Saturday, January 17, 2009

There's medals and medals

If anyone deserves a medal this man does:



He's the splendidly named Captain Chesley B Sullenburger 111.

The man who safely landed an Airbus with 155 people on board in New York's Hudson River.

What I think is an astonishing photograph shows just what he did:


Reuters photo

All 155 people walking out of the aircraft into waiting rescue boats.

Mind boggling.

But more than that, he's described by a friend as one of the last American gentlemen.

I can believe that because he demonstrated old-fashioned values, values which are so important in a civilised society but which are much derided these days.

Ability, professionalism, responsibility, concern for others.

Not only did he safely bring the plane down, he made sure the passengers and his crew evacuated safely - then he twice walked the length of the aircraft to make sure that everyone was safely out. Only then did he leave the aircraft.

I thought such values were all-but dead but Capt. Sullenberger restores my faith that maybe we haven't totally lost them.

Anybody want a role model? Forget entertainers and footballers and 'celebrities', this is the kind of role model we need to get society back on track.

I don't know what awards he'll receive but whatever they are they aren't enough.

But then there's the other side of awards.

Just a few days ago the worst-ever American president presented his country's highest civilian honour, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, to two of his cronies.



Photos: Ron Edmonds/AP and Reuters

Tony Blair, ex-UK Prime Minister and John Howard, ex-Australian Prime Minister.

Both almost equally awful as leaders of their countries as Bush has been. Three men who demonstrate values which are the opposite of Capt. Sullenberger's.

The White House spokesman said: "The president is honoring these leaders for their work to improve the lives of their citizens and for their efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad"

Oh really?

They supported Bush's catastrophic adventures in what was childishly named the Coalition of the Willing, causing untold damage to the world and to their own countries' reputations and standing.


BLiar, all spin and no substance, an unwarranted belief in his own importance and influence, the lies about Saddam and nuclear weapons, incompetence at home and abroad. Eventually, in spite of winning elections and thus keeping them in their lucrative jobs, his own MPs got sick of him and threw him out.

The world knows less about him so let me tell you about John Winston Howard.

Like Bush, Howard pursued extreme right wing policies and seriously damaged the reputation of a great country. Even more than Bush and BLiar, he was exposed many, many times lying to both parliament and the people. His strategy was wedge politics, dividing people as much as possible making it easier for him to retain power.

He put selfish personal ambition and the drive to hang on to power above all else. Above his party, his country, the people.

Like Bush he appointed a whole bunch of incompetent and extremist people to his government, several of them even more vindictive than himself. Australians will remember ministers such as Vanstone, Downer, Ruddock, Reith.

Often asked questions which would have been embarrasing to answer Howard's stock response was 'I find that question offensive' and he'd stalk off.

We had his mistreatment and vilification of asylum seekers, his so called 'Pacific Solution' sending them to spend years in prison camps in small island nations we paid to take them.

We had the deliberate lies and doctored 'evidence' of 'children overboard' when Howard condemned the “sickening behaviour” by asylum seekers of throwing children overboard into the ocean. In fact they were fleeing a sinking ship, parents trying to save their children first as confirmed by the Australian navy's HMAS Adelaide. It was just before an election so he used the lies in his campaign, based on 'not the kind of people we want here' and 'we decide who comes to this country'.

We had black-clad goons wearing balaclavas accompanied by very large dogs attacking striking wharfies on the docks, something Australians never thought we'd see.

We had the mistreatment of individuals through Howard's misuse of his draconian terrorism laws, such as Doctor Haneef, which I posted about earlier, here, demonstrating the spite and malice of his government.

He made lying by public figures acceptable, he made it acceptable to take no responsibility, he made it acceptable to blame others, he led the charge in our plummeting standards of decency and honesty, he made it acceptable to claim credit for things which in reality were other people's doing.

He encouraged a climate of selfishness, paranoia, of bigotry and racism.

He took the country to war against the wishes of the majority, he subjugated Australian policy to that of the administration in America.

He frittered away our money on vote-buying handouts while the country's infrastructure fell apart.

And his main claim to success, the booming economy and low interest rates, was almost entirely due to his predecessors and world events and nothing to do with Howard or his Treasurer Costello.

The boom began two years before he won power, started by IR changes the previous government put in place not by Howard's policies. It continued with the demand from China and India for Australia's raw materials - nothing to do with Howard but he claimed credit for the booming mining sector.

The boom continued because his government used the same disastrous strategy as most of the world, with the government living beyond its means, in effect running up credit card bills with no thought for tomorrow, by keeping interest rates artificially and unsustainably low, by encouraging the population to keep spending beyond their means. Huge trade deficits were built up, budget surpluses were frittered away buying votes by giving billions in handouts to voters before elections instead of the money being invested in the country's future.

Eventually the electorate realised what an appalling leader we had and his party was decimated in a general election. The final ignominy was that Howard lost his own seat in that election.

Three leaders without whom the world would have been a much better place, thankfully now gone but the damage they've done will be with us for a long, long time.

If only we'd had leaders for the last decade with Capt. Sullenberger's attributes.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its always wonderful to read ur blogs and this one specially touched me, Thank you.

Mars said...

oh..this was the plane with the fried goose. wow, i didn't know it was that bad.

but yes, men don't exist like that anymore.

Anonymous said...

But more than that, he's described by a friend as one of the last American gentlemen.

I can believe that because he demonstrated old-fashioned values, values which are so important in a civilised society but which are much derided these days.

Ability, professionalism, responsibility, concern for others.


What nonsense you spout, yet again. These values are no more or no less valued today than before. The mere fact the good Captain did what he did two days ago shows that the attributes he exhibited are very much alive today. Or if I am wrong, please identify the previous supposed golden age when these values were more prevalent - go on, please do it, I challenge you.

The truth is that notwithstanding some serious problems, humanity is today better off than at any other time in history. It's just convenient for you to suggest otherwise so that you can then turn this act of heroism (which might of occurred at any time in history) into yet another excuse to take a pop at some contemporary western politicians you don't have much time for.

Mars: but yes, men don't exist like that anymore.

WTF - of course they do. Unless you are suggesting that the Captain does not actually exist! Can you provide evidence that the human race now is, as a whole, less able, professional, responsible or concerned for others?

I look forward to each of you establishing that you are not just a pair of old fogeys bemoaning the decline of morals/values whatever in the youth of today; reminiscing of how great it was back when you were young.

Seabee said...

Anon@10.15 it's pointless explaining the obvious to you, we live in different worlds.

And by the way, it was not an act of heroism by the Captain as you mistakenly call it. It was an act of ability, professionalism, responsibility and concern for others. It had nothing whatsoever to do with heroism.

Anonymous said...

Anon@10.15 it's pointless explaining the obvious to you, we live in different worlds.

What a great way to avoid responding to a challenge. "clap" "clap" "clap". If it's so obvious, please do explain. Or maybe you can't? Easier just to say I might live in a different world?

And by the way, it was not an act of heroism by the Captain as you mistakenly call it. It was an act of ability, professionalism, responsibility and concern for others. It had nothing whatsoever to do with heroism.

How do you or any of us know what caused him to do what he did? My opinion is that heroism certainly played a part of what he did - if checking a sinking plane twice to see that all passengers were off it is not heroic, then I don't know what is. However, no doubt each of the other attributes also played a part. Evidently, it's more convenient to your argument to suggest otherwise with respect to heroism (although I don't understand why).

I challenged your bogus argument and apart from disputing my use of the word "heroism" you have declined or are unable to respond. Please try, I doubt our worlds' are that different. Perhaps some of your other readers might also appreciate a clarification.

So once again I ask: please identify the previous supposed golden age when ability, professionalism, responsibility, concern for others were more prevalent and when people like the good captain were more common. It's a fair question to ask, particularly given your statement:

I thought such values were all-but dead but Capt. Sullenberger restores my faith that maybe we haven't totally lost them.

So come on.........

nzm said...

Amazing footage here with the crash at 2:02 and then the camera zooms in to follow the rescue.

nzm said...

Different angles. What a stellar landing.

sunil said...

i was in PA when this happened mid day at work logged on the CNN to see this breaking news. no channel since then was talking about anything else but this.

you are right however many medals this man receives are not enough. there is no price tag on 155 lives, the streghth the courage and determination he displayed with calmness.

i want to know how to get in touch with this person. i am sure he will be flooded with messages but if i didnt not personally tell him how i felt i would really feel as if something is missing.

Mars said...

seems like seabee has an 'admirer'.

Jan said...

The anon does have a point. It is a bit irritating when some people (particularly older people) go on about how much nicer and more honorable etc. people and society were way back when and how behavior and values today somehow fall short. I've yet to be convinced by such claims - no evidence of this has ever been produced to me.

Anonymous said...

Well atleast people were more polite in the older days. People nowadays consider it their right to burst out at anything.Just like the anon at 10: 15. He/she seems almost angry at seebee for an article that does not offend him or anyone else for that matter.

Zafar said...

To Jan & Anon:
This is life and I am sure you will have a proof once you reach that old age and start wining about your good old times.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:40am: Well atleast people were more polite in the older days. People nowadays consider it their right to burst out at anything.

Were they really more polite? Or maybe they were more deferential, "respectful" of authority, knew their place .... were less willing to object to racial prejudice, to condemn press censorship, to challenge discrimination etc.? Damn right that people should consider it their right to burst out at anything, it's one of the best defenses society has against such aforementioned evils and I would argue that the decline of such evils might be inversely proportional to the increase in the freedom of speech.

Just like the anon at 10: 15. He/she seems almost angry at seebee for an article that does not offend him or anyone else for that matter.

How do you know that the article does not offend me? I can't speak for others of course, but I do find somewhat irritating Seebee's (IMO baseless) claim that values such as ability, professionalism, responsibility, concern for others are less in evidence today than before. That's why I asked to him to provide an explanation for this, which so far he has failed to do.

Jan said...

To Jan & Anon:
This is life and I am sure you will have a proof once you reach that old age and start wining about your good old times.


Sorry Zafar - you really need to do better than this. With all due respect, this is lazy thinking.

Seabee said...

NZM thanks for the links, what amazing film.

The first ferry boat got there very quickly, only just a bit later than the life raft was launched from the aircraft.

Seabee said...

Anon@11.09 I simply can't be bothered to get into an endless discussion about your opinion and my opinion. We see things differently and neither of us will change the other's opinion.

I'll make one observation about our different standards. If you had written a post on your blog which contained an opinion with which I disagreed I would have left a comment saying that I disagreed and giving my reasons why. I would not have used your arrogant and abusive phrase: What nonsense you spout, yet again.

Anonymous said...

I would not have used your arrogant and abusive phrase: What nonsense you spout, yet again.

I'll stand by my vituperative comment until you can show that it is without merit: i.e. demonstrate that attributes/values such as ability, professionalism, responsibility, concern for others are really much derided these days and show how this is so in comparison to some previous time/era.