State of the Union

Watching these speeches is like watching a tightrope walk.

I’m on my way out, but a quick impression is that Barack Obama was looking forward– he stressed investment in education, research and infrastructure. His tone was optimistic, he praised our country for having the best workers, the most innovation. He named invited guests, last of all a business owner whose drilling company helped rescue the Chilean miners trapped underground.

I was in congenial company, met thru an email. I didn’t want to be alone. Six years ago I watched George Bush in the company of nuns and neighbors at a Catholic school and was glad to be with people.

This was a happier crowd. There were at least three teachers in the room, and they cheered every time the President mentioned education. WBRU sent two young men to do interviews and record first impressions. The mood was enthusiastic, but not without some reserve. Politicians compromise, it’s what they do.

The Republican response by Congressman Paul Ryan was a series of warnings about the deficit, and the need to lower taxes, and shrink the government. A talking point is never to say the word ‘stimulus’ without preceding it with ‘failed’. I have not yet heard Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party speech.

Ten years ago George Bush assumed the presidency with a peace dividend, an intact economy. He handed it on with two wars, an economy on the brink of crashing, and a huge deficit. Along the way, a deepening divide among Americans and an angry electorate.

Barack Obama inherited a crisis, and the Republican Party has no answer but to defund the government and let the most vulnerable Americans sink or swim.

Ultimately, it depends on we the people. But good leadership is essential if our hard work is to lead us forward together, or to pull us apart, with each seeking a safe refuge while the country sinks.

Government is not the enemy. Not if we use our votes and oversight. Churches and corporations have their place, but a theo/corporatocracy is not democracy, and a nation of gated communities surrounded by poverty is not our America.

Pawtucket a Hotbed of Education

Once you go down that slippery slope, allowing chess lessons and knitting circles, it’s only a matter of time before people are openly promoting education in the middle of downtown Pawtucket.

I knew something was up when I saw a bright, shiny new yoga studio. Don’t try and pretend there won’t be yoga classes, flagrantly advertised no doubt.

With all the yoga and chess and Flying Shuttles weaving, not to mention a Public Library just blocks away, there’s no stopping the expansion of education.

Pleasure and health are nice, too, but that was never the issue. Megan Andelloux won her case before the zoning board, in spite of enemies who would rather use quotation marks in emails than honest argument.

The surreal debate, which comprised hours of harping on the illegality of education in a multi-use commercial building, was covered by this reporter here.

Good luck, Megan. I hope you will show a way out of the dehumanization and commercialization of our deepest desires and feelings on one hand, and the condemnation and shaming of our physicality on the other. A tall order, but you won your battle with the zoning board, and beat opponents who dealt in innuendo, but who never bothered to show at the hearing.