Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SOTU Recap

Best line of the night:

"I'm one 'Iran' away from bingo", uttered by The Spouse, who did in fact win. The Child and I tied for second. No one got a blackout.

The President looked like a deer in the headlights coming down the aisle. Then the talking heads pointed out that he usually speaks to friendly, hand-picked audiences. Having to address a majority of Democrats would have been a little nerve-wracking.

He gets snaps for so graciously congratulating Madame Speaker Pelosi. It was very lovely. It might have been nice if he'd gone one step further and acknowledged that she succeeded in accomplishing, with sterling bi-partisan effort I might add, the "First 100 Hours Agenda" that she'd laid out:

Ethics reform
An increase in the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years
Enactment of the 9-11 commission's recommendations
Expanded stem-cell research
Government negotiation of prices with prescription drug companies
Student loan interest rates cut in half
The elimination of billions in subsidies for big oil companies

But you take what you can get. Interestingly, one of the words that he never did actually use was "bi-partisan". I fully expected him to make a much bigger deal of working with Congress but not so much.

For obvious reasons, however, he devoted the first half of the speech to domestic issues and programs which Dems are jiggy with. He left out a few things, like when he was talking about tax breaks for people who pay for their own insurance or don't have any. He failed to mention the part of his plan wherein insurance paid for by an employer will be treated as taxable income. Details.

It would also be nice if when he called on Congress to re-authorize "No Child Left Behind" he had pledged to fully fund it...something he still hasn't done. But again, details.

The second half of the speech was about foreign policy. That was infinitely more disappointing, given how he clings to his failed policy in Iraq. "Fear, fear, fear. Is that all he's got?" muttered The Neighbor. Yes, yes it is. Not that it's working anymore. With only 18% of the population still supporting the war, it's clearly not working. People have finally wised up to the fact that the "war on terror" is something altogether different from the mess in Iraq. I really don't understand how someone can hold so fast to such a bad idea, an idea not even supported by most Republicans, by most of the military and the vast majority of the people. How many kinds of wrong does one person have to be before he wakes up and smells the java?

But Sen. Jim Webb, who gave the Democratic response, delivered a fine smackdown. He spoke of the military service of his father, himself and his son, who is in Iraq as we speak. Then he said,

"We owed them (our leaders) our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us ­ sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable ­ and predicted ­ disarray that has followed.

The war's costs to our nation have been staggering. Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism. And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq".

You go, Jim!

I only yelled at the President a couple of times (it's what I do). Laura Bush looked like a doll next to that big huge basketball player, who was the first "ordinary citizen" that was recognized. (Never heard of the guy because I don't follow the NBA. Also had never heard of the chappie who saved that guy on the NY subway. I have, apparently, been living under a rock. But I always think those little acknowledgements are kinda nice. Corny, but nice.)

So that's pretty much my take on the SOTU. What did you think?

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Blogger Dariush Alavi opined...

Oh dear! I feel moved to write a lengthy comment, but I haven't got the time right now. Suffice it to say the following:

- I found your take on Bush's speech fascinating, not to say helpfully illuminating. You may be interested to learn that the media's take on it here was equally lukewarm.

- You guys have something called 'No Child Left Behind'? We've got 'Every Child Matters'! I guess I now know where we got the idea from.

But the main thing I wanted to respond to is:

- Bingo. Several years ago, in my first year as a teacher, I had a wonderful group of 15/16 year olds in my care and one day I discovered - the details of quite HOW I discovered this are just too numerous to enter into now - that they'd made bingo cards containing things like some of my most common turns of phrase and my most frequently used hand gestures.

One day, in the middle of a lesson, I mentioned some movie or other. A pupil's hand went up. "Yes, Sarah?" I said.

"Have you got that movie on DVD, sir?" she asked.

"Actually, no, that's one I keep meaning to add to my collection."

At which point Sarah feverishly crossed something out on a slip of paper before her, leapt out of her seat and shouted, "BINGO!"

She won fifteen pounds!

Okay, enough from me. I need to get my own site...

January 24, 2007 10:22 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Ok, that is only the best story I've heard all week.

As to the "No Child" thing, yeah, it was pretty much Bush's first piece of legislation, having mostly has to do with standards that have to be met, blah blah blah. A lot of states have actually sued to not have it enforced because the federal government (which heretofore has been entirely controlled by the Republicans) failed to fully fund the program. It sounds good but it's all on paper. Now that the Dems have the purse strings perhaps that will change.

Now I will return to cracking up over this priceless story.

January 24, 2007 3:02 PM  
Blogger Amy opined...

i agree, i think sausage risotto is way yummy.....

January 24, 2007 3:37 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Especially with a nice bit of Parmesan cheese grated right over the top and a nice glass of red wine...mmmmmmmm....

January 24, 2007 3:46 PM  
Blogger gina opined...

May I clarify one thing? The tax on employer provided health insurance would only be the value of a policy over $15,000 annually. Translation: the policies "rich" folk get, CEOs and the like. Most of us with employer provided policies rank in about the $8-$10,000 a year group. This tax will not apply to the vast majority of those receiving health insurance through their employers. Apparently, those high-priced policies are responsible for a lot of the high cost of health insurance, hence the tax to subsidize the less fortunate.

Sausage risotto.... yummmmmmm

January 24, 2007 4:21 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Thank you for that clarification, Gina. And yes, very yummy.....little bits of sausage all mumbled up with the creamy rice.....mmmmmmmmm....

January 24, 2007 4:25 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

To be honest,My eyes tend to glaze over long about the time I hear the phrase,"Balance the federal budget within.."(Insert proposed fantastically short period of time here)
Two things:
1) Didn't Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton look all large-and in-charge!...and..
b) WTF?? there ANY sausage risotto left?.. :0

January 24, 2007 5:33 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Sling, especially when the person proposing the balance is the same guy who ran up the deficit like a drunk sailor on leave. But yeah, the girl power was groovy. I admit to giving out a little hoot every time someone said "Madame Speaker".

Sorry about the risotto but the braised pork chops and stuffing will be ready in about an hour. Bring some wine.

January 24, 2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger Dariush Alavi opined...

Yes, it was my Best Story Of The Week for about half a year. My initial reaction was to be very annoyed by the whole thing, but then after about two seconds I realised it was a teacher's dream come true, because it meant my pupils were hanging on every single word I uttered!

January 24, 2007 10:31 PM  
Blogger charlie opined...

Republicans/Democrats (big enders/little enders) - not much will change. Big business and vested interest and pluralistic ignorance rule ok, worldwide. More importantly, Amy makes a mean mushroom risotto.

January 24, 2007 11:22 PM  
Blogger Grish opined...

I didn't watch much of it. In an act of self preservation I try to restrict my google news reading anymore because no matter how much I yell at the computer screen nothing ever seems to change..:-)

January 25, 2007 3:22 AM  

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