Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

The book is in the bookstores, the crowds are eagerly waiting in line for autographs, the book tour is set to travel through a number of key battleground states. So is this it? Is this the beginning of Sarah Palin’s 2012 Presidential campaign?  Sarah’s supporters are already saying they would vote for her in the next election.  She is being compared to Ronald Reagan, the former movie star turned President of the United States.  Let’s face it, if Ronald Reagan, a man who got his inspiration for important government decisions and policies from watching old Hollywood movies, could be elected President – twice – there is certainly a reasonable chance that Americans might also vote to put Sarah in the White House. I know it is something that is hard to accept for a lot of people, but we have to consider it, just as scientists and policy makers contemplated the “unthinkable” many years ago when it seemed that there was a possibility of global thermonuclear war.

So what would happen if Sarah were elected President? Can we discern anything from her actions as a mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska?  Is there something in her speeches and interviews that provides us a foretaste of things to come, should the unthinkable come to pass? Most of her political experience comes from being the Mayor of Wasilla, a small town in Alaska. She was mayor for ten years and seems to have made several accomplishments, although in a heavy-handed way, that helped the town to prosper. She appears to have a record of trying to “clean up” Alaskan politics and is driven by an ethical concept that seems to be shared by a lot of Alaskans. She only served as Governor of Alaska for two years and her time as Governor was marked by significant friction with the political establishment. She seems to place little value on being a “team player”.

Interestingly, although she is officially a Republican, she has supported some initiatives that required major government intervention.  It would be hard to characterize her as a Libertarian in her deeds, regardless of her words.  She wholeheartedly supported and signed a bill that would provide government funding to build a trans-Alaska gas pipeline. She also signed an energy bill that gives $1,200 to every qualified resident of Alaska. The money comes from Alaska’s revenue from the oil and gas.  It sure seems a bit Socialist to me, hardly a Republican ideal, and certainly something that no pure Libertarian would ever dream of.  In her statement about the gift of government money to Alaskan families she said that these people needed the money to buy groceries and heat their homes.  An admirable thought, but hardly Republican ideology.

In an attempt to save money for the state, Sarah sold the governor’s jet plane and fired the governor’s private chef.  It seems, from her actions, that she has no problem with spending hundreds of millions of dollars for gas pipeline construction, some of the proceeds of which will then be given as a gift to the people of Alaska so they can buy necessities , but she is against spending taxpayer money for non-essential things, like jet planes and chefs.  Overall, it appears that her political philosophy is more aligned with the Democrats than the Republicans.  However, her religious views can only be viewed as deeply “conservative”.  And it is the clever alliance the Republicans have made with the conservative Christian movement that seems to be the principle reason she calls herself a Republican.

Now we come to the last election.  Sarah was quickly catapulted into the national limelight as John McCain’s Vice Presidential running mate. The infamous interview with Katie Couric clearly showed that she was in way over her head. And that is the problem.  The simple fact is this: if there is one thing the campaign showed us about Sarah Palin it is that she is woefully unprepared to be President of the United States. Her knowledge of foreign policy and geography, the fact that she seems to read almost no magazines or newspapers, her inability to respond intelligently on major issues of interest to Americans simply showed that she has not concerned herself with the world outside of Alaska.

So now she’s written a book – a best seller, even before it was in the bookstores. It shows what name recognition can do for you – the one thing that the American publishing industry cares about (but that is a subject for another time).  Now she is on the campaign trail, sort of pretending it’s a book signing tour. There is no doubt that she will find many supporters who love her down-home, simple, goldurnit, aw shucks logic.  The question we all have to ask ourselves though is this: does she really have the knowledge and skills to run the country? Could she be a good President? The thing to recognize is that while many people might have what it takes to be a good mayor of Wasilla, after all there are thousands of Wasillas and thousands of good mayors all over the U.S., it is quite another thing to be President of the United States. Well, what about being Governor of Alaska? Remember, she was only governor foe two years, and then she walked off the job there.  Remember also that she was continually at odds with the other politicians in Alaska.  She has a sort of “take no prisoners” way of doing business when she is in charge. It’s her way or the highway, it seems. Not exactly the way a competent and seasoned politician operates, and certainly not the way to be successful in Washington.  It is my guess that if she were elected, she would be the most ineffective president in our history, because she doesn’t understand how the U.S. system of government actually works. In a word, she is naive.  And that spells great danger for our country, because the same people who voted for the movie star, Ronald Reagan, might vote for her too.

Our forefathers anticipated this potential moment in our nation’s history. The knew that a time might come when the common people might be deceived; they knew that it is possible for a slick talker to convince people, based upon emotional arguments, that they are the best candidate, when in fact they are simply incompetent.  That is why we have the electoral college. It is our last hope – a group of people of learning and experience, who in the end have the ability, the right, and the obligation to overrule the people and protect them from a grievous error in judgment.

When I contemplate the unthinkable I am left with this: This small group of people, the electoral college, may well be the only thing that can save this nation from itself in 2012 –  I wonder if they will have the courage to do so.

Read Full Post »

Imagine it is September 11, 2001 all over again, except this time you are one of the passengers on United Airlines flight 93, bound for San Francisco out of Newark, New Jersey.  Except for luck, fate, timing, call it what you wish, it could have been any of us on that plane on that day.  The plane had already been hijacked and the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon had already been hit by other hijacked aircraft.  What if it had been you on United 93 and you knew about the other hijackings and the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon? What would you do? Would you have decided to make an all out attack on the hijackers, storm the cockpit, and try to take over control of the plane, knowing that it must certainly be destined to smash into another major American landmark?

Not everyone would take that action.  Many would have remained in their seats, hoping, praying for something to save them. Some would have just entered a trance-like state, denying the reality of the entire situation, assuring themselves that it must be a dream from which they would awaken.  Others might even hold out hope that they could bargain with their captors, maybe make a deal – who knows?  But the passengers on United 93 didn’t try to avoid a confrontation.   They knew that the people who had taken control of the plane were ruthless murderers. They knew that their plane was going to be used as a weapon against other Americans. They decided that they were not going to let that happen.

We all know the result of their decision.  They rammed in the door of the cockpit and fought hand to hand with the terrorists for the control of the plane.  The violent struggle continued until the terrorists lost control of the aircraft and it plunged to the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Everyone on board perished. It is now known that the most likely target for United 93 was the U.S. Capitol building.  If the passengers had not intervened our Capitol – the symbol of our democracy – would have been reduced to rubble and many more Americans on the ground would have died.

Here is the question: do the brave passengers on United 93 deserve any posthumous recognition for their bravery from the U.S. government? Should they be awarded posthumous medals, similar to the Medal of Honor that is reserved for military people?  Surely their bravery and their deed of saving the U.S. Capitol is comparable to the bravery and deeds of many who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, isn’t it?

So far, the only recognition these brave heroes of United 93 have been awarded is a Hollywood movie called United 93.  There are government awards available to heroes such as these. There is the highest honor that can be awarded by the U.S. President: the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, perhaps it would be an appropriate medal that could be awarded to recognize their gallant deed. But it hasn’t been. The most recent recipients of this award for “service to country” was CIA Director George Tenat in 2004.  Before that it was Jean MacArthur in 1988, she was the second wife of General Douglas MacArthur. Before that the Medal had been awarded in 1984 to Whittaker Chambers, a former communist spy who eventually testified against Alger Hiss. So far neither President Bush nor President Obama has deemed the heroic passengers of United 93 worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Well, what about the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that Congress can award? The most recent recipient of this award was Arnold Palmer on Sept 30, 2009.  Other recent winners of this award have been Neil Armstrong, Edward Brooke III, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Dr. Michael Debakey.  Congress did take  up the question of awarding their medal to the passengers of United 93, but, in their collective wisdom, they ultimately decided that the passengers on United 93 did not deserve such an august honor from them.

Recently, the National Park Service broke ground for a memorial to the people who died on United 93. It’s a simple memorial, a bit reminiscent of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC, sort of half-underground with a low wall. So that’s it? That’s what happens in this country when ordinary civilians show extraordinary courage and save the nation’s Capitol from certain destruction? They get a low wall in the ground in Shanksville, PA? Meanwhile, George Tenat gets the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Arnold Palmer gets the Congressional Gold Medal?

I have only one question for President Obama (because the Congress is beyond hope): Mr. President, when will you correct this egregious oversight?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: