A SOTU to Remember

Was that some State of the Union, or what? About halfway through I was sorry I didn’t live blog it. The thing turned into an actual event.

I want to start with a couple of peripheral things. The first peripheral thing is Kyrsten Sinema’s dress.

I assume she has enough money to purchase clothes that (a) are appropriate for the occasion and (b) fit. This is neither. Although maybe she enjoys rummaging around in thrift shops for 1980s-era bridesmaid dresses, which is what this thing looks like. I wouldn’t comment except that how people dress for any sort of official or formal occasion can reflect how those people perceive themselves. This is screaming “I need an intervention!” Loudly. It also tells us that she is blissfully lacking in self-awareness. And if she had any close women friends they would have told her not to wear it.

Yes, she wanted us to notice her. She wanted us to see that she was sitting with Republicans. Fine. And next year will be your last SOTU, lady.

The other peripheral thing was The Lecture. I understand that George Who Calls Himself Santos showed up way early and grabbed an aisle seat so that he would be near the big shots when they walked in and get in a lot of photos. And then Mitt Romney put him in his place.

Mr. Romney admonished Mr. Santos for positioning himself in a prime camera-ready spot in the chamber, saying he didn’t belong there, and had no shame.

“I didn’t expect that he’d be standing there trying to shake hands with every senator and the president of the United States,” Mr. Romney said afterward to reporters who asked about the incident, which was captured on camera and erupted on social media.

He added: “Given the fact that he’s under ethics investigation, he should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet instead of parading in front of the president and people coming into the room.”

Mitt was right. Unfortunately Mitt somehow ended up sitting next to Big Bird Sinema during the speech.

Now for the important stuff. I have no criticisms of the speech. The President clearly was enjoying himself. He’s got to feel good about it today. Here IMO was the most memorable part:

MTG, who also had some fashion issues, made a bigger ass of herself than Kyrsten Sinema. But hell yes Republicans want to kill Social Security and Medicare. Maybe not all of them, but a substantial percertage of them do. That was something I wrote about a few days ago. You might remember the headline —

And see Republicans, Eyeing Majority, Float Changes to Social Security and Medicare from the New York Times, November 2022 (no paywall).

Some of them want to kill Social Security and Medicare so badly that they seem determined to utterly destroy the U.S. economy so that there won’t be any choice but to cut Social Security and Medicare.  Yes, they’ve talked recently about sunsetting; them. Yes, they’ve talked recently about raising the age for claiming benefits. No one is imagining this. There has been credible reporting on this, in some newspapers at least.

Just two days ago, Business Insider reported that Some GOP lawmakers aren’t quite ready to take Medicare and Social Security out of the debt limit battle — even after Kevin McCarthy said the matter is ‘off the table’. Just last week former Veep Mike Pence was making noises about privatizing Social Security. That’s another zombie idea that won’t die. In the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik writes,

Former Vice President Mike Pence dipped his toes into the presidential campaign waters Feb. 2 with a proposal that would mean the death of Social Security.  …

…That’s when Pence unearthed the old Republican idea of privatizing Social Security wholly or partially….

… Pence didn’t say outright that he advocates killing Social Security. Instead, he took the course I reported on just last week. That’s the Republican and conservative habit of employing plausible-sounding jargon and economists’ gibberish to conceal their intention to hobble the program.

But make no mistake: Diverting any significant portion of Social Security taxes into private accounts would make the program unworkable, funnel untold wealth into the hands of Wall Street promoters and leave millions of families destitute.

Josh Marshall writes Press Is Way Behind on Social Security FlimFlam (no paywall).

The prime movers in the House spent most of last year pushing for major cuts to Social Security that would be at the top of their agenda if they reclaimed the Congress. McCarthy and others tried to rein them in a bit or rather get them to be quieter. But not much.

For most political reporters, this is like it used to be with “voter fraud.” My colleague David made the proper analogy in an editorial conversation this morning. It used to be that lots of reporters thought, “It turns out Republicans are pretty exercised about voter fraud and they seem to think there’s a lot of it. So, well, glad they’re on the case!” Over the last decade they’ve rightly taken a far more jaundiced view of this kind of malicious and deceptive GOP politicking. But when it comes to Social Security, Medicare and other social insurance programs they’re still basically there.

Maybe the press is cautious about reporting this stuff because to a sensible person making changes that would in anyway reduce Social Security payments or Medicare coverage is just unthinkable. But Republicans are not sensible people.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch Sarah Sanders’ rebuttal speech, which I understand was weird. I just want to respond to this quote from her talk:

Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols…all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is—your Freedom of speech.”

First, I well remember the culture war was declared by Pat Buchanan in 1992. And it’s been Republicans who have perpetrated the thing all these years. Of course, that doesn’t mean we hadn’t been at war before 1992. But the terms of the war shift. It went from desegregation to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Affirmative Action through our failure to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and eventually to same sex marriage rights. And the Right has, basically, been fighting in a long retreat except for abortion rights, where they’ve taken back some territory.

I don’t doubt it’s hard for them to not be able to enforce their bigotries and biases, as they could in the old days. But expecting the rest of humanity to cater to their bigotries and biases is unreasonable. As somebody said, if you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get gay married. And considering yesterday’s post about banning books in Florida public schools, accusing the left of stripping away freedom of speech is just demented.

Anyway, back to Kyrsten Sinema’s yellow dress. I’m reading she wore matching yellow booties with it. Mercifully, the booties are not in any photos I’ve seen. It’s been reported she resells some of her used clothes and shoes on Facebook Marketplace, so expect the Big Bird dress to show up there soon.

15 thoughts on “A SOTU to Remember

  1. The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw Sinema's dress was of Coco the clown. Do you remember out of the inkwell comes Coco the clown?I don't know what the similarities are but, that's just what popped into my mind.

  2. I didn't watch, never do, I just can't two straight hours of phony GOP rage? I did see some highlights and what stands out to me is the look on that scoundrel MTG's face after she calls Biden a "liar". She shrinks back in her seat with an expression full of bile and hate. I would wager she really has horrible breath! I've said this before but these people (GQP'ers) are high on their own supply. FAUX news hasn't just brainwashed a good portion of American Seniors they apparently have also brainwashed a majority of House and Senate republicans! Most of what I read even on some wingnut websites is that old handsome Joe had his way with them last night! Why wouldn't he, he's been in politics longer than most of them have been potty trained, fucking amateurs!

  3. Normally, a gentleman never comments on a woman's looks, or the way she dresses.

    But as all of you know, I'm no gentleman, and never tried to claim I was.

    sENEMA is an attractive woman.  But that hideous dress, which was two or three sizes too small for her, made her look like a quart of Gulden's yellow mustard squeezed into a pint-sized zip-lock bag!

    That would be like me wearing a Speedo to the beach!  People would be tripping over themselves trying to "Free Willy!"

    And as for MTG, she must have thought she was going to be on "The Real Housewives of a Georgia Trailer Park!"

    Either that, or she was auditioning for the lead in a biopic about Tonya Harding.  I kept waiting for her ex-husband to show up with a crowbar!

    But back to Grandpa Joe's rope-a-doping, and pulling the ol' okey doke, on the KKKlown KKKleagle KKKontingent, on the subject of SS and Medicare:  McCarthy apparently warned his KKKrazy KKKat KKKonference not to act like 7 year-olds with ADD on a cocaine bender, but he was "hoist by his own retards!"

    I love Joe's Joker-like grin as he made fools of folks who've turned being fools into viable political careers!

    To quote Frankie Valli*:  "OH WHAT A NIGHT!!!!!"

    *Yes, he's still alive.  He's 88 now.  Man, am I old…


  4. Some have pointed out today that the "agreement" on Social Security means nothing. The GOP wants to cut Social Security and Medicare but they haven't figured out how to do it so they won't be blamed. True. But the commitment in the SOTU speech has huge meaning in terms of budget negotiations. If they could have, in closed budget talks, the GOP would have opened with a proposal for huge cuts there, then allowed SS to continue untouched in exchange for even greater cuts elsewhere. 

    Now the GOP can't put it on the table as a bargaining chip. "Let's reduce the deficit" is a game Biden explained he's willing to play. If they want spending cuts, Biden wants tax increases on major corporations. Biden want to go after Big Pharma, and Biden can whip up outrage against the price gouging that taxpayers are the victims of. Biden also repeated his commitment – no tax increases to anyone making less than 400K. Biden is well-positioned to engage in budget negotiations – spending cuts paired with tax increases. I don't think the House is prepared to negotiate – they wanted to skin Biden alive. When talks fall apart, it will be because the GOP expected one-way concessions – only what they want. Biden is OK with that because he's going to put the cards he played in negotiations out in public view. 

    This is shaping up well for Democrats as a campaign issue. Biden CAN position himself as being FOR reducing the deficit according to a formula of raising revenue from the top ten percent AND engaging in spending cuts. The GOP (I believe) will only consider cuts. Make that clear and then ask voters, which side is "crazy'?

    • Only problem with that "no tax increases to anyone making less than 400K" is that it precludes the most important first step toward protecting SocSec and Medicare: eliminating the Cap. 

      Soc Sec and Medicare deductions are currently Regressive taxes – people making more than ~160K/yr wind up paying a lower percentage than those making less.  Eliminating that Cap would stabilize the Soc Sec & Medicare Funds, *and* make our tax code a little more fair.  Of course, Bernie has been talking about this for years (decades?), and of course, he's ignored, because the vast majority of significant campaign donors make more than $160K/yr.

      • The SS/Medicare "taxes" are not taxes; the one is a compulsory investment, the other an (equally compulsory) insurance premium.  We need to be prepared to talk about why these things (or any things) are compulsory, because that point will be raised, but it will be a distraction.  

        The main point is that formerly, the opposition to these programs sought to shut them down in order to stop the spending, and a pseudophilosophy about dependency versus self-reliance was invented for the purpose.  Today it isn't opposition; the game is "privatization", which is to say, keep spending the money but make sure it can all be stolen.

  5. I have to keep MTG and the other Republican hyenas as far away from my delicate mind as possible, and so I didn't watch President Biden's glorious speech. I encourage you to look up Joyce Vance's substack post about it – yes this is the MSNBC Joyce Vance – she's a wonderful writer and can really convey the power of the moment, cutting thru to the subtle things that most people miss, and clearly express it  with her fine legal mind. She's taught me subtle moral distinctions that have confused me for a long time, but that's another story.  She also raises chickens.

    One of her commenters expressed the night well: It was the perfect mix of Folksy Joe and Dark Brandon. I'd like to get a photo of grinning Joe Biden in a dark suit wearing Ray Bans. Vance's article featured a photo of Ted Cruz, wearing a scowl and a look that said "defeated".

    As for Sinema, what can you say about the Senator from Mars? I fear that this is the high point of her life, people as obviously confused and obtuse as she is don't usually go up from here.

  6. The peak irony of the evening was Reverend Huckabee's daughter telling America that it is time to choose between normal or crazy.  

  7. LOL, "1980s-era bridesmaid dress", thx!  As a (stereotypical) sartorially impaired male, I never would have made that connection.  What I saw was "Banana???".

    And yes, that confirmed my assessment (as written here years ago?) that what Kyrsten Cinema most wants is [[ever] more] attention.

  8. I have arrived at my own conclusions about the "state of the union".  My conclusion is not based upon Biden's speech or the national level idocy of the republican party.  

    I reside in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Last night there was a school board meeting for the Hamilton SE School District.  Hamilton County is white flight north from Indianapolis.  This school district has received a $5.7 million federal grant to implement upgrades in the school district's mental health care.  The school board meeting was contentious because the grant requires diversity in hiring.  Many attendees spoke against requiring diverse hiring.  Some of the school board also are against accepting the grant because of the diversity requirement.  One of the school board members side-stepped that and said he was opposed because "the mental health of the districts students, teachers and staff is not the school district's problem".

    Separately, in Indianapolis the School District has put on hold a reorganization plan bond issue because of a heavily funded campaign is underway to defeat all bond issues for the Indianapolis School District unless a porportional amount of all bond funding is shared with Private Charter Schools.

    My conclusion is that the "state of the union" of our country is somewhere between wierd and totally screwed up.

  9. Krugman wrote a piece today in the NYT regarding the response to the SOTU.

    He took issue with Sarah's economic facts and reasoning as well as other issues.  The article inspired this fine comment from Armand of Boston:

    I’m a moderate Democrat who tuned in for Gov. Sanders’ speech. My takeaway is this: Multiple times she broadly accused me of being crazy (based on political association and voting patterns). She indirectly accused me of poisoning the minds of young children. She seems to assume that I am either wealthy and decadent, or that I am poor and manipulative. Finally, she told me that God would bless me, so I appreciate that. Speaking about culture wars, I can’t escape the feeling that Gov. Sanders does not like me. To be clear: it’s not that she would simply disagree with me about policy, but (I strongly believe) that she would actively think of me as bad person, or at least a severely misguided fool. Extreme right wing players spend a lot of time talking about the “Coastal Elite” or “Limousine Liberals”; but the truth is that the people who oppose them are often people like me in my 1,400 sq foot home, with my 2013 Chevy Spark, and my two kids who go to public school. The reason I oppose them is to protect science, to sustain the push for green energy, and because I believe in the positive power of taxes and a big responsive government. I have no trouble accepting the fact that millions of working and middle class people support the Republicans, but I think conservatives have trouble accepting that millions of middle class people can be whole-heartedly Democratic Liberals.


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