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Terror and Taxes: The State of the Union

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 29, 2004


As a journalist I don't have the luxury of not watching the annual State of the Union Address. It is my responsibility to listen with a critical ear for what is being said, how it is being said, and then decipher why it is being said. More importantly, my task is to listen for what is not being said, for here the truth lies unadorned with poll tested words of patriotic righteous.

Being smarter than the average media monkey I avoided all the network talking heads, and watched the George W. Bush preach to the choir on C-span. As expected I was not disappointed in being disappointed. The minute Mr. Bush walked into the congressional chambers to a thunder of applause and cat whistles I knew the viewing audience was about to receive the latest installment of Surreal Life.

In the theatre world only the biggest Divas receive standing ovations before a word is said. As President Bush made his way to the podium the comparison came easy, it was followed by a sobering thought, the world is watching this shameless display of obedient adulation. Applause for a man, who has repeatedly lied to the people of the United States, as well as the world, set a tone for what was to follow. I sat there in stunned silence, my mood darkening.

George's first sentence said it all. "America this evening is a nation called to great responsibilities," was a veiled admission of the Bush administration's religious war. How else does one interpret "a nation called?" The obvious implication was Mr. Bush's God told him to drop bombs on the people of Iraq in response to the violent actions of 15 Saudi hijackers. Completely ignoring any semblance of separation of church and state Mr. Bush invoked God and religion 10 times throughout his speech.

Having pulled the transcript of the speech off the Internet I decided a word count was in order. Thankfully god was not W's major theme that distinction belonged to terrorizing the American people. Proudly stating "The United States and our allies are determined: We refuse to live in the shadow of this ultimate danger," George was not above invoking the word terror or terrorists 20 times, while attaching them to his holy grail of weapons of mass destruction. It should be noted though he forgot to mention that no weapons of mass destruction had been found. Instead he mentioned an obscure report that "identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

George also used the word war 11 times as if Americans needed to be reminded Americans are dying in Iraq everyday in order to make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction-related program activities. Kill, killers, or killed was used 10 times, equaling the number of times god was mentioned.

Coincidence? I think not.

Squeaking in behind the terror as the theme of choice, George W. used the word tax or taxes 19 times. Basically Mr. Bush wanted to make it clear to those who hadn't been listening for the past three years he intends to continue cutting taxes and make the cuts permanent. Talk about fear mongering, to hear George speak of it taxation is something to fear almost as much as terrorism.

Somehow George fails to remember that taxes are what makes America the nation it is, and that without them there would be no interstate infrastructure, no public education, no corporate subsidies for his friends, and no way to maintain public monuments, national parks, and his new pet project space exploration. These evil taxes will also fund the billion of dollars for the programs he promised for faith-based charities such as his Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative.

One has to wonder what new brilliant plan he has up his sleeve after making the promise to send congress "a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than four percent," requiring congress "to focus on priorities, and cut wasteful spending." In other words, war is a priority and things like public education, health care are discretionary, and things such as species conservation and environment regulation wasteful spending.

By the way, George did use the word deficit once, but with no numbers attached. He failed to mention environment even once. Obviously clean air and water are not a priority in George W Bush's America.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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