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Belmont Club

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

February 26th, 2013 - 12:50 pm

There’s a scene in the Zero Dark Thirty movie when the actor playing the CIA director descends to the regular staff cafeteria and deigns to talk at a table with ‘Maya’ — Jessica Chastain — the analyst  pursuing Osama Bin Laden. The audience understands this act of abasement shows Maya’s importance. Wow the gods are descending from Olympus. Look the director is actually sitting in the cafeteria! The question is why that should be so astounding.

Three hundred years ago people seemed more modern. In the early days of the United States, the president’s neighbors, as in the guys who lived next door, would sometimes stop by and have coffee with the incumbent. The British ambassador once found Thomas Jefferson in his gardening outfit when he came for dinner.

But now we’ve regressed to the medieval and to before that: all the way back to the world of classical Greece. To the age of spears and shields and gods descending from Olympus. Gods? Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to understand the concept. Asked if she would take a pay cut due to the budget crisis she said: “I don’t think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do. I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.”

If Pelosi doesn’t take home a lot of government money you might think she hasn’t earned it.

Pelosi has “rewarded the job” in the same way that the CIA director graced the cafeteria in the movie. Ennobled it by their presence. Lent it a dignity it otherwise would not have. I once stayed at a hotel in Canberra with a plaque in front of one of the rooms proclaiming that ‘Lyndon Johnson slept here.’ I would like to sleep in that room, wouldn’t you?

Ironically the poorer people become the more they seem to crave the spectacle of glitter. In the old days the peasants lined the scummy streets to watch as the Royal carriage threw mud in their face. Today they thrill to the sight of politicians cavorting with the stars, golfing with celebrity athletes, dancing on TV, hobnobbing at the Oscars. The technology is different. But the psychology is the same.  The sad substitution of vicarious fantasy for a future they will never have themselves.

Presidents have become the new kings.  Monarchs on steroids. Mark Steyn in his article The Royal Presidency argued that modern Presidents live much better than real-life kings.

According to the USAF, in 2010 Air Force One cost American taxpayers $181,757 per flight hour. According to the Royal Canadian Air Force, in 2011 the CC-150 Polaris military transport that flew William and Kate from Vancouver to Los Angeles cost Her Majesty’s Canadian subjects $15,505 per hour — or about 8/100ths of the cost. …

In his recent book Presidential Perks Gone Royal, Robert Keith Gray, a former Eisenhower staffer, revealed that last year the U.S. presidency cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion. Over the same period, the entire royal family cost British taxpayers about $57 million. There’s nothing “royal” about the current level of “presidential perks”: The Obama family costs taxpayers more than every European royal house put together.

But Steyn doesn’t understand (or perhaps he understands all too well) or he wouldn’t be outraged. This level of pomp and grandeur is a sacrifice the incumbent must make to keep up the dignity (there’s that word again) of the office.  He doesn’t want it. As Nancy Pelosi explained, it would demean America if the President didn’t force himself to play golf with Tiger Woods or fly off to New York with the a logistical tail equal to that of an Army battalion. It is a hardship that Presidents must undertake: to endure the loneliness of command, the inconvenience of Air Force One, the stares of the public. All to keep up the dignity of the Republic.

Dignity paid for by secret tears.

The public standard for Presidential opulence and demeanor probably came from Hollywood. ‘The President’ has been variously played by James Caan, George Clooney, Michael Douglas, Warren Beatty, Harrison Ford, Mark Harmon, Morgan Freeman, Gregory Peck, Bill Pullman and John Travolta. In those depictions the President is tall, handsome, well dressed and gives nice speeches.  In them can do anything. Incinerate an enemy nation, redistribute the entire national wealth, end bigotry, negotiate with space aliens and fall in love with a beautiful woman — sometimes all in the same movie. Movie Presidents don’t do anything so mundane as work. They move from glittering scene to glittering scene trading one liners or impressing people with their wisdom.

It was inevitable that at some point the current incumbent would realize that in order to remain credible he had to act like a fantasy figure. He rediscovered what kings knew for a long time: the crown and ermine are worn because that’s what people think a king wears. The President must live like a Hollywood President because that’s how real presidents act.

People are shocked to watch the CIA director eat in a cafeteria because CIA directors never do that in the movies just as many were shocked to see the SEALs fire only a dozen semi-automatic rounds during the Zero Dark Thirty Osama bin Laden raid. “What man, no full-automatic? Those rifles are fake.”

So the next time you wonder why the political leadership can exempt itself from pay cuts, Obamacare or authorize themselves to own “assault guns” with “high powered magazines” when nobody else can, remember: it’s for the dignity of the office.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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All Comments   (56)
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If you want to see artifice, look to the emergence of high profile trial attorneys. In a functioning organization, the corporate attorney is a staff postion, not a line position. But the Democrat/Trial lawyer nexus has made CEOs afraid to act without ceding their power to lawyers.

And lawyers have no problem with accepting legal fictions. Congress is full of lawyers who believe in "Social Security lockboxes", for example. Nancy Pelosi is infamous for saying "we'll have to read the legislation to find out what's in it", she and the other legislators having ceded writing the legislation to the lawyers.

Let's adopt a useful Shakespearean motto, "First, let's kill all the lawyers!"

That willl poll huge numbers, even among low information voters. And it goes to the root of the Democrat Party, the lawyers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Man, I haven't commented here in a looong time...

Well, anyway:
It was inevitable that at some point the current incumbent would realize that in order to remain credible he had to act like a fantasy figure. He rediscovered what kings knew for a long time: the crown and ermine are worn because that’s what people think a king wears. The President must live like a Hollywood President because that’s how real presidents act.

People are shocked to watch the CIA director eat in a cafeteria because CIA directors never do that in the movies just as many were shocked to see the SEALs fire only a dozen semi-automatic rounds during the Zero Dark Thirty Osama bin Laden raid. “What man, no full-automatic? Those rifles are fake.”

Two points:
1. I find it distressing that leaders feel they must adhere to a vision of what the job is supposed to look like and not do the best to give followers an education on what a job truly entails. One of the smartest things I read in a soldier's autobiography once was his then commander (I think it was during the Korean war and a regimental or possibly brigade commander) doing a "King For The Day" swap with a lowly soldier. It wasn't a true swap - the enlisted man chosen didn't have that officer's authority, of course - but it *did* put both in each other's shoes so they at least had that one working day's perspective on what each other did.

Contrast that to today's current mandarin class. There are indeed politicians who have been part of the hoi polloi and worked in the real world... but the point is that there are too many who haven't.

Dignity does imply certain trappings, but at the same time a really good leader must be able to puncture the balloon of self importance and show that he can indeed come down to earth. And not as some deity deigning to visit the mortals, but as a human leader with different responsibilities but ultimately on the same team as the led. Eisenhower may not have been completely successful at doing this (puncturing the balloon) in WWII, but he tried his best and he tried honestly. And it helped his rep among the rank and file. The point is that a good leader must recognize what trappings are truly necessary, what are empty pomp, and move to eliminate the latter. Dignity can be seen in a leader doing his job to the best of his/her human ability too, and doesn't require a photo-op on a golf course or baseball diamond to accomplish. (Cont'd...)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
... cont'd:

2. (This is a very minor point, although it still relates to #1):
"... just as many were shocked to see the SEALs fire only a dozen semi-automatic rounds during the Zero Dark Thirty Osama bin Laden raid. “What man, no full-automatic? Those rifles are fake.”"

It's probably more expected for people to not understand minor details about the military, but this now goes to perception vs. reality. One of the things western, and in particular American society likes to think it's good at (but in reality isn't) is separating what's reality from what's fictional. Too many people believe that soldiers will go "cyclic" at any opportunity, and that's not really the case. A simple perusal of You Tube videos from Iraq and Afghanistan will put lie to that thought, and those are even cherry picked selections that only show action. You *still* don't get what you see in the movies. Yet, perceptions prevail. People actually will *OBJECT* to something if it doesn't fit their perception, yet they won't reflect on whether their perception is correct to begin with.

And that ties into the point about leadership "showing itself to the masses". People in those positions are not the only ones to blame for the attitude; too much of society does indeed demand the spectacle. And not enough will stop to think about what they're asking for. The expectation is set and legitimately from "the people", but it's still absurd in that it doesn't take into account the reality of things or what's truly important. I don't know for certain what the US President's truly important governmental duties entail, but I would imagine one component is a series of very informative yet very boring meetings. Not photo opportunities. So why take away from that with some gladhanding at a barbecue? The image of circulating amongst the electorate is really rather illusionary (not to mention such events are pretty staged, therefore likely not representative of the actual common man), so it's not really that important a function of the Presidency (and again, not really all that genuine), yet it's *expected*.

For thinking we're sophisticated about distinguishing illusion, we sure love it anyway. The more forgiving term is "appearances", but again, where's the relationship to reality?

This may be a different line than what Richard (I keep on wanting to write "Wretchard"; that's how long it's been!) is travelling, but it's the same point: The governing professionals acting like the "ruling class". Richard is right: There are excuses for why "ruling class" representatives act the way they do, but the point is not whether those justifications are legitimate (some are), it's that they're too often used to differentiate rather than be effective at their jobs. If that's not a characterization of the Mandarin Class throughout history, I don't know what is.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Boy Emperor is really stepping up to the plate or NOT!

From Ace:
The Madness of King Barky: Obama Refuses to Deploy an Aircraft Carrier to the Persian Gulf, Claiming the Sequester Just Won't Let Him
—Ace

Bob Woodward is calls it "a madness" he hasn't seen before.

"Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying, 'Oh, by the way, I can't do this because of some budget document?'" Woodward said.
"Or George W. Bush saying, 'You know, I'm not going to invade Iraq because I can't get the aircraft carriers I need?'" Or even Bill Clinton saying, 'You know, I'm not going to attack Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters,' ... because of some budget document?"

The Defense Department said in early February that it would not deploy the U.S.S. Harry Truman to the Persian Gulf, citing budget concerns relating to the looming cuts known as the sequester.

"Under the Constitution, the President is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the President going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement. 'I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country,'" Woodward said.

"That’s a kind of madness that I haven't seen in a long time," he said.

Video at Newsbusters.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The other day Rush was presenting an MSM reporter describing in shocked tones how the White House's new fundraisng efforts essentially sold access to the President. "But, it's selling access, that's what it is. That's what it really is.. I can't believe this... " the confused reporter went on, as if he was ruminating to himself. But he was on the air.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's as if more and more "believers" are starting to noticed the Emperor's clothes unraveling . . . .
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Richard, you often end with a YouTube clip. Here's one for this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWI279UClpI
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Talk about a lack of respect (for the first amendment): Mock a judge, get a two year felony conviction... [http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2013/02/judge-james-d-humphrey-if-you-mock-me-i.html]
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2013/02/judge-james-d-humphrey-if-you-mock-me-i.html God Forbid you mock those in power. Our founding fathers would be most furious at this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
R-E-S-P-E-C-T is a gangster loyalty term. The full term is Respeto o Muerta.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What is RF meaning?

(Republique Française? ;-))
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I love the story of Calvin Coolidge hiding behind his desk when someone came in the office as a prank. Compared to the dime store Caesars like Obama, that is refreshing.
Nancy Pelosi and the words respect and dignity should never be in the same sentence.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I spoke with a electrical resistor salesman the other day and he explained to me that all things eventually fail. That empires arise and fall, that building contractors are eventually displaced by competition from illegal workers, that manufacturing is shuttered, and it is OK because he now sells resistors from China and he can have his house worked on and he only pays third world country rates. All I could think of is that we all die too but not a good excuse to throttle and rob children of their future. He, in short, said that I was negative and that the only noble thing to talk about was pussie. So we should all talk about pussie and rob from children yet unborn… better yet, kill unborn children and to dwell on that is negative. Just dew it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A few weeks ago I needed about a half-dozen resistors in three different values for a repair project I had underway. Time was, I could have bought then from a Radio Shack 2 miles away for less than $1.00. But most RS stores no longer stock those resistor values and the nearest place that might have them was a 50+ mile round trip. However I found that online I could order a package of 100 of the resistors from Hong Kong; shipping almost doubled the price, but it was still only around $7.00 total for 100 of all three values . It took 2 or 3 weeks to get them but I was in no hurry. I may even make up kits of the resistors to sell to people working on similar projects. I am a member of a Yahoo group that might provide free advertising for that endeavor; I could end up making a small profit.

So you can tell My Ohmsmonger that one of the great flaws of his approach is that he, too, can be replaced, and with only a few clicks of a mouse. Maybe he can get a job doing yard work if he underbids the illegal immigrants.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I order stuff from Newark, Mouser, and especially Digikey. Most stuff I get over night. May have a minimum order on some stuff. I have been messing around with Arduino lately and have a couple of projects I am working on. Open source code is starting to give way to open source mechanics good times. We are all vulnerable to being automated by something more efficient. Maybe in the future only artists and craftsman will have a corner on the job market.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Okay I'll bite, the electrical resistor salesman is a pussie.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If we want to cast the Democrats in a withering light, we need to merely accurately descibe their modus operandi. They are trial lawyers. They exist solely to make money by casting doubt on others (the term "doubtcasting" has entered the lexicon through cell phone ads).

As a "community organizer", Obama threatened lawsuits, just like all those other trial lawyer lowlifes. Who ranks about dead last in the public esteem, down there with politicans and used car salesmen? Trial lawyers.

And who funds the Democrats?

And who do they nominate (hint John Edwards).

And how do they want to "govern", through the courts?

And who no longer bothers to maintain their Illinois law licenses, despite the counter-example of President William Jefferson Clinton, apparently "voluntarily" surrendering them?

Barack and Michelle Obama. It seems someone objected to Barack claiming to be a "constitutional law professor" when he was just a lecturer. Those professors in their Ivory Towers are quite protective of their titles.

https://www.iardc.org/lawyersearch.asp

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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