Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Parsing SOTU

"Tonight, let's also recognize that there are communities in this country where, no matter how hard you work, it is virtually impossible to get ahead."

Obama refers to the MIDDLE CLASS 8 times in his SOTU address. WORKING CLASS, zero times. His only other mentions of CLASS are in WORLD-CLASS and CLASSMATES, one each.

He actually does use the word POVERTY 4 times and even calls for raising  the MINIMUM WAGE to $9/hr. Good, but that still leaves millions of full-time workers living far below the poverty line and without benefits.

He never mentions the words DRONES, KILL LIST, TORTURE, or GUANTANAMO for obvious reasons. Viewers may have just eaten and small children may be watching. We wouldn't want them to think...

IMMIGRATION REFORM is mentioned once along with STRONG BORDER SECURITY, MORE BOOTS ON THE GROUND and "passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line."

EDUCATION actually gets 15 mentions. Last year, as I recall, it got hardly any.  He's big on TAX CREDITS for corporations (do they need any more?) who provide jobs or invest in ed programs. He never mentions the words, TESTING, CHARTER SCHOOLS, SCHOOL CLOSINGS, or BAD TEACHERS even though they are the core language of RTTT.

One big change:  The past rhetoric about every student needing a college education to get a good job, has become, "...most young people will need some higher education." Maybe it's just the acceptance of the fact that college is increasingly becoming accessible only to the children of the wealthiest among us.

RACE TO THE TOP gets one mention where it's put forward as an incentive plan which "convinced almost every state to develop smarter curricula and higher standards, all for about 1 percent of what we spend on education each year." Is that even legal? Can federal funding be used to push the Common Core? Isn't he just feeding the T-baggers' claimof  too much federal interference?

Look out, high schools...

Obama says he's announcing a new challenge::

"... to redesign America's high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we'll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math, the skills today's employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future."

No mention of CRITICAL THINKING or even TEACHING. LEARNING gets 2 mentions -- LEARNING ENGLISH and "...the sooner a child begins LEARNING, the better he or she does down the road." I guess he doesn't realize that all children begin learning as soon as they enter the world. But we'll let that slide since it was part of a push for more funding for early childhood education.

Mincing words

Obama is the great word mincer. For example, he says he doesn't want "senior citizens and working families to shoulder THE ENTIRE burden of deficit reduction, while asking NOTHING from the wealthiest and most powerful." Well, thank goodness for that. But he then goes on to claim that retirement programs threaten to "CROWD OUT the investments we need for our children."

Old sick bastards, taking food out of the mouths of their grandchildren just so they can pay for a doctor visit!

And finally GUNS are mentioned 10 times including GUNMAN AND OUTGUNNED. Having invited victims of the gun-violence epidemic to the SOTU speech was a good move. And when Obama began naming them one by one, saying, "Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote..." I must admit, I stood up and shouted, "Yes! They deserve a vote."

But then I sat down and asked myself, "a vote on what?" What exactly was the prez asking Congress to vote on? No legislation was proposed and it's unclear what Obama and the Democrats are  even willing to push. Obama never mentioned the words ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN or MULTI-ROUND CLIPS. And while he did utter BACKGROUND CHECKS 3 times, two of them had to do with undocumented workers rather than gun buyers.

When it comes to gun violence (especially here in Rahmville), enough with the pretty speeches, Mr. President. Less talk, more action!

Oh, one more parse. The only time the word UNION appears is in the title, as in STATE OF THE ...

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