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Yesterday heralded President Obama’s third State of the Union address and the umpteenth pub trivia night at McCue’s. When I realized I could only do one or t’other, it was with ephemeral sadness that I chose the latter form of mental stimulation over the former. In the event my half-strong team did not place, but I did beat my teammate in a best of seven billiards match, so not all was lost.

But tonight, almost exactly twenty-four hours later after the original broadcast, I am watching the White House’s own ‘enhanced’ version of the SOTU, which I shall embed below.

Now I click play, and…

(0:10) Already I am annoyed by the info pane because it crops the live feed–how am I to be immersed in this experience without cinematic widescreen?

(2:30) Ah, now info pane is telling me SOTU facts. Calvin Coolidge first one to deliver on radio, Harry Truman first on television. JFK first on lots of painkillers.

(4:30) Obama reaches the podium and shakes the hand of new Speaker of the House John Böhner. Don’t know the German derivation of the name, but bohner means floor polisher and may hold the secret to John’s silky bronze complexion.

(5:30) “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much,” says Obama with piercing sincerity and enthusiasm.

(6:15) The 112th Congress not only has no problem applauding itself, but also stands while doing so.

(8:25) That we believe the dreams of our children should be fulfilled sets us apart as a nation.

(10:20) “Poised” “party” “progress” “politics.” I wish info pane informed us that President Obama is currently using a rhetorical technique known as alliteration.

(10: 25) Instead I get a graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

(11:27) The child is super stoked about the payroll tax cut.

(12: 00) The recession has a back, and that back has been broken.

(14:30) Obama: Hey other world economies! You may bully us, but at the end of the day we’re still bigger than you!

(16:00) The key to “winning the future” is to “out-innovate” “out-educate” and “out-build” the rest of the planet. First thing we’re gonna build? This t-shirt.

(16:10) As everyone applauds Obama’s bold three-pronged plan for world domination, info pane displays a picture of him at Google a growing small business a General Motors factory.

(18:20) As Obama talks of Sputnik, info pane displays a corresponding 1957 headline. Somewhere out there, a West Wing intern is beaming at the fruit of his NYT historical archive web search.

(21:30) It turns out subsidizing energy production wasn’t so wise before, but let’s not have that stop us from giving it another go, eh?

(24:00) I’m more nerd than jock, but winning the science fair is not as impressive as winning the Super Bowl no matter what my president says.

(26:00) Apparently there are rival gangs in Denver…? No help from info pane.

(26:40) My half-Korean girlfriend is about to start a two-year stint as a pre-k teacher, so all of you can now join me in referring to her as a “nation-builder.”

Nation Builder

(26:45) And trust me, Mr. President, she’s gonna out nation build them all.

(36:15) Broaden the base and lower the rate for more efficient taxation. Innovative policy proposals straight from Econ 302.

(37:15) Remember, the key to prosperity is exports, because the money you earn from selling stuff allows you to buy more stuff you can sell, earning you more money to buy more stuff to sell.

(37:45) Obama has ordered a review of “government regahlayshuns”. Heh.

(39:45) Helping out small business bookkeepers gets an standing ovation. More frequent Quickbooks updates forthwith!

(40:00) Enthusiastic applause for belt-tightening quickly dies when Congress realizes Obama is serious.

(43:00) It appears the generals were not informed of the tens of billion of cuts to which the Secretary of Defense agreed.

(43:30) Obama flubs an already lame analogy about an airplane without an engine, and the chamber patronizes with polite laughter.

(49:00) “Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with the click of the mouse and the help of an exasperated grandchild.”

(53:00) How refreshing finally to get to a discussion of foreign policy and how al Qeada and their affiliates continue to plan ways to kill us.

(58:30) We stand for the democratic aspirations of the people of Tatooine, er, Tunisia. Tunisia’s the real place, right?

(1:02:30) Obama spouts off a ‘USA #1’ line but misses the perfect opportunity thereafter to strap on an electric guitar and thrash out a face melting riff while bald eagles swoop down from the rafters with red white and blue ticker tape streaming from their talons. Next time.

(1:07:00) Took over an hour, but we finally get to the point: “The state of our union is strong.” Phew.

 

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Timezones and other constraints conspired to prevent me from watching yesterday’s State of the Union address, so today I downloaded a CBS broadcast of the event. Now I will watch and blog:

(0:00) CBS got Morgan Freeman to do the introductory voice-over, I wonder where that places in his chain of command.

(0:01) The parade of the bureaucrats is underway!

(0:01) Hey, there’s Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary. I love her ice cream.

(0:01) And it’s the always boxy Rahm Emmanuel; if my German and Bible classes aren’t failing me, his name means “Frame God with Us.”

(0:02) Michelle Obama towers over the wee police officers beside her. Can’t wait to find out what politically useful act of heroism they performed!

(0:06) Madame Speaker, the people’s highest ranking public servant!

(0:07) I wonder how they decide the order of who trails Obama. I like to think it’s shirtless boxing, Marquess of Queensberry style.

(0:08) After many handshakes, Obama goes in for several hugs like the teddy bear he is.

(0:10) Ahhh, the traditional handing off to Joe Biden of the manila folder containing compromising photos of the VP. Stay in line, Joe!

(0:12) Obama informs us of the history of the SOTU. But did you know that for most of the presidency, a report was submitted to Congress with no speech? I did, because I once wrote a sixth-grade history report on Woodrow Wilson.

(0:13) One in ten Americans can’t find a job? Is this the beginning of the rumored reversal of America’s depraved child labor laws!?!

(0:14) Obama finds it especially hard to read the letters from children, perhaps because they’re scrawled in crayon and rife with spelling errors.

(0:16) Americans share everything, from a desire to find a job that pays the bills to giving their children a better life. Legos, too. And Lincoln Logs.

(0:17) Obama has hope for America; the Democrats immediately stand and applaud while the Republicans sit for a few seconds longer to consider whether this position is congruous with conservatism.

(0:17) Biden anticipates a brief clap just a few seconds too early and flashes his weird sideways smile.

(0:18) The bank bailouts were “about as popular as a root canal.” Once again, Obama shows no tact with the dental lobby.

(0:20) Terror: George W. Bush :: Banking : Obama

(0:22) Obama cites an unknowable counter-factual as truth.

(0:23) Obama cites the success of a window manufacturer as evidence of the success of the stimulus. Somewhere far away, Frédéric Bastiat breaks a window.

(0:25) Man, how can Obama list all these small towns off the cuff like that!

(0:27) And you get a tax break! And you get a tax break! Oh boy, is there something taped underneath the seats? EEEEEE!!!!

(0:28) There’s no reason Europe or China should have faster trains, or cooler factories, or older buildings, or more beautiful women…

(0:28) Obama says it time to stop shipping jobs overseas to poorer people who make products Americans value for cheaper. Hip hip, hooray!

(0:32) I’m not sure what the competition is, but I’m now assured we’re not content with second place.

(0:35) The chamber is one big nuclear family.

(0:37) Clean energy is such a ginormous investment opportunity that whoever leads it will lead the global economy. This is why we must lure people into it with tax dollars or otherwise they won’t invest. Get it?

(0:39) In lieu of snark, I’ll let 1994 Paul Krugman explain why talking about economic policy in terms of national competitiveness is silly.

(0:40) Best anti-poverty measure is an education? Looks like someone’s never played Power Ball.

(0:43) Obama calls houses an investment, which is true if one takes a generalist view where autumn leaves could be considered a salad.

(0:45) Michelle Obama gets a standing ovation for “starting a national movement.”

(0:50) Yep, the American government is just like any ol’ American household. It has to stick to a budget, otherwise it’ll have to print money or collect it from others by dispatching people with guns.

(0:58) With his view of corporations and free speech, Obama clearly takes a Platonic view of rhetoric. Yep.

(1:10) “We will bring 44 nations together to secure all nuclear material within fours years so that they never fall into the hands or underpants of terrorists.”

(1:12) As Obama announces his plan to reverse the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the generals sit rigid, hands clutched near their crotches.

(1:14) Obama will support equal pay for women, and will provide paternity leave to men as they carry their mutant babies to term.

(1:16) Obama invokes George Michael (the singer, not the Bluth).

(1:16) “Democracy in a country of 300 million people can be noisy, and messy, and complicated, and frankly, it sucks!”

(1:19) Sadly, it’s now widely reported that the $8 a boy gave Obama to give to Haiti was instead spent on a Hatian corn pudding snack for the President.

(1:20) And now that God has been asked to bless us and America (just to be safe), the SOTU has ended, the fifth longest in 40-odd years.

And with that, I’m exhausted. Good night!

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***End of Liveblogging***

(10:30) Plumber Joe’s last name is Wurzelbacher, which in German means something like “root-creek.” Once again, you’re welcome.

(10:28) McCain talks of mortgaging our children’s futures as if it were a bad thing–but can’t the government then buy them up and sell them later for a profit?

(10:27) McCain actually snorted as he chortled at his own stupid comment.

(10:25) Obama & McCain to D.C. Schools: You suck!

(10:15) I’d like the candidates to name something that’s not an issue of national security.

(10:08) Both candidates would refuse to apply a litmus test to Supreme Court nominees, ignoring the deep social impact of landmark cases like Acid v Alkaline.

(10:05) Ten bucks says every news agency is scrambling to track down Plumber Joe right now and see what he thinks of all this.

(10:01) It says something that even as one of America’s millions of uninsured I am remarkably bored by this portion of the debate. Maybe I should get my head checked….OH WAIT!

(9:59) Plumber Joe is invoked yet again. I begin to wonder what else is on…

(9:52) Obama’s never been south of the border, says McCain. Cindy McCain shudders visibly.

(9:47) McCain says that nuclear energy works for naval ships, so why not for domestic homes? I like his logic here, because I’ve long thought homes would benefit from breech-loading 16 inch Mark 7 naval guns and a poop deck.

(9:44) Obama damns Palin by calling her a capable politician.

(9:39) Barack Obama associates with Bill Ayers, an old domestic  terrorist. But as I recall, John McCain spent over five years fraternizing with communists in the 60s and 70s–talk about calling the kettle black!

(9:37) Obama channels General McAuliffe: “ACORN? Nuts!”

(9:33) McCain refuses to mention how inappropriate some of Obama’s supporters’ T-shirts have been at rallies. He also is staunch in his refusal not to point out Obama has a stupid fat face.

(9:30) Comrade Commissar–both candidates have red stars clearly visible on the backdrop behind them! Something tells me this is Hank Paulson’s doing.

(9:23) McCain has scars to prove how he handles disagreement. Cindy McCain shudders visibly .

(9:19) Do we need hatchets or scalpels? I say sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads! Also I’m slowing descending into madness…

(9:15) Obama just promised that the toxic assets the US government is about to buy from distressed banks will actually yield a profit in the long-term. Let us hope that fortune does indeed favor the bold.

(9:07) McCain proves decisively that he, unlike Obama, cares for plumbers named Joe.

(9:03) McCain deigns to use his opening remark for alerting us once again to the malady of some well-known person.

(8:56) I’ve just noticed that the setup for tonight’s debate has the two candidates sitting, as if co-anchors, across a desk from one another. I hope the candidates take time to reflect on the potential political payoffs in leaping across the divide at some appropriate point in the debate and attempting to throttle the other person while splayed across the desk. Or, if they are not considering it for political payoff, to consider doing it for me, who would enjoy seeing this particular manifestation of my imagination occur very much.

(8:38) And Frank Fahrenkopf, who is the Co-Chairman of the Commission of Presidential Debates and is speaking right now on CSPAN, has a surname that means “driving-head” in German. These two etymological facts will, by the way, represent the greatest increase in your knowledge this entire evening, and you’re welcome.

(8:32) Tonight’s moderator is veteran newsman Bob Schieffer, whose last name in German means “shale” or “slate.”

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Well, three of these debates are now behind me. I hope the creative juices keep flowing for the last one. Thanks to all those who stopped by–I’m pretty sure it’s been a record breaking night for this humble blog.

***End of Liveblogging***

(10:34) Two grandstanding politicians get in the way of  someone while he’s trying to do his job. If that’s not a perfect metaphor for this whole shebang, I don’t know what is.

(10:28) The candidates are asked what they don’t know–and here I thought Brokaw was trying to be a stickler for time.

(10:22) Obama says we have to provide support for those in Poland, Croatia, and Estonia. I understand the mention of Croats and Estonians, but isn’t it the very function of a Pole to provide support?

(10:18) McCain calls for the doubling of the Afghan army. I’m not sure he’s aware of the huge mobilization of quilters this will require.

(10:15) McCain refuses to “telegraph his punches,” apparently unaware of advances in communication technology in the past century. To his credit, he used to talk of “pony expressin'” his punches.

(10:13) That’s an awful lot of talk about sticks, boys.

(10:09) Obama says we can’t coddle dictators. This modifies earlier American foreign policy which specified only the occasional burping of dictators.

(10:06) The first time McCain said I was one his his friends, I was flattered. But the frequency of his utterance of “my friends” is making me begin to doubt the sincerity of its use, and I am deeply, deeply hurt.

(10:00) McCain punctuates his first response on foreign police by gravely criticizing the naiveté of Obama and pointing dramatically at the questioner. I swear I thought he was going to drop the mic at Obama’s feet, too.

(9:56) Obama says children are cheap to insure.You heard it here first.

(9:54) McCain argues that borders shouldn’t matter for health insurance. Let’s see if borders begin to matter for immigrant labor.

(9:50) It’s hard to see how health care can be commoditized, as the questioner states. Health insurance, on the other hand…

(9:48) McCain cackles with glee as he demonstrates his disagreement with many Republican policies as Obama gazes into the distance.

(9:44) While McCain talks about the safety of nuclear waste, the camera must quickly cut away as a dog with three tails scampers across the stage.

(9:41) MCain scoffs at Obama’s sidestepping the entitlements question while sidestepping the entitlements question.

(9:35) Obama’s policies may resemble Herbert Hoover’s according to John McCain, but John McCain definitely resembles Herbert Hoover.

(9:29) McCain calls for a spending freeze on everything except defense, except veteran’s affairs, and except a few other “vital things.” Gosh,  with a freeze that deep we needn’t worry about climate change anymore.

(9:25) Obama equates the effort for energy independence with the space race. He fails to mention that politicians have been promising energy independence since before NASA faked the moon landing in an Arizona sound stage.

(9:23) McCain is speaking quite breathily. I believe the Old Testament describes this as speaking “as an harlot.”

(9:21) The questioner asks the candidates how they can be trusted when both parties have failed so miserably; McCain responds by asserting his bipartisanship.

(9:17) Brokaw asks McCain to give his assessment of the economy’s future “in all candor.” I nearly choke on my spoonful of Dippin’ Dots.

(9:15) Obama was so distraught about the consequences of the coming credit crisis that he wrote several letters! He even licked the stamps emphatically!

(9:10) McCain gets uncomfortably close to Oliver, the second questioner, as he coos about the cupidity of Wall Street.

(9:08) McCain floats Warren Buffett or Meg Whitman as the next treasury secretary. I wonder about the incentives a corporate CEO might have in a bailout such as we’re seeing.

(9:07) Both candidates demonstrate a remarkable ability to remember the first questioner’s name.

(9:06) McCain is glad finally to see Obama at a town hall meeting. That subtle jab did not escape this discerning viewer!

(9:02) Brokaw informs us that the questions he selected were approved by no one but himself. Still, Tom knows in his heart he always has my approval.

(8:55) A commentator notes that the questions for tonight’s debate were submitted “by the internet.” In other news, the world is rioting with the realization that the singularity is finally upon us.

(8:50) I’m looking forward to the new “town hall” format, even if all the questions were handpicked by Brokaw, tonight’s moderator, and will be asked (read:recited aloud) by carefully screened voters whose mics will be cut off as soon as the question is finished and whose reactions will not appear on camera. So democratic!

(8:35) Seeing as it worked so well last time, I’m going to be liveblogging the debate while watching a streaming internet feed. I will be further burnishing my credentials as a 21st century denizen by consuming Dippin’ Dots, ice cream of the future, during the broadcast.

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Wow, checking the stats reveals I actually had a few readers staying with me during large portions of the debate. Do let me know what you thought.

***End of Debate Blogging***

(10:33) Palin and Biden are still miked even after the debate, letting us hear the various obligatory pleasantries. I need to keep this in mind for the next two debates…

(10:30) Palin uses a novel tactic in her final statement: recite a speech by someone else. I would have preferred Hamlet’s soliloquy.

(10:26) Palin has never changed her mind.

(10:25) Biden forthrightly splits an infinitive.

(10:17) Biden’s weakness is said to be that he lacks discipline. I’m confused, as he’s too old to have been in Detective Kimble’s class in Kindergarten Cop.

(10:11) Biden says he spends a lot of time in Home Depot, and in that way he and I have nothing in common.

(10:08) Palin’s folksy gee-whiz demeanor just doesn’t work when discussing foreign policy and a financial crisis.

(10:05) Alaska’s state-run investment fund had and may still have investments in Sudan? Note to self: never retire in Alaska.

(10:03) Biden “has no stomach for genocide.” He will no doubt lose scores of allies with this brazen declaration.

(9:56) After being asked about nuclear weapon proliferation, Palin needs a few moments to find the section in her notes labeled “What To Say When Asked About Nuclear Proliferation.”

(9:51) Biden says that McCain refuses to heed the repeated call of others to sit down. He also continues to soil the carpet and dig holes all over the yard.

(9:48) It appears Bush’s pronunciation of the word “nuclear” has found its way into Palin’s dictionary.

(9:44) Biden says McCain voted against a bill funding the troops “because there was a timeline in it”. Biden goes on to say that perhaps if they had included some of Crichton’s better works, like Sphere or Jurassic Park, McCain’s vote would have been different.

(9:38) Both Biden and Palin think the government should continue to write marriage contracts. No word yet if they believe the government should begin authoring prenups and divorce agreements.

(9:30) Palin wants us to become energy independent because we can produce oil here. I pray the ghost of David Ricardo haunts her this eve and lectures her on wine and cloth.

(9:26) Palin has used the phrase “greed and corruption” to describe Wall Street about nine bigillion times.

(9:24) Palin is preaching an odd mix of populism and small government conservatism.

(9:22) One minute later, he struggles to conjugate the verb “to characterize” and the fuse fizzles.

(9:21) Oooh! Oooh! Biden somehow uses McCain’s healthcare plan to bring up the infamous Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere.” Boom goes the dynamite!

(9:17) Palin has a ream of notes to which she refers quite often. In the words of Shania Twain, “That don’t impress me much.”

(9:12) Biden wouldn’t let Wall Street “go wild” like John McCain. But what about the substantial revenues derived from such VHS classics as “Wall Street Does Mardi Gras?”

(9:08) Palin gushes that she joined a team of mavericks. No word yet if there are any geese or ice men on the roster.

(9:06) Be still my beating heart, Palin gets through the opening statement without providing SNL with its opening sketch for a third week in a row.

(9:00) I don’t know if it was audible to TV audiences, but as Palin was shaking hands with Biden she asked him if she could call him “Joe.” I didn’t hear his response very well, but I believe he responded “Only if I can call you hotcakes.”

(8:55) Gwen Ifill, the moderator, comes out in crutches and assures the audience that it’s because she fell, not because she was pushed. Some sites are reporting that she may have been blinking a Morse code message for help during this statement, however. More as it develops…

(8:50) I don’t have my laptop today, so I’m forced to do this on my desktop PC while watching the debate streaming online. The DVR is running as backup downstairs.

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After about 15 minutes watching the debate alone and talking to myself, I decided to grab my laptop and blog my outbursts. Enjoy.

  • (10:37) And the debate ends with the ceremonial presentation of the wives.
  • (10:29) The world will no doubt react with shock when hearing of Obama’s reassertion that America is the greatest country.
  • 10:27) Obama outlines America’s current vulnerabilities as terrorists double-check that the Tivo is in fact recording.
  • (10:24) When will someone make these pumps less painful–the heels are killing me!
  • (10:18) Unlike Jason Bourne, whose eyes were gray and aided his ability to perform missions incognito, Putin has KGB written in his eyes, which plagued him his entire career.
  • (10:15) Judging by the occasional laughter, it would seem the audience favors McCain.
  • (10:09) After Obama claims that Henry Kissinger believes in direct diplomacy, McCain scribbles a note reminding himself to kill Henry Kissinger.
  • (10:08) McCain thinks negotiating with Iran without preconditions is evil and dangerous. Replace “negotiating with Iran” with “going on a blind date” and we are in full agreement.
  • (10:04) McCain says he’d like to form a “League of Democracies” and impose sanctions on Iran’s economy, which he describes as already being “lousy.” Take that, poor people of Iran!
  • (10:00) Two candidates for the Presidency of the United States compare bracelets.
  • (9:55) Tomato, tomahto. Potato, Potahto. Pakistan, Pahkistan. Ah, chocolate strawberry!
  • (9:53) McCain soberly recounts the “lessons of history” learned from Charlie Wilson’s War.
  • (9:52) How can something as innocent-sounding as “poppies” be such a critical national security issue? Soon we’ll be hearing of the need to take down rogue snozzberry growers.
  • (9:44) McCain looks petty by ignoring Obama whenever he appeases Lehrer and tries to address McCain personally.
  • (9:42) Perhaps it’s the angle of the podiums or the cameras, but whenever the candidates are shown side by side in split-screen, they’re always facing a quarter turn away from each other, as if each were afraid the other might copy his notes.
  • (9:37) Obama said “orgy” in a presidential debate. Can he do that?
  • (9:35) McCain: He got plans, too.
  • (9:25) Obama’s plan will have cars being built in Ohio and Michigan, ignoring the fact that nobody likes cars built in Ohio and Michigan.
  • (9:22) English professors everywhere sit in awe as McCain uses correctly the verb “festoon.”
  • (9:20) McCain looks sheepish when Obama notes correctly that although corporate tax rates are high in the US, effective corporate tax rates are quite lower.
  • (9:16) McCain tells us that he was known in the Senate as “The Sheriff,” not “Miss Congeniality.” Checking his Senate bio reveals he was also nominated for the title of “Prince Pugnacious Pants” two years in a row.
  • (9:13) McCain assures us that he has a pen, enraging the pencil lobby.
  • (9:12) McCain says America is the “greatest exporter.” Well, Germany is the largest exporter, but I guess their exports are just good, not great.
  • (9:10) Lehrer’s fixation on getting the candidates to address each other reminds me of a marriage counseling session: “Now, tell him what you just told me.”
  • (9:09) Both candidates saw the credit crisis coming. I trust that since they did not use this prescience to prevent this crisis, they at least made millions shorting the market.
  • (9:08) McCain, when asked if he will vote for the bailout plan, says “I hope so,” and then when Lehrer presses him further, says “sure…sure.” Well count my confidence as inspired!
  • (9:05) McCain opens his remarks by thanking “Jim and everybody,” mentioning Ted Kennedy is in the hospital, and thanking the University of Mississippi for hosting. Odd juxtaposition.
  • (9:04) Alert squabbling economists, for the debate is over: George Bush caused the credit crisis.
  • (9:02) Obama says that all the attention on the crisis has been focused on Wall Street, not Main Street. I don’t live on either street so–oh, it’s the metonymy stupid!
  • (9:01) Obama grabs McCain’s forearm in the opening handshake, asserting his dominance.  Dog trainers everywhere agree that this will best for both in the long run.

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