Friday, December 03, 2010

Tiger Woods tweets that Stanford shirt helped him to 66 score

Tiger Woods, The World's Greatest Golfer, has a new addiction to Twitter, and its causing his legendary Stanford Cardinal-infused hubris to show.

This tweet he issued...

TigerWoods Tiger Woods
66 today. Maybe it's the shirt?
1 hour ago Favorite Retweet Reply

...contains a link to that goofy Stanford logo on his shirt.   You will not see it here.

Woods 66 came today at the Chevron World Challenge, and is a signal that Woods is back to his old form. And, even if that comes with the occasionally delusional thoughts of Stanford sports supremacy, is a good thing.

Geez. Ok. So the Cardinal beats the sturdy Golden Bears in the Big Game. You'd think they'd won the damn National Championship the way Tiger's strutting around.

Just wait. Cal will get back the Axe in 2011's Big Game. Bet on it.


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“Jobless Talk” to End Broadcasts After 14,000 Listens, Dismaying 99er Nation

The Award Winning BlogTalk radio show “Jobless Talk” - which has had over 14,000 listeners in the past 8 months will likely cease broadcasting later this month. The announcement was made during yesterday’s airing of Jobless Talk at Noon PST - much to the dismay of the 99er Nation.

Jobless Talk, a BlogTalk Radio Show dedicated to Jobless Americans called the “99ers” will likely air it’s last show on December 17, 2010. The show which first aired in April 2010 is hosted by Paladinette (Yours truly) and has been enjoyed by over 14K listeners either live or by podcast. For the first 3 months, the show aired twice weekly but was cut back to air Fridays only 5 months ago. The show is dedicated to the plight of UI exhaustees who have been without UI checks for 9 months now.

Unfortunately, the unique quality that gives Jobless Talk it’s authentic flavor, the fact that I am a 99er - is also the reason it may no longer continue to be the place to vent 99er frustrations by this Christmas and beyond. The fact is I have been unable to secure paid employment, thus can no longer afford to keep my internet and phone connections. Both of which are necessary to continue not only my job search, but my weekly show now as well.

I really hate giving up my weekly broadcasts but I have no choice. Once my internet goes, I will no longer be able to advocate for the longest term unemployed (99ers or otherwise) with my blogging, Facebook, The American 99ers Union, U-Cubed, Jobless Talk, My websites like Jobless Unite (nearly 500,000 visitors), email, or even the 1 gig that pays me a few bucks a month: writing as the San Diego Unemployment Examiner for

Jobless Talk has had the honor of being one of the Spotlighted shows on Blog Talk Radio and only 2 months after the premiere episode, I was honored as the BlogTalk Featured Host for June 2010 - something for which I will always be extremely proud.

My show has been scorned and feared by several members of Congress and many staffers of Senators know me by my “Paladinette” pseudonym and “in your face” reputation. The goal of Jobless Talk was always to phase out naturally, but the plan was to stop broadcasting the show after the 99ers received their Tier 5 and a real jobs creation bill was implemented in America. Life often does not adhere to “the Plans” we make especially when Washington chooses to neglect their sworn duty to serve All Americans - not just the Rich ones.

If any of you have in any way been helped by these episodes of Jobless Talk - then I am grateful for the opportunity to have helped in some small way. As always it has been my pleasure to help the 99er cause by whatever method possible. It has also been a great deal of fun putting the show together each episode with news, opinion and the real “Stars of the Show” - my callers!

After making the announcement on air, the response from the 99ers has been overwhelming disappointment but a united understanding of how unavoidable my decision was and how impossible it would be to carry on without the funds required to continue. 99ers need every dime they can get their hands on to survive, so I am adamant about NOT taking donations from the 99er Nation.

If you know of anyone who is NOT a 99er and wants to help keep Jobless Talk on the air, please direct them to the "Donate Widget" at My Jobless Unite website

Or just use the Donate button below - Thank You!

YouTube Comments to Zennie62: 52 notifications contain N-word over 27 days

Being a YouTube Partner is a fun experience that has taken this blogger to places, like the Academy Awards and Comic Con, that are the dream destinations for some viewers.

To date has 1,130 videos. With each video comes the expected comment on it. But for me, one word pops up on a daily basis and at times more than once per day: "nigger" or the "n-word."

The latest one was this comment received in response to my playful video on Jennifer Anniston's legs and the R-word controversy back in August:

you fuckin spook thumbs down for misleading title and your a nigger to top it ya i said nigger im a racist white boy

And that for this video:

So, tiring of notes like that one, which have served to make me a bit mean in my responses at times in general, I decided to so a search for the work "nigger" in my email. The result, 80 items of dates examples, and 20 dates containing 52 YouTube Comment Notifications between November 5th and December 2nd of 2010. That's over a rate of two a day.

Here's one from November 22nd and in reference to my USA vs. Slovenia World Cup - fire Koman Coulibaly for Offsides call video:

who is this stupid nigger

There's more, but I don't want to ruin your day as much as mine is impacted by this constant flood of n-word-related comments. Now, at times it comes because I talk about a race issue, but not the majority of the time. The Jennifer Aniston and Koman Coulibaly videos have nothing to do with race.

It's just that a portion of the society, so brainwashed to think that the message for anything should be a white person, responds in the way I've experienced. Many African American YouTube Partners have talked about this and complained about it to YouTube, but as far as I know (and I'm giving YouTube and out here) I don't know how to eliminate the appearance of the word.

What we as black YouTube Partners have said is "Keep it coming. We make money from your hate!" But after a time, it becomes too much.

Something should be done.

But more important than my feelings, are this ugly American and World industrial society that still exists around the matter of race. Many of the commenters are young, below the age of 14, and who should be reported to their parents.  If their parents care.

And all are male.

Something's really wrong.

Stay tuned.

Hillary Clinton says Sec of State "likely" last public job - AP vs NY Times

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton quietly dropped a public bombshell last Friday, when she reported that her current role as Secretary of State would most likely be her last one.

The term most likely be is important, because its omission from some news reports - like that from CBS News, or from The Associated Press. The New York Times Caucus Blog, which filed a blog post from Manama, Bahrain, where Clinton was, is the source that got it right, but in so doing, has caused a problem. One that Google's Josh Cohen should pay attention to.

The NY Times Mark Landler wrote as if he was actually at the place where Clinton talked when she dropped her juicy news. He blogged this:

MANAMA, Bahrain — Journalists and political analysts who follow Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton love to parse her comments on her future career plans for clues as to whether she will take another run at the White House. On Friday, she gave them yet another tantalizing tea leaf to read.

Answering a question from a student at a town-hall meeting in this Persian Gulf kingdom, Mrs. Clinton said, "I think I'll serve as secretary of state as my last public position and the probably go back to advocacy work, particularly on behalf of women and children."

Mark also noted Mrs. Clinton's "qualifiers," "I think," and "probably," which are important doors for the Secretary of State to maintain in case she changes her mind.

But this is what The Associated Press' wrote in a post hosted by Google:

"I think I'll serve as secretary of state as my last public position and then probably go back to advocacy work, particularly on behalf of women and children, and particularly around the world because if you look at what is still happening to women in many parts of the world it is tragic and terrible," she told a Bahrain TV interviewer.
The interviewer began by asking if she planned to run for president.
"No, I do not," she said.
She then launched into a detailed review of her career, noting that she began as an advocate for neglected and handicapped children.

The problem with The AP account is it fails to give a link to the actual source and it doesn't offer more information on who gave the interview. Thus,could the AP have gotten its information from The New York Times and not sourced it? It would at least seem that the AP leaves itself open to such a charge.

It's one more piece of evidence that The Associated Press, which Google News' Josh Cohen has worked so hard to help at the expense of bloggers, is itself to be questioned in how it presents the news. The AP accuses bloggers of the same behavior that it apparently shows in this case. For Google News to favor the AP at the expense of blogs is damaging to the effort to democratize news.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton will most likely give an even clearer, definitive statement on her future soon.

Oakland News: Al Davis fires-up Raider Nation, Oakland A's Hearing a success

This Oakland news is from the sports World. A YouTuber that goes by gorilla142 (subscribe!) made the rare video of Oakland Raiders Manager of The General Partner Al Davis stopping to exhort The Raider Nation to fight for the Raiders before Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins at the Oakland Coliseum.

 From what could be understood over the voice of the Coliseum public adress voice, from some speaker source nearby, Al Davis, walking with what appeared to be a mix of fans and plain-clothed bodyguards stopped, took measure of his audience, and said "You guys are great...You wear the Silver and Black...Let me tell ya this: we're going to play our ass off today...You gotta fight with us...Pride and Poise. Will to win. And just win, baby."

That sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Unfortunately for them and Davis, the Raiders got their clocks cleaned 33 to 17.

Still, it's nice to see Mr. Davis still has the fire in the belly to win. The Raiders are up against the San Diego Chargers in San Diego; a game NFL Network analysts gave the Raiders no chance of winning. Indeed, they were so against the Raiders, Oakland may as well not show up and just give the game to the Chargers.

Just win baby!

On the subject of showing up, an estimated 200 A's fans came to Oakland's City Hall's Oakland Planning Commission meeting on an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for the (hopefully planned) New A's Stadium.  The meeting was, by the account of the great blog Oakland North, a success (I'm still in Atlanta as this is written.)   The crowd was a mix of what the blog Swingin A's called "supporters and non-supporters."  (That's Oakland.)

On the matter of the As', San Jose Mercury News Columnist Mark Purdy goes on a funny, whining rant about how San Jose has been waiting for the right to build a stadium, and a lot of garbage about San Jose's plans that can be dashed with these words: almost 50 percent of the San Francisco Giants fan base comes from San Jose.

Mark didn't mention that.

Man, on this, I love to fight.  I just do.

2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil Free Tickets For Poor - Wikileaks

Brazl's logo before it won
Here's another confidential cable transmission from Wikileaks that's essentially harmless. It is from the American Embassy in Brazil and to the Office of The U.S. Secretary of State, on Christmas Eve 2009.

The cable is entirely about Brazil's plans for the 2016 Olympics, just two months after that country won the right to host the games that October. The highlights of the cable are that the preliminary plans are to have free tickets for Brazil's poor and working class. Let's see if that objective is met.

Here's the Wikileaks cable:



E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/24
SUBJECT: 2016 Rio Olympics - The Future is Now


CLASSIFIED BY: Lisa Kubiske, Charge d'Affaires a.i.; REASON: 1.4(D)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Brazilians greeted the October 1 announcement that the 2016 Summer Olympics were awarded to Rio de Janeiro with an outpouring of national pride, a party on Copacabana beach and a sense of relief that the country is gaining some long overdue recognition as a regional and international leader. Politically, the GOB is looking to capitalize on hosting the games to solidify Brazil's image as the leader of South America and as an emerging global player. Internally, the IOC decision is being portrayed as a validation of President Lula's administration. The GOB understands that it faces critical challenges in preparing for the 2016 Games and has shown greater openness in such areas as information sharing to cooperation with the USG as a result - even going so far as to admit there could be a possibility of terrorist threats. The Lula government has taken care to associate Lula's chosen candidate to succeed him in 2011, Dilma Rousseff, with the IOC decision and expects the euphoria engendered by Rio's selection to translate into higher poll numbers for Rouseff. There remain, however, significant problems, that could impact the success of the Games , especially in terms of addressing security concerns. The Brazilian leadership remains highly sensitive to perceptions of USG interference and has not begun preparations for international coordination. In addition to preparing for the commercial opportunities the games will afford U.S. businesses, the USG should look to leverage Brazilian interest in an Olympic success to progress in bilateral cooperation in such areas as security and information exchanges. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (SBU) Amid the celebrations of the October 1 selection of Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics there runs a strong current of relief among Brazilian leaders. President Lula described the feeling as "the end of the street dog complex," the idea that Brazil somehow does not deserve the status of an important country. Ministry of External Relations (MRE) Coordinator for Sporting Cooperation Vera Alvarez noted that being the first South American country chosen to host the Games was seen as evidence that the world (or at least the IOC) recognized Brazilian primacy on the continent and regional leadership. Alvarez also echoed a view expressed commonly in the Brazilian press: Rio's competitors had been Chicago (the United States), Madrid (the EU) and Tokyo (the Pacific Rim), and its victory must therefore reflect Brazil's perceived comparative success in dealing with the global financial crisis. "The IOC appreciated that we were the first to emerge from the crisis," she said.

¶3. (SBU) Asked what Brazil's goals for hosting the Games were, Alvarez repeated President Lula's assertion that these would be the "games of South America" and said that the GOB was planning to open its borders to its neighbors to encourage attendance by sports fans from all over the continent. Presidential Chief of Staff and likely presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff said the Games will provide opportunities for a younger generation of Brazilians and said the government would make numbers of tickets available to the youth of South America. Alvarez likened the effect of hosting the Games on Rio to that of the arrival of the Portuguese court in 1808, when Rio went from coastal town to the capital of an empire. She then went on to promise that the 2016 games would be the "greenest" Olympics yet and would improve Brazil's international image with their success.

¶4. (C) Though Brazil has some experience with major events such as the Pan Am Games, the Olympics will be an unprecedented challenge. The great question mark concerning Rio's selection has been the security situation, a question brought to the fore on October 17 as a gunfight between drug gangs resulted in the shooting down of a police helicopter (Ref c). MRE contacts have been defensive on security issues, telling Mission Brazil members (often without being asked) that the IOC clearly did not consider Rio's security situation inadequate. Apart from the standard MRE response, however, GOB officials have shown an understanding that security will be a serious concern for the Games. MRE political military advisor Marcos Pinta Gama suggested that the pending General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) could be followed by another arrangement to share security information for the Olympics. Alvarez went so far as to admit that terrorists could target Brazil because of the Olympics, a highly unusual statement from a government that officially believes terrorism in Brazil does not exist. The SENASP (the National Secretariat for Public Security, Ministry of Justice) has been put in charge of security for the Olympics and will be coordinating the GOB's overall on-the-ground security efforts. Rio authorities, meanwhile, expressed confidence in the impact the Favela Pacification Plan (Ref d) will have on the city's overall security. The Plan - which involves evicting drug traffickers, establishing a sustained police presence, and providing basic services to favela residents - envisions the "pacification" of over 100 favela communities by 2016 (Ref e). Internal Politics

¶5. (SBU) Even before the selection of Rio, the Lula government was hard at work to turn the decision to political advantage. Lula's chosen candidate to succeed him, Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff, was at his side in Copenhagen for the selection, an appearance which Sport Minister Orlando Silva declared "will help Dilma's candidacy." Lula's highly visible role in lobbying for the Games is portrayed domestically as international validation of his administration and recognition of Lula as a key world player. Indeed, the reality is that much of the actual planning and preparation for Rio's bid was done by the Rio state and municipal governments. However, Rio authorities counted on Lula coming in over the top and providing the international prestige needed to win. In a recent meeting, Rio governor Cabral explained to Consul General in colorful detail Lula's tireless lobbying efforts in Copenhagen. According to Silva "The opposition will just have to swallow Lula's leadership." By claiming credit for Rio's victory, Lula seeks to bolster his already high approval ratings and then use his popularity to build support for Dilma Rousseff in the October 2010 Presidential election. As a first step, the Administration has announced a special Olympic Program for Acceleration of Growth (PAC) under Rousseff's leadership. One of Lula's signature initiatives, the PAC is a plan to use government resources to leverage private sector investment in infrastructure ( ref a). While PAC implementation has been extremely slow, the program has a positive image among Brazilians, and by putting Rousseff in the lead, Lula helps build her up as the candidate to prepare Rio for the Games.


¶6. (C) Being awarded the Olympics is seen as a major victory for Brazil in what Brazilians see as a struggle for the recognition they deserve. "We are finished being the country of the future and are the country of the present," Rousseff stated. The risk is that the GOB may choose to rest on its laurels and not get started on the work of planning the Games - Games that Lula has already dubbed a great success. Despite Rousseff's affirmation that "we have learned from the Pan Am Games," coordination for the 2014 World Cup, especially on security, lags. Attempts by Embassy personnel to establish contact with the Ministry of Sport have been refused. The GOB has articulated a vision for the Games - an Olympiad based on South American culture, openness to youth and environmentally friendly that played well in terms of domestic politics as well as appealing to the IOC. At this point, however, though state and municipal planning is moving ahead steadily, there has been little practical planning at the federal level for implementation of this grand vision. NOTE: Rio's challenges in building infrastructure and paying for the Games will be reported septel. For example, to make events more accessible to the South American public, Lula has said the GOB will distribute free tickets to the working classes and the youth of the continent. MRE admitted that there had been no thought given to how this would impact on ticket revenue projections or security, or to how the potential flow of youthful spectators across Brazil's borders would be managed. Rio also faces a host of challenges building infrastructure and paying for the Games. Lula has similarly decreed that Brazil will win more medals at the Rio Games than in the past, but there is no program in place to enhance the development of elite athletes.

¶7. (C) Brazil has shown it can host large-scale events such as the 2007 Pan Am Games, but the Olympics will present a different kind of challenge. While rejoicing in Rio's victory, the current GOB, with less than a year to go in office, seems to be taking a relaxed approach to preparation. The UK Embassy reports they have had less contact with the GOB on the Olympics than we have, even though they are eager to share lessons learned from initial planning for London 2012. While the very weak Ministry of Sport currently has the nominal lead on coordinating Olympic preparations, Mission anticipates the next Administration may organize preparations differently, perhaps through the Ministry of Planning or Casa Civil, or even establish a new agency specifically to coordinate Olympics infrastructure and security planning and logistics. Although the police and military have begun planning, the reality may well be that serious efforts await the next government, which will take office January 2011.

¶8. (C) Articulating the big picture goals and leaving details to the last minute may be a typically Brazilian approach, but could lead to problems. The delays we expect from the GOB in planning and executing the preparatory works for a successful World Cup and Olympic Games will almost certainly place greater onus on the USG to ensure that necessary standards are met. Mission Brazil has already begun coordinating among USG agencies in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, and has begun forward planning for the significant increases in personnel, facilities, and resources that managing U.S. involvement in the Games will require. Given the high degree of interest in the Olympics among Brazilians and the high value Brazil places on conducting a successful Games, there are already opportunities for the USG to pursue cooperation toward the Games, and to use such cooperation to further broader USG objectives in Brazil, including increased cooperation and Brazilian expertise on counterterrorism activities. As we look ahead, taking advantage of the Games to work security issues should be a priority, as should cooperation on cybercrime and broader information security (see ref B for additional areas for potential cooperation). We should also look to build in offers for dialogue on preparations for major sporting events as part of all high-level contacts with the Brazilians. KUBISKE

Prime Minister Berlusconi and President Obama's great relationship - Wikileaks

Berlusconi (courtesy,
While Wikileaks cable transmissions have been painted as, in some way, harmful to national security around the World, a read of the cables reveals more good information the public should know.

For example, as of January 2010, the relationship between Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, President Obama, and The Obama Administration was a very good one, as you will learn after reading the cable below, by U.S. Ambassador David H. Thorne.

The Italian Prime Minister says Italy owes America a debt of gratitude for its assistance after World War II.   He expressed the desire to assist the Obama Administration's efforts in the Middle East.

In the same cable, we also learn that Prime Minister Berlusconi thinks French President Sarkozy’s star "was clearly waning in European circles," and the Italian Judicial System, where one could be cleared of being accused of a crime, only to have the charge resurface later, needed to be reformed. (That's something supporters of Amanda Knox, currently held in an Italian prison for a murder she seems not to have committed, should take note of.)

Here's the cable from Wikileaks:

Friday, 01 January 2010, 15:02
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ROME 000001
EO 12958 DECL: 01/01/2020
ROME 00000001 001.2 OF 003
Classified By: Ambassador David H. Thorne. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
¶1. C) Summary: The Ambassador visited recuperating Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at his Lombardy estate for a private luncheon December 30. The Ambassador had suggested he visit Berlusconi after the Prime Minister was assaulted at a Milan rally in mid-December. Accompanied by Gianni Letta, the Undersecretary in the Prime Minister’s office and effectively Berlusconi’s second in command, Ambassador flew up for the meeting on the Prime Minister’s plane. Bandaged and bruised from the December attack, Berlusconi was nonetheless upbeat and eager to show off his new project for training Italy’s elite and share his thoughts on European leaders and domestic politics. Berlusconi was effusive about U.S.-Italian relations and Letta promised action on roping in ENI operations in Iran and pushing ahead on Megaports. End Summary
The Recuperating Prime Minister
¶2. C) Following the Ambassador’s call to Gianni Letta suggesting the Ambassador visit the Prime Minister during his recuperation, Letta, the Undersecretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, invited Ambassador Thorne to accompanied him to Milan on December 30 for a private afternoon with the Prime Minister. The three hour session, held in Italian, involved only the Prime Minister, Letta and the Ambassador, and included a visit to Berlusconi’s latest endeavor, a private training school for Italy’s elite, and a wide-ranging lunch with the two top decision makers in the Italian government.
¶3. C) Berlusconi was still bandaged and scarred from the assault in early December where a mentally unstable man hurled a die cast model of Milan’s cathedral at his head. Berlusconi noted that the missile had struck a glancing blow to his cheek, cutting him, breaking his nose and some of his teeth, but if it had hit him straight on “it would have killed” him. Letta recounted separately that Berlusconi had slumped into a depression following the attack - “he’s an impresario, he wants everyone to love him “ - but that had snapped out of it and was on the mend. Letta also noted that their tour of Berlusconi’s new project site was the Prime Minister’s first excursion outdoors since his release from the hospital.
U.S.-Italy: A Prized Relationship
¶4. C) In luncheon discussions, Berlusconi unabashedly stated that he prized Italy’s relationship with the U.S. and that his government stood ready to help us, whatever the issue. He noted that Italy owed the United States a debt of gratitude for salvation during World War II, and for protection throughout the Cold War. On Afghanistan, basing issues, and other tough problems, Italy was committed to helping the U.S. get to the right solution. He noted that he hoped that the Italian increase in Afghanistan would help President Obama and address the situation on the ground.
Berlusconi on European Leaders
¶5. C) The Prime Minister and Letta also gave their run down of current European political leadership. Berlusconi assessed that Sarkozy’s star was clearly waning in European circles and that the French President did not command the same influence he did a year ago. Letta was less convinced, noting to the Ambassador that both Berlusconi and Sarkozy were “big dogs angling for the same spotlight.” Berlusconi recounted how he had played an instrumental role in the Spring in persuading a reluctant Erdogan to accept Danish PM Rasmussen as the new NATO Secretary General, overcoming the Turkish President’s profound irritation at Rasmussen for not silencing Kurdish language radio stations despite numerous requests. On Russia, Berlusconi felt that Putin and Medvedev got along well, respected each other, and had an effective relationship. In fact, farewells after lunch were unexpectedly cut short by an incoming call from Putin.
Iran: Appalled by violence, Will try to rope in ENI
--------------------------------------------- ------
¶6. C) On Iran, Berlusconi noted that he was appalled by the Iranian crackdown. He offered the capabilities of the Italian intelligence services and assured full sharing of information gathered on the internal dynamics in Tehran. Letta, as the supervising authority over Italy’s intelligence services, assured the Ambassador of a continuation of our
ROME 00000001 002.2 OF 003
already excellent bilateral cooperation on the issue. Letta also promised that he would talk to ENI CEO Scaroni about the energy giant’s ongoing operations in Iran and, if he could, persuade them to halt activities.
Megaports - GOI to determine POC
¶7. C) In response to the U.S. request to move forward on Megaports, Letta told the Ambassador that the issue would be discussed at the Council of Ministers meeting on January 8 and that they would be in contact soon thereafter to convey which ministry would have lead in the GOI for implementing the project and as such be the primary interlocutor for our Embassy.
Italy’s Courts - Problem Number One
¶8. C) Berlusconi forthrightly identified the magistratura - Italy’s judiciary and courts -- as Italy’s “biggest problem” and told the Ambassador that he was ready to forge an alliance with the center left opposition to implement judicial reform. He noted that a legal system where issues were never definitively resolved -- where you can be absolved of a crime and yet have the case resurrected later - sapped Italy’s political and economic system. He argued that this is what has happened in his own case, where he has been cleared in the past but the same charges keep on returning repeatedly. He said that he had allies in the opposition on the need for reform, including PD Leader Bersani. Letta cautioned the government won’t know if it has the clout to deliver on such an idea unless it secures a decent showing in regional elections in March 2010.
Smart Guys in the Opposition
¶9. C) Berlusconi and Letta displayed a great deal of respect for opposition leaders. Berlusconi praised the Democratic Party Leader, Pier Luigi Bersani as a “straight shooter” who was fair with a top rate intellect. Separately Letta was also complimentary about former Prime Minister (and archrival) Massimo D’Alema who he credited with showing courage and integrity during the Balkans crisis and taking some very tough decisions. Letta noted that D’Alema’s prickliness and “smartest guy in the room” demeanor made dealing with him a chore, but acknowledged his judgment and political effectiveness, which was why Berlusconi backed him for the EU Foreign Minister position despite their differences. Letta told the Ambassador that he did not have a clear judgment on how DiPietro will play in domestic politics and looked forward to future conversations. On other domestic political issues, Letta thought that the current estrangement between the governing PDL party and Sicilian President Lombardo was a minor issue and they would patch it up quickly.
Worried about a flat 2010
¶10. C) Both Berlusconi and Letta expressed concern about the limited prospects for economic growth in 2010. Berlusconi thought that Italy had weathered the past year of the financial crisis fairly well but thought it would be a challenge to produce enough growth in 2010 to start replacing jobs lost. The Prime Minister was less concerned that a financial meltdown in Greece would have EU-wide impact. He said that he had a good relationship with Greek PM Papendreou and was confident that he could right the situation.
New Media - Important for Liberty
¶11. C) In response to the Ambassador’s questions to the Prime Minister about the role of the internet, Berlusconi shot back “it’s important for liberty.” New media - particularly Facebook which has been instrumental in the past month in organizing a national “No Berlusconi Day” and more controversially in continuing to host “Kill Berlusconi” pages - has vexed the GOI, - but the Prime Minister stated that he felt the evolving media was both critical to the future and also to the preservation of liberty. But he felt there needed to be better tuned controls to prevent the most extreme use of the new outlets.
The Berlusconi Leadership Academy
¶12. C) The Prime Minister commenced the visit by personally
ROME 00000001 003.2 OF 003
conducting a guided tour of his most recent project, a private academy to train Italy’s brightest young minds. Berlusconi led Letta and the Ambassador on a personal tour of a newly rehabbed Lombardy estate that will serve as the home of the enterprise. The completely renovated 17th century country mansion, Villa Gernetto, will house a special school set to open in March for one hundred of Italy’s most talented young leaders, completely funded from Berlusconi’s personal fortune. The Prime Minister intends to choose the students himself and he envisions an environment where Italy’s best and brightest live and study, taught by world leaders “like Blair and Clinton.”
¶13. C) The Ambassador’s intimate afternoon with Italy’s two top decision makers was both a testament to the priority Berlusconi gives the U.S.-Italy relationship but also perhaps a sign that the GOI has achieved its long-sought level comfort and ease with the Obama administration. It is also a dividend of the Ambassador’s cultivation of the relationship with Letta, which has opened up a personal channel to the Prime Minister. The Italian press coverage of the following day clearly took this message from what they viewed as an extraordinary private session. The Prime Minister was clear that he expects to be called upon to deliver for the U.S., which he will do out of principle, not self-interest. Despite being given numerous openings, neither the Prime Minister nor Letta asked for anything from the U.S. during the lengthy luncheon. A striking aspect of the session was Letta’s clear position as co-regent, with Berlusconi deferring regularly to his colleague and with Letta airing opposing points of view to his boss during the luncheon. THORNE


End of transmission.