State of the Union

I am experiencing a political renissance.

I'm unsure of the cause. Is it the inevitable war in Iraq? Is it the death of Senator Wellstone last fall? Is it the subscription to the conservative National Review that I got from my father-in-law for Christmas? (It's a good thing, as disagreeing with others' beliefs helps to reinforce my own.)

No matter the reason, I sat down to watch the State of the Union address. (I actually recorded it. Does that makes me a nerd?) On Tuesday night I hoped for inspiration and, lacking that, humor. Dubya provided both. I misunderestimated him.

The Pres

8:04 The President emerges, wearing the traditional blue suit, white shirt and.. blue tie? I thought the patriotic dress code required a red tie. wadE's wife Michelle, another Political Science major, assures me that this is not unprecedented and adds that I'm on crack for thinking so.

8:06 Phil Hartman would have made a great Dick Cheney.

8:07 The first standing ovation of the night. Is there a drinking game for this? Yup.

8:09 "The state of our union is strong." Please. That's as original as starting a paper with "Webster's Dictionary defines..."

8:11 The President touts the "No Child Left Behind" initiative, reviewed here in last Sunday's Star Tribune. Its goals are laudable: improving academic performance of disadvantaged students, boosting teacher quality, and encouraging safe schools. In reality this program requires another standardized test, legitimizes cliques of minority students, and causes extra expenditures out of already-tight school budgets.

The program divides a district's students into groups, such as black, Hispanic, and poor. If the test score of a particular group decreases from one year to the next, the district is identified as underperforming. When a school is marked as underperforming, sanctions include paying for students to transfer to a different district.

Public schools need reforms to improve, but this is not the right approach.

Where was I?

8:13 "We are holding corporate criminals to account." Unless your name is Dick Cheney or George W. Bush. Oops, I thought I locked Cyrus the Cynical Armadillo up.

"We must hold.. uh.. others responsible."

8:14 Dubya says that the best way to improve the economy is to not tax away consumers' wages in the first place. Can we shop our way out of this downturn? Perhaps. But I am more apt to believe a recent article, stating that this recession is caused by an excess in supply. Companies expanded unwisely in the dot-com boom, leading to too many goods not being chased by enough dollars.

But I'd cash any check sent to me.

8:17 The President calls for the end of taxation on dividends. Wonder what economic group that favors?

8:19 Bush asks for privatization of Social Security. I'm not sure allowing people to be day traders with their retirement funds is smart.

8:20 His call for affordable health care draws sarcastic cheers from Democrats. The group-theory aspect of the SOTU is as interesting as the speech.

8:23 George's speaking style is condefusing-- an odd combo platter of condescension and confusion.

8:25 $1.25 billion for researching hydrogen-powered automobiles. It's innovative, and something the globe will need to adopt. But why not take some of that money and regulate sport-utility vehicles? These are hard on gas and increase our dependence on foreign oil, and harm to the world around us. How many people need an SUV?

8:30 Bush touts his Faith-Based Initiatives, Citizens Service Act, and additional funding for treating drug addicts. Hard to not be in favor of that. It doesn't, however, sound much like shrinking the size of the federal government.

The Frozen Splinter

8:32 Bummer for Ted Williams' family-- the President asks for a ban on cloning. Claudia and John Henry will have to wait until at least 2004 to thaw out papa.

8:33 - 8:37 bla bla bla AIDS (applause) bla bla bla bla Africa (applause) bla bla bla medical funding(applause)

8:38 The reason we're all here. Terrorism. If I could vote one word out of existence, it would be terrorism. What crime isn't terrorism at its root?

8:41 "Whatever the duration of this struggle, and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the triumph of violence in the affairs of men -- free people will set the course of history." Some movies have an "Oscar" scene? This was Bush's equivalent, a "textbook" scene. His speechwriters must read a lot of Lincoln.

8:42 Hitlerism?

8:45 "On the Korean peninshula..."

8:46 Again with the peninshula. Was he the Miami Dolphins coach? Maybe that's an actual word.

Don "Penin" Shula

Maybe not.

8:48 -> end The President provides justification for a strike on Iraq.

I'm generally not in favor of military engagement. However, after 9/11, I'm more easily convinced. What would have happened if the U.S. had taken action against Osama Bin Laden in 1998? Is it negligent not to disarm Iraq?

Or does this just make good sound bites for the administration to broadcast to a wary public when the real motivation is oil. I just don't know. If the claims of torture and oppression of Iraqi citizens are true, Saddam needs to go.

It's an awful position to be in. I'm glad I don't have to make these decisions.

I think the President did well. He addressed many populist issues, but stuck with his conservative roots when discussing issues like abortion, social security, and missile defense. He convinced me of the need for military action in Iraq, and sounded genuine when speaking of a peaceful resolution to North Korea nuclear buildups.

Complimenting Bush this much is making my teeth ache. But I think he's the best man for the job.

At least until 2004.



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