THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Don’t Know Much About History, Don’t Know Much Foreign Policy: Columnist and political historian Michael Barone notes that “for a man of his impressive educational credentials, Barack Obama has sometimes shown a surprising ignorance of history,” and cites several examples before taking on the president’s Cairo speech:
"No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other." But that's what the United States did in Germany and Japan, and in Iraq, as well. As one of the Democratic senators who insisted that the Iraqis meet benchmarks, Obama was a micromanager in that process himself.
"We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity" into Afghanistan. No, it was by choice; we could have stayed out and depended, as we did after the attacks of the 1990s, on homeland defenses. And as for his claim that "Islam has always been a part of America's story," that's a stretch, and one that requires airbrushing out the war against the Barbary pirates.
Most disturbingly, Obama seems to have gotten the history of the Israel-Palestine issue wrong. The plight of the Palestinians since 1948 or 1967 is not the moral equivalent of the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust, as Obama's "on the other hand" segue suggested. …
Obama needs to brush up on the Barbary pirates, but even more so on the last 40 years of Middle East history.
† Tony Deaf: "Billy Elliot" won 10 Tonys, including best musical and best choreography, but lost to “Next to Normal” for Best Score. The Heel thinks the awards for Best Actor and Best Choreography is “much deserved” and is disappointed that the show won Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, as “the score was forgettable and the book was regrettable.” That “Billy Elliot” did not win Best Score “proves the Tony judges had some sense.”
† Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times: The New York Times reports that “trustafarians” - underemployed twentysomethings whose wealthy mommies and daddies foot the bill for trendy condos in Williamsburg - are finding out that their overly indulgent parents aren’t made of money, after all:
Parents whose money helped fuel one of the city’s most radical gentrifications in recent years have stopped buying their children new luxury condos, subsidizing rents and providing cash to spend at Bedford Avenue’s boutiques and coffee houses. …
Ross Weinstein, a managing partner of the Union Square Mortgage Group, has worked with hundreds of Williamsburg apartment buyers in the past two years.
“A lot of the money came from family,” he said. “That piece, it’s gone for a lot of people.”
In the boom years, Mr. Weinstein said, 40 percent of the mortgage applications he reviewed for buyers in Williamsburg included down-payment money, from $50,000 to $300,000, from parents. About 20 percent of the applications listed investments that gave the young buyers $3,000 to $10,000 of monthly income.
But in the past two months, Mr. Weinstein said, he has handled two to three deals a week in which the parents cut back their down-payment help. …
The culture of the area often mocks residents who depend on their families. Misha Calvert, 26, a writer who relied on her parents during her first year in the city, now has three roommates, works in freelance jobs and organizes parties to help keep her afloat while she writes plays and acts in films. There is a “giant stigma,” she said, for Williamsburg residents who are not financially independent.
“It takes the wind out of you if you’re not the independent, self-reliant artist you claim to be,” she said, “if you’re just daddy’s little girl.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, How Did We Get From A Knowledge Economy To An Unskilled And Illiterate Economy?): U.S. immigration policies examine highly educated workers with unique skills under a microscope while looking the other way as hordes of illiterate, low-skilled workers pour across the Southern border. Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, highlights the resulting brain drain:
Of all the initiatives undertaken in the name of homeland security after 9/11, the visa screening requirements for foreign scientists and engineers have probably done the most lasting damage to America's economy - particularly in the cutting-edge technology fields that are vital to our economic leadership and national security. …
Last week, in an encouraging sign that Washington has started to recognize the damage, the Obama administration pledged to throw enough resources at the problem to reduce the months-long screening to no more than two weeks in most cases. With the improvements that have been made in terrorist watch lists and other security screening tools, a decision on whether a visa applicant - especially one already living and working here - poses a threat should not take months. …
When the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003, it set out to build a "smart border," one that would keep out terrorists, criminals and others who would harm the U.S. without driving away the tourists, students, businessmen and skilled employees the country needs. It was the right goal, but too often the government forgot the "smart" part and simply layered on more onerous security measures. The U.S. economy has suffered unnecessary damage. The administration's move last week on visas needs to be the first of many steps to get back on a smarter path.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on 13-year old Nick Dinzeo whose best friend, Devin Wildes, is also 13 and is autistic. The Pioneer Press reports:
When Devin's family moved to Stillwater and enrolled Devin in the fourth grade at Stonebridge Elementary, his mom, A.J. Paron-Wildes, sent out a flier - "with a goofy picture of Devin," she says - asking if any students would be interested in having a play date with him. Nick volunteered. It turned out the boys live just three blocks from each other.
A good friend to an autistic child can be a golden thing - helping the child to overcome the social isolation and withdrawal that come with the disorder. Of course, these very symptoms prevent children with autism from making those friendships in the first place. …
It was clear to Nick that his new friend needed to learn some basic boy skills - like how to play football, wrestle and ride a bike - if he was going to hang out with the kids in their neighborhood. Nick has helped him learn all three. …
These are things Nick has learned about having a friend with autism: You've got to say his name a lot to get his attention; you've got to make sure he's looking at you when you're talking to him; and it sometimes helps to refer to yourself in the third person.
Nick incorporated all three insights last week during a pantomime touch-football game in the den at Devin's house: "Ready, Dev? Ready, set, go. Ready, Dev? No, hey, look at me. Ready? Look at me. Ready. Set. Hike. Ready, 1, 2, 3. Remember, it's football. Look at me. Remember, if you touch here, you score a point. If Nick stops you, Nick gets the point. Ready, set, go. You've got to try and touch it, Devin."
Devin squeals with joy when he makes it to the end zone - the massive couch at the end of the room.