Recently, Peggy Noonan wrote a provocative article for the Wall Street Journal, America’s Crisis of Character: the nation seems to be on the wrong track, and not just economically. In it, Ms. Noonan lists some of the big issues that have happened in the country recently, but not of a political nature. Rather, she listed some of the occurrences of people’s inhumanity to people. It was a disturbing, and saddening, collection of stories.
In Noonan’s piece, she mentions the that Americans are not feeling too positive about our nation, and its direction. I would be one of those people, by the way. But it is not just in the political realm that trouble is brewing, no, not at all. Check out just a few of the stories in the news recently from Noonan’s column (all Youtube links were not in the original article, and were added by me, and I warn you, they are disturbing):
[snip] Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing.
A tourist is beaten in Baltimore. Young people surround him and laugh. He’s pummeled, stripped and robbed. No one helps. They’re too busy taping it on their smartphones. That’s how we heard their laughter. The video is on YouTube along with the latest McDonalds beat-down and the latest store surveillance tapes of flash mobs. Groups of teenagers swarm into stores, rob everything they can, and run out. The phenomenon is on the rise across the country. Police now have a nickname for it: “flash robs.”
Also starring on YouTube this week was the sobbing woman. She’s the poor traveler who began to cry great heaving sobs when a Transportation Security Administration agent at the Madison, Wis., airport either patted her down or felt her up, depending on your viewpoint and experience. Jim Hoft of TheGatewayPundit.com recorded it, and like all the rest of the videos it hurts to watch. When the TSA agent—an adult, a middle aged woman—was done, she just walked away, leaving the passenger alone and uncomforted, like a tourist in Baltimore.
Honestly, when I was first alerted to the tourist in Baltimore video, I could not believe it was real. I could not believe people would laugh at this man being beaten, stripped, and robbed, catching it on video to put up on Youtube. How could anyone be so heartless, so cruel, so cowardly? And not just one person, but a number of them, collectively. Unbelievably disturbing.
And you already know how I feel about the TSA and their sexual assaults on those of us who have a joint replacement or other medical issue that always seems to target us for these invasive “pat-downs.” Don’t even get me started on that again.
That’s bad enough. But there is more our government has been doing that shows a breakdown in, well, maturity and responsible behavior, as this next example highlights:
There is the General Services Administration scandal. An agency devoted to efficiency is outed as an agency of mindless bread-and-circuses indulgence. They had a four-day regional conference in Las Vegas, with clowns and mind readers.
The reason the story is news, and actually upsetting, is not that a government agency wasted money. That is not news. The reason it’s news is that the people involved thought what they were doing was funny, and appropriate. In the past, bureaucratic misuse of taxpayer money was quiet. You needed investigators to find it, trace it, expose it. Now it’s a big public joke. They held an awards show. They sang songs about the perks of a government job: “Brand new computer and underground parking and a corner office. . . . Love to the taxpayer. . . . I’ll never be under OIG investigation.” At the show, the singer was made Commissioner for a Day. “The hotel would like to talk to you about paying for the party that was held in the commissioner’s suite last night” the emcee said. It got a big laugh.
Their leaders didn’t even pretend to have a sense of mission and responsibility. They reminded me of the story a year ago of the dizzy captain of a U.S. Navy ship who made off-color videos and played them for his crew. He wasn’t interested in the burdens of leadership—the need to be the adult, the uncool one, the one who maintains standards. No one at GSA seemed interested in playing the part of the grown-up, either.
Oh, yeah, so funny I forgot to laugh as I watch these bozos waste our money with drink, food, expensive rooms, and gleefully sing about it. They can bite me. And repay my tax money, thank you so much (there is more by Noonan about the GSA issue in her column). Oh, and they can try growing the hell up, too.
I have to say, on this one, I am not really surprised. When you have White House Staffers, including the Senior White House Speech Writer, taking off their shirts and playing beer pong in Georgetown, the GSA behavior is just a natural extension. There seems to be an overwhelming lack of maturity and decorum operative in the White House, and government departments these days.
This may well be the tip of the iceberg, as the last story from Noonan I share here today highlights. And it is easily the most disturbing. That is of the Secret Service Agents Gone Wild in Mexico on their “Spring Break”:
[snip] What’s terrible about this story is that for anyone who’s ever seen the Secret Service up close it’s impossible to believe. The Secret Service are the best of the best. That has been their reputation because that has been their reality. They have always been tough, disciplined and mature. They are men, and they have the most extraordinary job: take the bullet.
In any presidential party, the Secret Service guys are the ones who are mature, who you can count on, who’ll keep their heads. They have judgment, they’re by the book unless they have to rewrite it on a second’s notice. And they wore suits, like adults.
This week I saw a picture of agents in Colombia. They were in T-shirts, wrinkled khakis and sneakers. They looked like a bunch of mooks, like slobs, like children with muscles.[snip] (Click here to read the rest of this very good column, and the additional examples Ms. Noonan includes of recent actions in this country. It is well worth a read.)
That isn’t exactly the image most of us carry for how Secret Service agents look. And it most definitely is not how most of think Secret Service agents conduct themselves when on a mission to protect the President of the United States here or abroad.
It begs the question of how long this kind of behavior has been going on. Gov. Palin was the subject of ogling by one of her Secret Service agents back in 2008. How do we know? He bragged about it on his Facebook page, along with posting a photo of himself (aren’t they supposed to remain nameless?). Very professional there, Agent Chaney, very professional. Not.
I understand why Ms. Noonan is concerned about the state of our nation, and not just on a political level. I am, too. I don’t think it is just because I am becoming a curmudgeon in my old age, either. There really does seem to be a decline in behavior in this country, whether it is a group of young people laughing at someone being attacked, or the GSA employees laughing about taking the US Taxpayer for a ride. Something is very, very wrong here.
At least that’s what I think. How about you?