Something’s Rotten in the State of Our Union

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Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Kyle Cupp
    Ignored
    says:

    The Constitution is becoming, with each passing day, an ever more ironic document as Americans urge elected officials to follow it more closely, even as they themselves continue to support policies and practices which are antithetical to it.

    An ironic document. I like that expression.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kyle Cupp
      Ignored
      says:

      “Congress” “shall” “make” “no” “law” “respecting” “an” “establishment” “of” “religion,” “or” “prohibiting” “the” “free” “exercise” “thereof;” “or” “abridging” “the” “freedom” “of” “speech,” “or” “of” “the” “press;” “or” “the” “right” “of” “the” “people” “peaceably” “to” “assemble,” “and” “to” “petition” “the” “Government” “for” “a” “redress” “of” “grievances”.Report

  2. Avatar James Hanley
    Ignored
    says:

    Good lord, that was depressing, Ethan.  But I agree with you wholeheartedly.  Thank you for writing this.  I’d wanted to write something in this vein, but couldn’t organize my feelings and thoughts about it.  You said all I would have said and more.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew
    Ignored
    says:

    That with “globalization,” whatever it means, and whatever it entails, being the REAL issue of our time, the President should focus on discussing how not the nation, but rather its people, can succeed in a century where the relationships between countries are more important than the countries themselves?

    But this shouldn’t involve proposing economic policies to Congress?Report

  4. Avatar James K
    Ignored
    says:

    And perhaps I’m just naïve to believe that, if the television cameras were taken away, the President’s remarks would be more focused on the business at hand, and specifically on that business for which he is responsible and actually involved with.  Am I alone in thinking that would be preferable?  That with “globalization,” whatever it means, and whatever it entails, being the REAL issue of our time, the President should focus on discussing how not the nation, but rather its people, can succeed in a century where the relationships between countries are more important than the countries themselves?

    I don’t think you’re naive to believe this, and I have some observations that back it up.  I’ve had the opportunity to observe New Zealand’s politicians when they are at Question Time (a public, partisan and fairly silly activity) and when they are in Select Committee (no cameras, and no grandstanding either, MPs of every party work in a very professional and cooperative manner).

    The trouble with cameras is that people want to perform for them.Report

    • Avatar BradK in reply to James K
      Ignored
      says:

      The trouble with cameras is that people want to perform for them.

      And the trouble with this President is that he never misses the opportunity to oblige.

      Agree completely with the OP that the STFU SOTU media event is about as shallow as the applause it generates.  More akin to an outdated ritual from a tired monarchy than something intended to actually convey meaning or depth.

      Let’s not forget that when the incumbent is up for reelection, SOTU becomes as much of an unofficial campaign kickoff as an official function.  As he’s running unopposed within his own party and the rival party hopefuls are clawing each other’s eyes out on national TV at least once a week, it does make for a striking contrast in style if not substance.

       

       

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  5. Avatar Will H.
    Ignored
    says:

    I was reading recently where an appellate court had thrown out a conviction due to a proper warrant not being issued when a law enforcement officer attached a GPS device to a suspect’s vehicle.
    On the other hand, I was also reading about how a fellow involved in some fraud scheme was denied possible evidence on discovery relating to the mechanism the government used to track his laptop.

    More disturbing than that is how electronic devices have been held to come under the container rule; that to search through your cell phone to see who you called, or read through your text messages, etc. is perfectly legal if stopped for some other reason, as the cell phone is itself a “container.”
    Ditto for your laptop or tablet.
    Your mp3 player for that matter.

    It seems to go against the “right… to be secure in their persons,… papers, and effects.”

    That one has been on the decline for a long time.
    Still doesn’t make it not-wrong.Report

  6. Avatar Liberty60
    Ignored
    says:

    Ethan, are you thinking that there was ever a time in which the President and Congress did NOT perform for an audience?

    That there was ever a time when politicians behaved soberly and without mendacious and corrupt motives?Report

  7. Avatar Morzer
    Ignored
    says:

    It seems a little fruitless to blame the president for trying to set out some sort of statement of priorities and endeavors for the coming year.  I find it utterly bizarre to try and read “fascism” into a reference to the military couched in these terms:

    “They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together”

    This is, yet another, slightly desperate appeal for Americans to work together, rather than turning every issue into a partisan cage match.  There’s no blood and soil, no man on horseback, no exultation of an identity founded on some sort of alleged genetic superiority.  This simply is not about fascism. It’s an analogy about how people of differing views and skills can work together for a common goal.  If anything, it’s the part of the speech that most directly relates to the state of the union and attempts to make said union somewhat more unified.

    “His focus should be on managing his branch of government, the executive, as well as negotiating with other countries, representing his own, and doing his best to NOT take it to war.”

    Since when has the executive been denied the right to advocate an economic and social agenda? The executive branch is not a foreign office with a big house on Pennsylvania Avenue thrown in for free.   Yes, Congress and Senate make the decisions about what gets enacted and what does not, but that doesn’t mean that the president has no right of input.  Why should the president not address issues that are obviously germane to the state of the union?

    with “globalization,” whatever it means, and whatever it entails, being the REAL issue of our time, the President should focus on discussing how not the nation, but rather its people, can succeed in a century where the relationships between countries are more important than the countries themselves?”

    It’s hard to see how one achieves any meaningful separation between nation and people in a speech explicitly designed to focus on the state of the union i.e. the nation constituted from those same people.  And you assume much too rapidly that globalization makes nations irrelevant. This may be the vision of the elites who push globalization, but it’s not as yet obviously a majority vision in the USA, or, for that matter in any nation on this earth.

    If you don’t like Obama’s agenda, fine and good, but you seem to spend much more time agonizing over the discontents of the modern, technological world than you do actually analyzing the content of the speech itself. As for the rhetorical handjob – well, what do you expect in an age when the media are both lazy and ignorant, when they pick up only on applause lines, and when the lazy and ignorant American people make it clear that they want good news and feel-good slogans?  We ask the politicians to lie to us all the time – and woe betide the poor fool who fails to do our bidding.  All this in an election year when the GOP are making it clear that any lie will do if it gets them into power. Again.  I don’t think you can reasonably blame a president who is stuck in Romulus’ shit-heap for not speaking as if he were in Plato’s Republic.

     

     

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