It all makes sense now:

Stephen Colbert: What made [Tuesday's State of the Union speech] so groundbreaking, I think, was all the new stuff we've never heard from the president a domestic agenda. Take his proposal to fix the whole health care mess with the only proven cure-all: tax breaks...

Bush clip: And for the millions of Americans with no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within reach.

Colbert: It's so simple. Most people who couldn’t afford health insurance also are too poor to owe taxes. But...if you give them a deduction from their taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they're not getting back from what they haven't given to buy the health care they can't afford.

I like him better every day Obama: "The time has come for universal health care in America." "Didn't Dick Cheney tell us he knew where Saddam's WMDs were?"
-- Howard Wolfson, after Cheney said Hillary would fail in her bid for the White House, Link Actual State of the Union, by the Numbers President Bush is expected to hail the state of the union as strong tonight, but for Americans worrying about how to make ends meet, the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to numbers compiled today by the Campaign for America's Future.

On Incomes:

--Median household income in 2000: $47,599
--Median household income in 2005: $46,326
(US Census Bureau, Table H-8. Median Household Income by State: 1984 to 2005)

--Salary of a full-time minimum wage employee without vacation: $10,712
--Average time for top CEOs to earn that sum: 2.06 hours
(Forbes Magazine. "What the Boss Makes." April 20, 2006)

--Federal minimum wage in 2000: $5.15/hr
--Federal minimum wage in 2006: $5.15/hr
--Loss in purchasing power, full time worker annually: $1,562

On Energy Prices:

--Average price of home heating oil on Jan. 3, 2000: $1.15 per gallon
--Average price of home heating oil on Jan. 1, 2007: $2.42 per gallon
(U.S. Energy Information Admin. Jan. 4, 2007)

--Average price of gasoline on Jan. 3, 2000: $1.31 per gallon
--Average price of gasoline on Jan. 1, 2007: $2.38 per gallon
(U.S. Energy Information Admin. Jan. 5, 2007)

--Exxon Mobil profits in 2000: $7.9 billion
--Exxon Mobil profits in 2006: $36.1 billion
(, accessed Jan. 19, 2007)

On Education:

--Average cost of a year at a public four-year college in 2000: $9,958
--Average cost of a year at a public four-year college in 2006: $12,796
(Costs include tuition, fees, room & board. MSN Money 2000/Associated Press. Jan. 14, 2005. College Board. Trends in College Pricing 2007)

On Health Care Costs:

--Americans without health insurance, 2000: 38.2 million
--Americans without health insurance, 2005: 46.6 million
(US Census Bureau, Sept. 2001; US Census Bureau, Aug. 2006)

--Average monthly worker contribution for family coverage in 2000: $135
--Average monthly worker contribution for family coverage in 2006: $248
--Personal bankruptcies due to medical bills: 55 percent
(The Kaiser Family Foundation, Sept. 26, 2006; Health Affairs Health Policy Journal, Feb. 2, 2005)

On Debts and Deficits:

--Monthly U.S. Trade Deficit in October 2000: $33.8 billion
--Monthly U.S. Trade Deficit in October 2006: $58.9 billion
(U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics. Jan. 10, 2007)

--Loss of value of U.S. dollar relative to the Euro, Jan. 24, 2000 to Jan. 23, 2006: 23 percent
(, accessed Jan. 23, 2006)

--US Budget Deficit in FY 2000: $230 billion surplus
--US Budget Deficit in FY 2006: $423 billion deficit
(White House Office of Management and Budget. Budget of the United States Government, Historical Tables, Fiscal Year 2007; White House Office of Management and Budget. Table S-1. 2006 budget totals)

--US National Debt in FY 2000: $5.7 trillion
--US National Debt in FY 2006: $8.5 trillion
(Bureau of the Public Debt, Jan. 16, 2007)

He' so dumb, can we trade him to the GOP? Chuck Schumer: (D-Idiot) "I think Iraq will not be as strong an issue in the 2008 elections. I think the surge will fail and the president will have no choice but to begin removing troops." Atrios responds: "Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Iraq will certainly be the central issue of the 2008 election. Please. Explain. This. To. Them." To which I can only add: And Iran too. Be prepared. Hot Promises of Geothermal Energy A Massachusetts Institute of Technology-led study of geothermal energy within the US finds that mining the huge amounts of thermal energy stored in the Earth's rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the nation’s electricity needs currently being generated by conventional fossil fuel, hydroelectric, and nuclear plants—at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact. Go deep enough, and there’s heat everywhere.


The study shows that drilling several wells to reach hot rock and connecting them to a fractured rock region that has been stimulated to let water flow through it creates a heat-exchanger that can produce large amounts of hot water or steam to run electric generators at the surface. Unlike conventional fossil-fuel power plants that burn coal, natural gas or oil, no fuel would be required. And unlike wind and solar systems, a geothermal plant works night and day, offering a non-interruptible source of electric power.


… "This environmental advantage is due to low emissions and the small overall footprint of the entire geothermal system, which results because energy capture and extraction is contained entirely underground, and the surface equipment needed for conversion to electricity is relatively compact," [Jefferson W.] Tester [the H. P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT] said.


… Panel member Brian Anderson, an assistant professor at West Virginia University, noted that the drilling and reservoir technologies used to mine heat have many similarities to those used for extracting oil and gas. As a result, the geothermal industry today is well connected technically to two industry giants in the energy arena, oil and gas producers and electric power generators. With increasing demand for technology advances to produce oil and gas more effectively and to generate electricity with minimal carbon and other emissions, an opportunity exists to accelerate the development of EGS by increased investments by these two industries.

The study notes that government-funded research into geothermal was highly active in the 1970s and early 1980s, but that as oil prices declined, funding and geothermal research waned. Time to heat that up again.

How the game works With John Kerry out, the race for his top donors is on. And Barack Obama has already bagged a big one. What a difference an election makes Senate Democrats are keeping the heat on the White House for firing several U.S. attorneys, a move they suspect could lead to politicizing the ranks of federal prosecutors. Modern theater Today's Must Read: The New York Times pokes and prods at the grand White House conspiracy against Scooter Libby.

The Old Boys Club. The Politico (which is performing well above expectations) has a fascinating article today on the advancing age on Congress. Apparently, this is the oldest the institution has ever been, with the average Senator clocking in above six decades. I was struck by this on the Hill the other day, when I started hearing a "tap, tap -- tap, tap -- tap, tap" and a staffer leaned over to me and explained that was Sen. Robert Byrd, who's 88 and walks with two canes. Ted Kennedy, too, surprised me, looking older, smaller, and more hunched than expected, though once he began talking, he inflated back to his traditional size. He's 74. According to the article, the Senate rather liked having a doctor in the leadership, and Bill Frist was, by the end, giving health advice to fully 1/5th of his colleagues.

For many of these leaders, age isn't a problem. Kennedy, for instance, is as effective and capable as ever, and Byrd certainly hasn't given up the ghost. But infirmity and health issues increasingly plague the institution, and in some Senators, pose more of a problem. The ravages of age were more hidden in previous generations, but C-SPAN and YouTube have ended such wisps of privacy. As the article explains, however, there's very little to encourage over-the-hill Senators to retire: "The senator usually wants to stay because he or she enjoys and derives purpose out of public service; aides want to keep their jobs and the influence that comes with working for a senior legislator (especially one who is increasingly dependent on aides); the party wants to keep a safe seat that will cost less money to retain; and constituents want the senator to run again because that means continued influence and dollars for a state." Doesn't exactly seem optimal.

“Because I told them it had to.” “He’s tried this two times — it’s failed twice,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says of President Bush’s escalation plan. “I asked him at the White House, ‘Mr. President, why do you think this time it’s going to work?’ And he said, ‘Because I told them it had to.‘” Pelosi reportedly then asked, “Why didn’t you tell them that the other two times?“ Rumors of war Very interesting. See former Iraqi Defense Minsiter Ali Allawi's take on what the 'surge' is really about. Hint: the first three letters are I-R-A and the last one isn't Q. Build the chaos outwards. Shi'a Iraqi Soldiers Beat Sunnis As American Soldiers Cheer Them On Footage of the beating of Sunnis by Shi'a Iraqi soldiers is available here. Obtained by a British public television station, the footage shows the Sunnis being beaten with fists, kicked, and beaten with the butts of weapons. While the beatings are taking place, American soldiers taunt the Sunnis and cheer on the Shi'a soldiers, then help load the victims into the back of a truck. The beatings were witnessed by two journalists from the First Cavalry division. According to the British television station, American troops threatened the journalists and held them under armed guard, threatening to seize their footage. A U.S. Army commander reports that he has taken action to suspend the platoon sergeant. Libby Bombshell: The Tom Cruise Connection One of the more entertaining revelations to come out in the Scooter Libby trial thus far, drawing a collective guffaw in the press gallery, arrived this afternoon in the testimony of Craig Schmall, Libby's one-time CIA briefer. According to Schmall, during a briefing on June 14, 2003 at Libby's home, the veep's chief of staff brought up a recent meeting he’d had with Tom Cruise and his then-squeeze Penelope Cruz. Schmall, stifling laughter, reported that “Tom Cruise was there to talk” with Libby “about how Germany treats scientologists.” You can't make that stuff up.

What liberal media? I opened up my Time magazine last Thursday to be greeted by the following columnists:

  • Richard Brookhiser, conservative National Review editor, war supporter.
  • William Kristol, conservative Weekly Standard editor, war supporter, anti-liberal McCarthyite.
  • Joe Klein, war supporter, war opposer, anti-liberal McCarthyite.
  • Peter Beinart, liberal/neocon New Republic editor, war supporter.
The media's Clinton/Obama obsession -- make it stop! Guess how many times "Obama" and "Clinton" were mentioned last week on the cable and network news programs, as well as NPR. Click here for the mind-bending answer. No wonder I have an inescapable urge to beat him senseless

David Brooks, April 10 2004:

Come on people, let's get a grip.

This week, Chicken Littles like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were ranting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Pundits and sages were spinning a whole series of mutually exclusive disaster scenarios: Civil war! A nationwide rebellion!

January 25, 2007:

Iraq is at the beginning of a civil war fought using the tactics of genocide, and it has all the conditions to get much worse. As a Newsweek correspondent, Christian Caryl, wrote recently from Baghdad, “What’s clear is that we’re far closer to the beginning of this cycle of violence than to its end.” As John Burns of The Times said on “Charlie Rose” last night, “Friends of mine who are Iraqis — Shiite, Sunni, Kurd — all foresee a civil war on a scale with bloodshed that would absolutely dwarf what we’re seeing now.”

September 18, 2004:

As we saw in El Salvador and as Iraqi insurgents understand, elections suck the oxygen from a rebel army. They refute the claim that violence is the best way to change things. Moreover, they produce democratic leaders who are much better equipped to win an insurgency war.

January 25, 2007:

The weakness of the Bush surge plan is that it relies on the Maliki government to somehow be above this vortex. But there are no impartial institutions in Iraq, ready to foster reconciliation. As ABC’s Jonathan Karl notes in The Weekly Standard, the Shiite finance ministries now close banks that may finance Sunni investments. The Saadrist health ministries dismiss Sunni doctors. The sectarian vortex is not fomented by extremists who are appendages to society. The vortex is through and through.

So having heaped scorn a few years ago on doves who were later proven right -- not necessarily shown to be all-wise, all-knowing sages on all subjects, but who certainly demonstrated a greater degree of understanding of the nation of Iraq and the dynamics of the war there -- does Brooks have a less scornful view of those same people and their ideas today? Of course not: "The Democratic approach, as articulated by Senator Jim Webb — simply get out of Iraq 'in short order' — is a howl of pain that takes no note of the long-term political and humanitarian consequences."

"In the case George W. Bush, the American system has obviously failed -- tragically.
Imagine the difference in our worldview today, had the institutions -- particularly of government
-- done their job to insure that a mendacious and dangerous president (as has since been proven
many times over-beyond mere assertion) be restrained in a war that has killed thousands of
American soldiers, brought turmoil to the lives of millions, and constrained the goodwill towards
the United States in much of the world."
-- Carl Bernstein, the non-whore half of the Woodward/Bernstein team, Link

Wal-Mart to pay $33 million in back wages. “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay $33 million in back wages to thousands of employees after turning itself in to the Labor Department for paying too little in overtime, according to an agreement announced Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department.” Wal-Mart Watch has details.

Bush on oil, with Big Oil Bush insists on drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, which is at best just a drop in the bucket for our energy supply. Our dependence on foreign oil continues. As Bush speaks, the Iraq government readies a new oil law that will place the once nationalized industry into the hands of the international oil companies.

Gas Guzzlers: The president talks about improved mileage rates, but won't change the law to require them. "The President assumes that fuel economy will increase but fails to order an increase when a 40 mile per gallon standard is the single biggest step we could take to curb global warming and end oil dependence," says Frances G. Beinecke, president of the Natural Defense Council. "We would be less dubious of the president's intentions if he had promised to raise the standards instead of assuming that they will rise four percent a year."

Ethanol: "A lot of it depends on the efficiency with which ethanol is produced," says Mike Casey, an environmental consultant who in the past worked for the Environmental Working Group. "It's better than imported oil, [but] it's not the long term. We can't base our entire energy policy on it. Here's what George Bush needs to do tonight: he needs to announce an aggressive initiative to move this country to the alternative sources of energy tomorrow based on technology available today."

Again, the lobbies and their donations:

• Oil & Gas: $17,576,986, 83 percent to Republicans
• Mining: $4,022,031, 83 percent to Republicans
• Electric Utilities: $14,970,532, 66 percent to Republicans
• Misc. Energy: $3,142,220, 76 percent to Republicans
• Environment: $889,748, 83 percent to Democrats

Union membership drops to historic low. “The number of wage and salary workers who were union members dropped to 12 percent of the work force last year,” the AP reports, “the lowest percentage since the government started tracking that number over two decades ago.” Workers represented by unions earn 28 percent more than nonunion workers, are 62 percent more likely to have medical insurance through their jobs, and are four-and-a-half times as likely to have guaranteed pensions.

Darth Cheney insults Uncle Sam Yesterday on CNN, Vice President Cheney told Wolf Blitzer that “the biggest threat” in the Iraq war right now is that the American public may not have the “stomach for the fight.” Responding to Cheney’s comments, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) told PBS Newshour host Gwen Ifill that it’s astounding the Vice President so “underestimates the people of this country” and “has so little faith in this country to say something like that.” Hagel also suggested that Cheney talk to the families of the soldiers and tell them “that they don’t have the stomach.”

Supreme Court Injustice “It’s water over the deck — get over it,” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said yesterday about the 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling, “drawing laughs from his audience” at Iona College in New York.

Sigh. We're still not grown up. “Authorities at Tarleton State University said they plan to investigate a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party that mocked black stereotypes by featuring fried chicken, malt liquor and faux gang apparel.”

You want evidence that Iraqis won't stand on their own two feet until we get the hell out? Read this.

Glad he's on our side How is Glenn Greenwald so consistently good? One of his best ever. Just click on the link and go read.

Given. Water is wet. Earth revolves around sun. McCain lies.

Submitted by RKing on