Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

Just when we thought the Obama birthers had found a new interest, found something better to do, the right-wing, he’s a Muslim doing for his kind crowd had finally died down, America’s problems had managed to outweigh at least a minute portion of political silliness plaguing the process in recent years, enter former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani reigniting the flames under this decidedly old fire saying he doesn’t know if the president loves this country, going on to insinuate he was born somewhere else openly claiming he wasn’t raised to love western civilization, perhaps going deeper doesn’t understand western civilization, what western civilization has brought to the world. Sidestepping what the latter two comments even mean, given on Fox News following the initial republican donor dinner speech questioning our president’s patriotism, commitment to our country; comments that immediately drew backlash from every corner of the political landscape, people on both sides of the isle quick to admit he had gone too far. Even a majority of possible 2016 hopefuls with their own hodgepodge of unusual comments, future policies and no shortage of opinions on the Obama Whitehouse, the Obama years unwilling to get on the Giuliani bandwagon, with the exception the far right, occupied by individuals like Scott Walker playing neutral or Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal hastily agreeing. But what exactly are they agreeing to, do they even know, does Giuliani himself understand the words he spoke, forget why he spoke them; it’s obvious he underestimated the impact his words would have, how they would be construed. Unless of course this was, as many political watchers suspect, a desperate plea for relevance on the part of the man once dubbed America’s mayor, who doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself now that he no longer holds that office. Up for larger consideration, examination, what is the cost attached to such rhetoric, not only in the self-debasing of an American hero who saw his country through arguably one of the most difficult moments in history, but also in detracting from real conversations needing to be had, shifts in perspective needing to take place, reflected in president Obama’s words, words said at an anti- terror summit to a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi- religion audience, words that should have garnered no offense in that environment, under that context, yet clearly did. Missed, the totality of the picture a 3 point slam dunk, to borrow a basketball metaphor, on Obama’s part representing the pillars required to move forward, make a dent in terror threats globally and better secure our future, how we really are not at war with Islam but rather extremists using religion as an excuse, acknowledging said tactics as not new to ISIS, Arabic, middle eastern terrorists, that it happened involving Christians too, and you don’t have to go back as far as the referenced crusades to find it, by not calling them exclusively Islamic terrorists instead terrorists period. Lastly a recognition that the battle we face is one of ideology over weaponry, hints the much quoted line “we can’t kill our way out of this,” because we can’t, all epitomizing where we go from here, how we react in a new terror landscape in a productive way, in a not creating, radicalizing more religious zealots become terrorists kind of way, the only way we will win. President Obama loves this country, his country and its people enough to do these things differently, hopefully creating a better world in the process.

What was it most of our mothers’, most certainly Mr. Giuliani’s considering his venerable age, said, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Now we all know there are times when you must speak grizzly, uncomfortable truths articulate facts, realities that are not nice; the question is, were the former mayors’ statements an acceptable example of that or more partisan nonsense, were they necessary for more than momentary political gain? Clearly people believe the latter; certainly if you have to preface your comment(s) with surely this is a horrible thing to say, then you should just stop talking or change what you thought you wanted to say. Possessing an undergraduate college education in political science, specialty in international relations coupled with a Harvard law degree, teaching at Chicago’s law school, working for and alongside numerous grass roots organizations, becoming heavily involved in the political system one can hardly say President Obama doesn’t love, respect, understand western civilization; though his educational pursuits, foreign travel and cultural exposure easily explain why he doesn’t “connect” with the down home, redneck, Sara Palin oversimplification crowd Giuliani was apparently pandering to, who would rather our leader be screaming kill all the Muslims, Muslims and terrorist being the same thing in their book. In fact looking at his education, his success, you can readily make a case for his living the American dream, cite evidence he has fully embraced western culture; unsurprising since most Americans born and raised here do, do that. Too bad America’s mayor couldn’t operate something as basic as Wikipedia, finding the actual source for Mr. Obama’s originality of thought before coming to his unfounded conclusions. Similarly, no, President Obama is not Ronald Regan, not Bill Clinton, President Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 and he’s not supposed to be. He is first, foremost his own person with his own unique experiences, perspectives, solutions and ideas, which he brought into the presidency when elected to office; part of that supposedly “un-American,” detrimental perspective being at least a partial window into how the non-western world, even other western nations see America, recognizing we do not better our cause, ensure our safety alienating the entire Arab, Muslim world. Another facet, taking stock of the times, noting our days for revenge filled war cries are over having killed Osama bin Laden mastermind of the 9-11 attack, freeing Afghanistan from Taliban rule giving it back to its people, having toppled the dictator Saddam Husain eliminating the next plausible threat and giving one more oppressed country back to its citizens, putting America, the western world on alert for terrorism, terror fueled ideologies. Initially awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize seemly like a joke, a bad farce, crucial mistake; maybe not so much anymore considering he is willing to distinguish between Muslims who practice the religion Islam and terrorists who commit violence hiding behind their specific interpretation of Islam. Communicating the unabashed fact there are roughly 1 billion Muslims in the world who are not terrorists, want nothing to do with terrorists, are likewise not interested in Islamic domination around the globe, enacting sharia law the world over, who do not see us as infidels, think it is their mission, responsibility to kill infidels isn’t so called “soft talk” on terror but a demonstrated comprehension of the situation that goes a long way to creating the allies we need to fight the real bad guys, the real problem. Unclear is exactly what opposing republicans, members of the public wanted President Obama to do after the American beheadings by ISIS, short of wearing sack cloth simultaneously rubbing gravel in his hair while appearing in the rose garden, causing him to look either decidedly weak or mentally unstable, both bad for the leader of any nation, particularly one coined the free world. Further had he appeared raged filled, vowing to kill virtually any and every Muslim we come across while tracking ISIS, the hooded man in videos killing Americans’, other nations’ journalists, aid workers, we would only be playing into their hands, solidifying their characterization of us as dictators, hypocritically preaching freedom while oppressing others. Utterly forgotten by the he doesn’t love America, he is a them in the us vs. them war, people subscribing to this way of thinking seem to think we are in, is the U.S. bombed to rubble ISIS strongholds mirroring actions taken by then beloved President Bush circa just after 9-11, so much for soft on terror talk or otherwise.

President Obama loves this country enough to criticize it in order to make it better rather than pretend it is perfect, to tell us, the world when something isn’t working; reaching past the blow to ego, pride coming to grips with the irrefutable notion every nation has things they could and should apologize for, owning up to Christianity’s role in horrible events such as the crusades, the inquisition and by proxy America, seen as a predominately Christian nation’s, lingering attitudes holding over from that era isn’t apologizing for America the ideal, the place, the symbol held up envy of the world. It isn’t apologizing for her existence, her values, the freedom, democracy she boldly gives to her people, invites others to take part in and points the rest of emerging, developing sections of the globe toward; it is merely apologizing for American Muslim relations hitherto this point, especially those surrounding the tumultuous days, weeks, months directly post 9-l1, which saw violence against Muslim, Arab looking individuals right here at home who had nothing to do with 9-11’s tragedy. Extending such overtures provides a modicum of comfort to the young Muslim boy to this day teased on the playground, called a terrorist for his faith or the people young and old saddeningly shocked and surprised their Sikh temple was attacked, shot up by a mad man, white supremacist wielding a gun mistaking peaceful, turban wearing worshipers for terrorists, the source of all his, America’s ills. Words, gestures having the potential to deescalate some aspects of home gown, lone wolf violence aimed at us, that young boy born here still tormented, a child brought here believing in the American dream to find in hopelessly hollow, at least for him, choosing a path absent terrorism because someone dared speak about things done wrong to largely innocent individuals, wives, mothers, husbands, fathers, co-workers, ordinary people who are not spies, who are not affiliated with sleeper cells, who only came to this country to live their lives, who were born here in a place they thought represented safety, freedom, peace confused as to when we threw out those concepts for the war on terror. When the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief, the leader of the free world stands up and leads by example clearly defining who, what we are for, who, what we are against maybe it makes citizens think twice about allowing their kids to tease, automatically think ill of their Muslim classmates, classify them without provocation as terrorists, perhaps causes them to be a little less nervous about their head scarf wearing neighbor, stop glaring at their cities masque and the people going into it. Contrasting, counteracting ISIS views, terrorist views America is wholly arrogant, unrepentant of the wrongs it does to people who are different from them, are of a different faith, were born in a different part of the world, who have family from a different place on this planet. It is an apology for those same “Christian” attitudes, likewise presented as superior values known to be against abortion, despite if it’s for medical necessity in saving a mother’s life, who place birth control on the same footing as killing an unborn child regardless if it treats a medical condition far removed from preventing pregnancy. Likewise “Christian”  practices famous, infamous for shaming people who have premarital sex, dare have a child out of wedlock, once upon a time using supposed biblical principles as grounds for men to legally spank, beat their wives if they were unwilling to submit, the terms of that submission up for debate, using common preacher held doctrine to decry, make illegal and immoral interracial marriage, currently shunning gay people from their houses of worship, condemning with them people who are bi-sexual, worse transgender individuals, to the point of good Christian boys and girls, men and women physically assaulting, killing said people, who had to be told by the peoples pope, Pope Francis to treat them like human beings first and sort out their spirituality second. Now that same hatred, vitriol suddenly turned on Muslims not only for their faith, but for their Arab, native dress, not only for blanket suspicion of being a terrorist but seemingly for ever being allowed to live in the country to begin with. Here is the nature of the president’s “apology,” if you insist on calling it that, an apology that is meant to open up a dialog between America’s government and non- violent, non- terrorist Muslin nations, organizations, people, too long seen as the enemy, the intuitive why he was awarded the prestigious peace prize when he was, saluting the remarkable change in tone.

“We can’t kill our way out of this war,” the quote echoed around the nation coming from a Whitehouse spokesperson somehow quickly translated by media, opposing political pundits into we won’t kill dangerous terrorists attacking our people, killing good citizens the world over when we have no other way to bring them to justice. Beyond what do we gain by killing almost indiscriminately every “purported” ISIS terror suspect we can lay our hands on, AKA every Muslim from that part of the world, surpassing doing so would be akin to killing the mythical hydra succeeding in only creating martyrs, causing dozens more to spring up and take their place intent on avenging their fallen, omitted is the entirety of what she said and with it the meaning. Her continuing statement was as follows: in the medium, long term we need to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs…we can work with countries around the world to improve their governance, we can help them build their economy so they can have job opportunities for these people. Put simply solutions that pull people away from desiring to be terrorists in the first place, allow them to dream about being doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers as opposed to martyrs knowing the government will pay their families in their absence. Marie Harft is absolutely spot on; we remove the legs from terrorism by giving people other options, plainly articulated is this was to be a medium, long term plan as opposed to airstrikes and military tactics designed to handle the immediate threat, remove tangible dangers, stall ISIS gaining any more territory in the region, expanding beyond the middle east. And our, the western world’s propaganda war, counter ISIS propaganda war isn’t working; despite national, international demands given to top social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google to remove terror recruitment tools, slick high quality videos promoting ISIS, ISIL giving off the impression people who join will be fighting for a just cause, helping oppressed, misunderstood people gain freedom, rights, be rewarded in heaven if not on earth, it isn’t just the sheer number of posts, accounts, constantly changing, evolving message mediums, it even pushes past the question what defines terrorism, the balance between leaving accounts up as a window into the movements, plans of ISIS and shutting them down to keep western, especially young people, those edging toward mentally disturbed, disenfranchised from being enticed to join, to it has to be a direct, specific threat of violence to warrant removal from a site, justify the turning over of user account data to authorities. More problematic may be counter propaganda videos meant to deter people from ISIS do so chiefly by insulting them, mocking their belief system instead of refuting it with facts based on ISIS’s own actions, their own stated agenda held up against the Koran, the Islamic holy book, leaving the impression to disaffected youth across the western world we are the bullies they are the victim only serving as an added incentive to join. Tying back into President Obama’s response to American beheadings, Christian beheadings, Jews killed due to anti-Semitism, his lack of visceral rage displayed to the American people, chiding him for going to play golf after hearing what happened to Americans abroad, A-never mind every outing the president takes, every place he goes is a potential media circus because he is the President of the United States, B- god forbid he do something to de-stress, relax, keep calm, avoid health problems, clear his head to better serve the country. Showing even the restrained rage of Bill Clinton, George Bush reacting to events, promising vengeance, retribution, our brand of justice plays right into their hands again, tells them they rattled us, tells them what to continue to do to make us look like the dictators, bullies, arrogant infidels they routinely paint us as, continue to do to keep us angry and unfocused, vulnerable to the big attack they want to launch. Moreover wasn’t one of the profound things said after 9-11 meant to return things to normal a call for people to go back to their regular lives, yes moron, remember, honor but simultaneously continue to enjoy what you have, make plans, do things or else the terrorists win; why then the big deal about the president playing golf?  Obvious, is Rudy Giuliani doesn’t understand social media, doesn’t understand today’s media influence, how information is distributed, how seemingly benign topics go viral and end up major conversations; he barely understands the tabloid media exploding in the 90’s feeding our on-going celebrity obsession now, at his age most wouldn’t expect him to. What everyone expected him to do was to know when he was out of his league, not jump to premature, ill-informed judgment shouting something as infantile as he doesn’t love America. President Obama, someone on his considerable staff plainly does comprehend 21st century media parameters and is wisely counseling the president not to rise to the bait. Never has it been a president “too cool for school,” unaffected by the senseless slaughter of citizens, ours or someone else’s, but a president who knows when to take care of himself to take care of a nation, a president who loves his country so much he is willing to play a smarter game in a different era, toward a more lofty goal, so there is a vigilance, a watch on terror not a forever war on terror.


Answering Giuliani’s periphery arguments supporting the “he doesn’t love America” trope firstly involves confronting Giuliani’s own double talk opening the following day on one Fox News program saying he wasn’t questioning the president’s patriotism, is sure he loves America, but doesn’t speak as “lovingly,” AKA as eloquently, as Regan, Clinton, ending that next day gloating he had no wish to apologize, withdraw his words instead wanted to repeat them. Lawrence O’Donnell is absolutely right in calling it the “what I meant to say” tour, calling out Giuliani alerting viewers unequivocally charging the president doesn’t love America and questioning his patriotism are indeed the same exact thing, concept, sentiment wise just using different words, not that people watching this needed to be told. Also his latest statements read like going back to 2007 topping off his apologetic attitude for America, his referencing the crusades without the other half of the equations “the Muslims were barbarians too,” blasting the president for seeing Christians and Jews slaughtered, not holding a press conference yet holding one over riots, unrest in Ferguson, we return to the reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy stemming from a church president Obama once attended and sermons including the words god damn America. Except wait a minute, lost on America’s mayor is that president Obama being African American, having his own unfortunate encounters with police stops in his youth and being the very first African American president of this country would be remiss and look pretty silly not holding a press conference on what happened in Ferguson; especially when the goal was to try to maintain the fragile calm, urge peace after an undesirable verdict, redress years of systematic wrongs done to African Americans in the US of A by police officers, those in authority over law enforcement. To say nothing of Ferguson is within his own boarders where he is obligated and obliged to take a greater interest in things happening in real time, nor were we ever without comment from the president on the horrors committed by ISIS, whether they happened exclusively to American citizens or not, every night post ISIS beheadings, killing of journalists, aid workers, the brutal burring alive of the Jordanian pilot network news carried a response from president Obama. Wherever he was in the world faithfully executing the duties of the office of president of the United States, improving trade, foreign relations exc., he repeatedly had strong words for the terrorists condemning with every syllable their actions; meaning he didn’t need to hold an individual press conference to make his point, his position clear. Subsequently preachers for decades have been saying god damn, as in condemn, shun America warning god will dam, cast off America versus the feel good god love America; cited examples espousing why include rampant promiscuity, fornication people hardly bat an eyelid at anymore, unwed mothers proud of that fact, and no, not from creating test tube babies via a sperm bank because they want a child and haven’t found that someone, though they would doubtlessly decry the science behind such an arrangement, homosexuality, the abortion mills we run. Ideas that came long before reverend Wright, have and will, surpass him; thoughts echoed almost verbatim by religious figures like John Hagee, Dr. D. James Kennedy, a myriad of others. And it was never in the context of a hatred for America but a spiritual wakeup call to America to return to the core of its religious roots, stop drawing the wrath of god, avoid the disastrous consequences coming; whether you agree with it or not, that was the meaning, intent of their message. So the question then becomes why are we singling out Wright; why is that relevant to current events noting president Obama no longer attends this man’s church, has had no known contact with him in the last decade?  Conclusion, it isn’t, but since there is not sustentative policy coming from the right, being debated on the right, they too just kicked the can down the road on homeland security funding, like they used to berate democrats for doing, even with control of both houses of congress, have been in session less than 2 months already delaying key votes on their issues when republican women, moderates revolted against a strict abortion bill, couldn’t agree on a vote to update education standards and the homeland security resolution is only good for one week. What else is there to talk about; what better way to distract your constituents from your quickly growing track record of failure you promised wouldn’t happen than to rehash the president’s old, supposedly dirty laundry?  Finally true to Giuliani’s staunchly republican roots, he too has no sustentative policy he is announcing he would like the president to undertake, brought to the donor dinner, wishing a republican to be elected president so that policy(s) X and Y could be enacted to better handle terror threats, better keep us safe, better present us to the rest of the world, better help foreign nations avoid citizens joining terror groups, revitalize our own economy, help small business; all he has is the president doesn’t love America and some gibberish about he doesn’t understand western civilization, its contributions to the world and flimsy examples about not holding press conferences.

Domestically contrast his policies, it is inconceivable the president has in any way done wrong by America, is some kind of outsider, misunderstands western civilization. Apart from Obama care, which has had its share of problems, it did reform the healthcare system eliminating substandard policies not covering enough health issues people need insurance for, it did prevent carriers from dropping you the moment you get sick, denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions, it has signed up millions who previously had no insurance, provided a means by which the self-employed, work from home crowd can afford health insurance, where they had zero chance before. And above all it is far better than turning Medicare into a voucher program relatedly privatizing social security, tying it to the stock market in the name of cost reduction. President Obama loved/loves this country enough to insist on stimulus over austerity measures employed by Europe, instinctively knew which one would work best, a painful lesson Greece is learning right now present day, years into their own economic troubles. He was in favor of the grand bargain that would have created a budget resolution, reduction for 10 years as opposed to threatened shut downs, continuing resolutions and constant turmoil; he absolutely demanded better targeted budget reductions than removing funding to PBS and big bird, scrapping the endowment for the arts, slashing social services like food stamps in a time when a record number still need them to eat, many of them children. Post the financial crisis he pushed for Wall Street reform, reinstating policies in place after the great depression, he insisted on better rules for banks, credit card companies making it illegal for the latter to raise rates randomly on persons paying their payments on time; he mandated housing lenders fully disclose mortgage risks and those documents be in plain understandable English rather than industry jargon and legalese, almost all initiatives blocked by the party Mr. Giuliani is affiliated to. But that’s our president focused on big picture solutions not singular ideologies encompassing topics the American people have already decided upon; the entirety of immigration reform wasn’t solely the dream act giving work permits, working status to young immigrants brought here as children unaware of their parents’ illegal actions, not to be confused with amnesty, said reform included yes a pathway to citizenship for longtime older illegals as well as a streamlining of red tape making it easier to apply for visas, citizenship legally, instead of years and years waiting in line for your turn. He rightly defended his all access to reproductive care for women statute in the affordable care act not as a religious debate over abortion, birth control considered as the same type of immorality, but options for both women and their doctors whether that’s in preventing pregnancy or treating gynecological disease, removing an unwanted pregnancy or more aptly doing it for medical reasons to preserve a mother’s life, end the suffering of an ill-developed non-viable fetus, not fear retribution, potential removal of your medical license for removing an ectopic pregnancy for example, classified as an abortion in Texas; he and his democratic partners in running the country correctly distinguishing between an “abortion mill” facility that exists exclusively, primarily for the purpose of preforming abortions and a women’s clinic that provides abortions as part of a variety of services required for women’s health gynecological exams, birth control, mammograms and/or mammogram referrals. His support of women continued, continues in the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter act allowing employees to sue their employers for unfair, discriminatory wage practices no matter when they found out about it as opposed to when it began, raising the minimum wage to elevate people, single breadwinner mothers and their children out of poverty. This is the education president who for better or worse spoke to school children about the importance of staying in school, trying your best, something no president had dared for 18 years, he similarly dared put forth legislation forcing colleges to keep their tuition costs on par with inflation instead of far above it, that would create loan forgiveness for select fields like teachers easing student debt and financial burdens on people trying to better themselves, his latest pitch to the American people making 2 years of community college free, an action that would allow some people to complete a degree, climb the economic ladder and gain necessitated job training. But the president doesn’t love America; at this point the question has to be, does Mr. Giuliani, the Republican Party really love America? And if they love America so much, why haven’t they done any of these things; why was the president forced to do many of them by executive order, abandon those he couldn’t do by executive order, accused of usurping power, circumventing the constitution for acting when congress, republicans wouldn’t?