good morning to everyone except the baseball oligarchs pic.twitter.com/9LTcAp9Rl6
— mike casca (@cascamike) March 11, 2022
News and comments below. This also serves as an open thread.
THANK YOU SAN ANTONIO! ❤️ #TX28 pic.twitter.com/h2CFUXaoGd — Jessica Cisneros (@JCisnerosTX) May 21, 2022 More news and perspectives below the jump. See you there!Continue reading →
More than a century ago, Woodrow Wilson gave the first in-person presidential address to Congress since Thomas Jefferson ended the practice in 1801. The new tradition stuck and eventually became the template for the president’s annual “message to Congress.” It was Franklin Roosevelt who coined the phrase, “the State of the Union” in one of those speeches, and by the late 1940s, it had become our national shorthand for the speech. The 20th century transformed what had been, for most of American history, a staid, written report into a giant annual spectacle of presidential majesty and congressional hooting and hollering.
In recent years, thanks to the increasingly commingled worlds of politics and popular entertainment, the annual State of the Union address has evolved into an even grander and creakier spectacle: a nationally broadcast circus of government whose uncanny resemblance to an awards show or grand fund-raising gala has only grown as its cast of characters expanded. Today, the State of the Union functions as a kind of political Super Bowl, Oscars, Met Gala and Rotary Club dinner all in one. As self-serious as amateur theater and as monumental as a coronation, it is one of the weirdest evenings in American life. Only habituation makes it seem normal, and even habit has its limits.
National politicians have always had a kind of fame, but the rise of social media thrust politics into a realm of popular celebrity and turned the campy solemnity of the State of the Union into mere farce. Even the lowliest members of the House of Representatives used to sit at some statesmanlike remove from us, democratic avatars of actual constituencies, yes, but also a kind of abstraction. Now, via social media, we are privy to their passing thoughts, their workout routines and workplace rivalries, their classical American infatuations with crackpot theories. There was once something edifying and even a little mystical about virtually the entire American national government gathering in one place for a grand and unabashedly imperial spectacle. No longer. It has all the mystery and half the charm of a slapped-together awards show, a too-familiar crowd of celebrities who spend the evening alternating between looking overly enthusiastic and terribly bored.
For most of the past century, presidents have given the address in January or February. President Biden’s has been postponed until March. This delay has been attributed to the Covid pandemic, to the ratings competition of the Winter Olympics, and to the hope that last-minute politicking might rescue a few pieces of Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda from obdurate Republican opposition and the dogged lack of cooperation from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. This hope is almost certainly doomed. Mr. Biden will march down the gauntlet of glad-handing members of Congress with his approval ratings at one of their lowest points, a tenacious pandemic, national worry over rising prices and a generally poisonous national mood, not to mention a terrifying Russian invasion of Ukraine that the administration and its European allies could predict but not forestall, and whose course could become more volatile and unpredictable.
A rival nuclear power starting a shooting war in Europe just a few days earlier presents the kind of circumstance in which a State of the Union address could hypothetically be vital. But it is still likely destined to merely be bland news cycle chum. The chatterboxes on the cable channels and the pundits in the political press will debate the “expectations” for the speech, and we will all earnestly pretend to wonder whether our president — older now than Ronald Reagan was when he left office — will be able to summon some heretofore unobserved rhetorical genius to conciliate our sick and tired nation.
I hope that he will subvert expectations deliberately. Mr. Biden’s intrinsic political genius is his ability to act as a mourner and as a bearer of bad news. His greatest act of political bravery was to tell America, after 20 years of lies, that the war in Afghanistan was over and lost, and then to mostly keep quiet and stick to his guns. The stakes are much lower for a gaudy speech like the State of the Union, but he should really do the same. Go up the hill, deliver a dull litany of bullet points, get to bed early and consign this silly ritual to C-SPAN, where it belongs.
In 1796, writing to his great friend, Filippo Mazzei, an Italian physician, farmer, pamphleteer and gunrunner for the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson complained of the great changes in America since its independence. “In place of that noble love of liberty and republican government which carried us triumphantly thro’ the war, an Anglican, monarchical and aristocratical party has sprung up,” he wrote, lamenting the adoption of British “forms” of pomp and circumstance, especially by the executive and judicial branches. Mazzei’s enthusiasm overcame his discretion, and he promptly dispatched copies of Jefferson’s observations to friends around Europe. They were published in French and Italian, and then made their way back across the Atlantic to the United States, where they reputedly caused a personal rift with George Washington, whose regal presidency — complete with annual addresses to joint sessions of Congress, which Jefferson considered far too similar to a British monarch’s “speech from the throne” — was understood to be a target of Jefferson’s contempt.
Jefferson’s dream of a nation of independent yeoman farmers was a fantasy even in his own time (not to mention a bit hypocritical — can anyone imagine the squire of Monticello driving a horse and plow through 40 rocky acres of Appalachian Virginia?), but his hostility toward the monarchical trappings of an imperial presidency was not wrong. His dream would be undone as America became a continental empire, then a hemispheric power, then an overseas empire and a great industrial and military titan. The centrality and power of the presidency could only increase as America evolved into a modern, bureaucratic state. It was inevitable, with the advent of modern mass broadcast communications, that the president would become a figure of enormous cultural significance as well. By the 1930s, presidents were everywhere on the radio; by the 1960s and the gilded, media-centric presidency of John F. Kennedy, they were culturally ubiquitous, singular synecdoches for America itself.
We are too close to these people now. Pomp can stand a little silliness; it may even require it. But it can’t survive absurdity. The advent of social media ruined celebrity by imitating proximity, and the transformation of politicians into ruined celebrities further destroyed politics. To see an actor whom you only know from movies and glossy magazines glide down a red carpet once or twice a year in a wild dress and borrowed jewels is to be astonished; to live with her everyday eructations of bad musical opinions and worse food photographs is to be annoyed. Likewise in politics. Our ostensible leaders are social media addicts like the rest of us, only more so. Their court rituals and pagan traditions have lost all of their high masonic mystery. We find ourselves watching a regional industry dinner, the sorry spectacle of insiders wallowing in self-congratulation over rubber chicken amid too much applause.
The form is exhausted. Mr. Biden has largely avoided the more ostentatious imperial vibes of his office, in part because he is the least telegenic president since George H.W. Bush. He has none of Ronald Reagan’s actorly charm; he cannot mimic Bill Clinton’s gregarious air of a debauched but beloved country preacher; he lacks Mr. Bush’s jingoistic cheerleading, Mr. Obama’s grandiosity, Mr. Trump’s nasty but effective comic timing. If he were wise, he would embrace his relative plain-spokenness and dislike of spectacle and diminish this absurd tradition.
The founders themselves imagined a new constitutional convention every few generations; perhaps every hundred years is also a good time to come up with new binding national political rites. We could do away with the speech entirely, and simply give out more civic medals for ordinary workers — the supposedly essential Americans whose daily, unseen labor makes the country run even as they are steadily alienated from mass politics and the highflying economy. Otherwise, the speech will continue to be more tendentious, reality-show entertainment. Will Sam Alito mouth off again? Will Nancy Pelosi do another ironic clap? Who will leap to applaud which lines, and who will sit on their hands? Enough is enough. Make the State of the Union boring again. We have been sufficiently entertained.
I would add that choosing to deliver the SOTU when Texas has a major primary….that’s also odd.
More news, perspectives, tweets, etc in the comments. See you there.
the Nevada caucus votes that would give Bernie Sanders a sweeping victory, and newfound momentum for his antiestablishment bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, were beginning to be counted, the rival campaign of Michael Bloomberg growled out another objection to the anticipated results of a contest in which the billionaire candidate had chosen not to participate.
“The Nevada results reinforce the reality that this fragmented field is putting Bernie Sanders on pace to amass an insurmountable delegate lead,” complained Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey. “This is a candidate who just declared war on the so-called ‘Democratic Establishment.’ We are going to need Independents AND Republicans to defeat Trump—attacking your own party is no way to get started. As Mike says, if we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base—like Senator Sanders—it will be a fatal error.”
Sheekey would have been wise to wait for the full picture of what the Sanders campaign accomplished in the battleground state where the senator and his backers put a heavy emphasis on grassroots organizing and mobilization.
The tabulation of Saturday’s caucus votes and polls of caucus-goers refuted the false premise of Bloomberg’s campaign that Sanders has a narrow appeal. The senator clinched a “huge win,” in CNN’s words. That win, coming on the heels of popular-vote victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, positions Sanders to counter the naysayers who keep questioning whether the democratic socialist is electable. That’s a rare opening for any candidate—and one that he now must seize by making a savvy argument for why he can not just win the Democratic nomination but also defeat President Trump in November.
In Nevada, Sanders showed genuine signs of strength. The senator swept the first round of caucus voting, securing a 2-1 margin over his closest rival and the erstwhile front-runner, former vice president Joe Biden. Sanders substantially increased his lead in the second round, where backers of contenders who fell short of viability realigned with a unity candidate.
By Sunday morning, with a majority of the precincts reporting, Sanders was winning 46 percent of county delegates from across the state and looked to be on track to secure as many as 10 pledged delegates to next summer’s Democratic National Convention. The closest contender, Biden, was picking up almost 20 percent of county delegates. Former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg, was at 15 percent. Three other candidates—Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, and billionaire Tom Steyer—finished with 10 percent or less.
Entrance polls of Nevada caucus-goers showed Sanders winning among men and women, running a solid second (behind Biden) in the race for the African American vote, carrying the Latino vote with 51 percent of the total, grabbing 65 percent of the vote of Nevadans under age 29 and 50 percent of those aged 29 to 44. Sanders swept the union vote in a state where a key labor organization had raised concerns about his support for single-payer Medicare for All health care reform. He finished up with a 2-1 advantage over the next-strongest candidate, Warren, among the 64 percent of voters that identified as liberal. And he tied Biden among the 34 percent who identified as moderate or conservative.
Sanders now finds himself in a complex position. He is the front-runner in the Democratic race. Yet his is still a dissenting and challenging voice within the party. On the eve of the caucuses, the senator declared, “I’ve got news for the Republican establishment. I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment. They can’t stop us.”
That line set off Bloomberg, party insiders, and a lot of pundits, who ripped into Sanders and his anti-establishment campaign. What Bloomberg and his apologists fail to understand is that challenging political power brokers has significant appeal among grassroots Democrats and independents. Notably, in Nevada, of the 17 percent of caucus-goers who identified as independents, Sanders won 50 percent. The next-closest contender, Buttigieg, was at 13 percent, and no one else was in double digits.
With his front-runner status confirmed after the first three contests of 2020, Sanders needs to engage with the electability debate in a more serious way. He really does have to make the “Bernie Beats Trump” message of his campaign posters central to his message going forward. Democrats know where he stands on the issues, and they agree with him—62 percent of those polled in Nevada said they favor responding to health care concerns with “a government plan for all instead of private insurance.” But Democrats and independents who lean toward the party are desperately determined to defeat Trump; in Nevada, two-thirds of those surveyed said it was more important to have a candidate who can upend the president than a candidate they agree with on issues.
For Sanders, the next opportunity will come in Tuesday’s debate in South Carolina, for which he, Bloomberg, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Steyer have qualified. There’s pressure on several of them to drop out, but none are likely to do so before Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, where Biden still leads in most polls but Sanders and Steyer have surged.
Bernie has been a busy bee in Texas! Yesterday, he held rallies in El Paso and San Antonio; today, he was in Houston, and soon to arrive in Austin, the heart of the grassroots.
Ahead of his campaign rally in Austin later today, Sen. Sanders remains optimistic about winning Texas https://t.co/AOlxxW8soF
— Austin Statesman (@statesman) February 23, 2020
From KXAN News:
Following Senator Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucus this weekend, the presidential hopeful will be holding a rally in Austin at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The rally will be held at Vic Matthias Shores, the same site where Senator Elizabeth Warren held a campaign rally in September and where then-Texas Senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke held a rally a year prior.
Sanders’ success in Nevada has had some including FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver suggesting that “Sanders is easily the most likely Democrat to win the nomination.”
But there is still more political work to be done before that determination can be made. Fourteen states including Texas will vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, offering a chance for the candidates to add to their delegate totals.
Williamson is a native Texan, so it makes sense to announce it in Austin.
More gibber jabber in the comments. This also serves an open thread.
Welcome to Live Thread number 2, late afternoon/evening for most of us. Looks like it’s going to be a real slog; at least they got started early.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) February 23, 2020
Just some of the incredible field team that powered our victory in Nevada. We all should be endlessly grateful for their hard work. pic.twitter.com/DurQglwIEq
— Nick Martin (@lancnick) February 23, 2020
Earlier this week in a conversation about the Sanders campaign and the behavior of his staff and supporters I referred to his campaign spokesperson as coming from the Island of Misfit Black Girls. It was a harmful and unnecessary comment and I apologize.
— Jason Johnson (@DrJasonJohnson) February 22, 2020
BREAKING – Data at the precinct level for 33 majority-Latino precincts statewide shows Sanders winning 74% of final alignment votes in these 33 precincts compared to 18% for Biden. As more data is reported, we will release updated analysis – by @MichaelHerndon_ & @mfr_roman pic.twitter.com/7UAWr9QbjE
— UCLA LPPI (@UCLAlatino) February 23, 2020
Meantime, Bernie just finished holding a rally in San Antonio. Potential voters waited in line for over a couple of hours!
Please continue the conversation in the comments. I’m adding a song by MJ, at the height of his bestseller, Thriller.
The Nevada caucus is scheduled to get underway at noon PT.
BREAKING: 62% of voters in Nevada say they want to abolish private health insurance and have Medicare For All.
Similar super majorities said the same thing in Iowa and New Hampshire. @BernieSanders continues to lead and define the agenda.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) February 22, 2020
(graphic courtesy of NPR)
Wonder how that will translate into delegates for Bernie?
I’ve seen quite a few Culinary-represented casino workers bringing in Bernie Sanders stickers and signs to the Bellagio caucus site. pic.twitter.com/Ho6GP13rJo
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) February 22, 2020
Democrats are approaching today’s #NevadaCaucus with some trepidation: Will the vote-counting go smoothly after the Iowa debacle several weeks ago?
Follow the results live alongside our live analysis: https://t.co/w0KuCQB0cM
— POLITICO (@politico) February 22, 2020
Meantime, Bernie is holding a rally in El Paso!
More tweets, updates, videos, etc, in the comments. See you there!
Birdies – it’s Friday, which calls for a TGIF post and cocktails/mocktails!
LD is on route to Mesquite, TX (southern suburb of Dallas) to catch Bernie at his first Texas rally!
Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a rally in North Texas Friday to talk with supporters, as a new Texas poll puts him slightly on top.
Voters arrived early to the event in Mesquite. It’s set to start at 7 p.m., but lines started to form earlier than that.
Of all the candidates in the Democratic primary this year, it’s Sanders who usually attracts the biggest and most enthusiastic crowds. He’ll be at the Mesquite Arena, a venue with a seating capacity of 5,500.
Sanders is currently the Democratic front-runner. That fact is a source of concern for many in the party establishment who worry how a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist would fare against President Donald Trump in November.
But there is more good news for Sanders’ campaign that was just released Friday morning. The latest polls from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune show he is the favorite among likely Democratic voters to win the Texas primary on March 3.
We’re looking forward to getting on the ground reports!
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) February 14, 2020
Bill de Blasio: "I have spent literally six years undoing what Michael Bloomberg did."
— NY For Sanders #Bernie2020 (@NYforSanders) February 14, 2020
We celebrate love at our Nest since that’s what the campaign is mainly about.
I’m just linking to the article; it’s more visual than text. However, here’s one of the memes from twitter:
master post of my Bernie valentines, you're welcome xoxo pic.twitter.com/Hs6nD7SBKJ
— Isabella (@isbellarosa) February 6, 2020
Bar is open; drinks on the house, courtesy of all of us! Join us in the comments section below with your tweets, videos, music, articles, etc.