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I only caught the last half of the State of the Union address live last night, and reading through it, it sounds like it was the worst part.

But Bush started out the speech talking about the War on Terror...and rightly so. I believe it's the most important issue right now, while many Democrats seem to disagree. Which is why I'll be voting for Bush this year.

But on to some excerpts:

We have faced serious challenges together, and now we face a choice: We can go forward with confidence and resolve, or we can turn back to the dangerous illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to us.

This is the wide ideological divide I see between the liberal attitude and Bush's. When I hear liberals mocking Orange alerts, searching shoes in airports, and other measures, the attitude seems to be that this whole crazy terrorism thing is all a farce, just some made-up scare tactic to win votes. It's coming from Democratic candidates echoing the Michael Moorean meme of a "Culture of Fear", as if Bush engineered a boogeyman out of thin air, rather than the fact that radical Islamic nutjobs planned and executed a simultaneous attack on New York and Washington that killed thousands of Americans.

Bush does a decent job of recounting the successes in the war, noting key captures of Al Qaeda leadership. But he also pointed out that attacks are still ongoing, against easier-to-reach "soft" targets overseas.

Then he turned to Iraq:

Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland and other countries enforced the demands of the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein, and the people of Iraq are free.

Then Libya:

Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Qadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass murder.

Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.

This last line is the best of the speech, I believe. It shows the absurdity of endlessly unenforced U.N. resolutions, and how words without resolve are empty. Some people on this list talk about the rule of law, but the reality is that there is none. No one is ever going to comply with anything the U.N. says unless they wanted to to begin with, because the U.N. has no viable means of enforcing anything. We're essentially living in an anarchical nation-state collective, with loosely-knit alliances. The U.N.'s not going to stop India and Pakistan from going to war. They're not going to solve the Israel/Palestine issue. They couldn't stop genocide in Bosnia, or Rwanda, or civil war in the Congo. They imposed sanctions against Iraq, which did more harm than good, and perpetuated the existence of a noxious regime. And now they're sitting around with their thumbs up their asses while North Korea starves its own people, locks up dissidents in concentration camps, and seems poised to churn out a dozen or so nuclear weapons.

Moral action in the current international climate can only be undertaken by states or state alliances. Nothing is enforcable by any international body, and that's simply a fact.

I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all.

Don't I know it.

And now onto domestic issues...

I'm sure anti-Bushites out there can tell me why all or most of this assertion is wrong:

Americans took those dollars and put them to work, driving this economy forward. The pace of economic growth in the third quarter of 2003 was the fastest in nearly 20 years; new home construction, the highest in almost 20 years; home ownership rates, the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing. Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise.

Then he talks about the No Child Left Behind Act, which I have severely mixed feelings about. For starters, as we've discussed here before, the vast majority of spending on education comes from State and local taxes, and I still believe most decisions should be made about how to spend that money at the State and local level. There are problems with our education system, but I don't think top-down Federal spending programs are going to help.

And national standardized tests are a double-edged sword. They do give you some reasonable objective standard by which to measure educational progress, but they also dilute the educational process and tend to focus curriculum towards the test, rather than the content.

I'm with the President on tax cuts, but I'm also with fiscal conservatives such as John McCain, who criticized last night's speech for not focusing at all on coupling tax cuts with fiscal responsibility.

And we've already talked about the new immigration policy.

I oppose amnesty, because it would encourage further illegal immigration, and unfairly reward those who break our laws. My temporary worker program will preserve the citizenship path for those who respect the law, while bringing millions of hardworking men and women out from the shadows of American life.

So you're not going to unfairly reward those who entered the country illegally, and you're not going to put them on the path to citizenship. So exactly what incentive do they have to come out of the shadows?

And health care:

Meeting these goals requires bipartisan effort, and two months ago, you showed the way. By strengthening Medicare and adding a prescription drug benefit, you kept a basic commitment to our seniors: You are giving them the modern medicine they deserve.

Great. All the old people are getting drugs on our tab. Is this program needs-tested? Are only those who can't afford prescription drugs the ones who are receiving aid? If not, it's horrible policy. Anybody want to enlighten me?

Encouraging small business to band together to bargain for lower health insurance sounds like a good idea. So does cutting frivolous malpractice lawsuits (though how, specifically?).

Then he turns to illegal drug policy. He wants to spend more Federal money on drug testing kids in schools. No thanks. I'm not against the policy, per se, but I see this as more of a state and local issue.

I want my big Federal government to protect me and engage in scientific and exploratory ventures that can't be carried out by individuals or companies. That's pretty much it. Everything else they're going to spend $5 to get $1 of value out of, and the higher the level of the government, and the longer the path to where the money is actually spent, the more waste there's going to be.

Then there's this:

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.

Huh? Where the hell did that come from? I mean, it's a nice message and all (though where's the call for all those professional atheletes using cocaine to cut back?), but it seems more suited to an afternoon public service announcement, rather than a bullet point in the State of the Union address.

Now onto some insightful analysis of more of Bush's social agenda:

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.


A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.


By executive order, I have opened billions of dollars in grant money to competition that includes faith-based charities.

Sputter, hack, cough...barf.

So tonight, I propose a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups.

This is the last thing on the roll, and it actually sounds pretty good, except for that "faith-based" crap at the end. I know Bush himself found Jesus at the end of a long binge of drinking and snorting coke, and the Lord done turned him around. But it's not the only way, and it's certainly not a way I want funded with Federal tax money. Otherwise, job training and re-entry programs for ex-cons sounds great.

Then he reads a letter from little Ashley (pretty treacly stuff), and finishes with a little mini-sermon:

We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true.

May God continue to bless America.

The greater power that guides the unfolding of the years? What the...? Damn I wish I'd missed the end of the speech.

And oh boy do I wish I had a viable alternative to vote for this fall. But national security and a serious posture on the War on Terror effectively trump everything else for me, so with reservations, Bush will be getting my vote.

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