The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘President Obama’

ON CULTS

When all else fails, my good liberal friends seem to have an unending arsenal of epithets and insults they want to thrust into what should be a serious debate about who has the capability of becoming the next President of the United States and leading us out of the morass we currently are experiencing.  The most recent arrow from the quiver is the word, “cult” in reference to Presidential nominee Romney.

When we use “cult” in common parlance, we generally are employing it in a pejorative way to a member of a particular religious group or the group itself.  This is actually one definition of the term as it is defined in “Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary – 2nd Edition.”  However, this is only the sixth definition of the term to be found.

One of my good friends recently went on about the “Cult of Mormonism.”  So I thought I would take a moment to put this in perspective.  Before embarking on this, I want to say that I do not know the entire theology of the LDS and I am not serving as an apologist for that religious body.  There is no need for me to do so as we do have the First Amendment to the Constitution which more than adequately addresses the issue.  (I’ve always found it interesting that my liberal friends hold the Constitution in great veneration – but only when it seems to speak positively to their objectives).

In Judaeo-Christian history, the ancient Egyptians viewed Moses and his band of Hebrews as a cult and did all they could to erase them from the face of the Earth.  Then, along came Jesus and the Jews and Romans viewed him and his followers as members of a cult and attempted the same solution.  Obviously, both of those efforts failed.

Christianity had no better luck attempting the same outcome when Mohammed came along.  The Crusades ultimately were an utter failure.  And then mainstream Christianity, having not learned any historical lessons, made the same attempt to eliminate the Mormons.  They were driven west and ultimately south which is the reason that Governor Romney’s father, George was born in Mexico.  They were attempting to survive religious persecution – their First Amendment rights and protections notwithstanding.

It should be apparent that given enough time, today’s “cult” can evolve into a respected mainstream religion.

Returning to Webster’s definition of “cult” let’s turn our attention to the second definition which is given:

“An instance of great veneration, of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers.”

I would argue that definition very accurately describes the attitude that the President enjoys among his supporters.  Yes, I realize that there are those holding overpaid government positions or who are charter members of the welfare wagon who feel threatened that a responsible economic policy might threaten their way of life.  I appreciate their concern.

To me they are making a rational selection in their choice for President – although it is a short term one as we simply cannot continue on this path for much longer before the whole system will collapse, making the banking crisis look like a Sunday school picnic.

It is not to them I speak as they haven’t ears or the desire to listen.  It is to those who are willing to look honestly at the history of the four years of the Obama White House and who ask themselves, did the President deliver on his election promises; did he cut the deficit in half as he promised; did he bring about the full employment he told us he would put in effect; did he improve the lot of minorities throughout this country as he said he would; did he do anything that he promised which was why we voted for him in the first place – hoping not just for a change but a change for the better?

If you can honestly answer yes to those questions then I can certainly understand why you would continue to support him in office.  I would also like the name of your local drug pusher so that I can get a supply of whatever you’re on.  I would like to live in a euphoric Never-Never Land too.

If not, I wonder if this qualifies you as a member of a cult.  The final meeting may be convened on November 6, 2012.

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(NOT YET) FAMOUS QUOTES – XVI

“When a legislator votes to enact a law or a President signs one from which they are exempt, they have broken the most fundamental principle of American justice which is ‘the rule of law’ and have subverted the Constitution into an instrument proclaiming ‘the rule of the lawless’.”

– Juwannadoright

THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER

If you are even one tenth as much an aficionado of great pizza as I you have no doubt your favorite version of this sublime delicacy.  Of course, growing up in New York, I still prefer the version that is produced there.  Even a bad New York pizza is better than a great pizza from anywhere else.

Living for many years in Chicago I became acclimated to the deep dish thick crust pizza that is the signature trademark of Uno’s and Due’s – started by an Irishman, Ike Sewell.  In fact I make a very good version of it.  It’s filling and satisfying and brings back memories of sitting in Ike’s restaurants with good friends and a pitcher of beer.

In Las Vegas there are a number of pizzerias all of which throw New York somewhere in their name to entice the unwary into thinking that they’re about to get the real McCoy.  Some of them do a reasonable impersonation of the genuine article.  They carry that off almost as successfully as I would doing an impersonation of Mae West.

A new pizzeria, Dom DeMarco’s came to town last fall.  It is only about a five mile drive from the house and people talked it up as the authentic thing – coming as they do from Brooklyn.  I stopped by one day and picked up a menu.  I thought it was pricey but ordered one the next night.  I got there ten minutes early as my salivary glands were in overdrive and found that my pizza beat me to the pick up station by some time.  There was no heat lamp so I had to reheat it when I got home and there were so few toppings I wondered if I had been given someone else’s order for a plain cheese.  All this for $28.00 for a 16” pizza.

I happened to mention this the next morning at the dog park and one of the other morning regulars said he had the same experience – no toppings and overpriced.  He also mentioned that when President Obama had been in town on a fundraiser he had ordered seven or eight pizzas for his entourage from Dom DeMarco’s.  Had I known that I would have realized that I was going to get gypped and not patronized the place.  I won’t make that mistake again.

I did find a pizzeria in North Las Vegas at Uncle Angelo’s Pizza Joint in Jerry’s Nugget Casino which is as close to the real New York experience as I have come.  When I ordered one I swooned.  Great crust, plentiful fresh toppings, excellent sauce, the right amount of cheese and baked to perfection.  A 17” pizza for $17 and that included a free pitcher of beer.   I was by myself so I passed on the beer and took home six wonderful slices to enjoy over the next three evenings.

So what is it about New York pizza that makes it different?  Everyone tells me that the secret ingredient is the water.  New York reportedly has some of the finest water flowing from the tap of any city in the country.  I can believe it – and I think the water has properties that go far beyond allowing for the creation of fantastic pizza.

I say this because I read a story the other day that former Rep. Anthony Wiener (D), NY is considering a return to politics, perhaps running for Mayor of New York City.  The former Congressional Representative resigned last year because of the flap over his posting semi-clad photos of himself on the internet.  He is apparently sitting on $4.5 million in campaign contributions which could be used to facilitate that bid.

Apparently the former congressman’s incipient career as a model for men’s undergarments didn’t work out.

I have a theory that New York City water increases libido and diminishes any sense of propriety.  It is possible that this may only affect politicians.  I have a call in to former Governor Eliot Spitzer to see if I can get some confirmation of this.  I will keep you posted as developments warrant.

Until then, I would suggest that politicians who either live in or are visiting the Big Apple take caution and make sure that they only consume water that has been bottled elsewhere.

There’s something in the water.

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YOUR COMMENTS ARE IMPORTANT

First, let me thank each and every person who has stopped by, read one or more of my posts and especially those who have subscribed to this blog.  Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to know if there is anyone actually reading this material.  But the most convincing evidence of that is the fact that many of you have taken the time to critique a particular post by leaving a comment.

Your comments are important to me.  They not only keep me on my toes, but they have provided me some ideas which I have incorporated in later posts.  A recent comment left by a reader is, in fact, the reason for writing this post.

This is our exchange from the post https://juwannadoright.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/an-open-letter-to-president-obama-on-fathers-day/

nearlynormalized said:

June 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

You must understand–BPT (as told to me my my African American friends—”Black People Time.” What’s the rush?

I responded:

I heard it as CPT (Colored People’s Time) and either term is demeaning.  It implies that some people, for whatever reason, should be held to a lesser standard because otherwise, they’re not good enough to compete.  If that isn’t racism and paternalism I don’t know what is.

This exchange grew out of a comment that I had made in the post regarding the fact that if there is one thing which has been consistent about the Obama presidency it is that he is consistently late.

In earlier posts I discussed tardiness several times.  I know that in grammar school I was expected to be on time.  It was so important that children who came to school late received “tardy slips”.  Apparently our educators believe that you can’t learn anything if you aren’t present to absorb the information.

Then there was my father.  He taught me that being on time was respectful of the person with whom you were meeting.  I carried this lesson with me through life.  It caused me to change dentists when the new one I had selected kept me waiting for one hour for each of my three appointments with her.  My thinking was that if she weren’t competent at scheduling her patients, how good was the quality of service she provided me?

Let’s consider this from another standpoint – that of the farmer who gets his seed planted late – and then harvests it late as well.  What kind of crop is he going to have available to sell?  A poor one.  Timeliness matters to the farmer and to those of us who expect these hard-working people to do their job in a timely and efficient matter so that when we go to the produce section of our supermarkets there is actually something there for us to buy.

I believe that timeliness is “mental body language.”  We unconsciously manifest our attitude toward those with whom we have dealings by how we respect or how we disrespect the value of their time.  It is an outward manifestation of our inner view of life.

Let’s consider this in terms of President Obama’s administration.  After three and one half years we have ample evidence to support this suggestion.

When the President took office he was faced with filling important government posts.  Most previous Presidents accomplished that within two months of being sworn in.  It took Obama six months.

The President was faced with a crisis – it was called unemployment.  The person who was capable of prioritizing should have understood that it was the most important issue on the table (and still is).

The first two years of President Obama’s administration were spent wrangling over producing a healthcare bill which the vast majority of Americans oppose and producing Dodd/Frank, a bill whose implications are so unclear that businesses are afraid to hire.   The result is that we still have an official unemployment rate of 8.2% and the rate among African-Americans, the constituency who voted for the President nearly unanimously, has one twice as high.

Whether you accept my logic on punctuality may depend on whether you agree with Shakespeare’s statement, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”  But I can tell you that when I cast my vote this November, I am going to give it to a person whom I believe has respect for me and for all people in this country.

And I am going to cast that vote early.

DOG PARK POLITICS

Gracie and I (and now our three golden retriever guests) make a daily early morning expedition to the dog park.  As the park will officially be open at six o’clock next month, we should be arriving pretty close to opening time as the heat builds very rapidly as the sun rises.  Of course, we also do an early evening and usually a late evening tour.  It is interesting that there is a committed coterie of dog people who convene most days – a morning and an evening contingent.  Gracie and I are the only ones who transcend both groups.

Of course, people talk about all sorts of things as our dogs roam around and play with each other – sports, local events, politics.  And perhaps it is mere coincidence but to a person the morning group is  anti-Obama.  They would vote for the anti-Christ before they would vote to return the President for a second term.  Almost all of them are retirees who, during their working careers, held mostly blue collar jobs.

By contrast, the early evening group consists of people who are entirely supportive of the President.  They would vote for him if it were proven that he is the anti-Christ.  They also are mostly retirees but held white collar jobs – including positions in teaching in our public school systems.  Both groups are staunchly committed to their viewpoints.

I decided to print up a number of one of the bumper stickers I created and bring them with me to the dog park to give away to those who want them.  I wonder which group will have more interest.

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THE GREAT SHAM-WOW!

Now that both Western and Eastern Orthodox Easter have been celebrated, it is time to come back from my sabbatical and turn my attention from the sacred to the profane.  Fortunately, this two week hiatus has provided ample material to consider – the most obvious being yesterday’s Senate vote on “the Buffett Rule”.

Of course, this tidbit of proposed legislation had no chance of passage but provides the President, always the consummate campaigner, an opportunity to point to how the GOP is the party that protects the rich – while he as a Dem is on the side of the little guy.  President Obama made this point in a speech in Florida in which he descried the fact that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary and that raising the tax rate on the rich will put our budget in balance and we will finally all again start living the “American Dream.”

Sadly, the facts suggest something quite different  – so either the President is simply very poor at math or is just misinformed.  In either case, it makes the thoughtful person wonder why they would vote for him this November – at least if that person has an IQ that is higher than your average kumquat.  So, for your review and consideration here are the facts about this proposal – and a brief review of how tax equity really works.  Since this is “Tax Return Filing” day I thought this would be an appropriate subject.

First, “the rule” is intended to get the super wealthy (those individuals earning one million or more a year) to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.  This should have broad appeal since most of us who are reading this (or for that matter writing it) don’t fall into that category.  Most of us probably don’t even know anyone who fits into that income level – except perhaps for our tightwad Uncle Percival who has terrible halitosis and won’t even leave an honorable mention of us in his will.  So what could be better than to have these wealthy people balance our budget – rather than taking the money out of our own pockets?

Well, according to all reliable sources, including the independent CBO, implementing this rule will actually raise approximately $47 Billion – over a period of ten years.  According to President Obama, during that same time period, the national debt will increase by $600 Billion.  Assuming that the President’s rosy projection is correct, that leaves a shortfall in revenue of a little over $550 Billion.  (I say rosy because during President Obama’s short three year reign, the deficit has increased by nearly $5 Trillion).

So while implementing “the Buffett rule” might be a step in the right direction, it obviously will not resolve our budget and deficit problems.  The only way that can happen is through a reduction in spending (something the Dems bitterly oppose) or increase taxes on a broader base (something the GOP abhors).  Throughout the history of the world, governments have always taken the path of least resistance – and rather than make hard choices like curbing perks for lawmakers and their supporters – have always chosen to heap additional and inventive new forms of taxation on the rest of us.  Let’s take a quick peek back into tax history in the United States.

This is not the first time that the question of tax inequity has surfaced.  In 1969 the Congress was outraged that certain high net worth individuals were paying little or no taxes.  They had primarily invested their assets in tax free municipal bonds issued by the states and various municipalities – the interest on those investments being exempt from Federal Income Tax.

The hue and cry of “tax equity and fairness” was heard in he halls of the Capitol Building and the Congress passed a change in the tax code so that these people had to pay something into the coffers of the Treasury to benefit the common good.  This change in the tax code was known as the AMT (the Alternative Minimum Tax) – and you may be startled to learn that the number of taxpayers who were actually affected by this was a mere one hundred fifteen people in the entire country.  Compare that to the number covered by “the Buffett rule” – estimated to affect over a million taxpayers initially.

Now here’s the tax history lesson.  The AMT which initially was applied to a mere handful of people now affects over thirty-two million taxpayers.  You see, once government gets a hold on a bad idea, there is no limit to how far they can and will extend it.

The GOP has “trickle-down economics”.  This is a theory which may or may not work.  But the history of taxation in this country is clear.  The Dems have “trickle-down taxation” which, using the AMT as an example, clearly does work.  So before you get on the “soak the rich” bandwagon, consider that you may well be the next in line for tax increases.

Until we get true leadership and honesty both in the White House and in the Congress we will continue to stumble along – putting a bandage here and tying a tourniquet there to try to staunch a gaping wound and a gushing flow of budgetary blood.  But until that happens, perhaps both Mr. Buffett and President Obama can show us real integrity by voluntarily sending the IRS a check for the difference in the amount of their effective tax rates and those of their secretaries.  If they were to do that I would take off my hat and say, “Wow!”

Otherwise, it’s hard for me to look at their statements as little more than a sham.

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