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      Looks like Chris made a boo-boo: A PandoDaily investigation has discovered evidence that Gov. Chris Christie’s pending deal to award a $300 million pension management contract to a controversial hedge fund is in violation of state anti-corruption laws. New Jersey state pay-to-play statutes prohibit state contractors from directly or indirectly financially su […]
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      The Ukrainian military clearly doesn’t care enough to actually fight: The day began inauspiciously for Ukrainian forces as they sought to establish an operating base in the city of Kramatorsk, moving in units from a nearby military air base. According to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and a witness who spoke by phone, a column of six [...]
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Faking an Orgasm for Obama.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re in bed with the guy and he’s just not that good. He thinks he’s Dirk Diggler but he zigs when you zag. He sticks his tongue in your ear and you really hate that. And you just know he’s going to go on and on and on and never get to the point unless you hurry things along.

And you can’t stop thinking about that guy you were with last night.

I think you’re going to have to fake it tonight, Dems.

Arrogance, Insanity and Sociopaths

Back to the basement for more disinfecting, etc.  In the meantime, I’ve been checking out videos of Varna award winners.  The International Ballet Competition at Varna, Bulgaria every year attracts the best and brightest in the ballet world.  These young dancers go on to professional careers as principal dancers in companies all over the world.  And some of them still look like they’re having fun years later.  Here’s Michele Wiles, former Varna winner and principal dancer at ABT, checking out a slow motion camera:

I love to see people doing what they love with intensity and passion.  When they have obvious gifts, it’s hard not to be fascinated with them.  People who have a vision, perserverence and a fanatical devotion to perfection are charismatic and it’s easier to tolerate their faults.

Take Steve Jobs, for example.  The CEO of Apple recently stepped down presumably because his health was getting in the way of his work.  That must be maddeningly frustrating for a guy at the top of his field at a very creative period of his life.  Joe Nocera has a column in the NYTimes that describes Jobs’ working style and his less than diplomatic management style:

 The businessman I met 25 years ago violated every rule of management. He was not a consensus-builder but a dictator who listened mainly to his own intuition. He was a maniacal micromanager. He had an astonishing aesthetic sense, which businesspeople almost always lack. He could be absolutely brutal in meetings: I watched him eviscerate staff members for their “bozo ideas.”

The Steve Jobs I watched that week was arrogant, sarcastic, thoughtful, learned, paranoid and “insanely” (to use one of his favorite words) charismatic.

The Steve Jobs the rest of the world has gotten to know in the nearly 15 years since he returned to Apple is no different. He never mellowed, never let up on Apple employees, never stopped relying on his singular instincts in making decisions about how Apple products should look and how they should work. Just a few months ago, Fortune published an article about life inside Apple; it opened with an anecdote in which Jobs cut his staff to ribbons for putting out a product that failed to meet his standards. But his instincts have been so unerringly good — and his charisma so powerful — that Apple employees were willing to follow him wherever he led. Apple will miss those instincts.

The guy never mellowed.

Atrios wrote today about sociopaths, the politicians whose goal seems to just get elected and don’t really care about stuff.  It’s hard to know whether he’s referring to the current Republican slate or Obama himself.  I’m not sure these people are sociopaths.  That would require a charm offensive of some sort and from where I sit, none of the people running for president so far have an excess of sociopathic charm.  The Obama contingent of 2008 were clearly mesmerized by something else because, trust me, guys, he wasn’t at all charismatic in 2008.  Obama’s success derived from a slick marketing campaign with a clever aspirational appeal and not from any intrinsic strengths or gifts on the part of the candidate.

We could take a lesson from Jobs.  Charisma comes not from some syrupy appeal to bipartisanship or the reflected light of the thousands of upturned faces of Christian fanatics.  It comes from the drive to produce something new and different, something that no one has ever seen before, something that will hit the reset switch of what is expected.  People like Jobs don’t like compromise, especially when that compromise interferes with the idea in their heads.  That is what makes a leader.  A leader can afford to be a little arrogant and demanding.  Leaders are out in front.  They shift to a higher energy level and expect us to keep up with them.

What we’ve got here in the presidential candidates of 2012 is not so much a collection of sociopaths but a bunch of uninspiring radical conformists.  They aspire to nothing, they pander to all.  They are no leaders.  The sociopaths are the ones standing behind them.  There’s not much we can do about the Republican slate of candidates.  The whole party is speaking a different language and lives in a parallel universe.  The Democrats are a whole other story.  It’s still possible to take this campaign season up to a new energy level.

Think Different.

Sunday: It’s not Republicans I’m worried about

Premature empoppulation?

Paul Krugman writes a post about the Republican party, which seems to be churning out more and more unorthodox candidates as it searches desperately for the magic bullet.  He mocks Pawlenty’s opposition to fiat currencies.  In general, the post sounds like a lot of left blogosphere types who are counting on Republicans to be so messed up that they turn off the electorate.

But that’s because lefties tend to ignore human nature, including their own.

There is a lot of economic pressure on Americans right now and I’m betting that many of them will swap something they hold dear for immediate relief of stress.  By the time the 2012 election rolls around, the Great Recession will be four years old and many families will be ruined by joblessness, no health benefits and foreclosure.  I have no doubt that Republicans WANT it that way.  They are going to keep Obama’s minimal accomplishments to even more of a minimum.  Obama, in turn, is cooperating because as the master strategist he was reported to be, he isn’t.  And he doesn’t use the bully pulpit well either.  Oh, and he hasn’t ended the wars, created a jobs program, truly reformed health care, equalized pay between the sexes, enforced the suspension of DADT or any of the other things he said he did that he really didn’t but thinks we aren’t paying attention to call him on it.

We’re paying attention.

Nevertheless, Republicans have a weird way of rallying the troops.  I wouldn’t count them out. My gut feeling is that voters who tend to go Republican are itching for an alternative to Obama.  What I see happening is that the coalition that Obama cobbled together in 2008 isn’t going to hold together.  I’ve read many posts on  the web that suggest that AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka was just bluffing on Friday when he promised to create an independent labor movement.  It was more of the “where else are you going to go?” crap.  If I were Democrats, I’d take Trumka’s threat more seriously because there are a lot of working people who are disgusted with both parties right now.  And Democrats only have to look to Canada to see how the next election may play out if Democrats continue to leave so many voters on the table.

Democrats have learned nothing from Jon Corzine’s defeat to Chris Christie, Martha Coakley’s defeat by Scott Brown  and Blanche Lincoln’s primary struggle.  It wasn’t a sudden last minute increase in the number of Republicans to the polls that did these lukewarm Democrats in.  It was adherence to a party line that didn’t accommodate the base.  Republicans didn’t turn out so much as Democrats stayed home.  Those elections were warnings to Democrats that they are not heeding.

If I were the Democrats, I wouldn’t be nuking the popcorn yet.

Kanye West may Save Obama’s Presidency

(With apologies to Taylor Swift)

Kanye West may save Obama’s presidency. When President Obama said “He’s a jackass.”, the President confirmed a simple truth about civic virtue that transcended most political boundaries.

Importantly, he did so authentically. His statement was not the product of intense focus group distillation.

The comment leaked (hmm) and it met with significant approval. Unsurprisingly, given President Obama’s historic fall from favorability grace, the video was “released” by CNN.

In the video, the President is charming just being himself. His charm is but a bonus, however, because the People’s approval was based on his bare words.

Mr. West’s act could save Obama’s presidency, if “President Obama” recognizes the simple truth of why his comment worked. The people who voted for him did so because he promised to speak the truth and he promised to act on the truth. His statement both spoke and performatively acted on the truth of Mr. West’s behavior.  The People approved.

It’s remarkable that Obama has not realized the power of being honest, given that the promise of honesty carried him to power. Heck, he even disarmed the faux race angle of the incident, which delivers on the post-racial promise (that others made for him).

So, if President Obama realizes that being honest and keeping his promises (general as they were) will give him the best chance of having a second term, then perhaps he’ll adopt doing so as an election strategy. If he does, then his presidency will be historically important because he will be an example of how people benefit by doing the right thing.

UPDATE: Many of you think my modest proposal is not too swift. That is not a bad outcome.

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