Archive for January 25th, 2011

If you are sick and tired of television series where everything is brought to a successful conclusion in less than an hour, I have a different piece of TV for you. This piece will be just as fictional as Law and Order, CSI, NCIS, the Closer, or any of those wonderful shows that many people watch. It won’t be as funny as Two and a Half Men or The Simpsons, The Family Guy or many others. It may have moments of humor as well as moments of tragedy. Oh, hell, it’s the State of the Union Speech by our 44th President, Barack Obama.

I call it fictional because the truth, in this case, is only in the eyes of the speaker. It really isn’t possible for the rest of us to determine what is truth and what is bombastic behavior masquerading as truth.  This President doesn’t seem like a bad guy. Yeah, okay, he’s a Black guy and the bulk of the American population doesn’t trust anyone who isn’t exactly like them; therefore, you can’t trust him. Excuse me but I really have a problem with that. I think a number of Americans would bristle at that statement, but unfortunately, there are still too many who take it at face value as the gospel truth. A couple of points here: There are just as many whites, Asians, Latino’s, and other ‘species’ of Americans who cannot be trusted, so let’s get the color thing off the table. Second, he’s a pretty smart feller that he was able to become a United States Senator from Illinois and then parlay that into a successful campaign to become the leader of the free world, so let’s give the guy credit for a few brains.

The greatest fiction that will be portrayed when President Obama speaks will be ‘date night in Congress’ with some Democrats crossing the aisle to sit with Republicans and vice versa. Perhaps hypocrisy is a more accurate word. Yes, they will sit together tonight but tomorrow they will go back to being the same party hacks they are this morning. I recently heard comedian Martin Mull sum it up very well. He said, “The country has become so polarized that anything said by the people on the left is regarded as bullshit by people on the right. On the other hand, the liberal left regards anything said by the conservative right as complete bullshit.” He didn’t go on to explain how that problem can be solved but I think he summed it up fairly well. As a consequence, those who sit it the Congressional well tonight will be of two minds; those on the left will believe that every word out of the President’s mouth is an utterance from on high. Those sitting beside them – to the right, of course – will believe that everything articulated by the President will be a bold faced lie. Following the speech, a member from each ‘team’ will have the opportunity to appear before the television cameras and explain exactly what the President just said. One will say he’s full of crap; the other will say he’s a genius. That will be a small part of the humor of this whole television fiasco.

Am I sounding cynical? Yes, I am being a cynic but not to the degree that one might believe. We are a nation in trouble. We have a very high unemployment rate and for those people who are not yet back working, the jobs they held may no longer exist. They may have to be retrained to do something that will not pay as well or that they will have to become ‘expert’ at to command similar monies. Americans, by and large, are a stubborn group. Retraining people who are in their forties and fifties is a challenge not to be addressed lightly. In addition, many people had become used to a certain lifestyle and that is going to have to change. So, there’s our first problem; how do we get our people back to work in jobs that may be strange to some of them but that are necessary. There isn’t a band aid that can be slapped on that problem to make it go away; it takes time, and time is something the conservative right does not wish to give this President.

Another part of our problem lies with an economy that is struggling to get back on its feet. Yes, we are making small, positive steps in that direction. Companies that almost went out of business but that were bailed out by the Federal Government are now making profits and are hiring. The Federal Government, for the most part, has received the funds it invested. The government has, however, racked up a tremendous debt in trying to bring us out of our economic morass. The conservative right doesn’t like that and uses it as a weapon against the conservative left. “Keep big government out of America,” they cry, but I really haven’t heard any alternatives to letting “big government” do its job until “little America” can get its own ass back in gear.

The State of the Union speech will be criticized by some and praised by others. It will serve as the first step in this President’s quest for a second term in office. It’s a “This is what we inherited; this is what we’ve done about it, and; this is where we’re going to take it in the next two years” speech. The really terrible thing about it is that it will probably contain some decent ideas that opponents of this President will totally disregard. I loved it when the House of Representatives was taken back by the Republican Party. From this moment on, the 44th President can use the excuse that this whole concept of working together is nothing but hogwash on the part of the right. What was the first thing that the House Speaker and his colleagues did when they took office? Was it to put together a jobs bill for America? Was it to put together a stimulus package to get the economy moving? Was it to go to the President and say, “Look, we now control the House. We know we don’t have the Senate, so, given the disparity, how can we work together while appearing to the more radical sides of our party that we’re still at odds.” It was none of these things. It was to go after health legislation that had been passed last year in an attempt to repeal it. Excuse me, but you are not going to get it through the Senate. Therefore, why are you wasting time on a situation you cannot possibly win? The Health Care Law has a great many earmarks in it. In the overall, it is a piece of legislation that requires revamping and restudy. However, it is the law of the land. Work within it to change it. Work with the opposition to change it. Don’t shout from the rooftops that the whole thing must go. Other than prohibition, not too many laws get repealed in Congress, so let’s get with the program.

In addition to repealing health care, the House of Representatives would like the President to run the country with a budget that is the same as it was in 2002. Either I misinterpreted that comment the other day or the representative who said it is doing drugs. Prices have risen, my friend. Even the cost of conducting a war has gone up, so stop smoking that fine weed and let’s come back to earth. Is the US budget too large? Probably it is. Are there intelligent ways to reduce it? Certainly, but the reductions are not seen the same way by Democrats and Republicans. The result, as it always seems to be in Washington, is a little problem called ‘gridlock,’ a word that is so overused that it should be listed in the Thesaurus as a synonym for ‘bullshit.’

So, enjoy the State of the Union friend; enjoy the after show. I wish you well in trying to make sense of what is said…before, during, and after our President addresses the nation!

Read Full Post »