Sarah Palin as Runner-Up to Time’s Person of the Year?

December 18, 2008

Although Time’s choice of President-Elect Barack Obama as Person of the Year is rather appropriate knowing how he truly made Election 2008 one that was memorable and exciting, it is a matter of who else might have graced that momentous cover if the former Senator from Illinois hadn’t been picked. Motion picture director (and planner of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics) Zhang Yimou, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and French President Nicolas Sarkozy made the short-list.

But then, there was also this notable inclusion: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

But, what did Ms. Palin do to deserve such an honor? You can read Time’s assessment right here. Believe you me, mammals of the two-legged variety are not the only ones scratching their heads on this one. Turkeys, polar bears and wolves are also puzzled why the long-running publication would bestow such an honor on a woman that deserves none–especially when she has gone out of her way to threaten the lives of a sitting Senator (now President-Elect) and his family through the instigation of violence and hatred.

She did provide a lot of fodder for conversation in this country. That is a given. But, her right-wing politics, the near-association to a separatist party in Alaska, and a long, winding list of corruption and scandal designates her more along the lines of questionablity than legitimacy.

But think about this: Time did put George W. Bush on the cover twice. Part of the reasoning was the fact the he was “revolutionary”. Russian Prime Minister (and former leader of Russia) Vladmir Putin had this recognition last year.

When you put Ms. Palin into perspective there’s also something else to consider. The magazine gave Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin this honor as well. By having the two dictators lauded in such a way, the magazine demonstrated that not only “good” or “virtuous” people are deserving of being Person of the Year. There are figure-heads, by virtue of their presence and power when impacting the events of the globe that must be recognized. Their names are indelibly known in the annals of history of residing in the dark underbelly of global events. Despite the drastic nature of their wrongdoing, such persons did indeed make the world sit back and take a long, hard look in terms of humanity and destiny.

Is Ms. Palin to be considered in the same light? Hardly. She hasn’t the same deep resonance in society. But for one to ignore the danger of her message and actions, is to put one’s head in the sand. Therefore, any attempts to legitimize her message should be seen as a warning to what America might have been had she made it into the Vice-Presidency. Putting the Alaskan Governor in the national spotlight should be cautionary instead of laudatory. Underneath the spunkiness and the borrowed clothes, there resides a nefarious, narrow-minded individual who does not have all of America’s best interests at heart. In essence, she should always be a reminder of a road that luckily the United States did not travel upon.


On the Rick Warren Invitation

December 18, 2008

You can admire President-Elect Obama on many things. His eloquence is extraordinary. His charm and charisma refreshes the stale halls of the White House. His earnestness is something that is needed–especially in terms of the dark times ahead. Resoluteness and intelligence marks his leadership ability especially when trying to deal with chaos and unrest as a result of the economy and the conflict overseas.

But the most remarkable thing about Mr. Obama is his capacity to forgive and extend a hand to those who do not agree with him. You’ve seen this aspect when he had met with his former opponent in the 2008 election, Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ). It was also apparent when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) showed up at the governor’s conference held recently in Philadelphia.

And now, one will see it again with the future American leader’s choice in picking Reverend Rick Warren to give the Invocation at the Inauguration. The pastor is a rising star in the Christian Evangelical world.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m highly supportive of Mr. Obama’s efforts to get our country together. This is despite the fact I’ve disagreed with some of his choices for his Cabinet such as Hillary Clinton, Larry Summers,Tom Vilsack, Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Timothy F. Geithner, Tom Daschle, and Ray LaHood (R-Ill). The keeping on of Bush Crony Robert Gates did not strike my fancy as well.

But, for the sake of all decency, Mr. Warren being given a position of honor at the Inauguration is a slap in the face and a travesty to all that is right and justified in this society. The spiritual leader’s views of the GLBTQ community is quite derogatory and hateful. His pro-life stance is appalling and antiquated. Furthermore, his position on Prop. 8 distastefully shows his narrow-minded and rather boorish views in regards to extending humanity and decency to all sectors of society.

Mr. Obama publicly stated his reasons why out of all the progressive clergy in America he could have chosen, he settled with Mr. Warren. As a result, the President-Elect demonstrated his capacity to reconcile with the very people who have slandered him and his beliefs. It is, in essence, turning the other cheek.

If it were only that simple in this complex world.

No matter how enlightened, powerful and astute that some in the MSM perceive this invitation on one of the most important days in American culture and history, it is still a decision that is rather controversial and troublesome. With his ideas and actions, Mr. Warren attacks true equality and freedom in a thriving democracy. That is why this choice cannot be respected.

The President-Elect could have invited the spiritual leader to do anything in a variety of capacities other than appear on this noteworthy event in January. But to put the pastor of the California megachurch on the national stage is to give wider recognition of his negative views. Although America has prided itself on freedom of thought, there are times the basic civility and respect for human-kind outweighs the promotion of a closed-minded individual who hides behind his religion.

As A New Administration Arrives, The Iraq War Must Be Dealt With Differently

December 16, 2008

There’s one thing you’ve got to learn about history: as one era ends, another comes up to teach a given society about the grave lessons they must learn. America, during this time, is in the midst of a struggle. It has to shake off its past built from the foundation of American Exceptionalism. The United States must embrace a future that teaches its citizens that they are one among many internationally in various capacities.

With that being said, we have such a long way to go to rebuild the good will and alliances that have been cast away as a result of the 43rd Presidency and its allies. On September 11th, 2001, the empathy and connection the world gave us was cheapened with the invasion of a country which posed no threat in terms of the War on Terror. Sadly enough, “shock and awe” was an event that signified what the priorities were in dealing with the destiny and eventual fate of this troubled conflict.

The problem of the Bush Administration, is that it followed too closely the PNAC-style approach of building an empire by using the idea of spreading democracy as a shield. To even subscribe to the notion that a occupied country might change its entire system to that of the occupier seems rather obtuse and heavy-handed in a world that does not need any more examples of force to change the tide of history. Forcing one’s way in to another country based on a “preemptive threat”, only amounts to no good–if you use both Afghanistan and Iraq as a model. Therefore, the Bush Doctrine only reflects a disastrous policy indicative of an equally dark age in American events.

That is why it is hoped that President Obama uses his National Security team to effectively deal with this issue and pave the way towards more diplomatic and peaceful solutions. The dangers of the world cannot handle any more swagger, arrogance and saber rattling in times that the economy unwittingly binds us all together regardless of borders. We need intelligent, thoughtful solutions that would leave force and war as virtually the last answer in the ever-changing and complex global society.

The Role of Journalism Is Revisited As A Result of the “Shoe Incident” Too

December 15, 2008

There’s one more thing that the shoe incident introduces into the fold of public discussion: what to make of the journalists we have. Although the jury is still out when it has to do with Mr. Muntander Zaidi’s act as one appropriate for reporters or not, it does mark a change in perception that people who work for the press are not drones who only mimic the talking points of those who have the most money or political influence.

It is refreshing to see someone in the press corps act with a mind and feeling of his own unlike his other Stepford colleagues–especially when it had to do with a policy that has been questioned and criticized across the globe.

Some of the criticism that has been flying around journalism circles is whether Mr. Zaidi would have expressed his point another way by asking probing questions of President Bush about the welfare of the Iraqi people. Knowing how the 43rd leader of the United States doesn’t give a straight answer and refuses to express true remorse for what happened, the inquiring remarks probably would have been dodged in true Bushian style. After all, have we ever seen the so-called “leader of the free world” thoughtfully ruminate on anything during his presidency?

The true question that needs to be asked is whether enough is enough for not only the consumer of the news, but its producers as well.

We’ve had eight years of cheerleading sycophants telling us current events daily. Few journalists have had the courage to even take a step that deviates from the utter obedience of the American press establishment. So, when a reporter acts “out of turn”, if you will, it is a very big deal in the United States–if not the rest of the world.

The thing that stands out in this entire episode is that a journalist somewhere in the world was finally allowed to express his or her opinion that wasn’t corporate or ideology influenced. How many times in the United States would you ever see a journalist truly speak his or her mind without it being weighed by news directors, producers, or even the heads of a given network? A true reaction about current events is something that we don’t see reporters express enough. This goes beyond being “objective” (in which the pundits, anchors, correspondents, commentators, and stringers are not).

To sum it up entirely, this is about cutting the puppet strings of moneyed influences. News stories that directly affect everyday people should be covered–not what some targeted advertising market wants to hear. As a result of the media paying court to a particular audience, there are many stories that get passed over. Consequently, viewers from marginalized groups who do not measure up to what the advertising markets target are often forgotten.

So is it time for a new class of reporters to emerge without the corporate backing and the high powered ties? Would they be more capable of reporting the news because they do not answer to the political and corporate establishment in terms of shaping their stories?

I’d be curious to hear Mrs. Alan Greenspan’s answer.

The “Shoe Incident” Raises New Issues To Ponder

December 15, 2008

On the day that Caroline Kennedy-Schlossberg has decided to make a go for the Senate seat in New York and that the electoral college had certified the votes made in the 2008 election, the shoe-throwing occurrence has caused a furor across the world in many ways.

Keep a scorecard ready. Mr. Munthader Zaidi, the journalist who expressed his opinion about the American occupation of Iraq, is in jail. While his behavior has garnered mixed reviews among some Iraqi citizens, others have poured out into the streets to demand for Mr. Zaidi to be released from prison. The correspondent’s station, al-Baghdadia, is also calling for the 28-year-old journalist to be let go.

On the Western front, heads are rolling as the post mortem of the situation is being mulled over in the press and security circles. During the examination of the entire incident involving President Bush’s press conference with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Secret Service’s slow response time is being questioned as a result of the split-second timing of two shoes being hurled at the podium of a international leader.

What did the folks who are responsible for protecting the President of the United States say? That, of course, they acted with the “proper balance of aggressiveness and restraint” as stated in the New York Times:

Eric Zahren, a Secret Service spokesman in Washington, also said it will be up to Iraqi officials to prosecute Muntadar al-Zaidi, the journalist arrested in Sunday’s incident.

“No one should read anything more into it than what it was, which was an individual throwing a shoe,” Zahren said.

Now do you believe that beneath all the down-playing and the self-possession by the Bush Administration over this incident, that quietly some heads are about to roll for what happened? Of course. Will we see journalists take off their shoes as a result in future press conferences?

Let’s hope that the Fourth Estate all undergoes very expensive pedicures complete with a Tea Tree Oil foot soak. 😉

What Should Be Done About the Iraq War?

December 14, 2008

This is an open thread, so The Political Megaphone wants to hear your ideas about what American policy should be in regards to the Iraq war. Historical references, as always, are welcomed and highly encouraged. Sometimes, we need to look at the past in order to understand the present.

However, spam, hate speech and personal attacks are not welcome.

So, put your two cents in!

The Shoes Thrown Around The World

December 14, 2008

One could only bet that out-going American leader George W. Bush was going to have one of his saccharine, superficial photo-op events propping up his legacy without incident. However, he got a surprise Sunday morning in Iraq. An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at the 43rd President. He then proceeded to give Mr. Bush a piece of his mind.

As told in the Los Angeles Times:

“This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog,” the man said, according to a pool translation.

Seconds later, the journalist hurled his other shoe with similar precision as another Iraqi journalist reached over in an attempt to stop him. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq,” he said.

What was especially off-putting is Mr. Bush’s response to the incident. With his usual frat boy smirk and swagger, he could only retort the way a spoiled scion of entitlement would do:

“All I can report is it is a size 10,” he said jokingly.

“So what if a guy threw his shoe at me,” the president added, dismissing it as “one way to gain attention.”

Mr. Bush’s nonchalance is rather revealing when looking at the profound nature of what Muntader Zaidi did. When he hurled those shoes at the podium, he was in essence showing his disgust and revulsion at the superficiality and horror of what has happened since the U.S. first occupied Iraq five years ago. Who wouldn’t be quite upset with the “shock and awe” starting off such atrocities?

The American people have a long memory when it comes to the handiwork of the United States government and the Iraqi War. The Bush Administration’s constant referral of the civilians caught in the crossfire as “collateral damage” reflected insincerity and ruthlessness which cannot be swept under the rug. When it comes to the Iraqi people who are displaced, tortured, wounded, terrorized and killed by conflict everyday, the anger against what Mr. Bush and his cronies did in Iraq is justified.

That is why the shoes “thrown around the world”, mean more than just an expression of contempt during a press conference. The hurling of the shoes in Middle Eastern culture, is synonymous with giving someone the “one finger salute” in American life. It is the ultimate F. U. to a man who by his mere record and presence represents the dark side of American policy and history.

In essence, Mr. Zaidi’s demonstration depicted the pent up frustration quietly rising since the beginning of the Iraqi War. His sentiment did publicly what a lot of folks would dream of doing privately: to give Mr. Bush our derision and indignation over five years of senseless conflict. The Iraqi journalist’s anger is indicative of a whole lot of us who are sick and tired of the toll this war has taken on not only Iraq, but the rest of the world.

Enough is enough. Something’s got to change.

A Time of Reckoning

December 12, 2008

If anything, the Senate vote Thursday night told us that some our dignitaries are at open war with the working folks of America. Nixing aid to the automotive industry was a “mission accomplished” based on ideology and party, plain and simple. The failure of the Big Three didn’t matter to the Southern Republicans who led the fight against the bailout. In their refutations, what came out repeatedly was a repudiation of the UAW– even to the point of injecting falsehoods concerning the salaries of unionized workers in the MSM.

In that light, it isn’t surprising that the Southern Republicans acted the way that they did. If anyone stopped and looked at where the foreign car companies had their facilities in America, one could see why the outcry against the UAW was vocal and vindictive.

Put it this way: the Senators who lashed out against the bailout were pretty much protecting their own.

Before you think that this is a completely new trend, it isn’t. The late President Ronald Reagan, shuttled to sainthood by his GOP followers, battled unions throughout his two terms. The most celebrated case was the former American leader’s war against air traffic controllers in the early 1980’s. In the midst of campaigning for better working conditions and benefits, nearly 11,500 striking air traffic controllers were let go from their jobs. Consequently, the union representing them (the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) ended in October 1981. Since then, union memberships as a whole decreased in size and importance as America fell under the shadow of conservative rule.

Three decades have passed. Another union struggles against the GOP machine. Once again, the Republicans’ efforts are mean-spirited considering how low the economy has sunken. It is as if the conservative party ignored the dire circumstances of nearly three million people who will lose their jobs if the Big Three isn’t kept running during these hard times.

The good thing is that the actions of the GOP Senators had, in essence, reignited the passion and the anger of citizens who have been put through the ringer of trying to fight to keep from being tossed out into the street. It sure beats the apathetic cynicism that hung like a cloud over the Bush 43 years. These scary times are giving each one of us something to care about. Our livelihoods depend on it.

So, is President Bush’s suggestion of taking the funds out of TARP to help the Big Three a noble gesture? No. However, it is certainly necessary for his legacy, is it not?

Another Sordid Tale From Wall Street

December 12, 2008

For the American people, this week in U.S. politics has been most instructive when it comes to greed, power and ideology. The caustic situation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich aside, there were other events that provided an eye-opening glimpse of corruption and hubris.

In the flurry of reportage this week, did anyone miss the story of Bernard Madoff? Reported to authorites by his own sons via their lawyer, Mr. Madoff–once a Nasdaq chief–pulled a fast one and defrauded his victims out of at least $50 billion.

You know the tip of iceberg of that entire investigation? When asked by those in law enforcement about his wrongdoing, Mr. Madoff answered, “There is no innocent explanation.”

That should be the retort to end all answers.

Dead In the Water

December 11, 2008

That’s the news coming out of Washington about the auto bailout Thursday night. The GOP faction of the Senate linked arms and voted the bill down. Who became the target of why the bill went down 52 to 35? The United Auto Workers (UAW). Yep. The vote comes at the price of slapping the faces of the unions. Because of this vote, working people get the shaft again.

From the pages of Salon:

Republicans were directly challenging Bush, arguing that any support for the domestic auto industry should carry significant, specific concessions from autoworkers and creditors. They are also bitterly opposed to tougher environmental rules carmakers would have to meet as part of the House-passed version of the rescue package — something that also faces some Democratic opposition.

What is especially telling about the outcome of this vote is that there are some politicians who cannot even bring themselves to think that if the Big Three goes down in flames, our economy is heading right down with it. During the Senate hearing for the auto bailout this morning, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) explained that other countries readily went to the aid of their automotive industries when they were in trouble. Why in the heck should we let ours go down in smoke?

The Republicans played the economy off along with President Bush and kept on pretending that the sky wasn’t falling. When it has, they do the one thing to make the sky rain flaming meteors upon their own country.

Don’t they love America?

Doesn’t it ever cross the Republicans’ minds that if the automotive industry is not saved, that hard-working, “pro-Americans” lose jobs?

There’s a few things that the GOP has to think about when going on this crusade against funding the Big Three:

  • If there are no jobs, families have to ask the government to help them–via welfare or unemployment checks.
  • Because of the lack of work, families don’t spend a lot a money on consumer goods. That means if demand is low, companies fail.
  • Even worse, families have to split up to find jobs in other places in order to make ends meet. That alone shoots the GOP’s so-called family values right in the foot.

    You’ve got to ask one thing, though. In the midst of looking out for the hard-working people who supposedly exhibited the GOP’s version of pro-Americanism, weren’t those conservatives thinking about Joe the Plumber, their patriotic über-man? Oh, that’s right. He just cast Senator John McCain (R-AZ) away in traditional Shakespearian style.

    Fancy that.