Obama's trip further evidence that the world is now all Chinese

There’s a subtle distinction between driving and being driven, living at full throttle and dependence. If one is moving fast enough, one may not detect when the crossover occurs.
But make no mistake: The crossover has happened!
It’s now clear that China, not the U.S., is in the driver’s seat. The power dynamic is not nuclear weapons. It’s economic dominance. China, not the U.S., is the biggest boy on the block.
The Chinese, not the Americans, are the focal point of the global picture.
President Obama emerged from his trip to China basically empty-handed. At least there were no additional baggage fees incurred. There were no big breakthroughs on critical issues, such as Iran’s nuclear program or China’s currency.
And never mind the administration’s marketing spin that relations between the two countries are at “at an all-time high.” Rhetoric is not currency.
By the way, the one advance on the environment — that the United States may offer a target for carbon-emission cuts to boost climate negotiations in Copenhagen next month if China offers its own proposal — was essentially just chump change.
It seems that, in the end, the United States and China seem even further apart on the key issues of human rights and economic policy than before the trip.
I guess since we’re mere passengers while China takes us for a ride, we had better hope the Chinese don’t become more ornery than dragons with skin rashes.

Offshore tax evaders could be Reading's salvation angels

Apparently nobody is floating through life on a luminous and blessed plane these days, judging by the spate of apocalyptic movies like “2012,” “The Road” and “Collapse.”
With all this traipsing around in end-times scenarios, perhaps we should note that the Book of Revelation, Nostradamus and the Mayan calendar all predicted the City of Reading would become so impoverished by the time the 2010 budget rolled around that tax hikes and layoffs were playing a more shattering tune than musical notes laid on their side.

But does it have to be the end of the world for Reading even though the state and the feds treat it like a piece of loose thread picked from the carpet?

I think not. Let’s be creative.

For instance, the IRS is more flush than a 380-pounder after climbing five flights of stairs.

More than 14,700 U.S. taxpayers came forward to disclose billions in offshore bank accounts in 70 countries under a voluntary amnesty program allowing most to avoid criminal prosecution as long as they pay what they owe.

Sounds like the IRS could spare a dime or two to keep our not-so-fair city from capsizing into an abyss of red ink.

Sarah Palin TV appearances this week may outnumber even the commercials

It’s gonna be an excruciating week, apparently.
You see, Sarah Palin is gonna be all over the media this week. She’s gonna get more face time than even Obama, Leno, Letterman and Stewart.
I’ll have to watch just ESPN and the NFL Network so I don’t snap and sever my own Achilles’ tendons with a hunting knife.
With her Going Rogue coming out Tuesday (I am making a quantum leap here and proclaiming it won’t be the greatest book since the Bible), Palin will be spending more time in our family and living rooms than we will.
It’s “Oprah” today, a five-part interview with Barbara Walters that will be spread like cream cheese across “Good Morning America,” “World News,” and “Nightline” Tuesday, continue on “GMA” Wednesday and conclude on “20/20” Friday night, and possibly an appearance on Fox News with Sean Hannity Wednesday.

Living in the media fishbowl can be addictive and the cycle feeds on itself.
All this from a woman who claims that running in 2012 is not on her radar right now. Maybe that’s because she can only see Russia on her Alaskan backyard radar.
It’s amazing how folks suddenly use the media when they want to sell a book. As you know, the media normally is about as popular as a carbuncle with Palin.
Even with Going Rogue hoping to launch with a full media blitz, she’s accusing the Associated Press of engaging in “opposition research” in fact-checking her book. The AP fact police claim Palin has gone rogue with some facts in Going Rogue.
Since details seemed to escape her throughout the 2008 campaign, can anybody be shocked if her book falls short of being the gospel truth?

A repetitive set of jaw-breaking miscues in the red zone deflate Eagles in loss to Chargers

I’ll save all of you the grimy details of the Eagles’ 31-23 loss to the Chargers in San Diego Sunday because I don’t want you to knit your brows in disgust.
And because I’m selfish and want to bang this out and settle down and watch the Patriots and the Colts.
Suffice it to say the Eagles’ playoff hopes could be in grave peril if they don’t stop being so self-destructive at the very threshold of the goal line. Granted, nobody in the NFC East seems consistently good, so perhaps the Birds can stumble along and still contend. After all, the Cowboys and the Giants play with geraniums for craniums at times, too.
Still, the Eagles’ continued follies in the red zone are no laughing matter but rather cause for some serious dejection. They get busted more frequently in the red light district than a 50-dollar hooker.
San Diego has an aerial circus most weeks and figured to be a real passing fancy against the decimated Philly defense. The Chargers did throw the ball with gusto, but they also ran the ball with ease. LaDainian Tomlinson, a once great back who hadn’t seemed to be in a big rush since the Truman Administration, ran 24 times for a season-high 96 yards and two TDs. At times he exhibited the smooth glide of a guy prancing through dandelions. In fact, the Birds tackled as if they were dandelions.
But the Eagles should have outgunned the Chargers in a pinball shooting match. They gobbled up passing yards as if they were turkeys on Thanksgiving. Donovan McNabb’s right arm should demand overtime wages as he completed 35 of 55 for an astonishing 450 yards, two TDs and an interception. It was the second-highest passing yards total of his career.
The Birds staged a comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns on passes to Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, but despite the resuscitation, it really was too little, too late.
That because three earlier drives inside the 20 that resulted in just three field goals already had put Philly on a respirator.
And Brian Westbrook continued to be more fragile than Humpty Dumpty, suffering yet another concussion. And a secondary already thinner than a supermodel with the stomach virus got as thin as a guitar string when Sheldon Brown apparently twanged a hamstring.
It obviously was gonna be a long flight home from the Left Coast for our beleaguered warriors.

Any chance 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed can be cleaned up to appear in court?

Good news on Friday the 13th: Attorney General Eric Holder is going to seek the death penalty against self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees when they are dispatched to a civilian federal court in New York City.

Here’s hoping their lawyer is a public defender who flunked the bar exam multiple times.

Of course, since they have zippo chance of being found innocent, Perry Mason could be their defense attorney and it wouldn’t matter. I don’t know why we can’t save taxpayer money and simply tear out their gizzards and eat them.

Then again, I doubt how tasty Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s gizzard would be. Look at the puss on that ugly dude. His loathsome mug shot reveals why he became a terrorist instead of a deity on the silver screen.

Nobody should be that coyote ugly. He looks poisonously hung over.

Hell, he might even enjoy hearing the executioner’s song.

Act 47 an act of desperation for Reading

OK, Reading is broke.

So our city leaders went for broke in trying to grab a life preserver and now our town has been accepted into Act 47, Pennsylvania’s protection program for distressed municipalities.

Distressed? Reading is about a dozen exits past distressed. How about screaming-into-the-night desperate?

Before anybody feels we now can paint our town with serendipity, heed the words of George Cornelius, the secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Cornelius made the Act 47 announcement this morning at a breakfast at the Berkshire Country Club (a soup kitchen in Reading would have been more appropriate), then added that Act 47 is a poor solution.

He said it will only keep the city financially afloat for awhile in the hope the Legislature will correct the underlying problems in state regulations that handcuff cities.

Like any of that will ever happen in any of our lifetimes. Our Legislature is not the most visionary body, spending most of its time yelling like a sentry on guard duty.

Anybody besides me feeling a sense of abandonment here? Our city is on its knees like a supplicant. And there isn’t enough silver duct tape available to hold in all the hemorrhaging.

Could Act 47 be the final act for Reading?

A sad note on Veterans Day: Military funerals far outstripping the supply of buglers

Today is Veterans Day, of course, and hopefully all of us have saluted them for their services to our country and our freedom.
We must cherish our veterans while they are in our midst. Because they, sadly, are a thinning herd.

Combat and advancing age are roiling our vets like the sea.

So much so that there aren’t enough buglers to play taps at all the funerals.

Besides the casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam who have died has peaked in recent years.

About 656,000 veterans died in fiscal 2009 –about 1,800 a day. In fiscal 2008, about 657,000 died. More than 39 percent of the nation’s 23.4 million living veterans are 65 or older.

Meanwhile, the military employs about 500 full-time buglers. Bugles Across America has about 7,130 volunteers, which still leaves many funerals dependent on ceremonial bugles and taps recordings.

Perhaps the best thing one could do for our vets is learn to play the bugle. They so deserve to have the proper taps sendoff as they transition to immortality.

Obama blames 'twisted logic' for the Fort Hood slayings

Today in Fort Hood, Texas, is the type of day when nobody’s face breaks into sunlight.

And when everything is about as clear as mud.

Thirteen people were killed there last Thursday as Maj. Nidal Hasan allegedly went on a shooting rampage at the Army post.

President Obama, speaking at today’s memorial service for the fallen, did more than just deliver a symphonic speech of sympathy.

Obama, knowing only too well that the senseless slayings of valiant American warriors on American soil have left penetrating roots that are intractable and that anger, sorrow, regret and unanswered questions have swollen like blowfish, pulled no punches.

He blamed “twisted logic” for the murders and said there was no faith that justifies acts he described as “murderous and craven.”

Obama said no just and loving God looks with favor upon the Fort Hood slayings, and that the shooter ultimately will meet justice “in this world and the next.”

Well said, Mr. President.

Right cross! White House communications director is Dunn

I guess Anita Dunna wasn’t adroit enough at going to her left. She should have studied some of Muhammad Ali’s footwork on vintage fight films. She kept walking into big right hands (figuratively speaking), haymakers tossed by Glenn Beck, Fox News and anybody to the right of Genghis Khan. It’s tough to do your job when you become a human punching bag.

So the interim White House communications director is being counted out at the end of the month and will be replaced by her deputy, Dan Pfeiffer.
I guess Rush Limbaugh was too busy being right on the radio to be right for the job.

The Eagles about as sharp as a bowling ball in a gutter ball-ugly loss to the Cowboys

OK, dastardly, dreaded Dallas now is the leader in the NFC East clubhouse after Sunday night’s 20-16 beatdown of Philadelphia at the Linc.

For Eagles Nation, the defeat was harder to swallow than a zucchini and beet sandwich.

Compounding matters, for yawning stretches the game was as boring as a croquet match. The encounter had no rhythm, like a bunch of mule farmers at a church dance.

Miles Austin’s 49-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown catch with 8:04 remaining won it for Dallas — officially.

But Andy Reid went to bed with a bad feeling about the mint on his pillow because his Birds were victimized by turnovers, penalties, failures to make big plays, failures to make little plays, failures to stop big plays, poor pass protection, bad hunches for challenges and yet another failed fourth-quarter comeback (the Eagles obviously have no clutch).

Plus Dallas put DeSean Jackson in its back pocket and sat down on him.

As for the quarterbacks, Tony Romo displayed a deft passing touch and Donovan McNabb totally was devoid of touch. Does No. 5 pass on practice?

Yep, the Eagles were clumsier than hanging onto an inner tube in the midst of surging rapids.
It was such a forgettable game in this storied rivalry that I went to bed early this morning wondering why navy bean soup is seldom on the menu.