Tuesday, January 31, 2006

OK, SO I'M watching a bit of the speech -- while doing a bit of work on the computer. So disregard my previous post.

9:12 - what, no mention of Palestine among the 'new democracies'?
9:25 - Bush wants to 'defeat our enemies'. Why don't more people bring up the point that fighting 'terrorism' ensures that we cannot win, in the strictest sense of the term. Will we ever reach the point where terrorism is not a threat? No. Therefore, doesn't it follow that we will always be at war? Apparently.
9:28 - I'm going to turn off the TV is Bush licks his lips one more time.
9:30 - OK, that's it. I'm listening on the radio.
9:31 - Is it possible that Ted Kennedy is fatter than I think he is?
9:31 - I see the POTUS staff didn't solve the 'nuculer' problem.
9:38 - More immigrants! More immigrants! More immigrants!
9:43 - Why do we go through with this charade each year? Can't we take a cue from our Parliamentary friends in Britain and simply have a 'Prime Minister's Questions' time for our our own government. It's such better theatre. Can you imagine Bush squaring off each week with...um...whoever happens to leading the Democrats right now. (It's not still Pelosi is it?)
9:48 - 'America is addicted to oil.' Ya think?
9:50 - 'The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are now showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure.' Oops. I snuck this one in. This is actually from last year's SOTU. You can bet the farm you won't hear this line this year!
9:58 - What? No more free meals from Abramoff?
9:59 - One hour is all the time I can give to this. I can always read the transcript here.
10:01 -- Wait. It's over? I keep forgeting that GW Bush is no WJ Clinton.

State of the Union...Yawn!

WITH ONLY ONE hour to go until the SOTU, this political junkie has to admit that I'm probably going to pass on the speech tonight. Oh, the TV will be on at 9:00pm and it will be tuned to NBC, but I'm not going to sit down a focus like I did last night during '24'. The State of the Union has become too predicatalbe (thanks bloggers!), too boring (thanks Presidential advisors!), and too damn long (thanks clap-happy members of Congress!). It's unwatchable. I'll watch the post-game show for a few minutes tonight, check the internet a bit before I go to bed, skim over the transcript in tomorrow's Post and be done with it.

SOTU has more hype than the Super Bowl (though, mecifully, it only lasts a day or two instead of 2 weeks). For goodness sake, most of what the president will say tonight has already been poll-tested and previewed in the media, giving partisans on both sides the chance to frame the debate before Bush utters a single word. The President is making a speech tonight where he will:

1. highlight the things he believes have gone well in the past year
2. criticize those who criticize him.

It's the same speech presidents have been making since the Reagan era.

No, I'm going to skip this one and catch the highlights in the morning.

With any luck, ESPN2 will be showing poker at 9:00.

Poker. Now that's good television.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Even Fictional Democrats are Losing

IT'S BEEN A tough couple of weeks for the Democrats. With Alito sure to be confirmed, the eavsdropping issue losing steam, Abramoff in the rear view mirror (for now), and Kennedy and his pals making Lady Alito cry, the Dems must be looking for any piece of good news they can find. Well it's not coming for the one place where they can usually count on it -- Hollywood.

NBC announced last week that 'West Wing' -- every liberal's favorite show -- is being cancelled. Gone is the one hour in every week when democrats from every corner of the country could put aside reality and dream about what it would be like to have one of their own in the White House. How depressing it must be to grapple with the fact that FAKE democrats can't even keep their job in this country.

Not that the news is any better at ABC. After a promising beginning, 'Commander(es)-in-Chief' is slipping in the ratings faster that Tom Delay's defense funds. The decline in ratings can only mean one thing: this country is not ready for a hot president.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No Skins? Back to Abramoff!

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE a good scandal to bring out the reformists in Washington. The Jack Abramoff scandal (isn't there a better word for this scandal) has Republican lawmakers reeling. Now everyone wants to clean up the lobbying mess. The Republicans are actually trying to take the lead on the cleanup efforts (probably a good move considering elections are just around the corner). But as John Judis effectively argues, cleaning up the lobbying won't do a bit of good, because the issue isn't really lobbying. It's campaign financing.

Even the White House is getting a bit antsy. First Scott McClellan said he would release information about Abramoff visits to the WH, but now he's balking. The report from the AP sums it up this way:

"The White House is refusing to reveal details of tainted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's visits with President Bush's staff. Abramoff had "a few staff-level meetings" at the Bush White House, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday. But he would not say with whom Abramoff met, which interests he was representing or how he got access to the White House."

Let's face it, unless someone finds a blue dress with a stain on it (so to speak) we're not going to hear anything about any relationship the White House had with Abramoff. We'll just have to wait and see if the dress turns up.

[Just Inside the Beltway note: Our interest in this story had been rekindled due to the Redskins loss last week to the Seahawks in the NFC playoffs. Had the Redskins won, this space may have been used to break down Sunday's matchup with the Carolina Panthers].

Friday, January 13, 2006

JIB Notes

AS THE LONG weekend approaches, there are several stories that are worth following in the comming weeks:

  • Maryland is taking on Wal-Mart in an attempt to force them to pay more to their employees for health insurance. The Plank has some insights on the issue. [NYT,] [WaPo]
  • When Dems fight with Republicans every two years for seats in Congress it usually produces pretty good theatre. But nothing comes close to a big battle between members of the same party! That's why you've got to love the Blout-Boehner fight currently taking place on the Hil. Yesterday, Blount (R-MO) all but guaranteed victory in the fight to succeed Tom Delay -- claiming he already had over 100 votes in his corner. With only 116 needed he issued the press release with the following title: "Blount Nears Finish Line." Of course, Boehner (R-OH) also claims his vote count is "gaining momentum". [WaPo]
  • John Marshall wonders, as the House begins to clean house, why isn't Dennis Hastert's head on the chopping block?
  • The Redskins are still alive in the playoffs. That's good news for anyone in Washington trying to lay low in terms of their media coverage (Yes, that means you Conrad Burns; and you William Jefferson; and you too Congressman Ney). The Post is currently in 'All Redskins All the Time' mode. It will continue until the Skins lose.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Marion Barry -- Partying Like it's 1990?

AH, IT'S LIKE old times here in Washington. With news today that former DC Mayor Marion Barry was found to have cocaine in his sytem during a drug test last fall, many DC residents are remembering back to 1990 -- the year Barry was seen smoking crack cocaine on a police video (yes, that's a picture of it on the left). It was such a proud time for DC residents. Relive the 'glory' in today's story from the Post. I'm just waiting to find out which bitch set him up this time.

Barry is now in a bit of hot water because it turns out he forget to pay taxes for a few years. It's not smoking crack on national television, but apparently it enough to get the Feds breathing down your neck.

And just last week Barry was robbed at gunpoint by two youths in Southeast DC. After helping him carry in some grocery bags, they came back with a gun and robbed him of all his cash. Of course, there were no witnesses and no one saw the boys helping him with his bags. Not that I would ever suggest Barry is making up the story -- you know, to give him some good press just weeks before his court date on tax evasion charges and days before news is released about his positive drug test.

Oh, and in case you didn't know. Marion Barry serves on the DC Council as a representative of Ward 8. Yes, Marion Barry won a political election just over one year ago.

It's enough to make anyone pround to be a DC resident.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kickback Mountain

THIS IS TOO good not to post. There is humor here on so many levels. And how about that look from Abramoff? Priceless.
Meanwhile, have you noticed the mad dash on Capitol Hill to give back money that came from Abramoff. Even POTUS is getting in on the givebacks, announcing yesterday that he is returning $6000 in donations tied to Abramoff. The most interesting giveback comes from Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who is giving $16,000 worth of Abramoff money to a local charity in Baltimore. But what makes Ehrlich's case so interesting is his ties with a chap named Edward Miller. Miller was Ehrlich's Chief of Staff for a time. But of more interest is that fact that Miller was the registered agent for an outfit called Grassroots Interactive -- a paper company used by Abramoff to -- shall we say -- hold on extra money. Washington Post articles from the fall seem to indicate that Grassroots Interactive was funneled money from all kinds of people connected with Abramoff -- including TYCO! This connection is outlined in the Post and some interesting comments are available at TPM.

Yes, it's a bit tedious, but this onion has a lot of layers and most of them are yet to be peeled away.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Who's Sweating on Capitol Hill?

YOU CAN BET that today's plea agreement by Jack Abramoff didn't go unnoticed on the Hill. The real question right now is what criminal activities did Abramoff admit to and who is he going to help implicate. Right about now there are probably at least a dozen or so members of Congress rocking in their desk chairs whispering, 'please don't be me; please don't be me; please don't be me.' As far as we know, only Bob Ney (R-OH) is mentioned in any documents, but one can only guess (and dare I say hope) that more names surface. If there is one thing that we like here at Just Inside the Beltway, it's the prospect of high profile government leaders walking out of their offices with coats over their heads and their hands cuffed behind their backs.

All right, perhaps that's too dramatic. It would be nice if it turned out that only a few of our elected leaders are corrupt. You can read about the drama for hours. Here are some links we nicked from our friends at TPM.

Read the official document right here.
Mike Crowley has a report
from the courthouse. He was there this morning as Abramoff entered his plea.
Of course, the
Washington Post has news and analysis.

Tired of this story? OK, JIB will try to stop obsessing over it. Perhaps we should spend more time discussing the Redskins -- the only local story that Washingtonians really care about. We'll get to that later.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Something that Matters in Washington

WITH THE POSSIBLE exception of the occasional recess appointment, nothing of consequence happens in Washington during the month of December. To be quite honest, nothing of conseqence will happen in this town until the State of the Union later this month -- and calling that something of conseqence may be stretch.

But this year things will be different. This year, for the first time since 1999 and only the second time since 1992, the Redskins have made the playoffs. After Sunday's win (it wasn't exactly pretty) over the Eagles, Washington secured the final playoff spot in the NFC. So now those of us who live in Washington full time (uh, uh, uh...not so fast you members of Congress) will have something to keep us occupied for at least one week.

And we couldn't be happier. Not sure if the Skins will reach the Super Bowl (probably not!), but with a 10-2 record this year against the NFC, we're not ruling it out.