Friday, January 28, 2011


With VP Joe Biden & the new Speaker of the
House, the Tan Man, Rep. John Boehner

State of the Union Messages to the Congress are mandated by Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution which states, "He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;"
So it's got to be done, and since 1790 the State of the Union has transpired approximately once a year.
To be quite honest with you I could do without them. They may have been effective in the past at defining the problems facing the nation and the executive branches intended response to those problems, but now... not so much. Now, with Congress polarized as it is, with one party's goal simply being to make sure the other party's man doesn't return for a second term in the Oval Office, no matter what damage is done to the country and the middle class in the process, there are no viable solutions to the many, many problems this nation is faced with.
And anybody with cable television, or satellite, who has access to the major news channels already knows what problems the country faces. They talk about it all of the time. That's what they do.
It seems to me that the State of the Union address is just an opportunity for the sitting President to attempt to put a favorable light on their actions, and spew propaganda to their advantage. Rarely do any of the programs, policy changes, or major shifts in focus ever pan out. Grandiose promises are made but never kept. They sound good to potential voters for the next election, and they can always look back and recount what they had intended to do, then hope the public's memory, or attention span was not large enough to remember if those promises were ever actually carried out.
And I hate to disagree with my lovely friend Rachel Maddow who thinks the STOU is a big deal, the second biggest political event in the country except for elections. I say falderal. Falderal I say! The State of the Union is nothing more than a chance for the President to tell the nation what a great job he's doing, but they need to do better, then set a vague, hope filled agenda for the future that never seems to get done (remember George W. Bush and switch grass? We were going to wean ourselves off off ethanol (remember the country is addicted to oil) by turning corn, wood chips, stalks, and switch grass into bio fuel... as of today, hasn't happened. One problem when planning long range goals, or programs that last longer than the administrations that formulated them, the following administration tends to do away with said programs or goals, whether they were beneficial to the country or not (an example: Ronald Reagan dismantling the solar panels on the roof of the White House installed by Jimmy Carter. If we had continued Carter's vision for an energy independent country where do you think we'd be now?).
Well, since we're here anyway we might as well take a look at last Tuesday night's address to the nation, from the floor of The House of Representatives, in the nation's Capital Building.
This was his second full SOTU address to Congress and the nation. The 2009 meeting of a joint session of Congress did not count as a State of the Union address because he had taken office only 35 days earlier and didn't know what the freak was going on yet. Hopefully he does now.
After congratulating the members of the 112nd Congress for either surviving last November's election, or winning office, after mentioning the empty chair in the chamber, that of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who of course is recuperating from the gunshot wound to her head suffered in Arizona on the 8th, and the dreams of a little girl in Tuscan (Christine Taylor Green), he got down to business by calling for a bipartisan effort to get the economy going again.
I'm all for that, but embracing austerity measures like spending cuts across the board is no way to do it, as the President will admit to presently. And calls for bipartisan action to move the economy forward when it is clearly against the political interests of the Republicans to do so, well, it's kind of like asking the opposing team at the Super bowl to help you get a touchdown. Ain't gonna happen.
Around this time Barack first mentioned the evening's catch phrase, "Winning the future." He repeated that phrase, or some variation of it 10 times throughout the evening. Nothing wrong with that of course. It's a good phrase, and Obama is a good orator, and it sounds good when he says it. Doesn't mean anything though.
Next he discussed America's position in the world, especially on an economic basis in relationship to other competing countries, like China and India.
"We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world," he said.
"Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -- (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people."
He goes on about improving the nation's educational system, after reminding the country that America is where everyone around the world comes to be educated... before they take that education back to their own countries. He touted "The Reach for the Top" program: "For less than 1 percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. And these standards were developed, by the way, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that's more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids."
He calls for raising the standards of teachers and learning. Parents must participate in their own children's education. That we must respect our good teachers, reward these good teachers, and stop making excuses for bad ones. Oh yes, and that higher education must be available to everyone.
Who can argue with that. I certainly can't. I want our children (the nation's children) to be well educated. The fate of a nation depends on an informed populace. Hopefully if our kids know a thing or two they won't spend every waking hour watching Fox News.
And I want good teachers. I've had a few, and they helped change my life for the better, and have been a constant inspiration for me. Being a teacher today is one of the most difficult, thankless jobs in the workforce. Quite frankly I don't see how they do it, and we pay movie stars and baseball players millions, when the real heros of our country, teachers, are being laid off by the thousands due to the shenanigans Wall St. perpetrated over the last couple of decades, with Washington's tacit approval. We've let our real heros, our teachers down (as well as police and firefighters, and everyone else in a public sector job).
And everybody should be able to go to college... for free. College tuitions have sky rocketed, growing four times faster than the overall rate of inflation, faster than gasoline and health care. Our children should not be saddled with this debt, most of them owing tens of thousands of dollars after graduating. They are our greatest resource, and they need to be encouraged to go to college, not discouraged due to the high costs. College education, all education should be a part of the commons, as a better educated populace makes us more competitive and secure in the world marketplace, and the nation as a whole. Right now we're losing that battle.
Free education for all? How socialist of me.
But I digress. Let's get back to President Obama's address to the nation... in a little while...

To be continued.

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