Monday, February 20, 2012

A True Patriot: Barack Obama SOTU 2012

President Barack Obama started out his fourth the State of the Union (SOTU) in a smart way: patriotism.  He said the Iraq War was successful and the killing of Osama bin Laden was also included in this section of the speech.  While I agree that finally murdering his assembly was pretty much the greatest take down since Adolf Hitler took down himself, I cannot stand beside the President on his position of the Iraq War.  It’s really not his fault, as he inherited it from President George W. Bush, there is no way he can possibly actually believe it was a success.  There was no way that war could be successful because it wasn’t started for a real reason at all.  It started with a war on weapons of mass destruction.  Then we found out those didn’t exist.  Then it was dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Where the transition was made from WMDs to freedom, the world may never know.  The point is, I think the President was saying what he had to.  It’s not like he could go out and admit losing American soldiers’ lives didn’t end in a successful way so much as just end.  That wouldn’t show confidence and could even be misinterpreted as anti-American.  Which is the last thing he needs.

Next, Obama moved to the American Dream, another move to instill feelings of patriotism and togetherness in the American people.  He wants to bring jobs back to America by stopping offering tax breaks to companies who outsource would-be jobs for Americans.  He called this a restoration of American values.  That was smart.  It makes people think of moving jobs overseas as not only irresponsible, but as a move specifically against America.  Which, yeah, it pretty much is.  That inference is accurate.  To move our economic potential somewhere else is a very me-centric way of thinking.  Based on the way the American economy has been heading these last 10 years or so, that’s not working out so great.

On the same lines, Obama said he wants to become more energy independent as well as for more United States markets to go international with their products; investigate unfair trading in China; and train more Americans in a specific trade.  All of these ideas can be said in sum by using just three words: jobs, jobs, jobs.  And this is very important to the American people right now.  Millions of folks are out there struggling because their either under qualified due to a failure of an educational system or because there just aren’t jobs in their specialty available.  The aforementioned actions would open up millions more jobs for Americans and give the economy a major boost.

Then, Obama started talking about education and I had a lot of moments where I just didn’t know why he was saying what he was saying.  If I were to offer advice to him it would be this: DO reward teachers; DO offer the tuition tax credit for college students; punish educational institutions for unreasonable raises in tuition rates; DON’T torture teachers and the children by keeping kids in school against their will until they’re 18.  That last one is a biggie.  Because there really is no benefit to it.  There is a tiny possibility a student or two will change their tune between the ages of 16 and 18, but it’s not worth all of the other kids’ educational and possibly emotional suffering.  It’s a waste of teachers’ time and tax-payers’ dollars.

Then, Obama moved onto the subject of immigration.  To no one’s surprise, it’s the same thing he has been saying for years.  Guess he’s not rushing to actually jump on that issue.

Here he discussed the almighty dollar.  He said he wants to extend tax breaks to small businesses to help them grow more easily, continue providing grants to medical and technological projects, capitalize on this country’s natural gas resources and provide money to improve local infrastructure.  It was like the republicans’ worst nightmare except the part about natural gas.  I agree with pretty much all of this except I am a little annoyed at the desire to siphon all of America’s natural resources.  It’s hurting the earth.  Which is sad.  Because we all live here and Earth can’t even defend itself, save for hurricanes and tsunamis.  We need to work harder on alternative energy.  Can you even imagine the strides we could have made here if instead we had spent the gargantuan number of dollars pumped into Operation Iraqi Freedom on energy research?  Obama also said later in his speech he wants to provide more jobs for veterans.  I think we should educate and train them for use in various energy projects, the ones who aren’t retired, anyway.  But, that is a ridiculous idea which I have no defense for.

Other positives on the money front included the fact that Americans can officially refinance at historically low rates, saving up to $3000 per year and a crack down on large-scale fraud and vowed to have the Financial Crimes unit protect investments so the disaster of the economy of 2008 will never happen again.  I don’t know a lot about refinancing or the economy, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about all that.  But what I do know and what I will say is that’s a bold claim, being that Obama will not be president forever.

He also promised a crack down on insider trading in Congress.  Am I alone in being really taken aback by this?  Maybe I’m just not paying attention or try to see the good in people too much, but the fact that insider trading is happening within Congress is astonishing.  Because obviously people know about it.  Because it is a big enough issue for the President to address it in the State of the Union Address.  It’s just another example of the rich using corrupt methods to get richer.  If these rich people want to complain about the economy, how about the top one-percent all give ten-percent of their money to the government and fix it.  Instead, they’re too concerned with making more money they don’t need and will never use.

The idea of interacting with Iran at all makes me shake in my boots.  Remember when they sent that pink plane back?  They know where we live.  And they do not like us.  But, I have little hope Obama or anyone else is going to go over and develop any sort of diplomatic plan.  This is America.  We don’t say, we do.  Ask Japan.  They learned that the hard way.  But none of us are looking to the total destruction of Earth that may be World War III and I’m afraid what we’re doing messing around with Iran and North Korea is going to be the start of something terrible.

Obama concluded his speech with: "Each time I look at that flag, I'm reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team."  I agree.  And I think we can do it again.  Yes we can.

Cathryn Frear
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

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