Free Markets, Free People

Translating the SOTU

So many words to translate from Obama lingo to English.  For instance:

New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.

Translation: We’ve had our run for two years, spending trillions of dollars wastefully and jamming through a huge big government program for health care.  Now, Repubicans, its time for “bi-partisanship”.

Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.

Translation: I resisted it until the end and was backed into a corner, but hey, this is the SOTU and I’ll try to get out in front of all of that and claim credit since it seems to be working.

Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That’s what planted the seeds for the Internet. That’s what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS.

Translation: Please disregard the fact that I’m contradicting myself.  Please understand that the first few sentences are only something to be used to justify further government spending.  And here it is:

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Translation: I plan to call new spending “investment” so we can pretend it isn’t just more of the same.  And if I couch it in high sounding rhetoric about research and development and use scare terms like “Sputnik moment”, it’s sure to make it all seem to be a net “good thing”.

We’re not just handing out money. We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo Projects of our time.

Translation: In reality we are “just handing out money”.  Your money.  Money you earned and for which you probably had quite a different priority – like feeding and clothing your family and putting a roof over their head.  Instead we prefer to subsidize marginal technology which to this point hasn’t shown the ability to effectively provide the energy we need to move forward instead of subsidizing those that do.  And if you don’t believe me:

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.

Translation: The war on domestic oil continues.  It’s just nasty.  And dirty.  And we need “clean” energy.  Forget the fact that the technology for such energy isn’t anywhere near ready for primetime and doesn’t appear it will be for years, decades even.  Let’s dump on domestic oil now – that’s sure to make us less dependent on foreign oil – something I called on us to do earlier in the speech.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.

Translation: I love issuing challenges, especially when I can’t be held responsible for them if they don’t work out.  We can’t even generate 10% of our needs through “clean energy” and it doesn’t appear we’ll be any closer in 2035 given the current state of technology, but it does help me justify my war on domestic oil when I say things like this.

Oh, and education?  Well, it needs – get ready for it – more money:

Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.”

Translation: We’ve had a Department of Education for decades and our education levels have slipped terribly … abysmally … for its entire existence.  But this will fix that.  All we need is to spend more.   Trust me.

Oh, and did I mention more spending? 

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Translation: Yeah, see, we don’t want to leave it up to states and local communities to do this stuff – we’d rather take their money to a federal level and then hand it back with strings and after we’ve taken our cut.  That way I and other politicians can take credit for it.  And if you believe all the malarkey I’m spreading about high-speed rail (and the claim there’ll be no “pat-downs”), I have some government bonds in which you might want to invest.  If you thought corn ethanol was a boondoggle, wait until we get involved in high-speed rail projects.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans.

Translation: That’s right, ‘we”.  It will never happen unless government is involved.  Businesses have absolutely no interest in deploying “next generation of high-speed wireless coverage” to everyone they can get it too.  That 4G stuff?  Oh, just ignore that.  And admit it – you’re much happier now that government is involved in policing the internet, right?  Hey, you can’t put the “BIG” in “big government” unless you’re involved in everything.

To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them.

Translation: Not really, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?  But you have to be reminded that without government, well, you’d just be in a freakin’ mess wouldn’t you?

But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It’s why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It’s why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it’s why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.

Translation: Yeah, because without government, none of that would have ever happened, particularly the last and newest angle on the health care monstrosity we Democrats jammed through Congress last year.

Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law.

Translation: What do you mean 28 states are suing over the law?

We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people’s pockets.

Translation: That spending a decade ago – bad stuff.  Other guy’s fault.  Not mine (sure I was in the Senate, so what?). That 3 trillion I threw to the wind.  Good stuff.

I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.

Translation: After all, if we let our “most vulnerable citizens” keep more of what they earn by cutting spending by trillions of dollars, they’ll just spend it on the wrong stuff.   Only we know what is important and what we can “honestly afford to do without”.

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

Translation: Yes, you read it right.  We’re now defining “excessive spending” as “spending” found in “tax breaks and loopholes”.  That’s a method of “cutting spending” of which I approve.

This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

Translation: But remember – government has not taken over health care.  Say it with me – government has not taken over health care.

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

Translation: Let’s fix Social Security.  But not by privatizing it or any portion of it.  Only government is the answer and after all, we’ve handled it so well to this point we ought to be the go to entity, don’t you think?  We actually make Enron look good, but let’s not mention that, okay?

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

It’s not a matter of punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success.

Translation: I still want to tax the rich because we’ve screwed up the budget, the deficit and the debt so badly that we’re in horrible trouble and we need a fall guy to demonize for being selfish and not doing their “fair share”.  Lord knows government has done its fair share in screwing this up.  Seems to me the rich would be willing to part with their money to help us fix it.  Right?  Anybody?

In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote – and we will push to get it passed.

Translation: And if you believe they’re going to be substantial changes, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you need to see.  But saying things like that allows me to push my “big government is good government” theme:

In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people’s faith in the institution of government.

Translation: If I can sell this, I can push government into everything I want it in.

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution.

Translation: Well, we believe in those “rights” if we can redefine them on the fly – you know, like the “right” to health care?

From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream.

Translation: That’s right – but now they must have government and government spending to make their dreams a reality.  Just remember that.  Meanwhile, start saving up for those coal-powered cars because we want millions of ‘em on the road in a few years. “ Dreams”, right?  Oh you thought I meant the dreams of ordinary people?  Uh, no, I meant the dream of government planners, of course.

Bah.

~McQ

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69 Responses to Translating the SOTU

  • Obama hit a home run.  Your only response is to pretend he said things he didn’t, because you prefer to oppose a fictional Obama.  Moreover, Obama was the optimist — the believer in the American dream.  Rep. Ryan’s response (he needs to discover Visine, by the way) was dire and pessimistic.   If that’s the rhetorical paths of Obama and the GOP, 2012 should be a pretty easy win for Obama.   Plus Obama looked forward, while the GOP was complaining about the past two years.  In American politics looking ahead ALWAYS trumps complaining about the past.

    • Scott Erb: This is alll “so you say” with barely any reasoning to support what you say from the same guy who also said it was “wishful thinking” that the GOP would win the House, much less by 63 seats.

      Obama spent most of his 2008 campaign complaining about Bush and the Bush administration,  yet Obama was nonetheless elected. These things aren’t simple.

      • I just read Nate Silver’s blog today, he makes a similar point.   I also put forward my reasoning about Obama’s “easy re-election” in a blog entry two days ago, and today focus on the possibility of real cooperation.

        • I’m not a person who considers 2012 a lock for an Obama defeat. We live in such a fluid historical time that I think picking winners even two years ahead is pretty dicey. Remember how strong, almost foregone, in 2006 Hillary and Guiliani seemed for the nominations of their parties.

          Obama is not out of the woods by any means. He is enjoying a respite after the 2010 elections and a few easy victories, but the difficulties with the economy, Afghanistan, and a polarized citizenry remain plus a few nasty surprises no doubt lie ahead. It’s not clear to me that Obama is up for these challenges — much the opposite in fact.

          • We have different views of the President and his capacities.  I suspect we each are biased towards an interpretation.  I am still convinced Obama will ultimately be remembered as one of the great Presidents, his early stumbles are no worse than Reagan’s or Clinton’s.   I think the mix of his leadership, the times he happens to be governing in, and cultural changes that are coming to fruition at this point in time create a real chance of success.    But time will tell, it’s speculation either way at this point.

          • “Time will tell” — an allowance that you never granted Bush and the Iraq War.
            “…biased towards an interpretation…” I suppose. However, the difference between us is that your bias leads you to be “convinced Obama will ultimately be remembered as one of the great Presidents” based on nothing substantial at all. Obama comes into office with virtually no accomplishments or experience beyond the ability to get elected to the Senate, then the Presidency. You seem to have a hunch that his leadership will somehow mix with the culture and the times to produce success, which as reasoning sounds on par with reading his horoscope.

            Leaving aside my political bias against Obama, I see a president with the thinnest resume in the past 100 years, perhaps in US history, and suppose that he has a crack at being an average president. But one of the greats? Why?

    • Obama hit a home run…in a football game.
      The Mad King Barack totally left the realm of reality last night, and took the train of idiots who are still duped by him along.  Sound familiar, Prof?
      A fascist fantasy MAY sound all hopey and optimistic to you, but…damn…   P.T. Barnum was right, I guess.

    • Scott,
      Of course I will respect you in the morning! The check’s in the mail. No, that dress does not make you look fat.
      Eventually the people will find out the promises can’t be kept. I agree Obama get another term. I think he and the MSM can eke out another few years of  BS before people figure it out. I think it will set in when the money finally runs out. It may even happen so that a Democrat is elected to make the “tough decisions” that could have been made long ago. In which case you will praise all the actions that person makes which are identical to what small government people now say must be done and no one will admit they once supported then wrong policies.
      I think the key problem for Obama  will be the jobs situation. (He must thank God the MSM gives him pass after pass on that. Imagine if McCain were president, we’d hear about “another poor unemployment report” every time instead of the “unexpected” stuff we see now. Plus the “another grim milestone in Afghanistan” to boot.
      The thing is that America can no longer create serious jobs because the scaling up is all done overseas. Say you invent a new kind of memory storage. That’s great, and your patent will mean you get rich. You will employ a small staff in Silicon Valley, including many bright H1B employees from India, China, etc. But the actual factory (if you build one instead of just outsourcing the production to a contract manufacturer) will not be in the US. We do benefit of course from the innovation, etc., but without as much “multiplier” as before. Those benefits accrue overseas, for the time being. (Eventually the labor/regulatory arbitrage will cease to be worthwhile.)
      OK. This started happening in the 90′s but we also had a housing boom (coincidence that investment would flow into housing instead of factors of production in the US? Maybe.) This employed a lot of people, but that mask is now gone. So, the politicians figure they can promise new industries and jobs via government. But the old market forces are still in play. So then result is as follows:
      1) Green jobs in solar power = installing solar panels on US homes and businesses, not making any of the actual equipment. Those are all made in China for a variety of reason.
      2) High Speed Rail = possible labor building the infrastructure, though the technology and production will be done overseas. Oh, and some conductors and “drivers” I suppose.
      3) More college education. More More More. Can’t find a job in middle management or plant supervisor? The financial and real estate jobs drying up? Lawyers in overabundance (despite being the job that cannot be offshore easily?) Double down!  People complain that engineering majors are all foreigners now. They say Americans are lazy. Nope. Americans are smart. That degree in electrical engineering won’t be very useful when all production is in Asia, unless you are really, really good. Then you can be the guy who designs the products, maybe, because the Asians are figuring that out now too. Perhaps compliance with federal regs then.
      You see the problem isn’t that we don’t have enough college grads, or engineers (you can import those actually) but that we don’t have a jobs machine that will work at this point. What’s the next big thing that can be done here? I don’t know, but instead of promising government subsidies in a shotgun manner, we should be very ruthlessly going through the reasons why it costs Intel and extra billion dollars to build a plant in California than in China – this ignoring labor costs, by the way.
      Since we don’t want to lower our wages, I’d suggest brutal deregulation and downsizing the tax burden. That won’t be popular though.
      The good news is we can see that other governments have learned to throw off  state control, burdensome regulation, and high taxation to feed sclerotic bureaucrats to get high speed growth: China and India did this.
      Obama gonna promise the stars and moon, but these old shopworn ideas won’t work. He’s just praying for a sugar high until 2012 is over and then he can have one more round of power.
      BTW: I don’t want anyone to think I hanker for the glory days of manufacturing in the USA again and want tarriffs. I am not sure there is a real solution to this until labor arbitrage goes away, but its happening as we speak. It may be the wiser choice to simply be the best open market with excellent rule of law, low taxes and decent regulation while this blows over. Maybe education will be a good “export” for us, but we should not assume that simply putting every American through university at tax payer expense  is then also a good idea. Or that installing solar panels is high tech – maybe selling some of our oil and gas makes more sense for the time. Australia does pretty well at that.

      • Jesus, did I just write a comment that long? Time for bed.

      • Education under the Obamic proposal is Freddie and Fannie for your junior college.
        I mean, it does not get any clearer…there will be a surplus of grade-inflated junk degrees, handed out to poor dopes who have been swindled into thinking they are now worth more in the market.
        Again, Obama has imposed a fascist regime on the funding of, and provision of, higher education in a drive for smart volks-noggins.

      • I’m not sure either China or India really merits emulation in terms of the relationship of government to the economy.  You make some valid points.    But I think the President was right in his confidence in the American idea.   This is still a wealthy, well educated, productive and prosperous country.   OK, so the US isn’t at the top of the heap any more and the world’s becoming multi-polar.  China and India each face tremendous problems in coming years (both politically and economically) and the EU and US have real opportunities.
        Debt is a major problem — private and corporate debt has been increasing as dramatically as government debt.    Total debt is over 350% of GDP in the US.  It’s not just government that has to get its house in order, it’s the whole country (or western civilization).    That does make it harder to invest in the future, but I think we have to find a way to do both.

    • “Obama hit a home run.”

      Only if the game were tiddleywinks!

      “Moreover, Obama was the optimist — the believer in the American dream.”

      Only if the American Dream is “according to the state.”

      “If that’s the rhetorical paths of Obama and the GOP, 2012 should be a pretty easy win for Obama.”

      Boy, you never learn do you Erb?  Need I remind you of your most recent predictions concerning the 2010 midterms?

      “Plus Obama looked forward, while the GOP was complaining about the past two years.”

      What did he propose in his forward-looking SOTU?  80% green energy by what date?  LOL – a green economy ala Spain and $5+/gallon of gas?  1 Million electric autos on the road by what date?  LOL – Only if they are heavily subsidized like the Chevy Volt by tax dollars!!!   Freeze government spending at current levels for 5 years?  LOL – and look at $1.4 Trillion annual deficits for the same period.  Cut the deficit by how much?  LOL – $400 Billion over 10 years, the numbers he is throwing around are equal to what is called “budget dust” and on an annual basis equal to 2.82% of the deficit he is projecting over those very same years (see previous comment).  These was a wish list of his future desires, and not a very good one at that, but not one word on how to accomplish his socialist wish list except by spending more and more money.

      If that is what you call a home run, I shudder to think what you would call a strike out!

    • I’m sorry Scott but you’re wrong.
      Even the AP didn’t buy into those “cuts” you have been telling us would be coming any time now …

      For example, he said he [Obama] wants to eliminate “billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.” Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

      • THAT was one of the parts that got me stomping mad.
        Barack does not “give” anything to the oil companies but grief.  No “tax-payer dollars” are paid to them.  Both those assertions are just LIES.  And how the hell would be BEGIN to know how they are doing?  This dope could not read a balance sheet to safe his golf clubs!
        What do people think will happen if we continue to raise the cost of domestic oil and gas production?

    • In American politics looking ahead ALWAYS trumps complaining about the past.

      >>> Except in the last midterms, right dummy?

    • Obama hit a home run. Stop laughing! To a stealth leftist, he said exactly the right things! That sonorous voice, that Christlike visage – how could he not get a home run with such godlike powers? Yep, he hit a home run in overtime with that one.

      Moreover, Obama was the optimist — the believer in the American dream. Darn it, stop laughing! We wise pragmatic moderate leftists have redefined the American dream to mean spend, spend, spend. And, since it’s a dream, we don’t have to worry about where the money comes from. We can say we’re going to spend, spend, spend, and at the same time say we’re going to freeze spending. That’s the beauty of post-modern rhetoric. It means whatever we want it to mean, and it magically vanishes any contradictions just because we say it does. Suck on it. We’re the masters of post-modernism, so we get to say these things, and you dense righties just have to go along.

      Rep. Ryan’s response (he needs to discover Visine, by the way, because appearance obviously matters far more than content in this debate) was dire and pessimistic. He actually had the gall to talk about what trouble we’re in. And the fact that I’ve wailed about American decline in the comment section here for years and what Ryan said is completely consistent with what I said all those times is completely beside the point (by the holy writ of post-modernism), so I don’t know why you even bring it up. We don’t need pessimism! {giggle} Everything’s going to be fine! LOL {chuckle}

      If that’s the rhetorical paths of Obama and the GOP, 2012 should be a pretty easy win for Obama. Yep, we’ve got the proles conditioned to accept happy talk indefinitely, and that will override the fact that real unemployment numbers means about one in five of them won’t have a job. You pessimistic thick righties just go on talking about the coming catastrophe. Me? I’ll save that talk for when a Republican is in office, thank you very much.

      Plus Obama looked forward, while the GOP was complaining about the past two years. In American politics looking ahead ALWAYS trumps complaining about the past. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS. I DECREE IT. So just shut up about the GOP kicked butt in 2010 complaining about the past two years and how I was so laughably wrong in 2010 that someone would have to have a hole in the head to pay attention to me now. I have no special expertise in American politics, so I was just talking out of my a** then, but I’m telling you, I’ve got it all figured out now. You’ll see.

      And shut up about the high and rising number of people who want to appeal Obamacare. They don’t mean anything. They’re pessimists, and they’ll lose to the optimists. Like me.

      Except when Republicans control things, of course. Then it’s gloom and doom than wins the day and I can go back to talking about American decline.

      • In American politics looking ahead ALWAYS trumps complaining about the past. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS. I DECREE IT.

        Unless BOOOOOSH…  Nanny Pelosi pinned the 2010 shellacking on him, after all…

        • Anyone remember hearing “the last 12 years” about 88,000 times during Clinton’s 1992 campaign?
          Forward?

        • No, 2010 was complaining about the present — of things happening that year.   If you think health care will win over voters in 2012, you’re dreaming.   Obama had an air of Reaganesque optimism, while Paul Ryan sounded gloomy and pessimistic.

          • Another psychotic break, right here…on our stage…
            Industrial central planning is about as “optimistic” as Soviet architecture.
            Ryan dealt with reality.  You should give that a test-drive.

          • Erp, the word you’re thinking about regarding 0bama is “polyanna”, regarding Ryan, it’s REALITY.

          • ” Obama had an air of Reaganesque optimism, while Paul Ryan sounded gloomy and pessimistic”

            Given the economic circumstances one of them is wrong, and it ain’t Ryan.

    • I think that Obama does a good job of expressing optimism in his speeches.  I would rather that he had been less of an optimist and more of a realist, but that is the nature of the SOTU address– present a picture of what would happen if the President had unlimited power and money and was not corrupted by either.

    • Whatever, Herr Goebbels.
      (Pardon the metaphor)

    • Hit a home run? Not sure what metric (or little field) you’re using but that wasn’t a homerun.
      Name your metric to define your homerun.  I got you covered in debate here.  Your move.

  • I think it’s laughable that Pres. “I won” wants unity

    My response:   HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Good job, McQ!!!!
    It’s going to be a bumpy ride…

  • “Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today.”
    Please…

    You didn’t “cut” anything;
    If you had it your way, folks’ take home would have smaller.

  • “been” smaller. (I really should look before hitting “Submit.”)

  • “That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.”
    I hope he means literally they will just let them examine it. This is just silly, instead of giving you more money, were going to give you more money…

  • If you were drunk-blogging last night, and “jobs” was a trigger-word, you went to bed sober.  Wonder why that was…???

  • Next, Obama sends up a budget.
    Practically every year since at least Clinton, Veterans get a cut in the budget as it comes from OMB.  Then Congress always puts back the money, so this “Kabuki dance” is just so OMB (the White House) can make the budget look better.  This year, I expect not just Veterans, but all of Defense to be the main “Kabuki dance” subject.

  • The whole ‘Sputnik moment’ thing is surreal to me.  The human price of the Soviet Union was horrific.  But it is typical for the left to only look at the benefits and never the cost.

  • What I’m finding as I’m preparing payrolls in the new year is that the withholding tables have changed, and the 2% FICA break is being pretty well offset by an increase in withholding.
     
    In other words, the amounts of those paychecks are is virtually unchanged.

  • We will move forward together, or not at all

    Was this a fact or a threat ?

    • There really can be no “together”.  There are two diametrically opposed versions of America, and they cannot be reconciled.
      When Obama talks about “our shared values” I always wonder what the hell he could mean.
      Right, Erp???

      • Only the extremists like you Rags, and some on the left, are diametrically opposed.  The same country that voted overwhelming GOP in 2010 gave the Democrats large victories in 2006 and 2008.   The public is centrist, wants problem solving, and is sick and tired of the ideological jihad being waged by the extremists.   Democracy is built on listening, compromise and recognizing that you go step by step with no one getting their way completely.   Ideologues seem to think compromise is “sacrificing principle” and fantasize that their world view is the only proper way to look at them.    You, Rags, have far more in common with a hard core left winger than you do with average Americans.  You’re waging ideological jihad, certain you’re right, unwilling to engage in the democratic practice of compromise, listening and discussion.
        That is a path to ruin, if the country were to follow it.

        • IF you were talking about democracy, you’d actually have a brief, Erp.
          But we both know you are a Collectivist, and that leaves no room for people who think differently.
          “Listening, compromise and recognizing” were in mighty short supply when the Collective rammed down our throats all the crap of the last two years…which you support.
          Or did I miss something there…???

          • You’re effort to categorize people is cute, but the term “collectivist” is meaningless.   Dichotomous extremes are irrelevant, it’s ridiculous to talk about ‘individualist vs. collectivist’ since 99.8% of the population is somewhere inbetween the two.   At work people call me ‘the libertarian’ because of my skepticism of governmental power, my desire to decentralize power to the states, and emphasis on individual responsibility.   Yet you call me “collectivist” apparently because I don’t have faith that the market does magic and will make everything work out right — I’m convinced we need regulation and government.     Ideologues like to see the world in black and white, but that’s an illusion.

          • The term “collectivist” has a well-known meaning.
            You just don’t like it because it so perfectly describes everything that’s wrong with your political ideas.

        • The public is centrist, wants problem solving, and is sick and tired of the ideological jihad being waged by the extremists.

          No, that is what the talking heads, columnists, and less principled campaigners keep telling “the public” that’s what “the public” wants, particularly by using euphemisms like “problem solving” when they mean “more laws, more taxes, more control over your life” and “ideological jihad waged by extremists” to mean people adhering to principles.  Without those people pushing so hard to control what “the public” thinks and feels, people might be more open to ideas with solid principles and reasoning behind them (“ideologies”) and might be more apt to respect the people who stick to such principles (“extremists”).  As it stands, though, enough of them (a prototype of recent history was the “soccer mom”) fall for this rhetoric.
          It’s a bit like advertisers using slick marketing to try to get people to think, “I need an extra blade on my razor!”  Before you saw the commercial, you didn’t actually have a problem with your old razor, but afterwards, it looks like a crude relic your grandfather used.

          Democracy is built on listening, compromise and recognizing that you go step by step with no one getting their way completely.

          Democracy is built on the arbitrary whim of popularity contests, of virtual warfare against one’s neighbors in which the “fighting” is limited to counting heads and declaring the larger army the winner.  Rather than actually listening to one’s neighbors and trying to work out a compromise which is advantageous for each participant, as people do when they stick to the use of reason to persuade and reject the use of force to coerce others, various factions turn their backs on their neighbors’ will, ignore their interests, and simply try to gather a bigger army than them.  If it takes a bit of compromise to splinter a few more from the opponents to your army, well, that’s just part of the game.

          Ideologues seem to think compromise is “sacrificing principle” and fantasize that their world view is the only proper way to look at them.

          A compromise need not violate principles.  It all depends upon what’s being compromised.
          Allowing half the states to have slavery was most definitely sacrificing the principle that “all men are created equal”, for example.
          You project the idea of “fantas[y]” onto others.  While some ideologues do indeed refuse to even consider other arguments, there are plenty of people who adopt a sound philosophical framework after looking at all the options.  I don’t reject communism because my way “is the only proper way”, but because I have studied it’s bloody history, debated its proponents and apologists, and concluded that it makes no sense.

          That is a path to ruin, if the country were to follow it.

          Our path to ruin has been paved by collectivists.  The bulk of the road to hell was laid down between FDR and BHO.
          Had the people who nominally stood for “limited government” and economic conservatism actually elected people who were principled, rather than good speech makers like Reagan or wimpy compromisers like most every GOP in Congress, we might, perhaps, have had a chance to avoid where we are now.  But they bought the speeches, accepted the “compromises” as being more civilized.
          You collectivists always get your way, so long as your opponents aren’t ideologically principled.  You either win elections and pass Health Care Deform under Nancy, Harry, and Barack, or you talk the RINOs into ceding half of the contested battlefield to you without a fight, incrementally getting you to the same goal.
          Don’t worry, you’re going to get what you want, even if you quit trying to dissuade people from being principled.  It’s too late to stop the collapse.

          • Again with the “collectivist” label?  That’s just silly.  I personally think ideological thinking is irrational.  Ideologies are vast oversimplifications of reality, and create logical edifices through which one can interpret reality.    Because the world is complex and subject to multiple interpretations, ideologues will always be able to interpret things to fit their simplified framework.   They will then delude themselves into thinking they are standing on principle, fighting for truth against others who are assigned nefarious motives.   For you it’s the weird term “collectivist,” thrown out without definition, without regard to political views.   It’s a meaningless term, a blanket term for you to simply interpret those who don’t share your faith.    It’s like a jihadist calling the others “infidels,” it’s irrational.    Please, Elliot, give up ideological irrationality.  It’s not principle.  It’s mushy thinking.   Embrace the reality that the world is complex, perspective affects interpretations, and truths do not fit into any simple ideological framework.   Ideology does for political ideologues what religious faith does for the faithful.  It creates a sense of certainty and a belief in ones’ own right position.   It provides a self-serving sense of righteousness.  But that’s an illusion.

          • Yes, I call you a collectivist, because you are a collectivist.  You want I should play pretend games?

            I personally think ideological thinking is irrational.

            Many ideologies are quite irrational.  Religious fanatics, socialists, communists, “left-libertarians”, astrologists, fascists, monarchists, etc..  But they are irrational, not because they are a collection of ideas (the root of “ideology”), but because of which ideas.

            Ideologies are vast oversimplifications of reality…

            Many are.  Radical feminism attempts to analyze everything through a single lens of sexual bigotry.
            Part of the problem is when you try to categorize a whole group of people under a particular label.  If you’re too specific, your arguments get too complicated.  If you’re too general, it’s too simplistic.  But that’s a problem with categorizing ideas and people, not with the specific people and their ideas.
            Yes, you can have a person who calls himself a libertarian who looks at the world in an overly simplistic way.  But to then generalize from that particular individual to the whole class of people called libertarians is an error on your part, not a valid means by which to demonstrate that self-described libertarians have an overly simplistic view of the world.

            Because the world is complex and subject to multiple interpretations, ideologues will always be able to interpret things to fit their simplified framework.

            Again, you presume that anyone who uses ideas in an organized manner has a “simplified framework”.  Perhaps you’re just projecting or your understanding of how other people interpret the world fails due to your own simplified framework, i.e. “ideologies are [always] vast oversimplifications of reality.”  Right there, your proclamation is a vast oversimplification.

            They will then delude themselves into thinking they are standing on principle, fighting for truth against others who are assigned nefarious motives.

            Again, you’re generalizing.  The jihadist who thinks that by killing you he is standing for truth, because your infidel ways are “nefarious” is definitely delusional.  The socialist who wants to raise taxes on people who work hard and earn more money than some arbitrary watermark deludes himself into thinking that he’s standing up for economic justice, helping out the proles, and that the “fat cat” has “nefarious motives” of greed to take more than his “share” of the pie.
            But when I look at ObamaPelosiCare and decide, on principle, that it’s wrong to force people to participate, it isn’t delusional.  It’s simply a recognition that I don’t want people forcing me to do things like that, that I wouldn’t want to do that to my neighbors.  Yes, there are people with nefarious motives who got their fingers into that particular law (like the AHA which outlawed their competitors, physician-0wned hospitals, from building or expanding).  But I also recognize that there were people who had varying degrees of good intentions, who bought the lies and the misinformation, or who just didn’t think through the ethics of the matter.

            For you it’s the weird term “collectivist,” thrown out without definition, without regard to political views.

            But I thought you “teach this stuff”?  Are you seriously ignorant of the term?  Are we supposed to limit our vocabulary to what you’d find in a high school textbook?
            And, I don’t use the word “without regard to political views.”  I use it precisely because of the political views.  I’ve been arguing with you over a decade and I don’t buy your lie about being “libertarian”.  You’re for federal health care, for federal/international mandates based upon environmental alarmism, and you never actually get yourself to back anything remotely “libertarian” in practice.

            It’s a meaningless term, a blanket term for you to simply interpret those who don’t share your faith.

            Just because you don’t care to deal with such an accurate label doesn’t mean it is “meaningless”.  I don’t have a “faith”.  I’m an atheist, a skeptic, and ethically opposed to forcing people to do things they don’t want to do when they’re not hurting anyone else.  It’s not that I have some “faith” that the “market” will fix all problems.  That’s your dishonest stereotype.  No, I don’t base my principles on pragmatism.  I base them on individual rights.
            We can debate whether particular policies will produce better results, but that’s secondary to the basic problem of ethics.  It’s wrong to use aggressive force, whether or not you get “better results”.  (Also, the determination of what constitutes “better results” is pointless unless you add “for whom?” to each and every question.  It’s a sucker’s game to argue with a collectivist about what system is “better” overall.  That has built in premises which are just flat wrong.)

            Please, Elliot, give up…

            Hey Scott, I’d never do to you what you would have your preferred “representatives” do to me.  So you can take an ax, cut a hole, and jump in the lake, you pretentious fraud.

      • When Obama talks about “our shared values” I always wonder what the hell he could mean.
        Erp, WTF are the values that Obama and America share?  Here’s your big chance…

  • I didn’t watch the SOTU. Had no interest. Watched ‘Hannibal’ with Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore instead. Far less frightening.

  • Obama’s State of the Union Was Tantamount to Plagiarism

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, what can be said of plagiarism? President Obama’s second State of the Union address contained enough recycled ideas and lines lifted from speeches of others to make historians wince. I suppose this is what one does when one not only has nothing new to say, but is required by custom and Constitution to come forth with a report of some kind by a certain time and day.

    Ouch !!

    • It’s all misdirection. Every bit of energy that’s left to this momentous failure of a presidency will now go toward preserving the destructiveness of the health care monstrosity. That thing is aimed at dissolving the medical industry in its, ObamaCare’s, gross stupidity and leaving a fully socialized system behind. Why? Why would they want to do that? Because it is the holy grail of socialists to create socialized medicine. It’s the most fundamental step necessary in creating an infantilized society, although there’s a pretty good argument that in this case it’s the final (fundamental) step, because in every direction you look, the brickwork of infantilization is quite impressive. Just look at the public schools. I get tired of pointing thataway, but they are such breathtaking idiot factories what is one to say about them.

  • Huxley — The US has a penchant for electing outsiders to be President.  Ronald Reagan had been an actor, and as governor of California created a fiscal mess Jerry Brown had to clean up.   Jimmy Carter was governor of Georgia.   Clinton of Arkansas.   The Texas Governor is largely a symbolic role, President Bush had little other real experience.   Obama is a top notch lawyer with state politics experience and some time in the Senate.  My point: Americans have decided we like outsiders, we don’t necessarily think a political resume matters.
    As to why I think Obama may be great.   Partially, it’s the times.   To be great, you need to lead during a time of crisis or transformation.   Second, it’s his temperment.   He seems to be calm, in control, and wanting to get the best advice.   He was unafraid to put Clinton as Secretary of State, or having strong minded people on his team.  I often say you judge a leader in large part by who he or she surrounds himself with.  He kept on Gates, and has by all accounts a superb relationship with Gen. Petraeus.   Also, everything he does points to him as a pragmatist, not deluded by ideological dogma.   I think he’s willing to look for solutions rather than follow an agenda.
    If you go to so-called progressive blogs, they consider Obama “Republican lite.”   They are angry that he is not the leftist they hoped for, and that he isn’t pushing a radical agenda.   The fact that both the far right and the far left have such polar opposite pictures of him is sign in and of itself that he is a smart, pragmatic centrist surrounded by good advisors, able to work with the Republicans (if they choose) in times that call for a kind of national transformation — we are entering full scale into the global information revolution age, one which I think will ultimately end the modern bureaucratic central state as we know it, replacing it with smaller decentralized and less bureaucratized units.
    That won’t all happen in the next six years, but what we do know is very consequential.

    • Good grief. You had to have channeled your eighth-grade self to write something that saccharine. What’s wrong with you?

    • Scott Erb: The expected experience of presidential candidates has eroded over time since Eisenhower. Nonetheless Reagan, Carter and Bush (43) had executive, military, business, and political experience much greater than Obama’s extraordinarily lightweight credentials.

      Furthermore, on the basis of their experience and first two years as President, I would hardly have been convinced that any of them would be great presidents . Yet you remain convinced that Obama is destined to be a great president.

      Obama voted present for much of state senate experience and had barely started his career as a US Senator before he switched over to campaigning for President. There are no substantial accomplishments in either position.

      There is no evidence beyond wishful thinking that Obama was a “top-notch lawyer.” He never practiced, he never judged, and he never published any articles — not even when he ran the Harvard Law Review, which is quite unusual. Nor was he tapped for a top clerking position after he graduated as is usually automatic for president of the HLR. Obama did teach con law part-time at the Univ of Chicago, not tenure-track, in a position that certainly smells of affirmative action.

      Any sensible person would have to say on this basis that Obama was coasting in his legal career and had largely wasted his credential as HLR president.

    • Your claim of Obama as a “pragmatic centrist” is as skewed as your claim that he is a “top-notch lawyer.” One can say such things only if one really, really wants to believe them.

      It’s true that Obama has governed to the right of Markos Moulitsas and Glenn Greenwald, but that’s not saying much and does not make him a centrist, much less the hard left’s hiss, “Republican lite.” It’s a bit like concluding that Trotsky was a moderate because Stalin didn’t consider him sufficiently communist.

      Obama had to be dragged kicking and screaming to almost all of his non-hard left decisions — the long delay on Afghanistan, the barely acknowledged pullbacks on closing Guantanamo and the public trial of KSM, the surrender of the public option, the acquiescence to the full range of Bush tax cuts, the removal of Van Jones, etc.

      Yes, it’s true that when there is a gun to Obama’s head, he will tack grudgingly to the center. It’s pragmatism of an extremely limited sort. I suppose it’s better than nothing, but there is little to admire about it. It does provide a fig leaf to liberals such as yourself to claim that Obama is a “pragmatic centrist.”

      I’ve seen almost nothing from Obama I would call “smart.” Your claim that he is ushering in a “national transformation” towards “ending the modern bureaucratic state” and “replacing it with smaller decentralized and less bureaucratized units” has no basis in reality. Consider the 2700+ page Obamacare bill, which is Obama’s signature achievement. How in the world does this square with smaller, decentralized anything?

      I have to say your “Goldilocks” vision of Obama as not too liberal and not too conservative, but just right is a fantasy.

      • Huxley, you’re asserting a lot of things, but it reminds me of the old attribution bias:
        If my opponent does something bad, it’s his nature.
        If my opponent does something good, it’s the situation.
        If I do something good, it’s my nature.
        If I do something bad, it’s the situation.
        So Obama governs from the center, you say it’s the situation, he’s forced to, he has a ‘gun to his head.’  The far left say it’s his nature.    Sort of like how some on the right try to deny Reagan’s role in the debt run up in the 80s.
        The bias always reinforces pre-existing beliefs.   You give no evidence, you just assert it.   I see no reason to adopt your perspective, I do not find it all compelling.

        • Scott Erb: That’s the best you can do? That’s just a laundry list of complaints and assertions lacking any factual support whatsoever, based on your usual resort to the Golden Mean Fallacy. http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/middle-ground.html
           
          Sometimes the truth falls in the middle; sometimes it doesn’t. Splitting the difference has some utility as a rule of thumb when one lacks the time to think. But if one actually cares about the truth, there is no substitute for the hard work of research and reasoning.
           
          Likewise if you want to persuade you have to present facts, not assertions, and not this repeated fallacy and conceit that because you and Obama are attacked from the right and the left, the two of you must therefore be pragmatic centrists who see the world rightly and have the best insights for effective action.
           
          As usual, when reading your posts, I’m left scratching my head as to how a college professor can be such a slipshod, blinkered thinker who imagines that he is unbiased.

        • Erb: I gave plenty of evidence for my positions — as opposed to pre-existing beliefs — that you have not responded to and I doubt you can respond to (“top-notch lawyer” indeed). You are the one making flat assertions.

          I would add that you totally blew your 2010 election prediction because of your pre-existing belief that you and Obama are centrist and that the Tea Party and people like me are some dubious right-wing fringe phenomenon unworthy of respect.

          You’ll have to get over that blindness if you want to cope with political reality and substantive reality. I will be surprised if you can.

          Next time around, bring some facts and some logic … if you can.

    • Top notch lawyer?  Who do you think you’re kidding? How did you arrive at that conclusion since he had incredibly average grades and has made several incredibly wrong constitutional assertions.
      Top notch?  Ha.

  • Nevermind.  Huxley has you covered.  That’s quite an impressive list of false talking points you’re carrying there, Mr. Erb.