Tuesday, February 12, 2013

You've Been Warned

I don't put much stock in State of the Union addresses. They are an annual theatrical exercise in pomp and circumstance. Or pomposity and circumlocution. Remember the mortgage fraud task force rolled out last year, for example, and how it was never fully staffed or funded and how it was just a smokescreen to reward the criminal behavior of banksters?

And if this preview just released by the White House is any indication, President Obama will again go full-bore humane Republican in tonight's demagogy:

 “It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class.
It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.
 
There he goes again with the personal responsibility narrative so beloved of the ruling class. We are warned that only by responsibly working our asses off for the Big Boss can we possibly thrive. The implication is that the weak, the infirm, the elderly, the chronically unemployed, the marginalized, the servant class and the mentally challenged do not deserve a place in our great exceptional meritocracy. This homage to  Horatio Alger feeds right into the GOP mythos of Makers vs Takers. The nod to gay rights is meant to appease the pseudoliberals.
It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation of ours.”
 
This is pure Obama doublespeak. The government will work on behalf of the many and not just the few, as has been its wont. But, but, but -- you have to be an entrepreneur and make it on your own, because traditional employment no longer really exists. Don't even think of relying on direct hiring by the government, either. If you don't have what it takes for a corporate hoarder to give you a job due your own lack of "individual initiative", fuggedaboutit. If you are feeling mentally depressed, your president wants you to snap out of it by sheer force of will.  Obama has already cut the federal government workforce, and has actually frozen the pay of all federal employees.

Re-reading this segment of his speech actually makes me suspect it was plagiarized from any one of 1000 identical Thomas Friedman columns. To wit: only the above-average children of Lake Woebegone will succeed, because the only way to succeed is get high-tech, get on the Intertoobz and start your own start-up. Lift yourself up by your bootstraps, people! The guvmint will cheer you on from the sidelines. You may even become a prop in a presidential campaign-style speech as he travels the grand landscape of Amerika.
“A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”
Uh-oh. Whenever a politician mentions a guiding star, it's like the Bible. He doesn't intend for you to take him literally. The way to attract more jobs to our shores smells like a ploy for the tax- evading, deregulated corporations to repatriate their overseas profit stashes at little to no cost to themselves. It sounds like the corporations are going to get even more government subsidies to train more American wage slaves, get Obamacare waivers and the like. I am anxious to hear how he will ensure that "hard work" (laboring till you die? 60-hour work weeks?) will translate into a decent living. Will he propose a federal minimum wage? I am waiting with baited breath.

“Tonight, I’ll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago. Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.”
 
Uh-oh again. It is the knell of doom that he mentions The Deficit at a time where there is a humanitarian crisis of unemployment, underemployment and downright poverty. I can't wait to hear about this jobs program that is not paid for and conforms to the cruel austerity package laid out in the recent hostage-taking negotiations. He again embraces the Republican credo of Small Government. Nope -- it does not appear that the federal government will be doing any hiring. Nor does it appear that your father's Democratic Party will be making any great comeback tonight.

Hope I am wrong. But unless he suggests stuff like scrapping the cap on Social Security FICA contributions and imposing a financial transaction tax on Wall Street trades, tonight's speech will just be more droning on and on and on. And if he suggests "entitlement reforms" such as chained CPI, that impose even more suffering on already struggling people, I am going to throw my sock at the TV. I am not so stupid as to actually throw a heavy object at my TV, because then I might miss out on all the talking heads talking up The New Improved Aggressive Obama.

Suggestions for fun: take a drink or throw a sock every time he mentions Middle Class, Deficit, Fair, Responsible, Balanced Approach, and Future.

26 comments:

falken751 said...

I didn't have to waste any of my time watching him lie, he always lies. I knew I could read your column and find out what I already knew, he would lie amd lie somemore etc etc.

James F Traynor said...

Keep your eye on the little pea boys and girls!! Watch it move, slide and slither! Here it is and there it goes! Safe under a shell. Now pick your shell and double your money! There it is little lady! Can't fool the little lady and here's double your money. And here the pea is moving again! And under the shell. Try your luck sir! Double your money!

Jay - Ottawa said...

Borrowing from falken and James, a new sobriquet: THE ILLUSIONIST.

Karen Garcia said...

Hi All,
I missed Obama's speech. Shortly before he went on, my daughter had a severe anaphylactic episode, and my living room was filled with EMTs and oxygen, EKG, the works. We think a fresh pear was the culprit, but since that had never happened to her before, who really knows? It was one of the scariest moments of my life. And hers. She went from fine one minute to not being able to breathe the next. Face, tongue swollen, throat closed up, etc., hives all over her body. Thankfully she got immediate and excellent care. The ER finally sent her home at 4 a.m.

Maybe I will look at a replay of O's speech later. But I gather he did call for austerity and a rise in the minimum wage to nine whole bucks by 2015! Yippee. Happy days are here again.

Kat said...

Tom Friedman, Tom Friedman-- yes, his grubby handprints were all over this speech (with a dash of Nicholas Kristof --"empowering" and "educating" women to end global poverty).
Neoliberals have won. They keep offering up the same tired solutions that keep failing and the answer is more of the same. Except more! Of course. These aren't real solutions. They are diversionary techniques. Are we making ourselves indespensable to employers? Are we innovating? Are we adding value? Keep asking these questions and never mind the rotten system. Even much of the left seems to embrace this entrepreneurs as an agent for social justice fairytale.
Same old crap from TF today complete with cute neologisms. And by that I'll go with Merriman Webster's second definiton of the word: a meaningless word coined by a psychotic.

Here is kind of an anti Ted talk. This guy popped on my radar when he wrote a nice op ed in the NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/how-food-replaced-art-as-high-culture.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

In this talk he takes on the idea of "conscious capitalism" and our inability to imagine the government taking on big projects (that don't involve surveillance and killing, that is). He also makes the not small point that much of what is being innovated even in the most vaunted of establishments isn't particularly innovative. I am reminded of this every time I read about a new shopping app. I don't have a smart phone but even if I did I would find a few more check out lines staffed with actual people far more helpful than something that alerts me to which ice cream product is on sale.
http://vimeo.com/46254409


Anne Manynames said...

Karen

Life is too short to waste it watching Obama. At this stage in our lives, who wants to squander what's left listening to another staged performance of empty words and endless lies? Personally, I find Dear Leader contemptible.

FYI: There is something called Oral Allergy Syndrome where a cross-reactivity occurs to certain fruits and vegies. I believe it is due to their being genetically related. Some people end up with itchy mouths, some with full-blown anaphylactic reactions.

People with birch pollen allergies can get reactions to pears as well as to kiwi, apples, peaches, plums, coriander, hazelnuts, almonds, etc. Perhaps certain types of pears are worse, I wouldn't know. (I won't even mention the pesticide possibilities).

I read that oral sensitivity tends to develop over time, with repeated exposure to inhaled pollens. Apparently cooking may help since it often breaks down or alters the trigger proteins. Peeling may help also, since most trigger proteins are in the peel. Canned fruits may also be a safer option.

Will said...

Glad your daughter's OK, Karen. Scary, scary stuff!

Now, I'm not a doctor, but I play one on the internet from time to time. My advice for the two of you is to just relax and take it easy today. No catching up on stupid Obama speeches, no nothin'.

Except maybe this ridiculously cute kitty video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLcwC66_-No

Denis Neville said...

Karen, I’m glad that your daughter got immediate and excellent care and is doing well.

Seeing someone experience an anaphylactic attack is a truly frightening experience.

In my experience in healthcare, I would have to rank anaphylactic shock and status asthmaticus as two of the scariest scenarios I have ever encountered. They present with little warning and can deteriorate so rapidly if they do not respond to treatment.

spreadoption said...

Karen,

I second Will's suggestion that you take whatever time you need to recover from yesterday's crisis.

Just a few weeks ago I experienced a sudden near-death episode with my partner that required a day in the ER followed by a day in ICU. She's fine now but we're both changed in subtle ways. For the better.

Your work is extraordinarily significant as you guide us, your readers, through the quagmire that is our society. But we can wait a bit while you count your blessings.

Zee said...

Karen--

I, too, am glad that your daughter received immediate care and is on the road to recovery.

Like Will, I'm not a physician so you can't regard this as sound medical advice, but Mrs. Zee and I never travel anywhere without carrying Benadryl (sp?) close at hand.

In the era before cell 'phones, we were camping in a remote corner of Wyoming, when Mrs. Zee started to feel her windpipe closing and breathing began to be difficult.

She immediately dosed herself with Benadryl while I started to close up the camper so we could drive off in search of medical assistance, who-knows-how-many-miles-away.

By the time that I had us ready to travel, however, she felt her windpipe loosening and breathing became easier.

We decided not to chance it and sought out medical help anyway, but by the time we finally found it, she was already fine.

That Benadryl may just have saved her life.

Now, she carries an EpiPen all the time, but we also take that Benadryl with us when we're likely to be some distance from medical help.

If she hasn't already done so, your daughter may want to pursue the EpiPen alternative with her primary care doc.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Just want to chime in with others wishing you and your daughter well.

Zee said...

Will--

My favorite kitty video:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2fmMTGf6dI

Denis Neville said...

Obama’s bold progressive agenda!

Our North Star!!

"We have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong.”

Never mind that he is still fiddling with Social Security and Medicare benefits.

He will deliver growth and jobs “to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth - a rising, thriving middle class” and not raise the deficit "by a single dime."

What's with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? “Trade that is free and fair supports millions of good-paying American jobs.” Wasn't NAFTA enough of a disaster?

How are we supposed to believe anything he says after he says he's kept Congress fully informed about drones and targeted killing?

As one wag commented, “The easiest way to analyze a speech of Obama is to assume that everything he says is a lie. Comparing the lie to the known policy helps suss out what propaganda lines he will be using in the coming months and where the shiv is likely to go in.”

We’ve been warned!

Denis Neville said...

My two cents:

If you've experienced anaphylaxis once, your risk of having another serious reaction increases. Future reactions may be more severe than the first reaction. Don’t mess around. I’ve seen too many people hesitate with serious consequences.

For this reason, your daughter’s physician may recommend her having an epinephrine autoinjector (such as EpiPen). It is intended only for immediate self-administration in case of emergency until EMS first responders get there.

Seek immediate emergency medical treatment. Don’t self-medicate. An attack can present with little warning and you can deteriorate very rapidly. Call 911. Don’t drive to the ER.

Anaphylaxis always requires an immediate trip to the emergency department.

Anonymous said...

Howdy, Karen,

How terrible for you and your daughter both! I'm so glad that everything is now as it should be once again, and also that you've gotten such good suggestions here (as well, no doubt, as advice from your daughter's M.D.).

Your words as to the SOTU were, as usual, spot on. If you do watch it (and why would you?), you'll probably conclude that all he did was identify the areas in which he plans to be especially tender toward corporate interests over the next year. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what his To Do list actually amounts to.

Your neighbor,
Keara

P.S. You've helped me a lot over the last several years to see him more clearly.

Will said...

Zee,

Excellent choice for a favorite video. I could watch these furry little creatures on the prowl all day, especially when their prey is one another!

Since today is Cool Cat Day here at Sardonicky, I would be remiss if I didn't include a couple clips from the oeuvre of Maru, the most famous feline on all of YouTube. If you've never heard of this box-loving goofball before, y'all are in for a treat:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdhLQCYQ-nQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPzNl6NKAG0

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and for sharing your medical knowledge. Kat (my daughter) is feeling much better and is now equipped with two EpiPen kits, one for home and one for "abroad."

Pearl said...

It is nice to see comments of concern about Karen's recent frightening
experience with her daughter who went into anaphylactic shock and
fortunately got help in time and is doing well. I wrote privately to her since I have a family member who is at peril for certain medications, etc. and can sympathize completely with this situation. Anne, your advice about the dangers in eating certain foods makes sense. For all we know that pear her daughter ate may have been sprayed with some noxious herbicide.

As for Obama's speech -. What is interesting is what is NOT discussed and what he proposes for the middle class (hey, what about the people living in poverty don't they count?), sounds great until you begin to wonder how this magic trick
can be accomplished politically and financially. Of course it is a perfect
distraction to the real facts about our sinking Ship of State which were
grossly misrepresented in his speech.
And should anything he promises us actually be put on the table and passed, who and what is going to be shafted to pay for it?

The polled high approval rate indicates that once more he has fooled lots of the people for lots of the time.
I had a relative who was prone to exaggerate and lie about events, mostly to make herself look more important and successful. I once asked another family member whether she thought that she actually knew that she was lying to manipulate others or truly believed her stories. The reply was that no one had been able to figure it out.




Zee said...

Will--

Thanks for the great videos of Maru!

Once again this is probably too much information about Zee, but Mrs. Zee and I had always thought of ourselves as “dog people.” That is, until 2006 when a friend involved in animal rescue--and who knew how much we missed our recently departed Labrador Retriever--said “I’ve got the perfect starter cat for you!”

We were skeptical, but she was insistent. “Alright,” we said, “but if she dares to climb our tower speakers or draperies, she’s coming straight back to you, faster than the speed of light!” And so a bargain was struck

Turned out to be the least-destructive, most-sociable and affectionate little cat imaginable! We loved her like the children we were never able to have, and as much as--if not more--our previous dogs.

Alas, we lost her a year ago to kidney failure, for reasons that remain unexplained. She was not old as cats go.

Now, our yard is too small for dogs, and we are terrified to try out another cat, for fear that s(he) will never measure up to Miss Maisy.

It’s amazing how much space a little, bitty, eight-pound+ cat can fill in a house, and how empty that house can seem in her absence.

John in Lafayette said...

Karen,

So very glad to hear your daughter is well. Members of my family have had similar experiences and I know how frightening they are.

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee and Will

My contribution to “cool cats” is Henri the French Existential Cat:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q34z5dCmC4M&list=PL1C665E09E6F1214F

Dogs versus cats. Dogs come when they are called. Cats take a message and get back to you. Like Henri would.

Last week I had to have my cat, who we adopted years ago (or I should say she adopted us) to be a companion for my wheelchair bound son, euthanized. She was suffering from dysautonomia (malfunctioning autonomic nervous system), a rare condition in cats predominately here in Kansas and Missouri.

I miss her and will always wonder like Montaigne.

“When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?”
― Michel de Montaigne

Kat said...

Zee-- 8 pounds! She must have been a cutie!
Denis-- Will it sadden you to hear that Henri is shilling for Friskies now? Sorry to hear of your cat's passing. Euthanizing gets harder and harder as I get older. I didn't think that would happen.

Zee said...

Kat and Denis--

Yes Miss Maisy was indeed an elfin cutie.

And it seems that even a weighty--and world-weary-- philospher such as Henri can bought for the right price:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sJBBwNrdk8

Still, I bet he held out longer than Obushma.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@Denis

Thanks for introducing me to Henri. He turned my day around with just one of his deep lines.

Do you suppose you could entice him over to register as a follower of Karen's -- maybe we could use another name instead of "follower" in his case; and, if his agent would allow it, have him comment when he feels at ease among us ? He would be such a perfect fit here among so many cat lovers -- and I'm so bored with the number 279.

Anything he wants, anything for more of Henri's dark but exquisite "aperçus."

Denis Neville said...

@ Kat - Henri is shilling for Friskies???!!!

More likely, if Henri’s point of view were known, it is “the thieving filmmaker,” who had to take French lessons, “who steals my torment for profit.”

Henri once tweeted, “People often wonder, "Where is that damn cat?" Yet, rarely does anyone contemplate, "Why is the cat damned?"

Denis Neville said...

@ Jay – Entice Henri?

Could Henri be tempted? “Sometimes when the world is keeping you down, you have to rise up and fight back…”

“Or take a long nap.” So likely not.

Henri often sleeps because “every time I open my eyes, the world is still there.” “Life is nothing more than a long string of disappointing moments. It is best to sleep through as many of them as you can.”

Some have asked if Henri dreams in French or English. “It is neither. I dream in false hope.”

Henri quotes Kierkegaard, "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a nap to be napped," saying “I think I got that right.”

Henri also practices "selective social avoidance," or "hiding under the couch".

But you can enjoy, as I do, Henri, Le Chat Noir - filled with ennui...and Party Mix - on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/HenriLeChatNoir