Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Obama takes the heat

from the right and the left.

Basically at this point, there is not much Obama can do to please anybody. He is being criticized from the right, the left and the middle. It happens on many many issues where people dislike how he has handled them or dislike the results. The hate toward him shows up the most on anarchist sites and ironically those can be from the extreme left or the extreme right. Revolutionists are mad at government and whoever happens to be president at the particular time.

So reading some of the vitriol from (in this case) the far left, I decided to do some research on one of the issues where Obama just got renewed heat-- the case of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.

Like probably most Americans I have not known a great deal about him. I knew he was the source for the classified information that WikiLeaks had been releasing, some of which it is said has led to the death of American sources, increased the rage toward Americans in the nations where we have been waging war, and might even be a factor in the recent demonstrations across the Arab world.

Some revealed things that the United States had done in places like Iraq or Afghanistan that were clearly wrong but might have come out another way other than through the Internet and by one man's decision. It's amazing how often the bad things that do happen in war (and war is about bad things happening) eventually are investigated and dealt with. I am thinking here of Vietnam but even the Pat Tilman killing. It happens. It seems it'll never come out but then it does.

To start with here, I don't read WikiLeaks and had no interest in reading what they were printing at any time on anything; so I had to go looking for information on this whole situation.

I did know many on the right felt Manning deserved a quick death penalty for what he did. The military has said they are not seeking that although they are looking to try him on the charges of being a traitor to his country.

If you are aware of history, you are aware that traitors are never treated kindly-- unless their side wins. Some are hung like Benedict Arnold, whose name still stands for a traitor. Some are put into prison for a lifetime. One was ordered aboard a US Navy ship and kept there for the rest of his life where he was to be forgotten and never again told of the name of the United States. Being a traitor, in any country, anywhere is taken very seriously not only because of what was done but to discourage more of it. So it has been for Manning.

I understand that we are first humans and we have a responsibility as humans to treat all humans right and hope they will do likewise to us. But in the essence we are also members of a country, a community, a family, and that cannot be ignored as part of our deeper responsibility.

What I did not know was anything about him personally. After reading some anarchist sites that were basically encouraging revolution over his treatment and were further enraged at Obama who said he felt Manning is being treated appropriately by the military, I went looking for a less biased source for who he was and more about what he actually did plus possibly some motive behind it.

Finding that out isn't easy as if you read a left wing site, he's a hero for revealing our secrets (of which it appears he hadn't even bothered to read most of what he sent to Assange). If you read the right, he should have already been executed already. So in looking for the facts of who he was, I found the easiest and most unbiased source was Wikipedia (which I suppose both extremes would consider unfair). It gives his history and provides links for further information as to who he is, what he did and the possible consequences from it for him and others.

If you read that, and I recommend you do read that even though it doesn't make for fun reading, the first question you will likely have is-- and they let this guy have access to classified documents? What were they thinking?

This reminds me of the shooter at Fort Hood who clearly should have been labeled trouble and yet for some reason wasn't. Is the military infiltrated with those who want to see us fail?

Despite how many on the left see it, Manning was no hero in my book as he might well have revealed things that cost others their lives. He didn't care. It is pretty apparent from his history and problems that he has been an angry young man, angry at his community and at his father, who had been in the military, for rejecting him as a gay young man.

It is hard to say why he joined the military. It was about the most self-destructive action I can imagine for someone who rejects authority. From what I can tell and based on what he did, he saw his view as necessarily the right one and that was the case with everything.

I will give his supporters this. He might have been mistreated. He might have had every reason to be angry but again-- THEY let that guy near classified materials? It boggles the mind. Does the military pay any attention at all to behavioral issues?

So here is where we come to why the bad guy is Obama to so many on the left. He's taking the heat for the treatment Manning has been given, the heat coming from those already angry at our president for a multitude of other reasons. When he had that press conference where he said he believed that the military was treating Manning appropriately, well that was pretty much all it took for anarchists to surge forward with vitriolic accusations against Obama-- and frankly anybody who still supports Obama. That soooo reminds me of how the far right operates.

There are those who are angry that Manning was being kept naked at night for sleeping (that changed March 10th according to the above link probably due to the outcry) and that he has to endure daily naked inspections. The military says Manning is a suicide risk. The ones outside know better though, I guess.

Manning brought the latest indignity upon himself when he had been allowed to sleep in underwear and he said why allow him that much as he could use it also to kill himself. That reminded the military he was right. Some have stuffed underwear way down their throats and suffocated themselves. So he lost the underwear.

The argument has gone that keeping him in solitary confinement and naked at nights are torture. They compare it to Abu Grahib which if they actually looked at what happened there is not the case. They now are saying Obama is guilty for anything done to Manning and that will probably include finding him guilty in a trial; and they will find him guilty because he told others what he had done.

Manning also told others he had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which I don't know if he was or not; but if so, there is a lot more going on in this young man's head than anger.

There are those on the right and left, and they are both places, who want to encourage revolution and anarchy, they don't really care. They don't care what the result of anarchy will be. They are like Manning just plain angry and that anger at our country and really the world (see anything on the riots whenever there are G-20 Conferences) has now traveled to Obama. Right or left, many blame Obama for EVERYTHING that happens anywhere in this country or the world.

Was what Manning did really an evil act? Heroic? The answer to that will probably answer how you feel about his treatment. It won't though explain why you blame Obama as left and right will both find fault with him no matter what he does in this case.

Manning claims he was revealing really bad things being done by the military and he chose the only way he could to get the information out. The problem is he may have also revealed a lot of things that weren't about wrong but did and could cost others their lives, people who are also trying to do what they see as right. Manning turned himself into judge and jury and now will face the consequences. Incidentally after all the furor, they say he does have a night robe to wear but he says it's coarse and uncomfortable...

How we see all of this will be dependent on the filter through which we view the world. I have my own and today I opted to put up a picture of me with glasses which I almost never do as generally I wear contacts. The filter through which I view the world cannot be seen but only observed through my actions and words. It's that way with us all.

I had finished writing this and then we sat down to watch a movie, 'Get Low' from Netflix. I had no idea that it would fit so well with what I had seen in this current story of right wrong and how what seems one way can end another. It stars Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Gerald McRaney in an exploration of life and morality based on a true story according to the blurb from Netflix. Given how much is negative right now, I recommend it as a nice break and yet very real.

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