SOTU Live Blog/Open Thread

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I suppose I’ll start messing about to find the feed with the best quality when the SOTU actually starts streaming, at 9:00PM[1], but this (via ReCode) will be my starting point:

(Gizmodo has a handy list of other news, YouTube, and Facebook streaming video sites.)

* * *

I ought to be doing the solemn pundit thing — The pageantry! The talking points! The performative speech! The virtue signaling! And, of course, the ruthless and deranged palace in-fighting! — but rather than bloviating on about what might could happen, it makes more sense to await the event. If punditry you must have, here’s some from the Council on Foreign Relations (“Ten Facts About the State of the Union Address“), Politico (“5 things to watch at Trump’s first State of the Union”)[2], Talking Points Memo (“Despite Strong Economy, Trump Will Address Lawmakers From Weak Position”), and FOX (“Trump to tout infrastructure plan in State of the Union – can he strike long-awaited deal?”).

And now to the important stuff:

1) The Official State of the Union Drinking Game Rules! Matt Taibi, Rolling Stone

2) Play 2018 State of the Union Bingo Philadelphia Inquirer. (The National Constitution Center has a card as a class project, and WaPo has directions for making your own card). There is, of course, a hash tag: #SOTUbingo, but most are for Obama, and I don’t think the others are very good. Perhaps I’m not the only enervated citizen….

3) Watch Trump’s body language:

The caveat: Digital evidence is not evidence, and I would imagine all sorts of unflattering and not necessarily contextual images will start circulating right away. I’d be far more interested in real time reports from those of you following along at home.

4) The ticket fiasco:

Yes, the typo, but what on earth happened to the baseline at “9:00PM”? Now, I grant I was never a fan of the Obama campaign’s prissy trade dress, but at least they managed to create collateral without gross typographic errors!

5) From The Department of Let It All Hang Out: “Trump supporters can pay to have their names flashed on-screen during the State of the Union address”. $35 minimum, so even if you can’t buy a night in the Lincoln bedroom or donate a wing to a Presidential Library, you can still do your bit for Democracy in America!

6) My personal hope is that Trump pulls a cell-phone out of his pocket and tweets something from the dais. And while I wouldn’t wish a Teleprompter fail on anyone, others may have different views.

7) There will be several responses, the official Democrat rebuttal being offered by Joseph Kennedy’s jawline, a second from Bernie Sanders, “via social media,”, and more from Maxine Waters (Democrat) and Donna Edwards (Working Families Party) as well.

UPDATE Here’s a YouTube for the Sanders response:

UPDATE 8) All the Lawmakers Skipping the State of the Union Address New York Magazine. A question: Will any Democrats applaud?


[1] Gizmodo: “9pm Eastern (6pm Pacific, 5am Moscow time).” Cheeky!

[2] Trump, continuing a tradition started by Reagan, did not give a State of the Union speech in the year he was inaugurated. Instead, he addressed a Joint Session of Congress. The only thing I can remember about it is this absurdly inept Democrat response:

UPDATE Text of Sanders Speech

Embargoed ’til the speech begins, and so, assuming this will be slow to be published, if it is at all, here it is:

SANDERS: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Tonight, I want to take a few minutes of your time to respond to President Trump’s State of the Union speech. But I want to do more than just that. I want to talk to you about the major crises facing our country that, regrettably, President Trump chose not to discuss. I want to talk to you about the lies that he told during his campaign and the promises he made to working people which he did not keep.

Finally, I want to offer a vision of where we should go as a nation which is far different than the divisiveness, dishonesty, and racism coming from the Trump Administration over the past year.

President Trump talked tonight about the strength of our economy. Well, he’s right. Official unemployment today is 4.1 percent which is the lowest it has been in years and the stock market in recent months has soared. That’s the good news.

But what President Trump failed to mention is that his first year in office marked the lowest level of job creation since 2010. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 254,000 fewer jobs were created in Trump’s first 11 months in office than were created in the 11 months before he entered office.

Further, when we talk about the economy, what’s most important is to understand what is happening to the average worker. And here’s the story that Trump failed to mention tonight.

Over the last year, after adjusting for inflation, the average worker in America saw a wage increase of, are you ready for this, 4 cents an hour, or 0.17%. Or, to put it in a different way, that worker received a raise of a little more than $1.60 a week. And, as is often the case, that tiny wage increase disappeared as a result of soaring health care costs.

Meanwhile, at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, the rich continue to get much richer while millions of American workers are working two or three jobs just to keep their heads above water. Since March of last year, the three richest people in America saw their wealth increase by more than $68 billion. Three people. A $68 billion increase in wealth. Meanwhile, the average worker saw an increase of 4 cents an hour.

Tonight, Donald Trump touted the bonuses he claims workers received because of his so-called “tax reform” bill. What he forgot to mention is that only 2% of Americans report receiving a raise or a bonus because of this tax bill.

What he also failed to mention is that some of the corporations that have given out bonuses, such as Walmart, AT&T, General Electric, and Pfizer, are also laying off tens of thousands of their employees. Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex and Huggies, recently said they were using money from the tax cut to restructure — laying off more than 5,000 workers and closing 10 plants.

What Trump also forgot to tell you is that while the Walton family of Walmart, the wealthiest family in America, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the wealthiest person in this country, have never had it so good, many thousands of their employees are forced onto Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing because of the obscenely low wages they are paid. In my view, that’s wrong. The taxpayers of this country should not be providing corporate welfare to the wealthiest families in this country.

Trump’s Broken Promises

Now, let me say a few words about some of the issues that Donald Trump failed to mention tonight, and that is the difference between what he promised the American people as a candidate and what he has delivered as president.

Many of you will recall, that during his campaign, Donald Trump told the American people how he was going to provide “health insurance for everybody,” with “much lower deductibles.”

That is what he promised working families all across this country during his campaign. But as president he did exactly the opposite. Last year, he supported legislation that would have thrown up to 32 million people off of the health care they had while, at the same time, substantially raising premiums for older Americans.

The reality is that although we were able to beat back Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, 3 million fewer Americans have health insurance today than before Trump took office and that number will be going even higher in the coming months.

During his campaign, Trump promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

As president, however, he supported a Republican Budget Resolution that proposed slashing Medicaid by $1 trillion and cutting Medicare by $500 billion. Further, President Trump’s own budget called for cutting Social Security Disability Insurance by $64 billion.

During Trump’s campaign for president, he talked about how he was going to lower prescription drug prices and take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry which he said was “getting away with murder.” Tonight he said “one of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs.”

But as president, Trump nominated Alex Azar, a former executive of the Eli Lilly Company — one of the largest drug companies in this country — to head up the Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump spoke about how in other countries “drugs cost far less,” yet he has done nothing to allow Americans to purchase less expensive prescription drugs from abroad or to require Medicare to negotiate drug prices – which he promised he would do when he ran for president.

During the campaign, Donald Trump told us that: “The rich will not be gaining at all” under his tax reform plan.

Well, that was quite a whopper. As president, the tax reform legislation Trump signed into law a few weeks ago provides 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent, drives up the deficit by $1.7 trillion, and raises taxes on 92 million middle class families by the end of the decade.

During his campaign for president, Trump talked about how he was going to take on the greed of Wall Street which he said “has caused tremendous problems for us.

As president, not only has Trump not taken on Wall Street, he has appointed more Wall Street billionaires to his administration than any president in history. And now, on behalf of Wall Street, he is trying to repeal the modest provisions of the Dodd-Frank legislation which provide consumer protections against Wall Street thievery.

What Trump Didn’t Say

But what is also important to note is not just Trump’s dishonesty. It is that tonight he avoided some of the most important issues facing our country and the world.

How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention climate change? No, Mr. Trump, climate change is not a “hoax.” It is a reality which is causing devastating harm all over our country and all over the world and you are dead wrong when you appoint administrators at the EPA and other agencies who are trying to decimate environmental protection rules, and slow down the transition to sustainable energy.

How can a president of the United States not discuss the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision which allows billionaires like the Koch brothers to undermine American democracy by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates who will represent the rich and the powerful?

How can he not talk about Republican governors efforts all across this country to undermine democracy, suppress the vote and make it harder for poor people or people of color to vote?

How can he not talk about the fact that in a highly competitive global economy, hundreds of thousands of bright young people are unable to afford to go to college, while millions of others have come out of school deeply in debt?

How can he not talk about the inadequate funding and staffing at the Social Security Administration which has resulted in thousands of people with disabilities dying because they did not get their claims processed in time?

How can he not talk about the retirement crisis facing the working people of this country and the fact that over half of older workers have no retirement savings? We need to strengthen pensions in this country, not take them away from millions of workers.

How can he not talk about the reality that Russia, through cyberwarfare, interfered in our election in 2016, is interfering in democratic elections all over the world, and according to his own CIA director will likely interfere in the 2018 midterm elections that we will be holding. How do you not talk about that unless you have a very special relationship with Mr. Putin?

What Trump Did Talk About

Now, let me say a few words about what Trump did talk about.

Trump talked about DACA and immigration, but what he did not tell the American people is that he precipitated this crisis in September by repealing President Obama’s executive order protecting Dreamers.

We need to seriously address the issue of immigration but that does not mean dividing families and reducing legal immigration by 25-50 percent. It sure doesn’t mean forcing taxpayers to spend $25 billion on a wall that candidate Trump promised Mexico would pay for. And it definitely doesn’t mean a racist immigration policy that excludes people of color from around the world.

To my mind, this is one of the great moral issues facing our country. It would be unspeakable and a moral stain on our nation if we turned our backs on these 800,000 young people who were born and raised in this country and who know no other home but the United States.

And that’s not just Bernie Sanders talking. Poll after poll shows that over 80 percent of the American people believe that we should protect the legal status of these young people and provide them with a path toward citizenship.

We need to pass the bi-partisan DREAM Act, and we need to pass it now.

President Trump also talked about the need to rebuild our country’s infrastructure. And he is absolutely right. But the proposal he is bringing forth is dead wrong.

Instead of spending $1.5 trillion over ten years rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, Trump would encourage states to sell our nation’s highways, bridges, and other vital infrastructure to Wall Street, wealthy campaign contributors, even foreign governments.

And how would Wall Street and these corporations recoup their investments? By imposing massive new tolls and fees paid for by American commuters and homeowners.

The reality is that Trump’s plan to privatize our nation’s infrastructure is an old idea that has never worked and never will work.

Tonight, Donald Trump correctly talked about the need to address the opioid crisis. Well, I say to Donald Trump, you don’t help people suffering from opioid addiction by cutting Medicaid by $1 trillion. If you are serious about dealing with this crisis, we need to expand, not cut Medicaid.

Conclusion/A Progressive Agenda

My fellow Americans. The simple truth is that, according to virtually every poll, Donald Trump is the least popular president after one year in office of any president in modern American history. And the reason for that is pretty clear. The American people do not want a president who is compulsively dishonest, who is a bully, who actively represents the interests of the billionaire class, who is anti-science, and who is trying to divide us up based on the color of our skin, our nation of origin, our religion, our gender, or our sexual orientation.

That is not what the American people want. And that reality is the bad news that we have to deal with.

But the truth is that there is a lot of good news out there as well. It’s not just that so many of our people disagree with Trump’s policies, temperament, and behavior. It is that the vast majority of our people have a very different vision for the future of our country than what Trump and the Republican leadership are giving us.

In an unprecedented way, we are witnessing a revitalization of American democracy with more and more people standing up and fighting back. A little more than a year ago we saw millions of people take to the streets for the women’s marches and a few weeks ago, in hundreds of cities and towns around the world, people once again took to the streets in the fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice.

Further, we are seeing the growth of grassroots organizations and people from every conceivable background starting to run for office – for school board, city council, state legislature, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

In fact, we are starting to see the beginning of a political revolution, something long overdue.

And these candidates, from coast to coast, are standing tall for a progressive agenda, an agenda that works for the working families of our country and not just the billionaire class. These candidates understand that the United States has got to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare for All, single-payer program.

They understand that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when the top one-tenth of one percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, we should not be giving tax breaks for billionaires but demanding that they start paying their fair share of taxes.

They know that we need trade policies that benefit working people, not large multi-national corporations.

They know that we have got to take on the fossil fuel industry, transform our energy system and move to sustainable energies like wind, solar and geothermal.

They know that we need a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges and universities, and universal childcare.

They understand that it is a woman who has the right to control her own body, not state and federal governments, and that woman has the right to receive equal pay for equal work and work in a safe environment free from harassment.

They also know that if we are going to move forward successfully as a democracy we need real criminal justice reform and we need to finally address comprehensive immigration reform.

Yes. I understand that the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends are planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2018 mid-term elections supporting the Trump agenda and right-wing Republicans. They have the money, an unlimited amount of money. But we have the people, and when ordinary people stand up and fight for justice there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. That has been the history of America, and that is our future.

Thank you all and good night

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. IowanX

      I’ll start. He’s doing the speech in the wrong order, which is probably right, for his purposes. Those Frank Lutz guys are geniuses, and they continue to earn their money. Great start to the speech.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think it’s rambling, though it is prolix and self-serving. I think this is the central equivocation:

      I also believe in second chances. I’ve been given second chances and I have given them to others. I want to continue to believe in them. But sometimes they’re squandered….

      No woman should have to endure harassment or assault – at work, at school, or anywhere. And men are now on notice that they will truly be held accountable for their actions. Especially now, we all need to be thinking about the complexities of sexual harassment, and be willing to challenge ourselves to reassess and question our own views.

      In other words, everyone’s now on their second chance, both the offenders and the decision-makers.

      1. John Wright

        HRC, granting second chances to people who aren’t of the deplorable class..

        I remember HRC suggesting Libya needs more time.

        So HRC allows her Libyan mis-adventure a long time to right itself (2011+)

        If one leaves the time window open long enough, maybe Libya is still on its first chance.

        1. Pavel

          I beg to differ…

          HRC’s “second chance” was people forgiving her the Iraq war vote mistake. (Which small “mistake” helped enable GWB’s illegal Iraq disaster from which the world has yet to recover.)

          So she doesn’t get a mulligan or another chance for Libya. That “most qualified” and “experienced” person should at least have learned from Iraq not to carelessly destroy nations which all the chaos that results.

          Instead: “We came, we saw, he died! (laughs).”

      2. The Rev Kev

        “I’m hanging in. I’m trying my best. I’m not doing okay, but I’m trying. I gotta get help…We all make mistakes. Second chance, I hope.” – Harvey Weinstein

      1. Etherpuppet

        Thanks Lambert. I wonder how word frequency in this SOTU would compare to, say, Bush II’s SOTUs? I may have a new homework assignment.

        Ms. Daniels already previewed the conventional nature of El Prez. And his policies – bog standard Republican – confirm it.

  1. Lambert Strether Post author

    Standing ovation for “the state of our Union is strong” — including Democrats but by no means all. Trump immediately segues to jobs and wages (though jobless claims are a contested statistic, as NC readers know).

  2. allan

    No mention of the elimination of personal exemptions,
    which almost wipe out the increased standard deductions for many.

  3. ChiGal in Carolina

    Thanks so much, Lambert, for embedding both the SOTU and Bernie’s response here. Makes the latter so much more accessible, and the former somehow not nearly as scary (no way could I watch on my own), framed within the confines of NC.

    Meanwhile, while writing this I can hear the golden bs flowing freely. What a pig.

  4. Lambert Strether Post author

    Some good fact-checking from Bloomberg on Trump’s economic puffery puffery:

    But are wages finally rising? Actually, they’re behaving pretty much like they did before the election — maybe even worse. Average hourly earnings were up 2.5% at the end of 2017, for the full year. That compares with 2.9% at the end of 2016. It was 2.5% in 2015. Analysts are generally expecting an acceleration, and there’s anecdotal evidence of stronger pay gains in some sectors and areas, but we haven’t seen a sustained pickup to rates seen before the 2007-2009 recession.


    Trump says that he “enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.”

    Quick fact check: As written, the tax cut is smaller in inflation-adjusted dollars than the tax cut President Barack Obama signed in January 2013. And it’s smaller as a percentage of GDP than President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut.

    In reality, Trump’s tax plan provides a break that’s the 12th largest as a share of the economy and the 4th largest in “real” dollars, according to a report by the nonpartisan Committee For a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington-based research group.

    1. Lee

      I’ve calculated my tax cut. It’s enough to buy a nice lunch. And I’m in one of Trump’s key demos: bitter, old, middle class, retired white guy.

  5. Jonf

    I saw a graph on Twitter on AA employment from Stephanie Kelton. It is indeed lower but it has been track down in a steady trend. Nothing Trump did special for that.

  6. ChiGal in Carolina

    Actually looking at him rather than the comment box lol, he seems to be making an effort to appear much less angry and hostile than usual. Speech pattern more normal too.

    Projecting confidence but not braggadocio (aside from the fact much of what he says is not true).

  7. LawlessMuch?

    Reaing ahead at Axios. Coming up: Trump signs order to keep Gitmo detention facilities open. So unnecessary.

  8. freedeomny

    I tried but I just can’t. Not only is Trump annoying, but seeing Pence and Ryan with their smirking, smug smiles puts me over the edge….

    1. Utah

      I can’t watch Trump, I can barely listen to him, lol. I have it on youtube, and am flipping through different tabs on my browser.

  9. ChiGal in Carolina

    Okay, now he’s got the chin up, looking and sounding defensive, just couldn’t keep up the statesmanlike pose.

    1. jawbone

      I was trying to avoid listening to Trump, but I was getting ready to go to bed, and my radio was on WNYC — which, after 10 PM, was still live Trump.

      He was in what I think of as his “controlled” mode. He has this tone and rhythm, which, as someone above described it, was caused by heavy fatigue or being drugged. Sometimes he reminds me of a friend’s paranoid bipolar brother.

      I finished a book I was reading, occasionally paying attention to the radio: Trump’s effort to be controlled and adult, to me, sounded very, very creepy. I felt an involuntary shudder.

      I will try to read his speech — or maybe not….

      Thanks so much to Lambert and all of you who have listened and commented.

    1. Utah

      I hope not. My state has a couple multibillion dollar dam projects and water relocation projects that are so environmentally devastating. They are 15 years in planning now, and still being reviewed by FERC. I wouldn’t mind them taking another 15 years. If it goes through, Salt Lake City will become California’s Owens Valley within 20 years, and they’ll be sprinkling the Great Salt Lake like they sprinkle Owen’s Lake.

    2. tempestteacup

      Could only ever be thus, couldn’t it? After all, nothing else encourages market-based efficiencies like government-awarded franchise monopolies underwritten by the state and measured in lengths of time exceeding most Treasury bonds.

      And you need not take my word for it. Just ask Carillion, any of the PFI contractees supplying everything from cleaners to diagnostic work to NHS trusts, the recently (and ludicrously) privatised probation services, or the private security monolith and consistent government fave, G4S, that was contracted to provide such comprehensive, high-quality security for the 2012 London Olympics that the British army had to be called in to provide emergency coverage two weeks before the Opening Ceremony.

      Oh, and let’s not forget first ATOS, then Maximus, the “healthcare” companies that received billion-pound contracts to kick as many people as possible off the disability benefits to which they are legally entitled…*ahem*…I mean, assess claimants according to their specific physical and mental health needs. A public-private partnership that cost the government more in payments to the providers than it saved through cuts in the benefits bill produced by flinging vulnerable, disabled people into penury. But never mind – 65% of those assessments were eventually overturned on appeal – although it usually takes months to get such a hearing, during which time you of course receive nothing. But we shouldn’t be too surprised at the high number of successful appeals, since to minimise costs and siphon as much of that lovely government lolly as possible into profits, ATOS/Maximus don’t actually employ doctors for their assessments, one of those famous private-sector innovations being in this case to hire physiotherapists to assess those with complex mental health issues or multiple physical disabilities.

      I’m sure there are equally gruesome examples to be chronicled in America, but these are the ones that came immediately to mind. Not that any of will do any good, since I presume that PPP/PFI is a classic neoliberal wheeze with bipartisan support. I can’t see Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi being opposed to what sounds like it could just as easily be sold with their forked tongues. It was definitely that way in Britain until Corbyn became Labour leader. And even then, at the moment Haringey Council is desperately trying to rush through its efforts to sell off £2 billion in public assets to be held in a fund owned 50/50 between council and private equity. They’ll have to be quick, though – there are council elections in May and the entire sitting Labour faction has been deselected by their own local party!

      1. Jonf

        Yes, we have a basis to oppose it. We will pay tolls on their infrastructure and that is a tax by any other name. So cut taxes on the rich and bill it to the public. That is what they did. No!

    1. 3.14e-9

      Same here. And their grief is so raw, it felt like intruding on their privacy. Even though they agreed to attend, they couldn’t have known what it was going to be like.

  10. JohnnyGL

    Did Trump just drop a ‘superpredator’ moment with that story of the high school kids’ murder?

    The problem is illegal MS-13 kids killing our kids?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think we have conservative sphincter-tightening mode here; the speech began with “heroes,” but the dark side of that heroism is fear. The (multiply-repeated) MS-13* talking point appeals to that.

      * What an ear-worm!

      1. JohnnyGL

        How’d he resist the opportunity to use my favorite Trumpism? BAD HOMBRES!!

        It only barely edges out “bigly” which is a close 2nd.

        I think the MS-13 references are a special shout out for people who watch too many of those prison shows with gang fights on Nat Geo.

      2. integer

        No idea if it’s legit, but there is at least one supposedly official document floating around the web that states that MS-13 was contracted by Brennan to kill Seth Rich after it was discovered that he leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks. Assuming that this is true (a big assumption, I know), Trump could be sending an implicit message here.

  11. WR

    MS-13 broke into our country? Probably because Obama just locked knob and not the deadbolt. I told him to lock the deadbolt!

  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    Here’s the immigration section, part of which was boo-ed:

    Here are the four pillars of our plan:

    The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.

    The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country — and it finally ends the dangerous practice of “catch and release.”

    The third pillar ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.

    The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family throws families under the bus by ending chain migration.

      There, fixed it for you.

      1. integer

        Extrapolated to its logical (yet obviously hyperbolic) conclusion, chain migration could result in the whole of South America, if not the world, living in the US.

        1. marym

          If by “logical” you mean pretending there are no legal caps in place on the annual number of family based immigrants.

          The US doesn’t set caps on the number of spouses, minor children, or parents of US citizens who can come to the US each year — but, again, those categories in themselves don’t create chains.

          The categories that do create chains are strictly capped: 23,400 married children of US citizens (plus their own spouses and minor children) are allowed to immigrate each year, and 67,500 adult siblings of US citizens (plus spouses and minor children). Furthermore, because the total number of immigrants coming from a particular country each year is capped, would-be immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines end up facing even longer wait times.

          1. integer

            This is obviously a personal issue for you; it comes across loud and clear in the tone of your comments, along with the fact that you have the numbers at hand. Fair enough, I’ll take your word for it. As for me, I’m simply making the point that a line has to be drawn somewhere, and that, traced back far enough, all people are related. Also, the D party’s plan of achieving a permanent majority via the combination of immigration and “destiny by demographics” was toxic. Recently, I saw a representative of the “dreamers” complaining that after being granted citizenship, the “dreamers” would not have the right to bring their family to the US. Are they serious? It is totally unsurprising to me that the pendulum has now swung back in the opposite direction (and imo it needed to happen for the good of the US, and I’m not just talking about its white citizens).

            Still hoping you will explain your ideal immigration policy. Maybe it will enlighten me.

            1. JohnnyGL

              I’d like to cut the immigration numbers down, too. Stop skimming from developing countries.

              Given the choice between families vs. ‘merit’, I’ll take families, every time. No more neoliberal meritocracy horse manure. If companies want to get more skilled workers, they should train some.

              Keep in mind, the ‘chains’ don’t involve siblings and cousins. It’s only parent-child and spouse. Siblings take like 10 years to bring in.

              1. integer

                As a non-USian I would never expect to “gain” US citizenship without going to significant lengths to do so. If I did become a US citizen, I would never expect to be able to, for example, obtain US citizenship for my parents. In this hypothetical situation, if I was able to obtain citizenship for my parents, they could then obtain US citizenship for any siblings I happened to have, as they are, by definition, my parent’s children. And on it goes. From my point of view, the immigration discussion seems highly distorted; some seem to think it is their human right to immigrate to, and become a citizen of, the US, and then gain citizenship for other family members. That seems like quite an extreme stance to me.

                Of course, US politicians who want less immigration would vastly strengthen their hand if they were to simultaneously campaign to stop the US detabilizing other countries via economic, ideological, or hot warfare.

                Adding: Thinking about this some more, if I was from a country that had experienced (more of) the wrath of the US’ foreign policy, I might feel differently about whether I and my family had the right to US citizenship.

              2. integer

                Adding further: If I was, hypothetically, from a country that the US had destabilized and later went on to became a US citizen, I highly doubt I would have the US’ best interests at heart while living there. In fact I would almost certainly actively seek to undermine it as a form of revenge. As it is extremely unlikely that the US will stop interfering in other countries’ affairs in the short to medium term, I think overall it is just best for the US to pursue the anti-immigration path. I come to this conclusion because this policy will further isolate the US from the rest of the world, who will see that the US has no interest in helping to solve the problems its foreign policy creates, and I’m not sure anything short of a global effort to reign in the US’ disasterous foreign policy will suffice. Therefore, in conclusion, an anti-immigration policy in the short to medium term may actually sow the seeds for real structural change for the better in the US.

                  1. integer

                    Yes I agree that it is a stretch and your point re: being aligned with US interests is valid. FWIW I was unhappy with this comment shortly after I had missed my chance to delete it. It was kind of a stream of consciousness thing; not well thought through. I think I am still returning to equilibrium after a pretty arduous day of travel yesterday. Apologies.

    2. Rhondda

      Thanks for that. I had to take the dogs out right at that moment.

      I agree with Trump on immigration. It’s one of the policies where the Dems lost me.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Yes, Rhondda, I am in agreement on this.

        The Democrats have some nerve inviting that Ravi Ragbir to be their guest after he was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in Federal prison for wire fraud activities in service of mortgage scams, and then since 2006 has been fighting his deportation order to Trinidad and Tobago. Not a good look for the Democrats if you ask me. I guess he’s just another “Dreamer”, huh, and not just another criminal alien? But then, he is an “immigration activist” now, so the law is just a personal inconvenience.

      2. Lee

        I’ve moved in that direction. After Reagan’s illegal immigrant amnesty we helped a large extended family through the process of becoming legal. In the 90s, we helped one very talented, highly educated young woman go through the process of coming here legally, playing by the rules, jumping through myriad hoops, and at last becoming a citizen. The latter took years and was an order of magnitude more difficult.

    3. marym

      ….merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.

      One suspects that the ignoramuses of the Trump administration interpret “merit” and “skill” as code for white, but they’re wrong.

      US census data: African immigrants are better educated than native-born Americans. 42% of African immigrants have a bachelor’s degree or higher; 33% of Americans do. Immigrants from Nigeria? 60.9%.

      Interesting chart of educational levels.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I don’t want ‘merit-based’ immigration from ANY country. Even Milton Friedman saw it as a subsidy for corporations to ratchet down wages.

        Also, Nigeria needs those skilled workers more than USA does. Colonialism redux!

        1. Yves Smith

          Ahem, with China, the “immigrants” come here for a while, get skills and connections, and many return home. In fact, some articles at places like Bloomberg have gone into hand-wringing mode that the skill transfer is probably to China, not here. So this isn’t at all clear cut.

  13. JohnnyGL

    To hell with re-uniting families….we’re adopting full neo-liberal skillz-based immigration.

    What’s that? You want to bring your aging parents over to be with you for their twilight years? Screw you.

    We have union nurses making too much money and need to bring in the overseas scabs. They come first!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s been a long time, so this is very much IIRC, but wasn’t the emphasis on families orginally a Republican immigration “reform”? Coming from their emphasis on “family values?”

    1. 3.14e-9

      Trump’s nuclear plan, currently in draft stage, apparently is going to be very similar to Obama’s parting gift — which obviously he thought he was leaving to Hillary.

  14. AngryUndergrad

    Nuclear disarmament: “We’re just not there yet”

    So instead we’re going to continue stockpiling.

    1. perpetualWAR

      The largest and finest stockpile.

      Contrast that with allowing banks to steal our homes. And the despair so thick, many resort to the needle.

      USA! USA! USA!

    1. cocomaan

      Is there a single lasting part of the Obama agenda at this point? The wars, I guess.

      Trump is Obama’s legacy.

    2. tempestteacup

      If the Democratic leadership was remotely serious about enshrining significant social or economic gains during their time in power, they would as we speak be reflecting on the lessons of the Obama years. Torturous compromises in pursuit of his fantastical desire for bi-partisan consensus led to overwrought legislation on shaky foundations or convoluted workarounds – amendments to bills, cutely redirected federal funds or incentives, and a raft of executive orders (another area in which Obama expanded on the bad precedent set by Bush Jnr to amass as much power as possible around the executive branch of govt). He seldom, if ever, sought to gather popular support and mobilise it nationally as leverage to force those in Congress to support a coherent agenda. And the result, today, is that a rabidly Republican Congress can simply unpick, de-fund and allow to lapse those cerebral fudges for which Obama was, at the time, praised so much and which were used as evidence that he was indeed playing his very own sui generis kind of 78-dimensional chess.

      But then again, none of this should be much of a surprise, since Obama and the rest of his political stripe seem genuinely to believe that “America is already great” – that being so, it’s no wonder they congratulate themselves on presiding regally over glacial changes. Less excusable was his absolute determination to treat Republicans as the reasonable legislative colleagues across the aisle. It was immune to reality and seemed, in the end, more a token of his ideological identification with the ruling class than anything else. The result, though, is that all his cute compromises are now being torn down without legislative substance, institutional heft or mass support to defend them (ACA partly excepted). The modern Republicans are fundamentally antagonistic to the entire structure of post-war American federal government with the exception of the security apparatus; working together with them on even the milquetoast corporate Democrat policy agenda is like asking a world famous arsonist to help you design the fire safety regulations of your new building.

      I suppose, though, it gives current Democrats material to pretend they care about while waving through FISA legislation or even more bloated defence budgets. They get to give an outing to their patented concerned voices, their softest looks and most moral flights of rhetoric self-congratulation over something like DACA – all the while, of course, not mentioning that this entire piece of political theatre could have been avoided if Obama had used his initial 2 years, with control of Congress, to address the issue properly and comprehensively. Instead, and like Guantanamo Bay, truth is that while he was perfectly happy to invoke such issues when they assisted in the harvesting of votes, they ceased to be of serious concern or commitment the moment he was ensconced in the Oval Office.

  15. integer

    Bit late to the party, but wow, I didn’t know it was physically possible for Mattis to smile. Also, Ryan’s dead-eyed bobble-heading in the background is annoying me.

  16. JohnnyGL

    Venezuela just became a ‘socialist dictatorship’….pay no mind to the numerous elections, validated by the Carter Center and other election monitors.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I think of that kind of thing as updating the original ‘hit list’ of countries….the axis of evil!!!

      At some point, leaders of other countries will start taking pride in being on our hit list.

  17. Lambert Strether Post author

    I watched Trump schmooze his way out on the Senate floor; very confident body language, and he seemed to enjoy it. And if he’s lost his mind, he’s certainly compensating effectively.

    1. nowhere

      Perhaps… but Hillary didn’t faint all the time either. But there was plenty of spilled ink on her medication and physical condition.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Except Clinton did take Coumadin, and did have blood clots from air travel (a precursor to stroke) and a fall. None of that is armchair diagnosis.

        So far as I know, everything about Trump is armchair diagnosis, and most of it says that he’s senile or demented, which is belied by his functional behavior in a complex social setting (and after an hour-and-a-half of stressful public speaking).

        1. nowhere

          Indeed. And Trump takes Crestor to prevent cardiovascular disease (along with his high BMI – which isn’t due to muscle).

          It’s much easier to “push through” a scripted speaking engagement with some chemical help. His off the cuff and non scripted blatherings are what mental health professionals call into question. His vapid ramblings make W look like JFK.

          I don’t need a doctor’s diagnosis to see that his word salad is hardly within the ken of a stable genius. Your mileage may vary.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Do you think I’m too stupid to parse your talking points?

            1) Crestor and coumadin are not comparable. Coumadin dosage needs to be adjusted for stress (as in the stress of Presidenting). Coumadin is for preventing stroke. Crestor is for preventing high cholesterol.

            > It’s much easier to “push through” a scripted speaking engagement…

            Which is precisely why I chose to focus on Trump after the speech

            > with some chemical help

            Assuming what you have to prove. As for word salad, the liberal Democrats who followed Adlai Stevenson said the very same thing about Eisenhower, how they considered an idiot. Eisenhower won two terms. And the liberal Democrats said the same things about Bush. Bush won two terms. I don’t know what there is in the liberal Democrat psyche that causes them to double down on fail…

            Please tell your supervisor to send us smarter trolls.

          2. Yves Smith

            Any more comments like this will be deleted. This is way way into the category of “making shit up”. Lambert was treating you with vastly more consideration than your comment deserved to deign to give you any sort of response. Daily Kos is over there, buddy.

      1. ambrit

        Yeah, but look at who she worked for. No matter how good a speechwriter she was, the sockies mouthing her words got the last say on policy.

  18. Lambert Strether Post author

    Kennedy in Fall River now (which reminds me of Thomas Frank’s work on that city in Listen, Liberal!

    Adding, I think the gym setting has the effect of making Kennedy look like a provincial politician, exactly the opposite of what they want, I would think (nothing more dispiriting than a “Wooo!” that sounds like it comes from a small crowd).

    This is the first time I’ve heard Kennedy speak. I’d be more accepting of the populist message if I didn’t know his record. His delivery seems a little herky-jerky, up-and-down. Obama had a rolling cadence, much more effective in my mind. It’s not a rebuttal, doesn’t mention Trump’s speech at all. It’s a stump speech (i.e., a rehearsal for 2020). Hard to see it going viral…

    1. neo-realist

      Joe is a little too green for 2020; 2024, maybe, when he gets a more consistent cadence down and a bit more age on the face.

  19. Rhondda

    I couldn’t help but note Trump’s short, simple sentences.

    Glarg Kennedy, IVXXX — frothing at the mouth. Yikes.
    No thanks, I’m the government man.

      1. ambrit

        This ‘Wordle’ has been very cleverly constructed to smear Trump. Do notice that the big name ‘Trump” is located precisely where a piece of excrement would be if the whole was a living creature. Also, the name Trump is the proper shape and colour to be subconsciously viewed as excremental.
        Politics is uniquely convoluted and human.

          1. ambrit

            Ah, Lambert, you are blessed with the ability to integrate your conscious and subconscious minds. Very good work. Would a Trumpista wordle fabricator have ‘People’ and ‘Trump’ side by side for associational value?
            The value of symbol and vocabulary for the human mind….

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              No doubt. Let me take a moment to explain for the umpteenth time why I deprecate the particular sort of stupidity your comment exemplifies.

              1) Democrats 2003 – 2006 practiced this particular sort of scatological/sexual snarky wordplay with great intensity when Bush was President; I know because I was there, and I did it. Bush won two terms. So the tactic doesn’t work.

              2) Faux transgressive comments like this one center the commenter; they say “Look at me! I can say ‘shit’!” (or whatever). They are in essence juvenile and pre-political, not political. (They are also conversation stoppers, except to the extent that they attract a chorus of equally juvenile “me too!”s.)

              3) Critically, comments like this do not take your enemy seriously. Trump isn’t a bad President because he has a coprolitic soul*; Trump is a bad President because he’s a reactionary squillionaire** advancing the crudest values and interests of the class to which he belongs.

              NOTE * Indeed, most major religions and ethical systems would teach us that our own souls aren’t in such great shape either, if we look within. See, e.g., “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men…'” (Luke 18:11). The connection to virtue signaling is easy to see.

              NOTE ** Liberal Democrats cannot say this, of course, because they have their own squillionaires to service. Hence the propagation of pre-political talking points like yours.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Yeah, think I’ll watch it another time. Or access the file from the memory bank.

        Thanks again to all for being here!

        1. ambrit

          Not to quibble. The value of this exact time segment is that it draws from an existing “crowd” of watchers of the “Official” SOTU. Later on, most people will be doing something else, and not be anywhere near as interested in the subject. So, breaking up Sanders’ natural flow of discourse, tends to dampen Sanders’ effectiveness.

            1. polecat

              Your typical network viewing audience:

              … I’m unmad as swell, and am going to take and like it ! …

  20. ewmayer

    Like many, I avoid the annual SOTU-blather-orgy like the plague, irrespective of whether the orator is a master of Soaring Rhetoric™ or not. Even forgot about the whole thing for a blissful few hours. Went out ~6:30 pm (left coast time) to have a gander at the full ‘supermoon’, since I doubt I’ll feel like hauling my carcass out of the bed in middle of the night to catch the bonus of the lunar eclipse, came in just before 7, tunred on the TV to watch the evening episode of Jeopardy!, only to be reminded of the pre-emption. So, quickly changed the channel to the historic drama on at same time as Jeopardy! and which I normally watch during the commercials, thankfully the local Korean TV affiliate which airs it don’t give a rat’s patootie about live-political-event pre-emption.

    But I look forward to reading the various live-blog cmments and post-mortems, thanks to all the masochists willing to “take one for the team” and sit through the awful spectacle in order to share their thoughts!

  21. JohnnyGL

    Kennedy was delivering pleasant sounding rhetoric, but nothing concrete.

    Bernie’s delivering cold, hard facts…and with a fighting tone, too.

  22. Lambert Strether Post author

    He’s running:

    How can he not talk about the reality that Russia, through cyberwarfare, interfered in our election in 2016, is interfering in democratic elections all over the world, and according to his own CIA director will likely interfere in the 2018 midterm elections that we will be holding. How do you not talk about that unless [perhaps*] you have a very special relationship with Mr. Putin?

    But oh, Bernie…

    * Not in the text

    1. ambrit

      Oh my. why repeat this Democrat stalking horse. When HRH HRC goes to prison, Bernie will look somewhat silly for having fallen for the ‘Russiagate’ lies.

          1. ambrit

            Is he setting himself up to don the mantle of “Eminence Gris” of the Democrat party? Does he know something about the near future of HRH HRC that we all do not?

    2. Rhondda

      Sad. So many have had their brains eaten by Muh Russia.
      Bernie, we hardly knew ye…

      And on that note. Thanks for hosting, Lambert. Nite!

    3. Hamford

      Yes I guess the pragmatist might want three Russia arrows in his quiver for a quick Russia, Russia, Russia strike in a hopeful 2020 general election. Nonetheless, wish that Bernie didn’t go down this path, when he was an actual victim of real election fraud.

      1. RMO

        Made me want to bang my head against my monitor – and you can take that as an indication of the high regard I hold Sanders in compared to most other politicians as with them I just assume (and am seldom disappointed in that assumption) that they’re going to say things like that. Bernie, you’re old enough and smart enough to realize that the world barely survived the first cold war and a repeat is likely to render all other concerns we have now moot.

        What is the meddling Boris and Natasha are supposed to have done? Last I checked it seemed to amount to revealing the Democrats were rigging their primaries (and the closest thing to “proof” seemed to be a couple of the three letter agencies stating that doing something like that was consistent with the Russian agencies normal practices), and that something like 700,000 social media accounts received items that may have been slanted or false and that the items were associated with accounts that may be Russian. Sounds like a good reason to risk a war that would kill billions, and the alternative is coming to terms with the possibility that the bonehead currently in office is there because a lot of Americans voted for him and the Democrat party massively screwed up their campaign – yeah, I can see how risking Armageddon is preferable to that /S

    4. PKMKII

      Ehh, if you’re going to throw a bone to the Democratic establishment, that’s the one to throw. Rather he talk up some Russians under the bed than cave on single payer.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yeah; “Paris is worth a mass,” see below. That said, Pompeo gave him the handle. It’s really the last sentence that gets me, since it brings the whole discussion back to Clinton’s original claim of “puppet,” which even the liberal Democrats have walked back from.

        1. ambrit

          I wonder what’s so bad about the top people of two of the most powerful nations on the earth getting along. I’ll bet that Sanders wishes he had a similarly non confrontational relationship with Clinton.

    5. polecat

      The savior stumbles …

      HeyZeus on a stick ! Sanders really needs to throw-off that burning necklace once a for all.


  23. ambrit

    Hooray! Sanders said “single payer” and “Medicare for all.”
    Sanders is setting up for a Populist campaign in 2020.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On the last section of Sanders speech: I know I generally don’t sound optimistic, but I really am, because I agree with Sanders (“a revitalization of American democracy”). I’m not happy with some of the wording, because I don’t think it’s a good idea to steal the liberal’s clothes on anything — why, for example, are [genuflects] “the streets” and “organizing” in separate paragraphs? Surely a functional approach would unify them? — even rhetorically (“an agenda that works for the working families of our country”). Still, “Paris is worth a mass,” and so with words, words and #MedicareForAll…

      1. ambrit

        As I mentioned above, perhaps Sanders is maneuvering to become a power broker in a New Democrat Party? I’m going to be interested to see how “insurgent” candidates do in the 2016 midterm elections.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I do think it would be nice to lay the 2020 ground work for Sanders ahead of time with a nice wave in 2018 of 20-30 new Progressive Caucus members with stiffer spines than the current crop. We probably won’t get that many wins from all the lefty 1st time campaigners. After all, they’re rookies, mostly.

        But, I’d like to see an unruly bunch that give Chuck and Nancy some headaches with their refusal to listen.

        Claiming some Blue Dog scalps would be nice, also.

  24. JohnnyGL

    From a practical perspective, Bernie saying this….

    “Instead of spending $1.5 trillion over ten years rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, Trump would encourage states to sell our nation’s highways, bridges, and other vital infrastructure to Wall Street, wealthy campaign contributors, even foreign governments. And how would Wall Street and these corporations recoup their investments? By imposing massive new tolls and fees paid for by American commuters and homeowners.The reality is that Trump’s plan to privatize our nation’s infrastructure is an old idea that has never worked and never will work.”

    …pressures the rest of the Dems to hold the line and oppose Trump’s infrastructure scams. At the very least, the presidential hopefuls will have to follow suit.

  25. fresno dan

    all I can say is, I paid my dues for all the presidential debates I viewed…..

    fresno dan
    January 30, 2018 at 2:40 pm
    Amfortas the Hippie
    January 30, 2018 at 8:04 am
    In a desire to keep from having a conniption, and resultant stroke, I intend to spend the evening at one of the two fine dining/drinking establishments that do not have TV’s so that I am not in any peril of viewing the proceeding…..kinda like Odysseus. HOLD IT – that’s not like Odysseus at all…
    Anywho, I toyed with the idea of watching it with the sound off – but I don’t like how he looks either
    I went to the Cracked Pepper here in Fresno and avoided the SOTU – first time in 30 years or so years…..
    I salute you who gave up so, so, so….much to watch this guy – for those who have borne the battle….and listened to soooo, soooo much asinine crap….
    I had a nice chardonnay, a nice sauvignon blanc, and a nice Cabernet and I ate a eggplant appetizer that was fabulous.
    As I have said before, every president seems to get worse and worse….my time on this mortal coil draws near its end and and I used to think I was born too early, but now I feel most people were born too late…..

    1. ambrit

      Phyllis said that she would rather do something worthwhile. So, she watched “Summertime” with Katherine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi on DVD in the living room. She dosen’t drink, so, I filled in for her with two brandies, stretched out over two hours or so. Unfortunately, I got so mad at the SOTU that any ‘buzz’ I might have had burned off PDQ.
      What a night. Is the next three years of the Trump administration going to be as fraught as this first one?
      Enquiring minds want to know.
      Night all.

  26. Tony of CA

    Both parties are lost causes: The Democrats are lost to identity politics while the Republicans are lost to their tickle-down economic theories. It’s beyond parody at this point. Translation- Donors win- average working citizens lose.

  27. Lambert Strether Post author

    Some quick thoughts now that I’ve had a little time to think:

    1) Trump laid out the Republican case for 2018:

    * The economy. True or not, at least it means the powers-that-be don’t anticipate a crash before the election

    * Taxes. We have yet to see real numbers on the effect on take-home pay. Perhaps the economy will get a boost

    * Conservative “sphincter control” on borders and terrorism. Note that Trump gave the Democrats the Dreamers (or will, according to his lights).

    * Ferguson’s industry blocks (?) will be won by deregulation, rules, executive orders, not legislation. Maybe the Republicans can make the run-up to 2018 all about infrastructure; Trump would certainly like to — the only places where I felt Trump was truly engaged, “sincere,” if you will, was when he talked about building — but I don’t know if the party is that excited about it.

    2) Sanders is running. Further:

    * He thinks there’s a good chance the Democrats will win back the House (and impeach Trump). Hence the nod to conventional wisdom on Russia*

    He certainly does better with an audience. But versus Kennedy, wowsers. “Never send a boy to do a man’s job.”

    * Personally, I’d rather achieve gridlock with the Democrats taking back the Senate, and the Republicans retaining the House, because I think that (a) impeachment will be horrible for the country and (b) impeachment empowers everything that’s wrong with the liberal Democrats who run the party.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Even the liberal Democrats don’t believe Trump is a fascist any more, or else they never would have voted to give him Section 702 authority. Unless they’re fascists themselves, of course. My advice: Abandon this trope as shop-worn.

        1. Yves Smith

          Lambert was treating you more politely than you deserved. This sort of evidence-free re-run of random “evil scary Trump monster” is tedious and takes attention away from where Trump is taking ground, like in packing the courts. We’ve had more than a year of Trump. He’s a bog standard Republican with terrible impulse control. Period.

    2. citizendave

      We got the same impression. In Rome we stood below the iconic balcony where Il Duce performed for the cameras, with his arms out and his chin raised, defiant, proud. Our excellent tour guide gave a great, evocative impression. The President did a good impression of Mussolini, but wasn’t quite as good as our Italian tour guide. Not to make any comment about his politics, just to say that at the moment during the speech I commented to my spouse, who also witnessed our tour guide in Rome. The gravity of that moment in Rome in 2011 was such that we often allude to it. The sheer theatrical similarity this evening was striking.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s certainly refreshing that liberal Democrats, having apparently decided that outright calling Trump a fascist wasn’t getting any traction, have decided to merely to insinuate it (and, by instancing Mussolini, to display their mad historical knowledge skills). Of course, the insinuation that Trump is a fascist is as ludicrous as the outright claim; were Trump a fascist, Chuck Schumer would hardly be cutting a deal with him to build The Wall. Right? I mean, unless Schumer’s a fascist, too.

        PRO TIP: If you really want to work this meme hard — and follow me closely, here — elsewhere, may I suggest Il Douché? One of the things that drives me nuts about liberal snark post-2016 how dull and mediocre it is. One can only conclude that the best brains have moved on.

        1. ambrit

          But, moved on to where? Politics, when done right, needs skills and training. See the Kennedy scion for an example of a ‘work in progress’ in that field. Remove those with the intellectual and artistic skills to excel, and what do we have? Mediocrities unable to handle crises when they come up. Not a good formula for societal and species survival.

        2. citizendave

          Ouch. I see your point. I had consumed more wine than usual by the time I reacted to the mention of that historical figure. While intoxication should not excuse my lack of judgment in finding the temerity to post on NC at that moment, I would plead that my error in reporting my reaction to the president’s performance was due in part to red wine, and in part to sputtering apoplexy. I would not defend myself further, nor do I wish to “work this meme” at all, ever again.

          What I do believe about contemporary politics may be found in a post from a couple weeks ago here.

  28. earthling1

    Seriously, do we really need the SOTU on five stations?
    It seems so ……..I dunno….so North Korea-ish to me.
    Dear leader speaks…everybody listen!

  29. witters

    I’m afraid that Bernie’s Putin Derangement Syndrome is the sign that he too is just another one.

  30. Darthbobber

    I checked out the dk site (tempted to start calling it the Loyal Orange Lodge, but I’ll refrain.) And wouldn’t you kbow, some lassie was trying to start a Joe Kennedy for prez boom.

    In the course of 79 conments, the pros and cons alike refrained from discussing anything other than image, except one lad bear the end who went and brought up pot. And campaign finance. And single payer healthcare. And universal public higher education funding. Usw, usw. And had the temerity to suggest that joey represented yet another way to change nothing but the optics.

  31. Darthbobber

    And already the details of the speech and the rebuttals slip away from me, and like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind.

    I am reminded of that immortal line uttered at Gettysburg: “The world will little know nor long remember what we say here…”

    1. Edward E

      Guess I’m still trying to be the optimist, hoping for a golden age of true fair/free trade (“goods for goods” instead of “goods for US Treasury IOU”) in a new monetary system.
      But remember the Congressional Budget Office projections of a $3.1 trillion on-budget surplus over the next 10 years when G W Bush did his early aggressive proposals?

  32. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Thanks for all of the above

    I decided to watch a Christian Bale Batman movie instead of the SOTU. Dark, with a little hope, but wanted to know what went down after the fact.

  33. Susan the other

    Speaking of good fiction, I’m hooked on a new MHz series called “1864” about the Danes fomenting a hopeless war with Germany by demanding Schleswig-Holstein return to Danish control. It isn’t so much a satire of insanity and hubris as it is a documentary. At one point the nurse doing home health care for an old goofy man reads to him from his great grandmother’s diary and she looks up in the middle of the page with an astonished look on her face and says, “They were insane.” So well done, I recommend it for political indigestion. Can’t quit smiling. And I must be getting goofy myself because I smiled all the way thru the SOTU. Anticipating Trump getting all mixed up and making one of his exaggerated statements to give himself some cover. But he did great. So that’s good. I also liked the fact that he’s spending money and at this point I almost don’t care how he does it. Made Nancy and Steny a little tweaked. So they can sort that all out later in their own insane way. The thing I didn’t like is this relentless push for more war. That’s not funny at all. We could put the military to much better use.

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