New Civilization News: Optimism: The State Of The Union    
 Optimism: The State Of The Union18 comments
picture29 Jan 2006 @ 10:28, by Richard Carlson

To the right, books; to the left, a tea-cup. In front of me, the fireplace; behind me, the post. There is no greater happiness than this.


We are living in a historical period in which we understand that it is necessary for all of us to be conscious and active in our world. None of us can ignore this call to action. And yet, if we do not practice zazen, whether we call it zazen or whatever we call it and however we do it, we cannot act in any accurate way. There has been plenty of action---too much action. What we need is not more action, we need enlightened action. And this means letting go of action.

---Norman Fischer

Swallow the stars until you are one with the universe, with all-pervading universal life.

---Soen Nakagawa

Alabama artist Frank Bear illustrated support for George W. Bush as a follower of Jesus Christ by this work, titled "Our Christian President." The artist pieced together individual portraits of Jesus Christ to make the image of President Bush.

FOXNews has begun the drone repetition of the word "optimism" to prep its millions of viewers for what has become the annual crock in America known as The State Of The Union Address. Obviously I'm not responding well. And thus I place myself in my own concentration camp of negativists and boat-rockers. Such people are not well liked in America, which is why they must be put in detention. They're depressing and they slow us down. People who try to rock the boat are dangerous. Our tradition in these United States is optimism! Naysayers can go someplace else to live---like over to France for instance.

Am I just being facetious? What may have been funny a while ago has gotten serious today. One of my assignments at work is to assist 2 multihandicapped boys in a 7th grade science class of developmentally handicapped students. This placement supposedly is enrichment for our guys---but that's another topic. We're studying El Nino and the ocean currents presently. I've known the teacher for about 10 years. She used to eat lunch in her classroom, listening to Rush Limbaugh's daily broadcast. Sometimes we'd talk politics and religion, and as long as we smiled it went OK. On Friday I brought her a printout of an article in Thursday's Christian Science Monitor, which examines the mineral deposits of tiny creatures that perished during a similar "global warming" 55 million years ago [link] . Not only didn't she want to read it, but she said she didn't have to read it. "How do we know what happened 55 million years ago?" she exclaimed with irritation. She was annoyed. She already had told me global warming is only a theory...and even if it's happening, it's a natural trend that comes and goes from time to time. Anyway, I'm not her boss and who am I to bring her this printout? She would complain to others about me now. She can pull rank on me, claim I disturb her procedure, and have me removed. What I presumed was collegial friendship changed in a flash.

The boy emperor will give the call to his sheep on Tuesday night. That's what Gore Vidal and Chalmers Johnson call him: the boy emperor. A Hun is at the helm and we enter the Dark Age. "For what we are now seeing are the obvious characteristics of the West after the fall of Rome: the triumph of religion over reason; the atrophy of education and critical thinking; the integration of religion, the state, and the apparatus of torture--a troika that was for Voltaire the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment world; and the political and economic marginalization of our culture." [link] What I am feeling more and more every day in America at the very depth of my being is the subjection of reason to faith and authority. Nothing stops him. No election, no legal apparatus, no media attention, no legislative investigation. We don't want to hear it! We want the bright side. Is this what it's like to live in a dictatorship?

Here's Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio~~~

The Truth About The State Of Our Union
Dennis J. Kucinich
Fri Jan 27, 9:28 PM ET

On Tuesday night President Bush will stand before the Congress and the nation to deliver his annual State of the Union address. We are sure to hear a rosy tale of an economy on the rebound, a blossoming democracy in Iraq, a terror network on the run, and a Gulf Coast region rebuilding better and stronger than ever before. As is most often the case with this Administration, the rhetoric does not match reality.

The facts are clear. Our economy is struggling and leaving tens of millions of Americans behind. According to the non-partisan National Journal, since President Bush first stood before Congress and the nation in 2001, the median income in this country has decreased, the jobless rate has jumped from 3.9% to 4.9% and the number of families living in poverty has increased from 8.7% to 10.2%. Our trade deficit has doubled. Inflation has gone up. Personal bankruptcies have gone up. Consumer debt has gone up. College tuition has gone up. And, the price of gas has gone up. All the while, this Administration has turned a $128 billion federal budget surplus into a $319 billion deficit.

Today, almost 6 million more Americans do not have any health insurance than when President Bush took office. In total, over 45.5 million Americans, or over 15% of our total population, have no health care coverage at all.

During his 2003 address, President Bush told the nation that Saddam Hussein "had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax", "materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin", "as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent" and "upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents".

Today, almost three years after the start of the President's war of choice, we know Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, had no connection to al-Qaeda and posed no threat to our nation. Yet, our armed forces are bogged down in the middle of civil war that our own generals say cannot be won by military force. Our presence in Iraq is counterproductive and has cost the lives of over 2,200 US troops and $250 billion.

President Bush has delivered four State of the Union addresses since the attacks on our nation on 9/11. In four speeches, the President has never once mentioned Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the terror attacks on this nation. The status of the FBI's most wanted man apparently is not important to the state of our union. Yet, in the same four speeches, President Bush has mentioned Saddam Hussein 24 times, and Iraq 78 times.

President Bush used the opening of his 2003 State of the Union to praise the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. This year our nation, and the world, saw the result of the failure of this massive reorganization of our government. As Katrina rolled ashore, destroying large cities and small towns in four states, it was FEMA, once an independent cabinet level agency--but now rolled into Department of Homeland Security--that failed to react. The searing image of thousands of Americans stranded without food and water dying on American streets will be the lasting legacy of the Department of Homeland Security, not a reorganized government "mobilizing against the threats of a new era" as the President described in his speech.

In his 2004 and 2005 addresses, the President spent a considerable amount of time advocating policies that would roll back much of the social progress made since the New Deal. In 2004, the President touted a Medicare prescription drug bill that will fatten the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry, endangering the future finances of the entire Medicare program, while leaving seniors confused and empty handed as they try to fill their prescriptions under the new plan. In 2005, the President used his address to promote his plan strip seniors of the guaranteed promise of Social Security, and replace it with a risky scheme to gamble their future in the stock market.

What the President has in store for his message this year is not known yet. But, we do know the President Bush will speak in glowing terms about the state of our union. The truth is the state of our union is in great peril. This Administration is conducting a war with no end in Iraq, illegally spying on Americans at home, overseeing an economy that is increasingly leaving more and more Americans behind and abandoning Gulf in their hour of great need.

If recent history is any precedent, then next week we should see more of the same old dance around reality that has been the hallmark of President Bush's annual address.


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29 Jan 2006 @ 16:25 by Quinty @ : Our George
What will he tell us in the State of the Union?

Actually, in their way, they have been rather memorable. In one he recited all the dangers facing us in the world. Those of you old enough to remember Jean Shepherd may recall listening to him read from the Insidious Doctor Fu Man Chu late at night. It was spell binding. "Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?" George Bush does. He also promised, in another State of the Union, to eliminate steroids from professional sports. Yes, George knows what's important all right. And now the theme will be optimism? In a hundred years or so we will win our War on Terror. So keep on smiling. But until then we can forget about the Bill of Rights.

Smile! The boss loves idiots!

The Democrats may finally show some spine: get up and walk out, do something dramatic like that. That is, if they're certain "bravery" is what the public wants. And that it won't cost too much.

I'm with you Richard. Millions of us share the unease Vidal was talking about.


For reminders about Ol' Shep, Wikipedia ain't bad~~~

Here's FOXNews for you guys who know we got a heck of a state of the Union out there~~~



29 Jan 2006 @ 18:06 by jstarrs : It's serious, all right....
...and that's only what we are allowed to see.
Just know that you're not alone, Richard.  

29 Jan 2006 @ 18:11 by jazzolog : Thanks Jeff
Say, haven't you got some relatives in Canada who might shelter Paul & me and our families?  

30 Jan 2006 @ 08:41 by Sue Erlewine @ : Trying Not To Be Depressed
But here's another depressing thought... the US released Iraqi female prisoners - NOT that there's any connection to the pretty young female Christian Science reporter being held. However, the 4 male CPT prisoners remain captive with no apparent efforts to free them being made. The CPT group is very critical of the Bush admin., even if they are Christian, AND they are not pretty, young girls. I fear that there is some merit to these dark thoughts....

Who is out there to lead us out of this dark place, I wonder. Then I realize it's me, it's you, it's all of us. Keep communicating with each other, keep the words flowing - it has to help.


Sue is a registered nurse working in hospice in Athens. She, with husband Tom, coordinate the Karma Kagyu Study Group here.


31 Jan 2006 @ 13:40 by jerryvest : Thanks, Richard. I think Mr. Kucinich
gives us a very good picture of this administration, the lies and what we have had to endure since Bush took office. I wonder how many standing ovations he will receive? I wonder how many people will even watch the show? Not me. {link:}

31 Jan 2006 @ 14:15 by jstarrs : Yeah, Richard... daughter's in Montreal in a house that leaks, with flesh-eating mosquitos and snowed in 9 months a ideal situation given your own miserable existance! lol!  

31 Jan 2006 @ 17:06 by jazzolog : Sounds Great Jeff!
Montreal is among the most enlightened cities in the world. I'm used to the mosquitoes out on Assateague Island that just pick you up and carry you off into the bushes to dine at their leisure. As for snow, you're lookin' at a Swede here...both sides of the family. I'm sure the roof only leaks when it rains. We'll pack immediately.

Jerry, if I'm in the same room with it...and I'm wife is there, she'll be screaming so loud I won't hear the crap anyway. Maybe we'll have it on as we stand with our backs to the set. (Actually the thing comes on after by bedtime.)  

2 Feb 2006 @ 08:02 by vaxen : Lies...
since Bush took office? Where have you been, oh sleeper, jerryvest? Since Bush took office? This has been going on for hundreds of years man! Wake up. You are being controlled (socially engineered) and you don't, apparently, even know it nor do you know `who done it' to you.

Your whole world is a 'fiction!' Coded by the 'color of law.' That's not real law , but rather 'statutes and ordinances devoid of real LAW. Oh, the LAW exists, make no mistake about it, and the liars and criminals that have been in that ''White House'' for years damned well know it, too! You obviously do not.

The below excerpt is from “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957, and explains quite clearly why the need for so many laws and why our prisons are home to so many innocent people. It's quite obvious that the PTB treat people as pawns in a ruthless game. [Emphasis ours]

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted- and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

Comes forth, now, the destroyer of their whimsey! Dark, hidden, deep...from within their rotten souls! Hope you (pl.) aren't one of them.  

2 Feb 2006 @ 09:59 by jazzolog : A Stain Upon jazzoLOG
You ever get a headache at NewCiv (and other message boards for sure) just by looking at a comment's layout? Capital letters, exclamation points, #*%#$ words? I know, I know, warfare is everywhere and life is a we have to toughen up, even in our sunset years. Sigh. Some people have to yell and scold, I guess, to tell their truth. The approach belittles rather than enlightens, and is the most discredited form of teaching. It assumes all we can understand is a hammer to the head. Bad enough, but then quotes from Ayn Rand. I always welcome Vax to this little corner of the Internet, but now he brings that horrid woman with him. I remember buying Atlas Shrugged in 1959 (because the enemy camp at college was touting it everywhere), bringing it to my dormroom, reading 2 pages, and throwing it against the wall across the room. I've never reacted to a book like that before or since. I have not changed my opinion about it, her or their followers. It is very difficult to deal with mainstream America today hating nazis as much as I do. But thank you, Vaxen, from someone still out here on the frontlines.

I was going to put up an entry this morning of some of my favorite responses to the speech the other night, but there are so many and it's absolutely exhausting. One positive sign to me is the reaction of a slumbering free press. The Los Angeles Times has a story that reads like, moving through Bush's spy program defense with historical rebuttals~~~


Then there's the long New York Times editorial on the 2 minute, headline-making comments about giving up oil (from the nation's leading oil family---don't hold your breath), going for alternative energy, and silence about global warming~~~

Newsweek tackles the Spinning President, who steadies himself with advisors in his earphones, in an article that suggests not so much flip-flop as schizophrenia~~~

Lynn Woolsey, a six-term Democrat who has represented California's Marin and Sonoma counties in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1992, issued a statement about the arrest of Cindy Sheehan for wearing a Tshirt to the speech that had the number of US service casualties on it. The congresswoman had given Ms. Sheehan her single visitor's pass into the House~~~

The President's message: surveillance and arrest. Only in America!  

2 Feb 2006 @ 12:50 by jerryvest : Vaxen, it's you who should awaken to
reality. Even in your post you repeat yourself, or Dr. Ferris. I agree with Richard about Ayn Rand and certainly wouldn't use her novel as a source for living a good life or for improving our society. Here is an interesting link about her philosophy and her life. This article shows that she isn't someone we would wish to emulate. For example:

"Another of Rand's sins against the Left and still of current interest was her willingness to testify as a "friendly witness" in the 1947 hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Acitivies (HUAC) on Communist infiltration of Hollywood." {link:}  

2 Feb 2006 @ 18:42 by Quinty @ : Re Jazz's comments: something to conside

Homeland Security contracts for vast new detention centers

A little-known $385 million contract for Halliburton subsidiary KBR to build detention facilities for "an emergency influx of immigrants" is another step down the Bush administration's road toward martial law


BERKELEY, Calif.--A Halliburton subsidiary has just received a $385 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to provide "temporary detention and processing capabilities."

The contract -- announced Jan. 24 by the engineering and construction firm KBR -- calls for preparing for "an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs" in the event of other emergencies, such as "a natural disaster." The release offered no details about where Halliburton was to build these facilities, or when.

To date, some newspapers have worried that open-ended provisions in the contract could lead to cost overruns, such as have occurred with KBR in Iraq. A Homeland Security spokesperson has responded that this is a "contingency contract" and that conceivably no centers might be built. But almost no paper so far has discussed the possibility that detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law.

For those who follow covert government operations abroad and at home, the contract evoked ominous memories of Oliver North's controversial Rex-84 "readiness exercise" in 1984. This called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to round up and detain 400,000 imaginary "refugees," in the context of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States. North's activities raised civil liberties concerns in both Congress and the Justice Department. The concerns persist.

"Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters," says Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. military's account of its activities in Vietnam. "They've already done this on a smaller scale, with the 'special registration' detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo."

Plans for detention facilities or camps have a long history, going back to fears in the 1970s of a national uprising by black militants. As Alonzo Chardy reported in the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987, an executive order for continuity of government (COG) had been drafted in 1982 by FEMA head Louis Giuffrida. The order called for "suspension of the Constitution" and "declaration of martial law." The martial law portions of the plan were outlined in a memo by Giuffrida's deputy, John Brinkerhoff.

In 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 188, one of a series of directives that authorized continued planning for COG by a private parallel government.

Two books, James Mann's "Rise of the Vulcans" and James Bamford's "A Pretext for War," have revealed that in the 1980s this parallel structure, operating outside normal government channels, included the then-head of G. D. Searle and Co., Donald Rumsfeld, and then-Congressman from Wyoming Dick Cheney.

After 9/11, new martial law plans began to surface similar to those of FEMA in the 1980s. In January 2002 the Pentagon submitted a proposal for deploying troops on American streets. One month later John Brinkerhoff, the author of the 1982 FEMA memo, published an article arguing for the legality of using U.S. troops for purposes of domestic security.

Then in April 2002, Defense Dept. officials implemented a plan for domestic U.S. military operations by creating a new U.S. Northern Command (CINC-NORTHCOM) for the continental United States. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called this "the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command system was set up in 1946."

The NORTHCOM commander, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced, is responsible for "homeland defense and also serves as head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).... He will command U.S. forces that operate within the United States in support of civil authorities. The command will provide civil support not only in response to attacks, but for natural disasters."

John Brinkerhoff later commented on PBS that, "The United States itself is now for the first time since the War of 1812 a theater of war. That means that we should apply, in my view, the same kind of command structure in the United States that we apply in other theaters of war."

Then in response to Hurricane Katrina in Sept. 2005, according to the Washington Post, White House senior adviser Karl Rove told the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, that she should explore legal options to impose martial law "or as close as we can get." The White House tried vigorously, but ultimately failed, to compel Gov. Blanco to yield control of the state National Guard.

Also in September, NORTHCOM conducted its highly classified Granite Shadow exercise in Washington. As William Arkin reported in the Washington Post, "Granite Shadow is yet another new Top Secret and compartmented operation related to the military's extra-legal powers regarding weapons of mass destruction. It allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control."

It is clear that the Bush administration is thinking seriously about martial law. Many critics have alleged that FEMA's spectacular failure to respond to Katrina followed from a deliberate White House policy: of paring back FEMA, and instead strengthening the military for responses to disasters.

A multimillion program for detention facilities will greatly increase NORTHCOM's ability to respond to any domestic disorders.  

2 Feb 2006 @ 19:51 by vaxen : Be that...
as it may I do suggest that it behooves anyone interested in liberty and freedom to find out what happened to America from conception to now. Arguing about Bush or any of the hundreds of bush fires going on in political warfare circles, smoke and mirrors, is of little value to the person earnetsly seeking solutions or a way out of the current dilemma.

A de-facto government operating under the color of law illegally. 'Citizens' acting out their ignorance, under protest, getting nowhere, lots of headaches, endlessly questioning the Lie believing it to be the truth.

In Commerce Truth Is Sovereign...

As for Ayn Rand? The "quote" was the substance yet you castigate the messenger. How ebuliently fundatory of you. Read the quote, again, or don't...

Nothing personal. Look up the office of ''person'' in a good law dictionary such as Blacks' 6th. Otherwise have fun learning the game. The game is ''commerce.'' The big players have stolen your piece and you list, deadweight, in a sargasso sea of laws made to control you...

The way out is through.  

3 Feb 2006 @ 10:54 by jazzolog : UK Channel 4: George & Tony Plot The War
The White House memo

Published: 2 Feb 2006
By: Gary Gibbon

Revealed: Bush and Blair discussed using American Spyplane in UN colours to lure Saddam into war.

Channel 4 News tonight reveals extraordinary details of George Bush and Tony Blair's pre-war meeting in January 2003 at which they discussed plans to begin military action on March 10th 2003, irrespective of whether the United Nations had passed a new resolution authorising the use of force.

Channel 4 News has seen minutes from that meeting, which took place in the White House on 31 January 2003. The two leaders discussed the possibility of securing further UN support, but President Bush made it clear that he had already decided to go to war. The details are contained in a new version of the book 'Lawless World' written by a leading British human rights lawyer, Philippe Sands QC.

President Bush said that:

"The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.''

Prime Minister Blair responded that he was: "solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam."

But Mr Blair said that: "a second Security Council resolution would provide an insurance policy against the unexpected, and international cover, including with the Arabs."

Mr Sands' book says that the meeting focused on the need to identify evidence that Saddam had committed a material breach of his obligations under the existing UN Resolution 1441. There was concern that insufficient evidence had been unearthed by the UN inspection team, led by Dr Hans Blix. Other options were considered.

President Bush said: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

He went on: "It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddams WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated."

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Sands said:

"I think no one would be surprised at the idea that the use of spy-planes to review what is going on would be considered. What is surprising is the idea that they would be used painted in the colours of the United Nations in order to provoke an attack which could then be used to justify material breach. Now that plainly looks as if it is deception, and it raises some fundamental questions of legality, both in terms of domestic law and international law."

Also present at the meeting were President Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice and her deputy Dan Fried, and the Presidents Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. The Prime Minister took with him his then security adviser Sir David Manning, his Foreign Policy aide Matthew Rycroft, and and his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell.

Those present, as documented in Mr Sands' book, also discussed what might happen in Iraq after liberation.

President Bush said that he: "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups."

The Foreign Office issued a statement:

"The Government only committed UK forces to Iraq after securing the approval of the House in the vote on 18 march 2003.

"The decision to resort to military action to ensure Iraq fulfilled its obligation imposed by successive UN Security Council Resolutions was taken only after all other routes to disarm Iraq had failed.

"Of course during this time there were frequent discussions between UK and US Governments about Iraq."¶sStartAt=0  

3 Feb 2006 @ 21:55 by vaxen : Rallying Cry:
This nation is plagued with the following types of U.S. citizens: 1) Sheeple—those who are unduly compliant, who routinely lay down on their rights [which makes it harder for anyone who stands up for their rights,] who are constitutionally illiterate, who do not give a damn about civic affairs, who have lost the Love of Liberty, who are too gutless to stand up for their rights, who want the benefits of Liberty without its burdens; 2) Statist Judges—those who manifest a strained apology for virtually any government usurpation of power(s); 3) Useful Idiots for Tyrant Wannabees—those along the entire political spectrum, from Right to Left and back, who support anything that is unconstitutional; 4) American Talibans—the United States is infested with its own version of home grown Talibans. Talibanism is the self-serving exploitation of any extreme distortion of an otherwise valid, good, meritorious concept in an illegal, oppressive manner, to advance a private agenda in the guise of promoting a greater good; 5) Political Whores—the title is sufficiently descriptive; 6) MFFU types—those with a "Me First, F You!" orientation; 7) Self-Appointed Elitists who fancy themselves to place their butt on a saddle on your back and ride you into submission, per their arbitrary whim; and 8) Domestic Enemies of the United States Constitution—everyone who functions unconstitutionally.

The real battle is not between Liberals and Conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Bush II vs. Osama. Instead, it is between Constitutionalists versus everyone else.

The United States Constitution is not self-executing, and it is not self-enforcing. It is only text on paper—a parchment barrier to public and private shenanigans. Text on paper never stopped a government agent's usurpation of power or, by itself, guaranteed a nation's future or its citizens Freedom.

The Constitution needs defenders. The Constitution needs to be enforced first. After all, it is the nation's Supreme Law. It says so in Article VI, Section 2.

The rallying cry that everyone should unite behind should be "ENFORCE THE CONSTITUTION FIRST" and "I WILL SUPPORT THE BADGE WHEN THE BADGE SUPPORTS THE CONSTITUTION FIRST." Such a mind set would be an invisible glue that would hold the nation together and keep it from functioning as a gaggle.  

5 Feb 2006 @ 22:41 by jazzolog : State Of Delusion
State of Delusion
by Paul Krugman
The New York Times
February 3, 2006

So President Bush's plan to reduce imports of Middle East oil turns out to be no more substantial than his plan -- floated two years ago, then flushed down the memory hole -- to send humans to Mars.

But what did you expect? After five years in power, the Bush administration is still -- perhaps more than ever -- run by Mayberry Machiavellis, who don't take the business of governing seriously.

Here's the story on oil: In the State of the Union address, Mr. Bush suggested that "cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol" and other technologies would allow us "to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East."

But the next day, officials explained that he didn't really mean what he said. "This was purely an example," said Samuel Bodman, the energy secretary. And the administration has actually been scaling back the very research that Mr. Bush hyped on Tuesday night: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is about to lay off staff because of cuts to its budget.

"A veteran researcher," reports The New York Times, "said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol."

Why announce impressive sounding goals when you have no plan to achieve them? The best guess is that the energy "plan" was hastily thrown together to give Mr. Bush something positive to say.

For weeks administration sources told reporters that the State of the Union address would focus on health care. But at the last minute the White House might have realized that its health care proposals, based on the idea that Americans have too much insurance, would suffer the same political fate as its attempt to privatize Social Security. ("Congress," Mr. Bush said, "did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security." Democrats responded with a standing ovation.)

So Mr. Bush's speechwriters were told to replace the health care proposals with fine words about energy independence, words not backed by any actual policy.

What about the rest of the speech? The State of the Union is normally an occasion for boasting about an administration's achievements. But what's a speechwriter to do when there are no achievements?

One answer is to pretend that the bad stuff never happened. The Medicare drug benefit is Mr. Bush's largest domestic initiative to date. It is also a disaster: at enormous cost, the administration has managed to make millions of elderly Americans worse off. So drugs went unmentioned in the State of the Union.

Another answer is to rely on evasive language. In Iraq, Mr. Bush said, we have "changed our approach to reconstruction."

In fact, reconstruction has failed. Almost three years after the war began, oil production is well below prewar levels, Baghdad is getting only an average of 3.2 hours of electricity a day, and more than 60 percent of water and sanitation projects have been canceled.

So now, having squandered billions in Iraqi oil revenue as well as American taxpayer dollars, we have told the Iraqis that from here on in it is their problem. America's would-be Marshall Plan in Iraq, reports The Los Angeles Times, "is drawing to a close this year with much of its promise unmet and no plans to extend its funding." I guess you can call that a change in approach.

There is a common theme underlying the botched reconstruction of Iraq, the botched response to Katrina (which Mr. Bush never mentioned), the botched drug program and the nonexistent energy program.

John DiIulio, the former White House head of faith-based policy, explained it more than three years ago. He told the reporter Ron Suskind how this administration operates: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. ...I heard many, many staff discussions but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions. There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues."

In other words, this administration is all politics and no policy. It knows how to attain power, but has no idea how to govern. That is why the administration was caught unaware when Katrina hit, and why it was totally unprepared for the predictable problems with its drug plan. It is why Mr. Bush announced an energy plan with no substance behind it. And it is why the state of the union -- the thing itself and not the speech -- is so grim.  

6 Feb 2006 @ 08:50 by jazzolog : A Message From Lionel
I've written about Lionel Snell a couple of times in articles here. As Ramsey Dukes, he's been a part of several of the most fascinating books of the past 50 years. {link:"Ramsey%20Dukes"} We send each other stuff occasionally, and here's what he thought about this entry...and my reply~~~

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lionel Snell"
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 10:57 AM
Subject: Re: Optimism: The State Of The Union

> Read an interesting article the other day - either in Guardian Weekly
> or a South African newspaper - drawing parallels between the Iraq war
> and the Boer war. As I recall it:
> 100 years ago (1905) Britain was an unbeatable world power, and was
> in denial about its unsuccessful and bloody campaign against the
> Boers, a relatively untrained force. It had only prevailed by
> resorting to brutal 'ungentlemanly' measures, like creating
> concentration camps and it had to win to preserve its rights to gold
> resources (just as America is fighting for its oil resources).
> Britain was also concerned about the rise of two potentially
> challenging economic powers - Germany and America - just as America
> is currently concerned about India and China.
> Britain, like America today, was bruised but not toppled by the war.
> In fact the Empire continued to grow, but had lost some of its
> credibility. It was like the beginning of the end of its dominance.
> These were some of the parallels drawn in the article - have you seen
> this comparison?
> best wishes from Lionel

Good morning Lionel, and it's always wonderful to hear from you,

I have not seen such comparisons, but thank you for bringing such to mind. I was thinking of Britain yesterday in regard to its having destroyed its own resources unthinkingly, as I looked at this National Geographic photo of a treeless landscape over there. In case the link doesn't work, the caption reads, "Hay bales punctuate a characteristically tree-poor British landscape. Since the late 1940s Great Britain has lost up to half of its ancient woodlands, 95 percent of its flower-rich hay meadows, most of its lowland heaths, and many of its lowland ponds." There certainly is a parallel there between the voracious appetites of our 2 countries. What we don't face here that you did there was the backstabbing competition of a pal like the United States. (India should be a great "friend" for us, since I understand it's one of the only nations on earth where an American can walk around and not be despised.) Only this fundamentalist coalition of Islam seems capable of poking a stick in our spokes, and at least slowing down Yankee empirical designs. Hopefully Blair at least will give a speech sometime before he goes about how ruinous "friendship" with us can be.

A peaceful week to you,

6 Feb 2006 @ 23:30 by Quinty @ : Thanks to Lionel
for reminding us of some historical parallels.

I have often wondered why Tony Blair so eagerly jumped onto Bush's bandwagon. Especially, as those of us who opposed the war know, a vast majority of the English people at that time declined to. Some cynics claim Blair did it because he hopes to fatten his portfolio. Others claim that Britain's top politicians desire to ride the US's coattails into a new emporia. That it's a form of nationalistic atavism. Some say Blair is a Christian fundamentalist too, as well as a squeamish bourgeois who loathes Arabs and Muslims. That he is not actually on the left.

None of these are convincing answers: unless the human race has a propensity for self destruction, and the drive is strong in Blair too.

Today's Senate Judiciary Com hearings left AG Gonzalez battered but most definitely still standing. Is this the way an administration topples, through polite dialog? Or will we see another victory for this unstoppable administration? Does Bush feel confident because he padded the Supreme Court?  

30 May 2006 @ 23:53 by gordon @ : The plan
It was that very quote that brought me to read (still reading, it's a long book)Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"..... But, it was a Dean Koontz book that I remember something to the effect of 'Never trust anyone with a plan to change the world, because it inevitably means telling me what to do......'

I think attacking Bush might be a bit like plucking the leaves off the ivy that's spreading through the yard.  

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