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August 12, 2010
On an inside page, a recent two-paragraph newspaper story carried more significance than anything else appearing in that newspaper that day or perhaps any other day.
The small headline: “Global woes seen in birthrates.” The story said:
“With 267 people being born each minute and 108 dying, the world’s population is projected to top seven billion next year, while the rate of working-age adults to support the elderly in developed countries declines precipitously because of lower-birth rates and longer life spans.
“William Butz, president of the Population Reference Bureau, which made the projections, said ‘Chronically low birth rates in developed countries are beginning to challenge the health and financial security of the elderly while developing countries are adding over 80 million to the population each year, and the poorest of those countries are adding 20 million, exacerbating poverty and threatening the environment.’”
So more and more of the world’s population becomes more dependant on the productivity of relatively fewer and fewer productivity-capable people in developed countries around the world.
“Developing countries,” which badly need humanitarian help from developed countries, are adding over 80 million to the world’s population each year, while developed countries will be increasingly challenged to meet their own needs without the capability to meet the increased need for support of the world’s developing countries.
A disturbing prospect? No, more like an alarming or even frightening prospect.
* * *
Not a queen in actuality, of course, but acting like a queen, pampered like a queen, much of it at taxpayers’ expense.
That’s an issue worth drawing attention to, as I see it, in connection with Michelle’s trip to Spain with some family friends and one daughter. (The other daughter is in summer camp.)
Michelle traveled in an Air Force jet, which by government calculation costs $11,851 an hour to operate, making the total cost for 16 hours in the air roundtrip approximately $160,000. The First Lady paid for transportation at the cost of a round-trip-first-class commercial flight from Washington to Madrid, a rate which currently ranges from $7,700 to $12,000.
Michelle’s friends—The New York Times did not identify them—were reported to have traveled at their own expense on commercial airlines.
The first lady and friends stayed at a five-star hotel in Marbella, where at least 30 rooms were reported reserved for the entourage. The hotel, Villa Padierna, was described in The Times story as the most luxurious establishment in Spain with rooms costing from $500 to $6,600 for a suite.
The Times story continued: “As Michelle Obama and her entourage arrived on Friday in a 13-car motorcade at a beach club with a stretch of sand cleared by security in police boats hovering off the shore, the atmosphere has been filled with commentary about a tone-deaf trip in the same week the United States government reported the loss of another 133,800 jobs.”
First ladies traditionally have been given travel opportunities in Air Force planes, but consider the contrast with Laura Bush’s use of such taxpayer-financed services. Laura took vacations without her husband each year traveling with her Secret Service detail to meet friends for canoeing and hiking expeditions in national parks.
Now, a first lady with good taste in stylish clothes but incredibly bad taste when it comes to the propriety of luxurious travel abroad at a time when millions of Americans are without jobs, American soldiers are being killed in Afghanistan and the federal government deficit grows larger every day.
Elsewhere on the subject of Obama family travel, a writer for the Scripps Howard News Service recently produced a column which carried this headline: “An entourage surpassing the Queen’s.” A subhead read:
“President Obama showed up at the G-20 summit in London with everything but the proverbial kitchen sink, although he did bring the White House chef and the kitchen staff.”
Columnist Dale McFeatters wrote that the British press was “entranced by the sheer size of President Obama’s traveling entourage…Obama arrived with 500 staff in tow, including 200 Secret Service agents, a team of six doctors, the White House chef and kitchen staff for the president’s own food and water.”
According to a British newspaper, The Evening Standard, Obama also came with “35 vehicles in all, four speechwriters and 12 teleprompters.
“There were also a presidential helicopter and a heavily-armored presidential limousine which has its own oxygen system and is resistant to chemical and radiation attack.” (Reasonable precautions, as I see it.)
Columnist McFeatters’ concluding paragraph: “The president is entitled to all the secure communications and support he feels necessary to do his job. But surely, when we’re trying to project a more restrained, humble image to the world, the president’s huge retinue could be scaled back.”
* * *
By ironic coincidence, the column-one headline in The New York Times last Sunday told of 10 humanitarian aid workers being found slain by Muslims in Afghanistan and the column-six headline told of “heated debates” across the nation in regard to constructing new Muslim mosques.
The slaying of the medical team, including six Americans, was proudly claimed by the Muslim Taliban as the work of their warriors.
Meanwhile, in New York City, both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and The New York Times have been insulting opponents of the proposal to build a Muslim mosque and community center two blocks from the site where nearly 3,000 persons died September 11, 2001 when two airliners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
The planes were piloted, of course, by the followers of the same Muslim religion as are the promoters of the proposed 13-story mosque and Muslim religious center.
There is a liberal element in this country which doesn’t seem able to deal with the reality that there are basic differences between the Muslim religion and other religions. The most basic of the differences, of course, is that the Muslim religion not only tolerates but actually advocates jihad or “holy war” against non-Muslims when Muslim religious leaders conclude that such terroristic action is justified.
The killing of those 10 medical volunteers, some of whom had given most of their adult lives to humanitarian treatment of the Afghan people, were captured and killed by Taliban terrorists practicing their version of “holy war.”
As I see it, Mayor Bloomberg and The Times have been talking utter nonsense in their defense of the building of a Muslim mosque two blocks from the site of the 9/11 disaster for which Muslim “holy warriors” were responsible.
Bloomberg called the proposed mosque “as important a test of separation of church and state as any we may see in our lifetime, and it is critically important we get it right.” Bloomberg thus was arguing that city officials, following our constitutional First Amendment assuring freedom of religion, had no choice but to approve construction of the mosque.
The Times said the proposed mosque would be “a monument to tolerance” and city approval of the project “was not just the right thing to do, it was the only thing to do.”
What rubbish. The City Council obviously could have voted to disapprove construction of the mosque. Supporters of the mosque could have then tried to win their battle in a court of law rather than in an atmosphere dominated by emotional arguments by both supporters and opponents.
Final thought in regard to the Bloomberg/New York Times argument that construction of the mosque would be an entirely positive thing, a sort of “monument to tolerance”:
You might ask, tolerance of what? Tolerance of Muslims murdering non-Muslim “infidels”?
* * *
A federal district judge’s decision to overturn the results of the popular vote which banned same-sex marriage in California is, of course, a very long way from being the law of the land.
But, predictably, it is being hailed by homosexuals and lesbians across the country as a possible forerunner to the overturning of same-sex-marriage bans which are the law in a number of states, including Nebraska where a 70% majority approved a state constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriages. (I thought, and still think, that the Nebraska amendment went too far in banning legal recognition of any sort of civil union argument between same-sex couples.)
Predictably, The New York Times (The Times turns out to be a favorite target today) endorsed the federal district judge’s opinion as “an instant landmark in American legal history.” It’s simply nonsense to so describe a federal judge’s opinion which is subject to review both at the appellate court level and very likely by the United States Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that “moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and women.” The Times said that Judge Walker’s words “could some day help change history.”
All of this emotional overkill was contained in an editorial appearing under the headline “Marriage Is a Constitutional Right.” The New York Times has spoken. What court would dare say otherwise?
* * *
With the season-opener against Western Kentucky only a little more than three weeks away, it’s time to talk Nebraska Cornhusker football. As a matter of fact, in Nebraska when isn’t it time to talk Husker football? In any case, I’m ending today’s column with recollections of one of the greatest victories in Husker history.
As I watched the NETV network’s fascinating revisiting of the Bob Devaney/Tom Osborne era of Husker football history last Sunday evening, I happened to have at hand some before and after newspaper stories dealing with the showdown between top-ranked Nebraska and No. 2 Florida in the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix January 2, 1996. The Omaha World-Herald’s front page story offered no predictions and finished with this quote from a Florida fan: “I think ‘Husker fans’ are scared as we are. This is not a blowout ball game, and both sides know it.”
Other pregame comment was less objective.
A story in the Los Angeles Times likened the Huskers with their run-oriented offense to stone-age dinosaurs and described pass-oriented Florida as a “Space Age team,” with the clear implication that Space Age would beat Stone Age.
The next day, the same L.A. Times reporter wrote a story which appeared under the headline: “Frazier, Phillips, Lead All-Time Great Victory.” The sub-head read: “Florida has no defense for running attack.”
USA Today predicted a Florida victory and USA Today founding father and weekly columnist Al Neuharth wrote that Husker Coach Tom Osborne could “no longer quite match” Florida’s Steve Spurrier.
The USA Today post-game report card gave Nebraska an A+ in three categories—rushing offense, rushing defense and coaching. Florida coach Steve Spurrier and his staff got a grade of C-.
CBS’s football commentator, former UCLA Coach Terry Donahue, offered this evaluation of the Cornhuskers: “We may have seen the greatest team in the history of college football.”
Oh, yes, I almost forgot the bottom line. Defensive Coach Charlie McBride’s Black Shirts held Florida to minus 23 yards rushing and 260 total yards, about half Florida’s season average, as Tom Osborne-coached Nebraska beat Steve Spurrier’s “Space Age” Gators 62-24.
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