Who’s up and who’s down following events of the past week

With so much happening this week, it seemed a shame to just talk about one event, so I took the opportunity to list those people or things with an up week versus those that have had a down one.

Up: Sputnik, the big commie basketball finally gets a shout-out in the 21st century. No one among the president’s speechwriters seemed to have a clue what the term “Sputnik moment” meant when the president used it in the State of the Union address, but folks who actually understand American history remember it not to have been a particularly pleasant time.

The Soviet Union launched this infamous first satellite in October 1957 and, while it didn’t have much in the way of Star Trek-type technology, it was a lot better than anything we’d been able to produce, despite our assumptions we were technologically superior.

What really unnerved people was that it was flying above our heads, it was Russian, we couldn’t get to it and the next one might contain some kind of bomb. Further, you could build a little receiver in your home and hear the chillingly coded beeping from its radio transmitter as it passed over the United States.

Between this and the practically concurrent announcements by Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev that they would soon “bury” us, Americans were jolted into immediate calls for an increase in and the mastery of math and science classes in the public schools. Various liberal administrations and teachers unions have been undoing this progress fairly steadily for the last 40 years.

Down: Egypt, careening from a bad situation to probably a worse one as its citizens attempt to throw an unpleasant and corrupt leader from office to be replaced by ... who knows what. But since many in the country have indicated a desire for an Islamic theocracy of some sort, it seems extremely likely that the radical Muslim Brotherhood will find its way into a power-sharing agreement. This will fulfill the Arab proverb we have often referenced here that “if you let the camel’s nose into the tent, the rest of the camel will soon follow.”

Organizations like the Brotherhood usually do well coming out of chaos, since people eventually grow tired of chaos and look for someone with a plan to stop it. The Brotherhood has such a plan, just like the one in Iran. The group didn’t have much luck seizing power after the assassination of Anwar Sadat, so it seems its leaders may have learned a lesson on how to get it done by entering into a temporary (very temporary) coalition with a secular figurehead.

Down but with the illusion of up: Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who did such a bang-up job ignoring Iran’s nuclear program they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He is now agitating for change in Egypt, like changing himself into some kind of leader to replace Mubarak.

His history of appearing to be a useful dupe has encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood to give him support since, despite American media reports, he was not particularly well-known in Egypt. The bad news is that people in his position don’t last very long once their coalition partners believe they have run out of usefulness, so they often attempt to seize power to protect themselves, but usually end up in exile, prison or the hereafter.

Up in Colorado: Democrat Bernie Buescher, who, despite losing his position as state representative and then losing his appointed position as Secretary of State (by an even larger margin in his former home county of Mesa than the rest of the state), lands a job with the Republican attorney general paying $124,740. That’s an 82 percent raise over the job he was just voted out of in November.

Down: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, for giving Bernie Buescher that job. It angered Republicans and conservatives and didn’t gain ground with Democrats, who have moved on from a candidate who can’t maintain elective office.

Up: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, for putting Colorado, along with 25 other states, on the right side of the Obamacare constitutional issue.

Up: President Jimmy Carter, no longer the only modern American president to completely bungle and misread an entire nation in the Middle East.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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