Category Archives: Bailouts

Unranting Edition

Were you looking for a rant after the last day of the convention?

Yeah, I was too.

When I turned off the Dem convention Day Three last night, I was looking for that fired-up energy.

You know, the couch-slapping, galvanic kind of energy  I got at the end of Bill Clinton’s Day Two speech or the poignant warmth that I felt at the end of Michelle Obama’s encomium on Day One.

Don’t get me wrong, Obama gave a good speech. It had some memorable lines and excellent points, but, as with many of the speeches he’s given in the past few years, I felt like it was geared more toward dialing things down than firing things up. And after we turned off the TV, I didn’t really have any particular feelings about the speech, other than that it was good, not great.

Still, I think it says a lot about him and his approach that his speech slowed me down. I wasn’t typing furiously the way that I did after the Republican convention speakers, or even at the close of the last two days of the DNC. In the morning, I’m chewing over it and still asking myself how I felt about it. The answer is positive, although not necessarily inspired.

The fact that we’ve always known is that Obama is not a grandstander or a demagogue. And he’s not a ranter like me.  Now, I love to see that other people are as outraged as I am, that they’re as vexed by the misinformation and obfuscations that have been flying this political season. I like to watch Bill Clinton preach and Jennifer Granholm rip into Romney. Even last night, it was John Kerry, of all people, who was on fire:”Our opponents like to talk about ‘American Exceptionalism,’ but all they do is talk. The only thing exceptional about today’s Republicans is that — almost without exception — they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place.”

And Joe Biden, who’s often painted as a buffoon in the news media, gave a disarmingly heartfelt and stirring populist speech, exhorting folks to look to a future where we promote the “private sector, not the privileged sector.” Although I worry about Bob Woodward’s new book being a thorn in Obama’s side, it seems his portrayal of Biden confirms what I’ve always suspected: that he’s savvier than you think, and doesn’t care what his public image is as long the job gets done.

BUT, none of this is Obama’s style. We could see that from Day One of his presidency in his inaugural address. Last night’s speech, to be honest, wasn’t full of soaring rhetoric, or even broad, sweeping ideas. His sauciest one liner–“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”– was delivered with more exasperation than charm.

However, I think it was designed to reframe the entire conversation and in its own understated way, re-entrench (if I may coin a word) his supporters, by reminding them of what we like about him. He’s honest, unafraid to face tough realities, works hard for what he believes in, and is humble enough that everything doesn’t need to be about him. Some of what I thought were his best lines last night underscored that:

“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy.  I never have.  You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear.  You elected me to tell you the truth.”

“So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me.  It was about you.  My fellow citizens – you were the change.”

“And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'”

“America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now.  Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place.  Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together.  We don’t turn back.  We leave no one behind.  We pull each other up.”

Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast had it right, I think, when he said, “I don’t think it was a game-changer. I do think it sets an optimistic tone for the campaign and a stark choice for Americans this fall. This convention was much better than last week’s. Clinton’s speech alone was worth the whole thing. But this will now be decided in the debates. They will be more than usually vital. I suspect Obama kept his waverers on his side tonight, fired up his base, but failed to break away. We’ll see.”

The reaction from around the blogosphere is pretty much in agreement. James Fallows at the Atlantic says, “I thought it was not one of his best but that it did the job.” And at the NY Times, David Brooks’ assessment is : “Thursday night’s speech showed the character and his potential. It didn’t show audacity and the fulfillment of that potential.” And Howard Kurtz at the Daily Beast says: “It was not Obama’s greatest speech, nor his most passionate. It was, instead, a grown-up speech, a substantive speech, one that hit high notes but never soared to the heights. Whatever afterglow it created may soon fade as voters again confront the realities of the shaky economy, and the fresh unemployment figures due out Friday morning.”

So here’s the thing though. Mixed in with my musings on the Obama speech, I was also pondering the post of a Facebook friend, a Conservative  Baptist I’ve known since high school, who says that she is hiding the posts of some people that she knows until this election is over. I have to assume that I’m on that list, since I merrily post political items on my timeline all the time. Add to that the request from another friend that I not send her emails any longer because “politics just isn’t her thing.”

Now, I’m not offended, but it brings home a reality that I think we have to face up to. People who are Republican supporters are just as unlikely to change their minds about anything to do with Obama as I am to change my mind about Romney. A few weeks ago there was a report on NPR which I can’t find now, but the upshot of it was that for those of us who have a partisan bent, whether it be left or right, it is nearly impossible to make us change our minds now. But there are surprisingly few people, even among independents who HAVEN’T yet made up their minds.

Was this dog-and-pony show going to change the opinions of anyone out there?  Nope. Neither convention could ever have done that and frankly,neither the RNC nor the DNC was without cringe-worthy moments. On balance, I think the Dems came out ahead, despite the wrangling over putting “God” and Jerusalem in the platform, and despite the embarrassing move out of the stadium venue for the last night. After all, the Republicans lost a whole day to the hurricane, had to contend with Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, and were raked over the coals for Paul Ryan’s factually-challenged speech.

Instead, I think we have to use these moments to remind ourselves of why it’s important that we not get lazy about this election, why it’s important that everyone gets out there to vote. Why it’s important that we refute the lies of course, and battle the misinformation wherever we find it, and take this election seriously.

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GROUSY CAT SEZ:
Only kitties can afford to be lazy. Get out and vote.

Dear Mr. President Edition

An open letter to President Obama

Mr. President,

I want to say first of all, don’t worry about my vote.  You have it. I liked you even before the Will.i.am video –I’ve liked you ever since that keynote speech back in 2004and even though you weren’t my progressive dream candidate (she’s doing a crackerjack job as your Secretary of State, an appointment I heartily approve of), I was happy to vote for you the first time and I’m happy to do it again.

I know that I personally will be thrilled to watch you take the stage to accept the nomination on Thursday. Especially after gritting my teeth through the numerous whoppers being told at the Republican convention last week.

So it’s been four years, huh? How different was life back then? It’s nice, I’ve found, not waking up every day thinking I’m about to be wiped out in a nuclear armageddon like I did during the Reagan years, or wandering around with a black cloud of unconsolable misery, mortified to call myself an American, like I did while Cheney/Bush was president. I wake up now and don’t think about the government much, because I’m pretty sure the guy we elected has got it in hand. Not that I’m taking you for granted, sir, but I’ve just had a lot else on my mind. But it didn’t escape my notice that you were busy doing good stuff.

Nowadays, Republicans are using “Hope and Change” as a disparaging punchline to fallacious jokes, but when I look back at the last four years, I see a lot of both, and I love it. From your first week in office, when you signed the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, to last May when you put women’s rights on the G-8 agenda, to appointing two women to the Supreme Court, you’ve advanced the cause of women nationally and internationally. I cheered when you finally passed Health Care reform, and kept it going despite the best efforts of the crazies in Congress who’ve bizarrely twisted the public perception of this important bill. The Credit Card reform act was much needed and thank you for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”–possibly the stupidest and most irrelevant policy in military history. Your speech in Cairo to the Islamic world, and actually ending the war in Iraq, not to mention reversing Bush’s policies on torture improved America’s image abroad enormously. Man, you even actually GOT bin Laden, when the Bush team had basically forgotten about him.

BUT–and there’s always a “but”– there’s a few areas that could stand improvement. And when (not if) you get re-elected, I hope we can do better –and yes, by we I mean you.

1) Quit waiting for bipartisanship. Seriously.  I’m sorry, except I’m not. Republicans have got a grudge against you — we won’t go into why I think they do, but they clearly do. Do what you can do without wasting time trying to get GOP buy-in.

2) No more raiding Little Orphan Annie’s piggybank for Daddy Warbucks. I’m so sick of giant corporations, banks, auto companies, Fannie, Freddie, GM, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Yadkin Valley Financial Corp–all getting tax dollars so that their CEOs can take huge bonuses, and NOTHING trickling down to help the people who are the backbone of this country. I know, a lot of them paid the money back, but a lot of them didn’t. The bailout turned around a bunch of companies, but it also lined the pockets of execs. Companies like B of A got our money and then shipped jobs to the Philippines. They should not get a PLUGGED NICKEL without agreeing to stringent regulations. Now, I understand that I’m not an economist and there are probably some pretty fancy-sounding reasons for why we should lend money to these guys, but you know what? I want your next plan to tell us how you’re going to recapitalize teachers, how it’s going to strengthen the artistic sector of our economy, how it’s going to create jobs for scientists.

3) And on that note, clean house at the Federal Reserve.  Why is a guy like Jamie Dimon of the Bank of America disaster a Class A  director of the NY Federal Reserve!?

4) Climate Change.  Maybe I should’ve made this number one. I know, you started something two years ago and it got shot down in the midst of partisan stupidity. After the summer of fires and storms, in which even the Republicans had a convention day washed away in yet another hurricane, it’s time to dust that climate change bill off and get to work again.

5) Close Guantanamo.  It’s been a national embarrassment for too long. Get it done.

6) Put the focus on green energy tax credits.  And no tax credits for oil companies — they don’t need them.

7) Get working on nominations to lower courts.  YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE judges. You’ve got to make every appointment count.

Most of all though, I want you to get the word out about the impact of every good thing you do.  You’ve been humble, you’ve been mild-mannered, you’ve been bipartisan, but now is the time to start taking credit, blare that trumpet, let everyone with short memories know how your agenda has benefited America. When the Republicans claim they’re doing something for women, fire back at them with Lily Ledbetter and protecting women’s access to birth control. When the Romney claims he saved the auto industry, don’t just say that he’s lying, explain to the world that you turned Chrysler around.

Look, I understand. You’ve been a busy man, and you’ve gotten a lot done. I can appreciate that, which is why I keep sending you $5 every time you email me. But there’s a bunch left to do, and –I say this with all respect and only in a “positive criticism” kind of way — there’s a lot you could do better.  Go to it.

Sincerely,

ME

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GROUSY CAT SEZ:

Go ahead, make my day…watch the Demoncratic National Convention Tuesday through Thursday, and don’t miss Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday night–superstar, really. She’s not giving the keynote though–that honor goes to San Antonio mayor Julian Castro.  Watch his TED talk about education and how it changed his life.  Schedule is here.


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