One womon's response
About 10 of us gathered Wednesday evening at Bobby G’s, indulged in awesome mostly organic pizza, and then tried hard not to get too ill (or too loud) while listening to President Obama on large-screen TV, viewing the 5 malevolent corporate-gorged judges and the sparkling beams of Pelosi as the cameras frequently panned the uniformly manicured, stepford-precisioned, pristinely outfitted (if you’re into $1200 ties made by enslaved peoples) mostly white males that have so much power over us and our country.
The major difference between this Sorry State of the Union Address under Obama and the previous ones under Bush is that we could actually get up and whole-heartily cheer at a few places in his speech.
As when he said women should get equal pay for equal work! And he will double the tax credit for childcare; and the changes he proposed for borrowing money to go to college: removing student loan tax credits from banks and giving it directly to students, limiting loan repayment to 10% of student’s income, and forgiving student loans after 10 years with social service jobs, 20 years in general!
Totally unlike Bush, he did not mention ‘terrorist’ until near the end of his speech which perhaps made it more jarring; we heard 9/11 once and “al Qaeda” a couple of times but not Osama, Hussein or Taliban.
We did hear immigrants and Muslim – followed quickly in the same breathy warning – as long as folks “play by the rules” and “obey the laws”, folks would be rewarded. (Could he also have been referring to the recent Supreme Court decision giving Corporations protection as individuals under our constitution?)
He did talk about bringing all our troops out of Iraq by August 2010 and “leaving Iraq to its people” – is that like our troops and corporations raging the devastation greater than the likes of Hurricane Katrina or the Tsunami in Sri Lanka or Earthquake in Haiti and then walking away? Not really, as our force was not natural, clean, or quick but an intentional, prolonged murder, rape, destruction as we bled the land and people of her strength, her life force, and captured her resources.
He spoke of supporting and recognizing those veterans when they return (from being in places we do not want them to be and doing horrific things to other human beings we do not want them to do) but did not talk about making sure they do not go in the first place. Rather he justified his increase of U.S. troops in Afghanistan as necessary to train Afghans so our troops can begin to leave in July of 2011. He claimed we’ve killed (really assassinated by drone) more al Qaeda ‘terrorists’ in 2009 than 2008 – and neither did he mention the 50 civilians killed for every one ‘terrorist’ assassinated.
He claimed we ‘prosecute’ war (right out of Merriam-Webster ‘to pursue to the end’ although we wish he meant that more modern meaning of ‘to bring legal action, redress, punishment for waging’ war!) and then proceeded to harp on the threat of nuclear weapons without once again pointing the finger at the number one perpetuator/trator of nuclear threat, the United States and her arsenal but proceeded to single out North Korea and Iran as the real threat for not bending to our demands, or our ‘rules’.
He spoke a lot about the “Recovery Act” which is supposed to fund alternative transportation and other infrastructure projects; cut tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas, and give tax breaks to companies who stay here; support small businesses and extend unemployment benefits.
He seemed to be pleased - after mentioning the support for people that could be construed as ‘socialism’ at best, as unemployment and covering social security and medical – to announce that educators and educational institutions will not just be ‘given’ the monies they desperately need to provide quality education for all, but will be forced to ‘compete’ for funds. So those who are doing a great job (as attested to by high test scores - tests, by the way, that are developed, printed, and sold by a Bush brother owned company) will get more money! This also reinforces the ‘limited resources’ paradigm i.e. we have limited resources for education, thereby forcing people to fight over crumbs when we know really we have unlimited resources… for military and pentagon and corporations/banks.
He also spoke a lot about the need to provide jobs as our number one priority. He didn’t mention the WPA or the later CETA or really any specific program, but the intent is there. He mentioned one in 10 (white) Americans being out of work and neglected to mention 1.2 (Latina) Americans or 1.6 (African American) in 10 Americans being out of work.
Most likely one of the most disheartening things that came out of this president’s mouth was his immediate linkage of nuclear and coal energies as ‘clean’, ‘green’, and ‘good’ sources for energy, not to mention which he did mention off-shore drilling. And this on top of his quip about certain folks not believing the huge body of scientific evidence of global warming and climate change.
Of course the MOST demoralizing and disheartening thing is his flowery and generalistic way with words, masking some of our most hurtful policies, as when he spoke of 2011 freezing government spending except for ‘national security’, social security and medicare/aid. The latest PEW survey on national priorities reports education as our number one priority followed by veterans’ benefits, health care, environment, energy, etc. – ‘national security’ ranks 12th and 13th on the public’s list, yet first on the president’s list.
Lastly, his speech about the divisions between Republicans and Democrats, and his urgings to be united, seemed to echo much of the sentiment of Abe Lincoln’s speech to southerners and northerners just prior to civil war breaking out.
We agreed Obama will not get their (Republican) support or approval anyway so why not kick ass and embark on the real change we want to have in this country, where the rich and corporate are overthrown, war is ended, and all people have quality life. This should be so difficult for the richest country in the world?