2022 State of the Union Address Live Blog/Open Thread

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“Find out who’s running the book, and when you have found out that it is Nobby, take it off him.” –Terry Pratchett, The Truth

Joe Biden will deliver his 2022 State of the Union Address less than one-half hour from now, Leader Pelosi having helpfully set the date long past omicron’s peak, and “events, dear boy, events” having fallen out so to change the subject from the million dead due to the combined pandemic policies of the former guy and Biden himself. Let’s look forward and not back!

Im order to preserve the integrity of my vascular system and ensure continued brain function, I will deny myself the pleasure of waiting for Biden to slip a cog, not that I think his medical advisors will permit that, and read a transcript later. I might weigh in when the carnage is over.

For those of you following along at home, I can’t really recommend drinking games; they want your cognitive faculties impaired, as anyone who’s been following the war coverage can see. I looked, too, for a SOTU Bingo card, but couldn’t find one. Here, however, is a post on betting; our more speculatively inclined readers might enjoy it. Here’s a sample:

Length of State of the Union address

  • Over 65 minutes
  • Under 65 minutes

What will President Biden say first?

  • Russia +160
  • Ukraine -200

What will President Biden say first?

  • Zelensky +200
  • Putin -300

What will President Biden say first?

  • Europe -300
  • European Union +200

What will President Biden say first?

  • NATO -150
  • Nuclear +110 

What will President Biden say first?

  • Coronavirus +200
  • Pandemic -300 

What will President Biden say first?

  • CDC -120
  • Mask -120 

What will President Biden say first?

  • Economy -500
  • Inflation +300 

What will President Biden say first?

  • Primary/Primaries -135
  • Mid-term/Mid-terms -105 

SOTU Word Bingo Odds (Biden to say word at any time)

  • Democracy                 -700
  • Build Back Better       -400
  • Infrastructure            -400
  • Jill                              -250
  • Allies                         -225
  • Universal Pre-K          -225
  • Georgia                      -200
  • Pennsylvania              -180
  • Estonia                      -130
  • Michigan                    -130
  • Scranton                    -130
  • Virus                          -130
  • Wisconsin                  -130
  • Baltic                         -110
  • Finland                      -110
  • Florida                       -110
  • Cold War                    +100
  • Ireland                       +100
  • Navalny                      +100
  • Obama                      +100
  • Ohio                          +100
  • Sweden                      +100
  • Insurrection               +120
  • Latvia                        +120
  • Lithuania                    +120
  • Poison                       +140
  • Predecessor               +150
  • Scandinavia                +150
  • Thug                          +160
  • Propaganda               +175
  • AUKUS                       +200
  • Trump                       +200
  • Tyrant                       +200
  • Fascist/Fascism          +250
  • Nazi                           +250
  • Boris                          +300
  • Politovskaya               +300
  • Sedition                      +300
  • Former guy                +400
  • Stalin                         +500
  • Fox News                   +700
  • Antifa                        +1000
  • Brandon                     +1000
  • Mayor Pete                +1000

As for the first item: Not “Democracy.” “Our Democracy.” Readers may choose to make other additions and corrections, or change the odds.

* * *

As usual, this post does not update; readers may track the debate in real time in comments.

Please keep your comments as informative and analytical as possible. Write for the reader who hasn’t seen the SOTU, and comes to this site in lieu of watching it on TV. There are no points at NC for knee-jerk, context-free one-liners (“Boo ____!” or “Yay!”) that only those who are also watching can make sense of; that’s for Facebook or Reddit.

I think it adds more value if you take a moment, use your critical thinking skills, then comment, and readers can discuss what you say. That way, those who cannot watch the SOTU — or can’t stand to do so — can get a good idea of what really happened by reading what you write after the fact. This is what the NC commentariat is so very good at, after all. Last time, the times before that, and this time. Thank you!


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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. Dave in Austin

      A few hours before the speech Congress lifted the mask mandate on… themselves. If they hadn’t, then a fair number of legislators would have either showed up with no mask or taken the mask off, and telling them they were banned from the floor was a non-starter. Cases are down to 1/10 of what they were 60 days ago. Friends who are responsible for things like bars and whole college campuses are saying “They are so over masks”.

      Maine Senator Susan Collins rarely stood and clapped with the other Democrats. Manchin from West Virginia sat in the middle of the Republican side, which I think is unprecedented. And being Manchin, he sat next to an unmasked friend and stood and clapped for the part of Biden’s speech he liked. He was often the only person on that side who got up and clapped. Neither Manchin nor Collins came over to shake the President’s hand as he was leaving.

      The House chamber has 465 seats. Add 100 Senators, the Joint Chiefs, the Supreme Court and the Cabinet and you are up to 600 potential attendees. Half the seats were empty so either more than half of the Senators and Congressmen choose not to attend or there was a deal to keep people separated by one seat and limit the audience, I don’t know which. Except for the Black legislators, the older Congressmen were conspicuously absent.

      There are two parties in the US; those who have had plastic surgery and those who haven’t. I’m 77 and let me tell you, no 77 year-old looks like Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi without a lot of professional work. Most of us look like Mitch McConnell, and that ain’t pretty. Ask a plastic surgeon. Look at the neck, under the eyes and also where the crease lines should be around the mouth.

      Worst double entendre of the night was when Biden said: “Transgendered Americans I’ll always have your back.”
      Speaking of having your back, next year watch the two Secret Service guys with the President. I will not give away any secrets, but they are incredibly good at their job, with perfectly tailored suits, odd ties and are almost invisible. When you see their backs you can tell they’re wearing body armor.

      Biden had the usual run of non sequiturs and amazing bits of math. Insulin cost $10 to produce and is often sold for “As much as thirty time that”. And we will help by demanding you pay no more than $30/month.
      When Biden talked about burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan and transitioned on to maybe his son died from the chemical smoke from the pits there were audible gasps. His son died of cancer. Bo was getting his ticket punched for higher office by being in the National Guard- as a PR person in Iraq. Biden is obviously deeply burdened by the possibility. And if he believes that the cancer may have been caused by chemicals from the burn pit fires, I have two questions. First, why don’t we outlaw burn pits and bring our trash home? Second, if it is that dangerous, how do you think the locals feel?

      The First Lady appeared to be very emotional and on the verge of tears when she was talking to the Ukrainian lady ambassador. This may say something about the state of the White House right now.

      We have a hostage crisis. The Constitution calls for the President to make a report to Congress. For a rundown of the history see https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R40132.pdf. Somehow in recent years Congress now includes the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Supreme Court. Watching the Chiefs you get to see 6 or 7 poker faced men with their hands folded neatly in their laps under orders: “Don’t smile. Don’t clap.” In past years on of the Chiefs might slightly break rank, but no longer. The camera dares not to pan over them while our heroic vets are lauded and they must sit quietly with their hands folded. The Supremes are about the same. These are both non-political roles and these people should not be there and be put in this uncomfortable position. When the speech is over the Supremes bolt fast. The JCS are the last people to leave. Back in the late 60s I used to sit in the Senate Gallery during late night sessions (if the side dome flag is up, they are in session). I learned a great deal about the personalities and friendships. If you are in Washington, definitely go to your Senator or Congress-person and get a ticket to watch… but don’t drink too much water and go to the bathroom first.

      Biden talked about the Ukraine and new programs; the Republican response was about inflation, deficits, schools, crime and families. I have no idea how the public will react to this.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The First Lady appeared to be very emotional and on the verge of tears when she was talking to the Ukrainian lady ambassador. This may say something about the state of the White House right now.

        How Churchillian. They’ve all lost their minds and none of them are fit for high office.

      2. petal

        If you saw Joe Biden up close in person, he looked at least 90 a few years ago-including the shuffling. The only thing that stood out was his chicklet teeth. If he’s had anything done, it hasn’t helped.

      3. ProNewerDeal

        I am surprised to read Biden and Pelosi were maskless. IIRC I read Biden was requiring mask + PCR test the day before for all attendees. I

        I thought Biden and CorpDems were hypocrites as they are for MedicareForAll: Jane 99%er can NOT have Socialist Medicare4All, but they vote themselves government provided insurance + exclusive luxury clinic/providers (eg like a mini-luxury VA4All?).

        I thought it was the same here – Jane 99%er does not need to wear masks in indoor public buildings, but Biden will force anyone in his indoor presence to wear a N95 mask and be PCR tested.

        Do the CorpDems not understand Political Science “reality” “optics” do NOT override biolgical
        actual reality?

        I wonder if this event will be a SuperSpreader and at least 1 of these Congresspersons, Executive Admin Execs, or SC Justice gets a bad-hospitilization COVID case.

        1. Pat

          That was the original plan, but the five minutes I watched showed only a few minions masked and lots of handshakes and hugs. This after three members testing positive not hours before.
          There were also a lot of blue and yellow ribbons and lots of blue and yellow clothing in solidarity with the Ukraine. Reminiscent of that lovely picture of Dems taking a knee in kente cloth masks for BLM. And just about as meaningful.

  1. Delbert

    Gas was $5:09 in California before Ukraine. Biden must be on his knees thanking Putin for the major distraction that this is away from his disastrous handling of the economy and reappointing Powell to the Fed.

    Costco had some shelves already stripped of Pasta, pasta sauce, rice and beans.

    1. timbers

      We have to build back better with affordable child tax health care credits so everyone can afford education at schools to make America great what she is.

    2. TimD

      It may be that the economy is beyond “handling” and distractions are the best way to not deal with it. Pretty much a tradition in America.

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    To everyone with the constitution, I salute you. I haven’t watched a Presidential address to Congress since 2006 when I really wanted to hear Shrub “animal human hybrids”, he didn’t disappoint, and prior to that 1996, when I realized they were awful and pointless.

    I did watch the post 9/11 one…ugh.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Haven’t seen one since W; found it painful to listen to him in even in regular appearances. Never got back into the habit, but this one seems unusually consequential (or the moment seems unusually consequential; so many simultaneous crises). Will be glad when it’s over.

      1. John Wright

        I remember a letter to the editor in the LA Times during W’s term.

        It must have been prior to 9/11 when making fun of Bush Jr. became unpatriotic.

        The letter writer had: “He stops at the end of the line on the teleprompter, not the period. Is he in over his head? Yes.”

        1. Samuel Conner

          > in over his head

          That was exactly the sense I had when listening to him, and I felt bad for him. That’s what was painful — the sense of sorrow at how ‘out of depth’ he seemed to be.

          Of course, that was probably just my mirror system over-reacting. He probably didn’t know he was out of his depth and felt no shame at all.

          1. Oh

            I believe Obama also floundered big time when his teleprompter went down but most press ignored that event.

  3. ambrit

    Me pre-position potables for easy ‘access’ during ordeal! Make pain stop!
    Must have more Freedom Gin!
    When Two Minute Hate start?

  4. Wukchumni

    I heard Joe will drive onto the Senate floor in his vintage Corvette with aviator shades and Members Only jacket on, looking sharp as he exits the vehicle, but that’s all i’ve heard so far.

  5. Joe Renter

    Thanks for all the brave souls who are watching and commenting. The propaganda is thick right now I want isolate indefinitely. Lazy citizens who can’t take the time to look up at the strings of their puppet masters.

  6. Wukchumni

    Ye gads, Joe is going with Cold War part deux using Ukraine as a proxy.

    “American resolve matters”

  7. Samuel Conner

    9:10 “unwavering resolve that freedom will triumph over tyranny”.

    I guess JRB has been binge-watching Star Wars.

    9:11 launches right into Ukraine.

    “inspires the world”

    channelling Tianenmen square.

    (The thought has occurred that if the Rs trounce the Us in coming days, JRB may look kind of foolish. Saker thinks the ATO troops in the east will be cauldroned)

  8. Big River Bandido

    Here at my local pizza joint in Davenport. About 6 people at the bar and a few more scattered throughout the place. The three teevees (all silent but subtitled) have Star Trek TNG, a basketball game, and South Park. The sound is heavy metal and funk. There was a perfect advertisement for the SOTU — an immediate cut from a particularly cruel moment in SouthPark.

    I don’t get the sense anyone here gives a rat about this speech, but maybe this room isn’t representative.

    1. Late Introvert

      BRB, asking for a friend: are the Rock Island dispensaries friendly? Nudge, nudge.

  9. Glen

    Shorter Biden – I am counting on Russia, Russia, Russia to save my a$$ politically. And those trillions we cannot spend at home will get exploded abroad!

  10. Samuel Conner

    9:13 did I hear “freeding loving nations” — seems to stumble a bit.

    9:14 long list of Euro nations taking minor steps to express disapproval.

    9:15 more stumbles on “Ruble”. Characterizes R FX reserves as a “war fund” — if a currency war, I suppose.

    DOJ will intervene — go after the oligarchs (coming after ill-gotten gains — of R oligarchs only, mind you)

    9:16 more on US war on Russian currency.

    1. mary jensen

      Biden overcame a serious stutter early in life but he’s getting old. Ever seen “The King’s Speech”?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > serious stutter

        I don’t care about the flubs. If he has word salad problems at the sentence and paragraph level (as he has had in the past) that’s another thing. There aren’t any comments here that rise to that level, I don’t think.

        Frail and (I assume) medicated as he is, Biden is still the best liberal Democrat politician, which is a frightening thought. (And if you don’t believe me, look at the 2020 field modulo Bernie. Which of them would you rather have seen at the podium tonight? Harris? Klobuchar? Buttigieg? O’Rourke?)

        1. sadie the cat

          Warren. Remember how she went after Bloombrg with a 2 x 4. She can be tough. (unfortunate campaign moves aside)

  11. Anthony G Stegman

    The lies as to the origins of the crisis in Ukraine are being spouted by the media as well as Biden right at the start of SOTU.

    1. rhodium

      To this day you find mixed explanations, but when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 it was said that Russia was angry that Georgia was trying to enter NATO (presumably under encouragement from the U.S.). I remember this was happening during the summer olympics in China and the news said that Putin suddenly got up during the ceremony, pointed a finger at Bush, and then left in the middle of the ceremony to jet back to Moscow. Not long after that Russia invaded Georgia. I cannot find any story to corroborate the finger pointing story, but regardless, Russia is responding to the Ukraine situation exactly as it has in the past. If history is a guide, then if the U.S. just lets Russia maintain its sphere of influence over former soviet states then they will be satisfied.

      I do not like Putin, but unsurprisingly in this situation he’s acting defensively within a strategic cold war mentality. It was always the U.S. pushing geopolitical brinkmanship. The entire stormy past of U.S.-Russia relationships is rotten with the indicators that some people in Washington are licking their chops waiting for Putin to put a toe too far over a line so that they can justify a harsh reaction. Biden is at it again, and only the American public’s strong anti-war leanings seem to be keeping them at bay.

      1. Starry Gordon

        It was my distinct impression at the time that Georgia invaded first. More accurately, there was a confused conflict between South Ossetian separatists and Georgia forces. After about a week, Georgia invaded Ossetia and the Russians came in the next day. Pretty soon thereafter the situation was portrayed in the official media as “Russia invades Georgia for no good reason”, etc., which has now become canon, but that was how I remember it, and if anyone knows better I’d like to be straightened out about it. A few days later, the _Economist_ had a headline, “Russia’s Back”. I thought it was a significant turning point.

  12. Darius

    Biden pledges we will defend any NATO nation attacked. I believe every NATO nation is obligated to do so.

    1. jr

      I was literally just wondering how long it would take to see comments pointing out some
      verbal snafus.

  13. LawnDart

    Write for the reader who hasn’t seen the SOTU, and comes to this site in lieu of watching it on TV.

    No TV since 1996– got enough competing for my attentions. Can’t wait to read about this, though, it should be a lot of fun.

    And please take this to heart:

    To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
    Theodore Roosevelt

  14. mistah charley, ph.d.

    It’s less painful for me to watch with the sound turned off and the closed captions on – it affects me less emotionally.

    God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her, and guide her, through the Night with the Light from Above — metaphorically speaking.

    I also remember the seeker who asked his spiritual teacher, “If Higher Forces are continually at work, why is humankind in such a degraded state?” The teacher replied, “Without their efforts, humankind would not be so degraded – we would be extinct.”

    1. Lou Anton

      Yes! That, and when talking about the young man who needs insulin for his diabetes, said (phonetically): “Tae-kwon-betes”. Which is sure as sh1t a rallying cry to martial art diabetes to death if I ever heard one.

  15. Samuel Conner

    9:17 backs off the rhetoric a bit — US forces will not intervene in Ukraine. US redeployments are purely defensive for protection of NATO members.

    9:18 “pure courage” — who wrote this? “pound of Ukrainian people”. Stumbles but recovers.

    “taking reobust action”.

    Me thinks JRB is not at top form

    9:19 strategic oil reserves released — protecting AMerican consumers from fuel price inflation

    predicts the world will become stronger because of the war in Ukraine. (US leadership strengthened?)

    9:21 “Deep bond connecting US and Ukraine” (?? what is this bond?)

    9:21 pivot to pandemic, notices inflation

    references father’s experience of the great depression

    boasting about early 2021 fiscal largesse (but where is that last $600?)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > 9:21 “Deep bond connecting US and Ukraine” (?? what is this bond?)

      He means the deep bond between Nazis and various national security influencers, not limited to Ukrainian irredentists at State.

  16. shinola

    Cut the costs of health INSURANCE…! (i.e. reduce ins. co. profit margins a bit – maybe)

  17. Anthony G Stegman

    I’m watching the VP sitting behind Biden. She seems struggling to hold back laughter. Her usual demeanor, regardless of the appropriateness.

  18. mrsyk

    9:26 It’s wishlist time already! Hahahaha. All the things we are going to do. Really!

  19. Clark

    Do Biden and “our allies” really think that Putin is going to continue on through Poland, etc.? …. And isn’t the irony thick that those “oligarchs” he’s threatening to confiscate the wealth of confiscated it themselves by getting Yeltsin, Chubais, etc., to take the advice of Harvard economists?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Do Biden and “our allies” really think that Putin is going to continue on through Poland, etc.?

      If they’re high on their own supply, yes.

  20. Samuel Conner

    9:23 boasting about re-hires coming out of the lockdown.

    strong growth after a large contraction.

    (fiddling with choice of baseline is an old trick; does he think people don’t notice?)

    9:24 pivot to boasting about the infrastructure act

    “infrastructure decade” “will transform America”

    (not sure — long COVID may derail the recovery)

    “begin to replace the poisonous lead pipes”

    (always starting, never completing)

    9:26 “start fixing highways and bridges” (see above)

    9:27 “buy American products” with “taxpayer dollars”

    talking like he aspires to Autarky (maybe taking a leaf out of Putin’s playbook?)

  21. Darius

    The last 10 minutes have actually been effective, to my surprise. Although this Intel part sounds like pie in the sky.

    1. Jed

      Such value-added Darius! Should I anticipate further comments…

      Ala: The last 15 minutes have actually been effective, to my surprise.

      And then… The last 20 minutes have actually been effective, to my surprise.

      And now realizing that I too am not adding value, I will give my perspective. (Value is definitely subjective! )

      Forced to either watch or rudely go to bed, I gave it a go.

      Not a veteran of the SOTU, I abhorr politics and politicians generally. This was pure propaganda with little substance and jingoistic BS scattered around the 40 minutes I witnessed. Biden stumbled a lot (I realize that is not supposed to be such a big deal in of itself but JC!) and seemed to place himself at the right hand of the father on this Russia-Ukraine issue.

      Not sure why everyone (not here) just glosses over the coup 8 years ago when Biden was VP and all that nasty nepotism was ongoing with Hunter, Ukraine energy firms and associated BS.

      Sorry, I got sidetracked again. The bombastic cheering from the crowd during the 40 minutes I endured was enough to tell me that this is beyond Orwell. We are living in some weird Mashup of Huxley and Orwell, with a bit of “pickle-Rick” thrown in to keep us on our toes.

      In all seriousness, God bless us as we work our way through this journey ?

  22. RA

    For me, the hardest part is having to look at Kamala and Nancy fused out of Joe’s shoulders for this length of time.

  23. Samuel Conner

    9:28 “Field of dreams” in Ohio — Intel’s next Fab site. “Most sophisticated manufacturing in the world” (not sure about that — I think Intel is behind the curve in terms of latest generation few-nm scale integration)

    9:30 “revitalization of American manufacturing” (re-onshoring due to the problems of globalization. Don’t admit it was a bad idea to ship the jobs oversease, but claim credit when they come back?)

    9:31 token union man mentioned.

    JRB stumbling around “rust belt”

    “gains they thought otherwise they would be able to feel”

    The meds are wrong, seemingly.

  24. Michael

    Did you say “Intell…”?
    Did he say “You see that field?”
    Not even tequila and avocado toast can blunt this bs.

  25. Darius

    Democrats can talk a good game, but no one is more in hock to big pharma than Joe Biden

  26. Anthony G Stegman

    Biden is pushing low cost insulin. He will need agreement from President Manchin. Not likely to happen. This entire speech is a dreamscape. Aspirations that have little chance of being achieved.

  27. Juneau

    “cut the cost of child care in half” to help middle class working people. The people doing the child care are middle class working people. How does that work?

    1. ChrisPacific

      Shrink the working middle class by half and you cut child care costs in half. Problem solved.

  28. Samuel Conner

    9:33 pandemic effects on supply chains and inflations noticed. The Pandemic looms large, but was only mentioned at the beginning as a thing practically past

    “lower costs not wages”. By offshoring again? Oh, by making it locally.

    9:34 prescription drugs costs — cut this as a way of reducing inflation.

    9:35 noticing the enormous Pharma markup on insulin.

    (Now do the rest of healthcare provision.)

    Proposed price cap on insulin limit markup to 250%

    9:36 “let Medicare negotiate the price of prescription drugs”

    9:37 investment tax credit for people who can afford to upgrade their homes

    9:38 reduce cost of child-care (limit out of pocket to 7% of income)

    no additional taxes for people < $400,000 annual income

    9:39 raise taxes on corporations and wealthy

    reform the tax code, ?AMT for corporations

    "What are we waiting for?"

    (Answer: President Manchin)

    Says he can grow the economy while lowering the deficit

    (perhaps he thinks he can do all this while keeping the dollar strong too)

    (Paging Professor Kelton)

    1. Randall Flagg

      Any mention of that $600. bucks we’re still owed?
      I think I missed it getting a beer…

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s Joe’s only aspiration today that has come to fruition in that it is already the de facto minimum wage.

  29. Anthony G Stegman

    This speech sounds good on the surface, but Biden has near zero chance of achieving any of it (not that he really cares). None of Biden’s ideas are new. Most have been talked about for eons. Nothing will fundamentally change. That is the only true statement made by Biden. To me this SOTU speech is a joke and a waste of time.

  30. Darius

    Antivirals, not prevention. Trying to normalize it. The fierce urgency of normal BS. On COVID, he’s a murderer.

  31. jr

    Vodka Update:

    So the vodka I mentioned? That someone threw away? It’s Sobieski. Inexpensive, but not bad according to some reviewers. It seems too much of a coincidence that someone tosses out two decent bottles of vodka during a geopolitical crisis with Russia. That seems fair to say. Could be wrong but geez. I’ve never seen vodka tossed out.

    They were still there today. It’s not surprising. They look empty if you just talk by, that’s nothing new to see. It’s not a busy street either so not a lot of foot traffic. I grabbed them, I’ll
    flavor the booze with honey and spices and give it as a gift to someone.

    But what made me stop was the realization that it’s Polish vodka. It’s on the label. Now I have to consider that someone was so freaking stupid as to toss out any vodka. It kind of weirded me out, to be honest. Odd day. Surreal index at 70%.

    1. Dave in Austin

      I buy big bottles of cheap Polish potato vodva, decant it into 75 ml bottles and run it through my Britta water filter 7 times. Never get a headache. Better then Tito’s at 60% of the price.

  32. Reader_In_Cali

    Someone check in on Lambert! No way he isn’t close to stroking out with this COVID section of the speech *facepalm*

  33. Darius

    Ventilation. The remedy that shall not be named.

    Anyone concerned for their lives or loved ones should see him as the enemy.

  34. Samuel Conner

    9:42 boasts about lowering the deficit (again, one thinks that the choice of baseline is determinative here)

    “some of my Republican friends” — yer dreamin’ man.

    9:44 seems to be talking about price controls

    WS investment in care business criticized

    15$ min wage

    invest in community colleges (Bernie Sanders is useful from time to time)

    COVID has impacted “the wife of this nation” (maybe I misheard)

    “We’re moving forward safely”

    CDC new mask guidelines referenced (JRB didn’t read Lambert’s takedown of that)

    “We’ll continue to combat the virus”

    1. Vaccines (and treatments) “I’ve ordered more pills than anyone in the world has” — this must be extemporized
    – Masks for the immunocompromised and vulnerable
    – Free tests available covidtest.gov

    2. new variants surveillance — and mRNA vaccines within 100 days

    3. get back to work, to school (this is not combating contagion)

    “75 percel … percent of adults”

    don’t need to wear masks

    4. “continue vaccinating the world” 400 million doses sent to vaccinate the several billion people who don’t have domestic IP-rich pharma industries

    Appeal to depoliticize pandemic response (that takes a bit of gall to say after the CDC mask guidance revision)

  35. Michael

    More clapping , fewer woot-woots, time to wrap it up.
    R’s up next.
    then back to reality……….encircling and cauldrons and land bridges and rooobles oh my.

  36. Samuel Conner

    “repeal liability shield”

    Gun mfgers are the only ones shielded. Let’s not forget Pharma under EUAs.

  37. Samuel Conner

    Thanks Breyer for service (and, sotto voce, for retiring timely)

    mentions nominee for successor.

    sounds like appealing to be allowed to get confirmation hearings for nominee.

    pivot to immigration.

  38. Samuel Conner

    immigration: “who don’t legitimately here can be sent back”

    liberalize immigration so employers can find workers.

    Don’t just bring the industry back from overseas, bring the workers too!

    pivot to reproductive rights

  39. Samuel Conner

    Did Biden claim credit for VAWA? IIRC he denied involvement with the bankruptcy bill (debate with Sanders, 2020).

    (don’t know the details; perhaps fact checkers will look it up)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > .“…protect ACCESS to health care…” WTF does that mean?

      Just what it says. You have access to health care in the same way that you have access to a yacht. It’s a free country, go buy it.

  40. Samuel Conner

    Hold social media accountable for national experiment on children.

    (perhaps hold Pharma [and enablers in government] accountable for national experiment on adults?)

    1. Wukchumni

      From a distance she looks like a woman in her late 50’s, and then you get closer and features are frozen in place, the picture of Dorian Gray, updated.

    2. Lou Anton

      Absolutely. It’s like she’s at a musical and asking a bunch of questions to her seat mate. She’s reading through the program to see which song we’re on, asking Harris questions right in the middle of the big act. What is going on with her??

  41. Samuel Conner

    talking about burn pits at combat outposts. Pollution.

    Brings up Beau — maybe got cancer from toxic smoke from a burn pit.

    Gotta find ways to destroy other nations that do less harm to our troops.

    JRB’s solution is to palliate/treat the disorders. It’s something

    Let’s end cancer as we know it.

    (JRB remembers what the acronym ARPA stands for — an improvement from a 2020 debate performance)

  42. RA

    Anyone read lips?
    I wonder what Nancy said to Kamala when they were standing to clap for something about opioids?

    1. Juneau

      I couldn’t tell. He promises to fund treatment, policing to get dealers/distributors off the street, and to allow doctors to prescribe to treat addictions-probably referring to suboxone-which any doctor can prescribe now due to pandemic waivers.

  43. ambrit

    He did trot out a ‘Veteran’ family member. A subtle way of building up ‘support’ for warmongering.
    Pace, all those bloody Ukrainian flags! Where are we, the Rada in Kiev?

  44. Samuel Conner

    I think David Graeber might take issue with the idea that US is the free-est nation the world has ever known.

  45. Samuel Conner

    It’s over.

    My sense is that ‘the Union is in a state’


    Not many masks in sight.

    I thought I had read that the SOTU attendees were to be masked, and there were some acerbic remarks that the national leaders were entitled to safer conditions than regular people. Did I mis-see that?

    1. Robert Gray

      > My sense is that ‘the Union is in a state’

      heh heh

      An Irish friend of mine likes to say (well … I’ve heard him say it more than once anyway) ‘I’ve never been to America but sure I was in some state last night.’

    1. Lena

      As the laundry list grew longer, it became more incomprehensible. It was like having your head stuck in a washer. I heard him talking about the importance of finding lost socks, mending ratty boxers, gathering up loose nickels and replacing a pair of dockers ruined by a leaky pen. At least I think that’s what he said.

  46. Michael Ismoe

    If anyone contends that this guy is in charge of anything, just make them watch this speech. I grew an eggplant that had more cognition than Brandon.

    1. Samuel Conner

      It was a pep talk, with some plaintive appeals to get along with his agenda.

      I wonder if Manchin will throw him any bones in 2022.

      1. RA

        Sounded like a campaign speech. Lots of great things he is going to do.

        What about the good stuff he has tried to do, so far, that flamed out and crashed in typical Dem fashion. (Well, we tried.) (Those darn Repugs spoiled our plans again.) (Or DINOs)

        Can’t help thinking about Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football.

        1. petal

          RA, yes, reading through this morning it is sounding very, very much like the speech he gave at the campaign town hall event here back in ’19(sans covid and ukrainerussiarussiarussia, of course). Maybe they thought it would be easier for him if they gave him something he’d said before.

  47. Juneau

    Regarding the idea of dispensing 1 pill of Paxlovid to covid positive patients at the pharmacy testing sites: what better way to insure we get resistance quickly? Whatever percentage of those people who don’t or can’t afford the rest of the prescription will be a setup for resistant strains won’t they? Paxlovid has a LOT of interactions, I don’t see how it can be done safely.

    1. Lee

      It can’t be done safely as he described it. Given the number of drug interactions there are probably some millions of us taking one or more of those listed.

  48. britzklieg

    Did he really say Putin may have encircled Kyiv with tanks but will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people?

          1. britzklieg

            whew, that’s a relief. i may be a singer but the ear matters as much as the voice!
            thanks for your reply.

  49. blowncue

    My octogenarian mother who is retired speech pathologist thought it was a good speech. She attributed the multiple mispronunciations to be a combination of aging fatigue and possible history of minor strokes. She did not see evidence of cognitive impairment.

    My mother early on in the CNN coverage asked me why I supported Putin’s actions when I challenged the dominant narrative.

    I echo Dave in Austin’s citation of The Mouse That Roared. This really is the Ukraine Show. I tell myself I shouldn’t be gobsmacked at this point but it really does shock me to watch the CNN interviewers drive again again for the personal and the emotional angle hooking my mother into watching for hours at a time. The white Ford Bronco replaced by the 40 km convoy.

    I haven’t heard anyone talk about the one moment the most important moment the moment that literally made me scream holy s*** out loud. The moment when Biden said they’ll never win the hearts and minds of Ukrainians. Zelensky is getting set up to be martyred, he’s a fool if he thinks anyone is going to establish a no-fly zone on his behalf. Kiev is about to be turned into a parking lot. Biden literally drew the line for everyone to see which is an attack on a NATO member and Ukraine is not a NATO member. Bless the man and his country for their courage and for buying time to allow hundreds of thousands to evacuate. But my God. To watch my own mother get caught up in the exact same jingoism that I witnessed the night I watched shock and awe unfold in the middle of a night while sitting in a Dunkin’ donuts in New England. To hear my own mother say in the same sentence Putin is losing his marbles and we have to stand up to him. The same sentence! A clash of civilizations no wait cancel that a clash of democracy versus autocracy but don’t worry about the prospect of nuclear war.

    I found a Stars and Stripes article online written a year ago announcing that Ukraine was building two new naval bases:

    I think we have to understand that the Black Sea is of strategic importance for NATO and the NATO allies — our littoral states, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. And then we have two close and highly valued partners in the region, Ukraine and Georgia,” Stoltenberg said.

    Gen. Tod Wolters, NATO supreme allied commander and head of U.S. European Command, also has been talking up NATO’s “enhanced forward presence” in the Black Sea region. “Recently … we have strengthened our maritime posture with superb support from Georgia and Ukraine,” Wolters said last week.

    Enhanced forward presence.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > To watch my own mother get caught up in the exact same jingoism that I witnessed the night I watched shock and awe unfold in the middle of a night while sitting in a Dunkin’ donuts in New England. To hear my own mother say in the same sentence Putin is losing his marbles and we have to stand up to him. The same sentence! A clash of civilizations no wait cancel that a clash of democracy versus autocracy

      If this is the operational definition of democracy, democracy is more problematic than we think.

  50. BeliTsari

    If they all get BA.2, do we get to actually PICK our government, using cage matches with chainsaws and Dilute Bitumen & Fracking Brine wrasslin on the TV?

  51. Amfortas the hippie

    i took a benadryl and went to bed early.
    seems i didn’t miss much except for perhaps the cringe.
    but compare and contrast this thread/coverage, with the excited ‘resolve’ and breathless thousand yard stare of what CNN thought they saw….

    maybe of note: yesterday was the first time in 35 years that i had the opportunity to vote…and didn’t.
    i just drove on past.
    all the local elections were, as usual, to be decided in the gop primary….and the dem primary offered nothing to vote FOR.
    there’s never, to my knowledge( i ask), been a green party primary ballot available out here.
    the only reason i even considered voting yesterday was to vote for a certain lunatic friend of mine for county judge…conspiracy theorist…now descended into trumpy weirdness…at the very least, she listens to me.
    but that race, too was to be decided on the gop ballot…and i’ll never do that again(last time, because i wanted a say i the sheriff’s race, i ended up with 10+ years of glossy postcards of Lil George and Laura…thanking me for my undying love of pseudofascism and a more overt coddling of the rich)

    Fie, fie and Fie!

    neither official ballot had the option of weighing in on whether i thought a new cold(or hot) war with russia is a good idea.
    (i wonder if san antonio is still on the likely target list….)

  52. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Act ? of the theatre of the absurd, but at least he didn’t mention Peppa Pig.

  53. .Tom

    I was planning another of my occasional live stream Tom Comps Pols, in which I improvise a musical accompaniment to the event. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t have the strength for such utter rot. Not while I am frightened that Nato might possibly be led by someone daft enough to fight Russia with nukes.

    So I comped a 62 year old episode of Fighting Words, the CBC talk show instead.

  54. Lena

    I thought I heard him say something about health care megremiums. Can anyone confirm? Are megremiums something President Manchin supports? Will welfare queens on crack be eligible? Asking for a friend.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I didn’t hear that, but perhaps I missed it — attention is narrow and while typing I missed things.

      Perhaps a megremium is something that people thought they would have had when they thought they would have had it.

    2. Samuel Conner

      An hypothesis might be that sometimes JRB gets ahead of himself in reading the teleprompter text, combining or transposing some syllables, eliding others. Early, “freedom loving” became, I think, “freeding loving”.

      Perhaps “megremium” is similar: “medical premium”.

      1. tegnost

        Thanks for the reports last night, I was able to keep track while on my way home from work

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        so another Malapropist President.
        this time due to age and decrepitude.
        and yet, “nah, the bears still asleep! poke it agin…”
        and, of course, “let it rip!”
        both of which, when put that way, sound like potential “hold my beer” moments.

        in other news, my lunatic friend lost her bid for county judge…and handily,lol.
        the guy running for county comish. that’s suddenly decided to know my name and furtively assert in the soda aisle(his day job at the fizzy drink place in town(5th largest employer))… that i am somehow influential out thisaway.
        won…quite handily.

        3 times i’ve gone to town and he was there…gladhanding me…weird…i’ve never been courted by a politician in this manner
        so i’ll pump that for all it’s worth,lol.

        if he wants to pursue Amfortas the Influencer, i’ll frelling fill his ears with herbicidal manure, and local ag policy.
        I am not to be trifled with!

  55. TomDority

    Nothing about climate change
    did he look at the Joint Chiefs and say “go get him”
    I thought a political assassination of a leader of a sovereign country was illegal.
    Guess I am behind the times in this Democracy run by our FIRE and MIC

  56. Matthew G. Saroff

    I must object to your request that we watch the speech sober.

    In 2020, at my wife’s request, I watched one of the presidential debates sober, and it almost killed me.

    Never again.

  57. sadie the cat

    We’re living the “Emperor with No Clothes” fairytale. The fact that we’re even debating the merits of a speech that a muddled, propped-up puppet has trouble reading is scary. News media covers this like it’s biz as usual and we’re the same old USA of the past.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Putin is emboldened because he sees Biden (and the US by extension) as weak.

  58. HotFlash

    Thank you, intrepid commenters, for this. I watched an episode of Grimm, season five, instead and it made more sense than the SOTU. Outstanding transcription and commentary award for the evening to Mr. Connor; sir, I am in awe of your ability to type, absorb, analyze, and comment, all in real time. Only person I have ever seen do that is Marcy Wheeler, before she went over to the dark side.

    Comment of the night award goes to Lena at 10:48, with too many honorable mentions to honorably mention.

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