Sunday, January 30, 2011

The reviews are in . . .

Tuesday night, Barack Obama showed up with an underwhelming speech. He'd had many anticipating his attacks on Social Security. For example, check out Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "State of the Union" below.

State of the Union

Fortunately, the gutting of Social Security will wait for another day in the near future. Even without that massively unpopular move, Barack still managed to underwhelm. The reviews are in and the speech should have closed out of town.

"President Obama grossly understated the heavy toll that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are baring on troops and the economy. The Afghanistan War is now the longest war in U.S. history. Military healthcare costs are rising at twice the rate of the national average and occupy a major chunk of the Pentagon budget (USA Today 4/25/10). 2009 was the first year since recordkeeping began that mental health disorders were the major cause of hospitalization (USA Today 5/16/10), a grim symbol of compounding trauma. Obama declared in his speech that veterans are returning home 'with heads held high,' a fable not reflected in the record suicide rates." -- Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"If you've been in a coma for the last five years and just woke up, we have a housing crisis in this country, specifically people losing their homes as a result of predatory lending practices. And where is their relief? Supposedly, the TARP program (which Barack strong-armed the House into going along with -- don't say, "Bush's plan!" -- Barack strong-armed the House into going along with it, it is on him) and the other bailouts after Barack was sworn in were supposed to make the economy better and protect families. But that hasn't happened. And families continue to lose their homes. Having worked non-stop for Wall Street during his first two years as president, I foolishly thought he might have something for Main Street. I was very, very wrong." -- Trina McKinnon, Trina's Kitchen.

"The White House and Congress can reduce the deficit drastically by ending the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, cutting military spending and the number of US bases on foreign soil, and taxing the wealthy so that they pay their fair share. Future meltdowns can be averted by breaking up the "too big to fail" financial firms into smaller locally-based companies. The Green Party's goal of a decentralized economy, based on Main Street rather the Wall Street, will restore economic stability and security to the US." -- the Green Party response

"[. . .] Obama has truly been a hypocrite on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a candidate, he promised to end them. Tonight we heard more hollow promises. The fact is, as president, he has kept those wars going, and has greatly escalated the war in Afghanistan. As a percentage of GDP, military spending is higher now than it was during any year of the George W. Bush administration." -- Wes Benedict (link has text and video), Libertarian Party.

"The worst of the recession is over for Wall Street because they're prospering. They're the ones that got all the bailout -- not, not the average citizen who's unemployed, so, no, not at all. And just listen to the rhetoric. He's saying, you know, we can't spend money, we've got to make cuts.' Where are they going to make the cuts? Discretionary spending is only 12% of the budget. That leaves out defense. And, of course, this joke that they're going to cut the defense budget, the Republicans will fight that tooth and nail and the Democrats will cave as they normally do." -- former US Senator Mike Gravel on Tuesday's Morning Mix (KPFA).

"The war in Iraq occupied no more space in President Obama's State of the Union address than it has in his administration's foreign policy: not exactly a footnote, but no longer the contentious, consuming, convulsive center of all attention. Iraq came up only briefly in the 46th minute of a speech that lasted just over an hour, but his five sentences and 72 words amounted to a declaration of victory, if a subdued one." -- Steve Lee Myers and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times).

"When he finally got around to discussing the two wars that eat up billions of tax dollars and that have killed or maimed thousands of young men and women, he spoke as if these conflicts are just another wonderful American program for progress and peace. He mentioned 100,000 troops returned from Iraq, but neglected to mention the 50,000 who remain. He mentioned how our civilians 'will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people,' but did not explain that they can only move about the country in a military convoy. If, or when, we leave that devastated country, we will leave it with millions of unemployed, angry people who cannot possibly contribute to their own security, let alone ours." -- Military Families Speak Out's Sarah Fuhro (Boston Globe).

"There were many things missing from the president's address, and every American can take his or her choice as to which was the most significant. I wondered how he could all but leave out Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, when we are fighting at least three (think, too, of Somalia and Yemen) bitter "wars of choice." These are the wars that will poison his chalice in the next two to six years, no matter what he does; these are the hopeless conflicts that will eat American blood and treasure alive, as every American soldier on the ground in those sad and miserable countries serves only as a lighting rod to create more al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists as they perceive they are defending their lands from foreigners. But then, American citizens themselves care so little about these wars, it should be no surprise that our leaders don't care that much, either." -- Georgie Anne Geyer's "SOTU: What was said -- and not said" (News-Herald).

"And, so, I guess my reaction to the speech was very positive the first day, but it's gotten a little sour the subsequent days." -- Republican David Brooks on PBS' The NewsHour.

"The competitiveness theme extended to education and 'Race To The Top'--where sadly competitiveness means some kids win and some kids lose out in the American educational system. At least with "No Child Left Behind" the Bush Administration presented the same policies under the a phony title that made it sound like they meant to help all kids." -- Ruth Conniff, The Progressive.
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