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Obama's State of the Union 2012





jmi256
Any predictions for what Obama will say at tomorrow night’s State of the Union address? I have a feeling it will be mainly a campaign speech. He’ll probably try to blame all his failures on others and hide from his own record of government overreaching, destruction of rights and protections afforded to Americans under the US Constitution, higher unemployment, ballooning debt that hardworking taxpayers will be paying for generations thanks to Obama and the Democrats’ failed policies. It seems he has this notion that the solution to every problem is a new government program that throws money at it and adds a layer of bureaucracy (while diverting taxpayer money to campaign contributors – that’s always a bonus). I think he may also say a lot of BS to placate his hardcore, Left-wing base, too. He may even throw a couple of digs at everyday Americans for being what he calls lazy. But what do you think?


Quote:
CURL: The truly dismal state of the union

There is one person — one American among the 300 million of us — who is not to blame for the state of the union. Everyone else, each of you, in some small or large way, bears some share of the blame, but not this guy. Not one little bit.

This guy is Barack Obama. He is not the least bit to blame for the dismal state of the U.S. economy. George W. Bush is, for sure, and that evil Dick Cheney, oh, no doubt. House Speaker John A. Boehner — evil, too — is, of course, to blame. But guess what? So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and every Democrat in the House and Senate.

Now, President Truman made it very clear: The buck stops with him. No passing the buck for that guy. But Mr. Obama blames everyone but himself. Mr. Bush, he says, left the nation in a ditch, a deep ditch, and he’s been digging out since he took office. And Congress? Those guys are just plain awful, he says. So mean. Wah, they won’t do anything I want done! Mr. Obama feels so sure about it that he’s basing his re-election campaign on bashing Capitol Hill.

But with the president delivering his State of the Union speech to Congress Tuesday night, let’s pause here to take as hard look at the real state of America, by the numbers, using only cold, hard facts.

The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

In addition, there are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.

Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)

Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.

Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.

Since December 2008, a month before Mr. Obama took office, food-stamp use has increased 46 percent. Total spending has more than doubled in just four years to a record high of $75 billion. In 2011, more than 46 million people — about one in seven Americans — got food stamps. That’s 14 million more than when Mr. Obama took office.

Median household income has dropped nearly 7 percent in the last six years, taking inflation into account. What’s more, nearly 20 percent of males age 25 to 34 now live with their parents.

Low- and middle-income Americans 65 and older now hold more than $10,000 in credit card debt, up 26 percent since 2005. The average age of the American car is 10 years; in 1990, it was 6.5 years old (by the way, in 1985, Americans bought 11 million cars; in 2009, less than half that, 5.4 million).

On the macro side, America’s annual budget has jumped to $3.8 trillion — and yet the United States brings in only about $2.1 trillion in revenue. The U.S. trade deficit for 2011 was $558 billion. America’s total public debt stands at $15.23 trillion; in January 2009, the debt was $10.62 trillion. Mr. Obama is on pace to borrow $6.2 trillion in just one term — more debt than was amassed by all presidents from Washington through Bill Clinton combined. The debt is rising by $4.2 billion every day — $175 million per hour, nearly $3 million per minute.

So, America, that is the State of Your Union. But remember, Mr. Obama had not one thing to do with it. So don’t blame him when you go to the polls. Blame everyone else, especially yourself.

Source = http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/22/curl-the-truly-dismal-state-of-the-union/?page=all#pagebreak
Ankhanu
jmi256 wrote:
Any predictions for what Obama will say at tomorrow night’s State of the Union address? I have a feeling it will be mainly a campaign speech. He’ll probably try to blame all his failures on others and hide from his own record of government overreaching, destruction of rights and protections afforded to Americans under the US Constitution, higher unemployment, ballooning debt that hardworking taxpayers will be paying for generations thanks to Obama and the Democrats’ failed policies. It seems he has this notion that the solution to every problem is a new government program that throws money at it and adds a layer of bureaucracy (while diverting taxpayer money to campaign contributors – that’s always a bonus). I think he may also say a lot of BS to placate his hardcore, Left-wing base, too. He may even throw a couple of digs at everyday Americans for being what he calls lazy. But what do you think?

Sounds like a pretty standard any party State of the Union near election time address recap, with the exception of the Obama-specific bits. You realize they all work this way, right?? No, apparently you don't Razz
jmi256
Ankhanu wrote:
jmi256 wrote:
Any predictions for what Obama will say at tomorrow night’s State of the Union address? I have a feeling it will be mainly a campaign speech. He’ll probably try to blame all his failures on others and hide from his own record of government overreaching, destruction of rights and protections afforded to Americans under the US Constitution, higher unemployment, ballooning debt that hardworking taxpayers will be paying for generations thanks to Obama and the Democrats’ failed policies. It seems he has this notion that the solution to every problem is a new government program that throws money at it and adds a layer of bureaucracy (while diverting taxpayer money to campaign contributors – that’s always a bonus). I think he may also say a lot of BS to placate his hardcore, Left-wing base, too. He may even throw a couple of digs at everyday Americans for being what he calls lazy. But what do you think?

Sounds like a pretty standard any party State of the Union near election time address recap, with the exception of the Obama-specific bits. You realize they all work this way, right?? No, apparently you don't Razz


See, that is why we get stuck with horrible politicians like Obama. People like you who throw their hands up when failures like Obama is shown and say things like “oh, they are all like that” rather than holding them accountable. Instead of holding them to the results of their actions, you would rather make excuses and try to smooth things over. Sorry, but I don’t expect that “they all work this way”. I expect and demand that they be effective leaders.
Ankhanu
jmi256 wrote:
See, that is why we get stuck with horrible politicians like Obama. People like you who throw their hands up when failures like Obama is shown and say things like “oh, they are all like that” rather than holding them accountable. Instead of holding them to the results of their actions, you would rather make excuses and try to smooth things over. Sorry, but I don’t expect that “they all work this way”. I expect and demand that they be effective leaders.

Incorrect.
The fact that I recognize that the options that we're given are almost all trash does not mean that I've thrown my arms up and adopted complacency, nor that I'm not an advocate of accountability. How can you jump to that conclusion from a recognition that both options are poor? As Ocalhoun has mentioned to you directly, the problem is the system, and it needs to be fixed.

I'm not convinced it can be fixed from within; there is too much inertia and complacency built in, and the politicians would largely have to work against their personal best interest. Neither your Republicans nor Democrats are more likely to move than the other; they thrive on the status quo. I'm not blinded in seeing this based on political party ideologies, as some seem to be. Second verse, same as the first, and all that jazz.

Transparency, accountability, responsibility, all wonderful traits to strive for... just don't be surprised if the people who are making the efforts to be leaders aren't actually leader quality material.
ocalhoun
jmi256 wrote:
Sorry, but I don’t expect that “they all work this way”. I expect and demand that they be effective leaders.

But they do all work that way.

I also demand good leadership from them... But I know better than to expect it.
Ankhanu
heh, looks like Lev has been thinking a little about this lately too.



Plenty that looks familiar in the video, I think.
jmi256
Ankhanu wrote:
jmi256 wrote:
See, that is why we get stuck with horrible politicians like Obama. People like you who throw their hands up when failures like Obama is shown and say things like “oh, they are all like that” rather than holding them accountable. Instead of holding them to the results of their actions, you would rather make excuses and try to smooth things over. Sorry, but I don’t expect that “they all work this way”. I expect and demand that they be effective leaders.

Incorrect.
The fact that I recognize that the options that we're given are almost all trash does not mean that I've thrown my arms up and adopted complacency, nor that I'm not an advocate of accountability. How can you jump to that conclusion from a recognition that both options are poor? As Ocalhoun has mentioned to you directly, the problem is the system, and it needs to be fixed.

I'm not convinced it can be fixed from within; there is too much inertia and complacency built in, and the politicians would largely have to work against their personal best interest. Neither your Republicans nor Democrats are more likely to move than the other; they thrive on the status quo. I'm not blinded in seeing this based on political party ideologies, as some seem to be. Second verse, same as the first, and all that jazz.

Transparency, accountability, responsibility, all wonderful traits to strive for... just don't be surprised if the people who are making the efforts to be leaders aren't actually leader quality material.


Ok, fair enough. Perhaps I was too harsh, but I am eager to discuss your point of view.

First of all what “system” are you talking about when you say it is the problem? Democracy? Lobbying? Something else? First of all, with all the limitations of democracy, it is still the best option available, and I would not want to move to something that restricts our freedoms.

Second, if you are speaking about lobbying and the money that is given to the politicians, the first question you have to ask yourself is “why are lobbyists giving money to these politicians?” I would argue it is because the federal government has grown too large and has too much power (power it was never intended nor authorized to have), and lobbyists are just going to where the power is. Do you think the health insurance industry gave record amounts of donations to Obama and the Democrats “just because?” Of course not. They gave tons of money to Obama and the Democrats because they wanted something in return for their payoffs, and they were paid in spades when Obama and the Democrats took even more power than is provided in the US Constitution and shoved Obamacare, which mandates Americans to buy products from the health insurance industry, down our throats. Not a bad “investment” and that is just one example.

You can argue that lobbyists shouldn’t be allowed to donate cash to campaigns, but they will find other ways to influence and payoff politicians. And sometimes there are legitimate lobbying activities. The real problem is that the federal government simply has too much power, and companies have to lobby or risk being regulated out of existence. However, if we did not allow these politicians to use hard-working taxpayer money to kick back to their campaign donors, the lobbyists would quickly disappear. Why would they bother bribing politicians like Obama if he couldn’t give them a return for their investment?

But back on topic for the moment, the Associated Press has published a fact check on Obama’s State of the Union address, and there are no real surprises here:

Quote:
FACT CHECK: Obama pushes plans that flopped before

WASHINGTON (AP) - It was a wish list, not a to-do list.


President Barack Obama laid out an array of plans in his State of the Union speech as if his hands weren't so tied by political realities. There can be little more than wishful thinking behind his call to end oil industry subsidies - something he could not get through a Democratic Congress, much less today's divided Congress, much less in this election year.

And there was more recycling, in an even more forbidding climate than when the ideas were new: He pushed for an immigration overhaul that he couldn't get past Democrats, permanent college tuition tax credits that he asked for a year ago, and familiar discouragements for companies that move overseas.

A look at Obama's rhetoric Tuesday night and how it fits with the facts and political circumstances:

OBAMA: "We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising."

THE FACTS: This is at least Obama's third run at stripping subsidies from the oil industry. Back when fellow Democrats formed the House and Senate majorities, he sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request. He called again to end such tax breaks in last year's State of the Union speech. And he's now doing it again, despite facing a wall of opposition from Republicans who want to spur domestic oil and gas production and oppose tax increases generally.

---

OBAMA: "Our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program."

THE FACTS: That's only half true. About half of the more than 30 million uninsured Americans expected to gain coverage through the health care law will be enrolled in a government program. Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people, will be expanded starting in 2014 to cover childless adults living near the poverty line.

The other half will be enrolled in private health plans through new state-based insurance markets. But many of them will be receiving federal subsidies to make their premiums more affordable. And that's a government program, too.

Starting in 2014 most Americans will be required to carry health coverage, either through an employer, by buying their own plan, or through a government program.

---

OBAMA, asking Congress to pay for construction projects: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

THE FACTS: The idea of taking war "savings" to pay for other programs is budgetary sleight of hand. For one thing, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been largely financed through borrowing, so stopping the wars doesn't create a pool of ready cash, just less debt. And the savings appear to be based at least in part on inflated war spending estimates for future years.

---

OBAMA: "Through the power of our diplomacy a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one."

THE FACTS: The world is still divided over how to deal with Iran's disputed nuclear program, and even over whether the nuclear program is a problem at all.

It is true that the U.S., Europe and other nations have agreed to apply the strictest economic sanctions yet on Iran later this year. But the global sanctions net has holes, because some of Iran's large oil trading partners won't go along. China, a major purchaser of Iran's crude, isn't part of the new sanctions and, together with Russia, stopped the United Nations from applying similarly tough penalties.

---

OBAMA: "Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."

THE FACTS: Economists do see manufacturing growth as a necessary component of any U.S. recovery. U.S. manufacturing output climbed 0.9 percent in December, the biggest gain since December 2010. Yet Obama's apparent vision of a nation once again propelled by manufacturing - a vision shared by many Republicans - may already have slipped into the past.

Over generations, the economy has become ever more driven by services; not since 1975 has the U.S. had a surplus in merchandise trade, which covers trade in goods, including manufactured and farm goods. About 90 percent of American workers are employed in the service sector, a profound shift in the nature of the workforce over many decades.

The overall trade deficit through the first 11 months of 2011 ran at an annual rate of nearly $600 billion, up almost 12 percent from the year before.

---

OBAMA: "The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home."

THE FACTS: Obama is more sanguine about progress in Afghanistan than his own intelligence apparatus. The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan warns that the Taliban will grow stronger, using fledgling talks with the U.S. to gain credibility and stall until U.S. troops leave, while continuing to fight for more territory. The classified assessment, described to The Associated Press by officials who have seen it, says the Afghan government hasn't been able to establish credibility with its people, and predicts the Taliban and warlords will largely control the countryside.

---

OBAMA: "On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories."

THE FACTS: He left out some key details. The bailout of General Motors and Chrysler began under Republican President George W. Bush. Obama picked up the ball, earmarked more money, and finished the job. But Ford never asked for a federal bailout and never got one.

---

OBAMA: "We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there's no reason why Congress shouldn't at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation."

THE FACTS: With this statement, Obama was renewing a call he made last year to require 80 percent of the nation's electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035, including nuclear, natural gas and so-called clean coal. He did not put that percentage in his speech but White House background papers show that it remains his goal.

But this Congress has yet to introduce a bill to make that goal a reality, and while legislation may be introduced this year, it is unlikely to become law with a Republican-controlled House that loathes mandates.

---

OBAMA: "Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households."

THE FACTS: It's true that a minority of millionaires pay a lower tax rate than some lower-income people. On average, though, wealthy people pay taxes at a much higher rate than middle-income taxpayers.

Obama's claim comes from a Congressional Research Service report that compared federal taxes paid by people making less than $100,000 with those paid by people making more than $1 million. About 10 percent of families with incomes under $100,000 paid more than 26.5 percent in federal income, payroll and corporate taxes. And about a quarter of millionaire taxpayers paid a rate lower than that.

---

OBAMA: "We can't bring back every job that's left our shores.... Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed."

FACT CHECK: Many of the jobs U.S. companies have created overseas won't return because they were never in the United States in the first place.

As Obama said in his speech, U.S. workers have become more productive and labor costs have fallen.

But there are powerful forces pushing the other way: Many of the overseas jobs in U.S. companies weren't transferred from the U.S. They were created in fast-growing markets in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere to serve customers in those markets. Companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index now earn more than half of their revenue from overseas.

That has fueled more job creation abroad. U.S. multinationals cut more than 800,000 jobs in the United States from 2000 to 2009, according the Commerce Department. They added 2.9 million overseas in the same period.

---

OBAMA: "Anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned doesn't know what they're talking about ... That's not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they've been in years."

THE FACTS: Obama left out Arab and Muslim nations, where popular opinion of the U.S. appears to have gone downhill or remained unchanged after the spring 2011 reformist uprisings in the Middle East. A Pew Research Center survey in May found that in predominantly Muslim countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Pakistan, views of the U.S. were worse than a year earlier. In Pakistan, a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid that went unmentioned in Obama's speech, just 11 percent of respondents said they held a positive view of the United States.

Source = http://apnews.myway.com/article/20120125/D9SFO48G0.html
handfleisch
jmi256 wrote:


Quote:
FACT CHECK: Obama pushes plans that flopped before

WASHINGTON (AP) - It was a wish list, not a to-do list.

The nonpartisan fact checkers say the SOTU address by Obama last night ranged from true to mostly true to one instance of half-true:

Quote:
Summary

The president’s State of the Union address got the facts right — mostly.
http://factcheck.org/2012/01/the-state-of-obamas-facts/

Quote:
We'll be examining several claims from his speech and will be updating this story with our Truth-O-Meter items.

Obama began the speech by boasting about job growth. "In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005," he said. We rated that Mostly True

Obama claimed that American oil production is now the highest it's been in eight years. We rated that Mostly True.

In a line that seemed aimed at critics who say he has expanded government too much, Obama said the EPA has repealed a rule that treated spilled milk like oil. We rated that True.

And we checked a claim that "(After the auto bailout) General Motors is back on top as the world’s No. 1 automaker." That rated Half True, mainly because there are few important caveats.
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/jan/24/fact-checking-state-union-address/

About the piece you linked to, the author is already infamous for his bias:

Quote:

Calvin Woodward's Fractured Fact-Check Strikes Again
04/30/2009 by Jim Naureckas

Associated Press reporter Calvin Woodward has a history of straining to catch Barack Obama in factual errors.

http://www.fair.org/blog/2009/04/30/calvin-woodwards-fractured-fact-check-strikes-again/

I'll admit that FAIR is a progressive watchdog, but it's worth noting that Calvin Woodward raised red flags long before this for his inability to be objective in this case.

On edit, here is what the Republican response to the SOTU got by the nonpartisan fact checkers:
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jan/25/mitch-daniels/mitch-daniels-says-nearly-half-all-persons-under-3/
If you're supposedly so interested in the facts, why aren't you as enraged about this obvious Republican lie?
Ankhanu
jmi256 wrote:
... Perhaps I was too harsh, but I am eager to discuss your point of view.

Sure, no problem. I will be quite upfront and state flat out: I'm not really into politics. It's not a subject I follow in any real depth, and, accordingly, my opinions are relatively shallow. Now that that's cleared up, let's proceed Wink

jmi256 wrote:
First of all what “system” are you talking about when you say it is the problem? Democracy? Lobbying? Something else? First of all, with all the limitations of democracy, it is still the best option available, and I would not want to move to something that restricts our freedoms.

A little from column A, a little from Column B, etc.
Democracy, in and of itself, is a brilliant concept... however, in implementation it is highly flawed, and always has been. Like you say, it is the best option, but that's not to say (as you recognize) that it's not without its shortcomings.
Both of our nations are somewhat bound by a two-party system that, though designed with the best intentions and ideals, have not lived up to their intended designs of equality and representation (though our system has more parties, it's still an "Old Boys Club" sort of system, even if we did gain some ground getting a third party in as Official Opposition last election). Over time, the systems have become their own self-maintaining cultural institutions; they no longer even attempt to represent the people for whom they govern, merely (occasionally) paying us lip service in their own interests. This is partly shown in how, really, there are exceptionally little difference among the choices we are given at election time. Yes, they play up big schisms, but, when it comes down to it, they're all working the same system from slightly different approaches, and the net result is the same, though the gross may differ.

The political system is currently designed such that only those backed by the machine have any real chance of holding office... and you don't get the backing of the machine without being part of it. This is why we don't see people gaining any real political success as independents, or members of small or fringe parties. If they're planning on any real change, the established system will ensure failure. Government should work for its people, but, the reality is quite the opposite. Lobbying is an example of how this goes down, and cronyism works within the frame as well (don't pretend that any political party is above it, they all do it, and they do it at all levels from municipal through federal). Politicians work for themselves, and they've created a political system that ensures that they can.

In the end, political rhetoric is just that, and we are just supporting the continuation of the status quo, whether it's in our interest or not. There's too much inertia and too little interest in real reform for politicians to change.

Oddly, I'm not a small government kinda guy. I think government needs the power to regulate, as I really don't think most people are willing to regulate themselves, whether individuals or industries... in fact, I think history pretty plainly depicts that people will do what they feel they can get away with to increase their own short term comfort. Government regulation helps minimize the potential impacts of people doing what they feel is "right for them". I'm also in favour of social programs that help protect citizens, even if it costs me tax dollars. I'm definitely in favour of government scientific research (and, as a result, greatly favour transparency in scientific reporting... this is an issue in my nation right now, and a very important one to me) and development. With this in mind, I feel small government just won't work to protect the integrity of, for example, the environment for generations to come... it simply can't. Moderate to "large" government has its place.

That said, I am definitely in favour of transparency, integrity and accountability. In fact, I feel these are absolutely key requirements for government to function as it should... and these are factors that politician in the modern system absolutely fear. They mean cessation of backdoor, or behind closed door deals, they mean paper trails, they mean, in essence, having to do the jobs we are paying them to do, and they've never really had any plans of doing. I demand these things, but, well, they're not listening.

I am making general statements, and there are honest, hard working politicians with strong personal integrity... but they're rare and the bulk of the system is prepared to keep them that way and as ineffectual as possible.

jmi256 wrote:
But back on topic for the moment, the Associated Press has published a fact check on Obama’s State of the Union address, and there are no real surprises here:

Quote:
quote material

Case in point, in many regards. Standard politician empty rhetoric.
That said, some of it is mildly promising... -ish Razz For example, the first part about oil subsidies, he's actually made some effort there... sure, he's failed (see commentary above), but, he's had another go, and another. There's some tenacity there, which is kinda cool. Sure, it's doomed to fail, but, it's an effort made Razz A lot of what a president declares is, simply, not in their control. In some ways they're talking heads, but talking heads with some big responsibilities and a lot of blame that doesn't entirely belong to them Razz

I'd like to say I expected more from the speech, but, hey, I didn't.
ocalhoun
Ankhanu wrote:

jmi256 wrote:
First of all what “system” are you talking about when you say it is the problem? Democracy? Lobbying? Something else? First of all, with all the limitations of democracy, it is still the best option available, and I would not want to move to something that restricts our freedoms.

A little from column A, a little from Column B, etc.
Democracy, in and of itself, is a brilliant concept... however, in implementation it is highly flawed, and always has been. Like you say, it is the best option, but that's not to say (as you recognize) that it's not without its shortcomings.
Both of our nations are somewhat bound by a two-party system that, though designed with the best intentions and ideals, have not lived up to their intended designs of equality and representation (though our system has more parties, it's still an "Old Boys Club" sort of system, even if we did gain some ground getting a third party in as Official Opposition last election). Over time, the systems have become their own self-maintaining cultural institutions; they no longer even attempt to represent the people for whom they govern, merely (occasionally) paying us lip service in their own interests. This is partly shown in how, really, there are exceptionally little difference among the choices we are given at election time. Yes, they play up big schisms, but, when it comes down to it, they're all working the same system from slightly different approaches, and the net result is the same, though the gross may differ.

The political system is currently designed such that only those backed by the machine have any real chance of holding office... and you don't get the backing of the machine without being part of it. This is why we don't see people gaining any real political success as independents, or members of small or fringe parties. If they're planning on any real change, the established system will ensure failure. Government should work for its people, but, the reality is quite the opposite. Lobbying is an example of how this goes down, and cronyism works within the frame as well (don't pretend that any political party is above it, they all do it, and they do it at all levels from municipal through federal). Politicians work for themselves, and they've created a political system that ensures that they can.

In the end, political rhetoric is just that, and we are just supporting the continuation of the status quo, whether it's in our interest or not. There's too much inertia and too little interest in real reform for politicians to change.

Oddly, I'm not a small government kinda guy. I think government needs the power to regulate, as I really don't think most people are willing to regulate themselves, whether individuals or industries... in fact, I think history pretty plainly depicts that people will do what they feel they can get away with to increase their own short term comfort. Government regulation helps minimize the potential impacts of people doing what they feel is "right for them". I'm also in favour of social programs that help protect citizens, even if it costs me tax dollars. I'm definitely in favour of government scientific research (and, as a result, greatly favour transparency in scientific reporting... this is an issue in my nation right now, and a very important one to me) and development. With this in mind, I feel small government just won't work to protect the integrity of, for example, the environment for generations to come... it simply can't. Moderate to "large" government has its place.

That said, I am definitely in favour of transparency, integrity and accountability. In fact, I feel these are absolutely key requirements for government to function as it should... and these are factors that politician in the modern system absolutely fear. They mean cessation of backdoor, or behind closed door deals, they mean paper trails, they mean, in essence, having to do the jobs we are paying them to do, and they've never really had any plans of doing. I demand these things, but, well, they're not listening.

I am making general statements, and there are honest, hard working politicians with strong personal integrity... but they're rare and the bulk of the system is prepared to keep them that way and as ineffectual as possible.


Well said, that.

I'll just add that when people say 'the system is flawed'... They don't necessarily mean the whole idea of democratic representation is flawed. (Though it is*) And they're not necessarily saying democracy isn't the best form of government we have. (It is**)
It may -- just perhaps -- be that they mean that our particular type of democracy isn't working well. (Surely you'd agree with that, handfleisch and jmi.***)

*Power in the hands of the people will always be a flawed concept... because the people themselves are flawed.
**Yet, it is still the best system we have... because the only alternatives are taking power away from many flawed people, and giving it to just a few flawed people... which tends to amplify the flaws.
***Surely, you must agree, something must be wrong with the system: after all, it's this system that has allowed so many (<insert democrats or republicans, whichever you don't like>) to get elected!
AlexandruEvans
jmi256 wrote:
Any predictions for what Obama will say at tomorrow night’s State of the Union address? I have a feeling it will be mainly a campaign speech. He’ll probably try to blame all his failures on others and hide from his own record of government overreaching, destruction of rights and protections afforded to Americans under the US Constitution, higher unemployment, ballooning debt that hardworking taxpayers will be paying for generations thanks to Obama and the Democrats’ failed policies. It seems he has this notion that the solution to every problem is a new government program that throws money at it and adds a layer of bureaucracy (while diverting taxpayer money to campaign contributors – that’s always a bonus). I think he may also say a lot of BS to placate his hardcore, Left-wing base, too. He may even throw a couple of digs at everyday Americans for being what he calls lazy. But what do you think?


Quote:
CURL: The truly dismal state of the union

There is one person — one American among the 300 million of us — who is not to blame for the state of the union. Everyone else, each of you, in some small or large way, bears some share of the blame, but not this guy. Not one little bit.

This guy is Barack Obama. He is not the least bit to blame for the dismal state of the U.S. economy. George W. Bush is, for sure, and that evil Dick Cheney, oh, no doubt. House Speaker John A. Boehner — evil, too — is, of course, to blame. But guess what? So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and every Democrat in the House and Senate.

Now, President Truman made it very clear: The buck stops with him. No passing the buck for that guy. But Mr. Obama blames everyone but himself. Mr. Bush, he says, left the nation in a ditch, a deep ditch, and he’s been digging out since he took office. And Congress? Those guys are just plain awful, he says. So mean. Wah, they won’t do anything I want done! Mr. Obama feels so sure about it that he’s basing his re-election campaign on bashing Capitol Hill.

But with the president delivering his State of the Union speech to Congress Tuesday night, let’s pause here to take as hard look at the real state of America, by the numbers, using only cold, hard facts.

The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

In addition, there are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.

Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)

Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.

Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.

Since December 2008, a month before Mr. Obama took office, food-stamp use has increased 46 percent. Total spending has more than doubled in just four years to a record high of $75 billion. In 2011, more than 46 million people — about one in seven Americans — got food stamps. That’s 14 million more than when Mr. Obama took office.

Median household income has dropped nearly 7 percent in the last six years, taking inflation into account. What’s more, nearly 20 percent of males age 25 to 34 now live with their parents.

Low- and middle-income Americans 65 and older now hold more than $10,000 in credit card debt, up 26 percent since 2005. The average age of the American car is 10 years; in 1990, it was 6.5 years old (by the way, in 1985, Americans bought 11 million cars; in 2009, less than half that, 5.4 million).

On the macro side, America’s annual budget has jumped to $3.8 trillion — and yet the United States brings in only about $2.1 trillion in revenue. The U.S. trade deficit for 2011 was $558 billion. America’s total public debt stands at $15.23 trillion; in January 2009, the debt was $10.62 trillion. Mr. Obama is on pace to borrow $6.2 trillion in just one term — more debt than was amassed by all presidents from Washington through Bill Clinton combined. The debt is rising by $4.2 billion every day — $175 million per hour, nearly $3 million per minute.

So, America, that is the State of Your Union. But remember, Mr. Obama had not one thing to do with it. So don’t blame him when you go to the polls. Blame everyone else, especially yourself.

Source = http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/22/curl-the-truly-dismal-state-of-the-union/?page=all#pagebreak

I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE Politicians . But obama it's ok Very Happy
deanhills
AlexandruEvans wrote:
I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE Politicians . But obama it's ok Very Happy
Why do you think Obama is OK - what is it that you like about him? Very Happy
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