SOTU Liveblogging

8:59 – Just organizational stuff now.
9:02 – Laura’s entered, standing next to Lynne Cheney. Just sat down.
9:02 – Supreme Court enters.
9:03 – Cabinet enters.
9:06 – Nothing’s happening…
9:09 – Finally, he enters.
9:13 – Bush gives lip service to Pelosi having a vagina. An easy applause line.
9:14 – Mentions Tim Johnson/Charlie Norwood, calls for fast recovery. Surprised by the courtesy of it.
9:15 – Congratulates the “Democrat majority.” Go to hell.
9:16 – Charlie Rangel is doing a crossword. So Stanley-esque I want to cry.
9:18 – Calls for the budget to be balanced without raising taxes. Also, a pony and some ice cream.
9:20 – Calls for earmarks to be made public, cut in half. Doesn’t mention that the reason they’re public now is Obama.
9:21 – Onto Medicare/SS. Oh no.
9:22 – Phew, he’s moved on to education. Pats self on back for NCLB. Calls for expansion, more school flexibility, vouchers (which I’m actually sympathetic towards).
9:23 – Health care time.
9:24 – Children, elderly, poor need public insurance. Rest don’t. They’re different. It’s a genetic thing.
9:24 – Nothing more exciting than hearing Bush talk about tax deductions.
9:25 – Whoa. Totally co-opts Feingold proposal on state health care innovation.
9:26 – Calls to expand HSAs. That’ll fix everything!
9:28 – Immigration schpiel. Nothing new here. Tancredo looks pissed.
9:30 – Energy time. Technology that conveniently helps Big Coal and Big Nuclear is the answer, strangely enough.
9:31 – Calls on US to reduce oil usage 10% in next ten years. Good reception – the smirk is intense.
9:33 – Global warming. Calls challenge “real.” Lots of applause, lots of smirk.
9:34 – Condemns judicial filibuster. Isn’t that cute.
9:35 – Terrorism time. Flypaper theory is still in fashion – even Pelosi’s clapping. Why?
9:36 – Names foiled terror plots that, even if real and even if conducted at all competently, would have killed like five people.
9:38 – Terrorists are bad, apparently. Didn’t know that.
9:39 – Starts talking about Shi’a extremists. Name-checks Iran, support for Hezbollah. Oh. Crap.
9:40 – Moves on. Phew.
9:41 – “What every terrorist fears most is human freedom.” Rarely has such complete and utter bullshit been uttered in the House.
9:43 – Talks repeatedly about Hezbollah without mentioning who, you know, started the war in June.
9:45 – Goal: “democratic Iraq…that is an ally in the war on terror.” Name a bigger impossibility if you can.
9:47 – Talks tough on Iraqi government. Because the instability we caused is totally their responsibility.
9:48 – “Consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.” I know, haven’t they been?
9:49 – “Nothing is more important than that the United States succeed in the Middle East.” 21,500 soldiers and Marines would beg to differ.
9:51 – War on terror a “generational struggle.” Is forming advisory council on it, including plan to expand military. A good means to a wickedly stupid end.
9:53 – Is creating second reserve military for those who want to join the “defining struggle of our time.” Any takers? Anyone? Bueller?
9:54 – Mentions Darfur, Lukashenko in Belarus, and junta in Burma. Surprisingly good stuff.
9:55 – Foreign aid time. Hard to object, esp. on HIV/AIDS and malaria.
9:57 – Special guest time. Some NBA star born in Africa.
9:58 – Another guest. Baby Einstein founder. WTF?
9:59 – Another guest. Saved man on subway tracks. Daughter’s asleep. Insists not a hero, but agreed to be here. Hmm.
10:01 – Another guest. Iraq vet who won the Silver Star for courage.
10:02 – It’s over. “See you next year.” Don’t remind me, George.
P.S. What is with the Jim Webb hero-worship? Sure, the content of his speech was nice (aside from the nod in favor of protectionism), but he spoke with the charisma of a rock. Comparing the speech to Obama’s DNC speech is just slightly less silly than comparing Ted Stevens’ “series of tubes” speech to Cicero.

Libby Delivers

As a longtime Law and Order fan, I have a penchant for sensationalistic trials. Which is what Scooter Libby’s seems to be becoming. The fact that the defense is saying that Libby is a scapegoat for Rove isn’t particularly interesting. This, from Steve Benen, is:

MSNBC’s David Schuster, who has been covering the Plame scandal very closely for quite a while, said prosecutors have “astounding” evidence that should raise eyebrows throughout the political establishment, even among “those who have been following this case.” Among the new claims:

* “Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself…to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.”
* Cheney personally “wrote out for Scooter Libby what Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper.”
* “Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.”

Whoa. If this holds up in court – and based on what we know about this administration, it probably will – this could do to Cheney what tax evasion did to Spiro Agnew. Which would be a good thing, and not just for the obvious reason. Cheney’s resignation would provide Bush the opportunity to choose a new vice president. Whoever he chooses would instantly become the Republican frontrunner in 2008. But though this would greatly benefit the new VP in the Republican primaries, his/her close connection to the administration (however new) would be a huge mark against them in the general, greatly improving Democratic chances.

The Oscars

The nominations turned out better than I could have expected. Dreamgirls was not nominated for best picture or best director (though it led with eight nominations, mostly technical). Little Miss Sunshine, though unfortunately unnominated for best director, was nominated for best picture, best original screenplay, best supporting actress for Abigail Breslin, and best supporting actor for Alan Arkin. And The Departed got a full slate of nominations: best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best film editing, and best supporting actor (Mark Wahlberg). Very, very well done, Academy.
P.S. Dana Stevens – that Volver wasn’t nominated for best foreign film is a feature, not a bug. Sorry, Pedro, but ripping off the entire premise of Chinatown is just tacky.

Oh, Brownback…

…how can I resist mocking you for this?

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., began a long-shot bid for president on Saturday, hoping his reputation as a favorite son of the religious right can help him outdistance better known rivals.

Alluding to another famous Kansan, Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” Brownback declared his intention to seek his party’s nomination in 2008, saying “My family and I are taking the first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House.

Did Sam Brownback really just declare himself a “Friend of Dorothy”? Because I do believe he did.

Hillary

Surprise of the century. I still don’t see how she can win the primary, for a number of reasons:

  • As the situation in Iraq gets worse and worse from now to early 2008, Hillary – as the only one of the three major candidates to still think that the invasion was a good idea – will upset basically everyone in the Democratic party more and more. It’s not enough, in my mind and in the minds of many in the party, to call for a withdrawal after it’s painfully obvious that that’s the least bad option. The POTUS needs to be able to make intelligent foreign policy decisions based on the information available at the time they’re made. Hillary’s support for the war demonstrated that she is utterly incapable of doing that.
  • Hillary has no accomplishments under her belt. Obama, in two years – both in the minority – in the Senate, has improved government transparency dramatically, worked to address the situation in D.R. Congo, and reduced the availability of small arms globally. After six years – two in the majority – Hillary has no similar accomplishments, and much of her proposed legislation has been both trivial and unsavory: her video game censorship bill, protectionist legislation that would pay companies to impoverish poor third-world workers, and a capitulationist bill that would criminalize speech in the form of flag-burning. She’s going to be hard-pressed to show that she’s been at all effective as a Senator, whereas Obama can show his results with relative ease.
  • Building off the last two points, Hillary is going to have to face the fact that what smells rotten about her candidacy – to me and to a lot of people – is the nepotism of it. She would be as viable a candidate for the presidency as Dianne Feinstein were she not Bill Clinton’s wife; the only reason she’s been taken seriously, and supported in some circles, is because of that connection. But she’s not Bill Clinton. She doesn’t have the charisma, the policy ingenuity, or the political tact of Bill, and that’s what makes Clinton fans like me more willing to support Obama, who actually has more in common with Bill than does his wife.
    I don’t dislike Hillary. Compared to Edwards, who is a grade-A snake oil salesman with the gall to run an anti-poverty campaign with a major component being a full-frontal assault on the poor, she’s positively refreshing. But candidates with Obama’s charisma and intellect don’t come around often – Bill and JFK are the only reference points that make sense.

  • Dreamgirls

    This is being called the best movie of the year? God, is this world sad. It turns out that combining music that’s two notches better than that in Cats, characters who one is loath to call one-dimensional for fear of offending number lines, and a wildly, nearly libelously inaccurate version of Motown history that goes far beyond creative license yields an Oscar contender. Among the more painful two hour periods in my life – even MST3K films have Joel/Mike, Crow, and Servo to ease the pain. I haven’t seen Babel or The Queen yet, but if the DGA nominations turn into the Oscar ones, The Departed or Little Miss Sunshine had better win, preferably the former (it’s the first Scorsese film since Goodfellas that deserves to win on its own merits, not just because Scorsese needs an Oscar at some point). If Dreamgirls wins, it would be the biggest Oscar blunder since The Greatest Show on Earth beat High Noon.