Will Pitt: The State Of The State Of The Union
The State Of The State Of The Union
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout's FYI Blog
Wednesday 02 February 2005
Well, the time has come again to sit through another session with George.
It is interesting to note how this constitutionally-mandated rap session with congress has changed over the years. Washington and the first few presidents delivered the speeches themselves way back when. Yet for over one hundred years after those first few, the speech was delivered by the Executive branch and then read aloud in Congress to the members. The president did not come himself. Those remarks were detailed policy proposals for the next year, and were often absent a lot of the rah-rah we see now.
Woodrow Wilson brought back the old way by delivering the speeches himself, thus ushering in the new age of State of the Union remarks. Still, the speeches were largely policy-based. It was in the Carter administration that things began to change again. His press people wanted to make an event of the speech, partially to boost the profile of the man who was riding the malaise post-Vietnam tiger. These speeches became large media events under Carter as television news began to truly come into its own.
And then came Ronald Reagan, and the advent of the REALLY BIG MEDIA EVENT for the State of the Union speech. Say what you will about Reagan, and there is plenty to say, but the man knew how to work the cameras. Bush Sr. continued the practice of the REALLY BIG MEDIA EVENT, but could not come close to the high-water mark achieved by Reagan.
The eight State of the Union speeches delivered by Clinton combined both aspects of the history of the event. His speeches were REALLY BIG MEDIA EVENTS, but were also a blizzard of policy proposals a la Wilson. Clinton was the only president to come close to reaching the mark set by Reagan.
George W. Bush, however, has taken the thing in a whole new direction. If his speech is anything like the last few, 90% of the content will be "Freedom democracy freedom freedom God freedom liberty God democracy freedom freedom." In other words, it will be a pep rally.
George has also introduced the insertion of the REALLY BIG LIE into the REALLY BIG MEDIA EVENT. Recall, if you will, his comments from the 2003 address:
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 has not accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
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.
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.
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.
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 has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon, and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
So, to recap: In 2003, Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent (500 tons = 1,000,000 pounds), 30,000 munitions to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, and uranium from Niger for use in their advanced nuclear weapons program.
None of the agents themselves were found. A few rusted-out munitions were dug up. The mobile biologial weapons labs were weather balloon platforms sold to Iraq by the British in the 1980s. The uranium from Niger story has been so thoroughly debunked that a special investigator is looking into the lie. Several journalists are in the dock because they carried water for a couple of Bush hatchetmen who went after the CIA-agent wife of the man who first blew the whistle on this nonsense.
That's quite a bit of disgraceful history inserted into the long story of the State of the Union, yes? Way to be, George.
One specific policy proposal has been leaked prior to tonight's speech. Anyone on any kind of governmental assistance program better perk up and read this closely:
Bush to Call for Near-Freeze in Spending: Aide
By Adam Entous
Tuesday 01 February 2005
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush will call for a near-freeze in the overall growth of government spending not connected to national defense to try to rein in record deficits, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.
Bush will make the proposal in Wednesday's State of the Union address, previewing the fiscal 2006 budget he will send to Congress next Monday.
A senior administration official pointed to Congress' approval last year of a 0.8 percent cap in non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending, and said Bush "will articulate a similar type of goal or principle, which his budget will adhere to."
With the White House projecting inflation at about 2 percent, government programs subject to the cap would face the budgetary equivalent of a cut in spending from levels enacted in fiscal 2005.
The senior administration official left open the possibility the cap would be less than 0.8 percent, saying Bush "believes we can even go further" in restraining spending growth.
Having pushed through sweeping tax cuts in Bush's first term as president, "it's now time also to focus on the priority of fiscal discipline," the official added.
"It's now time also to focus on the priority of fiscal discipline," saith the aide. That's a hoot.
Hundreds of billions of dollars have been poured into the sand of Iraq (and into the accounts of Halliburton and Carlyle), the tax cuts obliterated the Clinton surplus, which was likewise gutted by the lies of Bush's buddies at Enron (yes, that had a lot to do with it: Think anticipated tax revenues from Enron's inflated value, and then hit the subtract button), the dollar is melting on the world market to the point that China (which basically sustains our economy by buying our debt) is getting nervous, and I seem to remember something about going to Mars.
This administration has been a smash-and-grab robbery from day one, and now we the people are going to feel the burn. History in the making.
I will be blogging this thing tonight if you can't bring yourself to turn on the TV.
Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout.
He is a New York Times and international bestselling author
of two books - 'War
on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and
Greatest Sedition is Silence.'