SATURDAY 6-PACK: February 3, 2018

A weekly listing of articles, audio clips, and other tidbits I’ve encountered that seemed interesting, insightful, or otherwise useful …

 

This week’s major event was the State of the Union address, that (nearly) annual exercise in recapping and previewing the President’s agenda.  Coming at the end of the current occupant’s first year in the Oval Office, a re-cap of the year that has preceded the address would be in order.
First up, a two-fer, two recaps of the first year of the current  … uh … administration doesn’t seem like quite the right word.  But whatever you call it, these perspectives are worth considering:
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Second, on the morning of the speech, Mara Liasson of NPR offered this frank and succinct assessment of the State of Politics in our (sort-of) Union:
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Third, there’s the speech itself … The current occupant is not known for great rhetorical style when left to his own methods.  However, his speechwriter(s) saw fit to string together familiar, patriotic tropes that are common in a number of these speeches, which was a pleasant change from the “American Carnage” inaugural address (even if it made much of the State of the Union speech clichéd and almost meaningless).  These were woven with heart-warming  vignettes about specific Americans (and one Korean), each of whom did something heroic on scales both small and great.  So far, so good.  But the current occupant is  well-known to be less than a close acquaintance with the truth.  Because his voice acts on my nerves much like fingernails on a blackboard, and because his speaking (scripted or off the cuff) is peppered with so many inaccuracies, distortions and flat-out lies, I prefer to read the transcripts.  This annotated one is particularly helpful:
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Fourth, the current occupant has made much of what happened in the stock market this past year as proof his policies are succeeding.  Of course, he will likely find someone (or something) else to blame for Friday’s significant drop.  But as the Clinton campaign famously put it in 1992, oftentimes “It [is] the economy, stupid.”  Time will tell more certainly than the State of the Union Address what, if any, impact the economic policies described in the speech actually had on the economy.  But here is much to think about and consider as we wait and see: five economists discuss America’s economic outlook.  None of them are boring to listen to.  Only one of the five is strongly committed to a particular political mindset (Stephen Moore, former econ advisor to the current occupant of the Oval Office and one of the architects of the recent changes in the tax code); the other four represent a variety of perspectives and can consider multiple angles:
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If the State of the Union Address dominated the first part of the week, the Nunez memo has dominated the most recent days.  Item Five: what is in the memo?  It’s been often described as an exercise in cherry-picking — but as at least one observer has noted, to call it that could be an insult to cherries.  Here is the full text of the memo along with the letter from White House counsel Don McGahn authorizing its release.  This annotated version fills in details that are well-known and yet have been omitted from the memo; the notes also point out underlying details that are not known at this time.
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And finally, what next?  Here’s another two-fer: both a pre-release and a post-release assessment on the memo and its likely impact
Before ….
After …