Sunday, January 29, 2006

SOTU Showcase Showdown

President Bush's State of the Union address is this Tuesday night. If Vegas offered a line on how many times the president uses a variation of the word "terror", I'd take the over. Alas, there's no such bet currently available in Sin City (yes, I checked) so we'll set it up here. Having run all potential permutations, iterations, and obfuscations through a rigorous and highly proprietary analysis, the TCR over/under is 19 uses of terror/terrorism/terrorists.

Readers are welcome to post predictions in the comments section. The one who comes closest without going under---sort of an inverted "Price is Right" twist appropriate for a one-issue president with a 40% approval rating---wins a public acknowledgment in this space.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You count ... I'm going to be "doing my nails" !

1/29/2006 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SOTU = 17 mentions of some version of terror.

3 = commander-in-chief
5 = 9/11
7 = security
9 = plan

1/29/2006 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

15 times.

Previous poster's subheadings are great.

1/29/2006 6:17 PM  
Blogger James Finkelstein (Ga.) said...

I know this one's a bit long, but two years ago I had some fun (!) with the same type of analysis. sent me a bumper sticker for my trouble:

by James Finkelstein

Used by permission. Originally published in the Albany Journal.

Sometimes what politicians don't say reveals more than what they do talk about in their speeches. Here's a rundown on President Bush's January 20, 2004 State of the Union Address, using a global search, placed in context with some matters he chose not to mention:

* 0 Mentions of any weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq;

* 1 Use of the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" in the same sentence with the word "Iraq" ("... already the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.");

* 3 days after President Bush's State of the Union speech that David Kay resigned, stating "I don't think they existed,... What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the '90s,"

* 21 times President Bush mentioned tax cuts or tax relief, including proposals which would reduce taxes on corporations earning more than $10 billion annually, reduce taxes on persons with incomes over $10 million annually, eliminate virtually all taxes for multimillionaires and billionaires whose primary income is from stock dividends and stock sales, and end all taxes on estates worth over one million dollars (estates under one million are already exempt);

* 0 mentions of the fact that while under President Bush's proposals a typical wage earning taxpayer would get less than $500 in net annual tax relief, those earning a million dollars or more will save an average of $100,000 a year;

* 0 mentions that for an American family of four $8,000 will be their additional burden in national debt borrowed by the government in 2004 to fund tax cuts and the war in Iraq;

* 0 mentions that costs of the war in Iraq were supposed to be repaid from oil revenues from Iraqi wells;

* 0 mentions of the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to fulfill President Bush's recent promise to go to Mars and the Moon;

* 0 mentions of the national debt- which increased by $1.33 trillion dollars in the 3 years since President Bush took office to $7,002,877,924,418.81 on January 16, 2004, and is now rising at a rate of $1.5 billion dollars a day, $545 billion a year;

* 1 promise to cut the annual $545 billion dollar "deficit" (not the debt) in half in five years- which would still allow for an additional $2.5 trillion dollars in debt;

* 0 mentions of President Bush's prediction from his 2002 State of the Union speech that "the deficit will be small and short term."

* 0 days President Bush would have left in office five years from now if he wins reelection in 2004 but fails to reduce the deficit as promised;

* 9 mentions of marriage and Federal laws about marriage that discriminate against gays;

* 0 mentions of laws needed to protect gays from employment discrimination or hate crimes;

* 1 mention of a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit any State's citizens from voting to allow gay couples the same rights as married couples ("... the only alternative left... would be the constitutional process. Our Nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.")

* 0 mentions of a proposed constitutional amendment to balance the budget, a plank in the Republicans' "Contract for America" when they took control of the House and Senate in 1994;

* 1 mention of health care centers established in Iraq, paid for by U.S. taxpayers;

* 0 proposals to provide government funded health care centers for the 41 million Americans, including 12 million children, who lack any coverage;

* 0 mentions of the fact that more than 500 American servicemen and women had died in Iraq since the last State of the Union address (and more than 2,900 were wounded);

* 0 mentions that 363 Americans had died since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared major combat operations over in Iraq;

* 0 funerals of American soldiers attended by President Bush, before or after May 1st;

* 44 fund raisers attended by President Bush in a seven month period after he declared major combat operations over in Iraq, during which he raised $112 million dollars for his reelection campaign.

1/29/2006 6:21 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

I'll take 17 terrors and 3 9/11s.

1/29/2006 6:22 PM  
Blogger James Finkelstein (Ga.) said...

Oh yeah. I almost forgot:

I'll go with 17 mentions of terrorism, terrorists, the war on terror, specific terrorists they've captured (the #3 man's been caught oh, about 97 times now).

And one mention of "It's hard, hard work..."

1/29/2006 6:23 PM  
Blogger James Finkelstein (Ga.) said...

Wait, I just noticed that 17's been taken. I'll go with 16, then. Anybody got 16 yet?

1/29/2006 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/29/2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger peeler said...

21 (3 x 7 : they're such religious numbers and you just know the Shrub must be feeling the need for prayer these days.

Oh, and 14 "9/11's". And 427 "freedoms".

1/29/2006 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/29/2006 6:49 PM  
Blogger zen said...

terror(ism)(ists) = 25
fear = 6
threat(s) = 12

bourbons [for me] = 5

1/29/2006 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

32..."the American people" fill in the blank.

As if this war criminal speaks for me and my husband.

1/29/2006 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Osama, your life is assured with the Republicans.

1/29/2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

"thuh 'merican people gotta unnerstand" = 4

(adding to my tally)

1/29/2006 7:49 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Damn, Roper took my number. I actually think he is going to hit 30, but I want 29.

1/29/2006 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5 9/11s.
10 terrorism/terrorists/terror.
7 freedom or liberty.
2 commander-in-chief.

1/29/2006 8:56 PM  
Blogger James Finkelstein (Ga.) said...

specially for Walt- try not to let your head explode:

"Wanted: Dead or Alive
Bush Reasserts Demand to Afghans:
Turn Over Bin Laden

Sept. 17 — President Bush Monday repeated his vow to track down Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in last week's terror attacks while Wall Street reopened to its biggest point drop ever.

"I want justice," Bush said. "And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'"

Nearly a week after the assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, New York City tried to return to work and the nation braced for the economic impact of the tragedy."

(six months later)

"We haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is," Bush said during the 2002 news conference. "I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run.

"I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country," Bush continued. "I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban. But once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became - we shoved him out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his Al Qaeda killers anymore."

1/29/2006 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Figure an hour speech, so I'm going hight at 45.

1/29/2006 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terror, terrorist, terrorism: 21

victory, plan for: 2

Freedom: 13

9/11: 2

1/29/2006 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

terror variations: 26

1/29/2006 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going with
terror(ism)(ists) = 20

I expect lots of "fully aware's," "fully understand's," all tossed together with a plethora of decide's, decides', decisions', decided's...

But, like the first anonymous post, I'll not have the stomach to watch the contest.

1/29/2006 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrorists (and variations) - 24
They hate freedom - 4

Of course I'll have to rely on the honor system here since I certainly won't be watching. If I feel like watching an imbecile on TV, I'll turn on Homer Simpson.

1/29/2006 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terror(ist)(ism): 23
"Our way of life": 2
"Terrorist surveillance" (to defend NSA spying: 4

1/29/2006 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words I hope not to hear:
Iran/Tehran, nuclear, Syria

Words I don't expect to hear:
Corruption, scandal, fraud, indictment

OK. On to "terror". Let's see...

Terror (-ism, ist)
2002 - 36
2003 - 22
2004 - 19
2005 - 27

Free(-dom)+Liber(-ty, -ation, -ate)
2002 - 21+3
2003 - 10+5
2004 - 19+2
2005 - 26+8

OK I'll be sort of contrarian and go low with terror at "only" 24. Even though it is the one issue that works for Bush, maybe hé 'll try to change the subject, what with Osama's latest tape... But I'd be bullish on secure, defend, protect.

1/29/2006 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"settle for nothing less than total victory": 2

1/29/2006 11:36 PM  
Blogger Ahistoricality said...

I'm gonna be contrarian: I don't think he's gonna use "terror" more than about 10 times.

I think "security" will overtake it with at least a dozen mentions. I think some variation on "compassion" will get ten mentions.

And I think he'll finally break down and talk about "sacrifice" at least a dozen times, starting with (non-Sheehan) Gold Star mothers....

1/30/2006 12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw on cable that our local community is offering a two hour training program to all citizens, separate english and spanish classes, which will teach the citizens to watch for road rage, drunk drivers, and terrorism. Equipment will be provided and taken home. This appears to be part of the homeland security funding.

Bush, after 2002 decided to base his Presidency totally on being the war President, so he has to bring it up because he needs support and money. But, I'd do as well at predicting his usage of those terms, as I do in predicting market returns ;-)

I've been hearing one of the main topics is going to be on health saving accounts.

You think he'll mention the major corruption scandals; budget deficits; Global warming; Gulf Cost rebuilding (Katrina); global nuclear disarmament; or alternative energy policy so we can get off of oil?

1/30/2006 12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

25 terrors by Bush Junta frontman

1/30/2006 1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"connect the dots"

8 times.

That's because that was his favorite activity during his Yale art classes. He still got a 'C'.

Kevin A

1/30/2006 2:39 AM  
Blogger Chris Bray said...

Need a rulling: Will "the evildoers" and/or "the evil ones" count as references to terrorism or terrorists?

And can we get a special bet going for the number of times he conflates Iraqi insurgents and the 9/11 attackers?

1/30/2006 6:47 AM  
Blogger Chris Bray said...

And I'll take 38, by the way. Desperate people talk louder.

1/30/2006 6:48 AM  
Blogger Chris Bray said...

"Ruling." One "l," sorry.

1/30/2006 6:49 AM  
Blogger Cloudland Blue Quartet said...


1/30/2006 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

er, pass the polish sausage thisaway will ya, I'm starting to feel my heart beat again.....I say, da bears 65 and Bush (terror..) 491, unless of course he gets blindsided by an angry steve mcmichael, in which case I suspect a large enough al qaeda cell will be found in Chicago to warrant the destruction of the city by Donald Rumsfeld. Help us
Ditka, you're our only hope.....

1/30/2006 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm grabbing 35.

Terrorists: 20
Terror: 10
Terrorism: 5

And, just for shits & giggles, a few more:

Nuke-ular: 6
Nuclear: 0
Way of Life: 7
Life: 0
God: 6
America/Americans: 25
Security: 10
Fear: 0

And finally . . . after a hiatus of a couple years, Osama will return with 1 mention.

1/30/2006 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terror, Terrorism, evil doers: 24
Iraq is 9/11: 9
Iran: 15
My Job - keep the People safe: 15

1/30/2006 9:45 AM  
Blogger Bravo 2-1 said...

the real bet will be any invocation of terror plus the phrase "necessary ... security/safety"

my total for that (like OPS in baseball) is 31.

1/30/2006 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"keeping Americans safe" or close variations: 7

1/30/2006 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

terror (or however he'll pronounce it) 26 times

1/30/2006 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more interested in what we'll hear when the State of the Union speech is played backwards.

1/30/2006 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

terror, terrorism, terrorist: 42

1/30/2006 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/30/2006 12:15 PM  
Blogger David said...

terrorisms (read it like "Bushisms"): 28
Islamofascism/ists: 2
tyranny/ist: 5
democracy/democratic: 15
Katrina: 2


1/30/2006 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll take

Terror(ist)(ism)/'evil doer' - 32
Hamas - 5
Freedom/Dem - 28
Secure(ity) - 50
Iran - 10
Iraq - 10
Medicare Drug Plan - 5
Connect the Dots - at lest once

and millions of tears and groans from all over the country :-(

1/30/2006 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He will say a variation on terror (-ist, -ism) every 15 seconds for two 5 minute periods, thus, 40 times. (Figure one 5 minute burst for Iraq/Al Quada combo platter, one for Hamas.) But, I'll add a scattering of 7 extra mentions in the remaining 50 minutes, for a overall total of 47.

He'll say Alito 6 times, as well as point to him and his family sitting with Laura.

1/30/2006 5:36 PM  
Blogger David the Gyromancer said...

I simply answer the question straight. 18. Always was a pessimist.

1/30/2006 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terror/Terrorist/terrorism I pick 33 times

1/30/2006 6:59 PM  
Blogger moodshifter said...


1/30/2006 8:08 PM  
Blogger Spider said...

Aww hell. I was just planning to take a shot of whisky every time Bush either mangled the English language or gave a look that he brain was working way to hard to produce vocal sound. Then I figured I'd be drunk less than ten minutes into it.

My predictions:

25 references to terrorists/terror

14 references to "national security"

10 reference to a "strong" or "stronger economy."

0 - The Senators, from either party, not standing up and clapping during the ovation. How the good Republicans and Democrats can not protest this adminstration at any given moment is incredible. I think there will be people in the House that won't stand.

35 - The percent of voting age Americans who will actually watch the SOTU address. that's just my guess. Does anyone know the real percentage?

1/31/2006 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/31/2006 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chimpy will use the phrase approximately 666 times

1/31/2006 12:59 AM  
Blogger Chris Bray said...

Dude, Lymond took my number -- I totally have dibs on 38. Back up off it, yo. I will defend my numerical selection.

1/31/2006 3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll just go with the word terror/ terrist in every other sentence.

I'm more curious to find out what his new vo-cab-u-lar-y word will be. One which he will e-nunc-i-ate and then go on to define for us.

1/31/2006 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Semper fubar nails it cold.

Dang! Now I feel like I must watch so I can revel in the validation of all the predictions.

Or maybe not.

1/31/2006 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The transcript has been posted of what he's supposed to say.

I count 21. TCR was pretty close. Bush may yet space out on a few and come in at 19.

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