President Obama's tech-centered State of the Union: full text, and digital rights concerns

At the end of the day, it is worth standing back every now and again and remembering the things that have improved. Many of the policies under Bush have continued under Obama, and that’s disappointing. However, imagine if it were actually Bush’s 4th term, or if there had been a McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan presidency. How much less progress would have been made on the environment, climate policy, women’s rights, gay rights, international relations, healthcare, drug policy and a number of other areas? There are still prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, but there has been some progress here too and there are about half as many as there were when Obama first became president. How many wars would the US have entered, given past and present decisions and comments by Republican leaders? All of the money Obamacare has cost the economy would have been spent on the military. Would free community college and a higher minimum wage be on the cards if it hadn’t been for Obama?

We shouldn’t be satisfied with Obama’s record and there’s a lot of deserved criticism of his failure to meet promises, but the last thing Americans should do is act like he didn’t make any difference, and that your vote doesn’t matter.


Paging Dr @Cowicide… We need some 'differences between Democrat and Republican administrations charts, stat!


No, he didn’t do any of that. And at this point in his lame, empty tenure, I can’t imagine anyone actually expected him to say anything other than bland, brainless, feel-good ideas.

After doubling-down and setting new, stupid, regressive records, the guy who came into office promising to get govt on the right track is now reduced to promising free community college and protecting kids from the internet.

That’s some bold executive leadership.

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Maybe we need to differentiate between partisans and republicans/democrats. After all, a partisan supports their party but those two seem to be more focused on opposing the ‘other’ side of the isle (as if both aren’t conservative establishment parties) Perhaps a better word for a republican or democrat is fundamentalist.

Perhaps he should reign in the NSA “to protect the children”. Who but the NSA is introducing back-doors and subverting security standards (i.e. RSA) that are probably also used by non-US spies/hackers?

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I heartily agree with your post.

I had heard privately from some usually reliable DC insider friends of mine a long while ago that Obama was perhaps going to pull some progressive trojan horse shit in his second term (if only the American public would have the patience and brains to enable him). I first mentioned it about 4 years ago in these forums and I think earlier about 5 years ago or so, but the search engine on this BBS makes it a pain to find it. However, I did dig up my boingboing post from some years ago that said basically the same thing.

Via my post linked above:

" … there is some background noise rumblings that he might be a trojan horse in his second term especially if the American public steps up and throws out a lot more republicans in the Senate and House. But really, I gave up a long time ago trying to predict for sure what humans will do… especially stupid Americans."

Nobody listens to cow…

Tragically, now here we are in 2015… much of the American public has done goofed in the midterms, sat on their asses, didn’t vote and Republicans have taken over the joint.

A lot of posters here are deluding themselves if they think there was ever an empowered majority of truly progressive Democrats that failed them during Obama’s administration thus far.

What we’ve had during Obama’s administration was a near-constant Republican filibuster power that neutered the Dem majority. Not to mention some of the DINOs and bluedog Dems that are basically “republican-lite” moles that would have aided and abetted the Republicans when needed as well.

The corporatists love it this way.

The Democratic party can “appease” some of their voting base by blaming the Republicans for inaction. This way a lot of powerful Democrats can appear to be fighting for the middle and lower classes while also serving the corporatist right almost as fanatically as the Republicans do.

Granted it’s more complex than that. There really are Democrats that are fighting for average Americans, but they tend to get destroyed fairly quickly because they don’t “play ball”, don’t get enough funding to combat Republican campaigns and disconnected Americans never really find out about them (nor help or empower them in the process).

Those that are embracing false equivalence between the two parties are playing right into the hands of our current status quo.

How are we ever going to usher in truly progressive third parties down the road when people abstain from voting and put Republicans in power that have district gerrymandering, voter suppression/disenfranchisement down to a science?

Have these people that abstain from voting ever been an (offline) activist trying to push forward progressive third parties and agendas? It all gets massively regressed when Republicans take office. At least the Democrats have weaknesses that can (and are) exploited in order for activists to slowly push forward some progressive agendas. However, with Republican rule all of that regresses and even goes devastatingly backwards.

The Democratic party is a corporatist front (in large part), but if we’d stop embracing false equivalence and ping-ponging back and forth between them and Republicans we could finally force the hands of the Democratic party instead of always giving them the perpetual Republican scapegoat to blame (to their Dem base) for their inactions.

Showing the Dem base what the Dem party really is like would be truly revolutionary and something that has never happened in modern times within the USA. It would finally send even the most indoctrinated Democratic voters looking for progressive alternatives outside of the party and/or demanding massive reformists to take over the party.

We shouldn’t be fooled, there really is a powerful majority of progressives that can achieve this once we tap into them.

I’ll put it this way, when Obama ran on a progressive platform (single payer health care, anti-war, anti-bankster, etc.) before he was elected, it mobilized powerful, progressive activists all over the country to help him. Pedantic pessimists will point out that Wall Street funded the Obama campaign and Obama didn’t follow through on much of his promises (and they’d be correct), but that’s not the point.

The point is that on his truly progressive agenda, Obama won in a landslide with the highest voter turnout in 40 years. When Obama and the Democrats failed to follow through on those progressive agendas, those same activists became disgusted and voting was the lowest in 70 years as a later result (the midterms).

What this shows is that there really is a truly progressive majority in the USA, but they are fickle. We just need a progressive Democrat (or Independent) to run and follow through after elected (or at least sincerely try and show the public who their real enemies are).

That’s why I hope Bernie Sanders runs for president. I think he’ll follow through and actually fight for the middle and lower class instead of simply pandering like we’ve seen too much from Obama, etc.

However, if this nation keeps embracing false equivalence, then the same DINO/Republican ping-pong cycle will continue unabated and the corporatist right status quo will remain in place indefinitely.


It’s hopelessly flawed and quite possibly the worst way to run a society. Except for all the other ways.


But you already tell us what the Democratic Party “really is like” in the preceding paragraph of your comment. You say that it is “a corporatist front (in large part),” remember? Why embrace the rather desperate ‘No true Scotsman’ argument when you hint at a much simpler explanation? The ‘Dem base’ already know what the ‘Dem party’ is really like because Democratic politicians have demonstrated their interests for decades now.

When the Democratic Party ‘failed to follow through’, they demonstrated to the activists (and everyone else who might vote for them on the basis of what they say they will do) what they actually do. You characterize voters as being fickle for not participating in the 2010 mid-term elections when again there is a simpler and less tortured explanation: many voters who might have supported the Democratic Party but did not judged their candidates on the basis of past performance.

Maybe we should finally put an end to this idea that giving our time, effort, and money to a thoroughly corrupt system will eventually pay dividends. That is wishful thinking at its worst.


The ‘Dem base’ already know what the ‘Dem party’ is really like because Democratic politicians have demonstrated their interests for decades now.

Not really. If that was the case, about 60% of likely Democratic voters wouldn’t say that they’d vote for Hillary Clinton right now.

You characterize voters as being fickle for not participating in the 2010 mid-term elections

It’s not that simple. (Also, I’ve been referring to the 2014 midterms, not just 2010)

I’ve characterized many voters as being fickle for a lot of reasons in these threads over the years. One of which is a lack of focus on long-term strategies and instead hastily expecting short term results within every other election/administration. By its very nature, many lasting progressive changes will always be a slow process (we’re talking decades) in the face of huge status quo obstacles that inherently try to prevent them.

Destruction of the vulnerable (middle and lower class citizens, for example) is relatively quick and easy to do (as are espousing platitudes without action). However, building real things that better the lives of others often takes time, fortitude and persistence.

Another issue is the fact that a lot of progressive voters tend to be independent thinkers (or at least fancy themselves as such) and organizing non-activist progressives is like herding cats compared to conservative voters which are more easily influenced with manufactured consent, etc.

There’s a large amount of other factors I’ve listed in these threads before. There’s a list called “Advantages of the Corporatist Right” within a post located here, for example.

there is a simpler and less tortured explanation: many voters who might have supported the Democratic Party but did not judged their candidates on the basis of past performance.

I apologize, but I’d like you to reword that or explain it in more detail for me. I’m not following your course of logic there. I already mentioned that disillusionment would be a practical factor for the lowest midterm voter turnout in 70 years.

Maybe we should finally put an end to this idea that giving our time, effort, and money to a thoroughly corrupt system will eventually pay dividends. That is wishful thinking at its worst.
Wishful thinking?

Progressive activists like myself have had quantifiable results within this corrupt system (I’ll go into just one of many examples down below).

Because of human nature, there are no large, non-corrupt human institutions and there never will be until humans evolve as a species. In the meantime, within our current reality, there’s work to be done to better the lives of others (and save them) the best we can despite our current human condition.

If your mission is to change our corrupt system to something more progressive and you’re getting quantifiable, real-world results already – I would like you to share that mission with me and I may very likely join you and perhaps arrange to send you and/or your organization some serious money your way. Just hit me up with a personal message and an email address (preferably relatively secure).

If you don’t have a PM with info at the ready and you’re not sincerely ready for action, that’s ok… We’re working on other agendas and getting results already.

In the meantime, the power of a voting populace enabled many of us here in Colorado to improve and save the lives of citizens (including children) and set a precedent within the most powerful nation in the world for the rest of the world to follow. And, not a single shot was exchanged in the political process.

Others and myself fought long and hard in Colorado to improve the human condition and the only way it was possible was with the vital assistance and the awesome power of a voting Colorado public AND the power of an American voting public.

Despite how amazingly shitty Obama and other Democrats have been, our goals wouldn’t have happened at all with a Republican Governor, Republican President and other more local Republicans in power.

Why do we know this?

Because we’re activists on the front lines dealing with government oppression very directly, not those spouting platitudes from their ivory towers.

We did this with the help of Colorado voters who enabled others and myself to stand up against powerful police unions and pharmaceutical corporations who give the most lobbying dollars to our politicians:

Top Industries for lobbying:

On top of that, we also stood up to a complicit corporate media along with the world’s most powerful prison-industrial complex among many other vastly powerful foes within this nation and other global corporatist interests.

With the power of voting along with a hell of a lot of various activism emboldened by voting, we are one of the first places in the world in modern history to legalize marijuana outside of Amsterdam and we’ve got Amsterdam beat in several ways as well to boot (aside from the fact that we have more influence on the rest of the world):

5 Reasons Denver Is Now More Weed-Friendly Than Amsterdam

How marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington is making the world a better place

Because of our ability to vote and fight against the forces that induce voter apathy (and worse), we were able to save these kid’s lives (see video below). As a matter of fact, there are families who have moved here and are continuing to move to Colorado as a safe haven to get the medicine their children need. During the struggle, some kids have tragically died, but we’re now saving as many lives as we can despite all the forces against us that I mentioned above:

The surprising story of medical marijuana and pediatric epilepsy

We’re also now very close to freeing people from prisons along with expunging the criminal records of non-violent marijuana offenders here in this state and have influenced other states in this nation as well. We’re also influencing the rest of the world to change their draconian drug policies.

That’s much better than influencing the world to torture their citizens, as many conservative agendas within the United States have managed to do. Torture is yet another corporatist, conservative agenda that’s been drastically empowered via the lasting effects of voter suppression and voter apathy.

Again, without the awesome power of a voting public, we’d never be able to achieve these human rights against such powerful foes down the road.

We don’t take up arms against the world’s most powerful country with the world’s most powerful military-industrial complex and lose. We’re slowly taking over this motherfucker, but we can’t do that with voter suppression. We can’t. We simply can’t.

I wonder if people like Russell Brand would like to comment some beautiful platitudes on how non-revolutionary and useless our utilization of voting rights was in this case with marijuana legalization?

And, if he were to ask… YES, voting for politicians enabled this to happen in the first place despite their various issues with the war on drugs.

And, YES, we may be going backwards because voter apathy upsurged in these midterm elections. If more people had voted we’d be in a much better position today to continue our progress much faster - and save more lives.

It also now turns out we’ve inspired other states within this vast nation to get out, vote and improve their human rights within their part of the United States as well. And, it will spread to the rest of the world, because that how my compatriots do things. That’s how we fucking roll.

We’re just trying to make the world a better place…

And this is just one example of many where we did it and were enabled and empowered by people… VOTING.

“The blessed work of helping the world forward happily does not wait to be done by perfect men.”

George Eliot


I’m going to admit, I find it a bit difficult to have this discussion because of the length and scatter-shot nature of your replies. If you’d like to continue we’re going to have to focus on one issue at a time given the inadequacy of this medium. So by all means, tell me where you want us to focus and I’d be happy to reply!

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Well, I would like to hear what your ideas are for enabling progressive agendas within (or around) our currently corrupted system. Like, what actions should be taken now.

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They are not in the cards, asshole. If he had done that when he had a super majority in the congress, they would be in the cards. Now that that Republicans have a majority, he can promise give each and every American a blowjob and feel pretty confident that the Republican will make sure he doesn’t have to keep his promise on principle. Obama promising a minimum wage hike and free community college is about as worthless as me promising to end world hunger if I ever happen to win a trillion dollars playing slots.

I fucking hate our system. I hate “democracy”, or, for the pedantic shits out there, “republican representative democracy” . Fuck the corruption that is democracy, give me demarchy, and fuck all the politicians.

edit: Wiped some angry spittle off of my wording and spelling.

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While I think he’s been a massive disappointment, and that hasn’t been helped by an electorate and electoral system that’s not given him a congress (and now senate) he can work with in years, this is an interesting defense of Obama.


Helping the lesser evil triumph is, admittedly, still letting evil triumph.

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Who’s going to be the lesser-evil in 1968?


Route around the damage, as we say on the Internet.

If we are talking about organized politics, then progressive-minded people should ignore federal and state politics entirely and focus on the smaller end of the social scale, which differs depending on your location. Generally speaking, I mean municipal and neighborhood politics. There are two reasons why working at this scale is likely most efficient, IMHO:

1.) The entry barriers (time, money, etc.) tend to be much lower. For example, it is relatively easy to become the next community board member, trustee, city counselor, etc. if you are willing to put in the effort.

2.) The decisions made at the small end of the scale can often affect you just as much (or more) than those made at the state and federal levels. The distribution of taxes, zoning rules, transit, etc. all matters and you can have a tangible, progressive effect on those issues.

People who operate in small-scale politics are much better positioned to respond to issues as they come up and even act proactively as needed. And you become a meaningful member of your own community in the process instead of spending your time chasing unicorns.


Obama can only dream of being as practically progressive a president as Richard Nixon. I mean that with 100% sincerity. When it comes to progressive action, Nixon runs circles around Obama.

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Indeed, and with the GOP response, be prepared to have your uncanny valley tickled pink.

[quote=“davidasposted, post:40, topic:50356”]
you become a meaningful member of your own community in the process instead of spending your time chasing unicorns.
[/quote]I agree with most of your points, but I think despite the negative similarities of national politicians, it’s hardly chasing after unicorns to mobilize voting for the lesser evil in order to enable local agendas.

As a matter of fact, a lot of those small-scale agendas can be hampered or even destroyed by empowering greater evil at a national and state level. For example, as I mentioned in a previous response, the only way we, as local Denver activists, were enabled to get marijuana legalized locally in Colorado was a symbiotic combination of city/county, state and national voting results that put the lesser evil Democrats in power all at once.

Otherwise, we would have been chasing after unicorns (as you say) instead of making quantifiable, positive changes as we accomplished within our state locally that’s now spreading nationwide (and worldwide).

In other words, local politics don’t happen in a vacuum.

See also:

Sun Tzu - The Art of War

With lots of commentary:

Pretty much just the translated book:


I agree that local politics does not happen in a vacuum, but I think that you have confused the prime mover for the moved, so to speak, when it comes to the issue of marijuana use in the U.S.

In fact, this particular issue is a good example of why focusing on state and federal politics is an inefficient use of one’s energy and resources. It is no coincidence that (to my knowledge) every example of legalization in the U.S. (medical or recreational) has happened as a consequence of voter referendums / ballot initiatives and not legislation by elected bodies.

The issue of recreational (and self-medicinal) marijuana use has already been decided in our communities. People across the U.S. smoke dope, no matter whether it is legal to do so. There are dire consequences if citizens (especially people of color) and found in possession of marijuana, that is absolutely true. But when ‘someone’ had to account for this fact in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, D.C., etc. it was not elected officials, but rather our own neighbors who asserted that marijuana use should be decriminalized. Moreover, for the unfortunate citizens of D.C., who have no local control over their own rules and regulations, Congress nullified the result of their democratic efforts in its omnibus bill, which president Obama signed into law.

The state and federal legislatures are so ossified that they can only respond to conditions as they trend in one direction of another. They are fundamentally reactive bodies. I would argue that nearly all of the major social/political achievements of the last few decades occurred at the local level – Congress and state legislatures merely codify after the fact.