Duck! and Gather

Even Obama Says “Duck! and Gather”

Posted on: January 20, 2009

Read the transcript of Obama’s inaugural address.  Wonderful speech.  Powerful. 2,399 words.

Allow me to boil this speech down for you to just three words:

Duck! and Gather

10 Responses to "Even Obama Says “Duck! and Gather”"

I read the transcript – not impressed.

We have barely even BEGUN the next mini-stage of the Fourth Turning – we have more than a decade to go. We are not even anywhere near a bottom in the stock markets yet, much less near the point where the People would be in any way shape or form cognizant of the need to radical change.

Remember it is the Ekpyrosis that is needed for things to get better – and much like drunks and druggies, people NEVER change until they are FORCED to. You dn’t start the 12 step program until you hit ABSOLUTE BOTTOM.

That’s years from now.

Much more likely that Obama plays the part of Hoover in this version of the 4T. Bush made a great Coolidge, with all the corruption and lies. Spend some time reading about Obama’s behavior as a law professor – his basic modus operandi is to do his best “not t get involved”. To sit back and watch things unfold and let people project their own ideas of what is or is not onto him. It’s been a great life strategy for him – look how far he has come.

Unfortunately for the US People – what we need at this point is for a true Leader, a man unafraid to tell the People the Truth – what they are refusing to hear – choosing instead to Pray for Hope and Change.

Well Change is definitely coming – but I don’t think it is what most people wil be hoping for.


Fair enough Matt, but I think we’ve already crossed into the Crisis phase. The Fourth Turning has turned. There has been a marked change in public optimism over the past year. Everyone knows we’re fucked. I thought Obama’s speech acknowledged that.

Totally agree that the Dow hasn’t hit bottom yet. I’m thinking 1500 or so.

I think Obama was speaking sort of the truth to the people. Even the market dropped after his speech. People heard it. He said: “It sure looks like we’re fucked, but it looked that way in the past too, and if we pull together, like our ancestors did, we can get through this.” That was the gist of his speech.

Very different from anything any other Presidents have said over the past 28 years.

Agreed that since we haven’t hit bottom yet, most people aren’t ready to get up and get busy yet. But I think the next year will bring some signs of bottom, and like you said, that alone will get people hopping.

Well I don’t really get what you guys wrote above. I really liked the speech. I found it moving.

I agree with Matt though, when he says: ” people NEVER change until they are FORCED to”. This applies to all areas of life.

When I read the speech, I summed it up in 5 words: “Let’s get off our ass”.

But like Matt says, that won’t happen until the bottom hits.

So my question to Matt is: What would you like a Leader to do that Obama is not doing? (given that it’s only his first day on the job)

If he says: “People, we are up shit creek without a paddle, and we better do something now or we’re screwed” – or something to that effect – I think there would be mass pandamonium and it would hinder rather than help the country.

Interesting times ahead.

Up here in Canada, we’ll be indirectly affected to be sure. I’m watching closely.

Thanks Kathy. Matt and I are talking about a 1997 book called “The Fourth Turning”.

Your summation of the speech (“Let’s get off our ass”) dovetails with what the New York Times took out of the speech. I agree that that (“Responsibility”) was the central theme.

I just blogged about that, and how “Responsibility” is the key to “Duck! and Gather”.

What should Obama be doing ?

If you find yourself in a hole the first thing you should do is to correctly define the problems you face. The second thing you should do is stop digging.

I see no sign that Obama has the remotest idea how big of a hole Bush & Congress have left him.

Based on the appointments he has made so far, and the pre-inaugural financial rescue legislation he is pushing to get passed ASAP, he shows very little sign that he is willing to stick his neck out to solve real problems.

I went to the dentist this summer. had a bunch of cavitities. The US dentist scheduled a dozen appointments over a many month period to attack each cavity one or two at a time.

After a few appointments, I was scheduled to go to China t visit my wife’s family. A friend of my ifes is a doctor and she got me an appointment with a Chinese dentist. Using no painkillers, he did all the rest of my teeth in an hour and fifteen minutes. I would have months of work ahead if I went back to my US dentist. And believe it or not, getting them done with no painkillers was much LESS painful overall than getting poked with novocaine needles
over a many weeks long period of time.

Rip the bandaide off as quick and as hard as possbile and Obama would be a hero.

Spending trillion on insulation for schools and govt buildings, more (un-needed) roads, and pumping another 1 Trillion dollars into a completely insolvent banking system is not ripping a bandaide off – it is prolonging the pain so that it lasts as long as possible.

Housing should be allowed to collapse back to historic norms – 2 times wages or 100 times rent. Insolvent banks should be allowed to fail. To unfreeze the credit system, the govt can take just one half of the $350 TARP money and create 10 new banks with completely clean balance sheets capable of lending $3.5Trilllion right off the bat. 90 percent of all new jobs come from small business. Small business is totally collapsing. Roll back 90 percent of the govt red tape for small business, and allocated 50 percent of the lending from the new banks to allow the newly unemployed to bankroll new enterprises – this is called micro-lending and is all the rage in the Third World right now.

I make my living from trading now – I see no more future as a programmer. I read 8 to 10 hours a day of financial news. Based on the info I have and the discussions I have seen, Obama is pretty much completely out of the loop. He doesn’t even know what he does not know. And the establishment flunkies and sycophants he has put in charge are the VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO CAUSED the collapse in the first place – Geithner, Summers, etc.

For the most part – I feel pretty sorry for Obama. He seems like a fairly decent guy who is way in over his head. He reminds me of an American idol contestant who has become a crowd favorite, but has no real demonstrated skills to speak of. He got where he is by letting other people project on to him whatever they wanted to see. Now people are going to expect him to go against his very nature and to be a great decision maker.

If he was a great decision maker, he never would have been elected because the People still have lots of Hope left.

Anyways …


Matt — Thanks again for your super-informative comments. For some reason, the one above got caught by the Askimet spam catcher. Glad I just noticed it to free it from spam prison. It’s a really insightful one.

I guess I just think Obama is in line with Washington, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. I did a blog on this awhile back. The notion is that none of those three great presidents were leaders “ahead of the curve” on the crises that they eventually managed to a successful conclusion.

Specifically, Washington was not a Boston Tea Party type early on, Lincoln was not an abolutionist in 1861, and Roosevelt was not Eugene Debs in 1933. But each of these men met the call of history when history picked up the phone.

As you have said in other of your comments Matt, and as I agree, America today has a long way to go before it hits bottom. And, as you have said, and I agree, people don’t change until they have to.

Putting all of that together, history is not calling for radical change from Obama today. Indeed, even if Obama understood the core dynamics behind the rotten core that is America today, I don’t think he could do anything about it without getting assassinated.

For example, what if I’m right that multinational corporations are the biggest single threat to America today? What if Obama stood up tomorrow and said that, and said that he was going to bring those monsters to their knees? What would happen?

He wouldn’t last a month. Just as Lincoln wouldn’t have lasted a month if he made his Emancipation Proclamation the day after he took the oath in 1861.

All things in good time. Obama’s time is yet to come.

Very interesting conversation.

Yes, I agree with Matt’s suggestions to fix things. (However, I didn’t understand the TARP thing). I think those things would definately improve the country.

But maybe Peter’s correct. If a leader did all of those things immediately, maybe he would be assassinated.

On the other hand, I agree with Matt. Let the irresponsible banks and housing market collapse. You can’t fix things by digging a deeper hole.

Insulation for schools? and govt buildings? roads? Give me a break. Put that money into the country’s healthcare system. Take all of the military budget (get the hell out of Iraq pronto), and dump that money to pay off the escalating country’s debt and support small business.

Yeah, I think it would be very, very tough to be a stock broker in this day and age.

Another question: So is Matt flushing and brushing his teeth everyday?

i.e. Once the problem is solved, measures need to be employed so that the same thing doesn’t happen again. 🙂

Thanks Kathy. I agree, this is a very interesting discussion. I woke up this morning feeling a little more pessimistic about the future of America than I did last night. Something to do with just how fat and sick the majority of this nation has gotten over the past 35 years — including the children.

The past 500 years of history says that, every 80 years or so, people like we Americans “get off our butts”, fight off the challenges, and reinvent ourselves.

As Obama said yesterday, history is calling, and we need to do this again.

But in the past 35 years, the people in this nation have become tremendously weakened. We’re not the same sorts of people who fought the Depression and WWII, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and so on back in history.

We’re much fatter and much sicker. And that 35 year sloping up curve is still going up as I write.

On the bright side, all of these fat and sick people are connected on the web in a way that has never been seen in history. So maybe any reversal to the above trends will propagate really fast.

I don’t think a reversal will be about money. More about mindset. And the web is amazing for spreading around a new mindset.

And, after all, Obama’s theme was “Responsibility”. So maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a reversal of these fat and sick trends sooner than later.

Hey, I just talked myself into feeling better. 🙂

It would be nice if you were right Peter, about Obama. Great men rise to the occasion. At least the bright side is that there will be boatloads of hard challenges ahead for him to prove himself – it will not be a boring forgettable next 4 years.

If you want to get the latest info on the financial scene this the place to go and this is the guy to listen to :

Karl Denninger

Warning, lots of trader profanity and KD is a bit of an autocrat, but don’t dismiss the messages because of the messengers. These are some of the sharpest guys on the planet in the world of finance. They called the crash long before it happened, and most of them made lots of money in the last year. The proof is in the pudding.

If you want to know how a Civil War develops, that book has been written already too, about 15 years ago:

Thomas Chittum (pdf download)

Click to access CWII.pdf

As for my teeth, yes I have been trying to be a more consistent person in that area 🙂 but I inherited bad teeth from my mom, and my one big vice is candy, so that doesn’t help. I found a toothpaste with Xylitol (Epic) and I am hoping that works for the cavities.

Be careful about the fat generalizations – people in this society have a real ‘thing’ about it – it’s one of the last real acceptable prejudices is to discriminate against fat people. Mankind has a huge surplus of food calories and many people who are extremely evolutionarily fit – i.e. their bodies are extremely energy efficient, tend to easily put on the pounds in this day and age. When I took my bike trip across Canada, the people who had the easiest time of it were a bunch large older women. 8000 kilometers of boking in 2 months and I swear some of them gained weight on the trip 🙂

Modern people watch too much TV and they tend to confuse appearance with ability. I’ve been running now for more 35 years – according to society/doctors my BMI is obese, but I have no doubt, based on my actual performance, that I can outdo 99 percent of my peers in my age group athletically.

Just saying 🙂


A tour de force comment again Matt. Thanks.

Thanks also for the links. I look forward to perusing that Civil War II book. As you say, that book might be useful for describing how the descent into a civil war might happen.

But I strongly disagree with the author’s premise that “America will explode in tribal warfare in our lifetime and shatter into several new ethnically-based nations”.

I read that and say to myself: What movie has this guy been watching? Has he even traveled outside of the U.S.?

As I’ve mentioned on this blog, I was a citizen of Canada and Europe long before becoming an American. And I’ve been to many parts of the world. Compared with almost everywhere else, America is truly past “tribe” and “ethnicity” as forces of division in this nation. Hey, 53% of us just voted in a Black Guy.

Point taken on the “fat generalizations”. I agree they are too broad. My bad.

That being said, when I see 90-year-olds, almost none are fat — although I’m starting to see more of them. I figure the science is getting better and better.

But I take that to mean, all things being equal, it’s probably better not to carry around excess fat (probably over 18% for males).

Then, taking away the equal stuff, I’d bet that in America, the vast majority of people who have excess fat are not killing it on bike trips. Sure, some are.

But I look at statistics like the following: very, very few kids today can do those “President’s challenge” exercises that Kennedy rolled out in the early 1960s.

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for the money has gone too far

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