The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations for State of the Union Addresses Has Got to Stop

I’m as guilty as the worst offender of treating
annual State of the Union as beneath
contempt
,
instantly forgettable
, and
worse
.

It was George W. Bush – whose SOTUs were uniformly awful and
misguided (cough, cough,
Axis of Evil
) – who talked about battling the “soft bigotry of
low expectations” for minority kids in K-12 education.

But the same standard should apply to State of the Union
addresses. Everyone fully expects them to be useless laundry lists
of barely connected guaranteed-applause-getters (GAGS) punctuated
with shout-outs to jes’ plain folks who magically appear in the
gallery for this one special night (when is a billionaire prankster
in the tradition of Terry Southern’s Guy Grand in The Magic
Christian
going to get a president to note Dick Hertz in one
of these things?).

This has got to stop. I’m fond of saying that the tragicomedy of
America is that we get the government we deserve.

And we deserve better.

There’s nothing stopping a president from actually giving a
substantive speech for the State of the Union (or even forgoing a
performed speech altogether) rather than clearing out his office
closet for every rag-tag idea that’s been gathering dust. And stop
with the least-convincing soft-feature anecdotes this side of an
NBC Olympics broadcast. 

President Obama’s speech last night was genuinely terrible,
packed
with empty boasts, fantasy policy prescriptions, and outright
falsehoods
. That doesn’t make it stand out as a State of the
Union address, it just makes it the same as all the other ones we
struggle to recall from years and presidents past. If Obama really
wanted to lead in a positive way, he could use the next three SOTUs
to actually start a discussion about a single issue or topic –
immigration, foreign policy, whatever – and then follow that up by
trying to build a consensus in Congress and across the country.
That sort of speech would not only be worth turning on but actually
worth listening to.

Until that happens, Cafe Hayek’s Don Boudreaux is right to
characterize SOTUs as “political
vaudevillainism”
and, I fear, to tune out from such
spectacles.

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT

Obama’s State of the Union’s Most Despicable Moment: Using Wounded Vets as Props

The most
emotionally powerful moment in Barack
Obama
’s State
of the Union
 address was
also its most morally dubious. The nation’s commander in chief drew
attention to a wounded warrior while eliding any responsibility for
placing the young man in harm’s way.

A record number of Americans – 60
percent
 – think the government is too powerful, says
Gallup, which also finds a near
record low
 percentage trusts the government “to do what is
right.” Who can blame us? The government under Republican and
Democratic presidents has spent virtually the entire 21st century
sending young men and women to fight in ill-defined and
unsuccessful elective wars. That’s bad enough, but then to use them
as props in political speeches? That’s positively obscene….

[Army Ranger Cory] Remsburg’s sacrifice is plain to see: He has
a long, visible scar on his head and, the president 
explained, he “is still blind in one eye” and “still struggles on
his left side.” Regardless of political affiliation and ideological
positioning, all Americans can appreciate Remsburg’s willingness to
serve while questioning whether President Obama is right to use
such a soldier as an applause line in a political speech….

What exactly was Remsburg – or any of his fellow soldiers –
fighting for in Afghanistan? The president didn’t offer any
explanation in his State of the Union address and you’d search his
past speeches in vain for a clear and compelling reason, too.

That’s from my newest piece at Time.com’s Ideas sections.


Read the whole thing here.

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT

Obama's State of the Union's Most Despicable Moment: Using Wounded Vets as Props

The most
emotionally powerful moment in Barack
Obama
’s State
of the Union
 address was
also its most morally dubious. The nation’s commander in chief drew
attention to a wounded warrior while eliding any responsibility for
placing the young man in harm’s way.

A record number of Americans – 60
percent
 – think the government is too powerful, says
Gallup, which also finds a near
record low
 percentage trusts the government “to do what is
right.” Who can blame us? The government under Republican and
Democratic presidents has spent virtually the entire 21st century
sending young men and women to fight in ill-defined and
unsuccessful elective wars. That’s bad enough, but then to use them
as props in political speeches? That’s positively obscene….

[Army Ranger Cory] Remsburg’s sacrifice is plain to see: He has
a long, visible scar on his head and, the president 
explained, he “is still blind in one eye” and “still struggles on
his left side.” Regardless of political affiliation and ideological
positioning, all Americans can appreciate Remsburg’s willingness to
serve while questioning whether President Obama is right to use
such a soldier as an applause line in a political speech….

What exactly was Remsburg – or any of his fellow soldiers –
fighting for in Afghanistan? The president didn’t offer any
explanation in his State of the Union address and you’d search his
past speeches in vain for a clear and compelling reason, too.

That’s from my newest piece at Time.com’s Ideas sections.


Read the whole thing here.

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT

A.M. Links: Obama Says He’s Willing To Use Executive Power, Snowden Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize, Pot Activists To Put Up Billboard Ads Near Super Bowl Stadium

  • In last night’s State of the Union address President Obama said
    that he wants to work with Congress but is willing to use
    executive power
    .
  • The Supreme Court has granted
    a temporary stay
    of execution for Missouri inmate Herbert
    Smulls. Missouri has not said which compounding pharmacy the
    execution drugs come from. Read Reason Foundation’s Lauren Galik’s
    article on Smulls
    here
    .
  • Ukraine’s first post-independence president has said that
    Ukraine is on the
    “brink of civil war.”
  • NSA whistle-blower
    Edward Snowden
    has been nominated for the 2014 Nobel peace
    prize.

  • Marijuana activists
    are planning to put up billboard ads near
    the stadium where the Super Bowl is being held. The ads will say
    that marijuana is safer than alcohol.
  • The head of Britain’s spy agency GCHQ,
    which like the NSA has been criticized following the Snowden
    revelations, is stepping down. The Foreign Office claims the move
    has nothing to do with reporting on Snowden’s leaks.

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT

Jesse Walker on the Republican Responses to the State of the Union

When Cathy McMorris
Rodgers, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul offered three separate
Republican responses to the State of the Union Address, observers
expected McMorris Rodgers to represent the GOP establishment,
Lee to represent the establishment’s conservative critics, and
Paul to represent those critics who are more libertarian.
Jesse Walker reports that things didn’t exactly work out
that way.

View this article.

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT

Jacob Sullum on the Bipartisan Appeal of Marijuana Federalism

President Obama says he opposes marijuana
legalization but thinks Colorado and Washington should be able to
try it. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who sought to run against Obama in
2012 as a Republican presidential contender, takes the same
position. Senior Editor Jacob Sullum says we seem to have the
makings of a national consensus on this issue: We do not need a
national consensus. 

View this article.

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT

Brickbat: Long Arm of the Law

Lake County,
Florida, sheriff’s deputy Matthew Donnelly has been charged with
sexual battery. After a night of partying a man flagged down
Donnelly because his girlfriend had passed out. Donnelly allegedly
put the boyfriend in his patrol car and groped
the woman
 and made inappropriate remarks to her.
Donnelly’s dashboard camera was turned off for 22 minutes when the
assault is supposed to have taken place. But officials say that a
sexual examination supported the woman’s claims, and they found her
DNA on the steering wheel and gear-shift knob of Donnelly’s car as
well as on his flashlight.

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT

Midnight on The Independents: Live Reaction to the State of the Union Address!

Tonight’s live episode of Fox Business Network’s The
Independents
 will come at you midnight eastern, 9
pm Pacific, and will include ex-Reasoner Michael C.
Moynihan
Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes, FreedomWorks
President/CEO
Matt Kibbe
, and Democratic political strategist Basil Smikle, along with
some hoo-larious historical footage, demonstrations of foolish
laws, and other hijinks. Tweet it out at @IndependentsFBN!

from Hit & Run
via IFTTT