Live-Blogging the State of the Union, George W. Bush January 28 2008, Part Three

January 28th, 2008

Live blogging of the Jan 28 2008 State of the Union continues:

9:32: What’s happening in New Orleans? A Phish concert? I missed what he said.

9:33: Immigration. Again, I don’t have big problems with what he’s saying here.

9:35: Here comes Iraq.

9:35: Liar.

9:36: He looks scared.

9:36: Liar. “Evil men”. For the final time, lunkhead, this is not a Will Smith movie.

9:39: I agree that defeating the Taliban is critical for our security. I wish we had ever made that one of our objectives.

9:41: This guy is just in too deep. I hate losing wars. I hate Presidents who lose wars.

9:41: I should say, I also hate wars. Not just losing them.

9:42: Depressed.

9:43: “The enemy is still dangerous.” Uh, duh, yeah. The question is, does the enemy still think we’re dangerous?

9:43: Joe Biden looks pretty good. Been relaxing, I guess. I always liked him okay.

9:44: Liar. Fool.

9:44: “Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq”. Does saying it make it so?

9:47: Whatever, George. Whatever.

9:47: Some guy yawning.

9:48: If I ever see this shoe salesman and his fat friend again after Inaguaration Day 2009, it’ll be too soon.

9:48: “More than 20,000 of our troops are coming home.” This administration’s reputation for truth is not good, so I don’t have any sense that this means 20,000 fewer troops will actually be in Iraq. Something tells me another 20,000 are going in.

9:51: “A free Iraq will deny Al Qaeda a safe haven”. I just doubt it. Anyway, they already have Pakistan and Afghanistan, so they’re doing fine for safe havens.

9:52: I guess I’m starting to get sick of my own sarcastic nonsense. I’m also starting to get really sick of this speech, and I would like to do something else. I wish this were over.

9:54: Now he’s getting tough with Iran.

9:55: I wish this speech would end. This is a very boring show.

9:57: “America opposes genocide in Sudan.” Well, okay. Good.

9:58: I’m going to skip out of here, and I hope I don’t miss anything big in the last few minutes. I apologize for filling my commentary with such trifling and conventional sarcasm. I deeply hope we will have a more peaceful world in the future, and I hope George Bush’s dreams come true.

But I gotta say, a competent and intelligent President can’t show up in Washington soon enough for me. NEXT!

Live Blog Out

Live-Blogging the State of the Union, George W. Bush January 28 2008, Part Two

January 28th, 2008

Live blogging of the Jan 28 2008 State of the Union continues:

9:18: I forgot Hillary was here! She claps for George W. Bush’s health care vision with very litle enthusiasm.

9:19: Barack Obama is not clapping at all.

9:19: Dick Cheney’s going to knock himself out with all that clapping.

9:20: Okay, Bush, we get the point: THERE WILL BE NO CHANGE IN USA HEALTH CARE THIS YEAR. That’s sad, but we get it and you can stop saying it.

food break

9:23: Yay, we will approve free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Show me the money.

9:26: Okay, at least he’s putting the environment into the speech (renewable energy sources, reducing greenhouse gases). No argument on any of these points, George.

9:27: Barack is applauding.

9:27: If Bush really devotes himself to energy/environmental initiatives in his final year, instead of pretending he’s going to create peace between Palestine and Israel, he could actually have a good final year.

9:28: Are we going to talk about abortion now? I get the feeling he’s steering that way.

9:30: He skirted abortion, nice move actually George. Now, this thing about selling, cloning etc. of human life — that’s some tricky stuff, but I think it’s good Bush is bringing these thorny questions into the national debate.

Not a bad quarter for the President. But we didn’t get to Iraq yet, so hang on for more.

Live-Blogging the State of the Union, George W. Bush January 28 2008

January 28th, 2008

I’ve always wanted to live-blog some televised political event. This might become a bad habit here. Okay, it’s the State of the Union, let’s get started.

Dateline: Washington DC, January 28 2008, 9 pm. Every channel. Speaker: George W. Bush, President of the United States.

8:59: What is this, a fucking red carpet?

9:00: Condoleeza Rice looks nervous.

9:05: (responding to pre-speech CNN voiceover) I’m sick of this “he will work hard for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement” nonsense. It’s a screen for Bush to drink tea with old friends and look important as he rides out his last year. He does not have the standing within the Middle East to broker a significant peace agreement. That requires trust and a reputation for wisdom.

9:06: Still waiting for the President to walk in the room.

9:06: Is somebody getting married? I see the groom.

9:09: And there’s his fat friend, Dick Cheney.

9:10: “In the past seven years our country has been challenged in ways we never dreamed possible.” Yeah, you were our President.

9:12: I’m already bored.

9:15: “Any taxes come across my desk, I will veto it.” This should be a hell of a productive year.

First quarter over, nothing much yet. More to follow.

Gosh, I Love America

January 8th, 2008

Gosh, I love America. You know why? Because America has the good sense *not* to fall for a well-funded plastic candidate like Mitt Romney. New Hampshire put John McCain on top, and while I intensely disagree with McCain’s Iraq policy, I do agree with the Republican voters that McCain is the best of their entire field.

I’m still not completely decided on Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for my own party — I like them both very much. But I think Clinton’s inability to dominate the Democratic nomination is also a good portent for American democracy in the sense that Hillary Clinton is also a massively-financed candidate.

With regard to both Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton, voters are proving that well-financed candidates don’t always win. This is very encouraging for America.

Inanity Still Rules the Airwaves (via Huffington Post)

January 7th, 2008

I’m proud to be the author of this brief opinion piece about Pakistan, Al Qaeda, Benazir Bhutto and USA television news at the Huffington Post:

Inanity Still Rules the Airwaves

If the Huff Post hadn’t accepted it, I would have posted this here. I hope you don’t mind me going where more readers will read it.

The USA, the CIA, and Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes

December 22nd, 2007

The Cherry Orchard has been quiet lately, mainly because I’ve been occupied with an emergency technical redesign of my other blog. I’m still paying attention over here, though, and you better believe I’ll be back in full force to cover the 2008 Presidential Election. If you’re wondering where I stand on that right now, well, nothing much has changed. I support Hillary Clinton. I support Barack Obama. I support John Edwards. I want a change in leadership and an end to the military mania that has been so harmful to this nation since 2001.

I’ve lately been reading Tim Weiner’s award-winning new book Legacy of Ashes: This History of the CIA. This book presents a single powerful thesis: from its beginnings in Harry Truman’s post-war administration, America’s Central Intelligence Agency has been riven by a split between proponents of two opposing visions of the CIA’s role: those who favor a passive, espionage-minded spy agency and those who favor covert action over information. The latter has predominated, from the 1940’s straight through to today.

The essential question is: should the CIA report what other governments are doing, or change what other governments are doing? Should it gather news, or should it make news? The CIA was successful at making news in Iran in 1953 and Chile in 1973, but the long-term effects of America’s bold programs to manipulate foreign governments are worrisome. Most worrisome of all — and this is a point that Tim Weiner pounds home repeatedly in this angry book — is the fact that while engaging in disruptive covert actions in every corner of the world, the CIA has clearly neglected the espionage side of national security. According to this book, we have far fewer high-functioning clandestine agents around the world than one concerned with the USA’s security would hope. We are laughably understaffed with operatives capable of reading foreign languages. We have been constantly undermined by double agents.

The commitment to covert action over knowledge seems to resonate with America’s cultural and political image, especially as expressed by Presidential candidates today. We are pragmatic, we are fearless, we “bring the war to them”, and our every move is above reproach because “we are America”. Unfortunately, this deeply ingrained approach to global politics has left Americans feeling more and more insecure in a world riven by nationalist, religious and ethnic hatred. Tim Weiner’s book is not about partisan politics — he expresses deep contempt for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (both of them best suited for domestic politics, both with terrible track records in foreign policy) and has the most regard for worldly-minded Presidents like Dwight D. Eisenhower and George H. W. Bush.

The book does reflect upon each American citizen’s idea of what our place in the world is, and one can only pray that our national culture will become more worldly, more considerate of international concerns, more multi-lingual, more respectful to foreign religions and alternative economic practices, and less isolated, less chauvinistic, less solipsistic. If we had put more effort into understanding and infiltrating the various societies around the world (rather than trying to manipulate these societies through imperious and unilateral policies), we would never have been caught looking on September 11, 2001.

Chuck Schumer: Vote No On Torture (and No To Mukasey)

November 1st, 2007

There’s an important vote — and not just for symbolic reasons — facing the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Nominee Michael Mukasey refuses to take a firm stand against torture as an interrogation technique, and this is all the reason we need to refuse his application to serve the United States of America as Attorney General.

The question of torture as an interrogation technique is not a simple one — in fact, many smart people take a variety of stands on the issue. I will not preach about it (not today, anyway) but I will say that I consider it a basic principle of my beliefs that it is wrong, and that it is beneath the greatness of the United States of America. No, I can’t absolutely guarantee that some CIA or Army or Blackwater operative’s failure to torture a suspect won’t result in a “smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud”. But I have thought hard about this, and I believe we are correct to take this risk. We will seek safety with better methods. A much greater risk than the “missed secret”, I think, is the risk that the acceptance of torture as an interrogation technique by the United States of America will be used as a powerful enabler by those who do not respect the rule of law either within our borders or outside them. This is why our presidential administration’s equivocation about the practice of torture is so deeply offensive; it stokes in many decent Americans a fear of a fascist future in our own country.

According to news reports of the nomination proceedings, Senator Chuck Schumer will play a decisive role in the Judiciary Committee vote next week, and has not yet indicated which way he will vote. Because I live in New York, Chuck Schumer is my Senator, so I will use this public platform to appeal to my elected official. Senator Schumer, please vote no on Michael Mukasey’s nomination unless he makes it clear that he will take a strong stand against the acceptance of torture as Attorney General.

World War 3 Ends My George W. Bush Honeymoon

October 18th, 2007

Well, that didn’t last long. I had barely finished praising our unfortunate President for risking the ire of China by meeting with the Dalai Lama when he went and did something stupid again. In a televised press conference yesterday, President Bush glibly improvised a line suggesting that “World War 3″ may soon erupt between the USA, Israel and Iran if Iran doesn’t stop its nuclear weapons program.

What a dangerous moron we have elected as President.

George W. Bush Meets With Dalai Lama

October 16th, 2007

Something quite miraculous happened today. For the first time in as many years as I can remember, George W. Bush chose the right diplomatic move to make.

I don’t think the news is highly consequential, but the fact that I approve of something this President has done on the global politics front seems itself remarkable enough to be noteworthy.

One Argument at a Time

October 9th, 2007

I’m glad to hear I’ve got some faithful readers here at the Orchard. A few friends have asked me why I’ve posted so infrequently, and in fact there’s a good reason. I’m doing a special project on LitKicks, an inquiry into the question “Does Literary Fiction Suffer from Dysfunctional Pricing?“. It’s been a very lively debate, so lively that it’s really sapped my stamina for the kind of politically-minded or philosophical debates we often have here. I also haven’t been able to pay attention to some recent news developments and subjects I would usually cover.

For instance, I didn’t post anything about this year’s United Nations General Assembly, even though it had been one of my original intentions here to blog about the United Nations (well, hell, somebody’s got to). This doesn’t mean I have lost interest in that subject; it just means I couldn’t pay close enough attention this year to have anything useful to say.

If you’ve found the political inquiries and discussions we’ve had in the past here interesting, though, I’d suggest you pop over to LitKicks and check out the very intense discussion we’re having about book pricing, book industry habits and hardcover vs. paperback demographics. In a way, I’ve begun this project because I want to see how such an organized inquiry proceeds, and the mission of this literary project is very much aligned with the mission of the political inquiries we’ve conducted here.

Which is all meant to say: don’t worry that Levi Asher has abandoned the Cherry Orchard. I’m just busy in a different orchard for the moment, but I’ll be back soon, and there’s plenty to talk about.