Tuesday, February 12, 2013

While we wait for the SOTU...

-- A resolution of the standoff with former LAPD officer and current fugitive Christopher Dorner may interrupt the president's speech this evening. It will be interesting to see how the networks handle it if it does (Fox will probably cut away; MSNBC might crawl it across the bottom of the screen). One deputy shot earlier this afternoon has died of his wounds.

-- Some of your representatives have been squatting on the aisle all day for that coveted camera shot of the handshake with the prez. *cough*SJL*cough*

Seven hours or more. That's how long some members of Congress sit and wait to claim aisle seats for the State of the Union, all so they can be seen on TV shaking the president's hand as he leaves. Really. It's mystifying, but enough members of Congress care enough about those few seconds of televised presidential hand-shaking that there is a day-long wait for the seats, and rules for getting them...

I personally can't think of a better use of their time. Can you?

-- Here's the embargoed-until-minutes-ago excerpt of tonight's speech.

“It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class.

It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.

It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation of ours.”


“A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”


“Tonight, I’ll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago. Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.”


-- Three decades of SOTU climate remarks, and a brand-new drinking game.

-- So today is Darwin Day...

...and of course the Republican Party is looking forward to this evening’s many opportunities to ‘refute’ evolutionary theory via political kabuki. Dave Weigel at Slate, among his predictions for tonight, highlights a detail I hadn’t noticed:
In all of the soft-focus stories on the speech’s invited guests, two names matter: Ted Nugent and Gabrielle Giffords. Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, an embarrassing member of the class of 1994 who lost in 1996 but managed to come back in 2012, has invited Nugent to attend the speech, despite Nugent being (humorously!) on record threatening the president’s life. Giffords, invited by Sen. John McCain, is the most compelling figure in the gun control (sorry, “gun safety”) movement. Democrats know that the mere sight of Giffords, or the sound of her voice, spurs a Pavlovian response: The listener cannot help but hear and think about ammo clips and background checks. Stockman knows … actually, there’s no way to end that sentence.

-- Via Greg, from the Kinder Institute's Houston Area Asian Survey (.pdf):

Fort Bend County, just to the south and west of Harris County, is now the single most ethnically diverse county in the nation. In the 2010 census, Fort Bend was 19 percent Asian, 24 percent Latino, 21 percent black and 36 percent Anglo.

The Houston region as a whole is the most ethnically and culturally diverse large metropolitan area in the country, at the forefront of the new diversity that is radically reconstructing the social and political landscape across all of urban America.

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