Friday, January 26, 2007

Still Around

I bought a new laptop, my first new computer in over 5 years. It's keeping me busy. I'll be back and posting again later today or tomorrow. Help yourself to whatever's in the fridge while I'm away.

PS- Interviewing Dick Cheney is like flirting with a bitter nun; you're just wasting your time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union

Well, it's over. I you read my preview on Monday, you can probably guess how I felt about it. Suffice to say, if you were expecting the President to deliver anything different from previous speeches, you went to bed disappointed. A lot was said in the speech, of course, but I don't believe the majority of it will even be remembered in six months (except, of course, for the scary parts). Prove me wrong, reality, prove me wrong.

If you need more details, the gang at Wonkette had a thoroughly snarky live-blog discussion of it. A less snarky, more substantive dissection was provided by Tim F. at Balloon Juice. You can pick one, depending on your tastes.

Finally, the Democratic response-- delivered by Sen. Jim Webb-- was even better than expected. Half on the economy, half on our Mideast policies, Webb clearly outlined where those in opposition to the President stand and how they'd like to proceed. He ended the speech with this: "Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way." This is your new Democratic majority. And they mean business.

Here it is-

And with that, I am off to bed at last. Feel free to throw in your own two or three cents.

All The President's Men

Ahh, more conventional wisdom down the toilet. We were told last year that the CIA leak story was over, no big deal, move along nothing to see here. Now that the perjury/obstruction of justice trial of Scooter Libby has begun (we're literally only one day in), it's becoming clear that this will be one of the top political stories to watch in 2007.

The revelations were a-flying today: Libby's team says the White House scapegoated him to protect Rove, Ari Fleischer supposedly demanded immunity in exchange for cooperation, the prosecution says Cheney and Libby may have destroyed evidence, that Cheney may have pushed the CIA to provide false intelligence for the 2003 State of the Union, and more. And it just got started.

This is the Watergate of the Bush presidency... an initially small story that reveals the dark inner workings of an out-of-control presidency. I doubt we'll get the same happy ending, but definitely keep an eye on this story.

Some related reading-
-AP: Lawyers paint Libby as sacrificial lamb
-Daily Kos: Cheney's REALLY bad day
-Editor & Publisher: Libby Jury Picked -- Includes Retired 'Wash Post' Reporter

Monday, January 22, 2007

Checking In / State of the Union Preview

I don't have much time for blogging this week, so I'm just checking in while I have a chance. I'll guess I'll also use this opportunity to ask who's still reading this blog... step out from the shadows! How'd you find me? Enjoy your stay? What's your sign?

The big topic everyone can't stop talking about these days seems to be the increasingly large field of prospective 2008 presidential candidates. Obviously this race intrigues me (the first without an incumbent President or Vice President in a long time), but I have avoided the topic here for the most part. It's just too soon to speculate. Primary season is a year away, folks, let's focus on more pressing matters until then.

Speaking of pressing matters, tomorrow night is the annual State of the Union address... President Bush's first before a Democratic congress and one he undertakes at the lowest approval levels of his presidency. It'll be very easy to predict. We know he has no accomplishments from the past year to brag about (with the possible exception of a decently-performing stock market, but that might as well be French to most Americans); instead, we can expect retreads of previously failed proposals.

The biggest issue to address will be the Iraq war. He'll urge patience with the surge. And if the oh-so-obvious timing of a leak of insurgent-related documents is any clue, he will make the case that this war is a matter of life or death for the American people (fearmongering? ohh c'mon, that is sooo 2003).

Some increasingly scrutinized saber-rattling toward Iran is also a given.

Domestically, the President will push for a health-care plan involiving "a tax increase aimed at (some) people who already have employer-provided health insurance combined with a tax deduction aimed at (some) people who have to buy individual health insurance" (I wonder what happened to his 'Health Savings Accounts' proposal from last year's speech?). I predict that this will get as far as his Social Security privatization goal did. And, of course, as I noted last Thursday, President Bush will propose another half-assed energy policy, expecting us to ignore his empty promises from previous years. Reports indicate he will also discuss renewal of his No Child Left Behind education policy and his proposal for a guest-worker immigration policy (translation: do our work and then get out).

No doubt we should also expect lots of calls for 'civility' and 'bipartisanship' addressed to the new Congress, with perhaps a camera nod to a happy Joe Lieberman.

Sen. Webb will deliver the Democratic response. I'll probably watch 'Veronica Mars' instead.

[UPDATE: Feeling nostalgic? Here's a YouTube clip from Clinton's last State of the Union.

UPDATE #2 (1/23): Actually gonna watch? Play Wonkette's SotU drinking game!]

Quote of the Day

"I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?

Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home."
--Conservative columnist Rod Dreher, discussing how President Bush and his failed war has caused him to question his beliefs.

As Barbara O'Brien notes, so much of what constitutes modern, Reagan-era conservatism is just knee-jerk reactionism against the phantom hippies of yesteryear (not to mention liberals and the media, etc). One needs only listen to the talk of the Limbaugh/Fox News crowd to know this is true. It has poisoned our politics for nearly 30 years now. God only knows what it would it take to correct that.

We have been moving backwards so fast, we have to fight just to maintain the status quo.

Those like Mr. Dreher who wake up from this spell are few and far between. This country still has a long way to go before we regain the sanity we have surrended over the past few years.

[hat tip to Green Greenwald, who's always an excellent read.]