State of the Union

At the risk of getting myself kicked out of the “Dubya Hata Playa” club — you know what? I would have booted Cindy Sheehan from the State of the Union too. You know why? Because wearing a t-shirt to the State of the Union is tacky. Yes, yes, she was wanting to make a political statement. Don’t care. You’re at the State of the Union. Dress appropriately. A nice pant suit with a big button that says “2,245 and how many more?” would have worked just fine, and if she got kicked out the news stories would still report what it said. Just because you’re protesting doesn’t mean you need to look like you just stepped out of a Berkeley organic food mart. (Update: Apparently Sheehan wasn’t the only one booted from the gallery last night for wearing a message-laden t-shirt, and this other t-shirt was worn by the wife of a Republican representative. Hopefully she was wearing pearls with the t-shirt.)

As for the State of the Union itself: Eh. I stopped watching the speeches because I can’t stand hearing the man attempt formal speakitude, and the transcript of the speech doesn’t move me much. There are parts to which I disagree, which is not surprising, but also parts to which I agree — which may surprise people — but for which I have zero confidence that this administration is equal to the task of moving on them. I’m always heartened to see an American president declare we’ve got to kick foreign oil, as an example, but I’m terrified that in the hands of the Bush folks the implementation of a plan encourage alternative power sources will end up causing the lot of us to have power only during sunlight hours, and none on alternate Tuesdays. Beware the incompetent armed with a good idea.

In point of fact Bush State of the Union addresses depress me, particularly because there are significant chunks of what he lays out in them that I can get behind. I want my president to do good things — even as I naturally oppose the things I see him do which I think are unjust or unwise — and I’m very sad that based on previous performance I work from the position that any good idea this administration has is doomed in the details. I’m not a fan of Bush, but as I’ve said before, this doesn’t require me to take satisfaction in the idea his administration’s lack of ability. I really wouldn’t mind Bush and his people doing the right things right. I’m just not holding my breath.

Update, 6:53pm: Capitol police admit they were wrong to boot Sheehan and Young for their t-shirts. Their only crimes were crimes of fashion.

75 thoughts on “State of the Union

  1. I have yet to even read the transcript. And for me, listening to him speak is like nails on a chalkboard – he literally gives me a migarine.

    Bush is a miserable excuse for a leader and it’s depressing that we still have three more years to put up with him.

  2. All the Secret Service had to do was ask Cindy Sheehan to put on a different shirt. I’m with you on the “you should dress nice to the State of the Union”, but leading her out of the Capitol in handcuffs was a dumb move. You just handed her more publicity.

  3. Tommyspoon:

    “All the Secret Service had to do was ask Cindy Sheehan to put on a different shirt.”

    Do you really think she would put on a different shirt? I sort of doubt it. Ms. Sheehan was there to make a point and planned to make it one way or another.

  4. Agreed a T-shirt may be tacky… but is it illegal in any way? I mean… being led out in handcuffs because you are dressed inapropriately? Somehow I doubt she’d have been arrested if it was a Dixie Chicks concert T or a Bush/Cheney ’04 shirt… I find that disturbing.

  5. Wearing message T-shirts is apparently in violation of House rules. It is of course a valid question as to whether the rule would have been enforced if there were a different political message on it.

  6. “Agreed a T-shirt may be tacky… but is it illegal in any way?”

    Wearing apparel with printed messages is against the rules of the House of Representatives. Another woman, the wife of Rep. Bill Young, was ejected from the chamber for wearing a pro-troops t-shirt. She, however, was not taken away in handcuffs. But then, she did not yell and scream.

    I am not for this war. Nor am I against activism. But I must say that I find Cindy Sheehan’s actions embarrassing. This particular one wasn’t as bad as when she “symbolically died” in front of the White House last Fall. 1967 ended a long time ago.

  7. “Ms. Sheehan was there to make a point and planned to make it one way or another.”

    Yes, as is her right. I’d really like to know what ‘unlawful conduct’ she committed – fashion faux pas? She supposedly violated a House rule, and for that she gets carted off to the local precinct and booked.

    When did the Capitol become a country club? And do they make the colored people go around back to get in?

  8. John H:

    “When did the Capitol become a country club?”

    The more accurate question would be: When was it not?

    To your larger point, the House has any number of rules which it may enforce, although I’m not sure of the rationale behind this particular rule. In this case it appears that it was applied more than once last night, although in the case of Beverly Young, she chose to leave rather than refusing to leave and thus requiring arrest (although from the quotes in the story she was no more pleased than one assume Ms. Sheehan was).

    And personally, I would have ejected her on the grounds I would have ejected Sheehan — T-shirts and the State of the Union should not have to mix.

  9. It was the Capitol Police, an independent police force, who took her out because she was breaking the law which says no sloganeering/demonstrating in the Capitol. Try to bring a sign to the Capitol and see what happens. Don’t know how T-shirts fit in, but she was obviously trying to make a statement/demonstration. She covered up the shirt until she sat down, knowing she was going to get arrested or cause a scene. I’m no Bush supporter, but I am really just tired of her.

  10. Pardon me for going off-top, but it amused me, heading over to amazon, that they threw up a picture of you on their Plog thingy.

    Just wanted to let you know it was working.

  11. According to Cindy she was never asked to change the shirt or cover it up:

    I was never told that I couldn’t wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things…I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later.

    She goes on to say that if she had meant to be disruptive she would have waited until Bush was giving his speech before removing her jacket…

  12. John H:

    “She goes on to say that if she had meant to be disruptive she would have waited until Bush was giving his speech before removing her jacket…”

    Uh, no. One does not wear a t-shirt listing the number of military dead on a T-shirt to the State of the Union address by the man who committed said troops, without being fully cognizant that one will cause a scene, unless one is stupid, which Ms. Sheehan appearns not to be. So I find these after-the-fact comments from Ms. Sheehan disingenuous.

  13. So… my next question would be, is the rule truly against message [i]t-shirts[/i] or messages of any kind? If she had a nice evening dress with the same message on it would that have been ok? In any case… I find rules that supress freedom of expression in the House to be fairly un-American in my own less than humble opinion… I can understand rules against excessively disruptive protesting, heckling… chanting, etc… but a silent protest? Seems a bit over the top… Still all in all I feel Ms. Sheehan is starting to go over the top herself in many ways and is marginalizing herself in the process… she once had a strong message with a moral backing… now she’s becoming shrill background noise.

  14. Ms. Sheehan was there to make a point and planned to make it one way or another.

    I’ll take it one step further: Ms. Sheehan was there to get arrested, and planned on doing it one way or another.

    This smells like publicity stunt from beginning to end. If she had sat in the gallery and listened to the speech, she’d have been the last line of every article about the speech. Now, she’s her own story, and congresswoman Woolsey gets to say “I didn’t know in America you could be arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a slogan on it, especially … in the Capitol and in the House of Representatives, which is the people’s House.”

    Perhaps if Ms. Woolsey doesn’t know the house rules, she should resign as a congresswoman, no?

  15. I think it is important to remember that she was not merely ejected, but arrested. The other t-shirt wearer was just escorted out and scolded for her inappropriate attire.

    I think tossing someone out for a dress-code violation is legitimate, at least if you’re treating all the dress-code violators equally. But treating a dress-code violation as a criminal offense crosses a pretty obvious line into First Amendment Violation territory.

    I do agree that she should have made more of an effort to dress appropriately — a nice embroidered silk blouse, say.

  16. Naomi:

    “I think it is important to remember that she was not merely ejected, but arrested. The other t-shirt wearer was just escorted out and scolded for her inappropriate attire.”

    I wouldn’t have arrested her personally, but I would note the circumstances in the ejections appears to be different. Ms. Young voluntarily left; Ms. Sheehan (from what the story says) ignored the police who told her the shirt was not allowed. Ignoring police is indeed a fine way to get arrested.

  17. “I think it is important to remember that she was not merely ejected, but arrested.”

    If you are asked to leave somewhere and refuse, you get arrested. True at the Tastey-Freeze, true in the House.

  18. House rules apply equally last night as well as in the past. There was an incident from the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial in which a man was removed from the Senate chamber and taken into custody — for wearing an anti-Clinton T-shirt. The story was reported the next day in the New York Daily News:

    WASHINGTON A Pennsylvania school teacher was yanked out of a VIP Senate gallery and briefly detained last week during the impeachment trial for wearing a T-shirt with graphic language dissing President Clinton.

    Dave Delp, 42, of Carlisle, Pa., and a friend had just settled into their seats last Saturday when four Capitol security guards approached them. Delp said yesterday he was ordered to button his coat and follow the guards. Outside the chamber, he was told “several people felt threatened by your shirt,” which said, “Bill Doesn’t Inhale He Just S—s.”

    Even after establishing that Delp was a guest of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), the guards wouldn’t let him back in and escorted him to a basement security area, where they questioned and photographed him.

    After being given one of the photos as a souvenir, Delp said he was banned from the Capitol for the rest of the day. “They were polite and professional,” Delp added, “but they really did scare me. I think I should have been given the chance to cover up.”

    Capitol police declined to comment.


  19. I wouldn’t have arrested her personally, but I would note the circumstances in the ejections appears to be different. Ms. Young voluntarily left; Ms. Sheehan (from what the story says) ignored the police who told her the shirt was not allowed. Ignoring police is indeed a fine way to get arrested.

    …and (IMHO) she ignored the police specifically because she knew they’d eventually arrest her.

    That is how she intended to make her political statement, not by wearing the shirt itself…

  20. To me it’s simple – everyone in the room was there to hear the President. Cindy Sheehan was probably going to try to get everyone to listen to her instead.

    Would it have been any different if she had jumped up in the front of a movie theater with a bullhorn?

  21. Via Glenn Greenwald’s excellent piece on the topic:

    In Bynum v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd. (Dist. D.C. 1997) (.pdf), the District Court found the regulations applying 140 U.S.C. § 193 — the section of the U.S. code restricting activities inside the Capitol — to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Bynum involved a Reverend who was threatened with arrest by Capitol Police while leading a small group in prayer inside the Capitol. The Capitol Police issued that threat on the ground that the praying constituted a “demonstration.”

    That action was taken pursuant to the U.S. Code, in which Congress decreed as follows: “It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons wilfully and knowingly . . . to parade, demonstrate or picket within any Capitol Building.” 140 U.S.C. § 193(f)(b)(7).

    As the Bynum court explained: “Believing that the Capitol Police needed guidance in determining what behavior constitutes a ‘demonstration,’ the United States Capitol Police Board issued a regulation that interprets ‘demonstration activity,'” and that regulation specifically provides that it “does not include merely wearing Tee shirts, buttons or other similar articles of apparel that convey a message. Traffic Regulations for the Capitol Grounds, § 158″ (emphasis added).

    Whether it was tacky or not, it would seem that what Ms. Sheehan was not actually illegal, and so she should not have been arrested.

  22. Ah, what a happy prospect for liberty and the future of democracy, when people of good will decide it’s okay to stifle protected speech because it’s “embarrassing” and “tacky”. Free speech is just fine, so long as it doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable, eh? I imagine that many of the finer matrons of Montgomery found Rosa Parks embarrassing and tacky, too. Certainly, refusing to yeild her seat was against the rules of the bus company in question. The question isn’t whether slogan t-shirts violate the rules of the House. It’s whether the rules of the House are a violation of the First friggin’ Amendment. Or is that another sacrifice on the altar of your delicate sensibilities?

  23. Ah, what a happy prospect for liberty and the future of democracy, when people of good will decide it’s okay to stifle protected speech because it’s “embarrassing” and “tacky”. Free speech is just fine, so long as it doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable, eh? I imagine that many of the finer matrons of Montgomery found Rosa Parks embarrassing and tacky, too. Certainly, refusing to yeild her seat was against the rules of the bus company in question. The question isn’t whether slogan t-shirts violate the rules of the House. It’s whether the rules of the House are a violation of the First friggin’ Amendment. Or is that another sacrifice on the altar of your delicate sensibilities?

  24. So Ms. Sheehan’s wearing a t-shirt in the Capitol offends you, but the message and the reality does not. Where are your priorities?

  25. Ulrika: Would you like a small paper bag to aid in your hyperventilation problem?

    Elizabeth Bear: Personally, I would agree that wearing a message t-shirt in the Capitol would not generally rise to the level of protest. However, for the sake of argument, one could argue that wearing that particular t-shirt at the State of the Union is a protesting act; context does matter.

    However, a reminder to everyone that my issue isn’t what the t-shirt said (either Ms. Sheehan’s or Ms. Young’s) but the fact they hadn’t the sense not to come in wearing an article of clothing that was entirely inappropriate for the event. It’s the t-shirt that I find tacky, not the protest.

    D.F. Manno:

    “Where are your priorities?”

    My priorities are just fine, thank you. I see nothing wrong with suggesting the State of the Union should be a formal affair: No t-shirts, no flip-flops, no jeans, even for the people who want to use the event to make a political statement.

  26. John, Ulrika has a point, emotionally worded though it may be. This is an arrogant and reckless presidency in which any form of dissent is routinely castigated as tantamount to treason. Bush goes out on “town hall” meetings in which citizens who wish to attend must first sign something like a loyalty oath, and are then given scripted questions. You’ve said yourself, this is a president who doesn’t know about anything he doesn’t want to know about. And his policies are destroying this country (litreally in the case of New Orleans), which, given his current poll numbers, people are finally starting to catch on to. Well, it’s time he knew. Whether it’s Cindy Sheehan wearing a T-shirt that says something embarrassing, or a group of students holding up a banner during a Gonzales speech, it’s high time people stood up and began letting Chimpy know we’re not happy. So it’s tacky. I think lying us into a war with a country who never attacked us, that’s killed thousands of troops and done zero to inhibit the ability of al Qaeda to commit terror, beats a T-shirt slogan on the tackiness scale any day! [/rant]

  27. Martin Wagner:

    “Whether it’s Cindy Sheehan wearing a T-shirt that says something embarrassing, or a group of students holding up a banner during a Gonzales speech, it’s high time people stood up and began letting Chimpy know we’re not happy.”

    As well you know, I’m perfectly content to have people tell our President what they think. I just wish Ms. Sheehan would have done so with a sense of appropriate dress. As I noted, a nice conservative pant suit with a big ol’ button would have achived the same objective.

  28. Yes, you can have all the free speech you want, just so it’s decorous.

    Hmm. I am having trouble with “free” as you understand it.

    It’s a US building and a US event. Sheehan’s a US citizen who was invited. I’m with Madelyn Robbins on this: Democracy has a dress code?

  29. Ms. Sheehan was in the place of Rep. Woolsey. Ms. Sheehan is a public figure and wearing a provocative article of clothing at an official government event. Her arrest was due to her refusal to obey lawful authority.

    For those folks who claim free speech has been suspended, I suggest you reread this blog, DU, Kos, etc. Free speech is alive and well. The rules of play (we are a society of laws) are also meant to keep the situation below the level of anarchy.

    Alas, Ms. Sheehan has succeeded in steering the public discourse from the topics of the speech itself, to her own actions.

    PS – As a member of the military I am forbidden from wearing CIVILIAN clothing which espouses drug use, hate groups, or sexually suggestive acts while on any government installation.

    PPs – No kidding.

    PPPS – I agree with that rule…

  30. Will: “Does democracy have a dress code?”

    Yes.

    Seriously, folks. It’s not like Bush doesn’t know Sheehan (and others) disagree with him on the war. He spent a good chunk of his speech (and the last umpteen public events) defending his views.

    Ms. Sheehan was trying to be an ass, and succeeded. Stunts like this do little to advance her cause. Instead, they make her seem petty and trivial.

    Ms. Sheehan certainly has the RIGHT to say whatever she feels, the point here is that this stunt wasn’t very effective. Part of the art of persuasion is tailoring your message to the audience and the event.

    If she’d sat there in a formal outfit with a big “peace now” button on, every time Bush would have said “Iraq” a camera would have panned to her. Heck, she might have gotten an interview on-camera after the event.

    Instead, she sat the speech out in the basement, and a lot of people who might have at least listened to her now think she’s a nut and tune her out.

  31. Will Shetterly:

    “It’s a US building and a US event. Sheehan’s a US citizen who was invited. I’m with Madelyn Robbins on this: Democracy has a dress code?”

    Bah. What, there are no dress codes on US government property at all? Then I’ll have no problem visiting the Washington Monument stark naked.

    However, apparently you can attend the State of the Union in t-shirt, tacky as it may be, so there isn’t a “dress code” for democracy, and it’s not really the issue (but you’re better off wearing a plain t-shirt, apparently).

    In a general sense, I don’t conflate contextually appropriate attire with free speech; one’s ability to protest the government is not compromised by wearing a pant suit over a t-shirt. There are specific incidents where speech and clothing intersect, but I don’t see those here.

    In any event, since I would kick Sheehan (and Young) out of the State of the Union for wearing t-shirts of any sort but not for, say, wearing buttons with political speech on them, I think I’m perfectly on the side of the angels, speechwise. I think a sense of appropriateness in dress is not too much to ask for.

  32. John–

    I agree that it’s inappropriate dress. However, comma, the issue is that the actions of the Capitol Police in this matter (both expulsions) are in contravention to a district court ruling. AND a CP regulation.

    Ooops.

    –Bear

  33. Bear:

    “the issue is that the actions of the Capitol Police in this matter (both expulsions) are in contravention to a district court ruling.”

    Bearing once again in mind that I would personally pleased to have Sheehan and Young wear contextually appropriate buttons (or whatever) with political speech to the State of the Union, do you think there is no difference between wearing a t-shirt usch as Sheehan’s to a general visit to the Capitol, and wearing it to a State of the Union address by the president who committed troops to Iraq? Bynum does not say that protests can’t be barred at the Capitol, merely that just walking around with a politically-charged t-shirt (or praying, and so on) does not in itself consitute protest.

    I think a reasonable person could say that Cindy Sheehan showing up at the State of the Union address wearing what she wore was intended to be a protest, and therefore — whether I personally agree with the CP removing her because of the speech on the t-shirt — I don’t necessarily agree that her removal was illegal. I think it would make an interesting court case, in any event.

    Agreed on the collarless shirts.

  34. John,

    I too was disappointed with the SOTU address especially where the President addressed energy dependency.

    Last week, Russia annouced that they would be mining the moon for Helium(3) by the year 2015 – 2020. With Helium(3) it is easily possible to produce nuclear fusion power with almost no radioactive waste. An article I read about a year ago stated that the amount of Helium(3) that could be landed in a single shuttle mission would be sufficient to provide all the world’s current electrical consumption. Think of what that is worth. The implications for oil dependency, mideast peace, and global warming are phenomenal.

    I think that the SOTU address is more than american political theater (as Jim Lehrer described it). It is an opportunity for an administration to give the nation a new direction and an uplifting one at that. In our current political environment of partisan divide the SOTU address is one of those rare moments when the nation more or less comes together as a whole. It is a shame to waste such moments on matters that aren’t worthy. That is the tragic aspect of Cindy Sheehan’s behavior.

  35. Okay, slogan t-shirts aren’t protected speech because you say so, poor decorum is an arrestable offense, and calling you on it deserves no better response than ad hominem. Well, as you say, whatever. Maybe you could go back to doing more indy music blogging, eh?

  36. Okay, slogan t-shirts aren’t protected speech because you say so, poor decorum is an arrestable offense, and calling you on it deserves no better response than ad hominem. Well, as you say, whatever. Maybe you could go back to doing more indy music blogging, eh?

  37. Funny how many people are conveniently forgetting that a Republican shirt-sloganeer was also asked to leave.

  38. Funny how many people are conveniently forgetting that a Republican shirt-sloganeer was also asked to leave.

    They are not forgetting it. They are ignoring it. Its existence doesn’t fit with their self-righteous zeal. Inconvenient facts must be ignored.

  39. Mythago: …but not arrested.

    I agree Cindy was there to protest. And I think she should have that right even in the sacrosanct halls of the Capitol. But she intended to protest quietly, sitting in her seat wearing an anti-war T-shirt. The speech could have gone on very easily and without incident had she been allowed to just sit in the hall with everyone else. Hell, there would have been no need for a TV camera even to turn in her direction. By arresting her, any publicity she got was handed to her by Capitol Hill cops. Blaming her for orchestrating a deliberate publicity stunt in order to get arrested on camera is just a boilerplate smear out of the Fox News playbook.

  40. Tim: Inconvenient facts must be ignored.

    Tim, I couldn’t have come up with a better one-sentence summation of the entire Bushco/GOP/neocon M.O. than that. Thanks, man.

  41. Martin,

    Interesting that they state they can’t find a law that was broken when the law has been cited above in this blog’s comment thread. There is nothing more disturbing to me than the ‘selective enforcement’ of laws in a society based on the rule of law.

    It becomes dangerously close to a rule of man when the power of enforcing the law is in the hands of the person that does the ‘selecting’.

  42. I like the last statement on C&L: “It was a blatant attempt to control the environment where our fearless leader appears as usual.”

    Rules, schmules – you’re going to try to embarrass Chimpy, so you have to leave…

  43. Tim: It’s already been stated earlier in this thread that the ‘law’ that she was accused of breaking was found to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds back in 1997…

  44. John, total agreement that it’s tacky. I just think people are much too fond of using the law to oppose things that they don’t like. If you would arrest people for tackiness, I fear I can no longer vote for you for World Emperor.

    I’m on the side that says anything that gets a reaction must be speech, or it wouldn’t have gotten a reaction, so I’m all for you going to Congress nude. (Though I would be happier if Salma Hayek went in your place.)

  45. “Maybe you could go back to doing more indy music blogging, eh?”

    Withour saying anything about the topic at hand, I, for one, would be pleased to learn that this suggestion is actually in the offing.

  46. Ulrika:

    “Okay, slogan t-shirts aren’t protected speech because you say so, poor decorum is an arrestable offense, and calling you on it deserves no better response than ad hominem.”

    Actually, Ulrika, I’ve said my issue is dress not speech and that I would happily accomodate political speech, I never once said poor decorum is arrestable offense, and the reason you don’t deserve anything better than an ad hominem reponse is because you clearly can’t fucking read. I hope this clarifies matters. In the future, if you wish to put words in my mouth, do at least try to make them at least tangential to what I’ve actually said. Also, if I want your opinion about what I should write, I’ll ask it. Until and unless, you don’t get a vote. So, in short, piss off.

    Will Shetterly:

    “John, total agreement that it’s tacky. I just think people are much too fond of using the law to oppose things that they don’t like. If you would arrest people for tackiness, I fear I can no longer vote for you for World Emperor.”

    Well, I would never arrest someone for dressing in a T-shirt, nor do I condone the use of police to clear the decks of inconvenient people. Not unlike a good restaurant, however, I might offer a suit jacket or something. If I were World Emperor, mind you, I would have had it written on the State of The Union tickets that business attire would be the dress standard, so there would have been no confusion.

    Also, I am also all for a naked Salma Hayek visiting our nation’s monuments. The sooner the better.

  47. John H,

    If you mean that the wearing of a T-shirt is not sufficient to constitute a demonstration? I agree with John Scalzi that in the context of the SOTU address it does. I also agree that context is important.

    Also, just for information, Michelle Malkin has posted the text of the law in more detail and one section of it…

    (2) display in the Grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.

    would seem to even outlaw, at least technically, the big ol’ button which John suggested.

  48. My priorities are just fine, thank you.

    Let’s see, more than 2,200 American soldiers are dead, along with tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Bush spewed lie after lie about Iraq during his speech, and your lede, the very first thing you could think of was Ms. Sheehan’s t-shirt.

    If that’s “just fine,” I’d hate to see your idea of FUBAR.

  49. Not just Sheehan, John–they’ve apologized to both women. Which is just as it should be, IMHO.

    Re: interesting court case: already fought and lost, and the regulations specifically except T-shirts with political messages. Heartwarmingly, the shirt over which this battle was fought was an anti-Clinton slogan.

    Nice to know it’s a bipartisan evil.

  50. Patrick:

    Ulrika is a lovely human being who has commented here before, who has merely rubbed me the wrong way in this particular thread. There are other commentors who have done so (recent history points to Claire Light and Brian Greenberg) who I think I are fine people. Heck, I can think of at least a couple of rather testy exchanges between you and I in message threads. And yet I think you’re fabulous. We’ve all been online long enough to know that flare-ups in comment threads don’t (or at least shouldn’t) mean anything else outside those particular threads.

  51. I am also all for a naked Salma Hayek visiting our nation’s monuments. The sooner the better.

    FINALLY, an issue that can generate bi-partisan support & unite this great nation! Everyone should contact their Congressperson(s) immediately.

  52. Ok Please John, Good intentions have been doomed in the details since World War 2. Why does everyone expect to get their news from some State Run circus?
    I don’t need some suit to tell me what the wheather is, I have Google for that.
    Government 2.0
    But go ahead and monitor what these guys are saying up their on the hill I’ll just gloss over those posts :)

  53. Also I think W.H.O. and the Atomic Agency have done more in the last 6 months then any government in the last 30.
    And I don’t like the U.N. because they force tax.

  54. Jemaleddin:

    “I think the parts of the SotU that you agreed with would be the parts that his aids are now saying he didn’t mean.”

    Which of course goes back to my point of not trusting this administration at all to do the competent thing.

  55. I used to be sympathetic to Cindy Sheehan.

    Then I realized she was just plain nuts. I still feel bad for her.

  56. Apology or no apology, I still believe her purpose in going was to get arrested. If they didn’t pull her out for her T-Shirt, I’m guessing she would have created some other disturbance until they eventually pulled her out. The coverage is just too good. (Granted, this is pure speculation, but there you have it).

    John:
    There are other commentors who have [rubbed me the wrong way] (recent history points to Claire Light and Brian Greenberg) who I think I are fine people.

    Well, at least I made an impression. ;-)

    Next on the agenda: get John to start commenting on my blog, so he can rub me the wrong way. It’s only fair, ya know…

  57. As I see it there are quite a number of issues here (answers are, of course, my opinions):
    Is wearing a t-shirt to the State of the Union is tacky?
    Yup.
    Is wearing a t-shirt during a State of the Union Address enough to get you kicked out of the Gallery?
    It would appear so.
    Should it be?
    Yeah, I could go with this one.
    Should a person be arrested if they refuse to leave?
    Yes. What Don said.
    Should wearing a *message-laden* t-shirt to the State of the Union be grounds for removal?
    Yeah.
    Should the distinction matter?
    Slightly: it is tackier.
    Does it matter to Bush’s bodyguards?
    Historically yes, they have a history of keeping protesters further away (out of camera range) than other people. In this case, no, doesn’t seem to have.
    Is this a free speach issue?
    No not really. Mostly because of location: the Gallery of the Capital building. Proprietors generally have expansive rights over their own property. The fact that the proprietor is the Government does (I feel) weigh against this though.
    Is booting someone out of the gallery during a formal occasion becase they’re wearing a t-shirt illegal?
    It appears so.
    Should it be?
    No.
    Given that it is illegal, should the police have booted Cindy Sheehan out?
    Heck no. Rule of Law and so on.
    What was Cindy Sheehan’s intent?
    I’m with Brian Greenberg on this one: To get arrested. Specifically, to get arrested so as to draw attention to her and/or her cause.
    Whose fault was it that she was arrested?
    This presupposes there was fault to be had, and that only one person is at fault. I’d say both Cindy Sheehan and the police, but that the answer is mostly irrelevant.
    Is Cindy Sheehan an ass?
    Gut feeling: Naw, wrong categorization. But doesn’t really matter one way or the other.
    Given what Bush & Co have been up to, is it time to drop politeness, fair play, the rules of civil discourse and the like?
    To some extent, yes. But the principles are important and we should be loathe to drop them, even if our opponents do not deserve to benefit by them.
    Was the gallery during a formal occasion the time and place for this?
    No. But this is an interesting question, as part of the point of civil disobedience is to be inconvenient, and to do things that would normally be inappropriate. So no, but not an automatic no.

  58. D.F. Manno, please feel free to use Ulrika’s little paper bag when she’s done with it.

    You’re getting bent out of shape over a t-shirt, and I’m the one hyperventilating? Yeah, right.

    The administration has worked hard to sanitize this war–no photos of the bodies being received at Dover, embedded reporters only, Bush’s absence at funerals, no draft, no homefront measures, etc.–and judging from your reaction, it’s working. Iraq? Nothing to see here, move along. Look! A t-shirt!

    I don’t thinkthe maimed and wounded vets or the families and friends of the dead soldiers are worried about Emily Post.

  59. “You’re getting bent out of shape over a t-shirt, and I’m the one hyperventilating?”

    Yes, apparently so, as you’re under the impression that a comment about a t-shirt is actually the focus of my thoughts about any number of problems relating to the Bush administration. So either you’re dumb as a bag of rocks — which I doubt, if only out of courtesy — or you’re hyperventilating. Pick one.

    Also, please shut up about it now because I’m bored of talking about it and I’m bored with reading you getting righteously indignant about it. Move on.

  60. Running the risk of being accused of “hyperventilating” (why not just call Ulrika “hysterial” while you’re at it?) the attitude that thinks it matters whether or not one wears a t-shirt to the State of the Union is nuts.

    With the country being in the shape it’s in, it behooves every citizen to protest as loudly and as provocatively as possible against Bush and cronies.

    Including at the SofU, which was a total Brezhnev-era Politburo speech this time anyway.

  61. Martin Wisse:

    “(why not just call Ulrika “hysterial” while you’re at it?)”

    I’m assuming you meant “hysterical” here and made a typo, and the reason I didn’t call her hysterical is because her hyperventilating has nothing to do with her uterus, and I don’t much appreciate the implication I was making such a suggestion. Being that I am, after all, a professional writer and have been one for a decade and a half, you can be assured that generally speaking I use the words I want to use.

    As for “the attitude that thinks it matters whether or not one wears a t-shirt to the State of the Union is nuts” — Crap. What is nuts is that people have bought in to the thinking that the best way to conduct political theater is in the most unsubtle and idiotic way possible, like, say, wearing a goddamned t-shirt to the State of the Union. It’s stupidity like that which is among the reasons the left continues to get its ass handed to it politically despite the manifest fact that its politics are rather more in line with the average American’s politics. Call me crazy but I think handing the right unearned advantages like that is pretty damn lame.

    If Sheehan had an ounce of sense in her head she would have dressed perfectly appropriately and then, once the State of the Union began, she would have pulled out a big ass button and put it on her lapel where all the cameras could have seen it. Then they couldn’t have tossed without making a scene while the State of the Union was happening. Now, that’s political theater, and certainly would have resonated more “loudly and provocatively” than that t-shirt of hers, which got her booted even before the speech began.

    Good fucking lord, people. If you’re going to play this game, play to win. That’s what Bush’s people do.

  62. More harm has been done by men in suits than by every Crip in a t-shirt ever. I personally see them as being as offensive as a white sheet and hood.

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