Free Markets, Free People

Thoughts On The Speeches

First the Obama speech.  My overall impression was that of a campaign speech.  High flying rhetoric, intentions hidden in comfortable rhetoric that Americans find more acceptable than other and contradictions which were so evident that I’m surprised the media let them pass (ok, not really, but I thought I’d jab them a little).  However, in reality, it was much more than that as I’ll cover a little further on.  But, as usual, very well delivered.  

The Jindal speech, on the other hand, suffered by comparison.  And, in fact, it suffered badly.  Whoever helped him put that together should have skipped the “folksy” stuff and gotten down to business.  By the time he finally got to the point, I was slack jawed with stupification.  Having just sat through a 45 minute Obama speech I wanted a quick “give it to me now” response.   5 minutes into the Jindal speech we still didn’t know where he was going with it.  My guess is by that time, most people who had thought about watching him had thrown up their hands,  hit the can and were raiding the liquor cabinet.

Back to the Obama speech.  As I thought about it more I realized he’d very carefully hidden the intention of his administration and the Democrats to convert this country into a cradle to grave European-style socialist country.  Seriously.  It’s all in there, but you have to carefully pick it out.   While he never came right out and said it,  he sure hinted around the edges.  Probably the closest he came to actually laying it out was this:

That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education –- from the day they are born to the day they begin a career. 

The same basic message was given concerning health care.  When speaking about the budget he made this statement:

 It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive healthcare reform –- a down payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable healthcare for every American.

Two things to note – he didn’t say “health insurance” for every American. He said “health care”. And he also seems to have backed off of not making this mandatory.

He hit it again when talking about the two largest entitlement programs we have:

To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive healthcare reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans. [So those “savings accounts” of old W’s weren’t so bad after all, huh? – ed.]

And here is where one of the glaring contradictions comes out. While claiming that the government’s version of health care will be much more efficient and less costly than the private version, he contradicts himself when he says we must get the spiraling Medicare and Medicaid costs under control. I’ll remind you of what we were promised Medicare would cost when it began, and I’ll further remind you that the real cost ended up at least 6 times that amount. I’ll also remind you that each year, that program has about 60 billion in waste, fraud and abuse. One of the efficiencies Obama claims will bring cost down is the elimination of that waste, fraud and abuse. That promise is as old as politics and still unfulfilled.

Last night, during the liveblogging, when Obama got to the auto industry, and started throwing “we” around, I asked “who is the ‘we’ he keeps talking about? Of course when you read the passage, I’m sure you will be able to figure it out:

As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a retooled, reimagined auto industry that can compete and win.

I bet “we” are. The question is, will the “we” who are known as the public be willing to buy these autos designed and “reimagined” by government?

And, of course, the populist Obama was present as well . That’s a very old and tired political trick which still manages to work unfortunately. A method of creating an emotional distraction while you propose things which are much worse:

This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

Just hearing a President of the United States say such a thing should send shivers up your spine. Instead it was one of the major applause lines of the night.

And this too should have caused those who love freedom to pause and understand the underlying promise of the words spoken:

A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.

Transfer wealth to the wealthy? How by letting them keep more of their money? How is that a “transfer”? Well, it becomes a transfer if you believe it really isn’t theirs at all. And the spending spree the Democratic Congress and the Obama administration are embarking upon certainly makes that case. With the lie about “no earmarks” in the “stimulus” bill again given voice, and with a 410 billion omnibus spending bill with 9,000 earmarks and another trillion being thrown into the financial sector, not to mention the cost of health care “reform”, S-CHIP and the coming cap-and-trade system, there’s no question where the “transfer of wealth” will be going during the next 4 years is there?


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20 Responses to Thoughts On The Speeches

  • Obama in his first 30 days has set the stage for the conduct of his entire administration (4 or 8 years – it doesn’t really matter).  He will campaign his way through the term.  And by campaign, I mean he will give speech after speech.  The term “Bully Pulpit” will reach new heights (or lows depending upon your perspective) in the Obama adminstration.  It has to be this way because Obama is not a leader.  He does not know how to lead.  He has only shown up and followed  for his entire life.  The only time when he has stuck his neck out was when giving a speech.  The only way he has excelled is in the giving of a speech.  And for even the most callous of observors, you have to give him the credit that is his due – he does a bang-up job giving speeches.  Plan on hearing a speech every time Obama wants something done.  Plan on every Press Conference to be nothing more than a staged event ith the Press playing the straight man giving Obama his topic for the speech of the moment.  And that, friends and neighbors, is how he intends to govern for the next 4 years – at least.  Last night was but a taste of what is to be a speechifying 4 years.

  • The best argument I’ve heard against universal health care has been “look at the VA” (and for the life of me, I don’t remember where I heard it.  Possibly here.)  If Uncle Sam can’t provide consistent, quality health care for our vets, what hope can we possibly have for providing same to the rest of us?

    “… a retooled, reimagined auto industry that can compete and win.” Isn’t this what would come out of Chapter 11?  It appears that the bailout money is shoring up the same old, same old.

    I wish his populist pitch had been directed at Congress and Washington bureaucrats.  But, as Michelle seemed to indicate during her visit to the Dept. of Agriculture, those bureaucrats are the “backbone of America.”

  • “And this too should have caused those who love freedom…”

    Seems like there are less and less of us every day….

  • The student council gets to run the school for a day…’s children’s day at City Hall!  Now it’s dress up day at the White House!   Oh, wait, we don’t normally let the kids play for 4 years do we? 

  • Meanwhile, this columnist in the NYT gets the current revenue/spending imbalance almost right.  The voters have spoken and they want a certain level of government services.  Accordingly, revenue streams, woefully incommesurate with the costs of said services, need to be brought in line.  I.E. taxes have to rise permanently.  He is basically correct except that it seems voters have also spoken about acceptable levels of taxation as well by re-electing tax cutters and punishing tax hikers (“read my lips!” anyone?).  Basically, we like lots of government services but don’t want to pay for them.

  • “As I thought about it more I realized he’d very carefully hidden the intention of his administration and the Democrats to convert this country into a cradle to grave European-style socialist country. ”

    I agree that he wasn’t being as above-board about this as he might have been, but I’m beginning to wonder why.  Cradle-to-grave government care seems to be what a majority in this country do in fact not just want but expect, demand and vote for.  Even worse, they seem to take for granted that it’s possible, affordable and long overdue.

    Maybe not.  But how then to explain Obama’s election, his general approval ratings, the overall satisfaction with the stimulus bill and with all the extra goodies promised last night?  I don’t think it’s because people can’t see what he perhaps thinks is hidden up his sleeve, but because they do see it plainly and approve.  And despite the lessons of history or, more often, utterly ignorant of that history,  they believe.

    As the Democrats’ — and way too many Republicans’ — plans are implemented in these coming months and years, the inescapable consequences will come to call.  Fortunately for the true believers and the politicians who service them, there are plenty of scapegoats to blame and banish before the effects of this folly — long ongoing before Obama’s arrival — must be seen for what they are.

  • I don’t think it’s the landslide being described.  It’s nearly split.  Plenty understand there is no free lunch.  Many of the ones who don’t just haven’t thought about it, yet.  Then there are those who really DO believe that the government is generous to let us keep our money, and we’ll never change their view anyway.  Americans ‘want’, will government be able to satisfy those wants?  Unlikely.  There just hasn’t been enough pain, especially in the last few years, because we were spending like drunken sailors.  The advance is gone now, and we’re waking up with rum soaked clothing, not a dime in our pockets, and a hangover that hasn’t even reached it’s peak.  The pain is on it’s way.  Sawbones Obama recommends another drink to solve the problem as he and his buddies consider clipping off our buttons to pay for the bottle.

    • The pain is on it’s way.  Sawbones Obama recommends another drink to solve the problem as he and his buddies consider clipping off our buttons to pay for the bottle.

      I like it!
      Buttons are coins, right?  I like it.  Very poetic.  I’m going to steal it, you know.

      You weren’t sipping on a bottle of Irish whiskey when you wrote this, were you?  Of course you were.

      Well done.


      • Well, I’d PREFER Irish Whiskey, but to stay in character it’s going to have to be some really cheap and foul tasting British rum.  There I was, staggering home one night when I was pressed into the service of His Majesty the King, never to see my thatched cottage on the banks of the Slaney again (I had to move the story to Wexford because I had to wonder how likely the pressgangs were to hit Mayo very often, still, when you’re off looking for likely lads to man your ships…hmmmm… okay make it my thatched cottage on the shores of Lough Mask.  And we’re talking some really nice buttons here that I inherited from my father!)

        • Dude, I would totally buy your book.
          Perhaps you could incorporate the Irish and their recent accommodations to corporations due to their lenient taxation.

          You could call it… Angela’s Assets.

          Heh.  What do you think about that?  That’s good, huh?
          You can keep that.



      • Just out of curiosity, what’s your flavor, Pogue?  Bushmill’s  or Jameson’s?

        • Whichever is closest and cheapest, not necessarily in that order.

        • Well, McQ being mostly correct… as either will do.  But if you want my connoisseur’s opinion, I’d take Jamesons over Bushmills anyday.  As Bushmills definitely has a nice flavor and aroma, it lacks the smoothness that Jamesons carries in every snoot.
          There is that well known line from ‘The Wire’ where the character ‘McNulty’ claims that, “Bushmills, f*ck that shit… that’s protestant whiskey.”  Or some such.  But of course me being agnostic, I care not to which whiskey belongs to which denomination.

          In all honesty, my prefered brand is Paddy’s.  But unfortunately, one cannot easily obtain such water of the gods in the states.  Luckly for me, I have a Limey friend that brings me back a couple of bottles  everytime he visits home.  Another good one is Powers.  That has similar qualities.

          One should visit The Isles if not only to obtain Paddy’s Irish whiskey.


          • Dammit!
            All this talk about whiskey has made me thirsty.  Now I must go and poor me one.

            Two ounces over one ice cube, thank you.

            My wife is going to p!ssed now that I’m … p!ssed.


        • Personally, I like Jameson the best, but I won’t refuse Bushmill (especially Black Bush) even if it is protestant whiskey.  Paddy’s is OK, but I am not a fan of Powers at all.  My absolute favorite is Midleton which, until the last few years, you could only get in Ireland.  I brought back a bottle with me in 2001 and sipped on it until the end of the year.  Mmmm good.

          • There’s only two kinds of Irish Whiskey – Jameson’s and FREE Whiskey.  If you’re drinking at my house, take your pick.  And no ice please, as Michaeleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) observed in The Quiet Man – “when I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey, and when I drink water, I drink water”.  Best observation ever made by man (okay, other than “wow!  she doesn’t look like me!” and “things fall”). 

  • BTW – Mildly entertaining Wordle comparison.

    Obama’s address                   vs.     Bobby Jindal’s response
    Wordle: Obama's First Congressional AddressWordle: Jindal's Response

  • If you can’t drink it without water or ice it ain’t worth drinking. For sustained drinking, water on the side (no ice, it numbs the tastebuds)  is acceptable in order to prevent dehydration.