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Posted by on Feb 5, 2019 in Politics | 0 comments

SOTU, 2019 – live blog

As we prepare for the 2018 State of the Union spectacle, it’s important to note the ambiguous state of presidential appointments.

  • Acting Whitehouse chief of staff
  • Acting US Attorney General
  • Acting Defense Secretary
  • Acting EPA Administrator
  • Acting Interior Secretary

There is no chief technology officer.

Alexander Hamilton thought that confirmations of presidential appointees were important. From The Federalist Papers:

Confirmation provides an “an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.”

Live blog

CSpan Livestream

Trump began at 6:08 pm with thank you’s (times are Pacific so that I don’t have to think).

Trump is referencing Eisenhower and now introducing three WWII veterans.

Let me remind you of Eisenhower’s warning of the military-industrial complex in his 1961 address as he passed the office of president to Kennedy. He warned of the tremendous military establishment, whose “total influence–economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every state house, every office of federal government.”

Trump, 6.17 pm:
I ask you to choose greatness.”

Now Trump is calling his two years an “unprecedented economic boom” – a claim regularly fact checked as false. He touted manufacturing jobs the same week that GM announced it was laying off thousands.

See this chart from VOX:

real GDP

Trump is now claiming that Republicans have basically eliminated the “death tax” on small businesses and farms: “We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranchers and family farms.”

The GOP did, indeed, ax the estate tax, but the beneficiaries are a relative handful of Americans.


At 6:25 pm, Trump alluded to the Mueller investigation as “ridiculous” and “partisan.”

Here’s The Guardian on everyone who has been charged in this “ridiculous” investigation.

Mueller investigation

Just like Richard Nixon

“Urgent National Crisis”

6:33 – here we go, again.

Trump implied that all drugs and all illegal immigration and all human trafficking is due to the lack of a wall — although he has not yet uttered that noun.

It’s a lie. The total number of people apprehended for illegally crossing the southern U.S. border has been steadily falling for almost two decades.

A reminder that the largest-ever U.S. fentanyl bust came at a legal entry point. Trump mentioned fentanyl at 6:38 and implied that it comes across the border with the MS-13 gang.

Trump has ordered 3,750 troops to the border and is calling it a “lawless” state. He claimed that El Paso was one of the most dangerous cities in the nation before “a wall”.

Here’s another:

Trump says that 1-in-3 women are assaulted as they try to reach the US for asylum. From the Washington Post: “the statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of all migrant women.”

No mention that 2 Workers at Arizona Migrant Children Centers Are Charged With Sexual Abuse. Inside our borders. From people who were supposed to be keeping them safe.

Another fact-check:
‘266,000 aliens arrested in the past two years’: The number is right but misleading.

ICE does not break down arrests by type of crime, but 16 percent of the total charges and convictions (not arrests) in 2016 were strictly immigration offenses.

Trump lies

From December 2018:

President Trump made 7,645 false or misleading claims since he took office, as of Dec. 30, 2018, according to the Fact Checker’s ongoing database. That means he’s averaging nearly 11 false or misleading statements per day. And of those statements, more than 1,000 were about immigration.


Incomplete and deliberately slated stories

From the Washington Post:

Trump confuses the issue and exaggerates the criminality

White male fright?

Women filled 58% of jobs last year, Trump claimed. What?


A reminder that women make pennies on the dollar when doing the same job as men.

More women serving in Congress – damn straight. But they are, in the main, Democrats. Here’s Pew:

women in congress

Trade war and tariffs

Trump is bragging about his imposition of tariffs as a way to protect American jobs. A reminder about GM.

Trump continues to misunderstand how tariffs work:

… exporters do not pay the tariffs; it is the importer, who in turn passes it onto to consumers. A study by the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that 115 percent of the money raised from tariffs is being used by the administration to aid farmers hurt by the tariffs, so it’s a net loser.

Health care

Trump is now talking about the need for infrastructure, reducing the cost of health care and protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

Rhetoric does not match actions:

The Trump administration has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that would end protection for patients with preexisting conditions. When the district court ruled against the law, Trump celebrated the ruling.

7:01 pm – he just launched a salvo on public schools.

7:02 pm – Trump is proposing nationwide paid family leave. What?

7:03 pm – Trump wants to prohibit late-term abortions. All children are made in the “image of God,” Trump claims, forgetting that we are a multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

From the Washington Post

Currently, all but seven states have prohibitions on gestational limits, from 20 to 24 weeks, or the point of “viability.” (A woman is considered to have reached full term when she is between 37-42 weeks.) Indeed, only 1.3 percent of abortions — or about 8,500 a year — take place at or after 21 weeks, according to 2014 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Guttmacher Institute.

I confess that I was lost with this line:

7:05 pm – other nations to pay “their fair share”

7:07 pm – nuclear treaty abandonment

7:10 pm – the myth of the American individualist (aka “every man is an island”)

“Great nations do not fight endless wars”

Then we haven’t been great for a very long time.

7:18 pm – Trump brings up Pittsburgh

Although Trump talks about anti-Semitism, he does not speak out against white nationalism.

7:30 pm – The End.

No mention …

  • Climate change
  • Guns and mass shooting
  • Furloughed employees
  • Voting rights

Democratic response: Stacey Abrams

SOTU background

Although Woodrow Wilson started the tradition of an in-person annual update on the state of the union in 1913, it wasn’t until 1947 that this speech officially became known as the State of the Union Address.

The Constitution mandates that “from time to time [the President shall] give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…”
Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.

Impressions …

Trump does not read a teleprompter well. The pacing in this speech was painful to hear.

He needs the frenzy of his base to become animated. He was flat.

The speech seemed to have been written by committee – it was not a coherent message.

There were some Democratic-sounding soundbites that went nowhere (had no details) such as national paid parental leave. What?

Dammit, will he ever stop lying and fabricating?

SOTU and Technological Change

Presidential communications staff have been on the forefront of changes in communications technology.

  • 1923 – first radio broadcast, Calvin Coolidge
  • 1947 – first TV broadcast, Harry Truman
  • 1965 – first TV broadcast in the evening, Lyndon Johnson
  • 2002 – first live webcast, George W. Bush
  • 2004 – first high definition TV broadcast, George W. Bush