I don't think so. But others do. He has been referred to as the "Aloha Zen" Prez. He has been said to have a Zen Like Cool , characterized as Articulate, Zen-like, Brave, and America's First "Eastern president". Time magazine had an entire feature entitled The Zen of Obama. I find this interesting. Just what is "Zen"? It means "sitting meditation" and is Buddhist in origin. Zen believes a Buddhist must master three components of study; 1) a deepened state of meditation; 2) observation of ethical precepts; and, 3) an embodiment of "nondiscriminatory wisdom". In particular, nondiscriminatory wisdom rejects theoretical knowledge as a form of "language game" which ultimately cannot emancipate humans from their existential predicament. Ultimately, Zen is the "anti-philosophy" of philosophy. It rejects "reason" as the means to achieve enlightenment. Zen promotes awareness of a "here and now" that is "timeless" and "space-less"--Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy
What are these "Obama as a Zen president" people really talking about? The only thing it can mean is they somehow accept his "wisdom" as beyond their understanding, and think of him in some way as enlightened. The fact that Obama has absolutely nothing to do with actual Zen Buddhism seems totally beside the point. Does this form of ridiculous media expression matter? Does this utter nonsense put forth by some very ignorant thinkers reflect a broader public perception of him? I think it reflects a certain awe the media have for him, which can only have a positive impact on the public's perception as well. Therefore, the public will have far greater tolerance for his proposals than they might otherwise have for another president who might put forth the same agenda. If true, this is not very good. So, if Obama is Everything Zen we could be entering a new era in American history.
What will this new "era" look like? Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post has written a series of articles which summarize our predicament nicely. His most recent is called Obama's Risky Debt. Just how much debt does this Government have to raise before Obama is seen as a Madoff knockoff rather than a Zen master? As Samuelson points out, his proposed budget could lead our total debt to exceed 82% of GDP, last reached between WWII and the Korean War. To put that in context, Greg Mankiw posted the chart below (via Nick Schulz) on his site. These numbers do not include the new insights that Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are also projected to be "under funded". ("Under funded" is merely a euphemism. These programs are not funded at all, they are paid for by future taxes---the good old fashioned "Ponzi way").
As Samuelson says, "these astonishing numbers have received little attention -- a tribute to Obama's Zen-like capacity to discourage serious criticism". What do these forward deficits have to do with today's economic crisis? The answer, of course, is nothing. Interest on the debt alone will equal 16% of federal spending. Remember when one of the key features of the "failed policies of the Bush Administration" was it eliminated the "Clinton surpluses"? Why were surpluses good under Clinton and massive deficits also good under Obama? This does not even count the further regulatory costs he plans on imposing on society.
My favorite are energy costs. Samuelson has also written on this topic (Selling the Green Economy), as I have, ad nauseum. 80% of the world's energy comes from fossil fuels. The current bill before Congress proposes to eliminate 83% of the United State's "CO2" emissions by 2050, all of which comes from fossil fuels. This is laugh out loud funny, as it will never happen. Nor is there any reason it should happen. But having actual reductions happen is not as important as actually imposing laws and regulations while also raising taxes--in effect running the energy industry. Every exception under the sun will be granted; for a price; assuming this monstrosity ever passes. Every element of energy production and usage will have to be regulated and controlled. CO2 cannot be reduced by that amount. But the energy industry can be controlled by a voracious government.
The supporters of this plan, whom I assume ultimately to be just corrupt, since it is inconceivable they are that stupid, will have the public believe we can just "mandate" lower emissions and they will happen with little cost. Samuelson notes that the Environmental Defense Fund states this will only cost American households $100 on average per year to implement. They have absolutely know idea what this will cost directly or indirectly, except that it will be substantial. How can "we the people" believe this stuff? Because some of us need to. Some of us want to believe we are "saving the planet". When God is dead, Mother Nature apparently fills in. The phrase "saving the planet" itself is a grotesque modern conceit. It makes one think of the planet as some cartoonish injured Bambi. It is instead a wild, destructive environment which took mankind 100s of thousands of years of "Darwinian battle" to survive. Other "Hominids" did not quite make the cut. Top 10 Extinct Humans - From habilis to idaltu Think of that next time you heat your house. Do you think mankind can control the planet through managing CO2 emissions?
If the Zen Master's energy proposals pass, we will achieve the optimal worst of all outcomes. We will subsidize money losing enterprises (think of, say, 200 Amtraks and Post Offices), while we make exceptions for all those coal and oil producing entities which just can't figure out how to reduce emissions fast enough (they will coincidentally appear in various committee chairmen's states). Deals upon deals will be made. Guess who will pay for those subsidies? "We the people". But they say we will get a rebate! But if it cost mankind more to produce the same amount of energy as before, where does that rebate come from? "We the people!" There is no such thing as a rebate.
Just look at the group of jackals who will be meeting next week at the so called "World Business Summit" sponsored by the "Copenhagen Climate Council". Bjorn Lomborg politely refers to them as the "The Climate-Industrial Complex. Of course, the list of attendees are a who's who of the new Corporatist elite. No "World Climate Summit" would be complete without Al Gore as its Keynote speaker. Duke Energy, replacing Enron as America's leading global warming corporate proponent, is a member of the Copenhagen Climate Council. In addition to Crazy Al, Lomborg notes a variety of radical freakazoids also will be speaking, including "Sir Crispin Tickell, who believes that the United Kingdom's population needs to be cut by two-thirds so the country can cope with global warming; and Timothy Flannery, who warns of sea level rises as high as "an eight-story building." Should we believe these guys? If it is that serious, shouldn't we be outlawing electricity, like, tomorrow? Or at least until we can get this solar thing worked out. If we should not believe them, why should we take anything any of them say seriously?
Of course, these guys are invited to make sure the adrenalin flows and to also show just how "reasonable" the "serious" people are about this problem. Don't you find it amusing that the UN's IPCC thinks they have climate science down so precisely they can predict in 90 years that oceans will rise between "7 and 23 inches". This fake precision 100 years out is comical. And if true, so what? What is likely to produce a better form of "non-fossil fuel based energy"; the government choosing among the preposterous proposals put forth by Gore and Co., or the free markets competing to produce what people want? The latter has worked better than the former forever. Ask the Soviet Union. Besides, check out some of the 700 so-called climate skeptics at Global Warming Senate Minority Report.
So President Zen wants to manage executive pay; promote the ownership of one car company by its unions; own the financing arm of the country's largest auto company; massively increase the Government's size and scope, predominantly through unprecedented deficit spending; raise a variety of taxes (soda, tobacco, beer) on the average schmo; raise taxes on "the rich"; establish a "competing" health insurance entity, thus dominating the health care industry; effectively take over the country's energy industry by determining who can, and who cannot, emit CO2. I did not even discuss his hemming and hawing on Guantanamo, military tribunals, torture pictures, rendition, waterboarding and "negotiating with Iran". Yet we sit here and watch him and and are supposed to think, "hey, he just started, give him a chance".
Who knows, maybe Obama really is "Everything Zen"; but I don't think so.