To celebrate our country’s birthday, we fly the flag, we put on fireworks (only in some places, not in my town of Santa Cruz where the authorities are afraid the sand of the beach might catch on fire!) Mostly, we eat grilled meat saturated with saturated fat to mark this anniversary. The red Chinese also do fireworks (really good ones). They also march 10,000 people under arms. That’s a basic difference.
The parade of heavy weapons and tanks took place on Tienanmen Square, the same place where brave unarmed young people were crushed by tanks twenty years ago.
The Chinese Communist Party is the most successful mafia in the history of the world. It has succeeded in raising the Chinese from abject poverty to moderate poverty while maintaining its corrupt, totalitarian rule. It now ranks 133 out of 229 countries in GDP per capita, right behind Albania. Its GDP/capita of $6,000 is almost one fifth that of Taiwan, all Chinese, and less than one eighth that of Singapore, which is 90% Chinese. You might say, the Chinese are prosperous everywhere in the world except under Communist rule.
(Figures from CIA World Factbook on-line 10/1/09.)
What corrupt rule? I don’t mean small time business grease like la mordita in Mexico, or other small bribes. I mean real horrors. The Weekly Standard published a long article several month ago about the execution of imprisoned regime opponents for the purpose of selling their organs. Normally, I don’t pay attention to this sort of stories. I think of them as urban legends. One thing caught my attention in this case: Several reports of thorough medical examinations given to young healthy prisoners and never followed by treatment of any sort, a sort of blood-curdling inventory. Furthermore, I don’t discount the Weekly Standard. It’s a very serious periodicals that checks its facts thoroughly. (Report is in the Nov. 24th 2008 issue).
The UN urged the Chinese government to look into it. You bet!
Speaking of inventory: Almost nine months since the inauguration. Soon the Obama presidency gestation will be over. Here is an informal inventory. Tell me where I am wrong.
Here is his most successful initiative: “Cash for Clunkers.” It’s successful because the money allocated was actually spent and spent quickly. Let me give you the ethical summary of this achievement:
The President took money from my wife, who cannot afford a new car of any sort, to give it to people who could afford to put down $20,000, but maybe not $25,000. Those are very happy with the transaction; no kidding? Also fairly happy are car dealers, whose function is increasingly questionable because of the Internet. (Sorry, I call them as I see them.)
Even happier are GM workers, high-school graduates with 1940 skills, who earn $ 30 an hour (according to UAW, $75 according to Republican Congressional critics) and large fringe benefits, making cars Americans don’t want in large numbers. Unhappy, are the people who would have bought the used cars sent to be destroyed. Many of those people are undoubtedly among the poorest Americans. I wonder how many lost their jobs because they couldn’t find a used car in their price range.
“Cash for clunkers” was clearly a transfer of income. It transferred income from the poor to the moderately well-off.
I don’t hate liberals because of their misguided economic ideas; I only deplore those and I try to combat them. Hypocrisy is hard to forgive though, even if it’s rooted only in stubborn disregard for basic facts and for elementary logic.
On the domestic economic front, three things did not happen:
The stimulus package did not work. It wasn’t supposed to. You can’t reduce unemployment next month by building a rail line between Disneyland and Las Vegas the permits for which will take five, six, or five years. Federal employment is growing though.
Foreclosures have hardly slowed down.
The so-called “public option” on health care reform has vanished, for practical purposes. The final bill will have something called “public option,” no doubt. It will have nothing in common with the program the President wanted as a Trojan Horse to turn American health care into a single payer.
Digression: A couple of days ago, the French Ministry of Health announced the size of the unfunded cost of the French single-payer system. It’s expected to be about $700 per man, woman and child. (Le Figaro10/02/09.) That’s not the total cost but the amount for which money will have to be found elsewhere. Look at it this way: on the average, in 2010, a French family of four will spending $2,800 more on health care than the national budget allows.
In foreign affairs, same progress. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, the President is pausing to ruminate about the strategy he chose himself by appointing a general who is its foremost exponent. That’s about the “war of necessity” he said we had to win.
He wants to revert to waging war with long range missiles. It’s the unworkable wimp’s option of course. That’s the opinion of all who study counterinsurgency.
On October 1st, the President made a moving speech on the result of negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding its unlawful nuclear program. He said he told Iran, “Allow inspection, or else.” The “else” was left to the mullahs’ imagination. They must be crapping their pants. Those are the same mullahs who smile benignly when the president they hand-picked tells the world he wants to annihilate a neighbor.
Oops! I almost forgot: “Cap and Trade” is dormant and Guantanamo will stay open. I like the latter; it’s he best solution but that’s not what he told those who voted or him.
Some of the President’s supporters are beginning to say, “Give him time.” Point well taken but the Republicans were not the ones who told him to rush, to triple the federal deficit in nine months, nor to direct the largest tax increase since the Korean War (Boston.com – The Boston Globe 9/2/09). No conservative demanded that he cram a 1,000-page plan to recast 15% of the economy in a couple of weeks (health care reform). (Data: The NYT on June 19th said 885 pages. I am just guessing it had grown to more than 1,000 by August.)
It’s also true that the President inherited a big economic crisis, that the bulk o the crisis was not of his making. Well, we hired him to drive the truck, not to change the wheels. When your motor starts burning, you don’t rush to take out the jack. Rigidity of purpose is nearly a crime for a senior executive. Don’t implement costly programs when the economy is much worse than you expected. Got it?
I think it’s fair to take people at their word. When I tell my wife I will paint the living room, that’s how she judges me. That’s one reason I am careful not to announce that I will paint the whole house in one day. President Obama declared he would do X,Y, and Z. He has not done any, has not even come close. If I had voted for him, I would be displeased.
With all this, I still don’t think the man is evil though I am more and more inclined to see him as a puppet. Conservatives who describe the President as evil are losing track of the obvious. He is a handsome man with a good diction who had never achieved anything in his life besides get elected. He can’t even select literate speech-writers. Here is what he said recently disdainfully a propos of his critics on Iran:
“Some invoked the picture of Hiro Ito signing the articles of capitulation.”
Mr President: It’s not “invoke” it’s “evoke,” and Emperor Hiro Hito did not sign the articles of capitulation. He was cowering in his palace.
That’s two mistakes in one sentence, worse than George Bush!
The President shows himself to be a fool. He will fall. I fear what comes next. Some of his followers are fascists, the real thing. Who will come after they throw him under the bus because he is unable to deliver even with majorities in both houses?
I have an exit plan for the President though. Actually, he found it himself in Copenhagen.
It’s true that he did not get the Olympics Games for Chicago. That’s the easiest failure to excuse. One, Rio was hard to beat. Brazilians are more fun than Chicagoans anytime. (I, for one, don’t want to see any Chicagoans in a string bathing suit.) Two, he was up against another political machine, the International Olympic Committee. It’s a machine as corrupt as Chicago’s but he had not had time to learn its ways.
In spite of this failure, I think President Obama would make a good international relations representative for the Greater Chicago Chamber of Commerce. He speaks well from a text if the text is well written. He looks better in a suit than just about any other public figures. He looks “multicultural.” I don’t know what that means but I know it’s a good thing.