Live-Blogging the 2018 State of the Union Address

10:18 pm: Trump tells us it was important for him to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The Liberal Ironist is having a hard time unseeing a common theme of racial conquest in so many passages of this speech.

10:15 pm: Why is the maintenance of a terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba such a source of concern for either party?  Do Republicans really think that suspected terrorists can’t be as securely held or as effectively interrogated anywhere else?  Do Democrats really think that detainees will only have their rights at risk in military confinement at Guantanamo Bay, or that a detention facility there can’t be well-run or legitimate?

10:07 pm: Trump Russia and China competitors that challenge our values (as surprisingly measured a criticism of China as it is frank about Russia).  Trump calls for ending sequestration’s caps on Defense spending.  Congress certainly should end the spending caps on Defense, but it should end the spending caps on non-defense Federal programs as well; they wouldn’t raise Federal spending much, and Trump has never really contended with what so many of those artificially-constrained programs do for Americans.

10:03 pm: Trump talks about opiate addiction.  His most-animated line, of course, is for punishing drug dealers–as if this were a new or controversial approach.  There isn’t discussion of much else, given Trump’s voiced certitude that we can fix the opiate-abuse epidemic.  Trump can make the Liberal Ironist miss even George W. Bush.

10:00 pm: Trump calls-out “chain migration” to the United States for special criticism, saying that immigrants shouldn’t be able to sponsor anyone outside of their nuclear family for lawful immigration to the United States: Boos from the chamber.  I don’t think Trump’s immigration “compromise” has good prospects in either chamber of Congress.

9:58 pm: Trump proffers his “compromise” immigration proposal that was recently estimated to propose reducing legal immigration to the United States by as much as 44% on a yearly basis; Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) frowns and shakes her head.

9:55 pm: Trump acknowledges ICE Agent Celestino Martinez for his role in anti-gang operations.  Trump affirms ICE’s work in deporting “thousands and thousands and thousands” of gang members.

I guess no one has succeeded in explaining to Trump that deported gang members reenter the United States easily (and no, they don’t have to walk across the Southern Border to reenter the country unnoticed).

9:48 pm: Trump gets boos (as he should) for decrying illegal immigration by focusing on a pair of minors murdered by MS-13 gang members.  (I guess Trump thinks that American minors have never been killed by gang members who were native-born Americans, which would be an odd belief.)

9:47 pm: Trump gives his support to paid family leave.  Here’s a rare example of a simple proposal that Trump hasn’t found a way to completely ruin yet.

9:46 pm: Trump promises a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.  He doesn’t say that the Federal Government is only going to put-up $200 billion for this plan, and that…someone else is supposed to pay the other $1.3 trillion for new infrastructure construction.  I won’t spare more words on such hooey; show us the money.

We want the money, Lebowski!

9:44 pm: Trump laments, as he should, that it can take 10 years to approve the building of a road in America today.


9:42 pm: Trump promises to lower prescription drug prices in the United States.  No discussion of how it would be done; Congress is going to figure it out.

9:38 pm: Trump approaches a few favorable siting decisions by manufacturers, including auto manufacturers, in the South and the Midwest as evidence that the trend  towards deindustrialization in the American heartland is being reversed.  Does this mean that Wal*Mart’s decision to close 63 Sam’s Club stores is ravaging American retail employment?

9:33 pm: Trump ticks off a lot of Culture War bullshit: Support the police without qualification; stand for the National Anthem (both of are just a cynical code for swipes at the Black Lives Matter movement); “we’re appointing judges that apply the law” ( he just means Originalists, and the cameras cut to a remarkably stoic Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch); and finally, an invocation of “religious freedom” which would be fine if it weren’t largely cover for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ campaign to allow employers to deny their female employees access to contraceptives and to fire their gay employees on the pretext of their religion.

Attorney General Sessions must have watched Philadelphia and felt terrible for the old homophobic partners at that law firm given how they were treated by the justice system…

9:30 pm: Trump makes a shout-out to the young boy Preston Sharp, who started a nationwide campaign to plant flags and flowers on veterans’ graves for Veterans’ Day.

9:29 pm: Trump peaches unity among Americans by loudly intoning “IN GOD WE TRUST” into his microphone.

9:24 pm: Trump notes that under the Republican tax cut bill, owners of their own businesses (“pass-through” entities) cam now deduct 20% of their total income, and that is a real stimulus to small businesses in this country–but like nearly all individual tax relief in the Republican tax cut bill, that measure is temporary while the corporate tax cuts are permanent.

9:23 pm: Trump celebrates the zeroing-out of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty as the removal of a “cruel” tax cut that punished Americans making under $50,000 a year.  Those Americans could obtain subsidized health insurance; now the cost of insurance premiums on the individual market risks rising, and many Americans, due to vague information or disinformation, may not realize that the benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act remain the law of the land because Republicans couldn’t get their limited-government hatchet job done.

9:20 pm: “We have enacted the biggest tax cuts, and reforms, in history.”  Those claims are both false; 1986 constituted a more radical tax reform, and even President Obama oversaw a more-significant and broad-based tax cut than the Republicans’ in 2017.

9:18 pm: Trump focuses on the one substantive claim he can currently make in his favor: He hasn’t upset the longest economic recovery in history, yet.

9:15 pm: Trump starts with a safe minimal consensus: It was a bad thing when House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot during the Republican practice for the Congressional baseball game, it was some fine work by the Capital Police that saved him and other members of Congress from their attacker, and we should try to achieve comity at other times besides moments of tragedy and crisis.

9:14 pm: Trump stiffly white-knuckling the delivery of a speech in which he says nice things about many people and (thus far) broadcasts enmity towards none, like a non-practicing alcoholic.

9:11 pm: “A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our great land…”  Yes, that was optimism that Trump would stop spreading gratuitous falsehoods about Inauguration crowd sizes and millions of “illegal immigrants” voting; a year later, such wishful thinking has disappeared.

9:08 pm: The Democratic side of the aisle stands for Trump, but does not clap for him…Oh, there’s Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who represents one of Trump’s best States, clapping a little bit.

9:06 pm: Ah, there he is.

9:02 pm: What a strange Cabinet.  We’re lucky that General James Mattis is the Secretary of Defense and General H.R. McMaster is the National Security Advisor, but the Liberal Ironist notes a certain absence-of-mind in Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, with their storied lack of professional experience in those high appointed positions, walking down the aisle into the House Chamber almost abreast.


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