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Tolkien Quote of the Evening

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Two Towers

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The Affordable Care Act is not much of an “accomplishment”

The NYTimes says that Michelle Obama is going to give the first significant (I won’t call it major) speech of the convention tonight. In it, she will be giving her husband’s version of his performance evaluation.  I guess David Axelrod thinks this is smart because any attack on Obama’s record will look like an attack on Michelle.

Let’s just get that out of the way.  I don’t give a rat’s ass what Michelle is wearing.  I can’t stand her accent where it sounds like she has a thick glob of postnasal ooze in the back of her nasal cavity that she has to stopper off with a kegelesque constriction of her uvula.  Michelle Obama chose to give working women the finger when she voluntarily assumed the mantle of stay at home mommy and wife who doesn’t really have an opinion about anything because someone *might* accuse her of being angry, thereby reinforcing the negative cultural stereotypes that keep women from succeeding in the workplace.  No, I judge her by the standards of my local upper middle class suburban environment.  Personally, I find women like her booooooooring as all get out.  That’s as far as my personal feelings for Michelle go.  She has mass and she takes up space and that’s about it.

Now, let’s get on to her husband’s “accomplishments”.

If I were Obama and were to put together a set of SMART goals for my performance evaluation and rate them, it would go something like this (with most important goals at the top):

In the next four years I will:

Goal                                                                          Timeframe                            Accomplished

1.) Improve the economy

– Tighten regulations on the finance industry      2010                                           Partial

– Account for TARP funds                                           2009-2012                               No

– Let Bush Tax Cuts expire                                          2010                                          No

– Prosecute bankers who threaten economy          2010                                           No

– Implement fiscal stimulus plan                              2009                                           Partial (Inadequate)

– Implement jobs program                                          2009                                            No

– Break up dangerously underfunded banks          2010                                             No

– Implement HOLC for Homeowners                     2009                                            No

(Comments: all of the above would have helped to jumpstart the economy and keep funding to social security at a manageable level, while replenishing treasury through tax revenue.)

2.) Health Care Reform

– Launch study of best practices                                2009                                             No

– Propose model based on study                                2009                                              No

– Work with providers to reduce costs                     2009                                             No

– Propose public option for ins co cooperation      2009                                           No

– Prohibit rescission for pre-existing conditions   2009                                            Yes

– Implement individual mandate                               2014                                      Pending

– Subsidize unemployed health care                  2009-2011                                  Finished

– Assure abortion and contraceptive coverage       2009                                      No, partial

3.) End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by 2012

– Begin drawdown of troops in Iraq                       2009                                           Unclear

– Begin drawdown of troops in Afghanistan       2009                                           Unclear

(Comments: Like I said, my brother is serving in Afghanistan and he’s been there a year *starting* in 2011, sooooo, I’d really have to say no to the second item.)

4.) Protect Civil Liberties

– Reinstitute Habeas Corpus                                   2009                                              No

– Close Gitmo                                                               2010                                              No

– Bring enemy combatants to trial                         2010                                             No

– Dismantle DHS                                                       2009                                              No

– Remove DADT                                                         2009                                              2010, 2011

5.) Promote equality and non-discrimination

– Protect gay families from financial hardship  2012                                              No

– Protect LGBT individuals from discrimination 2009-2012                               Mixed

– Lift non-discrimination clause in gov contracts 2012                                         No

– Eliminate the Bush Conscience Rule                 2009                                            Partially

– Protect children of illegal immigrants              2009                                             Unclear

– Defend abortion rights                                          2009-2012                                  No

– Defend Reproductive rights                                 2009-2012                                   Partially

– Ensure non hostile work env for women         2009-2012                                   No

– Promote the Equal Rights Amendment            2009-2012                                   No

(Comments: most of these items were not on his list anyway and female staffers report that the Obama White House should be considered a hostile work environment for women.)

6.) Move towards energy independence

No real plans here

7.) Improve public infrastructure (no real plans)

– Propose public transportation systems         2009-2012

– Encourage use of bicycling where possible      ???

– Invest in scientific research and public access 2009-2012                                Unclear

As Lambert says, “You can’t buff a turd”.  The people scoring this evaluation are not going to listen to excuses.  You wanna know why??  It’s because they’ve been subjected to this procedure at their own workplaces and they know that if you did a crappy job, it will be hard to hide it.  And if management wants to get rid of you, you could do everything right and still not escape the ax.  Of course, if you are a schmoozer who has been knifing your more productive colleagues and kissing the ass of the bonus class, you get a promotion.

That’s just the way it is.  Michelle could be tending her garden tonight for all of the difference her speech will make.

And Krugman’s argument that it could have been worse ignores the fact that half of the party was dragged, kicking and screaming to vote for a guy we didn’t think had the experience to handle the tidal wave of really bad mojo that was heading our way. We turned out to be right. We wanted the OTHER candidate.  You know, the one who did her homework and had all kinds of practical experience and a built in presidential mentor?

But instead of apologizing for screwing up and promising to address our problems, the  Democrats are saying, “Quitcherbitchin’, it could have been worse”. That is not a winning message to the 18000000 of us who are convinced that it could have been a lot better and that Barack Obama is not the best candidate the Democrats could be fielding right now.

The correct metaphor is the one that Katiebird came up with this morning.  The arsonists paid off the fire department to let the building burn to the ground.  They’re going to build something completely different in its place.

When all you’ve got are metaphors

Paul Krugman is wrong:

Dean Baker has exactly the right metaphor for journalists asking the really dumb “are you better off” question:

Suppose your house is on fire and the firefighters race to the scene. They set up their hoses and start spraying water on the blaze as quickly as possible. After the fire is put out, the courageous news reporter on the scene asks the chief firefighter, “is the house in better shape than when you got here?”

Yes, that would be a really ridiculous question.

A serious reporter asks the fire chief if he had brought a large enough crew, if they enough hoses, if the water pressure was sufficient. That might require some minimal knowledge of how to put out fires.

Obama came to office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The question should be how well he dealt with that crisis — and in particular whether the man seeking to replace him would have done better.

I am by no means a Ronald Reagan fan. But, WOW — his question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is exactly the right question to ask whenever a president runs for reelection. I just wish Ted Kennedy had thought to ask it so plainly during his primary run.  It might have saved us all a lot of grief.  Or maybe not. So. Not “really dumb,” not even “dumb” — of course there are other questions to ask but I think we can handle that.

If you can’t run on your record then all you’ve got are metaphors

But, the “dumb” crack is only one weakness in Krugman’s argument. The real weakness is that he’s following what is obviously a Democratic Party Talking Point and discussing Obama’s history as president and his current campaign as if he exists in an alternate universe.

Let’s take a quick side trip to another alternate universe as an example in this post by Vast Left Wing Conspiracy:

Note that amid the various threads that split off from this, Aravosis says at one point: “perhaps it’s more accurate to say country is better off and people would be far worse right now if McCain had won.”

But the question at hand wasn’t “would an alt-reality term by the vanquished opponent have been worse?” It was the traditional query about how American citizens fared under the incumbent’s tenure

(I would encourage you to take a look at Vast Left’s post because — well, you’ll hate yourself later if you don’t)

Krugman blows right past the importance of Obama’s record as president and right into a question that is possibly weirder than than Aravosis’s (although Aravosis totally wins the bizarre metaphor competition.) I’ll repeat:

Obama came to office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The question should be how well he dealt with that crisis — and in particular whether the man seeking to replace him would have done better.

Does Krugman REALLY expect that voters are supposed to imagine that Romney ran in 2008 and compare that alt-administration against Obama’s? Because I think that’s dumb.

From my point of view (and granted, I’m not an economist) – I have to wonder why 4 years after my house burned down nothing has been done to rebuild it.

And – as Dan H asked, why haven’t the arsonists been prosecuted.

Obama isn’t running against McCain this year (or Romney in 2008!!) – that’s a done deal. He’s running against his own record and Mitt Romney. Which should have been a joke campaign considering Romney’s history of making a personal contribution to raising the unemployment rate.

That Obama is running neck and neck against the guy shows that Unemployment is likely a critical issue in this race. And many of Obama’s 2008 voters aren’t impressed with his record on the issue.

There is a reason that Team Obama is throwing around all these metaphors — it’s all he’s got to offer us.

What’s missing in this NYTimes article on the divided Democrats?

The word

UNEMPLOYMENT

Nice try, guys. Is David Axelrod taking “journalists” aside and telling them to ix-nay on the unemployment-ay? By the way, poverty, which is the concern of only the “liberal” Democrats derives from

having no job.

Is this what the Unemployed are going to have to put up with?  They’re not going to mention us at all!?

Please get Caroline Kennedy off the fricking stage.  She is not doing the Democrats any favors:

Mr. Obama has, if slowly, taken stands that many members of his party long felt were politically risky, including support for same-sex marriage and issuing an order granting many young illegal immigrants brought to this country as children a two-year reprieve from deportation.

“They’re Democrats — they are always going to be disappointed,”Ms. Kennedy said. “But I think his stands on gay marriage and immigration this year changes that. I think he’s accomplished some really substantive things that people gloss over.”

Or he hasn’t accomplished anything substantive so there’s no need to gloss over.  But it’s hard to prove a negative.  Except in one particular area:

UNEMPLOYMENT

He hasn’t done a damn thing about that, even when he had a two year lead and a filibuster proof majority of his own party in Congress.  Not that Caroline, who was one of the people responsible for this disaster, has any clue.

Wait a sec, that’s it?  He says he’s for non-discrimination of the LGBT community but he doesn’t sign the non-discrimination clause for government contracts and he says he’ll leave anti-discrimination laws up to the states.  That’s not progress.  That’s pandering in the weakest way possible so as not to ruffle the feathers of the evangelicals.  And those students who are Americans in every way but birth?  There’s no teeth behind that “accomplishment”.  He might as well take up embroidery.

Let me work through this.  If Caroline Kennedy doesn’t think that poverty is a big deal, that must mean she’s not a liberal.  Oh sure, she has socially liberal views but she doesn’t really give a f^&* about poor people.  Can we agree on that?  BTW, it’s just as easy to be a poor gay person or immigrant.  Unemployment tends to not discriminate.  Even PhDs in STEM professions are not immune, Caroline.

Can we just push Caroline into the extinct liberal Republican camp and be done with it?  And take Obama with you, Caroline.

By the way, my brother is still in Afghanistan.

Isn’t it possible that the “lack of spirit” is due to the fact that Obama turned out to be a disaster to the

UNEMPLOYED?

And what’s with this crap?:

Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor who broke with Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008 and endorsed Mr. Obama, said it was critical for the White House to “re-energize the base that got him elected: minorities, young people and independents.”

“They need to get excited again,” he said.

What is he saying?  All we need is to have a couple of keggers and par-tay and that will make everything Ok?  Gawd, Richardson always was overrated.

Ah, this is closer to the truth:

Mr. Kerrey said the enthusiasm was “quite high,” but added, “It’s not going to be the naïve enthusiasm of four years ago.”

Yep, It was naive.  Stupid naivety.  And Democratic activists who were easier to fool than they thought they were. And a whole lotta bankers’ money with which to do it.

Tolkien Quote of the Evening

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit