More on George Weah

I was very suprised last week to find two responses to a post on Liberian National Team star George Weah. I posted a note about him more than a month ago since he is a hero of mine and is on track to being elected president of his country.

The two people that posted are, I think, Liberian and they posted long after I wrote the entry. Near as I can figure, they did a Google or Yahoo! search and ran across my blog. No matter, really. Their comments are interesting though.

Weah has been campaigning relentlessly and is regarded as the prohibitive frontrunner for election. Interestingly, his campaign manager is a man named Baccus Matthews, who led the so-called “Rice Riots” that toppled the de facto one party rule of the True Whigs back in 1979.

Earlier today, Weah pledged $10,000 out of his own pocket to help our hurricane victims. Weah maintains a home in New York and his country feels a special affinity to ours. He sees a lot of his nation’s struggle with poverty and disaster in the plight of people on the gulf coast.

Nice to see that there is someone in the third world that isn’t totally mad at us. Of course, it would be nice if this whole thing wasn’t so screwed up that we need their pity.

Repubicans Whining Again (Yeah, Nothing New)

I was looking over my previous posts to see if any of you are writing replies. None of you did.

But I looked back at my post about George Weah. So, I’m thinking, this guy has had his house torched and members of his family attacked, but that still doesn’t disuade him from running for office. But, the Republicans are claiming that they can’t recruit a candidate for Governor of Arizona because of the low salary.

So says Nathan Sproul, a “Republican Strategist.” I guess that’s what they call what he does these days. Anyway, he said in a recent arictle in the Republic:

“I think it clearly has kept some Republicans from running,” GOP strategist Nathan Sproul said. “No question about it. We exclude an entire population of people who would make excellent governors, simply because the salary is too low.”

For those of you keeping track, the Governor makes $95,000. Not exactly on the high-end, but decent money in a state where the median income is $47,219. She turned down a raise of $65,000 earlier this year. Think about that for a minute: $65,000. The raise itself would have been more than the average family makes.

This comes at a time when the state budget is being trimmed, nay, chopped. Let me give you an example of what this means. I work in adult education. One of my bosses goes to a conference every year up in Flagstaff. Last year, there were people from about seventy programs there; this year there were a bit more than thirty. This is mostly due to state budget cuts. So, it was right that the governor not take a pay hike when we can’t meet the needs of our poorest citizens.

To some extent, I agree with arguments that a growing state like ours should have a better paid chief executive. But the argument that somehow qualified people aren’t running because of the salary is ridiculous, and frankly insulting to the working people of this state. The stat that I quoted above is “median income.” Not mean, but median. That means somewhere around half the people in the state are living on less than $47,219. But, we can’t find a decent Republican who wants to make less than six figures?

Heck, Matt Salmon was happy to run for Republican Party Chairman so he wouldn’t have to run for Governor, and it doesn’t pay a salary at all.

Which brings us to the real reason: it has nothing to do with the salary, but the fact that polls show Napolitano to be a very strong candidate, and no one wants to be the one to lose to her.

Say, you would think that if they are so concerned about the Governor’s salary and being able to attract qualified people, they would finally do something about the low pay of thousands of our other state employees? Nah.

Weah to Run for Liberian Presidency

One of the two greatest soccer players never to reach the World Cup (the other being Northern Ireland’s George Best), George Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah, has put his name in to run for the presidency of Liberia.

This man has long been a hero of mine. Here in the US, our sports stars get testy just because someone points a camera at them or their per diem checks come five minutes late. This guy actually had his house burned down and members of his family assaulted because his popularity and outspokenness made him a threat to the government. Despite this, he still managed his country’s national team, because, as he said, it gave “a suffering people joy.”

Given the threats to him and his family, I think no one would have blamed him if he abandoned his native country. He, however, believed that a “man who burns the bridge to his past is lost.” He continued to return to his country, even though his family lived in New York for safety reasons.

His “stardom” off of the field has been recognized for years. He has been praised by no less than Nelson Mandela for his activities, and UNICEF appointed him a goodwill ambassador working on the issues of child soldiers and HIV/AIDS. He also was envolved in negotiating a cease fire between rebel factions in his home country.

Weah played for a dozen teams over his career, and won numerous awards, even winning the ESPN Arthur Ashe award. ESPN hardly ever recognizes sports achievements by non-Americans (the ESPN 100 didn’t include Pelé), so there is a some knowledge even among the normally jingoistic American sports media that this guy is special.

He already has a campaign site up, but there will not be anything on there for another couple of weeks.

PS – Yes, this is the second post in the row where I put a picture of a soccer player up. But, dude, it’s King George!