Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2010 SotU Live-Blog

9:22 PM - Well, what did I get? A firm and definite commitment to leaving Iraq- which, in all reality, we didn't have. A call for repeal of DADT- but no hint of action on his part to stop DADT prosecutions and dismissals from the service, nor a word on gay marriage. Torture mentioned only as something "prohibited"- it's all over, nothing to see here, move along. Did call for ending Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, and select tax hikes on big business... but never said any form of the words, "raise taxes." DID back the House financial reform package, did threaten veto of empty actions, but set no standards on specifics for financial reform. Hasn't given up on health "insurance" reform- but nothing on health CARE reform, and aside from describing what the Senate bill does, no specifics on what he wants Congress to do.

Obama has NOT given up on cap and trade, but at the same time he's offered the Republicans the store on everything else energy-wise- offshore oil drilling, nuclear power, clean coal.

But far, FAR too much empty feel-good talk, far too many empty platitudes without substance, and, worst of all, an ending that emphasized bipartisanship. That's the most important thing for Obama- that he get some Republican support. He's willing to run his presidency aground on "changing the tone of American politics."

Olbermann mentions that the speech tries to serve two masters- bipartisanship and attacking Republicans. I don't see it too much- he only hit the Republicans a couple of times, only lightly, and only called them out by name once.

The Republican response is here, but I'm not interested in the least. As for Obama... he gives great speeches. He has perfect delivery. More than once I found myself forgetting what he was actually saying and falling under his spell. But for my part he did NOT demonstrate tonight any firm leadership. He reminds me of that old Indian chief in Dances With Wolves: "I believe we should talk about this some more. That is all I have to say."

The speech wasn't enough for me to completely give up on Obama, but neither did it do much of anything to restore any trust in him. We'll have to see what he does in the next year, to see if he follows up this speech with more pressure on both sides of the aisle, if he actually gets into the political system and kicks some ass.

I don't think he will. I don't think he can. I really don't think he knows how.

But he can sure give a great speech, can't he?

9:20 PM - Wrapping up with more blowing sunshine up America's collective ass. (Yes, I like that metaphor.) "I won't quit!" Yeah, well, before you quit you have to START.

9:17 PM - "I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone." - Yes, but you could have done SOMETHING besides cover Bush's and Cheney's asses for torture. You could have done a LOT- and mostly you've sat on your ass, Mr. Obama, and let Congress do the heavy lifting. It's your fault that they keep dropping it all on their own toes.

9:12 PM - Civil rights. Points out that his administration has a civil rights division which is "actually" prosecuting. Calls for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Immigration reform.

9:08 PM - Nuclear weapons. Arms control treaty being negotiated with Russia. Secure all existing nuclear weapons around the world within four years- yeah, tell it to North Korea, Pakistan, Israel, Iran. Mentions sanctions on North Korea; claims Iran is isolated, threatens "consequences." Improving response to bioterrorism. "Our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores... but we also do it because it is right." Mentions 10,000 Americans in Haiti helping provide aid.

9:07 PM - Veterans' Affairs. Reform of the VA in progress. Michele Obama gets another shout-out.

9:04 PM - A minute of empty talk about national security, followed by a run-down on terrorism, comma, what Obama has done. "We have prohibited torture-" BULLSHIT. Calls for protecting rights of Afghani women, ending corruption there. "We are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people... we will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by this August." THAT is NEWS.

9:00 PM - Bipartisanship. "What frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is an election day." "Neither party should block every single bill just because they can." Specifically slams "a few specific Senators." "I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics." Reminds Democrats of their "largest majority in decades." Republicans: "If you're going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required," then you're going to have to govern. NO, NO, NO, NO YOU IDIOT. You've just said, in essence, "We'll let you run things." Wants regular meetings with leaders of both parties.

8:58 PM - Calls out lobbyists, calls for transparency. Unfortunately, as we've seen in the past year, he doesn't walk the walk. Calls for limits on lobbyist contributions, total transparency of lobbyist activity. Speaks against Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate spending on elections- calls on Congress to "correct these problems." Earmark reform- total transparency of earmarks, posted online, before a vote. Won't happen.

8:55 PM - Calls out Republicans on "status quo" Republicans. What they want- tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts on the poor- "That's what we did for eight years. That's what helped us into this crisis... we can't do it again... it's time to try something new."

8:50 PM - Obama puts the blame for the deficit squarely on Bush and the Republicans- "All of this was before I walked in the door." Admits adding $1 trillion to national debt. Calls for the American government to tighten its belt just like American families. 2011- freeze government spending for three years, except national security and entitlements. Note: if GOP takes Congress in 2010, he'll have that ANYWAY. Eliminate Bush tax cuts on $250,000+ people, oil companies, investors. Calls again for bipartisan fiscal commission with fast-track up-down vote on proposals. Calls out Senate for blocking the bill that would have created it- he'll order it done anyway with executive power. Calls on Senate to restore pay-go budgeting.

8:46 PM - "I take my share of the blame for not explaining (healthcare) to the American people." You'd better. How about saying where you want health care reform to GO? "As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look" at the Senate bill. "If anyone from either party has a better idea... let me know." "Don't walk away from reform- not now, not when we're so close. Let us find a way to come together for the American people." NO SPECIFICS. Just empty talking- AGAIN.

8:43 PM - Health insurance reform- here we go. "We still need health insurance reform." Does he follow this up? Republicans stand and applaud. "Let's clear a few things up." "By now it should be obvious I didn't take on health care because it was good politics." You got that right. Interrupts the good points of the Senate health care bill to praise his wife for tackling childhood obesity- QUIT WASTING OUR TIME.

8:40 PM - Education. "The best anti-poverty program around is a first-class education." A lot of empty talk about only funding success. Renew Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Urges Senate to pass House bill "revitalizing" community colleges. Take student loan program back from banks, give tax credit for college tuition, expand Pell Grant. Cap student loan payments at 10% of total income, pay off debts if they enter public service.

8:38 PM - Exports. "We will double our exports over the next five years." Nice trick- how do you plan to get other countries to BUY double our goods? A "National Export Initiative." Basically sounds like subsidies for American businesses- especially farmers, who already get tons of subsidies, and who Obama named BEFORE businesses. Calls for strict enforcement of trade agreements- yeah, right, when has that ever happened?

8:36 PM - Calls for nuclear power plants, offshore drilling. THAT got the Republicans on their feet- twice. Biofuel, clean coal, but "energy and climate bill that will create incentives..."- that's cap and trade. Obama has NOT given up on cap and trade. Calls out climate change skeptics. "The nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy, and America must be that nation." That DOESN'T get the Republicans standing.

8:34 PM - Financial reform- "I am not interested in punishing banks," but, "We can't allow financial institutions to take risks that threaten the whole economy." Mentions House bill- Obama threatens veto of any bill that doesn't come up to his standards, but doesn't say what those standards are.

8:31 PM - "How long should America put its future on hold?" "I do not accept second place for the United States of America." - Nice rhetoric, but what about substance?

8:30 PM - "We can't afford another 'expansion' like the one we had in the past decade- what some call the Lost Decade."

8:29 PM - Raise taxes on companies who outsource jobs. A small handful of scattered Republicans clap, but stay seated.

8:28 PM - More spending on infrastructure and clean energy. Watch for Republicans to call this as pork.

8:27 PM - $30B loan program to small business. Wish I could read John Boehner's lips- I think he just said, "Bullshit." Tax credit for businesses who hire or raise salaries- ZERO CAPITAL GAINS TAX ON SMALL BUSINESS. That IS meat.

8:25 PM - Here's the expected call for a jobs bill- or a "second stimulus." Which really does undermine the past five minutes of Obama saying that the first stimulus worked.

8:22 PM - Bullshit alert- Obama claims 2,000,000 jobs saved by stimulus package. Watch for fact-checking.

8:21 PM - Obama reminds America that half of the stimulus package was tax cuts and credits. Republicans might as well be wax figures in their seats. Obama shames them into a little response: "I thought I'd get some applause for that one."

8:19 PM - "We've recovered most of the money we gave to the banks... most, but not all." - Here we go. Some meat- he's pushing his bailout fee on the superbanks. Democrats stand and applaud; Republicans seated, hands in laps, looking constipated.

8:16 PM - "I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight." - Um, what closet have you been living in?

8:15 PM - Following up a call for bipartisanship with the predicted empty flattery of the American people. Obama, you WASTE MY TIME.

8:12 PM - The first bit is de rigeur- making it clear that the current mess is his predecessor's fault. And yet he's saying, "The worst of the storm has passed." Don't think THAT will sell.

8:06 PM - Here he comes, Mr. America.... I could do without even the minimal ritual we Americans have as regards politics and government, including Obama making his way down the aisle to the speaking podium.

7:59 PM - Almost show time- I just wish Chris Matthews would SHUT THE HELL UP.

7:50 PM - Netflix sent me two Doctor Who serials, neither of which I've seen, today. I could be watching those instead of Obama, since I'm pretty sure he's going to be a total waste of time. But, for some reason, part of me still holds out some, yes, HOPE that Obama isn't a complete tool. That Obama actually has it within him to lead rather than preside. That Obama might, just possibly, actually believe in something besides protecting torturers and strengthening an already out of control Presidency.

This is me, in essence, giving Barack Obama his last chance at winning either my trust or respect. And I honestly do not expect him to do it.

7:46 PM - Killed an hour working out on Wii Fit. Right after I showered. Dammit. Anyway, Keith Olbermann played a recording of FDR giving the Republicans utter, naked hell in 1936 and said that should be the template for Obama. Sorry, Keith- ain't a chance in He... um, so, yeah.

6:47 PM - CNN unveils a clip of the expected speech. Don't have time to type it and quote it- but it's a load of blowing sunshine up people's asses. SotU apparently goes off at 8 PM Central- I thought it was 8 PM Eastern.

6:10 PM CST - Well, I'm back after a year and a half. I've been posting my political stuff to my LiveJournal and annoying people there, since almost nobody read this blog when I was updating it.

For tonight, though, I figured I'd better revive this blog, and maybe start moving my political posts here instead. You see, tonight I intend to live-blog Obama's State of the Union address.

What am I looking for tonight?

HEALTH CARE: We know Obama will say something about "fighting for it." Will he say anything specific? Will he make any particular demands? Or will he make more empty rhetoric?

ECONOMIC STIMULUS: Will Obama call the past year a success? Or failure? Or ignore it? Will he call (as many expect) for a second stimulus package to push for jobs?

FINANCIAL REFORM: Will Obama call for strong re-regulation of the financial industry? Will he back what passed the House, or what?

WAR: Will he stick to his timetable for walking back American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan? He's gone back on his word here before, remember. Will he acknowledge the open corruption of Afghanistan and the incipient civil war in Iraq?

TORTURE: Will he even mention it?

CIVIL RIGHTS: Gay marriage? DOMA? DADT? Any mention of any of these?

ENVIRONMENT: Cap-and-trade is already DOA. Will he propose something else? If so, what?

DEFICIT: Does he stick by his gimmick of "spending freeze"? Does he have any substantial proposals to address a budget in free-fall? Or, again, more empty rhetoric and calls on Congress to act- without marching orders?

My hopes are abysmally low at this point- since I last posted here, my opinion of Obama has gone into free-fall, and now I'm coming to despise the man I was so enthusiastic for in spring 2008. Perhaps in a few days I'll do a catch-up post to direct readers to my LiveJournal posts on why Obama has done little or nothing as a president- except, that is, for defending and extending the worst evils of the Bush administration.

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