The LuLac Edition #1450, Jan. 26th, 2011
THE STATE OF THE UNION 2011
In his best chance of the year to connect with the nation, President Obama devoted most of his prime-time address to the economy, the issue that dominates concern in a nation still reeling from a monster recession — and the one that will determine his own political fortunes in the 2012 election.
The President unveiled an agenda of carefully balanced political goals: a burst of spending on education, research, technology and transportation to make the nation more competitive, alongside pledges, in the strongest terms of his presidency, to cut the deficit and smack down spending deemed wasteful to America. Obama's proposals included cutting the corporate tax, providing wireless services for almost the whole nation, consolidating government agencies and freezing most discretionary federal spending for the next five years. In the overarching theme of his speech, the president told the lawmakers: "The future is ours to win."
Obama congratulated new GOP House Speaker John Boehner and also called out his Vice President Joe Biden saying the two were part of the American dream. The President said, “That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.”
And in a passage that brought me back to shades of Paul Kanjorski, Obama spoke of rail travel. “Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway”. Scranton to Hoboken maybe? Kanjorski brought that up here and many made fun of him.
This State of the Union was almost like an introductory dissertation on what the President and the Congress will try to work on in 2011. That of course will them dovetail into the election year of 2012. And the beat goes on….
TWO GOP RESPONSES
The State of the Union usually has a response from the opposite party. This started in the Nixon administration. Representative Paul Ryan from Wisconsin gave his take on the speech. His message was calming and charismatic id not predictable. The Tea Party movement also got into the act bringing our Representative Michelle Bachman. CNN ran the web based response. No one else did. Bachman recently credited President John Quincy Adams as one of “the founding fathers” and the President that ended slavery. With such a command of historical facts, I can’t imagine why this cookie was given the assignment. John Quincy Adams was the son of one of the founding fathers, one John Adams. Quincy Adams was a staunch opponent of slavery but that was during his time as a member of the House of Representatives when he served in the 1840s. Quincy Adams was the 6th President, His father John the second. Slavery was abolished after one Abe Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation and about a half million people lost their lives in the Civil War fighting about it. WBRE TV’s Monica Medeja talked to a local representative of the Tea Party who said the country had to follow the Constituting. Okay, like the one that wouldn’t let women vote and had black males listed as a fraction of a person. It appears that Barack Obama has stumbled upon the same good fortune Bill Clinton did in his 2 term Presidency. Sometimes you are more blessed by the enemies you have than your friends.
A TRUE REPLY
Carl Romanelli from the Green Party sent us some points in opposition to the State of the Union. It is infinitely more interesting than the schizophrenic GOP versions.
The Green Party leaders offered comments on President Obama's 2011 State of the Union speech to Congress and the nation, scheduled for Tuesday, January 25. The Green response covers major issues the President will discuss in his speech, as well as topics he won't address.
"There’s a lot of talk about Democrats and Republicans 'reaching across the aisle' during the State of the Union. What about the gap between Washington and the rest of the country, much wider than the aisle between the two Titanic parties?" said Carl Romanelli, 2006 Green candidate for the US Senate in Pennsylvania.
Should the Democratic health care reform bill be repealed? Yes, say Greens, and replaced with a Medicare For All plan -- legislation for single-payer national health care, covering everyone regardless of ability to pay, age, or prior medical condition, while allowing freedom to choose one's physician and hospital. Medicare For All reduces costs dramatically by enabling price controls and because Medicare's overhead is only about 3%, while the for-profit health insurance bureaucracy -- the real "death panels" -- pad costs by up to 30% for administrative overhead, executive bonuses, and profits for investors. Medicare For All would help business and stimulate the economy by relieving employers of the burden of providing health benefits.
Obamacare and the Republicans' effort to overturn it demonstrate that the leadership of both parties care more about profits for the insurance cartel, Big Pharma, and other corporate interests than high-quality low-cost health care for everyone. The Obamacare mandate (originally a Republican idea from the 1990s) forces people who can't afford it to purchase defective, inadequate coverage from private insurance companies, while doing nothing about skyrocketing costs.
The narrow Democrat vs. Republican debate on health care, which refuses to allow even the argument for Medicare For All, proves the need to get Greens elected to Congress and state legislatures.
There are millions of jobs waiting to be created in alternative energy, retrofitting of buildings and other forms of conservation, and expansion of public transportation to reduce car traffic, say Greens, but this can only happen with a 'Green New Deal' with public investment in these ideas at national, state, and local levels. All of the Green New Deal proposals have become vitally necessary in the century of global warming. See "Fast Forward to Renewable Energy" by Cecile Lawrence (http://www.greenpapers.net/?p=58).
Such measures face a huge political obstacle: opposition from Republicans and "moderate" Democrats who insist -- contrary to all evidence -- that the best way to stimulate the economy is to reduce government spending (by $100 billion, according to the GOP), slash taxes on the highest income brackets, privatize essential public services and resources, and send taxpayer-funded bailouts to reckless Wall Street firms.
The White House and Congress can reduce the deficit drastically by ending the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, cutting military spending and the number of US bases on foreign soil, and taxing the wealthy so that they pay their fair share. Future meltdowns can be averted by breaking up the "too big to fail" financial firms into smaller locally-based companies. The Green Party's goal of a decentralized economy, based on Main Street rather the Wall Street, will restore economic stability and security to the US.
Instead of shilling for Wal-Mart's grocery section, First Lady Michelle Obama would do far more good by promoting local produce, small farms and businesses, local banks and credit unions, union jobs with good benefits at stores like Walmart, extended compensation for the unemployed, and aid for people dealing with home foreclosures, said Greens. Ms. Obama's promotion of Walmart coincides with efforts by the chain to open four department stores in Washington, DC, over the objections of many local residents and merchants.
On the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision upholding the legal status of corporations as person under the US Constitution, Green Party leader Sarah 'echo' Steiner announced that she intends to take the Supreme Court at its word and honor her marriage when she finds a suitable candidate. See "First Ever Marriage to a Corporation Contemplated by Single, Female, 39" (Jan. 18 press release, http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=384), as well as an interview and other links on the Green Party's home page (http://www.gp.org).
The decision, which abolished limits on corporate spending for political campaign ads, severely damages the integrity of US elections and caused a flood of misleading and offensive corporate-sponsored ads in the 2010 election season.
President Obama and some other Democrats initially criticized the Citizens United ruling but have taken no further action. Greens have urged the President and Congress to recognize that the growing power of corporations threatens democracy, economic stability, and human rights and freedoms in the US and abroad. The Green Party, along with Move To Amend (http://www.movetoamend.org), supports passage of an amendment that limits constitutional rights and protections to humans and makes corporations accountable to their own charters and to the public good.
Members of the House wore white ribbons in honor of the Tucson victims.
BIG ED STARTS
Former Governor Ed Rendell appeared on NBC TV as a political analyst. Rendell said the President needed to speak more about gun violence.
George Washington gave the first address followed by John Adams. Thomas Jefferson mailed all of his in saying that giving a speech in both houses smacked of royalty. It wasn’t until 1913 that Woodrow Wilson gave his address in person. Calvin Coolidge gave the first address on nationwide radio, Harry Truman the first on TV in 1947. The first prime time address was given by Lundon Johnson, prior to that the speech was given at 12:30PM. George W. Bush in 2002 gave the first SOTU on the World Wide Web.