State of the Union

The Eternal State of the Union, 2015 Update Edition

What happens when you take one sentence from each SOTU since 1961? You realize how empty American speechmaking has become.

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It never stops. |||

Why does the presidential State of the Union Address sound eerily familiar every year? Because like most symbolic art, the speech has to represent the popular superstitions before attempting, and usually failing, to transcend them.

Any year now, we're gonna save Social Security, wean America off foreign oil, and learn from the powerful if humble example demonstrated by Lenny Skutnik and his many successors. We're going to come together regardless of political party, fix our schools, and build the infrastructure necessary to compete in the 21st century. In short, we're cramming into the same rusty food processor the citizenry's unrealistic demands on the presidency, our political class's overwhelming preference for symbolic politics over governance, and a speechwriters' tradecraft that has deteriorated in recent years from merely awful to actively embarrassing.

Before Barack Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address, I cobbled together an almost-plausible speech taking one sentence from each SOTU since 1961. With a little tweaking, and some updating from the grisly selections since then, here now is the 2015 version of our Eternal State of the Union:

                                                ——

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of the Congress:

This week we begin anew our joint and separate efforts to build the American future. The choices we make, for good or ill, may well shape the state of the Union for generations yet to come. We have a unique opportunity and obligation—to prove the success of our system; to disprove those cynics and critics at home and abroad who question our purpose and our competence.

We do not intend to live in the midst of abundance, isolated from neighbors and nature, confined by blighted cities and bleak suburbs, stunted by a poverty of learning and an emptiness of leisure. I have come here to recommend that you, the representatives of the richest Nation on earth, you, the elected servants of a people who live in abundance unmatched on this globe, you bring the most urgent decencies of life to all of your fellow Americans.

We should strengthen the Head Start program, begin it for children 3 years old, and maintain its educational momentum by following through in the early years. And to give the consumer a stronger voice, I plan to appoint a consumer counsel in the Justice Department—a lawyer for the American consumer—to work directly under the Attorney General, to serve the President's Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs, and to serve the consumers of this land.

Although the struggle for progressive change is continuous, there are times when a watershed is reached—when there is—if not really a break with the past—at least the fulfillment of many of its oldest hopes, and a stepping forth into a new environment, to seek new goals. Clean air, clean water, open spaces—these should once again be the birthright of every American. To achieve this, I will submit an expansionary budget this year–one that will help stimulate the economy and thereby open up new job opportunities for millions of Americans. Industrial production, consumer spending, retail sales, personal income all have been rising. But we must never forget that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without the will to succeed and the strength to sacrifice.

I pledge to you tonight that the full powers of this government will be used to keep America's economy producing and to protect the jobs of America's workers. Let us mobilize the most powerful and most creative industrial nation that ever existed on this Earth to put all our people to work. We must introduce a new balance to our economy—a balance that favors not only sound, active government but also a much more vigorous, healthy economy that can create new jobs and hold down prices. We must revise our tax system both to ease the burden of heavy taxation and to encourage the investment necessary for the creation of productive jobs for all Americans who want to work.

We've come through a long period of turmoil and doubt, but we've once again found our moral course, and with a new spirit, we are striving to express our best instincts to the rest of the world. Americans as a united people, working with our allies and friends, have never been afraid to face problems and to solve problems, either here or abroad. As we meet tonight, it has never been more clear that the state of our Union depends on the state of the world. We must have both the military power and the political will to deter our adversaries and to support our friends and allies. By restoring America's military credibility, by pursuing peace at the negotiating table wherever both sides are willing to sit down in good faith, and by regaining the respect of America's allies and adversaries alike, we have strengthened our country's position as a force for peace and progress in the world.

America's leadership in the world came to us because of our own strength and because of the values which guide us as a society: free elections, a free press, freedom of religious choice, free trade unions, and above all, freedom for the individual and rejection of the arbitrary power of the state. We are just now restoring, through the essential modernization of our conventional and strategic forces, our capability to meet our present and future security needs. And tonight,we declare anew to our fellow citizens of the world: Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God's children.

Closing our eyes will not make reality disappear. And let there be no mistake about American policy: We will not sit idly by if our interests or our friends in the Middle East are threatened, nor will we yield to terrorist blackmail. As the global democratic revolution has put totalitarianism on the defensive, we have left behind the days of retreat.

And so, tonight we must take a strong America and make it even better. Our nation is the enduring dream of every immigrant who ever set foot on these shores, and the millions still struggling to be free. Together, these last 2 years, we've put dollars for child care directly in the hands of parents instead of bureaucracies; unshackled the potential of Americans with disabilities; applied the creativity of the marketplace in the service of the environment, for clean air; and made home ownership possible for more Americans. Further, for the untold number of hard-working, responsible American workers and business men and women who've been forced to go without needed bank loans, the banking credit crunch must end.

It has been too long, at least three decades, since a President has come and challenged Americans to join him on a great national journey, not merely to consume the bounty of today but to invest for a much greater one tomorrow. As we protect our environment, we must invest in the environmental technologies of the future which will create jobs. I want us to cut more spending, but I hope we won't cut government programs that help to prepare us for the new economy, promote responsibility, and are organized from the grassroots up, not by federal bureaucracy.

I challenge every community, every school, and every state to adopt national standards of excellence, to measure whether schools are meeting those standards, to cut bureaucratic red-tape so that schools and teachers have more flexibility for grassroots reform, and to hold them accountable for results. So tonight I issue a call to action: action by this Congress, action by our states, by our people, toprepare America for the 21st century; action to keep our economy and our democracy strong and working for all our people; action to strengthen education and harness the forces of technology and science; action to build stronger families and stronger communities and a safer environment; action to keep America the world's strongest force for peace, freedom, and prosperity; and above all, action to build a more perfect Union here at home. It is a time to build, to build the America within reach, an America where everybody has a chance to get ahead with hard work; where every citizen can live in a safe community; where families are strong, schools are good, and all our young people can go on to college; an America where scientists find cures for diseases from diabetes to Alzheimer's to AIDS; an America where every child can stretch a hand across a keyboard and reach every book ever written, every painting ever painted, every symphony ever composed; where government provides opportunity and citizens honor the responsibility to give something back to their communities; an America which leads the world to new heights of peace and prosperity.

By 2032, the Trust Fund will be exhausted and Social Security will be unable to pay the full benefits older Americans have been promised. Tonight I ask you to work with me to make a bipartisan down payment on Social Security reform by crediting the interest savings from debt reduction to the Social Security Trust Fund so that it will be strong and sound for the next 50 years. We must show courage to confront and resolve tough challenges, to restructure our Nation's defenses, to meet our growing need for energy, and to reform Medicare and Social Security. We must make Social Security financially stable and allow personal retirement accounts for younger workers who choose them.

We can press on with economic growth and reforms in education and Medicare, or we can turn back to old policies and old divisions. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror—or a lot of gray— [laughter]—and we watch our children moving into adulthood, we ask the question: What will be the state of their Union? Will we choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy, or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity? Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on, as long as we're willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done.

The strength—the secret of our strength, the miracle of America is that our greatness lies not in our Government, but in the spirit and determination of our people. I think of Leonard Abess, a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. It's because of this spirit, this great decency and great strength, that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight.

We will move forward together or not at all, for the challenges we face are bigger than party and bigger than politics. From the coalitions we've built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we've led against hunger and disease, from the blows we've dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. So together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our Union is stronger.

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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NEXT: The "number of the beast," hand scanners (to clock in and out), and a $150,000 damages award to employee

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  1. Epically banal.

    Now do it in the style of Tom Friedman!

    1. How? You can’t make a SOTU speech about China.

    2. How could Matt do it in the style of Judge Napolitano?

  2. Six months ago I lost my job and after that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a great website which literally saved me. I started working for them online and in a short time after I’ve started averaging 15k a month… The best thing was that cause I am not that computer savvy all I needed was some basic typing skills and internet access to start… This is where to start???.
    ?????? http://WWW.JOBS-SITES.COM

    1. Was part of your job to write the State of the Union speech?

  3. Sorry bud, you’ll get this useless comment from me, but I will no more read your stew than I would watch the real thing. I don’t understand why anyone watches it, other than politicians, and they probably play poker while it’s on and don’t hear most of it.

  4. I’m depending on you guys to take one for the team, Matt.
    No way in hell am I going to endanger the alignment of the chakras in the Sevo household by listening to that lying bastard spout nonsense.

  5. “The State of the Union is good. There is no reason to believe it will dissolve.

    The State of the federal government, now, that’s something else. And don’t get me started on the State of the Constitution.”

    1. The state of the Constitution is rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed.

      The state of our ability to adhere to it on the other hand…

  6. I’m waiting for the Team Red response to be a guy just laughing his ass off for four minutes at the podium.

    1. That would be great if someone actually had the guts to do something so outlandishly racist.

    2. You mean the Kulaks?

    3. You could easily get four or five minutes of mockery out of the SOTU.

      What do you mean “We do not intend to live in the midst of abundance”? I sure as hell do. And if my “leisure” is “empty”, maybe its because I want it that way. I mean, a guy who plays golf, calling out “empty leisure”? Seriously?

      1. Other people’s leisure is what’s empty. My leisure, and that of my friends and family, is well-earned and necessary.

    4. Then when would they get to make their pointless populist speech?

  7. You know who else made empty speeches…

    1. Well, not Hitler so… I got nothin’

    2. Mike McCarthy?

    3. Bill Gates?

  8. empty promises

    afflict the comfortable

    kabuki lap dance

    1. [Makes note to google “kabuki lap dance] on home computer.]

      1. It means it’s actually a dude, I think.

  9. I’m pretty sure Jimmy Carter was President the last time I last made even the vaguest pretense of listening to a SOTU address.

  10. Welch, I’m not sure whether you are inspired, or need to be involuntarily committed.

  11. OT: Apparently even domesticated animals cannot stand him…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..story.html

    1. Over Christmas, the McAuliffe family traveled to Africa to visit one of the governor’s daughters, who is working at a nonprofit there. The family later went on a safari, which is where the horseback riding accident happened.

      I lol’ed.

  12. I pledge to you tonight that the full powers of this government will be used to keep America’s economy producing and to protect the jobs of America’s workers. Let us mobilize the most powerful and most creative industrial nation that ever existed on this Earth to put all our people to work. We must introduce a new balance to our economy?a balance that favors not only sound, active government but also a much more vigorous, healthy economy that can create new jobs and hold down prices. We must revise our tax system both to ease the burden of heavy taxation and to encourage the investment necessary for the creation of productive jobs for all Americans who want to work.

    Millions of people believe the President can really do this.

    I need a drink.

    1. YOU JUST CREATED A JERB FOR THE BEVERAGE INDUSTRY!!!!!

    2. People seem to believe that government has some magical powers when it comes to the economy, when in fact the government has only one tool: force.

      Government can use force to take money from some and give it to others.

      Government can use force to demand that if something is to be done, then it is to be done the government way.

      Or government can use force to demand that something not be done at all.

      That’s it. Government can redistribute money while ignoring opportunity cost, employ idiots to force the experts to do their job as the idiot demands, or employ idiots to tell people not to do anything at all.

      None of that is a benefit to the economy.

    3. “Millions of people believe the President can really do this.”

      Much of it he could accomplish. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a clue how, nor would he be even slightly inclined to do so if he did.

  13. Hey you guys I have found the perfect job as a full time student, it has changed my life around! If you are self motivated and social media savvy then this is ideal for you. The sky is the limit, you get exactly how much work you put into to it. Click on this link to get started and see for yourself,
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  14. I sometimes think the last president who was able to make a speech that didn’t fertilize the nearest five acres was Lincoln.

    And we shot him.

    1. This is a joke, right?

      1. maybe he’s referring to his namesake….

    2. but not soon enough

      1. I’m not persuaded that any Confederate with the sense God gave a Chihuahua would have attempted to assassinate Lincoln. Killing Lincoln would have been an act of cultural suicide if not for Grant. As it was it was a near run thing.

        But for a Northerner who wanted to really GRIND the South?

  15. “The state of the Union is good. But there is much work left to do. And even though our economy is roaring back like a Led Zeppelin reunion tour, we must ensure that the rich (I’m looking at YOU, Jimmy Page) pay their fair share so that all Americans — ALL Americans — can rightfully enjoy their share of the American dream.”

  16. And we shot him.

    Whaddaya mean, we, white man?

    1. “Who killed the Kennedys Lincoln?” When after all. It was you and me.

      1. Hey, I wasn’t even there, man!

      2. The Dead Kennedys? What’s the hassle, man? Are you “Too drunk to fuck?”.

  17. Six months ago I lost my job and after that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a great website which literally saved me. I started working for them online and in a short time after I’ve started averaging 15k a month… The best thing was that cause I am not that computer savvy all I needed was some basic typing skills and internet access to start… This is where to start???.
    ?????? http://WWW.JOBS-MILL.COM

  18. “We’re fucked.” Would about sum things up.

  19. Meanwhile, the NGO parasites are looking out for the poorest among us:

    Economic inequality is set to reach a worrying tipping point next year, when the richest 1 percent will control more than half of the world’s wealth.

    ———–

    “Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost-free option — failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam and a co-chair at this year’s Davos gathering , in a statement. “The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality. They get a smaller share of the economic pie and, because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

    The world’s growing inequality isn’t only morally wrong, but threatens to undermine global economic growth, Oxfam said. That echoes concerns raised by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s last year, which warned that the income gap in the U.S. was approaching an “extreme” threshold that would dampen long-term economic growth.

    I’m sure Oxfam has a solution involving subscriptions to their (very costly) newsletter.

    1. And probably some transfers from said rich people to…Oxfam or Oxfam approved recipients.

    2. “The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality. They get a smaller share of the economic pie and, because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

      Saw that earlier on Drudge. Like how they built a zero sum into their primary argument, then slid it into ‘hurting growth” into the second half.

      The fact that nearly a billion Indians and Chinese have come out of poverty due to their governments’ abandoning ‘economic equality’ as an organizing principle over the last two decades completely escapes Oxfam.

    3. …when the richest 1 percent will control more than half of the world’s wealth.

      This statement needs clarification. When they say “the richest 1 percent”, what do they mean? 1 percent of what? 1 percent of the population of the world? 1 percent of the rich? 1 percent of legal persons? 1 percent of natural persons? What are the qualifications to be rich? And how much more over half of the world’s wealth will this 1 percent control? 51%? 75%? 99.9999999%?

      Vague fear-mongering is vague.

      1. More importantly, how do they get that information? Seems like it would be a hard thing to figure out given how much of the worlds economy is underground or informal.

        And even more importantly, why is that something to be alarmed about? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But I never hear the case for why it is something to fear.

        1. Start off with economic fallacies like the zero-sum game and the conflation of wealth with money, add a few dashes of emotion at the unfairness of it all, and viola you’ve got a demand for government violence to fix it!

          1. economic fallacies like the zero-sum game and the conflation of wealth with money

            That is the root of most of this sort of idiocy. And, as you like so much to point out, emoting over reasoning.

            The thing that frustrates me the most is that a lot of people are capable of understanding that the economy is not a zero sum game and that some people being rich is not the major cause of other people being poor. Yet they still always fall back to stupid crap like taxing the rich exorbitantly out of some weird idea of fairness or acting like inequality necessarily means that the poor are worse off.

    4. Populists thrive on economic fallacies.

    5. Economic inequality is set to reach a worrying tipping point next year, when the richest 1 percent will control more than half of the world’s wealth.

      How the fuck is that any kind of a tipping point? What major change happens when we cross that line? It’s not a fucking tipping point. It’s an arbitrary number that has psychological resonance for silly and ignorant people.

      These people are just making shit up. They just pretend that more inequality means that there is more poverty, which as far as I know is really the opposite of the truth in a lot of the poorest places.

    6. They get a smaller share of the economic pie and, because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.

      Am I the only one who sees a contradiction between these two clauses?

    7. That echoes concerns raised by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s last year, which warned that the income gap in the U.S. was approaching an “extreme” threshold that would dampen long-term economic growth.

      Do these people ever explain how a widening income gap, by itself, reduces economic growth? There is nothing self-evident about the claim.

      1. Do these people ever explain how a widening income gap, by itself, reduces economic growth? There is nothing self-evident about the claim.

        If you look across the globe from poorest to richest nations, income inequality has a weak negative correlation with growth, simply because third world shitholes are full of rich elites and very poor peasants. If you look at developed nations, the correlation pretty much disappears.

        Because the correlation disappears, progressives who accept the data then argue that low inequality doesn’t seem to hurt economic growth, so we might as well produce low inequality.

        However, the data itself is suspect because income inequality isn’t wealth inequality, and income inequality is measured very differently in the US and Europe. If you measure things correctly, it seems that for developed nations, higher inequality correlates with faster growth, and that means faster growth for everybody.

    8. “The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality. They get a smaller share of the economic pie”

      Yes, because we all know by now that the pie is finite.

      No room is set aside for more pie. Perish the thought that it might be otherwise.

  20. And-

    Growing economic inequality around the world isn’t inevitable, Oxfam said. Through policy steps and corporate initiatives, the 99 percent can gain social mobility, an increasing share of wealth, and a better standard of living. Among other steps to reduce inequality, the group recommends shifting the tax burden away from consumption (such as sales tax) and toward wealth (such as capital gains tax); increasing minimum wages; and promoting women’s economic equality and rights.

    EAT THE RICH!

    1. and the way the 99% can do all of these things is called free-market capitalism. Ironically, that is the last approach the Oxfam crowd wants to consider.

    2. Let’s see here. The way to improve the lives of poor people is to tax the production of wealth, make it a crime for inexperienced people to sell their labor for less than an experienced person’s wage, and pass legislation that will make employers less willing to hire women out of fear of being sued.

      What could possibly go wrong?

      1. It’s like they take a 19th century Dickensian view of the poor. They are poor and ignorant by nature and the best that the elites can do for them is make sure they don’t starve and can find some amusement in life.

        1. I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest difference between a poor person and a wealthy person is mindset. Someone who spends all their income will never get wealthy. Whereas someone who doesn’t will become wealthy over time.
          That’s why many lottery winners and celebrities are left destitute after they spend all their cash, while some of meager means manage sock enough away to comfortably retire.

          1. That seems to be a lot of it. And as far as I can see, the patronizing crap from the left only further entrenches that mindset.

    3. Growing economic inequality around the world isn’t inevitable, Oxfam said.

      Of course not! Instituting a global communist or fascist totalitarian regime would instantly get rid of inequality: we’d all be dirt poor, but at least we’d be equally dirt poor.

  21. What could possibly go wrong?

    Some evil economic innovator might still find a way to turn a profit!

  22. Economic inequality is set to reach a worrying tipping point next year, when the richest 1 percent will control more than half of the world’s

    1. “THEIR wealth”

  23. Alternative alt-text

    The one who smelt it, dealt it…

  24. my roomate’s step-mother makes $67 /hour on the internet . She has been fired for 10 months but last month her pay was $17540 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit here….

    http://www.Jobsyelp.com

    1. If all of us reading these threads took a moment to send a fake response to these assholes we could troll them out of existence.

  25. Jumpin Jack Flash is not going to like that at all man.

    http://www.BestAnon.tk

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    Plz don’t include word OK

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  29. My friend’s mother makes $61 an hour on the internet . She has been without a job for ten months but last month her pay was $15622 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    over here. ???????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  30. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did
    ?????? http://www.paygazette.com

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