Monday, January 17, 2011

Week of 01/17/2011

When “Good Enough” Isn’t Enough
– by David Matthews 2

In the 1996 movie “Jingle All The Way”, the ever-busy father Howard went out on December 24th to find his son Jaime a “Turbo Man” action figure. He searches all of the stores and finds, much to his disappointment, that this is THE most requested toy in commercial history, and that hardly anyone has it in stock. Hilarity ensues, of course, when he joins all of the other every-busy parents who fight like rats in a cage for that “opportunity” to buy that rare present for their child.

But then mid-way through the film, he is approached by a mall Santa who offers Howard that elusive present. Everything about this screams illicit to Howard, but desperation sets in and he goes with this “Humanitarian Kringle” to a warehouse where other Santa-clad workers are busy making lookalike toys. He is offered the doll, sight unseen, for $100. He pays the cash and gets a wrapped box.

Now in the film, he opens up the box and finds that that what he bought was a cheap knock-off of Turbo Man with broken parts and a Spanish-speaking voice chip. He tries to get his money back, and further hilarity ensues.

But let’s suppose that it DIDN’T turn out that way. What if Howard just took the box, as it was without opening it, back to his house and put it under the tree for his little boy to find on Christmas Day? No more hilarity. No more competing against a demented postal worker. He could be at the Christmas parade with his wife and child and not worry about looking like a loser.

So it’s Christmas Day and young Jaime goes downstairs and he sees the present from Santa. He gets excited and opens it up, only to discover that that it’s a poorly-assembled Spanish-speaking knock-off. Cue the close-up on Howard, who puts on a phony smile and says “I’m sure this is just a mix-up from Santa.” Pan over to Howard’s wife Liz, who tells Howard that he needs to return the “defective toy” to the store, only to find that it wasn’t bought at a store.

Do you think that either of them would accept Howard’s lame explanation that this was the best that he could get? Do you really think that his son wouldn’t lecture him about honoring his promises? Or would young Jaime simply conclude that his father has let him down… yet again?

One thing is for certain… hilarity would not ensue!

And yet this is precisely the kind of situation that politicians and their soothsayers EXPECT people to buy into readily.

Democrats were quick this past December to declare that the Obama White House had achieved “SO MUCH” in the first half of their term. Their soothsayers started going down every so-called “promise” that was made before the 2008 election and declared that a whopping eighty-five percent of them were accomplished. EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT!

Now if these “revelations” sound off alarm bells in your mind as being somewhat familiar, then rejoice, because you’re in good company.

The problem with the claim is that if the Democrats really DID accomplish all that they had promised to do, then we SHOULD be in a much better place in this nation.

Take, for instance, healthcare reform. What did they PROMISE? They promised single-payer. They promised public option. They promised the elimination of the myriad of excuses insurance companies use to refuse to cover claims. And they promised the process of coming up with these changes to be transparent so that people would know PRECISELY what they were getting.

Oh well… as Meat Loaf used to sing… “Now don’t be sad, ‘cuz one out of four ain’t bad.”

Oh, wait, that’s not how the song went.

And neither were the promises kept. Single-payer and public option - two heavily-promised tenants - were slaughtered in backroom sessions faster than a TV fall series. And transparency? WHAT transparency? All of these things were lost in the orchestrated chaos paid for by the GOP and the K-Street lobbying gang. And when the dust settled, we ended up with a reform package that benefited the insurance companies in ways that they NEVER expected before the subject came up!

Think about it… who would have imagined a reform program that would FORCE Americans to purchase insurance, regardless of whether they could AFFORD it or not? And to then have it defended to the hilt by the so-called “champions of the poor” simply because it was “the best that they could get”? Oh, that is just the icing on the cake!

Is only fulfilling one-fourth of the work considered a success? Apparently it does in politics.

How about financial reform? Fixing Wall Street and the Too-Big-To-Fail-Banks? We handed out hundreds of billions to them without any kind of conditions put to them, only to have them turn around and put the screws on the very taxpayers that were bailing them out. And when the call came out to “fix” Wall Street and the banks, well, I guess it helps that the “fix” came from their friends in the Congress and spearheaded by their friends in the White House… that came FROM Wall Street.

It still remains to be seen just how “effective” the new Consumer Protection “sheriff” will be on the business world. But given that Elizabeth Warren’s previous position consisted of showing up at every TV show and on Michael Moore’s movie “Capitalism” to explain why she couldn’t DO her position as TARP overseer, one has to wonder if she just traded one “oversight” position for another.

Still, hey, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” got repealed, right? Who knew they could have pulled that off? Okay, took a bit of political trickery to get past the GOP and their perpetual “NO” machine, but hey, it worked, right? Oh, and extending the payment of unemployment benefits? It only took allowing a $300 billion tax cut to be extended for two years for them to be “allowed” to continue to fund a $3 billion program for another year. That’s like paying $100 and having to haggle over a single penny. But, hey, got it passed, so I guess those fifteen million Americans out of work that have been screwed over by Wall Street SHOULD be thankful for that little pittance, right?

Speaking of the unemployed, don’t you love how the White House re-defined job creation to being “created or saved”? Masterful! Under that newly re-defined term, they can put more effort into funneling money towards infrastructure projects than in actually creating jobs for those fifteen million Americans and still claim to “create jobs”.

And we’re supposed to be “overjoyed” at this, right? Look at all of the “good work” that they’ve done for the American people!

Sound familiar? It should.

How about Iraq and that huge “Mission Accomplished” banner in May of 2003? Only it WASN’T accomplished then. Saddam Hussein was still on the loose at the time (he wouldn’t be captured for seven more months) and we would still lose THOUSANDS of lives before the White House would relent and send more soldiers. Still, the so-called “experts” went down their checklist and said “Well that’s good enough… Mission Accomplished!”

We did this with Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002. Sure we had to go there after 9/11. We HAD to overthrow the Taliban government and go after the terrorists that they were protecting, but then our military and the White House under President Bush said “Well, we overthrew the government and we captured some terrorists and we have the other terrorists on the run… that’s good enough. Let’s work on Iraq.”

Speaking of Iraq, we did that twice to them before the 2002 invasion! We did it in Desert Storm, and in Bill Clinton’s “forget about the impeachment” attack in 1998. In both instances, the “experts” went down their checklists and said “that’s good enough” and then called it a win.

Military experts said the same thing about Vietnam. According to all of the “experts”, we should have WON that conflict, because we “won” all of the battles… or at least all of the battles that THEY wanted us to look at. Never mind that there is no South Vietnam anymore because the North Vietnamese actually WON the whole conflict.

Are you noticing a pattern here?

Let’s get brutally honest here… the problems we face aren’t items on a checklist that can be written off as being “good enough”. They NEED to be resolved!

Imagine President Franklin Roosevelt telling the American people “Well, we bombed Tokyo for payback for Pearl Harbor, we liberated most of Europe and Africa and a few Pacific islands, and we have the Axis Powers on the ropes. That’s good enough… let’s declare World War II over with and call it day.” Do you really think that the American people would have accepted that?

Or how about General Washington telling the Continental Congress “Well, we trounced the Redcoats for a while, we put up a good fight, and we really showed them how angry we are over the whole taxation thing, so let’s just call off the revolution and call it a win?”

Is it any wonder, then, why the Democrats lost control of the US House and stand to lose control of the Senate in the next election cycle? They were busy looking at the checklist and trying to find ways to check everything off when they should have been paying attention to the RESULTS!

“Good enough” is a cheat. It’s a half-assed way of weaseling out of your obligation, and maybe there are times when you have to do that. But don’t turn around and expect people to APPLAUD you for it! Certainly, hilarity would not ensue.


Brutally Honest said...

WELL SAID. I concur.

Anonymous said...

This is a bit OT, but is anyone else getting sick of John Boehner's fake crying? It's bad enough when Glenn Back did it but now it's being a trend to show "how passionate they (the criers) are." But of course, they're not the ones that need to "man-up".