Aside from the occasional visit to the States, our entire married life has been lived in the Wife’s Britain. Time moves so relentlessly, in writing this I first realized I’ve now spent about half my adult life outside of the U.S. But as our new house is being finished in New York, we’ve decided we will be spending a lot more time in the United States.
Which changes matters more than a bit. It is an illusion — the impression nowadays conveyed by instantaneous media that we all somehow dwell in the same place. Invariably, wherever you are, you become more rooted and better attuned to where you are physically than where you are not. As useful as they may be, the likes of Facebook cannot replace the truly face to face.
So spending less time home in Britain to spend more time home in the States is therefore an odd feeling. But given that new reality, a new blog title is really more appropriate to reflect that change. If you wish, please change your bookmarks and links, and come visit from now on at its new name and address: Atlantic Crossings.
This blog usually avoids citing the A.P. Yet even the A.P. today asks:
He won, but for what?
And we all know exactly what that piece is talking about. President Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The first, Theodore Roosevelt, was awarded it mostly because he had negotiated the end of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. The second, Woodrow Wilson, won because of his “Fourteen Points” and, when other world leaders were indifferent at best, he pushed hard for the creation of the League of Nations.
Still, that uncredited A.P. writer might have ventured to the Nobel’s own web site for its proferred reason. It tells us, straightforwardly, exactly “for what.” President Obama was awarded the prize . . .
…for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
That’s why. That might well seem a bit less tangible at this point, barely nine months into his presidency, than Roosevelt‘s or Wilson‘s contributions. But to whom the Nobel Committee hands their awards is entirely their own business, of course.
Concluding his wonderings as to why, that same A.P. writer, following the A.P.’s habit of too often producing unintentionally amusing news articles, is here surely having an intentional laugh:
…The Nobel committee, it seems, had the audacity to hope that he’ll eventually produce a record worthy of its prize.
And as for that Nobel Committee, if President Obama doesn’t, looking back it will be pretty clear they’ve just diminished their own prize.
[Posted 9:30 AM NY time.]
Roland Martin at CNN:
…The bid that was rejected Friday by the International Olympic Committee was not a Chicago, Illinois, bid. It was the official bid submitted by the United States Olympic Committee and was representative of the nation. Tokyo’s bid was that of Japan; Madrid’s was that of Spain; and Rio de Janeiro’s was that of Brazil.
Republicans want to spin the decision as a massive loss by President Obama and the Democrats who have always controlled Chicago politics.
“Hahahahaha,” wrote Erick Erickson on the conservative “RedState” blog, “I thought the world would love us more now that Bush was gone.”…
Something else, however, reeks. How many of those same conservatives lived the Bush presidency outside of the U.S.? Yours truly actually did — including “9/11″ and the run-up to the Iraq war, and has aimed for years to share a bit of that experience.
Shortly after Hitler had invaded the Soviet Union, the famous anti-communist Churchill famously spoke of how, if Hitler had invaded Hell, he would have found a way to make a favorable reference to the Devil. With President Obama, one is starting to wonder if anything could cause some Obama opponents to find themselves on his side. For even when it comes merely to his involvement in an American city’s Olympic bid, too many Obama-haters conservatives cannot seem to muster so much as even a favorable reference to him having sought some minor bettering of the American condition.
Only posturing ideologues — and/or real simpletons — could have imagined that under “world-adored” President Obama America would wake up on a Wednesday universally loved. Nastiness, ignorance and anti-American bigotry certainly remain, and always will. But what Mr Martin has himself just stumbled upon here is this: some (so-called) conservatives can be just as petty and “unpatriotic” at times as too many a liberal, and just as willing to concoct carefully phrased rhetorical devices to try to hide such.
Roland Martin is a CNN Commentator and Obama sycophant…
…Mr. Martin is one of the leftists in this country who spent the last several years rooting against our soldiers and sailors in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a strange set of priorities that leads a man to root against the United States on the battlefield and claim the rest of us are defeatists because of the Olympics.
To be clear, I root for America, therefore I root against Barack Obama…
Incredibly, this blog manages not to be an “Obama sycophant.” Yet it understands also that an Olympic bid is not about a president — any president. It is about America.
Or would Mr Erickson have not been pleased if Chicago had won the Olympics under President George W. Bush? So whatever the reasons the bid failed, it was indeed precisely about America. It was not about President Obama.
Moreover, that some liberals “rooted against our soldiers” NEVER justifies conservatives not being pro-America. In fact, to position knee-jerk opposition to everything done by President Obama as somehow synonymous with rooting for America? That is to adopt exactly the same ideological fatuousness the left engaged in for eight years towards President Bush.
Or maybe a Chicago Olympics would not have brought a great deal of business and money-spending foreign visitors to a city and region in “heartland” America that has not generally to date been on the top rung for international investment and foreign tourism in the U.S.?
One suspects there is also another reason for such anti-Obama exultation. Yours truly hesitates to go here. But it is hard not to.
And one does not have to be an NPR listener to think this either. There does appear to be a disturbing strand of conservatism that is full of breezy contempt, and even fear, of much of what emanates from outside of the U.S. Those views have been arrived at most often without adherents usually having traveled much outside the U.S., much less having resided abroad.
It has also helped formulate immigration laws since “9/11″ that make the U.S. not exactly the most desirable earthly locale to visit. In addition, that there is a massive degree of difference between disagreement and anti-Americanism escapes them because they lack essential frames of comparative reference beyond what they read on the net or see on FNC. Essentially, responding to anti-Americanism abroad does not require becoming xenophobic, yet one can only but sense that there remains a disturbing undercurrent of xenophobia in many of our current president’s (whom this blog did not support) political opponents.
Many of them don’t seem to like or much admire anything that smacks of the foreign if that foreign does not approach them on entirely their own terms. And the current president’s having had a foreign-born parent? Well, that hardly helps matters, for as we know already some of those very same people have already convinced themselves he should not be president anyway.
Thus it would hardly be surprising if many of those opponents viewed this failed Olympic bid in this manner overall: no 2016 Olympics in Chicago means no hordes of foreigners looking to venture to the U.S. for games President Obama had had the unmitigated gall to want to see Chicago, United States host.
[Posted 5:15 PM NY time.]
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday rejected two amendments to include a government-run public health insurance option in the only compromise health care bill so far…
It is hardly profound to assert that intellectual honesty is obviously not important to many a politician, but this is taking dishonesty and/or ignorance and reducing them to a whole new level. For it is one thing to disagree with a “public option”: that is a valid opinion and holding it is perfectly reasonable. But it is entirely something else to couch the disagreement in bald-faced, “the debate is over” terms that make you sound, to anyone else who has lived elsewhere, or even reads the net, as if you inhabit a cocoon and know embarrassingly little to nothing about anywhere else.
And, even worse, you seem determined to make no effort to learn. And are proud of it. Moreover, there we were, thinking Democrats were the party of intellectual smarminess?
For why, 60 years after the creation of the NHS, does private insurance coverage choice exist now in Britain? And how can it possibly be growing? Apparently, factoids about which we should not ask:
…”A government-run plan will ultimately force private insurers out of business,” [Sen] Grassley said, adding that the federal government would run the plan and run the market in which the plan competes.
“It will come to a single payer,” he said of a government-run system for all. “That denies the American people choice.”…
And fingers snap: that’s that. Regardless of truthfulness, simply spouting it supposedly makes it “fact.” But given how this humble blog has just noted (for the umpteenth time) that that is far from the case, on what “fact” does the Senator base his flippant, ignorant certainty?
Indeed, that the existence of Medicare since 1965 coincides with the rise of the incredible variety of choice in private insurance? Private insurance that many Medicare recipients also avail themselves of as “top up” additional coverage? Just as many do in (supposedly) “single payer” Britain, when they “go private” in concert with National Health?
Undoubtedly we shouldn’t ask about all that either, but just accept what he states unquestioningly. Because Sen Grassley knows public — meaning, essentially, adding the choice of a Medicare-like program for those under 65 who don’t have private insurance — will “force private insurers out of business.”
And precisely how does he know that? No need to ask him. He just knows.
[Posted 5 PM NY time.]
The other day, David Hughes, in The Telegraph:
…Mr Obama’s churlishness is fresh evidence that the US/UK special relationship is a one-way street…
That “churlishness” should hardly be a surprise, and not even to The Telegraph. Sen Barack H. Obama was as we know a big favorite of Europeans to succeed President George W. Bush. That included between 60-80 percent of British, if varying polls at the time were to be believed.
However, now it appears that while most Europeans may adore President Obama, in return, actually, he doesn’t think much about (even care much about) Europeans. Which many Americans already well-appreciated. After all, he appeared to have serious reservations about most Americans, too.
One has only to read his autobiography to learn that. But such does not make him a “bad” person per se. Perhaps just in the wrong role.
That book also certainly confirms his fundamental confusion about himself until at least his later 30s; and that sort of “confusion” perhaps better meshes with a professor of African studies and post-colonial theory than it does with a U.S. president. For if you’ve been in university — particularly in a history or in a social science graduate program — and you are younger than age 60, you have likely known a “Barack Obama.” You may even have sat in a seminar next to “him”.
“He” couldn’t speak of the U.S., or the West, except in mostly disparaging terms. After all, ‘his” family was forced to move to America because America — or Britain, or France — had made life impossible for them back “home”. “He” was the one who also composed the research project on Nkrumah, Kenyatta, and the impact of west African freedom movements on the anti-colonialism of the PLO.
So, as might be expected given that outlook, President Obama does have time especially for self-hating Europeans and Americans. But while they may have righted some, essentially he blames Europeans, and their descendants in America, for nearly all of the problems of the world.
He’s not alone in that: American liberalism since the 1960s has been imbued with that attitude. Yet that the world might be — and have been — far worse off without America? That never quite fits into such thinking.
As president, though, “he” cannot publicly be so intellectually blunt. And it is difficult to function as an anti-American president…of the United States. One has to be politic, of course.
Hence the likes of his relating himself to FDR and Ronald Reagan.
All things considered, if only “churlishness” were his biggest problem.
[Posted 5:10 PM NY time.]
Regular visitors well-know how this blog fearlessly tackles so many of the great matters of our day. So fear not. For this post continues in that elevated realm.
Saturday night, stumbling upon “Wanted” on HBO just as it was beginning, we thought: why not watch? Yours truly heard himself say “Morgan Freeman doesn’t usually make bad films.” And, as we know, Angelina Jolie had a major role in it, so given how nothing else looked appealing, we felt we might as well indulge and partake from start to finish of one of Ms Jolie’s entertainment efforts.
This was also the film for which Universal produced a UK DVD promo ad that got the company into trouble. Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, moved to action owing to one complaint, “investigated” it. The ASA ruled subsequently against Universal, stating that “the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 6.2 (Violence and cruelty) and 7.4.1 (Mental harm).”
Clearly, a vital use of time and resources, in necessary and proportionate response to overwhelming public concerns about the ad’s violence and cruelty and mental harm. Yet that ad itself was decidedly tame compared to the actual full length feature itself, which makes the first half hour of Saving Private Ryan seem like a stroll on a beach. Also, its momentary, gratuitous sex scenes are ludicrous and hardly necessary to the “story”.
And while its comic book based storyline itself has its moments, it is, ultimately, silly. Still, the movie does hold one’s attention. A lot like a terrible car crash, perhaps.
That said, it also has a reasonable twist towards the end (which yours truly will not give away), taking it above the level of the norm for such films. However, on another salient issue, about an hour or so in, the wife observed that Ms Jolie’s tattoos are definitely not attractive. “Should I get those?” she wondered sarcastically aloud.
At that yours truly decided to tread somewhat carefully, sensing what was coming next; and moments later, it did. Seeing Ms Jolie clearly, face on in a scene, the wife then remarked, ‘What is it about her that men seem sooo to like? I just don’t see it. She looks like “Libby” from Neighbours, except “Libby” is more attractive.’
A decidedly original comparison that, and it took your blogger somewhat by surprise. Reflecting on it for a moment, it did strike this writer as not without merit. But aside from admitting that, and as fearless as it might otherwise be, on any further particulars on this subject this blog has no more to say.
Back to politics, religion and so on. Those are far safer.
[Posted 7:05 PM September 27, NY time.]