Friday, January 29, 2010

State of the Union rifftrax

The State of the Union address is a time of solemnity, a time of deep introspection, [a time for those of us in the peanut gallery to have some post-partisan fun at the President's expense. Let the games begin!]

You know what else [Americans] share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. [Yes, if there's one thing Americans know, it's how to suffer with digni... dude, this internet connection is so slow! I can't believe how long it takes between the time I type and it gets uploaded! My life stinks! I need a new iPhone.]

if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it -- (applause.) I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal. [And in other news, Pres. Obama lost the dentist vote after his State of the Union speech compared them to bankers....]

Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. [Waiter, can I get a fact check?]

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. (Applause.) I'm also proposing a new small business tax credit – one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. (Applause.) While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.[Take 2 shots for every Republican who belittles this for being too little. Take 3 if they say it's a bad idea.]

There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains [Actually, there is. It's called a population density several times as large as ours making it efficient for them, but not for us. I mean, who uses public transportation in the US? other than snarky postdocs, I mean.]

And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right. [What is 'real'? I say, please send this reform back to the chef, it's only medium-real and I wanted it real.]

Third, we need to export more of our goods. (Applause.) Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. [In fact, I pledge to ship ALL our goods overseas. Then we'll have plenty of jobs!]

To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. [Oh no, more farm bill!  if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republican in my department, it's that we all hated the farm bill. It's about as popular as ... oh, wait, the teleprompter is repeating itself.]

But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. [Just like we're doing with our cotton and farm subsidies that were struck down by the WTO and we've refused to undo! Dang anarchist governments who don't keep their promises...]

Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform [So no more payments to upkeep infrastructure, only new buildings; no tenured faculty, only postdocs; and most importantly, no more payments to administrators who don't interact with actual children.]

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college [that will pay for four weeks at Cornell. That'll show those evil, greedy bankers!]

And by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs -– (applause) -- because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem. [Really, it's the Science departments: too many cool toys and chemicals. I mean, do they really NEED a synchrotron? And do you realize how much the Humanities departments spend on books?]

The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans [Because if there's one thing the current housing/financial crisis has taught us, it's that Americans will pay off their housing loans before feeding their kids, so it's totally safe.]

Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity [Because it's the lack of national movements that make kids fat. Thankfully, they are slow enough that it should be easy to tackle them.]

And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, the process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?" [Yeah, where's my payoff from the lobbyists?]

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. [I just woke up in this hole with a shovel in my hand. No idea how I got here.]

I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit [to my place on the weekend. Shoot a little pool, have a few drinks, ask it nicely to go away.] But we took office amid a crisis. And our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. [Oopsies. My bad.]

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. (Applause.) Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. [So we won't spend any more except in the places that we really want to. Does this mean we won't be paying you or the Congress anymore?]

Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree -- which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year -- (laughter) [But officer, I will stop at that red light at the next intersection. Isn't that the same thing?]

That's how budgeting works. [No, budgeting is what you do to keep from getting deeper into debt, not what you wait to do until you finally get that promotion they've been promising you. Because as soon as you have more money in your pocket, you'll spend even more if you haven't been budgeting already.]

We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to[find out what's actually in it because, quite frankly, no one has gotten through the whole thing yet.]

We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. [We found it in the couch cushions.]

the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. [Because we're not going to freeze them like we will everything else.]

That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, ...  (Applause.) This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline. [which we will continue to ignore as we have every other commission's sensible proposals.]

That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions. [Unless they also didn't pay their taxes, in which case they're good. Actually, lobbyists can and do work in an Obama administration — just not for two years in an area related to their work as lobbyists, according to the candidate’s proposal released in 2008.]

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law [Apparently a century is now 40 years, the first time any campaign finance law was ever passed in this country.]

Now, I'm not naïve. [I'm Hawaiian. I've got my birth certificate right here to prove it.]

I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony -- (laughter) -- and some post-partisan era. ["Barack Obama promised a "post-partisan" era during the campaign." wrote one blogger 2 weeks into his administration who also has a drinking game for the SOTU speech]

And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, [and how whether vice presidents should look grim or merely somber during the speech.]

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills. [I dunno. There are days I think their running for the hills would solve a lot of our problems!]

We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. [How to Serve Citizens: It's not a manual on good governance. It's a cookbook!]

Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security.  Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated.  We can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, [Hooray! I blame Colonel Mustard with character assassinations in the public discourse. Who do you think did it?]

We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security [(laughter) oh wait, why am I the only one in here laughing?]

As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people.  ... We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. [I can see the new Republican bumper sticker now: Only 217 more shopping days until Jihad.]

And that's why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment [and let me tell you, national commitment's handwriting is really terrible, so it's difficult to forge.]

I've embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan [which is why I need these trifocals.]

To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades.  (Applause.)  And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C. [keep them together as one big group, and blow them up!]

That's the leadership that we are providing –- engagement [I didn't even know we were dating!]

the promise enshrined in our Constitution:  the notion that we're all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else. ["You see, the great secret, Eliza, is not a question of good manners or bad manners, or any particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls. The question is not whether I treat you rudely, but whether you've ever heard me treat anyone else better." - Prof. 'Enry 'Iggins]

And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system -– to secure our borders and enforce our laws, [So we're fixing it to make sure no one gets in, okay....] and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation. [by working in one of our sweatshops in their own country instead of coming here for better pay and working conditions.]

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions -– our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government –- still reflect these same values.  Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women [wondering why the people above them are megalomaniacal kleptocrats.]

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers.  We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election [Yes, we can!]

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. [Michael Steele asks: "Can you give us some examples of setbacks you deserved? We'll try to give you more of them!"]

And what keeps me going -– what keeps me fighting -– is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.   [And I will not rest until it is squashed! Bwahahahaha!]
I started this intending to be serious and quote parts I liked, but then I started getting silly and decided to change the whole tone. Really, though, the President put forward a lot of very good and noble ideals which, if followed, would be a blessing to our country. That has long been among his strengths, the ability to inspire. I took heart that he took both parties to task on a regular basis because the political problems have come from both.

I'm quite concerned about how cavalierly he addressed the deficit and his line about "with all due respect to separation of powers." With all due respect is always a prelude to showing very little, and he says that to the Supreme Court while he dressed down the legislature like lackeys, without any respect for separation of powers. Without the fact checkers at my hand, nothing I've read from independent sources about the health care bill lead me to suppose it currently looks anything like his description. I also notice that the protection he wants health care reform to offer is against "the worst practices of the insurance industry", not from ill-health. I think there may be a lack of focus on the real issue.

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