Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The State of the Union Address 2007

My reaction of the SOTU address delivered by President Bush Tuesday night was generally favorable. He was very gracious to Madame Pelosi and the Democrats, which was classy. I thought the first two thirds of the speech was pretty slow--the usual laundry list of feel-good domestic proposals that will only serve to drain our wallets. But the main difference I saw was that most of his proposals were things that were more likely to pass a Democrat-controlled congress e.g. balancing the budget, tax deductions for healthcare, and immigration reform. President Bush did throw in a few eye pokes now and then--things that made Madame Pelosi pucker up her lips--such as vouchers for education and increasing domestic oil production. The Dems had just passed a bill in Congress that would eliminate tax breaks for oil companies doing domestic drilling so naturally I bet Pelosi chewed her lip furiously at that moment.

It seems that many in the right wing blogosphere focused on what he said about immigration and ignored everything else:

Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America - with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol - and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border - and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in - and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers, and criminals, and terrorists. We will enforce our immigration laws at the worksite, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers - so there is no excuse left for violating the law. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country - without animosity and without amnesty.

Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate - so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law.

Some conservative bloggers want the border locked down and all illegals tossed out the door ASAP. But this is not realistic. The northern and southern borders are both lengthy and porous. Deporting 10 million people would surely cause economic problems in areas with a lot of immigrants-like in Texas for instance. I'm all for beefing up the borders as much as is resaonably possible and deporting as many criminals as possible--no catch and release. I'm in favor of a fence in high traffic areas. But some extremists want to bring our military home and post them on the border. Come on, folks, that's not possible with the Posse Commitatus Act. Anyway, for all the conservatives freaking out every time Pres. Bush says "without amnesty," the reality is that the Dems control Congress and any immigration reform will probably have some sort of pathway to citizenship. Heres' a big thank-you to all you conservatives that stayed home or voted a third party because of this one issue. Now we'll get immigration reform that will be even worse than the Republicans dreamed up.

Anyway, on to the rest of the speech.

The most compelling part of the address came when Pres. Bush talked about the War on Terror. He listed several foiled terrorist plots which have been in the news, but I think it was good to highlight how effective anti-terrorism measures have been and to emphasize that the fight is far from over.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented - but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in Nine-Eleven is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a Nation at war.

I think he made a persuasive case for continuing the fight in Iraq and maintaining a presence in the Middle East.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

We are carrying out a new strategy in Iraq - a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we are deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down terrorists, insurgents, and roaming death squads. And in Anbar province - where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them - we are sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

The President is right. Things have changed since we first went in. In 2003, we were worried about WMDs and former Baathists. Then Zarqawi and his goons started blowing up civilians right and left. Next the Sunni and Shiite militias started going after each other. Things were looking pretty good in 2005 after several sucessful elections, and then the country exploded into chaos. The problem areas are still Al Anbar and Baghdad. Most of the rest country is still pretty well under control. We hardly even hear a peep from the Kurdish areas.

I don't think we can afford to walk out on Iraq when the going gets tough as some have suggested. We have a duty to our soldiers and to our allies in Iraq to finish the job we started. All the members of congress who voted for the war have a responsibility to finish what they started. I will be bitterly disappointed in our government if we leave our allies to twist in the wind like we did in Vietnam and after Operation Desert Storm when tens of thousands of Shiites and Kurds were slaughtered by Saddam's forces because we left him in power. We will have even fewer friends in the world than we have now if we show that we don't follow through on our commitments to our allies and adopt an isolationist policy. In this fight against terror we need as much cooperation with our allies as possible.

I'm glad the President has adapted his Iraq War strategy. I think we owe it to him to at least give him a chance to improve things with this new strategy, a new Sec. of Defense, and new military commanders on the ground. I don't know why our members of Congress think they can be more successful at fighting a war than our military men and women on the ground in Iraq.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now is the time for their government to act. Iraq's leaders know that our commitment is not open ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad - and they must do so. They have pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party. They need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation - to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens ... to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq ... to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life ... to hold local elections ... and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

I think this is a vital part of the plan. Prime Minister Maliki has been shielding the Shiite militias for too long and now it's time for him to get serious about restoring order in Iraq. Some have suggested that we should pull all our troops out of the cities and into bases along the borders. I think it's too early for that because the Iraqi military can't handle all the work by itself yet. We can't allow the seat of the democratically elected government, Baghdad, to fall under control of the militias or Al Qaeda. Iraq won't stand a chance then. President Bush emphasizes that well, I believe.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country - and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq, would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens... new recruits ... new resources ... and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11th and invite tragedy. And ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East ... to succeed in Iraq ... and to spare the American people from this danger.

I thought it was interesting to see that Pelosi and most of the Dems did not applaud or stand at that last line. I really don't think they understand the nature of the terrorist threat. Do they really think Al Qaeda and others of their ilk will leave us alone if we leave Iraq? If we force a two-state solution on the Israelis and the Palestinians? If we give in to every single one of their crazy demands? No, they will keep pushing for more and more concessions. They sense the lack of willingness to fight of the liberal part of our country and are exploiting it. Why does every single one of Zawahiri's speeches sound like the Democrats' talking points? They listen to every word our leaders and our media say, and then use it for their own propaganda. I think Goebbels would be envious.

The number one thing the speech emphasized to me is that we are at war and that sacrifices must be made. Much like during WWII where there was rationing, we need to get serious about doing our part for the war effort. We do need to cut down on our gasoline consumption--not to make Al Gore happy, but to reduce the amount of oil that we can be blackmailed with by terrorist supporting nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia. We need to stop our whining about how long the war in Iraq and Afganistan are taking and be part of the solution.

The majority of the Dems whine and moan but offer no better solutions than withdrawal and that is not an option. People who think that the war won't come home to us in the U.S. are dreaming and have forgotten the lessons of 9-11 or didn't learn them the first time. Al Qaeda will not stop until the U.S. is destroyed or we take them out first. Some of us don't have the stomach to "take the fight to the enemy" as the President said (I'm looking at you, Dick Durbin). Ok, so just shut up and stay out of the way of the people that do.

For my part, I will conserve gasoline by driving less, conserve electricity in my home (freezing at the moment), support the members of the military in my community and family, and support the President in his efforts to win in Iraq and Afganistan.

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