Tag Archives: Obama

On China and Palin

When I think conspiracy theories, I think ‘truthers’ and Charlie Sheen. I’m loathe to consider them much less invent them, yet a couple of hot news stories got me thinking.

Biden’s China Visit. Our foot-in-mouth veep was busy defending stutterers and China’s one child policy in Beijing this week, enraging talk-show hosts and regular Americans who don’t particularly care for forced abortions and re-education camps. But what was this trip really all about? Was it to reassure our sugar-daddy and grovel? Or, maybe it was to make sure President Hu was still up for making a few campaign donations to Obama’s re-election campaign. If I’m the Chinese, Russians or  any other enemy state, I’m calling any one of Obama’s campaign bundlers to see where I can send the check.

Sarah Palin’s upcoming Iowa speech. Many pundits and prognosticators are predicting Palin will make an announcement on September 3. If she’s as dumb as the mainstreamers portray her, she’ll announce. Recent polls show her barely making a dent in the Republican field and her negatives make Hillary’s ’08 numbers look like Mother Teresa’s.  She isn’t dumb, so what could be her big announcement? Could it be that she will be endorsing Rick Perry? Perhaps.

He Gave Back Churchill

It isn’t religious.

Not to disappoint the birthers, those who call him Osama instead of Obama or even those who think he’s a Muslim, but Mr. Obama’s position on the Mideast revolution is comprehensible and simple. It also has nothing to do with religion. 

 In 2009, when Iranians braved death in the streets of Tehran, POTUS was MIA. On the other hand, when Mubarak was under fire from Egyptians, the President lent support for his ouster. Now that Gaddafi has brought out helicopter gunships to mow down his own people, how has Obama reacted? He hasn’t and he won’t.

 Why?

 He won’t react and he won’t condemn. Muammar al-Gaddafi like the grotesque Iranian Ayatollahs and the terrorists in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood share an important bond—they hate America. Apparently, so does our President.

Spooked by Rubio

That I can remember, no former President has joined forces with a current one to oust a Senatorial candidate of their own party.  It reeks of panic and desperation, yes, but it also raises an interesting question—why?

Even if the path to victory appears easier with candidate Big Bird, I wonder why the Presidents, former and current, would risk alienating principled Democrats, African-Americans and skeptical independents by pleading with Meek to take one for the team. On this Halloween weekend, what about Marco Rubio so spooks these two?

He’s Hispanic? Is that it? That’s what insiders are claiming….From the Wall St. Journal:

People familiar with the matter said the former president and other top national Democrats worry a win by the charismatic Mr. Rubio, a 39-year-old Cuban-American, would make him a political phenomenon capable of boosting the GOP’s chances with Hispanic voters.

So Clinton and Obama fear his success would open the door to droves of Hispanic Americans? That theory ignores the fact that the seat up for grabs was held by Mel Martinez, a Cuban-born American.  It also ignores the fact that Susana Martinez is way ahead in the New Mexican gubernatorial race, so it’s not as if Hispanic Republicans are an endangered species.

What else could it be? Most certainly Marco Rubio poses a threat, but not as a Moses to millions of Hispanic voters. They fear a Rubio ascendency could impact their futures. He’s dynamic, direct and a charismatic leader in a Presidential field of also-rans.  Palin is polarizing, Romney’s a stiff. Gingrich faces insurmountable personal obstacles, and none of the others have the charisma to rally the people. Perhaps the old sage sees competition for his wife and maybe Obama sees it for himself.

The Presidents should relax; because Americans understand all too well the amount of damage a one-term Senator can inflict. Whether it’s Hillary or Barack, if it’s 2012, they won’t be facing Mr. Rubio.

What Comes After Trillion?

In recent weeks and in an effort to curb growing outrage and voter disaffection, President Obama has shown up everywhere, save  the guest judge chair on ‘American Idol’. From town halls to prayer breakfasts, on prompter and off, the President has been seen pimping his budget and defending his prescription for the U.S. economy, which is predictably focused on government, not business, creating jobs.

He’s also appeared a bit touchy in recent days. In his State of the Union, he denied that his healthcare plan is a result of some ‘Bolshevik plot,’ and sought to blunt nasty ‘communist’ or ‘socialist’ aspersions cast by those evil tea-partiers.  It’s easy to see why he’d want to avoid such labels, however true they might be. Forget economic output comparisons between old Europe and the United States over the last thirty years and just examine last week’s market reaction to Spain and Portugal’s budgetary crises. Spending and raising debt ceilings hasn’t helped their respective economies. Add Greece to that mix as they are trying to get spending under control. 

Obama has repeatedly pledged to restore fiscal discipline to Washington, yet his budget would more than double the current debt, increasing it to $26 trillion over the next decade. Forty cents on every dollar spent in the budget is borrowed. And while it would be nice if maybe our loan shark was Canada or Britain, China continues to invest in our debt. With each security sold or Wall St investment made, Beijing wields more influence and hinders further criticism of their monetary, trade, or human-rights policies.

What can Americans expect from these borrowed Chinese dollars? How will the President use this debt to catapult the U.S. economy into prosperity? 

His budget spells it out.

Under the ‘Reviving job creation and laying a foundation for economic growth’ section Obama outlines his recipe to grow jobs. ‘Investments’, spending, are programmed for education, clean energy and infrastructure to lay a foundation for long term job growth. He provides high-speed rail with $5 billion over five years, $1 billion in this year’s budget. Just how will hi-speed rail create jobs and sharpen America’s competitive edge?  

Adopting this particular European idea is folly on so many levels. European cities are much closer together and their highways are radically inferior; there just isn’t enough room for road expansion. Another reason for a viable European railway—weather. Many businessmen from Milan take the train to Turin or Venice to avoid fog which, in the winter, can create hours of delays. In addition, gas is more expensive. Choosing between spending 80€ to fill up your tank or 20$ to take a train, is a no-brainer. And when Europeans visit America, they rent cars; they don’t purchase Amtrak tickets.

In addition to the ‘I wanna be like Europe’ nonsense, the President fails to understand that multi-nationals aren’t flocking to China and India for their infrastructure; it’s their cheap labor and lower taxes. Cutting-edge is not a herd of cows meandering about the roadway unimpeded, it’s I-95 from Miami to New York.  

Another bedrock of the new Obamaconomy is clean energy. Not only does the new budget allow for $54.5 billion in ‘green’ loans, it encourages “new nuclear facilities and a range of renewable energy projects that reduce greenhouse gases and pollutants, while simultaneously creating jobs and contributing to long-term economic growth.” Energy efficiency is a critical component, but perhaps it would be better to fund those programs when the economy is on solid footing.

Another baffling mention in a growing economy subsection is the $1 billion Michelle Obama childhood obesity project. It would be altogether different if this $1 billion were to feed starving American children, but as it stands, we are going to be borrowing from the Chinese to better nourish overweight children. 

The budget also lays out plans to bring grocery stores and other ‘healthy’ food retailers to ‘food desert’ communities.

Where to start…Shouldn’t Publix or Whole Foods decide where to put their stores? And what exactly is a ‘food desert’ community? Inner cities? Maybe if bag boys weren’t scared to push Grandma Edith’s cart to her car, Whole Foods might consider the idea. Government doesn’t need to help businesses decide how to expand profits. That job falls to management and their expertise.

 As Americans watch their friends and family lose jobs with no end in sight, they see a President more interested in remaking the nation than strengthening the economy. Since their own wealth hasn’t been enhanced through second mortgages and house flippers, they aren’t apt to believe that borrowing from China will result in an economic renaissance.

 If fiscal conservatives don’t win in November and get a handle on these trillion dollar deficits, Americans better familiarize themselves with a new term—quadrillion.

The Nobel Prize and ‘Cookie Diplomacy’

obama_looking_up Today’s announcement of President Barack Obama as the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” illuminates the organization’s preference for lofty talk over worthy actions. Heretofore, President Obama has failed to make progress in Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea, but Nobel voters have rewarded his apologetically deferential rhetoric anyway.

Gone are the days of victories, verifiable accomplishments and winners, because western society now prioritizes effort over results. 

Arafat promoted peace as he prepared suicide bombers to attack Israel. Mohammed el-Baradei, former head of the IAEA, inspected, and now Iran is as close as it has ever been to possessing nuclear weapons.  Al Gore talked a good green game, as his home consumed twenty times the electricity of an average American home. All of these men were awarded the Nobel Prize for peace, because for the committee, accomplishments don’t matter—politics do.

Clearly, Obama’s ‘cookie diplomacy’ has had quite an impact, not only with American liberals, but with elites in Western Europe. To understand this complex ‘cookie diplomacy’, one need not look to Iran or North Korea, but to Sudan.  Yes, the poster children for bad behavior have become the latest subjects for the Obama policy of unconditional engagement. The U.S. envoy to Sudan, Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, senses change sweeping the only country led by an indicted war criminal, and despite the millions of displaced and dead Darfuris, the Maj Gen. sees ‘cookies’ as a way to end the hideous atrocities perpetrated by the Arab Sudanese against the African Darfuris. Yes. Cookies.

 Washington Post:

 “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies,” said Gration, who was appointed in March. “Kids, countries — they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.”

 These policies are more apt to work in Neverland than in Sudan. And they aren’t simply doomed to fail, they are doomed to exacerbate an already tragic situation. Experienced diplomats and rebels fighting the government have tried to educate Gration in the ways of the Sudanese regime.

 Again from the Washington Post:

John Prendergast, co-chairman of the Enough Project, a human rights group advocating tougher, multilateral sanctions against Sudan, said Bashir and his top advisers respond only to pressure. “They do not respond to nice guys coming over and saying, ‘We have to be a good guest,’ ” he said. “They eat these people for dinner.”

Adam Mudawi, a Sudanese human rights activist who has seen envoys come and go, put it more bluntly: “In six months, he’ll find out,” he said. “They are liars.”  

Appeasement, ‘cookie diplomacy’, call it what you will, it’s everywhere. Last week, another Nobel winner, the Dalai Lama visited Washington D.C, and for the first time in ten visits, a sitting U.S. President rejected a meeting in order to gain favor with the Chinese. Apparently, budget deficits and healthcare reform rank higher than human rights on Obama’s curious priority scale.

Imagine winning the Cold War, WWII or the Korean War with a box of Nestle Tollhouse…it would have been nice.  I’m afraid that until Obama’s foreign policy grows up, we’ll all—save the lefties—be eschewing cookies in favor of a nice swig of Maalox.

When Did Americans Lose Their Balls?

Like other seminal moments in history, most remember where they were when the first passenger jet hit the twin towers. Other turning points are just as significant, even if they aren’t marked by a single catastrophe.

 Last night, Congressman Wilson’s ‘liar’ assertion and the aftermath which ensued, prompted, once again, the question: when exactly did Americans lose their balls? It wasn’t Obama’s speech, or even the President himself spurring the eye-rolling; it was a congressman’s response to his own outburst and the reactions of his fellow republicans.

 “You lie.”

 Ok. Perhaps that wasn’t the place to call out the POTUS, however, the congressman’s initial reaction was, in fact, the correct one. It’s a fact that the House has refused to adopt the Heller amendment which would prevent illegal aliens from receiving health care coverage. Current legislation doesn’t require agencies to check the citizen status of the applicant; therefore, illegals wouldn’t have their status checked prior to obtaining coverage, thus insuring illegals without insuring illegals. So, technically, the language excludes them, while implicitly including them, via processes.

 If their ever was a carpe diem moment, it was last night. Congressman Wilson’s manhood was screaming to be acknowledged. Have some courage man. Tell the truth. Call him out.

 All gave way to what has, unfortunately, become the norm in the United States. Let people talk, and whatever you do, don’t challenge the substance of their arguments. We have Presidential debates with moderators who might as well be analysts announcing the down and distance at a football game. Pols are able to spin and lie about issues without challenge. I’m surprised no Presidential hopeful has asserted that the sky is green, because there isn’t a chance his claim would be disputed.

 “This evening I let my emotions get the best of me. While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.”

 Disagree with the statement? Nice walk-back from calling the President a liar. Disagreements should be reserved for opinions, not statements of fact. Obama’s assertion that illegals wouldn’t be covered under the bill is false, unequivocally so.

 It’s more than the congressman. Where is the media? Bias aside, liberal bias in the established print and television medium is well documented, where are the questions? Why is it so hard to ask questions, instead of allowing politicians, or anyone else for that matter, to get away with lying?

 We used to call it lying; now it’s simply ‘misleading’. We used to call 700 lb people ‘fat’, now they are just ‘overweight’. We used to call those who finished second ‘losers’, now we call everyone ‘winners’. We used to respond to questions, now we simply spin. We used to have courage, now, we just say sorry.

“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.