The State of the Union, President Obama and things completely unrelated

The State of the Union, President Obama and things completely unrelated
image: cbsnews.com

As promised in Friday’s piece, we are going to discuss the following paragraph (unedited) today, sometimes referred to as The Paragraph:

“Listening to the State of the Union address last night with Obama one would feel that everything in America is as rosy as can be. But realty set in on the stock market today. Between 1/3 to 2/3 of American crude oil companys can close and that I’ll put thousands of people out of a job. Fracking is what kept our economy up. Our economy would have suffered a depression instead of a recession.  Today the stock market dropped over 364 points; this year to date -1300 pt. sell off is over the expected 10% general corrections in a market.   2/3 of the S&P stocks is in bear territory. Hold on to your hats cause here we go again!”

Regarding The Paragraph, some of you have already commented on things like syntax, spelling, composition, content, the quotation marks on “depression” and the apostrophe in the word, “company’s,” but none of that is germane to this discussion.

It’s definitely not germane that the writer probably did not listen to the address with Obama, as The Paragraph seems to indicate.

I don’t know the provenance of The Paragraph, but I suspect that somebody was eager to post it without proofreading it.  In the mind of that writer, it was a shot at the President and some of us seem all too eager to take that shot.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

The State of the Union (SOTU) generally starts out with the president saying something about the state of the Union being strong.  The modifier varies, sometimes they say, “stronger” or “strongest” or other words to that effect.

In the case of last Tuesday’s SOTU, President Obama finished his address by saying that the state of the Union was strong.  Other than that, it was pretty standard State of the Union stuff.

It’s the president’s job to give Congress an account of the state of the Union and a little bit of a pep talk, as well.  It’s the job of the opposing party to say that the president was lying and that things are much worse than he’s telling us.

That is about the one and only job that Republicans seem to take seriously these days.

The routine has been pretty much the same for the last couple hundred years, but there have been exceptions.

Back in 1860, four months before the beginning of the Civil War, James Buchanan declared that “the Union of the States, which is the source of all these blessings, is threatened with destruction.”

During the 1975 recession, Gerald Ford admitted: “I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good: Millions of Americans are out of work. Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions more. Prices are too high, and sales are too slow.”

Personally, I found President Obama’s version much more appealing.  I don’t need anyone telling me what I can see out my window or by watching cable news.

Following the remarks about the President painting a picture of America as “rosy as can be,” The Paragraph tosses in a bunch of stuff about the stock market, oil companies and fracking.  While most of it is inaccurate, it’s typical of the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ted Cruz, Tea Party approach.

Put the President’s name in a bucket, throw in a bunch of bad stuff and see what sticks.  Do it often enough and pretty soon he’s wearing all those crazy stickers.

The president is not your stock picker or financial adviser.  Don’t rely on him to tell you what the stock market is doing or expect that he’s going to have any great influence on it.

In modern times, the economy has done better under Democrats than Republicans.  That’s a fact.  Anyone want to go back to 2008?

If however, you blame President Obama for the current instability in the stock market, then you have to give him credit for an unprecedented (that means it never happened before) six year bull market that saw index levels triple, crushing previous highs.

You have to give him credit for an unprecedented (still means it never happened before) 70 months of job growth and cutting unemployment in half.

None of that, though is his job.  The only thing the president swears to at his inauguration is to uphold the Constitution.  That means, if the Supreme Court says that two men can marry, then that’s the law of the land.

To say that fracking kept the economy up is just plain ridiculous.  It doesn’t merit discussion.  The month that President Obama took office saw 750,000 jobs lost.  That’s probably more than all the people employed in fracking and support industries at that time.

You can read more about fracking here.

Arguably, it was the bailout of General Motors that stopped the economic implosion.  You can thank GW Bush for that one.  The stimulus packages probably helped a bit, as well.

Neither does the difference between recession and depression merit discussion.  The measurements of expansion, contraction and time frames are mind numbing.  Economists illustrate it like this:  “When your neighbor loses his job, it’s a recession.  When you lose your job, it’s a depression.”

Governor Cuomo banned fracking in New York last year because of the negative impact it has on the environment and on the health of local residents.  In other states, new wells have been put on hold because it’s no longer a profitable enterprise.  At $30 a barrel for oil, there isn’t enough profit to drill new wells or to operate the costly extraction process of fracking.

The Paragraph, I think is trying to link President Obama to the problems of the oil industry, but that’s just a matter of supply and demand.  There is a worldwide glut of oil (oversupply) and demand is down from the days when China was building city after city in preparation for an urban migration that never occurred.

As far as The Paragraph’s stock market analysis, it’s a wee bit jumbled.   First of all, a correction is a price slide from recent highs, not from all time highs.  As of the time The Paragraph was written, the market was only down about 8%.

Either way, it’s only a guideline, nothing is written in stone.  Valuations in the stock market are at levels never seen before the middle of 2015, so fluctuations are liable to be severe.

I don’t know what the thing about 2/3 of the oil companies closing means, but I don’t think it’s likely.  Either way, I don’t get the point.

When oil was $100 a barrel, it was the President’s fault.  Everyone knows that oil prices soar under black presidents.  Now oil’s $30 a barrel and that’s his fault, too.  Well, everyone knows that oil prices plummet under black presidents.

My car needs a new transmission and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both my car and the President are black.

During the 2012 GOP primary, Newt Gingrich promised to bring gasoline prices down to $2.50 a gallon, so that must’ve been a good thing for a presidential candidate to promise, right?  Do we thank Newt Gingrich or President Obama now that gasoline is under $2.00 a gallon in most of the country.

The President was unequivocally right about one thing.  The American economy is the strongest and most durable in the world.  Whatever’s happening on Wall Street is nothing like what happened in 2008.

Corporate America is in good shape, not that they’re willing to share any of those massive, unprecedented (there’s that word again) piles of cash they’re sitting on.

If you want to listen to the Glenn Becks of the world, crying about how terrible everything is, and all because of the black man in the White House, that is your prerogative.

I love the sight of Old Glory rippling in the wind.  l choke up when I hear the National Anthem (unless it’s being sung by Roseanne).

I am one American who is happy to hear that the state of the Union is strong.

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