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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

State of the Union: Alternative Viewers' Guide

In a few hours, the 46 percent 45th President of the United States is scheduled to deliver the (heaven help us) State of the Union address, presenting a key question of psychological discernment: to watch or not to watch.

Our advice: don’t torture yourself.

As a public service, Newsmakers hereby presents a small sampling of more wholesome, and far more mentally healthy, TV content concurrently available at 6 p.m. to every Santa Barbaran with a Cox Cable box:

  • The original (1933) “King Kong,” featuring Fay Wray and a big ape disguised as a New York real estate developer, will be playing at the same time on the Turner Classic Movie Channel (1069).

  • LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs take on the Detroit Pistons on TNT (1028) while #21 Kentucky hosts Vanderbilt on ESPN (1034) and #12 Oklahoma welcomes Baylor on the Deuce (1035).

  • Episodes of some of the greatest sit-coms of the past half-century – Family Guy, Friends, Full House, Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, Law and Order SVU, MASH, The Office and The Simpsons – are all at hand for the price of some old-school channel surfing.

Finally, those drawn to cheap irony may find “Hitler’s Empire: The Post War Plan” playing over at the American Heroes Channel (1124).

You could look it up.

On the other hand: If you’re too politically engaged, civically committed, nihilistic or simply masochistic and insist on watching, however, we recommend reviewing some or all of these five great reads before, after or, preferably, during the speech.

1-Trump Lies.

The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” team has recorded 2,140 false or misleading claims during President Hair Boy’s first year in office.

By our count, there were only 56 days — or about 15 percent of the time — on which we recorded no claims. These were often days when the president golfed.

2-It’s amazing how many outrages we’ve already forgotten. If you doubt it, check out a – gasp! – day-by-day reconstruction of Year One of the Trump Era.

Hanging over the policy fights, though, were the constant controversies at the White House, from press secretary Sean Spicer's claim that the inauguration was the most watched ever to the firestorm over Trump's alleged "shithole countries" remark.

3-Vladimir Putin thinks the State of the Union is just ducky.

Look first at Putin’s domestic goals. His core concern, as with any despot, is the legitimacy of his pseudo-democratic autocracy - which means, in turn, discrediting the very different features of the liberal democracies of the West.

And in this, he must be scarcely able to believe his luck. After decades of the West’s championing of liberal democracy, the American president has spent his first year attacking it. Trump has exhibited contempt for a free press, describing the bulk of Western journalism as “fake news,” words that have gladdened the hearts of dictators across the planet. He has minimized Putin’s assassination of critical journalists, saying that America has no moral standing to criticize. He has treated the judiciary either as instruments of loyalty — hence his packing of the federal bench — or as pests to be slandered or dismissed. He prefers total loyalty from law-enforcement officials to the actual rule of law.

For good measure, Trump has legitimized Putin’s core model of governance — that of a benevolent cult hero of the nation, shored up by religious reactionaries — by plagiarizing it. As for the other critical aspect of Putinism — the looting of the treasury by oligarchs — I give you the latest tax bill. It even carves out special goodies for real-estate investors.

4-Special to SB housing activists: Reason 9,416 to hate the tax bill:

“It’s the greatest shock to the affordable housing system since the Great Recession,” said Michael Novogradac, managing partner of Novogradac & Co., a national accounting firm based in San Francisco.

According to an analysis by his firm, the new tax law will reduce the growth of subsidized affordable housing by 235,000 units over the next decade, compounding an existing shortage.

5-At least we live in California.

California’s resistance encompasses two interwoven strands.

One is the determined fight, wherever possible, against the cruelty and inanity of an administration and a Republican congressional majority hell-bent on rolling back the programs and policies of enlightened self-interest enacted over the better part of a century under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

The other is a defense of California’s progressive, if still imperfect, success as an exemplar for the nation and the world. The first would not be possible without the second.

Liberal warhorse journalist Peter Schrag is pretty pumped over how the state is dealing with Trump, as you can read here.

Images:; wikipedia; The Simpsons; Washington Post; Daily Squat; Breitbart.

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