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State of the Union For Simpletons

Full text of the President's State of the Union address:
 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4012231/
Give me that old time religion!
Give me that old time religion!
As usual, I stood before the TV screen for the State of the Union address with a small pile of wadded up balls of paper, the better to throw at the screen when an outrageous or simplistic statement was made. Suffice it to say, my arm is now very tired.

First surprise . . . nothing about sending men to the Moon or Mars. But then again, nothing ever came of the hydrogen car chatter either, so perhaps it's not surprising that Mr. Bush avoided bringing up an expensive proposed budget item, particularly when he went to great lengths to chide the Congress about responsible spending. Good thing I wasn't swallowing anything when he announced, with perfect confidence, that such responsible spending could "reduce the budget deficit by 1/2 in five years!" I would surely have choked. This amazing statement was made after the announcement of his intention to introduce several new large request in his proposed budget, and before the announcement of several more.

Much of what our leader said was so black and white, so simplistic, as to preclude critical thinking. There have been no attacks on our soil by terrorists since 9/11 because of our new stance and the homeland security precations we have taken? Well, there were no attacks on US soil for over 200 years before 9/11 either and no homeland security precautions or preemptive attacks during that time either.

The President's continuing explanation for why we should be the target of terrorist attacks is that they "hate freedom." Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that this simplistic notiono is not the reason that these people hate us. The reason is far more complex. That our government refuses to acknowlege this or to take any steps to neutralize or understand the reasons behind attacks or bad press puts all of us in continuing danger and it does not solve the problem. Attacking and hunting down these people simply because they "hate freedom" and might attack us is not a long term solution. Mr. Bush states that our troops and intelligence agencies, in tandem with allies like Pakistan, have captured or killed many of the Al Quaida leaders. Al Quaida is a hydra and unless the root of the problem is addressed, cutting off one head will only bring others to replace it . . . and these will be heads that we will have to discover and identify all over again because they will not be known to us.

Mr. Bush also infered that the bombers and insurgents in Iraq were all Baath party members and supporters of Saddam. Reporters and workers in Iraq have identified many of these people as simple Iraqi citizens who resent anyone occupying their country; many do not like Saddam and are not affiliated with the Baath party. But recognizing these people as "freedom fighters" rather than "insurgents" would make them sympathetic.

Revisionism is a byword of the Bush administration. When Mr. Bush landed on the deck of the aircraft carrier and declared the end of armed conflict, the curators of his website were quick to alter the wording to "major armed conflict" when it became clear that our soldiers were still under attack. When we attacked Iraq, the reason given was that we couldn't wait because Saddam HAD weapons of mass destruction with the capability of hitting our shores. There was no talk about "liberating" Iraq, removing Saddam from power, or bring freedom to the Iraqi people. That came afterward, when fruitless searches for weapons of mass destruction became an embarrassment. Bush's declaration this evening that Iraq is now "free" must be a bitter statement to the typical Iraqi citizen, living in a country occupied by US troops and afraid to make a wrong move or be blown away by a terrified US soldier afraid for his life. I'll add here that I don't blame the US soldier; he is in an impossible situation for which he is poorly equipped by his own government.

Some statements stood out as wickedly ironic: "Weapons of mass murder should not be in the possession of mass murderers" and "Keeping the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the world's most dangerous regimes" could be turned upon the US as well as the smaller nations we are demanding disarm. Traditionally, there has been little danger of the US actually using weapons of mass destruction preemptively or otherwise because in years past the world operated in a deterrence mode where the two superpowers understood that if they attacked, it could spell disaster for all. Now that the US maintains the nuclear upper hand, the danger that these weapons can and will be used (and have been, in some cases) is terrifyingly real.

"We have no desire to dominate . . . no dreams of empire," Bush stated, but then added, "Yet we have a special calling." Staff members without as much discretion dubbed this "special calling" a "crusade" before being hushed in the early days of the Bush administration.

In pushing to have his various initiatives reaffirmed, Bush again presented a simplistic comparison: His changes or "the status quo" - what used to be. Anyone with a brain realizes that those are not the only two choices on the block . . . there are many other good ideas that do not qualify as "status quo" or "Bush policies."

While stating that the Congress should be "acting as stewards to taxpayer dollars" Bush again pushed for private personal investment of social security funds. Hardly responsible stewardship.

As the SOU speech neared its conclusion, the imaginary organ music began to swell as the Church invaded State with many a reference and nod toward God's will, God's morality, and the "sanctity of marriage" above all other unions. Without making any direct references to legal homosexual unions, Bush made it clear that it had found any justices who upheld these unions traitors, "pushing" their opinions against the "will of the people." He threatened a Constitutional amendment upholding a religiously-grounded position that restricted the use of the term "marriage" and its concurrent benefits to a "union between a man and a woman."

Not content with this position, he continued, proposing an expensive prison release program which, in itself is not a bad idea, but added that those released would "get mentoring from faith based groups" which he promised would get "codified help" so that the "law won't discriminate against them again!" Never mind that there is a division between church and state and that churches enjoy tax benefits that most of us do not, thus leaving a great many of them in a better position to operate their programs than -- say -- your neighborhood day care center.

One of the only things that upheld me during this perplexing speech was the occasional camera shot of Ted Kennedy, his head in his hands, shaking his head in frustration. While I am no huge fan of Ted Kennedy, I wish he had been the one giving the Democratic rebuttal rather than Nancy Pelosi or Tom Delay, who demonstrated little passion.

Or better yet, a rebuttal by God him/herself would have been extremely satisfying.
Uh-Oh -- correction 20.Jan.2004 20:21

North Portlander

Oops - Last bit should obviously have been Tom Daschle. A rebuttal from Delay would have been bizarre indeed. I guess I never realized how wiped out I get after an hour of throwing wadded up paper at the TV.

thank you North Portlander! 20.Jan.2004 21:23

drummer

This is a wonderful write-up of the "speech". I ran out of paper wads! I could not stomach anymore of the idiot speak! This commentary was just what I needed to get up to speed.

my god 20.Jan.2004 22:17

e.h.

how can anyone stand to look at him for that long? just seeing his picture alongside a fountain of absurd lies in the newspaper is grueling torture.

thanks for the commentary 20.Jan.2004 22:18

mom

I tried to listen.
I thought at first I was listening to adolf firing up the citizens to destroy the Jews
or perhaps Napolean getting ready to take over the world.
I kept waiting to hear about the state of the union.
Then again I know about the state of the union, the rich are getting richer the poor are going to go fight so that the rich can stay rich and the USA is in debt up to ... Mars i guess.

A quote 20.Jan.2004 22:32

The evil one

He said: "We must strengthen our communities by unleashing the compassion of America's religious institutions."

No Mention of Mars 21.Jan.2004 09:48

Gary Sudborough IconoclastGS@aol.com

I too was surprised that there was no mention of going to the moon or Mars. There is a truism about empires that they always spend money fortifying and expanding the periphery of the empire at the expense of the welfare of the common people in the imperial country itself. I never expected that George W. Bush would try to extend the periphery of the American empire to Mars. Maybe he has been watching reruns of Mars Attacks on television and like Ronald Reagan can't separate reality from fiction. Seriously, though, the goal of militarizing space is an ominous threat to the survival of life on Earth and should be vigorously opposed, even if one ignores its disastrous effect on the budget deficit and US national debt, the interest and principal of which will be paid by regressive taxes on the working class. Bush and his cabal of imperialists don't care about scientific knowledge of the univese or whether or not life exists on Mars. They care about US domination of the Earth and militarization of space can help them achieve that objective.


Puppet did well 21.Jan.2004 10:44

sam

Wow, all that coaching really did pay off. He read the telepromter much better this time. His delivery of so many lies in such a short time frame almost made me vomit. But I held on as any good soldier would. See what I was trying to focus on is this message he was delivering was to the core of his constituency.
'you can fool some of the people all of the time and those are the ones I'm going to concentrrate on' GW Bush, taught well by his master 'Poppy' Bush.

A bit of exercise 21.Jan.2004 16:29

North Portlander

Drummer,

The only reason I didn't run out of paper wads was that I only made four and retrieved them after throwing them. I figured this was the only exercise (mental or physical) I was going to get out of the pResident's speech and I was right.

Another bizarre bit involved the tangent about the use of steroids by athletes and how coaches and schools should come down on it hard. Where did this come from? It implies no one is doing anything yet and of course they are. It's also a strange problem for the President to fixate on, given the amount of huge, serious problems on his plate, most of which he is glossing over.

Anyone else notice that he skipped around any real discussion of his largely unpopular immigration plan?

Paper Wad Diplomacy 21.Jan.2004 21:30

Tom

It is very sad to me that people are so addicted to television that they think it is real.

How is throwing paper wads at the TV going to help anything?

How about shutting off the TV-- or better yet, vaporizing it, and going out to do something useful among real people?

Throwing Paper is Harmless & Therapeutic 21.Jan.2004 21:43

North Portlander

Tom, reading something in the paper or listening to it on the radio (as opposed to watching a live, televised speech) doesn't give you the full picture. You can't see the delivery, accurately gauge the audience's response, watch the body languageor the expressions. And I think if we care about the state of the union, we need to pay attention because what happens will affect us all whether we "have something [else] useful to do among real people" or not. Spending a limited amount of time with one does not preclude the other.

I'd rather throw harmless paper balls at the TV than put my fist through it . . . just like punching a speedbag makes more sense than punching out someone you may be angry or frustrated with. It helps me see the humor. And I know Homeland Security won't be a-knockin' on my door.

And - to the contrary - I'm no TV addict. The thing sits and collects dust most of the time, but when it comes to the State of the Union speech, what choice do we have to see it as close to first-hand as possible? Dubya's not going to visit each of our homes and give us the skinny in person.

Dream on and zone out if you prefer. It's still a free country, for now.

They do it all for you, North Portlander, 21.Jan.2004 23:00

anne frank

and my guess is you watch the television more than you let on, because it is physiologically addictive and is engineered to create a sense of hopelessness and isolation. The problem is that a very few people control the images you see on the television. You have no control of your own brain's capturing of the images which have been fed to you. The panoramas of televison are unreal, the photographs are fixed. It is not what's "really happening". The fact that you are throwing stuff at the television and considering hitting it is a fairly ominous indicator that television-manipulated images play a big part in your life.

Reading doesn't project the same kind of image on our brains as televison does; it allows for more flexible interpretations of people and events which are less influenced by someone else's images of what "true". If you think that the State of the Union address wasn't staged, then I've got a big ole' Saddam statue to sell you in Bahdad....

Jerry Mander wrote an interesting book back in 1974 called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Televison. Pick up a copy sometime and SEE what you think.

Auction Saddam on eBay! 22.Jan.2004 19:26

North Portlander

Our government should put that "big ol' Saddam statue" up on eBay. The proceeds from the winning bid could go towards helping pay off the deficit. Hey, if General Wesley Clark's sweater is now up to $5,804.00 with 2 days to go, just imagine what king of a bidding frenzy a "big ol' Saddam statue" (even missing most of its head and feet) might provoke??? Damned thing would probably cost a fortune to ship, though.

Bring 'Em On 24.Jan.2004 13:08

anon

Bring 'Em On

God told me to attack Afghanistan
And bomb Iraq and get Saddam.
I was chosen by the god of the neocons
To purify the world with cluster bombs.

Bring 'em on, Saddam! I ain't afraid!
Bring 'em on! Bring 'em on! Hear what I said?

I'm an action doll twelve inches high
In a plastic jet zoomin' 'cross the sky.
When I give the order, thousands die.
Pull my dog tags and hear my battle cry:

Bring 'em on, Saddam! etc.

I recruit from the ghetto and the trailer park.
Don't matter if your skin is light or dark.
When I run out of Americans for my tanks
I'll import a million Mexicans to fill the ranks.

Bring 'em on, Saddam! etc.

In the Vietnam War, I joined the Guard
But I found the duty was just too hard.
So I went AWOL for a year or two.
Like Dick Cheney, I had better things to do.

Bring 'em on, Saddam! etc.


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