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The State of the Union (as George sees it)
January 30, 2002
by Why

Transcription by the Associated Press; annotations by way Too Much Sense.
Text of Resident Bush's State of the Union address, as delivered:

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our union has never been stronger.

Of course, Congress has yet to declare war, but I'm just splitting hairs. If the definition of "war" is that we've called up a few Reservists, dropped a few bombs, and have troops stationed in harm's way, we've been "at war" since at least 1940.

We last met in an hour of shock and suffering. In four short months, our nation has comforted the victims; begun to rebuild New York and the Pentagon; rallied a great coalition; captured, arrested and rid the world of thousands of terrorists; destroyed Afghanistan's terrorist training camps; saved a people from starvation; and freed a country from brutal oppression.

Actually, that hour of shock and suffering was several days before the Resident addressed Congress. It takes that long for Shrub's handlers to put together an appropriate speech. Teddy Roosevelt would have stood at Ground Zero that afternoon and given a better speech with notes scrawled on a paper napkin.

The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan now occupy cells at Guantanamo Bay. And terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are running for their own.

America and Afghanistan are now allies against terror. We will be partners in rebuilding that country, and this evening we welcome the distinguished interim leader of a liberated Afghanistan: Chairman Hamid Karzai.

Really? We're going to help rebuild Afghanistan? That's nice, but that's not what Mr. Bush and his people have been saying. I guess it depends on what group he's addressing.

The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today women are free, and are part of Afghanistan's new government, and we welcome the new Minister of Women's Affairs, Dr. Sima Samar.

Our progress is a tribute to the spirit of the Afghan people, to the resolve of our coalition and to the might of the United States military. When I called our troops into action, I did so with complete confidence in their courage and skill. And tonight, thanks to them, we are winning the war on terror. The men and women of our armed forces have delivered a message now clear to every enemy of the United States: Even 7,000 miles away, across oceans and continents, on mountaintops and in caves, you will not escape the justice of this nation.

I remind readers that this is the same military force that Shrub said was woefully inadequate to the task of defending the nation back in 2000, and it was all due to deliberate action on the part of now-former President Clinton. Now they're the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen, and on Clinton's budget, too.

For many Americans, these four months have brought sorrow and pain that will never completely go away. Every day a retired firefighter returns to Ground Zero, to feel closer to his two sons who died there. At a memorial in New York, a little boy left his football with a note for his lost father: ``Dear Daddy, Please take this to Heaven. I don't want to play football until I can play with you again someday.'' Last month, at the grave of her husband, Micheal, a CIA officer and Marine who died in Mazar-e-Sharif, Shannon Spann, said these words of farewell: ``Semper fi, my love.'' Shannon is with us tonight.

Shannon, I assure you and all who have lost a loved one that our cause is just, and our country will never forget the debt we owe Micheal and all who gave their lives for freedom.

Our cause is just, and it continues. Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. We have seen the depth of our enemies' hatred in videos where they laugh about the loss of innocent life. And the depth of their hatred is equaled by the madness of the destruction they design. We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American cities and thorough descriptions of landmarks in America and throughout the world.

What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that - far from ending there - our war against terror is only beginning. Most of the 19 men who hijacked planes on Sept. 11 were trained in Afghanistan's camps, and so were tens of thousands of others. Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes, are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs set to go off without warning.

If we were to wind down the "war" on terrorism prematurely, it might have a detrimental effect on Mr. Bush's approval rating and chances for (God forbid) reelection. Therefore, we must carry on this "war" in perpetuity, wagging the dog at appropriate intervals, in order to keep the American people from actually thinking about what the Bush administration is doing to screw American workers, relieve the rich from their just responsibilities to support the government that supports them so well, weaken environmental protections, infuse religion into our public schools, overturn Roe v. Wade, put the kabosh on campaign finance reform, etc.

Thanks to the work of our law enforcement officials and coalition partners, hundreds of terrorists have been arrested, yet tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world as the battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are. So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk and America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it.

Our nation will continue to be steadfast, and patient, and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world.

Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld - including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Jaish-i-Mohammed - operates in remote jungles and deserts and hides in the centers of large cities.

While the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting elsewhere. We now have troops in the Philippines helping to train that country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American and still hold hostages. Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our Navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.

My hope is that all nations will heed our call and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.

If this means we will do what we have to do to arrest, or if necessary, kill actual terrorists, I'm all for it. If it means we're going in to places like Iraq just because we have old scores to settle, God help us.

Once we have funded our national security and our homeland security, the final great priority of my budget is economic security for the American people. To achieve these great national objectives - to win the war, protect the homeland and revitalize our economy - our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-term so long as Congress restrains spending and acts in a fiscally responsible manner. We have clear priorities and we must act at home with the same purpose and resolve we have shown overseas: We will prevail in the war, and we will defeat this recession.

Small and short-term? That's not what you said earlier, Smirk. You said we'd be running deficits for the remainder of your (hopefully short) term in office. The LA Times says the red ink might last a decade. You have some nerve talking about fiscal responsibility, what with your so-called "economic stimulus" that does no such thing, yet costs the Treasury tens of billions of dollars. Now it's called "economic security" instead of merely stimulus. I suppose if you don't get your way on your tax giveaway for the affluent, the terrorists win.

Americans who have lost their jobs need our help, and I support extending unemployment benefits and direct assistance for health care coverage. Yet American workers want more than unemployment checks, they want a steady paycheck. When America works, America prospers; so my economic security plan can be summed up in one word: jobs.

Until Tom "the obstructionist" Daschle called him on it, Mr. Bush's idea of economic stimulus didn't include any relief for the unemployed. We'll see how much he supports extending unemployment benefits and direct assistance for health care coverage when the bill reaches your desk, sans most of the tax giveaways. Bottom line: you can't create jobs by throwing money at corporations with no strings attached.

Good jobs begin with good schools, and here we've made a fine start. Republicans and Democrats worked together to achieve historic education reform so that no child is left behind. I was proud to work with members of both parties - Chairman John Boehner and Congressman George Miller, Sen. Judd Gregg - and I was so proud of our work I even had nice things to say about my friend Ted Kennedy. I know the folks at the Crawford coffee shop couldn't believe I'd say such a thing. But our work on this bill shows what is possible if we set aside posturing and focus on results.

If it weren't for Smirk's "friend" Sen. Kennedy, the education bill would have been full of faith-based nonsense designed to destroy the wall between church and state as defined by the First Amendment. Note that there isn't anything about vouchers for parochial schools in the ed bill, and instead of starving failing schools of money, the final plan more resembles Al Gore's proposals during the 2000 campaign.

There is more to do. We need to prepare our children to read and succeed in school with improved Head Start and early childhood development programs. We must upgrade our teacher colleges and teacher training and launch a major recruiting drive with a great goal for America: a quality teacher in every classroom.

This stuff costs money. Is the Resident prepared to spend some to make this happen?

Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure, and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil.

So, in addition to going full bore after fuel cells, which won't pan out until the next decade (if we're lucky), we're going to do something about how much energy we waste. Naah. We're going to drill for oil in ANWR (also no oil for a decade, and damn little of that when it does become available) and pursue something oxymoronically called "clean coal". Really (cough) nifty (gag...choke).

Good jobs depend on expanded trade. Selling into new markets creates new jobs, so I ask Congress to finally approve Trade Promotion Authority. On these two key issues - trade and energy - the House of Representatives has acted to create jobs, and I urge the Senate to pass this legislation.

That would be cool if we would actually sell stuff overseas. The reality is, we run ever-increasing trade deficits which would likely get worse, not better, if Mr. Bush were given carte blanche on trade.

Good jobs depend on sound tax policy. Last year, some in this hall thought my tax relief plan was too small, and some thought it was too big. But when the checks arrived in the mail most Americans thought tax relief was just about right. Congress listened to the people and responded by reducing tax rates, doubling the child credit and ending the death tax. For the sake of long-term growth and to help Americans plan for the future, let's make these tax cuts permanent.

I used my tax refund check to pay down my VISA. So did 3/4 of those who got checks. The truth is, the tax structure was just fine as it was in 2000. To hear people in the 39.5% tax bracket bitch about paying too much taxes while washing their Land Rovers makes me want to throw up.

The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment, and by speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend. For the sake of American workers, let's pass a stimulus package.

So the answer to (fill in the blank) is more tax relief for the affluent, and ASAP. No bothersome debate about which forms of tax relief are the most effective. Sorry, I don't trust Smirk's fuzzy math.

Good jobs must be the aim of welfare reform. As we reauthorize these important reforms, we must always remember the goal is to reduce dependency on government and offer every American the dignity of a job.

Welfare reform was all fine and dandy back when the unemployment rate was under 4%. I'm not so sure now.

Americans know economic security can vanish in an instant without health security. I ask Congress to join me this year to enact a Patients' Bill of Rights, to give uninsured workers credits to help buy health coverage, to approve an historic increase in the spending for veterans' health, and to give seniors a sound and modern Medicare system that includes coverage for prescription drugs.

Democrats in Congress have been trying to get a meaningful patient's bill of rights passed for the past year now. Unfortunately, bipartisanship is just a word Republicans throw around while insisting on their way or the highway. Mr. Bush's version of the "People's Prescription Plan" was a cruel joke. If that's what he considers a sound prescription drug plan for people on Medicare, we're all in deep kimchi

A good job should lead to security in retirement. I ask Congress to enact new safeguards for 401(k) and pension plans. Employees who have worked hard and saved all their lives should not have to risk losing everything if their company fails. Through stricter accounting standards and tougher disclosure requirements, corporate America must be made more accountable to employees and shareholders and held to the highest standards of conduct.

Gotta CYA. This is another issue Smirk's predecessor has been working diligently on for years, only to be thwarted by Republican morons in Congress. I guess if Clinton proposes it, it's bad, but when Bush proposes the exact same thing, it's good.

Retirement security also depends upon keeping the commitments of Social Security (news - web sites), and we will. We must make Social Security financially stable and allow personal retirement accounts for younger workers who choose them.

What was that Mr. Bush just said about 401K safeguards, and he still wants to do what with Social Security? This is making Social Security financially stable? Get real.

Members, you and I will work together in the months ahead on other issues: productive farm policy, a cleaner environment, broader home ownership, especially among minorities, and ways to encourage the good work of charities and faith-based groups. I ask you to join me on these important domestic issues in the same spirit of cooperation we've applied to our war against terrorism.

If Mr. Bush thinks he's getting that "faith-based" bullshit past Tom Daschle, he's got another think coming.

During these last few months, I have been humbled and privileged to see the true character of this country in a time of testing. Our enemies believed America was weak and materialistic, that we would splinter in fear and selfishness. They were as wrong as they are evil.

The American people have responded magnificently, with courage and compassion, strength and resolve. As I have met the heroes, hugged the families, and looked into the tired faces of rescuers, I have stood in awe of the American people.

And I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to one American for the strength, and calm, and comfort she brings to our nation in crisis: our first lady, Laura Bush.

God bless our role model for women everywhere, the surrendered wife, Laura Bush.

None of us would ever wish the evil that was done on Sept. 11, yet after America was attacked it was as if our entire country looked into a mirror and saw our better selves. We were reminded that we are citizens, with obligations to each other, to our country and to history. We began to think less of the goods we can accumulate, and more about the good we can do.

For too long our culture has said, ``If it feels good, do it.'' Now America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: ``Let's roll.'' In the sacrifice of soldiers, the fierce brotherhood of firefighters and the bravery and generosity of ordinary citizens, we have glimpsed what a new culture of responsibility could look like. We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self. We've been offered a unique opportunity and we must not let this moment pass.

My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years - 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime - to the service of your neighbors and your nation.

Can you say, "thousand points of light?" Sure you can. I am reminded of the scene in Pay It Forward where Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) challenges Mr. Simonett (Kevin Spacey) with the following question, "what have you done to change the world?" Mr. Simonett responds, "I get up early, have a good breakfast, come to class...on time, and then I pass the buck to you."

Many are already serving, and I thank you. If you aren't sure how to help, I've got a good place to start. To sustain and extend the best that has emerged in America, I invite you to join the new USA Freedom Corps. The Freedom Corps will focus on three areas of need: responding in case of crisis at home, rebuilding our communities and extending American compassion throughout the world.

One purpose of the USA Freedom Corps will be homeland security. America needs retired doctors and nurses who can be mobilized in major emergencies, volunteers to help police and fire departments, transportation and utility workers well-trained in spotting danger.

We already have an organization that performs these functions, and more. It's called the National Guard. No other organization in this country is more dedicated to the communities in which they live. Smirk should know this; he was a member of the National Guard once...sorta.

Our country also needs citizens working to rebuild our communities. We need mentors to love children, especially children whose parents are in prison, and we need more talented teachers in troubled schools. USA Freedom Corps will expand and improve the good efforts of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to recruit more than 200,000 new volunteers.

So the faculty talent shortage facing inner-city schools is to be filled using AmeriCorp volunteers. How about hiring 200,000 actual qualified teachers.

And America needs citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world. So we will renew the promise of the Peace Corps, double its volunteers over the next five years, and ask it to join a new effort to encourage development, and education and opportunity in the Islamic world.

This time of adversity offers a unique moment of opportunity - a moment we must seize to change our culture. Through the gathering momentum of millions of acts of service and decency and kindness, I know: We can overcome evil with greater good.

Now I know it; Smirk (or one of this speechwriters) saw Pay It Forward on HBO. Bush 41 could sell that "thousand points of light" crap, but when Smirk tries it, it comes off as plagiarism.

And we have a great opportunity during this time of war to lead the world toward the values that will bring lasting peace. All fathers and mothers, in all societies, want their children to be educated and live free from poverty and violence. No people on Earth yearn to be oppressed, or aspire to servitude or eagerly await the midnight knock of the secret police.

Tell that to your Attorney General.

If anyone doubts this, let them look to Afghanistan, where the Islamic "street'' greeted the fall of tyranny with song and celebration. Let the skeptics look to Islam's own rich history, with its centuries of learning and tolerance and progress.

Yep, we liberated Afghanistan from the tyranny of religious fundamentalism. Let's do the same in the United States of America.

America will lead by defending liberty and justice, because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have no intention of imposing our culture, but America will always stand firm for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice and religious tolerance.

...and we can start by vigorously defending the Constitution of the United States of America, including the entire Bill of Rights. I have my ACLU card; where's yours?

America will take the side of brave men and women who advocate these values around the world, including the Islamic world, because we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror.

In this moment of opportunity, a common danger is erasing old rivalries. America is working with Russia and China and India in ways we have never before to achieve peace and prosperity. In every region, free markets and free trade and free societies are proving their power to lift lives. Together with friends and allies from Europe to Asia, and Africa to Latin America, we will demonstrate that the forces of terror cannot stop the momentum of freedom.

The last time I spoke here, I expressed the hope that life would return to normal. In some ways, it has. In others, it never will. Those of us who have lived through these challenging times have been changed by them.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, Democrats still question the logic of Republican nonsense, and Republicans still bash Democrats as a bunch of godless Communists for it. Resident Bush was a doofus before September 11, 2001, and he's still a doofus today.

We've come to know truths that we will never question: Evil is real, and it must be opposed. Beyond all differences of race or creed we are one country, mourning together and facing danger together. Deep in the American character there is honor, and it is stronger than cynicism. And many have discovered again that even in tragedy - especially in tragedy - God is near.

So while God lifts the "veil of protection" that Jerry Falwell is always talking about, letting our enemies in to mess with us, he's really on our side.

In a single instant we realized that this will be a decisive decade in the history of liberty, that we've been called to a unique role in human events. Rarely has the world faced a choice more clear or consequential.

Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.

So we're redoubling our efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, discourage the use of contraceptives, insist on abstinence-only sex education in our public schools, etc.

Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on. We have known freedom's price; we have shown freedom's power, and in this great conflict, my fellow Americans, we will see freedom's victory.

Thank you, and may God bless.


Why is the editor in chief of the weekly e-zine way Too Much Sense.

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