Some in this Chamber are new to the House and Senate — and I congratulate the Democratic majority. Congress has changed, but our responsibilities have not, only now we might be held responsible, which kinda stinks. Each of us is guided by our own convictions, or will be convicted, or something like that — and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we are all held to the same standards, at least once we get caught, and are called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this Nation’s prosperity to those who already prosper… to spend the people’s money wisely, which means to hand it over to those who already have it … to solve problems, unless they're difficult, like health care or New Orleans, or how to stop getting our kids killed in an immoral war; not leave them to future generations, like when I said that getting out of Iraq would be the next President's problem, and when I excluded the Iraq war spending from the budget, so the bill can be handed to the children of the future; … to guard America against all evil, unless that evil is the wholesale destruction of the constitutional rights and freedoms that made America great, and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us, but not to bother taking care of them when they're injured, or to not pretend that an offensive war against innocent civilians is defense.
We are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air, but we are certainly the most divisive. Like many before us, we can work through our differences and achieve big things for the American people, but we'd prefer the other side just roll over, because the other stuff would be hard. Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on — as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. Heh. Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, as long as "fellow Americans" is defined as my personal friends, family, and campaign contributors, and help them to build a future of hope and opportunity — and this is the business before us tonight.
A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy — and that is what we have: growing unemployment, growing debt, growing bankruptcy, growing health care costs, growing gas prices, and more. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth — in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs … so far below the number needed to meet the increase in population that it's scary. Unemployment is low, because we don't count the people who no longer qualify for unemployment. Inflation is low, because we leave out a bunch of the increased costs when we figure out the inflation numbers, and wages are rising for CEOs. This economy is on the move, to China, India, Indonesia and other countries — and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise.
Next week, I will deliver a full report on the state of our economy, at a time when you're not watching and when the news media won't report on it. Tonight, I want to discuss three economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.
First, we must balance the Federal budget, though remember by "we," I mean "you." We can do so without raising taxes, but since that will destroy the economy, I'll let you do it, and then blame you for raising taxes, even though I, and my wild-spending Republican cronies created those mountains of debt. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 — and met that goal 3 years ahead of schedule, because we have hidden the ridiculous waste from my pet war "off budget," otherwise we'd be about 100 years behind. Now let us take the next step off the cliff. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the Federal deficit within the next 5 years. I ask you to make the same commitment to destroying the economy. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the Federal Government, and balance the Federal budget, unless you count me and my tax give-aways to friends as well as that war thingy in the Middle East, as part of the Federal Government. Otherwise, all bets are off.
Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour, like that Republican bridge to nowhere in Alaska, and purchasing all these weapons and planes and things that no one wants — when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate — they are dropped into Committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law - it's the Republican way. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process … expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress … and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session - not because all earmarks are bad, but because only Republicans should be allowed to make their campaign contributors, uh, I mean constituents, yeah, that's it, happy on the tax-payer's dime.
Finally, to keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience — and so it is our duty to keep them permanently sound. Yet we are failing in that
duty, because we've been raiding Social Security to hide the deficit, and the Republicans handed all your Medicaid money to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries last year — and this failure will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge and immediate cuts in benefits. Well, really, the deficit's already there. You don't have to thank me, just be sure to mark the bill "Love George" when it arrives. Everyone in this Chamber knows this to be true, because you've seen me and my crew working hard to make it true for the last 6 years — yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act for the public good, it's probably that power-drunk greed thing.
So let us work together and do it now, we're already working on the talking points that will make it look like this mess is all the Democrats' fault. You might as well clean it up, since you're going to get the blame anyway. With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid — and save Social Security. What I'm trying to say is, basically, if you add all your good sense and good will together, it should just about be able to counter my stupidity and greed, and then you might be able to make a positive difference, but don't bet on it.
Spreading opportunity (Mmmm, don't you just love the smell of a fresh load of opportunity?) and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act — preserving local control of nothing, raising standards for filling in little circles on test sheets in public schools, and holding those schools accountable for results, by causing them to wipe out those programs that make for well-informed and thoughtful citizens, and replace them with test-taking strategy classes. And because we acted, students are performing better in filling in circles on reading and math tests, and minority students are closing the achievement gap, because the quality of education in the rest of our schools is slipping to meet the lower quality of the underfunded schools in segregated inner-city neighborhoods.
Now the task is to build on this successful destruction, without watering down standards in a way that the public will recognize… without taking control from local communities any more than the complete wresting of control we've already managed … and without backsliding toward quality and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools, removing the last vestiges of vital sports, art, music, and other extra-curricular activities … and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose something better, and since it's only the rich who will be able to afford that right, why not pay them to do what they already planned to do anyway? We must increase funds for students who struggle — and make sure these children get the special help they need, then again, we might not. And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future - low wage, non-union service jobs- and our country is more competitive with third world nations, by strengthening math and science skills, so our children will be able to measure how badly they've been screwed. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for the dumbing down of America’s children — and I ask Congress to reauthorize this not even remotely good law.
A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care, but we don't want a future of hope and opportunity. When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. We will meet those responsibilities for those who have the strength to fight tooth and nail for the care they deserve. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs, at least if you're a private health insurance company - especially if you're the CEO of one of those companies. But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy, or can't get the insurance companies to honor the policies they do pay for.
Tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income - adding up to a savings of like, one month's insurance premium. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills.
At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, my proposal would mean a substantial tax savings — $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach, so they can just touch it with their fingertips, but not really grab hold. It'll be like a giant game of "keep away," but with people's health instead of a toy. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans, but I wouldn't want it changed in a way that just gives people health care without making them struggle and suffer first.
My second proposal is to help the States that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the uninsured. States that make basic private health insurance available to all their citizens should receive Federal funds to help them provide this coverage to the poor and the sick, but not to actually provide care. I have asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with Congress to take existing Federal funds and use them to create “Affordable Choices” grants. These grants would give our Nation’s Governors more money and more flexibility to get private health insurance to those most in need. Those states that actually try to provide care without inserting an expensive, private, for-profit, business between the patient and doctor, however, could not take advantage of these funds.
There are many other ways that Congress can help, and I'll be sure to put up as many roadblocks as possible. We need to expand Health Savings Accounts, which won't cover even minor surgeries … help small businesses through Association Health Plans with ridiculous rules that make it pointless for the small businesses to participate … reduce costs and medical errors with better information technology, like embedding id tags in every American citizen … encourage price transparency for providers, but not for the insurance company markups … and protect good doctors from junk lawsuits by passing medical liability reform, even though the courts already have the power to throw out junk lawsuits, so we'd really only be helping insurance companies avoid expensive malpractice suits against bad doctors. And in all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors, but the best profits are made by insurance companies, and profits come first.
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. It won't really solve the problem of companies using poorly-paid illegal immigrants so they can make bigger profits than if they paid fair wages to American citizens, but we get to pretend we're doing something, while increasing the profits of major campaign contributors.
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 already have one, but it's not creating large enough profits, so we should establish an even more profitable legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. Plus it'll help us with the Cuban vote in Florida. As a result, they won’t have to try to sneak in — and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers, except for the rich kids whose families have property in drug-source countries, like Paraguay and Columbia; and small-time criminals who are not helping Republicans with corrupt campaign financing schemes, and terrorists, except the white guys who kill doctors or send Anthrax laced mail to Democrats, we like those terrorists. We will enforce our immigration laws at the work site, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers — so there is no excuse left for violating the law. We generally won't enforce the law, except on occasion, when we need some good PR. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals, while ignoring the part about welcoming the tired, the hungry, and those yearning to be free. And did you notice how I added "assimilates" - that's because I always loved those Borg guys in Star Trek - where everyone's an unthinking drone, and and everyone does exactly as they’re told, roaming around the universe, killing everyone who refuses to become just like them… That would be so awesome, as long as I'm the dictator. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country — without animosity and without amnesty. Maybe we could give them all gift certificates, or even better, we could stick them in concentration camps, like the parents and children currently enjoying the lovely, state-of-the-art prison cells at the T.Don Hutto "residential center," in Taylor Texas. Some of them are even US citizens or legal aliens, many are minor children, born in the US, and thus US citizens according to the Constitution, but hey, it's not our fault they picked wrong parents! And stop calling it a concentration camp, just because it's where we're interning people of an inconvenient race at a time of war.
Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration, and we don't even give them trials or the right to an attorney. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate — so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law with my fingers crossed behind my back, and then I can write a signing statement thingy that says what I wanted the law to say, and then I can just pretend that is the law, and everyone goes home a winner! Except the immigrants, they all lose.
Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our Nation has been dependent on foreign oil, and everything I've done in office has ensured that would remain the case. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments … raise the price of oil … and do great harm to our economy. But with the incredible profits my friends are making, why complain?
It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply — and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power — by even greater use of clean coal technology, which isn't really clean, but I love saying that … solar and wind energy, which we won't fund in any meaningful way … and clean, safe nuclear power, just like the kind in sci-fi movies, like Back to the Future and Back to the Future II, where you can put banana peels in your car. We need to press on, just as slowly, with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol, which isn't nearly as efficient a fuel as just about anything else, but Arthur Daniels Midland is one of the BEST campaign contributors and they want us to pay them for their hard work — using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.
We have made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies in Washington, even though I've tried my best to prevent them, and the strong response of the market to short-term excessive profits for agribusiness at the expense of small farms and long-term sustainability. Now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years — thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of 3/4 of all the oil we now import from the Middle East. But not if it means asking US manufacturers to improve the gas mileage of cars, because that would cut into their ever-shrinking profits, even though those profits are shrinking because the competition (even China) is making much more efficient cars.
To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 — this is nearly 5 times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks — and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017. For example, we can make a new kind of class for cars that is exempt from fuel economy standards, while making the rest of the cars meet those standards, then let the market decide whether they want an underpowered put-put mobile or a sleek gas-guzzler. And then we can blame the consumer when the consumption goals aren't met.
Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will not eliminate it, which is good, because that's where all my money comes from. So as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must also step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. I mean places. And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that we totally drained because it made it look like gas prices weren't rising as fast as they really were, so people would keep buying high-profit SUVs instead of sane cars with lower profit margins.
America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment — and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change. I'll do my best, in my remaining time in office to block any meaningful steps to address this challenge.
A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. That's why my administration has done its best to pack the courts at every level with right-wing extremists. It's also why we snuck language into a huge bill that no one read, which allows me to appoint extremist prosecutors to the Justice Department without any review or approval by Congress, then we started firing prosecutors who disagreed with the extremists, and used the new law to replace them with even more extremists! The lives of citizens across our Nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our Federal courts, and we want them all to be affected in my favor. And we have a shared obligation to ensure that the Federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings, but only if those rulings are the rulings I want. As President, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the Federal bench, but I think that's silly, so I nominate only people who agree with me. And the United States Senate has a duty as well — to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. OK, the up-or-down vote isn't really a duty, but I want them to do it, because it annoys me when people don't agree with me, and I hate having an annoying Senate. The Senate's job may be to determine whether a candidate is appropriate for the position, but I want them to approve the inappropriate ones, too.
For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. OK, that's not really what the Constitution says, it says that the highest responsibility is to preserve and protect the Constitution. But five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that terrorists can cause, and in that time we've created more than a thousand times as much sorrow in a country that posed no threat to us, and had nothing to do with the terrorists. We have had time to take stock of our situation, seen that I dug a really big hole for us all, and I've decided I should keep digging, because to do otherwise would be to admit what you already know - that I screwed up in the biggest possible way. We have added many critical protections to guard the homeland, like making you put your toothpaste in a ziplock bag and take off your shoes in airports. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us — unless we stop them.
With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled — that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. Of course, I let the enemy get away, and he keeps sending these annoying videos from whatever cave he's living in. And I started an unnecessary war unrelated to the terrorists, and killed a whole lot of innocent people, and created a whole civil war, and made a bunch of our allies hate us, and made a bunch of our enemies join together against us, but that's not what I want you to think.
From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense, kind of the way you protect your own home by going to the neighbor's house and killing his whole family while he's at work. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free-flowing communications are long over for us, and they're just waiting until we're weak enough to be defenseless when they strike back. But since I've tapped your phones, hijacked your email, and started reading your letters, I have all the information I need to find you, so I can start rounding you up if you start saying bad things about me, or better yet, I can make stuff you've said, written, or received look incriminating, so other people won't come to your defense when I round you up. And as a bonus, I can make you fear your own right to free speech - I can make you watch what you say out of fear of being "detained" and maybe even "stressed." For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same. Really! They've been having a good laugh at our expense, since I've destroyed every freedom that they supposedly hate, destroyed the economy, and made our once-proud nation a pariah on the world stage.
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, though we do know how many more attacks there have been worldwide than before, including one in Europe that happened after we blew the cover on the operation that was in the process of tracking down a whole cell of terrorists. And of course, we don't even know if there would have been any attacks at all, except for those ones that were stopped by good old fashioned police work. But we like to act like having no attacks in 5 years is due to our special powers, even though there had been 10 years between attempts before that. 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, the one whose name I didn't know, and that wasn't really under any imminent threat. 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, but let that guy who actually had anthrax and actually used it to attack US Senators run free. 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. And every single one of those successes happened without information gathered by our illegal spying on you. Plus, they would still have happened even if we hadn't removed a single one of the rights we've removed from you in the last 5 years.
Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world, because Osamabin Laden is still free - my bad. And so long as that is the case, America is still a Nation at war. So it's best to get me out of office quickly, so someone competent can go get bin Laden and stop spending your children's future on an unnecessary war.
In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before September 11, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past 5 years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology, kind of like the right wing extremists who support me. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats - like "you're either with us, or with the terrorists" …. instruct with bullets and bombs - like "shock and awe" … and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.
Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty, or at least to stop us from continuing the wanton slaughter of their people. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology, the very ideology they chose in the elections we like to keep bringing up. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” He may be dead, but he means it! And Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.” Please ignore the fact that Osama bin Laden is still free to make such declarations 5 years after he masterminded 9/11, because we made an immensely stupid and unnecessary detour into Iraq instead of sticking on his trail.
These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. It's just like the dominionist Christian movement in the US, but they call God "Allah," pray more often, and dress funny. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. The Shia majority in Iraq oddly decided that freedom from the tyranny of the secular Sadam Hussein should mean they can start, you know, having power in their own country. The problem with that is that the Iranians are majority Shia, too, and the Saudis are majority Sunni, and the Saudis - who are our friends - are kinda mad that we made it so that there are two countries right next to each other with empowered Shia populations. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah — a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken, though of course both groups combined come nowhere near the number of lives Americans have taken in their countries, but let's not quibble. I'll make it simple: it's bad if they kill us, but good if we kill them, regardless of the reason.
The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat, even though they utterly hate each other and are about as likely to band together as the US and Cuba. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes. Whereas when we slaughter the innocent, it's for oil. They want to kill Americans … kill democracy in the Middle East … and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale. Or maybe they just want to control their own oil and are sick of "civilized" nations bombing and shooting them "for their own good."
In the 6th year since our Nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not, because I'm completely incompetent. And so it remains the policy of this Government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people. And when we can get away with it, we'll use unlawful ones, too (unlawful is a weasel word for "illegal"), and we might go a little light on the whole diplomacy thing, because it's annoying when people don't agree with me.
This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle between the right-wing ideology of a US empire seeking control of all the world and those who don't want us to take over their countries. The security of our Nation is in the balance, and I'm about to drop a huge rock on the other end of the see-saw by barging into Iran when we can't even control Iraq. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred - like me and my merry band of ideologues - and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and come to kill us, which we could have stopped if I'd interrupted that very important vacation.
What every terrorist fears most is human freedom, or oppression I know it's one of those. Societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments are not the kind of societies I like. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance, which is why we're doing so much to take away your freedoms and your choices. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers, and brave voices for democracy in other countries, as long as those countries are our allies, otherwise, forget it, we want puppets. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security … we must, but for the sake of profits, we won't.
In the last 2 years, we have seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East, and quashed it — and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction when we bombed the crap out of them and they didn't like it. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution … drove out the Syrian occupiers … and chose new leaders in free elections, with a little "encouragement" from Israel in the form of fighter planes, bombs, and missiles. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature, which has no power and rules an ever-decreasing area, while the Taliban makes a resurgence and while we remove our marginal stabilizing force to reassign them to the Iraq meat grinder. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections — choosing a transitional government … adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world … and then electing a government under that constitution. But we didn't like the result of allowing all those Shias to vote for Shias, so we're still there. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity we should never forget, and will never support, because they voted for the wrong guys.
A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. Our example of refusing to allow the duly elected government in Iraq to have sovereignty was such an inspiration, that Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces, and have largely succeeded in taking over much of the country. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The rest of the death squads are formed by the US trained Iraqi security forces. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.
This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, it's the one we started. It is the fight we are in up to our necks. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won, or even that it had never started. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk, unless our war profiteers had already made all the war profits they wanted. 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, and remove me from office.
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 - the same one that was accomplished years ago, so they can come home now. 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, though your mileage may vary.
In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital, which they cannot do with us there. 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, just like in Vietnam, when we called the troops "advisers," except back then, we called a "surge" an "escalation," so this time it's completely different. With Iraqis in the lead, acting as human shields, which is almost as good as body armor, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down terrorists, insurgents, and roaming death squads. Sounds good, doesn't it? Just kidding! 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 wipe 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. Luckily there's no free Iraq, and al Qaeda's safe haven is in Pakistan.
The people of Iraq want to live in peace, which is why they keep shooting at the guys who keep shootng and bombing them - our troops. And now is the time for their government to act exactly the way we tell them to. 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 torturing and maiming wantonly, so these troops can achieve the mission they already accomplished, of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad, or death, either works.
Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation — to share nonexistent oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens … to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, that is, if there were any wealth after 10 years of embargoes followed by 5 years of total devastation … to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life as long as they're not Shia … to hold local elections, again and again, until they come out with the answer we're looking for … and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured - isn't it amazing, 5 years, more than 100,000 troops, untold billions of dollars, several hundred thousand dead civilians, millions of refugees, and thousands of dead and wounded Americans, and we haven't even secured the one city in which our headquarters is located. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments. [Smirk]
My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options, but I had my thumb on the scale. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success in my addled brain. None of the commanders agree, but I'm the big cheese, so I win. Many in this Chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, but the smart ones know we failed before we even went there. Because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching, you are deeply angry that I have stranded our nation on the edge of this cliff.
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure or without significant and serious regional diplomacy, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. Since we cannot secure Baghdad by force, and I refuse to even admit that diplomacy is a viable options, the Iraqi government will be overrun by extremists. 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, and the Saudis, who I won't name, even though they are the primary funding source for al Qaeda. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. You could call it a "domino effect," just like in that other not war conflict, in Southeast Asia, back when I was AWOL from my cushy post in the National Guard.
For America, this is a nightmare scenario, which is why I repeat it. If I sow fear, then I can manipulate that fear to get you to do what I want. For the both me and the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is our greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia where they are already, and increasingly Afghanistan … new recruits, like the ones that are joining each day we kill innocents … new resources, like money from the Saudis, … and an even greater determination to harm America, because we've devastated their countries, killed their families, and brewed within them a terrible hatred and desire for retribution. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11 and invite tragedy, so please, stop me NOW. 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. Have you considered impeachment?
This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you have made, unless you disagree with me, then, as the Vice President has so eloquently stated, you can go expletive yourself. We went into this largely united — in our assumptions, and in our convictions, except for the millions worldwide who protested from before we even went in. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure, though, if you voted for me, you clearly have voted for a failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, if by "new" you mean "more of the same" — and I ask you to give it a chance to work, because that'll give me time to finish my term, collect my pension, and head down to my new digs in Paraguay before the expletive hits the fan. And I ask you to support our troops in the field — and those on their way - you know, the ones I illegally sent without Congressional approval, using funds that had been appropriated for another purpose, before I bothered mentioning it to you, the American people, otherwise known as The Boss.
The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others, because I made it into one. That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. And this is why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties, but only the ones who agree with me. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us, then I will ignore the ones that don't match what I already had planned. And we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory, even if the goal has no goal posts and we aren't even on the right field.
One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military — so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next 5 years. I'm not going to call it a draft, just an authorization, sort of like the authorization to use force that was supposed to be just a big stick to hang onto during the negotiations with Iraq, but that actually turned into an unjustified war.
A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them, like the National Guard is doing now, because the Guard is having a heck of a time with recruitment these days. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time, in a foreign country, with people trying to kill them, but it won't be anything like the Guard, because there's no uniform. It'll be more like contractors, but without the paychecks, and we might even be able to avoid Veteran's benefits, since they'll be civilians. We could even call it something catchier, to help the recruiting effort, perhaps something like the Free Corps, or for those into history, the Freikorps.
Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle — because we are not in this struggle alone, well, not entirely alone. There are countries who we’ve blackmailed into staying on, and there's always Tony, we can't forget Prime Minister Blair, who's got a cushy job lined up with Dad's company as soon as England has finished kicking him out of office. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism, especially our extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations — and we are working with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq’s government, or at least to decrease support for the Shia majority. The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons, in the ten or so years it would have taken them to do so if they tried really, really hard and stopped complying with the IAEA rules. With the other members of the Quartet — the U.N., the European Union, and Russia - don't forget Poland! Oh, never mind, forget Poland. — we are pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land. Once diplomacy has been apprehended and properly renditioned to an out of the way rent-a-gulag, we will start pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive, since we don't have any intention of doing so — the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area, courtesy of our incompetence.
Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we are pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. Well, ignore that part about "together." They're together, we’re just kind of hanging out on the sidelines heckling. And we will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma — and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur, though we won't take action, because that could prevent genocide.
American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger, poverty, and disease — and ignoring those please is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa, but not effectively, because those people aren't white — and because you funded our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in 3 short years, though it could have grown a thousand times faster if we actually cared. Of course, if we hadn't banned the most effective family planning funding due to insane right-wing ideology, there wouldn't be so many people infected with AIDS, but who's counting? I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, but not too much. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over 5 years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries, but not to combat the global climate change that is increasing the malaria risk. I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. I ask you to let the poor in all other nations die, because we don't like their governments. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty, while continuing to prevent regulation of corporations to ensure living wages, eliminate pollution, end child labor and sweat shops, and to improve workplace safety, which could alleviate suffering and poverty worldwide.
When America serves others in this way, we show that the strength and generosity of our country are hypocritical at best. These deeds reflect the character of our people, or at least of our elected officials and corporate leaders. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice of the American people, it is a strength we will continue to reserve for another day. You see this spirit often if you know where to look — and tonight we need only look above to the gallery.
Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine — but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth — or the duty to share his blessings with others. He has built a brand new hospital in his hometown. A friend has said of this good-hearted man: “Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things.” And we are proud to call this son of the Congo our fellow American, because he's rich.
After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children’s videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born — and in just 5 years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others — producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: “I believe it’s the most important thing that I’ve ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe.” We are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur — Julie Aigner-Clark, another rich person.
Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks … pulled the man into a space between the rails … and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he’s not a hero. Wesley says: “We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We got to show each other some love.” There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey. If only the guys and girls overseas had been used for our defense, instead of misused for an offense against the wrong people. Mr. Autrey isn't rich, but he says what I want to hear about my war, so I like him.
Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire — and used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs — yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy’s position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and gratitude of our whole country. Too bad about the lack of protective armor, and the offensive fight in the wrong country, but thanks for letting me use you as my human pawn, Tommy!
In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America — and these qualities are not in short supply, so I don't mind exploiting them. This is a decent and honorable country — and resilient, too. We have been through a lot together, and the country will eventually recover from the damage I have inflicted. We have met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence — because the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right-wing … and tonight that cause goes on, unless you stop me.