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Obama speech live blogging

vastleft's picture

What do you think?

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vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

It's refreshing not to see Bush and Cheney and hear the certainty that they wanted really crappy things for and from this country.

His framing here is generally more wholesome, but enough of it sounds like he's bullshitting and/or somewhat in denial of the true nature of our problems that it's hard to get too inspired by this. Time permitting, I'll get a look at the transcript tomorrow and provide a few details, but that's my immediate gut response.

ElizabethF's picture
Submitted by ElizabethF on

in this speech. He did say:

  • To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care 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.

Does that mean privatization?

Submitted by jawbone on

in these times of Wall St meltdown and 401K devastation.

What it does mean is that Obama is stuck on "reforming" SocSec. No, folks, we have not gotten through to him. Nor do we know what he really means to try to do.

As Jane said, the "Grand Bargain" is still on for him.

Not sure if the tax-free saveings accounts mean using SocSec funds in some way or will simply be like 401K's but with no taxes ever?

Need to contact Dem reps on this SocSec folly.

(Josh? Were you listening, Josh? What ya gonna do 'bout this, huh, Josh?)

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Does that mean privatization?
it certainly means privatization. It means the banks want that pile of money. We have to say no, we want Social Security, not tax free savings accounts.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

While some get David Sirota about seeing Obama/Biden instead of Bush, I'm wondering what the cost of Obama's tax increases for the wealthy will be.
Obama has made multiple references to how we all need to sacrifice during these times. Given his saber rattling on S.S. I'm curious if this is all leading toward benefit cuts.

While I'm sure things could be worse than Obama, I get this unsettling feeling in my stomach that Obama is not a great person to have at the helm during these tumultuous times. Maybe its just the chili I had.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Waiting to hear if he mentions a date... or any reference to the contractors who are about half of our force.

Saber rattling toward Pakistan.

The tortured "America does not torture" locution.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Could someone help me? This is off topic yet not, for it is about the speech.
I have not cared in many years.

Could someone give me the correct terms -- please -- to describe the voices of our President and Vice President, now? I mean the name of the timber or pitch of these voices.

Thank you.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Obama and Biden are both baritones. To my ear, Obama is more of a Dramatic Baritone while Biden is approximately a kavalierbariton.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

I wondered -- to my (highly untutored) ear, both voices sound more fluid than did either of their predecessors' (in the respective offices).

I believe President Clinton's voice is actually a tenor, isn't it?

Perhaps, if you can recall your wandering youth, you'll remember that not everybody in Texas has the nasal whine W affected.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

He has an East Coast elitist spoiled brat reedy tenor whine. Highly annoying, even discounting content. Makes me want to slap him silly.

Bill Clinton has an interesting voice. It is warmer in person than on the TV, something in the timbre does not carry through. Describing speaking voice with singing terms, always a risk, I would put Clinton as a Lyric Baritone but I wouldn't argue with someone who hears a Heldentenor.

Obama and Biden are a huge improvement in their voices, if nothing else.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Including most of the town of Crawford excepting the souvenir sellers and the motel trade.

The whole Crawford thing was a fake construct, from the get-go; a Gentleman Rancher, one could say, except for the part about him being no gentleman and the other part about him not being a rancher. Sort of like the rest the construct that passes for his persona; he doesn't actually have one, a real persona that he can allow others to see, so like a secret meth-smack-bulimic runway model he just slips into one couture custom-fit after another with a vacant, vaguely bemused look on his face and takes his turn upon the stage.

At least he didn't barf on the Japanese Prime Minister's lap.*

Better than Dad in that regard only.

I do wonder how people can doubt that Other Influences managed Bush in office. I think powerful people have been controlling Bush since it became clear that everything he tried to do on his own turned to shit.** After he ran yet another company into the ground, “friends” started moving him around. “Look, I’m a baseball executive!” Hey, look at me now, I’m a governor!” “Whoa, check this out; now I’m President!” “Whoopsie, now I’m unemployed again. Guess I’ll give some speeches!”

The Crawford thing, that's a tell; he and Laura hated it, couldn't wait to get out and get back to the bright city lights and their sort of people, but still they stayed. Stayed right on through the presidency, when it would have made perfect sense to sell the ranch and get a leased condo in Dallas with a city view for the Texas getaway, plenty of hotels for press and things to do socially, but no; George and Laura livin' on the ranch and cuttin' brush, close to the land jus' like common folk, sayin' yessir we shure do love us some country livin', hating it all the while.

Who made them do that? Who had the power to tell the President of the United States of America where to live? Made him live in a place both he and his wife abhorred? Who ever they are, they are the ones we need to keep an eye on.

* [Like the term "Fargo" for a wood chipper, in Japan now - and probably forever given the longevity of "Crapper" - to vomit is known as "Bush-usuru" meaning "to do a Bush". Quite the legacy.]

** [Just to show that irony exists as a separate universal constant, even under direct supervision and guidance by the most powerful people in the world George W. Bush still turned everything into a pile of shit. Shrub- usuru: to do a GW; to turn everything to shit.]

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

along the Trinity River, inadequate anyway, have now been rendered worse by the Calatrava bridges? I'm pretty sure the neighborhood they moved into -- Preston Hollow, wasn't it? -- is about as distant from Oak Cliff as you can get and still be in Dallas.

Submitted by lambert on

So far, neither Obama nor Biden has a voice that makes me want to throw things at the radio.

Although let's not confuse the absence or cessation of pain with pleasure!*

NOTE * Gee, that sounds like a d/S thing; no doubt indicative of the psychosis we've been subject too over the past 8 years.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

reminded me almost eerily of some recorded speeches I have heard from Presidents of the past.

Not the timbre so much as the cadence, is like FDR.
Not the tone so much as the elocution, is like JFK.
Not the diction so much as the use of the voice as a familiar implement, is like LBJ.

When I was a kid we were, temporarily, in a really bad bind for money. So bad we were, for nearly two years, "on relief." (My mom got a job in the relief office, and then we weren't eligible any more.)

Last night, for the first time in a long time, listening to the President speak gave me a sense of relief. I have issues with parts of his statement; upon reflection not only does the line about Social Security bother me, but the "continue our commitment to charter schools" bothers me. The kids who get free lunches don't usually make it into charter schools around here (never mind the kids who have hearing or vision problems or speech impairments or need wheelchairs driven by breath-puff-tubes. Those kids go to the public schools, because the public schools don't have a 'charter' that lets them shut the doors in those kids' faces.) Seeing the kid who gets free lunches finish high school with good enough GRADES to get a college scholarship -- now, that's a goal I'd love our President to set for all our children.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

You now how much I hate to correct you, but....

The Dominant/submissive shorthand thing is D/s, with a capital D and a lower case s. If you wanting to sound "with it" as the kids say. :-)

Submitted by lambert on

You're right.

koshembos's picture
Submitted by koshembos on

The speech shouldn't be judged by whether he finally goes single payer. He made health care a central issue and that's very important. True, the banking issue is much graver and he implied that enough money will solve it; it may not be the case. The banking disaster has to be taken care of and he said so.

A State of the Union like speech is not in your face event.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

My first impression was how very good it was to not see Bush and Cheney. I was also appreciative of the direct jabs he took, at times, at the Republicans. He also seemed to be more where I think he should be in terms of tone and focus save for the obvious plays he made to the conservatives. Given that this is a quasi-State of the Union speech, where policy is not supposed to be hashed out, anyway, I'd give this good rating.

BTW, Jindal's rebuttal was simply horrible, much worse than I expected. He looked like he was playing a role. Everything about the guy is phoney. I felt put-upon and it made me uncomfortable just watching him. I know exactly why the GOP put him up there to take the hit, but if they are trying to show the nation a new face, they can't possibly believe the American people are simply going to look at the guy's ethnicity and ignore the fact that he's a conservative, Southern governor spouting the same old tired rhetoric about "big, bad government." It was insulting.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

For me, the rebuttal was worse than anything Tim Kaine or Kathleen Sebelius delivered when they rebutted Bush's State of the Union, and I found both of those to be pretty bad performances. It was as if someone else was talking through Jindal, and I found myself thinking during the entire thing that he couldn't be serious. The accent, the tone...everything just looked and felt put-upon and out-of-place. I'd seen Jindal speak a few times, before, so I always knew he was a phoney, but this was quite possibly some of the most painful political posturing I'd ever watched on television.

From my perspective, Obama's performance wasn't so outstanding as much as the whole spectacle shows just how incredibly far the GOP has fallen. Obama's was not a speech for the ages; there is nothing that will be remembered in history about this particular one (though, personally, I will remember the line about "quitting high school is not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country"), but the Republicans are so destitute it makes you wonder where serious opposition to the president will be found, and that's not exactly something to be excited about.

Submitted by lambert on

That's what the Republicans are.

And since so much of the military establishment has been set up down there (yes, I know it's everywhere, but IIRC, the base closings, for example, hit the blue states) that gives the administration a window of opportunity to slash the budget for the empire -- on a pure spoils system basis. Haw. And in the long run, that does all those economies a favor, since the imperial system is parasitic.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

If Obama does attempt a 'right-sizing' of the military, how do you think Gates will take it? I've been tripping over Gates all week now. I just can't understand what positive purpose he serves the administration that doesn't get erased with what he takes away from Obama's cabinent. The Washington establishment seems to be under the impression (actually, to be more frank it's a self delusion) that somehow Gates isn't really a conservative Republican. As long as that view stands, Gates stands, and stands in silent objection, the worst kind of objection.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

You say that base closings benefit local economies. You say blue states are hit harder by base closures. I don't believe either of those statements is accurate, so I want you to put up some links to evidence supporting your assertions.

In support of my claim here is the 2005 BRAC closure recommendation list.

"So much of the military establishment has been set up down there" -- what are you talking about? Or, wait, is this just code for bashing the South as a backward place, the last refuge of the GOP? I don't expect you to understand how I can find it hard to genuflect as I'm supposed to when you wave the "rump regional party" banner, though, because with the governorships of Alaska and California, Nevada, both Dakotas, Indiana, Idaho and Arizona as well as Louisiana in hand, the GOP appears to me to be spread out over an awful lot of ground -- even if they're outnumbered 28 to 22 by Democrats, they have a presence in Hawaii, Florida, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and the Northeast (Connecticut? Oh, right. Lieberman country. Never mind.) as well as the middle of the country and the Southwest. The map below is, I believe, current:

Green is for Covenant Party, local to the area. (That's what that series of islands in the lowest right-hand box belongs to, according to wikipedia, although I thought the Northern Marianas were a Pacific atoll.)

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Smacked it.





He left the Republicans with nothing to argue. He completely dominated the debate, removing from the Republicans any ability to counter with anything but elitism and anti-populist sentiments. Masterful, in every sense of the term.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you'll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut - that's right, a tax cut - for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way.

To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care 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.

Finally, because we're also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules - and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.

We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.

I like almost everything in that quote -- I didn't edit anything in the middle of it. I did cut and paste from over at TPM. The one thing that I'm not horribly happy about is the line on Social Security; and yet ... he's right about how to strengthen Medicare (which unlike SS does have money troubles, particularly in light of how much more medical care costs now than it did when the program began -- never mind that we're living longer than then, 'cause actually we're reversing that trend. I'll be happy to find the stats on that after daylight, but I do remember a quote from SickO about it.)

If he can get the Republicans to quit bitching about the need for Social Security reform (now this may involve the Republican party becoming extinct, but that's possible too the way Jindal was pushed as their future before that massive fail of a speech of his tonight), will there be anything left he can't accomplish?

Hmm. Peace in the Middle East, maybe. But then if he'll get US GIs out of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the environs, that'll be a start. US Contractors -- the Blackwater veterans -- may have to be ... re-homed, or at least trim the sails on their expectations.

I want to see what the nuts and bolts look like in that budget, y'all.
(Did I dream I heard him saying turn off the teevee, put away the video games, and read to your children?)

Submitted by lambert on

I give these lines:

Comprehensive health care 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.

a lot more emphasis than, er, some others. If all "comprehensive" health care reform does is patch up the system and give the business models of the insurance companies a lease on life at taxpayer expense, then how is that a win? And I don't see a need to begin any kind of conversation on Social Security at all, until people like Peterson don't have a seat at the table any more. And I want detail on the universal savings account. How do I know that's not just a scam to prop up the banksters? If that money can go to my local credit union, well and good. But if it's propping up BoA's balance sheet? No fucking way.

It would be really, really nice if we could understand that there are two propositions here that are not the same*:

1. Obama leaves the Republicans with nothing to argue.

2. Obama reflects my values and interests.

Both can be true, both false; one false, the other true. The proof, as we say, is in the pudding.

NOTE * Unless your only value is what jersey you wear. Then they are the same.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

This speech, like every such major address, was dominantly a political event. If you'd like a number, put it at 80%. That is the part he hit out of the park, the part he positioned such that the Republican opposition has no where to run, no where to hide, without further marginalizing themselves; they are being forced to agree with him or appear foolish. In proof I give you the number of forced standing ovations from congressional Republicans during the speech and the pathetic performance afterwards by Bobby Jindal.

The other 20% was practical, in the sense of laying out in broad strokes the agenda he intends to pursue. Everyone must understand that these are in fact broad strokes, and that the detail of implementation will be variable. I don't expect to be pleased with everything Obama actually does - he is a Conservative - but I am fine, delighted actually, with the broad strokes. A focus on energy means adressing the environmental crisis head-on and reducing - hopefully eliminating - dependence on fossil fuels. A focus on education means that the nation will have a future - for all citizens. A focus on healthcare is long past due, and once momentum for change accelerates then the shift to single-payer universal coverage will be unstoppable.

So I'm more than fine with both the the broad agenda strokes and the political skill Obama displayed. Marginalizing the Republican Party and its supporters is my Political Step 1, and Obama is helping me with that goal. That makes him my ally, for as long as he keeps it up. Next is Political Step 2, Better Democrats, and most of what he is talking about serves my interests in that regard so I hope to remain allied for some time to come. When he stops being useful then I'll dump him, like yesterday's fish. Nothing to do with wearing a team jersey; the Dems are the only available tool, and so I will work with them and use them for my own ends. Nothing else makes any practical sense.

Out Of The Park.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

politicians must: outline, hint, hedge, elicit, encourage, persuade.

But if he succeeds then Limbaugh et al. fail miserably and publicly, and I can get behind that (to quote Shatner).

Plus it was so much FUN watching the faces of the Congress. I have the speech on tape via CBS, and I keep going back to one minute in it, where I can see the expression on a particular Senator's face.

Obama's talking about ending our dependence on foreign oil, bringing up jobs via infrastructure and wind and solar power, and the camera cuts to this guy, who looks like he's just had the first deer-in-the-headlights moment of his entire life. He's a Senator, I think, and he belongs to Big Oil.

It epitomizes priceless, in the "master card" sense of the word.

Over the fence and across the street. Now, we wait and see whether it breaks any windshields.

Plus, there's that "nobody messes with Joe" bit.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

...while Obama may have hit a lot of important rhetorical points, when you look beyond the rhetoric, what he is suggesting is not very good.

Health care -- Obama punted. His only solid proposal was with regard to health records; and I have my doubts about how much that will save and/or improve health care. The rest will be left up to some sort of hand-picked committee that will, at best, come up with the health care equivalent of the "stimulus" bill --- an extremely expensive conglomeration of "fixes", some of which are counter-productive in the long term, and which are inadequate to fully deal with the problem.

Education -- way too much emphasis on the ideas advocated by those who want to destroy the public education system.

Taxes and budgets -- we can't afford Obama's middle class tax cuts, and raising income taxes on the wealthy don't come close to filling the massive hole in the budget.

The financial crisis -- a complete boondoogle, because its clear that Obama's emphasis is on continuing to pour vast sums of money into a relatively small number of megabanks to prevent their collapse, rather that stabilize the system by ensuring that the 8000 odd banks that aren't insolvent remain strong. For most banks, there is no "liquidity crisis", rather the reluctance to make loans is good business sense when you're in a recession whose length and breadth cannot yet be determined. The solution is more government loans, and more government loan guarantees, through agencies like FHA and the SBA, and a federally backed "micro-lending" program.

Social Security -- even mentioning it is a mistake.

Iraq and Afghanistan -- promises, promises... but with "withdrawal" trial balloons being floated that include residual forces in Iraq of up to 50,000 troops, confidence that Obama will "do the right thing" isn't a given.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

I'm surrounded by too many people that need him to take positive actions, maybe even drastic, unpopular measures with the bankers, to begin to restore some confidence and improvement in the economy - to give rise, once again, to the middle class and stop the concentration of wealth at the top. That's a tall order, but a necessary one.

It really doesn't matter what he says now, does it?

Submitted by jawbone on

When Obama flatly stated that the automobile was invented in America, I shook my head, thinking, uh, no, there were automobiles in England and Europe before here. Did Obama mean Ford's assembly line manuacturing process?

I wasn't sure about solar panels, but The Atlantic's Brave New Deal did some fact checking.

An English scientist by the name of Willoughby Smith first discovered that selenium was photoconductive, and a French scientist named Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect. That was the basis of "solar technology." That, and the English Chemist Edward Weston apparently holds the first American patent for a solar cell.

The history of automobiles is more complicated, but Wikipedia has the rundown here. In a nutshell: The British, French and Russians (!) had all developed some form of steam-powered automobile in the 18th century. (The British were apparently doing pretty well until something called the Locomotive Act of 1865 came along: It required that any motorized vehicle be preceded by a man waving a red flag. Talk about stifling innovation.) Anyway, here's the kicker: "It is generally acknowledged the first automobiles with gasoline-powered internal combustion engines were completed almost simultaneously by several German inventors working independently." German inventors, it must be observed, are not American.

Conor Clarke goes on to point out why this false boosterism is unnecessary and that important R&D leads to industrial advances worldwide.

It's also embarrassing for Obama. These are small points, but, still embarrassing for Obama to resort to truthiness so easily disproved.