Political Trivia About State Of Union Addresses

Fun stuff.

George Washington and John Adams delivered their messages to Congress in person. Washington kept his first speech quite expedient at just 833 words, probably taking about five minutes to deliver. (Imagine all the time left over for post-speech commentary had there only been cable television!) But Thomas Jefferson thought the practice reeked of British monarchy and sent his in writing.

That was the custom for the next century until Woodrow Wilson revived the practice of appearing in person, and even then it was not until Franklin D. Roosevelt that presidents made that the default practice. Calvin Coolidge was the first to have his broadcast on radio in 1923 and Harry Truman the first to have his shown on television in 1947.

But the modern practice most Americans are familiar with began in 1965 when Lyndon B. Johnson moved the address to the evening, at which point it became watched by a broader audience that, in that era at least, had few other options (no “Lost” back then, just “Lost in Space”).

Even in recent times, presidents still occasionally take a pass. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter all sent their final messages in writing. In 1956, when Eisenhower was recuperating from a heart attack, he simply filmed a seven-minute talk from his retreat in Florida.

Richard M. Nixon sent a printed version in 1973, reasoning that his second inaugural address had made his point. Likewise, ever since Ronald Reagan, outgoing presidents in their final weeks in office have chosen not to deliver a State of the Union, while their successors went ahead and addressed Congress without calling them State of the Union speeches, just as Mr. Obama did last year.

Reagan, actually, was the only one in modern times to cancel and reschedule his speech, which he did in 1986 after learning of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, had several occasions where he – or at least his staff – might have wanted to cancel, but went through with it anyway.

Mr. Clinton, after all, surely had some of the most memorable State of the Union experiences. He used his addresses in 1995 and 1996 to reposition himself after the Republican takeover of Congress, declaring that “the era of big government is over.” But by his second term, his State of the Union appearances seemed to turn increasingly surreal with each passing year.

In 1997, he appeared in the House chamber at the same moment a California jury was handing down its verdict in the much-watched civil trial of O.J. Simpson, leading television networks to show the two events in riveting split-screen fashion. It was something of a minor miracle Mr. Clinton was able to proceed anyway, since a last-minute computer glitch had merged his entire text on the teleprompter into a single, indigestible paragraph, leaving panicked aides scrambling to reinsert paragraph breaks.

Oregon Passes Tax Increases On Wealthy And Corporations

Way to go Oregon!

While I would have started out at a higher income when describing wealthy or rich individuals, (Measure 66) I do very much approve of the direction these two ballot measures steered towards.  Basis services is a shared need, and all layers of society need to ante up to pay the bills.   I applaud the move to make corporations pay more.  In some cases, anything.  Oregon may be leading the nation as more states grapple with budget shortfalls.

Oregon voters delivered historic approval Tuesday for a pair of tax increases after a campaign that assured Oregonians they could protect schools and other programs by requiring wealthy individuals and big corporations to pay more.

With 91 percent of the votes counted, Measures 66 and 67 each were passing with 54 percent and 53 percent approval.

Measure 66 raises income taxes on the top 3 percent of filers and Measure 67 boosts business taxes. Both tax increases were approved by the 2009 Legislature but forced to the ballot by opponents’ signature drive.

Oregon House Speaker Dave Hunt called the results “a win for Oregon kids,” whose schools will not face the 5 percent cut in state spending they would otherwise have confronted. The Gladstone Democrat acknowledged that Tuesday’s vote broke from Oregonians’ history of rejecting general tax-raising measures, which were similarly promoted as ways to preserve vital services.

The core difference was these measures were crafted to hit the bank accounts of only the most well-off individuals and the deepest pocketed big corporations — not all Oregonians and businesses across-the-board, as past tax measures have proposed.

Republicans Starting To Shun James O’Keefe

What a great one-night stand it was for all concerned.  But come the light of day James O’Keefe will need to hustle up a new gig.    Seems his old playmates are moving on.

How ironic. James O’Keefe — hailed as a hero by Republicans for bringing down ACORN and forcing Democrats to cut ties with the community organizing group — is now a persona non grata within the Republican party. That is, of course, after his arrest yesterday for alleging trying to interfere with Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office phones.

Today, Republicans are running away from O’Keefe.

  • O’Keefe was supposed to be the keynote speaker at a Salt Lake County GOP fundraiser on Feb. 4. But county GOP Chairman Thomas Wright told the Salt Lake Tribune: “We’ll be announcing a new speaker shortly.”
  • Rep. Pete Olson, R-Tex., is on the defense for introducing a resolution honoring O’Keefe for exposing ACORN. He told the Hill that he doesn’t condone unlawful behavior…….”

In case you wonder what this is all about here is the concise read.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Mr. O’Keefe, who had traveled to New Orleans and delivered a speech Thursday, admitted to helping plan and coordinate the scheme.

Late Monday morning, according to an FBI affidavit, Messrs. Flanagan and Basel, dressed in blue work shirts, fluorescent green vests and construction hard hats, entered Sen. Landrieu’s offices and told a staffer they had come to fix the phone lines. By then, Mr. O’Keefe already had arrived at the offices, according to the FBI.

After Mr. Basel examined a phone in the office, he asked for access to the phone closet to work further, the FBI said. The men were sent to a federal General Services Administration office elsewhere in the building, where they were asked to produce identification. They said they left it in their vehicle, according to the affidavit.

They were arrested shortly thereafter by federal marshals. The U.S. attorney’s office didn’t say why the men allegedly sought to tamper with the phone lines.

Something tells me it was not  a Sunday school assignment.