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President Obama's State of the Union Speech: WTF?

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By Dave Lindorff

I never expected to find myself agreeing with Sarah Palin, but I've got to admit that the woman nailed it regarding President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address. Asked to comment on it, she said it had a lot of "WTF moments."

That's exactly what I found myself thinking as I read through it!

We've "broken the back" of the recession?  WTF? The official unemployment rate is still 9.4%, and even that is down slightly from a 9.8% high only because so many people have given up trying to find a job and have left the workforce, taking early retirement or just staying home.  And the real unemployment rate--the one that counts those who have given up but would work if there were actually jobs to be had, and those who have grasped at part time work just to survive--is still at between 19% and 22%, depending on how you're counting. Who's Obama kidding: us or himself?

We need to "out-educate" the rest of the world? WTF?  All across the country, school districts are laying off teachers.  In New York City, the country's largest school district, the world's richest mayor, $18-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, recently hired  corporate hack, Cathleen P. Black, a former magazine publisher who has no educational experience or training, but who does have a reputation for whacking employee lists, as his new school chancellor, and has put out the word that teachers in New York, including those who have earned tenure through years of dedicated work, that their jobs are on the line because of a lack of money. In Philadelphia, another or the country's largest districts, principals have been warned to prepare for 20-30% budget cuts next school year--this in a district where 40 kids to a classroom the norm, and where kids still study from dog-eared history and science textbooks dating to the 1970s and "80s.  Obama also talked about the need to focus education on science, math and technology. WTF? What about foreign languages? What about history and political science? What about the arts?  If he had actually checked what happens in China--a country he warned was outdoing us in educating its kids--he'd have discovered that music and art are key parts of every kids's education, and that kids start learning foreign languages when they are little--not in high school. Same in most countries like Korea, Taiwan or Germany, all of which are eating our lunch in global economic competition.

Oh, and that $10,000 one-time college tuition tax credit you called for? WTF? Most state colleges have raised their tuitions by more than that over four years just in the past year, thanks to the budget crunch they're all facing because of declining tax revenues from the continuing recession you say we "broke the back" of.

We're going to "break our dependence on foreign fuels" by switching to biofuels and by "putting half a million electric vehicles on the road"?  WTF?  Everyone with an ounce of knowledge knows that biofuels are a fraud, requiring nearly as much energy input--usually from natural gas--to produce as they create. And as for electric cars, they depend upon generated electricity which is produced either by imported oil, or by burning maximally dirty coal. This is not change we can believe in, or even want. And while we're at it, "clean coal"?  WTF? Sounds like dry water, fat-free lard or courageous politican. 

The tax code is rigged by corporate lobbyists you say?  WTF? Then why did you just hire GE's CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Immelt as your jobs czar--a guy who's company has not only not paid any corporate tax for the last five profitable years, but has actually had a negative tax rate averaging 14% per year (10.1% in 2009)?  Immelt managed to get the government to take our tax money and ship it to him by the trainload as credits, even though his company, one of the largest in the world, is highly profitable. Oh, and he's been closing GE's American factories at a prodigious rate and shipping the jobs to China and India and other cheap-labor countries.

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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)

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