we have when this is lacking is the bomb-throwing and spinning that goes on from both sides of the aisle which deters real dialogue and compromise. News reports are discounted as partisan or biased pieces of reporting by those on the opposite side. While there are some news agencies and newspapers which try to be more objective, this is not the norm. Hopefully, the tide will turn back towards more responsible and unbiased reporting as our democracy needs it to thrive.
While social media and the internet are tremendous resources for gathering and sharing information, it must not be forgotten that face to face human interaction is very important. We live in a society where people spend more time looking at their phone and computer screen than most anything else. Communication with people is mostly done electronically by texts or e-mails. Our youth who are growing up in this environment will have less of an understanding of the importance of reading people’s facial expressions or tone of voice. What the long term implications of this might be is not known. So after you read this, please go visit a friend or face time with someone.