The Other McCain

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Obama’s Millionaire ‘Green’ Ambassador to Finland Mocks Critics in Holiday Card

Posted on | December 15, 2013 | 44 Comments

Bruce Oreck is a lawyer who got rich from his family’s famous vacuum cleaner business. He is an environmentalist who gave about a quarter-million to Democrats in the past two decades and who “bundled” about a half-million in contributions to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Oreck was rewarded with the ambassadorship to Finland:

In 2003, Ambassador and Mrs. Oreck founded the Zero Carbon Initiative which is committed to implementing both experimental and off-the-shelf technologies in the built environment, not just to reduce but to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

Why Finland? Does the name “Fisker Karma” ring a bell?

“Green” parties are a major force in Scandinavian politics, and the Fisker Karma — designed in Denmark and built in Finland — was one result of such environmentalist enthusiasms. Unfortunately, the company burned through more than a billion dollars, built fewer than 2,500 cars, losing $35,000 on each one it built, and did so with the help of a huge loan from Obama’s Department of Energy:

In September 2009, Fisker won a $529 million loan from the Energy Department to develop the Karma and build a second model in the United States. The financing came as part of a broader Obama administration effort to shore up employment in the recession-ravaged auto industry and improve the fuel efficiency of the U.S. auto fleet by extending government loans to so-called green-energy initiatives.
A month later, Fisker agreed to buy an idle General Motors factory in Delaware for about $20 million. The government loan approval was a welcome relief for Fisker, which was hurting for cash by late that summer and eager to raise more money from investors, according to an email from [Fisker executive Barney] Koehler.
“We are oversubscribed in this equity round with the Energy Department support — and nowhere without it,” Koehler said in an August 2009 email to Energy Department officials.
The announcement triggered a flood of investor interest in Fisker. The company raised some $600 million before it ever sold a car.

Tundra Tabloids has provided extensive coverage of Bruce Oreck’s ambassadorship to Finland for the past four years, and has suggested that Oreck is exploiting his post to develop business contacts with Finland’s “green technology” sector.

So last Christmas, Oreck — who is, among other things, an amateur bodybuilder — sparked controversy by sending out a Christmas card in which he displayed his muscular left bicep. And this year, Oreck decided to mock his critics by sending a card with a photo of himself posing with four naked men in a Finnish sauna. Eric Dondero at Libertarian Republican says this is all over the news in Finland:

Alyssa Newcomb of ABC News says this is “hilarious.”

Perhaps you disagree. She’s @AlyssaNewcomb on Twitter.

 

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Comments

  • Threedonia

    Did he order a Lapland Dance?

  • BruceC

    I’ve been to Finland many times and been in the sauna several times. Maybe I am missing something but this does not seem offensive to me. One caveat is that I have not seen the previous card.

  • BruceC

    I read the commentary by Dondero and he is just incorrect. Culturally in Finland it is universally accepted that groups of heterosexual men sauna together. Think football party with steam. This would not be a homoerotic scene to the typical Finn. Apparently some Americans see a message here that I doubt most Finns (to whom Oreck is America’s ambassador) would see.

    This whole thing seems to be in the “fake” outrage category.

  • BruceC

    RSM may very well be correct about Oreck using his post for financial gain. He probably is. I guess since I’ve been to Finland so many times I just see an unoffensive attempt at humor by the Ambassador.

  • FenelonSpoke

    This has nothing to do with the card, which I consider puerile (and yes, you can have childish humor even if the joke involves men and their unclad torsos) but not offensive. My questions is: Did Obama appoint ANYONE as a ambassador who speaks the language of the country they’re assigned to, or was it all based on political favors? The only person I can think of is the Ambassador to Libya who spoke the language. Poor Christopher Stevens. Instead we have this fool and Caroline Kennedy.

  • Threedonia

    When Bush was elected in 2000 he appointed Texas State Senator Teel Bivins as Ambassador to Sweden. He was my State Senator at the time. Very rich Republican, never been to Sweden. He’s a great guy and a friend of Bush. Certain stations are basically window-dressing — Scandinavian ones, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Spain and others. Some — China, Russia, Middle Eastern countries are where POTUS (should anyway) put the real diplomatic heavyweights. It’s a longstanding phenomenon. I wager Finland is seen as one of those posts.

  • BruceC

    In fairness, not many people outside of Finland speak the Finnish language. But you are right in that ambassadorships are traditionally patronage posts, at least for less influential countries. I would not compare this to the Ambassadorship to Japan where an ambassador with more professional experience would be called for.

  • M. Thompson

    There’s really three kinds of Ambassadors.

    The first is the important ones where the appointee has some actual weight and would be a senior politician/trusted confidant. An example would be Walter Mondale going to Japan in the early 1990′s, or G. H. W. Bush in China in the 1970′s.

    The second is the professional Foreign Service Officers, who get sent to important places that aren’t glamorous, or just need a steady hand. Bruce Laingen, who was part of the Iran Hostage Crisis is an an example of this sort.

    The third is the political appointees who are getting the results of the spoils. They are essentially figureheads, and there is a professional FSO who runs the actual day to day operations. of the Embassy.

  • FenelonSpoke

    Did Ambassador Bivins send out a Holiday card with buffed men too?

    Fatuous, but Oreck clearly cleaned up the
    foolish segment. Too bad he couldn’t have said “Merry Christmas” and nixed the men or his bicep (from last year). This administration is a joke, when it’s not corrupt or clueless.

  • Matthew W

    Is the “Happy Holidays” season usually connected to beefcake or partial nudity?

  • Threedonia

    I’m not saying it’s a tasteful card, but as Obama admin bad acts go this is about 11,356 on the list.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I am surprised how Finns get stupid drunk on Friday nights.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    U.S. Ambassadors to nice European countries are almost always pol appointees. Fortunately Finns do not expect the Ambassador to speak Finnish.

    I also find the sauna card silly but not offensive. Finns do love their saunas, so they might find it entertaining (do Norwegians like Lilyhammer BTW?)

    But remind me not to buy an Oreck vacuum cleaner anyway.

  • FenelonSpoke

    Well, obviously, but this thread was about the card

  • richard mcenroe

    I have it on good authority that one Jeshua ben Nazareth was actually born buck nekkid.

  • Alan Markus

    But remind me not to buy an Oreck vacuum cleaner

    That is my take-away from this column. Sounds like Oreck has been responsible for the “Hoovering” up of plenty of dollars already, I’m not going to add any more of mine if I can avoid it.

  • Matthew W

    Is it on a greeting card?
    I recall swaddling clothes were involved.

  • Matthew W

    No surprise on how Finns get drunk.
    Same as I do………………
    BOOZE !!!!!

  • Matthew W

    But it’s all connected

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I’d rather wait for Stacy’s card from Vanuatu.

  • Cole

    Obama spends a lot of time with naked men but at least he has the sense not to put it on a Christmas card. It isn’t that the card is offensive. What is offensive is that a US Ambassador, our representative abroad, is a complete scumbag who has nothing but scorn for Americans and uses his Daddy’s millions to wreck our economy.

  • Steve Skubinna

    I wouldn’t say the card is offensive. It is profoundly unserious, but as Threedonia notes above, in this administration it’s worth not much more than a shrug.

    And what the heck… Finland. It’s not as though he’s going to start a war with them. And if he did, would we actually notice?

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  • RS

    One thing about the Finns: you’ve gotta hand it to them for dissuading the Stalin and the Soviets from attempting to extend the Iron Curtain to the border of Switzerland. The Finns fought hard enough during the Winter War and Continuation War to maintain their independence, albeit while walking a thin line to keep from ticking off the Russians.

  • Quartermaster

    Moooaaaan! Please ban this guy! :-)

  • M. Thompson

    It’s living Up North, where it’s a cold, dark, and you can only have sex for so long. Hooch, even ridiculously over priced (Finland has a national monopoly like Pennsylvania or Washington), is a welcome break.

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