Belmont Club


Who did President Obama refer to when he declared, “and it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”  He referred to the losers of the world. The guys in “these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest [where] the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them”.

The tone of loser-lives is very much unlike that of the winners of the world. The clingers believe in the ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods. But the people who live in Malibu; who spend $80,000 in a single afternoon’s shopping, party on yachts and meet with President Obama are beyond that.  They take a broader view of things and are cosmopolitans, citizens of the world. I am of course referring to people like “Equatorial Guinea’s minister of agriculture and forestry, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue”, Teodorin to his friends.

Never heard of him? You may not know him, but he knows President Obama.

Teodorin is the chosen successfor to Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, his father. Mbasogo seized power after overthrowing, then killing his uncle in a 1979 coup.  The annointed one now lives the life of a playboy in Malibu, where his neighbors include Britney Spears, Mel Gibson, and Kelsey Grammer. He doesn’t go to Mr. Sam’s place. Instead, Dolce and Gabanna arrange for private showings at which he has been known to spend $80,000 in an afternoon for his girlfriends, who have included rapper Eve, Tamala Jones and Playmate Lindsey Evans.

Unlike the losers who save carefully to pay for their credit card debts, people like Teodorin can finance their lives by deficit spending.  Although he got a US company to pay for schooling at Pepperdine (from which he dropped out, leaving the company with a $50,000 bill),  Teodorin nevertheless owns seven Ferraris, five Bentleys, four Rolls-Royces, two Lamborghinis, two Mercedes-Benzes, two Porsches, two Maybachs, and an Aston Martin, which he somehow affords on his $5,000 a month official salary. He has since tired of those jalopies and now favors a blue Bugatti Veyron.

Like debt, Teodorin’s attitude toward pollution is far more enlightened than those of the Bible and gun-clingers. He may wind up benefiting from carbon credits. Redd-monitor reports that “The rather incongruous slide I’m showing here is of a Bugatti Veyron motor car. There are 35 of them in existence. They cost one million euros each. Three of them are owned by a guy called Teodoro Obiang, the Minister of Forests of Equatorial Guinea.”

To the UNFCCC, the forests are really just neat receptacles of carbon, easily identified from a satellite. But on the ground they are storehouses of some of the richest biodiversity on earth and they provide homes and livelihoods to literally billions of people. And forests have been ravaged over the last few decades by one of the most corrupt industries on this planet. That, in collaboration with some of the most corrupt, inept or simply vulnerable governments have depleted an incredible resource with most of the wealth ending up in bank accounts in Singapore, Switzerland, the US and Europe.

You could define the Third World as a place whose leaders like living in the First World. Well might Teodorin prefer Malibu, California to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in whose picturesque surroundings only one in three live past the age of 40. Although it isn’t clear what he’s accomplished for his “people”, Teodorin certainly knows how to live. Foreign Policy even has a photo-essay detailing the life of the Playboy of the Eastern World, where he is shown rubbing elbows with Barack Obama.

No Bible, but lots of guns

It’s no accident that the “bitter clinger” speech was given at a super-exclusive fundraiser in San Francisco.  There “they” could look down on “them”. From a certain point of view the world is a much more tolerant place today. “Society” doesn’t care if you’re a Muslim, or a Christian; if you’re black or white; it doesn’t even care if you can read or write. All it cares about is green. What it cares about is whether you have got the money.

Bow, baby, bow

Money covers a multitude of sins. The Telegraph asks how it was possible for Britain’s ‘great and good’ to pander to the likes of Muammar Khadaffi?  How could they countenance someone who armed the IRA, which went on to kill nearly 2,000 people; probably bombed Pan Am Flight 103; supplied weapons to Robert Mugabe and is probably now ordering air strikes, using Mirage F1s, on his own population. How? How? The answer is Khadaffi had money. He’s not a bitter clinger.

Lee Smith notes the President’s “deafening silence on Libya”. Smith asks why  “after almost a week of escalating violent reprisals against protestors and soldiers who have joined the anti-regime forces, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and his sons have yet to quell the uprisings—and the White House has yet to take a public stand. Last night, Secretary Clinton released a statement, and pathetic as it was, it’s more than the president has offered—a president who has spent considerable energy burnishing his image for the Muslim and Arab public.”

That is probably because nobody wants to upset the apple-cart. And even now the suppliers to Libya’s jefe maximo are wondering how long the gravy train will last — and whether they can do business with whoever comes afterward. It was a wise man who said that “foreign aid is the process whereby poor people in rich countries subsidize rich people in poor countries.”

The only people who don’t belong in this game are the poor saps in Equatorial Guinea, the average Abdul in Libya or the “bitter clinger” in America.  At a level down, they are the poor dopes who don’t want to pay public employees who earn twice what they get, with money they don’t have. That makes them bitter clingers who don’t got no style. This is a world made for the Masters of the Universe and Michael Jacksons of Mad Mayhem.

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Reuters reports him as saying, “Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, speaking on Tuesday in a defiant but rambling speech, said he would call the people to ‘cleanse Libya house by house’ unless protesters on the streets surrendered.”  He’ll keep the music playing, by any means necessary.