comsc US Politics | AMERICAblog News: 01/2006 - 02/2006
Join Email List | About us | AMERICAblog Gay
Elections | Economic Crisis | Jobs | TSA | Limbaugh | Fun Stuff

Cindy Sheehan's crime? She wore an anti-war t-shirt to the State of the Union

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
UPDATE: 12 miners are ALIVE!!!! Apparently the mystery of the evening is why Cindy Sheehan was arrested and what, if anything, did her t-shirt actually say. CNN is reportedly now saying she was wearing a t-shirt that simply said "Stop War" or something. I mean, come on people, how hard is it to find out what the woman was wearing?

First off, if you're going to wear the t-shirt, you take your jacket off AFTER Bush starts speaking, not before he arrives - then there's nothing they can do and the cameras will all be on you. Second, still looks bad arresting one of your chief critics minutes before your speech. Police state, anyone?

Ooh, Will Bunch has more. Sheehan's tshirt said simply:
2,245 Dead — How Many More??
More from Will:
Did you know that in 1971, the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to arrest a man who wore a "F--- the Draft" T-shirt into the courthouse? (Cohen v. California, you can look it up.) So now Alito's on the court for 45 minutes and your civil liberties are already going down the toilet. You were warned.
Read the rest of this post...

My take on Bush's State of the Union address

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
1. I was bored. Then again, I can't stand the man.

2. I thought he spoke well at the beginning. Again, the substance bored me, but he sounded good.

3. The Dems totally dissed him on the Social Security thing. And it threw Bush for a loop, then pissed him off and he couldn't let it go. One does not challenge the king. From that point on, things went south (and the Dems guaranteed the soundbite for the evening).

4. I got the sense that the entire speech was not a challenge to the Democrats, but rather a challenge to 61% of the American public who either don't approve of Bush or are unsure.

5. Animal-human hybrids? Are you on crack?

6. Cute little insert on gay marriage - so cute and so sly that most people probably missed it. Funny that in previous years he had no problem pushing the anti-gay marriage amendment, but this time he only wanted to hint at it. Weird. And telling.

7. What about Mars? I'm only half joking. Every State of the Union has some grand idea in it. What was the grand idea here? Continue the tax cuts? That's real popular. Promote democracy in all those OTHER countries Bush named tonight? Oh yeah, THAT will be REALLY popular with the American people - after all, Bush has done such a good job promoting democracy in the countries we've already invaded (let alone in the US).

Again, I just don't get a sense of anything momentous tonight. What's new? Not much. Same old Bush. And people are kind of tired of that. Read the rest of this post...

What's up with the homophobe's eyebrow?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Whatever. Read the rest of this post...

OPEN THREAD: Post Speech Coverage and Democratic Response

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Use this thread to discuss post-speech coverage.

P.S. ABC News - if you think that ANY Democrat is going to trust some rhetorical "olive branch" from George Bush you're crazy. Joe Lieberman on the other hand...

P.S. NBC News - you can't "adjust strategy" in Iraq unless and until you have one in the first place... Read the rest of this post...

ANOTHER OPEN THREAD: State of the Union

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Let's start another State of the Union Thread...there is just too much that must be discussed.

That was a great moment when the Democrats applauded his Social Security line...completely unscripted, completely was brilliant...and methinks it pissed off the President. Read the rest of this post...

OPEN THREAD: State of the Union

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Use this open thread to discuss the State of the Union. Read the rest of this post...

Bush's big idea tonight: Ban chimera

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

Yes, Bush's big idea tonight is to ban the production of human-animal hybrids.
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research – human cloning in all its forms … creating or implanting embryos for experiments … creating human-animal hybrids … and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos.
Aside from Ann Coulter, I didn't know this was a problem.

Rob's Note: Where will Dr. Mephisto go? Read the rest of this post...

MSNBC report, Cindy Sheehan may have just been arrested going to attend the SOTU

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
UPDATE: She was arrested, but no details yet. Then again, I hear 12 miners lived!

You want to know the State of the Union? The president is jailing his political opponents minutes before his big speech about how wonderful our democracy is.

Whatever the reason, this doesn't sound good.

UPDATE 1: Background on her invite here.

UPDATE 2: ABC News reports on her arrest.

It was a t-shirt. You can't wear a t-shirt to a speech that has a political statement? This is really America? Really? Read the rest of this post...

If you don't want to watch the chimp...

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

Office of the Press Secretary

Embargoed Until Delivery
of the State of the Union Address
at 9:01 PM EST
January 31, 2006

As Prepared For Delivery

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, Members of the
Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow

Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called
America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we
are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken
from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta
Scott King.

Each time I am invited to this rostrum, I am humbled by the privilege, and
mindful of the history we have seen together. We have gathered under this
Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. We
have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our
history – and it has been my honor to serve with you.

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there
will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be
conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden
into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a
spirit of good will and respect for one another – and I will do my part.
Tonight the state of our Union is strong – and together we will make it

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the
future and the character of our country. We will choose to act
confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our
duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our
prosperity by leading the world economy – or shut ourselves off from trade
and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of
isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends
in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people … the only way
to secure the peace … the only way to control our destiny is by our
leadership – so the United States of America will continue to lead.

Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek
the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided
idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On
September 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and
oppressive state seven thousand miles away could bring murder and
destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed
resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction.
Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their
citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every
step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will
act boldly in freedom’s cause.

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story
of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on
Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the
story of self-government – with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan …
and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink … and men and
women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the
necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of
our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half
– in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran – because
the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom
as well.

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight
against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is
radical Islam – the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology
of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass
murder – and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously.
They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout
the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their
aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch
attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to
challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear.
When they murder children at a school in Beslan … or blow up commuters in
London … or behead a bound captive … the terrorists hope these horrors
will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they
have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our
commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these
vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply
move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat.
And there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its
will – by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself – we would signal
to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own
courage. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United
States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to

America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the Nation that
saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up
democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the
call of history to deliver the oppressed, and move this world toward

We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or
captured many of their leaders – and for the others, their day will come.

We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan – where a fine president and
national assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a
new democracy.

And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.
First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old
resentments will be eased, and the insurgency marginalized. Second, we
are continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to
fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience
the benefits of freedom. Third, we are striking terrorist targets while
we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the
enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be
their allies in the cause of freedom.

Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that
brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In
less than three years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to
liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. At
the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist
infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over
territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for
victory … I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people … I am confident
in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this
fight to win, and we are winning.

The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we
make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead,
we should be able to further decrease our troop levels – but those
decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in
Washington, D.C.

Our coalition has learned from experience in Iraq. We have adjusted our
military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the
way, we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by
Members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue
to reach out and seek your good advice.

Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for
success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure.
Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy.

With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to
speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would
abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison … put men like bin Laden and
Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country … and show that a pledge from
America means little. Members of Congress: however we feel about the
decisions and debates of the past, our Nation has only one option: We
must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American
military in its vital mission.

Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices – and showing a sense
of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it is like to fight house
to house in a maze of streets … to wear heavy gear in the desert heat … to
see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And those who know the costs
also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last
month fighting the enemy in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his
family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American.
Here is what Dan wrote: “I know what honor is. It has been an honor to
protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge
that you would not have to…. Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and
support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth

Staff Sergeant Dan Clay’s wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and
Bud, are with us this evening. Our Nation is grateful to the fallen, who
live in the memory of our country. We are grateful to all who volunteer
to wear our Nation’s uniform – and as we honor our brave troops, let us
never forget the sacrifices of America’s military families.

Our offensive against terror involves more than military action.
Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark
vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political
freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports
democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital –
but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule
of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions
that last longer than a single vote. The great people of Egypt have voted
in a multi-party presidential election – and now their government should
open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of
radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections – now the
leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work
for lasting peace. Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform – now
it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those
efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own,
because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet
liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty
is the right and hope of all humanity.

The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical
elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that
country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon
– and that must come to an end. The Iranian government is defying the
world with its nuclear ambitions – and the nations of the world must not
permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue
to rally the world to confront these threats. And tonight, let me speak
directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect
your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win
your own freedom. And our Nation hopes one day to be the closest of
friends with a free and democratic Iran.

To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by
encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in
hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting
enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We
show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity
and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a
refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show
compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and
despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, and
the drug trade.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS
and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations
that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people
everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life.
Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our
world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our
country. I urge Members of Congress to serve the interests of America by
showing the compassion of America.

Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at
home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us.
Fortunately, this Nation has superb professionals in law enforcement,
intelligence, the military, and homeland security. These men and women
are dedicating their lives to protecting us all, and they deserve our
support and our thanks. They also deserve the same tools they already use
to fight drug trafficking and organized crime – so I ask you to
reauthorize the Patriot Act.

It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government
failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the
hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida
operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was
too late. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me
by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist
surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international
communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from
America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority
I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority.
Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist
surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains
essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our
country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because
we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

In all these areas – from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in
Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions – we need the
support of friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be
clear in our principles and willing to act. The only alternative to
American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world.
Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values
that gave us birth. American leaders – from Roosevelt to Truman to
Kennedy to Reagan – rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that
America is always more secure when freedom is on the march. Our own
generation is in a long war against a determined enemy – a war that will
be fought by Presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan
support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us
protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead
this world toward freedom.

Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the
prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the

Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major
industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has
created 4.6 million new jobs – more than Japan and the European Union
combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters,
the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the
envy of the world.

The American economy is pre-eminent – but we cannot afford to be
complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors
like China and India. This creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to
feed people’s fears. And so we are seeing some old temptations return.
Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our
high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that
the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy,
centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear
claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy – even though this
economy could not function without them. All these are forms of economic
retreat, and they lead in the same direction – toward a stagnant and
second-rate economy.

Tonight I will set out a better path – an agenda for a Nation that
competes with confidence – an agenda that will raise standards of living
and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future,
because we intend to shape it.

Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. And
our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend,
save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has
left 880 billion dollars in the hands of American workers, investors,
small businesses, and families – and they have used it to help produce
more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet the tax relief
is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American
families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not

Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than
temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make
the tax cuts permanent.

Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax
dollars. Every year of my presidency, we have reduced the growth of
non-security discretionary spending – and last year you passed bills that
cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or
eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not
fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save
the American taxpayer another 14 billion dollars next year – and stay on
track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. I am pleased that Members of
Congress are working on earmark reform – because the Federal budget has
too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem
together, if you pass the line-item veto.

We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or
entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million Baby Boomers turn
60, including two of my Dad’s favorite people – me, and President Bill
Clinton. This milestone is more than a personal crisis – it is a national
challenge. The retirement of the Baby Boom generation will put
unprecedented strains on the Federal government. By 2030, spending for
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of
the entire Federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with
impossible choices – staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep
cuts in every category of spending.

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security, yet
the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away – and
with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse. So tonight, I
ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of
Baby Boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This
commission should include Members of Congress of both parties, and offer
bipartisan answers. We need to put aside partisan politics, work
together, and get this problem solved.

Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that
Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is
related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American.
With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or
out-compete the American worker.

Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds
our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy.
Our Nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must
have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must
have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty … allows
temporary jobs for people who seek them legally … and reduces smuggling
and crime at the border.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our
government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor
and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all
Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the
doctor-patient relationship … and help people afford the insurance
coverage they need. We will make wider use of electronic records and
other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce
dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts – by
making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance
with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get.
We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs
without having to worry about losing their health insurance. And because
lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice – leaving women in
nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB-GYN – I ask the
Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a
serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from
unstable parts of the world.

The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001,
we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more
reliable alternative energy sources – and we are on the threshold of
incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy
Initiative – a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research at the
Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To
change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in
zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind
technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our
research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in
pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional
research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn
but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this
new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach
another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports
from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of
America, this country can dramatically improve our environment … move
beyond a petroleum-based economy … and make our dependence on Middle
Eastern oil a thing of the past.

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all:
We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our
greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated,
hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge.
Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage
innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation’s children a
firm grounding in math and science.

First: I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical
basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years.
This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as
they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and
alternative energy sources.

Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax
credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With
more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our
quality of life – and ensure that America will lead the world in
opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and
make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations.
We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left
Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our
country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead
advanced-placement courses in math and science … bring 30,000 math and
science professionals to teach in classrooms … and give early help to
students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good,
high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America’s children succeed in life,
they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.

Preparing our Nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can
share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative …
and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our
greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and
how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate,
decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful Nation. Violent crime
rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases
have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth
is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than
at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to
teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation – a revolution of
conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of
personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a
role. Wise policies such as welfare reform, drug education, and support
for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our
country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right
to be proud of this record.

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the
direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions.
They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and
discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. And they
worry about children in our society who need direction and love … and
about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster … and about
suffering caused by treatable disease.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that
America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The
American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists
wrong before – and we will do it again.

A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under law.
The Supreme Court now has two superb new members, Chief Justice John
Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. I thank the Senate for confirming both of
them. And I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that
judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench.
Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24
years of faithful service to our Nation, the United States is grateful to
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut
ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life.
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious
abuses of medical research – human cloning in all its forms … creating or
implanting embryos for experiments … creating human-animal hybrids … and
buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from
our Creator – and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up
for sale.

A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust.
Honorable people in both parties are working on reforms to strengthen the
ethical standards of Washington – and I support your efforts. Each of us
has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility – and that is a
pledge we must never forget, never dismiss, and never betray.

As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the
character of America in our compassion and care for one another.

A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction
and love. Through the Helping America’s Youth Initiative, we are
encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child – and
this good work is led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. This year we will
add resources to encourage young people to stay in school – so more of
America’s youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of
suffering and emergency – and stays at it until they are back on their
feet. So far the Federal government has committed 85 billion dollars to
the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We are removing debris,
repairing highways, and building stronger levees. We are providing
business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate
needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the
storm arrived. In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow
citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer
is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child … and job
skills that bring upward mobility … and more opportunities to own a home
and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for
the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and
rich in opportunity.

A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can
be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans
live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African-Americans.
I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act … and provide
new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicine in
America. We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with
African-American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV
tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when
there are no new infections in America.

Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a period of
consequence. We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing
to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will
influence all our lives. And sometimes it can seem that history is
turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.

Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every
great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could
have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin
Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved
only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have
accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the
oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical
journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage.
Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will
finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and
excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral
commitments of this land. And so we move forward – optimistic about
our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

# # # Read the rest of this post...

What about Mars?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Read the rest of this post...

ATT sued for conspiring with NSA to conduct illegal wiretaping on Americans

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Yes! This is good. Bush may be untouchable, for now, but big companies aren't.

I was discussing this possibility a few weeks ago with a few other bloggers. Go after the telecom companies who violated their own privacy policies (that's a breach of contract with YOU) and possibly federal law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing ATT for both.

Yes! Count me in. Read the rest of this post...

Feingold: Gonzales "misled" Congress

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The Post says "misled" -- We call it lying. Either way, Feingold is challenging Gonzales for what he told Congress last year during his confirmation hearings:
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

In a letter to the attorney general yesterday, Feingold demanded to know why Gonzales dismissed the senator's question about warrantless eavesdropping as a "hypothetical situation" during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January 2005. At the hearing, Feingold asked Gonzales where the president's authority ends and whether Gonzales believed the president could, for example, act in contravention of existing criminal laws and spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

Gonzales said that it was impossible to answer such a hypothetical question but that it was "not the policy or the agenda of this president" to authorize actions that conflict with existing law. He added that he would hope to alert Congress if the president ever chose to authorize warrantless surveillance, according to a transcript of the hearing.
Given what we know now, that was just not true and Feingold wants to know why. Remember, at the time of his testimony in January of 2005, the White House knew that the NY Times had the domestic spying story. It could become public. Yet, that didn't cause Gonzales any pause:
"It now appears that the Attorney General was not being straight with the Judiciary Committee and he has some explaining to do," Feingold said in a statement yesterday.
Not being straight means Gonzales Congress...under oath. Lying is standard operating procedure for the Bush Administation. They lie to the media all the time, but those patsies just keep regurgitating whatever the White House throws them. But, lying to Congress should have consequences. There was a time when that mattered. The Bush White House has emasculated Congress in the same way they did it to the press. Pathetic. Read the rest of this post...

New Politics TV is up

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The follow-on to our DemsTV shows...

I have to say, the intro alone is worth it - please do check it out. Read the rest of this post...

Chris Bowers does a wrap-up on the Filibuster Battle

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
He has some questions. Read the rest of this post...

New photo of Gonzales proves he did NOT lie to Congress under oath

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Read the rest of this post...

News WSJ/NBC poll - HIDEOUS results for Bush on spying, more

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Ok, check this out. On Hardball last night, Tim Russert cites this part of the poll, saying how the American public supports what Bush is doing.
As you may know, since 2002, the Bush administration has been using wiretaps to listen to telephone calls between suspected terrorists in other countries and American citizens in the United States without getting a court order to do so. Do you approve or disapprove of the Bush administration's approach on this

Approve................................................... 51
Disapprove ............................................ 46
Not sure................................................ 3
What Russert didn't bother mentioning was the next question in the poll, showing that when you actually DESCRIBE what the Bush administration is doing, the American public roundly opposes it (it takes a blogger to find out what NBC and Hardball can't):
Do you think that the Bush administration should conduct wiretaps of American citizens who are suspected of having ties to terrorists without a court order, or do you think that the Bush administration should be required to get a court order before conducting these wiretaps?

Should be able to wiretap without court order ......................... 41
Should be required to get a court order before wiretapping .... 53
Depends (VOL).......................................................... 4
Not sure............................................................... 2
Let's just clarify this point. Only 41% of the American people think it's okay for Bush to spy without a search warrant on American citizens who are SUSPECTED OF HAVING TIES TO AL QAEDA. That's an unbelievable low figure considering how the question is framed. Too bad Russert and Chris Matthews missed the most obvious question in the entire poll.
How concerned are you that the Bush administration's use of these kinds of wiretaps could be misused to violate people's privacy--extremely concerned, quite concerned, not really concerned, or not concerned at all?
Extremely concerned ........................... 31
Quite concerned ................................... 25

Not really concerned............................ 22
Not concerned at all............................. 21
Not sure................................................ 1

Bush approval: 39%

Country on the wrong track: 57%

Prefer Democrat-controlled Congress: 47%
Prefer Republican-controlled Congress: 38%

Top priority over the next year: Bring most of the troops home from Iraq

Top view of the Bush administration: "misguided and harmful agenda" 39%

What role would you like to see Dems play in Congress:
- work in a bipartisan way to pass Bush's legislative priorities: 34%
- provide a balance so Bush and Republicans don't go too far: 58%
Read the rest of this post...

What Coretta had to say about civil rights for gays and lesbians

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Let her live on through her words. Read the rest of this post...

Everyone who committed perjury, raise your hand

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Read the rest of this post...

Head of the NSA lied to Congress as well about Bush's illegal spy program, which is a crime

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Ok, at what point do Republicans who claim to care about law and order, and values, and government excess actually step up to the plate and acknowledge that this is not good having our top government officials breaking the law in order to, well, break the law.

From ThinkProgress:
FORMER CONGRESSMAN PORTER GOSS: Well, lets — again, I don’t want to get into details. I’m aware of the public nature of this meeting. But let’s just suppose this sniper [in the United States] is somebody we wanted to catch very badly. Could we apply all our technologies and all our capabilities and all our know how against that person? Or would that person be considered to have protection as an American citizen?

NSA DIRECTOR MICHAEL HAYDEN: That person would have protections as what the law defines as a U.S. person. And I would have no authorities to pursue it.
But in fact, as ThinkProgress notes, Hayden was ALREADY pursuing such individuals under order from President Bush. So did Hayden lie to Congress, which is a crime, by saying he didn't have any authority to spy on persons in the US, or did Hayden tell the truth, namely, that the NSA does NOT have the legal authority to spy on people inside the US, but Bush ordered them to do it anyway, thus Bush broke the law? Read the rest of this post...

Looks like Gonzales perjured himself during his nomination hearings, under oath

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
I just realized, with the help of reader Tom, that Gonzales lied UNDER OATH to Congress about Bush spying illegally on American citizens (see post below). That's a crime. And it means that this administration engaged in a crime in order to cover up its other crime, conducting the eavesdropping illegally. As always, the traditional media likely won't care beyond today that we have an attorney general who commited perjury in order to cover up a crime.

More from ThinkProgress
. Read the rest of this post...

Gonzales lied to the Senate last year about illegal spying

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Kind of hard to claim you have the Senate's consent when you outright lie to them.
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

In a letter to the attorney general yesterday, Feingold demanded to know why Gonzales dismissed the senator's question about warrantless eavesdropping as a "hypothetical situation" during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January 2005. At the hearing, Feingold asked Gonzales where the president's authority ends and whether Gonzales believed the president could, for example, act in contravention of existing criminal laws and spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

Gonzales said that it was impossible to answer such a hypothetical question...
Read the rest of this post...

Brokeback Mountain gets 8 Oscar nominations

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
And the religious right said the movie would tank. Then again, they lie.
The cowboy love story "Brokeback Mountain" led the Academy Awards field Tuesday with eight nominations, among them best picture and honors for actor Heath Ledger and director Ang Lee.

Along with best-actor contender Ledger, and directing nominee Lee, "Brokeback Mountain" scored nominations for Michelle Williams as supporting actress, Jake Gyllenhaal as supporting actor and Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana for their screenplay adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story.
More Oscar analysis from Michael in NYC. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Let's do our own pre-SOTU spin. Read the rest of this post...

All that spinning and they're still at 39%

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
How's this for some pre-State of the Union spin -- a huge majority of Americans don't approve of George Bush and even more don't want him to set the nation's agenda according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll:
The survey, which was conducted from Jan. 26-29 of 1,011 adults and which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, shows Bush’s approval rating at 39 percent, which is unchanged from last month’s NBC/Journal poll. (Other recent national surveys have shown his approval rating to be slightly higher, in the low 40s.) In addition, only 25 percent say they want to see Bush take the lead role in setting policy for the country, while 49 percent say they prefer Congress.
And despite the massive p.r. campaign by the entire White House apparatus, Bush hasn't picked up any ground on the domestic spying issue:
On the politically charged subject of domestic wiretapping, 51 percent approve of the administration’s use of these wiretaps — without a court order — to monitor the conversations between al-Qaida suspects and those living in the United States, compared with 46 percent who disapprove. However, 56 percent say they’re concerned that such wiretaps could be misused and could violate a person’s privacy.
And in their gut, most Americans know that Bush and his crew probably misused those wiretaps. Read the rest of this post...

Coretta Scott King has passed away

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
NBC News reported that Mrs. King died last night at the age of 78. Read the rest of this post...

Say goodnight, Ken

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Read the rest of this post...

Amanpour says Iraq is a spiraling disaster

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Someone's gonna be bugging her phone now. Read the rest of this post...

Chris Matthews accuses Sen. Kennedy of molesting Judge Alito's wife

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Oh yeah.

Read the rest of this post...

The 25 who supported the filibuster

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
From Atrios Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Long day. Read the rest of this post...

Well that was fun

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
See what happens when you try to run two Web sites at once... Oh well. Read the rest of this post...

Homophobe to give Democratic response to State of the Union

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
On the unlikely chance that you thought there was any value left in the Democratic party after today, we have a homophobe giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union tomorrow.

This is so bad, I'm going to break my rule about not linking to the Washington Blade:
A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine clarified today that he opposes the scope of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage working its way quicklty through the Virginia legislature, but will nonetheless sign the measure as written if it is adopted, putting it to a referendum.
Ah, so Kaine was for civil rights before he was against it.
Gay and lesbian couples already have difficulty finding courts that will provide protective orders in domestic violence cases, she said. If the amendment is approved in November, the few jurisdictions and judges that do offer protections will likely stop, she predicted. Ruble declined to name the jurisdictions because she feared they could be targeted.

Anti-marriage constitutional amendments have been used to challenge custody agreements, domestic violence laws and health benefits for public employees in several states.

Carrie Evans of the Human Rights Campaign said Virginia's Marriage Affirmation Act of 2004, which prohibits partnership contracts between same-sex couples, could be used to invalidate custody agreements or advance medical directives.

It is doubtful that Virginia's constitutional amendment would affect those types of contracts, she said. However, there are many protections left vulnerable to the amendment, like domestic violence laws and health benefits for public employees, she added.
It's one thing for the governor to be worried about being "for" gay marriage in Virginia, the state that brought us miscegenation laws. It's quite another for the governor to not understand the difference between gay marriage and an amendment that rips away all legal protections from gay couples, gay employees, and their children.

The new breed of Democrat can't handle the concept of nuance. They can't handle the concept of some things being difficult to oppose, and other things being easy. Yes, gay marriage is a tough issue. But ripping away the rights of every gay person and their children in the commonwealth should be a no-brainer. You can explain why that's a bad thing, even to the people of Virginia, if you have half a spine.

Feel free to give the homophobe an earful:
Phone: (804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351
TTY/TDD (For the Hearing Impaired):
1-800-828-1120, or 711
Web form. Read the rest of this post...

Filibuster killed, 72 to 25

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The Republicans needed 60 votes to kill the filibuster. They got 72. According to CNN, about 17 Democrats broke ranks with Kerry and Kennedy and voted against the filibuster. Read the rest of this post...

Domestic spying controversy is growing

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Dkos has an excellent collection of updates about the "Bush spying on Americans illegally" scandal here. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Have at it Read the rest of this post...

Body armor likely saved ABC anchor

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Tell me again why Bush is so slow on getting the same body armor to our troops? Read the rest of this post...

CREW sues Homeland Security over Katrina cover-up

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
CREW rocks. Read the rest of this post...

The GOP's Supreme Court campaign began in 1982

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The NY Times reviews the history of the Federalist Society and their campaign for the Supreme Court:
In 1982, the year after Mr. Alito first joined the Reagan administration, that movement was little more than the handful of legal scholars who gathered at Yale for the first meeting of the Federalist Society, a newly formed conservative legal group.

Judge Alito's ascent to join Chief Justice Roberts on the court "would have been beyond our best expectations," said Spencer Abraham, one of the society's founders, a former secretary of energy under President Bush and now the chairman of the Committee for Justice, one of many conservative organizations set up to support judicial nominees.

He added, "I don't think we would have put a lot of money on it in a friendly wager."

Judge Alito's confirmation is also the culmination of a disciplined campaign begun by the Reagan administration to seed the lower federal judiciary with like-minded jurists who could reorient the federal courts toward a view of the Constitution much closer to its 18th-century authors' intent, including a much less expansive view of its application to individual rights and federal power. It was a philosophy promulgated by Edwin Meese III, attorney general in the Reagan administration, that became the gospel of the Federalist Society and the nascent conservative legal movement.
Read the rest of this post...

GOP Leadership battle getting heated and ugly

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Love it when they fight among themselves....and they're fighting over who is not quite as corrupt as the other. Because, it's a given the GOP leaders are corrupt and they are worried:
In eight concise paragraphs, two moderate and two conservative House Republicans put into writing last week what they say many of their colleagues quietly fear: the GOP's plunging poll numbers, rising public support for a Congress controlled by Democrats and the increasing belief among voters that the Republican Party is corrupt.

House Republicans will gather Thursday to elect a successor to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) as majority leader, and the perceptions of corruption, though "neither fair nor accurate . . . are reality," Reps. Jim Kolbe (Ariz.), Charles Bass (N.H.), Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Tom Feeney (Fla.) wrote in a letter to their colleagues, imploring them to vote for change. "We must realize that the Majority we have all worked so hard for is in jeopardy."
They can vote for change, but they're all the same. Blunt is DeLay. And Boehner is owned by industry according to GOPers themeselves:
In one recent fax blasted around Washington, a Boehner opponent sneered at the Ohioan's support from conservative commentators, saying they were ignoring Boehner's own links to lobbyists, especially those from one of his biggest financial supporters, student loan giant Sallie Mae.
Read the rest of this post...

Exxon Mobil sets another record profit

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
For the second straight quarter, Exxon Mobil has set a profit record. Remember that we are all in this together, just some of us are more in it than others. Read the rest of this post...

Monday Morning Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
So, I guess it's an understatement to say this will be an interesting week....the Enron Trial start, there's the State of the Union...also, the GOP leadership election...and, of course, the Alito votes. Read the rest of this post...

Millions of poor to pay more or have nothing in GOP Medicaid plan

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Well, those poor and young people can't really give very good political donations so what good are they anyway? If people want to participate in the new GOP America they better have deep pockets. Forget about what Bush is saying, look what he's doing together with the GOP in Congress. If only we saw cuts like that for Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, etc.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Mr. Bush plans to recommend a variety of steps to help people obtain health insurance and cope with rising health costs. But the bill, the Deficit Reduction Act, written by Congress over the last year with support from the White House, could reduce coverage and increase the number of uninsured, the budget office said.

"In response to the new premiums, some beneficiaries would not apply for Medicaid, would leave the program or would become ineligible due to nonpayment," the Congressional Budget Office said in its report, completed Friday night. "C.B.O. estimates that about 45,000 enrollees would lose coverage in fiscal year 2010 and that 65,000 would lose coverage in fiscal year 2015 because of the imposition of premiums. About 60 percent of those losing coverage would be children."
Read the rest of this post...

Even more documentation about FEMA incompetence after Katrina

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Just more of the same and a glimpse of what the US should expect with any attempt by this administration to manage anything. Whether it's Iraq, Medicare, FEMA, whatever, it is always the same mess.
As Hurricane Katrina victims waited for help in flooded houses or in looted neighborhoods, hundreds of trucks, boats, planes and federal security officers sat unused because FEMA failed to give them missions, newly released documents show.
Read the rest of this post...

Another open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Bed time Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, what else is new? Read the rest of this post...

Unitary Executive Won't Win the Filibuster Debate

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
I've seen a lot about written today referencing the "unitary executive" line of argument that some have put out as our saving grace in the battle to take down Alito.

The crux of the problem with this line of argument is that it ISN'T the language that everyone is using. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that if you polled the American public today and asked them if they even knew what the phrase unitary executive means, fewer than 2% of the country would have a clue what you're talking about. (Remember, in aggregate the left wing blogs speak at most to 0.3% of the total U.S. population.) If you have to spend half of your money opposing a nominee just explaining what your rationale is, you're doomed from the start.

And therein lies the problem, and John's point in his filibuster post below. In order to say you're taking a principled stand against something, and taking the extraordinary step of filibustering a Supreme Court nominee, you best not bring a knife to a gun fight. Twisted legal theories like "unitary executive" are meaningless to average Americans - unless you spend $30-40 million trying to explain yourself to the American people. Absent that size and scale voter education effort, you're just shooting blanks.

Moreover, that won't even move a single vote in the Senate. What moves votes in the Senate? Fear of voters' retribution when they find out what a vote for Alito means. You want to bring the gun to the gunfight? That's what you needed. You needed a public pressure campaign on people like Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee - they shouldn't even have their seats in the first place given the overwhelming support Democrats have in their states. Unless and until you have the TV ads and money available, ready to spend LITERALLY millions of dollars running ads saying that Olympia Snowe is going to be THE DECIDING VOTE on whether Roe v. Wade is overturned, you're not going to win.

And we can't even agree whether we would even run with the Roe v. Wade argument as the lead argument. You know, the one that John points out the American people agree with us on?

This is a very heated discussion, and understandably so given what's at stake. John has clearly agitated things here, but the reality is the discomfort should be felt in the strategy offices of leading Democrats and issue groups. It's their failure that should be the recipient of our collective anger. Read the rest of this post...

Hagel: Bush "Can't Unilaterally Decide That A 1978 Law Is Out of Date And Violate The Law"

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
From ThinkProgress:
Karl Rove wants the American public to believe only one political party disagrees with Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program. But this morning on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said the program was illegal:
HAGEL: I don’t believe, from what I’ve heard, but I’m going to give the administration an opportunity to explain it, that he has the authority now to do what he’s doing. Now, maybe he can convince me otherwise, but that’s OK.


HAGEL: Not yet. But that’s OK. If he needs more authority, he just can’t unilaterally decide that that 1978 law is out of date and he will be the guardian of America and he will violate that law. He needs to come back, work with us, work with the courts if he has to, and we will do what we need to do to protect the civil liberties of this country and the national security of this country.
Hagel joins other prominent conservatives - including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) - who have questioned the legal basis of Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance program.
But Hagel brushes by one point. It's not "ok" when the president willfully breaks the law. Especially when the law in question deals with US government agencies illegally spying on innocent Americans. That's a big deal. Read the rest of this post...

Why I Oppose the Filibuster

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Before you post any searing criticism of me in response to this post, I ask you to at least give me the decency of actually reading my analysis below. Then go for it. Thank you, JOHN

I understand that my friend Cenk at the Young Turks radio show is taking me on, on the air, about why I have concerns about the effectiveness and wisdom of John Kerry's filibuster of Alito. Now, if I were going to be a prissy queen I'd point out that I was against Alito's confirmation while the Young Turks were still undecided. But I'm not that bitchy of a queen :-) Anyway, I was going to hold off on any detailed analysis of the wisdom of this particular filibuster campaign until after the vote was over, as I didn't want to all-out criticize a campaign my friends were working on, but since I'm already getting heavily criticized publicly by a number of folks on the Web for my lack of joy over this effort, I feel my hand has been forced. You want to know why I'm not thrilled about this filibuster? Fine, you're gonna find out.

So here goes:

1. I want a filibuster of Alito. He's a terrible nominee, he's bad for America, he's going to overturn Roe v. Wade which will overturn rulings in favor of gays, women, and more, and thus I want to see his nomination go down in flames.

2. But, it is bad politics, and dangerous, to launch a filibuster if you do not have a campaign in place to get the votes you need, and equally important, if you do not have a separate public relations/grassroots campaign in place to get public opinion on your side.

3. Why is it bad politics? Why not just go ahead anyway? Isn't it better to fight and lose than do nothing at all?
a. If you launch a filibuster and don't complement it with a smart well-funded campaign to get the public on your side, the public will think even less of the Democrats than they do now, and that will hurt us in the polls now and in November when we want to take back the Congress. Why will they think less of us? Because they'll see us as obstructionist rather than as standing up to defend a noble cause. The only way they'll see us as noble is if we have a public relations campaign to educate them to that fact. But we don't have that campaign, so the public will likely not agree with what we're doing. That will hurt our standing in the polls, and could hurt us in November. And doing something today that hurts us in November is not helpful.

Oh, and the conventional wisdom criticism against the Democrats is already beginning. This from Newsweek's Periscope "conventional wisdom" meter:
Ted Kennedy and John Kerry's quixotic Alito filibuster campaign is typical Democrat slapdash failure. Next time, try planning.
And before you say you don't care if Newsweek likes what you're doing. You'd better care. They influence a lot of people, and their conventional wisdom meter is quite often spot on. In politics, the public's perception matters. And that doesn't mean you don't do something just because the public doesn't agree with you YET, but you most certainly don't do it when you have NO PLAN whatsoever to win the public over.

b. If you launch a filibuster and don't get the public on our side, you give Senator Frist a perfect opportunity to launch the so-called "nuclear option" where he takes away our right to filibuster, permanently. Frist has threatened before to launch the nuclear option, but then backed down, because he didn't have the public's support to go ahead and kill the filibuster. If we launch a filibuster without also launching a campaign to convince the public we are right, we are handing Senator Frist the perfect opportunity to kill the filibuster once and for all. It is counterproductive to make a move that helps Frist take away the filibuster.

c. If you launch a filibuster without getting the public on your side, the public will very likely savage the Democrats who support the filibuster - per se if we don't win the public over, they're not on our side. That makes it much less likely that the Democrats (who are already pretty spineless to start with) will support a filibuster in the future, even if sometime in the future we actually have a REAL campaign to make that future filibuster work.

Why? Because those Democrats won't realize that the filibuster failed this time around and blew up in their faces in terms of public opinion because we didn't have a real public relations campaign supporting the filibuster. Rather, those Senators will conclude that it was supporting a filibuster per se, ANY filibuster, that did them in - i.e., they'll conclude that it's dangerous to support filibusters, as a rule. And that will make them less likely to support filibusters, or fight back more generally, in the future - even less likely than they already are now. How it's a good strategy to do something that convinces Democrats to be even MEEKER in the future?

d. By launching a campaign that isn't well thought out, that doesn't have a public relations plan supporting it, and therefore, ultimately, won't have the support of the public, you set the Democrats up for a public relations disaster. And who do you think the Democrats are going to blame afterwards? Those "crazy bloggers" and their crazy "far left" followers.

Now, I couldn't give a damn if someone criticizes me or us or you. That's not the point. The problem is that the right, and many inside the Democratic party, are hell-bent on portraying the Netroots as a bunch of far-left kooks. They want to make YOU the third rail of politics. Crazy people who shouldn't be listened to. This kind of a campaign, where the Netroots forces the Democratic party into fighting a battle it isn't prepared to fight, only helps convince the party, the media, and the rest of America that working with us, listening to us, is dangerous. And that doesn't help us accomplish our agenda one bit. Again, it's not about winning a popularity contest, it's about our voices and our concerns being taken seriously. I think this effort undercuts that.
4. So the question remains, what possible good comes from the Democrats launching THIS filibuster now? No one has been able to answer that question for me. If you are going to support a filibuster, you support it because you think it is going to, on average, help and not hurt Democrats, when all is said and done. You do not do it just because it feels good. That's political masturbation. It's not politics. It's not smart. It achieves nothing, other than an endorphin high.

I'm here to make a difference in the world, not get high, and not base my political moves on what feels good. I support filibusters, or any other in-your-face political move, when they accomplish something beneficial for our side. I don't support them simply because John Kerry wants to be president, and decides to use the Netroots in a futile, unwise, half-cocked effort that he knows is bad politics, but that he runs with anyway because he wants to win the hearts of the Netroots in order to get our support for his future run at the presidency - to hell with how much damage he does to us.

The man announced the filibuster from Switzerland, people? What, he couldn't get a camera on his windsurfer? If John Kerry were serious about this filibuster he wouldn't go off gallivanting to Swizterland in the middle of it. He'd have stayed in DC, met with the million-dollar groups, met with the blogs and the grassroots, and coordinated a REAL campaign to win this, a REAL campaign to win public support, or at the very least he'd try to lose this in a way that's still "a win."

5. You don't have to win to win, but...
And let me expand a little on that last point. It's not always necessary to win in order to win. You can win by losing. Democrats have a big problem with the public. The public thinks we stand for nothing, and even if we do believe in something, we have no backbone. So, yes, I can see why some people might think this filibuster at this time meet both needs - shows we stand for something and shows we have backbone. But I'd submit to you that neither need is being met by this particular campaign.

Tell me exactly what clear message John Kerry, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the million-dollar non-profits are telegraphing to the public about why Alito is bad? Tell me, seriously, because I haven't heard any clear message at all from any of these people. We know Alito is going to overturn Roe, but the Dems and the groups are terrified to talk about abortion - even though the majority of the public supports OUR position on abortion - so that issue is gone from the debate. So again, tell me, what's the clear anti-Alito message the Dems and the groups are channeling to the public right now - the clear standing-up-for-something position they're standing up for? I can't enunciate it, and neither can you, because they don't have one.

As for showing you have a backbone, great, I'm all for showing backbone, otherwise I wouldn't have taken on (successfully) both the Vice President of the United States and the richest man in the world last year. BackboneRUS, I'm all for it. But how does it show backbone to launch a half-assed campaign that the public will likely interpret as shrill, extremist, and ill-planned? How does that make us look strong in the eyes of the public?

6. I get the desire to do something, but...
I understand the anger out there. The frustration. The desire to do something, ANYTHING. Our party stinks. Our groups are horrible. Yet our rich donors continue to give money to the same failed politicians and the same failed advocacy groups.

Far too many in the Netroots think that the choice before us is fighting for this filibuster or doing nothing. And in the grand scheme of things, they're tired, we're all tired, of sitting back and watching the Democratic party do nothing. Therefore they're excited to at least try the filibuster because at least they're doing something. I hear ya.

7. There is a third option...
But, you need to recognize that those are not the only two options available to us. There's a third. Destroy the Senate Democrats who did nothing to launch a REAL campaign to convince the American people that Alito must be defeated. Destroy the traditional non-profit advocacy groups who took our millions of dollars and did NOTHING to launch a real campaign to win the public to our side. And go after the rich donors who continue to enable these failed Democratic politicians and these failed advocacy groups like some addict who only needs one more fix, then promises he'll get better. If we do not go after them, if we do not force them to change or get out of the way, the same problem, the same failure, the same ineffectiveness will continue to plague our party and our movement, with no change in sight.

We have a choice. We have the ability to make change in our party. We have the power to make the Democrats stand up and fight like real Americans for real principles in a way that shows how fierce and tough and committed we can be.

8. John Kerry is using you.
A leader who uses you for his own personal gain - who plays on your understandable angst and tricks you into supporting a filibuster with no plan whatsoever for victory, who has no plan to win the war of public opinion regardless of the outcome of the vote, who simply is doing this because he wants to win the Netroots' support for his 2008 presidential campaign, to hell with how much it hurts the very goals that Netroots wants to achieve - is no leader in my book.

Tell me WHY a filibuster done RIGHT NOW and in the manner Mr. Kerry is proposing actually MAKES SENSE, actually BENEFITS the Democratic party and the goals of the Netroots, and you'll have my support.

But don't expect me to jump on the bandwagon when that bandwagon is running off a cliff, simply because it would make some of you more comfortable to have me join you on the way down.

(Read Matt Stoller's further analysis here.) Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Have at it Read the rest of this post...

The Filibuster

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Folks have asked why I'm not posting like a madman about the filibuster.

Well, I'm not going to give a detailed response until the vote is over, so as not to undercut my colleagues. I have some concerns about the wisdom of launching a filibuster when it's not associated with an actual campaign (online, offline, media, grassroots, etc.) to convince the public and the media that we are right in filibustering. I have yet to see that campaign coming from either Mr. Kerry, who is leading the effort in the Senate, or from the multi-million dollar non-profits who are in charge of fighting this nomination.

Why not fight anyway, what do we have to lose, some of you may ask? A lot, I believe. But again, I'm not gonna go into my thoughts on this until this is all over. The filibuster train is out of the station and I don't want to undercut my friends who are helping out on this issue, even if I very strongly disagree about what will happen if we fight this battle without a very smart campaign to convince the American public to support us in this rather high-profile action (think what the GOP did with Terri Schiavo, lots of brute force but not a lot of public support).

So, I'm simply writing this to let you know why I'm not rah-rah'g on this issue. I just can't in good conscience. But also, in good conscience, I don't want to undercut my friends by writing a lengthy critique, so this is all you're getting for now. I'll be writing an extensive post-filibuster analysis, no-holds barred, after the final disposition of Alito's nomination.

In the meantime, feel free to visit these links for more info on the filibuster effort.
- DKos
- Make Them Accountable Read the rest of this post...

Even GOPers want Bush to fess up on Abramoff dealings

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Last week, the Washington Post ran a scathing editorial about the Bush/Abramoff scandal. They noted that White House press secretary Scott McClellan considered requests for information about the interactions between the President and Jack Abramoff (who was one of the Bush campaign's leading fundraisers) as "partisan politics." Well, Scottie, it's not so partisan anymore. Your people want you to release the records:
Republican lawmakers said Sunday that President Bush should publicly disclose White House contacts with Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who has pleaded guilty to felony charges in an influence-peddling case.

Releasing the records would help eliminate suspicions that Abramoff, a top fundraiser for Bush's re-election campaign, had undue influence on the White House, the Republicans said.

"I'm one who believes that more is better, in terms of disclosure and transparency," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. "And so I'd be a big advocate for making records that are out there available....Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who appeared with Thune on "Fox News Sunday,", said all White House correspondence, phone calls and meetings with Abramoff "absolutely" should be released."
The longer that White House holds out, the shadier it looks. But is no wonder the Bushies are worried.

We learned this weekend that Bush appointee David Safavian tipped off Abramoff about an impending action by the government against one of his clients:
The document, filed Friday by federal prosecutors, asserts that David H. Safavian, the former chief of the General Services Administration who is under indictment, learned in November 2003 that four subsidiaries of Tyco were about to be suspended from obtaining government work. The filing, which was reported on Saturday by The Washington Post, said Mr. Safavian told Mr. Abramoff of the impending suspensions, along with some of the confidential discussions within his agency involving the issue.
Clearly, Jack Abramoff benefited from his relationship with the Bush White House. That's why they're trying so hard to cover it up. Read the rest of this post...

The Pre-SOTU analysis is in full swing -- time to watch the Bush team spin

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The Washington Post notes Bush's precarious standing:
Tuesday's speech, with its massive prime-time audience, may be the most important forum Bush has all year to try to seize the initiative from the Democrats and frame the election season on his terms. But he will be standing in the House as a far less formidable politician than when he stood on the same podium a year ago. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Bush with a lower approval rating than any postwar president at the start of his sixth year in office -- with the exception of Richard M. Nixon, who was crippled by Watergate.

Bush's approval rating now stands at 42 percent, down from 46 percent at the beginning of the year, although still three percentage points higher than the low point of his presidency last November.
Okay, that basically means his approval rating has dropped this year. Most polls have Bush's approval in the high 30s to lows 40s. Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stohlberg seems to think Bush's approval is on the upswing, although she doesn't reference any specific polls. She apparently was swayed by the smooth talking Trent Lott:
The president's poll numbers, which plummeted last year, are beginning to inch up. The vote on Judge Alito's confirmation is likely to give a big boost for Republicans heading into the State of the Union address. Party leaders say Mr. Bush's hand will grow only stronger after the speech, in which he is expected to offer smaller-scale legislative initiatives on topics like health care and immigration.

"His rhetoric was more impressive than I've seen it in a while," Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, said after Senate Republicans went to the White House on Friday to discuss their agenda with Mr. Bush. "He still has a great reservoir of support among Republicans."
Bottom line: This is a weak President. The scandals will keep coming. Abramoff isn't over. Fitzgerald still has some work to do. Iraq isn't improving. That means a concerted opposition strategy can prevail. In fact, the Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows stronger support for Democrats:
The poll also shows that the public prefers the direction Democrats in Congress would take the country as opposed to the path set by the president, that Americans trust Democrats over Republicans to address the country's biggest problems and that they strongly favor Democrats over Republicans in their vote for the House.
The Democrats have an opportunity. They need to be smart. They need to be strategic. The American people are ready for their leadership and their ideas. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Morning Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
What's going on out there?

Morning news shows are reporting that ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman are in serious condition following an IED attack in Iraq this morning. Read the rest of this post...

More chaos as the Saddam trial re-starts

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
What a three ring circus. The Iraqis must be impressed with the democracy and are wondering how they ever survived without it. Read the rest of this post...

New UK book: Bush and Blair conspired for war in Iraq

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The Mail on Sunday today is reporting that a book due out this week has more information on Bush and Blair's interest in going to war, regadless of what they said publicly. It doesn't come as much of a surprise, but the facts seem to be increasingly slipping out. When the book hits the street later this week, Blair and Jack Straw should be put back on the defensive.
Immediately afterwards, the two leaders gave a Press conference in which a nervous-looking Mr Blair claimed the meeting had been a success. Mr Bush gave qualified support for going down the UN route. But observers noted the awkward body language between the two men. Sands' book explains why. Far from giving a genuine endorsement to Mr Blair's attempt to gain full UN approval, Mr Bush was only going through the motions. And Mr Blair not only knew it, but went along with it.

The description of the January 31 meeting echoes the recent memoirs of Britain's former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer.

Meyer, who was excluded from the private session between Blair and Bush, claimed the summit marked the culmination of the Prime Minister's failure to use his influence to hold back Mr Bush.

In view of Sands' disclosures, Blair had every reason to look awkward: he knew that despite his public talk of getting UN support, privately he had just committed himself to going to war no matter what the UN did.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
And off to bed. Read the rest of this post...

NYT is pissed about domestic spying

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Great editorial from the New York Times.

And with the upcoming Senate hearings on the issue we'll find out once and for all if Arlen Specter has two mommies. Read the rest of this post...

Bush thinks we're "over-insured"

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Bush is preparing to address health care in the State of the Union. That won't be good. Josh Marshall explains why:
But the core premise of the policies the president is about to lay out is that Americans are over-insured when it comes to health insurance. Over-insured. Got too much insurance.

These aren't my words. These are the words used by the conservative policy-wonks who came up with the president's proposals. Just hop over to Google and start googling the phrase 'over insured' along with 'health' and 'conservative'. This what they think; and what the president thinks. It's why he's behind these ideas.

So the president thinks the problem is that people have too much health insurance. People are over-insured.
Now, maybe in the circles in which the President travels, people are over-insured. But, that's not true in most of America. If anything, we're over-insurance companied. The insurance companies suck up our time and our resources to prevent adequate health care, not deliver it.

Bush is on the side of the insurance companies. Every step he takes on health care will benefit them, not the rest of us. Read the rest of this post...

Earth facing a "tipping point" as Bush remains in denial

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
An environmental double whammy from the two big papers. From the NY Times, we see how the Bush Administration spends their time silencing scientists who warn about climate change -- there's a post below on that article. Meanwhile, we learn from the Washington Post that the earth is approaching an environmental tipping point:
Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend.

This "tipping point" scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers in the United States and abroad, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. While scientists remain uncertain when such a point might occur, many say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible.

There are three specific events that these scientists describe as especially worrisome and potentially imminent, although the time frames are a matter of dispute: widespread coral bleaching that could damage the world's fisheries within three decades; dramatic sea level rise by the end of the century that would take tens of thousands of years to reverse; and, within 200 years, a shutdown of the ocean current that moderates temperatures in northern Europe.
Reading this article was almost like reading the script of a movie. The scientists are warning of a problem, but the bumbling politicians are in denial. Unfortunately, this isn't a movie. The Bush team continues to deny and ignore the science that shows the earth is in trouble. It is hard to believe that with all of our technological advances, we can't solve these problems. That would take leadership -- which is something we are sorely missing. Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Evening Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
No, AMERICAblog did not get invited to the Alfalfa Club tonight...and we wouldn't have gone anyway. Read the rest of this post...

More efforts by the Bush team to silence science

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
If the Bush Administration isn't lying, they are censoring:
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.
Good for you, Dr. Hansen. Keep speaking out. Read the rest of this post...

VIDEO: Bush's State of the Union address

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
As done by an impersonator. It's about 5 to 8 minutes, and really worth sticking through, it gets better as it goes on. Pay special attention to Cheney and Hastert in the background. Read the rest of this post...

Commission to rebuild New Orleans made up of massive Bush donors

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Surprise. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
What are you hearing? Read the rest of this post...

Bush CUTTING Army Reserve, National Guard

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
As Katrina showed, the National Guard is already stretched thin in doing the job that it was designed for - protecting the nation. War abroad may be protecting the nation by proxy, but it leaves you short-handed at home. So after years of war in Iraq and nothing but more of the same to come, what does George Bush decide? He decides, I kid you not, to cut the size of the Army Reserve AND National Guard. From AP:
President Bush will use his new budget to propose cutting the size of the Army Reserve to its lowest level in three decades and stripping up to $4 billion from two fighter aircraft programs.

The proposals, likely to face opposition on Capitol Hill, come as the Defense Department struggles to trim personnel costs and other expenses to pay for the war in Iraq and a host of other pricey aircraft and high-tech programs. Bush will send his 2007 budget to Congress on Feb. 6.

The proposed Army Reserve cut is part of a broader plan to achieve a new balance of troop strength and combat power among the active Army, the National Guard and reserves to fight the global war on terrorism and to defend the homeland.

The Army sent a letter to members of Congress on Thursday outlining the plan. A copy was provided to The Associated Press.
Why the hell would one want to cut the Reserve during war time? Well the answer is because they gave up:
Under the plan, the authorized troop strength of the Army Reserve would drop from 205,000 Ã?‚— the current number of slots it is allowed Ã?‚— to 188,000, the actual number of soldiers it had at the end of 2005. Because of recruiting and other problems, the Army Reserve has been unable to fill its ranks to its authorized level.

Army leaders have said they are taking a similar approach to shrinking the National Guard. They are proposing to cut that force from its authorized level of 350,000 soldiers to 333,000, the actual number now on the rolls.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Because you can't recruit (oh, I wonder why?) your answer is to CUT the size of the military at a time war? WTF!! Tax cuts stay, we don't need more money in a time of war!

Democrats there is a HUGE, ENORMOUS and MASSIVE opportunity for you here. A sustained campaign by the nation's Democratic Governors opposing the National Guard cuts paired with a plan in the House and Senate to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for the war in Iraq could reap you enormous political hay in the future. In one move you go from being a party on the defensive in national security to the offense. You don't get handed a whole lot of opportunities like that. Pick a spokesperson now - only ONE and get them on TV as THE point person on this issue - and get a sustained PR campaign plan ready that you can launch after Alito. It'd be the right next move. Filibusterer Alito through the State of the Union and then move on to this and pretty soon it will be Spring, right in time to begin the 2006 cycle with a weaker opponent... Read the rest of this post...

Wash. Post documents the Bush failings in New Orleans

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The Washington Post examines the lack of progress in New Orleans compared to what Bush promised. If we all didn't know how incompetent Bush was, this article would be shocking. Instead, it's expected:
While the administration can claim some clear progress, Bush's ringing call from New Orleans's Jackson Square on Sept. 15 to "do what it takes" to make the city rise from the waters has not been matched by action, critics at multiple levels of government say, resulting in a record that is largely incomplete as Bush heads into next week's State of the Union address.
Just because Bush said he'd rebuild New Orleans, doesn't make it true. Bush got a good photo op, New Orleans got the shaft:
The problems include the slow federal cleanup of debris in Mississippi and Louisiana; a lack of authority for Bush's handpicked recovery coordinator, Donald E. Powell; the shortage and poor quality of housing for evacuees; and federal restrictions on reconstruction money and where coastal communities can rebuild.
What's amazing on some levels is the lack of outrage that one hears from elected officials and other pundits about Bush's failings in the Gulf Coast. The GOPers won't challenge Bush, and the Democrats from that region apparently have no voice.

Right after Bush's September 15 speech, Democratic pundit Donna Brazile wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, titled "I Will Rebuild With You, Mr. President." Since the President isn't rebuilding New Orleans, one wonders if Donna recanted her unbridled praise for Bush -- she "could not have been prouder of the President" that night. Hmmm. Read the rest of this post...

Most Americans think Bush's second term is a failure

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Looks like there are some rough seas ahead for Bush with that failing grade. Americans also believe that they were misled by Bush about WMD. Even 52% believe that his entire term in office is a failure. Why do Americans hate America? Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Off to bed. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Orchid Blogging

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

A simple white phalaenopsis (moth orchid) from the show last week at the US Botanic Garden, right next to the US Capitol building. Simple, but lovely.

That's it. Enjoy.

JOHN Read the rest of this post...

Just found out I'm going to Amsterdam (woo woo)

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Three days ago I got offered a trip to Amsterdam from the Dutch Tourism Agency. The Dutch were very excited to organize a first-ever trip of bloggers (they invite journalists all the time, but have never invited bloggers). But as it was their trip, I didn't want to scoop them on it by telling you guys on Tuesday. Well, today they told the public about it, so today I'm telling you about it.

Basically, the trip is really an in-kind blog ad buy - they get a month-long ad on the blog (the ones in the right column), and they pay for the ad with a trip instead of cash (the trip is actually valued at much less than the one month cost of the ad on this site). But still, I'd be far less likely to spend the money on a trip had they paid in cash, so I kind of like being nudged into going.

Anyway, it definitely sounds like fun. It'll be 6 days at the end of February. We're not required to blog about the trip or anything, but I will anyway - as my regular readers know, I travel a lot and like to do travel blogging. I've asked the Dutch if they can hook me up with any bloggers over there, and any interesting meetings with local political types etc. I'd also love to meet up with any AMERICAblog readers in the area, if there are any. The trip isn't until the end of February, so we have time.

Of course, as is to be expected, there have already been a few naysayers calling me Jack Abramoff for going on the trip. Yes, you see, I have this secret expose I'm planning on a scandal involving the Amsterdam sewer system and those darn crafty Dutch finally figured out a way to buy me off - pay me LESS than the usual price for an ad on my site! My God, how they didn't take over the world is beyond me.

Anyone seriously worried about me being bought off by the crafty Dutch, talk to the folks at Syriana the movie. They ran an ad on my site, gave me a free ticket to the movie, I went, kind of hated the movie, so I came back and wrote that I didn't like it. They then didn't renew the ad for a second week. Oh well.

I calls 'em like I sees 'em. And in any case, someone is always going to be unhappy with something I do or something I write (hell, I get shit every time I ask for donations). All I can do is charge ahead and have you judge me and the blog by what we strive to accomplish and what we do accomplish. And I'm happy to be judged by that standard any day. (Still the criticism bothers me, thus the long post - though Joe tells me I need a thicker skin :-)

And with that, I am so off to watch Sci-Fi Friday on Tivo. And don't worry, the orchids are coming... Read the rest of this post...