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January 29, 2003


I have not looked anywhere else for commentary before writing my own. Forgive me if something is repetative to something you read elsewhere.

Let's clear one thing up first. The State of the Union has a long tradition of Santa standing up there with his bag of goodies, dolling them out. There is even a sorrier tradition of taking these toys back. In other words, not following through on the promises. That is true of all presidents, though the take back amount varies.

SO, you should not expect any money for Africa and the promise of hydrogen-fueled cars is an empty promise.
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.

That's a built in 16 or 17 years before today's child comes of age. Safely removed from even a re-election promise. Right now these cars exist and sell for $700,000**. Why does it seem like such a reversal of the Rove administration's previous policies? Because it is.

As far as money relief fo Africa - that news should have reached Sen. Bill Frist before he pushed to redice general African aid - the first flexing of his muscle as Senate Majority leader just to show that he could do it.

I'm not going to fisk the speech - that would take far too long and achieve little.

But a few more observations.
Project BioShield?

The strongest part of the speech seems to have been the latter part, the foreign policy section. I knew and was aware of Saddam's atrocities and the unpalatable idea of numerous nuclear weapons in rogue hands ready for blackmail (though evidence of Saddam haivng such a plan or nukes is zero to none). But it is true that George Bush Junior still needed to use that stage to outline them because the vast majority of the American people do not. I'm not saying I'm superior, here. I'm saying that I have taken the time to look around and read. And I remember the First Gulf War. I was living in England at the time. A country had been invaded. That was a right and just war. It was clearly not only for the protection of oil.

I'm not saying the coming war is about that, either, but there is also no good reason for it. I say that because much of what George Bush Junior outlined last night a lot of people already knew - certainly the people who have been making the decisions over the last 20 years.

The only other large picture observation I have is that he kept on announcing new ways to spend money - $1.2 billion for hydrogen-fuel research, $15B** million for African AIDS research. Then he wants to give $650 billion away in taxes. That is a clear disconnect.

And he never really talked about thew cost of war - in human or financial terms. I think many people who are for the war believe there will be a repeat of the first short and relatively painless war. Maybe. This time, though, we have reportedly, made a declaration that we would stay and help the country rebuild. Is there a cost attached to that? You betcha. Hundreds of billions of dollars if we are devoted to it.

But see, he already announced that the recession is over so we can now afford it with increased revenues:
During the last two years, we have seen what can be accomplished when we work together. To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform - which must now be carried out in every school, and every classroom, so that every child in America can read, and learn, and succeed in life. To protect our country, we reorganized our government and created the Department of Homeland Security - which is mobilizing against the threats of a new era. To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation.

My opinion has not changed from that visual expression yesterday. Sorry to those who disagree. You would likely say I'm weak-minded or just weak and afraid of war. To that, I'd say, look at the military chiefs who are against it. Not convinced? Yesterday, General Norman Schwarzkopf came out for caution in introducing another war. You think that was deliberate timing? I do.

I was able to listen to most of it on the way into Seattle. A beautiful evening, by the way. Clear and the lights of the city glowed brightly. Horrific.

**Corrections: Hydrogen-fueled cars currently sell for $70,000. I first put in $600m for Emergency AIDS research. I got that figure confused with the amount of money for drug-abuse prevention in this country.