The Unbiased Eye

A scientist's commentary on events and culture

The Great Basketball Scandal

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The only harmful radiation afflicting the United States today is coming from the opportunistic mouths of prospective candidates, right-leaning bloggers, and in a more subtle way, even the mainstream press, against Obama’s leadership.

Added up, all the ridicule and abuse raises the question about why any sane human being would want to be president — or indeed run for any prominent office.

I don’t know why anyone runs. They give up their private lives, ruin their health and for what? They do leave the White House with enormous opportunity to earn big money by giving speeches. Bill Clinton did it, but not all of them. Often they retreat into obscurity, in poor health. Most eventually are rehabilitated in articles and books but there’s no guarantee that they’ll live long enough to see it. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan have all been rehabilitated in magazine articles and books. The more recent chiefs of state are still waiting.

Now, Obama’s being assaulted by people portraying him as ineffective and timid — like the wimp that Jimmy Carter was cast as. The right is particularly clamoring for some kind of military attack on Libya, and seems to have succeeded, as Obama is discussing support for the British and French in a no-fly zone.

Earlier Friday, Newt Gingrich launched into a diatribe against Obama for spending a few minutes talking to the ESPN sports network about college basketball. The play this story got outside of Fox News was a little spotty — the worst being the left-leaning Huffington Post, which at one point had a headline saying, “Stop the Madness” — referring to the annual playoffs.

It’s curious because the wimp line is a sharp turn away from the more hysterical attacks on Obama for supposedly being a radical socialist. We can only hope that the previous strategy flopped along with Sarah Palin and other Tea Party darlings. However, the wimp approach is already a steady criticism on the left, which is disappointed that Obama is not able to institute all their favorite programs by declaration and that he is stressing compromise.

All the shrill carping would merely be a joke, if it didn’t have an effect. The mainstream media was just a few months ago all upset over the effects of violent speech — after a mentally disturbed young man committed a deadly attack in Tucson, Arizona. There was no evidence that the killer, Jared Loughner, had ever considered all of the violent speech that the media was railing about.

But they missed the real issue about the state of political argument in the country: Can anything be discussed rationally, factually?

Here’s an example: “The Middle East is afire with rebellion, Japan is imploding from an earthquake, and the battle of the budget is on in the United States, but none of this seems to be deterring President Obama from a heavy schedule of childish distractions,” said Keith Koffler, who produces a web site called White House Dossier and who bills himself as an independent White House correspondent.

This was a few days ago, but now Gingrich glommed this line, scoring a few pretty good headlines, one in the left-leaning Huffington Post, with a head shot of a very serious, leader-like Newt, and one in the Los Angeles Times. The HuffPost at least emphasized the political points Gingrich was seeking.

Gingrich is talking mainly about Libya and the Anglo-French plan to bomb the Libyan air force under a U.N. authorization. There are many experts who urge extreme caution on Libya. I wrote about this the other day. And on Thursday night, Chris Matthews of Hardball, heard from a former diplomat, David Mack, who thinks it’s a bad idea to follow the French and British into military action in Libya. But regrettably Obama seems to be going along with the allies to attack another Arab country. You would think the Saudis or the Egyptians have the wherewithall to do all this and more, but we seem to be determined to ride in on our white horse.

On the nuclear issue, the mainstream media harps much more on Obama’s low key approach to what they see as the dangers of nuclear power. For example, ABC News said: “After days of silence on the nuclear crisis in Japan, President Obama today downplayed concerns of a potential radiological impact in the U.S. and defended efforts to evacuate Americans from a zone around the crippled reactors four times larger than one imposed by Japan.”

From the public, there’s a deafening cacophony of nuclear terror. For a sanity check, I recommend the material put out by scientists and engineers who do not work for industry or the government. I wrote about this, too, a few days ago. In addition, I recommend reading what the Union of Concerned Scientists have to say. They wrote a survey of nuclear power plant safety in 2010, which finds repairable problems that should be addressed, but is far from the panicked views that litter the Internet.

In fact, Obama’s policy is reasonably close to the Union of Concerned Scientists, and we can only hope he stays on course to try to end our suicidal reliance on fossil fuels.

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Written by theunbiasedeye

March 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Posted in Politics

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