Farewell to a Great Man


In about 40 minutes, President Barack Obama is going to give his farewell address to the world. And I for one will miss the hell out of him.

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Goodbye.

Let’s take a moment to realize just how incredible this president has been.

First, he’s not fully white. He’s also not fully black. He’s a mix of both, very much like our country itself. He’s also proof that, yes, in fact someone who isn’t completely white can indeed be elected to the presidency.

Second, he accomplished quite a bit and quite a bit was done during his time in office. Same-sex marriage is legal across the country. He restored our standing in the eyes of the world, and opened relations with Cuba, in addition to negotiating a deal with Iran. Obamacare/the ACA remains the law of the land and, really, isn’t likely to go completely away. As Biden once pointed out, bin Laden is dead, and GM is alive. Those are both because of things our president did.

And lastly, he managed to have a full eight years in office with not. One. Scandal. None. That’s pretty impressive. No blowjobs from interns, no torture of prisoners, no trading arms for hostages, no bugging the offices of his opposition, nothing. This is quite impressive, especially in the post-Watergate era.

Obama has not been everything he could have been. He faced unprecedented opposition from the Republicans who from day one were determined to not allow him to govern. He thought he could compromise and meet them halfway. But this was the crowed who believed compromise to be weakness, and they weren’t going to give him anything.

As a result, Obamacare was watered down, Gitmo was never closed, and we remain deep in the Middle East quagmire.

It is to our country’s great shame that this amazing man is being replaced by Donald Trump. It really disappoints me and boggles my mind. But Obama still remains the best president I’ve ever lived under, and I strongly doubt that’s going to change any time before 2021.

Live-Blogging the State of the Union, 2014


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7:05pm MST – Well, here we are, ready for another year of blogging the State of the Union. I’m a bit late starting up on this, but they’re still doing the pre-game show, so that’s ok. Why am I late starting? Because I am using a brand-new computer! Yay!

As always, feel free to hit F5 at any time for frequent updates!

7:13 – Watching CBS’ coverage, where someone just made the sage observation that a fifty-year-old man is going grey. What a shock!

7:15 – Starting off by touting all the successes, like higher graduation rates, and lower unemployment rates. Not bad. I’m tired of the “the state of our union is strong!” boilerplate.

7:16 – As he lists off these people and their successes, I can’t help but notice that he doesn’t add, “The billionaire, sitting in his mansion, creating jobs.”

7:19 – Some not subtle jabs at the Republicans for their fiscal irresponsibility. I hope we get more of that.

7:20 – Create new jobs, not new crises. I like the idea, but will the Republicans let that happen?

7:22 – Talking now about the lack of upward mobility and the income inequality. We knew this was going to happen. I’m pleased to see a sitting president take on these issues, but I wonder if it’s something he can do anything about. Let’s see what he suggests.

7:24 – I remain baffled that people can look on this president with hate, and that they can call him some radical socialist. I see a political moderate who is trying the best he can against an insane opposition.

7:26 – Here we go. Incentives for companies to move jobs back to America and a cut to their tax rates. I’m ok with those ideas.

7:29 – Lots of stuff about encouraging innovation. It is important to remember that things like the internet came about because of government investment.

7:31 – Lots of stuff now about natural gas and what a great thing it is. I agree that it has plenty of potential, but like we see in any and all situations like this, we need strong regulation in addition to development of gas.

7:32 – I am all in favor of taxing away tax subsidies for multi-billion dollar oil companies and funneling those off to development of solar. But politicians on both sides are most certainly not in favor of it. We shall see what happens.

7:34 – “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” I am baffled again, because I know, know that is a controversial statement. The mere fact that many Republicans didn’t applaud tells you all you need to know. Sad.

7:37 – Kind of meaningless boilerplate about having the VP head up some group to improve the way we train new workers. We shall see if it comes to anything, but I’m not holding my breath. The stuff about needing to extend unemployment benefits is much more solid.

7:42 – A call for high-quality education for all. That’s basic, but needs to be said. We do have the best educational system in the world…for those who can access private schools. We need to spread that around.

7:43 – To the older generation, having high-speed, broadband internet access sounds like a luxury. To people my age and younger, it’s pretty much a necessity. The internet remains one of the greatest inventions in human history and everyone needs to be able to access it.

7:46 – Good lord. Who is that person wearing orange with green glasses?!

7:48 – Here comes the minimum wage push. Pushing, I should note, not just Congress, but pushing business owners, too.

7:51 – A $10.10 minimum wage would be nice, but I don’t think it is likely. Still, he is right. It would help American workers, and give people more money to spend, thus improving the economy and improving businesses.

7:52 – Hmmmm. A new savings bond idea just for workers to save for retirement. I’m interested. Do tell me more.

7:54 – Personalizing the health care reform is a very smart idea. I know I have coverage I wouldn’t have otherwise, as do my two best friends and my mom.

7:55 – I love that the Republicans are so deep in denial that they can’t even applaud the idea of people not being excluded for pre-existing conditions. What a group of assholes.

8:00 – Here comes the suck-up to the military.

8:04 – Well, now, there’s a thinly-veiled swipe at the way Bush handled Iraq and Afghanistan. Good.

8:05 – Boehner can’t even applaud the idea of protecting privacy?

8:07 – Sucking-up to Israel. That got everyone on their feet!

8:09 – So, check it. We have sanctions against Iran to force them to the negotiating table. Now that is happening, and yet people still don’t think we should be negotiating with them. That seems to include all the Republicans and most Democrats. Sad.

8:16 – I really, really dislike the level of importance the military has in American political life. Do you know, back in the early days of the republic, there was serious discussion about whether or not a healthy democracy should have a standing military? We should, but it needs to be way smaller and have way less influence in our political arenas.

Well, that’s that. A good speech. I think that if the Democrats are smart, they will spend 2014 running on the successes of Obama’s presidency, and running in favor of things like Obamacare. I don’t see that being a losing proposition except in places where Democrats aren’t likely to win anyhow. An all-around great speech.

Live-Blogging the 2013 State of the Union Address


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So overall I thought this was a good SOTU. Nothing very earth-shattering, but good stuff that needed to be said. I’m confident that the future will be better than the present or the past, and I’m reminded just how lucky we are to have a president like this one.

8:16 – Ending on a strong note, though I could have done without the usual “God bless the United States of America” hooey.

8:12 – “They deserve a simple vote!” At a bare minimum, yes.

8:11 – A bit of shameless manipulation here, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

8:09 – Now asking for at least a vote on common sense gun legislation. It won’t happen, but I can dream.

8:07 – Voting reform is an excellent idea, but he doesn’t go far enough. Hold elections on the weekends. Hold voting in more places. Move the national election date up to September, so that weather won’t be such an issue.

8:05 – No sign of love from the GOP when it comes to gay rights. Fuckin’ GOP wonder why…oh, never mind. They’re ossified tools, and we all know it.

8:03 – Gratsing Burma while making it clear that we need to serve as a democratic inspiration to the rest of the world, too. That I can wholeheartedly support.

7:58 – He’s promising a bit more transparency on the way we’re fighting the War on Terror. That’s a good thing, but it should be very nearly completely transparent in a democracy.

7:55 – The core of Al Qaeda was defeated long, long ago. They don’t represent a serious threat anymore, and arguably never did. They got very, very lucky on 9/11, but most of the damage to us since then has been self-inflicted.

7:52 – Now he wants to tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, making it basically a living wage. I think that’s another excellent, long overdue idea.

7:51 – Now calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. Republicans don’t applaud. Fuckin’ GOP wonder why they have a problem with the poor? There’s your answer.

7:49 – The fact that anyone, anywhere, would have to be encouraged to sign the Violence Against Women Act is just stupid. Fuckin’ GOP wonder why they have a problem with women? There’s your answer.

7:47 – The first notable negative noises of the night come when immigration reform is mentioned. Fuckin’ GOP wonder why they have a problem with Hispanics? There’s your answer.

7:46 – A plan to reform federal aid for colleges. A good idea, if it can help reduce costs while keeping up quality.

7:44 – Modeling our schools along what the Germans are doing. Well, it worked before. Let’s try it again!

7:42 – Now onto high quality pre-school for all. I suppose if everyone is doing it, we could just call it “school”, but never mind that. Has it really been shown to make a huge difference? If so, I’m certainly all in favor.

7:39 – A real emphasis on repairing our infrastructure. A great idea, and long overdue. Interest rates are at an all time low. It will never, ever be cheaper to fix these problems than it is right now.

7:37 – Cut in half the energy wasted by homes and businesses in the next two decades. A good idea, and well worth pursuing.

7:36 – Making it clear that if Congress won’t act, he will. I can’t wait to see what comes of that!

7:35 – Glad Obama is emphasizing the importance of dealing with climate change.

7:32 – Boehner is spending most of the speech looking like he’s got a lemon in his mouth.

7:31 – Deficit neutral policies, he says. We shall see.

7:28 – Pointing out that none of us will get everything we want, and trying to put part interests aside. Sounds good to me. The “investments in our future” part is especially good. Our infrastructure needs repairing, and it will never be cheaper to fix than it is now.

7:26 – Loophole closing, something I’m sure the GOP types will love.

7:25 – Now embracing Simpsons-Bowles and highlighting the cost savings of health care reform and the like.

7:19 – “…no matter what you look like, or who you love.” He really does seem to have fully embraced the gay rights movement, hasn’t he?

7:18 – Biden and Boehner…worst seats in the House. Can you imagine just staring at the back of someone’s head for over an hour, knowing that you’re on camera the entire time?

7:17 – Starting with a somewhat conciliatory quote from JFK, and talking about the end of the war(s).

7:15 – Six minutes later, he gets to the podium.

7:09 – And now, the President has arrived.

7:05pm MST – So it’s about to start. I have no hopes for anything Earth shattering. The best, most interesting thing that might happen is one of the GOP congressmen acting like an ass yet again. But we shall see.

Finally Blogging About the Inaguration


So I’ve finally had the chance to watch the speech. I was going to try to do one of my live-blog articles about it, but I think I’ll just cover it like this. I really enjoyed it! I’m pleased that Obama made comments about the importance of living up to the spirit of this nation. I’m pleased that he made comments about gay rights and seems to be willing to push progressive issues. I’m also very pleased that it seems to have been a fairly inclusive speech. That said, I’m also quite happy that he didn’t directly challenge the GOP. He didn’t cave into them. He didn’t really acknowledge them in any way. He seems to have decided they are irrelevant. I hope he’s right.

The second term is underway. We shall see where it goes. By the end, my guess is unemployment at around 5%, gay marriage recognized everywhere, better health care for all, two new SCOTUS justices and an incoming Democratic president. I hope all those things happen anyhow. We shall see.

Live-Blogging the Obama Speech


So there we go. I’ll have a full summation of my thoughts on this after a bit. For now, however, I need to go grocery shopping!

8:03pm – Uber patriotism and god stuff to end, which I’m not big on. But I’m used to it.

8:01pm – A MUSLIM QUOTING SCRIPTIURE?! /sarcasm

7:58pm – “If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions by looking at polls, then I must not be very good at reading them.” Great line!

7:58pm – The overall sea of faces lacks a certain pasty-whiteness I saw last week.

7:57pm – I can’t begin to say how happy I am that there’s so much mention of gay rights and an emphasis on womens’ rights. The threat is implicit.

7:56pm – Good wind-up to the DREAM Act light that he signed.

7:54pm – “We don’t think government can solve all our problems, but we don’t think government is the cause of all our problems.” A great line!

7:53pm – I like the part pointing out that shared citizenship and responsibility for all helps everyone.

7:51pm – “As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator…” No, no, we don’t. Not all of us. I know it’s a quote, but it still makes me wince.

7:50pm – Talk about preserving and strengthening Medicare and Social Security. That’ll play well with the seniors and soon-to-be seniors.

7:48pm – Referencing last night’s Clinton speech to point out how stupid the GOP budget ideas are. Love it!

7:47pm – Now talking about diverting war money to rebuilding the infrastructure, paying down the debt and “[doing] some nation building right here at home!”

7:46pm – Good slams on Romney for his embarrassing performance in London and for referring to “Russia” as our greatest enemy.

7:45pm – Man, I’d pay real money to have both parties stop sucking up to the Israel lobby.

7:44pm – Pointing out that he’ll sustain the strongest military in the world. I doubt Romney would change that. Both need to talk about cutting it, however.

7:42pm – Now touting the ending of the War in Iraq and the fighting of the War on Terror. Good!

7:40pm – Mentioning student loan reform is an excellent thing. It makes a big difference to people like me.

7:39pm – A direct endorsement of action against climate change, mentioning droughts specifically. That might play at least somewhat in the heartland.

7:38pm – Good slam against the GOP’s habit of bowing and scraping to oil companies. Oil is important, yes, but it’s not the only way.

7:36pm – So far a lot of stuff that needs to be said, I suppose, but nothing really compelling to me.

7:33pm – I’m glad he pointed out the severity of the economic crisis by comparing it with the Depression.

7:31pm – Now rightly slamming Romney for not having much of a plan.

7:30pm – Talking about his family getting to live the American dream. I know it’s important that it be said, but it leaves me a bit bored. The part of “…everyone plays by the same rules…” is much better.

7:23pm – At last, here we go!

7:21pm – Now we get to bin Laden. Making the call to do the raid was gusty as hell, and I strongly doubt most people, in possession of the information Obama had at the time, would have made the same choice. Remember what happened when Carter sent in a special ops force to Iran, after all.

7:19pm – A good reminder, too, about the triumph of health care reform.

7:16pm – Here goes the video. I love the constant reminder here and in the rest of the convention that we would have been in deep shit had GM been allowed to go under.

7:15pm – The stage is now Dickless.

7:14pm – A good reminder of how great Obama has been on civil rights for women, gays and Latinos. If you’re a Latino lesbian, you have no good reason not to support him.

7:12pm – Dick Durbin doing a god job summing up the GOP convention saying their message was, “We’re all in this alone!”

7:08pm – All done now. Bring on Obama!

7:07pm – I think America tends to get a little too focused on “rah-rah, go, troops!” bullshit, but Biden delivers this well. It comes off very heartfelt.

7:04pm – Biden’s tie is almost exactly the opposite pattern of what Clinton wore last night.

7:02pm – I’m pleased by him slamming the GOP for saying America is in decline.

7:01pm – Biden is good at what he does here, but I’m rather antsy for Obama to get started.

6:58pm – Good endorsement of Obama’s “DREAM Act light”.

6:57pm – Some red meat on the issue of jobs being created overseas by Romney and company.

6:54pm PST – Settling in to get started. I see Biden on my screen lighting up the crowd.

Obama the Conservative


How does one define a conservative in the political respect? Is it someone who proceeds with due caution, careful always in what they do, not making huge changes, bolstering and expanding upon the traditions of what’s gone before, pragmatic and not dogmatic and willing to change when proven wrong? That’s how I’d be inclined to define one, at least in part (I’d define a liberal, for the record, as someone more willing to experiment, to embrace change for the sake of change no matter how big, often overthrowing the old order to bring in a new one, and frequently more idealistic than pragmatic). If I define a conservative in those terms, then I must concede that Obama is a conservative in the big-C British sense of the word.

That’s the conclusion reached by Andrew Sullivan, who wrote a great article on the subject. The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s my favorite part:

On issue after issue, Burke would be with Obama and against Rommey’s theo-political radicalism. The idea that Obama has somehow let down those conservatives who supported him over the McCain-Palin ticket therefore seems absurd to me. Obama has done all he said he intended to do, and almost all of it is a pragmatic response to America’s emergent and growing problems. On almost every question – a stimulus one-third tax cuts, a healthcare reform based on the Heritage Foundation model, cap-and-trade for carbon, and solid support for Israel while trying to nudge it away from self-destruction – Obama is in a right-of-center consensus as of a decade ago. It is his opponent who has twisted himself into a screaming radical dedicated to changing America much more profoundly – largely because Fox Nation is experiencing a cultural panic. As for temperament, the GOP is too consumed with cultural hatred to acknowledge the grace and calm of a man forced to grapple with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression with no help whatsoever from his opponents, a black man who has buried identity politics and remains a family man Republicans would fawn over if he were one of them.

Obama Supports Gay Marriage


There you go. About time, too. I wasn’t entirely surprised at today’s announcement from ABC news. The polling for the last few years has moved more and more toward the tipping point on gay marriage, and given the events of last week, where Biden and SecEd Duncan talked about it, I think this was kind of inevitable. I wish he had campaigned on it in 2008, but I’ll take what I can get. At least this will likely help get out the youth vote in November, as well as shoring up the gay vote.

This is especially poignant given what happened in North Carolina yesterday with their barbaric new law. It also reflects a more global change to the issue of gay marriage, where David Cameron’s Conservative government in the UK said recently that they want gay marriage legal there in 2015.

It’s sad to realize that this will still be a whipping point for the GOP during the rest of this year. There will, I promise you, be many, many people campaigning on the idea that if you vote for Democrats, you’ll end up with gays marrying your children. The good news is that this election cycle, and possibly 2014, will likely be the last time it will be a viable attack position.

Know hope, eh?