Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ditch the Prompter

President Obama,
I voted for you, and I am still extremely proud of my vote. I believe that you are doing the things necessary to bring about a recovery in this country, and I admire the different avenues you are taking to get your message out to the people of this country. I only have one plea: DITCH THE TELEPROMPTER.

You don't need the TelePrompter for one. You could read the phonebook, and I think most people would listen. Even the guy you succeeded didn't need a prompter. When you depend on the prompter so much, you are depending on technology. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it has become a noticable crutch you don't need.

I don't begrudge your use of this technology for the big addresses. Nearly every President in the TV age has used this technology. I do, however, not believe that you need it everywhere you go, every time you speak. For someone that tries to live outside the bubble, you have to know how this looks.

Just speak to us from your heart. I know that is what you try to do. Still, the gaffes are mounting where your prompter has let you down. I won't, but I urge you to consider ditching the crutch. You are too good of a speaker to do this all the time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

President Obama's visit on Thursday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno was part victory and part defeat. His appearance was very steady from all accounts and very controlled, but the comment at the end about his bowling prowess and comparing it to the Special Olympics took a bit of shine off his lustre.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) pointed out last night on Real Time with Bill Maher that Obama's budget and stimulus plans contain "billions and billions" of dollars for special education in schools. That should tell us a bit about where this administration's heart is, but there's no doubt that it was an unscripted throwaway comment that should never have been uttered. He did say it, and now, he needs to deliver a little humble pie.

Instead of trotting out advisors, Obama needs to personally apologize to the Special Olympics and make immediate plans to be a part of this wonderful organization's activities. Instead of lip service, he needs to show a little hip service. I have experience with the Special Olympics. While it was nothing major, I accompanied a close friend of mine with some of his clients to the Indiana Special Olympics in Terre Haute. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Obama needs to see this first hand and be a part of it.

In other news, the right wing and the conservative commentators (is there a difference?) are up in arms about President Obama appearing on a late night talker. They are asking why the President would choose to visit Jay Leno while the country goes to hell in the biggest handbasket ever.

Personally, I think they're off base. No surprise there, but I also think that it all is about perspective. The time spent on Jay Leno's program and in California doing town halls provided a different way for the President to get his message out to the masses. It's one form of "Change We Can Believe In" and the "Change We Need." President Obama knows that one part of his job is to be the "Calmer In Chief" and if he's out there on Jay Leno's show, that's one way to walk that walk.

FOr perspective, I think it's also important to point out that a January 18 Huffington Post article pointed out that George W. Bush spent 977 days up to that point in either Crawford, TX, or at Camp David. Amazing. Point that out next time you hear someone take issue with Obama spending 25 minutes on the Tonight Show or 11 minutes on ESPN filling out his NCAA bracket.

So, all-in-all, the Tonight Show appearance was a good one, but it could have been better.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jumping the Shark Mad Money Style

In case you didn't see the moment, it happened on Thursday. Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money, watched his own show and persona "jump the shark" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Here's the link to the moment: http://blog.indecisionforever.com/2009/03/13/jon-stewart-and-jim-cramer-the-extended-daily-show-interview/

In case you don't know what it means, "jumping the shark" is a pop culture term that signifies the moment a show began its downfall into oblivion. The term came from an episode of Happy Days where Fonzie literally jumped a shark. Other examples of shark jumping, Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch, Larry David's departure as a writer on Seinfeld, etc.

So, Mad Money's moment came when Cramer agreed to be a guest the Daily Show. I don't know what Cramer was thinking, but there were no "boo-yahs" from Stewart. Stewart looked more like a profane David Gregory carefully incising Cramer's over-the-top TV persona with careful research and video clips. Cramer clearly had not done any You Tubing of Stewart's similar shark-jumping moment-inducing appearance on CNN's now canceled Crossfire show where he repelled the very intelligent Tucker Carlson. Carlson tried to point out that he had hurled softballs at then Democratic-Presidential nominee John Kerry. Stewart calmly pointed out that he was on a comedy program which featured the lead-in of puppets making prank calls.

Stewart took particular issue with Cramer's resumé. How could a guy as well-connected as Cramer totally miss the boat along with a major financial network on the entire collapse of the economy? When Cramer tried to twist out of it by playing what Stewart termed "doe-eyed innocence," Stewart went to the video and whipped out a 2006 appearance on some program where Cramer and the host of the show talked many of the same underhanded things that led to our economic state.

By the end of the interview, Cramer could do nothing but agree with Stewart that CNBC and himself should have seen the mistakes that were made.

If anyone watched that interview Thursday night, I think they would "SELL SELL SELL" Jim Cramer and CNBC.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"I wasn't familiar with this problem until today."

That's the quote that sums up Mayor Greg Ballard's visit to Decatur Township at Tuesday's Mayor's Night Out. The quote appeared in this morning's Mooresville/Decatur Times in an article by Amy Hillenburg. The picture published in the paper showed Ballard standing in front of about five aides...all men.

I did not attend the event due to a conflict in scheduling, but my friends tell me that it was a very unimpressive event that did not instill much confidence in "His Accidency."

Ballard deferred many questions to aides and seemed to lack a general acumen for public speaking, according to one friend. Another friend put it more bluntly. "He didn't know anything." Another said he should have stayed home and watched television.

While I keep company of many Democrats, there were other people that are more moderate and more right on the spectrum than me that were upset with the Mayor and his performance at the forum. While you credit the guy for getting off the 25th floor of the City-County Building, you have to wonder why he continues to do it if this is the kind of reaction his appearances bring.

The quote from the headline of the blog came after residents raised the continuing mining issue underneath the Southside Landfill by Martin Marietta on the far Westside of Perry Township and the far Eastside of Decatur Township. Residents in the area of Hi Acre Manor and Maywood Manor and pretty much everyone east of Mann Rd. in Decatur feel the blasting in the mines deep below ground. Some residents blame these blasts for cracks and other issues in their homes. Regardless, it's a nuisance to be taking a mid-afternoon catnap only to be awakened by a jostle of your bed. I have felt these blasts before, and it's not simply a boom. Things shake and shimmy. You feel it.

These residents have been telling anyone who will listen about these issues at the city, county, state, and national level for years! They must feel like they now have to start over again with the new Mayor. Maybe the Mayor needs to go visit these folks instead of "checking with code enforcement" as the Times reports. I challenge the Mayor to learn more about Decatur Township as this is a major issue for many of his own voters that live in that area.

The Mayor also apparently talked about the jewel of the county that AmeriPlex is. While it is a fine industrial and commercial park, it also is almost completely off the tax rolls. So, because of AmeriPlex and the Indianapolis International Airport, almost none of the properties between AmeriPlex Parkway and High School Rd that are North of Kentucky Ave. are on the tax rolls. Yes, we are proud of the prestige and jobs AmeriPlex brings to Decatur, but the residents still in the area feel the pinch of a growing industrial and commercial park with the pinch of the property tax burden not being equally distributed.

I attended a community forum held by Mayor Bart Peterson about a year before the 2007 election, and the then-Mayor was not only knowledgeable about issues, he took all the questions and only looked to his staff when he needed to do so. He promised to come back in six months...he never did that, honestly.

Again, I wasn't there. But, the response to the Mayor's Night Out in Decatur Township has done little to instill any confidence in the current administrator in this voter's eyes. You kind of get the feeling that Greg Ballard may have some puppet strings attached somewhere. Paging Gepetto.