SOTU Think You Can

A couple decades ago I watched a different president deliver his State of the Union speech in my parents’ living room. None of us had voted for that president (George H.W. Bush) but nonetheless we listened to all of the promises, the smorgasbord of goodies presented, the pet projects that would get billions of dollars. Environmental projects were green-lighted, buckets of educational funds disbursed, funds for scientific research promised. Finally I turned to my mother and said, “and people think they voted for a Republican.”

“Oh, honey,” she said with a sigh and wave of the hand. “It’s all just empty rhetoric.”

Heh. At least I come by my cynicism honestly!

Of course she was right. All of those great made-for-TV promises disappeared in a puff of smoke over the ensuing weeks, never to be mentioned again. No one ever asked about them, certainly not anyone in the media; once the SOTU credits rolled it was back to business as usual.

Last night President Obama gave a rousing State of the Union speech, but all that SOTU euphoria will dissipate unless we hold our president and our Congress accountable. I do not want a return to business as usual, yet it appears that’s what we will get unless we DFH’s on the left demand more. And by demand I do mean back up our talk with action.

This morning I open my e-mail to find a fundraising plea from the DNC’s Organizing For America, sent out under the President’s name with the subject line “I Can’t Do It Alone.” The e-mail repeated some SOTU highlights, then asked

Can you help fuel our fight for the middle class with a monthly donation of $15 or more?

No, I can’t. You folks don’t get what deep shit you’re in, do you? POTUS cannot do it alone, but if your grand idea to mobilize the base is to ask for a donation, then you’re not listening. This is not business as usual, it can’t be. Our country has splintered, our media is distracted by every bit of made-for-primetime political theater that is tossed their way. Corporate kings are in the counting house, counting all of their money, but regular folks can’t get a loan for their homes or businesses. Things have continued to get worse for people, the President has issued a rousing call to arms, and the message we get from Democrats is we need to elect more Democrats? Puh-leeze. Y’all had your filibuster-proof majority and you screwed it up.

Listen, all of those Dems wearing purple last night to show their bipartisanship need to remember: we don’t care about bipartisanship. We care about results. We care about jobs, we care about access to healthcare not accompanied by financial ruin, we care about drinking water not poisoned with mercury and arsenic. We wanted change, we voted for change, we expect change. I tried to watch Gov. Bob McDonnell’s response and all I heard was the same failed Republican ideas that voters rejected over a year ago: tort reform won’t solve our healthcare crisis, scaring the crap out of people about terrorism does not make us safer, deregulation caused our financial meltdown, it won’t solve it.

So, yes I loved the President’s speech, he has a message and ideas, whereas the Republicans clearly have nothing new to say that wasn’t already tried, failed, and rejected by the majority of voters. But unless these things actually get implemented into real policy initiatives, and not watered down by lobbyists, none of it will really matter. The problem is not who is President or which party has a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Our problem is deeper than that.

Yesterday I happened by The Swashzone and saw this awesome post by our friend the Octopus. Go read it. And give some serious thought to what he suggests, see if it’s something you can do. Corporations see us as mere wallets and bank accounts to fatten their bottom lines, while politicians see us as votes to propel their careers. But it’s time those in both camps are reminded that we the people are in charge. I’m tired of being treated like a sucker by my corporate overlords and politicians of both parties.

Let’s face it: the State of the Union is just a speech. Our country is horribly, tragically, broken. It will take more than one president or one member of Congress to fix it. People need to take this shit seriously and act accordingly.


Filed under President Barack Obama, SOTU

29 responses to “SOTU Think You Can

  1. >and in the end the message is clear:"Healthcare: This is the hill we'll die on"I'm comfortable with that.

  2. >The Empty Suit Has Spoken. 37°52'18s N / 122°16'18s W

  3. >In a MUCH more important — and sad — piece of news, Howard Zinn died. Do know who he is? Shame on you.

  4. >hmm, that was supposed to be "don't" not "do" about Howard Zinn.Tears clouded my vision.

  5. >Yes I know who Howard Zinn is, I saw that he died yesterday …

  6. >SoBe: "Finally I turned to my mother and said, “and people think they voted for a Republican.”I found some interesting background reading on Leo Straus and his views on classical political theory:"… the Straussian text, which is a piece of philosophical writing that is deliberately written so that the average reader will understand it as saying one ("exoteric") thing but the special few for whom it is intended will grasp its real ("esoteric") meaning. The reason for this is that philosophy is dangerous. Philosophy calls into question the conventional morality upon which civil order in society depends; it also reveals ugly truths that weaken men’s attachment to their societies."It is the distinction between "exoteric" versus "esoteric" that caught my attention … political sloganeering that has two intended audiences.Perhaps one reason why liberals have difficulty with framing messages for public consumption is a tendency to wear themselves on their shirtsleeves, i.e., WYSIWYG. Conservative framing, OTOH, offers a meaning for one constituency and another for the party faithful.The slogan "compassionate conservative," for instance, appeals to the "empathy" crowd which is liberal or independent. However, the real message, the "esoteric" text, spells "conservative."

  7. >I didn't watch much; I never do.My impression afterwards? The more Howard Fineman loved it, the more concerned I got.

  8. JB

    >"deregulation caused our financial meltdown"What was deregulated that caused the financial meltdown? I have read this often, but never seen anything specifically cited that was deregulated other than an occasional mention of Gramm–Leach–Bliley.

  9. >Healthcare is Obama's legacy. He knows it and he's a narcissist, so he'll keep pushing it regardless."deregulation caused our financial meltdown"That was one of only several whoppers he told during the STOU.He looked bad last night, from his rude attack on the SCOTUS to being laughed at when he brought up climate change.

  10. >The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which repealed portions of the Glass Steagall act for one thing.

  11. >mikey:You and your fellow GOPologists have so much to be proud of.JB:"What was deregulated that caused the financial meltdown? I have read this often, but never seen anything specifically cited that was deregulated other than an occasional mention of Gramm–Leach–Bliley."Do you read? There's certainly no shortage of information on the subject.

  12. JB

    >Commie,I do read, and as I stated other than brief mentions of GLB there I have not seen anything specifcally cited.Care to share some links where I can find specific legislation/acts that deregulated, or do you know of any off hand? I am genuinely interested.

  13. >I moved to Nashville +30 years ago starting – with no taxpayer cash or sweat (other than my own) – several companies (including engineering & manufacturing) employing at one time +150 Tennesseans. I was blessed to attend graduate school in economics receiving first hand instruction from Drs. Phil Gramm and Milton Friedman, both geniuses fundamentally from the school of thought outlined by Adam Smith, author of what should be required reading for every politician: The Wealth of Nations.Other than Natural disasters, politicians create or exacerbate all crises because without them, there would be only a handful of government jobs. The Media – under the guise of reporting – must contribute to this "bait & switch" scheme because no one would read or listen to their commentary if there wasn't a crisis either.All of this reminds me of the triumvirate in a state I frequent: Michigan. For decades, the roads in this state have been worse than anywhere outside of Bosnia. The crummy patchwork in the summer must be fixed throughout each winter. Potholes and other highway deficiencies are so bad that they cause immeasurable damage to tires and other automotive components (struts, bearings, etc.) requiring continuous repairs and ultimately, mandating premature vehicle life.Big Business (or the Mob) own the road construction companies.The Automotive Industry (with your tax dollars) builds the vehicles.The Government receives revenues through taxation and other means (graft) supporting their agendas and civil service unions.It reminds me of every government "make work" initiative wherein, one guy digs a hole that another fills….“But I don't want to go among mad people, ” Alice remarked.“Oh, you can't help that, ” said the Cat: “we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad. ” “How do you know I'm mad? ” said Alice.“You must be," said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here. ”

  14. >JB I gave you one, go look it up.

  15. >Democommie.. re JB and his inability to do a search on google all by his very own …you can lead 'em to the internet but you can't make 'em read. RIP Howard Zinn. RIM(isery) (in advance) Sam Alito37°52'18s N / 122°16'18s W

  16. JB

    >SB,"never seen anything specifically cited that was deregulated other than an occasional mention of Gramm–Leach–Bliley."Yes I am aware of GLB as referenced in my initial post. I was wondering if there were others.

  17. >Mrneeze:You will, no doubt be happy to furnish the specifics (names of the companies, etc.,.) of your success story.Milton Friedman on his worst day was orders of magnitude above Phil Gramm at his best. Phil Gramm, btw–much like Clarence Thomas–took full advantage of a system that he has since done his utmost to destroy. Phil Gramm is scum.

  18. >much like Clarence Thomas–took full advantage of a system that he has since done his utmost to destroy.Easier to change the system if you're in a position of power.I still can't believe Obama's swipe at the SCOTUS…..thet man's a class act…

  19. >democommie:Off line, I will be happy to furnish you the specifics of the companies I referenced. Send me your e-mail address, and you can drive out to the plant – it's located in an industrial park in NW Nashville.Having personally taken two graduate level classes from Dr. Gramm at Texas A&M and a summer course from Dr. Friedman, I would surmise that I would have considerably more insight into the intelligence of either individual. Both were brilliant economists – neither were "scum." The political system that exists today, yesterday, and decades before they were a gleam in their Daddy’s eye allowed Wall Street, the politicians, and their cronies to churn the system.Fundamentally (at least a decade ago), the Government strongly coerced (forced) the banking industry to accept inferior grade mortgages in the name of “fairness”. Although the Media has jumped all over the greed of Corporate America, they rarely if ever would dare mention a sentence about the complicity of our esteemed members of Congress (specifically, Christopher Dodd, Barney Frank & Charles Schumer) in the Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac debacle.“In 1999, Fannie Mae came under pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans to low and moderate income borrowers. At the same time, institutions in the primary mortgage market pressed Fannie Mae to ease credit requirements on the mortgages it was willing to purchase, enabling them to make loans to sub-prime borrowers at interest rates higher than conventional loans. Shareholders also pressured Fannie Mae to maintain its record profits.” (NY Times April 23, 2000)One of those Fannie Mae shareholders, its CEO, Franklin D. Raines, pocketed millions for his greed and was protected by US Congresswoman Maxine Waters (et al) under the guise of racism whenever regulation of GSE’s was mentioned.“When Representative Richard H. Baker, Republican of Louisiana and chairman of the House Banking subcommittee that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac attempted to pass measures to increase oversight of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac in 2000, David Jeffers, a spokesman for Fannie Mae, said that a proposal by Mr. Baker to tighten regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ''is going nowhere because it is anti-housing.” NY Times April 23, 2000So, the beauty of Politics (and the pabulum of the alleged Political Change) is the financial crisis must be blamed on everyone but those most culpable for the mess – allowing the very ignorant fools that created the situation to continue to manage trillion dollar bailouts, stimulus – the destruction of the US fiat. If you live long enough, you will come to recognize the only thing that ever changes in politics – for either party – is the spin.Reminds me of Sam the Sham:I'm gonna keep my sheep suit on Until I'm sure that you've been shown That I can be trusted walking with you alone.Owoooooooo! I mean baaaaaa! Baaa?

  20. >Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has the following interesting (and relevant) article: this article is well worth investing five minutes to read, the short version is the present rate of government deficit spending (+$1.3 trillion per year) with near zero (actually, negative) interest rates is unsustainable. Obama’s proposed tightening of the budget affecting $100 million in discretionary spending wouldn’t even pay the daily interest rate – but might allow Congressional members to fly their families to Copenhagen in luxurious style.In the very near future our Country will have one roaring inflation rate (gold and oil prices are only precursors of what’s to come) precipitating the Fed to put a clamp on massive dollar generation. In order to convince those possessing US T-notes globally that their holdings aren’t totally worthless, the Fed will inexorably raise interest rates. The world will go into a stagflation that would have made Jimmy Carter proud. The Market, like Life, puts a world of hurt on those inclined to gross extravagance…

  21. >mrneeze: "Having personally taken two graduate level classes from Dr. Gramm at Texas A&M and a summer course from Dr. Friedman, I would surmise that I would have considerably more insight into the intelligence of either individual."Actually, Mr. Sneeze, if you think there are country bumpkins in this forum that you can bedazzle and wow with name-dropping, think again. Your vaunted Dr. Gramm pronounced the economy "strong" and referred to a chorus of "whiners" weeks before then Sec. of the Treasury Henry Paulson announced a looming meltdown of the financial credit system unless Congress passed a $700 billion TARP bailout request. This is the same Professor Gramm who worked as a lobbyist for USB, the Swiss financial holding company, that has violated U.S. disclosure laws with respect to American deposits in Swiss accounts.If you had any training in economics above E-101, you would also know the name John Maynard Keynes. Or perhaps Gregory Mankiw, the former official in the Bush administration and current professor of Economics at Harvard University, who regarded "supply-side" economics as more political sloganeering than valid theory.Actually, Mr. Sneeze, I think you are quite the prankster and a fraud for assuming your name-drops would go unchallenged.About my own background: MEcon, London School of Economics. Don't think you can get away with pulling a fast one here. If you want to debate policy, get your act together with more academic rigor and less bull.

  22. >I apologize for wandering over to this blog from the Nashville Scene – I won’t make that mistake again. Trust me.I’m no prankster nor have I conveyed a single word of fraudulent information, and if I had wanted to drop names, I would have started with my Marine hero Dad that fought at Tarawa & Saipan after dropping out of school in the 10th grade. His parents were sharecroppers, and the family was poorer than dirt. People that live in “poverty” these days should visit a country that really knows what starving with no shelter and rags for clothing is like – but don’t despair those days are ahead for your children’s children.Having written my thesis on classical economics, I don’t care a whit about your opinion of the “misery” science nor beloved John Maynard Keynes – Friedman pretty much blew so many holes in his theories that about the only people that take his work seriously would be politicians with their transparent agenda, Berkeley idiots like Robert Reich, and students from the University of London. BTW, one of our attorneys’ children received their Masters in Political Science from LSE, and I have a similar (dis)regard for their philosophies as well – nice campus though.I suppose I could buy into excessive government spending funded by exorbitant (and unrelenting) taxes, but when the Nation’s debt starts pushing 100% of the private sector’s worth (soon on the horizon), one would have to hail from a Banana Republic to keep promoting that hackneyed Keynesian song – however, I would suggest Keynes never proposed any policy remotely as egregious and/or extravagant as that of this Congress & Administration.Having lost virtually everything in the last economic debacle (1987), I’m a believer in responsibility, accountability, and yes, tribulation – for without it, I would have been in a box long ago (my mother always said I had more money than sense). So rest easy, Mr. Octopi – an excellent moniker for a proponent of Big Government – I shall challenge you no more, but shall take the opportunity to drop one last name….And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;And patience, experience: and experience, hope:And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.Romans Chapter 5, Verse 3 – 5

  23. >Mrsneezehickorydickoryknockknockwho'sanemptysuit:If you want to furnish that information, just put it right here as that's where you're making the claim. Phil Gramm is not just scum, he's a liar and an thief. But then if you're the sort of feller your comments would indicate then I can see why you would look up to him. After all it's not about how honest we are in business it's about how much we can make.

  24. >Democommie, methinks this dude is not just a fraud, but a very RUDE fraud; so I will not waste my time on him (and hope SoBe dispatches this troll post haste).

  25. >Under that criteria Democommie should be dispatched as the fraud he is as well.

  26. >Seems that the information about Sneezy's business succes will not be forthcominhg, tsk, tsk.mkey just hatez other people hatin' on him like he hatez on other people. Poor, poor, pitiful him.

  27. >Mike W, when you gotta go, most folks relieve themselves in private. Until you understand the difference between private crap versus public civility, wash your hands before leaving the lavatory.

  28. >Ah yes, another wonderful liberal who can't help but levy personal attacks in lieu of substance.Very classy! You fit right in with Demo & SoBeale.