Category Archives: Health Care

Fine Fillet Edition

So I have always suspected this: far from being the addle-pated old fool that people like to portray him as, Biden is a shrewd, savvy politician who knows how to play the “gaffe-prone” guy in order to advance a bigger objective.

It is with modified glee, that I point to tonight’s debate performances as evidence. It was a fine filleting of Rep. Paul Ryan, and sent a sigh of relief rolling through the ranks of Demos riled by Romney’s lies and Obama’s apparent indifference  to them in the last week’s debate.

But even before tonight, I had my suspicions about Joe.  Take his so-called gaffe on gay marriage.  Supposedly he just blurted out his support for gay marriage and irritated the president, putting the Obama administration in an awkward position. Know what? I think you don’t get to be a veteran politician with 40 years experience by shooting off your mouth unless it’s calculated. I see Joe in a meeting with the president saying, “Hey, let me just go out there and take the temperature of the water.  If it’s a horrible idea, it’ll just be crazy old Joe shooting off his mouth, but if it’s the right time, then you’ll find out.”

And when Obama’s gay marriage support speech rolled out,  I knew for sure that Joe is one helluva smart political strategist whose greatest advantage is that he doesn’t care what people think about him personally.

But back to the debate at hand. First off, props to Martha Raddatz.  She’s feisty right from the start, “I would like to begin with Libya.”  Whoa, Nellie! No softball question? No inane “what is the difference” queries?  Just, “Good evening, gentlemen, let me set a breakneck pace here by asking you about libyan terrorists assassinating a US Ambassador.” Yeah. I love it. In a tweetshell, as Vanity Fair put it: “Yo, Jim Lehrer, This Is What Killing It Looks Like.”

The NY Times’ Alessandra Stanley observes:

For Mr. Biden especially, the night was his chance to relive past debates and unleash his inner barroom brawler. He had to be contained and courteous when he debated Sarah Palin four years ago, lest he look like a bully. This time he let loose. And unlike the courtly Mr. Bentsen in 1988, Mr. Biden turned his temperature up, singeing the young man across the table with patronizing grins, but mostly withering retorts. His interruptive barrage was as relentless as his silent mugging for the camera.

Mr. Ryan held his own, but did look abashed when Mr. Biden mocked him for opposing the Obama stimulus, yet asking for government funds for his own district. “On two occasions, we — we — we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants,” Mr. Ryan said stiffly.

“I love that. I love that,” Mr. Biden said. “This was such a bad program, and he writes me a letter saying — writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, the reason we need this stimulus — it will create growth and jobs.”

And if Biden looked authoritative and no-nonsense, Ryan often seemed rattled, like a punky, arrogant little kid who’s just been called out on blatant lies and is desperately trying to keep his cool and bluster his way through. His little “heh-heh” chuckle creepily reminds me of GWShrub’s grating little trademark snigger.

Oh, and by the way, these are real photos of Paul Ryan– he posed for Time Magazine, when he was the 2011 runner up for Person of the Year (???). Don’t ask.
But before I leave the topic of Ryan’s appearance, I’m going to say again… Hannover Fiste.  Remarkable. (Thanks, Todd, now I can’t see anything else…)

Anyway, pundits on the right will claim that Biden was unhinged because they can’t refute what he said, and those on the left will  rejoice that FINALLY someone is starting to call out the Romney-Ryan lie machine.

They get to Medicare entitlements and Ryan tries to drag his mom into the discussion. In his response, Biden offhandedly reminds us that he filleted Sarah Palin on the death panel debate and can fillet Ryan just as neatly.

Some favorite Biden lines:

  • “That is a bunch of malarkey!”
  • “Go on our Web site. He sent me two letters saying by the way, ‘Can you send me stimulus money? It will create growth and jobs. Those are his words. And now, he’s sitting here looking at me?”
  • “By the way, any letter you send me, I’ll entertain it.”
  • “Oh so now you’re Jack Kennedy…”

And one of my favorite Biden responses managed to wrap the 47% remark, the GM bailout,  and Romney’s veteran policies neatly into a response on unemployment figures:

Let’s look at the — let’s take a look at the facts. Let’s look at where we were when we came to office. The economy was in free fall. We had — the Great Recession hit. Nine million people lost their job, 1.7 — $1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes, in retirement accounts from the middle class.

We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that — and when that occurred, what did Romney do? Romney said, no, let Detroit go bankrupt. We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, no, let foreclosures hit the bottom.

But it shouldn’t be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. My friend recently, in a speech in Washington, said 30% of the American people are takers. These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax. They are elderly people who in fact are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, not paying any taxes.

I’ve had it up to here with this notion that 47 percent — it’s about time they take some responsibility here. And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class, we’re going to level the playing field. We’re going to give you a fair shot again.

Says Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast: “Biden’s affect is the most important thing tonight. He seems like the elder statesman but also a pitbull.”

And at the Economist, reaction was: “Joe Biden was easily the more memorable debater in every way; he was louder, more emotional, lucid, detailed, garrulous, grinning, teary-eyed and just Joe Biden. He sank some real barbs into Romney-Ryan. The Biden that Mr Obama hired in 2008 to excite lower-middle-class types from Scranton showed up and did his job. Ryan was cool, impressively calm given his unpredictable opponent, and detailed, but seemed reactive much of the night. He could have put Obama-Biden on the spot for their deficit failures more effectively; as it was, more time was spent on how Mr Romney’s numbers don’t add up (a potential future deficit) than the actual deficit itself.”

Sam Youngman of Reuters on PBS: Joe’s message was “Hey, welcome to my turf, rookie.”

And I won’t deny that Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker pretty much gets it right: “In a poll of Democratic voters taken immediately following Thursday night’s Vice-Presidential debate, a wide majority said they wanted Vice-President Joe Biden to appear in all remaining 2012 debates,” adding, “Obama should crush a little bit of Joe Biden into a joint and smoke it.”

So, how did Joe do? If you must know my opinion, he cleanly filleted Ryan before the guy even knew what was going on, and  then he packaged him up with a wine sauce to cover that off-flavor of hypocrisy and put a few nice clean chives on the top.

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So early voting began in California last Tuesday, and we realized that in order to vote at this juncture, we would have to wade through our positions on nearly a dozen ballot measures and another handful of local propositions. So, Californians, we are now prepared to reveal our recommendations on everything from gross receipt taxes to GMO labeling to the human trafficking.  Interested?  Send me a message and I’ll be happy to share our snarky take on this year’s props.  And when you know which way you want to vote on your local and state props,

GO VOTE. 

In-person early voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho,  Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana,  California, and beginning today, Arizona.

You can vote by absentee ballot already in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas,Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississipi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas,Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Florida.

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GROUSEY CAT SEZ: 
 “Sometimes I leave malarkey in the litterbox…
and sometimes I leave malarkey on the carpet…”

 


Nearly-Incoherent-With-Rage Edition

What. Was. That.

I’m so angry after watching the first Presidential Debate live from Denver that I can barely form the words.

TranscriptVideo.  Arghhhhhh.

I screamed at the TV like a deranged maniac, causing my poor Grousey Cat to literally fall off the ottoman and retreat in a huff under the table while I worked myself into a livid fury.

Must. Calm. Self. Not. Good. for. Blood. Pressure.

But now the debate is over. My Grousey Cat has emerged to give me a tentative, calming, wet-nosed nudge, and my Editorial Cat has walked across my keyboard, promising to help edit, if I promise not to be scary anymore.

First off, can we please, PLEASE, PLEASE get a moderator with a fricking backbone?  Jim Lehrer was, in the words of my perceptive husband, “worthless.” Not only did Jim himself often interrupt Obama claiming time was up, he let Romney run roughshod over him, and demand extra time, natter on about whatever he wanted to talk about and interrupt the president as much as he pleased. He didn’t force either of them to stick to the topics or the time limits, and on top of that, his idiotic kickoff questions–“What is the difference between you and your opponent on fill-in-the-blank” was how he started every damn segment–were an embarrassment to the whole proceeding. Jim, that was not only useless, ineffectual, and pandering, it was damn lazy. It made it look like you spent no time at all preparing to moderate this debate.

I would like to also propose a system in which the candidates are locked in two soundproof booths, and unable to be heard unless their mike is turned on.

That or some kind of electronic muzzle. Or automatic pepper-spray spritzes in the face whenever they say something that is a lie.

I’m designing it in my head, and thinking it could be a big seller.

Because tonight’s offerings from Mitt Romney were RIDDLED with whoppers that have ALREADY BEEN PROVEN TO BE LIES! I hope the fact-checkers have a field day with this.

Here are a few that have already hit the boards:

  • 12 million jobs: Mr. Romney promised to create 12 million jobs over the next four years if he is elected president. That is actually about as many jobs as the economy is already expected to create, according to some economic forecasters.
  • “I did not propose a $5Trillion tax cut: It is true that Mr. Romney has proposed “revenue neutral” tax reform, meaning that he would not expand the deficit. However, he has proposed cutting all marginal tax rates by 20 percent — which would in and of itself cut tax revenue by $5 trillion.
  • $716 billion cut for Medicare: How long are we going to have to listen to this one? “These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise.”

The sad truth is that it was a slick performance by Romney, who was aggressive and energetic. He was well-prepped, using coded keywords and appropriating Demo buzz phrases with a Tea Party twist– “trickle down government,” “economy tax.”  Aside from the actual ballsy outrageousness of his lies, his biggest misstep was saying he’d fire Big Bird and Jim Lehrer, although, personally, at this point, I’d fire Jim Lehrer too.

By contrast Obama’s performance was frankly lackluster.  I know some people will disagree and feel that his non-combativeness was more presidential, but it was also less inspiring, and looked indecisive and confused. When Romney claims that he just wants to help those Americans out there who are hurting, why didn’t Obama hit back with “but you mean not the 47% of them who support me?”

When Romney accuses him of pillaging $716 billion from Medicare, why doesn’t he say, “ask your running mate Paul Ryan how it works, since he proposed the same plan.” When Romney makes a crack about repeating something that’s not true so often til people think its true, why not come back at him and say, “Perhaps you know all about that since SuperPACS supporting you have had so much practice doing exactly that–LYING.” And when Romney has the utter GALL to say that Obama should have gotten Republican support to pass his health care plan, I want to choke him. How about giving him a tart reply that if the Republicans had not CATEGORICALLY decided that blocking Obama (not the welfare of the country) was their TOP political priority , bipartisanship would have been a possibility.

This really frosts me.  When Romney says, “But the right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the providers across America, telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have,” why isn’t Obama retorting, “Oh, you mean the way you’d like to come between a doctor and a woman exercising her right to choose?”

And when Romney has the nerve to spout this little gem, “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own plane, your own house, but not your own facts,” you need to hit back with, “Right, Mitt, you think only YOU are entitled to your own facts–that’s an ‘entitlement’ you take advantage of every day.”

Instead, Obama looks unpracticed–he stutters, seems to be looking down all the time during Romney’s responses, and generally comes across as unfocused and rambling.  It was a totally ennervated performance, that has me wondering where the Obama of 2004 or 2008 is?  There’s a hell of a difference between rising above the negativity to look presidential and just being plain old boring.  Word is that sparring with John Kerry was his debate prep. Well, sadly, he looked like John Kerry–and not that cool, fiery Kerry from this year’s DNC, but the fumbling dry, boring Kerry of 2004 who got SwiftBoated without even raising a peep about the lies told about him.

Joe Klein says: “Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting President. Romney–credit where it’s due–was calm, clear, convincing (even when he was totally full of it) and nearly human. The real mystery was Obama. Where on earth was he? Why was his debate strategy unilateral disarmament? Why did he never speak in plain English: “Mitt, you’re selling a fantasy. Bill Clinton proved it. He raised taxes on the wealthy and the economy boomed. George Bush lowered taxes drastically and the economy tanked. How’s your plan any different than Bush’s?”

Excellent point. Why did Obama never even MENTION Bush and hang the Shrubbery around Mitt Romney’s neck??

And Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast says, “Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama’s meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look.”

I don’t know what the polls are going to look like after this, but I fear it will not be good for Obama.

Is this whole exercise a canny way to shake all of us supporters out of our complacency and send us into a full-blown panic, lest we take this election for granted?  Mr. President, it’s not necessary to give us heart attacks.  Really. You can just ask us kindly to get out there and vote.

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GROUSEY CAT SEZ:

“Ow. I hurt myself when I fell of the ottoman. Don’t make me hurt myself again.”

GO VOTE NOW. 

In-person early voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho,  Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio.

You can vote by absentee ballot already in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas,Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississipi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas,Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Florida.

On Monday we here in California can begin early voting.


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.

Top Bill-ing Edition

DNC Day Two.

Okay, I’m ready. I’ve got my cat next to me, my laptop  fired up and my hand on the pause button so I can blog as we go….  bring it on!

Firstly, yes, there are just as many boring speakers at the DNC as at the RNC last week. Yes, their ideas are more in line with my views generally, but if I’m being honest, these conventions are really tedious, far too predictable and far too carefully scripted. Except for Bill Clinton.

Hold that thought. We’ll come back to that.

If you were watching CBS or ABC you would have missed one interesting thing:  Sandra Fluke’s speech. It’s a not-funny non-irony, because as you might remember, she was the Georgetown Law student who was prevented from testifying on the importance of birth control to a House committee. You know, the woman Rush Limbaugh labeled a “slut” for speaking up about how insurance companies need to cover birth control.

After Sandra, there are a few more good, but not notable speakers. And then, Elizabeth Warren–yes! You know why I love this woman?  Because she’s PROGRESSIVE and not apologetic about it.  There are days I want Obama to be so much more progressive, days when I want Dems to stand up and yes, have a frickin’ backbone. And on those days, I watch the YouTube video of Elizabeth Warren going off, just to make me feel better, to remind me that I ain’t so crazy, and that there are leaders out there who are share my lefty-liberal, socially responsible viewpoint.

Warren’s speech isn’t a barn burner, but she makes a lot of good points and she doesn’t sound like a crazy person. Nice and calm. I can appreciate that after listening to people shout into the microphone all night.

But now… it’s time for Bill Clinton.  Everyone sit up, grab your drinks and pay attention. This–THIS is what we’ve been waiting for. Freakin’ brilliant.  I’m thinking it’s one of the best speeches we are going to see here in Charlotte and wondering if Obama can top that. Of course, I thought that same thing back in 2008 too.

As I’m watching it, I’m looking at the transcript, meaning his prepared remarks, and noticing the little differences, the extra facts that he sprinkles throughout brilliantly. I love his digression from the text to talk about National Security and Hillary’s work as Secretary of State. Man has a mind like a steel trap. As Huffpo says, Bill kills it.

Here are some of my “Thank you!” lines–you know, the ones where you slap the couch and shout, “Thank you! Finally someone said it!”:

I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside.  A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.

The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made.  One of our greatest Democratic Chairmen, Bob Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain’t so.

Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24.  In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs.  What’s the jobs score?  Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!

I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don’t feel it. I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the President’s contract you will feel it.

There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.

When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s “biggest coldest power play” in raiding Medicare, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You see, that 716 billion dollars is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget. [Then Clinton ad libs] You got to admit, it takes some brass to attack a guy for what you did.

People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.

Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left, because it defied arithmetic. [and he ad libs]It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was a country boy from Arkansas and came from a place where people thought  two and two was four.

Clinton has always had this uncanny ability to make complicated policy stuff comprehensible, he can make people LOVE hearing budget numbers. At 48 minutes, he runs overtime by about half an hour, and nobody even cares. He must be the only politician I’ve ever seen who can keep an audience in rapt attention while quoting jobs figures to them.  How does he do it?? The spell he has over the crowd is awe-inspiring. Paula Poundstone tweeted, “I want a Bill Clinton backpack, a Bill Clinton lunchbox, Bill Clinton toothpaste, Bill Clinton curtains, and a Bill Clinton beach towel…” (Paula, let me know where I can order those–call me!)

Oh, and after a three-day GOP convention in which everyone tiptoed around the very mention of any Bushes, how ironic is it that the only shout-out heard in either convention comes from Bill Clinton at the DNC? Hah.

Says US News &World Report: “Clinton’s mournful recounting that extremist elements of the GOP had driven “two distinguished Republican senators” out of office was also not in his prepared remarks. It was part of a brilliant riff where Clinton adopted a post-partisan tone—speaking fondly of GOP presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Reagan, and even both Bushes—while effectively doing the very partisan work of demonstrating that the Republicans have become hostage to rigid and uncompromising ideologues.”

Joe Klein at Time Mag says, “Bill Clinton talks about policy–about the substance of governing–better than any other politician I’ve ever heard. He keeps it simple and he keeps it accurate. He can make Medicare as dramatic as warfare. He did a major demolition job on the Republican Party’s economic policy tonight. He held it to the light of the facts. And it crumbled, as those of us who follow these things knew it would.”

And Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast is equally enthusiastic: “Holy smokes. That was the best political speech more or less ever. There wasn’t a thing he didn’t touch on, and there wasn’t a thing he didn’t just blast out of the park. His carriage and delivery nailed it for partisans and for persuadables. He hit Republican obstructionism. He slammed the Romney and Ryan plans on virtually every point they’ve raised in the last six months, from the welfare ads to the tax cuts to the Medicare “cuts” to so much more, and he did it in detail.”

Even Scott Galupo at American Conservative says, “The case he made against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan was devastating. The speech was chockfull of soundbite-ready takeaways: “There they go again.” “We can’t afford to double down on trickle-down.” “One word: Arithmetic.” And there were substantive segments on Medicare, welfare, student loan reform, energy policy, etc.”

And Andrew Sprung at xpostfactoid offers what I can only hope is a truth: “What a giant enterprise. He set himself singlehandedly to counter a billion dollars in attack ads, to break through the core Republican lies and obfuscations.”

Anyway, after Bill’s speech, I quietly turn off the TV to absorb. And then I turn it back on and rewind it to watch again. It’s just that good.  Go on. Watch it again.

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Notes from elsewhere

And in the “Are You KIDDING ME?” Department, this from HuffPo: “On December 10, 2010, Ryan penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a grant application for the Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc to develop a new facility in Racine, Wisconsin, an area within Ryan’s district. “The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare,” Ryan wrote. The grant Ryan requested was funded directly by the Affordable Care Act, better known simply as healthcare reform or Obamacare.”

Yeah. Uh-huh. Ad that to the list of hypocrisies.

And in other fascinating news, Gallup reports that Mitt Romney got almost no “bounce” from last week’s convention.  Which either says that there’s no shifting to be had, or that was a pretty sucky convention.  Guess which one I think is the case….

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GROUSY CAT SEZ:

“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”


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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