Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wanker of the Day

Fred Hiatt, for publishing this nonsense.

Late Night

You people talk too much.


Knit away.

More Thread

Mmmm. Thread.

Evening Thread

Enjoy. Out for a bit.


Over there:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two car bombs in quick succession struck a market in a mainly Shiite district in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 13 people and wounding more than 40, police said.

Also Saturday, the U.S. military on Saturday reported the deaths of seven more American soldiers, raising to at least 12 the number of service members killed in the past three days.

The most recent seven death reports were all the result of roadside bombs, two in Diyala province, two in Baghdad and three others at an unspecified location north of the capital.


What a baby.


(Just testing.)


Blogger is simultaneously demanding I switch to new blogger and
refusing to let me try to do it.




Jan. 27, 2007 - President George W. Bush concluded his annual State ofthe Union address this week with the words "the State of our Union isstrong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goeson." Maybe so, but the state of the Bush administration is at itsworst yet, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. The president'sapproval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll's history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who'd prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.

Public fatigue over the war in the Iraq is not reflected solely in the president's numbers, however. Congress is criticized by nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans for not being assertive enough in challenging the Bush administration's conduct of the war. Even a third (31 percent) of rank-and-file Republicans say the previous Congress, controlled by their party, didn't do enough to challenge the administration on the war.

The Rules

The rules of the media game are clear -- no jobs for the left, no accountability for the right.

Indeed.  There's literally nothing that a conservative can say or do which will get them fired or taken off the rolodex.

And The Winners Are...

Congratulations to Hugh Hewitt, Richard Cohen, Mark Halperin, Pam Atlas, and Dan Riehl, and everyone involved in Jamilgate for being this year's recipients of the illustrious Kippie Award.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

The Tale of Wayne Dumond

Wayne Dumond was convicted in 1985 for the rape of Ashley Stevens. In 1999, he was released after the parole board, under pressure from Huckabee, voted to do so. Two years later he was convicted of murdering a woman, who he also sexually assaulted. Dumond was also a victim of a vigilante attack, having been attacked and castrated after his rape of Stevens.

Now, normally this would just be usual tale of leniency being granted to the wrong person, the kind of thing which is inevitable in the criminal justice system. But Wayne Dumond wasn't just any criminal, he was a minor player in the grand epic of Clinton-era wingnuttery, and a cause célèbre of Freepers, a Village voice writer, authors, and most of all NY Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, who had made Dumond his personal cause and even went as far as claiming that Stevens wasn't raped.

What does all this have to do with Clinton? Well, Stevens is a distant relative of Clinton and this happened in Arkansas and... well, that was about it. Still, by the rules of the time, there must have been some grand conspiracy.

Huckabee has a wee honesty problem:

We note the governor accuses an unnamed "tabloid" of regularly speaking inaccurately of his "pardon" of Wayne Dumond. We know who he's talking about and we have done no such thing. We are well aware that he issued no pardon, but he did pull strings with the parole board to do the deed to let the killer out of prison to kill again. Check our article for yourself here. In this brief book passage, the Huckster also makes it appear that all the parole board members were Democratic appointees, though a a reappointee of his -- a lifelong Democrat who desperately wanted to hang onto the well-paying job -- was a key vote for Dumond's release and others who went with Huckabee would likewise be reappointed by Huckabee. In short, the book blames Dumond's release on Clinton and Tucker, overlooking his own loud and long advocacy of Dumond's cause, including through a right-wing tabloid columnist in New York using Dumond to beat up on Clinton, then popular. Huckabee has always looked good joining a parade. He could tell the truth here and not look so bad.

He could say accurately: He thought a wrong had been done to the castrated Dumond. He backed off executive clemency -- with its immediate release -- in the face of the victim's outcry. But he encouraged a supervised parole because he thought Dumond was rehabilitated and had served long enough. He was wrong in his judgment of the man's character he came to find out. He's sorry.

No breath will be held for this outcome. Indeed, Huckabee's book erroneously says Dumond died in prison in Missouri without having been convicted of another murder and with questions unanswered. But he was convicted of a killing in Missouri, with the help of DNA evidence. He did die before a second similar murder could be pinned to him there but he was the prime suspect.

Morning Thread


Late Night

You people talk too much.

Tomorrow we'll tell the tale of Wayne Dumond.

Friday, January 26, 2007



Speaking of Huckabee

There's no chance in hell Timmeh will bring up the name "Wayne Dumond."

Sunday Bobbleheads

Here they are:

ABC's "This Week" - Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; actor Kevin Bacon.


CBS' "Face the Nation" - Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.


NBC's "Meet the Press" - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and David Vitter, R-La.; former presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson; Kenneth Pollack, a Brookings Institution analyst.


CNN's "Late Edition" - Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.


"Fox News Sunday" - Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.

So, let's take these one by one.

Joe Biden - supported the war
Richard Lugar - supported the war
Duncan Hunter - supported the war
Kevin Bacon - unsure of his opinion on war.

Jim Webb - opposed war, though not in Senate at time.
Mitch McConnell - supported the war
Arlen Specter - supported the war

Mike Huckabee - supported the war
Chuck Schumer - supported the war
David Vitter - supported the war
Gerson - former Bush speechwriter, supported the war
Kenneth Pollack - supported the war

Chris Dodd - supported the war
Jon Kyl - suppported the war
Michael Steele - supported the war
Donna Brazile - unsure if she took stand on Iraq war, but is on board of wingnutty Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Sam Brownback - supported the war
Joe Lieberman - loves the war
Ellen Miller - N/A

So, while I have somewhat mixed feelings about relevance and effectiveness of protest politics, it's clear that 4 years later the dirty fucking hippies really have no choice but to take to the streets to get the message out.


Toby Keith says he was always against the Iraq war. Glad he had the courage of his convictions at the time, when this was the image he would show at his concerts.

Back in the Saddle

Welcome back, Jane.

Fresh Thread


New Force Authorization Bill?

There's an idea.

Go Sell Some Shoes

One wonders, really, what they're scared of.  Bush is a lame duck and everyone hates him.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Pentagon edition.

In Which The Balance of the Universe is Upset

This will be my second nice post about Joe Klein. I actually liked Primary Colors. One thing it did for me was give me my first inkling that the elite pundit class in Washington was wired differently than me. When it came out, I got the sense that they all thought it was some vicious attack on the Clintons, a scathingly mean parody. I thought it was kind of an affectionate parody, really, not totally without bite but not vicious either. I remember thinking "if this is what these people think is vicious..." at the time.

Having said that, Klein engaged in some "rules don't apply to me" behavior regarding his identity as the author, but I actually thought the book itself was okay.

...and, oh, hey Blogger let me post again. yay blogger.


In this edition, Joe Klein manages a post without any reflexive bashing of Democrats, positioning himself as some sort of Noble Third Way, invocation of cliche political narratives, or elevation of style over substance.

baby steps, Joe, baby steps... come back into the light...


Come on, Marty, have the courage to say what you really think.  But, regarding this:

I actually believe that Arabs are feigning outrage when they protest what they call American (or Israeli) "atrocities." They are not shocked at all by what in truth must seem to them not atrocious at all. It is routine in their cultures. That comparison shouldn't comfort us as Americans. We have higher standards of civilization than they do. But the mutilation of bodies and beheadings of people picked up at random in Iraq does not scandalize the people of Iraq unless victims are believers in their own sect or members of their own clan. And the truth is that we are less and less shocked by the mass death-happenings in the world of Islam. Yes, that's the bitter truth. Frankly, even I--cynic that I am--was shocked in the beginning by the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq. But I am no longer surprised. And neither are you.

It's great that over the past 150 years or so there has been no sectarian bloodshed in this country or elsewhere in the enlightened Western world.

I guess American Exceptionalism has been redefined as Exceptionally Ignorant.

Wanker of the Day

Tom Friedman.

Ari Ari Bo Bari

Pig in a poke:

WASHINGTON - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald took a gamble three years ago that White House press secretary Ari Fleischer might break open his leak investigation.

As Fitzgerald's inquiry was heating up into who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to reporters, Fleischer stepped forward with an offer: Give me immunity from prosecution and I'll give you information that might help your case.

What prosecutors didn't know was that Fleischer was one of the leakers. And without immunity, he refused to talk. Not even a hint.

Prosecutors normally insist on an informal account of what a witness will say before agreeing to immunity. It's known in legal circles as a proffer, and Fitzgerald said Thursday that he never got one from Fleischer, who was chief White House spokesman for the first 2 1/2 years of President Bush's first term.

"I didn't want to give him immunity. I did so reluctantly," Fitzgerald said in court. "I was buying a pig in a poke."

As The Pendulum Swings

As Roy notes, we're inevitably swinging back from a "peeance and freeance and painted schools!" period of wingnuttery to yet another "kill the brutes" phase.  Should be fun.

Damn You Al Gore!

10 degrees?  There was a cherry tree in full blossom around the corner from me just a week ago.

I want my global warming.


It looks like Blogger is trying to force me to switch my blog over again.  Which probably won't work.  Again.  So now all I can do is post by email.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

They Likey Tim


Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.

This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."

Even More Thread

You talk too much.

Even More Thread

Thanks to Atta J. for stepping in. When things are hopping here, even just going out for a dinner and a movie takes too much time. It's like I have children and have to run home to relieve the babysitter, except that I don't.

Mini-review: Volver... eh, ok.

Open Thread

Comment away!

Wishes Are Not Ponies

We are ruled by a child.

John McCain Voted to Get Rid of Minimum Wage

Very maverick of him.

Helping Lara Logan

Lara Logan writes:

From: lara logan
Subject: help

The story below only appeared on our CBS website and was not aired on CBS. It is a story that is largely being ignored, even though this istakingplace verysingle day in central Baghdad, two blocks from where our office is located.

Our crew had to be pulled out because we got a call saying they were about to be killed, and on their way out, a civilian man was shot dead in front of them as they ran.

I would be very grateful if any of you have a chance to watch this story and pass the link on to as many people you know as possible. It should be seen. And people should know about this.

If anyone has time to send a comment to CBS – about the story – not about my request, then that would help highlight that people are interested and this is not too gruesome to air, but rather too important to ignore.

Many, many thanks.

You can watch the report here.

In Which I Play Against Type

Yes, I'd like to know that Barack Obama was truly committed to a health care plan which matched his rhetoric on the subject, but presidential campaigns, especially this far out, aren't won on policy documents.

There's one issue which requires immediate leadership, and that's Iraq. On most other issues, happy soaring campaign rhetoric is fine with me.

Authoritarian Cultists

They're getting creepier and creepier.

The Price of Entry

Another reason income inequality matters is that it tends to increase the price of entry into mainstream society. Social (and economic) exclusion happens to people who can't afford the various status items - cell phones, nice cars, nice clothes, etc... - which are social markers which signal that you aren't a loser, which further impacts your ability to get a decent job, etc...

The Big Money

Bowers discusses where it's not going.

Not so infrequently I'm asked to do things, usually in DC, like talk to groups of people about how they can exploit and manipulate harness the magic powers of people like me. I do it, sometimes even paying my own way, for free in the general "we're all in this together" sense, and I can afford it so I really don't mind. Still, the assumption shouldn't be that just because someone cares about progressive politics that they're willing to do lots of stuff for free. Lots of people aren't in a decent financial situation.

Another issue is ad campaigns, the desire by interest groups and others to get support whatever their latest issue is. Nothing wrong with their desire to get free attention, but it's a bit annoying when they drop hundreds of thousands or more on traditional media ads, and don't throw some of that money at blogs.

Sure, it's great when bloggers get hired by campaigns to do stuff, but then they, you know, generally stop being bloggers.

Anyway, I guess I'm just meandering here. I don't have a solution.

damn blogger, I swear it's inserting typos into my posts.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Patron saint of liars edition.

....Greg runs a correction.

Better Headlines


Drive Up The Price

I haven't given a lot of thought about the optimal ordering of Democratic primaries, but I think I tend to side with Drum if for somewhat perverse reasons.

First, it is true as he says that the reality is that a good candidate has to be good at raising money and manipulating the national media, so it makes sense that good candidate training would require them to do just that in the primary. Having said that I really don't buy that Iowa and New Hampshire are all about making nice with voters at a neverending stream of diners. Iowa's about getting local political leaders who run the caucuses on your side, and New Hampshire's won in the media just like everywhere else, no matter how many times I see narcissistic voters from that state talk about "how they won't make up their minds until they meet the candidates..."

Still, I have hopes and dreams that both paid media and free national media will decline in their power to shape elections. Raising the effective price of running a primary campaign using traditional means might force candidates to get creative about other ways of campaigning, particularly by creating and mobilizing volunteers. You can't knock on every door in California, but your volunteers can.

Plank v. Spine

I wonder if the failure of the Plankers to confront Marty has anything to do with the fact that he controls the purse strings and their need to be in his good graces sometimes prevents them from saying what they really think.

Nah, not possible.


It's true, as Matt says, that the root of the netroots is the defense of Bill Clinton, though I think that simplifies it a bit. To me, it all comes from a fundamental critique of the beltway media - politics-as-high-school, High Broderism, opinion that ranges from The New Republic to the Free Republic, the mainstreaming of horseshit from the right wing press, liberals-who-hate-liberals, and of course the Getting It Wrong About Everything.

Move On began by, you know, agreeing with Joe Lieberman, at least until Joe Lieberman decided that censure wasn't just a ploy to get impeachment off the table but his personal moral quest to punish that wicked wicked man for his wicked wicked blowjobs. Even The Nation, no Clinton fans, eventually woke up and realized that Ken Starr and his media sycophants were more troublesome than he was.

As awful as our media can be now, as awful as it was post-9/11, as awful as it was in the runup to the Iraq war, 1998-2001 is really the period when they collectively lost their minds, from The Blowjob through the Gore campaign, the contested election, and the post-Clinton "pardongate"/"white house trashing"/etc. Fox News, while annoying, was irrelevant because they really weren't any different than the rest of the media, where Lanny Davis represented "The Left."

The media problem was a political problem as well because for some reason the Democrats have a history of caring what these blubbering idiots think of them. So, "our side" takes it cues from Meet the Press and the Washington Post, constantly trying to please them and compounding the problem. But, fundamentally it's a media problem.

So, what to read? In no way am I trying to come up with a comprehensive list, and certainly one could reach farther back in time. None of this stuff "begins" at a specific point in time, really. If not for the return of the Iran Contra crew I'd probably not even start until we get to Clinton, but it's probably necessary to reach back for a bit of a reminder.

So, in rough order. First, the Reagan years. Haynes Johnson's book suffers from being boring, but it's a pretty good Reagan era primer, or at least I thought so a few years ago when I read it. Some of the general social critique I imagine is a bit dated.

Hertsgaard's On Bended Knee (Tom Tomorrow just reminded me to include this).

Next, Lawrence Walsh's book about Iran Contra.

Next, Eric Alterman's history of the punditocracy.

Then, Sidney Blumenthal's book The Clinton Wars, which I think is especially useful for its earlier chapters.

Gene Lyons' Fools for Scandal.

Conason & Lyons Hunting of the President.

For the fictionalized version, Philip Roth's The Human Stain.

David Brock's Blinded by the Right.

The book that Josh Marshall never wrote about "Clinton hatred" in the 1990s.

Marvin Kalb's One Scandalous Story.

The book that Bob Somerby never published about the Gore campaign coverage, or just go read the Daily Howler archives.

Toobin's Too Close to Call.

Late edition - Johnson's The Big Chill.

Alterman's What Liberal Media.

David Brock's The Republican Noise Machine.

Wolcott's Attack Poodles.

Boehlert's Lapdogs.

I haven't read any of the books about the press and the Iraq war coverage (aside from Boehlert's, which gives it some coverage), though I guess as a first stab I'd recommend Massing's articles in the NYRB.

The Unseen War.

Now They Tell Us.

Unfit to Print.

Iraq, the Press, and the Election.

Obviously the point isn't that I agree with every idea or opinion expressed in these books, but they provide a rough narrative strand which certainly informs my view of recent history and the media and one which I think is, to a great degree, shared in the "netroots."


I know nobody listens to me, so someone please tell Chuck Schumer that he's wrong.

Sen. Charles Schumer, architect of the new Democratic Senate majority, argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the 2008 elections will not center on Iraq.

"I think Iraq will not be as strong an issue in the 2008 elections," said the senior senator from New York, as he enters his second straight cycle as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "I think the surge will fail and the president will have no choice but to begin removing troops."

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Iraq will certainly be the central issue of the 2008 election.

Please. Explain. This. To. Them.

Wanker of the Day

David Brooks.


Here's what Kevin Baker said about Klein's latest book in a review he wrote for Harper's:

Far from the objectivity that he claims, Klein exists at a perfect confluence of infantalism: all politics must be directed towards meeting his personal needs and prejudices, and all politicians must constantly entertain him.

Mostly unrelated, Kevin Baker's novel Dreamland was quite good.


Where do these people come from?

Morning Thread

Rock on.


Original Sin

JMM writes:

The whole Bush presidency was conceived in the original political sin of the stolen 2000 election.

This is true of the Bush presidency specifically, but I think when we look back at the modern political-media era, the original sin really is Jeff Gerth's first bit of journalistic fraud which was his first Whitewater piece for the Times.

It paved the way for everything which followed.

...which reminds me, for some time I've been meaning to do a post on the liberal "canon" which wouldn't so much be about the Great Thinkers and Philosophers which animate our discourse, but rather the books/essays which provide the basic narratives which are the foundation for the liberal/netroots view of the universe since 1992.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

They Write Comments

Thersites writes to Joe Klein:

So Klein's criteria for whose ideas are best for the nation rest on the question, "who is most butch?"

What does Klein contribute to the public discourse? Projecting his sexualized, class-based fantasies onto the public sphere isn't so much a public service as it is a disturbing look into the psyche of a shallow, anxious man.

Klein needs a shrink, not a column.

...they write Blog Posts. Thersites writes to Joe Klein.

[F]or all the fetishization of the corner bar where people are measured by the Infallible Test of Beer Having-With, pundits like Klein become awful fucking prissy when the actual language of American bar-goers is turned upon them: then, they polish their nails with disdain about the incivility of the Rabble. Klein wants to speak for the barroom: the last thing he wants is for the barroom to speak.

The Return of Scottie

Scott McClellan on the Daily Show:

I think I'm the only one who didn't hire a lawyer.

He's actually the one who I hope writes a "tell all."

More on Fox

This is a point I've returned to repeatedly, but the mainstream media - the "serious" media - really needs to figure out how to handle outlets like Fox. Aside from their complete lack of ethics or standards, they also imagine (or claim to imagine) they're correcting an imbalance which doesn't exist.

Fox came of age during the late Clinton years, when the Clinton Rules of journalism - later transferred to Gore - were in full force. In terms of substance they didn't differ much from what you could find on MSNBC or CNN night after night. Mostly, they differed in style. There were some signs that the rest of the media were slowly recovering from their Clinton hangover when 9/11 hit, and they let Fox be the leader in how to approach the news then as well.

At some point one would hope these outlets would recover their moral center and start living up to the standards they claim to, and in part that will require seeing themselves as a counterweight to the bullshit spewed by the right wing propagandists at outlets such as Fox. Not necessarily an ideological counterweight, though giving a liberal a TV show every now and then wouldn't be such a bad idea, but a factual one.

The right wing noise machine has not only gone unchecked for too long, it's been embraced and mainstreamed. It's long past time for that to change.

What To Do About Fox

At some point those in the media who imagine they have some standards are going to have to figure it out.

More Thread

Rock on.

Scoring Points

What Yglesias says, and then even one more thing. Unlike a couple of months ago, the Democrats control Congress. They have no reason to try to take Bush proposals and make them better, because they get to actually put their own proposals up for a vote. Republicans not named Bush also don't have any particular reason to support Bush proposals, unless they like them, so there's just not much reason to really care what Bush thinks about health care, immigration, or any other potential areas where Congress might be passing laws. Given the nature of the Senate, they do have to worry about pleasing some Republicans, but not ones named Bush.

Sure there's that veto thing, but Bush's ability to block good legislation is no reason to support bad legislation.

His War

Kos has some discussion of Republican attempts to make this a bipartisan war. I think they all missed something. Bush doesn't want to share his war. It's his war. His baby, his mission, his quest.

There is No Plan


Kerry's Out

Not running.


Someone has a crush on the president.

Imperial Tone

Drum takes care of Ruth Marcus fairly well, but what really struck me about her column was the Pundit On High tone which is increasingly grating. Memo to Marcus: Many people who are much smarter than you are very capable of coming to their own conclusions about proposed public policy. If you would stop hectoring and dismissing them, and implying that they are Not As Smart As You Are, maybe you'll learn something other than what Bush administration officials tell you.

The common rhetorical pose among just about all the Washington Post columnists is We Know What is Best For You So Stop Worrying Your Pretty Little Heads. God they're annoying.

Free Sam Seder

WWRL pulled Sam Seder off the air in NYC because he said mean things about Armstrong Williams.

New Yorkers, you know what to do...

UPDATE Call WWRL (over and over again) tell them you want the sam sedershow!
office: 212-631-0800
listener call-in line: 212-868-0975

send them a letter...
333 Seventh Avenue, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10001

fax 212-239-7203.

or email

Wanker of the Day

Joe "McCarthy" Lieberman.

Feel the Excitement

Payroll Tax Deduction

While there isn't a lot of point in discussing what I assume is a DOA plan, as Dean Baker points out the proposed health plan would in fact have the deductions affecting not only the payroll tax but the social security tax income tax but the payroll tax.* As Baker says, this would also impact worker benefits later on (presumably). In addition it would impact the amount of money the system brings in.

*no tax policy before coffee

Brit Hume, Bush's Sock Puppet

It really is pathetic.

Wonder what kind of health plan Brit Hume has? Or the people at Cato?

...regarding Cato, I've been informed they have plans with high deductibles and HSAs. True believers, apparently. Good for them.

Morning Thread


The Math

This is a late night half-baked thought, but it occurs to me that Rover may have convinced the White House Gang that he was indispensable, causing them to sell out Libby...

...and then there was a problem with the math.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Scuba Flippers and a Fruit Hat

Oddly, Webb did give his address in scuba flippers and fruit hat. You can watch it here.

or, on youtube:

Manly Men

Jay Carney is all agog about the Jim Webb response. Which is fair enough; I liked it myself. But cynic that I am, I do have to wonder a bit about how he (and Tweety too, in his very Tweety way) are reacting to what Webb said:
His direct delivery, his deliberate pauses between sentences, his old-fashioned accent -- all made it an unapologetic speech but not a lecture. He showed the Democrats, and all those who oppose Bush on Iraq, a way to oppose the war with dignity, humility and strength.
There's a bit of an annoying focus on process here: if Webb is right about Iraq, who the hell cares if he gave his address in scuba flippers, a fruit hat, and a Dennis Kucinich mask? Right is right, especially in matters of life and death, right?

But you know, if what it takes is for the Democratic party to find a Manly Ideal like Webb to articulate simple common sense for the Punditry to get on board with coming out against a hideously stupid meatgrinder foreign policy, then, so be it. It kind of reinforces something Digby has often said about how subtle issues about "masculinity" and "femininity" play into our politics. But hey, if this dynamic is now ours, well, OK.

Interestingly enough, I'm watching McCauliff (Now HRClinton's campaign committee manager) on the Daily Show, and he's telling Stewart "hit us, hit Hillary, we'll hit back harder." I like it -- mostly.

I wish our elections would be decided rationally, on issues, but they aren't. But if the Dem candidates have learned at long last to be feisty, hell, it's about goddamn time.

Knock Knock...

Is Blogger open?

Pre-SOTU Question of the Evening

Tonight, Bush & Lieberman, Second Base, or just heavy petting?

Chat Thread

Speech below.


Here it is.

Embargoed Until Delivery of the State of the Union Address at 9:01 PM EST
January 23, 2007


As Prepared For Delivery


Thank you very much. Tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own — as the first President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker.

In his day, the late Congressman Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., from Baltimore, Maryland, saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum. But nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter, Nancy, presiding tonight as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Congratulations.

Two members of the House and Senate are not with us tonight — and we pray for the recovery and speedy return of Senator Tim Johnson and Congressman Charlie Norwood.

Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

This rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour — when decisions are hard and courage is tested. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors underway, and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies — and the wisdom to face them together.

Some in this Chamber are new to the House and Senate — and I congratulate the Democratic majority. Congress has changed, but our responsibilities have not. Each of us is guided by our own convictions — and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we are all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this Nation’s prosperity … to spend the people’s money wisely … to solve problems, not leave them to future generations … to guard America against all evil, and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.

We are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences and achieve big things for the American people. Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on — as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and help them to build a future of hope and opportunity — and this is the business before us tonight.

A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy — and that is what we have. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth — in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs … so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move — and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise.

Next week, I will deliver a full report on the state of our economy. Tonight, I want to discuss three economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.

First, we must balance the Federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 — and met that goal 3 years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the Federal deficit within the next 5 years. I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the Federal Government, and balance the Federal budget.

Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour — when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate — they are dropped into Committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process … expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress … and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session.

Finally, to keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience — and so it is our duty to keep them permanently sound. Yet we are failing in that
duty — and this failure will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge and immediate cuts in benefits. Everyone in this Chamber knows this to be true — yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid — and save Social Security.

Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act — preserving local control, raising standards in public schools, and holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.

Now the task is to build on this success, without watering down standards … without taking control from local communities … and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools … and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose something better. We must increase funds for students who struggle — and make sure these children get the special help they need. And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future, and our country is more competitive, by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America’s children — and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law.

A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. We will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

Tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills.

At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, my proposal would mean a substantial tax savings — $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans.

My second proposal is to help the States that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the uninsured. States that make basic private health insurance available to all their citizens should receive Federal funds to help them provide this coverage to the poor and the sick. I have asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with Congress to take existing Federal funds and use them to create “Affordable Choices” grants. These grants would give our Nation’s Governors more money and more flexibility to get private health insurance to those most in need.

There are many other ways that Congress can help. We need to expand Health Savings Accounts … help small businesses through Association Health Plans … reduce costs and medical errors with better information technology … encourage price transparency … and protect good doctors from junk lawsuits by passing medical liability reform. And in all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors.

Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America — with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol — and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border — and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won’t have to try to sneak in — and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers, and criminals, and terrorists. We will enforce our immigration laws at the worksite, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers — so there is no excuse left for violating the law. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country — without animosity and without amnesty.

Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate — so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law.

Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our Nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments … raise the price of oil … and do great harm to our economy.

It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply — and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power — by even greater use of clean coal technology … solar and wind energy … and clean, safe nuclear power. We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol — using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

We have made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies in Washington and the strong response of the market. Now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years — thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of 3/4 of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 — this is nearly 5 times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks — and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will not eliminate it. So as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must also step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment — and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. The lives of citizens across our Nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our Federal courts. And we have a shared obligation to ensure that the Federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings. As President, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the Federal bench. And the United States Senate has a duty as well — to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. Five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that terrorists can cause. We have had time to take stock of our situation. We have added many critical protections to guard the homeland. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us — unless we stop them.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled — that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free-flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented — but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean . For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a Nation at war.

In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before September 11, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past 5 years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats …. instruct with bullets and bombs … and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” And Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.”

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah — a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans … kill democracy in the Middle East … and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

In the 6th year since our Nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this Government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.

This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our Nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and come to kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom — societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers, and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security … we must.

In the last 2 years, we have seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East — and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution … drove out the Syrian occupiers … and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections — choosing a transitional government … adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world … and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity we should never forget.

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. And Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

We are carrying out a new strategy in Iraq — a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we are deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down terrorists, insurgents, and roaming death squads. And in Anbar province — where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them — we are sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now is the time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad — and they must do so. They have pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party. They need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation — to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens … to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq … to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life … to hold local elections … and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success. Many in this Chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq — because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by
Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens … new recruits … new resources … and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11 and invite tragedy. And ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East … to succeed in Iraq … and to spare the American people from this danger.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you have made. We went into this largely united — in our assumptions, and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq — and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field — and those on their way.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. And this is why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. And we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.

One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military — so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next 5 years. A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle — because we are not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations — and we are working with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq’s government. The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. With the other members of the Quartet — the U.N., the European Union, and Russia — we are pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive — the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia , and South Korea, we are pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. And we will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma — and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur.

American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger, poverty, and disease — and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa — and because you funded our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in 3 short years. I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over 5 years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries. I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty.

When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look — and tonight we need only look above to the gallery.

Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine — but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth — or the duty to share his blessings with others. He has built a brand new hospital in his hometown. A friend has said of this good-hearted man: “Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things.” And we are proud to call this son of the Congo our fellow American.

After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children’s videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born — and in just 5 years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others — producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: “I believe it’s the most important thing that I’ve ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe.” We are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur — Julie Aigner-Clark.

Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks … pulled the man into a space between the rails … and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he’s not a hero. Wesley says: “We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We got to show each other some love.” There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey.

Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire — and used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs — yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy’s position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and gratitude of our whole country.

In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America — and these qualities are not in short supply. This is a decent and honorable country — and resilient, too. We have been through a lot together. We have met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence — because the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on.

Thank you.

Hey, Memory!

John King on CNN just now:

Last year at the State of the Union they [military families] heard the president say he was confident that by the end of last year he would be bringing the troops home. Tonight they will hear the president describe his plan, and try to sell his plan, to send tens of thousands of more troops to Iraq.

More Thread

I'll be out for the evening, so if anyone with the keys wants to chime in feel free.

Drink every time the phrase "need to understand" is heard. Drink twice every time you hear "bipartisan." Chug every time phrase "Senator Lieberman" is uttered.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.

State of the Union

Lazy bastard pre-taped it so he could get to bed early.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Ed Gillespie edition.

Your Moment of Gloat

Senator Jim Webb is giving the Democratic response to the SOTU this evening.

George Allen won't even be at the SOTU tonight.

Ari Told David Gregory?

I'm a bit rusty on my Plameology, and I never was an expert, but that sounds new to me.

The Last Honest Man

"Perhaps a last chance..."


"Do You Think Dick Cheney Can Survive This?"

Resignation talk from Norah O'Donnell (!).

SOTU Memories

Oh, is it that time of year again? On doctor's orders I have dinner reservations at 9pm, but I guess we can revisit last year's.

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.


I would like to thank Carney for this revealing admission:

Then he proceeded to deliver what may forever be the longest State of the Union address in history -- 81 long minutes of policy prescriptions large and small. It was interminable, a seeming embarrassment. That night I spoke to a top White House adviser to the President. "We're getting killed on this, aren't we?" he asked. "We're dead."

But the public didn't agree with the Beltway assessments of Clinton's 1995 State of the Union address, even the ones from within his own White House. The reaction was favorable.

In other words, that speech was like, you know, so boring. He talked about policy and stuff. Nobody I know wants to hear that stuff.

Throwing Out a Few Random Thoughts

Journalists make a lot of mistakes when they start writing for a blog type thing which allows for comments (thus making them aware of their mistakes). First, don't talk down to your readers. Many of them are probably smarter than you, and literally all of them certainly know some things you don't. Second, blogging isn't just about throwing random thoughts out there without bothering to check them first. Sure, it's a bit more shoot from the hip than careful writing is, but the internets have this thing called "the google" that makes basic factchecking fairly simple. Third, don't have contempt for the readers who care enough to read what you write and respond. In case you didn't realize, these are the people who actually give a shit enough about current events to maybe occasionally buy a newspaper or magazine, or at the very least click through your website and watch news on the teevee. In other words, they pay the bills. Being actively hostile to them is certainly odd behavior. And, yes, discourse on the internet can be rude and caustic, some people may make you cry by telling you to go Cheney yourself, and you certainly don't have to engage people who are rude, but really who cares? People are mean, wah.

There is one final deep injustice. Even though it's "just a blog," people may hold "Time's Washington bureau chief" to a slightly higher standard than they do "some random person with a blog." The reasons for this should be obvious.

Let the Wingnut Wars Commence


``They're trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,'' Wells said, recalling the conversation between Libby and Cheney. ``I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.''

I might even drop a dollar or two into Scooter's defense fund.


Is John Solomon fired yet?

Can't Deduct What You Don't Earn

As described by Ezra, Bush's wonderful health insurance proposal is pretty much the worst idea ever and, fortunately, DOA. Let me add that adding a new bigger standard deduction won't do a damn thing for lower income people, as they don't pay much in non-payroll federal taxes anyway.


jhritz at Kos transcribed MSNBC's coverage:

Even for people that have been following this case closely, the information coming out about VP Cheney will strike many people as astounding. First of all, the prosecutors made it clear that the evidence is going to show that the first person to inform Scooter Libby that Valerie Wilson was undercover at the CIA was VP Cheney. The prosecuters will also show that it was VP Cheney who directed Scooter Libby on how to handle the media inquiries on the Wilsons, on Joe Wilson's criticisms, that was a violation of protocal. In addition, prosecutors are alleging that VP Cheney himself wrote out for Scooter Libby what he should say to one of the cruicial reporters in the case and it was during that conversation with the reporter when Scooter Libby gave the confirmation to that reporter that Valerie Wilson was undercover at the CIA.

There was other information that was damaging to the Vice President concerning the State of the Union and the false claim that was made. The prosecutors say the evidence will make it clear that VP Cheney asked the Director of the CIA George Tenet to take complete responsiblity for the mistake and to make it clear that the VP and the president were not involved...

Liveblogging at FDL.

...more, just now from MSNBC:

Also, the special prosecutor claims that Libby destroyed a note which would have showed the Vice President's early involvement in this case.

Naughty Name

I'm so thrilled of the high standards set by CNN and ABC News.

I first heard about this from My Two Sense.

Not a Big Deal To Make Mistakes

As today's wanker demonstrates, too many journalist types seem to just be unable to admit mistakes. To me, it's one of the weird flaws of the culture of contemporary journalism. People make mistakes. Most aren't especially important, some are. But, whatever. You correct them and move on. I don't know why that's difficult. Sure, I've made a few mistakes on this blog that have made me want to crawl under my bed and hide for awhile, but that's life.


In this edition, Jay Carney earns himself the coveted Wanker of the Day title.


In this edition, Jay Carney demonstrates he doesn't know, or that he hopes you don't know, recent history.

He writes:

In late 1994 and early 1995, President Clinton was in free fall. His aides despaired. They worried he might never recover from the shellacking the Democrats took in the 1994 mid-term elections. His approval ratings were mired in the 30's, and seemed unlikely to rise.

As we can see from this handy chart,
Clinton's approval ratings were not "mired in the 30s." "Mired in the 40s," with a couple sub-40 and 50+ outliers would be an accurate description.

In addition, Clinton's disapproval ratings were much lower than Bush's, hovering at around just over 50.

Compare the above chart to this one.

Try again, Jay.

(ht reader T)

...other errors noted by various commenters:

The Vice President (otherwise known as the President of the Senate) and Speaker of the House sit behind the president at the SOTU, not the Senate Majority Leader.

Clinton never had to "recover" from Monica, unless polls in the high 50s and 60s are something you have to recover from.

Carney asserts that Bush, instead of talking about Iraq, will please voters by talking about "issues that matter to them." 48% of people, way above any other single issue, say Iraq is the most important issue.

Interesting WaPo Piece

In which they make the case against nepotism.

Morning Thread


They Ask Questions

Stupid people ponder public policy:

Do you favor personal savings accounts as a voluntary part of Social Security Reform?

Uh, personal savings accounts already exist? Do you people live in some other country which lacks banks?

Do you favor an increase in retirement age as part of Medicare reform?

Uh, no.

Should Medicare have an element of means testing?

Uh, no.

Do you favor opening up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration?

Uh, no.

How do you propose expanding Health Savings Accounts?

By not doing so? You people really are stupid, aren't you? If you want to make health expenditures tax deductible, just do so. What possible reason is there for encouraging people to put money into a special account just in case they need to spend it for a specific purpose? You people really are morons, aren't you?

Do you favor giving citizenship to those who are in this country illegally?

Uh, some, yeah, if for no other reason than I don't really approve of deporting parents of American citizens.

Should the United States send troops to stop the genocide in Darfur?

Dunno, you signing up?

Late Night

Rock on.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

JMM asks:

So who will Fox News fire for peddling the Obama hoax? How about the Washington Times? Who will they fire?

The answer is left as an exercise for the reader.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.


In this edition, Jay Carney reveals that he actually has no idea what the Club for Growth has been doing over the past few years, pushing primaries against moderate Republicans-in-blue-states such as Arlen Specter and Lincoln Chafee. That is, trying to replace moderate Republicans with wingnuts in blue areas where wingnuts don't have much chance of winning.

Today's homework for Jay Carney is to have him look up "Pat Toomey," the wingnut who almost took down Arlen Specter (51-49), and "Stephen Laffey," who came pretty close to taking out Lincoln Chafee in 2006 and who caused Liddy Dole to waste lots of money.

P.S. It's "Jon Tester"

Biology, Deal With It

Anytime the abortion discussion comes up there's someone who chimes in about how men should "have a say" in whether or not a woman keeps their child or has an abortion, blah blah. And, yes, in some ideal world where biological differentiation between the sexes wasn't exactly as it currently is that would certainly be nice. If we could star trek transport out the fetus into an incubating pool, or something, then perhaps some sort of compromise could be reached. And, yes, the whole "oops... I owe child support again!" thing might seem a bit unfair, and I certainly sympathize with individual circumstances I'm aware of where for various specific reasons the male in the situation is probably being treated unfairly.

But, much as with the "abortion is icky crowd," there really just aren't compromises that make any sense. There just aren't ways to split the difference. Either women control their bodies or they don't. Either the state determines that males are responsible, to some degree, for what develops from their seed or the state doesn't. Within that structure we can all imagine various situations where the ultimate outcome seems to have a whiff of injustice about it but those situations don't undermine the basic principles.

...ah, I couldn't find this before I hit publish but what I had in mind was this NYT column from wanker Dalton Conley:

That is her right, of course, and nobody should be able to take that away. But when men and women engage in sexual relations both parties recognize the potential for creating life. If both parties willingly participate then shouldn't both have a say in whether to keep a baby that results?


The bottom line is that if we want to make fathers relevant, they need rights, too. If a father is willing to legally commit to raising a child with no help from the mother he should be able to obtain an injunction against the abortion of the fetus he helped create.

In a word, uh, no.



Actual Journalism

CNN debunks Obama nonsense.

Wonder if Glenn Beck, who pushed it, will address this on CNN Headline.


Bush at 28% in CBS poll.

All Alone

I'm not sure there's any space left for McCain to demand a double-super-extra-surge-with-cherries-on-top, so I'm really not sure where he's going to go.

But the more interesting question is whether his mini-me, the Last Honest Man, will follow him.

The Absurdity of John McCain

Ah, John, if only you didn't let Bill Kristol whisper in your ear...


I'd like to agree with Mark, but it's made a bit more difficult by the fact that Senator Clinton's web site has a prominent graphic which says "Hillary for President" and her PAC was called "HillPAC."

Anyway, the real reason I'm much more like to use "Hillary" instead of "Clinton" is that I'm generally too lazy to type out her title and it's a way to differentiate from her husband.

I guess the point is - I'll stop when her people stop.


You could just sign everyone up and pay for it out of taxes one way or another. I'm flexible about how exactly it's implemented after that, but the biggest absurdity in all of these plans it that you have to add additional complexity to the tax code, and a ridiculous additional layer of adminstration/bureaucracy. If you want everyone to sign up, don't "mandate" that they "buy in" to the program. Just, you know, sign them up and take it from their paycheck. If they don't have a paycheck, they're still signed up.

You shouldn't have to make people, for yet another additional program, have to jump through hoops to prove that they're poor enough to be eligible for a subsidy, or to fill out yet another set of forms to get yet another refundable tax credit.

Just sign them up. Pay for it. There's no reason not to do it that way. Medicare for all, baby.

...adding, while I'm not thrilled about the idea of keeping our insurance companies around I don't think they have to be driven into the sea. Some countries have basic universal plans which include highly regulated private insurance companies as part of the mix. True universality in that people are essentially automatically enrolled (implicit in that is portability of course) and community rating such that the factors which can influence price are severely limited if not completely done away with are necessary. You could default people into Medicare and let insurance companies compete with that to lure customers away, or whatever. The details of course matter, but this absurd extra step of "mandating" that people "buy in" is just dumb. There's no reason for it.

Right Wing Frames

One of the most self-destructive aspects of many in the wider democratic party is the tendency to play into and reinforce right wing frames. I'm certainly not above Democrats criticizing Democrats, and during a primary season that's inevitable, but I wish our people could avoid criticizing each other in ways which help to elevate the right wing and mainstream media narratives.

More on Icknyess

As we've been through many times, such as in this dialogue between Katha Pollitt and Mr. Icky himself, it's never quite clear what the abortion is icky crowd want other than for everyone to agree that it's icky and try to make people who have them feel bad. It's this crowd that causes the mushy middle to support all kinds of "compromises" which, as I said, ultimately just make it harder for poor women to have abortions. So, if your goal is to make it harder for poor women to have abortions, then go ahead and devote your time on this topic to talking about how icky it is and how people who have them are bad if they have them for reasons you don't approve of.

If that's not your goal, maybe you should talk about something else.

Not Actually Icky

Plenty of women feel just like Lizard Breath. I'm sure plenty find it traumatic and I'm sure plenty have regrets for various reasons. There's no one way individual women should be expected to feel about abortion. If you don't think 3 month old fetuses are people, then it might not trouble you all that much.

Your Right Wing Blogosphere

Filled with idiots.

It's Your Body

I don't have anything especially insightful to add to the abortion discussion today. Rox gets at the basic issue rather simply.

Despite the attempts by those who are desperate to convince us otherwise, legal abortion and Roe v. Wade have majority support in this country. Reducing unwanted pregnancies has always been at the core of the reproductive health and rights movement. Lots of people are a part of the William Saletan "abortion is icky" camp, and as such can be expected to support legislation which makes it harder for poor women to get abortions, but that fact should not obscure the reality that most people don't want Rick Santorum to have the key to their uterus. As we saw just recently, even in Kansas South Dakota* people don't really want abortion to be illegal. The choice movement could do better, but it has nonetheless won the basic public opinion battle.

*And, in Kansas, voters chucked out their panty sniffing AG.

The Failed Pelosi Speakership

It's been a disaster.

Lies and the Lying Liars

FBI edition.




It shouldn't have to be said, but paid advertisements are not endorsements, implied or otherwise.

Though, I will say that Chevron is a wonderful company with a peerless commitment to the environment and human rights.


In today's edition Ana Marie Cox decides to stop making any sense at all.

The humorless but dedicated folks at Media Matters have been on this scurrilous Obama-the-Bomber story for days, but I'm sad to say that this is one instance in which they seem quite right about the truth still getting its boots one on while the lie does the herky-jerky on during the credits of "24."

Full disclosure: I'm humorless.

...ah, ok, it was a typo. Twain reference. Got it now.

...oops, as reader B informs me it's not a Twain reference, just something regular attributed to him. Steve Simels regrets the error.

It's Working! HOOOOORAAAY!

While some of us gaze at the mayhem in Iraq and think that's a sign things are, you know, bad, the junior senator from Arizona has a different view of things. Jon Kyl, from NPR 1/19:

There is no question there will be an increase in violence. And we should not come to believe that that increase in violence is a signal that this is not working. In fact, it's probably a signal that it is working in two ways. We have to inflict a lot more punishment on the enemy. We have to defeat the enemy there, and that's going to mean more violence. Secondly, they get a vote in this, too. And they're probably going to react very strongly with everything they have.

Fair enough. Since the strategy is working so swimmingly well can we get the hell out of there now?

How It Works

Regarding Iran, we have of course been here before. People start running around talking about how "serious people" all understand the "dire" threat posed by some country or other, headed up by the latest incarnation of Hitler. What should be done isn't quite clear, but serious people understand that something has to be done. Pretty soon all "serious people" understand that we must have the "courage" to "face the threat" with the appropriate degree of seriousness, and all proposals of "what we must do" which don't involve the blowing up of nontrivial numbers of people are quickly relegated to the "unserious" camp.


Wanker of the Day

Richard Just.


And on and on:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - At least 78 people were killed and more than 150 wounded Monday after two nearly simultaneous bombs struck a predominantly Shiite commercial area in central Baghdad in the deadliest attack in two months, officials said.

I know this isn't really happening, because The Last Honest Man told me:

Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do.


Still bouncing:

Bush's overall approval rating in the new poll is 33 percent, matching the lowest it has been in Post-ABC polls since he took office in 2001. Sixty-five percent say they disapprove of Bush.

Equally telling is the finding that 51 percent of Americans now strongly disapprove of his performance in office, the worst rating of his presidency. Just 17 percent strongly approve of the way he is handling his job.


The poll also finds that the public trusts congressional Democrats over Bush to deal with the conflict by a margin of 60 percent to 33 percent.

The president will use his speech to try to rally public opinion behind his troop deployment plan, but during the past 10 days he has made no headway in changing public opinion. The Post-ABC poll shows that 65 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, compared to 61 percent who opposed the plan when the president unveiled it Jan. 10 in a nationally televised address.

Well, I imagine he's still got The Note on his side.

Morning Thread


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wanker of the Day

Well, it's still John McCain, but he's managed to win it twice in one day.

I spent some time today trying to find any polling data which came even sorta-maybe-somewhat-close to this claim and I couldn't find it.