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.
The Spectacle Blog
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.
Critics like Congressman Barr may dislike the president's terminology, but I thought when Mr. Bush explained the terrorist surveillance program last night he scored more political points than at any time last evening. That's because, post-9/11, his argument had the advantage of being a no-brainer:
"If there are people inside our country who are talking with Al Qaida, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again."
The President's state-of-the-union speech has given us a new term with which to define warrantless electronic surveillance conducted in violation of a federal law: "terrorist surveillance program." And here all along I thought it was "NSA spying."
After a moment's reflection (during this lull courtesy of Citizen Kaine), the most important word of the night emerges to me as "marginalized," contra the word "defeated." Terrorists are to be defeated, but insurgents marginalized. This cuts several ways, but the central message is that defeating the non-terrorist insurgents is not necessary to America's vital interests. By inference, absorbing them into democracy is.
Most important phrase on the domestic front: "we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel." Our culture is not doomed but it is unraveling. Building a professional army of scientists and mathematicians is precisely the wrong kind of educational emphasis required for unmarginalizing anywhere but along the bottom line.