Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

You know you're getting older when you get a big bowl of popcorn ready to watch a State of the Union address.

The Mountain thinks President Obama had a little bit of his Bill Clinton on in that the speech was wide ranging and rather detailed; maybe not quite as wonky as Bubba used to get.  (I seem to remember some of Clinton's speeches going way past bed-time.)  I expected the man to talk a lot about the economy, immigration and about gun violence (check, check and check), but I was happily surprised to hear the man talk about the climate issue AS an economic issue.

HERE is the link to the full text of the President's speech for your use.

Obama started out with a tone of bipartisanship, saying the major political parties need to work together.

"The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can. "

The president was more polite than I'd have been.  (Insert long rant about bi-partisanship.)

Republicans hate any democratic president with extreme prejudice, but what they've shown Obama has been little more than obstructionism and party politics, the country be damned.  After the catastrophe of the Bush II presidency, with the country teetering on the brink of economic collapse and bearing the credit card expense of two wars, the republican legislature did everything in its power to stop anything from moving in the gears of government.  They simply could not allow Obama to get credit for anything and they had to make sure the lousy economy stayed lousy and was perceived as Obama's fault come election time 4 years down the road.

The GOP used the filibuster at an unprecedented rate on everything from appointments to good ideas that had once been sponsored by republicans.  Numerous republican legislators have been in the untenable position of voting against their own bills simply because Obama endorsed them.

No greater example is the Affordable Care Act which was the nearly identical plan implemented by Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to good effect, but which became Socialism! when Mr. Romney ran for president.

And this myth that Obama is a tyrant and is acting unilaterally is a coin with two interesting sides.  When Obama came into office he constantly met with the opposition and constantly courted republican ideas and compromise only to get stabbed in the back.  Obama was so willing to compromise that he started out the health care debate by throwing the one thing the liberals really wanted - a public option - under the bus.

No.  The republican party was the intransigent party.  They wouldn't play ball not no way not no how.  They took extremist positions and wouldn't budge and used the filibuster to stop anything being done at a time when the country needed it most.

When it came to the budget ceiling debacle last year, the republicans refused to do something that had been done without question dozens of times for presidents for decades.  The republican shenanigans resulted in the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating which - surprise - devalues our dollar and drives up the debt.   Think of it as the republicans screwing with your retirement fund in order to make a political point.

So when the president finally gets fed up and signs an executive order or makes a recess appointment and Fox (News) starts yelling Czar! it's only because something has to get done and the republicans are not going to allow anything to get done.  It is a fact that the most recent congress has passed the fewest laws ever by any congress (at lest going back, say, 100 years) and has floated the most threats of filibuster ever by a very wide margin.

Hopefully that changes.  (End long rant about bi-partisanship.)

We were talking about the climate issue.  Here are some excerpts from the speech that caught my eye.

"Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar -- with tens of thousands of good American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before -- and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen."

"But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change."

"Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods -- all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it’s too late."

"Now, the good news is we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."

I'm not denigrating the man's faith.  Just that the republicans see fit to put someone who does not believe in the scientific method on the science committee.

It would be like putting a tobacco lobbyist on a committee to discuss the dangers of smoking or putting a timber industry guy in charge of the healthy forests initiative or putting a fracking lobbyist on the committee overseeing water quality issues.

You get my depressing point?

But here's the thing.  I think the president can talk pretty on the climate all he wants, but getting action on the climate is another matter altogether.  The United States has failed to lead on the issue of climate change and has put this world we live in in very real danger.  One of the reasons the U.S. has done nothing is because of the powerful grip of the fossil fuel industry over democrats and republicans alike, but especially over republicans. 

And if the republicans won't wake up, we can all go to climate hell together.  And if I do have to live in climate hell because of these idiots who prise money over responsibility, I will hunt them down and hit them - repeatedly - with the Louisville Slugger of Reason until these chowder-heads finally admit how stupid they have been and how dearly they have cost everyone.

Maybe the president knows about the big Climate Protest coming to D.C. this weekend and he was trying to calm us down, but, you know, I'm hopeful and I'm not hopeful.  Because I believe in the power of people to effect positive change.  But I also believe in people's utter greed and stupidity spoiling everything.

As a side note, The Mountain is trying to get Mrs. Mountain's permission to go join that protest against the XL Pipeline this weekend, where they wrap a giant pipeline around the White House, but she won't budge.  (She's a republican.)  I've even promised not to get arrested and everything.  No sauce.  I really wanna get my protest on.  I think that would be fun to cover for you, dear reader, but the boss is agin' it.  Might have to go AWOL.

Later in the night, Obama aimed his big rhetorical flourishes at the issue of gun violence and he had the house rockin'.   He talked about the 15 year old girl who was shot a mile from his house in Chicago.  About Newtown, CT., about Gabby Giffords and vociferous cheers were loudly ricocheting around the chamber and it seems like at least some common sense proposals have a chance of overcoming the torpid conventional wisdom of the NRA.

That's a serious issue and something might get done about that.

He talked about fixing the voting system instead of the republicans' idea of, you know, FIXING the voting system.  I mean, really, do you think Tom Corbett and Dom Pileggi (scroll down: Electioneering II - Feb. 7) are really interested in fair elections?  Me neither.

That's a serious issue and something might get done about that.

But progress on climate change?  I'll believe that when I see it.  Progress on climate change requires republicans to wake up.  And they are very heavy sleepers.

Shawn Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.


  1. I like it - very word of it :)

  2. Ha! meant 'every' of course...keep on bloggin' my friend!

    1. Thanks, Dave. I meant very word of it too.

    2. I'm with you, Dave. Nice work, Mountain!


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