I did not watch the State of the Union address last night. I can barely stand to listen to Mr. Bush under the best of circumstances, and I was fairly certain that I would not like what he had to say last night. Instead, I read the complete text of the speech at the BBC’s website. I am not going to comment on every topic in the President’s speech, because it would take too long, and to be honest, some of the stuff I just don’t care about or don’t know enough about. But there are a couple of things that I wanted to speak my mind on. All quotes are taken directly from the address:
“Tonight I am proposing $1.2bn in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. “
It is about time. Granted, I think we could put a little more money towards this research, but the fact that it is being presented at all is really gratifying to me. Cynic that I am, I have to wonder if the President would even care about this if we weren’t actively engaged in pissing off the Middle East. Regardless of the reason for the proposal, I am down with it. I want my very own Mr. Fusion on the back of my car.
“I propose a $450m initiative to bring mentors to more than a million disadvantaged junior high students and children of prisoners. Government will support the training and recruiting of mentors, yet it is the men and women of America who will fill the need.”
Well. I agree with the need, certainly. Mentors are good. I’d like to know what the government will be training these mentors to do, and what the criteria are for becoming one before I give it my full backing. Here’s my cynicism at work again: I just can’t trust any feel-good program like this that is backed by right-wingers. I always fear ulterior motives, such as adding religious overtones to the mix, or pro-life propaganda. Will atheists and pagans be given a chance to mentor a young person, or will they not be “moral” enough to serve as a role-model?
“I ask you to protect infants at the very hour of birth, and end the practice of partial-birth abortion. And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity and pass a law against all human cloning. “
Well, amen. I am pro-choice myself, but partial-birth abortion is a hideous, barbaric practice that should be stopped at once. I mean, come on. If you can’t be bothered to get an abortion in the first trimester, or the second, then you might as well carry the baby to term and put it up for adoption. I fail to see how collapsing the baby’s head once it emerges from the womb is abortion just cause it’s torso and legs are still inside.
And cloning just scares the crap out of me.
“And to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for Aids Relief – a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa. This comprehensive plan will prevent seven million new Aids infections… treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs… and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from Aids, and for children orphaned by Aids.”
And again I have to say it is about time. These people have had no health care or access to drugs for years. It’s about time that we gave them a leg up and at least the same chances to fight AIDS that the rest of the world has. As far as I’m concerned, if the treatment is tested, proven, available, and not exorbitant (ie most of the world has access to it), then there is no excuse for an entire continent to be left behind just because they are poor. We are not poor. We can spare some drugs and education for Africa. Rock on.
Now we get to the scary stuff. . .
“All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let’s put it this way, they are no longer a problem for the United States and our friends and allies.”
WARNING! WARNING! What the hell is that supposed to mean? My lord, that scares me, and I’m about as far from a terrorist as you can get. Some “suspected” terrorists are “no longer a problem” for us? Hello? That’s real nice and all that the government is working to protect us, but uh. . . how can I say this. . . are we going to find some suspected terrorists bobbing down our waterways sealed up in oil drums?
All About Iraq
OK, there’s too much here. I can’t quote everything that I earmarked. Let me sum up: OK, I got part of what I wanted. President Bush outlined all of the things that the UN was expecting to hear about from the weapons inspectors, and he pointed out where Iraq has failed. That kind of softened my stance a little bit. All I ever hear on the news is “He’s not cooperating”, but in his speech Mr. Bush pointed out exactly how Iraqi officials are not cooperating. I can see that there is a problem there. But. We have given Iraq and the inspectors what? Three months? Three whole months? OK, we’ve been waiting for 12 years making vague threats in Iraq’s direction and not following through. I think we need to be a little more patient now that Iraq has taken a step. Three months does not damning evidence produce. Nor does it mean that things are not going to improve. I wasn’t aware that there was a “You get one chance to get it right” stipulation on the UN resolution. Maybe I’m just a big old softie, maybe I don’t want war, maybe I’m scared, but I think that getting all hot and bothered at this stage in the game is not going to do anything good for us or the world.
“Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?”
OK, granted. Score one for you, President Bush. I’m with you on that. But something is bothering me here. It is a practice that I have noticed and that is the overuse of the word “terrorism”. Everyone we don’t like, or whose policies and politics we don’t agree with suddenly is a “terrorist”. Well, I don’t know. I think “jerk” might be a better word, but one can’t really go on TV before America and the world and say “We need to go to war and remove Saddam Hussein from power because he is a jerk”, can one? No, because while everyone would agree with you, no one would go to war over a jerk. We have to use a meaner word, and you can’t get much meaner than “Terrorist”.
“We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended.”
*snort* Yeah, right. We seek peace. Sure, sure.
“If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means – sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military – and we will prevail.”
Buh! Excuse me? No one is forcing war upon us. I see no enemy battleships lining our coast. I see no one parachuting down into our countryside. Make no mistake, if anyone’s doing the forcing, it’s America. I don’t see anyone other country (besides Britain) lining up saying “Dammit, we are going to war with you or without you, so you’d better fall in line.”
I don’t know. Our country’s foreign policy frightens and confuses me. How the President can talk in one speech about our mercy and compassion towards the impoverished nations of the world and also talk about how our mighty military will not hesitate to decimate one of those impovershied nations (for it’s own good, of course), well it’s beyond me. A lot of what our government chooses to do is beyond me. I just don’t like being told to “trust the government” and that they can’t reveal information or they have to restrict our rights or do other things that I basically don’t like for “national security”. I’m down with national security, but sometimes you just have to wonder how all of this stuff is helping. Personally, I have no idea.
Oh, and one more question: What ever happened to Osama bin Laden?