October 7, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 7:39 PM


A Fantasy Election, an Imaginary Man : Barack Obama has always been less real than dream--a media dream. (ANDREW KLAVAN, 5 October 2012, City Journal)

Even before his inauguration, Barack Obama was an imaginary man, the creation of his admirers. Think back to the 2008 Time magazine cover depicting him as FDR, the Newsweek cover of the same year on which he was shown casting Lincoln's shadow, or the $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize awarded to him "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"--this in 2009, less than a year after he had taken office. It was not that Obama had done nothing to deserve these outsized comparisons and honors--it was not just that he had done nothing--it was that he seemed for all the world to be a blank screen on which such hysterical fantasies could too easily be projected, a two-dimensional paper doll just waiting to be dressed in leftist dreams.

This weird quality of emptiness incited the imaginations of his opponents as well. Among the more paranoid on the right, he's been called several kinds of Manchurian Candidate: a radical disguised as a moderate, a Muslim disguised as a Christian, a foreigner disguised as an American, and so on. The idea was that his hollow identity was his own insidious creation, the result of sealed college records, votes of "present" in the Illinois state senate, and a supra-partisan persona carefully crafted after a scuttled lifetime of revolutionary ferocity.

If nothing else, the last four years have been hilarious, as we've gotten to watch the two wings try and inflate this quintessentially empty suit into a world historical figure.

Posted by orrinj at 7:33 PM


Is Obama More Puritanical Than Romney? (Peter Lawler, October 7, 2012, Big Think)

My own more fair-and-balanced judgment is that being puritanical is an indispensable component of being American. It can be both good and bad, and it's mainly good when properly checked by our devotion to personal or individual liberty. If it weren't for our puritanical streak, we Americans would be too libertarian, too indifferent to the well-being of our fellow citizens and fellow creatures.

If it weren't for our libertarian streak, we'd be too intrusive and meddlesome; we wouldn't leave each other alone in peace and freedom at all. 

We don't want to be as sexually repressive as the Puritans, who wanted to punish adultery with death and even make kissing in public illegal.  

Seems reasonable.
Posted by orrinj at 1:53 PM


High-yield bonds worth the risk, fund manager says : Jim Keenan, who manages the $9.3-billion BlackRock High Yield Bond Fund, says such bonds provide equity-like returns with lower risk. (Stuart Pfeifer, 10/05/12, Los Angeles Times)

[W]here's an income-hungry investor to turn? One option is high-yield bonds, which are paying about 6% but carry risk that issuing companies may default, eroding the bonds' value.

Jim Keenan, who manages the $9.3-billion BlackRock High Yield Bond Fund, said bonds issued by companies with less-than-perfect credit ratings are a good investment because they provide equity-like returns with lower risk. His fund has a yield of about 5.9%.

"Today, if you're cautious and want to protect your wealth you're going to get a real negative result if you sit in cash," Keenan said. "The value of the dollar is 2% to 3% less every year. Sitting in cash is to some degree a destruction of the value of your currency."

High-yield bonds, typically referred to as junk bonds, are from companies with troubled credit ratings. In order to attract investors, these companies offer higher interest rates to bond holders.

Keenan, 36, supervises a team at BlackRock's New York office that searches for bargains in these beaten-down brands. The fund returned 17% for the first three quarters of 2012, if dividends were reinvested in the security.

Posted by orrinj at 1:48 PM


The Shield Cracks: Obama Is Now In Real Trouble (Rick Wilson, 10/06/12, Ricochet)

When the hermetic, perfect world created in 2008 came into being, the Lightbringer at its center was protected from the moment of his nomination in a kind of numinous cloud of cultural, media and elite opinion protection.

Jokes about Obama, well...they just weren't funny. "It's hard to make fun of Obama in general because he's a cool character," said Jimmy Kimmel. Noah Rothman called it "Obama's prohibitive coolness."

Criticism of his policies and politics were obviously racist in nature...what other explanation could possibly obtain? Mockery of his pomposity, his flagrant sense of personal grandeur, his Administration-as-personality-cult was a product of Republican sour grapes (and, duh, racism).

Even the mild comedic hits on Obama in popular culture were anodyne, bloodless things and mostly along the themes of his coolness, his intellect, his perfection. He was the straight man to the GOP foil.  He was the cool kid in the room full of conservative dorks.  One famous incident of self-editing to protect the image of President Cool was a spiked SNL skit.

What strikes me about the New Yorker cover is that it not only clearly takes Obama down several pegs, but references the Eastwood moment of the RNC convention, which we were assured by our betters for several weeks was a disaster for the Romney campaign. Think about it: the New Yorker is mocking Barack Obama using an image from a gag from the Republican National Convention.

It's a singularity of irony, they just don't know it.

Posted by orrinj at 7:05 AM


Does Barack Obama really want to be president? (Melinda Henneberger on October 5, 2012, Washington Post)

Seeing our president hanging out at podiums in Charlotte and now Denver, his famous competitiveness nowhere to be seen, has left me with a question I wish I didn't have: Does Barack Obama really want to be president?

He wanted to have been president, he just had nothing he wanted to do as president.