State of the Union Address – rebuttal from the easy chair

If there’s anything better than screaming at football or rasslin’ on the tee vee, it’s throwing fits at political speeches.

First things first. The Onion captured my evening just about perfectly, except I’m not a dad.

I went into tonight’s State of the Union address with the usual trepidation. First, there were Robert Reich’s words via Facebook earlier in the day:

WHAT OBAMA WON’T SAY TODAY. The State of the Union is abysmal. (1) Economically, 95 percent of the gains are going to the top 1 percent, middle incomes are sinking, 75 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, a smaller share of working-age of Americans are in jobs than at any time in the past 30 years, and the ranks of the poor are swelling. (2) Politically, almost nothing is being done about this because big money has taken over our democracy, Congress is paralyzed, and most Americans think the game is rigged. (According to polls, fewer than 20 percent of Americans believe the government is doing the right thing, while 75 percent did a half-century ago.) (3) At some point, Americans will reclaim our economy and our democracy. This has been the central lesson of American history. Reform is less risky than revolution, but the longer we wait the more likely it will be the latter.

In my usual snarky manner, I shared with an opening comment of my own, to wit:

“Robert Reich covered the omissions. I expect that what does get mentioned will be mostly lies, equivocations, cheerleading, and some zingers. Sadly, the omissions are the most important parts.

I spent the rest of the day up until the SOTU in general bliss. That is, of course, if you count washing manure off a feed tractor bliss. At least when I cussed at the tractor and the cow shit and the pressure washer and my own fate, those things weren’t at fault. Then the dreaded moment arose. I tuned into MSDNC long enough to catch the warm ups before the big event. Everyone seemed to be settling in cozily, the thrill in the air palpable, almost as though a special order of Fruit of the Loom MagicFingers underwear had just arrived.

Meanwhile, Lee Camp summed up expectations quite nicely:

Fun fact- Obama listed 41 initiatives in last #SOTU, has accomplished 2 of em. Nothing you hear tonight will matter.

Given the promise of tonight’s spectacle, I allowed myself to be distracted by important matters like my friend’s new chocolaty dessert, two kittens, an embarrassed dog, and a redneck workbench made from a wall-mounted tailgate. I don’t think I missed much of importance. I heard “formalities, formalities, pretty speechifying, empty words, blahblahblah” for a bit because my crotchety side was still cooing over kittens when I heard him mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership in conjunction with job creation, sandwiched comfortably and glibly between bullet points.

And when ninety-eight percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create more jobs.

Okay, all the pro-TPP progressives form a line over there on the right. Everyone else, feel free to giggle at the one or two confused folks that queued up.

Now, while I was fuming about that, Facebook served up an image macro from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Note, they weren’t pissed about the TPP thing. They were upset about…executive orders! ZOMG, stop the president! Tyranny! Actually, the caption was slightly less ridiculous, but not by much.

Obama right now: “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation…that’s what I’m going to do.”

I might not like the current POTUS, but I don’t like the other party’s BS, either. Where were GOP objections to executive orders under Republican presidents? As of 1 week ago, Obama has signed *gasphorror* 168 executive orders. Bush 43 signed 291. His dad signed 166 (in his one term). Reagan signed 381. Ford signed 169, and didn’t even have a full term. Nixon signed 346. Eisenhower signed 484.

Think those numbers sound scary? That was presidents slowing down with the signing pen.

Teddy Roosevelt: 1081
William Howard Taft: 724
Woodrow Wilson: 1803
Warren G Harding: 522
Calvin Coolidge: 1203
Herbert Hoover: 968
FDR: 3522
Harry S. Truman: 907

Clearly, this is just GOP fake outrage. There’s enough real things to be upset about that pawning this crap off just ruins credibility.

Meanwhile, Lee Camp continued with his own observations:

Obama just had one line on climate change. That one line was his only sentence about the thing that could drive us to extinction. That was it. Hope you enjoyed the line.

Even when President Obama gets it right, I’m inclined to find fault. He makes a fine point about minimum wage, but did he seriously just trot out a bump in wages for contractors serving the military as a major go-to action without considering how friggin’ tone deaf that particular initiative is?

An E-1 makes $18,194/year after the first 4 months (provided said E-1 has less than 2 years of experience). Divide that out and you get (for a “40-hour week,” lol) $8.75 an hour. Should those who do the laundry and dishes for our troops get paid more? Probably. But I don’t think you should pitch that unless you first pitch a substantial raise for E-1’s, scaling upward as needed. How about $15/hour for every single duty hour and 24/7 while deployed? Then maybe we can think about helping the dishwashers. That’s the kind of good thing that could be done on a Friday without attracting all the media at one time, preferably during a bigger distraction, like going into Super Bowl weekend. If the right wing media don’t glom onto this as a talking point, they’re more strategically incompetent than I give them credit for.

While I was busy railing at my poor (and, happily, insensible) television, President Obama kept right on, so I’m sure I missed a fine point or three about his signature achievement…indirect cash transfusions for the insurance industry. Surely there had to be a threat of gun control. Luckily, I missed those. Had I heard either of those points, I’d have been railing and missed it when he said,

“But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it’s truly necessary…”

So…if he doesn’t want to send troops into harm’s way without good cause, then what did he make of Syria? He wanted that like butter wants hot corn on the cob. Oh, but hey, MIT counters US intelligence on administration claims. Hear about that in the news? Of course not. Russia Today covered it, though. Here’s a Google news search showing the coverage it got. Don’t bother looking for ABC, CBC, NBC, MSNBC, or Fox.

Right about there I’d had enough. That’s the state of our union for you. The degree of hogwash and hyperbole that emanates from any flag-encrusted podium in this country has gotten to the point where I actually prefer kittens, shamed dogs, and chocolaty desserts. It will only get worse as 2014 warms up and as 2016 slouches its way across the cable shows and the Intertubes.

4 replies »

  1. Nice recap Frank, and no shit, you’ve got a tailgate workbench hanging off the wall? That is so Montana. I might quibble a little on comparing an E-1 enlisted person’s base pay to the minimum wage because it leaves out room, board, and clothing allowance but I’m with you in principle.

    As a filthy 1%er Republican I start employees at $15 an hour and I would firmly support bumping the national minimum wage to $10. Hell, adjusted for inflation I was making more in high school in 1970 as a Mr Donut baker at .95 an hour than someone does today at $7.50.

    My greatest regret for this man I didn’t vote for is that he’s just another politician full of glib words wearing a shiny suit with not one frickin’ iota of leadership in his bones.

  2. Thanks, Frank. I have become so disillusioned by a man who promised “hope and change” but has delivered only, well, fecklessness.