Columns 2007

BushCheney to Special Olympics…not on my watch!

I realize that Alaska has a credibility gap when it comes to science and technology in politics.  I mean, seriously, will Comedy Central never tire of showing that clip of Uncle Ted’s tube explanation of the Internet. Does no one in the lower 48 get that to an Alaskan, everything good comes from a tube, which is just another word for pipe?  Can you say oil pipeline? Can you say gas pipeline?  It was a natural metaphor for an Alaskan to use.

Don Young is a bit harder to explain what with his “there is no scientific proof of global warming” position uttered while the permafrost under his Ft. Yukon house melts away. But Don has always been hard to explain to the rest of the world.

We seem to be a bit luckier with Lisa Murkowski who actually grew up after Bunsen burners were invented and has a modicum of faith in the scientific method. Alas, Lisa has not yet become colorful enough to evoke Alaska for most people so we are stuck with endless reruns of Uncle Ted explaining the Internet to the MTV generation.

Thankfully, the current administration in Washington actually makes Alaska look downright progressive when it comes to science and public policy.  For instance, take former Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s testimony to a congressional panel detailing just how much the current administration in Washington puts politics above everything, including health and science.

BushCheney apparently view science as a mere fly in their soup of life. They have not found anything sacred enough or true enough to not taint with political purpose. In fact, if Carmona’s testimony is to be believed, even the handicapped are to be ignored if they consort with people of the wrong political persuasion.

According to Carmona, the administration not only pressured him to not speak out about stem cell research, emergency contraception, or sex education, but also ordered him to “water down” the results of a report on secondhand smoke. He was also given a minimum for the number of times he had to evoke his god…er, I mean president, on every page of every speech he made.

But the truly scary moment in his testimony, the moment that told me for sure we were not in Kansas anymore, was when he said that he was pressured to not attend the Special Olympics because of the organization’s ties to a “prominent family”.

So if I follow that thinking correctly, this administration will not support the handicapped unless the handicapped support them.  Isn’t it wonderful what BushCheney has done for the moral tone and civic spirit of this country?  In Iraq we disbanded their whole government and army to get rid of the Baathists, the party Saddam Hussein insisted you had to belong to if you wanted to work.  Here in America, BushCheney is apparently trying to re-create what we just destroyed in Iraq. Either you are a Republican who supports the BushCheney monolith, or you are marginalized until you understand what’s expected. It’s just Baathism under a different name.

I’ve been to Special Olympics events here in Anchorage and I’ve got to tell you that I don’t think the participants and their families really care if you are Republican or Democrat, Independent or Green, yellow, black, white or any color in between. I think they mostly care that you care enough to show your support for them and their efforts.  This is apparently a concept that the BushCheney monolith cannot grasp. Political purity trumps all else, even people with special needs who just want a chance to participate in life to the fullest. The Special Olympics will, of course, continue without BushCheney’s support because the power and heart behind it is no one person or family, even if that family is named Kennedy.

Ultimately, BushCheney’s attempt to create a monolithic society in America will be defeated.  Anyone who thinks this polyglot nation of innumerable nationalities, beliefs and customs can be forced into one mold for all is crazier than…well, than BushCheney withholding support from Special O until the people there get tight with the right last names.

Until then, all scientists raise your right hand and repeat after me, “I, insert your name here, do pledge allegiance to the united monolith of BushCheney and vow to never let scientific truth trump the preconceived truths seen through their political prism.”

Now you’re eligible for federal grants again.