Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Catch Up Blogging.. State of the Union 2015

Yeah yeah... I know.  I have been pretty quiet for the last  two months... What gives?  Well,  like most folks I was busy over the holidays.  We were back in the United States spending Christmas and New Year's  in Northern California with my family.  It was great to be back in San Francisco.   As always it was too short of time to see everyone we wanted to see.  But like we always say, there is a remedy for that;  Come visit us!

There has been a lot going on in the news obviously.   The horrific terror attacks on Paris,  the ongoing threat of the terrorist group Islamic State,  the beginning of the three ring cirque du insanity that will be the 2016 US  Presidential Election campaign,  and the decision by the US Supreme Court to finally take up the issue of Marriage Equality.   Not to mention  the looming  general election here in the United Kingdom next Spring.

So there is a lot to talk about.

But for starters,  we have last night's State of the Union Address by President Obama  in Washington, DC.   For those that are interested,  you can watch the speech in its entirety  here:

To be honest,  I  was not that optimistic as I sat down to watch the speech.  With Congress now completely controlled by the Republican Party,  I fully expected there to be blatant displays of disrespect for the President.   After all  it was at President Obama's very first. SOTU Address that Congressmen Joe Wilson lost his marbles  and blurted out " You Lie!" at the President, when he stated the completely true fact that illegal immigrants could not get health care under the Affordable Care Act.   

So I was not optimistic the 112th Congress would be any better.   I am very happy to report that the GOP majority  behaved itself.    Granted,  it  treated America to the sight of the Republicans refusing to even clap for things like equal pay for women doing equal work,  or that making sure all Americans can vote is good thing.    But overall the GOP mostly just sat on their hands and sulked.

The one moment they did try to get in a jab at the President,  it didn't really go well.  When President Obama mentioned that he would not be running for any office ever again,  the GOP erupted into cheers and applause.  Giving  Barack Obama the opening to respond  with the best one liner of the night:

Setting aside, the zingers, applause lines, and who stood up for what.  The speech shows that President Obama is determined to be anything but a lame duck in this last two years in office.   The agenda he set out last night is a bold one.  So bold in fact,  you could easily say his chances of getting any of it through this congress are slim at best.

The GOP Majority has already signalled its opposition to any attempt to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and despite overwhelming evidence that the Affordable Care Act is a success, the GOP remains determined to kill it and take away health insurance from millions of Americans.

The Republican agenda is basically this;  Affordable Health Care = Bad,  Keystone Pipeline = Good.  The thought process pretty much stops there.    As was evident in the  GOP response to the speech.  Actually,  I should say it was evident in the GOP response(s) to the speech, as there were FOUR of them.  Each one less coherent than the last.

President Obama's State of the Union was officially rebutted by Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, then  Rep. Curt Clawson of Florida delivered the tea party response.   Then Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida interpreted the first GOP response in Spanish. Lastly, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul , desperate for attention, gave his own  YouTube response.

 It's worth noting that  Texas Senator Ted Cruz tried to give his own You Tube rebuttal, but it went so badly that his staff yanked it offline shortly after it was posted.  But the Huffington Post managed to save it for all to enjoy.  So for the Democrats, the good news is that the GOP may be so divided among itself that it proves unable to effectively move its own agenda forward.

It is always an odd experience to watch  American politics from the vantage point of an Expat living overseas. The divisions that dominate the American domestic discourse  seem so petty and just plain silly from this distance.   From here in  Europe ,  where the concept of Universal Health Care is just common sense,  Senator Ernst's insistence that  the  Affordable Care Act is a "disaster", is so irrational  as to call into question  her honesty or her intelligence , or both.

Add to this  the  GOP fetish of clinging to the myth that somehow, directing all wealth and opportunity to the richest in society will result in that wealth and opportunity "Trickling Down" to everybody else.   Trickle down economics does not work. It has never worked, and it will never work. The GOP's bizarre insistence that it does, just makes them  look either really stupid or really greedy.  

Asking the top one tenth of one percent  to pay the same tax rates they did under Bill Clinton, (which by the way are still less than they were under Ronald Reagan) is not “class warfare”, it’s asking the those who have benefited the most from American Freedoms to give back in a fair measure.   That is called Patriotism.

So  the gauntlet has been thrown down by  Barack Obama, it will be interesting to see just how much of this ambitious agenda can survive the political reality  of next two years.


1 comment:

biki said...

I loved his speech, and his view of what our country should and could look like with some willingness to share and some common sense ideas. I have no idea why folks keep voting the GOP back into office in such large numbers, unless its just habit. There are a few, very few decent republicans who aren't bigots, who arent into spewing hate, but they are in the extreme minority.