Posts Tagged ‘japa

19
Mar
14

On Leadership and Manliness

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by Japa (@deaconmill)

Okay, we have heard over and over and over again about how manly Putin is with all his bear wrestling and topless horseback riding (although his manboobs tend to detract from that image). And we have heard over and over again what a wuss and coward President Obama is.

And we have heard over and over again how Putin is such a great leader because he just does what he wants and gets others to do what he wants them to. And WE have heard over and over again how President Obama doesn’t know how to lead and instead gets led around by the nose by Putin and others.

Forget, for a moment that most of the people saying those things are also the same people who call President Obama a dictator and totalitarian despot, thus actually saying he is just like Putin and therefore contradict themselves time and again.

Instead, let’s focus for a little on just what it means to be a man (I know this is not politically correct and is somewhat gender specific, but I am trying to speak directly to the criticisms). At the same time, let’s also focus on what it means to be a leader.  And guess what?  The two end up being very similar in terms of what qualities either one requires.  And, for fairness sake, let’s drop the word “man” and insert the word “adult”.

Rudyard Kipling, for all that he represented colonialism and a sense of the Great White Uplifting of Inferior Peoples, did have some awareness of the difference between being an adult and being a juvenile. And the words he used to define the difference also tend to apply, to a great degree, to the concept of leadership. By that, I mean that one cannot truly be an effective leader without those qualities.  Yes there are other qualities that comprise being a leader and I will get to those later.

Righty now, I want to dissect one of his most famous poems “If” and see just what it says about President Obama and, perhaps, Putin and see who comes out on top. I will be doing this on a stanza by stanza basis, so bear with me.

Continue reading ‘On Leadership and Manliness’

06
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

Love this front page from Belgium today

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Today (all times Eastern):

1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press

5:0: The First family attends the National Christmas Tree lighting; President Obama delivers remarks

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So much for my intention never to watch anything from MSNBC again … but I never knew the story behind this photo – here it is:

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NYT (June 2013): In Mandela, Obama Found a Beacon Who Inspired From Afar

Barack Obama had been a United States senator for just weeks in early 2005 when Oprah Winfrey offered to carry a message for him to Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African leader.

Mr. Obama disappeared into a back room in Ms. Winfrey’s television studio to write the note, but he was gone so long that his spokesman, Robert Gibbs, popped his head in after half an hour.

“You’ve got to give me some time here,” Mr. Obama, pen in hand, told Mr. Gibbs, who recalled the moment recently. “I can’t just wing a note to Nelson Mandela.”

…. The two have met in person only once, in a spontaneous encounter in Washington in 2005, when Mr. Mandela was in town and was urged by advisers to take a few minutes to meet a rising Democratic senator named Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama was in a car, on the way to a meeting, but diverted to the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown, where Mr. Mandela was staying. The conversation produced a lasting image of Mr. Obama, in silhouette, standing next to a reclining Mr. Mandela.

More here – thank you Meta

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@GoogleEarthPics: The Eiffel Tower has been lit up in the colours of the South African flag to grieve over Nelson Mandela’s death

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USA Today: Obama expected to attend Mandela’s funeral

Expect President Obama to confirm soon he will attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Officials have held off on a formal announcement as travel plans are worked out; Mandela’s funeral will be part of a mourning period in South Africa that will last about ten days.

In the meantime, Obama has directed that American flags be lowered to half-staff through Monday in honor of the freedom fighter who died Thursday at age 95.

More here

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A Word from Japa:

I have deliberately stayed away from commenting on Mandela, not because I have no appreciation for who he was and what he did, but rather both who he was and what he did are beyond my ability to pay tribute to.

I first heard about him about the same time I was reading Patton’s Cry, The Beloved Country. Looking back, it was like it was fated the two would happen together. Here I was reading, and being deeply influenced by, a book that exposed the worse of the apartheid system while along came a person who was willing to sacrifice everything to bring it to an end.

I remember being aghast at the hatred I heard expressed whenever his name was mentioned and the open support for the system of apartheid. Remember, this was during the Civil Rights era here and I was old enough to recognize that part of the support for apartheid was a defense of this country’s segregation policies. I think many were so against Mandela because they knew that if South Africa was able to end its racist approach to existence then the US would be at the forefront of nations that deliberately and maliciously oppressed a major segment of its population.

LL made a comment last night about how in SA they were celebrating his life, not mourning his loss. And that is the way it should be. The man gave so much of himself not for his own glory, which I think matter not one whit to him, but for the welfare of his people. And by “his people” I mean the people of SA, no matter what their color or religion was. He knew that oppression impacts both the oppressed and the oppressors in negative ways. He was never into revenge for prior wrongs but rather about having all move forward. Considering all that was done to him, that may well be his greatest legacy.

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I’m breaking my MSNBC boycott again :???: – but only for the President!

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Steve Benen: Job growth picks up steam, unemployment drops

Expectations going into this morning’s new monthly jobs report were fairly strong, and as it turns out, the totals from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were even better than expected.

According to the new BLS report, the U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs in November, ahead of economists’ predictions. In a pleasant change of pace, the public sector did not drag down the overall figures – the private sector added 196,000 jobs, while the public sector, which has hemorrhaged jobs in recent years, added 7,000.

The overall unemployment rate dropped 7%. That’s a five-year low, though it’s a little misleading – it reflects furloughed federal workers who returned to their jobs after the government shutdown ended.

More here

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Bloomberg: Payroll Gains in U.S. on Track for Best Year Since 2005

Job growth in November was probably strong enough to keep payroll gains on track for the best year since 2005, economists said before a report today.

Employers added 185,000 workers last month after taking on 204,000 in October, based on the median forecast of 89 economists in a Bloomberg survey before today’s report from the Labor Department. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent, matching an almost five-year low, from 7.3 percent as federal employees returned to work, according to the survey median.

The pickup in employment over the last three months signals companies are confident that demand will improve and gives American workers the means to spend.

More here

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Washington Post: Refusing Medicaid expansion will cost states billions of dollars

When the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the federal government could not compel states to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, it gave Republican opponents of the measure the opportunity to decline to participate in one of the law’s central tenets. But a new study estimates the decision not to participate will cost those states billions of dollars over the next decade — costs that will be passed on to taxpayers.

…. By refusing to expand Medicaid, Texas will forgo $9.2 billion in federal funding in 2022. Florida, another state that has said it won’t expand Medicaid, stands to lose more than $5 billion.

Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia will all forgo more than $2 billion in federal funding, while Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin will miss out on more than $1 billion. Both Tennessee and Indiana, two states that have yet to formally decide whether to expand the program, face losing more than $2 billion in federal funding if they decide against expansion.

More here

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On This Day:

As overflow guests look on in the Grand Foyer, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait to be introduced before the Kennedy Center Honors event that was held in the East Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)


Pete Souza: “Having seen more than 25 Bruce Springsteen concerts since 1978 and having seen just about every movie Robert DeNiro has ever made, it was a great thrill to be in their presence as the President greeted them before the Kennedy Center Honors at the White House.” Dec. 6, 2009

President Obama and Vice President Biden talk before the start of the Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama applaud Bruce Springsteen during the Kennedy Center Honors, Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose for a formal portrait in front of the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama tours the biotech facilities at Forsyth Technical Community College West Campus in Winston-Salem, N.C., Dec. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Pete Souza: “En route to his speech at Osawatomie High School in Kansas, I noticed a lot of people lining the motorcade route. So on departure, I rode in his vehicle so I could photograph some of the onlookers waving to the President.” Dec. 6, 2011

President Obama arrives aboard Marine One at Osawatomie-Paola Municipal Airport in Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama prays with, from left: Richard Santana, Velma Massenburg, Jimmie Massenburg, and Tiffany Santana, during a visit to the Santana’s home in Falls Church, Va., Dec. 6, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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Morning everyone.

24
May
13

A Transformative President

by Japa (@deaconmill)

In 2008, during the primary campaign, in an interview, then Senator Obama talked about how Reagan had been a transformative President and how he hoped to be the same.  He was immediately attacked by many, included his main opponent as being supportive of Reagan’s policies.  That attack, like many others before and since (clinging to guns and religion, they didn’t build that, etc.) was, of course, based upon a deliberate misreading and misinterpretation of what he said and meant.

If it isn’t obvious to everyone now, and it should be, President Obama represents the antithesis of everything President Reagan stood for.  He has repeatedly called out the GOP for continuing the failed policies of Reagonomics.  His approach to immigration reform is radically different than Reagan’s blanket amnesty with no follow-up policy.  He does not see foreign policy as a case of who can puff up their chest the biggest, like Reagan and his successors did.  He supports unions.  He supports all human rights.  He abhors the policies of racism.  He truly recognizes the difficulties and nuances of decision making.

Yet, as much as Reagan Presidency was transformative in a negative way, President Obama’s is becoming transformative in a uniquely positive way.  In fact, it may end up being the most positively transformative Presidency in the history of our country.  And this is not due to specific legislation passed with his urging, although much of that legislation will impact this country and how it views the government’s role in helping its citizens for decades to come.   Nor is it due to the fact that he is, probably, one of the top three President’s in terms of rhetorical skills.  Nor is it because he is the first black President.  All of those are important to his legacy, but they are not transformative in terms of how the country is run or how the President interacts with the other branches of government.

Click here to see the rest of the post

20
Apr
13

A Word from Japa: The Blame Game

The Blame Game

by Japa

There have been some conflicts here about how to look at motives and the reasons behind the bombing in Boston. And I cringe when I read them, because so often the people going back and forth are missing what the other person is saying. And I think part of the problem is that we are sometimes afraid of being like the Right with their bigoted rushes to judgment.

When the bombings first occurred, there were a lot of people on our side of the political divide who were hoping the bombers weren’t Muslim. There were a lot on the other side that was hoping they weren’t white. Turns out they were both.

The reality is that their color may well have had nothing to do with their actions. Likewise, if they were of a darker hue, that skin color would have nothing to do with their actions. Actions like these are, for the most part, driven by one of three things: political ideology, religion or mental disorder. And it is not uncommon for it to be a combination of two or all three of these things.

So what does that mean as we go through the process with these two individuals or, in fact, examine any instances of terrorism be they bombings, shootings or whatever? And yes, I include Newtown and Aurora, and the bombing of abortion clinics or the assassination of a doctor that does abortions all to be acts of terrorism. And just as importantly, what doesn’t it mean?

Click to read the rest of the post

23
Jun
12

Reflections

by Japa

As many of you know, especially since I basically begged for Chips to give a FLOTUS birthday present, I turned 65 this past week. Although birthdays as a whole don’t mean much to me, this particular one does. After all, from now on I know that I will be able to afford excellent medical care, even if I am still under private insurance.

But this particular birthday also presents me with an opportunity for reflection, but not just about where I have been, where I am and where I may be going. With all the important things this country is facing, it also gives me an opportunity to reflect on where this country has been, particularly in my life time, where it is and where it may go in the future. And this last is particularly important this year because a Republican victory may result in an America that won’t be able to be turned around for many years. Just like in terms of climate change there is talk of a tipping point, beyond which we may never recover, the same is true for this country politically this year. This is indeed a tipping point election.

Before I go into the results of my reflecting, I want to bring out two statements that I have seen and heard. Both of these have a bearing on my further discussion so bear with me.

Last year John Boehner said, “All I want to see if the United States I grew up in.”

Just in the past couple weeks, P. M. Carpenter has been making the point that in this current climate, progressives are really conservatives and what passes for conservatism is really radicalism, and that it might be important to start calling ourselves conservatives because we really do want to conserve things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, women’s rights, freedom of and from religion, etc.

I want to look at Boehner’s statement first. I would like also to return this country (to some degree) to the country I grew up in. I was born in the 40’s, truly came to awareness in the 50’s, grew to adulthood in the 60’s, married and started a family in the 70’s. Which brings to the 80’s, Reagan, and the start of the decline of the middle class, the initial feelers put out concerning Social Security, and even a rather obvious attack on the civil rights gains of the 60’ and 70’s. I suddenly found myself in a country that was turning away from what I always was taught were some of its main principles.

I am not going to bore you with all of the beliefs that I really believed were basic underpinnings of this country I loved then and still love today. I am really only to focus on two. The first was something that I was taught was the critical difference between us and those godless communists. Simply stated, Americans did not believe in the principle that “The end justifies the means.” We believed there were right and wrong ways to go about trying to achieve goals. MLK was a perfect personification of this. The main thrust of the Civil Rights movement was peaceful resistance. Sure, I suppose breaking into armories and having a violent revolution was an option, but not really.

The second principle was a statement, basically, about our justice system. I was taught our system was predicated on the principle that it was better to let 10 guilty men go free than to have one innocent man punished. We realized a jury system was, by its very nature, open to mistakes, but the mistakes were to be made, if anything, on the side of leniency.

As I look at things now, I see that both of those principles have either been ignored or simply thrown out by many Americans, and not just Republicans (although very few of those believe in them any more). We see in the Romney campaign and in the Citizens United decision and in the decision to use torture, to name a few, the basic believe that to achieve a goal I can and will use any means available to me, no matter how wrong, how immoral, how it makes other people less than human. And in Congress we see how the one goal, to make President Obama a one term President, anything goes. If the economy goes down the toilet and takes millions of people with it, if thousands of people die because they don’t have access to affordable health care, too bad. There is no moral compass anymore, especially on the right. There is no regard for real human beings. The citizens of this country have become chattel to the self-defined lords of the manors.

The second principle, that of letting 10 guilty men go free to avoid punishing one innocent one has a slightly different counterpart today. The motto of the current Republican/conservative/Tea Party is “Better to keep a thousand legitimate voters from being able to cast a ballot than to let one maybe, possibly, if we imagine hard enough, illegitimate voter cast a ballot.” This is, of course, part of the reduction of the first principle as well, but it goes further than that. It is a total denial of one of the basic ideals of this country when it was founded. And yes I know all the classes of people that weren’t allowed to vote originally, but it still is an affront to the founding fathers who wanted a representative democracy based upon an educated public.

This is already getting longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to touch on Carpenter’s point about liberals and progressives being the true conservatives today. And we are. Unfortunately the purists don’t see that. We are in a battle to save what has gone before and avoid turning back the clock like the Republicans would like us to do. Believe me, the Republicans would like nothing more than to have the President and the Democrats push for single payor right now, because they can then point to us and call us the true radicals. And then they win the power to wipe out decades of accomplishments.

First we must make safe that which has been gained from the assault it is under. The Republicans know if they can’t do it now, they never will be able to. This is their last chance. If we get distracted by what we would like to do going forward, we can easily lose the really important battles right now. However, if we can turn back the Republican assault on what most Americans really consider holy, then we can move forward.

Back to Boehner. Like him I too want to see more of the country I grew up in. Not all of it. Not the periods of times before the Civil Rights movement or even the struggles since then. But I do want to see a country again where those two principles had meaning. Oh, I know they were never totally pure, but they were there and people did believe in them. So Mr. Boehner, if you want to see the country you grew up in stop trampling those principles into the dirt.

21
Jun
12

Hey, Japa!

Hope you’re having a perfect day ;-)

16
May
12

A word from Japa: Sound and Fury

by Japa

Full of Sound and Fury. Signifying Nothing.

No, this post is not about Chip’s reaction to recent events on the football pitches of Europe (Chips “Oi”)

Instead, this post is about polls and the media that promotes them. There has been a lot of anguish on this site of late about this poll or that poll. Furious checking of cross-tabs, analyzing of the composition of the respondents. Incredulity that President Obama can have 50% favorability rating but be behind Romney who has a 37% favorability rating.

Folks, let’s get a grip on ourselves and relax. Both the polls and the media represent what the Bard was referring to in Macbeth. They represent “a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

Let’s talk about polls for a moment. It is not that they don’t have some meaning. They do. And right now they tell us more about the people doing the polling than they do about the public at large. It is largely because polling has turned into a real science over the past few decades that we can, to some degree, ignore them at this point in the campaign. Because polling is very precise, pollsters can get just about any response they want based upon how they set up the poll, based upon the respondents they choose and based upon how questions are phrased.

Polls are accurate representations of the people that are polled, nothing more, nothing less. Change who you poll, you change the results, and this can be done very precisely and accurately by the pollsters. And keep in mind that most of the most publicized polls are being paid for by the media outlets, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox.

Why is that important? Simply because the media has a vested interest in making sure that the upcoming election is viewed as a close race. It drives revenues and it drives viewership/readership. If you still believe that the media is composed of honest, high integrity, journalists, I am sorry to tell you that you are mistaken. Perhaps that is the way it should be, but that isn’t the way it is. That is the reality we have to deal with.

But, you may ask, why do I say that all this is a bunch of noise that doesn’t mean anything? Don’t polls become self-fulfilling prophecies? Shouldn’t we be worried by these polls?

Well, first of all, today is May 16, not November 5. People don’t really become involved in the politics of all this until after the conventions. And, believe it or not, Romney is still an unknown quantity to the vast portion of the population. Keep in mind, probably the lowest Romney can go come election time is 45%. The more important question is what his ceiling is, and polls today don’t tell us anything about that.

Secondly, studies have shown that polls can affect and influence people. In fact, they may influence maybe ½ of 1% of people. And that is a pretty minute number. But what polls can do is inspire people or depress people. And that is what we need to focus on.

Let ask you a question. If you see, going into late October that President Obama is down 1-2% in the polls (and remember those polls are more important) are you going to be more determined or less determined to get out there and get people to the polls? The answer, I hope, is obvious. We already know that the Democrats this year have the higher enthusiasm level. Being down a couple points is likely to increase that enthusiasm. At the same time, being up a couple points is not likely to dampen the enthusiasm.

For Republicans, the exact opposite is the case. If they see Romney losing by a couple points, they are more likely to write him off and not be as enthused to get out there, specially since he has virtually no ground game. And if he is up by a couple points, they are more likely to few it as a done deal and not push themselves to get to the polls. Of course, this can change depending on local races and if there are special issues on the ballot.

Should we be worried? No, not now. Concerned, perhaps. But let us use these polls to our advantage. Like I said, what polls can tell you is how specific groups of people feel about the race. Find out those groups that are not as strong for the President. Target them, convince them and then get them to the voting booth come November. Some of course are beyond redemption. But not all.

Let us not waste energy or put money into dentists’ wallets by doing too much gnashing of teeth. As I have mentioned before, fear can debilitate if we let it. Let’s step back and use the information these polls give us, not panic or scream in anguish if a poll doesn’t show the results we want to see. Let us work to prove these polls really do, right now, signify nothing and that the media is telling a tale full of sound and fury but little substance.

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Links to Japa’s other posts here

18
Apr
12

a word from japa: think of the children

by Japa

We have all been subjected to seeing Republican leaders, from Boehner to Cantor to McConnell to Romney talk about how we need to get the deficit under control. And their rationale is always the same. “Think of what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren. Think of the burden of debt that will be placed on their shoulders. How can we do this to them, our poor babies?”

And guess what? It works. It resonates with people. It hits people in a spot in their hearts, although obviously not their brains, where they respond in a positive manner to that statement. And that is why President Obama does talk about the deficit. He has to folks, whether or not we think it is a big deal, because people want to know he is taking it seriously.

And why is this important? Because people can’t stand the thought that someday in the future, their children and grandchildren will look up and say, “Why did you do this to us? Why did you leave us so burdened with all this debt?” It is an attempt to erase future feelings of guilt. People still want their children to live in a better world than they did.

But guess what? It is all a load of steaming Bulls__t! Not what people want to feel about the future, but how the Republicans manipulate those desires to reach goals that are totally counter to those wishes. And we need to be able to still address those concerns while at the same time undermining the corrupt message the Republicans are sending.

We need to show that the Republicans, including Romney, don’t give a rat’s ass about our children or our grandchildren. And we need to show people, that if they really are concerned about the welfare of their children and grandchildren, President Obama and Democrats hold the same concerns and will work to achieve the results of letting the children and grandchildren have a chance at a better life……

Full post here

11
Apr
12

a word from japa: having his back

by Japa

It is pretty much a given in this community that President Obama has our back covered. He is out there every day working to help preserve the middle class.  In fact, he is working to the utmost not only to preserve the middle class against an onslaught unprecedented in our history, but to also expand the middle class. There are some on the left who view him as a corporatist who hasn’t done enough, but they miss the point.

I can state without hesitation that enough hasn’t been done and that a lot more needs to be done. And I know someone else who would say the same thing, our President. Yet, saying that is not the same as saying he hasn’t done enough. I quite honestly cannot think of anything he could have done that would have gotten us further than we are now. He has, rightfully so, chosen to follow constitutional principles rather than go the dictator route. And in making that choice he has acknowledged that he cannot get everything done he would like to see done. Most of the things needed to accomplish what he and most people in the progressive community want to see done requires Congressional action.

People on the left talk about FDR a lot and even LBJ with his accomplishments in producing The Great Society. Yet those same people forget the huge, historically huge, Democratic majorities both of those Presidents had to work with. Does anyone really doubt that if then President had had 68 Democratic senators that we wouldn’t have seen a public option?  Does anyone really doubt that if he had over 70 senators the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy wouldn’t have been rolled back? Does anyone really doubt that if he had had over 300 members of the House and those senatorial numbers that the financial regulation bill wouldn’t have been even stronger than it was?

Full post here

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