Open Thread: Jan. 24 State Of The Union Address

By Arturo R. García

From telling Congress, “I intend to fight obstruction with action” to calling for a more “common sense” approach to handling the country’s growing income gap, last night’s State of the Union address seemed to boil down to President Barack Obama telling his would-be opponents this election year, Come at the King, you best not miss.

But rather than quote more pundits, Racializens, we’d like your take on the speech: was it fair of him to call on Congress to deliver “comprehensive immigration reform right now,” while not mentioning the DREAM Act by name? Can Obama’s announcement of a task force to investigate what he called “the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis” and his “common sense” line be called, as The Guardian’s Gary Younge suggests, a response to the Occupy Wall Street movement? Was his take on what he described as partisan obstruction, as Indiana governor Mitch Daniels said in the Republican response, needlessly decisive?

If you missed the speech, the New York Times has a full transcript here. Otherwise, the floor is yours.

 

  • Anonymous

    I love that there is a democrat in the White House, and I love that Obama is, and always will be, a historic president. The SOTU address is a pro-forma type of thing, that tries to hit emotional points and speak to the widest audience possible. It was “safe” –knowing even that there are those who, no matter what he says, will always be against him because they think he is an illegitimate president, with no right to power.

    That said, I am, as I was with Clinton, disappointed that we are far from being able to have a progressive in the White House. And when Obama disappoints me, it’s because I am measuring him by my progressive standards. I was disappointed that he said too little about what “comprehensive immigration reform” would look like, and especially sad that he never named the Dream Act. Having had (and still have) dreamers as students, with one currently in grad school at the U of Chicago, I am sorry that he has aggressively deported and broken up so many families with his “secure communties” policy. Again, he’s a democrat, but not progressive.

    I thought the high school completion for all idea is a noble one, which will be hard to implement, for some of the reasons already stated by other commenters, but it is certainly something we should aspire to. At the same time as we should really take a hard look at what passes for high school curriculum these days–and compare it to what skills and knowledge people really need to have a shot at a legit job with a decent wage, or college work. I’m finding students are less and less ready for college–even the ones who go to “good schools.”

    I could write more, but class awaits…gotta go teach about pre-Columbian cultures. :D

  • Enid

    A mortgage crisis unit? Shared sacrifice? Responsibility?

    Meanwhile, there are pending settlements that may grant banks, among other things, no admission of guilt, immunity, and small penalties for foreclosure fraud and all of the other ridiculousness they’ve pulled.

    Please. 

    I can’t with this man anymore.

    • Anonymous

      “I can’t with this man anymore.”

      I definitely understand that sentiment, but I don’t really agree with it. I’ve always thought of the SOTU as a largely ceremonial speech – an opportunity for the President to briefly address all of the hot talking points/issues of the moment (even though Obama’s speech was long by SOTU standards). The comments about mortgage crisis units, high school dropouts, etc are not drawn-out policy proposals, but starting points for a larger conversation. Like the one we’re having on this thread!

    • Anonymous

      “I can’t with this man anymore.”

      I definitely understand that sentiment, but I don’t really agree with it. I’ve always thought of the SOTU as a largely ceremonial speech – an opportunity for the President to briefly address all of the hot talking points/issues of the moment (even though Obama’s speech was long by SOTU standards). The comments about mortgage crisis units, high school dropouts, etc are not drawn-out policy proposals, but starting points for a larger conversation. Like the one we’re having on this thread!

  • Anonymous

    I wish that he would stop evoking Ronald Reagan who like Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush used race (Southern Strategy, welfare queen, Willie Horton, ad naseum) to get elected. When Reagan spoke of that “shining city on the hill,” he did not dream of a home there for the Obama family.  The Repulican Party continues to appeal to white racism and is doing all that it can to subvert voting rights. If Michigan’s Republican governor gets his way, over 50% of black folks in that state can kiss democracy goodbye. (see Benton Harbor, emergency manager law).  By continuing to praise Ronald Reagan, the President is feeding us American History lies. Does he admire any Democratic presidents? Kennedy? FDR? Oh wait, he wants to reform entitlement programs. Never mind.

  • http://molecularshyness.wordpress.com jen*

    I was really thrown by his comment on making it illegal to drop out of high school.  I’m not sure what he meant by that, or what his intentions are for doing it.  Does this mean more jobs in the form of truant officers?  This seems like it would obviously have to be handled by the states, but many states are nearly broke.  The dropout rate in SC has been estimated at 30%. (really high, but lower than the ~50% of 2005)  What can we do to make kids stay in school til they’re 18?

    And is that even the answer?  Does this mean the GED won’t be available to kids who just want to go to college early?  What about the fact that since funds are so low, the state has laid off a lot of teachers and class sizes are currently >30-40 (sometimes more) HS students per teacher?  Not to say that stemming the tide of dropouts wouldn’t be a good thing, but that would definitely increase the student/teacher ratio.

    Without pouring federal money into education in all states, I don’t know how the idea is sustainable.  But maybe the funding would come from taxing the super-rich at 30%?

    • k.eli

      Agreed. I also feel that making such a statement completely ignores children who don’t drop out solely for lack of interest – namely, children who must take care of their parents/grandparents/siblings/etc. and simply don’t have the ability or the endurance to be both a full-time student and caregiver. But this class of children seems to be otherwise invisible to the general populace as most people expect the parents to be the caretakers. Unfortunately, crippling illness (e.g. dementia) or disability can cause these roles to be reversed and the children don’t often have very many resources available at their schools to help them. I’m all for promoting the idea of staying in school but I don’t think criminalizing drop-outs is necessarily the answer.

  • Elton

    What is this “Trade Enforcement Unit”?  Sounds like yet another version of the Internet Gestapo that Hollywood and the music industry conglomerates are always pushing Congress to implement.  Are they really trying to protect American consumers from poorly-made or counterfeit products, or are they going to protect American corporations’ profits?

    If you want to protect Americans from “counterfeit or unsafe goods,” you go after Walmart and the dollar stores and other chain retailers that have Chinese workers pump out useless knockoff plastic crap for next to nothing.  If you want to be the Internet Gestapo, you go after the little people like filesharers.  It’s a simple test.  Let’s see the Trade Enforcement Unit reveal its true colors.

    And what’s up with this “I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration” and then in the next paragraph a concession before the fight?  Either you demand comprehensive immigration reform or you don’t.  You don’t ask for it and then say, “Well guys, I know shit’s not going to happen, so I’ll go ahead and give up.”

    • Keith

      There’s no need to take a shot of chinese workers.

      • Elton

        I’m not sure what you mean by that.  The president specifically singled out China.  “Tonight, I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China.”  I’d like to know what HE means by “countries like China.”
        I’d say the tidy little arrangement that the United States has with China, where “counterfeit or unsafe goods” are produced at very low cost by people who have no rights, no freedom, and no choice–people who have long had to endure backbreaking labor, ridicule, and scapegoating to support the lifestyle of people in countries like the United States–is an “unfair trading practice.”

        Life is shit for Chinese people, in China AND in the United States.  The Chinese government won’t stand up for Chinese people.  The American government won’t stand up for Chinese people.  Do they really want to investigate unfair trading practices?  Seriously?  I don’t think they want to follow that lead, because it leads right back to us.  We have met the enemy, and he is us.

        Take Chinese buffet restaurants, for example.  Did you know there are more Chinese buffets than any other kind of restaurant in America?  Where do you think all those workers came from?  Waiting in line to get in legally?  Why do you think Chinese food is so cheap?  Because they get paid minimum wage?

        Fake Chinese buffet food is the kind of cheap crap that fills the bellies of Americans who don’t care about quality or where their food comes from, only that it is cheap.  Chinese products are exactly the same.

        Here’s what will happen.  The TEU won’t trace the problem back to its roots.  They’ll just pick on some scapegoats like filesharers or a few corrupt factory bosses and consider justice served.

        • Keith

          “If you want to protect Americans from “counterfeit or unsafe goods,” you
          go after Walmart and the dollar stores and other chain retailers that
          have Chinese workers pump out useless knockoff plastic crap for next to
          nothing.”

          How is this the Chinese fault when Chinese companies are just meeting the demands of American customers like wal mart and Americans consumers? And also when you talking about Chinese immigrants, America is very selective about who they let into the country ie brain drain, and the folks who get here even the ones that do it illegally have money to do so. They are not poor people who are going to come here to pick themselves up by their bootstraps. Poor people can’t afford to come here.

          And I really have no idea why you are bringing up Chinese restaurants. It’s not like  it’s the only business people can come up with. Allot of folks that get here later in life don’t want to start a second career, and have issues with the language. They  end up opening up restaurants or other businesses.

          As far as what you are saying about the Chinese government, no offense it sounds, xenophobic and a bit racist on your part.