Friday, January 21, 2005

Bush's Second Inaugural Address


I liked Bush's second inaugural address, which argued for the cause of freedom around the world, very much. I also liked his first inaugural address, which sounded very moderate, spoke of justice, tolerance, and aid to the poor, and pledged to work together with everyone. However, I also remember that his performance in is first term reflected very little of his pretty words.

My view about Bush's second inaugural is quite similar. Who could be against promoting the cause of liberty around the world? There were phrases in this speech that could have come from Woodrow Wilson or, for that matter, Jimmy Carter. The real questions are (1) whether Bush means what he says, and (2) whether he has the competence to carry out his promises.

After all, we are currently in a very difficult war in Iraq because Bush insisted that he knew what he was doing in responding to a threat from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, weapons that turned out not to have been there. As it became increasingly clear that the weapons were nowhere to be found the President shifted gears and informed us that all along his primary and real goal had been to bring democracy to Iraq and hence to the Middle East.

But let us assume that the President is completely sincere, and that the experience of 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown him the light, so that he truly does understand that the promotion of freedom around the world is and should be his primary goal. Good for him. Still, if I were to trust anyone to carry out this goal, I would not choose George W. Bush based on his first term performance, a performance that has sufficiently stretched our economic and military capacities that we are practically unsuited to make realistic threats of force anywhere else in the world that would make our diplomacy effective. The problem is that because of Iraq, all we can do is talk big, but do little. Very much, I fear, like Bush's second inaugural itself.


Regarding stretching "our economic and military capacities" as a result of the Iraqi quagmire, we should consider Bush's National Security Strategy (2002) that takes the position that the U.S. is the #1 world power both militarily and economically and that the U.S. will do whatever it takes to maintain this position. Add to this quagmire the steps being taken for EU unification, China's expanding economy, nuclear proliferation, energy concerns, etc, and Bush's National Security Strategy seems to have some weak links. While there may be no current military challenge, economic challenges are on the horizon. (Can military alliances be far behind?) And the more the U.S. exerts its military position, its economic position lessens. Does this suggest that the #1 military position will be used to maintain the #1 economic position?

Next, let's suppose that every nation-state became democratic down the road. Would that result in a utopia? Or are there differences in democracies that would continue to present problems similar to those we have presently? Bush is not being Woodrow Wilsonian but more (with due apologies to a great comedian) Flip Wilsonian. Or is this a sequel to the Blues Brothers movie with Bush on a mission from God to democratize (and perhaps Christianize) the world?

Put me down as not liking both his first and last inaugural addresses.

The thrust of the criticism of Bush's speech is two-fold. First, his idealism is at odds with the political realities. Second, his token idealism is a mask for reactionary imperialism. In response I say this: Bush cannot be an actual idealist and a reactionary imperialist simultaneously. At least one of the views is wrong; possibly both. If one thinks Bush is an actual idealist, one should note that he has a State of the Union upcoming. This inaugural speech might be like a lofty preamble to a constitution. The Declaration of Independence is idealistic and ignorant of the political realities of slavery when it notes that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. Then again, it's just a declaration. If one thinks Bush is a reactionary imperialist, one should note the number of elections he has recently urged for and lent American legitimacy to: Afghanistan, Palestine, Ukraine, and Iraq. I do not think a reactionary imperialist would have trumpeted that 40% of the over 9 million voters in Afghanistan were female. Merely mentioning the percentage gives credence to the notion that women's participation is necessary for legitimate democracy, which is neither a reactionary nor imperialist attitude.

Nice piece. Did you see the recent op-ed in the New York Times, "The Speech Misheard Round the World"
(January 22, 2005) by Orlando Patterson? Among other things, it noted:

'In the 20th century two versions of freedom emerged in America. The modern liberal version emphasizes civil liberties, political participation and social justice. It is the version formally extolled by the federal government, debated by philosophers and taught in schools; it still informs the American judicial system. And it is the version most treasured by foreigners who struggle for freedom in their own countries.

'But most ordinary Americans view freedom in quite different terms. In their minds, freedom has been radically privatized. Its most striking feature is what is left out: politics, civic participation and the celebration of traditional rights, for instance. Freedom is largely a personal matter having to do with relations with others and success in the world.'

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.

Every year my son Dylan and I have been building our Halloween animatronic display. This year we added 12 new figures and my wife had been making the clothes etc. but then I clued in that Halloween Costumes were the ideal solution - ya, ok I'm slow but...This year is really cool because we've done an HP Lovecraft display that I'm sure he'd appreciate but I'm not so sure he'd approve of this - The Necronomicon - Is it just me or is that just plain goofy ? Anyway, everybody is doing their own Haunted House thing now but hey - it's fun and if you've got kids I really suggest you try it yourself if you haven't already. It's a nice change from the usual Christmas Lights routine and a lot of scaaarrry fun. Happy Halloween everybody.

First Drunk Driving Conviction
The first time you are arrested in the State of Texas for drunk driving you will receive a fine up to $2,000. You will also be confined to jail for no less than 72 hours and no more than 180 days. Your drivers license will be suspended for no less than 90 days and no more than 1 year. You may also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle at your own expense.

Second Drunk Driving Conviction
The second time you are arrested and convicted of a
DWI in Texas you will be fined up to $4,000. You will also serve a minimum of 30 days in jail up to 1 year. Your drivers license will be suspended for a minimum of 6 months or up to 2 years. You may also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle at your own expense.

Third Drunk Driving Conviction
The 3rd conviction for a DWI in Texas is considered a 3rd degree felony. You will be fined up to $10,000 and serve no less than 2 years or up to 10 years in the penitentiary. Your drivers license will also be suspended up to 2 years. You may also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle at your own expense.
The State of Texas prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle by drivers with a .08 percent or above blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The .08 limit is used across the United States as the benchmark for the "impaired" driver. Texas has lower limits in place for commercial drivers (.04) and for drivers under the age of 21 (.02). The Texas DWI law also makes it illegal to drive while under the influence of controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, inhalants and other intoxicants


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