Obama’s Cuban Homage

President Obama, in his waning days, has chosen to pay homage to the last vestige of his youthful Alinsky dreams…..this island of two prisons, one, Obama’s own of less than a hundred political prisoners at Guantanamo which he seeks to close, and one, the entire island of 11 million Cubans, political prisoners all which he seeks to keep open.

He has gone to this island nation, giving it credence and visibility by his very presence which in sequence will lead to increased visitation and income that will accrue to the Castro regime and its repressive future. Obama has asked nothing from the regime in return for this largesse. Why has he done this?

To the discerning eye, this last and tiny piece of pure Communism is a cruel cartoon of its glorious hopeful beginnings. Its frozen decay is confirmation of the futility and illusions of the Marxist philosophy, the same philosophy that imbues the visions of America’s future in the minds of Obama and Sanders and Clinton and most professors. Every image shouts failure. Thousands of autos, none beyond the 50’s vintages show the sudden end to an economy after the Castro victory. This may be the main benefit of Obama’s visit…to highlight this museum of Marxist/Socialist failure. This is the life and social conditions that accompany all that “free stuff”.

Obama was bred in Marxism. His father was a Marxist. His Mother was a Marxist. His step-father was a Marxist. His mentors were all Marxists. His professors were prevalently Marxists. His friend Bill Ayers is a Marxist. His idol Saul Alinsky was a Marxist. From this milieu how does Obama escape being a Marxist? He was compelled against all logic to make this visit to Cuba. He had to stand as POTUS amidst this lost island of failed Marxist dreams. It was a personal pilgrimage. It was a compulsion. Every freedom minded exiled and non-exiled Cuban has to feel betrayed. Obama gave credence to their oppressors. Obama can give all the cant and rhetoric to cover his visit, but it was in fact no more than a memorial tour of his own shattered youthful dreams. Was he hoping to see where it all went wrong? Was he hoping to see some trace of authenticity, a smidgen of success where there is none? I hope all its failures give him pause. Enough with the socialist/Marxist dreams. They don’t work! Communism, socialism, Marxism are all simulacra of words. They do not work in reality! Enough! Enough!

But it is late for that. POTUS has already done his damage, and Hillary and Bernie threaten more. They still hold out these failed dreams to the electorate. To bend the words of Ozamandias to these images of Cuba, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”

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Trump and the Icahn Playbook

Donald Trump has commonly invoked the name Carl Icahn among those he admires in the business world. Let’s take a look at the Icahn playbook which may give us an insight into the Trump playbook if he should be elected POTUS.

Icahn has made himself a vast financial fortune in a variety of ways, but his most popular one currently is this:

He looks for a valuable corporation that has fallen on torpid times. A once thriving entity is now beset by lethargy, poor productivity, poor shareholder value, lack of innovation and lack of leadership. He buys a substantial position in the company’s stock and via that position get himself and/or his surrogate(s) on the Board. Once in that role they advocate for changes that they feel would improve shareholder value, which coincidentally now includes themselves.

Commonly he asks for management changes either in policy or persons or both. The corporation that Icahn commonly targets is one that once had importance, productivity, innovation and brand. In most cases, it has now become a personal vehicle for the status and aggrandizement of management itself. Large salaries, generous stock options, sinecures, self-serving committees, golden parachutes, a vast comfort zone for management. Corporations in practice are owned by the shareholders. Management is chosen to serve the best interests of the shareholders. As corporations age, most of them forget that original allegiance and purpose. Enter Mr. Icahn.

I would suggest that this is exactly the problem with Washington today. It is a management team that was originally created to guide the government apparatus for the good purposes and outcomes for its shareholders, namely us! We the citizens are the shareholders of America, and those elected to serve are there at our convenience and concurrence. .

The voters of the center and right are looking for someone to enact a hostile takeover of the now vested interests of those we sent to serve, and who no longer do. Suddenly, and to the surprise of the Republican party, the establishment is being threatened with either performing in the best interests of the shareholders or get out. Their response is one of panic, shock and fear. They are rightly in fear. Their hold on their fiefdom is in jeopardy. It never was theirs, but they have forgotten that. That they serve, not own has been forgotten.

Trump has no dog in that fight. Neither he nor Icahn care a hoot about entrenched management. Start to innovate. Start to pare waste from the budget. Start to promote the creative and the smart, the best and the brightest even if they are first year senators or reps. Start to balance your budget. Start to create new jobs. Seek out synergies. Cooperate for the good of the shareholders. Begin to do all these things or get out.

This is all the Trump/Icahn playbook asks. They don’t pretend to have every answer for every problem, but their goal is to get management to find those people or Trump/Icahn will find them themselves. The incumbent management is on notice. Perform or get out of the way. That is the Trump threat! That is what is creating all the panic and fear. My God, someone is actually challenging them to do their job. Once that is the mission, the timid and thwarted, the bright but intimidated will step out of the shadows. Too long have freshman senators and reps been told that if you want to prosper in Washington, get committee appointments and chairmanships, learn to play ball with the old guard, the repeating incumbents. Fresh ideas are not welcome. Showing allegiances are.

This freshening is the very liberty that a Trump/Icahn approach will unloose. This is the very anathema to entrenched management. This is all we ask as shareholders in America. Serve our needs, not yours. Serve your country. not your office. Get things done, or we’ll find someone else who can get things done. Such a simple reminder of how the Republic should work is all that is being demanded by the supporters of DJT. So far, management, Democratic and Republican, has made a mess out of things, here and in the world. On careful scrutiny there is absolutely no component, division or department of government that has acted in the best interests of the country as a whole. They have all served their own or their favorite’s personal interests. All politics in Washington has become local politics. They serve the Hill, not America. They pretend to serve America; they say they serve the American people, but they don’t. They serve their own best interests. (And that is often the best interests of all the corporate PACs as well). They have created a simulacrum of government, not a real and functioning government.

The real has been forgotten. The shareholders have been forgotten. It is a shareholder rebellion; the shareholders are demanding the kind of change that they see only corporate raiders and vigilantes being able to impose. The entrenched management in Washington is not going to give up their parvenus and sinecures easily. It took the guillotine in France. Fortunately here, it will be the bloodless vote that will seek to rid us of the sullen and the self-satisfied.

His critics say Trump doesn’t know anything about government. Maybe at this juncture that is a plus. He does know business. He does know corporate governess. He does know how to assemble management, promote the able, disenfranchise the merely hangers-on. Either a player in a role gets that role done, or someone else gets the chair. Private industry standards imposed on public service scares the bejesus out of the establishment. That’s the panic in Washington. That’s the panic the public wants. America no longer wants the Bushes or the Clintons. Out with old that has ceased functioning, and in the with the new! Let the chips fall where they may. Once we’ve cleared the old wood, then send out the call to all, the new and talented. Come to Washington. Come and help us make things work. Come and help us make things right. Demand and help us serve the shareholders of America. And these shareholder benefits must accrue to all Americans, rich, poor, black, white, Chicano. Every American should prosper from a properly serving management team in Washington. That’s all we ask.

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Trump…..the Authentic Candidate?

Since this is a blog about authenticity, a virtue that my book”see my book” advocates, let’s apply our theses to the upcoming elections. As we have noted earlier, authenticity is one of the most absent personal virtues of a politician. Almost by definition, a politician is one who caters to what he or she thinks their constituency wants to hear. Thus they forsake authenticity for expediency. By this definition, Hillary Clinton is the least authentic candidate within either party.

At the other end, of all the candidates, of either party, the one who gathers voters and supporters for his non-political, “tell it like it is” spontaneity is Donald Trump. This definition should make him necessarily “authentic”. He is perceived as “what you see is what you get”. He seems without subterfuge or deceit. Those virtues are the very definition of authenticity. But is this the full and sufficient test? Let’s explore.

There is no doubt that on first blush, D. J. Trump is authentic in that he commonly speaks first and thinks later. And that first thought is often brash, unfettered, and unadjusted for unintended consequences. It comes from the gut or heart whichever you prefer. That kind of unfiltered spontaneous speech is commonly seen as authentic and real. And there is no necessary reason to doubt that. Sincerity is a kind of honesty.

But let’s go a step deeper. I believe there are people in this world, that I have met, and so have you, that simply have a sincere “gift of gab”, a genuine garrulous persona that draws us toward them, but with sometimes no clear adherence to truth or precision. They don’t knowingly lie or deceive; they seem to have too good a nature to do that, but they can’t always be trusted to be telling the truth. They seem to wish no harm. They just engage you, and everybody feels good. These types are often good at sales. They are natural salespeople. They believe everything they say about their product. They are sincere. But that belief and sincerity may not be accurate. They do not examine their product into its finest parts. Their “spiel” may contain actual falsehoods. But by that unintended falsehood they meant no harm. That is their saving grace. They have a good heart. They believe what they say is true, because their belief comes from the heart.

I believe this profile captures the gist of Trump. He is authentic to himself. He believes what he says, but he has not examined it in depth, and there may be undetected falsehoods in those depths. That is where this kind of authentic self may be a bit oblique to the truth of things. In its most basic sense, authenticity is truthful. There can be no deception either intended or inadvertent to true authenticity. To this extent, then, I think Trump is authentic on the first more superficial level, but less than authentic on the more demanding level or definition.

Even though such a person may be selling you snake oil, there is a certain innocence to it. There is an automatic forgiveness in us because we sense this inadvertent confusion. We humor them. We take the good, and sort out the superfluous and mistaken. There are no lies, just mistakes.

Anyone with a practiced manner, no matter how sincere and truthful, risks the image of playing to the listener. Kasich is a good example. He may be the other most authentic. But his practiced speeches and their content, make him suspect. He never gets traction.

Trump is capitalizing on his propensity to make social and conversational spontaneous gaffes. He does not seek to hide his foibles. In this day and current mood, that is the obverse of political correctness, the curse of America’s forgotten. He gains traction for the very lack of cant and rhetoric. He is the right person at the right time. A personality type whose time has come.

I think Trump passes the first filters of authenticity. He may not be my or many people’s first choice. But he is the first choice of many others, and if that gets him elected, his naïve authenticity could be effective in shattering the foundations of a sclerotic Washington, D.C. He is not afraid of change. He is not afraid to trust his gut. He is not afraid of his own authenticity. If elected he needs to be surrounded with other talents that will fill and support his limitations. I think his instincts are keen, authentic and well-intended, and with a well chosen cabinet, VP and other key appointments, we could have a refreshing and effective re-creation of our political structure, lead by his fearlessness and adjudicated by talented others….. with immediate and overdue results.

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Bernie’s Illusional Gift to the Young

Bernie Sanders galvanizes the young. This seems amazing to many. I will explore one thread here that may make his appeal clearer.

I share one biographical fact to help persuade on the point I make. I taught for many years and at one point in a major university. I was rather shocked in my first year there to find that many of the faculty and the authors of various textbooks were admitted Marxists. We generally accept that the faculties of most colleges and universities are liberal and left leaning in their politics. But living within that environment, attending department meetings and university inspired colloquiums, it soon became apparent that the left leaning was commonly at the very far left of the spectrum.

These are the cadres that have educated your young.

Now back to Bernie. He inspires the young with his antagonism to the wealthy and powerful, and his promise to breach that citadel and level the playing field making opportunity and wealth equally shared by all. His brand of socialism is not far off from communism. This is the same kind of social promise that was sold to the oppressed innocents in the 1900’s.

Back to the professors. Communism under the theories of Marx and Engels began as a promise to end class distinctions and warfare. It got a bad name under Stalin and the Cold War. After it crumbled, it was resurrected under the name Marxism to purge it of its awful realities in the Soviet Union and other oppressive regimes around the world. This Utopian version was once again taught in the universities as the new dream. Our young, our recent grads were taught Marxism and Socialism as the dream solution the same way that energized the disenfranchised when first proffered by Marx and Lenin. At that time no one conceived of the oppressive version, the version that simply didn’t work and couldn’t deliver the promises in the history that was about to unfold.

Bernie sells this same dreamy version of socialism/communism to the young who by virtue of their education by Marxist professors are ready-made for the moment. They’re too young to have lived through and seen the vicious tyrannical days of Communism…..the purges, the genocides, the millions of dead sacrificed to an idea that didn’t work. They equally don’t seem to notice that the great socialistic experiment in most European countries is no longer working there either.

That doesn’t stop Bernie. The American Great Recession plus all of the above has made our young population a ready embracer of the utopian dream that the older crowd knows doesn’t work. Bernie thrives on this innocence. Bernie thrives on this learned naiveté.

The sins of greed and capitalism were all too revealed in the mortgage crisis of 2008. That is a history the young lived. They deserve some slack for their revolutionary love of the Sanders’ solution. Subtleties do not prevail in presidential campaigns.

Marxist Socialism was sold as a dream in the early 1900’s. It is being sold again as a utopian dream to the young today. We must all work to bring the naiveté of the young up to a more mature currency. We must continue their education beyond their professors. This upcoming election is a chance to do just that.

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Legacy Scripts

As readers of this blog and my book,”see my book“, you know that narratives and scripts are the lynchpins of both. Watching someone create their own narrative should be instructive. To that end I encourage you, with your critical insights, to watch President Obama write his legacy script during his last year in office.

He has already begun. At this point, he is more interested in cementing his legacy than he is in legislation or international diplomacy. His primary avenue will be the granted “interview”. Although this will seem forthright and unrehearsed, it will be delicately crafted and controlled. What may seem spontaneous and sincere questions, are most certainly pre-written and imposed upon the interviewer. His thoughtful and almost agonized answer is a portrait in fine acting.

His speeches equally will seem spontaneous and unrehearsed in the “off the cuff” portions. But there too it is carefully planned and rehearsed. He only has a few months to control his narrative, and surprising events across the world will intervene this careful narrative.

Most Presidents come into office as egos in pursuit of history. To endure the punishment of running for offices over the decades and then the most severe of all campaigns is to show the deep determination it entails. To that extent, the final year is crucial to securing the ego part in history.

As an aside, I might suggest that our greatest Presidents in history, might well be those that were forced into office by circumstance. I think of Harry Truman. Forced into office in the midst of a world war and its aftermath, he had no wish for it, and no time to ponder his place in history. He found in himself capacities and wisdom he knew not he had. His post presidential life would confirm his ego-less humility. Humility generally does not get you elected to the highest office in the land.

Obama came into the Presidency fully afloat on his persona. He had no experience. He had no resume. A first term senator, a community organizer, an acolyte of Alinsky, he had a narrow vocal range within which to sing.

He could have learned on the job better than he did. Instead, he lingered in his ego. His Armani suit and Air Force One were VERY important to him. With so little history of his own, the trappings were critically important to his narrative. I do believe he never got outside his skin in this job. And still being so, completing and sharpening his exit narrative is more important to Obama than it has been to most Presidents before him. That is why the composition of his final narrative will prove so instructive to us as we watch his exit narrative co-exist with the other eight aspiring narratives that evolve in those who now seek his vacating office.

Postscript: Equally here, we have studied scripts and narratives for their authenticity and their opposite, the dreaded simulacrum. Because he has so lived within himself during his Presidency, I think it likely, that Obama’s exit narrative will be false and inflated and in denial of much of his actual Presidential history and events. To that extent, it will be in-authentic and a delusional simulacrum that he hopes will stand the test of time and history. With Ego, in-authenticity and the simulacrum as the three legs of his stool, I think it will not, in fact, bear the weight of time and history.

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van Beethoven

Since my book,”see my book” and this blog ultimately seeks the Holy Grail of Authenticity, I like to note people who may have achieved that state. Earlier I wrote a blog on the Three Roosevelts as examples. Today, I turn to Ludwig.

Innate genetics and circumstances combine to determine us. Beethoven was a childhood musical genius. He had an exploitive, harsh and alcoholic father who sought gain from his prodigy. After his mother died, Ludwig eventually achieved a “divorce”, through the courts, of his father and took over the care of his sibling family. And unusual tack to autonomy.

Musically, he stood on the cusp of classical forms as articulated by Vivaldi, Bach, Hayden and Mozart. It was van Beethoven who moved in his own musical direction….that of the personal, self-realizing romantic approach to music that distinguished his compositions from all those that came before him. He broke mold after mold. This gradual process continued, finding its fullest fruition in his Ninth, which for the first time included voices and a choir within the symphonic structure. He was following his own musical internal ear.

That brings us to the other circumstantial reason he may have been further enabled in his search for personal authentic expression. He was going deaf. He was descending inevitably into personal isolation. His music had fewer and fewer outside influences. His personal behavior also became increasingly idiosyncratic. He shuffled about town in odd clothing. He mumbled to himself and said outrageous retorts to others. He was withdrawn and angry. All symptoms of deafness and its isolating powers. But in his angry isolation, he found an increasingly different muse. Most music historians will accede that Beethoven was the singular break with the music traditions of his time and turned music toward the romantic and personal expression era that continues today.

I leave you, the reader, to explore Beethoven’s biography. But I think it is fair to say and note that he stands as an epic example of a person seeking and attaining his own personal valid autonomy and authenticity. He came back from frequent and brutal precipices in that life long effort, but he prevailed. He stands as one testimony to the struggle toward and achievement of personal Authenticity. And in that, he changed the music of his day, and left for us the works of genius that to this day tower in the world of musical composition.

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Epiphenomenon

This blog has focused on simulacra which are false alternative realities that are difficult to discern as false. There is another alternative reality that may not be false, but simply disconnected.

An epiphenomenon is a separate but included reality that has its own integrity and is not false. We can be engaged in an epiphenomenon and mistake it for a false sim. Such a moment may seem like a dream, a psychic disconnect.

Since this blog is also about the search for authenticity, I believe there is a revealing connection here. If one looks at art historically, it seems to often exist apart from or in the midst of destructive or unsupportive times. Whether the caves of Lascaux, or the Renaissance, or individual histories of artists, the creative moment and the resultant “art” is immune to the prevailing and often negative surroundings of the “artist”. I think the moment of personal creativity is a divorced, but authentic moment within an individual’s life that is a detached and isolated epiphenomenon.

There is no telling from where or when a creative moment may come. It is suddenly just there. Most artists or “creators” in science or mediums of various kinds will tell you that such moments exist out of time and place. It is a magical transformation. One exists outside of one’s everyday. But I would make the case that it is still connected to one’s own integrity and not a false simulacrum. It may be the very refuge from the false simulacra that this blog so reviles. It emerges wholly from within. It may be influenced by unconscious flows or lost memories, but it is integral. It is the fullest flower of personal authenticity, though it seems to exist in dislocated time and place. It would be well described as an epiphenomenon.

This adds a new component to our search for truth, self and authenticity. The very sense of detachment within an epiphenomenon may be the immunity we seek from false scripts imposed by others. This may be our internal refuge from “lifeastheater”. These “creative moments” should not be solely seen as moments of genius by select visionaries. They may reach to those heights. But they also exist for us all as truthful moments of self-inspection and honesty wherein we see ourselves and reveal ourselves with insights heretofore unseen.

The avenues to these moments are unpredictable and often surprising. They can occur in night dreams, day dreams, staring at clouds or seascapes, meditating or eating a Madeline. But they are treasures to be found and nurtured. Beware the dreaded simulacrum, but watch for and embrace the fecund epiphenomenon. It’s the epiphenomena in your life that may be the reservoirs of your authentic Self. Watch for them; live them; collect them; embrace them!

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