The folks in Bar Harbor, Maine, according to MSNBC, value their privacy, especially the rich people who go there to escape the heat and the proletariat. They like quiet; they like to be left alone. When a president comes into town, none of that is possible.
Of course, it will be made exponentially worse by the fact that he’ll have the liberal media in tow. It could be worse – it could be bloggers trailing him.
According to MSNBC, Obama arrives today for a three-day visit and will be the first president since William Howard Taft to shatter the peace of the summer retreat once favored by Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Morgans.
Nonetheless, the Bar Harbor locals are excited to see the president, even though they’re accustomed to attention from big names:
[W]ith the area’s history of business barons, political power brokers and famous actors among them for generations, they’re used to having the rich and famous in their midst. People in Maine, they say, aren’t likely to get too flustered by the presidential visit.
Even though they’re used to this, there are plenty of locals who’d like to have their pictures taken with the big guy.
We travel for many reasons. Maybe it’s to relax, learn something new or see friends and family. And then there are the so-called “adventure travelers” – sorry guys, you just don’t know the meaning of the expression. Keep your kayaks and your climbing gear in the garage, and trade them for a pencil so you can take some notes. Robert Park is redefining “adventure.”
Park, 28 years old, announced that he was leaving South Korea with other human rights activists (who asked Reuters not to reveal their names) to bring “God’s love” to the citizens on the northern side of the border. North Korea has the unfortunate habit of arresting foreigners who do not enter the country legally, which can be difficult to do because of visa constraints and limitations on how travelers from some countries are permitted to cross into the most reclusive nation in the world.
Park, who is an American citizen, and his crew were reported to have crossed from China into North Korea on Saturday. The entry point was Hoeryong, in the northeast part of the country. The border up there isn’t heavily patrolled.
The motivation for Park’s excursion is religious – as a Christian, he believes, it is his duty to make the trip. And, he’s made it clear that he isn’t looking for a rescue effort from the feds if something goes wrong. Park said, “I don’t want President Obama to come and pay to get me out. But I want the North Korean people to be free.” He continued, “Until the concentration camps are liberated, I do not want to come out. If I have to die with them, I will.”
Why has there been all this interest in North Korea? Obviously, it’s among the most difficult places for outsiders to enter, a problem which is compounded for human rights activists and the media. Also, there is a human rights record which has attracted considerable attention everywhere else in the world (except maybe Somalia). A U.S. State Department report published earlier this year lists the following abuses:
• The prohibition of freedom of speech and association
• The use of arbitrary killings to cause fear in the population
• An absence of due process
• “Severe torture and abuse,” which can include forced abortions and sexual abuse
• Political imprisonment (up to 200,000 inmates)
• Monitored correspondence
• Imprisonment of entire families based on the deeds of one member
The State Department also claims that North Korea maintains “control over all artistic and academic products,” though the notion that the government keeps an iron grip on the arts doesn’t fit completely with a North Korean art show I saw in New York a year ago or what is on display in Australia.
When you’re the President, it’s easy to vacation in style. And that’s just what President Obama plans to do this summer. The President and his family are renting a secluded 28.5 acre retreat called the Blue Heron Farm in the small town of Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard.
The waterfront home has a main house, 5 bedroom guest house, and a small boathouse on the water. The grounds feature a 300-yard fairway and putting green, basketball court, vegetable garden and reconstructed Pennsylvania barn. There’s also a private saltwater pond, beach, pool and dock, and a catamaran and several kayaks for the Obamas to use.
The house, which was sold in 2005 for over $20 million, is the second most-expensive piece of real estate ever sold on Martha’s vineyard and is no stranger to Presidential visits – the previous owners hosted the Clintons in 1998.
There’s no word on how much the property rents for, but comparable houses cost $35,000-$50,000 per week. The rental fee will come out of Obama’s pocket.
President Obama is pushing for a new national network of high-speed trains as an answer to growing traffic congestion nationwide.
That sounds like good news for train fans out there — if it ever happens. I’ve been looking into trains from New York to Chicago recently and am surprised that the Lake Shore Limited still takes more than 18 hours to reach Union Station in C-Town.
Anyway, Obama’s plan singles out 10 “high-speed corridors,” according to CNN, including California, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, the Southeast, the Gulf Coast, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and New England.
Obama is also calling for improvements to one of the nation’s most-traveled rail corridors, the Boston-Washington line.
How will he pay for all this? Through both the recently passed $787 billion stimulus and a separate $5 billion investment over five years.
Obama envisions some trains traveling at top speeds of 150 mph.
By most accounts, President Obama had a pretty successful maiden voyage to Europe this past week. But it was not without its gaffes.
But relative to the era of George W. Bush, this one seems pretty minor.
In response to a question from an Austrian reporter about his impressions of European leaders, President Obama said that in fact the interaction between European lawmakers was really not all that different than the way in which the US Senate operates (it’s unclear whether he meant to draw the comparison between the two sides as examples of people who can’t seem to get things done).
Elaborating, President Obama said on both sides of the Atlantic “there’s a lot of — I don’t know what the term is in Austrian — wheeling and dealing — and, you know, people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics.”
Of course, there is no such language as Austrian, though if you’re a speaker of high German hearing a Viennese speak can seem like you’re hearing a different language. But that’s more of an issue of dialect. Austrian German is certainly night and day more intelligible than Swiss German, which can be nearly impossible to understand even for native German speakers.
Anyway, my guess is most people missed this little misstatement, and just as well as in the scheme of things it matters not ounce.