Sunday, January 29, 2006

Optimism: The State Of The Union

Alabama artist Frank Bear illustrated support for George W. Bush as a follower of Jesus Christ by this work, titled "Our Christian President." The artist pieced together individual portraits of Jesus Christ to make the image of President Bush. Posted by Picasa

To the right, books; to the left, a tea-cup. In front of me, the fireplace; behind me, the post. There is no greater happiness than this.


We are living in a historical period in which we understand that it is necessary for all of us to be conscious and active in our world. None of us can ignore this call to action. And yet, if we do not practice zazen, whether we call it zazen or whatever we call it and however we do it, we cannot act in any accurate way. There has been plenty of action---too much action. What we need is not more action, we need enlightened action. And this means letting go of action.

---Norman Fischer

Swallow the stars until you are one with the universe, with all-pervading universal life.

---Soen Nakagawa

FOXNews has begun the drone repetition of the word "optimism" to prep its millions of viewers for what has become the annual crock in America known as The State Of The Union Address. Obviously I'm not responding well. And thus I place myself in my own concentration camp of negativists and boat-rockers. Such people are not well liked in America, which is why they must be put in detention. They're depressing and they slow us down. People who try to rock the boat are dangerous. Our tradition in these United States is optimism! Naysayers can go someplace else to live---like over to France for instance.

Am I just being facetious? What may have been funny a while ago has gotten serious today. One of my assignments at work is to assist 2 multihandicapped boys in a 7th grade science class of developmentally handicapped students. This placement supposedly is enrichment for our guys---but that's another topic. We're studying El Nino and the ocean currents presently. I've known the teacher for about 10 years. She used to eat lunch in her classroom, listening to Rush Limbaugh's daily broadcast. Sometimes we'd talk politics and religion, and as long as we smiled it went OK. On Friday I brought her a printout of an article in Thursday's Christian Science Monitor, which examines the mineral deposits of tiny creatures that perished during a similar "global warming" 55 million years ago . Not only didn't she want to read it, but she said she didn't have to read it. "How do we know what happened 55 million years ago?" she exclaimed with irritation. She was annoyed. She already had told me global warming is only a theory...and even if it's happening, it's a natural trend that comes and goes from time to time. Anyway, I'm not her boss and who am I to bring her this printout? She would complain to others about me now. She can pull rank on me, claim I disturb her procedure, and have me removed. What I presumed was collegial friendship changed in a flash.

The boy emperor will give the call to his sheep on Tuesday night. That's what Gore Vidal and Chalmers Johnson call him: the boy emperor. A Hun is at the helm and we enter the Dark Age. "For what we are now seeing are the obvious characteristics of the West after the fall of Rome: the triumph of religion over reason; the atrophy of education and critical thinking; the integration of religion, the state, and the apparatus of torture--a troika that was for Voltaire the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment world; and the political and economic marginalization of our culture." What I am feeling more and more every day in America at the very depth of my being is the subjection of reason to faith and authority. Nothing stops him. No election, no legal apparatus, no media attention, no legislative investigation. We don't want to hear it! We want the bright side. Is this what it's like to live in a dictatorship?

Here's Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio~~~

The Truth About The State Of Our Union
Dennis J. Kucinich
Fri Jan 27, 9:28 PM ET

On Tuesday night President Bush will stand before the Congress and the nation to deliver his annual State of the Union address. We are sure to hear a rosy tale of an economy on the rebound, a blossoming democracy in Iraq, a terror network on the run, and a Gulf Coast region rebuilding better and stronger than ever before. As is most often the case with this Administration, the rhetoric does not match reality.

The facts are clear. Our economy is struggling and leaving tens of millions of Americans behind. According to the non-partisan National Journal, since President Bush first stood before Congress and the nation in 2001, the median income in this country has decreased, the jobless rate has jumped from 3.9% to 4.9% and the number of families living in poverty has increased from 8.7% to 10.2%. Our trade deficit has doubled. Inflation has gone up. Personal bankruptcies have gone up. Consumer debt has gone up. College tuition has gone up. And, the price of gas has gone up. All the while, this Administration has turned a $128 billion federal budget surplus into a $319 billion deficit.

Today, almost 6 million more Americans do not have any health insurance than when President Bush took office. In total, over 45.5 million Americans, or over 15% of our total population, have no health care coverage at all.

During his 2003 address, President Bush told the nation that Saddam Hussein "had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax", "materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin", "as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent" and "upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents".

Today, almost three years after the start of the President's war of choice, we know Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, had no connection to al-Qaeda and posed no threat to our nation. Yet, our armed forces are bogged down in the middle of civil war that our own generals say cannot be won by military force. Our presence in Iraq is counterproductive and has cost the lives of over 2,200 US troops and $250 billion.

President Bush has delivered four State of the Union addresses since the attacks on our nation on 9/11. In four speeches, the President has never once mentioned Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the terror attacks on this nation. The status of the FBI's most wanted man apparently is not important to the state of our union. Yet, in the same four speeches, President Bush has mentioned Saddam Hussein 24 times, and Iraq 78 times.

President Bush used the opening of his 2003 State of the Union to praise the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. This year our nation, and the world, saw the result of the failure of this massive reorganization of our government. As Katrina rolled ashore, destroying large cities and small towns in four states, it was FEMA, once an independent cabinet level agency--but now rolled into Department of Homeland Security--that failed to react. The searing image of thousands of Americans stranded without food and water dying on American streets will be the lasting legacy of the Department of Homeland Security, not a reorganized government "mobilizing against the threats of a new era" as the President described in his speech.

In his 2004 and 2005 addresses, the President spent a considerable amount of time advocating policies that would roll back much of the social progress made since the New Deal. In 2004, the President touted a Medicare prescription drug bill that will fatten the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry, endangering the future finances of the entire Medicare program, while leaving seniors confused and empty handed as they try to fill their prescriptions under the new plan. In 2005, the President used his address to promote his plan strip seniors of the guaranteed promise of Social Security, and replace it with a risky scheme to gamble their future in the stock market.

What the President has in store for his message this year is not known yet. But, we do know the President Bush will speak in glowing terms about the state of our union. The truth is the state of our union is in great peril. This Administration is conducting a war with no end in Iraq, illegally spying on Americans at home, overseeing an economy that is increasingly leaving more and more Americans behind and abandoning Gulf in their hour of great need.

If recent history is any precedent, then next week we should see more of the same old dance around reality that has been the hallmark of President Bush's annual address.

1 comment:

jazzolog said...

State of Delusion
by Paul Krugman
The New York Times
February 3, 2006

So President Bush's plan to reduce imports of Middle East oil turns out to be no more substantial than his plan -- floated two years ago, then flushed down the memory hole -- to send humans to Mars.

But what did you expect? After five years in power, the Bush administration is still -- perhaps more than ever -- run by Mayberry Machiavellis, who don't take the business of governing seriously.

Here's the story on oil: In the State of the Union address, Mr. Bush suggested that "cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol" and other technologies would allow us "to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East."

But the next day, officials explained that he didn't really mean what he said. "This was purely an example," said Samuel Bodman, the energy secretary. And the administration has actually been scaling back the very research that Mr. Bush hyped on Tuesday night: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is about to lay off staff because of cuts to its budget.

"A veteran researcher," reports The New York Times, "said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol."

Why announce impressive sounding goals when you have no plan to achieve them? The best guess is that the energy "plan" was hastily thrown together to give Mr. Bush something positive to say.

For weeks administration sources told reporters that the State of the Union address would focus on health care. But at the last minute the White House might have realized that its health care proposals, based on the idea that Americans have too much insurance, would suffer the same political fate as its attempt to privatize Social Security. ("Congress," Mr. Bush said, "did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security." Democrats responded with a standing ovation.)

So Mr. Bush's speechwriters were told to replace the health care proposals with fine words about energy independence, words not backed by any actual policy.

What about the rest of the speech? The State of the Union is normally an occasion for boasting about an administration's achievements. But what's a speechwriter to do when there are no achievements?

One answer is to pretend that the bad stuff never happened. The Medicare drug benefit is Mr. Bush's largest domestic initiative to date. It is also a disaster: at enormous cost, the administration has managed to make millions of elderly Americans worse off. So drugs went unmentioned in the State of the Union.

Another answer is to rely on evasive language. In Iraq, Mr. Bush said, we have "changed our approach to reconstruction."

In fact, reconstruction has failed. Almost three years after the war began, oil production is well below prewar levels, Baghdad is getting only an average of 3.2 hours of electricity a day, and more than 60 percent of water and sanitation projects have been canceled.

So now, having squandered billions in Iraqi oil revenue as well as American taxpayer dollars, we have told the Iraqis that from here on in it is their problem. America's would-be Marshall Plan in Iraq, reports The Los Angeles Times, "is drawing to a close this year with much of its promise unmet and no plans to extend its funding." I guess you can call that a change in approach.

There is a common theme underlying the botched reconstruction of Iraq, the botched response to Katrina (which Mr. Bush never mentioned), the botched drug program and the nonexistent energy program.

John DiIulio, the former White House head of faith-based policy, explained it more than three years ago. He told the reporter Ron Suskind how this administration operates: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. ...I heard many, many staff discussions but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions. There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues."

In other words, this administration is all politics and no policy. It knows how to attain power, but has no idea how to govern. That is why the administration was caught unaware when Katrina hit, and why it was totally unprepared for the predictable problems with its drug plan. It is why Mr. Bush announced an energy plan with no substance behind it. And it is why the state of the union -- the thing itself and not the speech -- is so grim.