Monday, November 29, 2010

Hu's On First?

Watching President Obama and his pathetic attempts to work with the Republicans in congress reminds me of what Churchill said of Chamberlain, et al, prior to the start of World War II: "They had a choice between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor; they will have war."

If Obama were to body slam Boehner and put Mitch McConnell in a headlock, it would not be such a bad thing. The Chinese would take notice. Mostly, Americans would be heartened. We would think, "Yes, things are going to be all right."

Alas, that will not happen. Though bloodied in the mid-terms, Obama - ever the gentleman - has already come out with a hand extended in friendship, only to get his toes stomped. They will slam him into the turnbuckles next. (That's how the Republicans fight.)

The other day, Forbes magazine named President Obama the second-most powerful man on Earth. It may be the first time an American president has not held the top spot. That position, according to Forbes, goes to Chinese president, Hu Jintao, (pronounced "Who?"). Base on "what?" To be fair, he does command a billion intelligent and energetic people; (not to mention that he is Obama's banker.)

That aside, the United States still has a gross national product (GDP) four times that of China's. Our military budget dwarfs China's ten times over.

Forbes is being cute. They appear to be sizing up Obama based on his body language rather than the normal levers of power that govern such proclamations.

This is further evidence of Obama's dwindling stature: That a conservative magazine would squeeze an American president between a Chinese named "Hu" and a Saudi king.

Hey dude, ever heard of a drop kick?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saving the Unpatriotic Penny

Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Generations of Americans since have lived by that guiding principle. As children growing up in the 50's and 60's, we were taught religiously to save, save, save.

We saved our summer earnings so that we could buy new clothes for the school year. We saved throughout the fall so that we could buy gifts at Christmas. We saved all winter so that come spring we could buy that spanking new used car. and it worked. We never went into debt, and we got most of the things we dearly wanted.

Now America has ditched that discipline. "Spend," they say. "Buy, buy, buy." (It's "bye, bye," all right. we are throwing it all out the window).

The other day, CNBC's Kudlow asked Robert Reich, popular economist from the Clinton Administration, "How do we get out of this economic crisis?" Reich replied, "We must get people spending." In the absence of a Ben Franklin, this is what we are stuck with - quasi-gurus who think a penny saved is an unpatriotic penny selfishly sitting.

Isn't it strange that none of these experts ever talk about lowering prices to achieve economic stability? (The U.S. has lost its competitive edge because of the high costs of its goods, not because we don't spend enough money.) We can see for ourselves that much of America's goods are completely over-priced, including the exorbitant wages/per hour paid workers who do less and less each day. (And the less they do, the less they want to do. "Just pay me," they are beginning to say.)

Time to re-configure "Getting ahead." Instead of hiring one man at $25 an hour, hire two at $12.50, or better yet, three at $8.25. That way, an employer can produce three times the product at the same cost, which will allow him to sell his product at a third of the price, which will make for a three-fold increase in the number of people nationally and worldwide who are able to afford his goods.

On its face, this may look like a simple answer to a complex problem. But it could well be an answer made complex by pride to a problem made simply by necessity.

This isn't it a beauty contest, folks. This is life. The prize goes to those communities, and nations, who families survive.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Les Desagreable

When "The View" guest, Bill O'Reilly, accused Muslims of killing American on 9-11, he inflamed such passions that co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg stormed off the set. Even as the dust of their exit still swirled in the air, Barbara Walters, grande dame of "The View", screamed to her audience, "What you have seen here should not have happened!" Days later, Howie Kurtz, host of "Reliable Sources", flatly stated, "Walking off in a huff doesn't solve anything."

Funny that we did not hear these admonitions when American diplomats walked out during Iranian president Ahmadinejad's recent speech to the United Nations in New York.

In fact, it has become customary for Americans to "walk off in a huff" whenever the likes of Chavez, Ahmadinejad, or any other leader disagreeable to American policy addresses a world body. American media figures even suggest proudly that we continue to do so.

What message do we send to America's youth and to young people worldwide with these recurrent pictures of petulance?

Time someone reminded our so-called "diplomats" of what the word diplomacy means. Time our leaders practice discipline and restraint rather than embrace rudeness at the first convenient moment. Time for adults everywhere to refrain from childish tantrums the instant other become disagreeable.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Manner of Man Art Thou?

On a night in July 2010, rebel soldiers entered a village in the northeastern region of the Congo and raped 250 women and young girls. When they finished, they slithered back in the jungle virtually unpunished.

Two months later, a UN delegation went to the village to investigate this incident of mass rapes. The village women told their horrible stories beneath a thatched roof. Nowhere in their pitiable accounts was there mention of dead village men, (nor of dead rebel soldiers). How can that be? How can there be a tale of 250 raped women, and not a corresponding tale of 250 dead men who had tried to protect them?

Where were the men of the village that terrible night? Did they jump under their beds, or did they flee into the night and hide in the bush?

These unsophisticated village men cannot be expected to protect their families from Ebola, or some other strange and powerful force they do not understand. But they must be men enough to protect their families from other men, or at least die trying.

We understand the rebel soldiers who committed those unspeakable acts - they are animals. What we do not understand is husbands and fathers who do not serve up their very lives to stop them.