Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

Olympics: Obama, Oprah, Chicago and all Americans could be losers

October 7, 2009

By David Farside

Oct. 6th, 2009

President Barack Obama’s political charm, lobbying skills and celebrity status didn’t do the city of Chicago any good in its efforts to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. As a matter of fact, neither did the appeal of First Lady Michelle Obama or the charisma of Oprah Winfrey. Now they know how the Republicans feel.

Michelle Obama, with her traveling companion Winfrey, arrived in Copenhagen to address the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday and the president arrived on Friday for his historic two-hour meeting with influential committee members. Winfrey does come from Chicago, but was her participation in the lobbying process personal, political or both? Rumors are that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will run for governor of New York. If elected, she will have a stronger base for her presidential candidacy in the future. Maybe Oprah wanted to show off her celebrity and negotiating skills to replace Clinton on Obama’s cabinet. Do you think? After all, Obama owes her a big political favor. And if Condoleezza Rice was qualified for the position, most anyone in the country is.

The Republicans are claiming the Obamas are squandering the taxpayers’ money on two separate 747 flights during these hard times. David Williams, vice president for Citizens Against Government Waste, said, “The taxpayer is picking up the tab for everything.” So how much did this Copenhagen fiasco cost us? The White House Military Office said depending on whether the White House Military Office or the U.S. Air Force is used for the flights, Michelle Obama’s 747 flight could be as high as $107,000 one way. The president’s seven-and-a-half-hour trip on his Air Force One 747 could cost as much as $567,000 one way. Conservatively, Obama squandered more than $1 million of taxpayers’ money for his two-hour personal appearance tour with the IOC, when all he had to do was let his wife to do the bidding while he made a simple phone call. Not being a Bush supporter, I have to be fair. If former President George W. Bush did that, the Democrats would have been outraged.

On Sept. 11, the president notified the IOC that his fight to pass health care reform would prevent him from making the trip personally. At that time, it was decided that only Michelle Obama would make the trip to Denmark. His health care plan is still in hot water, so what changed his mind? It must have been Chicago’s mayor, Richard Daley, a Democrat who helped get Obama elected president and spent $48 million of local taxpayers’ money to lobby for the games. He said Obama symbolized the opportunity, hope and inspiration that make Chicago great, but he didn’t mention Chicago’s high crime rate or that Chicago had the highest rate of juvenile homicides in America.

Maybe, the IOC members did their own homework. The Chicago Sun Times reported that Chicago has four of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States. The elderly are murdered in their own homes, women raped and killed returning home from work and children are randomly killed while riding their bikes, playing in the park or just coming home from school. On the Fourth of July weekend of this year there were 63 shootings, one stabbing and 11 murders. With those statistics, the Olympic torch carrier would have had to wear a bullet-proof vest running through the streets of The Windy City.

Last year there were 511 murders in Chicago. The alarming statistic is that according to Chicago police, since their last school year began, 45 local school students age 16 years old or younger have been murdered. Interestingly, the majority of the victims had no gang affiliations. The high crime rate can be directly attributed to illegal drugs. Eighty-two percent of all people arrested in Chicago tested positive for illicit drugs. Fifty-two percent tested positive for cocaine, not marijuana. Back in 1989, 54 percent of all drivers in personal injury collisions tested positive for either illicit drugs or alcohol. And I thought Denver was the mile-high city.

After four failed efforts as host of the 1936, 1940, 2004 and 2012 Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil became the first South American city to host the summer Olympics. Chicago, with all its star power, came in last. The Brazilian government guaranteed $240 billion towards the project and on Jan. 1, Rio initiated its Olympic slogan, “Live your passion.” Locally ,we can’t even find a slogan to market the Biggest Little City in the World. We need to call Brazil.

In hindsight, there were probably some good arguments supporting Obama’s trip to Denmark. But if his personal plea for Chicago’s Summer Olympics undermined his political agenda for a health care reform, then Oprah, Chicago, the president and all Americans are losers.