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On the Hill

I write this from our offices on Capitol Hill where the Capitol Dome will tonight appear over my shoulder -- and where we will originate NBC Nightly News and NBC News coverage of the State of the Union Address.

It's been a day of nonstop briefings... a meeting at the White House with the most senior officials there, followed by the same on the Hill with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid. We also had time with Senator Webb who says he has written his own speech tonight (he will deliver the response). It appears, from the guest list in the Democratically-controlled galleries in the House chamber tonight, that a message is being sent on the topic of 9/11. Many of the guests have an affiliation (more than one lost a loved one) having to do with the terrorist attacks. Aides say the President's speech will essentially be divided in half, between foreign and domestic policy, the former, they point out, not designed to elicit much applause. The real history of the night will appear early on to those watching at home. For starters, we will hear the announcement: "Madam Speaker, the President of the United States." After that, when all are seated, the "three-shot" that all Americans will see of the rostrum will include a woman for the first time in American history. As the analysts and pundits will no doubt take great pains to point out, the President comes to the chamber tonight in a weakened political state: his poll numbers are bad, the GOP has lost control of both houses of Congress, and he sees himself as backing the only viable policy given the current circumstances in Iraq.  What remains unclear after our round of briefings is: Do the Democrats believe the Iraqi military is capable of taking over in the event of a U.S. troop pullout? As one prominent Democrat put it to us today, "the goal is no American troops on the streets of Iraq." Does that mean anyone is making an apples-to-apples comparison of U.S. and Iraqi Army combat teams? Senior aides to the President say he knows full well the extent of the "war fatigue" in the country. The Speaker today indicated she does not doubt the President's sincerity, she just wholeheartedly disagrees with the message he will deliver tonight. Finally, one indication of just how new a notion "the majority" is to the Democrats: Majority Leader Reid said he was late to the Speaker's office, because he went to her OLD office, the Minority Leader's suite. It might take some practice.


THE BROADCAST FROM WASHINGTON
We'll have all the politics covered tonight, with David Gregory at the White House and Tim Russert by my side. We'll cover the testimony of 3-star General David Petraeus and update the situation in Baghdad. We have a great In-Depth segment tonight from Mike Taibbi... and because a good newspaper has different sections (and because there's more to life than Congress, after all), we'll look at what the Oscar nominations mean. Here's a hint: the graphic that will appear at the bottom of the screen in the first seconds of the story tonight will read "Rookie Year." Josh Mankiewicz will make a rare Nightly News appearance from Los Angeles to round us out.

THE LIST
The following is a great compilation of words -- some already in use, others yet to make their debut in the workplace. While some if not all of them have already been heavily forwarded in e-mails across the country, it's a useful rundown. It is widely credited to the great "Jargon" column in Wired magazine, but research on its precise derivation turned up nothing specific today. So my thanks and apologies to the author, if just one exists. Enjoy these:

NEW WORDS FOR 2007
Essential vocabulary additions for the workplace (and elsewhere)

1. BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

2. SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

3. ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

4. SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

5. CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.

6. PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

7. MOUSE POTATO: The online, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

8. SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What Yuppies get into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

9. STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

10. SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

11. XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

12. IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.

13. PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again. I often feel like doing this to my computer.

14. ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

15. 404: Someone who is clueless. From the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested site could not be located.

16. GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls and subdivisions.

17. OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake. (Like after hitting send on an e-mail by mistake.)

18. WOOFS: Well-Off Older Folks.

BACK TO THE HILL
We hope you can join us for the broadcast tonight, and especially for our live NBC News coverage of the President's speech from Capitol Hill in Washington, which begins at 9 p.m. ET.