One day, two good speeches

This was a very good speech.

President Barack Obama, Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011

This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement. Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

I am here to say they are wrong. I’m here in Kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we’re greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. …

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked.

And this was a very good speech.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Geneva, Dec. 6, 2011

Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.

This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.

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  • Anonymous

    Trigger: rape

    for the foreseeable future, the Middle Class is going to be raped Economically and financially by the 1%ers until it is bled dry — and probably beyond — and that there is little-to-nothing that they will be able to do about it under our current political system. *THAT* was the point of my post.

    Yeah, I got that. The point of this post is, if you have time to explain a rape joke, you have time to think of a way to phrase it that is, pardon my Saxon, not a fucking rape joke.

  • It is equally legitimate to say that the 1% will keep reaching into the wallets of the 99% until they have everything.

    That would have gotten your point across without problematic statements.

  • rizzo

    Illegally detaining foreigners(and Americans) on foreign soil, torturing and killing them=not good for people.  Settling for a sop to health insurance companies instead of nationalizing healthcare insurance=not good for people.  Not cancelling the Bush tax cuts=not good for people.  Too small of a stimulus by at least half=not good for people. 
    I could go on.

  • Ballot initiatives. I think the fact that Tim Eyman is a Horse’s Ass pretty much says it all for how abuse of ballot initiatives can be a real problem. Tim Eyman pretty much seems to live for trying to push tax limitation measures through ballot initiatives and a lot of pseudopopulist posturing to go with ’em.

    Tim Eyman is a Horse’s Ass is the most constructive initiative with Eyman’s name on it (which is unsurprising because he is obviously not the one who is pushing it.)  As a Washington state citizen, I will gladly vote for it when I see it on the ballot.  Eyman found a way to make a living off of making populist right-wing ballots that are just plausible enough to get a fair share of the vote, but not robust enough that they could survive judicial review before being implemented even if they were passed.  

    It is a practice that he should be denounced for.  

  • Daughter

    The first one, definitely true.  The others? Necessary compromises that achieved some good along the way.  FDR had to do those, too–in order to get Social Security passed, he had to exclude domestic workers and farmers as contributors/recipients, since most African-Americans at the time were employed in those professions.  AFDC (welfare) was limited to white widows with children–another compromise to get Southern congress people to vote for it.  So because in their original form they were half-measures, does that mean they were “not good for people”? And if you say no, because hey, some people benefitted, what about the folks with pre-existing conditions, people who were able to still have some resources while job-hunting, etc. who are benefitting now?

    You know what’s really not good for people? No health care reform at all.  No extension of unemployment and the continuation of DADT.  No stimulus at all.  Between obstructionist Republicans and Blue Dog Dems, that very likely could have been the result if Obama hadn’t compromised.

  • FangsFirst

    Trigger: rape

    The point of this post is, if you have time to explain a rape joke, you have time to think of a way to phrase it that is, pardon my Saxon, not a fucking rape joke.

    I’d be all right with no rape-metaphors in financial (and various other) situations, “joking” or otherwise, myself. (not that I think you feel otherwise, Ellie)

  • Anonymous

    Having lived in Illinois while he was governor, I certainly do find it unbelievable.

  • Daughter

    One additional thought:  since when does “not as good as it could have been” equal “bad for people” (in regard to health reform and the stimulus)?

  • Anonymous

    The Washington Post fact-checked Obama’s “very good speech,” found him less than truthful, and awarded him three Pinocchios.

  • It seems a little hand-wavy to me. I’ll take direct issue with the obscurantism over the “increased spending” part of the article.

    What, pray tell, did the GWB administration blow a lot of that borrowed money on, I wonder?

    Gosh, did my ears hear the words “two wars” out there?

    Depending on who you ask, those wars cost about $3 trillion, of which 95% of that is in excessive, totally unnecessary, extra military and security spending.

  • Daughter

    I think their conclusion is wrong.  On the first point, that Obama said Congress passed the two of the largest tax cuts for the wealthy in US history in 2001 and 2003, the WP doesn’t say that anything is factually wrong with that statement.  Their objection is that he didn’t add that the 2001 tax cuts included tax cuts for all income brackets, and therefore he was being deceptive. 

    No, he wasn’t. If he had said, “tax cuts for the wealthy but not the middle class” – they’d have a point.  Obama was making a specific point about tax cuts for the wealthy not leading to job creation.  There was no reason, in that specific point, to mention tax cuts for other income levels.

    Their second objection is to Obama’s statement, “Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent — 1 percent. That is the height of unfairness.” The WP cites this info: “The most recent data that we can find on the top 400 taxpayers — all billionaires — show that in 2008, 30 billionaires paid an average tax rate of between zero and 10 percent.”

    OK, so that’s 7.5% of billionaires who pay between 0 and 10 percent.  That’s some.  Obama didn’t say most, or even a majority. 

    Yes, the WP has a point that saying 1% is misleading.  It would have been more accurate to say, “Some billionaires have a tax rate of less than 10 percent.” But it’s not an outright falsehood.

  • [trigger: rape]

    Yeah, I too could do without using “rape” as a metaphor for things that aren’t rape. That use both belittles the actual trauma that actual victims suffer (thus adding to a culture in which actual rape is treated as no more of a big deal than, say, paying taxes or being overcharged for a roof repair) and uselessly escalates the rhetoric surrounding the non-rape experience that apparently some people think their audience won’t appreciate the badness of unless they compare it to rape. Yes, it’s kind of funny how both of those effects can happen at the same time.

    [in other news]

    Those were two good speeches. Thanks for posting the excerpts, Fred. Made my day, despite the complaints I’ve had about both political figures.

  • Andrew C.

    I’m sorry to sound so pessimistic. But I have no hope whatsoever that any of these words will be translated into actions, save the occasional token to placate the most lethargic segment of the ‘liberal’ base.

  • FangsFirst

    [trigger: rape]

    Yes, it’s kind of funny how both of those effects can happen at the same time.

    And the dumb part is that, because it “downgrades” rape, it doesn’t actually even achieve the latter effect properly. It upgrades it to the “perception” of rape–which is far down the scale from where it actually is, but is higher than wherever the item in question was before. What the hell IS that all about? I guess the word has gravitas that has no association with the crime…

  • Anonymous

    [trigger: rape]

    It’s also quite the language fail. Yes I ‘know’ most modern dictionaries include the broader definition as related to plundering and such – but that inclusion is an archaic one that really should be done away with.

    Take the Vikings of old whom were said to rape, pillage and plunder. Now if rape was useful in the broader context, why even mention pillage or plunder?

    Language changes as social awareness does. Often there is a lag, but hey, novel idea – nobody has to wait to the ‘official lore’ to update.

    We are, in this age, aware of rape and all it’s very real impacts. So hey, use another word. Everytime I hear some environmentalist talk about “raping the forests” or “raping the planet” or “raping the ecosystem” I don’t sit back. I call them on it. Use plunder! – it’s a better word! … or use pillage – better still.

    When I read any, even good, post/argument about something that ends with that concussive ‘rape’ metaphor … the rest is gone. Even the best argument is ruined by such use. These metaphorical uses do add weight to an argument. To me, they’re used by people who aren’t quite sure they managed to lay out their thoughts well enough.

    Attention grabbing that’s all. It diminishes the word itself and pushes the argument prior into a rhetorical limbo of fail.

    Finally – if people say ‘could you not do this because it triggers me’ – you DO NOT get to respond with any generic “I-must-express-my-privilege-now”  drivel, such as “Oh but you should not be triggered … I’m not …” or “I don’t see how that would help” and so on. Even if you yourself have been raped … you have no special right to tell someone else how they should live their own experience.

    Doing so is little more than hubris and self-promotion of the most odious kind. If you think your view carries more weight than someone else … well aren’t you just so important.

    Common courtesy 101. Not so difficult.

  • FangsFirst

    [Trigger: rape]

    Even if you yourself have been raped … you have no special right to
    tell someone else how they should live their own experience.

    Oh, thank you so much for that. Um, not sarcastic. I’ve had so many people going, “Lighten up, and I can say that because I was raped and I think it’s funny!” and I tell them it still isn’t okay because I know plenty of people who will be legitimately triggered by their stupid, thoughtless jokes. And it seems like whatever the difference in experience in surviving, they probably know it’s not an easy thing to deal with, even if they don’t understand the differing methods of dealing with it.

    I told someone I didn’t want to hear rape jokes once, and she said, “I can’t believe you think I would find rape funny. I was raped,” right after admitting that it was indeed a rape joke–but it was okay, because it was tastelessly shocking and untrue and therefore didn’t relate to the reality of it!

  • Anonymous

    The first one, definitely true.

    The first one is arguably a neccessary compromise.  Remember the hubbub over closing Guantanamo?

    you have no special right to tell someone else how they should live their own experience.

    Quoted for truth…
    I probably wouldn’t put trigger warnings before talking about most things on my own website.  But this isn’t my website.  Here, either don’t talk about those things, or include a warning.

  • hf

    As I keep pointing out, Obama does not need “compromise” just to put money into the economy. Money is an illusion. The Federal Reserve, entirely on its own authority, printed at least US $1.5 trillion with a T for their hidden bailout of the banks. You may recall that the Fed belongs to the executive branch. I want them to print the amount of decrease in yearly demand that we’re seeing as a result of the crash (1.2 trillion) and use it to hire people. (This comes to well over $37,000 per unemployed US citizen — according to the u5 measure, not the smaller official number of unemployed.)