Tag Archives: Palin

Keep it simple, Keep it stupid: Palin on Nuclear Defense

IT'S PLAYTIME

Ever-innocent of in depth analysis, Sarah Palin likened President Obama’s nuclear policy to a child in a playground telling one of his playmates, “‘Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.”  Setting aside the stats on the amount of gradeschoolers that use the word “retaliate”, let’s focus on the bigger picture of Palin’s April 7 bid at “snappy quip of the day”.  Yet again, Sarah Palin has taken “Keep it Simple Stupid” to such ridiculous lengths that she has emerged looking… well… quite simple and quite stupid.  Even Obama who seldom comments on Palin’s yap felt the need to comment this time around, calling her “not much of an expert on nuclear issues.”

Let’s unpack Palin’s genius further with a look at the context of her remarks.  This past Thursday, April 8, Obama signed a nuclear treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that would result in both countries significantly scaling back the size of their nuclear arsenals.  Included in the smorgasbord of changes to nuclear policy, the United Sates is pledging not to threaten to or actually nuke any non-nuclear country that is in compliance with the international nonproliferation treaty.  Even if chemical or biological weapons were to be used on the US or its allies, the response under this new agreement could be aggressive military action but not nuclear action against said country.  Two caveats: nukes may be back on the table if biological weapons grow sufficiently in their ability to devastate AND North Korea and Iran are still fair game for nuking since they won’t cooperate with nonproliferation standards.

Back to Palin.  The vision of a post nuclear world obviously doesn’t get much traction with the Alaskan.  Neither does nuance.  Treaties of the kind just signed will help reduce the threat of nuclear warfare or nuclear terrorism as they will reduce the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals while simultaneously, bolstering security around what remains.  Palin seems to think that voluntarily reducing your nuclear capacity is a sign of weakness.  This is classic conservative shortsightedness.  If what we ultimately want is greater security, it makes sense to reduce firepower and the possibilities that the most destructive weapons in the world may fall into the hands of rogue states or terrorist groups.  Also, Palin seems incapable of reading the fine print: the nuclear option is not going away.  It can and will still be used, depending on the size of the threat against the United States.  And, as Robert Gibbs pointed out, the United States has, “a massive conventional arsenal that we believe has an important deterrent effect on anybody that might make the poor decision to attack our country.”

As entertaining as we may find Palin’s quips and sandbox nostalgia to be, if her long-term goal is the security of the United Sates and its allies, it would behoove her to think about more than inciting populist rage one chipper aside at a time.  Leadership is more than Tea Party diatribes, FOX talk or practiced, wink-punctuated debates rebuttals.  Unless it is addressed carefully, Palin’s lack of substance will collapse like her Katie Couric interviews and her failed governorship.  Time for some soul searching?  You betcha.

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Bjorn Karlman


Fundamentalism Loses its Mojo

street post with heaven ave and hell st signs

A fun-filled decade of evangelically-driven American foreign and domestic policy is behind us and despite best efforts to inject last minute sex-appeal à la Palin, Christian fundamentalism is fallen. Helpful clarifications and labels like the Axis of Evil are out of vogue.  Whereas previously, issues of national and international importance were seen through the handy prism of Dubya’s good vs. evil rhetoric, it looks as though we are actually going to have to think for ourselves again.

But the fact that Christian fundamentalism is losing its mojo does not mean that Christians are on the retreat.  If anything, moderate proponents of the faith are emerging from the shadows.  “I am a Closet Christian” confesses Ada Calhoun in a Dec 21, 2009 Salon.com article.  A New Yorker, Calhoun talks about her fear of being outed as a Christian: “Why am I so paranoid? I’m not cheating on my husband, committing crimes or doing drugs. But those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. Many of them had to come out — as gay, as alcoholics, as artists in places where art was not valued. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian.”

Agonizing about how to verbalize her views on faith, Calhoun says, “it’s hard to talk about any of this without sounding dumb, or like a zealot, or ridiculous. And who wants to be lumped in with all the other Christians, especially the ones you see on TV protesting gay marriage, giving money to charlatans, and letting priests molest children?”

Moderate Muslims face a similar challenge.  After a decade of bad PR, the struggle remains to reshape Islam in the coming decade.  “The good news is that those Muslims who espouse militant ideologies no longer find a physical home in mainstream Muslim America… the New York-based al-Qaeda supporting extremist duo that calls itself “Revolution Muslim” has been reduced to heckling mosque-goers from the sidewalk,” says Shahed Amanullah in altmuslim.com / Global perspectives on Muslim life, politics & culture.

“Muslims Denounce Terrorism / Terror Has No Religion” reads a bumper sticker sold by the The American Muslim.  It’s hard to battle terror with talk of peace but as more and more voices demand an end to extremism, the tide may be turning.  It doesn’t hurt that Obama gave his first interview as President to an Arab broadcaster; that his Cairo speech was well-received or the fact that his envoy to address the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is seen as more balanced than his predecessor.

What the coming decade holds is anyone’s guess.  Hopefully, a new tone is being set. “We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things….” said Obama in his Inaugural Address. Dodging any delusional salvation-through-Obama drool, perhaps there still is hope that childishly extreme religious rhetoric has seen its heyday in the US.

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Bjorn Karlman