Category Archives: Politics

New York/Vaclav Havel


Czech/Austrian border 1987 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

It is with great sadness that I note the passing of Vaclav Havel, playwright, political dissident, and former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. When I traveled the Iron Curtain in 1985 and 1987, Havel and others who resisted the communist/Soviet hegemony of eastern Europe, was always in my thoughts. I skirted the Cold War border from the relative luxury of my rental car while Havel languished in prison or house arrest smuggling out statements and manifestos.

One such fundamental experience, that which I called “antipolitical politics,” is possible and can be effective, even though by its very nature it cannot calculate its effect beforehand. That effect, to be sure, is of a wholly different nature from what the West considers political success. It is hidden, indirect, long-term, and hard to measure; often it exists only in the invisible realm of social consciousness, conscience, and subconsciousness, and it can be almost impossible to determine what value it assumed therein and to what extent, if any, it contributes to shaping social development. It is, however, becoming evident-and I think that is an experience of an essential and universal importance-that a single, seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of truth and to stand behind it with all his person and all his life, ready to pay a high price, has, surprisingly, greater power, though formally disfranchised, than do thousands of anonymous voters.


Czech/German border 1985 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

It is becoming evident that even in today’s world, and especially on this exposed rampart where the wind blows most sharply, it is possible to oppose personal experience and the natural world to the “innocent” power and to unmask its guilt, as the author of The Gulag Archipelago has done. It is becoming evident that truth and morality can provide a new starting point for politics and can, even today, have an undeniable political power. The warning voice of a single brave scientist, besieged somewhere in the provinces and terrorized by a goaded community, can be heard over continents and addresses the conscience of the mighty of this world more clearly than entire brigades of hired propagandists can, though speaking to themselves. It is becoming evident that wholly personal categories like good and evil still have their unambiguous content and, under certain circumstances, are capable of shaking the seemingly unshakable power with all its army of soldiers, policemen, and bureaucrats. It is becoming evident that politics by no means need remain the affair of professionals and that one simple electrician with his heart in the right place, honoring something that transcends him and free of fear, can influence the history of his nation.

Yes, “antipolitical politics” is possible. Politics “from below:’ Politics of man, not of the apparatus. Politics growing from the heart, not from a thesis. It is not an accident that this hopeful experience has to be lived just here, on this grim battlement. Under the “rule of everydayness” we have to descend to the very bottom of a well before we can see the stars. 

— Vaclav Havel


Suzanne Vega performs for Vaclav Havel — © Brian Rose

Some years later I found myself in Prague. It was 1990, one year after the Velvet Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was meeting up with Suzanne Vega who was playing there and in East Berlin–incandescent performances both of them, fed by the still uncontaminated spirit of liberation in the air. I wrote here about them in my journal. I remember walking from the train station to the central square of Prague behind a group of teenagers singing the dut dut duts from Suzanne’s song Tom’s Diner. Again, years later, I met up with Suzanne in Olomouc in what was now the Czech Republic as she performed Tom’s Diner for Vaclav Havel over a video linkup. Havel was a fan, as he was of the old Velvet Underground and Lou Reed.

Here is, perhaps, the finest tribute to Havel on the 20th years of the Velvet Revolution in Prague on 17 November 2009:

New York/WTC


Broadway and Cedar Street — © Brian Rose

I went downtown yesterday to add more photographs to my ongoing WTC series. I took the 4×5 view camera, which now requires carrying individual holders for the film instead of the pre-packaged paper envelopes that I used for about 15 years. Both Fujifilm and Kodak have dropped those from the lineup, now that digital is pre-eminent, and Fuji has stopped making 4×5 film across the board.

I took the subway to Wall Street and walked a block or two up to Zuccotti Park, the primary location of Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that has spawned similar actions in other cities across the country. I went with the intention of including the demonstration in some of my photographs, but not to attempt to document it per se. After all, the place is crawling with photojournalists and the media in general.  My approach, as usual, is more of a meta-documentation of events as they intersect with my main task, photographing around ground zero and the rising towers, particularly 1 WTC. More than once, other photographers looked at my equipment and referred to me as “a real photographer.”

From across Broadway I could readily see the police presence on the periphery of Zuccotti Park–various barriers and cones directed traffic on the street–which continued to flow unimpeded. Every few moments a double decker red tour bus would pass by the park and tourists’ heads would swivel in the direction of the demonstration. I set up my camera on Broadway and did a photograph looking toward the park with a brilliantly red Mark DiSuvero sculpture towering over it. The new glass buildings in the background reflected sky and each other creating a confusing constructivist composition. Red construction hoists slid up and down 4 WTC as if intended to complement the color scheme.


Trinity Place and Liberty Street — © Brian Rose

I only did three or four photographs in and around the park, but I was there about two hours, setting up the camera, and then waiting for things to happen. I talked to a number of people, some active participants, some tourists, others just passing through, but curious to see what was going on. As expected there are plenty of “professional activists,” the people who come to any and every march or protest aimed at established power. So, the casual observer might assume that the crowd is dominated by Marxist anti-U.S. fringe groups.

If this were actually the case, however, this demonstration would have been long over. It’s hard to get a handle on the composition of the crowd, but clearly, it is more diverse than usual for these kinds of things. At one point while I was there a contingent of union hard hats from the WTC construction site paraded through the park carrying an American flag. Another group of perhaps 20 marchers–young people, white and black–circled the park chanting “Stop, stop and frisk!” while almost the same number of NYPD blue shirts strolled along behind pied piper style. This was obviously an adjunct protest to the main Wall Street occupation demonstration. I talked briefly with a construction worker, a British tourist who was concerned about the economic future of Europe, and a person who had come specifically to see for himself what was going on. It’s the interest from outside the core group of demonstrators that seems to give  this rolling event momentum and importance.

I set my camera in the northwest quadrant of the park facing Liberty and Trinity Place with demonstrators and the curious in the foreground, and the sky filled with glass skyscrapers in the background. It was particularly satisfying to put my tripod down right at this spot where I had been accosted by security guards a few years ago who informed me that Zucotti Park–while open to the public 24 hours a day– was, in fact, a private park, and tripods were not allowed. The park–really a paved public square–is the product of  one of these zoning deals New York City is so fond of. Developers get more height or floor area in exchange for creating a public amenity, often of dubious merit. In this case, the park is definitely a welcome amenity among the forest of skyscrapers of lower Manhattan, and the city sees it as a win-win, since they do not have to take care of it–Brookfield, the owner, maintains the space. So, we have a public square which must be open to everyone round the clock, in which tripods are not usually allowed, now occupied by 500 demonstrators and their NYPD chaperones. The irony of it all is delicious.


Cedar Street — © Brian Rose

Speaking of ironies. The crowd in Zuccotti Park is comprised largely of local New Yorkers, many of whom are undoubtedly Jewish as evidenced by a portable Sukkah to honor the current holiday set up among various other tents and tarps. The right wing talking point that Occupy Wall Street is anti-semitic is laughable. The reason they link a Wall Street protest to Jews is because they are under the mistaken notion that the nation’s banks are run by Jews, which is demonstrably untrue–Goldman Sachs not withstanding.


Cedar Street — Brian Rose

From Zucotti Park I walked a short distance down Cedar Street and came to Greenwich with its sweeping view of the construction of the WTC. Dozens of visitors were lined up to enter the 9/11 memorial–which requires obtaining a ticket. I had a long chat with a police officer, a young Asian cop assigned to the WTC who was interested in my project. I did a few photos here before finishing for the day. One World Trade Center is now at least 2/3 of the way up.

New York/Noho


Bond Street — © Brian Rose


Bond and Lafayette Streets — © Brian Rose

In the grip of a debt crisis brought on by Tea Party economic terrorism, New York appears placid at the start of the weekend–on the surface.  One imagines the agitated garden party conversations  out in the Hamptons among the captains of finance. How did the good faith and credit of the United States come to be held hostage by an ignorant rabble? The mind boggles. We all await Monday and the morning bell.

 

New York/Ground Zero


Fireman’s Memorial, Greenwich Street — © Brian Rose

The President was in New York last week in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden.  He lunched with firemen from a company that lost men on 9/11 and greeted families of others who died at ground zero.  I went downtown on Friday, a couple of days after Obama’s visit, to see how things were going. One World Trade Center appears now to be sixty or more stories high, and the above ground part of the 9/11 memorial and museum is being rushed to completion. Just a few months ago it was a steel skeleton–now it is mostly enclosed.  I made several photographs with the view camera in the area just south of Liberty Street near the Fireman’s Memorial. I also snapped a few shots with my digital camera.

Tourists jammed the sidewalk near the Fireman’s Memorial, and possibly because of Obama’s recent visit, there were lots of flowers and pictures placed along the wall of the memorial. There were no such items the last few times I’d been there. A tour guide led a large group of out-of-towers by the memorial and I heard her refer to those “murdered” on 9/11. There was a thinly veiled anger conveyed by the use of the word murder. Yes, it’s true that those killed when the planes were crashed into the towers were, technically speaking, murdered in an act of violence. As are any victims of terrorism worldwide. And what about the innocent victims of unjustified wars? I’m not interested in a moral equivalency argument here. It’s clear enough what happened on 9/11. I just  think it is better to tone down the rhetoric.


On the 6 train in Lower Manhattan — © Brian Rose

On the subway heading back uptown, I saw a construction worker from the World Trade Center site. His hardhat was decorated with stickers, one for the 9/11 memorial and an another with a flag and the Twin Towers.

New York/Osama bin Laden


Twin Towers, 1980 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose/Ed Fausty

Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan. Nine years and seven months after 9/11.

Although I share a degree of the elation demonstrated by the crowds that gathered near the White House and at Times Square last night, I’ve lived long enough to know that these moments are all too fleeting. I remember well when the Berlin Wall opened–I was there a few weeks afterwards to photograph its rapid destruction. And I remember the feeling that the world had changed forever, that freedom had won out over authoritarianism. That the long shadow of World War II had finally been lifted off of central Europe.

Twelve years later, Osama bin Laden and his terrorist hit men flew airplanes into the World Trade Center  and another shadow descended. September 11th, and our reaction to it, led to an unjustified war in Iraq, torture, and the weakening of our economy–call it Bin Laden’s decade-long victory. Feel free to argue otherwise, but I do not think history will support it. Bin Laden’s death does not end that saga, but it offers, at least symbolically, the possibility that we can move forward again, after falling back.

Undoubtedly, those who were directly touched by 9/11 will feel that justice has been served, though I doubt that closure is an appropriate word to describe their (our) ongoing loss. I think, especially, of my friend Jack Hardy, the songwriter, whose brother was killed in one of the towers. Jack died in March of cancer. Were he here today, I do not think he would find much solace in bin Laden’s demise.


Twin Towers facade montage — © Brian Rose

For me, it is a moment  of mixed emotions. I have spent a good deal of my life as a photographer focused, by design or by accident, on these two watershed events, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the destruction of the World Trade Center. They are two of the most important events of our time. I have books on these subjects, whole bodies of work. With today’s news I have this rare sense of being momentarily at the center of things, that my work connects to the flow of history. And yet, just as quickly, I feel history rushing forward and slipping from my grasp.

New York/Enough

We are awash in gun imagery from Sarah Palin’s congressional crosshairs to the latest Hollywood movie Mechanic. The slogan along the top reads:

Someone has to fix the problems.

ENOUGH.

***

While I was talking this photograph an MTA employee walked by and in a stern voice said “You can’t take pictures down here!” I said, “Yes I can.” He just continued walking, but had he stopped I would have been happy to point him to:

Section 1050.9

Restricted areas and activities.

3. Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted except that ancillary equipment such as lights, reflectors or tripods may not be used. Members of the press holding valid identification issued by the New York City Police Department are hereby authorized to use necessary ancillary equipment. All photographic activity must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Part.

MTA NYC – Rules of Conduct

New York/Greenpoint


Greenpoint, Queens (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

This is my America, from my heart, and by my heart. I give it now to my children and grandchildren, and to yours, so they will always know what it was like in America when people were free.

–Sarah Palin (from the introduction to her forthcoming book America By Heart)

Delusional and dangerous.

New York/Greenwich Village


Fall little league in J.J. Walker Park — © Brian Rose

The liberal marxist San Franciso Giants beat the right wing brownshirt Texas Rangers last night in the World Series. Such is the state of our politics on this election day. Somehow, I think we are all going to come out of this election as losers.

New York/Joe Miller of Alaska

The first thing that has to be done is secure the border. . . East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow. Now, obviously, other things were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border. If East Germany could, we could.

— Joe Miller, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Alaska


Heinersdorf, Germany on the Iron Curtain border, 1987 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

Just in case anyone is confused. The Iron Curtain split towns, divided families, and crushed lives. It was the nuclear trip wire between east and west, the real and symbolic expression of the authoritarian ideology of the Soviet Union and its proxy states. It was designed not to keep people out, but to keep people in.

New York/Infrastructure


Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (digester eggs) (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The existence of New York is based on its extraordinary infrastructure both natural and man-made. The building of the Erie Canal opened up the west, and connected New York to limitless sources of prosperity. The building of New York’s water system with its reservoirs and aqueducts provided clean water to the city, and current expansion and replacement of that system guarantees the future viability of the city. The subway system, even Robert Moses’ hated arterial highway system, provide critical mobility, and current expansion projects under Second Avenue and the extension of the 7 line on the west side of Manhattan are examples of a continuing commitment to enhance that mobility.

Getting rid of the waste of an enormous metropolis has also required huge infrastructural investments–even visionary thinking. The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, above, is an example of that thinking with cutting edge technology and stunning architecture. New York Harbor with its rivers and estuaries remains one of the greatest assets of the city. But New York would not have prospered without the building of the Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Queensborough Bridges, among others, to the east. Nor would it have thrived without being connected to the west, to the rest of the country through the Hudson River tunnels, both highway and rail, and the George Washington Bridge.

Yes we can.

The building of these projects all required extraordinary vision and political will. Along the way there was wasted money, corruption, construction flaws, and a plethora of other evils. But in the end, the public’s money paid for an infrastructure that makes New York one of the greatest cities in the world.

No we can’t.

Yesterday, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, broke faith with the vision that created that greatness–the greatness not just of New York, but of the United States. His decision to cancel the state of New Jersey’s participation in the building of a second rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River, an enormously important project which would double the capacity to move commuters and travelers to and from the city, is depressingly short sighted and is indicative of so much that is wrong with the U.S. At precisely the time when reinvestment in the infrastructure of the nation is desperately needed to keep up with Europe, Japan, and the rapidly expanding economies of Asia, Christie says no, we can’t afford to go forward.

The governor may be thinking of his presidential future–I killed that financial rathole of a project–or maybe he is a true believer in small government with its attendant lower expectations. Whatever the case, this is Christie’s “bridge to nowhere,” or rather, his tunnel to historical ignominy–and hopefully, oblivion.

New York/World Trade Center


St. Nicholas Church, 1981 (4×5) — © Brian Rose/Ed Fausty

In midst of the furor about the proposed Islamic center a few blocks from ground zero, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has held a press conference to call attention to the long stalled rebuilding of St. Nicholas’s Church, which was destroyed on 9/11.

From the Times:

At a news conference near the trade center site, church officials appeared with former Gov. George E. Pataki and a Greek-American Congressional candidate from Long Island — both opponents of the Islamic center — to make their case: Government officials who appear to be clearing the way for the center, which includes a mosque, are blocking the reconstruction of St. Nicholas Church, the only house of worship destroyed in the terrorist attacks.

Beautiful. Let’s all get as nakedly political as possible.

New York/World Trade Center


World Trade Center/Ground Zero (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

As the “debate” swirls around the “ground zero mosque,” (which isn’t a mosque and isn’t at ground zero), here is another view of construction underway on the site. Similar to the small camera shot I posted a few weeks ago, this was made with the view camera.

New York/World Trade Center


Henry Street, 1980 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose and Ed Fausty

In my periodic visits to the World Trade Center–ground zero as it still called–it has been evident to me that some visitors to the site appear involved in something more than casually ogling the impressive rebuilding of the area. As downtown New Yorkers rush to appointments, dodge the construction clutter, and brush by the meandering clusters of tourists, they are making a pilgrimage to a hallowed place.

Less than a year after September 11, while the debris and the remains of 2,750 people were still being sifted through, I took part in Listening to the City at the Javits Center where more than 4,000 citizens expressed their opinions on how to honor the dead and to rebuild. There were some who wanted the site to lie fallow, as a park or purely as a memorial. But the majority present that day wanted a reclaimed skyline, a memorial that preserved the footprints of the Twin Towers, and space for cultural activities. New Yorkers, while still in shock and grief, were beginning to do what this city is famous for–move forward.


Holocaust Memorial, Berlin (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The selection of a site plan and its implementation has been far from an ideal process. The buildings presently rising on and around the site are less inspiring than they might have been, and the memorial and accompanying museum may or may not strike the right notes–time will tell. I am reminded of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, which as vast as it is, and as serious as its intent, somehow fails to encompass the scope of what it memorializes. As tourists caper about the stone monoliths and pose for snapshots, the monument’s finely conceived architecture somehow civilizes what was the opposite–one of the darkest, most violent events in human history.

The act of remembering is ultimately a private experience, but successful memorials allow for the collective sharing of memories by providing a tangible icon or by preserving a particular place. A memorial can be as modest as a plaque or the planting of a tree, and although I believe that 9/11 deserves something on a larger scale,  I am skeptical of the motives that demand memorials as massive as the one in Berlin or the one under construction at ground zero. Both are political statements–Berlin being about ritualized atonement. And the unfinished 9/11 memorial–I don’t know–the battle over its meaning is just beginning. But seeing the tourists milling about reverently, and witnessing the recent hue and cry over the proposed Islamic cultural center a few blocks away from ground zero, greatly worries me.

New York is arguably the most diverse city in the world–in any number of aspects–diversity of origin, language, and of religious faith. It is a city where the rich and poor bump up against each other daily. It has been that way since the Dutch settled on the Hudson and created a center of trade for the West India Company. Those who know New York well understand that it is a city of micro neighborhoods, of blocks, and of myriad groups that occupy limited space cheek by jowl. That an Islamic center should be located in Tribeca a few blocks from the World Trade Center is of little significance to most people who live and work here.


Union Square Park one week after 9/11 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The shrill voices against the “mosque,” calling it a desecration of ground zero, are coming mostly from outside New York. They have every right, of course, to yell as loud as they want. But they show no respect for those of us who live here, who witnessed the collapse of the towers, who lost family or friends, who cringe at every glimpse of videos or photos of the falling towers. They have no personal connection to this town–to that place, that block. They see ground zero only in abstract political terms, even as they claim to speak for the families of those killed, and their motives are fueled by fear, intolerance, and victimhood.

New Yorkers have moved on. We were badly damaged, but we are not victims. We are proud of this city for how it has pulled itself together since 9/11, proud of the diversity that defines us, and proud to be both Americans and citizens of the world’s greatest metropolis.

You got a problem with that?

UPDATE

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is run by Pamela Geller, a prominent right-wing blogger is planning an ad campaign for New York City buses showing the Twin Towers on fire with a plane about to hit. A rendering of the proposed mosque (which will actually be several blocks away) will be shown with the words “why here?”

From the Times:

Asked if she was concerned that the image of the flaming twin towers might upset some New Yorkers, Ms. Geller, in a brief interview on Monday, replied: “Not at all. It’s part of American history.”

As I was saying in my post above, these people do not care about New Yorkers nor do they care about the families of the victims. Their message is hatred, pure and simple.


New York/Photoshop World


Left: Economist cover with doctored photo.
Center: Undoctored photo (Larry Downing/Reuters).
Right: Undoctored photo superimposed on cover.

Once again, another Photoshop nightmare. The Economist cropped and cloned a perfectly good image in order to achieve dramatic effect for their cover story on Obama and the BP oil spill. In a way it’s no big deal–no harm no foul–you might say. But…

Once again, a predetermined editorial narrative drives the ethical train wreck. It’s not a photograph–a slice of messy reality–it’s an illustration used to convey a point of view. That’s the crux of the problem. Not which pixels were cloned, or what extraneous details were cropped out. It’s the notion that photographs are not in themselves enough. They are too raw, too vague, too allusive. Too real.

Maybe this is what the editors were suggesting.

New York/Valley Forge


Valley Forge, Pennslvania — © Brian Rose


Valley Forge, Pennsylvania — © Brian Rose

The same morning my letter appeared in the New York Times (see post below), I accompanied my son’s 5th grade class on a field trip to Valley Forge. For me, it was a day of reflection on the values we pass on to our children, and the ongoing struggle to maintain the principles this country was founded upon. The distortion of these principles by people like John Yoo, who wrote the legal memos justifying the use of torture by the Bush/Cheney administration, shame the memory of those who suffered on this field in the winter of 1777.

New York/Letter in the Times

This morning at a cafe on Hudson Street in the West Village, I read John Yoo’s New York Times op-ed piece in which he casts doubts about Elena Kagan’s qualifications for the Supreme Court because of her apparent views about “circumscribed” executive power. I was dumbfounded that Yoo would be given nearly half the op-ed page of the Times. Instead of standing trial for war crimes along with Bush and Cheney, he is rewarded with a professorship at Berkeley, and writes books and opinion pieces.

So, I pulled out my iPhone and wrote the letter above. Within two hours I heard from the Times, and was asked to approve a couple of minor edits to the original text. I still don’t think they should have printed Yoo’s article, but I give the Times credit for at least acknowledging the elephant in the middle of the room with regard to Yoo’s damaged moral and intellectual credibility.

Here is Yoo’s article. Here is the link to my letter.

New York/Slogan and a Song

We’re all a bit jumpy here in New York since the discovery of an SUV in Times Square with a makeshift bomb in it, though it was a fairly crude device that had very little chance of working in the way it was intended. The ease with which something like this can be placed is unnerving, but the fact that people (a t-shirt vendor for one) responded alertly was gratifying.

In this morning’s New York Times there is an article about the phrase “If you see something, Say something,” which has become ubiquitous on ads in the subway system. The slogan was penned by Allen Kay of  Korey Kay & Partners on assignment from the Transit Authority. It’s meant as an unintimidating prod, post 9/11, to stay watchful for potential terrorism. For many, however, the phrase, which has seeped into the consciousness of the city and beyond, is one more sign of a growing paranoia that is eating at our souls and our sense of confidence as a society.

Not long ago I wrote a song based on the phrase, played it once at Jack Hardy’s songwriters’ exchange, but have never recorded it. This morning, after reading the article, I pulled out a cheap microphone, fired up Garageband, and the result can be listened to here:

if you see something say something

the man in the coat looks uncomfortably hot
he prays from a book he rocks back and forth
the train rumbles through the rock blasted earth
eyes shift in sockets there’s a bulge in a pocket
ipods play private reveries

roll on roll on subterranean train
through the blind tunnel of fate
roll on roll on with a fearful freight
if you see something say something
before it’s too late

school kids swarm in and swing from the poles
a mariachi band plays besame mucho
a family from somewhere not anywhere near here
clings to their map of the world underground
ipods play private reveries

down in the glare air conditioned hades
fire and brimstone in an unattended package
each sudden lurch and with each random search
eyes pry deeper into unattended musings
ipods play private reveries

© Brian Rose

New York/Lower East Side

Houston and Bowery, the President on his way to Cooper Union — © Brian Rose

One of the most significant contributors to this recession was a financial crisis as dire as any we’ve known in generations. And that crisis was born of a failure of responsibility – from Wall Street to Washington – that brought down many of the world’s largest financial firms and nearly dragged our economy into a second Great Depression.

It was that failure of responsibility that I spoke about when I came to New York more than two years ago – before the worst of the crisis had unfolded. I take no satisfaction in noting that my comments have largely been borne out by the events that followed. But I repeat what I said then because it is essential that we learn the lessons of this crisis, so we don’t doom ourselves to repeat it. And make no mistake, that is exactly what will happen if we allow this moment to pass – an outcome that is unacceptable to me and to the American people.

Barack Obama