Most of our article today is going to deal with Obama and his speech, ending with the snappiest portions as this week's talking points. But before we get to that, let's take a quick look at what the Republicans have been up to, as well as some other minor political news of the week.
Yes, the latest polls may indicate that the President's popularity among Americans has increased by a few percentage points, but that won't make up for all the goodwill he's lost in the corridors of Capitol Hill.
A good sound bite packs emotion, opinion, news value and personality, and leaps into a reporter's ear.
Funny how history twists and turns. Thirty years ago, on January 20th 1985, was Ronald Reagan's Second Inauguration. While his popularity was secure, having just won 49 states, his legacy was insecure.
The battle over MLK Day moved a Super Bowl. Southern states weren't the last to celebrate it. The law making it a national holiday was signed by a Republican President. And you'll never guess who voted for it in the U.S. Senate!
As the lineup is shaping up, it looks like it could be similar to previous elections: There will be a long list of equally unappealing candidates. Some dull person will be selected, having little chance to win against any potential Democratic candidate.
A 2016 Romney candidacy seemed a bit farfetched in the immediate aftermath of 2012. Should Romney run for president again, he would be on the same trajectory as Democrat Hubert Humphrey. Will Romney suffer the same fate should he declare a third presidential candidacy?
Mario Cuomo was a politician from a bygone era: a child of immigrants who through the sheer force of his intellect and his oratorical skills stood at the precipice of the highest office in the land. He talked about lifting the weak and the poor and he never wavered from his core principles.
Cuomo's address was more than politics, it was part of an effort going back to our earliest immigrants, to delineate what America is by outlining our moral values.
The jobs report Friday set off cheering: a quarter million positions added in December; unemployment declining to 5.6 percent. This good news arrived amid a booming stock market and a GDP report showing the strongest growth in 11 years. It's all so very jolly, except for one looming factor: wages.
Reagan-era conservatism is a far cry removed from the Ayn Rand-infused Libertarian ideals the MEvangelicals often flirt with these days.
Je suis Charlie Hebdo. In fact, let's go even further: Nous sommes Charlie Hebdo. Because we are all Charlie, this week. However, most of the American media cravenly allowed the terrorists to dictate their editorial policy this week, which is truly disappointing.
A beacon for enduring core liberal values in a not infrequently wintry era. Reagan made conservatism seem inevitable. Cuomo helped many remember that it wasn't necessarily so.
This week we said goodbye to Mario Cuomo. He was an electrifying speaker -- not just because of his style but because of the rich language, the erudition, and especially the soul he brought to his speeches. As he demonstrated in his famous speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, shining a light on what we can do better doesn't have to be disheartening, it can also inspire. "There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don't see, in the places that you don't visit in your shining city," he said, addressing Ronald Reagan. "You ought to know that this nation is more a 'Tale of Two Cities' than it is just a 'Shining City on a Hill.'" We also bid farewell to 2014, which I'll remember as the year that awareness of how mindfulness can enhance well-being reached a tipping point. Here's to a New Year in which our inner resilience and wisdom can help us meet the challenges ahead.
Retro-cycles are now a normal part of pop culture and have been for sometime. It is well documented that it's traced to the emergence of 1950's youth culture and their post WWII expendable income. You wait 20 years and there it is again. Lately Tupac and Kurt Cobian are commonplace, but you see that already.
According to reports, one of the first acts of the Republican Congress will be to fire Doug Elmendorf, current director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because he won't use "dynamic scoring" for his economic projections. Dynamic scoring is the magical-mystery math Republicans have been pushing since they came up with supply-side "trickle-down" economics. It's based on the belief that cutting taxes unleashes economic growth and thereby produces additional government revenue. Supposedly the added revenue more than makes up for what's lost when Congress hands out the tax cuts. Dynamic scoring would make it easier to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, because the tax cuts wouldn't look as if they increased the budget deficit.