January 29, 2003

What Did Bush Say? Mr.

What Did Bush Say?

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, distinguished citizens, and fellow citizens:

Okay, bad start. In the wake of his recent move to remove taxes on stock dividends, did he really have to make a distinction between distinguished citizens and us run of the mill fellow citizens?

You and I serve our country in a time of great consequence. During this session of Congress, we have the duty to reform domestic programs vital to our country … we have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease. We will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared … and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people.

Oh, brother. This sounds like it's going to be a long one.

To insist on integrity in American business, we passed tough reforms, and we are holding corporate criminals to account.

We are? I must have missed that one. I seem to recall a few bastions of corporate America collapsing under the weight of their own accounting fraud, followed by rampant paper shredding, followed by some scolding at the hands of a Senate subcommitte or two, and then a couple of token convictions. Yet, the guilty millionaires are still millionaires, even if they may have to serve some easy time and maybe do some community work at the local soup kitchen.

Some might call this a good record. I call it a good start. Tonight I ask the House and Senate to join me in the next bold steps to serve our fellow citizens.

I don't call it a good record. Nor do I call it a good start. But, don't take my word for it. Let's hear it from the President:

After recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, and stock market declines, our economy is recovering - yet it's not growing fast enough, or strongly enough.

That doesn't strike me as a good record, and if it's just the start, I had better start digging a bunker somewhere in Nevada.

With unemployment rising, our Nation needs more small businesses to open, more companies to invest and expand, more employers to put up the sign that says, "Help Wanted."

So, what the President wants, if I understand him correctly, is a nation full of understaffed businesses.

Jobs are created when the economy grows; the economy grows when Americans have more money to spend and invest; and the best, fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bush Economics 101.

I am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year. And under my plan, as soon as I have signed the bill, this extra money will start showing up in workers' paychecks. Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now. Instead of slowly raising the child credit to a thousand dollars, we should send the checks to American families now.

I can't bitch about that. Makes sense to me.

We should also strengthen the economy by treating investors equally in our tax laws. It is fair to tax a company's profits. It is not fair to again tax the shareholder on the same profits. To boost investor confidence, and to help the nearly 10 million seniors who receive dividend income, I ask you to end the unfair double taxation of dividends.

Well, I still don't buy that. Let's see, the American population is just over 278 million. Therefore, the 10 million seniors he proposes to help account for roughly 4 percent (rounded up from 3.5) of the population. Also, chances are, if they're making money of any substance off dividends, they can probably afford to pay the damned tax. I'm fairly certain Mr. Bush could take the time to find an alternate tax to abolish, something that can help those of us without two summer homes.

Lower taxes and greater investment will help this economy expand. More jobs mean more taxpayers - and higher revenues to our government. The best way to address the deficit and move toward a balanced budget is to encourage economic growth - and to show some spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We must work together to fund only our most important priorities. I will send you a budget that increases discretionary spending by four percent next year - about as much as the average family's income is expected to grow. And that is a good benchmark for us: Federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families.

Since when does this administration give a rip about a balanced budget, or spending discipline for that matter? A four percent increase in discretionary spending sounds noble, until you realize that four percent of infinity is still infinity.

A growing economy, and a focus on essential priorities, will also be crucial to the future of Social Security. As we continue to work together to keep Social Security sound and reliable, we must offer younger workers a chance to invest in retirement accounts that they will control and they will own.

Social Security? What's that? I certainly don't expect it to be around when I hit 65.

Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment.

What? Our President is talking about the environment? No way!

I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest.

I can just see Mr. Bush laboring over that last line, frantically scribbling out the word "valuable" and penciling in "treasured." I can't comment on the proposed legislation, because I really haven't heard of it. However, you have to love the tags Clear Skies and Healthy Forests. After all, how can you vote against either of those? Hell, they could call for the deforestation of all of Oregon (after all, what better way to prevent forest fires then to get rid of all those pesky trees), and those voting against it will be chastised for voting against Clear Skies and Healthy Forests.

I urge you to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment and our economy. Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step, and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined. In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about, not through endless lawsuits or command and control regulations, but through technology and innovation. Tonight I am proposing 1.2 billion dollars in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

That's impressive. Mr. Oil is promoting alternative energy. I never thought I would see the day. Granted, 1.2 billion dollars will be gobbled up in no time, but it's a start.

A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car - producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom - so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. Join me in this important innovation - to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

I don't like President Bush particularly much, but that was a damned good initiative. Granted, it sounds like he just studied up on the topic about 10 minutes prior, but I don't doubt that he plans to follow through. I never thought I'd hear him utter the word "hydrogen" without the word "bomb" accompanying it so, once again, I'm impressed.

*Considerable Deletions Because This Is Getting Loooooonggggg*

There are days when the American people do not hear news about the war on terror. There is never a day when I do not learn of another threat, or receive reports of operations in progress, or give an order in this global war against a scattered network of killers. The war goes on, and we are winning.

Now, here, I agree with the administration. The war on terrorism, really, is a 24 hour battle. We don't hear the half of what goes on, and frankly, I don't want to. After watching the footage of Sept. 11 over, and over, and over again, I learned what it was like to feel helpless and suspicious. I don't need daily reminders. All I ask is to hear of the big terrorist news. I'm okay with that.

To date we have arrested, or otherwise dealt with, many key commanders of al-Qaida. They include a man who directed logistics and funding for the September 11th attacks … the chief of al-Qaida operations in the Persian Gulf who planned the bombings of our embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole … an al-Qaida operations chief from Southeast Asia … a former director of al-Qaida's training camps in Afghanistan … a key al-Qaida operative in Europe … and a major al-Qaida leader in Yemen. All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Put it this way... they are no longer a problem for the United States and our friends and allies.

Human rights activists will no doubt be up in arms about that one. And I say, "get real." These terrorists are people who made a conscious decision to attack civilians. They are soldiers in a clandestine war of pipe bombs in malls, and biological agents in test tubes. You want to extend them the right to a trial? Then you're woefully unaware how these people think. They wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet in your skull the moment they learn you're a Western infidel. I see no problem with extending to them the same courtesy.

We are working closely with other nations to prevent further attacks. America and coalition countries have uncovered and stopped terrorist conspiracies targeting the embassy in Yemen … the American embassy in Singapore … Saudi military base … ships in the straits of Hormuz, and the straits of Gibraltar. We have broken al-Qaida cells in Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, London, Paris - as well as Buffalo, New York.

To the critics of the war on terrorism, I should point out that each and every one of those accomplishments make apprehending Osama bin Laden pale by comparison. Let the puke breathe. For each thwarted attack, the loyalty of his network falters, and eventually he'll surface because the appropriate amount of coin will just happen to grease the appropriate hand.

Our Nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean peninsula, and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression … with ties to terrorism … with great potential wealth … will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States.

Saddam anyone?

Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction. For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons even while inspectors were in his country. Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons - not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities. Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world.

You want evidence? It's right there in front of you. Twelve years worth of evidence. Let's finish the job.

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax - enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Maybe you're content to foolishly say, "Well, we haven't found it, so it doesn't exist," but 25,000 liters of anthrax just doesn't disappear. Sometimes, evidence is that which is not right before your eyes, but concealed from view.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin - enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He has not accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

See above.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard, and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents also could kill untold thousands. He has not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

See above.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them, despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

See above.

>From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

See above.

The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving. From intelligence sources, we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the UN inspectors - sanitizing inspection sites, and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses. Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations. Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. And intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with UN inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.

And this is what the peace activists are marching against. They're marching against the liberation of these people. Yes, a war will kill civilians. But, Saddam kills civilians even without war.

Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks, to build and keep weapons of mass destruction - but why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate, or attack. With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East, and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody, reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

And he would, too.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Indeed. Trusting Hussein's sanity and restraint is like leaving a toddler in a room with 25 loaded weapons and hoping he or she doesn't fire any of them.

The dictator, who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons, has already used them on whole villages - leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained - by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.

And yet the pacifists brush away such truths, as if an errant cruise missile is somehow more horrible than being locked in a room where random drops of acid fall from the ceiling, keeping the victim in perpetual motion until he collapses from exhaustion. They think they're somehow protecting these doomed people, when in fact they're promoting their misery.

If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning. And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country - your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.

Not particularly eloquent, but powerful all the same.

The world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm. America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country, and our friends, and our allies. The United States will ask the UN Security Council to convene on February 5th to consider the facts of Iraq's ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraq's illegal weapons programs; its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors; and its links to terrorist groups. We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

Bush has been painted as a cowboy on a mad dash towards war, but these are not the actions of a warmonger. He's been deliberate, and patient, and I support him, as difficult as it is for me to admit that.

Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a president can make. The technologies of war have changed. The risks and suffering of war have not. For the brave Americans who bear the risk, no victory is free from sorrow. This Nation fights reluctantly, because we know the cost, and we dread the days of mourning that always come.

We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all. 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. And as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food, and medicines, and supplies … and freedom.

We Americans have faith in ourselves - but not in ourselves alone. We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.

May He guide us now, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

I may not like him, but he was hard to argue with at the end.

Posted by Ryan at January 29, 2003 01:57 AM
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