Category Archives: Conservative

“The Absentee Ballot”

 

hammer_sic3aFor generations, Italy has inspired transplanted writers. From personal narratives to cookbooks, from history books to blockbuster fiction, its enchanting culture and historical legacy has helped to churn out manuscript after manuscript. Although I was fascinated by its history, transfixed by its culture and wowed by it cuisine, my Italian experience, as I write about in The Absentee Ballot, falls into an entirely separate category of “back from Italy” books: surviving liberalism and living to tell about it.

Unlike those who vowed to leave the U.S. if George Bush was elected, I had simply decided to follow my Italian husband who was returning home after spending several years in the U.S. My husband had motivated my move, and in chapter one, I explain what motivated my book.

Historically, there have always been hypercritical Europeans, but the shameless assault that I was seeing emanate from American leftists prompted me to give a broader perspective on a Europe that I found strikingly different from the one championed in their blogs, e-mails and newscasts. European attacks on U.S foreign policy and culture weren’t new, but the rhetoric that was spewing forth from American liberal circles had become unbearable.

More and more Americans jumped on the bandwagon, and the America bashing intensified. It became hip to be an Amerihater.  With the casualties rising in Iraq and no WMD to be found, they became bolder in their criticism.

Not only were these Americans blinded to the notion that they were living in the greatest country on earth, most of them hadn’t a clue about the practical effects of the policies which they advocated. George Clooney might have filmed a commercial for the former communist running for Prime Minister of Italy, but his Italian experience is quite atypical. His American paycheck, his reluctance to learn the language and his lakefront villa opulence keep him from grasping the frustrations of a typical hard-working Italian, so how is he qualified to comment, let alone recommend a candidate.  I wonder if he has ever attempted to reach the center of Milan on a train, bus or subway when strikers have shut them down. Because I used the train and the subway, I wasn’t as lucky. Then again, I was, because I was able to witness socialism at work.

Looking down, I watched impassioned hippies march through the otherwise car-packed streets, while flags and banners waved as thousands of people chanted and played music. The sea of red had the odd Soviet flag sprinkled here and there. Some protestors screamed into megaphones, while others sang the communist worker’s hymn. Not being a communist myself, I didn’t recognize what the song was until I watched the news later that night.

CGIL (ex-communist union) had turned out thousands of people, including children, to manifest in over one hundred towns across Italy.  The strikes varied in complexion from city to city, but the scioperanti, as they are called in Italy, used this occasion to protest a panoply of issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to environmental policies. In Bologna, they took over a Benetton shop.  Elsewhere, anti-Big Mackers organized a three day event against McDonalds.

Every drumbeat and bell struck in squares across Italy signaled new grievances. Ding: Global warming. Dong: Unfair layoffs. Bing: No War. Bong: More vacations. However serious or ridiculous the grievance, the habitual strikers used any and every excuse to march and complain. I guess Machiavelli was right: the power wears out those who don’t have it. Berlusconi and the right had worn them out just as Bush had exasperated leftist Americans.

Strikes were inconvenient and periodic monkey wrenches, but there were other more critical errors in the liberal utopia, namely multiculturalism which is fundamentally altering Europe’s cultural landscape. And because Italian isn’t a widely spoken language, their struggle with immigration doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Italians have struggled with illegal immigration and waves of refugees from Africa, because of their preference for multiculturalism over assimilation. The crisis has been compounded by the severe religious divide between the Catholic majority and those Muslims calling Italy their new home.

The battle between the leftists and those vying to preserve Italy’s storied culture is growing increasingly bitter.

It wasn’t just embarrassment or adding members to their roles that interested the communists. They also used the religion of the immigrants to beat back the dominant faith which they despised. Near Siena, well-known for the palio, a centuries-old horse race in the town square, religious tensions were stoked by a communist mayor, who, without seeking the approval of those living in Colle Val d’Elsa—a village just outside of Siena, brilliantly decided to provide public funds to build a mosque on a public park. The locals were outraged, not because of racism or bigotry toward Muslims in the town, but because they weren’t asked their opinion. There was no referendum.

Construction has begun and minarets will soon tower above the small cobblestone streets and medieval frescoes. Score one for those Marxists who would love nothing more than to snuff out the “opium of the people.”

At times, politicians on the far right utilized rather unorthodox strategies to affect the growing Islamic influence in Italian society.

Roberto Calderoli, a La Lega politician, planned a “pig day” to protest another planned mosque in Bologna.  “I place myself and my pig at the disposal of those who are against this mosque,” he said, offering to tour the construction site with his pig, after which the ground would be “considered infected and no longer suitable” for building.  Although the pig day proposal shocked many Italians, only 28% of the population supports any new mosque construction.

Immigration is a main concern of both Americans and Europeans; so is racism.  

It didn’t take long for me to recognize a peculiar connection between swastikas, old soviet flags and banana peelings. During European soccer matches, all were liable to end up littering soccer stadiums in appalling displays of racism.

At Milan’s San Siro soccer stadium, Zoro, a player for Messina, heard taunting so severe that he threatened to leave the field.  Other players convinced him to stay and play, but the next time he traveled to Milan for a game, he was greeted with a sign that read, “Peanuts and bananas are the price of your fame.”

I wonder how the elites, the self-loathers and the race-baiters would get along in Europe.  From human rights to UN resolutions, these folks are constantly in search of European approval. But how would they fair living inside their socialist utopia, and would they be surprised at the life they would find?  Would Jesse Jackson continue cashing in on corporate shakedowns and exploiting every race related issue to get mug time on television?  In Europe, he would have plenty of opportunities.

If Jesse and Al could help ease European racial tensions, then maybe Al Gore would be happier in Europe under its proactive environmental policy.  But, could Gore really last? He would have to alter his rather liberal use of electricity—reported to be twenty times that of the average American household.  Electricity in Europe, like fuel, is much more expensive

It would be costlier to operate his SUVs and private planes and then there are also the inconvenient “time outs” from driving in the city. When pollution levels reach a certain level inside the municipalities, the government bans city traffic and declares a pollution free zone.

If Gore lived inside an Italian metropoli, he’d have several options, starting with the many systems of mass transit. If the busses, trains and subways are not available because of strikes, there are always other viable alternatives, such as riding a bicycle or a horse.  Somehow I don’t see Al Gore riding the subway or a horse.

If it wasn’t striking workers grinding the transportation system to a halt, it was the ‘save the earth’ crowd’s efforts to ease smog in the cities and municipalities. But as inconvenient as those interruptions were, Italy’s outrageously high taxes had an even greater impact on the lifestyles of Italians, and me. Italians are known for their creativity, and their tax-evading maneuvers required every ounce of it.

I learned the routine rather quickly. If I requested a receipt for any labor completed, the bill was usually higher. Cash was always welcome and utilized more often than I was used to in the United States. My friends were refreshingly honest about their Swiss bank accounts, and would occasionally recount their tax escapades. One of my favorites was a friend who had made trips to Switzerland for years.

One afternoon when it came time for him to cross into Switzerland, the border patrol directed him to pull to the side of the road. They needed to search the car, and they did.  They looked through his briefcase, his jacket, the car and in the trunk, but found nothing and let him pass through. The only place they hadn’t checked was underneath his hat, which was where the smuggled cash was hidden. His behavior might seem extreme and deceitful, but the strain and limitations of the tax system had forced him to find another way.

High taxes, multiculturalism, environmental treaties and overbearing unions were just a few of the many socialist surprises that I found had been misrepresented by socialist sympathizers in the American mainstream media. However, their most egregious propaganda—the one that prompted my book—is their suggestion that Europeans hate America.

Getting along was easy. Europeans hadn’t held it against me that I was American, just as I hadn’t held it against them that they were not.

My neighbors didn’t seem to mind having a Yankee in their backyard. As a gated country club community, Monticello wasn’t necessarily a typical Italian neighborhood, but it was almost bizarre to see how the American flag functioned as a brand. I was amazed to see kids wearing sweaters of old glory or shirts with “I love the U.S.A” scribbled across them.  None of them had “I love Germany,” or “I love China” t-shirts. It was America they were wearing.

Surely, part of this curious admiration was due to the great marketing of the flag by designers in the U.S. However, if Italians felt loathing or even indifference toward the U.S, they would avoid dressing themselves in red, white and blue.

The most recent U.S. Presidential election, provided voters a clear choice, perhaps the most unambiguous in decades. The background of candidate Obama enticed voters with a chance to make history, while his eloquence before the teleprompter invoked comparisons with Reagan. Since his presidency has begun, however, it has been his frightening policy proposals like healthcare that have functioned as a collective double espresso to the voters.

The triple espresso is The Absentee Ballot.

Afghanistan’s Hope and Terror’s Enemy: Education

afghan_girl

For hardliners in Afghanistan, the enemy isn’t the United States—it’s culture. In this year alone, the Taliban have bulldozed and razed 115 schools, and last week, they adopted a new tactic to handle Afghani girls seeking education. Acid-filled water pistols.

From the AFP:

Men on motorbikes used a water pistol to spray acid into the faces of Shamsia and around dozen other girls as they arrived at school wearing all-covering burqas in the southern city of Kandahar on Wednesday.

Shamsia, 17, was the most badly wounded and had some acid enter her eyes. She was transferred to a military hospital in Kabul where she was visited Saturday by other schoolgirls, accompanied by media.

“I will go to my school even if they kill me,” she told reporters. “My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”

America’s ‘me’ generation of students willing to shoot fellow classmates for their sneakers should be forced to learn from young people like Shamsia who risk everything for the opportunity to learn.

I also hope that military and political leaders, now considering a troop surge in Afghanistan, will recognize the need for a culture overhaul. If Afghanis can’t access alternatives to poppy crops and religious fanaticism, in the form of knowledge and opportunity, they are destined to continue down the medieval road they’ve set out for themselves. And the United States is doomed to fail in their effort to root out al-Qaeda.

Education and modernity remain the greatest threats to Islamic terrorists and Muslim despots.

It’s AD Oprah!!!

barack-obama-and-oprah-winfreyPlease stop.

I never watch Oprah anymore, but paused a moment while flipping channels. In between drooling over Obama and belittling Palin, Stephanopoulos addressed the BB/AB question. Oprah asked whether politics in America will really be seen as before Barack and after Barack, hence the BB/AB. Stephanopoulos agreed: we’re no longer living in AD; we’re in AB, honey.

Please stop.

For all of us trying to give Obama a break, despite his signaling the return of the ‘Fairness Doctrine’, which would silence his critics in Rush, Hannity and Laura Ingraham, it’s becoming exceedingly difficult with the mindless cult-like behavior exhibited by his followers.

Please stop the insanity.

I’m living in AD, thank you very much.

Fox News Picks Favorites For 2012

Citing unnamed McCain staffer sources, Carl Cameron giddily recounted what could only be characterized as ‘tales of the retard’ last night on the ‘O’Reilly Factor’. Listening to Carl, one would wonder whether Governor Palin possessed the brainpower to tie her own shoe laces without assistance.

She didn’t know Africa was a continent. She answered the door in her bathrobe. Nafta? That was a fancy drink served in posh five star resorts across the Caribbean. Which country lies to the north of the United States? Does the Arctic count?

If only they hadn’t gone so far…the smear might have taken hold and accomplished its intention: destroying Sarah Palin and her future chances.  When these staffers decided Palin’s rollout would be maximized by interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, their acumen should have been called into question. Then again, perhaps the decision was purposeful. Maybe their intention all along was to ruin her political future.

Memo to Fox: You don’t decide who Republicans choose to put on the ballot in ’12, and your shameless ‘unnamed sources’ reporting without a hint of objectivity doesn’t endear you to those of us that actually like Gov. Palin. And maybe I missed it, but I didn’t hear you guys report about President Bush’s taped phone call to the Australian Prime Minister. You know, the one where the PM suggests calling a G20 summit, and the President responds by asking what the G20 is…Then again, maybe as long as you are a RINO, big government Repub with a pedigree, Fox leaves you alone.

Memo to staffers: I hope Red State is truly able to out you and make you political lepers. Most of us are tired of RINOs and wish you all would move along to greener, more Democratic, pastures.

President Sarkozy Fears Obama Victory

It’s a shame that the French President can see what fifty percent of Americans cannot: An Obama victory would radically undermine current efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

 

From Israel’s Haaretz:

Sarkozy has made his criticisms only in closed forums in France. But according to a senior Israeli government source, the reports reaching Israel indicate that Sarkozy views the Democratic candidate’s stance on Iran as “utterly immature” and comprised of “formulations empty of all content.”

 

Until now, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have tried to maintain a united front on Iran. But according to the senior Israeli source, Sarkozy fears that Obama might “arrogantly” ignore the other members of this front and open a direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions.

Following their July meeting, Sarkozy repeatedly expressed disappointment with Obama’s positions on Iran, concluding that they were “not crystallized, and therefore many issues remain open,” the Israeli source said. Advisors to the French president who held separate meetings with Obama’s advisors came away with similar impressions and expressed similar disappointment.

I understand the fury and frustration directed toward President Bush; however, it would be irresponsible to elect a candidate as arrogant and naïve as Obama. He has used the power of persuasion and soaring rhetoric to woo a self-interested American public, but surely he won’t persuade the dwarf or the Mullahs in Iran.

 

For sure Obama can look forward to sharing something of significance in common with Ahmadinejad. They both believe that God has sent them to save the world.

Wall St Invasion?

The distress over the global financial meltdown encompasses more than just frightening 401k statements and doomsday newscasts. We’ve now another impetus for headaches and acid stomachs. This week, Libya’s Qaddafi became a major shareholder in Unicredit, Italy’s largest bank, which might have prompted the Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi’s warning. “I have news that oil producing countries with large funds are buying heavily into our markets.”

So beyond China helping the United States with its perpetually unbalanced budget, we’ve got Arabs trolling for bargains. Berlusconi elaborated: “Now there are great opportunities for those who have capital, and I think that certain sovereign funds, and ones you would oppose, are hostile.”

I take it that it isn’t just moderate Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bargain hunting in the major indices. I use the term ‘moderate’ because apart from his support for CAIR and his comments after 9/11 which elicited a rejection of his $10 million check, he’s been a revolutionary among his fellow Bedouins. He has supported women’s rights and hired the first female pilot in Saudi Arabia.

As gas prices have ballooned and the economy has slowed, “drill baby drill,” has become an increasingly popular refrain repeated at McCain rallies. More than just cheap gas, it’s our sovereignty at stake.

According to Rand, U.S. oil shale reserves represent three times that of Saudi Arabia. Yet, we would rather buy the oil from the Saudis, making them wealthy enough to buy large chunks of our corporations.

Only in America

Obama: a Plant?


A friend forwarded me an e-mail detailing the possibility that Obama could be a plant, by going back through his past and examining various inconsistencies and troubling questions which have gone unanswered. Perhaps many of you have received these viral e-mails, like the one claiming Obama is a Muslim.

Come on. Conservatives need to stop investigating Obama, start looking at the polls and wake up. However entertaining, none of these viral e-mails addresses the real problem: the poll respondents who have him in the lead. Therein lies the problem.

Americans don’t care that Obama is a socialist; why should they care who planted him? Just this weekend, while greeting voters, Obama was confronted by a plumber who said, ‘you’re going to raise my taxes, aren’t you,’ to which Obama replied, ‘I just want to spread it around.’ That’s codespeak for socialism, Marxism and all the other redistribution ideologies that have failed over the last century or so.

The bottom line is this: Americans are ignorant and ill-informed. They believe Obama will be powerless to harm the country or their bank accounts, even though he will have both houses of Congress in his pocket to enact any tax increase he wishes.

Voters will get exactly what they deserve when they elect an anti-American socialist on November 4. Despite the complete and utter failure of the Bush administration, the polls shouldn’t be close. Voters should look at the impressive characters supporting Obama (Chavez, Castro and Ahmadinejad), at his background and philosophies, his past as a street thug intimidating banks to make loans to people who couldn’t afford them and his involvement with Acorn, Ayers and Rezko. And most importantly, they should examine his ideology.

That this election is close is a testament one of two realities: the stupidity of Americans, or their sudden embrace of Marx and wealth redistribution. Neither of the two conclusions is comforting.

In response to the financial crisis of last week, Russia’s communist newspaper Pravda headlined with ‘The triumphant return to the teachings of Marx and Engels.’  Perhaps on November 5, we’ll be staring at a similar headline in The New York Times.

Global Financial Meltdown

How many more black Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays are in store for the world markets? The quickie summit convened by the EU leadership over the weekend apparently inspired the same sort of confidence garnered by Paulson’s plan passed last Friday.

The U.S mortgage crisis and its resulting effect on European banks, combined with skepticism over Paulson’s plan of recovery, sent European markets tumbling. Russia and Italy were even forced to halt trading. According to Le Figaro, traders worry whether the price tag of Paulson’s plan was big enough.

As for their own plan? Reminding everyone why there hasn’t been meaningful progress in the adoption of a European Constitution, EU leaders failed to agree on a solution to the economic crisis.

From the Telegraph:

France, Germany, Italy and the UK could not agree on a single course of action because – as Mr Sarkozy effectively admitted in a characteristically irritable press conference performance – they all have different economic circumstances and needs. He described this as having “different cultures”, but it adds up to the same thing: France and Germany do not have property-owning traditions that produce house-price booms and busts, the UK population has much greater credit liabilities than the French, etc, etc.

Late Monday, the German government provided an additional 15 billion Euros in liquidity to the 35 billion already pledged to help the German lender Hypo Real Estate.

Elsewhere….

Saudi Arabia’s market, the Gulf’s largest, was off 9 percent. Dubai’s Financial Market fell almost 7 percent, its lowest fall since ’06, and Abu Dhabi’s index lost 5 percent.

The head of Al Dhafra Brokerage Vyas Jayabhanu, via UAE’s Gulf News, argued: “Uncertainty prevails despite the U.S. government passing the package, and there is this lingering fear that the $700 billion may not be enough.”

Israel’s TA-25 down 4.63%

Japan:

The Nikkei stock average tumbled 4.3 percent to a four-and-a-half-year closing low on Monday.

The Korea Exchange in Seoul, South Korea finished the day off 4.3 percent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index was down nearly 4.9 percent in late-day trading and the Shanghai Composite fell about 5.2 percent. The Taiwan Weighted shed 4.1 percent.

The Australian Securities Exchange plunged about 3.4 percent to 4,544.70, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 4.7 percent of its value, falling to 16,853.85.

Russia’s Micex Index plunged 18 percent before trading was halted for a second time today.

Europe:

Germany’s DAX: Down 7.07%

Italy’s MIBTEL: Down 8.58%

France’s CAC: Down 9.04%

Sweden’s OMX: Down 7.24%

UK’s FTSE 100: Down 7.85%

With the crisis infecting global stock markets, it’s baffling why neither American Presidential candidate appears willing to blame government officials who fostered this failure through their social engineering and their belief that home-ownership is one of the inalienable rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Perhaps the shock of looking at the big board and seeing the Dow off some 800 points on Monday will shock the leaders into dialogue, although I suspect one party is a bit more reluctant to discuss their role in the current fiasco.

Madonna and Phelps: American Culture on Full Display

Liberals often obsess over how the United States is viewed globally. Like elementary schoolchildren praying to be accepted by the ‘in’ crowd, they insecurely wait for Obama’s election and the restoration of their ‘cool’ status. U.S. foreign policy would show more deference to our allies, and presumably our enemies. Our warmongering would end. And finally, we would pass our mantle of the world’s most egregious polluter.

But routinely absent from their concerns and arguments about anti-Americanism worldwide, is the impact our culture has had on the image of the United States. In the Pew Global Attitudes project of 2007, 47 countries were asked about our culture, ideas and customs.

Pew asked:

Which of the following phrases comes closer to your view? It’s good that American ideas and customs are spreading here, OR it’s bad that American ideas and customs are spreading here?”

Europeans answered definitively. They consider the spread of American ideas and customs damaging to their respective cultures. Eighty-one percent of French, seventy-six percent of Spanish, and fifty-nine percent of Italians reject American culture, and in looking at last week’s news coverage in Italy alone, that notion is entirely understandable. Photos of our gold medal winner celebrating by stuffing dollar bills in the thong of a Las Vegas stripper appeared in last week’s Corriere della Sera. And Sunday, it was reported in every major Italian newspaper, that our own queen of pop had dedicated her unfortunate hit ‘Like a Virgin’ to the pope in Rome over the weekend.

Today, the story appeared in the English language press. From London, The Times reported:

At her Sticky & Sweet concert on Saturday night, attended by 60,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, Madonna introduced the song Like a Virgin — one of her earliest hits — with the words “I dedicate this song to the Pope, because I’m a child of God”. She added: “All of you are also children of God.”

That she was invited back to Rome is amazing. Two years ago, she staged a mock crucifixion at Rome’s Olympic stadium.

As for Michael Phelps, it isn’t my place to judge his behavior, but, in the context of examining how we are perceived abroad, it is a fair question to raise. Couldn’t he have arranged for his own stripper? Or, better yet, couldn’t he have held on a while longer, until the level of scrutiny on him had waned, before hitting the Vegas strip?

For many abroad, their only window into American culture comes through our films, television shows, and our music and pop icons. Sadly, last week, two of our most accomplished performers gave an ugly view, and validated the conclusions of many abroad who enjoy our entertainment but reject its influence.

As Americans, we shouldn’t just strive to move down the list of the largest environmental polluters. We should endeavor to dethrone ourselves, and end our reign as King of cultural polluters.

The Forbidden City? Saudi Women Protest Olympic Absence