The Big Lie SOTU style
Mr Bush gave the annual State of the Union Address last night, here is the transcript I am working from. I typified the Address in a quick post last evening as a "lie-fest", a terming that sounds mean spirited and partisan, or at least it would seem so if the statement did not reflect the truth. Mr Bush is not being honest with "We the People". I'll offer a few examples of where Mr Bush's rhetoric departs from reality.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: America this evening is a nation called to great responsibilities. And we are rising to meet them.
As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure.
Dr. Jeffery Record states in a monograph for the US Army War College that the Bush administrations attack on Iraq as a facet of "Global War on Terror" (GWOT)
...an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq that has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable al-Qaeda. The war against Iraq was not integral to the GWOT, but rather a detour from it.
Additionally, most of the GWOT's declared objectives, which include the destruction of al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorist organizations, the transformation of Iraq into a prosperous, stable democracy, the democratization of the rest of the autocratic Middle East, the eradication of terrorism as a means of irregular warfare, and the (forcible, if necessary) termination of WMD proliferation to real and potential enemies worldwide, are unrealistic and condemn the United States to a hopeless quest for absolute security. As such, the GWOTs goals are also politically, fiscally, and militarily unsustainable.
I'd urge you to give the .pdf file"Bounding the Global War on Terrorism" by this professor in the Department of Strategy and International Security at the US Air Force?s Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama a good looking over.
As for our brave service people, Nearly 11,000 U.S. troops have been killed, wounded, injured or become ill enough to require evacuation from Iraq since the war began, in this Neocon quest for empire.
As Posted on Sun, Jan. 04, 2004
As Charles Knight co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Marcus Corbin director of the Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information in Washington point out, a four- or five-year occupation of Iraq by 65,000 regular and 35,000 reserve troops will require a rotation base of 260,000 active troops, comprising 65 percent of our deployable active ground forces and another 315,000 Reserve troops which are 63 percent of our deployable Reserve ground forces.
So far, Congress and the American people are only dimly aware of a crucial decision just ahead due to the new Iraq war: Either we invest in larger armies trained and ready for long occupation duty, or we jettison the Bush administration's radical doctrine of preventive wars and regime change.
In light of Bush policies, will we see a post election revival of the Draft? After the election would not hurt the sitting Presidents chances of election by the people, rather than his initial appointment by the Supreme Court. A valid question is "What form would the revived Draft take? Another is " Do the current 'stop loss' actions that keep servicepeople who have fulfilled their obligation bound to the military a sort of "Stealth Draft"?
Each day, law enforcement personnel and intelligence officers are tracking terrorist threats; analysts are examining airline passenger lists; the men and women of our new Homeland Security Department are patrolling our coasts and borders. And their vigilance is protecting America.
MATRIX, a non-governmental successor to "Total Information Awareness", is building a multistate "Terror Database", that collects all available electronic information on all citizens as if each were a terrorist threat
There is a list of 5 million potential terrorist subjects world wide that will be screened on airlines.
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.
As mentioned here earlier the tax cut aimed to profit Mr Bush's richest supporters is not doing what he said it would, in fact the economy has only gained 221,000 jobs compared to the Bush promise of 1,836,000. In 48 of 50 states jobs are shifting to lower pay industries. Note the framing of the phrasing "tax relief"- not tax cut, but relief, a linguistic technique explained by George Lakoff.
An example of the new US employment realiy: IBM will be hiring 15,000 workers, worldwide. More than half it's employees are offshore. About 4500 of the new jobs will be in the US, offsetting the 3000 jobs it at the same time is farming out to other nations. US corporation IBM will see it's stock rise. What does that mean to the people of America?
Tonight, members of Congress can take pride in the great works of compassion and reform that skeptics had thought impossible. You're raising the standards for our public schools, and you are giving our senior citizens prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
(.pdf link)Community Services Programs: The Bush Budget would cut $88 million out of HHS Community Service programs ? most of which is a $75 million cut (24%) cut to the Community Service Community Services Block Grant Program. Bush is also requesting a $90 million (20%) cut to Americorps, which includes USA Freedom Corps, and an
overall $39 million cut to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The Elderly: The Bush budget would freeze all funding in the Administration on Aging. This means very severe after-inflation cuts to Congregate Meals, Meals on Wheels, and Home and Community Based support programs.
...He proposes to eliminate various low-income housing programs, cut off 33,000 children from child care, slash 438,000 families from heating assistance, cut 36,000 seniors off of meals on wheels/congregate meals, and eliminate 50,000 children from participating in after school programs.
On the Bush education claim
"Schools across the country are being forced to lay off teachers, eliminate after-school activities, and reduce school hours because of drastic budget shortfalls.
"Two years after the signing of the law, the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration have created a $7.5 billion shortfall in public school funds. "Nearly five million children in schools across the country are being left behind. That is the truth the Administration is trying to hide, and no amount of accounting tricks or Presidential photo opportunities in schools can hide it."
Why the Right Hates Public Education by Barbara Miner is a thought provoking article.
The Medicare drug coverage spoken of so glowingly actually will cost seniors more, as Dean Baker of the Center For Economic and Policy Research illustrates in his paper"Still a Pain: The Cost of Prescription Drugs to Seniors With the Medicare Drug Benefit" (.pdf). By 2013 seniors will be paying two and a half times as much (adjusted for inflation), 60 percent more in 2006. There is also a predicted change of the percentage of after tax income the elderly will be paying for their medicines- 6 percent of after-tax income in 2006, 13.7 percent in 2013... Mr Bush and GOP legislators are not " giving our senior citizens prescription drug coverage under Medicare" , they are giving them the shaft, plain and simple. The MoveOn Voterfund fully illustrates the reality gap between what Mr Bush has to say about Medicare and the facts.
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. We can press on with economic growth, and reforms in education and Medicare, or we can turn back to old policies and old divisions.
We've not come all this way, through tragedy, and trial and war only to falter and leave our work unfinished. Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same from us. In their efforts, their enterprise, and their character, the American people are showing that the state of our union is confident and strong.
Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated.
Is the state of the union confident and strong? Ruy Teixeira of The Century Foundation has collected a slew of poll results in a paper called "The State of Public Opinion"(.pdf) that seem to point out the one thing America feels confident about is that the Bush administration is mis-handling policy on Iraq, the economy, healthcare and education.
Twenty-eight months have passed since the 9/11 tragedy occured. Although the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11th attacks needs more time, Mr Bush and house speaker Hastert(R-Ill.) have denied the request for more time
to prepare a thorough and credible accounting of missteps leading to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the White House and leading Republicans have informed the panel that they oppose any delay, which raises the possibility that Sept. 11-related controversies could emerge during the heat of the presidential campaign, sources said.
With time running short, the 10-member bipartisan panel has already decided to scale back the number and scope of hearings that it will hold for the public, commission members and staffers said. The commission is rushing to finish interviews with as many as 200 remaining witnesses and to finish examining about 2 million pages of documents related to the attacks.
Oddly enough the Director of the "independent" commission, Phillip Zeliko, was actually interviewed by the commission. As one frustrated family member said
Did he interview himself about his own role in the failures that left us defenseless?" asked Lori Van Auken, the widow of Kenneth. "This is bizarre.
"We entered a looking glass world on Sept. 11 and we're still in it."
September 11 widow Ellen Mariani has filed a civil RICO action (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) against President Bush and many in his administration that she feels can be proven culpable for the tragedy.
Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give our homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. For years, we have used similar provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. If these methods are good for hunting criminals, they are even more important for hunting terrorists. Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act.
The ACLU publication "Seeking Truth From Justice: PATRIOT Propaganda - The Justice Department's Campaign to Mislead The Public About the USA PATRIOT Act" will fill you in on the dangers of this program. The ACLU website is a good resource to get familiar with the many ways our freedoms in America are being infringed upon.
Nationwide, 3 state governments, and 236 communities in 37 states have passed resolutions against the Patriot Act.
The first to see our determination were the Taliban, who made Afghanistan the primary training base of al Qaeda killers. As of this month, that country has a new constitution, guaranteeing free elections and full participation by women. Businesses are opening, health care centers are being established, and the boys and girls of Afghanistan are back in school. With the help from the new Afghan army, our coalition is leading aggressive raids against the surviving members of the Taliban and al Qaeda. The men and women of Afghanistan are building a nation that is free and proud and fighting terror ? and America is honored to be their friend.
The reality is that one of our allies in "The War on Terror", Pakistan, is allowing Taliban recruitment and border permiability to the fundamentalist forces that are returning to neighboring Afghanistan.
Military analysts and aid-agency bosses agree that southern Afghans are growing increasingly resentful of American forces in their country and offering increased support to a resurgent Taliban.
Womens rights are still at risk there do to some wordings in the Constitution.
Concern among women's rights and human rights advocates remains over language in the Constitution that states that "in Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam." This language and another article leaving matters where there is no provision in the constitution or law to adjudication by religious laws may leave individual rights, human rights, and women's rights vulnerable to extremist interpretations of Islam.
Just as religious fundamentalism is a danger to peoples rights the world over when mixed with statecraft the position of women in Afghan society is nebulous. FindLaw columnist Madhavi Sunder offers a very clear picture of this.
Mr Bush is championing Pell Grants and our nations community college system- or so he says:
...I propose larger Pell grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school. I propose increasing our support for America's fine community colleges, so they can ? I do so, so they can train workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs. By all these actions, we'll help more and more Americans to join in the growing prosperity of our country. Job training is important, and so is job creation.
President Bush is visiting Ohio today to trumpet a $500 million job training/education proposal announced in his State of the Union address.1 But the president has recently proposed to cut almost $700 million out of the same job training and education programs he is now touting.
As part of his new proposal, Bush said last night "I propose increasing our support for America's fine community colleges."2 Last year, however, the president sought to cut $230 million out of vocational/community college education, along with "eliminating funding for technical education." When lawmakers tried to restore the cuts in April, Bush was adamant that the cuts be preserved, and his allies in the Senate voted down the funding. The president also recently eliminated all $225 million in funding for youth job training grants.5
The other key piece of Bush's proposal involves college funding. The president said last night, "I propose larger Pell grants for students." But he did not mention his recent decision to "cut the Pell Grant program by $270 million"6 - a move his own Education Department admits will cut off 84,000 students, and reduce grants for "an additional one million students."
I hope these few examples of Presidential deception of the American people are useful to you. To call a State of the Union Address a "lie-fest" is not something I take lightly. The sad truth is Mr Bush and the present Administration rely on "the Big Lie" technique of governance. Without a collaborative media this underhanded political technique would be impossible.
We need to be the media, you and I; we need to see that the truth gets out into the public discourse.
"The Bush Credibility Gap: the Budget 2004- Rhetoric, Reality & The 43rd President of the United States (.pdf)" is an eye opening government resource that will help you to cut through the BS while giving reality based facts and figures.
Here is Al Franken's response to the Bush State of the Union Address.