White House

The Lame Duck President’s Not So Lame State Of The Union Speech

Read: Samuel Alito Is The Insurrectionist Threat To Democracy On The Supreme Court

I was privileged to watch a chamber full of sullen, petulant, mostly far-right and white, wealthy Koch puppets, largely sitting on their hands as second term President Barack Obama, gave them a not so subtle dressing down and spelled out his template for a clean and promising future in his State of the Union speech.

House Speaker John Boehner sat behind the president, looking like he’d just been waterboarded and was suffering from some unexplainable, debilitating hand condition that prevented all but the most weakened, intermittent applause throughout the evening. A row of military brass sat tight-lipped as the president pledged to get off the Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay detention camp) pot and close the place down, thereby depriving the warmongers of the delight of detaining people they don’t like indefinitely without a trial. Did I mention these mongers are fierce defenders of the constitution? With the glaring exception of the Sixth Amendment, of course.

The presidential scold was a joy to witness and richly deserved by the opposition “Party of No.” I watched the speech unfold on CBS; you know, one of those bastions of the liberal media. A lady pundit groused (and I paraphrase) that the president didn’t give the Republicans credit for their myriad accomplishments. I darn well agree with her. Allow me a partial list of Republican Congressional accomplishments. Let’s start with a promise from the first day to block every presidential initiative to come out of the White House. And man, did they ever keep that promise. A promise made at the behest of the billionaires who actually run this country. Recalcitrant right-wing, legislative yes men and women, committed to nothing but money in their pockets and self-interest, put the kibosh on every legislative request out of the White House that didn’t involve killing overseas women, children and the elderly. That was OK; welcome even.

The 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. were a special target; “Send ’em back” screamed the aggrieved GOP. At least send all of them back that don’t serve the big money farm, fruit, landscaping, restaurant, hotel, retail, construction, stoop labor, maid, child care and gardening interests, among other undertakings.

Otherwise, the clarion call was driven by one thing and one thing only. If the millions of mostly Hispanic or Latino “illegals” were to be allowed to stay, they could do so by being granted residency. The newly-branded Americans would assume the same rights that all Americans enjoy (with the exception of homosexuals, of course) under the rubric of Legal or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Here’s the catch, They cannot vote in elections requiring citizenship. And LPR’s do not meet the legal definition of citizens.

That’s the rub because Republican leadership knows that Hispanic/Latino voters know that the Democrats are people that truly care about somebody other than those living in 5,000 square foot houses or more. You will never see Republicans voting for citizenship for the undocumented.

Republicans should also be credited with their relentless attempts to unravel regulatory legislation, starting with Dodd-Frank, designed to rein in the greedy banking system in the U.S. Banks want to continue their recent success of blocking the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall wall between commercial and investment banking. Regulation of powerful financial interests will never be on the Republican legislative agenda. Blocking all such efforts takes precedence.

Climate change denial is another wondrous accomplishment of Republican legislatures, Behind the move to besmirch the names of fully 97% of the world’s scientists who, as one voice, are warning that man is destroying the planet, Republicans are doing everything in their power to make sure this dire prediction becomes a reality. Might I recommend this site featuring the documentary “Call of Life” narrated by Peter Coyote. If you can purchase it, show it to your beer-swilling uncle in the wife beater Tee.

The ‘all pollution, all the time’ movement is driven by the Koch brothers. Hopefully when they die, and they will, won’t they? When they die, their survivors should stick their bodies in one of those minus 321 degrees liquid nitrogen “cryogenic” tanks for revival at a much later date. Then, just before the planet takes its last gasp, thanks to the Kochs and their ilk, the few remaining residents can pry open the tanks, gently awaken Charlie and Dave and, as a last symbolic gesture, show the Koch’s there’s no longer a place to ply their polluting trade. Global warming had smothered the earth.

Other “accomplishments” in the making, as revealed in a recent Letter to the Editor by my pal, Bob, are Paul Ryan’s wish list of voucherizing Medicare, defunding Medicaid, privatizing Social Security, cutting the food stamp program, opposing an increase in the minimum wage, lowering unemployment benefits and fencing in immigrants. Bob failed to mention shutting down government whenever possible and making sure working women’s insurance coverage doesn’t include abortions and contraception. In fact, any Republican legislation with the word ‘women’ in the title is most likely harmful to those women.

Closing down government agencies is never far from the right-wing radar. EPA is most targeted, but education is close behind and, repeating myself, any agency that doesn’t feature deadly ordinance designed to kill and maim.

Nothing would please Republicans more that to render the Affordable Care Act (ACT) impotent. They’re spending billions to rip ACA asunder in both state and national legislatures. Yeah, CBS pundit, the list of Republican “accomplishments” goes on and on.

Key SOTU Obama proposals are making the Richie Rich’s of our world shiver uncontrollably under their Brioni ($43,000 for the Vanquish ll) suits. Imagine the gall of wanting to actually TAX the wealthy! Why, he even wants to increase to 28%, the capital gains rate for couples making more than a half-million a year. He’d put a fee on the 100 or so financial firms with assets of more than 50 billion big ones. He even wants estates to pay capital gains taxes on securities when they’re inherited. The nerve!!! I can already hear those phones in the Bahamas ringing off the hook.

On the flip side, of the $320 billion in new greenbacks, the president wants Congress to pass measures helping the middle class. A $500 tax credit for two-worker families would be one; expanding the child care tax credit, another. Then there’s expanded paid leave for workers and a personal presidential attempt to lower a mortgage insurance premium rate. He also wants to protect the security of ACA and we already know about his ambitious $60 billion Community College program.

His foreign policy pronouncements were a mixed bag that included air strikes in Syria and a limited return to military action in Iraq. Do I see those military pouts softening? On the other hand, he vowed to oppose any attempts to impose new sanctions on Iran.

Boehner predictably denounced the SOTU effort. Something about “the wrong policies, the wrong priorities and (thank you staff speechwriters) growing Washington’s bureaucracy instead of America’s economy.” Is that the best you’ve got John?

On balance, it was a State of the Union speech designed to keep the opposition off balance. After the address, I switched over and watched some Mixed Martial Arts action.

It seemed appropriate.

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