Late word from House gallery source that not only did Roy Blunt deliver squeakily the vote, 216-214, to complete Mike Pence's September initiative for Operation Offset -- cutting money from the budget to match the money spent on Katrina relief -- but also that Blunt is within celebrating distance of the 117 votes he needs for GOP leadership. Importantly, source does not say that 117 is a done deal. Blunt remains heavy establishment favorite, however this is a secret, secret, secret ballot and there is no motive for anyone ever to reveal his or her vote.
The Spectacle Blog
For those who dare to care: I predicted for 2006 "More bisexuality. The gay phenomenon is so last year" -- and sure enough Brokeback Mountain rides in with eight, count 'em, Oscar nods. Though director Ang Lee had the fashionable, acceptable attitude when he said, "I didn't know there were so many gay people out there. Everywhere, they turn up," it should be clear that Brokeback Mountain is less a gay cowboy movie than a bisexual cowboy movie. (Or, as the Washington Post calls it with such adult wit, "cowpoke.")
The distinction matters because the motive collapses into incoherence, a land where everything is possible but nothing is true. Reflecting such ritually subjective terms, Lee gushed, "I think I'm amazed how people everywhere have had the sensitivity to want to get into the complexity of the issue, the probability of love, the illusion of love, all those things. It's not simple things [sic] you can categorize as right or wrong."
In my e-mail inbox, two messages, one on top of the other. The first, from the New Republic, reads: "Today at TNR Online: Bush's Diminished Presidency." The second, right underneath, from the Republican National Committee, announces: "What They're Saying About President Bush's State Of The Union Address." I bet that doesn't include the New Republic's line (which in any case no one will read because TNR wants readers to pay for its web content!).
So we now know that CBS White House correspondent John Bouffant Roberts won't be the successor to Gunga Dan Rather. How do we know? Because Roberts is going over to CNN. We have no report of the IQ levels at either network being modified as the result of the move. Nor will there be any disturbance in the levels of liberalism at CBS or CNN. This, in thermodynamic terms, will not disturb the equilibrium of the MSM.
Acknowledging that there is a difference between throwing money at a problem (BAD idea) and recognizing a problem, I must admit SEVERE disappointment last night with the paltry attention paid by Bush to the greatest natural disaster in this nation's history. For many, many reasons, INCLUDING federal incompetence through horrible engineering by the Corps of Engineers, about two-thirds of one of the world's great cities still lies in ruins. But all Bush could do was boast about the money already approved for hurricane relief (he needs to check on how much of it has actually made its way to victims so far -- VERY very little of it) and then change the subject to how people in New Orleans and elsewhere all need good schools, etc. (Huh?) From the day Hurricane Katrina appeared in the Gulf, notwithstanding all the imbecilic moves by state and local officials in Louisiana, the Bush administration's response has been uncaring, incompetent, and obstinately unhelpful.
Everyone (but not us) seemed to miss the moment at the end of the SOTU, when a special appearance was made by the February issue of The American Spectator. As the President was walking out shaking hands with MOC's (Members of Congress), one unnamed Member had a copy of the magazine in his left hand as he was reaching out to POTUS with his right. Go AmSpec!
And as everyone seems to be playing this game, my favorite line of the night was, "We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it." Runner-up moment, Hillar-ious' not-so-graceful reaction to the mention of her beloved, BBB (Baby-Boomer Bill).
We're told by reliable Democratic House leadership sources that Rep. Lynn Woolsey, the Democrat from California who provided war protestor Cindy Sheehan a ticket to the State of the Union address last night, was warned in advance that Sheehan intended to let loose a protest during the speech.
But it wasn't just Woolsey's idea. She was encouraged to give the ticket to Sheehan by others inside her caucus. It isn't clear that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was aware of the plan, but Woolsey staff are saying this morning that this wasn't just Woolsey's idea, and that given the media coverage that was sure to take place, she didn't move without approval from higher ups in the caucus.
The problem with what Cong. Barr is saying is that, under the Constitution, FISA, and the courts' consideration of the president's power to conduct warrantless searches, the NSA terrorist surveillance program is legal. As I said in my column a couple of weeks ago, the legal authority for the president to order warrantless searches of this kind is clear. Were there instances where it was exceeded? We don't know, and neither does Mr. Barr.
The question to Mr. Barr is, do you want to stop this program? If you believe it is illegal, you must want the illegal conduct stopped forthwith. And if it is stopped, what do we do to conduct intelligence gathering on those in the U.S. who are talking to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups abroad?
In today's column, I note in a parenthetical that "Liberal writers routinely state flatly that the program was illegal, as if this were a simple fact rather than a deduction from speculation about how the program actually worked." Perhaps that should have read "Liberal writers, and Bob Barr, routinely state flatly..."
If Congressman Barr would explain how exactly he can be sure, without knowing the technical details, that the program in question is covered under FISA or otherwise "in violation of a federal law," I'd be most interested.