Friday, April 30, 2021
More in Common, a British think-tank, recently identified seven types of citizen. Which am I?
Optimistic. Keenly follow the news, mainly on traditional media. Nostalgic, patriotic, secure and confident. Politically engaged.
Vocal, ultra-political, passionate, on a mission to connect historic minority marginalisation.
Proud, patriotic, tribal, proactive and frustrated at the gap between haves and have-nots.
Have done well and mean well. Privileged, trusting, cosmopolitan and confident. Pro-market.
Value duty, order and effort. Want strong leadership to keep people focused. Self-reliant, tough-minded, suspicious and disconnected.
Feel like they’re barely afloat, blaming the system for its unfairness. Insecure, disillusioned, overlooked.
Care about others. Turned off by conflict and extremes. Charitable, concerned, exhausted, open to compromise, socially liberal.
Where do you fit?
Steve Jobs praised The Crazy Ones. Jack Kerouac praised The Mad Ones.
Catherina O’Gorman, Founder of Think Love Education (www.ThinkLove.com) reminded me of Kerouac’s great quote during a conversation earlier this month. Here it is.
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”
Media coverage of President Biden’s first speech to Congress
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
President Joe Biden, approaching his 100th day in office, delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night. He spoke for more than an hour, painting an optimistic picture of America despite crises involving a pandemic, political divide and racial tensions.
He talked about sweeping changes to the economy and infrastructure, the education system, expanding the government's role. He talked about guns, race, immigration, health benefits for Americans, prescription drug prices and much more. Here’s the speech, minus a few of Biden’s off-script ad-libs.
So how did his speech play out according to the coverage?
NBC’s Kasie Hunt smartly noted, “This speech and being in this room could not be more different than a year ago.”
Actually, it was a little more than a year ago, as Hunt pointed out, that then-President Donald Trump gave a “raucous” State of the Union speech that made just a brief mention of something most of us had no idea how horrific it would be: the coronavirus.
As the country begins to emerge from the pandemic, many saw the hopefulness of Biden’s words.
ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, co-anchor of “This Week,” said, “He’s really trying to bring the country together. It was a Make America Feel Good night, Make America Feel Pride night, and trying to talk directly to people which is, of course, Joe Biden's strength. But he was also talking to the rest of the world.”
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace also mentioned Biden’s strength of connecting with people, saying, “His connections to the people in this room — I’m not even sure that all of them are deserving of them — but he does not care. He gives to them the benefit of the doubt, the benefit of his goodwill. I thought it would be a hard speech to make optimistic, he did.”
CBS News’ Nancy Cordes said Biden “was swinging for the fences” in an effort “to remind Republicans that there are some elements of his plans that they support as well.”
But ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl likely nailed it when, after praising the ambition in Biden’s speech, said, “... I don’t think Republicans heard much of anything in this speech that they will be able to work with. They heard an agenda for the next hundred days and beyond, that includes even more spending than what we saw in the first hundred days — tax increases across the board on upper-income Americans and businesses that Republicans absolutely will not support. I don’t think there will be any support for those proposals. Not to mention what he was talking about on comprehensive immigration reform, gun control, police reform is probably the one area where there is a real chance for bipartisan agreement, but not much in here that Republicans will latch on to at all.”
Also on ABC, contributor Chris Christie was especially critical, saying, “The words of this speech sounded like what you would hear from a 15-year-old if you gave him a credit card with no credit limit on it. Except the words came out of the mouth of an adult who should know better.”
The Republican response
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott gave the Republican response. CNN’s Abby Phillip said, “This was an extraordinary partisan speech for Tim Scott, especially, I thought, on the issue of policing, which is something that he is actively right now working with Democrats on. He really, strongly criticized Democrats on the issue in a way that I thought was surprising given that he apparently finds it worthwhile to actually work with them.”
Philip added the speech sounded like “what any other generic Republican would say in this particular moment. But Tim Scott, who is trying to have a slightly different brand, it didn’t really seem to fit him. That was the part that was slightly disjointed for me.”
CNN’s Dana Bash noted that Scott is the lone Black Republican senator and yet criticized the Democrats’ stance on voting restrictions in places such as Georgia.
CNN’s Van Jones criticized Scott for blaming Biden for dividing the country. “That doesn’t make any sense,” Jones said.
Then Jones added this: “(Scott) lost a lot of African Americans, by the tens of millions, when he said ‘America is not a racist nation.’ Look, you can say we’re getting better, you can say we’ve come a long way. But when you look at these numbers and you look at these statistics, it is still very clear that this country is still struggling with racism and we still have racism showing up in almost every institution. So I thought he did himself a disservice by jumping that shark.”
Jones, however, added that Scott is the best the Republicans could put up to respond to Biden.
Biden’s address did run a little long. Long enough that he even closed by saying, “Thank you for your patience.”
According to this tweet by C-SPAN, Biden’s speech ran 64 minutes, 58 seconds. That’s the longest first speech to Congress among all presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. The longest before Biden’s was Trump’s first speech to Congress in 2017. That was 60 minutes, 12 seconds. The shortest? Reagan’s 32-minute, 40-second speech in 1981.
A limited crowd
It was strange to see so few people in the House chamber, but that was necessary because of COVID-19. Instead of the 1,600 or so which normally attend such speeches, only 200 or so were permitted Wednesday night.
As he opened his speech, Biden even made mention of the unusual circumstances.
And, while of course, the need for a limited crowd is a serious matter, Washington Post media writer Paul Farhi had a pretty good line when he tweeted, “The near-empty chamber at the Capitol makes this seem like a Spring Training presidential address to Congress.”
Most networks also reminded us that the scene Wednesday night was much different than the last time Americans watched proceedings from the House chamber. That was Jan. 6, when an insurrection overran the Capitol.
True to form
As pointed out by The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona, these were two actual chyrons on screen during Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News prior to President Biden’s speech on Wednesday.
First: “Awaiting Biden Admin Propaganda On Cap Hill.”
Second: “Expect Climate Change Propaganda In Biden Speech.”
Oh, speaking of Carlson’s show, Rudy Giuliani is expected to be on Carlson’s show tonight, presumably to talk about Giuliani’s Manhattan home and office being raided by the Justice Department on Wednesday — although, because it’s Carlson’s show, who knows?
As far as post-speech coverage, Fox News went about how you would expect with Ben Domenech leading the criticisms, calling Biden’s speech “a political blip, immediately forgotten.”
And Sean Hannity called Biden “very weak, very frail, cognitively struggling.”
Hannity also talked with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is still rambling on about a story that has already been debunked when he said Biden is “going to control how much meat you can eat.”
It should be noted, however, that Fox News’ Chris Wallace said, “I think this is going to be a popular speech with the American public.”
Meanwhile, MSNBC’s coverage also was what about you’d expect, with anchor Brian Williams effusive in his praise, saying the speech was, “unspooling an ambition that was Rooseveltian in size and scope.”
This, from ABC “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts: “It seems that the president made clear tonight that he believes you can bridge America's racial divide with legislation. Think about that, this president mentioned white supremacy and terrorism in the same sentence.”
Just the facts
PolitiFact fact-checked Biden’s speech. Here’s the story from PolitiFact’s Louis Jacobson, Victoria Knight, Amy Sherman and Miriam Valverde.
CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale said, “My early assessment is that this was, in general, quite a factual speech. But it was not perfect.”
Dale added, “Now the prepared text that Biden most recited was quite good. There were some claims that certainly can be disputed, have some debatable nuance to it, but there was certainly not a ton in that prepared text that was flat-out false. Where Biden was false a couple of times was when he ad-libbed. This is a bit of a problem with President Biden. He is given a solidly-researched text then he decides to start ‘Joe Biden talking’ and he sometimes gets himself in some fact-check trouble.”
A moment to remember
Economic news reporting suffers from bias toward richest Americans Academic Times. Underlying study: Whose News? Class-Biased Economic Reporting in the United StatesAmerican Political Science Review (HJR)
Former Coca-Cola Employee Convicted of Stealing $120 Million Worth of Trade Secrets to Sell in China. “A Chinese-born American chemist was found guilty on April 22 for her role in a scheme to steal trade secrets worth an estimated $120 million from American companies for the purpose of setting up a Chinese company that would manufacture the product for the global market.”
*Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis*
In epic hack, Signal developer turns the tables on forensics firm Cellebrite ars technica. Bill B clears his throat:
The difference is that Cellebrite isn’t painting themselves as the ironclad defender of personal privacy.
With very few exceptions software is buggy, hence hackable.
Signal marketing promises “secure messaging.” It’s a promise they simply cannot keep. It doesn’t matter how many personal endorsements they get.
EU outlines ambitious AI regulations focused on risky uses Associated Press
Global chip shortage spreads to toasters and washing machines FT. That’s a damn shame
Junk Just Keeps Notching Records Heisenberg Report
The internet is breaking. Here’s how to save it. Dan Kaminksy, Cyberscoop. RIP Dan Kaminsky.