The State of the Union address is one of our grandest political traditions.
It is also one of the silliest.
It begins with Honorable Congresscritters jockeying for aisle position where the Preznident walks in, the better to be caught on camera in the presence of American power. It continues with the ritual standing ovations from one half of the room or the other, plus the obligatory cutaways to Humble Citizens mentioned in the laundry-list speech. Finally, everyone sits on edge to hear whether the State of our Union is, indeed, strong, which would be the only surprise of the evening if it wasn’t.
Not only is it silly, it’s completely unnecessary.
Constitutionally, the president is only obligated to provide a report and recommendations “from time to time” — not even annually. Washington delivered it in person, but Jefferson dropped the practice — America had no need for Kings — and just mailed it in. The SOTU as we know it only resumed under Woodrow Wilson, and with the advent of radio and then television, morphed into the beast we know today.
But while delivering a report is a Constitutional chore for the president, nobody’s obligated to sit there and listen to it.
Antonin Scalia skipped most of them during his tenure, declaring the SOTU a “childish spectacle”, one of his few opinions we would heartily join. Samuel Alito squirmed through one Obama address, shaking his head and whispering “not true”; Joe Wilson was more, uh, robust when he disputed what he considered an egregious claim from the dais.
As silly as it’s become, we’ve still enjoyed the State of the Union over the years, just as we’ve enjoyed other meaningless democratic traditions like canned conventions and multiple-pen bill signings. They’re part of the fun.
But honestly, this year everyone should give the State of the Union a pass.
Our current president may have been legally elected, but his election did not reflect the will of the people. In a few short — okay, long — weeks, he has shown himself to govern like a tyrant, if a blessedly incompetent one. He has already caused great harm, and has the potential to cause much greater harm, if he ever figures out how. He demands respect without earning it.
Oh, and he desperately needs to be loved, and for that love to be palpable.
A half-empty room would be the most powerful message his opponents could send. Even if he inevitably lied about it later.
Heck, if you wanna make a real show of it: The moment he starts talking, stand up and leave.
Yes, we know, such a display would be dreadful, resulting in an epidemic of pearl-clutching the likes of which Our Exceptional Republic has never seen. Think of the precedent! We must respect the Office!
And we do. Very much. So much so, we refuse to offer any respect to the lying bastard who holds it, who would break his oath to uphold the Constitution as easily as he has broken every other oath in his life.
Besides, a president’s first address to Congress isn’t formally a State of the Union anyway. You can show up next year with a clear conscience. We hear President Pence plans a stemwinder.
I would love for them to walk out. I’d also like to make it a drinking game.
Okay, so two of the eight of the people who met with Reichert are all like, “Let’s work with him. Yeah, he’s against PP but he’s a conservative.” I gave them a link to pro-choice Rs.
“We have no choice but to work with him.” WHAT? The name of this FB group is THE RESISTANCE, you dumb fucks.
“Maybe if we get him to meet with some poor people, it will move him.” WHAT?! He was a fucking SHERIFF! He has met a shitton of poor people.
After voicing my issues with him being guided by god, “I separate the political from the personal.” WHAT? Who are these people? Man, I’m glad these dumbasses aren’t in my Meetup group.
I am so done. The Resistance my ass.
@JNOV: For what it’s worth, it does seem to be working. People are engaged, CONgress is running scared, and the Twitler regime is clearly rattled.
@¡Andrew!: Okay – we need to learn how to vet our candidate(s), do oppo research, raise $, fuck. I emailed Indivisible, because, yeah. We need to repeal and replace this fool.
@nojo: hey – I know you chill on the weekend. When you’re able, would you mind giving us advice on getting a domain, starting a web page, and shit like that? We won’t Simon you.
@JNOV: If you need to ask, try Squarespace. Highly recommended by geeks with civilian friends.
@nojo: Good stuff, that.
@JNOV: Feel the Bern indeed.
@Mistress Cynica: :-)
And what we’ve all been waiting for…
International Women’s General Strike!
Ugh. Not only has Trump filed with the FEC, but our rep has, too. sigh
I’m shaking my fist at the Hatch Act.
the Senate Committee on Homeland Security is [NOT] inviting comment and COUNTING CALLS before it decides whether to approve Steve Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council [because he’s not on the NSC]. I just made a call and it was very easy. The number is: 202-224-4751. You don’t have to talk to anyone – just leave a message.
Meanwhile, Dems plan on stacking the galleries at Not-SOTU. Nice gesture, I guess, but leaving the floor half-empty would be far more symbolic.
Great turnout at the trans rights rally yesterday.
@¡Andrew!: Yay! And I didn’t know about it. :/
Let’s talk later to see where we’re getting our info. Right now I’m mainly focused on the 8th because of the recess, and that focus is going to continue, but I don’t want to miss the larger protests as well. I’m shocked that I didn’t know about it until I saw the pics.
@nojo: I could kill you for that earworm blurb. I’m another day older and deeper in debt.
@JNOV: Trust me, I already earwormed myself with that one, two days straight now.
Awwwwwwww yeaaaaaahhhh! The Hammaconda might have some competition.
@JNOV: There were three protests in various locations this weekend, so it can be a challenge to stay on top of them. I’ve missed several also since I just didn’t hear about them in time. I usually use The Stranger’s Resistance Calendar as my main resource. I’ll let you know of any rallies or protests that I hear about.
Tuesday night is my first meeting with my local Neighborhood Action Coalition. They’re like a more militant version of Indivisable, so we’ll see how it goes. Their main mission is building alliances and networks with other religious and cultural communities, along with neighborhood defense against ICE.
So now we know that Marisa Tomei really won her Oscar.
@¡Andrew!: Cool. A lot of people are trying to fold our very low-key meetup into theirs, which is fine, but I crosspost and figure that if people want to join 18 million groups, they don’t need my help.
Indivisible is turning into the Judean Popular People’s Front vs. The People’s Front of Judea vs. Judean People’s Front, and I’m not playing.
This is the beginning of our wee site.
ETA: People are using the Contact Us form to bitch at Dave. I might make that a daily mailbag column. People who think they were cussing out Dave.
@JNOV: Colorado groups seem to be hanging together, but this isn’t a hotbed of lefty activism. I don’t know what’s happening in Eugene, but I can easily imagine those folks splintering faster than an oak in a windstorm.
That said, the prize to keep eyes on isn’t the organizational structure, but the pressure against recalcitrant representatives. And when they’re trying to log a flood of phone calls, all they want to know is name, zip and position. And if all the groups call out folks to attend the Critterless Town Halls, you still get the publicity. (Colorado groups did well with media-friendly events in lieu of our MIA senator.)
So, splinter away. I know it’s not quite by the book, but battle conditions rarely match the plans.
This is the biggest fuckup since they gave the award to Crash instead of Brokeback Mountain, which was unforgivable.
Was there pearl-clutching? I’m sure there was pearl-clutching.
I keep thinking, foolishly, that nothing Trump says has the power to surprise me anymore, and then he opens his mouth: “It’s an unbelievably complex subject, nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” There are no words.
@mellbell: That one didn’t surprise me as such, just wondering what form his excuse would take.
And now, wondering who will buy it.
The fun part is that even after admitting he’s clueless, he’s still promising the world. And unlike Congresscritters, he doesn’t give a shit about the outcome, he just wants to be loved for it. That part will get interesting as unwelcome details emerge.
@nojo: Yah – I’m just like, you’re welcome join us, but we’re just kinda doing our thing, and those in this group who want to be more immersed, are more immersed. It’s all good!
And I’m fielding all of these FUCK YOU REICHERT complaints from the contact page, and I’m like, ugh. I reply that I’m not that guy, here’s his contact info, and I add them to the mailing list.
@mellbell: Maybe Trump wants single payer.
I honestly thought that George W CaliguBush was the worst president that we’d see in our lifetimes.
And then the RepubliKKKans shat out Donald “Dumbfuck, Lying, Sexist, Racist, Rapist, Asshole” Trump.
@¡Andrew!: Miss Me Yet?
Yes, is is okay, even encouraged, to punch a Nazi in their face. Multiple times.
Asked by the Fox hosts if he thinks Mr. Obama is responsible for some of the protests against his policies, Mr. Trump agreed but brushed it off. “I think he is behind it,” he said. “I also think it’s politics,” adding, “And look, I have a very thick skin.”
I have to listen to this speech for the LULZ. I don’t think he can surprise me anymore. If he declares martial law, I won’t be surprised. If he shoots into the gallery, I won’t be surprised. I always expect the worst.
@JNOV: What would truly surprise me is competence.
@nojo: Yeah, I won’t have any problem skipping the STFU. I’d start drinking at the first sight of hiz blustery red cocaine face and blackout by the time he gets to his yuuuge (s)Electoral College win, inauguration crowds, and media conspiracies. About five minutes, then.
Politico is (srsly??) talking about how this is an opportunity for a “reset.” Bullshit. No one can normalize this hateful, moronic lunatic. You’d be better off watching a dog bark on teevee for an hour.
In better news, Seattle geeks, editors, graphic artists, web pagey designers, reporters, librarians, scientists, and political activists are volunteering to help this civilian with the site.
ARGH WITH THE GODDAMN MAILCHIMP PAGE LOADING SLOWER THAN TWO TIN CANS ONNA STRING.
@JNOV: I can’t speak for Mailchimp proper, but Amazon Storage is down Tuesday afternoon, fucking everybody up.
Torn between the choice of half-watching it with the sound on while cooking dinner, cleaning the apartment, etc. or plunking down on the couch with the sound off but captions on and enduring it that way. Decisions, decisions. Either way I’ll be tuning in to the rebuttals.
@mellbell: I honestly cannot deal with him unfiltered — takes too much energy to be constantly screaming. But that’s why we have Twitter, so everyone else can scream for me.
@nojo: I’ve never used the bird app. Do people Twit at him whatta twat he is, or do those just instantly get zapped?
I’d be constantly flagging him as abusive, hateful, and inappropriate, however those are the reasons that I don’t use social media in the first place.
Uday and Qusay Trump were right up the road in Vansterdam BC today opening another garish, vulgar palace. Sadly, the Canuckistanis failed to kill them, though they were met with some righteous protests.
@¡Andrew!: It’s basically a fancy comment thread. Folks tweet at him all the time, but nobody is obligated to pay attention to mentions. And I’m sure he’s been repeatedly reported for abuse, but you pretty much have to be Milo at his most outrageous for Twitter to take action.
@¡Andrew! and nojo: #whattrumpisafraidof was a good time.
MANCHUCANDIDATE • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @SanFranLefty: Wiped out
SANFRANLEFTY • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @ManchuCandidate: Bitch, March Madness is ON! xoxo
MELLBELL • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @nojo: I mooch Disney+ from my sister and HBO Max from my ex. Still need a Hulu hookup though!
MELLBELL • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @ManchuCandidate: As a veteran of last year's tournament, you were re-invited with one click, so…
MELLBELL • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @nojo: I'm just late, as ever. The play-in games started Tuesday, but we've got until tomorrow.…
NOJO • Software Update of the Year @bruce.desertrat: I have failed to get any work done since that dropped.
BRUCE.DESERTRAT • Software Update of the Year Disturbing my cow-orkers laughing at this....
NOJO • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @¡Andrew!: I tried RRR a few times at Benedick’s insistence, just couldn’t last. And now…
¡ANDREW! • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @nojo: I watched the clips on YouTube. Lady Gaga’s performance was extraordinarily honest and…
NOJO • Quentin Tarantino presents Action Joe and Mister Z @ManchuCandidate: Oh gee, that starts tomorrow? Haven’t heard from Mellbell, so guess not.