On Sunday, President Obama announced that he would be leaving a seat open at his State of the Union Address for the victims of gun violence. This morning, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) announced that he, too, would leave one of his guest seats empty, to protest abortion. “I have reserved it to commemorate the lives of more than 55 million aborted babies, the chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world,” he said, adding that he would not attend the address himself. In light of these changes, the updated guest list is as follows:
In last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama offered a modest agenda that he proposed to enact “with or without Congress”—mostly through executive orders. For those of us who voted for him in 2008, it was a call to ambivalence. It would be nice to see the President do things like raise the minimum wage for federal contractors or curb carbon emissions, and Congress has certainly made Washington less effective by its recalcitrant opposition. But if an adversarial relationship with Congress is the problem, enacting minor policies by presidential fiat will only exacerbate it. And at this moment in our federal government, do we want to give more power to the executive branch?
I went out to see The Menzingers last night, and now I am dead. My evening began with vodka and ended with sausage gravy—yet somehow now it all begins again, horribly, in the twilight of undeath. I don’t even have bacon in the house. I could go to Albertson’s and get it, but the people in the store would be taken aback by my grisly appearance. “There is a sad man,” they would say, “hung over on Wednesday morning.” I guess I’d have to get there pretty soon for them to say that, since it is almost noon.
Every year I watch the State of the Union Address, and every year I expect something amazing to happen: the President announces that he has nationalized Canada’s oil industry, for example, or says that he has a new position on gun control and then tears off his shirt to flex his biceps. The President turns to John Boehner, smiles, and calmly pushes his speaker gavel off the edge of the desk. Shockingly, none of that happened last night. It sort of looked like Joe Biden had a cold, and someone in the audience began either booing or shouting “Bruce!” at the proposal to ban insider trading by members of Congress. Also the President declared class war, but more on that later. First we have amusing screen caps.
It is generally better to do things on purpose, but there is something about the unintentional that can redeem almost any act. Boethius argued that the essential crappiness of life—here we note that he was a 5th-century Ostrogoth, so he should know—could be mitigated by philosophy, that the creation of new meanings could repair awful events. Fifteen centuries later, Camus would take a similar position in his formulation of the absurd. Humans are the animal that observes and interprets. By observing, we recreate other people’s actions free from their intentions, and by interpreting we create a conjunctive world less stupid than the one we’ve got. Or at least it’s funnier. This week’s link roundup runs a spectrum of weird hilarity from the deliberate to the sublimely accidental. Of course we’re starting from the not-entirely-on-purpose end. Newt Gingrich’s terrifying psychosexual ambition after the jump.