Would You Buy A Used Car From Barack Obama?

Obama Used Car SalesIn a recent consideration of President Obama’s leadership, we noted his unique presidential style and more specifically, how he has changed the public face of the American Presidency. He has made what seem to us, drastic and dramatic alterations in the manner in which that institution is conducted; we believe that deserves consideration.

Past presidents have upon election, more or less disappeared into the White House, popping out from time to time to deal with major events with a broadcast to the public or an appearance before Congress. That constructed a remote and — usually — dignified figure to represent the USA in the minds of its citizens. The President was always there, but seldom visible but at necessity. That provided a presidential mystique that could be magnified to fit the enormity of the job. In line with this approach, paraplegic President Franklin Roosevelt, a polio victim, was never photographed in his wheelchair if it could be avoided. His famous ‘fireside chats’ were conducted over radio; TV was still in the future. We saw little; what we saw, was what he wanted us to see. And his public image was that of a giant, appropriate to lead America.

President Obama has gone far in the opposite direction. His presidency has been a continuation of his campaign, with near daily speeches on TV, constant news coverage on video and breathless minute by minuet-seeming bulletins about nearly every breath he has drawn. No newsday seems complete without some recognition of his presence and of his thoughts and wishes. It’s as though upon election, he has moved in with all of us. With this, he is humanized and thereby, diminished. No giant here, President Obama is very much merely a man. The wisdom of that perceived shrinkage seems worthy of examination.

Historic leaders of men have always presented an image that imbues their followers with confidence; men do not widh to follow perceived weakness for obvious reasons. That has usually relied upon a certain remoteness, a distance between the mighty leader and the rest. We well know that our leaders burp, pass gas and act foolishly on occasion, but we do not wish to see them doing it; it makes our choice of leader appear foolish. We are happier to announce the foolishness of others than to face our own.

Our President, it seems to us, has not done wisely by publicizing the Presidency to the point of familiarity; we are told that familiarity breeds contempt and that, for our species, seems true. That is, if anything, multiplied by President Obama’s own contempt for speaking truth; we know now that we aren’t going to keep our doctors. We feel the contempt in one who lies to us for his purposes and we repay that with our own contempt for a liar.

Putting this together; it seems to us that the Obama style has diminished the prestige of the American Presidency, reducing it to the level of hucksterism exemplified by for instance, a used car salesman. We visualize a smiling photo of President Obama captioned: “Would You Buy A Used Car From This Man?”

That is our take of course, you should decide for yourself. And if you disagree, feel free to say so and explain your reasons. We are not custodians of revelead ruth here … just of opinions.

Posted in Government, President Obama, President Roosevelt | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Figure Skating Isn’t Worth Watching Anymore …(But A Makeup Makeover Won’t Cure Its Ills))

What's Missing Today...

What’s Missing Today…

Figure skating and gymnastics are obscure sports for the few. Gymnastics persists on subsidies from taxpayers provided by schools and on profitable private training centers. Figure skating lacks the schools and depends upon ice rinks with higher costs and lesser profit margins. Its athletes for the first half of last century were mostly daughters of the wealthy who also played tennis and became at age 18, debutantes. Their families could afford it.

Television of the Olympics put figure skating and gymnastics on a larger map. An attack by Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding’s husband upon rival skater Nancy Kerrigan anticipating the Olympics put the sport up front on the TV screen for the ensuing decades, bringing millions of dollars in TV rights fees to the producers of the competitions that the public enjoyed.

But a small sport with a handful of performers worth watching cannot hold the massive TV audience forever. That audience tired of seeing the same few skaters doing the same few things and began to drift away. Ratings fell and TV rights fees vanished.

The sports’s governors meanwhile dealt with a judging scandal by scrapping its scoring system in favor on one awarding points for the accomplishment of specific tricks, an approach borrowed from gymnastics. To little surprise, tricks became everything and the music and dance qualities built into the sport by its ballet dancer originator Jackson Haines, faded. Seeing little to entertain anymore, the audience faded as well.

Meantime, the big ice shows disappeared with TV interest and there is no longer any post-competition career to justify the investment and sacrifice needed to reach the top of the sport. Now, most competitions involve skinny juvenile girls built for high revolutions in the air and for low audience interest. Few boys bother. And rinks are running afoul government policies aimed at restricting energy use and legal assaults over injuries.

The gymnasts have noticed that their points per trick judging system has produced too many unsuccessful attempts and reduced their audience; gymnastic officials are remarking upon the need for change. Figure skating officials with their parallel problem, remain silent. But figure skating fans are not silent; they are pointing to the gymnasts’ remarks and expecting a response from their own sport. The theory is that a return to more artistic performances will return the audience.

It will improve the appeal of the sport, but the audience is gone; it will not return. Its members are aging and fewer and there is nothing to put more artistic performances before new generations in large enough numbers to return the impact of the days of yore. The sport costs too much, is too difficult and offers too few prospects after competing so the quality of performances is not sustainable. Its avoidance by boys further restricts its appeal. The rinks upon which it depends are financially marginal. These are existential issues.

Certainly, returning the sport to its more artistic roots will improve its appeal but too few will notice to matter much. It needs to be less difficult so more can contend successfully, it needs to find a way to interest boys and it needs to reduce the cost of training to enlarge its base and thereby, help to keep the rinks it needs, open.

In the meantime, joining gymnastics in correcting the mistaken adoption of a trick-oriented judging system will be an improvement. We and the other die-hard fans still extant, will notice. Few others will …

Posted in Figure Skating, Olympics, Sports | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Can An American President Lead From A Golf Course?

Obama GolfPresident Obama ran on “hope” and “change.” He has delivered so far as we see it, on neither so far as the country is concerned, yet it seems to us that he has greatly changed the American Presidency.That is no small thing.

We will not know until his successor takes office whether the changes are permanent. But for now, they are real enough and so, worthy of discussion. So what changes do we see?

He appears to prefer the road and the golf course to the White House. He is happier by all appearances, in public than at home. He would rather speak to TV cameras or some gathering than to his intimates, if he has any. He must be the most public President of all time and the most voluble in public. His presidency seems a continuation of campaigning rather than abandoning campaigning for presiding over the nation.

But he does not, as some of his predecessors have done, lead from the “bully pulpit.” He appears not to understand leadership; he prefers to rule as though he was the embodiment of American sovereignty rather than its agent. He declaims constantly but he seldom explains much. We are to do as he says, not ask questions. And we can keep our doctors.

A leader makes a show for his followers, glancing back from time to time to verify their continued presence. Barack Obama issues orders that apply to us and disregards them for himself, the antithesis of leadership. In history, the opulent lives of kings in hard times have often enough, cost them their heads. Our President seems to have missed those classes in his history courses at the universities that reuse to provide his attendance information, a rather unique resume’ for one of his prominence and evidence of the faith placed in him by voters.

For all his publicity-hound behavior, he does little in his public conduct to embody leadership of public affairs, rather ignoring any relationship between his actions and the course of the nation. Some huge calamity appears; he plays golf. Everyone is broke and out of work, he throws parties and engages in hugely costly excursions and vacations. He lives in his own world, above the vicissitudes of mere mortals and feels no need to make an example of himself; giving orders ought to be enough. He reigns and rules; he does not lead.

On all appearances, his missteps and negligences have been no worse than many others in his position, yet he has fallen far in public esteem compared to many of them. We attribute that in large part to his tone-deafness toward leadership. Americans will put up with much when others seem to understand and share difficulties; they resent a publicly superior attitude. We don’t think Barack Obama feels consciously superior so much as he doesn’t feel anything in this particular direction. However it may be, he is paying the price for his blind spot; his political influence is in decline, leaving him with executive orders to his minions with which to run the country.

Another opportunity he has wasted is leadership of American blacks. He is not really black at one Luo grandmother and rather than standing up as a representative of what a black American can be, he has embodied a bad caricature of black behavior while pandering to the black electorate in what is to us, a very patronizing manner.

Barack Obama asked for and was handed a signal opportunity: An economic crisis, desperate foreign relations, a divided society, a compliant Congress and voters primed for progress. He has ignored the challenge in favor of doing as he pleases while politically exploiting the citizens instead of presiding over the country as his oath of office requires.

He acts as though the Presidency were some sort of reward for his personal qualities rather than the crushing responsibility that is recognized by men with better vision and a greater sense of responsibility. His Nobel Peace Prize acceptance proved an unfortunate archetype for his entire presidency to date; an unearned award based upon a hoped-for performance that has not appeared.

In fairness, the American Presidency is an impossible job, one that has been bigger than many of its incumbents before Barack Obama. But most of them have at least acted as though they cared …

Posted in Barack Obama, Golf, Leadership | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Gleaning From The Passing Scene …(Politically Uncorrected)

Alfred_E__NeumannBest served with munchies and an aperitif of your choice:

CDC Director  Thomas Frieden was at one time, a medical doctor but his license has lapsed, leaving him a bureaucrat only.

Flying the Clintons into Iowa to attend Senator Tom Harkin’s steak fry cost $50,000 for the Private Jet.

A Barber  slashed a customer’s throat with straight razor … (Never annoy the one who shaves you.)

49,000 lbs. of Chicken  with an expiration date of August, 2015, were recled by Foster Farms, for Listeria. There have been no reports of any sickness reslting. Critics of the resulting Food Waste tend to ignore the enormity of wasted food resulting from legislation forcing restaurants, groceries, bakeries etc. to toss perfectly good food every day …

Pursuant to food waste, note that Egypt  cannot fed is people today, but it was once the breadbasket of the Mediterranean. Bad government with attendant corruption … (In our opinion, of course)

Cubans   are once again risking their lives to reach the U.S. using most anything that seems to float.

Warning ! Tech stocks are down; semiconductors used in techy gadgets are seeing declining orders. An “inventory correction, we’re told. Really? Or are we seeing declining consumption? Your call …

Donors pledge $5.4 B to rebuild Gaza ; the US  Pledged $212 M to Palestinians.  All to repair the destruction resulting from their insistence upon raining missiles upon Israel. Does there seem something wrong with this picture?

The younger brother of the now dead Boston Bomber  was though unarmed, shot up by law enforcement and captured a year ago August. Though convicted twice over in the media, he has yet to be tried in court. Why do you suppose, is that?

CA   State health exchange gave $184 M in contracts without  bidding … Some to vendors with ties to State.

Bank regulators are worried about the safety of low-quality Auto Loans  that have been fueling car sales. Aw, don’t sweat;  the Fed can always print up some more money to replace that.

Ebola  is becoming serious; it now threatens chocolate production in West Africa.  And the inevitable Hoaxes  have begun – to obtain quicker access to  Fed medical treatment. “Never waste a good crisis …”

Those who suffer vision loss from Macular Degeneration , mostly elderly, now have an FDA – approved therapy that can restore some vision; an implantable lens.

A bunch of  Brooklyn Teen s swarmed and trashed a kosher deli, screaming anti-semitic slurs. The police say it was not a hate crime.

A Boy , 10, strangled a 90 year old woman in her bed, for yelling at him.

Nomination of the next Attorney General and  release of the Bergdahl desertion investigations will both be available AFTER the November elections. Uh huh …

Scientists can now identify and remove a specific Memory from the brai of a mouse. (Will this prolong the lives of inconvenient witnesses?)

Fed Tax Take    Hits all time high .

Assissted Suicide     Prosecution guidelines in UK relaxed to protect doctors.

White House pool Reporters  are said to be unhappy that the President’s staff reviews their stories before publication to approve or disapprove them. Why?

California ,  at 23.4% has the nations’s highet poverty rate.

A Brain Study  has shown that men are wired to forego food in favor of sex …

A woman was jailed for failing to trim her overgrown yard; the same result followed a 60 year old man’s Ebola joke at a casino.  Do as you’re told and keep your mouth shut, these days …

 Houston’s  new lesbian Mayor and City Attorney have issued subpoenas for the sermons (and now, “speeches”) of five Christian pastors relating to homosexuality.  Populist Senator Ted Cruz sees potential jail time in the future, for the pastors, not the Mayor. A cloud upon the horizon, in this case, considerably bigger than a man’s hand …

And a man in Idaho beat a woman with a Burrito.

And so has gone the human circus of the past week. We hope that you have profited or at least, enjoyed the show …

Posted in Culture, Current Events, News | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Government, Economics … And Hogwash!

ECONOMISTS

ECONOMISTS

My father and my professors all told me to deal with reality, so I am not an economist. They required that I was honest, so I am no politician. So I ended up writing about those from as real a perspective as may be. You’re welcome to argue as you please; I’m not custodian of any Revealed Truth. I just do the best that I can.

Government is a bunch of politicians elected by hoodwinking enough voters. Economists, mostly paid directly or indirectly by politicians, provide the excuses for political financial misbehavior. As economists don’t understand what they are doing, nobody else does either; that makes them hard to argue with.

Adam Smith wrote the first book on modern economics (The Wealth Of Nations)in 1776, the subject then more accurately referred to as “political economy.” He thereby became the Father of economics; they made him Commissioner of Customs in Scotland. He wrote that politically popular mercantilism was uneconomic and government should keep its hands off the economy.

Over a hundred years later in 1926, J.M. Keynes wrote a book that said that the government  had a role in the economy, the politicians made HIM a Lord. And government has been increasing its economic role ever since. Further to that, most economists these days work directly or indirectly, for government. And most are today, some variety of Kaynesians. Hence, most ‘mainstream’ economics now is hogwash intended to justify what politicians want.

A comment circulating among economists:

“How many economists are required to screw in a light bulb? None … After leaving grad school, they just sit in the dark.”

Politicians want what is good for politicians, seems to me; they are willing to lie to and cheat the electorate as needed for it. The voters know that; they are not much different, voting for whatever will in their minds, benefit them. Voter s and politicians deserve each other. In short, listening to a politician simply provides you more hogwash.

An Austrian or reality rather than hogwash based economist (There are a few) recently listened to a slew of “Mainstream Economists” at a conference and wrote a short article about what he heard, with interpolations of his own reality. It’s a concise portrait of the ‘thinking’ or anyway, the sales hokum, that got us to where we are today. It’s worth reading, if you want to understand economic reality distinguished from the hogwash.

Another, shorter article by another reality-based economist gives four reasons why he believes that our puffed-up Federal Reserve money pumping economy is running out of steam and about to discumbobulate. He’s worth a read, too. One of his points, is that U.S. household net worth has been bounding upward as a percent of GDP since the 2008 crisis in spite of unemployment, a flat economy and record-setting numbers of folk on food stamps. He seems unconvinced that we’re all becoming rapidly richer.

Both articles are straightforward, no gobbldy-gook jargon. And in my opinion, no hogwash …I can understand them; then so can you if you’re interested in economic reality. May as well; you’re gonna live it, anyway!

Posted in Economics, Government, Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Too Much Ebola Raises Questions …

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Broadcast and cable TV are as usual, marching in lockstep: Devoting endless hours of billion dollar air time to a single subject: Ebola. Why? Yes, it’s a nasty, contagious disease by all accounts. So are malaria, yellow fever, dengue, Chagas disease and a host of others that you haven’t heard of, many highly contagious.

But now suddenly (Ebola is not new) the media is going on hour after hour about a disease with so far, three or four U.S. cases. Meanwhile, it is ignoring enterovirus D-68,  that has so far produced over 700 cases and that paralyzes kids in a parallel to polio.

We can guess the fact that the flood of unscreened Central American kids from areas where the disease is common are being blamed for the previously rare (in the U,S,) disease may have something to do with the media silence, especially as the CDC is vehemently denying any connection. Without of course, any solid data for the denial.But admitting that the Democrats’ and Republicans’ flood of ‘migrants’ has a downside seems an obvious no – no. So, silence on enterovirus and the paralyzed kids.

But why all the fuss on Ebola’s three from four cases? Especially why fuss on TV while leaving the border open, flights unmonitored and while sending troops to west Africa? To do what, shoot the virus? Dunno.

We are reminded by suspicious types of the H1N1 Swine Flu ‘pandemic’ of a few years back. Some are comparing it to Ebola at the moment. The Swine Flu, after media fusss, eventually turned out to appear more as a need for a larger market for vaccines than as a genuine threat. And some with memories of that are awaiting the announcement of a new vaccine to save the day if only a few billion are quickly available. Pretty cynical but in today’s world of crony capitalism, not impossible.

We’ll await that miraculous vaccine. We’ll also wait to see whether the African outbreak fades as past ones have done, or builds. At this point, we don’t see shutting down the world economy with massive travel bans that would be circumvented anyway. We don’t understand either why anyone should expect the President to make it go away. Let’s blame him for what he can handle, there’s no shortage.

All we know to do with this sort of thing, is watch what happens. History is full of sudden plagues, why should we be an exception? And the world is now too small to screen such off from the rest of us. We’d best deal with it as we can.

If the thing balloons in the U.S. and a miraculous vaccine is suddenly available, we’ll start to wonder … For now, we’ll wait and see.Until we get the sniffles, anyway.

Posted in Corruption, Crony Capilitalism, Government | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Middle East Is A Hole … (Why Not Stop Digging?)

Snakes NestThings are never simple in the Middle East. For example, consider the current struggle for a Kurdisn Syrian town on the Turkish border, presently attacked by ISIL and defended by a smaller and more lightly armed group of Syrian Kurds, a place called Kobadne. The town offers ISIS a foothold on the Turkish border, a presence in Kurdistan and control of access to a considerable area.

The Kurds have received some helpful NATO air support, but nothing definitive. They are limited in ability to support the town from Iraq and blocked by the Turkish government from doing it through Turkey. While a large number of Kurdish refugees have been allowed into Turkey, Kurdish fighters, including those wounded and seeking medical help, are not. And Turkey recently bombed groups of armed Kurds near the border inside Turkey.

In Syria, the civil war is three-sided, with the original Syrian rebels and their enemy the Syrian Assad government, fighting both each other and ISIS. Turkey wants the U.S. to help against the Assads, which to date, the U.S. has refused. The Assads have been clients of Iran, no friend of Turkey but a nuke-seeder with whom the U.S. has been recently making nice in search of help against ISIS in Iraq.

Most of non-Iraqi Arabia is now anti-ISIS though folks there still provide ISIS funding. They are Sunni Arabs and ISIS is mainly an Iraqi Sunni branch broken off from al-Qaeda.  This should clear it all up for you … oh, yes and the Iraqi Sunni minority wants to seize control of that country from the majority Shia and join it to Syria, with of course, them in charge. That should clarify things.

The Turks ruled the Arabs and the Kurds until WWI. They are accused of wanting that back. So did the Iranians a bit farther back and there isn’t much doubt that they would like that back. And for now, the Turks would rather have Arab ISIS on their border than a Kurdish presence. They have enough trouble with the Kurds inside Turkey and Arabs don’t scare them, even ISIS. They’ve been beating up on Arabs for centuries.

Exactly what the U.S. and Europe want is debated, other than oil. Whoever wins Syria seems likely to be a U.S. enemy. The coalition’s ‘help’ for the Libyan rebels has produced a failed state embroiled in a little-reported civil war of its own. Not very encouraging …

As we started: Nothing is ever simple in the Middle East. We do however, have one simple question: We can’t afford the cost of involvement, what we’ve done has produced only dead people and more turmoil; why do we persist?

Posted in Foreign Policy, Oil, War | Tagged , , | 2 Comments