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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SOTU: "Love, blood and rhetoric"

I just remembered: Obama is supposed to be giving some sort of speech tonight. Let me fire up CSPAN...and of course, George Gershwin. (That's one of my traditions while watching Mr. O give the SOTU. Rhapsody in Blue makes it all much easier to tolerate.)

At the moment, I'm in a mood to offer a lighthearted response to this speech, but...things may get grim. Keep checking in, if you are of a mind to.

9:12: He said that the economy is growing at the fastest rate since 1999. Wasn't there a crash not long afterward? Something about the "dot-coms" going under...?

9:19: How can he credibly claim to have reversed outsourcing? How can he credibly claim to have protected the environment?

9:20: Okay, Obamacare. Gotta give him that. The regulations on Wall Street were too little and are being gutted.

9:22: The veto power. Gratified to hear that.

9:25: Middle class middle class middle class. I think I sense a theme.

9:26: Not having read the speech before, I consider the childcare proposal to be a welcome surprise.

9:28: Paid sick leave is another good idea. This Obama is starting to sound good.

9:31: Well, I like what I am hearing about raising working peoples' wages and strengthening unions. And I don't want to be cynical about what I am hearing...

9:32: YES. Free community college. Hell, I'll go back. Or I'll teach. In some ways, I like CCs more than I like "real" universities.

9:36: "We want them here in America." Okay, then why did your people go all over the world creating new free trade agreements?

9:38: FAIR trade? A little late in the game, eh wot?

9:39: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I still say just raise tarrifs on imports.

9:42: The Burger King tax avoidance section of his speech. I'm all in favor of what he is proposing, obviously.

9:45: Foreign policy. He's talking about avoiding use of the military. This will cause the neocon right to accuse him of being weak in the face of terror. In reality, it means a greater emphasis on covert action, drones, propaganda, subversion, and generalized sneakiness.

9:46: Stopping ISIL's advance? Yet supporting a "moderate opposition" in Syria? God, what bullshit. America created ISIS by fomenting the war against Assad. O is completely turning history on its head.

9:47: USE OF FORCE? NO!!

9:48: I note that Biden but not Boehner stood for the saber-rattling against Putin.

9:49: "That's how America leads" -- by using our partnership with the Saudis to wage economic warfare against innocent Russians. And O is proud of this. Infuriating!

9:50: Using the Pope to justify the new policy on Cuba. What I want to know is: Just WHO has the CIA picked in that country? They always have a guy waiting in the wings...

9:51: He's taking credit for halting the nuclear program in Iran? Christ. They halted their own program back in 2003! Ask your own damned DNI, Mr. President -- he'll tell you all about it! But I am glad that O says he will veto new sanctions...

9:52 How about going to covert war only as a last resort? Hmm?

9:53: He's talking about cyber attacks and hacking. I don't like this. Laws against hacking have been used against journalists and activists. (See: Aaron Swartz.)

9:54: I see that the GOP still thinks that climate change is fictional.

9:55: The situation is worse than he says. He didn't mention the methane gas trapped in Arctic ice. A release of that gas could be apocalyptic.

9:56: Values. Torture. Drones. Obama feels that he has a right to speak on that...!

9:57: There is no massive resurgence of anti-Semitism. A myth.

9:58: Obama could have closed Gitmo a long time ago. The things he is saying now are coming way too late.

9:59: Now he is lying his ass off about the NSA's horrendous surveillance state.

10:00: Policy part over, here comes the attempted poetry and the high-flown rhetoric. Und now is za time on Shprockets ven ve yawn.

10:03: How can we better reflect America's hopes, he asks? Well, gee, Mr. Obama -- have you considered NOT LYING about Syria, Russia and Israel? What I'm hoping for is some truth. And peace.

10:04: On one hand, I agree with his critique of modern "gotcha" politics and Fox-style inanities masquerading as politics. On the other hand, why bother mounting such a critique? It's like asking a dog in heat not to be in heat.

10:06: Hm. Easier voting? This, I like.

10:07: He addressed police abuse issues, but far too vaguely.

10:08: "I know 'cause I won both of 'em." That comeback will be remembered, I suspect.

10:09: In contrast to this president, I do not think that Americans are a people of generous spirit. But isn't it pretty to think so?

10:10: Boehner finally applauds. Obama mentioned the fact of the existence of the United States of America, and Boehner felt obligated to applaud.

C'est tout! 

In sum: Good -- better than expected -- on domestic policy. Horrible on foreign policy. President Janus remains a puzzlement to me.

Added note. I've been looking at other responses, and few of them are quotable or notable. However, Chris Hayes offered this witty observation:
Obama's talking about "fake controversies" just to distract from the fact he once ate a dog
Added note 2. You want to know the difference between Democrats and Republicans? This speech makes that difference crystal clear.

The Democrat says: "Citizens! I offer you bread! And WAR!"

In response, the Republican says: "War. Just war. That's all you get."

Maybe that's the thought Tom Stoppard had in mind when he wrote this:
We're more of the love, blood and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.
That's it, isn't it? That is Obama's State of the Union. He gave us rhetoric, and he even gave us some love. But blood is compulsory.

Added note 3. The Hill has a piece on Obama's cybersecurity proposals. Instinctively, I found them ominous, although The Hill does not.
“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids," Obama said to a bipartisan standing ovation.
Am I missing something? When, exactly, did a foreign nation invade the privacy of any American kid?

"The children! Why doesn't someone think of the children?!?"

Maybe this is the usual tactic: Using the threat of pedophilia as an excuse for the government to snoop on our computers. Of course, it would have been unseemly to mention pedophilia in a State of the Union speech. So Obama tried to insert the concept into his text quasi-subliminally.
The agenda was unveiled strategically to take advantage of the bump in cybersecurity awareness following the destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures.
Looks to me as though the big winner of the the Great Sony Hack was not NK but the NSA, which now has another excuse to expand its powers. Cui bono, and all that.

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