Monthly Archives: May 2012

Learning to Kill: President Obama’s Evolution in the War on Terror

There is a fascinating and disturbing article in Newsweek entitled, “Drones: How Obama Learned to Kill”. The article is long, but worth reading when you have a moment. It is excerpted from a new book, Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency, written by Daniel Klaidman.

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The book explores how President Obama’s thinking on anti-terrorism activities has evolved since he took office. Specifically, the book describes the decision-making process that the President and his top advisors go through before deciding to kill a terrorist target.

I have to admit that even writing these words makes me uncomfortable. I am a pacifist at heart and feel a strong urge to ignore the realities of what happens outside of our bordersin the name of keeping us safe.

I can only imagine the heavy burden placed on a President and his top military officials when forced to make a decision like this. Some striking excerpts from the book that help me better understand the complexities of what these officials deal with:

The president is not a robotic killing machine. The choices he faces are brutally difficult, and he has struggled with them—sometimes turning them over in his mind again and again. The people around him have also battled and disagreed. They’ve invoked the safety of America on the one hand and the righteousness of what America stands for on the other.

If there is a person in the camp who is a clear threat to the United States we should go after him. But carpet bombing a country is a really bad precedent.

…both men were grappling with the same reality: their advice could ensure death for strangers who lived thousands of miles away—or spare them.

I really struggle with this. I realize that there are people whose sole aim in life is to harm the United States for a wide variety of reasons. From the comfort of my home I cannot fully condemn the activities of leaders who have willingly taken on the responsibility and are doing their best to grapple with the difficult choices to keep us safe.

I also know that when George W. Bush was President, I was probably much less willing to explore this issue and more willing to cast stones.

But I have to wonder if there is a better way to keep us safe. Of course, I believe that promoting economic and democratic stability around the globe is one of the best ways to lessen vicious animosity towards the United States. But I also wonder if there aren’t more opportunities to use the legal system to bring people to justice.

I understand that this is extremely complex and that a protracted court case could actually exacerbate the risk.

I clearly don’t have the answers to this complex problem and I realize that I probably come from an idealistically naive perspective. Of course, I never do have the answers in this blog, which is why I always ask…

What do you think? How do you feel about the recent killings inflicted by the United States on terrorist suspects? Do you think there is a better way to keep us safe? What does that better way look like? Do you think that President Obama is going to suffer any legal consequences for his actions? Should he? Do you feel conflicted about this issue like I do?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading.


Filed under International, Peace, Policy, Politcs, Role of Government, Terrorism, War

Two More Awards – Such a Bounty of Appreciation!

This past week, I received two more awards for!!! I am so thrilled, in a world with so many creative bloggers, writers and photographers, that anyone would take the time to recognize my work. It is truly an honor and a privilege.

I am overwhelmed with the kindness and encouragement I have received from this creative and supportive community. So, THANK YOU!

First, a little delayed, I would like to thank FortheLoveofBooks, who nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I hope that all of you took a moment to visit his blog, since he was on the list of blogs that I nominated for the Sunshine Award this past weekend. If you can believe it, Life With the Top Down also nominated me for this award. I am so honored and can’t wait to check out the list of fellow nominees chosen by these creative individuals!

Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award

    • If you’re nominated, you’ve been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award.
    • Thank the person who gave you this award.
    • Include a link to their blog.

    Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.

Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.

Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So, let me start with the really fun part – naming 15 bloggers whose work I admire.

Some blogs that have really inspired me lately are:

Salty Political Musings: Good insights into all things political

Postcard Intellect: Absolutely stunning photography and great adventures

Waiting for the Karma Truck: Thoughtful, interesting and funny commentary on work, life and everything in between

Hungry Lindsay: Book and movie reviews with a healthy dose of humor

Where’s My Backpack: Fantastic photos and fun photo challenges with lots of participation from a bunch of great blogs

The Jotter’s Joint: Well written, visually appealing and funny

The View Outside: Currently hosting interesting guest blogs where readers get to see the people behind the blogs!

Orange Spice Drop: Funny with great colors and visuals

The Bookshelf of Emily J.: Great book reviews and interesting choices of books

Policy Thinkshop: Encourages us to “Think Together,” frequently link to the same news stories that I write about

Politics from the Eyes of an Ebony Mom: Always thought provoking and informative

Beyond PR: Helpful tips for working in the world of public relations and writing

Thinking the Unthinkable: This blog is just getting started, but the author is thoughtful and thorough in his analyses

Craves Adventure: This blog just exudes fun and adventure, and makes you think at the same time!

Talk to Diana: Always good for a giggle and has been very supportive of my work

Seven things about myself:

1.)    I am right on the line between introvert and extrovert, although most people think I am an extrovert. Too much time with people or too much time away from people and I get cranky.

2.)    I have always wanted to volunteer for the Peace Corps.

3.)    I have done 3 marathons and two 500 mile + bike rides and played sports throughout high school and college, but now I am pretty lazy.

4.)    Nothing makes me happier than a Saturday morning walk with my pup.

5.)    I love mashed potatoes. It is almost weird how much.

6.)    I am torn between wanting to live closer to my family and wanting to live near mountains.

7.)    I frequently wish I had studied Spanish instead of Russian in college. Especially since my in-laws only speak Spanish.

I was also nominated for the Readers Appreciation Award by C’est La Vie! Thanks so much for the nomination C’est La Vie! With a tag line like “Learning to accept whatever curve ball life throws at you,” how can you NOT check it out?

The rules for the Readers Appreciation Award:

  • List something you’ve been up to lately.
  • Nominate 6 other blogs.

Six blogs that I find interesting:

Management and Career: Interesting commentary and advice on how to survive and thrive in the professional world

Writing More Than a Few Words: A fun blog with great visuals and interesting fashion tips and advice

A New Thing Every Day: This has been a fun blog to follow. I especially loved her letter to her mayor about the importance of libraries.

Sweetandweak: This blog makes me laugh out loud

Sticky Notes and Quotes: What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good quote!

Truth and Cake: Thoughtful and fun to read

And finally, something I have been up to: My husband and I are trying to work out the details to go on a summer vacation – maybe Spain. If so, this may turn into a travel and photo blog for about a week. 🙂

Thanks again to FortheLoveofBooks, Life With the Top Down and C’est La Vie for the recognition and for all your support since I started this journey.


Filed under Awards

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? Dividing Women Does Not Serve Anyone

There was an opinion piece in the Opinionator section of the New York Times, which is their online commentary section, entitled “Mommy Wars Redux: A False Conflict.” This article includes a critique of a book that was recently translated into English called “The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women,” by Elisabeth Badinter.

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As a woman, I can’t help but feel that all of the seemingly-fabricated conflicts trying to pit stay-at-home moms against working moms or against working women who are not mothers, feels like an intentional effort to divide women along class lines.

The truth is that most women do not have a choice whether or not to work outside the home in order to provide for their children. And some women who do have a choice, make the choice to work because they believe that outside intellectual stimulation can help make them better parents.

While the article in the New York Times is fairly academic, I appreciated this statement, which rings true for me:

…under current social, economic, and cultural conditions, no matter what one chooses, there will be costs: for stay at home mothers, increased economic vulnerability and dependence on their spouses, which can decrease their exit options and thus their power in their marriages; for working mothers, the high costs of quality child care and difficulty keeping up at work with those who either have no children or have spouses at home taking care of them, which exacerbates the wage gap and keeps the glass ceiling in place.

While I realize that every woman’s experience is different and every life decision requires couples to make difficult choices, I quickly tire of the rhetoric trying to divide women. This is a critical issue that needs examination, but the divisive rhetoric does not help move this issue forward.

What do you think? Wouldn’t all women support more family friendly policies in the workplace, including policies that enable men to spend more time with their children or policies that make quality child care more affordable? Why do you think people try to divide women like this? Do you have any tips for moms who are trying to work and take care of their kids to create a better work-life balance? Or are you a stay-at-home mom who has tips for other stay-at-home moms about how to manage those stressors? What do you think it will take for Congress or State Legislatures to finally do something to encourage or require more workplaces to establish family-friendly policies?

This is a complex issue and I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading!


Filed under Career Planning, equality, Health, Income inequality, Parenting, Policy, Politcs, Poverty, Relationships, Role of Government, social pressures, Stereotypes, Women

Is Facebook Too Big to Fail? What is Their Business Model?

There have been a plethora of articles, opinion pieces and water-cooler conversations about Facebook over the past several weeks both in anticipation of, and in a post-mortem of, the company’s initial public offering (IPO). Some would say that any press coverage is good press coverage, but I am not so sure.

Two articles this week raise interesting questions. The first article, published by New Yorker Magazine, is entitled “Why I am Leaving Facebook.” Fellow blogger The Policy Thinkshop alerted me to this article, which tells the tale of yet another disgruntled Facebook customer choosing to leave the site.

This article made me wonder: Is Facebook Too Big to Fail? Facebook has become such an integral part of our culture, with people of all ages and backgrounds using the tool to connect with friends and family across the miles.

In a culture as geographically dispersed as the United States, Facebook serves to help us maintain relationships. Judging from the number of worldwide Facebook users, it seems to serve a similar purpose around the globe.

Facebook has changed how we build and maintain relationships, for good or ill. It seems to me that Facebook  is like Pandora’s box – now that we have all seen what can be, could we even put it back into the box if we wanted?

But the article in New Yorker Magazine does give reason for pause. The author reminds readers about who is at the helm of the company. Regardless of your thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg’s personal integrity, the author points out that a 28 year old responsible for making decisions about how to use your personal data can be a significant concern.

The author points out that young people can make reckless mistakes without an understanding of long-term consequences. I am no ageist, and believe that young people are capable of more than they are traditionally given credit for, but I so think the author provides food for thought.

At this point, the lure of keeping up with friends and family has led most of us to acquiesce to allowing our personal data to be used in whatever way the company chooses. It makes me nervous but, again, I am not sure that we can go back to a time before Facebook – I know that I would not want to do that.

The second article, an opinion piece in the New York Times, entitled “The Facebook Illusion” raises another interesting question about Facebook. Essentially, the article highlights the fact that the Facebook business model is not very sound.

To investors, Facebook promises access to billions of customers for online advertising. But I am an avid Facebook user and have never once clicked on an ad through Facebook. Who clicks on those ads? Judging from what we learned about General Motors pulling their advertising, very few people.

What do you think? What is the business model that Facebook uses to attract investors? Is it actually access to our personal data? What do you see as the future of Facebook? How attached are you to the program? Do you have concerns about the leadership having access to your personal information? Did the IPO experience make you think more about this? And how much of a services is Facebook providing for you and your family and friends? Would you be willing to leave Facebook or are you too enamored with the connections it enables you to establish and maintain? Do you see changes coming in the future? Where do you see Facebook in this future? Will it continue to be the market leader or will a different model come along and bump Facebook from its top spot?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading.


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Social Media, social pressures