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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Retail stores open Thanksgiving Day

Retail stores open Thanksgiving Day

It seems that the shopping season is taking over the holiday season.  Black Friday battles to save a couple dollars are giving us all a black eye!

The MINDLESS ads…  Door buster ads, “lightning” deals, Amazon Black Friday week, newspaper ads, TV ads, email ads, Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, ads embedded in blog posts and even Apple products are being advertised on discount, which is something we’ve rarely seen before.  In fact, a record number of retail stores (i.e. Best Buy, Walmart, etc.) are open on Thanksgiving Day (which means people have to work vs. share time with family)  so that consumers can buy those so-called “bargains.” 

Clearly Retailers have crossed the line, but we know the public will head to the shops.  We complain about consumerism, but there are plenty of horror stories of stampedes as shops open their doors and people fling themselves into shop ‘til you drop mode.

So, I wanted to put Thanksgiving in perspective. 

obamacare_stickerI have many things to be thankful for, most of all my family and friends.  I’m thankful for motorcycling and the ability/health to have enjoyed another year of riding my Harley across this great country.  I’m grateful for a wife who shares my passion and rides along on many adventures.  I’m thankful and appreciate my extended rider “family” who have been there with support and hugs from breakdowns to accidents.

I’m thankful for the men and women of our armed forces who are serving overseas protecting our interests.  They don’t get to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones and I appreciate their sacrifice.  It does not go unnoticed!

We live in a country that to a great extent, still provides the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  A place where we can freely choose to do what we want and if we’re fortunate, be able to make a living doing it.

I’m thankful that I can complain about our elected representatives, and have the ability to choose them which is a rarity in this world!  Speaking of,  I’m thankful for Barack Obama banishing boredom for millions of lives.  The ObamaCare misadventure and “apology” has caused a lot of ordinary people to question both his character and his competence.  But, I’ve digressed.

Last but not least, I’m thankful for all of you!  The readers, the subscribers and the commenters.  You allow me to do what I do on this blog.  That is the promise of America, and on this Thanksgiving holiday, it still holds true.

 I hope you have a chance to enjoy some turkey, yams, stuffing and pumpkin pie with your family and friends!

Photo courtesy of Internet Advertising.

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By this time you’ve already heard that our President, Barack Obama, a man who ran on a platform of hope and change, is getting us deeper into Afghanistan.  Isn’t Al-Qaeda in Pakistan?  And, if the Soviets couldn’t win there, why can we?  A country owned by China with disastrous financials (that’s us, in case you didn’t recognize your homeland).

If you join the armed forces to serve your country, to pay your bills, you’re entering Hotel California.  It seems you can never leave.  You jumpily wait for people to attack you or detonate IEDs.  Coming home to a country that pays you lip service, but doesn’t give a rip because people can’t find a job.  If you come home at all.  And if you do return, you’re likely traumatized.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is paying record bonuses and their Chairman Lloyd Blankfein says the firm is doing God’s work.  Huh?  What deity does Mr. Blankfein pray to who wants to see the populace suffer?  Used to be Wall Street helped build America, now traders just profit off exotic investment instruments.

But there is good news (sarcasm alert!).  The enormous financial outlay of the 8+ year war has brought into sharp focus Bagram Airfield, where off-duty soldiers can obtain everything from Kyrgyz massages to purchase a BK burger.  Including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  According to AFP reports, the dealer for those away from the front lines sells about 4 motorcycles a month to U.S. servicemen.  With another 30,000 troops being deployed, and most of them set to take off or land on Bagram’s runway in route to fight the Taliban it means H-D should expect a sales increase proportional with the troop surge.  In fact, I just read a post on the H-D forum from a soldier who bought a 2009 Night Train yesterday.  Congrats Army_Train85 and thank you for your service!!

Obama’s speech wasn’t all that inspirational for me, but he did state (you can read the full text of his speech here) that sending the extra troops will cost the U.S. military $30 billion dollars this year — or $1 million for each newly deployed soldier.  That’s high-finance and hard for me to wrap my head around it.  In fact, it’s difficult for me to understand the cost ($28 a head) of each and every meal prepared for U.S. soldiers on the base cost more than most Afghans earn in a month.  That alone might explain the attraction to the Taliban-linked narco-terrorists.  Sigh. I wish there was a better way…

At any rate, as Bagram turns into a military “boom-town”…H-D is poised to take advantage.

Photo courtesy of Corbis/Shaun Schwartz.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Meetings.  Talking.  Meetings.

We’re always being reminded that political leaders, policymakers and industry leaders are “gathering” to hash out ideas on how to get the mojo back and what the key is to unlocking innovations and jobs of the future.  We’re suppose to feel good, but from my vantage there is little visible in the way of action.

The White House has made a quiet but extensive effort to reach out to corporate executives in a series of dinners and lunches at the White House with President Barack Obama.  Attendees have largely been kept secret or at minimum very quiet… until now!

Politico.com states Keith Wandell (Harley-Davidson CEO) had dinner with Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other top White House officials.  Another comprehensive list is available HERE.  It’s not clear if it was at an off-site local restaurant or something more elegant in the White House.  Given the state-of-the-states, I seriously doubt the motor company will be creating any new jobs soon. In fact, the recent ratified agreement calls for a drawdown of nearly 50% of the employee’s base at the York, PA operations.  Asia or India look like expansion alternatives and I suspect it won’t be long before we hear about plants being set up there.  So, what did Mr. Wandell share w/ the White House chief of staff?  Would H-D coming to the government to offer ideas on how they can help be a startling conversation changer?  Does H-D have eyes and ears on future trends that they can grab and then be able to exploit?

I’m not sure, but do you think the U.S. is still the world’s center for innovation, or is it falling behind countries such as India and China?  Fueling the debate is a new poll on innovation published by Newsweek. One interesting finding: while 82% of Chinese citizens believe the U.S. remains a technologically innovative country, only 74% of Americans feel the same way.

At any rate,  the other industry officials who joined Mr. Wandell at the June 16, Rahm Emanuel dinner were:

Penny Pritzker, CEO, Pritzker Realty
Mark Gallogly of Centerbridge Partners
Mike Fascitelli, CEO, Vornado Realty Trust
Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO, Alcoa
Dave O’Reilly, CEO, Chevron
Richard Smith, CEO, Realogy
Mike Ullman, CEO, J.C. Penney
Keith Wandell, CEO, Harley Davidson

I’m not attacking or implying that only favor-curriers are “sitting at the presidents table” but I’m not reading a lot about how the voice of the average lower and middle class American are being heard.  As the White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers has recently urged attendees at these dinners to “think about what your institution should be called on to do, not in its own interest, but in the broader national interest.”

Photo courtesy of Presidential inauguration.

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DonkeyKanye West is a ‘jackass’.  And not because of his 2007 video for “Stronger” which used a genuine Japanese motorcycle gang in the video.

Here’s the 411 — President Obama ‘off-the-record’ called Kanye West a ‘jackass’ for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won.  You can listen to the audio HERE

Yes, Kanye did hand the microphone back to her, but like the 19 year old she is, she was overwhelmed and couldn’t speak.  Thus cementing her status as a singing teenage naif.   The ABC reporter, Terry Moran, who overheard the casual between-us-folks chatter — which is often a part of the technical set-up before an interview officially begins — tweeted yesterday that President Obama was “off the record” in an interview with CNBC which a few hundred thousand people @RT the Kanye ‘ass’ outing.

I have a new level of respect for Obama.  Calling out Kanye was the right thing to do.  Yet, the jackass quote was soon retracted!   ABC issued an apology to both CNBC and the White House (and removed the Tweet, but not before folks screen-grab images of it).  It’s difficult to know, but what if a Caucasian had stormed the stage and used such language to an African-American entertainer?  Yeah, I’m on thin ice with an inference to the “R” word, but it does create a moment of pause.  For those who think the entire event was scripted or “staged” then you’ll appreciate this site.

The losers in all of this is the American public.  Real stories can’t get traction.  Health care is too complex and we’ve got ADHD.  We’ve become a nation of public spectacles, gossip, and misinformation.  Sure frivolity has a place, but what we revere in popular culture has almost nothing of value.  Furthermore, who didn’t know the “K-man” had been acting like a jackass previously?  It’s like his jackassed-ness was his career.  Finally now he truly is a superstar!   Stay classy Kanye! 

You might think I’m over doing it here, but… People spend money dressing and living like rappers, going to the Palms in Vegas to splash in the pool while consuming overpriced liquor and flash hand signs.  In a “me” society, who can expect anybody to behave properly, with humility.  Twenty four hour news from one celebrity mishap to another not twenty four hours on explaining bills in Congress, or Supreme Court decisions.  We indeed need a readjustment.  But they need the ratings!

Kanye is, ratings.  For anybody who’s got a trinket to sell.  And we’re buying it! 

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native_americanLike many of you I have rolled through the Black Hills of South Dakota with the wind in my face…

Whether a weekend warrior eager for a brief interlude of escapist revelry or it’s a way of life — I think all would agree that rolling through the “hills” offers up an incredible experience.  From rolling plains to majestic mountains — sometimes you have to pull over just to take it all in.  It’s not only a magical place to visit because of its beauty, but also because of its “roots” to the Native Americans who live there.  Most are Dakota, Lakota or Nakota people and known collectively as the Sioux.  The Sioux nation traces its roots to the  “Oceti Sakowin” (Seven Council Fires) and traditional stories place the nations birth in the Black Hills where customs hold the forces of nature as holy.

Having lived in “NoDak” during a more violent time, I’m reminded of Anishinabe decent, a person from the Dakota/Lakota Nations who has been imprisoned since 1976.  His name is Leonard Peltier.  Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a June 26, 1975, standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

I previously blogged about Leonard Peltier HERE and the significance of the song “Sacrifice” from the album “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy” by Robbie Robertson.  Peltier was convicted in Fargo, N.D., in 1977 and recently was denied parole after having a full parole hearing for the first time in 15 years at the Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison where he is being held.  Some feel he is an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer who executed two FBI special agents and has neither accepted responsibility for the murders nor shown any remorse.  However, others feel the FBI had no substantive evidence in the trial, essentially framed him and he has unsuccessfully appealed his conviction numerous times.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

For many Native Americans, Peltier’s imprisonment has come to stand not only for unjust violence waged against Native Americans but also for the theft of the life of a man who has handled his 33 years in jail with dignity and grace.  If you take the time and look deeper into Peltier’s legal situation — compare the 64-year olds poor health and then contrast it with the recent “compassionate grounds” release of the Lockerbie bomber — one can only assume that the public outrage likely didn’t help his chances in the parole hearing.  His best chance now of getting out of prison alive is to receive a pardon or clemency from the president of the U.S.  However, that is unlikely, as Mr. Obama would rather spend time reaching out to Muslims and celebrate Islamic holy month by hosting a Ramadan dinner than address the plight of Native Americans.  To be fair, Mr. Obama did present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joe Medicine Crow — High Bird in Washington last month.  Photo HERE.

I’m not on a mission to convince anyone of Peltier’s guilt or innocence.  Remember, this all started with a song and I’ve not turned activist fighting for the overturn of the U.S. constitutional court rulings that affirmed the confiscation of Native American lands.  I’m a motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys the Black Hills and appreciates the freedom to take in a week of open roads.  There is more information related to freeing Peltier HERE or if compelled, you can write him at:

Leonard Peltier
#89637-132
USP-Lewisburg
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837

Lastly, in doing the research for this post I run across Arron Huey.  A photo journalist with images that are truly captivating of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.  His work was featured in Perpignan at the last Vis d’Or Photojournalism Festival.

Photo courtesy of  LDOC and Travel South Dakota web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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President Obama Harley-Davidson Power V 

President Obama Harley-Davidson Power V

I blogged previously on the inauguration and the role of Harley-Davidson motorcycles HERE. As a recap the motorcycles are part of the famous “Power V”, a v-formation that leads the inaugural parade through the streets of Washington, D.C. as folks from around the world watch. 

The bikes are 2009 FLHTP Electra Glides with oversized 103 cu in motors and are the lead bikes in the 50 motorcycle inaugural parade. 

obama_pwrv_highThe bikes are used exclusively for escort and security duty in the DC Metro Police department.

The photos show D.C. policeman Lt. Guy Middleton who led the motorcade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Photos courtesy of CNN.com LIVE

All Rights Reserved (c) Northwest Harley Blog

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