"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SOTU Update

Charges against Cindy Sheehan, who wore her "2,245 Dead. How Many More?" T-shirt to Tuesday's State of the Union address were dropped late Wednesday (February 1) as Capitol police apologized to the anti-war activist.

"The officers made a good-faith, but mistaken, effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol," Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. "The policy and procedures were too vague. The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine."

Sheehan, the mother of slain solder Casey Sheehan, has become a leading figure in the domestic anti-war movement since her vigil outside Bush's Texas ranch last summer. She was arrested on unlawful-conduct charges and taken out of the Capitol in handcuffs before the address began.

Capitol police also escorted out Beverly Young, wife of Representative C.W. "Bill" Young (R-Florida), from the visitors gallery for wearing a shirt with a political slogan. Bill Young later told reporters his wife was humiliated and suggested Capitol police undergo sensitivity training.

"Neither guest should have been confronted about the expressive T-shirts," Gainer admitted.

Sheehan had entered the gallery a few minutes before the speech, and was in her seat for less than a minute when a plainclothes Capitol police officer took her by the arm and said, "You've got to leave," and quickly removed her, Reuters reported. Sheehan, who smiled and did not resist the officer, was charged with a misdemeanor count of unlawful conduct at Capitol police headquarters as the speech got under way and was released on her own recognizance.

"It stunned me because I didn't know in America you could be arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a slogan on it,'' Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey told the AP. "That's especially so in the Capitol and in the House of Representatives, which is the people's House."

In an open letter attributed to Sheehan posted on several Web sites (including Wind In The Wire), Sheehan said she was "speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country." In the note, Sheehan called press accounts of the arrest distorted and said that she had suffered bruises and muscle spasms from her rough treatment.

During Tuesday's State of the Union, Democrats in Congress held their applause in protest of President Bush.
Source: mtv.com

You can draw your own conclusions about why the police had a sudden change of heart, but could it be that this particular attempt to discourage free speech was just a little too public, too obvious, and too embarrassing?

The SOTU address itself was just more of the same old BS - a real yawner. But I will give Bush credit for one thing: he invoked September 11th only twice, far short of my prediction. This reaction from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) pretty much sums up my feelings as well: "America deserved more from President Bush tonight. It just wasn't credible to hear him talk about making America more secure and honoring our troops or making America energy-independent or making health care more affordable without hearing him explain why he's done just the opposite for the last five years."

Finally, this report today by Kevin G. Hall, writing in Knight Ridder Newspapers:
WASHINGTON - One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

The president's State of the Union reference to Mideast oil made headlines nationwide Wednesday because of his assertion that "America is addicted to oil" and his call to "break this addiction." Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025."

Not exactly, though, it turns out.

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

Asked why the president used the words "the Middle East" when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble.
And we're supposed to believe anything that comes out of Dubya's mouth? Let me say it again: more of the same old BS.


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