Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Top Ten Reasons The Republican Party Will Recover

May 13, 2009

Here’s our Peace and Freedom list of the top ten reasons to expect the Republican Party to make gains over the course of the next two to four years:

1)  The economy: Despite the huge spending measures already enacted by the Obama administration, including the stimulus and the many ‘bailouts,” the economy may not even start any really significant recovery until this time next year.  Voters are already tiring of the recession and showing discontent.

Bank of England: Recovery will be slow, starting next year
New Jobless Claims Rise More Than Expected, as 52,000 Auto Workers Become Unemployed

2)  Democratic leaders like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and John Murtha.  There is already rumbling that our Congressional leaders are disappointing voters.  Most polls rate congress very poorly even though some 60% like Obama.  Scandals, a lack of integrity and broken promises on transparency can add to the woes of Democrats easily over time.

Pushy Practices of Pelosi, Murtha Back To Haunt Them?
Democratic Party a “One Man Show” — After Obama, It’s a “Second-Division Ball Club”
Pelosi Vehemently Challenges CIA’s Account of Briefings To Her on Waterboarding; Agency “Lied to Congress”
“Democratic Party is Bought and Paid For By The Unions” Lawmaker Says

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. gestures during a news ...

3)  National debt, deficit and spending.

America’s Ability To Borrow More Questioned, At Risk — Too Much Spending “Breaking the bank”?
What Did We Get for $180 Billion “Bailout”? AIG Still “Toxic”
One Hundred Billion Goes To IMF: Money U.S. Taxpayers Will Likely Never See Again
Obama’s Spending, Debt, Taxes Will Lower America’s Standard of Living

4)  Taxes.  Taxes will go up.  There is just no way to support all our current spending let alone the promises of overhauls to health care, education, and the environment without raising more money and that means raising taxes.

Taxes: People and Business Flee Higher Rates; Why Can’t Obama, Congress Get That?
Governors of Texas, South Carolina to Host “Tea Party 2.0″ This Week

Gov. Rick Perry, Texas
5)  Unexpected world events.  Just as nobody could have predicted 9/11, there could well be an event as yet unknown that unfolds to change the game for everyone before long.  Just as Joe Biden predicted last year, this president will be tested….

Battles over energy may lead to wars, Russian strategists conclude

China’s Navy Grows and the World Watches Warily
6)  Democratic Infighting.  This is the party that has, for a long time, been unable to get along with itself, for too long, before all hell breaks loose….

7)  Inflation.  With all the borrowing of the federal government, inflation is indeed likely.  Nobody will like that one bit.  Which will hurt incumbents….

8)  Loss of buying power and credit.  Obama’s current campaign to rein in the credit card companies is admirable but it may result in millions of people unable to get the credit they’ve grown used to….Expect retail sales to lag other indicators of recovery…..

Retail sales remain slow in April:

9)  Broken Promises.  “Green jobs” won’t be as numerous or high paying as once promised and work for good jobs will dry up as GM and Chrysler and others move more jobs overseas….The health care overhaul may actually harm enough people that there could be a backlash that wants to punish lawmakers…

Latest News On Social Security, Medicare, Debt Show Inability of Government To Make Accurate Financial Predictions
Obama, Daschle and Socialized Medicine: Care of GE
Fiat threatens to walk away from Chrysler deal unless unions agree to concessions

10) Desire for Change/Hope (The Pendulum): In our American system, the pendulum has been swinging to and fro; from Republicans to Democrats and back again for almost all of time.  People will tire of our current way of doing business and even the euphoria over Obama will wane.

Republican Party Dead? Hardly. Polls Show Erosion and Doubt in Democratic Advantage


11) Traditional Republican Discipline.  The Republicans in general have traditionally shown much more discipline and togetherness than Democrats.  The current squabbling over Cheney, Powell, Gingrich, Rush et al can be expected to wind down as elections near.

12)  The law of unintended consequences.  President Obama has changed so much, so aggressively, so often, so soon in his presidency that the effort is unprecedented.  But this could mean that there is trouble lurking that has not been foreseen.  And we know how well our government foresees things: like the current recession….

13)  Bad Obama planning and staff work.  Nobody had time to read the stimulus?  This will come back to hurt the president and the Democrats in Congress.  Many other examples of stupidity an ineptitude come to mind…..

14)  The “Tea Parties.”  “The real genesis of the tea party movement was not taxes, but out-of-control spending and the debts we are leaving our children,” wrote Paul Gessing in the Albuquerque Conservative Examiner.  “The tea party movement (at least in Albuquerque) is not simply a bunch of angry Republicans who don’t like Obama and understand their own self-interest. Rather, the tea party here was organized by average citizens who are terrified of what the government is doing to our economy. The fact is that America can’t live on borrowed money forever.”  The fact that people are taking to the streets — people who are both Democrats and republicans — is unprecedented.John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
In this photograph released by the White House, Air Force One ...


Republicans Determined to Lose?
Obama Backs Off Promise to Release Abuse Photos
If you had told me some of these Obama stories three months ago I would have said “impossible!”
Obama’s Dumb Moves Getting More Difficult to Ignore? On Friday Mainstream Media Realizes Monday’s Cabinet Meeting Was Laughable, Really

Conservatives Need To Recommit to Conservative Values

Michelle Malkin:

Muslims and Hindus Complained So Now Britain’s Honor “Trinity Cross” Is Unlawful

May 8, 2009

An honour established by the Queen has been declared unlawful after Muslims and Hindus complained that its Christian name and cross insignia were offensive.

The Trinity Cross of the Order of Trinity was established by the Queen 40 years ago to recognise distinguished service and gallantry in the former colony of Trinidad and Tobago. It has been received by 62 people including the cricketers Garfield Sobers and Brian Lara, the novelist V. S. Naipaul and many of the islands’ leading politicians and diplomats.

The Privy Council in London has ruled that the decoration is unconstitutional because it discriminates against non-Christians. Five British law lords said that the creation of the honour breached the right to equality and the right to freedom of conscience and belief. The implications of the ruling on British decorations are being studied by lawyers at the Cabinet Office, which oversees the honours system. A spokesman said: “We have noted the judgment and are monitoring the situation.”

A parliamentary review of British honours has already recommended streamlining the system with new titles that have no reference to Christian saints or symbols.

From The Times (UK)

Read the rest:

Culture of Intolerance: Miss California Joins Sarah Palin; Attacked for Faith, Sexual Photos, Beliefs on Marriage

May 5, 2009

Miss California, the beauty queen that said she favored traditional marriage between a man and a woman, is now under fire for that remark, her previous sexy photo spreads and her Christian faith.  Has the Left gone too far in criticizing everybody and anybody who doesn’t embrace the new America?  The Obama America?

Did they call you a “teabagger”?

The Donald Keeps Miss California, But Catholic Church May Boot Adultery Priest and Gay Bishop After Notre Dame Welcomes Obama


(May 5) – Miss California USA says a revealing photo of herself appearing on the Web is “quite appropriate” for a model, and she has accused the gossip site that posted it of trying to belittle her Christian beliefs.
“I am a Christian, and I am a model,” Carrie Prejean said in a statement. “Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith.”

FILE - Miss California Carrie Prejean listens to a question ....

A photo of Prejean wearing only pink panties with her back turned to the camera appeared Monday on the gossip blog
The site claimed it had six pictures of the beauty queen, but one had been posted.
“I can assure you they were quite inappropriate, and certainly not photos befitting a beauty queen,” Alicia Jacobs, a judge at the April 19 Miss USA pageant and a reporter for an NBC affiliate, told NBC News.
Prejean, 21, also said in her statement that attacks on her and others who “speak in defense of traditional marriage” are intolerant and offensive.
The Miss USA runner-up garnered more media attention than the winner of the pageant for her response to a question about legalizing same-sex marriage and the dispute with openly-gay judge Perez Hilton that followed it.
Her response may have cost her the title, which went to Miss North Carolina.
During the interview portion of the competition, Hilton, a celebrity blogger, asked Prejean about her views on legalizing same-sex marriage.

Read the rest:


Is Any System Or Party “Dead” Because of Corruption? Or is Corruption With Us Always?

May 3, 2009

“How can I believe in capitalism.  It is a corrupt system and it failed,” a friend said.

I wondered about the two words “corruption” and “system so closely allied and thought I might replace “people” with “system.”

Are systems inherently corrupt?  Some times.  But more often than not, even the best system can become corrupt because of people who become corrupt.

Over thirty years ago last month, in April 1975, the Democratic government of Vietnam failed and is no more.  That government was widely believed to be corrupt and was replaced by communism — which has itself become a model of corruption.

Yet few Americans I talk to complain that democracy is inherently corrupt — the proof is Vietnam and so this system should be cast aside as dead.

Is capitalism corrupt?  I guess when corrupt people like Bernie Madoff take advantage of the breakdown of checks and balances and others including the congress and regulators fail to do their jobs.

Is the CIA corrupt because of the “torture” of terrorists?  Hardly: President Obama has said that.  But others have said, the corruption is with Bush and Cheney and the others — or with the “system.”

So there may have been failure within the system — that doesn’t necessarily make the system a failure.

We need maybe to make our “system” as corruption free as possible.

The Obama Team seems to make the argument that capitalism is, in and of itself, corrupt and dead: the proof is in our current economic failure.

But it just could be that the system didn’t let us down as much as the people who were not doing their jobs inside the system.  And those people were of two parties; not one.

Torture: How and When Did Pelosi, Others In Congress Know?
Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi Were Dead Wrong on Fannie/Freddie — Then Blamed “Regulators”

“The Obama White House Press Corps is In Love”

May 2, 2009

“The Obama White House Press corp is in love,” said Karl Rove, “Which explains a lot.”

The love affair explains the lack of harball questions during the “Some enchanted evening press conference.”

The love affair explains why no member of the media has said, “Mister President, we are talking here about a cabinet meeting on the flu and you are telling Americans how to wash their hands.  Has this ever happened before?”

The media in love means Obama’s first cabinet meeting was about saving $100 million: a crumb in the bakery so to speak.

The media in love means the president can denigrate some of his own voters: tea party folks — without much of a whimper from the media….

The love affair explains getting away with murder by killing three Somali teens in mid-negotiation: then bragging that the next Supreme Court justice will be empathetic.

The media in love explains why someone in the White House thought it was a cool idea to buzz New York a la 9/11 using Air Force One.

The media in love means the president can ignore the claims of senior creditors in the Chrysler case, putting the unions ahead, and then leaking that the senior creditors are “un-American.”

The media in love means Mrs. Obama can wear $450 shoes to a food bank but when John McCain and Fred Thompson wore shoes the media considered too expensive: YIKES what a flurry.

The media in love explains a lot, as Karl Rove pointed out.  And a lot of what it explains concerns a self aggrandizing chief executive that is getting away with murder.


Obama: So far, a festival of photo ops, ego, self aggrandizement

Obama Wants Empathy in Supreme Court: If the People and Media Like You Can You Then “Get Away With Murder”?

The Pre-School President

Obama’s Justice Isn’t Blind: She’s “Empathetic”

Obama revelling in U.S. power unseen in decades

Was This Flu Panic Necessary? Mutation Costing a Fortune. Will U.S. Taxpayer Bail Out Mexico?

It’s All Obama All The Time: He Was On The Phone Today and Congress Worked On College Football

Can Biden Be Right? Is The Flu A Real Crisis? Or Are We Caught with an Obama Government-Media Crisis?

Tactics of Obama Inc. on Chrysler Spark Worries Over Lenders’ Rights

Obama’s Criticism Of Chrysler Investors: Justified, Fair, Illegal?

The kicks, made by high-end French fashion label Lanvin, cost $540.
The media has taken a walk….Ernst/Reuters

Thomas Jefferson: When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. 

The current love affair with Obama means the current media is not chasing after stories of real merit.  And that will lead to tyranny and inequality and we have no empathy for that…..

Denial Can Bring Marital Bliss

April 25, 2009

With the divorce rate hovering around 50 percent, and so many people married more than once, it sometimes feels like humans are terrible at figuring out long-term love.

The typical pattern starts with falling head-over-heels for someone, with all its heat-thumping, starry-eyed craziness, and it takes a while before that fog dissipates and the real object of desire comes into focus. Often, the truth doesn’t hit until after marriage when the real person, warts and all, wakes up next to you in bed wearing a wedding ring.

Reality check, with it’s evil twin disillusionment, are sure ways to kill off a marriage.

In a study to be published in July in the journal Psychological Science, Northwestern University psychologist Daniel Molden and colleagues were interested in the possible differences between the way dating and married couples see each other. They asked 92 dating couples and 77 married couples to complete questionnaires about satisfaction with their relationship, and not surprising, marriage changes things.

Everyone, married or dating, thinks the best partner is one who acts as a cheering section and brings out our best. But that sort of relationship only translates into a truly happy marriage when the partner seems to accept real commitment and helps in the day-to-day obligations of life as a couple.

The surprise here is not the switch from a focus on “me” to a focus on “us,” as anyone who has gone from the first blush of love to picking up someone else’s underwear off the floor knows to be true. What really stands out is the idea that satisfaction within any relationship is based on perception rather than actual fact, and therein lies the rub of not only love, but also of living with someone on intimate terms.

In Molden’s study, the authors focus on their subjects’ “perception” of the other person, not the reality of the situation. If we perceive a date to be supportive of our goals, we’re happy. If we perceive a spouse as committed to the family, we’re even more happy. Although the researchers point to the shift in the focus of perception from ourselves to the couple as an indicator of a good or bad marriage, the real problem for love is the very issues of projecting anything on another person, no matter the focus.

Humans seem to think they are really good at knowing others, but the truth is our own agendas get in the way of really knowing someone. As self-interested, self-absorbed creatures, our own thoughts, feelings, needs and goals come first, and that sometimes means fooling ourselves into thinking we are the center of other people’s thoughts, feelings, needs and goals when, in fact, they are mired in their own business.

But should we be disillusioned by our own illusions? Maybe not. Happy marriages might just be those in which both partners uphold a very nice projection of each other, even when things aren’t so great. And this makes sense. Happiness is a state of mind, and if denial paints a partner better than they really are, the relationship is bound to be satisfying, as long as no one is slapped in the face with reality.

On the other hand, surely there are couples who see exactly who is in front of them, and reality actually matches perception. Those lucky couples are not in a state of continual denial, but a state of continual bliss.

Meredith F. Small
LiveScience’s Human Nature Columnist meredith F. Small
livescience’s Human Nature Columnist
Fri Apr 24, 10:25 am ET

Japan’s ‘exam hell’ now reaches into preschool

April 24, 2009

It’s a quiet afternoon in suburban Tokyo as a well-dressed boy and his mother enter Nikken, a cram school for kindergartners and preschoolers. The mother bows to staff, confirms a pickup time, and drives off in her Mercedes as the boy hunkers down at that most iconic of Japanese institutions: the cram school.

Japan’s juken, or “exam hell,” has long evoked images of stressed kids competing for slots at top universities in an all-or-nothing exam. But this approach has increasingly moved down the ladder.

By Yuriko Nagano
Christian Science Monitor

Now, in what is known as ojuken, nursery-schoolers are doing worksheets and attending special classes to secure a seat in primary school that their parents hope will ensure their long-term success.

The reasons for the shift are complex. Japan’s youth population is declining, and many colleges are scrambling to fill seats – something that should make it easier to get into all but the most exclusive schools.

Instead, many parents are ever more relentlessly seeking competitive advantages, especially as the economic downturn makes competition for jobs more intense. “The low birthrate does seem to be pushing parents to give all they can to the one child,” says Makoto Kobari, an associate professor at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto. “It’s an act of selective extravagance.”

“There’s definitely an ojuken craze heating up,” says Naoki Ogi, head of the Practical Education Research Institute in Tokyo. But, he adds, “we’re talking about a very limited part of society that this is happening in.”

No formal data exist on the ojuken population. But the competition for the schools parents are targeting can be fierce: For the class entering Tokyo’s Keio Gijuku Yochisha elementary school in 2008, for example, there were 2,468 applicants for 144 spots. In recent years, applicant numbers at Keio have steadily increased, up 10 percent over 2006.

The examination process itself takes place between November and December, with the school year starting in April. But ojuken is a year-round business. At Nikken, most families enroll children for two years and typically spend $22,000 on tuition.

Not surprisingly, parents tend toward the wealthy side, according to Mr. Kobari: Some 56.8 percent earn more than 10 million yen (about $100,000) per year. Most parents are university graduates and 76.5 percent of mothers are full-time housewives.

At Nikken, Kikuko Fukuda speaks quietly but firmly about what children must do to succeed. “We advise families that children need at least a year, coming in a minimum of once a week, to have a shot at passing these exams,” she says.

Ms. Fukuda adds that families go to great lengths to pay. “We see families bringing out their six pockets – mom, dad, grandparents from both sides.”

The school’s counsel reaches beyond the merely academic. In one corner of a classroom are enlarged photos of “winning” suits mothers wore to elementary school interviews and the names of the schools where their children were accepted. The mothers and children are clad in dark-colored garb, with what look like black Italian handbags and matching shoes. Fukuda says that many families custom order their suits so they won’t look identical.

Hanako Yamashita, who is a paralegal, enrolled her daughter in an exclusive prep class that accepts students only through referrals. The girl enrolled before turning 3 and has spent a couple of hours every Saturday at the class for the past year.

Mrs. Yamashita’s daughter, now 4, shakes her head when asked if she thought the exams were intimidating. “The snacks [my Saturday teacher gave us] were yummy,” she says with a smile. “The classes were fun.” And she got into Denenchofu Futaba Gakuen, the school of her choice – joining her older sister, a fourth-grader, as school opens this month.

To Yamashita, it was a huge relief – especially given the numbers of students applying. “Compared with three years ago with my older daughter, it felt like there were a lot more parents competing for a spot,” she says. Her reasoning for the early start: By applying to a school that feeds into the next level, she spared her children having to take the “much more brutal” middle-school exams.

Read the rest:

First 100 Days: Blame America First, Undermining U.S. Sovereignty, Appeasement

April 21, 2009

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Increasingly, it appears Barack Obama feels the same way about America. Call it the PogObama worldview.

The president’s first 100 days have been a blur of legislative initiatives, policy pronouncements and symbolic gestures that, taken together, constitute the most sweeping and fundamental makeover of U.S. domestic and foreign policies since at least World War II. Animating them all is a hostility toward this country’s traditional values, institutions and conduct that is best described by Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick’s phrase “blame America first.”

By Frank Gaffney
The Washington Times

To be sure, Mr. Obama has plenty of company in this camp, both at home and abroad. “San Francisco Democrats” (another Kirkpatrickism) like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and tyrants like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (with whom the president did “high fives” over the weekend) and Saudi King Abdullah (to whom the president bowed two weeks ago) are of a mind: The United States owes the world myriad apologies for its arrogance, unilateralism, aggression and other sins. And it needs to make amends in various, substantial and ominously portentous ways, including the following:

–Releasing the so-called “torture memos”: The president pandered to the left last week by ignoring the advice of five past and present CIA directors and declassifying several top-secret legal memorandums. They lay out in excruciating detail what “enhanced interrogation techniques” could be used in extreme circumstances to secure information being withheld by al Qaeda and other high-value enemy operatives.

Though Mr. Obama says that those who followed these guidelines will not be prosecuted, he has, as a practical matter, invited their prosecution by others. Certainly, he left the door open, both here and overseas, to inquisitions of the memo-drafters and their superiors by Spanish judges, witch hunters in the U.S. Congress, prosecutors with the International Criminal Court, etc.

By effectively declaring “open season” on those in the Bush administration who helped secure this country in its time of need post-Sept. 11, Mr. Obama is not only wronging dedicated public servants who acted in good faith and prescribed techniques well short of torture. (As David Rivkin and Lee Casey point out in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, thousands of American servicemen have been subjected to such methods for decades as part of their survival training.) He is also opening his own team to similar jeopardy, perhaps for killing innocent civilians with their Predator strikes in Pakistan or attacks said to be under discussion on putative Somali “terrorist camps.”

— Undermining U.S. sovereignty: Mr. Obama is embracing sovereignty-sapping treaties, theories of “universal jurisprudence” and individuals such as State Department legal adviser-designate Harold H. Koh who espouse them. The desired result evidently is a world governed by international norms and bureaucrats rather than one dominated – or even forcefully led – by bad old America.

— Cutting America’s power-projection capabilities: The defense budget reductions recently unveiled by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seem to have one thing in common: They will diminish the United States’ ability to extend its global reach for the protection of this country and its interests around the world.

For example, Mr. Obama and Mr. Gates propose to cancel the C-17, America’s indispensable airlifter; the F-22, the world’s best fighter/attack aircraft; and the Army’s Future Combat Systems program, a comprehensive and long-overdue modernization program for that service’s armored forces. They would also truncate the purchase of F-18 E/Fs, the backbone of naval aviation, evidently as a precursor to reducing the number of operational aircraft carriers. Missile defense programs will be ravaged. There will be no modernization, ever, of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. And the industrial base needed to support all of the above will be allowed to atrophy and/or be sold off to foreign powers keen to manufacture the superior weapon systems we no longer will.

— Trying to appease America’s adversaries: Mr. Obama is determined to normalize relations with literally every one of the world’s bad actors – notably, Vladimir Putin’s Russian kleptocracy, Iran’s incipient nuclear mullahocracy, the Castro brothers’ island gulag, the megalomaniacal Kim dynasty in North Korea, the spreading and virulently anti-American axis in our own hemisphere led by Mr. Chavez and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Shariah-adherent entities – without regard to their continuing, dangerous behavior or ambitions.

By associating himself with these hostile powers’ critiques of the United States and by acquiescing to many, if not all, of their demands, Mr. Obama may temporarily cultivate the illusion of having improved bilateral relations and America’s “image” internationally. Unfortunately, it is absolutely predictable that – in the absence of systemic changes in these and other despotic regimes the president is romancing – any “improvements” will come at the Free World’s expense. And the image America ultimately will project will be of an emasculated, formerly great power, easy prey for those who seek not just to displace, but to destroy, it.

Under these circumstances, those of us who reject the PogObama view of the United States have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, most Americans do not see their country as “the enemy.” It is time for legislators and other leaders who prize our sovereignty, who recognize the importance of preserving and wisely using our power and who understand that our true foes are numerous, elsewhere and being emboldened to enlist the public in challenging Team Obama’s agenda before it brings us to grief.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

Obama Family as Media Darlings and “Entertainment Tonight,” Photo Op White House

April 21, 2009

For the national media, Barack Obama isn’t merely the president of the United States. He’s so much more than that.

Obama is a celebrity, and he and his family are covered that way. That means there is a heavy focus on the personal, making Obama the first “Entertainment Tonight president.”

By Stuart Rothenberg
Real Clear Politics

First, it was Michelle’s wardrobe. Then, it was the kids’ school. Then it was Michelle’s White House vegetable garden. And most recently, it is the new dog, Bo.

As befitting the pet of an international celebrity, Bo-mania is an international phenomenon. AFP, the French news agency, reported Tuesday a “surge of interest in the pedigree in Britain,” after the announcement about the Obamas’ new Portuguese water dog.

Malia Obama walks with new dog Bo, followed by President Barack ... 
Malia Obama walks with new dog Bo, followed by President Barack Obama, Sasha Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2009.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

“We frequently see the popularity of certain breeds soar once people have seen them being bought by their favorite celebrities,” said a spokeswoman for Britain’s Kennel Club.

Note that the Kennel Club spokeswoman said “celebrities.” First the Beckhams, then the Osbournes and now the Obamas. But you would have to be more than a little naive to believe that the White House isn’t helping feed the media beast. Washington Post staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia’s April 12 piece showed that the White House had orchestrated a series of “exclusives,” giving the garden story to the New York Times and the dog story to the Post.

It’s hard to know what hard news story the public relations folks inside the administration will think of next. Maybe re-paint the kids’ rooms? How about new bikes for the whole family? That’s sure to be a big story. There are a lot of bike riders around the country, and bicycling involves physical fitness and the environment at the same time.

I know there isn’t much happening in the world these days – other than the North Koreans exporting their nuclear technology to the Middle East, growing authoritarianism in South America and the budget deficit – so it’s understandable that the media are so locked in on the Obamas.

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot. The media are paying plenty of attention to those pirates off the coast of Somalia. You know, those swashbuckling romantic heroes who evoke memories of great pirates of the past, including Tyrone Power (“The Black Swan,” 1942, with Maureen O’Hara), Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” 2003, with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly) and Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1955-1972, .317 lifetime batting average).

But back to something really important, such as Portuguese water dogs.

If you run through the recent Obama topics (e.g., the garden, the dog), you would have to say the Obama family’s life resembles a couple of episodes from “The Dick Van Dyke Show” of the 1960s. (In fact, episodes 7 and 130 of that series dealt with dogs in the Petrie household.)

Actually, some inside-the-Beltway friends of mine have been comparing Obama to Vincent Chase, the lead character in the popular (and extremely hip) HBO series “Entourage,” which tells the story of a young actor (not yet president) who becomes something of a celebrity and his hangers-on.

His entourage includes his often-over-the-top brother, Johnny “Drama” Chase (played, some think, in the case of Obama, by Vice President Joseph Biden); Turtle, his chunky gofer-buddy from childhood who’ll do whatever Vince needs done (played by Communications Director Robert Gibbs); his reasonably sane friend and manager, Eric (played by strategist David Axelrod); and his hyperaggressive, hyperkinetic agent, Ari Gold (played by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

The Ari Gold character, of course, is patterned after super-agent Ari Emanuel, Rahm’s real-life brother. Ari Emanuel reps Mark Wahlberg, an actor and ex-rapper who is the executive producer of “Entourage.”

Fans of “Entourage” even note that a dog played a role in the series pilot. (One scary thought: Johnny Drama bought a horse in one episode, an obvious possible storyline for the Obamas because all young girls seem to go through a pony stage.)

The line between fiction and reality is going to fade even more, according to the Hollywood Reporter, when Michelle Obama’s hairstylist, Johnny Wright, gets his own television “reality” show. (Will Michelle make an appearance?)

Is there a serious political angle to all of this Obama celebrity talk? There is.

In encouraging all of the celebrity coverage (journalists don’t need much encouragement given the public’s apparent unquenchable need for gossip), the White House surely is trying to keep Obama’s appeal high among those Americans who really don’t care a great deal about politics.

Being celebrities gives the Obamas a bigger audience, and probably deeper emotional commitments, than many politicians receive. Even if the economy doesn’t recover completely and Obama’s policy proposals stir up opposition, he could retain his popularity – and, with it, political clout on Capitol Hill – because of his (and his family’s) celebrity coverage and appeal.

That’s not a bad thing for a president proposing one of the most ambitious agendas ever, or for journalists looking for a way to get a byline.

Stuart Rothenberg is the editor of the The Rothenberg Political Report, and a regular columnist for Roll Call Newspaper.

Obama Family as a Tool Of The Political Strategy

Obama and Associations: “Chavez, Morales and Ortega Must Be Really Good Guys”


ABC News’ Karen Travers and Jake Tapper report:

In the throes of an economic crisis and two wars, does the nation want more headlines about a “Pec-tacular” “Buff Bam”?

President Obama appears shirtless in a bathing suit on the cover of May issue of The Washingtonian magazine. The magazine’s excuse? The pec pic illustrates the #2 reason (out of 26) to love living in the nation’s capital: “Our New Neighbor is Hot.”

The monthly style/culture publication uses a paparazzi photograph taken during the president-elect’s Christmas vacation in Hawaii last year.

Long before that, in February 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama complained that a different beach pic got the media’s attention instead of his policy positions, which he blamed on the meme that he was a lightweight.

Read the rest:

Obama as Pop Culture: Teens Rocking With Omnipresent Baracking

April 20, 2009

What up, my Obama?

In the hallways of Albany High School, that is the new hello.

If you sneeze, your friends at Albany High might say “Barack you.”

Goofing off in the hallway? “Barack’s in the White House now” means cool it.

Presidents usually don’t earn a blip on the radar of teenage American hipness. But Barack Obama’s rise to the White House is changing the way some young people talk to one another.

Creatively riffing on the unusual name — Baracking — is a natural progression of Obama’s prominence in pop culture.

Along with simple phonetics, the phenomenon is symbolic of young people’s admiration, said Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

“It sounds like they are transferring their positive feelings about the person to new contexts,” she said.

Obama’s place in slang also is a sign that he and his ideas are becoming a part of the daily life of young Americans with a newly developed interest in politics, said Donald Hernandez, Sociology Department chairman at the State University of New York at Albany.

Ocasio Willson, an Albany senior, said Obama has made it cool among young people to be smart again.

He paused to sing a line from Young Jeezy’s My President Is Black and then said it’s not surprising that young people use the president’s name in entirely new contexts.

“It’s a way to express their excitement and their happiness that an African-American is in office,” he said.

Isaiah Williams was in the school’s college center recently when he heard one student trying to persuade another to get something out of his locker. The line of argument to motivate his friend to make the extra effort for class was easy to get: “Barack did it.”

Williams said his senior classmates are drawn to Obama’s triumph over the odds. A group of his friends started dressing differently on Election Day, he said, because of the president.

They switched from baggy clothes to button-down shirts and dress shoes.

“Because he made it as president,” Williams said, “it’s almost as if anything can happen.”

By Scott Waldman
Albany Times Union

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