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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Imagine a magician standing on stage. He plucks you from the audience and asks you to think of a number between 1-10. He then instructs you to multiply that number by 9 and to add the digits together to make a single number. (For instance, if your number is 47, you would add 4+7 to get 11.)  He tells you to subtract that number by 5. This will be your new number. He asks you to convert that number into a letter of the alphabet where A=1, B=2, C=3, etc…and to think of a country that begins with your letter. (If your number is 1, you may think of Albania.) Now he asks you to take the second letter of your country and think of an animal that begins with that letter. (If the country was Albania, you might choose a lion, since the second letter is “L”.) Now imagine the color that typically goes with that animal. (For my example, I would say a yellow lion in Albania.) Got it?

The mentalist stares at you intently, as if reading your mind. You try to project your carefully chosen phase into his head. He places his hands on your temples and receives your “vibes”. An image comes to his mind. He tells you that he now knows what you are thinking but finds it very odd,  “considering…there are no grey elephants in Denmark!” Your mind is completely blown. The audience applauds and you go back to your seat wondering how he was able to read your every thought. With so many choices, how could he have possibly known what you were thinking?

Obviously, there is no magic involved. It’s just a silly math trick. Adding the digits of any multiple of 9 between 1-10 will always equal 9. Any number you choose would have resulted the same way. 09, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90…they all equal nine when the two digits are added together. The rest is just a roundabout way to get you to think of the letter D by creating an equation that results in the number 4. The more choices you “make” the more you are led to believe you have free will in the matter. The truth is, as long as you did the math correctly, you will always end up with the letter D. Denmark is the obvious country. Elephant is the predictable animal to choose. The rest is just showmanship on the part of the mentalist, how well he sells his “mind reading”.

Tricks like this work because most people don’t stop and question the process. If greater inspection were given, one would see that the game is rigged from the very beginning. The outcome is always predetermined. It’s a lot like the election of 1912. (more…)

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Obama at State of the Union 2010

Watching speeches make me nervous, so I don’t watch them.  Never have.  Not campaign speeches, not award acceptance speeches, not State of the Union speeches by President Obama.  I prefer to read speeches the next day when the drama and excitement has worn off and the content of the words is all that matters.  So that is what I did with last nights speech.  And it made me realize another reason I don’t like watching speeches… inaccuracies, or more precisely misstatements.  Here’s one from last night:

And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.

I am curious what tax breaks we give to companies that ship jobs overseas?  Or is Obama simply referring to the savings that these companies have because they do work overseas, and wants to convert those savings into tax breaks for keeping workers here?  Either way it is a wrong statement, one that implicitly vilifies companies trying to lower their bottom line in a rational and financially sound way, and at the same time makes it seem like higher taxes (the sounding call of the democratic party) were someone else’s idea.

Or what about this nugget:

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan.  It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.  And according to the Congressional Budget Office -– the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress –- our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Now is he referring to the initial report the CBO put out on November 30th saying::

According to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office this morning, the average price of insurance premiums bought on the individual market—that is, premiums not purchased through employers—would go up by 10 to 13 percent in 2016 if Congress passed health care reform legislation now in the Senate.

Or is he referring to the plans that have been changed and squeezed and redefined as the public and opposition in congress have forced initial bills to be thwarted?  But it sounds better to say that the plan you are pushing for is the one that is near the end of it’s life because no one wants it and so finally bears some resemblance to lowering costs, rather than the one you really wanted with the public option that would have begun the last step in creating a single payer socialized system.

I could go on, but to be honest the speech was really long and I don’t have the time or interest to find every disagreement.  And I also want to remain true to my desire to not immediately bomb everything Obama does, because I hated how democrats did that to Bush.  But this was my first reaction to what I read.  But maybe this State of the Union and its hopeful refrain will be borne out, but I’m afraid there may be much too much rhetoric and not enough true substance.

MARK ADDS:

Cato is on it.

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On behalf of the CAI writers let me wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful new year to come.  I hope you have a great season and hopefully get to relax from work for a bit.

And a Merry Christmas to you as well, courtesy of Mao Zedong on the white house Christmas tree.

Huh?

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Expressing my objective journalistic intentions with this favourable press shot of Mrs Sarah Palin

Former Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin has been the primary topic of discussion (courtesy of Mark) in three different posts on Criticism As Inspiration thus far:

I have remained rather silent (for the most part) regarding my specific views of Sarah Palin.  One might assume that because I typically espouse views that lean toward the left to varying degrees that I despise Palin on the grounds that she is a conservative.  That is simply not so.  Frankly, there are plenty of conservatives that I am far less irritated by.  It is not my goal to lay out with great detail why I have this distaste for Palin, but I will mention several specific things, beginning with the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ and inspired this post.

Just this week President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.  Sarah Palin was interviewed by USA Today regarding his acceptance speech.  Several news outlets (including USA Today) have expressed shock at Palin’s comment, “I liked what he said.”  Unfortunately this comment was quickly overshadowed and devoid of all value with the follow-up comment:

I thumbed through my book quickly this morning to say ‘Wow!  That really sounded familiar.’  Because I talked in my book too about the fallen nature of man and why war is necessary at times.

Of course.  I must make sure that this is known: my grievance has nothing to do with my negative view of war.  I could criticise that (and I do, not only against Palin, but also President Obama), but I must acknowledge the very broad acceptance of ‘Just War Theory’ (which was espoused both in Obama’s acceptance speech and Palin’s comments).  The issue that I take with Sarah Palin’s comments revolve around her self-referential statements, which have become extremely familiar.  Ever since she emerged onto the national political scene and into public’s eye it seems as if she has been shamelessly selling herself – and it’s getting really old.  Palin went on to say that President Obama should behave more like President George W. Bush.

We have to stop those terrorists over there…We’ve learned our lesson from 9/11.  George Bush did a great job of reminding Americans every single day that he was in office what that lesson is.  And, by the way, I’d like to see President Obama follow more closely in the footsteps of George Bush and [Bush’s] passion keeping the homeland safe, his passion for respecting – honoring our troops.

I can hand the benefit of the doubt to Palin and assume that this interview was rather off-handed, but could she please use slightly more sophisticated language when speaking about such serious issues (“those terrorists over there…”).  She speaks so vaguely.  What lesson did American learn from 9/11 and how did President Bush do a “great job of reminding Americans [of that lesson] every single day that he was in office”?  I am not necessarily disagreeing with her statement, but I want to know what she means.  I suspect (as evidenced from her interviews and writing) that she doesn’t mean anything, it’s simply her default: empty rhetoric.  Also, how does President Obama fall short of Bush’s supposed passion for “keeping the homeland safe,” and “for respecting – honoring our troops.”?  Once again, maybe he does fall short (though I doubt one could really make a case for that), but how?  Sarah Palin is not here to answer these questions (though Mrs Palin, if you’re reading, please feel free to enlighten us with responses), so I’ll move onto another recent irritation…

In a radio interview last week Palin was commenting on the recent news that former Arkansas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used poor judgment nearly a decade ago in his granting of clemency to a convict who went on to murder four police officers.  Palin commented,

It was a bad decision obviously, but my heart goes out to Huckabee.  I love him, and I feel bad for him to be in this position.  But I feel even worse for the victim’s families in this situation.  I do feel bad for Huckabee, but it was a horrible decision he made.

Way to stab Huckabee in the back while giving him a hug?  In typical Palin fashion she went on to make sure that the listeners knew that during her gubernatorial service she never once pardoned or granted clemency to prisoners.

I don’t have a whole lot of mercy for the bad guys, I’m on the good guys’ side.

It’s strange for Palin to compare her two-and-a-half year service as governor Alaska to Mike Huckabee’s 10+ year service as governor of a state with more than four times as many people as Alaska.  But strangeness aside, she did it and will continue to make statements like it.  Also, it’s good to know that Sarah Palin is on the “good guys’ side.”  We need more of the Bush-era absolutist ‘good vs. evil’ talk.  I am not denying the existence of absolute goods and evils – they most certainly exist.  What I am saying is that one ought to exercise a little caution and humility when placing other people (and even ourselves) into those two categories.

In the same interview Palin was asked about her political future.  She didn’t rule out the possibility of running as an independent in the 2012 election, stating,

That depends on how things go in the next couple of years…There are enough Republicans who are realizing, ‘Oh whoops, some of us liberal Republicans have screwed up.’  And I’m not including myself in that group, but some liberal Republicans have screwed up.  If the Republican Party gets back to that base, I think our party is going to be stronger and there’s not going to be a need for a third party, but I’ll play that by ear in these coming months, coming years.

Once again, Palin barrages the interviewer with folksy, inarticulate language, vague statements and self-referential moral absolutism (“I’m not including myself in that group, but some liberal Republicans have screwed up…”).  How have “liberal Republicans screwed up,” and what does it mean for the Republican Party to get “back to that base.”?

I’m not suggesting that Sarah Palin thinks that she is perfect, but she is trying really hard to sell herself as such – morally unscathed, fighting tirelessly for the average American! When President Reagan didn’t have an answer he would respond with humility, yet confident in the conservative principles that he embodied.  Like him or not, Reagan was true to his well-established core values.  Palin is a very different story.  The self-referential image she so desperately seeks to sell (her vastly [and terrifyingly] popular memoir is called Going Rogue – how many ‘rogues’ do you know and how many of them are self-professing rogues?) seems pathetic and empty.

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Not even a year into his presidency and Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.  He didn’t even need to make a documentary.  And it will look good between his two Grammys.

There will most certainly be both many praises and many criticisms floating about regarding the bestowal of this honor upon the young American President, but I really must say that my first reaction was overwhelming joy.  Why?  I simply believe that while standing up for what he believes American needs, President Obama still retains a considerable amount of respect from the rest of the world (or at least those who vote for the Nobel Prize).

Once again, I am working from the assumption that two-way communication with the rest of the world is generally a positive thing.  From my view I would say that President Obama is not bowing down to the demands of the “enemies” of America (part of the reason for his winning of the Nobel Prize is the fact that he has really amped up calls for nuclear disarmament and human rights).

Still – while I am filled with joy – I wonder how the President of the United States could have won this award after only being President for roughly eight months (let me also add that the nomination proceedings for the Nobel Prize took place before he had even been in office for one full month).  [But let’s not also forget that one need not be a President to be awarded a Nobel Prize, i.e. he could have received it (in theory) even if he had not won the election.]  And in the back of my head is the thought that perhaps President Obama simply looks so much more attractive to the rest of the world in contrast to the administration that he followed…

Either way, I hope that people won’t get nasty about this award: Obama didn’t ask for it.  This is meant to be a gift from the Norwegian Nobel Committee to someone who has positively contributed to the cause of peace.  I think it would be difficult to defend the belief that President Obama has yet to actually impact the global political climate/landscape.  Even North Korea is changing its tune (for now).

Whether or not the world is unanimous in approval of President Obama’s receipt of this award, we can all agree that a world where peace flourishes is a good goal; may we hope and pray that President Obama would continually make decisions that point the way (in as much as one man can) to that goal.

"Damn."

Another disappointing day.

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A section of Hugo Chávez’ speech to the United Nations General Assembly was posted on BBC News online last night.  I took the courtesy of transcribing this portion of the speech:

John Kennedy said, ‘In the south there is a revolution and the main reason is hunger.’  Only a few days later he was assassinated.  John Kennedy was not a revolutionary, but he was an intelligent man, just as I think President Obama is an intelligent man.  And I hope God will protect Obama from the bullets that killed Kennedy.  I hope Obama will be able to look and see-genuinely see-what has to be seen, and bring about a change.  It doesn’t smell of sulfur anymore.  I doesn’t smell of sulfur, it’s gone.  No, it smells of something else.  It smells of hope.  And you have to have hope in your heart and lend your strength to the hope.

Chávez and his rule of Venezuela can be characterized as many things, but I find it intereting to analyze his view of the United States.  In 2006, the last time he spoke at the UN General Assembly, he called President George W. Bush “the devil.”  Now he declares that the smell of sulfur is gone and has been replaced with hope.  We could debate what seem to be his views regarding a link between the assassination of President Kennedy and Kennedy’s stance on South America, but I find his great optimism regarding the presidency of Barack Obama a great opportunity to heal relations with Venezuela and if America so demands it, to exercise some suggestive influence to change certain ways that some Americans might have an aversion toward him and his policies (specifically characterizing Chávez as a threat to capitalism I mean democracy in South America).

Still, some Americans can percieve any interaction with our “enemies” a great threat to national security, and anything divergent from the stagnant animosity America has experienced between itself and a significant portion of this wicked world during the virtuous presidency of George W. Bush ought to be shuned.  Why can’t America talk with these countries?  Why must America set a tone in foreign policy based on closed conditions and global superiority? ◊

Whichever side of the political/economic spectrum we’re on, we can probably agree with a sizable majority that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is incredibly odd.

◊ But I admit that I am rather ignorant when it comes to the scientific study of foreign policy.  I don’t like to be at odds with fiscal conservatives, I simply find that more often than not, I am.  I don’t take my views from this philosopher or that philosopher, but I tend to try to see things through a particular grid, one essentially based on restored relationships between humankind & God, humankind & itself, and humankind & nature.  I am certain that there are ways in which I am totally wrong, but my desire is not to push socialism, capitalism, nor any other -ism, nor is my desire to pledge allegiance to this political party or that political party.  I simply try to view this world as something that was created wisely, broken tragically, and will be redeemed thoroughly via the agenda of one greater than any president or king in this world.

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Quick post this morning about all the townhall meetings that are taking place about the proposed Health Care Insurance Reform bills in congress.  I haven’t followed any too closely but it’s hard not to get a daily dose of a headline talking about a senator being shouted down, or angry protesters at these meetings.  The biggest headline though coming out of all this, in my opinion, is the continual comparison of these protesters to nazis.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that they were carrying swastikas to the meetings, and now this morning I saw the clip below  on Powerline of White House spokesman Bill Burton claiming that again the protesters were carrying swastikas, and dressing up as Hitler:

This would be a stupid statement on behalf of the protesters if it’s true.  But unfortunately I have yet to see a video or picture of it in person.  I have seen video of people being roughed up by union thugs at a townhall meeting, and video of Obama supporters bused in to help even the numbers at another meeting, but no Hitlers yet.

If you have seen any links or images of this please post them in our comments… because otherwise I would be very disgusted with this dialogue coming from our nations leader (Burton) and the democratic party leadership (Pelosi).  A bit of a straw man don’t you think?

townhallcartoon

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