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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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The Blogger’s Dilemma, and a few thoughts on the 'SOTU' speeches

Uploaded: Jan 31, 2014
Today's challenge – why bother to try writing a serious column when The current Most Popular article in the nation's sober newspaper-of-record dissects the waxing trend away from grooming one's au naturelles? That dissertation limits its undercover work to ladies' fashion-driven preferences, but – just a guess here – it may have some broader appeal to the Times' readership.

So … ahem, now that I have your avid interest, let's discuss a few take-aways from the State of the Union. Please stick around – you'll have to read to the bottom to get a link to the Times article, anyway. And I promise I won't use the silly acronym 'SOTU' again. Ever, I hope.

First, it's a remarkably thin Obama agenda. Apparently, five-years of Republican obstructionism has finally convinced the Prez that he's been Charlie Brown to Lucy's football. The grand bi-partisan anticipations with which he arrived have been beaten onto life-support. That really is a testament to the effectiveness of the minority strategy, which is not at-all to say it's good governance. The GOP has managed to set the tone, and lower expectations to something vague on immigration. Good for them; bad for the country.

Second, the scalded-dog yelping about Mr. Obama's plan to differentiate himself from the do-nothings via unilateral Executive Branch tactics has been wondrous to behold. "Komandant Obama" tweeted one Congressman, even before the speech. And "we did not elect a dictator" came out again thereafter. Seriously folks, Obama has issued fewer Executive Orders than any President since that other famous totalitarian, Grover Cleveland. If new EPA regs overreach, Congress is free to bestir itself and block them. And if you still remain convinced that this is an imperial presidency, please see the first point, above.

Third, from our small favors department comes the demonstration of how badly broken the Loyal Opposition party remains: not one, two or three retorts to the President's message, but four. The TeaPer wing itself was not content with only a single response, and trotted-out two of their own. Perhaps they will each have one someday. That's bad for governing, when no one can really speak for the House majority in any unified fashion, but it will be the gift that keeps on giving electorally – if you don't believe me, ask Mike Castle, Richard Lugar and others.

Fourth, the double standard remains alive among Beltway pundits, who gave a free pass to the wincingly shallow performance of the GOP's official, if token responder, Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She spent way too long on her apple-pie bio, intoned 'Obama bad' the requisite several times, and claimed thrice to have 'ideas' but never described Any of them – not one. It was amateurish, and so weightless that one has to assume she was tethered to her sofa. Is that really the best you can do on that pesky gender gap, GOP? To be sure, it was better than letting good ol' Uncle Mike go public with his worst instincts, but Pogo was right. That beat goes ever on, and it's ever tougher for women to dance to it.

As further evidence of Rodgers' free pass, it took several days for fact-checkers to zero-in on her claims, such as the one about "Bette from Spokane" and her reported tribulations with ObamaCare. Those fact-checkers were in Washington State, by the way, not Washington, DC. They revealed locally that Bette had had a catastrophic non-policy with a $10K annual deductible, her comparison cost was overstated by $200/month, AND she has never even gone on the state's exchange to seek the better deals offered there. And yet, she was trotted-out as evidence that "ObamaCare isn't working."

Asked for a response, Rodgers' office has called Bette "a composite of hundreds" of her constituents. Others might call her a "fabrication." Indeed, as Tim Egan points out in a Times article that no one will read because: bikini lines(!), "… in her district, people are flocking to Obamacare — well beyond the national average. Though she has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law, her constituents are doing something entirely different in making their personal health decisions." Every initiative should not work so well.

Her home turf is also heavily subscribed in food stamps, farm subsidies abound, and it has a good-sized Air Force base. Government, however, is the problem. It's remarkable that the voters of such a place have elected such a Representative who is so at-odds with their needs, but that's a topic for another installment of the blog. She must make a mean apple pie.


You skipped to here, didn't you? So be it. Here's the link you're seeking. Hurry back.

Comments

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 5, 2014 at 9:04 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Wow! Six days and still no comments, not even from the blogger himself who is the most frequent person to respond to his own articles. Perhaps the Times link was more interesting or too much of a distraction. No one seemed to have hurried back.

This article about SOTU had one sentence about the president's speech and the rest of the article blamed Republicans. And then it rambled on, like a Seinfeld comedy, about nothing. This was the least watched SOTU speech in many years. People are tired of hearing the man drone on about things that they do not care about. Like global warming. Like free day care for preschool kids.

Yes, the SOTU response was poorly done. But why criticize the response for a lack of content when the blog post acknowledges that the president's speech had no content? Doesn't seem fair.

And why bring up the 'composite' Obamacare victim? Makes me remember Obama's 'composite' girlfriend he created in his autobiography. Others might call her a 'fabrication'.

As to the "gift that keeps on giving", clearly that is Obamacare. First it was the "if you like your plan, then you can keep your plan, period". Last fall it was the failed launch, then the six million policies that were cancelled by insurance companies because these policies did not meet the requirements of Obamacare. Then yesterday Investors Business Daily reported that over 400 companies had cut employee work hours to avoid liability under the upcoming employer mandate. This morning I just read that the Congressional Budget Office has determined that Obamacare will result in a loss of 2.3 million jobs. These are the workers that were not merely cut back to 30 hours a week. That number was revised upward from a mere 800,000 jobs in their earlier study.

However, there was some good news for Democrats in that CBO report. New part time jobs would be created to cover the hours of employees cut back to 30 hours per week. Democrats are probably now thinking that this could be the basis for a new jobs program if more full time employees were also cut back. I seem to remember years ago that Nancy Pelosi said that Obamacare would be a job creator! Now we know what she meant.

More of those 'gifts' down the road? Later this year, the employer mandate will lead to news stories about people losing their employer provided healthcare as companies decide to pay the fines and force employees to seek Obamacare coverage. And before the fall election, healthcare insurance companies will be reporting or forecasting big losses. They will request a huge bailout from the federal government, a bailout that is part of the Obamacare scheme. That should be popular with the American people.

Such wonderful gifts!








Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 6, 2014 at 7:16 am

Hi Doug: much of your comment relates to the new CBO report that came out since this was written -- I need to read it, because both sides are spinning it mightily as either apocalyptic (you seem to agree) or no big deal. Sometimes you just have to go to the source. Maybe next blog? Stay tuned.

As to this one, I am not sure I understand your complaint. I led with the thin Dem agenda, and some grudging admiration for the GOP's starring role in that drama. I don't like it, but there it is, and it was my primary observation.

Your comment seems to suggest that, having done that, the official GOP 'response' should have been immune from criticism. You might have a point if it had really related to the the Prez' speech, but it's in the nature of equal time, rather than rebuttal.

I tried to make two points there -- both poor quality (apparently you agree) and the double standard. I believe a male giving that speech would not have gotten away with its vacuousness, from the so-called analysts. That shows we've got a ways to go as a country before women get equal respect. AND it sucked, on the merits.

As to the fabricated Bette, I don't like fabrications wherever they appear. This one was glaring, recent and went to policy. And it nearly went unreported, in part because of the double standard -- the response from a woman was not taken seriously. Worthy of comment, I think.

Finally, of course I comment on my blog. Is that really surprising -- interactivity is one of the things that differentiates blogs from columns, and I hope for more of it. My comments here are of three types: either responses to ideas, as above (thanks!); sources of further or later information on the topic, in case anyone's interested; and occasional troll snacks when I cannot resist.

Well, maybe four -- I have ongoing conversations with regulars like spcwt and that needy guy who has more on-line personalities than Sybil. sp self-IDs as a troll, and sometimes posts stuff he knows is crap just to stir the pot, but I think he often makes serious points.


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

"much of your comment relates to the new CBO report".

Only three sentences referred to the CBO report. I did go on to then cynically speculate that the 2.3 million who will decide to quit working due to the Obamacare incentive will be the basis for a new Democrat jobs program. The administration will claim that it has created millions of new (replacement) jobs as a direct result of Obamacare. But most of my post was a recitation of Obamacare highlights, or gifts to the Republican Party. None of thiis came from the latest CBO report. They were already in the news.

"I led with the thin Dem agenda".

What points, exactly, did you say about it? None. You merely mentioned the word 'agenda'. Unless you mean that the use of executive orders is an agenda item.

"Your comment seems to suggest that... the official GOP 'response' should have been immune from criticism."

Not true. I was simply pointing out your double standard. After saying there was no substance to the SOTU you then criticized the response for having no substance. Additionally, I referred to your 'composite' comment because it reminded me of about Obama's composite girlfriend which goes to the issue of integrity for this president. Whether it is about his 'girlfriend', the IRS, Benghazi, the NSA, Obamacare, the AP, the threat from global terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, or the development of nuclear weapons in Iran, this president can not tell the truth.

As to the "spin" being promoted about the latest CBO report, one side is saying that incenting people to not work is a good thing because it frees them up from being locked into miserable jobs. The other side says that it is not a good thing to incent people to quit their jobs. Both sides are truthful. We just have to decide which one we favor.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 7, 2014 at 8:03 am

A blog is not a news report. It is opinion, and in mine, the significance was that the agenda was 'thin,' not what 'thin' consists-of -- that can be found elsewhere.

Apparently you are pleased to forgive Representative Rodgers her recent ACA fabrication, because she's no worse than other politicians who fabricate. I think you're setting the bar pretty low. If I was forced to catalog Every politician's fabrications in order to criticize Any of them, well, we'd be here a verry long time. I don't like fabrications, ever. Period. One standard. In my experience, the defense of "You're one, too!" drags everybody down.

As to your double standard attempt: it's silly. Mr. Obama's agenda is slim because the GOP obstructionism has beaten him down, as I indicated. The 'response' was vacuous because there's nothing in it. Granted that you can't describe 'ideas' that do not exist, so perhaps she had a tough job -- but don't tell us you have 'ideas' when they do not extend beyond a visceral opposition to the Incumbent's ideas, and then misrepresent the facts, to-boot. It may not be unusual, but it IS objectionable.


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

OK, now I better understand. Your blog was really an effort to distract attention from the president's speech and focus on Republicans like Representative Rodgers. In my opinion, her speech was not given a free pass because, like all SOTU responses, it had the half life of an ice cube dropped in a gallon of boiling water. It didn't matter. These responses never matter. Unless the president's speech was so empty that distractions will help his position. As I said, after you wrote that the president's speech had no substance, then you criticized the response for having no substance. It is a double standard. It is not silly. When you are losing a point, you seem to become arrogantly dismissive.

I agree with you regarding the president's trouble with Republicans. Unlike most other presidents who rarely control both houses, this president has been recently stymied by house Republicans. Even in his first two years where Democrats had total control of Congress, he trouble getting enough Democrats in the Senate to vote for things like Obamacare. Great recent examples of successful presidents were Reagan and Clinton. They found ways to compromise and get substantial legislation passed. Why? In my opinion this president is unwilling to compromise on almost everything. In an effort to diminish Republican influence, he unleashed the IRS on them. But, of course, there is "not a smidgen of corruption" here!

As to fabrication, "Bette" the Obamacare victim is far less consequential than the president's fabrications about a long list of issues like Obamacare, the IRS, Benghazi, the IRS, NSA, AP, the war in Afghanistan, the nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and on and on and on.

But if it makes you feel better, I do not forgive Representative Rodgers for her fabrication in her very weak response to the SOTU. But no one will remember her response in another week or two. On the other hand, we will be hearing the same stuff from the President for the next three years. And that will be another gift to Republicans.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Feb 9, 2014 at 10:12 am

Distraction, you say? There's a Daily Show for that: Web Link And to continue, in case you can tolerate the occasional disgusting bleep: Web Link


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Feb 9, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Your response has made my point by offering more distractions. When you have no response, you become smug and arrogant. How does that work in the practice of law?


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