Updates for Friday, February 3rd [2006]

State of the Union


Dear Friends,

As mentioned in my previous letter, on the night of the 31rst of January I watched the 43rd President of the United State's State of the Union address. Unfortunately, Daniel's friend James was there.

James: Y'know, I wouldn't be watching this if it wasn't for the fact that I need to update my blog. I'm part of the Anti-Bush Blogosphere, we gotta fight against the power, know what I'm sayin'?

Me: No, I usually don't know what you're saying. I too am skeptical of Mr. Bush, indeed, although I wouldn't say I have the same vantage point as you do.

James: Ha, that's coming from the biggest Republican I know.

Daniel: Well guys, it's coming on. No arguing now, you hear? You want a beer, James?

James: No.

Me: I'll take one, one of those Samuel Adams Boston lagers.

President Bush (via TV): Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, fellow citizens: As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of government share a great privilege: We've been placed in office by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege we share with newly-elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territories, Ukraine, and a free and sovereign Iraq. (interlude of applause)

Me: Is the speech over? Why the applause?

Daniel: They always do this, just watch.

Me: It is hardly a privilege that we get to vote for our leader, it is a right we have to have representation... a right we, and others, have the honor to fight for. Any dictator be damned.

President Bush: Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of this Capitol and renewed the commitment of our nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for all. This evening I will set forth policies to advance that ideal at home and around the world. Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our nation an active force for good in the world -- the state of our union is confident and strong.

James: Leave it to Bush to brag about national confidence and strength in the middle of his approval ratings being low as ever.

Me: I concur.

Daniel: See, I knew you could both agree on something.

President Bush: Our generation has been blessed - by the expansion of opportunity, by advances in medicine, by the security purchased by our parents' sacrifice. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror - or a lot of gray (the audience laughs)

Daniel: Lame!

President Bush:... and we watch our children moving into adulthood, we ask the question: What will be the state of their union? Members of Congress, the choices we make together will answer that question. Over the next several months, on issue after issue, let us do what Americans have always done, and build a better world for our children and our grandchildren.

(interlude of applause)

First, we must be good stewards of this economy, and renew the great institutions on which millions of our fellow citizens rely. America's economy is the fastest growing of any major industrialized nation. In the past four years, we provided tax relief to every person who pays income taxes, overcome a recession, opened up new markets abroad, prosecuted corporate criminals, raised homeownership to its highest level in history, and in the last year alone, the United States has added 2.3 million new jobs.

(interlude of applause)

When action was needed, the Congress delivered - and the nation is grateful. Now we must add to these achievements. By making our economy more flexible, more innovative, and more competitive, we will keep America the economic leader of the world.

James: By giving the rich tax breaks, and making us proletariat poor!

Me: Prole-what?

Daniel: Just ignore him, you probably disagree with him anyways.

Me: I'm sure you're right.

President Bush: America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline. I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.

(interlude of applause)

My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not at all.

Me: I like that, but is not our budget still growing? He may be cutting a lot, but he is also asking for more, is he not?

James: We didn't have this problem with Bill Clinton.

Me: Good lord, shut up. You've had this "problem" for the last hundred years.

President Bush: To make our economy stronger and more dynamic, we must prepare a rising generation to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, standards are higher, test scores are on the rise, and we're closing the achievement gap for minority students. Now we must demand better results from our high schools, so every high school diploma is a ticket to success. We will help an additional 200,000 workers to get training for a better career, by reforming our job training system and strengthening America's community colleges. And we'll make it easier for Americans to afford a college education, by increasing the size of Pell Grants.

(interlude of applause)

To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits.

(interlude of applause)

Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back by irresponsible class-actions and frivolous asbestos claims - and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.

James: There he goes, back to defending the corporate empire.

Me: Is it just me, or is the applause shorter in their intervals?

President Bush: To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable, and give families greater access to good coverage -

(interlude of applause)

- and more control over their health decisions.

(interlude of applause)

I ask Congress to move forward on a comprehensive health care agenda with tax credits to help low-income workers buy insurance, a community health center in every poor county, improved information technology to prevent medical error and needless costs, association health plans for small businesses and their employees -

(interlude of applause)

- expanded health savings accounts -

(interlude of applause)

- and medical liability reform that will reduce health care costs and make sure patients have the doctors and care they need.

Daniel: It's not just you, this applause is ridiculous.

President Bush: To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy.

(interlude of applause)

Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home -- including safe, clean nuclear energy.

(interlude of applause)

My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens.

(interlude of applause)

And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology - from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol.

(interlude of applause)

Four years of debate is enough: I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.

James: This is all rhetoric, he still is in the oil company's pockets.

Me: I doubt that he is seriously disinterested in removing our dependency on oil, but I also believe that the government still far outranks any private body in terms of how much it pollutes.

President Bush: All these proposals are essential to expand this economy and add new jobs -- but they are just the beginning of our duty. To build the prosperity of future generations, we must update institutions that were created to meet the needs of an earlier time. Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. I've appointed a bipartisan panel to examine the tax code from top to bottom. And when their recommendations are delivered, you and I will work together to give this nation a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all.

Me: A revision of the tax codes is most definitely a fair proposal, however, he is not going to be in office long enough to oversee a proper revision.

President Bush: America's immigration system is also outdated - unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.

Daniel: He might as well've just said drug dealers and terrorists together, like "drugdealerterrorists" or "drugerrorists".

President Bush: One of America's most important institutions -- a symbol of the trust between generations -- is also in need of wise and effective reform. Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th century, and we must honor its great purposes in this new century.

(interlude of applause)

The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy. And so we must join together to strengthen and save Social Security.

(interlude of applause)

Today, more than 45 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, and millions more are nearing retirement - and for them the system is sound and fiscally strong. I have a message for every American who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you; for you, the Social Security system will not change in any way.

(interlude of applause)

For younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. Social Security was created decades ago, for a very different era. In those days, people did not live as long. Benefits were much lower than they are today. And a half-century ago, about sixteen workers paid into the system for each person drawing benefits. Our society has changed in ways the founders of Social Security could not have foreseen. In today's world, people are living longer and, therefore, drawing benefits longer. And those benefits are scheduled to rise dramatically over the next few decades. And instead of sixteen workers paying in for every beneficiary, right now it's only about three workers. And over the next few decades that number will fall to just two workers per beneficiary. With each passing year, fewer workers are paying ever-higher benefits to an ever-larger number of retirees.

James: Lies! All lies! He's misleading the American people!

President Bush: So here is the result: Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. And every year afterward will bring a new shortfall, bigger than the year before. For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion to keep the system afloat - and by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than $300 billion. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt. If steps are not taken to avert that outcome, the only solutions would be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing, or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs. I recognize that 2018 and 2042 may seem a long way off. But those dates are not so distant, as any parent will tell you. If you have a five-year-old, you're already concerned about how you'll pay for college tuition 13 years down the road. If you've got children in their 20s, as some of us do, the idea of Social Security collapsing before they retire does not seem like a small matter. And it should not be a small matter to the United States Congress.

(interlude of applause)

You and I share a responsibility. We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of Social Security once and for all. Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid review of the options. Some have suggested limiting benefits for wealthy retirees. Former Congressman Tim Penny has raised the possibility of indexing benefits to prices rather than wages. During the 1990s, my predecessor, President Clinton, spoke of increasing the retirement age. Former Senator John Breaux suggested discouraging early collection of Social Security benefits. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended changing the way benefits are calculated. All these ideas are on the table. I know that none of these reforms would be easy. But we have to move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children's retirement security is more important than partisan politics.

(interlude of applause)

I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer.

Me: I have an idea to offer, let's phase out the program slowly between now and 2042, with gradually depreciating benefits so Americans are required to do more themselves to manage their own retirements than wait for the inefficient, failing, bankrupting government to do so for them.

James: Ha, I knew it! Republican!

President Bush: We must, however, be guided by some basic principles. We must make Social Security permanently sound, not leave that task for another day. We must not jeopardize our economic strength by increasing payroll taxes. We must ensure that lower-income Americans get the help they need to have dignity and peace of mind in their retirement. We must guarantee there is no change for those now retired or nearing retirement. And we must take care that any changes in the system are gradual, so younger workers have years to prepare and plan for their future.

As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers. And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts.

(interlude of applause)

Here is how the idea works. Right now, a set portion of the money you earn is taken out of your paycheck to pay for the Social Security benefits of today's retirees. If you're a younger worker, I believe you should be able to set aside part of that money in your own retirement account, so you can build a nest egg for your own future. Here's why the personal accounts are a better deal. Your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver...

Me: Which, for the record, is no rate, since it does not grow in the current system.

President Bush:... and your account will provide money for retirement over and above the check you will receive from Social Security. In addition, you'll be able to pass along the money that accumulates in your personal account, if you wish, to your children and - or grandchildren. And best of all, the money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away.

Me: I find it hard to believe that any program where the government manages your money for you, protects you from the government taking money from you.

President Bush: The goal here is greater security in retirement, so we will set careful guidelines for personal accounts. We'll make sure the money can only go into a conservative mix of bonds and stock funds. We'll make sure that your earnings are not eaten up by hidden Wall Street fees. We'll make sure there are good options to protect your investments from sudden market swings on the eve of your retirement. We'll make sure a personal account cannot be emptied out all at once, but rather paid out over time, as an addition to traditional Social Security benefits. And we'll make sure this plan is fiscally responsible, by starting personal retirement accounts gradually, and raising the yearly limits on contributions over time, eventually permitting all workers to set aside four percentage points of their payroll taxes in their accounts. Personal retirement accounts should be familiar to federal employees, because you already have something similar, called the Thrift Savings Plan, which lets workers deposit a portion of their paychecks into any of five different broadly-based investment funds. It's time to extend the same security, and choice, and ownership to young Americans.

(interlude of applause)

Our second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren is to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society. So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children. Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them.

Me: He should not have used "but" in that sentence, unless he meant to say that he thinks government is indeed the source of these values... which would be more consistent with his position, using his high office to preach his personal values, to defend them from what he feels might "undermine" them. The government is no tool to undermine values, nor is it a tool to express them.

James: Let me translate this for you: Blah blah blah Christianity blah blah.

President Bush: Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

Me: An amendment to the Constitution for something so frivolous? This President of yours is committing an act of high treason to even suggest this.

James: Blah blah blah god hates fags blah blah.

President Bush: Because a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable, we must strive to build a culture of life. Medical research can help us reach that goal, by developing treatments and cures that save lives and help people overcome disabilities - and I thank the Congress for doubling the funding of the National Institutes of Health.

(interlude of applause)

To build a culture of life, we must also ensure that scientific advances always serve human dignity, not take advantage of some lives for the benefit of others. We should all be able to agree -

(interlude of applause)

- we should all be able to agree on some clear standards. I will work with Congress to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body parts, and that human life is never bought and sold as a commodity.

Me: I certainly do not see how it is the President's business to spend his time discussing health care. He is not a doctor.

James: Blah blah blah let's ban abortion blah blah ban stem cells blah blah.

President Bush: America will continue to lead the world in medical research that is ambitious, aggressive, and always ethical. Because courts must always deliver impartial justice, judges have a duty to faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from the bench.

Me: I agree about activist judges, however what Mr. Bush fights for, is not removal of the abusive powers of the judiciary, but for transfer of those powers to the legislature, so that the law goes unchecked. An unjust law should be recognized both by judges and by the legislature without the need of special authorities, and if there is so much confusion as towards what powers our simply written Constitution grants each agency, then perhaps it is time to give up on this system, and establish a new method of order.

President Bush: As President, I have a constitutional responsibility to nominate men and women who understand the role of courts in our democracy, and are well-qualified to serve on the bench - and I have done so.

(interlude of applause)

The Constitution also gives the Senate a responsibility: Every judicial nominee deserves an up or down vote.

James: Alito got approved and all Bush can do is bitch about how hard it was? What a whiner.

President Bush: Because one of the deepest values of our country is compassion, we must never turn away from any citizen who feels isolated from the opportunities of America. Our government will continue to support faith-based and community groups that bring hope to harsh places. Now we need to focus on giving young people, especially young men in our cities, better options than apathy, or gangs, or jail. Tonight I propose a three-year initiative to help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence.

(interlude of applause)

Taking on gang life will be one part of a broader outreach to at-risk youth, which involves parents and pastors, coaches and community leaders, in programs ranging from literacy to sports. And I am proud that the leader of this nationwide effort will be our First Lady, Laura Bush.

Daniel: Ha! Laura Bush vs. the Crips & Bloods. Man, don't come 'round dis part o' the hood, G', cuz Laura be representin', word yo!

President Bush: Because HIV/AIDS brings suffering and fear into so many lives, I ask you to reauthorize the Ryan White Act to encourage prevention, and provide care and treatment to the victims of that disease.

(interlude of applause)

And as we update this important law, we must focus our efforts on fellow citizens with the highest rates of new cases, African American men and women.

(interlude of applause)

Because one of the main sources of our national unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that provides justice. In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit - so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction.

James: Did he just say that all the blacks are AIDS-ridden criminals, and that his intention on having blacks back his administration is to get them out of the clink and on HIV medication?

Daniel: Yeah, he did. Maybe he should save us all the time and just send the extra lawyers and AIDS medicine down to New Orleans.

President Bush: Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side.

(interlude of applause)

Our third responsibility to future generations is to leave them an America that is safe from danger, and protected by peace. We will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy - and chief among them is freedom from fear.

Me: We Americans are not fearful cowards, nor are we stupid.

James: We also have a freedom to be free of fearing what will happen if we try to make ourselves free of fear!

Me: I amend the latter half of my previous statement.

President Bush: In the three and a half years since September the 11th, 2001, we have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans. We've created a new department of government to defend our homeland, focused the FBI on preventing terrorism, begun to reform our intelligence agencies, broken up terror cells across the country, expanded research on defenses against biological and chemical attack, improved border security, and trained more than a half-million first responders. Police and firefighters, air marshals, researchers, and so many others are working every day to make our homeland safer, and we thank them all.

(interlude of applause)

Our nation, working with allies and friends, has also confronted the enemy abroad, with measures that are determined, successful, and continuing. The Al Qaeda terror network that attacked our country still has leaders - but many of its top commanders have been removed. There are still governments that sponsor and harbor terrorists - but their number has declined. There are still regimes seeking weapons of mass destruction - but no longer without attention and without consequence. Our country is still the target of terrorists who want to kill many, and intimidate us all - and we will stay on the offensive against them, until the fight is won.

(interlude of applause)

Pursuing our enemies is a vital commitment of the war on terror -- and I thank the Congress for providing our servicemen and women with the resources they have needed. During this time of war, we must continue to support our military and give them the tools for victory.

(interlude of applause)

Other nations around the globe have stood with us. In Afghanistan, an international force is helping provide security. In Iraq, 28 countries have troops on the ground, the United Nations and the European Union provided technical assistance for the elections, and NATO is leading a mission to help train Iraqi officers. We're cooperating with 60 governments in the Proliferation Security Initiative, to detect and stop the transit of dangerous materials. We're working closely with the governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and nine other countries have captured or detained al Qaeda terrorists. In the next four years, my administration will continue to build the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time.

(interlude of applause)

In the long-term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America and other free nations for decades. The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom.

Me: I am still not convinced that Iraq was the right target of his administration's aggressions. The Al Qaeda network should be disposed of by now, but it still stands strong. That is a shame, I believe, on the entire effort he has made to curtail the growth of radical anti-West ideology. I simply do not believe he has what it takes to handle Muslim invaders, and I should know.

James: "Muslim invaders"? You sound just like Bush. What's up with the racial profiling?

Me: Racial profiling? What do you mean by that. I am simply meant to say that they are Muslim, and the whole concept of Bush's campaign is that they are also invading, however not including 9/11 I've seen little evidence of any actual invasion... there is definitely no organized standing Muslim army that threatens us, on any real scale. These minor acts of terror should not dissuade us from accepting the reality that we are largely safe.

President Bush: Our enemies know this, and that is why the terrorist Zarqawi recently declared war on what he called the "evil principle" of democracy. And we've declared our own intention: America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

(interlude of applause)

The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies. They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace.

Daniel: Didn't he just get done saying he intended to impose Democracy in the Middle East, because just then he said he had no intention of imposing our form of government. That doesn't make sense.

Me: I somehow didn't expect any of it to make sense in the first place.

President Bush: That advance has great momentum in our time -- shown by women voting in Afghanistan, and Palestinians choosing a new direction, and the people of Ukraine asserting their democratic rights and electing a president. We are witnessing landmark events in the history of liberty. And in the coming years, we will add to that story.

(interlude of applause)

The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are now showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure. Tomorrow morning, Secretary of State Rice departs on a trip that will take her to Israel and the West Bank for meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. She will discuss with them how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent, democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, is within reach - and America will help them achieve that goal.

Me: Why are we giving money to the Palestinians? Are they not at the heart of the Persian empire? I do not wish war with the Muslim raiders for I believe we have better ends to attend to, but I do not wish to placate them with money. Not a cent, for it will only feed their ambitions.

James: It's about time we start paying, they need health care, good schools, and we keep supporting those damn Israelis!

Me: *sigh*

President Bush: To promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the United States will work with our friends in the region to fight the common threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard of freedom. Hopeful reform is already taking hold in an arc from Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain. The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future. And the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East.

(interlude of applause)

To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act -- and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. (Applause.) Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror -- pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium reprocessing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.

(interlude of applause)

Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq. That country is a vital front in the war on terror, which is why the terrorists have chosen to make a stand there. Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home.

(interlude of applause)

And the victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the war on terror, inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, bring more hope and progress to a troubled region, and thereby lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and grandchildren. We will succeed because the Iraqi people value their own liberty - as they showed the world last Sunday.

(interlude of applause)

Across Iraq, often at great risk, millions of citizens went to the polls and elected 275 men and women to represent them in a new Transitional National Assembly. A young woman in Baghdad told of waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day, and wondering if it might be too dangerous to vote. She said, "Hearing those explosions, it occurred to me - the insurgents are weak, they are afraid of democracy, they are losing. So I got my husband, and I got my parents, and we all came out and voted together."

Americans recognize that spirit of liberty, because we share it. In any nation, casting your vote is an act of civic responsibility; for millions of Iraqis, it was also an act of personal courage, and they have earned the respect of us all.

Me: Perhaps my greatest fear is that amidst all this rhetoric, which is all completely unnecessary when speaking to the American people, we forget what the word "freedom" means. Should it ever be made a substitute for tyranny, this type of rhetoric could be our downfall. I applaud the improvements made in Iraq, not because of the necessity for their achievement for the safety of the American people, a strong country that need not fear such scoundrels, but because of the general improvement it has made for the condition of the Iraqi people... not that they are by any means wholeheartedly willing or even ready to accept the obligations of a liberated society.

Daniel: Yeah, sometimes I wonder if this State of the Union speech is about our union or theirs. I gotta use the bathroom, let me know if I miss anything...

President Bush: One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country, "We were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. Thank you to the American people who paid the cost, but most of all, to the soldiers." Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country - and we are honored that she is with us tonight.

(interlude of applause)

The terrorists and insurgents are violently opposed to democracy, and will continue to attack it. Yet, the terrorists' most powerful myth is being destroyed. The whole world is seeing that the car bombers and assassins are not only fighting coalition forces, they are trying to destroy the hopes of Iraqis, expressed in free elections. And the whole world now knows that a small group of extremists will not overturn the will of the Iraqi people.

(interlude of applause)

We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for their own freedom, and to write their own history. As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech to Congress last September, "Ordinary Iraqis are anxious to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as quickly as possible." That is the natural desire of an independent nation, and it is also the stated mission of our coalition in Iraq. The new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work in that country.

At the recommendation of our commanders on the ground, and in consultation with the Iraqi government, we will increasingly focus our efforts on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces -- forces with skilled officers and an effective command structure. As those forces become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly be in a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country -- and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty.

Recently an Iraqi interpreter said to a reporter, "Tell America not to abandon us." He and all Iraqis can be certain: While our military strategy is adapting to circumstances, our commitment remains firm and unchanging. We are standing for the freedom of our Iraqi friends, and freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come.

(interlude of applause)

We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out. We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned.

Daniel:... did I miss anything?

Me: He just repeated himself.

President Bush: Right now, Americans in uniform are serving at posts across the world, often taking great risks on my orders. We have given them training and equipment; and they have given us an example of idealism and character that makes every American proud.

(interlude of applause)

The volunteers of our military are unrelenting in battle, unwavering in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they're making our nation more secure. Some of our servicemen and women have survived terrible injuries, and this grateful country will do everything we can to help them recover.

(interlude of applause)

And we have said farewell to some very good men and women, who died for our freedom, and whose memory this nation will honor forever.

One name we honor is Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas, who was killed during the assault on Fallujah. His mom, Janet, sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved being a Marine, and how proud he was to be on the front line against terror. She wrote, "When Byron was home the last time, I said that I wanted to protect him like I had since he was born. He just hugged me and said, 'You've done your job, Mom. Now it is my turn to protect you.'" Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom's defenders, and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood.

(interlude of applause)

In these four years, Americans have seen the unfolding of large events. We have known times of sorrow, and hours of uncertainty, and days of victory. In all this history, even when we have disagreed, we have seen threads of purpose that unite us. The attack on freedom in our world has reaffirmed our confidence in freedom's power to change the world. We are all part of a great venture: To extend the promise of freedom in our country, to renew the values that sustain our liberty, and to spread the peace that freedom brings.

Daniel: Bet he closes with one of those cheesy past Presidential quotes, because he's too unoriginal to make up a quote of his own.

President Bush: As Franklin Roosevelt once reminded Americans, "Each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth."

Daniel: Hahaha.

President Bush: And we live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition of slavery was only a dream -- until it was fulfilled. The liberation of Europe from fascism was only a dream -- until it was achieved. The fall of imperial communism was only a dream -- until, one day, it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable -- yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom. Thank you, and may God bless America.

Daniel: So Tommy, what did you think?

James: I bet he's just jumping with joy to hear his fuehrer speak.

Me: It really reminds me why I... I mean, earlier presidents... would deliver their State of the Union speeches in writing. This forum is far too magisterial, and royal. I feel like I am being addressed by an absolute ruler, and not a fellow American. I do not entirely distrust the President's good intentions, however I distrust his capacity to adhere to any rural standard in carrying out these new policies, I also fear too, that he suffers the temporary dementia of the tyrant, that perhaps he has too much authority. Much of his speech was not policy, but lectures on values, values of his own that he wants to impose upon us all. Yet, he insists that it is not his administration's intent to do this... how can we trust so, when his attitude is so clearly different?

Daniel: And you, James?

James: Bush is just full of hot air, and doesn't know how to use the public stage at all. I'm gonna go bitch about this on my blog!

Me: Sometimes I think that you and Mr. Bush have a lot in common.

Saluting you with affectionate friendship and respect,

- TH. Jefferson

Editor's Notes:

What kind of State of the Union address would Thomas Jefferson deliver today? Well, we may not know the answer to that one, but we know what kind of State of the Unions he delivered in the past... so I figured I'd include one. Jefferson believed that the State of the Union address should not be too pompous, because he compared a grand address to the large public speeches of the Monarchial governments of Europe. He wanted America to be distinct about how it regarded its own government, to not make too much of a display of itself. The government was, in his eyes, something that should be humble in front of the American people. He even told George Washington that his State of the Union speech was too much like a King's address, I can only imagine what he thinks of the televised State of the Union Bush recently gave.

So here is Thomas Jefferson's third "State of the Nation" address, for the year 1803, submitted in writing straight to Congress.

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

In calling you together, fellow citizens, at an earlier day than was contemplated by the act of the last session of Congress, I have not been insensible to the personal inconveniences necessarily resulting from an unexpected change in your arrangements, but matters of great public concernment have rendered this call necessary, and the interests you feel in these will supersede in your minds all private considerations.

Congress witnessed at their late session the extraordinary agitation produced in the public mind by the suspension of our right of deposit at the port of New Orleans, no assignment of another place having been made according to treaty. They were sensible that the continuance of that privation would be more injurious to our nation than any consequences which could flow from any mode of redress, but reposing just confidence in the good faith of the Government whose officer had committed the wrong, friendly and reasonable representations were resorted to, and the right of deposit was restored.

Previous, however, to this period we had not been unaware of the danger to which our peace would be perpetually exposed whilst so important a key to the commerce of the Western country remained under foreign power. Difficulties, too, were presenting themselves as to the navigation of other streams which, arising within our territories, pass through those adjacent. Propositions had therefore been authorized for obtaining on fair conditions the sovereignty of New Orleans and of other possessions in that quarter interesting to our quiet to such extent as was deemed practicable, and the provisional appropriation of $2M to be applied and accounted for by the President of the United States, intended as part of the price, was considered as conveying the sanction of Congress to the acquisition proposed. The enlightened Government of France saw with just discernment the importance to both nations of such liberal arrangements as might best and permanently promote the peace, friendship, and interests of both, and the property and sovereignty of all Louisiana which had been restored to them have on certain conditions been transferred to the United States by instruments bearing date the 30th of April last. When these shall have received the constitutional sanction of the Senate, they will without delay be communicated to the Representatives also for the exercise of their functions as to those conditions which are within the powers vested by the Constitution in Congress.

Whilst the property and sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters secure an independent outlet for the produce of the Western States and an uncontrolled navigation through their whole course, free from collision with other powers and the dangers to our peace from that source, the fertility of the country, its climate and extent, promise in due season important aids to our Treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, and a wide spread for the blessings of freedom and equal laws.

With the wisdom of Congress it will rest to take those ulterior measures which may be necessary for the immediate occupation and temporary government of the country; for its incorporation into our Union; for rendering the change of government a blessing to our newly adopted brethren; for securing to them the rights of conscience and of property; for confirming to the Indian inhabitants their occupancy and self-government, establishing friendly and commercial relations with them, and for ascertaining the geography of the country acquired. Such materials, for your information, relative to its affairs in general as the short space of time has permitted me to collect will be laid before you when the subject shall be in a state for your consideration.

Another important acquisition of territory has also been made since the last session of Congress. The friendly tribe of Kaskaskia Indians, with which we have never had a difference, reduced by the wars and wants of savage life to a few individuals unable to defend themselves against the neighboring tribes, has transferred its country to the United States, reserving only for its members what is sufficient to maintain them in an agricultural way. The considerations stipulated are that we shall extend to them our patronage and protection and give them certain annual aids in money, in implements of agriculture, and other articles of their choice. This country, among the most fertile within our limits, extending along the Mississippi from the mouth of the Illinois to and up to the Ohio, though not so necessary as a barrier since the acquisition of the other bank, may yet be well worthy of being laid open to immediate settlement, as its inhabitants may descend with rapidity in support of the lower country should future circumstances expose that to foreign enterprise. As the stipulations in this treaty involve matters with the competence of both Houses only, it will be laid before Congress as soon as the Senate shall have advised its ratification.

With many of the other Indian tribes improvements in agriculture and household manufacture are advancing, and with all our peace and friendship are established on grounds much firmer than heretofore. The measure adopted of establishing trading houses among them and of furnishing them necessaries in exchange for their commodities at such moderate prices as leave no gain, but cover us from loss, has the most conciliatory and useful effect on them, and is that which will best secure their peace and good will.

The small vessels authorized by Congress with a view to the Mediterranean service have been sent into that sea, and will be able more effectually to confine the Tripoline cruisers within their harbors and supersede the necessity of convoy to our commerce in that quarter. They will sensibly lessen the expenses of that service the ensuing year.

A further knowledge of the ground in the northeastern and northwestern angles of the United States has evinced that the boundaries established by the treaty of Paris between the British territories and ours in those parts were too imperfectly described to be susceptible of execution. It has therefore been thought worthy of attention for preserving and cherishing the harmony and useful intercourse subsisting between the two nations to remove by timely arrangements what unfavorable incidents might otherwise render a ground of future misunderstanding. A convention has therefore been entered into which provides for a practicable demarcation of those limits to the satisfaction of both parties.

An account of the receipts and expenditures of the year ending the 30th of September last, with the estimates for the service of the ensuing year, will be laid before you by the Secretary of the Treasury so soon as the receipts of the last quarter shall be returned from the more distant States. It is already ascertained that the amount paid into the Treasury for that year has been between $11M and $12M, and that the revenue accrued during the same term exceeds the sum counted on as sufficient for our current expenses and to extinguish the public debt within the period heretofore proposed.

The amount of debt paid for the same year is about $3.1M exclusive of interest, and making, with the payment of the preceding year, a discharge of more than $8.5M of the principal of that debt, besides the accruing interest; and there remain in the Treasury nearly $6M. Of these, $880K have been reserved for payment of the first installment due under the British convention of 1802 January 08, and $2 millions are what have been before mentioned as placed by Congress under the power and accountability of the President toward the price of New Orleans and other territories acquired, which, remaining untouched, are still applicable to that object and go in diminution of the sum to be funded for it.

Should the acquisition of Louisiana be constitutionally confirmed and carried into effect, a sum of nearly $13M will then be added to our public debt, most of which is payable after 15 years, before which term the present existing debts will all be discharged by the established operation of the sinking fund. When we contemplate the ordinary annual augmentation of impost from increasing population and wealth, the augmentation of the same revenue by its extension to the new acquisition, and the economies which may still be introduced into our public expenditures, I can not but hope that Congress in reviewing their resources will find means to meet the intermediate interest of this additional debt without recurring to new taxes, and applying to this object only the ordinary progression of our revenue. Its extraordinary increase in times of foreign war will be the proper and sufficient fund for any measures of safety or precaution which that state of things may render necessary in our neutral position.

Remittances for the installments of our foreign debt having been found practicable without loss, it has not been thought expedient to use the power given by a former act of Congress of continuing them by reloans, and of redeeming instead thereof equal sums of domestic debt, although no difficulty was found in obtaining that accommodation.

The sum of $50K appropriated by Congress for providing gun boats remains unexpended. The favorable and peaceable turn of affairs on the Mississippi rendered an immediate execution of that law unnecessary, and time was desirable in order that the institution of that branch of our force might begin on models the most approved by experience. The same issue of events dispensed with a resort to the appropriation of $1.5M, contemplated for purposes which were effected by happier means.

We have seen with sincere concern the flames of war lighted up again in Europe, and nations with which we have the most friendly and useful relations engaged in mutual destruction. While we regret the miseries in which we see others involved, let us bow with gratitude to that kind Providence which, inspiring with wisdom and moderation our late legislative councils while placed under the urgency of the greatest wrongs guarded us from hastily entering into the sanguinity contest and left us only to look on and pity its ravages.

These will be heaviest on those immediately engaged. Yet the nations pursuing peace will not be exempt from all evil.

In the course of this conflict let it be our endeavor, as it is our interest and desire,
to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent nations by every act of justice and of innocent kindness;
to receive their armed vessels with hospitality from the distresses of the sea, but to administer the means of annoyance to none;
to establish in our harbors such a police as may maintain law and order;
to restrain our citizens from embarking individually in a war in which their country takes no part;
to punish severely those persons, citizens or alien, who shall usurp the cover of our flag for vessels not entitled to it, infecting thereby with suspicion those of real Americans and committing us into controversies for the redress of wrongs not our own;
to exact from every nation the observance toward our vessels and citizens of those principles and practices which all civilized people acknowledge;
to merit the character of a just nation, and maintain that of an independent one, preferring every consequence to insult and habitual wrong.
Congress will consider whether the existing laws enable us efficaciously to maintain this course with our citizens in all places and with others while within the limits of our jurisdiction, and will give them the new modifications necessary for these objects. Some contraventions of right have already taken place, both within our jurisdictional limits and on the high seas. The friendly disposition of the Governments from whose agents they have proceeded, as well as their wisdom and regard for justice, leave us in reasonable expectation that they will be rectified and prevented in future, and that no act will be countenanced by them which threatens to disturb our friendly intercourse.

Separated by a wide ocean from the nations of Europe and from the political interests which entangle them together, with productions and wants which render our commerce and friendship useful to them and theirs to us, it can not be the interest of any to assail us, nor ours to disturb them. We should be most unwise, indeed, were we to cast away the singular blessings of the position in which nature has placed us, the opportunity she has endowed us with of pursuing, at a distance from foreign contentions, the paths of industry, peace, and happiness, of cultivating general friendship, and of bringing collisions of interest to the umpirage of reason rather than of force.

How desirable, then, must it be in a Government like ours to see its citizens adopt individually the views, the interests, and the conduct which their country should pursue, divesting themselves of those passions and partialities which tend to lessen useful friendships and to embarrass and embroil us in the calamitous scenes of Europe. Confident, fellow citizens, that you will duly estimate the importance of neutral dispositions toward the observance of neutral conduct, that you will be sensible how much it is our duty to look on the bloody arena spread before us with commiseration indeed, but with no other wish than to see it closed, I am persuaded you will cordially cherish these dispositions in all discussions among yourselves and in all communications with your constituents; and I anticipate with satisfaction the measures of wisdom which the great interests now committed to you will give you an opportunity of providing, and myself that of approving and carrying into execution with the fidelity I owe to my country.

Bringing Old American Truth to confront the New American Myth

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