Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Fool On The Hill

When they murder children at a school in Beslan, or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

By limiting it?
I am confident in our plan for victory; I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people; I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.

By letting our boys and girls be in harm's way of someone else's civil war? A war we instigated? A war specifically designed not to bring freedom to Iraq?
With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor.

By appearing only in front of scripted audiences? By refusing to cooperate with independent investigations? By not allowing for the full release of information and data that Americans might need to better make up their minds?
Our nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We're grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation's uniform -- and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families.

By not attending their funerals? By not showing their bodies as they are shipped home in the dead of night? By courtmartialing those soldiers who do?
Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital, but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.

By installing a corrupt puppet regime?
The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election -- and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform -- now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity.

From Time:
The President, of all people, should know how difficult it is to take care of basic things like, say, prescription drugs for the elderly or shelter from the storm—especially if your government places a low priority on the efficient provision of public services and a high priority on the care and feeding of cronies (as Fatah did in Palestine). Bush's global-democracy, uhhh, crusade, is yet another triumph of spin over substance, a broad-brush carelessness that feeds off emotional election-day highs, flag waving and freedom rallies across the region but which has led, in every case, to severe hangovers.

From Afghanistan to Egypt, not one country that has had an election in the past year has emerged more stable as a result of the experience. In Iraq, three elections—the last one little more than a "census," in the words of Iraqi journalist Nibras Kazimi—have increased the probability of partition or civil war and installed a corrupt, Iran-leaning government of religious conservatives, which will undoubtedly remain in power when the new "permanent" government is formed. In Afghanistan, elections have brought narco-warlords to positions of significant power. Even the Potemkin elections in Saudi Arabia and Egypt resulted in the aggrandizement of religious extremists. There was the election—more a selection, really—of foulmouthed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, who has turned out to be far more radical than the ruling mullahs anticipated. And now Hamas in Palestine.
How, Mr. President? How?
The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

When half the world views YOU as the lead terrorists, when is your arm twisting and blackmail no longer going to have an effect?
To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, and fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, and organized crime, and human trafficking, and the drug trade.

When you can't even repair New Orleans?
It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed. The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

By denying us our liberty?
Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the European Union combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.

Now that they've run out of home equity and their paychecks have shrunk because the 4.3 million jobs you claim credit for STILL don't pay the nation as much as they earned in 2000?
Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy -- even though this economy could not function without them. All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction -- toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.

When your economy is already stagnant and second rate (my god, FINLAND has a better economic growth than the US does!), how is staying a failed course helping? When Democrats raise taxes, the economy does better. How is that, Mr. President?
So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.

We already know what the problem is and what it's going to do! What is studying it further going to create?
Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker.

When the American worker can't afford an education, or health care? How are we going to compete?
Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. (Applause.) To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. (Applause.) And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.

How is going halfway on immigration going to help us? Either open the fucking doors, the way we've opened trade, or close them shut. You can't get the benefits without the risks, although maybe your own failed business experience tells you otherwise. Some of us weren't born on third thinking we hit a triple, Mr. President.
And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice -- leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB/GYN -- I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.

How is taking responsibility for negligence and error out of the equation helping America's patients OR doctors?
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

By burning more coal? By opening ANWR? a 22% increase in alternative energy plans sounds great, but that brings us up to maybe ten percent of our energy needs. That's not good enough!
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people -- and we're going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

By dismantling the public education system which GAVE us that competitive edge in the first place? By forcing teachers into horrid teaching conditions for those least fortunate among us? By cutting back on Pell Grants? How, Mr. President, when children see basketball players making millions for stepping onto a court, yet a scientist has to struggle to make his car payments, because science doesn't want to consider superstition as a legitimate theory?
Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward -- optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.

I can answer that: Vote Democratic.

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