Saturday, June 9, 2012

Obama and LeBron

There are two arguments that infuriate me. 1) Obama is a socialist. 2) LeBron always chokes. It seems like those two arguments are based on the "perception is reality" theory without any consideration of the facts. And if perception is reality and your perception won't change then there is nothing that can be done to change your reality.

I will get to the Obama part first. In judging his first first term as President, I keep thinking that either by choice or by circumstances he has governed as a moderate Republican. Now if I said this to probably 95% of Republicans they would almost definitely argue that point. To them he is a Kenyan born, socialist who is out to replace free market capitalism with a government run country. He has raised taxes, personally increased gas prices and also did everything possible to foreclose on your home. In addition to that he has increased the national debt, and made the US a poor place to invest in. People don't like Obama and agree that he is an ultra-liberal President.

In actuality I agree with Bill Maher in this segment about Obama being a lousy socialist. Here is the recap with quotes:

"How can the same guy, Barack Obama, make these people feel that America has changed so completely, and yet make me feel like it has barely changed at all....if Obama were as radical as they claimed here is what he would have already done: pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us Medicare for all, ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Cheney over to the Hague."

He then goes on to list examples of how Obama has done a lot of thinks Republicans have wanted and pointed out one of my favorite points about the performance of the stock market during his presidency. "Corporate profits are at there highest ever. If he is a socialist, he is a lousy the question remains - how can you guys be so unhappy with Obama, when I'm so unhappy with Obama."

Added to the above is Paul Krugman's article called This Republican Economy. Reading that combined with what I already know makes me really confused when Republicans showcase their hatred to Obama. Is it racism? Is it ignorance? Does it just come down to the fact that Obama is on the wrong team?
In general I think Republicans have gotten a lot of good things from Obama. In fact a lot of things that W probably would have done have been accomplished by Obama. Consider -
  • He didn't let the Bush tax cuts expire. This is a big one for me. He could have done nothing and immediately accomplished some (not all) of what he is trying to do with the Buffett tax. Reading this announcement, I am confused as to why Republicans would be upset with a President who hasn't raised taxes. Look at the top marginal tax rate and tell me why Republicans are upset?
  • He killed Osama Bin Laden. In a place where W failed (and he had his opportunities to succeed) he accomplished the main goal in the aftermath of 9/11.
  • There have been no terrorist attacks on US soil. While part of this has to due with luck (no matter how powerful I doubt that one person can control everything) it is something that Bush ran on in 2004. I remember the point that you should vote for Bush because he prevented any additional terrorist attacks after 9/11.
  • Bush bailout vs. Obama stimulus. It seems like both Presidents were willing to use government money to try and help the economy out. Here is W in his own words "I'm a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention." But "these are not are not normal circumstances." How is that theory any different than what Obama was trying to do? He entered office during the same not "normal circumstances" and did his best to help the economy out. There are a lot of great charts on the economy if you were curious about how the economy has performed under W and Bush. 
  • Deficit: Bush increased the national debt by 89%. Obama is at 41% right now. If Obama gets reelected it will be a close call to see which President increased debt by a higher %. Neither will come close to Reagan, who increased debt by 189% during his 8 years. Anyway, some will argue that the reason the national debt under Obama has risen is outside of his control.
    1. Tax revenue declined because of the recession. And please note that the recession started Obama took office.
    2. Republicans blocked any attempts at balancing budgets because they refuse to raise taxes even one cent.
    3. Obama was continuing on the wars that W started.
    4. There are so many budget policies set before Obama took office that blaming him for the debt is like blaming a firefighter for burning the house.
  • Deficit (continued): Regardless of the blame you can't be a Reagan/W Republican and say anything poorly about how Obama has handled the national debt. Look at the % increases by year for each President on this chart. Republicans can try to blame Obama on the economy (unemployment is high), but it is hypocritical for them to attack Obama on the national debt. 
Again before anyone gets too upset with the comparison, note that I have left many things out. I didn't touch on the health care bill or any social issues. There are still plenty of differences between W and Obama for you to work yourself into a lather. However, my points above are just trying to bring up some counterarguments to some of the right's critique of Obama.

However, it doesn't really matter. If you hate Obama then you will believe what you want to believe. I didn't try to cherry-pick those stats above. Sure, I used a clip from Bill Maher and an article from a liberal economist Paul Krugman. However, just because those two sources are liberal, doesn't mean they aren't also correct.

The same rationale comes true when people attack LeBron James. Before I get to anything look at his numbers. For those that says he always chokes in the playoffs then pick between the two lines below:

LeBron 1: 27.6 ppg, PER 27.2, TS: 56.9%, reb: 10.5%, assist: 34.1%,WS/48: .233
Lebron 2: 28.4 ppg, PER 27.1, TS: 56.5%, reb: 12%, assist: 33.5%, WS/48: .235

Which player is better? One is LeBron career regular season line and the other is his playoff line. To say he always chokes in the playoffs means not looking at the stats, not remembering game 5 against Detroit in 2007 or the shot in Game 2 against the Magic or him shutting down the Bulls last year.  He is 27 years old and hasn't won a championship yet. Do you know who also was 27 and hadn't won a title yet - Michael Jordan? This is despite having a much better supporting cast (Pipper or Mo Williams?) for a longer period of time.

People will pick and choose what they want to fit their narrative against LeBron or Obama. For the LeBron haters it his last two games against the Cavs or how the Finals ended last year. There are even examples when LeBron does the right thing and is blasted for it. In 2007 he made the absolute correct play in passing to Donyell Marshall for a wide-open corner 3 in game 1 against the Pistons. He was questioned on that play despite the fact that the corner 3 is 2nd most efficient shot in the NBA (right behind a dunk) and also that a 3 pointer would have won the game by one point. It doesn't matter that it is the right play if you have already made up your mind that LeBron always chokes. Just like it doesn't matter if people write well-researched pieces debunking the myth that Kobe is clutch.

For Obama it is the birther argument, or the death panels or any of the other socialist conspiracies that you want to believe. Like Maher, I just can't understand the extreme hatred for Obama. It can't because of facts, since Obama has come no where close to being the most liberal President in history.

It is just sad sometimes trying to talk to people who make completely irrational arguments. If you want to discuss whether or not Obama has been a good President or if LeBron will win a title this year then I am all for that. If you want to just bring out the same tired arguments as others without doing any research then save your time and effort. The world would be a much quieter place if people only talked when they actually knew what they were talking about.

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