Thursday, January 27, 2011



According to CNN, Americans love optimism. They don't want to hear bad news or pessimism. They want us all to get along and it was such a nice image to see members of Congress sitting together during the State of the Union. Americans want leaders who will tell them things are going to bet better and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of opining the light might be a train or that the state of the union is broken, leveraged, captive of the richest 1%, nor did he say unless the nation spends on education, infrastructure and innovation we will be in deep trouble. His speech was a jumble of calls for investment, but he didn't call out the regressives and tell America to choose between going back and making progress. It was a soft focus speech lacking force or inspiration. Yet, he did lay out some important issues for debate.

The President wants to spend more money on education. He wants improved K-12 and expanded community colleges. He understands fewer Americans are graduating from college at a time when their counterparts in India and China and the European Union are flocking to higher education. He didn't address the cost nor did he take the bold step of setting a goal of free university education for anyone who qualifies. It would immediately stimulate the economy, put money in the pocket of the middle class and allow students more flexibility in choice of profession.

The President wants Americans to ride high-speed rails. He failed, however, to explain how to stimulate American technology to fit this need. Right now, his call for high-speed rail would create jobs in China. The same is true with wind power and other alternative energy industries. We need a Manhattan project for manufacturing. Make grants available to start-ups all over the nation and see what sprouts up.

All Americans need access to high-speed wireless technology at real high speeds, not the phony speeds currently being touted. We need a totally new electrical grid and our roads and bridges are falling down or crumbling. Jobs would be created and the economy improved by better transportation. IN China, they are building huge highways with few cars to use them along with new airports and entire cities for manufacturing. What are we doing?

Most of what the President called for he has proposed before. Unfortunately, there was no urgency and there was no listing the consequences of failing to move ahead on this agenda. Maybe moving to the center means losing all energy and oratorical panache.

The Regressive response was predictable. They rejected any talk of investment. They rattled the skeleton of massive deficits and calls for shrinking the government and cutting spending. Of course they said nothing about the huge deficit a tax cut for the rich creates nor the $250 billion, which would be added to the debt if they repealed the healthcare reform legislation. They ignored the reality if they had gotten their way in 2004 and privatized Social Security, Americans would have lost between 40%-60% of the value of their retirement accounts. Republican Paul Ryan gave their response and decided on the tried and true method of argumentation...lie. He claimed the economic stimulus package was a failure. (Even acolytes of Milton Friedman admit Obama kept the recession from being much deeper and longer) He says his party wants smaller government even as they support new laws in states across the country to restrict a woman's right to choose. He mentioned nothing about tens of thousands of subpoenas issued by the federal government to Twitter, Facebook, Google and others to obtain information about our online activity. As he made Cassandra-like noise about deficits, he did not propose any tax he might support increasing and regressives rejected any attempt to end subsidies for the oil industry.

The regressives don’t want to shrink government. They want to use it to erode the 4th amendment, control what people do in their bedrooms, stop states from easing criminal sanctions on marijuana, impose on families the type of planning they can have, maintain two wars and protect the interests of oil and coal corporations from the wrath of a public fed up with their destruction of the environment.

President Obama didn't draw any lines in the sand, but the feint outline is there to see. Do we progress, expand education, rebuild the nation, create new industries and manufacturing and give our people the tools they need to compete or do we watch the dismemberment of regulations and oversight; the expansion of the hyper-rich at the expense of the middle class; end the social safety net and unleash a social Darwinism unseen since the early part of the 20th century? Regressive will "invest" in the richest 1%, cut corporate taxes, expand the oil and gas industries, reduce access to education and information and claim it's all in our best interest.

I wish Obama had called them out, warned America what the real stakes are and called for 2012 to be a referendum on whether America is for everyone or just for the elite few. He didn't. However, he was right and his direction is accurate and he knows if the regressives win, this nation will see the sun rise on prosperity in Asia and the Far East and set on the American dream.


  1. Well I want the kids to play nice and get along! But that is not always the best for what is good for the country. Obama needs to grow a set and stand up to these batshit crazies on the right. Not cave at every turn. Having said that it's been a year since Joe Wilson screamed at Obama and yelled "Liar" in the last STOU address. He got his 15 minutes of fame off of that slur and lots of cash for his coffers.If Obama doesn't address the real issue which is jobs or lack therof, he may find himself outside looking in 2012. On a lighter note my beloved Lion on the left.. The All Star Debate is on tonight.. minus YOU. It will not be the same. It hasn't been since you left. I used to love to see the best tag team in the world (Ray and you) mop the floor up with Ron Owens and Co.To me you beat then everytime by light years. No one knows how to debate better than Unlce Bernie! I will be thinking of you tonight when I listen.. God Bless Bern. I love and miss you!

  2. Obama didn't call out the regressives because, quite frankly, he realizes that the majority of the American public has been so effectively duped by the regressive propaganda machine that to tell the truth about the regressive agenda would be committing political suicide.

    Progressives really need to take psycholinguist George Lakoff's recommendations to heart about how to communicate with the American public in a way that liberates their latent progressive proclivities.

  3. Bernie, We'll be thinking of you tonight as we listen to the All Star Debate. No one did it better than you. Some good news is having Peter B. Collins do some fill in spots. We know he's a your great supporter. Marcella & Glenn/San Anselmo

  4. Bernie is right that President Obama didn't draw any lines in the sand or call out the regressives or give specifics. In many ways, Obama has been a disappointment to many progressives, including me. But I think he did what he had to do with this speech, and did it well: Try to create a climate of getting something done by not alienating people any more than they already are, and refusing to use fear as the motivation. It takes strength and courage to keep trying to work with a divided country still ripe with racism. It took Nelson Mandela decades, and he was soundly criticized for being conciliatory with those who disagreed with him. Maybe that was the bigger goal this year.

  5. Its become apparent in the last couple of months that Obama is willing to sell his soul to the devil for another term. Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, but surely he knows that unless he shows that unless the economy takes off in a dramatic fashion, he doesn't stand a chance of re-election. Caving into Republicans so they will work with you (eg passing tax cuts for the rich so Repubs will cooperate with you during the lame duck session of congress) or pulling stunts like have Dems sit with Repubs during TSoTU speech, will only work for so long. I think Obama knows he has no chance of re-election and is angling for a job on Wall Street.