Posts Tagged Barack Obama

The Presidential Halo Effect

He is often labeled “The Most Powerful Man on Earth.”  He is also the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.  Excuse my logic, but seriously folks, are we going to label him Saint Obama?

If the photos tell the story maybe he’s already been canonized.

What I am getting at are photos that anyone who likes to Google can find that show some of our recent presidents with what appear to be halos above their heads.

Upon close inspection the viewer will quickly realize that the “halo” is nothing more than the blurred image of the presidential seal that is hung behind the president’s podium whenever he addresses the media or other official gatherings.

Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now President Obama have all been immortalized with halo photos as shown below.

Now I am really impartial as far as President Obama is concerned.  I am not his biggest fan but then again I am not a detractor. So when I first saw a halo photo last year the skeptical journalistic side of me was fuming that certain liberal members of the media had deliberately shot the photo that way to imbue Obama with divine persona.

Upon calming down over this phenomenon, I started Googling and soon saw that the other aforementioned presidents had also been adorned with halos in their photos.

Once I had the chance to think the whole thing over I must confess that I think the entire staging of these photos may have some positive sides.

We live in what is still the greatest most successful country on Earth. Serving as the president of this great nation is not an easy task.  No matter what he does, there will always be some special interest group, lobbyist group or other naysayers that call him out.

When a new president is elected he rides into Washington on the wave of being picked the most popular politician in the country.  People have high hopes.  So is it surprising or even inaccurate to picture him with a halo?  After all, albeit temporarily, the new president is often regarded as a sort of messiah who will safeguard our freedoms and deliver us to a life of prosperity and security.  Of course, things don’t always turn out that way.

As well with regard to the halo, serving as president despite all the security protection he receives is a dangerous job.  Two sitting presidents have been assassinated and countless other presidents have been the target of thwarted attempts on their lives.

Thus, the office of the president is in my opinion sacrosanct.  To those who diss our country, be they Americans or others, I ask you to consider what other nation on earth has so welcomed immigrants from every walk of life and from every country the world over.  Furthermore, look at countries such as North Korea, Iran, and now in particular Syria.  Their records on human rights are atrocious.  We in America like to complain when one of our civil rights is trampled on.  Yet unlike Syria and other countries our president doesn’t employ secret hit squads to mow down anyone who opposes him.  Here we are free to speak our mind and assemble peacefully to protest that which we don’t like about our government.

In recent years our past presidents and current one, have never been caught being drunk or impaired while on the job. Each of them has had to live in the huge fishbowl existence that the modern day media has created and have all behaved admirably well with grace under pressure.

In short, while someone reading this may not think that our current president or any specific past presidents are holy figures, the office of the President itself is a sacred spot.

Pictured below are some of our presidents wearing halos.  If you want to have a little fun, picture what some of the distant past presidents would have looked like wearing one. In particular, I think Martin Van Buren would have looked hideous with one.

Here’s to the presidency and God Bless America.

Copyright 2012; Greg S.

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Give Obama a Passing Grade on Fighting Terrorism

Excuse my logic but there’s some talk going around the comments sections to internet stories about President Obama that suggest he is a softie and I would like to refute that suggestion once and for all.

I saw one comment in particular from a writer who said that Iran’s ratcheting up its nuclear ambitions, Egypt putting 16 Americans on trial and increasingly frequent murders of Americans in Afghanistan are all a test of Obama’s mettle.  This writer went on to say that these countries and others think the President is “soft.”

Now I am not one of these people who think President Obama can do no wrong.  However give credit where credit is due.  He authorized the taking out of the World’s number one terrorist Osama Bin Laden.  More recently he ordered air strikes that may have played a large part in weakening Muammar Gadhafi’s position and leading to his capture and execution.

 

Do these two actions listed above sound like those of someone who is “soft?”  I am sure that for thousands of relatives of 911 victims and Pan Am Lockerbie victims, Mr. Obama’s actions have brought a deep sense of relief.

The people who complain about Obama being weak will be the first ones to protest if their children are sent to war.  As well, the people with no children and nothing to lose are always squawking that we should go to war. 

Separately, I would offer several words of caution for all you hawks who think we should decimate Iran.  I know a young man from Iran who is fairly intelligent and not prone to exaggeration.  He says in a ground war, the U.S.would sustain many casualties, probably many more than in Iraq because the Iranian soldiers are very adept fighters and are known for being willing to fight to the death. 

 

 Copyright 2012; Greg S.

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In the Center Ring – Boehner and Obama

 Excuse my logic but doesn’t it seem like Representative John Boehner is so cantankerous toward President Obama that if Obama issued a proclamation stating “the sky is blue” Boehner would push through legislation that says “the sky is pink.”  I voted for Barack Obama and admittedly I now sometimes wonder if it was the right choice.  However, at present, the climate inWashingtonis so counterproductive, backstabbing and negative that it makes me feel sad for Obama and for our nation as a whole. As for Boehner, you just take one look at him and you know he lives to bust other peoples’ chops.  (I’d like to say he likes to bust something else but this blog is rated PG).

John Boehner

 

With respect to Obama, he should never had acquiesced to the Republicans’ demands that he change the night for his address to a special joint session of Congress that was planned for September 7.  Yes it’s true that Obama may have thought offering an olive branch to the GOP is the best way to mend fences and get both parties back to working together for the good of the nation.  However, in doing this he has also inadvertently given his tacit approval of allowing the opposition to dictate to the Office of the President.  The Republicans have no significant proposals on the board for fixing the economy, creating jobs, or in general getting this nation back on the right track.  The only thing they are able to do is trash Obama and then parade around as if they are the party of good government.

When I was in college, the fraternity I belonged to had several brothers who were members of a group called the “Young Republicans.” I can tell my readers from experience that these people were never happy unless they were debasing someone.

That seems to be the Republican mentality.  I have come to the conclusion that the entire political scene is so devoid of conscience that a friend of mine has the right idea. He suggests that the best president would be an IBM super computer.  I would like to take that idea one step further.  Let’s replace all of our elected leaders with computers.  Computers would have no party affiliation, would work for free, wouldn’t be influenced by special interests and would be super efficient.  These are all qualities that sadly, right now are lacking in some of our elected leaders. 

 

Copyright 2011; Greg S.

 

 

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Sympathy Ploys

Excuse my logic but isn’t it irksome the way some rich and famous people invent fictitious Horatio Alger type stories about their rise to the top?

Just to refresh your memory, Alger (Horatio Alger Jr.) was a prolific writer in the 1800s who wrote more than 100 books for young working class males that in many instances championed the concept that a person born into a meager existence could parlay hard work and ambition into success.  He was the ultimate American dreamer.

According to an article on Wikipedia, a number of notable writers and scholars including filmmaker Michael Moore, the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson, noted Economist Max Sawicky and Yale University Law Professor Harlon L. Dalton have dismissed Alger as a Pollyanna, or even harmful to society.

Moore may have put it best back in 2003 when he succinctly observed “So here’s my question: after fleecing the American Public and destroying the American dream for most working people, how is it that, instead of being drawn and quartered and hung at dawn at the city gates, the rich got a big wet kiss from Congress in the form of a record tax break, and no one says a word? How can that be?  I think it’s because we’re still addicted to the Horatio Alger fantasy drug…”

I think whatMoorewas driving at is that the politicians and others who control the taxation system are forever trying to sell a Horatio Alger bill of goods to the middle class and poor that no matter how much of the tax burden they bear, they can still succeed if they just work harder and believe. If you believe these politicians on this theory you might as well continue believing in the tooth fairy.

Fast forward to October, 2008 inToledoOhio, when then unknown Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (a.k.a. Joe the Plumber) asked Barack Obama very simply if he believed in “The American Dream?”

During the hard fought presidential race of that year, both Barack Obama and John McCain made countless references to their desire to help “the man onMain Street.”

What did it all mean?  Were both candidates just empty suits?

Now getting back to Horatio Alger, I have always considered myself an optimist and admittedly I usually bought into the allure of Alger that one could go from rags to riches.  I was not born into a poor family but it wasn’t a rich one either. My dad worked three jobs just to afford all the advanced medical care it took to keep me alive in my childhood years due to an acute asthma condition.  I have lived at times in luxury and there have been times in my life where my family and I family lived on a street filled with crack houses and gangs.

I do believe that with hard work you can achieve a modicum of financial success.  But let me put it quite simply. In many cases to reach the level of great financial success, it takes more than just hard work.  It takes a whole lot of luck and in some cases breaking the rules.

There was a documentary made by Rhonda Byrne in 2006 called “The Secret.” In it she conveyed the message over and over again that in order to achieve success you needed to hold fast to a certain type of “I can win no matter what” attitude which she said was the secret.  A similar message is put forth in the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” by Robert Kiyosaki.

In the case of Byrne’s documentary, I once asked a psychotherapist I knew what she thought of the filmmaker’s concept.  She said quite simply to me that it’s all fine and dandy to tell a person that they can win no matter what adversity they face, but she added, “try telling it to a person with terminal cancer.”

It is also interesting to note that Byrne’s financial dealings themselves were brought into question when Drew Heriot, director of “The Secret” and Dan Hollings, an internet maven whose viral marketing propelled Byrne to fame claimed that the think positive  superstar owed them $300 million.

I am not one to say there’s a conspiracy behind every success story.  However, in the current economy which we are constantly reminded is bad, a worker earning minimum wage cleaning toilets or some similarly menial job will constantly be told, almost mantra-like ”to just be glad they have a job.”  This is how the rich keep the proletariat in check. 

Yet if you took a multi-millionaire athlete or television star and suddenly told them that for the rest of their life they would have to work one of those minimum wage jobs would they express gratitude “at just being lucky to have a job?”

Now, I have been dancing around but not touching on the main point yet.  Alger told us to believe that with hard work and persistence we could rise from any abyss.  Some fantastically successful people have done just that.

Yet there are others who are playing a big con game with the public.  They will tell us that they were born in a cold water flat in theBronxand later we will find out that they actually grew up in a nice upper middle class neighborhood.  They will tell us they were abused as a child and later we find out it was all just a publicity grab to boost their sagging career.  I will not name any names but the public is smart enough to know some of them.

People of my generation will remember the famous political phrase “trickle down economics.”  It basically proffered that if you protected the wealth for the rich, some of their money would trickle down to the middle class and poor.

That phrase was big in the 1980s during the Reagan era.  Thirty years later it seems we’re still being told the same and yet it seems that the trickle has become a drip.  I’ll remain an optimist and keep saying the glass is half full. But then you always have to account for evaporation.

 

Copyright 2011; Greg S.

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Heroes and Goats and Double Standards

Excuse my logic but don’t some double standards just want to make you open up your living room window and shout out like Howard Beale did in the 1976 Movie Network “I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?”

Admittedly this blog will be somewhat anecdotal, but hopefully it will make its point that we need as a people to apply the same standards for conduct and behavior to everyone regardless of their position in society. Otherwise we will continue to have a dichotomous world that allow reckless celebrities to get a couple of hours jail time for something as serious as DUI while average people who have overdue library books get almost the same or more jail time for a much lesser offense.

Some double standards I have seen played out over and over again are as follows:

A rich person who pinches his pennies is called a “frugal genius” while a poor person who does the same thing is just called “cheap.”  I myself was on the losing end of this double standard several years back while working as a factory laborer.  There was this older man who was going to retire and the staff was chipping in to buy him a retirement gift.  I was experiencing extremely hard times.  Also, I had only been working at this job for about a month and didn’t know this retiree all that well.

So when they passed the hat around the suggested donation was $10 but I politely indicated I could only afford $5.  The next day, I was working in the office section of the factory and I hear this machinist telling everyone that I am a cheapskate. This machinist was making almost triple of what I was earning and he only put in $10 himself, so I ask “who was the real cheapskate?”   And guess what? My boss, who was half my age always went around telling people what a genius this machinist was.

Another double standard along the same lines is that one person who is real aggressive at work or school is called “pushy” while another person exhibiting the very same behavior is called “driven.”  Yes, time for another anecdote, but I am happy to report that at least in this story, I was not the victim.  It happened during a practice session of our high school soccer team.  We were scrimmaging, which means we had a game going between two teams of players, all from our varsity squad.  There was this guy who was a starting fullback when we played actual games. The coach loved this guy big time.  Well a forward is dribbling the ball toward this fullback (the coach’s pet player), fakes him out and gets around him.  The fullback turns, grabs the forward’s jersey by the neck area and yanks him down to the ground!

All of us standing on the sidelines yelled out that this was a foul and shouldn’t be allowed.  In the coach’s eyes, his star fullback could never be wrong.  The coach told us to silence our criticism. He labeled the fullback’s cheating as “good aggressive play.”

If some other player, say a second stringer had done the same move, I guarantee this coach would have had him doing 100 pushups or running laps after practice. 

Then, there’s this double standard, maybe you’ve heard it while applying for a job. It is used quite often on inexperienced job seekers who haven’t yet learned the fine art of having quick comebacks ready for difficult questions or statements. The human resources person interviewing you will exclaim “you’re too experienced for the job. If you’ve ever had this happen, you probably shook your head in disbelief and swore your senses were playing tricks on you. It’s standard HR behavior but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. You need a job. He has a job but he tells you you’re overqualified.  After many a disheartening job interview where I heard this line of bull I often would ask myself “how can you ever be too experienced?”  But, you see, your experience will mandate their paying you more and the job search jungle is filled with booby traps such as this.  They’d rather get someone who is maybe not experienced enough but pay him half of what they would have to pay you or me.

Incidentally as most of us know, this same perverse logic is applied over and over again to older workers.  The older worker has years of knowhow and a wealth of on the job experience.  Yet if the company can find some young naïve person who is willing to work for less at the same job, the older worker is shown the door.

As I mentioned, searching for jobs necessitates a jungle warfare attitude.  A relative of mine had graduated from a very expensive school paid for mostly with student loans.  When this relative interviewed for a job that was paying $11 an hour, the manager asked sarcastically “why would a person like you who went to such and such a school costing $45,000 a year” need a job that only pays $11 an hour.  My relative was skilled at interviews and had the comeback right away. “It was all paid for with loans” she said.  I love it when someone can make a human resources person squirm.

And how’s this for human resources savagery?  A neighbor I know had worked more than 12 years for a company.  You would think corporate headhunters would value such employee loyalty. My neighbor explained to me that many corporate interviewers will turn that loyalty against the job seeker and suggest that they are too complacent.  The interviewer will suggest that the job candidate is too passive and as such not their kind of worker.

Does slow and steady always win the race?

The last double standard I would ask you to consider involves college educations. 

Many years ago, recently married, I had been out of work for a good six months. I just couldn’t land a job. I tried every way I could but couldn’t find work.  So my wife asked me to apply for food stamps.   Simple enough procedure I thought.  After several weeks, I finally got a face to face with a social worker.  She goes into a tirade on me exclaiming “you’re a college graduate!  You should have a job!  I can’t offer you any help.”  “Excuse me?” I asked incredulously. She repeated her ridiculous assertions.  I replied that if she had a job to offer I would consider taking it. That kind of shut her up, but in the end I didn’t get any food stamps.

In the end I concluded that there are people who out of fear or envy will try to belittle you for having graduated college.  In the 30 plus years I have been out of college I have seen many instances of people using my college education as ammunition to dis me. It is as if they want to show that they didn’t even have to go to college to be smarter than the guy who did. It has happened to me so many times that I am now familiar with it. Now when I see one of these types of persons leading down the path toward their ambush, I shrug it off and hearken back to the words of Bob Dylan. “Well I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned.”

Copyright 2009; Greg S.  

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Stop the Insanity!

Excuse my logic but why do many states have laws on the books that make it impossible to at least detain and perform a psychiatric evaluation of a potential murderer or rapist who is a clear and present danger until after that person has already killed or raped an innocent victim?

Sadly, the recent case of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting is just another example of a tragedy that may have been prevented if the warning signs Jared Loughner was leaving a trail of had just been heeded.  His was a textbook case of a disillusioned and troubled youth who perhaps could have been stopped from committing his heinous act if laws were in place protecting the public’s safety from individuals with an evident proclivity for bringing harm to others.

Oh I know now you’re thinking “innocent until proven guilty” and the right to a fair and speedy trial.  You’re ready to accuse me of trampling on an individual’s constitutional rights.  However, I am not advocating long term incarceration of people who are simply deemed threatening but who have not actually committed a crime.  It’s not as if I am proposing a lethal injection or electric chair for a person who hasn’t even done anything wrong yet. 

Rather, I am proffering that states and the federal government should do something to amend the legal system so that it’s proactive rather than reactive.  We need to detain and question people who are making threats or displaying other forms of deviant behavior BEFORE they can act out on their negative fantasies. The components that comprise the fourth amendment and probable cause may need to be altered to reflect the dynamics of a changing world.

I can remember as a boy when a relative of mine attempted to stab another relative of mine with a kitchen knife but ended up jamming the dagger into the dining room wall instead.  The police were called and upon their arrival they explained that the only way they would be legally allowed to make an arrest of the aggressor would be if the knife had actually made contact with the other person.  The memory of that episode still resonates indelibly in my mind some 40 years after it happened.

Fast forward to much more recent times.  There was the recent case in July, 2010 of Latiea Boyer, age 29 from Garfield, NJ. who was gunned down by a man who had just been let out of prison a week earlier. Her assailant, Quashaun Harris of Paterson, NJ had been released on $400,000 bail one week prior after being held on charges of three counts of attempted murder.  Ms. Boyer, a Navy veteran and mother of a 12 year old was targeted because she was slated to testify against Harris in his upcoming murder trial.  Still think the system as it is works?   

The obvious question is how in the world a 19 year old Paterson youth can get $400,000 posted on his behalf.  Yet, the more important question is how a fine young woman such as Ms. Boyer was thrown to the wolves by a legal system that allowed her to be killed by a man who was as obvious a threat as anyone could ever be.

Look at the 1999 Columbine massacre that left 15 dead and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that claimed 33 lives.  In both cases the perpetrators of these gruesome crimes were “troubled” youths who had shown clear cut hints at their instability.  This is not to say the problem is confined to young people. Scores of less publicized mass shootings have been committed by murderers of all ages who showed all the signs of a powder keg ready to explode.   

If a person is showing tell tale signs of a destructive or violent personality he needs to be taken off the streets, if for just several days so trained psychiatric professionals can assess his level of danger to the society.

Otherwise we will find ourselves again and again in the future asking the question “What went wrong?”. 

 

Copyright 2009, 2011; Greg S.

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