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October 21, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

For some people, it’s all about red meat

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It is all about red meat.

I spent a little time last week at the movies and in front of the television learning about the benefits and detriments of red meat. Neither event, by the way, included Dr. Oz, who has his own opinions on that subject.

My experience with red meat included a wonderful two hours at the movies watching “Life of Pi” and many hours watching or listening to the congressional hearings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the tragedy at Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed. In both cases, red meat was the main attraction.

Without giving too much of the movie away, it centers on a young man named Pi and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The two of them wind up shipwrecked and forced to live together on a lifeboat for a very long time. One of them, the human, is a vegetarian, and the other one, guess which, lives on red meat — and lots of it.

Oddly enough, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is an extreme shortage of both vegetables and red meat. Pi is the closest thing to a hearty meal for the tiger, which presents a big problem for the movie’s namesake and an opportunity for the better angels in the animal and human kingdom to do their thing.

In Congress, there are no tigers but there were a few senators and representatives who never missed a chance to growl and roar when it was their turn to try to take a bite out of Hillary’s immense credibility, stature and likability with the American people (and the rest of the world, for that matter). It was to no avail. What they did do, however, was diminish themselves and their party — yes they were all Republicans fighting amongst themselves to see who could be the most outrageous in their questioning. Instead of trying to understand from the secretary of state the issues surrounding the deaths of American diplomatic personnel, they chose instead to play political games.

The biggest disappointment for me was Sen. John McCain’s non-fact-based rant in which he suggested that Clinton, who has taken full responsibility for the deaths — a huge burden for anyone in public service — was not convincing enough for him. Although I understand his pain in losing his friend, Ambassador Chris Stevens, that doesn’t give him the right, especially as a respected senator, to suggest that the secretary of state was not forthcoming. Ambassador Stevens was her friend, too.

Madame Secretary, of course, handled her friend John in a most diplomatic way by using the standard, “Well, we just have to agree to disagree” retort, which I agree can be frustrating for a fellow looking to pick a fight.

The hearings continued downhill for the GOP members when Sen. Rand Paul told the world he would fire Clinton if he were president. That, of course, evoked a few different responses. For his right-wing base of supporters, it was the red meat they crave on a daily basis. For most of the rest of the country, which knows him for the bully he tries to be, it was music to their ears to know that he wasn’t the president — and probably never will be given his childish rants from the political fringes — and that Clinton, a woman who has given so much in service to this country, would not and could not ever be touched by the likes of him. I am reminded of the story about the gnat and the elephant.

The day went according to script, especially after Clinton went to the House side for more of the same and the plaintive and unmet plea of an outgoing secretary of state for the congressional action needed, but not taken, to make sure a Benghazi will not happen again. Red meat for those who are hungry for another election cycle.

In the end, the public’s desire to know what happened and, more important, to be assured that our government was doing all it can to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, was probably left a bit wanting, mostly because of the political theater being played by those who seem to have forgotten why the people elected them.

They gave in to the allure of red meat and fell to the lesser angels of base politics by failing to do their jobs.

Back to “Life of Pi.” In a movie adventure in which an adequate supply of red meat would have made a difficult journey much easier, a tiger’s instinct to take his nourishment where he finds it gave way to a greater survival instinct in which both he and the vegetarian on the boat realized that for either to survive, they both had to live.

That is all I will say about the movie except that you should see it if you get the chance.

“Life of Pi” is up for an Academy Award because it is an extraordinary bit of filmmaking and storytelling. But it is, after all, a movie.

The real-life adventures of people such as Rand Paul and others who would try to elevate themselves by tearing down a woman of the stature of Hillary Clinton deserves some other kind of recognition.

Perhaps those folks deserve a Bronx cheer. With apologies to the good people of the Bronx.

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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  1. Talking about the Bronx, I saw "Broken City" with Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg. I opine it is more relevant to the current state of affairs and political motives thereof than the movie you saw Mr. Greenspun.

    CarmineD

  2. We can only hope the lesson has been learned and that the mistakes made in Bhengazi are not repeated.

    I'm not one to outright call for firing when mistakes are made, like some of the poiticians. It's more responsible to be logical and take actions to prevent future recurrence of mistakes.

    As for Hillary, time will tell if any of this has an effect.

  3. In Vincent Bugliosi's book 'The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder', Bush is put on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq. That war also caused the violent deaths of over 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens.

    McCain supported the Iraq War, but why was it fought? 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. The remaining four were from Egypt, Lebanon, and the UAE. Iraq had no connection with 9/11 whatsoever.

    Bush insisted that Saddam was importing yellow cake uranium ore from the Niger. Joe Wilson, previously a State Dept diplomat to Africa made a special trip to investigate that claim but found no physical evidence. This was the subject of the book "Fair Game" by Valerie Wilson, Joe's wife. She was the CIA agent exposed by Scooter Libby. This act is a felony but Libby was later pardoned by Bush himself. Laws mean nothing when political correctness is at stake.

    Where was McCain's investigation of the Libby pardon? Where was McCain's investigation of the Iraq War? Where was McCain's inquiry into the 4,486 military deaths based on falsified information? Doesn't he care about the lives of our soldiers?

    The purpose behind the Iraq War was two fold. First came the demonstration of Shock and Awe, the consequences of defying the orders of an American President. Weapons of mass destruction must be given up, turned over, even if the weapons don't exist.

    The second and more important objective was to create a large war, borrow to excess and throw money away to create such an overwhelming National debt that public education, Social Security, Medical and community assistance would have to be severely cut back. A war with Iran will bring that plan to fruition.

    John McCain is supports military action in Iran and Syria while simultaneously reducing Federal Spending and lowering taxes, but where's the money coming from?

  4. I look forward to seeing "Life of Pi". I prefer the allegorical because it is an opportunity for the brain to perform some deeper thought on reality vs what could be with effort.

    Mr. Greenspun points out the obvious for many who watched the hearings.

    SunJon also does a great job of pointing out the hypocrisy in the Benghazi hearings.

    While it iss stated that terrorists were behind the events, there were other things that were used by the terrorists as ammunition.

    It is not beyond reason to see the terrorists using the YouTube video to inflame the youth to protest, using them to create chaos, raising the emotional fury and building the violent reactions that increased the protest participants with the terrorists hidden in their midst.

    Let's not forget the politicizing of the ongoing events by Mitt Romney and his advisors. It was outrageous and totally inappropriate for him to interfere with a critical, violent protest against the US, empowering the terrorists and facilitating their objectives by his meddling actions in an emergency situation.

    He had nothing constructive to offer that would save lives or stop the violence. Instead, it was an event for him to try to use for his benefit in gaining power. This man who had previously demonstrated his lack of diplomatic behavior and bad judgment once again interfered for his gain. That is a bigger scandal in my book.

    Both the YouTube video and Mitt Romney were tools of the terrorists to increase the violence and give them more cover to carry out their terrorist plans.

    It was obvious that the violence was related to 911 given the date. In that respect, all US Embassies should have had sufficient security to at least cover that date and surrounding dates. However, no funds had been approved by Congress for increased security.

    So, let's add the Congress, Mitt Romney, and the YouTube video as dupes or tools of the terrorists to facilitate their plan of vengeance, making them also responsible for the outcomes in Benghazi.

    This is the price of politicizing everything now in our culture and politics. Commonsense, insight, and morality are limited. Benghazi should be an example of what is terribly wrong in our political system.

    We live in a time of much global upheaval and any of our diplomats and embassies are targets at any time. We need to face that reality and fund their security needs, even though we cannot have enough military support in all locations to protect them. There must be a better State Dept. plan in place going forward. This is something that must be worked out with the host governments as well as ours, and supported by our Congress.

    There is enough culpability to be spread around, however, only Secretary Hilary Clinton has accepted responsibility.

    I suspect there is a lesson in the "Life of Pi", if the viewer can open their mind, learn, reflect, and act.

  5. Red meat? I thought it was more Sweet and Sour myself. For every Republican that criticized Madame Secretary there was a Democrat that praised her to the heavens. St. Hilary is apparently the best Sec'y of State we've ever been blessed with.

    But Madame Secretary also got her licks in, most memorably the "what does it matter?" screech about the cause of death of our Ambassador and three other Americans.

    I do agree with Mr. Greenspun that "the public's desire to know what happened and, more important, to be assured that our government was doing all it can to make sure it wouldn't happen again, was probably left a bit wanting".

    And that's what really matters here. This administration can't find a way to tell the people what really happened. Worse, it initially came out with a story that was pretty lame when first heard, and now totally discredited.

    Does it matter that the people can trust what their government says? Look at the comments here - we have another response that shows no trust at all in the Bush administrations' reasons for going into Iraq. Can we trust what the Obama administration says about Libya? About Fast and Furious? About political leaders being accountable, but not subject to criticism? About State Dept. staff that was "fired", but not really?

    If our political leaders - of both parties - can't find a way to trust the American people with the truth, they'll soon find that we don't trust them, on anything.

  6. Brian, you hit the nail right on the head---despite their best and most misguided efforts, Rand Paul, John McCain, and the rest of the "red meat" crowd failed in trying to drag Sec. of State Clinton down to their level---she is just too intelligent, dignified, and diplomatic. Her demeanor, and her refusal to back away from the facts, instead of being drawn into an inane and non-constructive argument, simply drove them crazy---if they weren't already there.

  7. It is interesting to read things like "the people's right to know", as if it is essential to have all the facts instantaneously. Seems a sign of the new technological age we are in.

    Perhaps someday, the mobile phones or pads will give us a play by play of everything so we can further "the peoples right to know". No need for investigations or patience.

    The sad thing is that there is so much beauty and wonder all around us that will be missed as more and more the people are glued to their screens, so they don't miss any important details, in their "right to know".