The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘SOTU

Post-SOTU, after I recovered from Chatblu’s drinking game, I noticed an odd meme making the media rounds. The idea was that the Movement Formerly Known as Occupy Wall Street (now known to many as “Occupy”) was responsible for Obama’s embrace of economic populist themes in his speech last Tuesday. Here are some of the stories on the subject.

Obama Channels Occupy Wall Street (US News & World Report)

Occupy Wall Street may be gone from Zuccotti Park, but it is not forgotten on Capitol Hill. You can draw a straight line from the Occupy Wall Street movement to President’s Obama State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Occupy’s Influence on Obama’s State of the Union Address (In These Times)

Income inequality was a major theme in President Obama’s State Of The Union address last night. As I wrote yesterday, the fact that politicians are now openly talking about class in America, a country almost absurdly proud of the fact that its citizens don’t discuss class relations, is a major triumph of Occupy Wall Street and other economic disparity-focused groups.

Obama called economic fairness “the defining issue of our time,” adding that “we can settle for a country where a shrinking numbers of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

That message of fairness has been at the heart of OWS since day one, and the widespread uprisings provided a framework in which the president could finally get specific about his proposal for a “Buffett Rule”: 

“…a requirement that anyone making more than $1 million a year pay no less than 30 percent in taxes. And, he added, anyone making less than $250,000 a year – the case for 98 percent of American families – should not see a tax increase…”

Obama’s speech echoes Occupy themes (SF Gate)

Linking the dominant themes in Obama’s nationally televised address Tuesday to the mantras of the Occupy Wall Street movement would have been unthinkable five months ago. But in having its message echoed in the State of the Union address, the Occupy movement reached a milestone in changing the national conversation.

“Once you say the definition of my campaign is fairness, you don’t have to say anything else,” said Lawrence Rosenthal, an expert on social movements who directs UC Berkeley’s Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements. “It is the central tenet” of the Occupy movement, he added.

What I find odd about this meme is not the fact that Occupy is getting all the credit for something that has been, ahem, brewing for several years. The Tea Party, in fact, was partially about economic fairness. (The lefty  Coffee Party often states that the Tea Party’s goals and its goals are about 50% aligned. Obviously, this is not because they agree on social issues.) We all know that the civil rights movement did not, in fact, start with the refusal of Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus. But her courageous act was the spark that ignited a long-burning fire. So it was with Occupy, which was first ignored by the media, and then, after horrifying photos and videos of police brutality against Occupiers became widespread, became as trendy as FaceBook. When the well-compensated bobbleheads on CNN burble on about “the 99%,” you know that the national conversation has, indeed, changed.

No, what I find odd is that people seem to believe that because Obama talked like a populist last Tuesday night, he has actually become a populist – and they imply that Occupy has created this effect. I can’t help but wonder, are people’s memories really that bad? Or are they desperate for some sort of reason to throw that lever for Obama in 2012?

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Good evening, Widdershins and welcome to the annual SOTU drinking game.  The speech begins in an hour, so please assemble the necessary materials to participate:

(1) Your libation of choice.

(2) A glass of water.

(3) A glass of ice.

(4) A glass of orange juice, orange soda. orange koolaid or gatorade, or liquor.

(5) Coffee, tea, or other highly caffeinated beverage.

I know that’s a number of items, but this will be a complex speech.  Further, the non-alcoholic beverages will be invaluable in assuring that you wake up feeling civilized in the morning.

All indications point to a the speech being basically about the current financial state of affairs.  The speech begins at 9pm EST.

Have a sip of your main libation when the President says:




Bipartisan, cordial, civility or any variant thereof:  Smile as sincerely as possible when you drink.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, troops, Al Quada, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan

China – charge yourself an importation tax of 1/8 sip

Wall Street, One Percent, Upper Income or any variant thereof:take a big, big sip

Main Street, Ninety-nine percent, Middle or Lower Income or any variant thereof:have a  tiny, tiny sip

Special interests

Debt or borrowing: drink from somebody else’s glass while requesting a bailout

Unemployment or Jobs


A fair shake: shake your drink, then sip

Filibuster:  Drink only 59% of a sip.

Have a sip of water when the President says: 

Clear, clearly or any variant thereof.


Add ice to your drink whenever the word “freeze, freezing” or “frozen” is said.

Have a big sip of your orange stuff whenever they show John Boehner.  Make it two if he’s scowling, chug the glassful if he’s crying.

Have a sip of your caffeinated beverage whenever any variant of the word “stimulus” is used..

Fold your arms and refuse to drink whenever he says “lack of cooperation, uncooperative, stonewalling”, or any such term. 

Exercise or flex your biceps whenever they show the First Lady.  (Warren Buffet’s secretary will be sitting with Mrs. Obama – drink a toast to the heroine of the tax wars,)

Bonus:  If the speech is less than an hour in length, mix another so that you can get through li’l Mitch Daniel’s reply.  That is, if you can……………………

I’ll be blogging along with you during the speech. In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite drinking songs from college.


MadamaB’s Mailbox was full of various and sundry goodies this week, Widdershins, yet the unifying theme was all about one thing: “Saving or creating” (wink! wink!) the New Deal.

First, we may have the embryo of a Third Party. It’s called The Job Party. Its mission is to create a grassroots movement to demand emergency legislation creating 15 million jobs – the way Roosevelt did during the Great Depression. Here’s some more from the email:

Tell Congress: Create Jobs Now!

The new Tea Party Republican Congress wants to slash jobs to give more tax cuts to the rich.

They won’t create jobs unless we build a powerful nationwide grassroots movement to demand them.

That’s exactly why we’re launching the Job Party – to create a movement more powerful than the Tea Party. Here’s our plan:

1. A video contest to convince Congress to Create Jobs Now.
2. An Emergency Jobs Bill to create 15 million jobs right now.
3. Rallies this week at local Congressional offices with Progressive Democrats of America. Bring signs saying “Create Jobs Now!”

In the weeks ahead, you’ll hear more about the Job Party. We’re reaching out to progressive leaders and allies to build a grassroots movement that’s far more powerful than the Tea Party.

In 2011, we’ll lobby for our Emergency Jobs Bill. If Congress refuses to act, we’ll recruit Job Party candidates to run against them (on existing ballot lines) in 2012. (emphasis mine)

To become one of our founding members, visit our new web site:
or “like” us on Facebook:
or follow us on Twitter: 

As you might imagine, I have some framing issues with Mr. Fertik, who still seems to believe in the simple, “white hat/black hat” myth that gasped its final breath during the 2008 Obama campaign. No, the Democrats are not always the good guys, and the Tea Party is not the only enemy here. After all, it’s not as though Obama has done anything to create jobs, despite being given the gift of massive popularity and a subservient Congress with a large Democratic majority. In fact, Obama’s policies have been directly opposed to those of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who created the first New Deal. The real enemy here is the oligarchy/patriarchy; i.e., the top 2%, the Powers that Be, the Masters of the Universe. The Tea Party is just one tool of our ruling classes. The Democratic and Republican leadership are also its tools; less blunt instruments which help demonize “the other team” and keep the bottom 98% from rising up together against economic oppression and social injustice.

Nonetheless, if the Job Party really DOES run its own candidates on Independent, Working Families or Green Party lines, I will investigate, then put the good ones on our L 2012 list for our support. (It’s not too early to scope out your local lefties, folks. Keep your eyes and ears open!) Of course, I’ll also participate in any events that seem do-able to me. And, I’ve made a few suggestions already regarding thought leaders and Job creation strategies. You can log in via FaceBook or Twittter, or you can create a new account at the site. Just watch those account settings – make sure you are only sharing what you want to share!

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It’s Thursday afternoon, SOTU + 1, and I’m still sorting through my thoughts. A number of opinions have been offered as to the value, veracity, and “hopiness” of the speech , and they cover the (usual) range from “hit it out of the park” to “liar, liar, pants on fire”. We are now a year and a week into the Age of Obama, and I cannot help but think what we might have should we be discussing the same period as Clinton 44. I found the Boston Herald article entitled “Hillary Clinton candidate platform” and we’ll use that as a basis for comparison and contrast.

High priorities: Ending the war in Iraq, educational reform and strengthening the middle class.

Abortion: pro-choice.

I have to believe that a President Clinton would have never allowed Congress to cave in to anything resembling Stupak/Nelson. I have to believe that she would never have permitted women’s health care coverage for just 9 of 10 systems. I have to believe that she actually learned something about the healthcare system in 1994, as well as while in the Senate from 2000-20008.

Capital Punishment: Supports.

Sorry, Hillary, but I can’t agree with you there. Fl0rida is the buckle of the death belt, and we hold the record for Project Innocence’s triumphs. (Obama supports capital punishment as well. Hmmm……)

Education: Increased recruitment of teachers as well as increased salaries. Reformation of NCLB, using “growth models” to track student progress. Expansion of pre-K and after-school programs, with cost-support provisions for low-income families. Lowering the cost of higher education, addition of $3500 in tuition tax credits, increasing Pell Grant awards, simplifying financial aid processes and providing financial incentives for students willing to enter public service jobs. Reduction of minority drop-out rates, enhanced funding for small schools, and increased recruitment of teachers and administrators in hard-to-serve areas.

Thus far, President Obama has recruited Arne Duncan to address these areas. Duncan has obviously made some major improvements in some of the Chicago area schools with his military-style academies, although the vicious YouTube documentary of an honor student’s fatal beating would imply that there is still a long way to go in ChiTown.

Something is being lost in the implementation on the state levels, however. I have several friends who have been teaching for 25+ years, and they state unequivocally that their class sizes are up, their teachers’ aides are gone, and they can only teach the material on the FCat tests, all for the magnificent sum of about $38,000/year. The teachers that I know tell me that they are inundated with shiny new electronic devices that should “facilitate the learning process”, but still wonder why they require an electronic microphone to teach the third grade. States still face a multitude of unfunded mandates. I’m uncertain as to how she would have handled this differently, but I have to believe that she would have not been quite as disengaged as the current leadership, which seems to be wearing earplugs much of the time.

Experience: Senator, former first lady, law professor and attorney.

As opposed to community organizer, part-time one term Senator, State Senator, occasional “professor of constitutional law” and attorney. POTUS is one of those jobs where real, actual experience comes in really handy, and where the lack thereof becomes painfully obvious much of the time.

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The reviews of last night’s SOTU are coming in fast and furious. So far, “tepid” and “mistrustful” seem to be the operative words.

Ezra Klein, Kool-Aid mainliner, says we’re still Waiting for Barack.

Obama is “Hopeful” according to The Swamp. (Duh.)

The Wall Street Journal pretends that Obama’s Spending Freeze thingy is good fiscal policy.

The New York Times focuses on Obama’s Missteps: In Message or Substance? (Like they can tell the difference.)

The Washington Post says it’s The Audacity of Nope.

Dan Froomkin tells us what Obama should have said.

And, here’s the text of the speech…and here’s the Republican response.


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