If memory serves, Gerald Ford’s 1975 State of the Union speech may have been the last time one of these annual exercises in optimism included such a blunt observation: “I must say to you,” the post-Watergate president declared, “that the state of the union is not good.”
And, it turns out, neither were Ford’s prospects for being elected.
Normally, however, these yearly “State of” cluster-rubs offer the type of blind hopefulness swallowed only by the gullible, the uninformed and the speaker’s very own cheerleading section.
Yesterday, surrounded by the credulous (Maryland’s elected Democrats), the uniformed (supporters of Maryland’s elected Democrats) and more guest groupies than one would find backstage at a Brett Michaels concert, Gov. Martin O’Malley delivered a ‘State of the State’ address that was one part cherry-picked statistics, one part measured half-truths and one part unadulterated meadow muffins.
And no one can shovel the bull-bombs across the barnyard like Maryland’s tax and spend governor.
In just one scant half-hour O’Malley spun more fairy tales than Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. From the falsehood regarding the correction of the state’s pension fund (check the number of bills introduced this session to address that mess); to the doing more than ever before to help Maryland families (because 24 tax increases – to the tune of $2 billion per year – really helps the middle class); through the touting of a number one education system that still graduates nearly 50-percent of high school students who will need remedial math and English classes in their freshman year of college; and of course, the tallest tale of them all, that his administrations have cut $8.3 billion from Maryland’s budget.
Even the percentage of Maryland high school graduates who need remedial math can out cipher
Jethro Bodine on this one.
If the state budget for 2008 was $29.6 billion, and the submitted budget for 2014 is $37.2 billion then, obviously, we number-one-in-education-types see quite clearly that the 2014 sum is $8 billion less than the… wait… what?
Last year, when a member of the mainstream media finally mustered the spine (and risked the renewal of his State House credentials) and pointed out the numbers just didn’t add up, O’Malley gave one of those straight-forward answers that make him a natural for the presidential campaign trail: “There are different ways to look at things.”
Well, thank you Governor O’Grasshopper, I’ll plop that into my Buddhism to Bawlmerese translator and see what comes out the other end.
Oh, right, meadow muffins…
Well, perhaps the governor was looking at the budget through the prism of state government.
“We constrained budget growth and made government smaller,” the Guv boasted, reading from his big boy teleprompter (can’t go national without one of those puppies – next thing you know you’re hollering about alabaster cities gleaming and undimmed tears).
Okay, that’s one way to look at… if you don’t care about the facts. Here’s a tasty tidbit: as of 2012 there were nearly 4,000 more state employees on the payroll than there were in 2007.
Got another angle there, Dalai Guvnah?
“Better choices. Better results. The proof is in our progress,” the Teleprompter, er, prompted, “Progress recovering jobs at the fastest rate of any state in our region.”
Which reminds me: notice how the governor is now quick to play the region card? I think it is a tic developed not long after he had his shillelagh handed to him after he called Northrup-Grumman’s move from Maryland to Virginia a win for the “region.”
What thrill-of-victory must this man get when he thinks of the exodus of high-earners from the state?
Oh yeah, jobs… Martin O’Malley uttered the jobs word nearly two dozen times during yesterday’s speech – and based on the Change Maryland statistic that the state has lost 6500 small businesses since O’Malley took office my inventive math says that only 1.33-percent of stores shuttered their doors while the governor spoke.
But, to give credit where credit is due, where else can one state go but up after we were ranked dead last in job creation (that would be 50th for the percentage of high school grads who also need remedial social studies) in 2011?
Was Bob Ehrlich our governor then?
Well, since no amount of blind optimism can change the facts, let’s wander down a few other paths crossing Gov. O’Malley’s Utopian landscape.
“This progress is only possible with fiscal responsibility and a balanced approach,” the governor explained, leaving those listening wondering which one of the other 49 state governments he was now describing.
Although in Maryland, government does, in its own demented way, implement a balanced approach each and every Assembly session – they spend until they run out of money and then they come to us for more tax dollars. And if that’s not evenhanded well, then I’m afraid our elected officials don’t know what is.
“Progress is choice,” the governor again reminded us. “To govern is to choose,” he added, digging up an oldie-but-a-goodie. “Our story, Maryland’s story, is the story of better choices and better results.”
Choice… that was the second most floated word (16 mentions) on the governor’s grand sea of sanguinity, as if choosing to raise taxes and fees constitutes leadership.
The balance of the braggadocios screed told us of the near-paradise Maryland has become. The number of hungry children has been reduced while the level of dental care for the little snowflakes has never been higher.
Crime is down; fire deaths are down; we are sheltering the homeless; banishing pollutants from our waters; and we’re paving our streets with gold.
Oh, right, scratch that last one - the transportation fund is bankrupt.
But we are number one in education and number one in holding down the cost of college tuition. And when we run out of mathematically-skewed categories to champion we simply invent some so we can be number one on a mythical list of those states with “human capital capacity.”
Not positive, but I think human capital capacity has something to do with that aforementioned ‘balanced approach”… we’re human beings, we generate cash, and our evenhanded lawmakers have the ability to take as much of it as they see fit.
Hell, we are number one!
After a few more minutes of telling us that Maryland’s grass is greener; that our pets are more easily trained; and that our poo doesn’t smell (when it does Annapolis employs peace doves to fly in and carry the offensive matter away), the governor told us of the bureaucracy behemoth’s most important function.
“The most fundamental responsibility of any government is public safety,” the governor chirped, leaving one to scratch the noggin’ and ponder why it is that the first thing they threaten us with if we don’t pay more taxes is the elimination of public safety?
Martin O’Malley then went forth with the rest of his presidential litmus test, pushing for more stringent gun control (because it has worked so well thus far), the abolition of the death penalty (although he had earlier touted how effective DNA technology had become) and of course, the tried and true climate change scare.
But while this would have been an opportune moment to allow for the rainbows to come forth and ring his head as unicorns flew from his arse, the governor went back to his new-found Buddhism.
“Life is an intentional process,” said the presidential hopeful from behind his rose-colored glasses, leaving the audience to collectively ponder: ‘what the hell does that mean?”
Hey, that Buddhism stuff is a two-way street – that is, if streets really do exist.
“Leave behind the passive dreaming of a rose-tinted future,” famed Buddhist Daisaku Ikeda once mused. “The energy of happiness exists in living today with roots sunk firmly in reality's soil.”
Sadly, after sitting through yesterday’s “State of the State” address, it’s obvious that this governor wouldn’t know reality if it were riding to daylight on one of those unicorns.
Bad girl Bynes
Amanda Bynes was arrested after throwing a bong out a window.More crazy antics