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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Concerto in F: Blogging the SOTU

Man, that was weird. While watching the CSPAN build-up to the State of the Union address, I got sick of listening to the talking heads, so I turned down the volume and replaced the audio with George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. You know the Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz thing? This was better. There were, like, a zillion and one eerie little audio-visual hook-up moments.

Obi and Michelle came slinking out of the White House while that jazzy opening clarinet solo played. Then, when the Big Theme hit, CSPAN cut to a wide shot of the Capitol. And on and on...

Anyways, the music is over, and pretty soon I'll have to listen to the guy actually talk. Hmm. Maybe I'll just fire up the Gershwin Concerto in F instead.

Come to think of it, this whole presidency has been a Concerto in F.

(Feel free to comment on the SOTU below, if so inclined. I'll be popping back with updates, giving my reactions.)

Update: I'm listening to both the Concerto and the SOTU simultaneously. So far, I like the Gershwin better. Michelle's skirt makes her look like she's in Panavision.

Update 2: Surrrre he hated the bank bailout. And when did he use the "popular/necessary" thing during the campaign? And why not tax stock trades, as other countries do? That would put a crimp in Goldman's gaming of the system...

Update 3: A new jobs bill? Great. But...the spending freeze...?

Update 4: Like hell the Senate will impose higher taxes on companies that outsource. But: A good idea.

Update 5: Here's where he gets all GOP on our asses. Nukes, offshore oil...

Update 6: No more Gershwin. What's next? I've chosen Act II of The Photographer by Philip Glass, which sort of sounds like every SOTU ever uttered.

Update 7: The best anti-poverty program is education? Tell that to the students who have racked up $70,000 in loans only to face a no-jobs job market.

Update 8: Okay, increasing Pell grants. That I like.

Update 9: Health care. Obama just did the "If you have a better idea, let me know" thing. Bill Clinton said damn near the exact same words when his attempt failed.

Update 10: Here's where he goes after Medicare and Social Security. Government by executive order -- I don't like the sound of that.

Update 11: They just laughed at him. And now I have a new soundtrack: An obscure piece by Franck called "What one hears on the mountain." It's really good. I don't think it has a commercial recording...

Update 12: Okay, I like what he said about the Supreme Court decision. But what the hell can he do about it? Passing a bill won't do the job, because the Court will just shoot down the bill. An amendment is needed. But that won't happen.

Update 13: Now I'm pissed. Obama just said that he will try to change the tone of our politics. He said that he didn't think it was right for people to utter falsehoods about opponents. Sorry, but I will never forget or forgive Obot behavior during the 2008 primaries.

Update 14: Here it comes -- military Keynesianism.

Update 15: Here comes the warm up to the big finish. I'm talking about the Cesar Franck tone poem. You really ought to hear this one. It's kind of long -- 22 minutes -- but then again, the SOTU is long too.

Woah...did he just jump into the gays-in-the-military thing? He just tossed red meat to his enemies. Still, it was brave.

Update 16: Good comment on TC:
Notice that he never links Clinton’s name to that surplus he touts, but he has no problem uttering “Reagan”
Update 17: Finishing up with a Kilar opus called Orawa, which is also really good. I don't know why I didn't think of doing this "background music" thing before. It's the only way to make an SOTU go down easy.

At any rate, I liked some stuff in this speech. Gotta admit it. But he really started to lose it during the development section of the Cesar Franck.

By the way, the name of that work in French is Ce Qu'on Entend Sur La Montagne, and it was inspired by a poem by Victor Hugo. Liszt wrote his own tone poem of that name, also based on the Hugo poem, but the Liszt version isn't nearly as good (IMO). Nevertheless, there are like a dozen recordings of the Liszt and no recordings of the Franck. At least, none known to me. I recorded it from a BBC live performance, fell in love with it, and it's been running through my headphones at least once a week ever since. The opening always makes me think that I'm visiting the Pyrenees...

Post-SOTU update: Obama's talking about $8 billion in high speed rail. Peanuts. I like this comment:
China spent $800 billion building a high speed rail system during the same time that Bush spent $800 billion invading Iraq. Now we need to play catch-up, but all Obama could find in the dusty corners of the cleaned-out vault was about 1% of that. Hey, at least it's a start.
Comments:
I disagree that it was "brave" to bring up Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Here’s why.

1. The situation is very different from when Clinton dealt with the issue. Polls currently show about 75% support for repealing DADT. Polls suggest that there’s even majority support among Republicans.

2. A number of legal analyses have concluded that DADT could effectively be ended by executive order. Doing that would perhaps require some bravery. Instead, Obama proposed to "work with Congress and our military" to repeal it.

3. It has been reported that even a day ago Obama was vacillating about whether to include this in the speech. Apparently the final political calculation was that Obama was facing too much of a revolt on the Left, so they needed to be tossed a bone. And given about 3/4 support for repeal in polls, there wasn’t a huge downside. Moreover, the gay community has organized a very effective boycott on contributions to Democrats because of Obama’s failure to follow through with his promises to repeal DADT (and the politicians want that money this election year).

4. Only one sentence was devoted to it in the speech ("This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."), and it was in the middle of a passage about other civil rights matters.

5. It’s no different than other statements (about DADT) he’s made in the past. And if you look at the language, it’s carefully constructed. It doesn’t even state a commitment to end DADT this year – merely that he’ll "work with" Congress and the military this year (on ending it).
 
Glad you brought up high speed rail. Obama mentioned $8 billion tonight. I agree that's lame. Lamer still could be the fact that nothing was said about an additional $5 billion out of a total $13 billion that the White House talked allocating towards high-speed rail in April 2009.

http://jotman.blogspot.com/2009/04/obama-on-track.html

This brings me to ask: might that planned additional $5 billion allocation for high-speed rail be the one casualty of his spending freeze?
 
Best. Live blogging. Evah!

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com
 
I'm a recent graduate who has racked up thousands of dollars in student debt only to be faced with long term unemployment. My only consolation is that many of my former classmates are in a similar situation so I don't feel like a total failure. I also feel vindicated that I saw through Obama's BS when most my age voted for Obama which has turned out to have been a vote against their interests and future career prospects. Maybe that has contributed to my pessimism but I could care less about what Obama had to say tonight because I know he won't deliver on 99% of his promises. I could only bear to watch half of the SOTU before turning it off, an improvement from usually tuning Obama's voice out after 5 minutes or so. Just as I knew Obama would be a failure as president, I know that the future still remains bleak for myself and the millions of students and recent graduates who can't find a job along with the older folks who have been laid off. How about helping us unemployed young folks who were fooled into thinking a good education guaranteed a job by forgiving some of our student loans?
 
I agree about the student loans creating poverty among recent grads who can't find a job. As for DADT, Obama did not mention the White House asked Congress to cancel last week's hearings on DADT. Panderer in Chief.
 
The best anti-poverty program is education?

No, the best anti-poverty program is a job. No point in paying for an education if no job awaits you after graduation.

This sound so much like GW, I want to scream.
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/education/30college.html

I don't know if this program helps you but you might as well look into it.
 
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