State of the Union 2014: Stop the Hate-Off

My mother was sick last night, so I didn’t give a lot of thought and attention to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

I watched part of it by picking up a live stream on my laptop. But other things took my attention after that and I didn’t see the rest.

The major take-away I got from what I saw is that our president is a fine orator. President Obama’s speech — at least what I saw — was witty, charming and upbeat. He delivered it flawlessly.

As for the substance of it, I’ve heard the good news about America’s growing oil independence before. I think this is wonderful. It’s key to our economic stability and foreign policy freedom of action.

I’m not so impressed with the figures on the economy, for the simple reason that I think that we need to do a lot more to get this country back on track economically. I’ve said in other posts that I believe we must work to re-industrialize America.

A country that does not make its own goods is in a weak position in the world. The president’s ideas about re-building the infrastructure might help do that; if we can pry the contracts out of the hands of the usual pork-barrel recipients and actually work to advance a true free market ethic that gives everybody a chance at the gold.

I could go through the issues he raised, in fact I probably will go through them at other times, in more detail. But basically, it was the same stuff we’ve been talking about for months. I agree with President Obama about some things, and disagree with him emphatically about others.

My primary concern after watching what I saw of the speech is two-fold.

One, I’m tired of seeing the Speaker of the House sit behind the President with a look of obvious hatred on his face. It’s fine to disagree with people on issues, but this business of making everything into a the-other-side-is-the-devil hate-off is harming our country, not to mention doing mental and emotional damage to the politicians indulging in it.

Second, I wonder if Congress going to just keep on yammering at itself and allow the President to make Congress irrelevant in governing this country?

It seems to me that these two concerns are intimately related. Congress is like a bunch of drunks in a bar fight who won’t let themselves be interrupted in their slug-fest, even though the building is on fire.

The Speaker of the House needs to grow up and get over himself. So does everyone else in Congress. Nothing they do is about them and their mulish and picayune little grudges. Their job is about this country.

Congress needs to assert itself as a legislative body and take its place in the system of checks and balances that make this country free. That requires a lot more intelligence and forethought, not to mention higher aspirations, than I saw on the Speaker’s face last night.

This is a video of the President’s entire State of the Union Address 2014.

YouTube Preview Image

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    I wasn’t going to comment, especially since with this President, I’ve come to be on the side of hate-the-one-who-obviously-hates-people-like-me. I’ve always had a hard time turning the other cheek with that type, and that is my fault.

    Having said that, I believe the free market WOULD re-industrialize America, and it wouldn’t take an act of Congress to do so, it *could* be done with just the type of dictatorial executive order that the last 5 Presidents have been so in love with.

    Base Customs Fees on volume/distance shipped. And add a bulk carbon tax on bunker oil sales.

    The hidden little secret in globalization is that it contributes to global warming massively. There is no bigger polluter on the planet than the container shipping industry, and it largely operates outside of any sort of government control (what is done in international waters, largely stays there, until the invasive species come home to roost). Due to this, it’s a very cheap mode of transportation- it costs less per ton to ship 9000 miles across the Pacific than 3000 miles by rail.

    That gives foreign trade an unfair competitive advantage all by itself. Want to re-industrialize America? Raise the cost of shipping.

    • justinwhitaker

      Interesting suggestion, Theodore. So would this be a free market (in some places) by way of heavily taxing/fee-ing shipping? And is that just a tax on things coming in, or does it apply to companies shipping products out too? I’m just trying to think out loud, but would companies want to move to the US if they knew imports (on say, certain raw materials) would cost way more and exports too?

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        There is nothing the world has to offer in the way of natural resources alone, that can’t be found within the borders of the United States. The problem is our labor cost, not the existence of the resources themselves.

        Basically, it’s protectionism. It is saying “the world market is so screwed up and manipulated, that we want an autarky in the United States as protection from your wars and corruption”.

        I don’t want foreign companies moving here. I want domestic companies to have opportunity that is already here.

        • SisterCynthia

          If my memory serves, there are one or two extremely rare minerals that we actually CAN’T source within the US… Economic Geology was many moons ago for me, so I can’t even name them now, tho my prof made a point of naming them as the only thing we couldn’t get locally. :-/ Even if that is still the case, tho, I agree with you on increasing the cost of general importation. It would put more of our folks to work and utilize the world’s resources better. That it’s cheaper to make and ship something around the world than across the continent is just loco.

          • AnneG

            Trade raises the economic well-being of our neighbors all over the world as well as ourselves. We need to unleash the private sector to do those things we do best while encouraging just business practices rather than cronyism.
            Btw, Theodore, climate change=global warning are pretty much scientifically discounted except in the Watermelon and media sectors.

            • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

              Just because they are discounted, doesn’t mean that shipping chickens to China to be processed then shipped back to the United States to be sold, isn’t a massive waste of energy.
              http://www.cbsnews.com/news/officials-say-okay-to-processed-chicken-from-china/

              • AnneG

                Agreed and US tax dollars are being used to encourage that outrageous practice. And FDA gets hysterical about Coke in schools but won’t check any of these products. And the Chinese won’t buy our agricultural products. Ridiculous govt regulations and incompetent negotiations. That is a problem and is not true trade.
                Also, tariffs are controlled internationally and the US gets fined for most attempts at tariffs to control or restrict trade.

                • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

                  Thus my suggestion to “hide” the extra costs in fuel taxes and customs fees. You are taxing the activity instead of the good- and thus, are specifically NOT enacting a tariff.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            They are rare- but they do exist. Tantalum is the main one that appears only two places in the world- the Congo and Southern Oregon. There is a mine in Southern Oregon that used to produce them. It doesn’t today because of environmental concerns and the high wages putting making it cheaper to buy them from slave owners in the Congo, as well as the easier mining there (the Oregon mine is more than 800 feet down, in the Congo they can just scoop up columbite-tantalite tainted mud and send it off for smelting).

            Intel recently made a commitment to stop purchasing from slave owners in the Congo and purchase from other sources instead, such as micro-financed NGOs. This won’t reopen the Southern Oregon mine though, too many environmental strikes against it. Though I’ve wondered- mineral laden poison water is leaking from the mine, and sunshine is plentiful in the Rogue Valley- a distillery may be in order.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            Thought I had already replied to this. Coltan is found in the United States and in the Americas:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coltan

            Our neighbor to the North has active mines. There’s a mine in Southern Oregon that has been closed due to environmental concerns that may reopen in the future with an increase in technology.

            The last straw for me was the recent FDA investigation into a business scheme to kill and freeze chicken in the United States, to ship to China to turn into processed food, to ship BACK to the United States to sell. Now that is insane.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I didn’t watch it. I can’t stand watching Obama any more. But I’m laughing on your perception that Boehner’s expression is that of hatred. I take it as skepticism. I think your assessment of the economy is right. It’s really not good, or even average, despite not being in a recession. Where are the jobs??? Plus Obama buried his one significant achievement, Obamacare. No one wants to touch that lemon with a ten foot pole. It’s going under; I predict it. By the way i did catch the Republican response and I think that congresswoman gave a great response. I’ve never seen her before, but she’s a rising star. Check it out if you didn’t see it.

    • hamiltonr

      Her name? (I still have a sick Mama, so I’m behind the curve on everything.)

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) – Susan B Anthony List was so proud, she’s one of theirs.

        ———————-
        She’s a working class gal from Eastern Washington. She’s a young mother.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzQcJmswOvk

        Her oldest is Downs Syndrome.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          She’s what Wendy Davis would like be.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            Except, of course, she’s only been married once and isn’t about to abandon husband and children as soon as the education debt is paid off.

            • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

              I never said she’s what Wendy Davis COULD ever be.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Theodore beat me to it. You can also read her bio on Wikipedia:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathy_McMorris_Rodgers

  • AnneG

    Rebecca, sorry your mom is sick. Hope she gets better soon. I don’t watch President Obama anymore. I usually read through his speech to see if there was anything noteworthy. As for his style, it seems to be an imitation of a combination of an African American preacher and Joel Osteen. Don’t agree about Boehner, either.
    We do need to allow the manufacturing sector to come back. But the government needs to stay out of it. They just screw it up. Most economists say the real unemployment numbers are at least in the 20% region. Finally, I agree about the crony crap we wasted over $1trillion on. We can start by scrapping the requirements for ethanol. There are lots of other things the federal govt should do, but first, don’t screw up anything worse. If he keeps up with executive orders, that is not just dictatorial, it’s dangerous.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Anne. She’s somewhat better today, but very fragile. She’s so fragile, she goes sour in what seems like an instant.

      • irena mangone

        Am sorry about your mum I know how it is I nursed my mother in her last years and it was heartbreaking to watch a beloved mother become a little child in her last days and not knowing any of us just this stare and no recognition in her eyes, may you both find peace

        • hamiltonr

          Thank you Irena.

    • pagansister

      There is a problem with President Obama sounding like an African American preacher? He is part African American.

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        No he is not. He is part American White Slaveholder (the Denhams have owned slaves in their family history) and part East African Muslim merchant class – in other words, slave trader. He does not have one drop of blood in common with the mostly West African-originating American black population, and is probably genetically very different. The accident of dark skin conceals, according to the late Stephen Jay Gould, more genetic difference in the human population of Africa, than in any other part of the world. In general, the commonplace “race” distinctions are meaningless; “Black” or “African” could mean anything from a Pigmy to a giant from Rwanda or South Sudan, where a six-foot man is a runt, with a comparable range of differences in face features or body shapes. In general “race” differences are trash and nonsense: there is more physical difference between myself and the average Swede than between myself and the average Chinese, and yet there are men of my same nation and ethnicity, born within miles of where I was, of whom the opposite might be said. It is just a cursed and mendacious attempt to give some sort of tangible form to cultural and social differences, which fails in the eyes of anyone who knows the least thing about it. And Barack Hussein Obama is an aristocrat who did not, by his own admission, have any part in Black American culture till he took it on himself to learn it.

        • hamiltonr

          There’s nothing wrong with this comment, per se, but the whole discussion gets into tender areas here in America. Tread gently, and with sensitivity, all of you.

          To be honest, I don’t think it’s a particularly productive discussion. The issue isn’t the president’s racial heritage. The issue is way he conducts his office.

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            Actually, I think that it is productive enough. Ask yourself, who does this remind you of – an aristocrat by birth who deliberately takes on the mannerisms and accent of a socially inferior group? That’s right: George W.Bush – the Stetson-wearing Texas redneck from Yale. The last two Presidents have this in common, a totally bogus “popular” attitude flaunted as much as possible but overlaying an aristocratic background. And almost nobody, never mind how much both of them were hated, ever took them up on this extraordinary feat of self-invention (to give it a polite name). Compare and contrast with Bill Clinton, who was the real thing – a redneck born, from trailer trash country, who elbowed and schmoozed his way up to Oxford and the White House by sheer talent and hard work. This should have deserved admiration, whatever else may be said against the man; but in fact nothing is more frequently held against him. Conservative commentators delight in calling him Bubba, as if that was something to be ashamed of. The tone of social and geographical contempt he often draws is startling. So you see, if you start to forget “race” and think of it as it is, a fake mask placed over social and geographical features, you start noticing plenty of interesting things. Isn’t it the case that Americans are more class-ridden today than they have ever been, and that many of them not only seem not to mind, but show an active and vicious dislike of the sight of a redneck getting above himself? Of course Lincoln, with his Hoosier accent and the traces of his brutal early life in his face and figure, always was an exception; but this kind of unselfconscious class prejudice strikes me as unpleasantly contemporary.

          • irena mangone

            I agree with you it’s not nice being racist would you put down a white president are many white people deep in their hearts prejudiced against him because he has a good education lawyer and got to the very top . Would you do a genetic job on a white president if he was not a White Anglo Saxon Protestant. .

        • pagansister

          Holy Cow, Fabio. All of us are unique.

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            In a sense, yes, but that would destroy any kind of debate on real group and class features and how people relate to them: which is an immensely serious issue. I have no objection to being called Italian (unless at the same time I am associated with certain demeaning stereotypes of my country held in prejudiced or ignorant minds); I do most strongly object to being described as Caucasian or White, two fraudulent and useless descriptions with the scientific or sociological validity of a three-dollar note. And when I say that the groups from which Obama and Bush II come are visibly aristocratic, I am saying something that has a clear sociological sense and does not involve the pseudo-science and moronic assumptions involved in the stupid old notion of “race”. That they are not necessarily the same kind of aristocracy does not mean that what they have in common is not significant: not only wealth, but over and above that a certain confidence in one’s background, and a wealth of contacts and potential friends, that allows a member of this kind of group to go pretty much anywhere they please without feeling, or more to the point looking, out of place. Obama’s social skills are amazing: one just has to watch with fascinated horror at how he can walk into a largely Catholic university with a largely Catholic audience and get them to feel that he, the most viciously anti-Catholic politician and the most extreme abortion supporter in American politics, had the most sympathetic and courteous understanding of their views and really looked forward to being able to work together! When I think of it, my jaw still drops. Only a man of wholly abnormal confidence could possibly have spun a line like that, but the life of an aristocrat is exactly the thing that breeds such confidence in you.

            • pagansister

              One has to have a large amount of confidence to be the President of the United States. I don’t feel that President Obama has any more or less than past presidents—by past I mean those within my lifetime. As to his ancestry? It is what it is. As to “aristocratic?” I have never thought of him that way. Unfortunately in this country, those without financial means generally aren’t able to run for the highest office in our land.

              • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                Sorry, I can’t help feeling that you are deliberately refusing to see what is there in front of you. In American history, class divisions are as serious as they are unacknowledged. In their day, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln caught an incredible amount of flak not because of their policies or character, but because of their evident low-class origins. That is what Linconl’s enemies meant when they called him an ape and a babboon.That is why they refused to listen to his splendid speeches: all they could hear was the Hoosier accent and mid-western mannerisms. In our day, both Bill Clinton and Sarah Palin have paid dearly for not having the right accent and showing their origins a bit too clearly. Conversely, Obama carries an unconsciously reassuring message that apparently no amount of political mistakes and goofs can altogher dispel.

                Now the type of Obama is not only clear but has been described in simple and memorable words by a master of the language, the English historian Hugh Trevor-Roper: “An athletic university professor on loan to politics”. There is no praise in this: Trevor-Roper, himself the snobbiest of snobs, was describing the Nazi war criminal Albert Speer. His point was that Speer, tall, cool, elegant, dressed with beautiful understatement,, and quietly confident, cut an entirely different figure from his fellow defendants in the dock, most of whom showed all too clearly the Nazi Party’s roots among the uprooted, the borderline defeated petty bourgeoisie, the drifers and bad bohemians living on the edge of crime after the demobilization of 1918. An aristocratic university professor can be a hero or a criiminal, a genius or a fool, or merely a mediocrity, but he will behave in a particular way. I recognized the type the moment I saw Obama speak; I met them in Oxford, London, even Rome.

                AS for people with modest backgrounds making it to the highest office in the land, you seem to forget the existence and function of parties. Parties exist to get candidates elected. If a party decides that a candidate can make it to a particular post, it does not matter whether that candidate has a modest or even base background. Bill Clinton’s background is southern white rabble. Harry Truman was not much further up the scale. All you have to do is climb the party greasy pole – and yes, that’s not easy for anyone. History is full of people who’d probably have been great presidents and never got to try.

                • SisterCynthia

                  I enjoy hearing your perspective on things, Fabio. You are more aware of our history than most Americans, as well as cultural nuances most of us write off because we don’t want to admit that yes, Americans ARE classists / regionalists in many ways. It goes against our self-image, but you’re right, if you’re from a “backwater” area it isn’t easy to succeed without minimizing the things that mark you as being from that area. It isn’t “supposed” to be that way, but biases do exist. Human nature I suppose. :(

                • pagansister

                  I see things differently than you do Fabio, that’s all. I live in the US. You can look at things from a different prospective, totally different location. You also are a scholar and have done much more in depth research on such things. I honestly never paid any attention to what some folks thought of President Clinton, and I wasn’t around during Lincoln’s time, a president I totally admire, and too young to remember Truman. As for Palin? I didn’t/don’t care for her, and it had/has nothing to do with her accent or her origins. I totally disagreed with her ideas. I do agree that history is probably full of people who would have mad great presidents and never got to try.

      • AnneG

        Pagansister, I’ve heard lots of real African American preachers. His is an affectation, he imitates a typical style, cadence and phrasing. It is insincere just like everything else he does. His actions do not go along with what he says.

        • pagansister

          Having spent a lot of my life in the south, I too have heard many Black ministers. I find him to be an excellent orator. (which really has nothing to do with whether how he speaks is an affectation of, a “real” African American” preacher or not IMO). Won’t get into the politics of whether he is insincere or not as I happen to be pleased with his presidency overall.

  • FW Ken

    I was at something today that set me in mind of the SOTU. Lots of ritual and ceremony. Special seating for special people and special recognition for family and friends. Lots of standing ovations, applause, even cheering and of laughter. The principle actor even calls himself a “man of hope” and we are expecting change..

    http://tinyurl.com/m3rosnd

  • pagansister

    Am hoping your Mother is better this evening. I watched the speech and I totally agree with you about the current Speaker of the House! His expression was that of a man who HAD to sit and listen just because of his position. I also agree that President Obama is a fine orator.and he did deliver his speech in a flawless manner, using wit, charm and it was an up-beat speech. I could never sit and listen to Bush 2 when he gave a speech—it drove me crazy.

  • Dave

    I never watch these speeches by any President. They seem to bear very little resemblance to anything that actually happens in our country, and remind me of the “pep rallies” we used to have in high school.

    • hamiltonr

      Dave, your comment is a sort of side bar to something I was thinking. State of the union speeches (as well as state of the state speeches, which I see every year here in Oklahoma) have moved away from the original intent to become platform speeches for the chief executive. There’s almost not genuine assessment of the state of either the union or the state in any of them.

      I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s just an observation.

      • Dave

        Bingo – you nailed what I was trying to capture by “pep rallies.” It’s more or less subtle “tooting of one’s own horn.”

  • Dave

    I can’t believe Boehner did that. He’s a moderate Republican at best, and doesn’t even oppose Obama with any strength. If he would use that negative energy to actually oppose the extremes of the administration, we’d be a lot better off, but for his own sake, he should get rid of it entirely.


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