No Mars? No mas!

Bush Administration

The Big Initiative in last night’s SOTU address was reducing America’s oil dependency. Or, rather, oil “addiction,” as Bush put it. Interesting choice of words. Also, quite a change from the long-ago days when righties made fun of Al Gore’s warnings about dwindling oil supplies and the need for new fuel technologies.

“This was a switch from May of 2001 when Ari Fleischer, the president’s spokesman, said that the right to consume massive energy resources was ‘an American way of life.'” writes John Dickerson in Slate.

Or maybe not. I did a word search of the transcript; the words conserve and conservation did not show up anywhere in a “conservative” speech. Dickerson continues,

Bush put his case in a very Bushian way, presenting it as a pain-free alternative to the awful status quo. Only the corn stalk will suffer as we remake a huge sector of the economy and convert to clean, politically innocent fuel sources. None of us have to trade in our SUV’s, drive less, or turn down the thermostat.

We can have our oil and burn it, too!

In six years we’ll be driving ethanol-burning cars, Bush said, and by 2025 will cut our dependence on Middle Eastern oil by 75 percent. Yeah, and pigs will fly. Julian Borger of the Guardian reminds us that Bush is great at making grandiose promises but tends to fall a tad short on keeping them.

President Bush has been here before. He has pledged more support for alternative fuel technologies in previous State of the Union addresses, but US dependence on foreign oil has continued to rise throughout his tenure.

He persuaded Democrats to join hands with him on the No Child Left Behind education act in early 2002, which promised an extraordinary federal focus on improving schools, but then his administration failed to come up with enough money to run the programme.

Addressing the nation from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, President Bush captured the headlines by promising the city would “rise again”, only “higher and better” than before. Months on, reconstruction work is hamstrung for lack of funds.

He has also used the State of the Union speech to offer the bold vision of American astronauts returning to the moon and using it as a launching pad to Mars. Once again, the vision was there, but the necessary money has not been forthcoming.

And then there’s the fine print:

He predicted the US would replace 75% of Middle East oil imports by 2025, but only a fifth of American imports come from the region. So the alternative fuels would only account for 15% of total imports. That does not sound so breathtaking.

Bush wants to achieve his oil-based goals through market incentives, meaning some slice of GOP campaign contributing corporatocracy will be graced by tax breaks and sweetheart deals, and upper management will give itself a big raise, and not much else will come of it.

So much for an energy program. Elsewhere in the speech, Bush promised tighter budgeting. But what’s this: “I am pleased that the members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto.”

Honey lamb, Congress did pass a line-item veto bill. In 1996. And in 1998 the courts (affirmed by the Supremes) found the bill to be unconstitutional. Keep up, son.

That and other quibbles related to Bush’s economic claims are explained by Peter Wallsten and Maura Reynolds in today’s Los Angeles Times. Wallsten and Reynolds also debunk Bush’s defense of his NSA spy program, a defense that employed the same old, familiar lies. Lies like “Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have” and “Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed.

At Unclaimed Territory, Glenn Greenwald observes,

There is something quite disturbing about the way in which Bush has taken to telling us in almost every speech he gives now the type of criticism of him we should and should not be making. It is so plainly not the role of the President to tell us what types of debates we ought to be having, and given his history of civility and those of his henchman – from John McCain’s black daughter to the metal illness of Gore, McCain and Howard Dean to the way in which the language of treason and surrender are tossed about like fun little playthings — he is particularly ill-suited to dispense those sermons.

The Bushian response is, of course, that Bush doesn’t do the nasty work himself. He has surrogates do it for him. Therefore, Bush remains a model of civil discourse.

I also agree with what Glenn says about Cindy Sheehan’s arrest.

This is nothing more than a naked attempt to stifle dissent and to create a criticism-free bubble around George Bush. … we apparently now have a country where the only ideas allowed to be expressed in our Nation’s Capitol while the President is speaking are ones which glorify the Government and its Leader and where dissenting views are prohibited and will subject someone to arrest. Message cleansing of that sort belongs at a political rally in North Korea, not in Washington, DC.

Naturally, the goose-stepping fascist toady Michelle Malkin is calling for punishment for Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who invited Sheehan and gave her a ticket. Woolsey, says Malkin, should have her ticket-distributing privileges revoked for being complicit in an act of disrespect for Dear Leader.

So is there some way we can get Malkin deported to North Korea, since she seems to think she lives there already? I think we’d all be happier.

(Cross-posted to American Street.)

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  1. Anonymous  •  Feb 1, 2006 @11:26 am

    since when is a shirt with a number on it a crime?

    What will bush say when alqaeda wins an election and why is my army installing a theocracy?

    Bush seems to have forgotten the fundie leader of Iran was elected.

    Obviously we have about as much foreign policy as we have economic policy- zilch

    He wants the line item veto so he can legislate, oh sorry forgot he’s not supposed to do that….

  2. KS  •  Feb 1, 2006 @12:11 pm

    Sheehan had to be arrested, she was in violation of the “guilty until proven to be a Bush supporter” rule.

  3. shargash  •  Feb 1, 2006 @12:17 pm

    “…found the bill to be unconstitutional. Keep up, son.”

    He is keeping up. The supremes have changed membership, dontchaknow. The LIV was defeated 6-3 in the court. Two votes is enough to turn that to 5-4 the other way.

    Who needs signing statements when you have an eraser?

  4. KS  •  Feb 1, 2006 @12:19 pm

    Why doesn’t Michelle Malkin allow comments on her blog? Is she afraid of dissent too?

  5. emel  •  Feb 1, 2006 @12:29 pm

    Ann Coulter can publicly advocate the poisoning of a supreme court justice, but Cindy cannot wear a t shirt with a number on it without being arrested. ‘Civil debate’:This is the country we live in now.

    It is not malkin that is the problem but those who give her the forum to do her rancid work.

  6. KS  •  Feb 1, 2006 @12:30 pm

    If Woolsey can’t invite people anymore, does that mean that Bill Young can’t either?

  7. joanr16  •  Feb 1, 2006 @1:20 pm

    Here in red state Nebraska, I fear I flipped out a little bit and started ranting at morning coffee break, listing off for my coworkers some of Bushco’s most egregious crimes. The general consensus is that something is seriously effed up with this administration. Only one woman sat silently and refused to say anything bad about Dear Leader, probably because she has the IQ of a footstool and still actually admires the guy. If Congress goes majority Dem this November, even here in the heartland many folks would be relieved to see impeachment happen.

    As for Cindy Sheehan, I wanted very much to see protest of some sort at the SOTU last night. It’s at least 3 years overdue. A lot more people need to take the chances that Cindy has, which would reduce her “star” status, and take the spotlight off of her when she makes a bad decision now and then.

  8. Adam  •  Feb 1, 2006 @1:29 pm

    If you didn’t notice, a Republican woman was also ejected, for wearing a shirt that said ‘Support the Troops – Defending Freedom.’ The cops weren’t enforcing some sort of GOP-mandated censorship. They weren’t pro-Bush, just anti-Freedom.

  9. maha  •  Feb 1, 2006 @1:33 pm

    “a Republican woman was also ejected.” or so she says. Capitol police are saying they didn’t eject her; she left on her own. Sheehan, however, was placed under arrest.

  10. KS  •  Feb 1, 2006 @1:40 pm

    The Republican woman (Rep. Bill Young’s wife) would not have been bothered if Cindy Sheehan had not already been ejected.

  11. Donna  •  Feb 1, 2006 @2:22 pm

    I’m guessing that Malkin is a direct outlet for Rove….her persona is to pretend to put out independent thought, but secretly her role is to provide to the non-thinking increasingly desperate ‘ Bush faithful’ some hurried talking points to try to hold a Bush base together in the face of reality. Doesn’t matter how illogical or inane those talking points are……desperate folks will grasp at straws.

    The guess about Malkin being a Rove puppet comes from noticing a curious phenomenon at the Memorandum site. Often a news article bringing up new unpleasant realities about the Bush administration will, at first, only have some links to Bush critics….then, once Malkin chimes in with ‘her’ points,….. there will suddenly be a bunch of link-to rightie sites learning the new words and singing the tinkly tune Malkin just offered up. A surprising number of so-called rightie bloggers can’t even carry a tune…so they just wholesale reprint Malkin [Rove].

    It is awfully easy to see Rove’s hand in Malkin’s call to deny Rep. Lynn Woolsey future ticket privileges. In one swoop, that focus invites a pre-supposition that Woolsey was a wrong-doer who needs attention and criticism, while at the same time sweeping focus away from an administration that can’t tolerate dissent, especially Cindy Sheehan’s brave standing up to the cowardly Bush.

    And all those non-thinking righties who adore Malkin also adore any new ‘justification’ to trash anyone not in their low-lying camp.

  12. Steve Nichols  •  Feb 1, 2006 @2:39 pm


    We’re going to grow corn so we can turn it into ethanol?

    Never had physics, but I think the Second Law of Thermal Dynamics (or one of them anyway), makes ethanol a net energy loser.

  13. Taylor Marsh  •  Feb 1, 2006 @3:31 pm

    Someone from both sides were ejected, but only one was arrested. Why?

    Taylor Marsh

  14. Taylor Marsh  •  Feb 1, 2006 @3:32 pm

    Bad grammar alert…er… that should have been “was ejected,” sorry…

  15. Mike  •  Feb 1, 2006 @3:59 pm

    I wanted to point out one small factoid in Bush’s “oil addiction” comment.

    He said he wanted to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, not on oil imports. Fact is, only 11% of U.S. oil consumption is imported from the Middle East. So a 75% reduction on only 11% of the total is not as much as he would like you to think.

    Gotta watch Rove … ah…. Bush when he speaks. Like the old lawyer joke, “you know how you can tell Bush is lying?” “when his mouth moves”.

  16. Anonymous  •  Feb 1, 2006 @5:19 pm
  17. JW  •  Feb 1, 2006 @6:46 pm

    For fun, scan down to her next post, the one where she chastizes Kerry for saying tyhat only 53% of our h.s. students graduate.

    She then links to a census bureau figure to “debunk” his figures. Of course, the census figure – AT THE TOP OF THE CHART – incledes both high school diplomas AND EQUIVALENCIES.…ives/ 004429.htm…003/ R13T040.htm

    For once, I’d like to see a right-wing blogger actually read the entire law, figure, statistic, story, etc. they’re covering before opining on it, not just the first few words of it – before first hysterically running to their keyboards to trash someone. I’ve seen this kind of intellectual dishonesty and laziness often from Malkin in particular.

  18. IgnoreMalkin  •  Feb 1, 2006 @8:21 pm

    How many times do you guys need to be told:

    The more attention you give Malkin, the more prominent she becomes. Ever heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity?”

    Don’t link to her, and don’t talk about her. She’s no different than Coulter: just another pig-headed wench that couldn’t ever possibly stand behind her vitriolic spewings.

  19. Ick of the East  •  Feb 2, 2006 @12:02 pm

    “Never had physics, but I think the Second Law of Thermal Dynamics (or one of them anyway), makes ethanol a net energy loser.”
    No, because it is the sun and the rain that is growing the corn. As long as that has more input than tractors and refinement and transport of the finished product, they should come out ahead.

    Riding a scooter or motorcycle instead of lugging tons of SUV around with you would also help.

  20. Donna  •  Feb 4, 2006 @6:44 pm

    Well, I am days late, but just saw the SOTU on a video tape.

    The reaction to Bush’s speech that kept searing me was the thought……WE NEED A COMPETENT COMMANDER IN CHIEF.

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