Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Some of my favorite bits from last night's stump speach:

"Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working. (Applause.)"

That's right...the hardest working people in the world...because there are fewer and fewer of us working, the lucky ones who get to keep their jobs have to work that much harder.

"Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. (Applause.) The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. (Applause.) Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act. (Applause.)"

"Or else," the president did not say.

"You in the Congress have provided the resources for our defense, and cast the difficult votes of war and peace. Our closest allies have been unwavering. America's intelligence personnel and diplomats have been skilled and tireless. And the men and women of the American military -- they have taken the hardest duty. We've seen their skill and their courage in armored charges and midnight raids, and lonely hours on faithful watch. We have seen the joy when they return, and felt the sorrow when one is lost. I've had the honor of meeting our servicemen and women at many posts, from the deck of a carrier in the Pacific to a mess hall in Baghdad."

What about those who've fallen in Iraq? How can he not honor the dead?

"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."

Let me get this straight. A year ago it was "the smoking gun will be a mushroom cloud." Now it's "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities..."

"From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained much support. There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country. (Applause.)"

Whoa, nelly!

"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.)"

"And watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"

"To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. 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.)"

He still wants to be the Baseball Commissioner!

"To encourage right choices, we must be willing to confront the dangers young people face -- even when they're difficult to talk about. 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.)"

Wouldn't a few bucks for condoms sort of round out this program?

"It's also important to strengthen our communities by unleashing the compassion of America's religious institutions."

Explanation: Unleash the dogs of the Christian right!

I'll let Andy Sullivan parse out the bit about marriage. Watch him squirm. They hate you, Andy. Deal with it.

In an otherwise bland speech, Bush's use of "the other" was chilling. He didn't define or name who opposed his policies, he isolated them: "Skeptics who...", "Some people...", "Some in this chamber...", "The status-quo has defenders..."

Well, tomorrow, Bush travels to Roswell to talk about national security. He does think there's martians out there, after all.

I can't find the photo that ran in the Times print edition this morning, showing Ahmed Chalabi sitting directly behind Laura Bush. I thought that guy's stock had crashed. Haven't they revoked his security clearance yet?

Center for American Progress provides context on last night's claims.

So does USA Today. Via Atrios.

Fighting Doublespeak. After Bush's speech, Josh Marshall's interview with George Soros is refreshing. An excerpt:

"TPM: Let me ask you: I've obviously read your book and seen you interviewed a number of times on this topic. And you have explained your involvement in this election cycle partly by pointing to the importance of this next election as a referendum on the Bush Doctrine. And if the president is turned out of office, it will, this last few years will seem like sort of an aberration--in part, the shock of 9/11, and so on and so forth.

"My question is this, though: Clearly, as we've seen, in a direct military sense, we can overthrow a government like Saddam Hussein's. Again, in a pure military sense, we can occupy it, we can at least in the short-to-medium term fund this occupation. And NATO may be strained, but it hasn't collapsed. And one could say similar things about our alliances in different parts of the world. And the reason I bring up the point about this coming election is that the argument I think that people like yourself have made --- and probably people like myself --- is that the consequences of what we are doing now probably won't be clear in their totality in the next year. They'll be clear five years from now, ten years from now. To the extent that you can, assuming President Bush is re-elected --- what do you see those consequences as being? When do they become tangible? People who are on the hawk side I think would say, yeah, there's a lot of opposition around the world to what we're doing, but, you know, so what?

"SOROS: First, let me say that the consequences are already clear. It's only a question of recognizing it. Just today, the U.S. is turning to the UN to help in legitimizing the creation of an Iraqi government --- that’s today’s news. Which means that under the duress of the coming elections and the need to, let's say, correct the mistakes that we have made in Iraq, that we are now recognizing that we can't do it on our own.

"I've been arguing this all along. It's now being admitted. Now, this administration will never admit that it has made a mistake. But anybody who looks at it can see that they are actually even trying to correct the mistakes that they have made by turning to the UN now.

"So that's the first thing: the fact that their ideology of power and dominance is false. It actually doesn't work. That's number one. Secondly, it's profoundly un-American, because we have, you know, a belief in the equality of opportunities and the very principles of America are not ones of dominance. We don't believe in, you know, we fought the Civil War to abolish slavery. So, secondly, it's really un-American; it's a break with American values.

"And there is another aspect that is coming into sharper focus to me, even since I wrote the book. That is that this administration has no compunction in misleading the people. It has no respect for the truth. This, I think, is a real danger. It is the danger of an Orwellian world. It's not new, because obviously, Orwell wrote about this fifty years ago. But what he wrote in 1984, you know, the Ministry of Truth being the Propaganda Ministry, the use of words meaning the opposite of what they are meant to mean. The Fox News, "Fair and Balanced," the "Clear Skies" Act for permitting pollution, the "Leave No Child Behind" [that] provides no money for the legislation. All these things I think pose a real danger to our democracy if they succeed in misleading the electorate. And there is only one remedy: an intelligent and enlightened electorate that sees through it.

"Now, I find myself in a peculiar position, because having grown up or been exposed to the Nazi regime and the communist regime, I am very sensitive to this kind of propaganda. And the American people, not having been exposed to quite the same extent, seem to be more easily misguided. And that is something that I have been trying to say. And, as a result, I have been accused of calling Bush a Nazi. And that, to me, is itself a demonstration of how this propaganda machine works. That is a real danger, and I think that we really have to somehow become more sensitive to it, and reject it. So, I focused on rejecting the Bush Doctrine. But really behind it is this conviction that we must reject Orwellian Doublespeak."

Finally, while the War on Terror captures our attention, the War on Drugs continues to create failing states in our own backyard.


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