Thursday, January 29, 2004

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

January 29, 2004

This week, I'm taking a quick look at the State of the Union Address and the foreshadowing of Bush ramping up the GOP campaign machine. A full 2,200 words of the 5,200-word speech (42 percent for those too lazy to reach for a calculator) were devoted to defending the war in Iraq, trying to convince the American people that we have some sort of realistic plan for creating a legitimate government there, and playing into America's culture of fear in the guise of "awareness." He harps consistently throughout this section on the weapons of foreign countries, the continuing threat of terrorism, and national security. He calls for the renewal of the sunsetting USAPATRIOT Act, which I guarantee will turn into a proposal to make it permanent if he is elected back into a Republican-controlled Congress, and he touts the capture of Saddam Hussein as a great victory for democracy. (By the way, has anyone else noticed that the pronunciation on the news has gone from "suh-DAHM" to "Sodom?" What the hell?)

He speaks too accurately when he says, "By passing the No Child Left Behind Act, you have made the expectation of literacy the law in our country." (emphasis added) Bush is making a poor school system worse by passing a law that sets standards it does not support; he said further in the speech that "testing is the only way to identify and help students who are falling behind." Does anyone else think that maybe good teachers would help with this?

The thing that I really find galling, though, is his comment towards the end about helping our children and "counter[ing] the negative influence of the culture." You know, Mr. Bush, this culture rules itself; you are (theoretically, anyway) the person this culture chose to serve as its leader. Everyone in America will agree that some other segment of the culture is crazy or sick or somehow negative, and this kind of statement panders to the rampant xenophobia that has given this president so much undeserved power. This seems to have died down as a controversy, so let me say it loud and clear just to remind everyone that it did in fact happen:


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