Sweetened Condensed Milk

If you, like me, couldn’t stomach another Obama speech, the Heritage Foundation has condensed the high points to three minutes.

I just couldn’t watch another parade of lies and half truths marching across my home TV screen. I’ve seen it too many times before. I’ve heard him use “I” so many times that I don’t want to play that drinking game anymore. We’re all fed up with his using “ISIL” instead of “ISIS” like everyone else. Reminds me of my great aunt who insisted on calling an automobile a “machine” when everyone else said “car.” It grates. Watching his head ping back and forth as if he’s at a tennis tournament irritates.

Although the media insists this is one of his most eagerly anticipated speeches, I bet this one got very little viewership. People have Obama fatigue. He says what you want to hear, but he doesn’t do anything.

Thankfully, this video saves us all the trouble:

There don’t even seem to be any memorable lines, except “Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.”

Really? Is that why it’s called Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant; so that it’s not associated with Islam? Maybe he should be concerned with the Christians who have had to flee the area. If it were Christians doing the head chopping, I bet Obama would have criticized Christianity.

Then he said we have “a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy” to “degrade, and ultimately destroy,” ISIS. Doesn’t have much of a ring to it, does it? Nothing like “we will not rest, we will not tire…” George W. Bush said.

How will we do this? It’s pretty vague. Airstrikes, Obama says, but we are already doing that. He’s sending 475 more men over there (why not 500? How did this number come about?), but “we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” How does that work? Obama then says we will “increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground.” Translation: more money flowing over there to people like the Syrians who are dubious in their motives.

And here’s some of the best part: “And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.” When has the U.N. ever been useful to us? Allies are fleeing us like healthy people in an ebola camp. Obama can’t even work with Congress. How’s he going to get allies to do the dirty work he doesn’t want to do?

This didn’t stop him from slapping Congress. He asked them for their support in this endeavor, but he also told leaders yesterday that he doesn’t need their authorization for his military campaign. He even said this whopper: “I believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together.” Not too long ago he warned them he had a pen and a phone and would use them. Which is it? Cooperation or elimination?

This speech was trying to sweeten his policy and make it palatable for Americans. He wants to milk the surge in Americans who now say we should oppose ISIS. It’s just more of the same warmed over.

It’s not a recipe for success.

Video Everyone’s Talking About

Every Midtowner has probably visited the Kroger in Poplar Plaza. Who knew what might be in store? Certainly wouldn’t expect this:

FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

The video has gotten some national attention, but not enough. It was shown on Fox News and Todd Starnes noted it on his facebook page:

Two teenage Kroger employees and another individual were brutally beaten by raging mob of thugs in Memphis. As difficult as it may be – I want you to watch this video.

Why hasn’t President Obama issued a statement of condemnation? Why hasn’t Attorney General booked a flight to Memphis to denounce the brutal mob attack? Why hasn’t the Mainstream Media broken into regularly scheduled programming to cover this heinous act of evil?

It would seem the Obama Administration and the Mainstream Media only become righteously indignant when it’s politically expedient.

Like in Ferguson? They and the media couldn’t give it enough attention, even getting the Attorney General to travel there and listen to hearsay from residents.

It seems like the guard doesn’t act until the crowd is on the doorstep. A woman laughing about it has raised the ire of many, too. Obviously, some feel it’s OK.

I’m glad Toney Armstrong made a strong statement vowing to hold parents accountable, as well as the youths. He spoke at our Midtown Republican Club when he first became Police Director. He came off as honest, caring and fair. He knows that the problems in the black community must be addressed before any of this can be stopped. I don’t envy him his job.

I’m also glad that the judicial elections went so well last month. We need strong judges to hold the line on crime, even with the DOJ breathing down their necks, trying to get them to keep juveniles out of the court system.

And they wonder why people understood George Zimmerman’s predicament in Florida or why second amendment advocates are gaining ground.

“New Red White and Blue Is Taupe”

Old adage goes “clothes make the man.” Then there’s “dress for success.” Neither of these echoed well for Obama at his press conference as earlier noted. Here’s another commentator who had problems with the sartorial splendor – and what it meant – of our Commander in Chief:

Mark St. Cyr at Zerohedge.com writes:

Whether it’s politics or business one thing remains the same: if you are designated or perceived as the leader, everything you say or do is viewed with an eye searching for obvious and hidden meanings. While at the same time the higher the level or more commanding the position, that search goes from the naked eye to one looking via an electron microscope.

Words matter, the way they are said can matter even more, yet what is just as important is the posture, and yes – that can include even your choice of attire.

Leadership can be very symbolic in its application for consumption. We hear all the time the running line “they wrap themselves in the flag” and so forth to describe politicians and others. So is it any wonder that when the leader of the free world takes to the podium during what by all credible standards is a world on the edge of unrest shows up wearing not the traditional dark suit and red or blue tie but – light tan, people from all walks say, “What the ____ is up with that?”

The reaction was near instantaneous across social media channels. The knee jerk over whelming first responses were (to be kind) a projection of weakness. The contrast between the surrounding stage set used in the press room and the tan suit was glaring. So much and so out-of-place did it seem that one couldn’t help to think of anything else but, why? Was this just some fashion faux pas? Personally I don’t think so.

If people will remember one of the first highly visible changes of note made for all the world to take notice, was the complete gelding of the oval office and all its symbolic tones of color with a complete overhaul to neutral. i.e., Taupe.

Obama’s Oval office

It can’t be underestimated just how much of a message is being intentionally sent when one of the first acts is to take what is considered the most powerful and important office in the world, and completely change or strip away any essence of it and replace it with muted tones of taupe.

The oval office today is now a more neutered, bland, unappealing a washed in hotel ballroom-esque neutral tones of beige. It’s not what many are accustomed to remembering.

So bland is the office today that it seems we never see the president speak from it. In nearly 6 years I can only recall one. Taupe doesn’t make for good television, but the symbolic nature for people who are received in that office would be overwhelmingly obvious. The new red white and blue – is taupe.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with this administration or not doesn’t matter. I’m not discussing policy here. What I am talking about applies to any and all leadership.

Symbolism matters, especially when you’re at the highest of levels trying to project or convey messages across oceans and cultures. And what I’m trying to convey is just my observations, for I’m in the “leadership” business per se.

When businesses or executives find themselves unable to move their companies or people in the direction they want more often than not it boils right down to the what, and how the leader of that organization is presenting themselves, and what mixed messages he/she are sending. Even if the company has thousands of people. The leader is the avatar, and their public behavior (good or bad) is what will be amplified by the ranks. Period.

The issue at hand is when this messaging gets mixed, or in other words, the very people you think know what you mean – take it as the opposite.

What makes matters even worse is when people who you believe won’t even notice, or you’ve overlooked their interpretation of it all together in your calculus amplify the worst of intended meanings. i.e., Not only did your intended audience read you wrong, but so too did everyone else with even more disdain.

Currently we have Russia by all accounts invading and engaging in real warfare with Ukraine. Add to this the threats from ISIS (or ISIL if you prefer). China flexing its military in a thumbing of the nose fashion with air to air engagements with war planes along with telegraphed over tones of discontent with once seemingly undisputed areas of territory (the islands near Japan and others). The ongoing and ever increasingly volatile Israel/Hamas engagement. Along with the myriad of other ongoing issues. e.g., cyber attacks, U.S. border challenges, civil unrest, just to name a few.

This is where leaders of any stripe need to show and convey the message that they are either in control, or project an image of that control via words or symbolism. And on the world stage – every detail matters and conveys a message. And, this is where academia (or academics) get it wrong all the time.

They play or convey their message as if only the people watching are the people they are trying to trying to speak to. They are stunningly tone-deaf and usually blindsided by responses to their messaging because they can’t see past their own noses (just look to any Federal Reserve explanation of monetary policy as a reference).

I could be wrong but unlike most I don’t feel the donning of that taupe suit was a fashion faux pas. I believe it was a deliberate act for symbolic effect to telegraph a message they want remembered by whomever they were trying to reach.

From my way of thinking it fits if you look at it through what words or messaging accompanied it. Words and tones such as (I’m paraphrasing) “We have yet to define a strategy, Congress will be involved and they’re not due back till next week, we’re not sure if that is true,” and so on.

With the United States on the eve of a major holiday I believe a signal was trying to be sent that resembled,” Hey, we’re not going to do anything provocative, remember I’m/we’re the guy’s that toned down the oval office, remember? It’s the same color as this suit, remember? I want to assure you we’re not going to do anything provocative during this long weekend, and we want to make sure you remember we want to “talk first.” Remember?

This is the reason why I feel the color of choice for that press conference was taupe (or subdued shades of beige if you prefer). It was sending a visual cue to all that we are not fiercely red, white, and blue. We are taupe. Just look at our most important room of honor and power to back this up was the messaging being conveyed in my opinion.

The real issue and problem with this messaging is if the people who it was intended to reach (i.e., other world leaders) receive it and view it the same way as the people the president represents. As “weak and embarrassing.”

Agree or not with the policies, but the decision for that suit in my opinion was anything but a faux pas, it was intentional.

What really matters in the end will be just how much of an error in judgment it turns out to be. For all our sakes, I hope it winds up to be no more than a detail on a Joan Rivers Fashion Police™ tape.

I hoped so, too.

And this, from an administration that put a high value on optics.

Faux pas or intentional, you be the judge.

Not Suited to the Job

Obama at his presser.

Before he even got to the jaw dropping comment that he had no strategy for dealing with ISIS, President Obama shocked his audience when he came out to his press conference in that terrible tan suit.

Even his supporters made fun of it. “Taupe and change,” one said. Another tweeter referred to “the audacity of taupe.” It was not a look that screamed power, manliness or a resolute message. It was as bland as what he said. Presidents rarely have veered from the dark blue suit and this is the reason why. It doesn’t look serious. It looks like he’s going to a summer party in the Hamptons or on a grifting scheme.

Do you think ISIS or ISIL as the president likes to say in a sidestep to the mention of Iraq and Syria, started shaking in their boots with that look? He might as well have come out with a bow tie and then looked like PeeWee Herman or a white suit to emulate author Tom Wolfe. Neither of those get ups would inspire confidence, much less intimidate the enemy.

Maybe he was channeling his inner FDR who like to wear light colored suits and a box tie. However, FDR didn’t face the camera’s scrutiny as he would today partly because there wasn’t TV and partly because of his handicap, which the press shielded for him. He wouldn’t have allowed himself to look weak.

Or maybe Obama was aiming for the Frank Underwood/House of Cards look. Obama’s certainly scheming enough but Underwood would probably have ditched that get up or at least pounded his ring on the table in some show of aggression. It’s hard to imagine Obama in some show of physical strength, particularly after those work out videos that surfaced showing him using one pound weights.

Too bad Joan Rivers is in a coma because she would surely have nailed this on her Fashion Police. She hasn’t held back on Michelle, whose upper arms seem decidedly stronger than her husband’s.

Maybe Obama wanted to show up in a light colored Nehru suit. Maybe that would have connected with the Muslim radicals in ISIS/ISIL. He could even have worn the little cap. Do you think many in the media would have questioned that?

We probably won’t be subjected to this lightweight look again as summer is ending. We probably won’t hear him say he doesn’t have a strategy again either. His advisors won’t stomach that.

But for now, he’s still clothed in ineptitude.

Bear-ly There

President Obama loves to say “the bear is loose” whenever he leaves his Oval Office den and goes out among “the folks” for a burger or a beer.

Must be some macho thing that appeals to him. Obama sees himself as an unpredictable force on the rampage, protecting his cubs. Kind of like Sarah Palin’s “Mama Grizzly” only in the male sense. Does he really think he bears (pardon me) any resemblance to one at all?

If there is a bear in mind when people think of him, maybe one of these is more visually accurate:

Is this him?
Or Pooh?
Or Baloo?
Or Captain Kangaroo’s Dancing Bear?

The Russian bear he is not. Putin’s the one on the move, gobbling up turf, running off the opposition and feasting on his winnings. In his press conference today, Obama more or less left it up to the UN to wrestle with the problem of the downed plane. He expressed his displeasure and outrage, but he was as forceful as this:

On foreign policy, Obama’s a bear all right. Barely there.