Friday, February 8, 2019

Notations From the Grid (Friday Edition): Week-End Reads on #SOTU2019 & Beyond

As we went to press, negotiations over the wall continued.   Our team created a grid of the discourse to get a sense of it all.   There have also been other responses including this from Professor Richard Wolffe:

The Spanish Language Response was given by our Home State Attorney General, Xavier Becerra:

AG Xavier Becerra gave the Dems' Spanish response to the State of the Union.
California got its State of the Union licks in on Tuesday, as Attorney General Xavier Becerra delivered the Democrats’ nationally televised Spanish retort to President Donald Trump’s speech. 

  • Becerra, son of immigrants from Mexico, spoke from his Sacramento high school alma mater, C.K. McClatchy High School, which also produced California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Our team will continue to assess the aftermath as we await the result of on-going negotiations as the Washington Post provided this analysis earlier in the week:


Trump presents a false choice between investigations and prosperity in State of the Union
Trump slams 'ridiculous partisan investigations'
THE BIG IDEA: During his State of the Union on Jan. 30, 1974, seven months before he resigned, Richard Nixon appealed to Congress to stop probing him and his reelection campaign. “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end,” he said. “One year of Watergate is enough.”
Forty-five years later, speaking on Tuesday night from the same spot, President Trump warned House Democrats in ominous terms against using their new subpoena power to investigate him. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over his left shoulder. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. … We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.”
What the president presented, of course, is a false choice. The economy boomed in the late 1990s during a period of peace and prosperity as House Republicans investigated, and impeached, Bill Clinton. Trump didn’t seem too worried about the impact of his birther crusade on the nation’s health when Barack Obama was president. When they had gavels during the Obama years, House Republicans believed they had a constitutional imperative to conduct vigorous oversight of the executive branch.
Many headlines this morning, just as in the previous two years, emphasize Trump’s plea for both parties to come together. But the president’s call for an end to the “political stalemate” last night sounded hollow to Democrats just eight weeks after he declared that he would be “proud” to shut down the government to get a border wall. This brinkmanship led to the longest partial government shutdown in American history and continues to create uncertainty as a new funding deadline looms on Feb. 15.
Nixon called for end to Watergate investigation in State of the Union address
-- Teleprompter Trump never lasts. Twitter Trump always returns. The president erratically jumped between the discordant roles of unifier and disrupter. There weren’t great signposts or transitions between topics, which often made the 82-minute address sound as though it had been written by committee. (There can be no doubt, though, that Stephen Miller was the main author.)
“Just eight hours earlier, Trump trashed Democrats — as well as ... John McCain — at a freewheeling lunch with television news anchors,” Phil Rucker and Toluse Olorunnipa report. “The president remarked that the late senator’s final book, a capstone to his life in public service, ‘bombed.’ He assailed Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) as a ‘nasty son of a bitch,’ ridiculed former vice president Joe Biden as ‘dumb’ for his history of gaffes, and accused Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) of ‘choking like a dog’ at a news conference where he denied being in a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page.”
-- Looking to 2020, Trump is again singing his greatest hits from 2016. He’s like a band that struggles to play new material because the fans always want to hear the classics. He opened with paeans to unity and harked back to inspiring examples of American greatness, but he got elected promising disruption. The meat of the speech was devoted to the issues that animated his upset victory in the GOP primaries and then over Hillary Clinton. And he kept going back to the set that worked: protectionism, nativism and isolationism. His calls for rebuilding infrastructure and lowering prescription drug prices were also staples of his stump speech as a candidate.
Trump is ever mindful of delivering for his base. He mentioned early on that he’s delivered for “the blue-collar workers” who supported him. Referring to NAFTA as a “catastrophe,” he name-checked the 2020 battlegrounds of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania that will likely determine whether he secures a second term. He contrasted “the working class” and “the political class.”
Trump's State of the Union speech, in three minutes
-- The president who spoke of “American carnage” in his inaugural address showed again that his brand will always be “crisis.”
Trump did not declare a national emergency to allow for the unilateral, and possibly unlawful, construction of the wall he has promised Mexico would pay for. But he kept the door open to it, as he employed characteristically dark rhetoric to announce that he’s deployed more troops to stop the “onslaught” from a caravan of migrants.
Our graphics team visualized the words Trump used last night that no president has ever before uttered during a State of the Union. Among them: bloodthirsty, sadistic, venomous and chilling.
“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans,” Trump declared. “We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
Fact-checking President Trump's State of the Union
-- The speech “once again was chock-full of stretched facts and dubious figures,” write fact-checkers Glenn Kessler, Sal Rizzo and Meg Kelly. “Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them.”
Their story identifies 30 comments that weren’t correct, and many relate to immigration: “By any available measure, there is no new security crisis at the border. … Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018. The decline is partly because of technology upgrades; tougher penalties in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; a decline in migration rates from Mexico; and a sharp increase in the number of Border Patrol officers. …
“Trump exaggerates the link between immigration and crime; almost all research shows legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born population. … The consensus among economic research studies is that the impact of immigration is primarily a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall, especially over the long term.”
-- “Trump’s comments on illegal immigration elicited groans, leading Pelosi to raise her hand in an attempt to quiet her members. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a former Somali refugee, listened while holding her head in her hands,” Elise Viebeck and Paul Kane note.
What Trump said about foreign policy in his 2019 State of the Union, in 3 minutes
-- Like other presidents who have faced divided government, including Nixon, Trump has devoted more attention to foreign policy as his term has gone on. Obama did the same thing in 2011 after Republicans won the House. There’s less room for big domestic policy gains, so the focus becomes more international.
He touted negotiations with the Taliban to seek a peaceful settlement that would allow the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan. Imagine how apoplectic certain conservatives would have been if Obama had spoken to Congress about opening a dialogue with the Taliban.
He also announced that he will have a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28. “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said, dubiously. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.”
-- Trump also sought to juice his standing with social conservatives by talking in stark terms about abortion. He no longer has a looming Supreme Court vacancy to keep evangelicals in line. Instead, he called for new national restrictions on women’s reproductive rights during the third trimester.
Trump highlights women's electoral gains
-- The moment that will wind up being remembered most vividly years from now came when Trump engaged with the dozens of Democratic congresswomen who were wearing white. “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before,” the president said, “and exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.” Wearing white, the color of the suffragists, the new female members high-fived one another and started a chant of “U-S-A.” If you were making a documentary about female candidates in 2018, it would be a fitting final scene as the credits role.
-- Hey, big spender: Trump didn’t even make a rhetorical nod to the need for fiscal responsibility. The ballooning national debt will be a core element of Trump’s legacy. It’s a story line that, at least for now, continues to be under-covered. But Trump did not mention the deficit or the debt once.
When the president previewed the speech for a group of supporters on Monday night, one of his allies asked whether he would discuss the deficit. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney interjected. “Nobody cares,” Mulvaney said, per ABC News.
Instead, Trump called for major new spending to eradicate HIV and develop new cancer treatments for children. Those are laudable goals, for sure, but he never talked about how he’s going to pay for them. Instead, he boasted about cutting taxes, which has reduced revenue and forced the Treasury to essentially borrow more money from places like China. All of it will need to be paid back – with interest.
Trump also indirectly warned that the United States might engage in a costly nuclear buildup after withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.“Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far,” Trump said, not giving a price tag.
Unlike previous Republican presidents, Trump neglected to mention entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Other big issues Trump didn’t touch included climate change, transgender rights, gun control, voting rights, forcible family separations and Puerto Rican hurricane recovery.
Abrams: 'Voter suppression is real'
-- But instant polls conducted after the speech showed that a significant majority of viewers approved of Trump’s address. A CBS News poll found 76 percent of Americans who tuned in approved of what they saw, compared with 24 percent who disapproved. A CNN-SSRS poll showed the audience skewed Republican, with the viewership representing the most partisan tilt in any similar CNN instant poll dating to 2001. “Viewers were roughly 17 points more likely than the general public to identify as Republicans, and were largely fans of the President,” CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta reports. “In pre-speech surveys, 61% of speech-watchers said they approved of the job he was doing as President, compared with 40% in CNN's latest representative survey of all American adults.” 

The latest news and analysis from
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
The Rhetorical and Substantive Limits of Donald Trump's American Greatness
The president talks a good game about driving into the future, but his eyes are glued to the rear-view mirror.
By Nick Gillespie
Trump Said He Wants Legal Immigrants To Come 'in the Largest Numbers Ever.' Really?
The president was off script, and probably hasn't checked with his ultra-restrictionist White House aide Stephen Miller.
By Shikha Dalmia
What Was Missing From Trump's State of the Union? America's $1 Trillion Deficit
Or the $22 trillion (and counting) national debt. Or the entitlement programs that will continue adding to them.
By Eric Boehm
Rep. Justin Amash Highlights 'Two Outstanding Lines' From Trump's SOTU
But the Michigan libertarian’s reaction wasn't all positive.
By Joe Setyon

When it Comes To Debt, Politicians and Academics Are All Like, ‘What, Me Worry?’
From OMB head Mick Mulvaney to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, nobody cares about spending money we don't have on things we don't need. Big mistake.
By Nick Gillespie

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