People have phenomenal capacity.
January 20, 2015 7:14 AM   Subscribe

"What Obama would say at the State of the Union if he were being brutally honest": They do it because that's how the game works. They do it because the rules are you line up in front of the other team and then you hit them as hard as you can. They do it because, for one side to win, the other has to lose. And they do it because, if they don't do it, they're off the team. Football has no place for conscientious objectors.

Obama’s Social Media Team Tries to Widen Audience for State of the Union Address: “The digital kids are less the weird kids in a cave now.”

Let’s play State of the Union Bingo, tech edition

The Language of the State of the Union: An interactive chart reveals how the words presidents use reflect the twists and turns of American history

The Real Target of Obama's Speech on Tuesday? Hillary Clinton

State Of The Union: 5 Things To Watch Will Obama challenge his own party?

Obama’s ‘Hail Mary’ State of the Union

The Eternal State of the Union, 2015 Update Edition: "What happens when you take one sentence from each SOTU since 1961? You realize how empty American speechmaking has become."

Joni Ernst to brave State of the Union rebuttal: "It's almost like the kiss of death to get picked to do the Republican response."

The West Wing
posted by roomthreeseventeen (195 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
It is also time for my favorite game, "Who's the designated survivor this year?"

I have been playing for 10 years, I have never been correct. Fingers crossed for Vilsack!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:24 AM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


A state of the Union Address the President Is Unlikely to Give
- Neil Macdonald, CBC News
posted by bitteroldman at 7:24 AM on January 20, 2015


"This is a room of honorable men and women who entered public service for the right reasons."

I doubt anyone would say that after having "a few drinks first."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:25 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


What a great game, everybody had matching towels!

I'm hoping for a hat trick from Energy this year and will go with Secretary of Energy Moniz.
posted by notyou at 7:37 AM on January 20, 2015


Because you can't change the game by changing the players. You can only change the game by changing the rules.

O.K., let's say I buy that. Change how, exactly? How do you change the rules of the political system to reward cooperation for the benefit of the majority of Americans?

What's the better system? Anyone?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:38 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the article: "Let me be clear, Speaker Boehner is a good guy. And John, you should really see your face right now."

Because it's orange, crying, or both?
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:39 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Regarding the last West Wing link: I can't imagine giving a book to a friend and highlighting it before I gave it to them. Why not let them have a pristine copy, to highlight where they will?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:40 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


tl;dr - don't hate the players. hate the game.

which is fine and all but it stops short at the next step, which is that the game is rigged so that oligarchs with money can keep politicians constantly on the hook to create policy rules that favor them. If part of what makes Washington dysfunctional is constant, overwhelming job insecurity that forces every lawmaker to just think about short-term plans that will guarantee them success in one more election, that's a feature to certain individuals, not a bug.
posted by bl1nk at 7:41 AM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


From the article: "Let me be clear, Speaker Boehner is a good guy. And John, you should really see your face right now."

Because it's orange, crying, or both?


Skunked, as per usual.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:42 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Solving the problem would require a change as momentous as enacting compulsory voting, or ending the electoral college, or switching over to the Westminster system. A real problem here is that party rule in America is so disjointed that the neither the public nor the experts can say with real certainty which party's legislation is responsible for which changes in the economy. Even if we have a good idea of the problems (and we do), there is always enough plausibly deniable nonsense for partisan brinksmanship to sound reasonable on both ends. Another issue is how little control public agencies are given over their own affairs, which ironically prevents them from acting effectively like their German or Japanese counterparts.
posted by IShouldBeStudyingRightNow at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Because you can't change the game by changing the players. You can only change the game by changing the rules

The system has worked, more or less, for couple of hundred years, what's recently changed?

Oh that's right, one team has gone from willing to come to agreements for the good of the country to alternating between acting like thugs and petulant children.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


bl1nk, in my opinion, there should be no job security for elected reps. In other words, built-in term limits and sharp restrictions on lobbying post- senate or house. Couple that with sharp restrictions on campaing fund-raising and spending and you are removing a lot of the things that poison the money-driven system.

These steps won't perfect the system, but I believe they will improve it by reducing the amount of money at stake for the pols themselves and decreasing the potential influence in terms of dollar amounts and time for the wealthy donors that buy the pols. Also, you might see some more interesting candidates actaully make it to the ballot.
posted by Mister_A at 7:49 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


O.K., let's say I buy that. Change how, exactly? How do you change the rules of the political system to reward cooperation for the benefit of the majority of Americans?

I don't think that you can honestly say that the system is working as designed when it's only working at 36% strength.

Two-thirds of the registered voters in this country sat on their asses and let the other third decide to send the Republicans back to Congress. And frankly, I don't buy that the other two-thirds completely agrees with what that one third did.

Also, I'd wager that the percentage of people who call their representatives is even lower than that. These are the people we elected to Congress to represent us - meaning, these are people we hired to go to Congress so we didn't have to go ourselves. And that means, we have the ability to call them up or write them and tell them "yo, since you're speaking for me, here's what I think you should say on [this matter] or [that issue]". And probably very few of us do.

Perhaps we can change the system by actually using it the way it was meant to work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Regarding the last West Wing link: I can't imagine giving a book to a friend and highlighting it before I gave it to them. Why not let them have a pristine copy, to highlight where they will?

I once lent a book to a friend and it came back with passages underlined, with criticisms and refutations written in the margins.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:51 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honestly, it's not like there isn't politciking negotiation for who gets credit for these things either. If they had to call their economic compromise bill "John Boehner's Save America's Patriots" bill so that people attribute its success more to the Republicans than Obama, they could do that.

That they don't do this isn't because the rules inherently make politics a game of winner takes all football. The confrontational strategy is a deliberate choice. And it's certainly to the benefit of someone...
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:53 AM on January 20, 2015


Regarding the last West Wing link: I can't imagine giving a book to a friend and highlighting it before I gave it to them. Why not let them have a pristine copy, to highlight where they will?

$100 says Aaron Sorkin has done exactly this, because he's certain that everyone else in the world is too stupid to understand things unless they're laboriously pointed out.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:55 AM on January 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


I once lent a book to a friend and it came back with passages underlined, with criticisms and refutations written in the margins.

American Horror Story: That Friend
posted by Greg Nog at 8:00 AM on January 20, 2015 [20 favorites]


The system has worked, more or less, for couple of hundred years, what's recently changed?

Barring nearly two centuries' worth of systemic disenfranchisement that produced ongoing mass protests, threats of violence on all sides, at times frequent rebellions, and a full-on Civil War before it was mostly but not permanently rederessed; clashes between state governors and the President over Supreme Court decisions; entire political parties dedicated to expelling minority groups from the political process, such as the Know-Nothings; at least two highly dubious Presidential elections whose legitimacy will remain contested; and major abrogations of allegedly guaranteed, inalienable civil rights in increasingly normalized "states of exception."

But yes, it works, "more or less," depending on whether you have "more or less."
posted by kewb at 8:01 AM on January 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


Publicly financed elections, mandatory voting. It is literally that simple.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:14 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Publicly financed elections, mandatory voting. It is literally that simple.

Just needs an international ban on political speech to keep things fair.
posted by michaelh at 8:16 AM on January 20, 2015


mandatory voting.

How does that work, though? You cannot compel people to vote any more than you can compel them to pay their taxes on time.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:22 AM on January 20, 2015


Here is a list of countries where mandatory voting is currently enforced.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:28 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


You cannot compel people to vote any more than you can compel them to pay their taxes on time.

You can strongly encourage them. My understanding is that you're fined for not voting in Australia. In the U.S. that would probably work better as a Federal tax credit you only get if you vote, since you can't expect deadbeats to pay a fine notice sent through the mail, as city parking departments everywhere know well.
posted by aught at 8:36 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


You could end up with a presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Mandatory voting in that scenario would seem cruel.
posted by sfenders at 8:36 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Term limits tend to put politicians MORE at the mercy of well-financed lobbyists, not less, because it takes time to develop expertise in the mechanics of governance and more time to develop expertise on the issues. Lobbyists solve the second problem for you by handing you prepackaged opinions. There's a reason the business community loves term limits, and it's not because it makes government more effective. It's because it removes institutional knowledge of how government works so that lobbies can both tell officials what to do AND how to do it, making representatives wholly dependent on outside knowledge to do their jobs.

Better reforms reduce campaign spending, shorten election seasons, limit fundraising, limit lobbying, reduce gerrymandering, involve proportional representation, etc. Term limits are a "strangle the beast" reform that "fix" government by rendering it as terminally ineffective as possible and making it difficult to rebuilt an institutional knowledge base.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:37 AM on January 20, 2015 [33 favorites]


Two-thirds of the registered voters in this country sat on their asses and let the other third decide to send the Republicans back to Congress. And frankly, I don't buy that the other two-thirds completely agrees with what that one third did.

Especially since, in total House Democrats got more votes than House Republicans. The thing is, the total isn't evenly distributed.
posted by kokaku at 8:38 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mandatory voting in that scenario would seem cruel.

Mandatory voting (which would include primaries) would possibly, maybe even likely, make it not happen.

I mean, people who don't vote in primaries seem like the biggest fools of all, since it's where the important winnowing happens.
posted by aught at 8:38 AM on January 20, 2015


If we have mandatory voting we also need mandatory PTO on election days, which of course gets back to those questions of economic inequality mentioned in the first link.
posted by capricorn at 8:39 AM on January 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


If we have mandatory voting we also need mandatory PTO on election days, which of course gets back to those questions of economic inequality mentioned in the first link.

OK, how about:

Mandatory voting
by mail
rewarded by tax credit
with option of selecting "None of the Above"
posted by leotrotsky at 8:48 AM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Mandatory voting
With option of selecting "None of the Above"
By mail (for early voting, or those who can't get out, or will be working Election Day)

OR

In person
On a voting-day federal holiday

Rewarded by a 5.00 check (mailed to your house later, which you can donate at the time of receipt, as with juror money, if you wish) because some people are too poor to pay taxes. And 5.00/voter is chump change.
posted by emjaybee at 9:09 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


by mail

What, is this the 1970s?

Mail sure, perhaps phone, but mostly the net. It's a novel idea in the US perhaps, but voting and tax submission are done securely on-line elsewhere in the world.

Charge people a service fee to use a ballot box.
posted by bonehead at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Americans have a right not to give a fuck about results of elections. It's actually pretty damn sensible considering how rigged to choke any progress the two party system is. So no to mandatory voting, even with NOTA, but yes to incentives. The federal holiday won't actually help that much, most working class people don't get them off.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Americans have a right not to give a fuck about results of elections.

If they truly don't give a fuck, sure. Mind you, the volume of complaining about the elections I've heard from people who didn't vote seems to indicate that they actually do give a fuck about the results, and suggests that what they don't give a fuck about is the responsibility of voting.

It's actually pretty damn sensible considering how rigged to choke any progress the two party system is.

Ever signed a petition to get a third party on a local ballot? Voted for a third-party candidate in a local election? Or a state one? I have. It's possible. Hell, we even have a handful of independent Congresspersons - we even have a Socialist in Congress right now.

There's also the option to vote in the party primaries - which have an even smaller turnout - to try to un-rig the parties.

I hear you on not wanting to make voting mandatory - I agree it shouldn't be. But I STRONGLY disagree that the 64% of the people who abstained from voting in the last election "didn't give a fuck about the results".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on January 20, 2015


EmpressCallipygos: Perhaps we can change the system by actually using it the way it was meant to work.
By having white landowners make all the decisions?

I'm being serious. Let's get past the hagiography of our Founding Fathers, and realize that the system they spoke of ("We the People..."), and the system they intentionally created (a three-fifths human being is property and can't vote, just like ovary-owners and indigenous landowners), are wildly different.

Let's work towards the government they talked about - where the people have both inalienable rights (actually inalienable, regardless of Homeland Security Theater color-coding statements), and are encouraged to participate meaningfully in the decision-making process.

And by "meaningfully", I mean both by voting - even if you only get 1/300,000,000 of the majority influence, at most - and by valuing individual opinions over aggregate, non-representational opinions (opinions expressed by corporations whose leadership is determined by per-capita voting, not per-(dollar)share voting) in our political process.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:19 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know, man, you want these people voting?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:20 AM on January 20, 2015


The federal holiday won't actually help that much, most working class people don't get them off.

I am a white collar professional and I don't get them off either.

Voting day really should be a mandatory, paid national holiday.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:22 AM on January 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


shorten election seasons

I'm convinced fixed terms are the culprit here. This is one thing the Westminster systems get right: non-fixed election dates. A government has a maximum life (for anywhere from 3 to 5 and change years), but can "drop the writ" at any time they choose to. At that point, a four to six week campaign happens.

This has the tendency to keep formal campaigns very short, and makes informal campaigning risky. Start too early and you risk peaking in the polls at the wrong time or running out of cash.

Historically, the electorate has punished governments that go to the polls too early in their mandate, so elections tend to happen in the last 18 to 12 months of a mandate.

We have had a push to fixed election dates in the past couple of decades in Canada (Federally and at the municipal level in Ontario), and have had much longer informal campaigns as a result (forex, the recent Toronto mayoral race). Fixed election dates mean the pols bother us more, imo. They're so entrenched in the US political system, however, I doubt that this could be changed at a national level. At the state or local levels, however, possibly.
posted by bonehead at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The two major problems:
  1. Progress makes the president look good, so if he's not in your party there's no incentive to cooperate with the president's agenda.
  2. There are only two major parties, so their agendas are largely designed to be in opposition to one another.
As long as we're shooting for the moon: why don't we switch to a parliamentary system? As has been pointed out, the fact that the people elect both the president and Congress means that both bodies feel that they have a popular mandate to govern how they want. So let's get rid of direct election of the president and just make the president the one who leads the party that got the most votes.

Also, in properly-done parliamentary systems with proportional representation, you're no longer “throwing away your vote” when you cast it for a minor party. If there are a handful of parties instead of just two, the game changes from football to something far more nuanced where different issues make for different alliances.
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Voting day really should be a mandatory, paid national holiday.

It would have to be several days, and you'd be given the option of when to take off. Tons of people work federal holidays, even Christmas.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:27 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mind you, the volume of complaining about the elections I've heard from people who didn't vote seems to indicate that they actually do give a fuck about the results, and suggests that what they don't give a fuck about is the responsibility of voting.

For people who complain, it's more the correct knowledge that your vote is meaningless for the most part and that the system is rigged so that practically no progress is going to be made even if the person you want to win wins. The real influence comes from money, not voting.

But that isn't the bulk of non-voters, the bulk of them are completely politically disengaged. People who can't tell you the difference between the House and the Senate and don't know who their own Representatives are. America is still well governed for the most part, people don't generally feel any urgency to get involved. They have other things they spend their energy on in their life. You can help out friends and family directly a lot more by being involved with their lives than by obsessing over the federal government. And with that, I'm done obsessing for now. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 9:30 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mandate that every state have at least two weeks of early voting. Or do vote-by-mail like Oregon does. This is a solved problem.
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:30 AM on January 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Perhaps we can change the system by actually using it the way it was meant to work.

By having white landowners make all the decisions?


You know that is not what I meant so I have absolutely no idea why you are implying that this is what I meant.

Let's get past the hagiography of our Founding Fathers, and realize that the system they spoke of ("We the People..."), and the system they intentionally created (a three-fifths human being is property and can't vote, just like ovary-owners and indigenous landowners), are wildly different.

Let's work towards the government they talked about - where the people have both inalienable rights (actually inalienable, regardless of Homeland Security Theater color-coding statements), and are encouraged to participate meaningfully in the decision-making process.

And by "meaningfully", I mean both by voting - even if you only get 1/300,000,000 of the majority influence, at most - and by valuing individual opinions over aggregate, non-representational opinions (opinions expressed by corporations whose leadership is determined by per-capita voting, not per-(dollar)share voting) in our political process.


Since this is exactly what I meant, then you'll have to explain you thought I was implying a throwback to the founding Fathers. Please do enlighten me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 AM on January 20, 2015


michaelh: Just needs an international ban on political speech to keep things fair.
Can't tell if you're being sarcastic, or if you mean "non-citizens do not have freedom of speech within the US with regards to our political process".

The latter would be tricky, but in general I agree. Let foreign nationals speak on the news all they want, but active campaigning (as defined by the IRS, I guess) should be restricted to US nationals.

For that matter, I favor limiting organizations to spending no more money on political campaigning than the least membership fee multiplied by the paying members, up to a maximum per-member amount. If the NRA (to pick a Devil's Advocate case) has 1 million members who pay at least $10 annually for membership, they can spend $10M at most per year. If you and your billionaire wife form a shell corp, you get capped at (say) $100x2. Sure, you can form 1,000 such corporations - but incorporating has costs that make this idea cost-inefficient.

This would cap the ability of a corporation to spend politically, while still allowing special interest groups (NRA, UAW, Red Cross, Jewish Anti-Defamation League) to campaign on the collective behalf of their members - to the degree which their membership is a portion of the electorate.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


....Okay, I gotta share - someone on my Facebook feed just opined that instead of actually giving a speech, Obama should walk up to the podium, pull out an iPod, cue up Led Zepplin's Lemon Song and let that play into the mike while he walks off.

AND NOW THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT TO SEE
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:39 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: EmpressCallipygos: Perhaps we can change the system by actually using it the way it was meant to work.

By having white landowners make all the decisions?

You know that is not what I meant so I have absolutely no idea why you are implying that this is what I meant.
No, I'm not a mindreader.

When you wrote, "the way it was meant to work", whose meaning exactly are you referring to?
posted by IAmBroom at 9:40 AM on January 20, 2015


All hand-wringing aside, I'm really encouraged of late because it seems like everyone I talk to, left right and center, agrees that shit has done got crazy and something needs to be done. The fact that we're talking, openly and seriously, about 'constitutional conventions' and 'federalization of education' and 'reigning in militarized police forces' and 'national voting holidays' and etc, etc, is awesome. I know that things are messed up and we need to fix it, but honestly, the first step in getting out of the hole is realizing that you need to stop digging. I guess I could be pessimistic and see this talk as signs of irreconcilable strain within the body politic and be really afraid, but I don't.

It's just a way of looking at things, I guess.
posted by eclectist at 9:41 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


When you wrote, "the way it was meant to work", whose meaning exactly are you referring to?

One in which all citizens took part. You're correct that the definition of "citizens" has indeed expanded, which is for the best, but what hasn't changed is the basic idea that citizens should get to have a say in how the government is run.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on January 20, 2015


Mail sure, perhaps phone, but mostly the net.

nope. no way. 'secret ballot', secret from everyone, even the D.E.A., N.S.A., and whoever.theFuck.A. owns a judge.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:51 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Just so we're clear, in "mandatory voting", people are given the option of abstaining. The point isn't to compel behavior, the point is that voting results become a reasonable approximation of what the actual public would choose, and where the apathetic are obliged to provide evidence of their own apathy.

I also think there should be a holiday expressly for voting.
posted by IShouldBeStudyingRightNow at 9:54 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos ...what hasn't changed is the basic idea that citizens should get to have a say in how the government is run.
To some extent it has, for the better (more democratic). Senators are now directly elected, as are all presidential electors, at least at the state level (it may be winner-takes-all, but at least the majority vote in the state plays a [more] direct role).

Now, let's go all the way: fuck winner-takes-all, fuck gerrymandering, fuck Citizen's United*. Fuck 36% turnout. Fuck the two-party system.

But I'm dreaming pie-in-the-sky.

* IRDC if it wasn't really about corporate personhood/political speech, as someone recently suggested on The Blue; that's what my use of the term implies here
posted by IAmBroom at 9:56 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Still working through the other links but the football analogy in the Ezra Klein piece strikes me as being fundamentally flawed. Football works because it inevitably ends in one team or the other winning. In football if you're not winning you do fix your team by changing the players, not the rules.

Arguably a huge part of the problem with the current US political quagmire is that the rules and structures in place now make it virtually impossible for one side to "win" in the sense of enacting their platform into law. A party can win control of the presidency and a majority in the legislature and still be unable to enact the policies it ran on due to the endless mechanisms for obstruction that exist. Compare with a Westminster-style parliamentary system, where by definition the majority party (or coalition) controls a majority in the legislature and has executive power. I'm not saying that's what the US needs, but it's a sharp contrast.

This is all by design, and was conceived of as a defense against tyranny of the majority, but in practice it's causing paralysis. (I could go on a tangent about how indicative this is of the total lack of significant external threats to the American state, the presence of which always seems to lead to Congress suddenly remembering how to get things done and how that connects into the politics of fear and on and on but I digress...)
posted by Wretch729 at 10:19 AM on January 20, 2015


> Charge people a service fee to use a ballot box.

You don't really think much about the things you say, do you?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:54 AM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Why not? It costs more to handle paper ballots or buy machines, rent locations and staff them.

You could turn it around and give people a tax break for mailing in a ballot or voting over the net I suppose, which would amount to the same thing.

Government should incentivise efficient, low cost service delivery.
posted by bonehead at 10:58 AM on January 20, 2015


There need to be fewer barriers to voting, bonehead. Not more.

National federally-mandated (as in, actually legislate that everything must be closed except hospitals) holiday. Call it Patriotism Day (I've said this before) and you get Republicans onboard.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:01 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


There need to be fewer barriers to voting, bonehead.

Admit it, you enjoyed being able to write it this way, didn't you?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:06 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ha! Didn't even notice actually. Wish I had.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:08 AM on January 20, 2015


Perhaps this "Service Fee" for use of the ballot box could instead be wrapped into the existing tax structure, and used to fund some sort of government agency(s). Otherwise, it sounds suspiciously like some sort of tax specifically on going to the polls.

I'd say a federal holiday for voting is a great idea, but more has to be done. Certain services have to operate 24/7, maybe keep the polls open for a week, and require that employers give one of the days as a paid holiday? That way your ambulance drivers can go in shifts. Or improve access to early voting, absentee voting etc.
posted by mrgoat at 11:10 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


“America's always been a great place to be crazy. It just used to be harder to make a living that way.”—Charles P. Pierce, Idiot America.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:12 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Voting isn't a service. We are citizens, not customers. Government isn't a business.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:21 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


While I admit, the concept of paying admittance at the door of a polling station is perhaps provocative, it is government business to find better, more cost-effective ways to deliver services to its citizens.

Sometimes people need incentives to help make those choices. Mandatory voting, really a fine for not voting in most places that do it, is a similar idea.
posted by bonehead at 11:29 AM on January 20, 2015


24/7 businesses could register to have the Poll Mobile visit so that employees could take a break to vote. The Poll Mobile could also enhance voting access for people who have difficulty getting to the polls or forgot to register for vote-by-mail.

Tax breaks-- five dollars cash when you turn in a regular ballot in person. Five dollars mailed to you when your vote by mail is received. Very simple, very secret.

If you make a holiday double-time, it gets observed. Make it cost and people will, for the most part, not have to work.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:35 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


"perhaps provocative" is an interesting euphemism for "unconstitutional, discriminatory, disenfranchising, and immoral".
posted by mrgoat at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


mrgoat: "I'd say a federal holiday for voting is a great idea, but more has to be done. Certain services have to operate 24/7, maybe keep the polls open for a week, and require that employers give one of the days as a paid holiday?"

I think people overthink this. Make it a federal holiday. Non-essential businesses (like supermarkets) can apply and pay for a license to be open on that day (like you used to have to do to be open Sunday in states with blue laws); they will have to pay their employees time-and-a-half or double time, and employees can only work a half shift to ensure they have time to vote. Employees may not be required to work or penalized for not working. The state election commission will conduct sampling and random audits of non-essential businesses to see if disproportionately few employees are able to vote.

Essential businesses, such as hospitals and election commissions, will be required to distribute literature about early voting, voting by mail, and election-day voting rights of employees. They will also be sampled and audited, so problem areas can be identified.

You don't even need to invent new penalties; voter coercion or intimidation is already a crime. Companies that fail their audits can get a criminal monetary penalty the first time, jail time for responsible supervisors the second time, and a gigantic civil rights lawsuit the third time that puts them under court supervision to comply with voting rights.

I mean, honestly, where I live the true 24/7 businesses, like the hospital and the three-shift factory where you can't turn off the Star-Belly Machine without a five-day restart, are already able to allow most of their employees time to vote on election day because they must be able to operate 24/7 even if Dr. Joe or Foreman Sue gets the measles, so they can cover for people long enough for them to vote. (And the polls are open for 13 hours, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and voting by mail is trivially easy, and we have two weeks of early voting in several convenient locations.)

It will also contribute something of a special-day atmosphere to the day ... when I was growing up, Sundays had a lot more parties and socializing because there was nothing else to do because everything was closed and nobody worked. It's kind-of nice to mark out a day as different from the day-to-day.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:08 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know about this voting holiday thing. I live right in the taint area of America's Wang, which has some of the most restrictive voter-suppression laws, and we have early voting that starts a couple weeks out and no-excuse-needed vote-by-mail absentee voting starting close to a month out. On the other hand it's a day off, so Yay! Nevermind, I'm convinced.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:14 PM on January 20, 2015


Tangent:

I live right in the taint area of America's Wang

If you're talking about the Florida Panhandle, you may be amused to hear: a friend of mine who grew up in that same area calls it "Alabama with a beach".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:19 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just wish The Onion would bring back Diamond Joe on occasions such as these. :(
posted by triggerfinger at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2015


I don't know about this voting holiday thing. I live right in the taint area of America's Wang, which has some of the most restrictive voter-suppression laws, and we have early voting that starts a couple weeks out and no-excuse-needed vote-by-mail absentee voting starting close to a month out. On the other hand it's a day off, so Yay! Nevermind, I'm convinced.

It's voting. It should be a national holiday, we should have early voting and vote by mail and vote online securely.

This is fundamental to democracy and there's zero reason not to make it easy (and secure) to do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:26 PM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


If you're talking about the Florida Panhandle, you may be amused to hear: a friend of mine who grew up in that same area calls it "Alabama with a beach".

Being a native, we always called the panhandle the "Redneck Riviera."
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 2:44 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Obama to ask for use-of-force resolution against Isis

Previous post on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
posted by homunculus at 3:48 PM on January 20, 2015


Joni Ernst to brave State of the Union rebuttal

GOP's Big Spanish SOTU Response Will Be a Translation of English-Only Advocate Joni Ernst's Speech
posted by homunculus at 4:00 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]






It's a novel idea in the US perhaps, but voting and tax submission are done securely on-line elsewhere in the world.

2015 might be the year we start to get online identity right - "Alex Howard thinks 2015 will be a big year for digital government services and identity in the US. He also profiles the startup ID.me, which will provide identity software for Connect.gov." (via)

also btw...
Adviser Guides Obama Into the Google Age - "Megan J. Smith, an M.I.T.-trained mechanical engineer and former Google executive, is trying to bring her Silicon Valley sensibility to the Obama administration."
posted by kliuless at 6:00 PM on January 20, 2015


It's a novel idea in the US perhaps, but voting and tax submission are done securely on-line elsewhere in the world.

Which countries use large-scale Internet voting? Wikipedia has a page about it but other than Estonia it looks like its mostly been small-scale or experimental everywhere.

(And of course, its hard to prove there _weren't_ issues with security in any given system, but some are more studied than others and more likely to have had flaws exposed if they exist, and of course other mechanisms also have issues, etc...)
posted by thefoxgod at 6:10 PM on January 20, 2015


the live feed is great, but please stop this sheeplike applause after every sentence
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:13 PM on January 20, 2015


Heh, welcome to the SOTU.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:15 PM on January 20, 2015


My knees hurt just watching them.
posted by pearlybob at 6:15 PM on January 20, 2015


Trying to be optimistic, but first sigh: "9/11 Generation".
posted by Riki tiki at 6:15 PM on January 20, 2015


Prime for rebranding as the 9-Eleven Generation™
posted by Riki tiki at 6:16 PM on January 20, 2015


Values over a checklist is a good way to frame this, considering he can't pass any checklist of proposals but he can frame what failing to pass them means.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:17 PM on January 20, 2015


the live feed is great, but please stop this sheeplike applause after every sentence

Sheep don't lie.
posted by futz at 6:24 PM on January 20, 2015


Oh yeah, that comment about the necessity of childcare was gold. The WWII comparison was brilliant.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:27 PM on January 20, 2015


Can't watch the feed are the repubs applauding any of this?
posted by futz at 6:31 PM on January 20, 2015


The moment that desperately needed a mic drop:

"Business owners - if you think you can support a family on less than $15,000 a year, TRY IT."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 PM on January 20, 2015


I haven't noticed Boehner standing but I'm only half watching.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2015


What's with all those people who want people to send their kids to school sick? Oh, yeah--they don't have kids who go to school with kids who have minimum wage-earning parents.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2015


feckless fecal fear mongering: "the live feed is great, but please stop this sheeplike applause after every sentence"

Seriously is this your first time watching?

This is why I CAN'T watch even when I like the president. It is every possible obnoxious thing about a political speech, cranked up to eleven.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2015


Eyebrows McGee: "This is why I CAN'T watch even when I like the president."

I did actually watch the first three or four minutes so my kids could see the president, etc., since they're learning about that in school. LUCKILY THEY GOT BORED so I could turn it off.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:35 PM on January 20, 2015


Not my first time, it just annoys me is all. The Speech from the Throne is a relatively quick and dull affair by comparison.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:37 PM on January 20, 2015


Yes! "Screw Keystone, let's actually build useful things!"
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:37 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like to watch who applauds and who doesn't. It was hilarious to watch Obama's last SOTU when the repubs refused to clap at all until Bama said something about supporting the troops and they all had to relunctantly stand up and applaud. And reluctant they were. Like they had violated a solemn vow not to, which they probably had.
posted by futz at 6:42 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a pencil!
posted by homunculus at 6:45 PM on January 20, 2015


I simply don't feel I can trust our government ever again when it comes to privacy and cybersecurity...

Like I'm all for better cybersecurity for the US, but I'm worried about hidden costs if the government is responsible for it.
posted by Strass at 6:52 PM on January 20, 2015


If, for whatever reason, you are tempted to look at the Twitter stream for the hashtag #SOTU -

DON'T. Heed my warning. There be dragons.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:53 PM on January 20, 2015


When's the response? I don't feel like I'll get anything from the SOTU itself, but I can't wait to see Joanie Ersnt castrating a pig live on television.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:55 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


When this is over, I'm turning to FOX to see why human rights, stopping torture, and spending money on infrastructure is against our values.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:59 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is everyone clapping or just mostly the dems?
posted by futz at 7:06 PM on January 20, 2015


"I know because I won both of them." Burn!
posted by homunculus at 7:07 PM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


That wasn't in the prepared text, either.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:09 PM on January 20, 2015


Boehner couldn't even commit himself to clap about "every life matters." Too close to "Black Lives Matter"?
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:10 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Was there a shot of who started clapping when he said he wasn't going to run again?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:11 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh fuck David Brooks.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:12 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


And now we're into the "synonyms for 'upitty'" section.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:15 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


So I missed like the entire second half because my internet connection went down. Worst SOTU ever. Shame, because from what I did hear it was classic Obama doing his best.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:20 PM on January 20, 2015


If they count the number of times he said "I", I'm going to scream.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:23 PM on January 20, 2015


I, hear you.
posted by clavdivs at 7:25 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


NPR is interviewing a repub from a company called Echelon Consulting. You can always tell a Conservative pundit group by thier name.
posted by futz at 7:26 PM on January 20, 2015


Here we go
posted by futz at 7:27 PM on January 20, 2015


Ernst is making "The New Republican Congress" sound like a timeshare she wants me to buy.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:28 PM on January 20, 2015


oh wow, this response is just hilariously bad
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, Obama never had to wear breadbags over his shoes. She's obviously more in touch with Middle America than he is.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:29 PM on January 20, 2015


It may be the kind of bad that the media can't shoot down.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:30 PM on January 20, 2015


Keystone! Jeez lady, all lies!
posted by futz at 7:30 PM on January 20, 2015


"failed policies like Obama"

"gives us just talking points"

headasplode
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:30 PM on January 20, 2015


Wow, the response is really bad.
posted by homunculus at 7:30 PM on January 20, 2015


Failed policies like Obamacare, not serious Republican solutions like the XL Pipeline.


/bangs blunt object against head even though I don't even oppose the pipeline.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:30 PM on January 20, 2015


I can't keep watching this wretched person.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:31 PM on January 20, 2015


Joni's hair matches the flag and her blazer.
"Worked at Hardee's/single pair of shoes as child "

Ohh, my dad told me that story about single pair of shoes but was wise enough to not capitalize upon it.
posted by clavdivs at 7:31 PM on January 20, 2015


Here come the terror skit
posted by clavdivs at 7:32 PM on January 20, 2015


So they're going for a war. That usually plays well.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:33 PM on January 20, 2015


Terrorism. But not from pipelines...tell that to the Yellostone oil spill victims
posted by futz at 7:33 PM on January 20, 2015


Hmm, a Fetal Life Amendment at the Federal level?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:34 PM on January 20, 2015


New Republicans (tm)
posted by futz at 7:35 PM on January 20, 2015


Thanks colonel!
posted by clavdivs at 7:36 PM on January 20, 2015


"Protecting our most vulnerable..." Okay. Sounds good. Other than "Freedom to Dream Big", any ideas????
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:36 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


She pulled it off. It was full of bullshit, but she didn't make any exploitable flubs.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:36 PM on January 20, 2015


Gag me with a pitchfork. That was awful.
posted by futz at 7:37 PM on January 20, 2015


> "Protecting our most vulnerable..."

That's an anti-abortion dogwhistle.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:37 PM on January 20, 2015


No exploitable flubs perhaps, but what did she actually say????
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:37 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is for real the best response probably in the entire Obama Presidency because she has not actively sabotaged herself and instead just read a fairly reasonable Republican script. And the National Guard member stuff makes her legit admirable even if she pairs it with a vile message. Talking the talk on veterans also a good talking point. And then back to Obamacare. So dumb. Yes, it talks to your base. But you are talking to the nation right now! The nation that is mostly approving of Obama!

*internet connection crapped again, fucking Comcast*

Oh, back to repealing Obamacare. Did I miss something or is this just the only thing they have to say?

She might have a future. She did pretty well even if the content was the same old idiocy, I don't think she sabotaged her personal brand the way others have.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:37 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


BIG!
posted by clavdivs at 7:39 PM on January 20, 2015


FOX is talking about her camo heels. WTF?
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:40 PM on January 20, 2015


Republican complaining about "unreal math". I'm puking.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:40 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


So are the folks in her town still wearing bread bags or have things gotten better? Worse?
posted by futz at 7:41 PM on January 20, 2015


Does PBS carry the Tea Party response? I'm not going to switch to Fox for that.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:42 PM on January 20, 2015


The SoTU Response is like the Kobayashi Maru for debaters.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:43 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've switched to FOX. I want to cry.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2015


So she did not sabotage her brand which is based on idiocy.
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Weren't those bread bags over shoes, not instead of shoes? On a muddy day, going from home to school in a rural area, it sounds like a good idea even for today. (I'll be embarrassed if I'm wrong about that.)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2015


I assumed over shoes. Not sure though.
posted by futz at 7:47 PM on January 20, 2015


All I have for FOX is local, somehow, switching back to buying Detriot water sounds riveting.
posted by clavdivs at 7:47 PM on January 20, 2015


Oh, my gram saved wonder bread bags for this express purpose.
posted by clavdivs at 7:48 PM on January 20, 2015


Hey, I remember bread bags to keep my feet dry. It wasn't that big a deal. But, it sure isn't a selling point for someone like me who thinks she's completely full of shit about how to eliminate bread bags to keep your feet dry.

On preview: Inside the shoes. I walked to school. Shoes still got wet. Kick 'em off in class and hope they dried.
posted by wallabear at 7:52 PM on January 20, 2015


Are bread bags held up by boot straps?
posted by futz at 7:53 PM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


She sounded like the bags were protecting her shoes. She said that she only had one pair of shoes. When I was a kid my mom made me put the bags on my feet and then into my shoes, mostly in the winter.
posted by futz at 7:56 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Republican response was basically a 10-minute panning shot across a formica countertop.
At least it was short.
posted by uosuaq at 7:57 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also: "Bread bags? Luxury!" </python>
posted by uosuaq at 7:59 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why would you wear bread bags over your shoes? That doesn't make any sense. Surely you put them on over your socks, inside your shoes, as a means of keeping your feet dry. Maybe there's another idiom at play here?
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:59 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


She only had ONE PAIR OF SHOES, feloniousmonk. And one pair of brain cells. At least she kept the shoes intact...
posted by uosuaq at 8:01 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is anyone willing to listen to what she said again? Bread bags OVER shoes is the only logical inference if you are actually trying to not damage your shoes but damn, it would make you slip slide everywhere and tear anyway. Me confused.
posted by futz at 8:12 PM on January 20, 2015


And there you have it. The most interesting part of her response was bread bags.
posted by wallabear at 8:14 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing because of mud. Rural area will have a lot of unpaved roads. So you put bags over your shoes for the trip from your house to the bus to the school, and take them off there. So you've got clean shoes at school. I assume you have a second pair of bags for the trip home.

My mom had all sorts of stories about getting to school during bad weather in the rural Midwest. Didn't make her stupid enough to think that Obamacare was a failure though. So the story means nothing, but I guess it gives her some kind of cred with her base, and gives us something to talk about while Paul Ryan fucks over Social Security.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:15 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


How old is she? She sure as hell can't blame the Obama administration for her parents sending Iowa kids to school with bread bags over their shoes.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:16 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Obama has a time machine
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I grew up on the ragged edge of the middle class, and unlike Elizabeth Warren, I learned nothing from it."
posted by uosuaq at 8:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


She's 56 in dog years.
posted by futz at 8:18 PM on January 20, 2015


Joni Ernst: the new face of derelicte

also you know if someone approached her with improvised clothing made of trash she'd call the damn cops
posted by jason_steakums at 8:18 PM on January 20, 2015


Yikes.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:23 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Iowan friend says bread bags definitely go in the shoes. Did Ernst's scriptwriter get this clever anecdote wrong?
posted by fieldtrip at 8:56 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


And then there's Ted Cruz's response.
posted by wallabear at 9:03 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


How old is she? She sure as hell can't blame the Obama administration for her parents sending Iowa kids to school with bread bags over their shoes.

Nah, she's not blaming Obama for that - she is instead doing kind of the opposite of "fuck you got mine". It's more like "Fuck you, I didn't have that and I still did okay so you don't need it either." Her point is that she was so poor that she had to wear bags for shoes, and look how great she turned out, so clearly no one needs fancy guv'mint handouts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


And then there's Ted Cruz's response.

This schadenfreude is delicious, thank you!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 PM on January 20, 2015


"Bread bag shoes" is not just a hashtag, it's already got its own Twitter handle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:08 PM on January 20, 2015


> Iowan friend says bread bags definitely go in the shoes.

Then I'm confused. (And not really remembering exactly what she said.) That'll keep your feet dry, but if you've only got one pair of shoes it won't help them last longer. But I'm out of my league here — it rained five days total during my four years of high school.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:21 PM on January 20, 2015


wallabear: "And then there's Ted Cruz's response."

Jesus, how long is this belly fat ad.

Answer: long enough to get sick of it, switch back here , type this out, and it's STILL GOING ON. wtf
posted by Rhaomi at 9:52 PM on January 20, 2015


"You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry," Ernst said.

“But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet," she continued.


So she had one good pair of shoes that she apparently protected with bags on the outside of her shoes. Hmm.
posted by futz at 9:52 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or are they doing this whole paean to noble white poverty thing more often lately? So admirable, the bread bags of Iowa! The "urban" poor would never put bread bags on their shoes, they would, like, cover the shoes in expensive iphones instead.
posted by gerstle at 12:28 AM on January 21, 2015 [5 favorites]




While in college, Ernst took part in an agricultural exchange to the Soviet Union.

Checkmate!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:44 AM on January 21, 2015


Watch Obama’s 2015 State of the Union in GIFs, because sometimes your speakers are busted and you don't want to admit it. But it's much classier than the Taylor Swift "pre-responses" from John Boehner's camp. From the Party of No, to the Party of Meh. You know, for the millennials.


Rhaomi: Full text of the speech as prepared for delivery ... and posted on Medium.com? Wow, The White House is really taking this "new media blitz" thing seriously. I was going to ask if everyone forgot the time that they invited bloggers to be part of the press corps in covering presidential debates (I think it was debates), but this is, as NPR put it, more akin to a sports league like the NFL, trying to reach out on all possible platforms.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:11 AM on January 21, 2015


Thanks to my friend Justin for this:

States of the Union, Past 20 Years
For those of you keeping score...

2015: Strong
2014: Strong
2013: Stronger
2012: Getting stronger
2011: Strong
2010: Strong, despite our hardships
2009*: Will emerge stronger than before
2008: Will remain strong
2007: Strong
2006: Strong, and together we will makeit stronger
2005: Confident and strong
2004: Strong and steadfast
2003: Strong
2002: Never been stronger
2001*: Strong and free
2000: The strongest it has ever been
1999: Strong
1998: Strong
1997: Strong
1996: Strong

Source: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/sou.php
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:23 AM on January 21, 2015 [6 favorites]




wallabear: "And then there's Ted Cruz's response."

Jesus, how long is this belly fat ad.


I'm confused. I don't see an ad before the video, wouldn't have posted it. Anyway, sorry.
posted by wallabear at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2015


Fact-checking the 2015 State of the Union address from Washington Post, with links to the sources for the figures. No Pinocchio rating yet, as there are still facts to check.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:41 AM on January 21, 2015




“Joni Ernst’s SOTU Rebuttal Wasn’t One,” Josh Voorhees, Slate, 21 January 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 12:25 PM on January 21, 2015


Hey, come on now, my FB feed tells me that my high school calculus teacher thought Ernst blew the doors off of old O'Bummer.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 12:26 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had to walk to school through a lake, every day, both ways, and used breadbags to keep my books dry, and I also put breadbags on my feet and hands because back then, that's all we had was breadbags. ‪ Also, I would use old breadbags like puppets and pretend they were my friends, and we weren't poor.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:05 PM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Language Log: Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier
Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015:
Count how many times Obama uses the words "I," "me," and "my." Compare that number to how often he says, "You," "we," "our." If the first number is greater than the second, Obama has failed.
This leads naturally to a different question: "Is Ron Fournier More Interested in Analysis or in Bullshit?" (where I mean "bullshit" in the technical philosophical sense, of course).
posted by tonycpsu at 1:12 PM on January 21, 2015


“State Of Disunion,” Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station, 21 January 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 1:37 PM on January 21, 2015


True story: my mother grew up in Iowa in the 50s and she told stories of how she and her sister walked around in the snow with bread bags on their feet. So I guess that was a thing.
posted by zardoz at 2:10 PM on January 21, 2015


Beating a dead horse here... But do you mean over the shoes? I wore them over my feet but inside my shoes. I don't doubt that people have worn bags over thier shoes but it seems like they would rip easily and cause a barrage of pratfalls.

I still want to know if things have gotten better in her community or if she is the lone escapee while all the kids still wear bread bags.
posted by futz at 4:26 PM on January 21, 2015


Wallabear, I don't think there was a belly fat ad on your link, I think someone was making a joke that Cruz's response ITSELF looked like a belly fat ad.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:36 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I grew up in a family where we didn't experience want in any meaningful material sense. 5th of 6 kids means I rarely had new anything, including rain or snow boots. Breadbags inside my boots? Yeah. Sometimes. So.

I'd like to adjust her income for inflation and compare it to what young people out of college and high school are looking at today. Yes, I knew more than a few people who worked their way through school, and probably had a little bit of debt left after graduation. But nothing like the staggering debt nowadays because 1. there used to be a lot of aid for college; 2. the cost of college has increased way faster than inflation; 3. jobs paid comparatively more and you could get one with okay hours.

Breadbags. Mean, corporate-funded Republican jerks fight increasing the minimum wage tooth and nail. Adequately paid people can afford rent, food, clothes, transportation. They get off public assistance.* They spend locally, creating jobs and helping the economy work. But it slows the consolidation of wealth/ power in the hands of the few, so, no, the minimum wage is insultingly, obscenely low.

* It has to be a meaningful increase so people aren't just screwed by getting a few bucks and losing food stamps, what's left of food stamps, anyway.
posted by theora55 at 5:02 PM on January 21, 2015


EmpressCallipygos: "Wallabear, I don't think there was a belly fat ad on your link, I think someone was making a joke that Cruz's response ITSELF looked like a belly fat ad."

No, there genuinely was a comically long unskippable preroll ad about belly fat, at least on the tablet version. Like, informercial-length. Some Chinese-American guy talking about his grandfather's Ancient Chinese Secret for destroying belly fat he wanted to keep secret from the Americans to ensure China's master race status, but he decided to blab about it anyway because he's such a true patriot. In retrospect, it actually makes a lot of sense as a lead-in to Cruz's blather.

SPOILER ALERT: The ancient chinese secret was rice.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:28 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh? Chinese people sometimes eat rice? I guess you learn something new every day. Thanks, Ad!
posted by Drinky Die at 5:55 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks abs!
posted by futz at 6:28 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Charlie Pierce: The Cynic and the Lame Duck President
Can he grab the moment? the cynic wondered, and the cynic realized that it would be the last thing he ever would wonder about this smooth and edgeless president who seemed so often to be unsurprised by anything in his career except the virulence of the opposition—and that was the one thing about this president's career that the cynic ever really thought he understood. It appeared, with his decision on immigration, and by the reaction to it, that he has decided to force the issue, his administration, and his legitimacy as president. He has decided to force the issue of himself on the country that elected him twice.
Pierce previously on the blue
posted by Rhaomi at 6:39 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


What a fantastic essay. Pierce is a global treasure.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:19 PM on January 21, 2015




Sen. Joni Ernst’s family actually received more than $460,000 in federal subsidies

That kind of money buys a lot of bread bags.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]






America’s Family-Leave Disgrace
posted by homunculus at 12:42 PM on January 24, 2015


In addition to posting the text of the State Of The Union 2015 on Medium, the FY 2016 Budget is on GitHub and Medium.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:58 PM on February 3, 2015


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