POLITICS - State of the Intersect

Bush delivered his 2004 State of the Union Address. It was an emotion-drive appeal to his core constituency (and only four explicit September 11 references), but I wonder how well it will play in any of the swing states. I posted earlier about Bush's inability to follow-through on his SOTU proposals.

One interesting note: He didn't make one mention of the space plans.

Here are a couple quick replies to this lunacy.

Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 -- over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting -- and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated. (Applause.)

Bush really doesn't understand that there are important ideological differences behind the 9/11 terrorist organization and those that operate against Israel. His claim that this danger (of terror) can truly be defeated is comforting, but false. It's an offer that will be accepted by pushovers who have been forced to gasp in horror at every 9/11 reference. (But how many of these naive voters are still out there who haven't signed on to Bush already?)

Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give our homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. For years, we have used similar provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. If these methods are good for hunting criminals, they are even more important for hunting terrorists. (Applause.)

Conservatives accuse the Clinton Administration of treating terrorists like criminals. That's where this war rhetoric originates. They believe that bin Laden's fatwa was a declaration of war. However, bin Laden is not a representative of a recognized state, only an ideology-driven organization. Declaring war on an organization only adds to its credibility and ability to represent itself. That's why the US should have continued to treat them as international criminals. Bush hasn't recognized this, and wouldn't admit it if he did, but he is certainly adding strength to any Democratic response.

As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear. They are trying to shake the will of our country and our friends, but the United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins. (Applause.) The killers will fail, and the Iraqi people will live in freedom. (Applause.)

Let's hope that this democracy doesn't quickly turn into a theocracy. Bush didn't have any post-invasion plan for Iraq, and there isn't any evidence that they have one now. This is really a fly-by-out-seats President, who is politically guided by savvy figures. We're not out of the woods yet in Iraq, and Bush didn't have much to say about his turnaround policy with the UN.

Some in this chamber, and in our country, did not support the liberation of Iraq. Objections to war often come from principled motives. But let us be candid about the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. We're seeking all the facts. 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. Had we failed to act, the dictatator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day. Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been revealed as empty threats, weakening the United Nations and encouraging defiance by dictators around the world. Iraq's torture chambers would still be filled with victims, terrified and innocent. The killing fields of Iraq -- where hundreds of thousands of men and women and children vanished into the sands -- would still be known only to the killers. For all who love freedom and peace, the world without Saddam Hussein's regime is a better and safer place. (Applause.)

Bush goes all over the place here. I'm glad to see Hussein's regime gone. But it has cost us too much. Way too much. And it didn't have to.

You'll notice that WMD has now become "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities". No explanation for the addendum. I'm sure that Bush believes that his core constituency is naive, and doesn't understand the difference between the notorious 45-Minute WMD Threat and now WMD-related program activities (none of which he'll name).

In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. (Applause.) This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years. (Applause.)

Cut the deficit in half in the next five years. This should be the very definition of fuzzy math. I can't wait to see this new miracle budget! (I'm guessing that we'll invest the next tax cuts in "miracle specialists".)

By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care. To protect the doctor-patient relationship, and keep good doctors doing good work, we must eliminate wasteful and frivolous medical lawsuits. (Applause.)

What planet does this guy live on? The majority of current patient medical records are computerized, even in rural areas. It's possible he could be talking about biometrics, but that would surely suggest evolutionary trends that this President's science council are reluctant to acknowledge.

In my budget, I proposed new funding to continue our aggressive, community-based strategy to reduce demand for illegal drugs. Drug testing in our schools has proven to be an effective part of this effort. So tonight I proposed an additional $23 million for schools that want to use drug testing as a tool to save children's lives. The aim here is not to punish children, but to send them this message: We love you, and we don't want to lose you. (Applause.)

Drug testing for high school students? A conservative President proposes a multi-million dollar proposal to invade personal rights? I thought he was starting to lose touch with reality here, but then I realized he was shooting for the moon...

The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message -- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now. (Applause.)

... until he makes a Presidential Declaration against Steroid use. You wanna talk about shortcuts to accomplishment? How about getting accepted to an Ivy League college with a 600 SAT score? How about losing the popular election and securing your job through an underhanded court decision? If there was ever a poster child for shortcuts to accomplishment, George W. Bush would be it. Give me a break. But after Bush shoots for the Moon...

Each year, about 3 million teenagers contract sexually-transmitted diseases that can harm them, or kill them, or prevent them from ever becoming parents. In my budget, I propose a grassroots campaign to help inform families about these medical risks. We will double federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases. (Applause.)

... he goes even further out to Mars. Federal funds for high school abstinence programs? Holy crap. Was there something wrong with the Magic Bean proposal? That money would be better spent if it was thrown into a paper shredder and used for fertilizer in the Rose Garden. At least there would be a possibility of getting some kind of return on the investment.

Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. (Applause.)

Rick Santorum leaped out of his chair on this one. This is obviously an allusion to a Constitutional Amendment declaring marriage must be a union between a man and a woman. Will this go anywhere in the mainstream public? Will it become a major campaign issue?

"Dear George W. Bush. If there's anything you know, I, Ashley Pearson, age 10, can do to help anyone, please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country." She added this P.S.: "If you can send a letter to the troops, please put, 'Ashley Pearson believes in you.'" (Applause.)

Dear Ashley,
Enjoy paying off my deficits! I believe in you!


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