Tuesday, February 24, 2009

America: Portugal of the 21st Century



I watched Obama's state of the union address to Congress tonight. Well, I watched parts of it. I flipped between the speech and two back recordings of "Knicks in 60," which were on my DVR. I still think it's kind of impressive to see a black man as president, although I also know that some day we'll have a female president, and a Chinese president, and an Indian president (dot-dot not woo-woo), and a Jewish president...eventually. I also know the one president we'll never have is a poor president. Just like I find it difficult sometimes to watch certain Hollywood actors play real people when they have never been real people themselves, I find it hard to watch politicians talk about the working man like they have any clue what it means to work a real job, or struggle to pay the bills, or use a coupon at a restaurant.

Obama was rambling about fixing our education, and said we need to focus more on vouchers. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn't applaud, and that's one of the few things (I think) we agree on. I'm not sure how we fix education by using vouchers. What we need to do is overhaul an education system stuck in the 19th century, and we need to provide funding to schools via county or state taxes, not school board taxes. School boards, like many local governments, are monumentally corrupt and inept. Vouchers are like saying to the former residents of Chernobyl and Pripyat that some or even most of them could live elsewhere, but we're not going to stop the radiation leak at the power plant.

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana* gave the Republican rebuttal. I think he was careful not to criticize Obama directly, as Obama is still immensely popular, but I was paying even less attention to the governor. From what I did hear, Jindal said three things I found strikingly retarded.

One was a story about flooding, in which a bunch of people with boats broke the law to save people stranded. The moral he said we should get from the story is that citizens should not listen to the government or follow any of its rules. I think that goes beyond libertarianism and into anarchism, but okay, if I had a boat I would probably break the law, too. People with boats rise above the tide of man's petty statutes.

The second stupid thing he said was part of his criticism of the stimulus bill. He criticized a magnetic levetation train from Las Vegas to Anaheim, California. Maglev trains are fucking awesome. They are efficient and fast. A maglev train could take someone from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than 90 minutes. New York to Washington, D.C. or Montreal to Toronto in less than an hour. London to Manchester in half an hour. Paris to Berlin in less than 2 hours. Besides which, building the railroads and the trains for the Vegas to Anaheim route creates jobs for Americans. What's not to like?

The third stupid thing he said was also part of his aforementioned criticism, in which he ended said criticism with volcano studies. "I dun' know much about dem dere volcaners, but I do know we should give tax cuts to Jesus lovin' Amurrrrkins." We should ignore all geological activity. No one ever died from volcanoes, or earthquakes, or stuff like that.

He also managed to squeeze in a reference to September 11th, 2001:

Remember, remember, the 11th of September
Gay marriage, abortions and pot
If you do not live in fear every day
By a Muslim you will be shot.


*I initially said Indiana. Not that I didn't know which was the correct state, but because I am confused by words that rhyme; it's a crime.