Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On the inauguration

I didn't watch. My family and I went birding. We had a great time. We went to a small local reservoir that we go to often. We saw some Common Mergansers, which I have never seen on that lake before. The highlight was chancing upon a flock of about 10,000 Red-winged Blackbirds. Overwhelming without being frightening. But enough about birds.

I've read the President's inaugural address and have a few comments. Many of these points have been noted elsewhere.

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. "

He flubbed one of my favourite trivia questions. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. How many men have been President of the United States? Answer: 43. Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president, but only one man.

"we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

That's right McCain ran on a program of fear, conflict and discord.

"For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh."

And Iraq and Afghanistan. To ignore the battlefields of the wars in which are currently engaged is ungracious, at best. (The Argonne and Chosin could have been mentioned as well, but then those are forgotten men from forgotten wars.)

On a broader point those that traveled across oceans, toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, didn't do it for us, they did it for themselves and their families. We reap the benefits of what they did, but that's not why they did it.

"But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

Unpleasant decisions, like committing troops to an unpopular war? Protecting narrow interests, like making it easier for union thugs to intimidate workers by denying them the right to a secret ballot?

"We will restore science to its rightful place."

Meaning we will keep it way from politics? Or use it as a hammer to beat on our opponents? Seriously, science is not equipped to make value judgements. You can use the scientific method to determine the effects of hypothermia by experimenting on humans, But it isn't science that will tell you that it is morally repugnant to do so.

"(We will) wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost."

Aside from the weird use of wield here, technology raises health costs, not lowers it. 1960s health care was much cheaper. It also didn't have today's wonder drugs, MRI machines, robotic surgery, endoscopic surgery, CAT scans, advanced monitering like Oxygen saturation monitors, the list goes on and on. These are great things, but they are also expensive.

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works ... Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end."

I look forward to the list of programs that will end, or maybe this is just a rhetorical device to defend big government.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. "

Not so subtle dig here at his predecessor, here.

Sigh, I can't dissect this any longer. A dominant theme was that America needs to change, and change everything. We need to start doing things, many of which we already doing, and many of which don't need to be done. The near past is to be rejected.

At the same time, it is good to here a Democrat speak well of the founding fathers. The president did well to reach to the founders, and forgo anymore strained comparisons to Lincoln.

All in all it was not a bad speech, and he speaks well when he has a script, but, at least when read, it was not a stirring speech. It had some good moments, and it is good to here someone from the left embrace our history and patriotism, although those words might not mean what they think they mean. It had its downsides too. I was obviously a speech from the left, although that was to be expected. The greatest flaw was the inclusion of the ungracious, unsubtle snipes at President Bush. Perhaps he has moved for so long in circles where outright hatred of the right is the norm, he does not realize that oblique insults are still uncouth, given the occasion.

The address aside, I have said that the President deserves the respect due to his office. That does not necessarily apply to his jack-ass, moronic supporters. The left greeted the Bush presidency by throwing eggs at his motorcade after his inauguration, and ended it by booing and chanting na-na-na-na, hey, hey good-bye. In between there were comparisons to Hitler and chimps, ridicule and hatred. To steal a line, now I know what the left means by a classless society

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