State of the Union 2019: What I Saw and Heard

I’m gonna keep this quick because it is Wednesday and I have lots of work to do. Nevertheless, I always like to follow-up the State of the Union address with a blog post, because the two or three people out there who read this might want to know what I was thinking.

Doesn’t it look like Speaker Pelosi is checking President Trump’s Work?


  1. President Trump broke protocol by starting his speech before Speaker Pelosi had a chance to formally introduce him. I don’t know I this was intentional–to minimize her screen time, or if it was unintentional. If he meant to do that, it is one more move in the chess game these two are playing. If it wasn’t, then the President showed lack of focus on the big stage.
  2. I adore World War II veterans, but I never figured out exactly why there was so much World War II in the speech.
  3. Meeting with North Korea in Vietnam is curious. I mean, it is a big globe, but to connect the two anti-communist wars in this way is a bold choice. North Korea, in Vietnam: What could go wrong?
  4. The President is right when he talks up the criminal justice reforms he and congress have made. Those were a long time coming. I’d like him to build on that and move the same bipartisanship to infrastructure.
  5. POTUS made no move toward a compromise on southern border. Everyone should prepare for another government shutdown.
  6. Speaker Pelosi was something special to watch. I think I saw her four times ‘shush’ her side of the chamber with her extended hand. More than once she was reading the incredibly large pieces of paper while POTUS was speaking. More than one she ‘forgot’ to sit back down. Again, I wonder if this was intentional or a lapse in focus. Then there was her clap–that odd clap where she pointed her fingers at the President while she clapped.
  7. Vice President Pence has histories biggest man-crush on POTUS. Just look at how he gazes at the Commander-in-Chief.
  8. President Trump threatened “war” on congress if they “investigate” him.
  9. The President exploited the truth–and rightly so–the Democratic Party has zero tolerance for pro-life views. I’ve said it before and it is still true: you can’t be pro-life and be a Democrat. The result is the GOP has many, many voters by default.
  10. I think I heard the President say Hillary Clinton would have started a war with North Korea had she won the election.
  11. Teleprompter Trump is not as fluid as Rally Trump, and there was a bizarro moment when he read two lines that didn’t go together in the same tone. “all children — born and unborn– are made in the holy image of God. The final part of my agenda is to protect America’s National Security.” I lifted the actual line from the transcript, which yes, has National and Security both capitalized. He read both of those lines like they were connected–one idea and you could tell on his face he realized it but couldn’t do anything about it.
  12. There were four awesome moments: Congress singing Happy Birthday to a survivor of the Jewish synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Buzz Aldrin’s amazing necktie, times when both sides of the aisle chanted USA! USA! USA! and when the women all in white celebrated their huge numbers and historic gains in the House of Representatives. Regardless of political persuasion, these were “American” moments.
  13. The speech was Rated PG-13. At times it was graphic and the language was rather provocative. I wouldn’t have wanted to have an eight year old watching it, that is for sure.
Hero wearing a Hero Necktie! 



He Talks ALMOST as Much as President Obama
He Talks ALMOST as Much as President Obama

What do President Obama, Katy Perry, and Richard Sherman have in common?  No, not their luscious full hair.  The only thing they really have in common is that I am thinking about all of them this morning.  So, this blog is about three very unrelated topics bound together only by the fact that they are on my mind.

President Obama and the Night That Could Have Been

I live tweeted during the President’s State of the Union last night.  Aside from the comic relief of John Boehner’s orange hue and the terrifying knowledge that Joe Biden is a heartbeat away from the presidency, the speech was rather sad.  Obama wanted the speech to portray his administration with a ‘take action’ motif, but the result was that he just threw even more political partisanship jet fuel on the inferno of gridlock.  I wanted him to come out and strike a unifying tone.  I thought he could really make some headway on three specific issues.

1.  NSA Reform.  I know he made some meaningless announcements last week, but it strikes me that no one is really comfortable with the fact that the government is spying on people playing Angry Birds.  Yeah, they really did that.

2.  Immigration overhaul.  Even the GOP is coming around on this issue.  If a bill could get passed, then everyone wins.

3.  Something specific on reducing the national debt.  Under the President it has spiraled far out of control, and it would be nice if he took some responsibility and laid out a plan to now reduce it.  He could easily argue the debt and spending were necessary when he took over due to the great recession, but now it is time to get our financial house in order.

But he didn’t do any of that.  Yeah, he paid some lip service, but he put forth no real specifics.

You Mean Celebrities Don’t Make Good Role Models?

I don’t watch the Grammys because pop music generally makes my eyes twitch and sends me into some kind of seizure.  I am more of an Oscars guy (so far I’ve seen 4 of the best picture nominees) and not so much in love with the Grammys.  However, I am not immune to the cultural significance of it and the broohaha of Katy Perry’s witchcraft infused performance.  I have never liked Katy Perry’s music, but never had a reason to dislike her; until now.

1.  I am wondering if she took her cues from Stevie Nicks.  Nicks, of course, more in line with my timeline, made a reputation as being a witch into something of a cottage industry.  The difference is Nicks always denied being a witch and just played with the innuendo.  Perry, on the other hand, I think, actually performed black magic during the awards ceremony.  The more I think of it, her antics remind me more of the young bat eating Ozzy.

2.  One of the reasons this is shocking so many people, I think, is that a lot of moms thought that Perry was the safe or family friendly alternative to Miley or Lady Gaga.  WRONG!  I don’t know why they would think that since she is hyper-sexualized, but given the choice, I guess many see her as the lesser of many evils.  However, there are no safe alternatives in pop music.  You do not want your children to mimic the behaviors or beliefs of these people.  The real heroes they should imitate drive fire trucks, work ER’s, fly airplanes, teach children, and wear Kevlar to their job in war zones.

3.  There is an internet video floating around where Katy Perry supposedly admits to selling her soul to the devil because her gospel music career never got off the ground.  I don’t think the video is legitimate because it looks highly doctored and like bad lip reading.  However, keep in mind that these media artist types (actors, singers, writers, models, politicians and the like) will do anything to become famous.  They are media whores.

4.  This is what happens when you worship people.

Super Bowl XLVIII–The Last I is Silent

The Super Bowl is this Sunday and I will watch it with people from our new church.  The three of us will be wearing our Seahawk gear, of course.  I hope that the Seahawks win and have already predicted it before the playoffs ever began.  However, I am a realist.  The Denver Broncos could easily win this game because they are a really good team with a great quarterback and a good coach.  In all honesty, I think it is a pick’em kind of game.  However, I have three thoughts.

1.  Many have made a lot about this being the marijuana Super Bowl as it has teams from the two states that have legalized pot.  I have never smoked marijuana and do not endorse it, however, I think the halftime show should now be changed to include Willie Nelson and it is a shame that Ricky Williams is not in the Super Bowl this year.  He once famously gave up NFL so he could get high.  Do they still call the place where the Broncos play Mile High Stadium?

2.  Aside from the years we spent in the Northwest, I want Seattle to win because that poor city has never really won anything.  The Mariners are such a lousy team and the people there love the Mariners but they are so bad.  The evil NBA took the Sonics away from Seattle in a dastardly deed that makes me always cheer against Oklahoma City.  Then there was that time when the Seahawks played Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl and we should all remember how the referees literally gave the game to Pittsburgh all so Jerome Bettis could go out with a win.  But I’m not bitter.

3.  What idiot decided to play the Super Bowl in New York (Okay, it’s really New Jersey) in February.  That person should be fired ASAP.


Richard Sherman pic from



Tonight I popped me a bowl of popcorn and turned on the television to watch the State of the Union address by President Obama.  I’m no political pundit, but I am someone who speaks publicly often (well, actually, weekly) and so I watch these things with the eye for the effect and style as much as substance.  What I noticed about the flow of the speech is that it started very slow and very wonkish but constantly and steadily increased in rhetorical flare as the monologue progressed.  I’ve broken my evaluation down simply into what I liked about it and what I didn’t.

What I liked:

  • I liked Obama’s tie.  It was rockin’ awesome.  He looked great.  However, I did notice that the three years in office have taken its toll on him.  He looks like he’s aged 10 years.
  • I liked that Joe Biden couldn’t seem to sit still.  Watching him squirm back there reminded me of an eight year old boy sitting through a concert he hates.  At one point it looked like he actually put a mint or candy in his mouth.  Joe Biden is a major motivating factor why I pray for Obama’s health and safety regularly.  On a side note, John Boehner didn’t look as orange this year.
  • I liked that Obama rattled off initiative ideas that sounded great without giving any kind of specifics at all.  It was brilliant.  That way people feel he is on the job, but in reality, it was just paper.
  • I liked his conclusion.  It was a real tear jerker to go to the Navy Seal team that took out Bin Laden and speak about it in such patriotic tones.  Nice touch and well done.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I didn’t like that he did the whole thing where he referenced people sitting up in the box by the First Lady.  Bill Clinton was the master at it and for Clinton it had the effect of being novel and innovative.  When Obama does it, it feels forced and is not very effective.
  • I didn’t like all the references to fairness in taxes.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in fairness in taxes; but we will never have fairness in taxes in our nation until there is a major overhaul of the tax system and it is replaced with either a flat tax or a nationwide consumption tax.  In my personal opinion, income taxes are, by nature, unjust and unfair.  I like the consumption tax, but I would settle for anything that is sane and simple.
  • I didn’t like how many unilateral decisions Obama seemed to be making.  I know it is political posturing.  He is attempting to couch the congress as a “do nothing” group while he is out there doing stuff to make things better.  However, as a historian I realize that the arguments for “effectiveness” and “efficiency” are often the mask for power grabs.  I am not really accusing Obama of doing that because I do think it is just election year politics, but it does make me nervous.

The best moment of the evening, for me, was before the speech ever began.  When Gabrielle Giffords came into the room, and then Obama hugging her, was special.  That tugged at me at a level that goes beyond politics, beyond patriotism, and into the human and spiritual realm.  That actually is an image I will retain for a long time.  It reminds me of when Bush (43) in one of his State of the Unions announced a massive AIDS spending initiative for Africa.  Obama and Giffords will last longer in my memory than any of the particulars of the speech.