Obama brings it
© Bryan Zepp Jamieson
February 12, 2013
I nearly skipped watching the State of the Union speech tonight. They are usually perfunctory affairs, filled with partisan bragging and dutiful applause, wherein a bored-looking president recites that the state of the union is good and we really need to solve some problems, and the members of his party applaud while those in the opposing party sit on their hands and look stern. Like far too many elements of the marketing-driven politics of America, it has become something of a kabuki dance, as formal and as scripted as an 8th century Japanese play. Meetings of the old Soviet politburo must have been like this.
Additionally, I’m still disgusted over the assassination memo. Not much in the way of decent human values there. Is Obama nothing more than a mirror reflection of Vladimir Putin or Wen Jiabao? A thug, posturing as a statesman?
Tonight’s speech provided assurance that although deeply flawed, Obama is still better than his predecessor, still better than his opposition, and still better then the soulless sociopaths of Wall Street.
Obama brought it tonight. It was a fiery speech, an affirming speech, a speech that proclaimed, “here are the values I share with most Americans, and here’s what I propose to do about it.”
This time, the applause wasn’t just a matter of party loyalty. You could see it in the faces of the Congressionals. Joy and exaltation from many Democrats, loathing and fear from many Republicans.
I’m listening to Marco Rubio lie to us all now, claiming that Obama lives only for big government and big taxes, an “obsession with raising taxes.” Poor Marco might only be able to buy only two cars next year if his taxes go up. It’s pathetic, and it’s disgusting. He is trying to claim the sequester was Obama’s idea, a bare-faced lie. But that’s what Republicans do; they lie.
The sequester, of course, is another totally contrived crisis brought to us by the Republicans, who believe Americans can respond only to fear and need. Obama dryly noted that the Republicans, suddenly aware that the draconian budget cuts they forced on us in 2011 would really hit the military, are proposing that the cuts be taken from SS and Medicare eligibility—which won’t affect the deficit. They just want Americans to be poor and desperate, the more poor and desperate the better. Obama said, “On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs. The reforms I’m proposing go even further. We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors.”
It’s not hard to make a choice between that and blind cuts, is it?
Obama went on, “…we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected. After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? How does that promote growth?” That must be what Rubio thought was an obsession with raising taxes.
Climate change is finally a part of his policy. He mentioned it in his inauguration speech, which amazed some folks who had seen him as utterly cowed by the extraction industries. On that, he said, “…we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.” The strongest statement on this looming crisis an American leader has made.
He drew awkward laughter from both sides of the aisle on the matter of the infrastructure when he said, “The CEO of Siemens America – a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina – has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs. And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I’ve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings.” He went on to propose an organization to attract private capital to contribute to infrastructure repair, noting (correctly) that America cannot attract business without upgrades and modernization of the infrastructure, and present business suffer due to the decline in railroads, bridges, highways, et cetera.
He proposed raising the federal minimum wage to nine dollars an hour, which isn’t particularly adequate. Australia raised their minimum wage to $15/hour a couple of years ago, and since then, their economy has boomed. The world-wide recession barely touched them, and they maintain low unemployment and low inflation, even in the face of natural catastrophes and a decline in their biggest export, coal. We should be doing the same thing here. Obama concluded, “So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.”
It was on the issue of gun control where he really brought it, where he lit the fire. He said,”One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.
“Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
“The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
“The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
“The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.
“Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. Indeed, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I’ve outlined tonight. But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, and uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.”
Steve Stockman, arguably the dumbest man in Congess, brought as his guest to the SOTU that lunatic Ted Nugent. I would imagine that Nugent did exactly what he did the last time he was called upon to serve his country, and shit his pants. In any case, there were no gunshots, no cries of “Sic semper tyrannis“. Nugent tweeted, “Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters have a president to destroy America.”
Good to see the GOP still have their standards.
Also good to see that Obama still has a few left, and is willing to fight for them.