Edge of Chaos is a political podcast starring Joe Ryan and Neurotoxin. Its aim is to have a free-flowing discussion of news and current events that also examines the empirical outcomes of public policy, avoiding biases based on ideology and policy intentions. Listener discretion is both advised and encouraged.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SOTU Response: What Planet Is He On?

My analysis of the SOTU address is actually relatively simple and short. It can be summed up in a single question: WHAT PLANET IS HE ON?

-What planet is he on where 8 million jobs created in 5 years is success? We need 125,000 jobs per month to keep up with population growth. Do the math. That's barely staying in the same hole we were in when he took office.

-What planet is he on where the debate over government size and scope ought to be shirked because it's a "hindrance to progress", or where the President is authorized to act on new initiatives unilaterally to address said 'hindrance'?

-What planet is he on where government intervention has led to economic success - in education, in infrastructure, in retirement savings, and of course, unavoidably, in health care? On that note, what planet is he on where Detroit constitutes an example of success?

-What planet is he on where our poisonous cocktail of warmongering and globalism has constituted 'successful diplomacy'? Where are the success stories? Viet Nam? Iraq? Iran? Syria? Afghanistan? North Korea? Venezuela? Yemen? You can't just keep cherrypicking one 22-y-o example in the USSR over and over.

Most SOTU addresses in my adult lifetime (starting with Bill Clinton) have left me in rage and contempt, but I feel this one was very different from any I have heard before. The entire address involved only one mention of partisanship - when he predicted he would never convince Republicans of the merits of Obamacare. The rest of the time, his primary targets were division, gridlock, lack of action on the part of the government, and lack of faith in it. He then shamed Congress for these with flat out lies about successes in domains where government has failed abjectly and completely, and followed up with threats of unilateral action.

This is a crucial change of pace. It demonstrates that Obama realizes his greatest obstacle is not the Republican Party, but a growing and aggressive popular sentiment that government is incompetent, corrupt, dishonest, and inefficient. It is THIS sentiment that elects politicians who opt not to surrender their reason or their principles for the ideological value of "compromise" so that government can keep operating. These politicians exist on both sides of the aisle, and realize their constituencies prefer the government grind to a halt than steal more resources and liberties. They're a minority, but with every election cycle there are more of them. Obama realizes that Republican politicians still willing to sell out their principles are his friends, whereas Democrats that refuse to do so are his worst nightmare. Obama's entire speech was a desperate and transparently dishonest attempt to emotion-bait and scare Americans away from that sentiment; a strategy that has failed him consistently for 5 years and is not about to start working now.

Many of my followers have expressed concern and even fear over Obama's threats of unilateral action. I say his behavior today was very heartening. Ideological political thought is on its deathbed, particularly its modern iteration of Keynesianism. Obama is one of the last defenders of both - growling at us and showing his teeth like a cornered animal. I don't expect the leviathan to go down without a fight. If flat out lies and hollow threats that further alienate voters are the best Obama can do, our victory is just around the corner.


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