Friday, January 06, 2006

Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock

Ariel Sharon: Comments and Analysis

The reign of Ariel Sharon is over and reign is what it seemed like even from afar, as Sharon ruled like an evil King or Czar. In another time and place (WWII), he would have been seen as a hero who fought only with one driving motive in mind, creating a safe place for Jews to be and it was clear nothing else was important to him like the fact that another people and other interests were from his point of view in the way of his self appointed goal. Compromise and negotiation was not part of his character. Even his unilateral withdrawal from Gaza involved no compromises. The withdrawal from Gaza was as he saw it in the best interest of Israel and the fact it affected Palestinians was not of much importance except as it affected the future of his country. The fact that seemingly Israelis on all sides of the political spectrum agree there is no one of Sharon's stature (albeit a very questionable stature: he should have been tried for war crimes) to take his place is very concerning. It is said only strong men can make peace these days, a sorry comment on international affairs in general, if it is true.

Unfortunately, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who not that long ago appeared to sound like the worst racist, anti-Arab, politico I ever heard spouting his terrible nonsense has little chance of replacing Sharon. Olmert is now seen as a moderate who invented the idea of a New Israeli party willing to give up land. This whole scene is sad for the Israeli people and sad for the world. I certainly hope someone will be able to assume authority who has some kind of moral underpinnings or is that much too much to hope for. I stopped being a Zionist years ago but still wish for some kind of solution that makes sense for all the people who live in the region. The only kind thing I can say is that at nearly the end of his life, Sharon did something (the withdrawal) that could be the start of a positive move toward co-existence in the region. The down side is zealous right wingers like Sharon caused so many people in the Middle East and around the world to hate Jews (refueled age old anti-Semitism) that it might take a big miracle (the actual achievement of peace) to re-educate not only people in the Middle East but many of the poor peoples of color around the world to begin to take another view.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tragedy at Sago Mine Brings Different View as Events Unfold

Turns out the optimism of the Governor (Joe Manchin) of West Virginia was not realized. When the news was positive and there was a miscommunication that 12 of thirteen had survived I described Manchin as the Dems' almost new Guiliani. I was pretty much wrong at hyping how great the Governor was, although blame seems most directed at the CEO of the Sago Mine not toward the Governor as it appears the Ceo, Hatfield, knew all twelve were not alive twenty minutes after the rumor had spread to the relatives and townspeople that twelve miners had been rescued. It is not clear yet what Governor Manchin could have done differently or what he knew exactly and at what time. It is clear the relatives should have been told the truth or at least what was not true as soon as the rumor became evident. I still am impressed by Manchin's steadfastness in the face of all the tension both before and after word leaked out that so many were dead. He is still a potential political figure to watch. I would say at this point his day has not come. Now it is up to Manchin and I suppose the Federal authorities to make sure that the Sago mining company and the parent company is investigated, the mine shut down until corrections are made, and the families of the dead and the one injured compensated for their pain and suffering. Perhaps, how Manchin deals with the aftermath will be the real challenge to his career as he will be under intense scrutiny during this period.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Governor Joe Manchin is Impressive

Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia is impressing me as he handles this latest coal mining disaster and tragedy. I know he is a Democrat, has relatives who were coal miners, and is a recently elected governor. This guy communicates well under stress and he seems to have a way with people, appears to have a calming effect on those in a crisis. I know he was accused during the election of being too close to interests hostile to the business interests meaning coal mining magnates (although these same interests gave him money; they knew he might win)in his state which is another feather in his cap as well as I am concerned. How about the Dems running him for a high office on the federal level? He might be the Dems answer to Guiliani. Anyway, this may be pie in the sky or naive but he seems good. Any politicos out there who see the same potential in this guy. I am a long way from West Virginia so this is may all be pie in the sky. Any politicos thinking about this out there?

Sharon Raphael