Obama got off to a good populist start last night when he suggested taking away the tax giveaways to the carbon companies and using the money for alternative energy development. It went downhill from there.
If I hear any more blather about "competitiveness" I'm likely to go out of my mind. I can't see any way we're in direct competition with China, India, Europe, Russia, Brazil, or any other country. We can't compete against China, our current boogeyman, in any sort of labor intensive manufacturing sector, and they can't compete with us when it comes to our most important industry, finance. Speaking of labor intensive pursuits, I heard the President mention that the United States has the most productive work force of any country in the world. A little later, he went on to say how we had to become even more productive.
Hmm... How did we get so productive? Easy. Our captains of industry just lay off workers, don't replace them, and insist the remaining workers pick up the slack for fear of losing their jobs too. It's getting to look more and more like the age of sweatshops in the American workplace, but calling for even more productivity will not do much for our unemployment crisis.
High speed rail won't happen unless major Republican contributors can be assured of getting all the contracts. The President's other big priority, more money "invested" in his Race to the Top education "reform," won't happen either. Personally, I'm happy about that. Race to the Top forces states to compete against each other for a few extra federal bucks, with most of them (and their unionized teachers) coming up losers. With Democrats like Obama, who needs Republicans?
Paul Ryan's response for the Republicans was described by the pundits as "measured," mostly because he didn't sound nearly as crazy as Michelle Bachman, who also delivered a speech last night. It was carried only by CNN — even Fox wouldn't touch it — so it follows that almost nobody saw it. I watched it, though!
Bachman gave what I guess is her standard Tea Party stump speech. Her delivery reminded me of the teacher's pet running for class president, and her remarks were addressed to a space somewhere above the viewer's head and off to the left. Dick Armey, whose group arranged her appearance, should have hired technicians who know where to place the teleprompter.
Frankly, it all makes me sick. There is nobody speaking for the poor, the unemployed, the exploited, the underwater, or the foreclosed. Anybody too young to remember Lyndon Johnson has no experience of liberal government, and so what passes for liberalism today is anything that wouldn't have qualified as fascism in the 1960s.
I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm starting to feel more and more sympathy for the Tea Partiers. They're totally ignorant and working against their own self-interest, but they've got good reasons to be angry — even if they're entirely ignorant of what those good reasons are.