Monthly Archives: January 2014

Your Morning Cup of Links/WTF Friday

Illinois bureaucrats stop tiny menace who likes to bake cupcakes for people and give her earnings to charity, thank god. Somebody had to. We can’t have kids using their skills to become entrepreneurs because then they won’t be reliant on the state.

The Health Department of Madison County, Illinois on Sunday shut down a baking operation run by an 11-year-old girl. Chloe Stirling may be young, but she’s already developed serious culinary and small business skills. She began an enterprise, called “Hey, Cupcake!,” out of her family’s kitchen two years ago. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the sixth grader earns around $200 a month selling her baked goods. Stirling hopes to use her income to one day open her own bakery. Her mother, Heather, also offered to match the money Stirling makes to buy a car when she turns 16. Additionally, “she has donated many to charitable events, including a fundraiser for a student with cancer and, most recently, taking some to residents at a senior care center,” writes the Belleville News-Democrat. The desserts didn’t sit well with the local government, though. The health department called Stirling’s parents and demanded that the girl cease operations, because she was violating the Illinois State Food Service Code. Stirling lacked the necessary permit and the kitchen wasn’t properly licensed. “The guy told me I either had to buy her a bakery or put in a second kitchen (in the house),” Stirling’s mother said.

Ambition? What’s that? Dreams? You need a permit for those in today’s America, kid.

In which Kevin Williamson compares bureaucrats to space monkeys…

On Tuesday, the president of these United States called for an end to the “rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government,” so that he might move forward with his economic agenda uninhibited by “stale political arguments.” It was an interesting moment. The president’s childlike faith in his own ability to direct resources according to his own vision is almost touching in its way, though when the actual costs are accounted for it is terrifying…Progressives like to frame the argument about the size and scope of government as Thomas Hobbes vs. Ayn Rand: Every step toward decentralization and deregulation is in their view a step toward chaos, the war of all against all. To the progressive, there can be no meaningful move toward liberty (save in the case of sexual license), only a dangerous slide toward anarchy. There is some irony in that: Progressives fear what they call “Social Darwinism,” which to the extent that it ever has existed as a coherent worldview has been associated with progressives, who translated it into policy in the form of horrific eugenics campaigns and forcible sterilizations. Progressives are smart people who never learn: Their characteristic fallacy is the belief that if a little bit of government is a good thing, then more must be better. Again, the level of understanding is childlike…Well administered, a little government is an excellent thing. It protects property, sees to the enforcement of contracts, defends the borders, keeps the streets safe…How much government is too much when you’re trying to steer extraordinarily complex markets, such as the ones involved in electricity generation? In that case, $1 is too much, because it is $1 spent on something that government not only should not be doing but in fact cannot do. From Soviet central planning to the Spanish green-energy racket to the U.S. housing bubble, one of the inescapable lessons of economic history is not that government should not attempt to steer industries but that government cannot steer them in any predictable and productive fashion. “Should not attempt” is a second-order conclusion, deriving from the fundamental condition of “cannot.”…I have spent a fair amount of time around elected officials, regulators, and the like, and when I see them, I think: space monkeys. The first monkey to make it into space was called Albert II, who went up on a V2 rocket. Albert II survived the space flight but not, unlucky little beast, the parachute failure that followed. We primates are in a sense one big family, and the first of us to see the majesty of our little corner of the universe from a vantage point beyond the surly bonds of Earth was a rhesus monkey, the stars laid out like a trail of diamonds before his uncomprehending eyes. The complexity of even the simplest markets is as far beyond the understanding of any politician or bureaucracy — or any single human mind — as astrophysics is beyond a rhesus monkey. Politicians steer the economy like Albert II steered that rocket. It isn’t just that they don’t know which levers to pull at what time — they’re clever enough — but that the thing itself is so incomprehensibly complex as to be effectively unknowable to them.

Oh for fuck’s sake. Rutgers University is offering a class on Beyonce. Societal end times, people.

Man pleads guilty to smuggling nearly 40,000 piranhas into New York.

Weather map of distant star features molten iron rain.

43 California Obamacare navigators are convicted felons, whose crimes include forgery and welfare fraud. And you’re supposed to give your most intimate personal and financial info to them. Unreal.

Cambridge University spent three million pounds on wine last year. Seems like a good use of funds to me.

New Zealand man fights off shark with knife, stitches up own leg, goes to pub to have a drink.

The Pentagon has spent over $200 million trying to teach Afghan soldiers how to read…and they still can’t read.

The United States government has spent $200 million on a literacy program for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) over the past five years but half the Afghan army still can’t read or write according to a new report. “Literacy of the Afghan National Security Forces is of critical importance,” said John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). “We’ve spent $200 million on this  — yet we don’t even know how many Afghan security forces are literate or how well the program worked. That’s deeply disturbing.” The goal of the program was to make 100 percent of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) able to read at a first grade level and 50 percent literate at a third grade level by the time U.S. forces are due to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. But officials told SIGAR that that attaining those goals with the Afghan army, which is set to grow to 352,000, may be “unrealistic” and unattainable.”…In addition, many of the soldiers who have been educated at U.S. taxpayer expense are no longer in the Afghan Army. The ANSF has a remarkably high attrition rate, between 30 and 50 percent a year. As of Feb. 2013, roughly half of the ANSF was still illiterate, according to some of the officials in charge of the literacy training.

Here’s a bra (made by the Japanese, of course) that only unhooks if the woman is truly in love. Sounds pretty fucking stupid to me.

Here’s that Franz Kafka video game you’ve been waiting for.

The ancient Greeks were quite the grill masters.

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Your Daily Dose of Cute

Otter mom teaches her babies how to swim the way all parents should: by grabbing them by the neck and dragging them in.

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January 30, 2014 · 10:59 pm

Afternoon Links

LOL. From The Onion: “Obama Throws Small Business Owner Into Seat, Tells Him To Just Smile And Keep His Fucking Mouth Shut”

Syria has shipped out less than 5% of the chemical agents in its stockpile and is 6-8 weeks behind schedule. WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS?

The Federalist website gives us 11 facts about the minimum wage that Obama forgot to mention last night. I would add that when the minimum wage goes up, everyone else’s wages have to go up, which means prices have to go up…which puts everyone in the same situation they started in.

Oh wonderful, al Qaeda now apparently has their own oil fields.

Economic mobility has remained steady for decades, despite Obama’s claims. 

Richard Sherman: great American or GREATEST American? This is awesome.

Peyton Manning could end up paying New Jersey more in taxes for the Super Bowl than he earns for playing in it. From K. Sean Packard at Forbes:

Should the Broncos beat the Seahawks, Manning—and the rest of his teammates—will earn $92,000. The loser’s share in the Super Bowl is $46,000. So why does Manning’s future beyond February 2 matter to New Jersey? It would seem logical that the Garden State would apply its tax rates on the $92,000 or $46,000 Manning earns for his week in East Rutherford. Unfortunately, we are dealing with tax laws, not logic. New Jersey, and every other state that imposes a jock tax, taxes players on their calendar-year income from each employer. If the Broncos defeat the Seahawks, Manning’s 2014 playing income to this point would be $157,000 derived from playoff bonuses. If the Broncos lose, his playing income would be $111,000. If Manning is unable to continue playing, New Jersey would apply its tax rates to his income and multiply that amount by the ratio of 7/33 to determine his tax liability. The 7 in the numerator represents the week he spends in the state practicing and attending required NFL events. The 33 is the total number of duty days performed during the year—31 days in January plus two in February. If Manning is forced to retire, New Jersey will collect approximately $1,575 from him if the Broncos win and $982 if they lose. But should Manning continue his career into the 2014 season, New Jersey will collect an additional $45,000 from him by taxing income he has not even earned yet. Manning is due $15 million next season, which would push his 2014 earnings to $15,157,000 or $15,111,000, and bump him into Jersey’s highest 8.97% tax bracket…If Manning is able to play next season, his New Jersey income tax would be $46,989 on $92,000 for winning the Super Bowl, or 51.08%. If they lose and he is able to play in 2014, he will pay New Jersey $46,844 on his $46,000, which amounts to a 101.83% tax on his actual Super Bowl earnings in the state—and this does not even consider federal taxes!

How absurd. Speaking of Manning, in case you were wondering why he was shouting “Omaha” so much during the AFC championship game, here’s why. He’ll do it again during the Super Bowl.

As usual, Ace does it better than me. 

Obama is indeed like this multiply-wounded, multiply-decorated hero. For both men, nothing has “come easy.” I mean, when Bill Ayers took a shine to Obama and gave him a high-dollar paper-pushing sinecure at his charity, that was hard. Like getting shot to pieces, and having a roadside bomb blow molten shrapnel into his brain. And when Bill Ayers plugged him into his own radical network of aging, wealthy hippies and started Obama’s political career from his living room, that was tough sledding. Like having to re-learn how to use your limbs and learn to read and speak again. And when Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book for him… well, that was like winning the Silver Star…And, just like Cory Rehmsburg, learning to overcome a serious brain injury, Obama is a real “grinder.” I mean, he puts in back to back 2am nights once per year, rewriting someone else’s words into his own voice. It’s “grueling,” I tell you. In a way, isn’t the story of Anne Frank really Obama’s story, too? After all, neither could smoke in their own home. Think about it.

Meanwhile, The Federalist rounds up some of the best Twitter responses to the Murray tweet fiasco.

Ho hum, Iran can now build and deliver nukes, according to U.S. intel.

Stradivarius worth millions stolen from Milwaukee violinist by robber with stun gun.

A concert violinist was leaving his suburban Milwaukee performance when a couple of thieves bearing a stun gun approached, shocked him and made off with the 300-year-old Stradivarius he carried that’s worth millions of dollars, Milwaukee police reported…The violin, a Lipinski Stradivarius, was made in 1715, NBC said. It was on loan to Frank Almond of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Police said the violin has a sale value of between $5 million and $10 million.

You better act quickly if you want to reserve a table at White Castle for Valentine’s Day.


Control your shitty kids. 

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What’s the Left up to today? “Being depraved sycophants” edition

All of human history is just a colorful backstory in the Obama biopic. There is nothing that has ever happened that is not about him. And our press fully participates. It’s so disgusting. Last night at the State of the Union, Obama honored Cory Remsburg, an incredibly brave member of our armed forces who was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on his tenth deployment. I commend the President for sharing this man’s amazing story. I loathe the sycophants in the media for tweeting this:

“Obama’s ending on Remsburg wasn’t just a story about America — it also was a story about Obama. Nothing has ever come easy.”

That came from NBC’s Mark Murray, whose colleagues Chuck Todd and Domenico Montanaro, apparently wholeheartedly agree with him. The three of them wrote this:

Last night’s speech also ended on an emotional — and upbeat — note when Obama recognized Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, who was almost killed in Afghanistan and continues to recuperate from a brain injury. “My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy,” the president said. “Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble, we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than 200 years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress.” That story could also apply to Obama himself: Nothing in his seven years on the national political stage (2007-2014) has come easy. The 2008 race for the Democratic nomination. Even that general election. The health-care law. The re-election campaign. And now the president’s current situation in which he finds himself bloodied and bruised after the botched health-care rollout. Perseverance is an important quality for any president. Bill Clinton was usually able to talk his way out of sticky situations. But Obama’s M.O. is to grind it out. That, more than anything else, was the message he wanted to send last night — both he and the country are grinding it out.

No, the story could not apply to Obama himself. Everything has come easy for Obama. EVERYTHING. He has no idea about the kind of struggle someone like Remsburg has gone through and to believe that he has is a special kind of mental illness. The 2008 race for the Democratic nomination? Hillary, ever the terrible campaigner, defeated herself. Also, the media decided they had a better chance with the young, charismatic guy, so they helped him. The general election? John McCain was an old man who refused to attack Obama for fear of being called a racist. And then he picked an absolute moron as his running mate. How much easier could it have been? The health care law? He had both houses of Congress! The re-election campaign? He couldn’t have dreamed up a more boring, uncharismatic opponent. And, again, he had the media on his side to convince the intellectually stunted, sheep-like American masses that Romney’s “car elevator” was a real issue. To act like any of these supposed “struggles” is anywhere remotely in the realm of lying half-dead in a ditch in Afghanistan, losing your eyesight, having to re-learn how to speak and walk, is a sign of a depraved mind. There is a planet-sized difference between being metaphorically “bloodied and bruised” by a botched health care law rollout (of his own making) and being literally bloodied and bruised by an IED. As Charles C.W. Cooke wrote earlier today:

On the one hand we have the story of the president of the world’s most powerful nation and his heroic effort to comply with the checks and balances of America’s constitutional system, to tolerate the dissent of the citizenry that employs him, and to scrape by on his handsome salary, mansion-lifestyle, and omnipresent security detail. On the other hand, we have the tale of a soldier who was deployed into a warzone ten times, who was found “in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain,” and who spent months in a coma. In what universe can these two things be regarded as similar? I can’t even imagine how one could be tempted to connect the two. Occasionally, I am asked by people who know what I do for a living why I am so bothered by the cult that has grown up around the president. This is why. That anybody could write that sentence is astonishing to me; that the senior political editors of one of the country’s largest news outlets could offer it is almost too much to bear…There is, it seems, nothing that isn’t about Obama. Everything is: Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Olympics, the death of Rosa Parks, the moon landing, the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, Nelson Mandela’s passing, your wedding, your conversations with your parents. Everything. Government is the one thing we all belong to — the word we use for the things we do together — and its leader is our national focal point. All memories are his. All lessons lead back to his life. All struggles are best understood within the context of his own. Even the easiest of upbringings, educations, and electoral records can be transmuted into a story of rags to riches if the narrative demands.


Filed under The Left

What’s the Left up to today? “Creating new euphemisms” edition

“Fact bump” is my favorite new euphemism, by far. That’s a beauty. Well done, AP. My old favorite was “women’s health” as the euphemism for abortion, but this, this is good…

It seems to be something of an occupational hazard for President Barack Obama: When he talks about his health care law, he’s bound to hit a fact bump sooner or later.

Emphasis mine. “Fact bump” is apparently the nice way of saying lying and/or not knowing what the fuck you’re talking about. For example, when Obama peddles the long-discredited statistic about women making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, he is hitting a “fact bump.” Got it, comrade? You have until the clocks strike thirteen to add it to the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary.

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Your Morning Cup of Links

Victor Hugo: poet, novelist, playwright, furniture designer.

The United Nations is taking up the Washington Redskins name debate because there are no more pressing issues in the world with which it could concern itself.

Flatulent cows start fire at German dairy farm.

This is no longer a free society if this is the way things are going to be now.

Which Big Ten school has the best return on investment? University of Illinois, baby! Woot!

The White House is going to launch a new political office because this White House just isn’t political enough!

The Pentagon says the U.S. is not capable of detecting foreign nuke threats, so that’s just swell.

Charles C.W. Cooke thinks Congress should block Obama’s minimum wage executive order for workers under federal contracts.

Hershey’s to throw down with Nutella over chocolate spreads in epic ‘Merica v. Italy battle.

Biofluorescent fish are much more common than we thought. Take a look inside their world.

Biofluorescence is not the same thing as bioluminescence, which has also been found in marine organisms like certain squid and octopus. Bioluminescence occurs when a chemical reaction in an organism generates light. Biofluorescence occurs when an organism absorbs light, transforms it, and emits it as a different color. Fish live in a world that is predominantly blue — water, with depth, quickly absorbs the majority of the visible light spectrum. Biofluorescent fish take in the blue light and re-emit it in neon greens, reds, and oranges. But this biofluoresence is invisible to the human eye; the AMNH’s investigation began only after an accidental discovery of green eel fluorescence while imaging coral biofluorescence for an exhibit. To capture these biofluorescent fish in action, researchers custom-built underwater cameras with yellow filters, which block out blue light. Over time, the expeditions tallied more than 180 species of biofluorescent fish, from both cartilaginous and bony lineages. The nature of the fluorescence was extremely variable, ranging from simple eye rings to complex fluorescent patterns all over the body, and even internally. To the researchers, this suggests that the ability to glow may have evolved in fish a number of times, and could hint at the existence of numerous undiscovered fluorescent proteins.

Excellent Michael Moynihan piece on Pete Seeger, who was a Stalinist, and shouldn’t be given a pass, even in death.

State Department’s bimbo spokesperson idiotically claimed the other day that “core al Qaeda” is now just Ayman al Zawahiri. Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio explain why this is absurd.

Your tax dollars at work.

A lack of competitive bidding processes among state Medicaid agencies caused the program to overpay for diapers by about $62 million in 2012, according to a report released by federal auditors on Monday. Only five state Medicaid agencies have implemented competitive bidding programs for “disposable incontinence supplies,” according to the inspector general for the department of Health and Human Services. Those states reported saving up to of 50 percent on those supplies, the IG reportfound.

No, “thug” and “Chicago” are not words reserved for black politicians.

Finally, someone made the right decision here. The state has no right to put someone on life support if they don’t want to be on life support, regardless of whether they’re pregnant or not. What an absurd law. The husband has named the dead fetus/baby who was so deformed (I’m assuming because of lack of oxygen, considering the mother was dead when they found her) doctors could barely determine the sex.

Great Matthew Continetti piece on the oblivious liberal elite. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Whatever emotions the article provokes, wherever one stands on the political spectrum, upon closer examination Weisberg’s text becomes a discomfiting ethnography of contemporary meritocracy, an acid test of how power is transacted in America today. Our politicians and celebrities, Democrat and Republican, paint an ideal picture of life where one’s success depends on hard work and initiative bolstered by community; where all Americans begin the race of life on an equal footing, and those who start off disadvantaged should be helped by some agency—whether in government or the private sector—until the contest is a fair one. The assumption is that, with the right institutional mix, one’s natural talents will carry one to the appropriate social station. It is not who you are but what you do that is supposed to count. It is not every day that an article in Vogue magazine exposes the shaky foundations of democracy. But as I read “The Talk of the Town” for the second time I could not help noticing how these attractive, talented, up-and-coming thirty-somethings relied, again and again, on personal connections to get where they are today. Weisberg describes the couple’s success in terms of “personal intensity and random luck.” But the luck here is less random than he thinks. Kass and Wagner were lucky to be born to their parents, and if they have children their sons and daughters will be lucky to be born to them. They are members of a self-perpetuating milieu, a caste of right thinking yuppies whose position and wealth and patterns of consumption are the fruit of personal relationships spanning decades. There is income inequality, for sure, but there is also status inequality, and this latter form of inequality is a topic on which most bourgeois bohemians are silent….“The game is rigged,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) famously told the 2012 Democratic National Convention. What an odd situation in which we find ourselves, where the most influential figures in politics, media, culture, and the academy, the leaders of institutions from the presidency to the Senate to multinational corporations to globally recognized universities, spend most of their time discussing inequalities of income and opportunity, identifying, blaming, and attacking the mysterious and nefarious figures behind whatever the social problem of the day might be. This is the way the clique that runs America justifies the inequalities endemic to “meritocracy,” the way it masks the flaws of a power structure that generates Brown-educated cable hosts and personal chefs who open ballparks with a phone call. This is how a new American aristocracy comes into being, one as entitled and clueless as its predecessors, but without the awareness of itself as a class.

 Read the whole thing.

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Why the SOTU speech is the worst thing ever

It’s strange how the monarchical urge persists even in a republic over two centuries old. Kevin Williamson says it best

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live. It’s the most nauseating display in American public life…When the moment comes and the sergeant-at-arms utters the sacred words — “Mr. Speaker! The president of the United States!” — the chamber will erupt, as though the assembled have entirely forgotten that the mysterious entity that is the object of this curious act of national worship only a decade ago was an obscure legislator in a destitute and corrupt state, a man whose most prominent legislative accomplishment was the passage of a bill requiring police to videotape confessions in potential capital cases — in a state in which there were as a practical matter no potential capital cases. (Illinois had not carried out an execution during the century in which the law was passed and was on its way toward abolishing capital punishment categorically.) But they will listen, rapt, and the media mandarins afterward will evaluate each promise with great sobriety, ignoring entirely that the central promise made during the same charlatan’s first State of the Union address was subsequently labeled “Lie of the Year” by the great man’s own frustrated admirers. That an entire class of people should be so enthusiastic about being lied to, serially, is perplexing….The State of the Union has not always been a grotesque spectacle. George Washington delivered his briefing in person, but he was dealing with a self-respecting Congress that understood itself to be his equal in government. When he wanted the Senate’s advice and consent for an Indian treaty, he visited the chamber personally to seek it — and was so put off by the questioning and debate to which he was subjected that he vowed never to put himself through that again. It was an excellent idea. Thomas Jefferson, ever watchful against monarchical pretensions in the federal apparatus, discontinued the practice of delivering the State of the Union in person before Congress, instead submitting a written report. For a blessed century, Jefferson’s example was followed…It will come as no surprise that the imperial model was reinstated by Woodrow Wilson, Princeton’s answer to Benito Mussolini and the most dangerous man ever elected to the American presidency, a would-be dictator who attempted to criminalize the act of criticizing the state, dismissed the very idea of individual rights as “a lot of nonsense,” and described his vision of the presidency as effectively unlimited …It is to Wilson’s totalitarian tastes that we owe the modern pageant…The State of the Union is only one example of the deepening, terrifying cult of the state that has taken root here. Many heads of state — and some royals, for that matter — fly on commercial aircraft. Presidents of the Swiss federation and members of the federal council receive . . . an unlimited train pass. They have occasional access to a Cessna maintained by the air force, but are known to use mass transit — just like the people they are elected to represent. An American president stages a Roman triumph every time he heads out for a round of golf. The president’s household costs well more than $1 billion annually to operate. The president’s visage is more ubiquitous than was Vladimir Lenin’s in his prime…Whether it’s Barack Obama or some subsequent pathological megalomaniac, Republican or Democrat, the increasingly ceremonial and quasi-religious aspect of the presidency is unseemly. It is profane. It is unbecoming of us as a people, and it has transformed the presidency into an office that can be truly attractive only to men who are unfit to hold it. George Washington showed the world that men do not need a king. We, his heirs, have allowed the coronation of something much worse.

Seriously, click the link and read the whole thing. It’s so great. By the way, fun fact: When the Woodrow Wilson years were mercifully over, Calvin Coolidge, after delivering his first SOTU in person, agreed with Wilson that it made the President “king-like.” Coolidge, thankfully, wished to be anything but a king-like president and re-abolished the speech, delivering the remainder of his SOTU reports in writing and setting an example that was followed by his successor, Herbert Hoover. Guess who was the next to bring the speech back? FDR, of course, and the bloody thing has, with a few exceptions (none based on principle), stayed with us ever since.

Charles C.W. Cooke wrote a similar piece to the above last year:

As Jefferson quickly noticed, the State of the Union speech is, at best, little more than a chance for the citizen-executive to play monarch commanding his parliament (this is how Wilson saw himself), and, at worst, a pointless round of free, adulatory publicity for one branch of the government. The optics are all wrong, rendering Congress a subordinate branch and the president a King. The charade indulges the human desire for pageantry, and that desire is probably insoluble. Nonetheless, trying to dissolve America’s penchant for caesaropapism is a worthy task whether it will be ultimately possible or not, and frustrated advocates of limited government and of the branches of government retaining some sense of equality might note that the State of the Union speech and the Imperial Presidency are inextricably linked. There is already a natural imbalance between the attention that can be paid to diffuse institutions such as the House and the Senate, and the concentrated focus that the executive’s being invested in one person allows. Why make that worse? Those of us who express our opposition are often asked, “Why is it a bad thing to gather the three branches of government together for one night a year?” This, as put, is a reasonable question. But it requires another: “Gather the three branches to what purpose?” This evening, the other two branches will turn up mute, hear the president speak — often belligerently — and then they will leave. It is theater, like “Question Time” in the British House of Commons but without the back-and-forth wit or the right of response. And what of the public? Surely, there is a need for people to be informed? Indeed there is, albeit much less now that technology allows us to survey the political scene in real time. But is there a need for the president to do the informing? In a letter accompanying his 1801 report, Jefferson hoped that his missive would provide “relief from the embarrassment of immediate answers on subjects not yet fully before” Congress. A worthy thing, for sure. But out of date now. When was the last time a president did that at the State of the Union? When was the last time that the State of the Union actually reported on the state of the union? This is a campaign speech — nothing more, and nothing less. The American republic stood between 1801 and 1913, as it did between 1924 and 1932. It stood strong in 1919, 1920, 1946, 1953, 1961, 1973, and 1981, in which years — for various reasons — the reports were given in writing. It will stand if the State of the Union is written once again — and perhaps a little closer to its roots, too.

George F. Will joins in the SOTU hate:

As undignified as it is unedifying and unnecessary, the vulgar State of the Union circus is again at our throats. The document that the Constitutional Convention sent forth from Philadelphia for ratification in 1787 was just 4,543 words long, but this was 17 too many. America would be a sweeter place if the Framers had not included this laconic provision pertaining to the president: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union.”

“Information”? Not exactly. The Constitution’s mild requirement has become a tiresome exercise in political exhibitionism, the most execrable ceremony in the nation’s civic liturgy, regardless of which party’s president is abusing it. You worship bipartisanship? There is not a dime’s worth of difference between the ways the parties try to milk partisan advantage from this made-for-television political pep rally.

Will then delves into all the stupid, worthless policies the President is going to propose because as we all know by now, the SOTU speech is not about the actual state of the union (pretty terrible) but about how the President wishes the union to be. So, expect to hear calls for more government, more “fairness,” blah, blah, blah, everything you’ve heard from this man for the last six years, as inequality and the size of the labor force have gotten worse and worse under his watch. As Jim Antle tweeted this morning…

And as Jonah Goldberg wrote this afternoon, “Tonight we will get the last thing this country wants from Barack Obama: another speech.”

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Filed under History, Politics, The Constitution