The Monday Morning Teaser

The State of the Union and its many responses dominate the Sift this week, as they dominated the news. I find these speeches valuable even when I don’t take them at face value. They are the culmination of much polling and focus-group testing by politicians across the spectrum. So — independent of whether any of the proposals will ever become law — they tell us a lot about how the parties view the public, what part of the public they’re trying to appeal to, and what part of their own image worries them.

One nugget from the speeches taken as a whole: Everybody was talking about inequality as if it were a serious concern. That’s same-old same-old for liberals, but new for conservatives. Which means it’s showing up in their polling and focus groups, even the focus groups representing their targeted voters. Which means a chunk of the Occupy Wall Street message is becoming the new political common sense, in spite of the conventional view that OWS failed. I cover this in the first featured article, “Occupying the State of the Union”, which should be out sometime in the next hour.

There’s a lot more to observe in the SOTUs, and I’m still undecided whether I’ll break that off into a second SOTU article, or just let it dominate the weekly summary.

Other stuff that happened this week: The Bridgegate scandal keeps advancing. Right-wing media supported Tom Perkins in his claim that the rich are persecuted. The women-can’t-be-trusted dog whistle is being blown on Wendy Davis, just as it was blown on Elizabeth Warren in 2012. Woody Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow went public with child-molestation charges that blew up the Allen/Farrow marriage. And Pete Seeger’s death opened the floodgates on a stream of appreciation for his long and productive life. I plan to close the weekly summary with a YouTube of a Seeger song that seems like an appropriate good-bye.

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