On Tuesday, Americans around the country gathered for that highly anticipated event on television and radio that happens just once a year. No, it wasn't the Super Bowl delayed by two days, it was the annual State of the Union address by the President of the United States, and this time around, everyone nervously anticipated whether President Bush would use the opportunity to declare war.
Surprisingly, he didn't. Rather than a unilateral declaration of war, over half of the address was spent talking about various domestic issues. It was certainly reassuring to see that the President was keeping up on other issues beyond what to do with Iraq, and many of his proposals sounded both bold and laudable.
Unfortunately, while he ran on a conservative platform of more responsible spending, and even during the speech, emphasized the need for the country not to grow its budget faster than the incomes of those it serves, it seemed that the President was suffering a bad case of “fuzzy math.” Although he managed to emphasize the tax cuts that his core supporters and party want, it was unfortunate that he also unveiled billions of dollars in new spending. Considering that the federal budget is already running up a large deficit, I found it puzzling that President Bush was proposing more spending and more tax cuts at the same time.
Still, on other issues that he covered, his positions seemed to be sizably less contradictory, thankfully. For example, it was good to see the President speak boldly against the threats of human cloning and urge the legislators to pass a ban on the same this year. It was at this point that he seemed on a roll as he also spoke out for preserving “human dignity” by pushing for a ban on partial birth abortion. These were the kind of things that had made President Bush's campaign the dynamic, successful one that it was, and it was nice to see that he hadn?t given up all of his values in his attempt to be a “unifier and not a divider.”
Then came Iraq. After attempting, rather unsuccessfully, to use the North Korean crisis as a launching board for why we should attack Iraq — odd logic indeed — the President dove into the issue everyone was really waiting to hear him speak on. Considering that the State of the Union address is hardly the proper place for declassifying information, the President did do a good job of providing a convincing “I really do know something I'm not saying yet” element to his discussion of Iraq.
I was pleased to see that the President's plan includes sending Secretary Powell to the United Nations on the fifth of February. While I have long been an opponent of the United Nations and its attempts at encroachment on national sovereignty, in this case it would seem that working with the UN security council, and hopefully convincing them to support us, will lend more credibility and strength to the United States' effort to depose the Iraqi regime.
All of this built up to the “big idea” of the evening as the President concluded that, based on the evidence, if Iraq is not an evil regime, then “evil has no meaning.” Indeed, the details, if they can be proven true, would show that Iraq has violated virtually every core point in the 1991 ceasefire agreements, as well as basic human rights laws that would most certainly put Saddam Hussein in line for a crimes against humanity trial.
The real question though, was left up the air. I think virtually no one doubted that the current administration is determined to get the regime change that it desires, however, the question of when was not addressed. Considering Powell's scheduled meeting with the UN Security Council next week, we know there is at least a week, but after that, things become significantly harder to figure out.
In summary, as usual, the State of the Union address was interesting; although not necessarily informative on the issues we all really wanted to know about. At least it did give the pundits something to talk about.
Tim Butler is the guy that writes this journal. He also writes on the computer industry at Open for Business.
Now there are several major problems with a holiday like this one, all of which serve to make it a very intolerant day. First, it purposely excludes those who aren't thankful. It's enough to make the complainers in society develop a persecution complex. Is it fair that we can exclude the sincerely ungrateful from this day?
It gets worse when you consider the clear lobbyist influence in the holiday. Thanksgiving isn't named “Turkey Day” just for grins. Clearly, there was a payoff from those peculiar poultry producers that forced the heaping of even more intolerance onto that late November day.
There is no doubt that hog and cattle farmers are willfully and unfairly excluded from this “holiday.” Who ever heard of carving the Thanksgiving Roast Beef? I assure you that anyone trying to promote such as concept would not be successful.
If this hasn't demonstrated the problems of Thanksgiving, I cannot image what would. However, before you lose hope, let me say that I have a suggestion on how to repair this truly horrible mess. This is my official proposal to rename the fourth Thursday of November the “National Day of Thankful or Unthankfulness” with the new nickname of “Any Meat or Poultry Product Day.”
Sadly, Thanksgiving is not the only politically incorrect day of the year. Clearly we have a problem with Independence Day too. This day is loaded to the brim with exclusionistic practices. It starts off with the nickname “Forth of July,” which completely ignores those folks who prefer to celebrate on a different day, say July third or maybe January thirtieth.
It gets worse too. This is a day that blatantly ignores the fact that other countries did not obtain independence on July fourth - perhaps they never have at all. How is a Tibetan citizen going to feel if they were here on Independence Day? I think they'd feel excluded.
Furthermore, how can we forget the British? I can hardly imagine that they can think anything other than depressing thoughts on the day we celebrate attacking them. I doubt the Canadians feel much better either, after all, our Revolution could be interpreted as us saying we didn't like being part of the same empire as them - a thought that surely causes every Canadian on the border to dread the sounds and festivities they hear from their southern neighbor. The only way we can resolve these problems is to rearrange the entire day.
To wrest away this cold hand of intolerance, I propose that before the celebratory fireworks, the nation have an hour of mourning. The first part will be so that those in occupied countries can join with us, then the second part of the hour can be for mourning the British defeat in the Revolutionary War. Also, rather than flying an American flag, each house will be assigned a flag from another country that has declared independence at some point. We surely don't want to infer our independence is any better than anyone else's, and this new flag protocol will insure this never happens.
Finally, to insure that no families with pyrophobia are forced into their houses, fireworks should be prohibited. One fireworks display can be filmed from the middle of the ocean, allowing people to watch them on TV. This will allow them to enjoy the display of fireworks without offending anyone. To insure that people who don't like certain colors aren't bothered when watching the display, only the natural color of the sparks will be allowed.
With plans like those I have presented, I hope you can see how much better things can be. I trust with measures like these, everyone will soon enjoy improved holidays. Although, we must be careful not to exclude those who dislike holidays, so my plan may require a bit more improvement. After all, we wouldn't want to exclude anyone.
When not wasting time in his blog, Tim Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Originally published December 12, 2002. © 2002 Timothy R. Butler