Sunday, 17 February 2008

THE DEMOCRATIC FAINTING STRATEGY

Ken Berwitz

In the last couple of days I have blogged about the regularity with which highly visible people at Barack Obama speeches have fainted - presumably due to ecstacy over the sound of his voice and his message of change (change what?  Who knows.  Change, just change).

Well, no one can say the Clinton machine would ever pass up a good thing. 

Here, from the redoubtable www.sweetness-light.com, is the Hillary version of "spontaneous" faintings during her speeches (if you have any problem viewing the videos, just click here):

Hillary And Bills Fans Swoon, Too - Dammit

February 16th, 2008

You have probably heard by now that fainting is now considered de rigueur for the young female attendees at Mr. Obamas revival meetings performances campaign rallies:

Not to be undone, Mrs. Clinton has decided that she too should have fainting fans:

And, needless to say, Mr. Clinton himself has to get in on the act:

Of course all of this would be a lot more funny if the fate of the republic were not at stake.

When the late columnist, Harriet Van Horne, smelled BS, she used the sarcasm, "as sincere as a Christmas card from a bank".

If Ms. Horne were alive today, she would be using that line early and often for the Obama and Clinton campaigns. 


THE DEMOCRATIC PREJUDICE PROBLEM

Ken Berwitz

Albeit for different reasons, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have prejudice problems.  Big ones.  And they are not in any way restricted to members of the opposition party.

Here are the latest data from www.rasmussenreports.com which details what they are up against as a woman and a Black man:

71% Willing to Vote for Woman President, 73% for African-American

Results are similar when asked about voting for an African-American73% are willing to cast such a vote, 14% are not, and 13% are not sure.

Seven percent (7%) of Democrats say they would not vote for a woman. Nine percent (9%) would not vote for an African-American.

Among political moderates, 12% say they would not vote for a woman. Fifteen percent (15%) would not vote for an African-American.

All of these numbers are undoubtedly influenced by the fact that a particular woman and a particular African-American are in the midst of an historic campaign that could land one of them in the White House next January (Rasmussen Markets data on Sunday morning shows that Barack Obama is given a 48% chance of being the next President. Expectations for Hillary Clinton are at 19%). In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, Obama has overwhelmingly won the support of African-American voters while Clinton has been strongly favored by women.

While the overwhelming majority of voters say they could vote for a woman or an African-American, just 56% believe their family, friends, and co-workers would be willing to do the same. Among senior citizens, just 41% believe their peers would be willing to vote for a woman. Forty percent (40%) believe their peers would be willing to vote for an African-American.

These results are broadly consistent with the findings of earlier surveys.

Let's get by the requisite (and 100% justified) lamentation that people are prejudiced in this way.  Let's go straight to the political implications.

If these data are correct, Hillary Clinton's gender is a major, almost insurmountable problem.  As is Barack Obama's race. 

Again assuming the data are correct, if 17% of the voters would not vote for Hillary Clinton as a woman, and even one third of the "maybe" segment (about 4%) eventually go that way, then she has to cobble together an electoral majority from less than 80% of the electorate.

Of course the possibility that more women will come out to vote for a Clinton candidacy has to be taken into account.  But I am not aware of any major upward bounce in recent senate or governor's races based on gender.  Maybe the presidency would be another story, but I don't have a basis to think so.  

And Barack Obama?  Using the same formula, he has only 82% of the electorate to work with.

Of course you can make the argument - a pretty good one, actually - that Obama will gain because Black turnout will rise if he is the candidate.  Black voters, more than females, have a history of coming out for their own.

On the other hand, what if the White vote rises concomitantly to prevent a Black President?  There are 6-7 times as many Whites as Blacks in the USA,.  The bottom line appears to be a substantial net loss for the Black candidate.

And then there is the Democratic prejudice problem.  Among Democrats specifically, 7% say they would not vote for a woman and 9% say they would not vote for a Black.  If that were true, it means neither Clinton nor Obama have more than the remotest chance to win in November.

Personally I hate to see this.  Who cares if a candidate is female or Black?  Qualifications, personal capability and positions on the issues should be the criteria for electing a President, and I'm saddened beyond words that so many people feel differently. 

But this is reality.  Things are as they are.  And, if anything, I suspect the percentages are even higher than in this research.

It is an ugly way for John McCain to own such a strong advantage.  But, fair or unfair, he does.  And for that reason it is hard not to favor him over either candidate in the upcoming election.


NEAL BOORTZ DECIPHERS HILLARY'S PANIC ATTACK ON BUSINESS

Ken Berwitz

This piece by Neal Boortz is relatively long.  Sorry about that.

But I will immediately unapologize because it is so worthwhile to read, and so much fun to read, that you'll thank me for bringing it to your attention -- even if you don't agree with every word (which would describe me).

Besides, I'm not going to say a word about it afterwards, it speaks for itself.  So that shortens things at the other end. 

With great thanks to Mr. Boortz, here is what I'm talking about:

 

HILLARY AGAINST THE BUSINESSES


You'll be happy to know that Hillary Rodham is still vowing to go after the greedy corporate interests in industries such as oil, credit card, insurance, pharmaceutical, investment, and loan firms.

Hillary knows the research. She fully understands that her supporters are among the most ignorant and undereducated in our country. So ... when she's in trouble, why not pander to her core support? The American Dumb Mass Coalition!

Here's how she plans to rein in each and every one of these industries? Are you ready to enter the mind of a socialist? Just for grins, I'll channel Hillary at the end of every item so you can see what she is really thinking.

"We'll take on the oil companies and harness their record profits to create millions of clean energy jobs high-wage jobs you can raise a family on. I'll end their special tax breaks and give them a choice: invest some of your profits in alternative energy, or we'll do it for you. People have been paying through the roof at the pump, and it's time the companies paid their fair share."

Yeah ... the morons will buy that one. They wouldn't know a profit from a profit margin if their lives depended on it. They're upset with the price of gas, so the oil companies are easy to demonize. Besides ... everyone knows it's the job of the government to tell businesses what to do with their profits. I'm sure the teachers, policemen and firemen's retirement funds won't miss the money.

"We'll take on the credit card companies so that you and your families aren't drowning in debt. Here in Ohio, payday lenders are actually taking Social Security checks from our elderly. That's outrageous. I've proposed real consumer protections against abusive interest rates capping them at no more than 30 percent and working to get them far lower. And I'll ban those hidden fees and sudden rate hikes, because credit card companies shouldn't be able to bait and switch you and your family."

Well blame this on the credit card companies. These idiots will buy that one too. It was the evil credit card companies that forced these people to go out there and spend and spend and charge and charge for lifestyle. After all, the people who pay off their cards every month aren't likely to vote for me anyway. As for those payday lenders ... they simply cannot be allowed to create a product to meet a demand. What do they think this is, a country based on economic liberty? I'll demonize the pants off those jerks. Votes votes votes!

"We'll take on the insurance companies and tell them they can no longer discriminate against the sickest people who need care the most. They spend more than $50 billion a year trying to figure out how not to cover people. Well, I'm going to save them a fortune and a whole lot of time, because here's the new policy: No more discrimination period. So even if you have a pre-existing condition, you can get the health insurance you need no questions asked."

People hate insurance companies too. We'll make insurance companies pay off on the most absurd claims .. and we're going to allow people to smoke and eat their way into ill health and them we'll make an insurance company insure them. Yeah, I know. This will drive the cost of insurance through the roof ... but that's not a bad thing. It will just cause people to become louder in their demands for government health care.

"And I'll go after drug companies and insurance companies that are overcharging consumers and the government it's time to end their profiteering at our expense.

Yes, by God, no more profiteering! In Hillary's America evil corporations will only be allowed to make profits on things that people don't actually need. I'm a socialist! What did you expect! Somehow I need to figure out how to hide the fact that cosmetics companies make higher profits than drug companies ... thanks in no small part to me. We also have to stop these Wal-Marts and Krogers from setting up pharmacies and selling generic drugs at four bucks a pop. Not good for my plans for big government.

"We'll take on Wall Street and tell them: you're going to finally pay your fair share in taxes. Because it's outrageous that a teacher making $50,000 pays a higher tax rate than some Wall Street investment managers making $50 million. And I'll create a bi-partisan Corporate Waste Commission to review all those corporate subsidies and propose a comprehensive way to end them. We can save billions of dollars a year and put it to work for you.

That's the Warren Buffet line .. and it works. Those talk show hosts are going to remind people that the reason investors pay a higher tax rate than teachers is because teachers are paying income taxes and investors are paying capital gains taxes. Two different taxes, two different rates. I'll be sure to not tell these idiot voters that investors pay the same rates as everyone else on their earned income. No sense confusing my voters with the facts.

"We'll take on the student loan companies and tell them no more ripping off our sons and daughters. I'm proposing a Student Borrower Bill of Rights - no more deceptive advertising and outrageous fees. And we'll end the inefficient subsidies for private student loan companies. Because we should be making it easier for our kids to go to college not harder."

Actually ... I'm not sure just how many more college educated people we need in this country. After all, the more educated someone becomes the less likely they are to believe my bullshit. And how dare these loan companies charge market rates for student loans anyway?

Hillary, my friends, is in panic mode. Lord knows what other wonderful promises she's going to come up with in the next days ... and what new attacks she's going to launch on the free markets.


THE DISGRACE THAT IS WILLIAM JEFFERSON (D-LA)

Ken Berwitz

William jefferson is doing it the right way. 

He is a Democrat, and therefore knows that if he engages in scandalous activity which should disqualify him from being anywhere near a position of power or trust in government, the thing to do is....just go on like nothing ever happened.

Jefferson, you may recall, is the Louisiana congressman recorded on tape taking a $100,000 bribe.  Then, when they raided his home, $90,000 of it was found wrapped up and stuffed in his freezer (maybe he used the other ten grand to buy the freezer).

Now if jeffferson were a Republican, there is no way on earth he would be able to continue as a congressperson, or sit on committees that oversaw anything.  The media would have hounded him out of office, and if they didn't succeed his own party would have done so. 

But there is a D instead of an R after Mr. jefferson's name.  So neither is happening.  And while a criminal investigation goes forth he merrily goes on his way, with full pay and full benefits, in the house of representatives.

Given all this, I thought you might be interested to see how Mr. jefferson is conducting his defense.  To say the least, it is very interesting. 

Here is a short recap, written by Bruce Alpert and Bill Walsh of the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

One defense Rep. William Jefferson has mounted to contest federal bribery charges against him might be undermining another defense he has raised. Jefferson contends he shouldn't be charged with public bribery because he never performed "official acts," such as voting or introducing legislation, to promote business ventures in Africa. He also has tried to get the bribery charges thrown out by saying the grand jury that indicted him in June heard details of his legislative activities in violation of the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause. But in a written ruling last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III pointed out the potential conflict between the two arguments. While noting that grand jurors heard about Jefferson's role in passing Africa trade legislation, he said it wasn't relevant because the government has not accused Jefferson of selling his vote or, what the congressman might call an "official act." Ellis has yet to render an opinion on Jefferson's interpretation of the bribery statute, but in last week's decision, he made his views on the "speech or debate" clause quite clear: "Put simply, the speech or debate clause is not a license to commit a crime." .

Got that?  jefferson is trying two different defenses, one of which debunks the other.  That certainly gives him an aura of integrity and credibility, doesn't it?

But my favorite is that the judge should throw out all charges because when the grand jury heard about him taking a bribe they did so in a way that breached the "speech and debate clause" - something I have never heard in my life as a defense by any politician of anything - at least until we were blessed with william jefferson.

I love the judge's answer:  "...the speech and debate clause is not a license to commit a crime".   In other words, if you mug an old lady and steal her purse, but the jury is told about it the wrong way, you still mugged the old lady and stole her purse.

Simply stated, william jefferson is a disgrace.  And a fraud.  And....a member in good standing of the house of representatives, fully accepted by his Democratic colleagues without a problem. 

Don't ever try that if your name is Bob Ney or Mark Foley.


DAMN THAT KARL ROVE! OH, WAIT.......

Ken Berwitz

I wonder how Barack Obama feels about the following story, which comes to us courtesy of the New York Post:

February 16, 2008 -- Barack Obama's primary-night results were strikingly under recorded in several congressional districts around the city - in some cases leaving him with zero votes when, in fact, he had pulled in hundreds, the Board of Elections said today

Unofficial primary results gave Obama no votes in nearly 80 districts, including Harlem's 94th and other historically black areas - but many of those initial tallies proved to be wildly off the mark, the Board of Elections confirmed.

Truth is, in some districts getting a recount, the senator from Illinois is even close to defeating Hillary Clinton.

Initial results in the 94th District, for example, showed a 141-0 sweep for the New York senator, but Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said today that the ongoing recount had changed the tally to 261-136.

As yet, none of the results has been certified, Vazquez said, adding that the Board of Elections had begun a painstaking ballot-by-ballot canvassing of all voting machines four days after the Feb. 5 election.

"We are doing a recanvass, and we will be counting all paper ballots, including absentee ones," Vazquez said.

"Some initial tallies had zeros, but it was most likely due to human error. Those were unofficial numbers, and no confirmed results have been released yet."

In a predominantly black Brooklyn district for which Clinton was given credit for a 118-0 victory on Primary Night, the Board of Elections' latest figures indicate that she may not even come out the winner - Obama currently has 116 votes to her 118.

So tell me;  who are Democrats going to blame this one on?

Remember back to 2000?  Remember that county in Florida where a lot of elderly Jews apparently voted for Pat Buchanan?  Remember how it was demanded that the votes should not count, because they were tricked and would never knowingly vote for Buchanan?

Remember, also, that the reason for these votes was that the paper ballot was not clearly constructed? 

Remember the nonstop, angry, personal and vicious attacks on anyone who dared to say this is how the votes were cast and you can't either perform some mystical, after the fact do-over to make them come out the way you want, or toss them out altogether? 

Remember how we were told that this was a plot by Republican state Attorney General Kathleen Harris. amd Republican Governor Jeb Bush, and......

 that Republican who devised the ballot (whoops, she was a Democrat) and those Republicans who let it go through on the election board (whoops, they were all Democrats) and those Republican judges in Florida who let it stand (whoops, they were all Democrats)?  

The only good guys were those wonderful folks on the Florida Supreme Court (almost all Democrats too) who were nice enough to understand that the rules really should be changed after the game is played.

But they were shot down by those unfair, unreasonable, fascist Republicans on the US Supreme Court (whoops, both Republicans and Democrats there).

Well, now it is 2008 and we find that about 80 districts in New York, including Harlem, cast no votes at all for a Black Democratic candidate.  

So far, we are being assured that it was just human error.  So Far.

But how soon before you are told this was a plot by Hillary Clinton's people to steal the election from Barack Obama?   That it was devious, fascistic, unfair, racist, etc. etc etc.? 

MAN, that Karl Rove has his hands into everything!


THE ELIOT SPITZER CRACK-POT TAX

Ken Berwitz

If what you are about to read makes any sense at all to you, you are probably a customer of one of the people New York Governor Eliot Spitzer wants to tax. 

Here is what I am talking about, courtesy of  the Washington Post:

New York 'Crack Tax' Proposal Is Derided
Many States Aid Enforcement With Levy on Illicit Drugs

By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2008; A05

NEW YORK -- If you can't beat it, tax it.

That seems to be the axiom in New York these days, where Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D), struggling to close a $4.4 billion budget gap, has proposed making drug dealers pay tax on their stashes of illegal drugs. The new tax would apply to cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and could be paid with pre-bought "tax stamps" affixed to the bags of dope.

Some critics in the legislature are asking what the governor has been smoking.

"I guess if it moves, he'll tax it," said Republican state Sen. Martin J. Golden, who dubbed the proposal "the crack tax." Some opponents said that because cocaine and weed would be subject to the new levies, it should more aptly be called "the crack-pot tax."

"How do I explain to my 16-year-old son that we're giving a certain legitimacy to marijuana, cocaine and heroin?" asked Golden, a former New York City police officer who represents a Brooklyn district. "We are taxing an illegal substance." He added, "Is prostitution next?"

On the other side of the aisle, some Democrats, too, were stunned by the plan. "My initial instinct is: I don't understand it," said Bill Perkins, a state senator from Harlem. "Most of the dealers I'm familiar with are petty crack dealers -- most of them are crackheads. They are broke, to say the least. I just don't understand how you impose a tax" on broke crackheads, he said.

Taxing illegal drugs is more widespread than is generally known. At least 21 states have some form of tax for illicit drugs, although some of those laws have been challenged in courts, and others have fallen into disuse. Almost all the remaining drug-tax laws are used mainly by local law enforcement agencies as a way to seize drug money and fund counter-narcotics operations.

The controversial idea grew out of the efforts to fight bootleggers such as Al Capone during Prohibition -- going after the bootleggers for unpaid taxes often required a lighter burden of proof than a criminal prosecution. Taxing illicit drugs gained popularity during the 1980s and early 1990s, when prosecutors and law enforcement authorities were pushing for mandatory sentences and other measures to signal a crackdown on drugs and drug use.

"It was a way of getting tougher on criminals," said Joseph D. Henchman, tax counsel for the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based educational group. "It kind of boggles my mind. If you want to get tougher on drug dealers, increase the penalties."

"It's just weird to put an excise tax on an illegal substance," Henchman said. "When you tax something, it's a way for the government to say you can have it, but we want a piece of it. . . . It's sending a mixed signal."

Last September, a state appeals court ruled a drug law in Tennessee unconstitutional, saying that an illegal substance could not be taxed. In Massachusetts, that state's supreme court in 1998 ruled a drug tax was an unconstitutional form of "double jeopardy," so it is not used, although it remains on the books, according to the revenue department in Boston.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, called the drug tax "a wacky idea. It's a quintessential example of the absurdity of the war on some drugs."

St. Pierre called it "bizarre, to say the least." Taxing drug dealers, and especially users, he said, "is like squeezing blood from a rock."

The Federation of Tax Administrators represents the tax collectors for the 50 states and the District, and Verenda Smith, the group's government affairs associate, called the drug tax an effective law enforcement tool. "The whole thing is about law enforcement," Smith said.

Most states with the law sell stamps that drug dealers can buy in advance, like what Spitzer is proposing. Because no drug dealers are known to buy the stamps and pay their tax in advance, the tax is usually levied after they are caught.

Some states have designed distinctive drug stamps, often depicting a marijuana leaf. Nebraska's drug stamp depicts a rolled joint crossed with a syringe in front of a skull and what appears to be a headstone, with the label "R.I.P."

"People do walk in and buy the stamps. We assume they are all stamp collectors," Smith said. "I believe only one person out of 50,000 has ever been a drug dealer." To avoid a court challenge, she said, the law has to allow anyone to buy the stamps without showing identification or alerting authorities that he or she is a drug dealer.

In many Southern states, such as North Carolina, the illicit substances tax is also applied to moonshine.

In New York, Spitzer proposed the drug tax in his 2008-09 budget as a way to deal with a projected shortfall, and in a memo said taxing drug dealers would raise $13 million in the coming fiscal year. The governor's office said the bill would contain strict secrecy requirements, so drug dealers who paid their taxes would not be incriminating themselves.

A tax stamp for a gram of marijuana would cost $3.50, and $200 for a gram of cocaine, "whether pure or diluted," according to the governor's proposal.

When Robert Megna, the New York tax commissioner, went to push the tax before a hearing at the state assembly, he was grilled by assembly member Jeffrion L. Aubry of Queens.

Aubry said he is concerned about figures compiled by a Queens College sociology professor, showing that between 1997 and 2006, about 360,000 New Yorkers were arrested for marijuana possession -- usually small amounts in a single joint, or nickel or dime bags -- and 85 percent of those arrested were black or Hispanic. Most of those received probation.

But Aubrey, in an interview, said he is concerned that adding a new tax would create more costs to the city by forcing police to impose a new charge: tax evasion.

"Our prison population has been declining," Aubry said. "This runs counter to that. . . . The poor, and minorities, are the ones who end up arrested, convicted and sentenced." Aubry vowed to fight what he called a "boneheaded" proposal.

Megna replied, "It's not our intent to burden certain portions of the population."

In the current anti-tax environment, politicians in states such as New York are reluctant to raise taxes more on average taxpayers, and prefer to cover budget shortfalls through what experts call "sin taxes," on products such as cigarettes and alcohol, or on activities such as visiting strip clubs. Texas, for example, recently introduced a levy on strip clubs known as "the pole tax."

New York, for its part, already taxes lap dances at strip clubs, but only if they are performed in the club's V.I.P. room, not on the couches in the main area of the club.

Strippers, like drug dealers, normally are not known to complain about more taxes. "I guess they didn't expect the drug dealers of New York to rise up and join the anti-tax movement," Aubry said..

I don't even know how to type this without shaking my head in disbelief. 

Eliot Spitzer, a man with an Ivy League education (maybe that's the problem right there), has used his superior intellect to devise a brilliant source of new taxes.  He is going to tell drug dealers - people who would be arrested if the authorities knew they were dealing - to pay tax on the illegal drugs, thereby advising said authorities that they a) are dealing and b) admit to it.

You're welcome for my providing you with practice on your double-take move.  Because I know you just did your best double-take.  How could you not?

Can't you just see them lining up at the tax office to buy their stamps?

Incidentally, the Post's effort to make this look at least mildly rational should not go unaddressed.  I am referring to the sub-head which says that many states are doing this already. 

What you have to read well into the article to find out, however, is that it doesn't work in any of those states:

Most states with the law sell stamps that drug dealers can buy in advance, like what Spitzer is proposing. Because no drug dealers are known to buy the stamps and pay their tax in advance, the tax is usually levied after they are caught..

In other words the states confiscate drug dealers' illegally gained cash when they catch them.  THAT makes sense.  The tax stamps they don't buy?  That makes them look idiotic.

What next, Governor Spitzer?  A tax on kids who voluntarily come in and admit they rode their bicycles on the sidewalk?

Congratulations to the citizens of New York.  You elected him.  So you got what you wanted.  Enjoy.


CLINTON WAS RIGHT. 10TH ANNIVERSARY

Ken Berwitz

Here, from www.cnn.com, via www.freerepublic.com, is President Clinton's statement to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon staff about Iraq.  Every word of it, nothing added or subtracted.  The bold print is supplied by me:

Text of President Clinton's address to Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff:

Please be seated. Thank you.

Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, for your remarks and your leadership. Thank you, Secretary Cohen, for the superb job you have done here at the Pentagon and on this most recent very difficult problem. Thank you, General Shelton, for being the right person at the right time.

Thank you, General Ralston, and the members of the joint chiefs, General Zinni, Secretary Albright, Secretary Slater, DCIA Tenet, Mr. Bowles, Mr. Berger, Senator Robb thank you for being here and Congressman Skelton. Thank you very much, and for your years of service to America and your passionate patriotism both of you. And to the members of our armed forces and others who work here to protect our national security.

I have just received a very fine briefing from our military leadership on the status of our forces in the Persian Gulf. Before I left the Pentagon, I wanted to talk to you and all those whom you represent the men and women of our military. You, your friends and your colleagues are on the front lines of this crisis in Iraq.

I want you, and I want the American people, to hear directly from me what is at stake for America in the Persian Gulf, what we are doing to protect the peace, the security, the freedom we cherish, why we have taken the position we have taken.

I was thinking as I sat up here on the platform, of the slogan that the first lady gave me for her project on the millennium, which was, remembering the past and imagining the future.

Now, for that project, that means preserving the Star Spangled Banner and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and it means making an unprecedented commitment to medical research and to get the best of the new technology. But that's not a bad slogan for us when we deal with more sober, more difficult, more dangerous matters.

Those who have questioned the United States in this moment, I would argue, are living only in the moment. They have neither remembered the past nor imagined the future.

So first, let's just take a step back and consider why meeting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is important to our security in the new era we are entering.

This is a time of tremendous promise for America. The superpower confrontation has ended; on every continent democracy is securing for more and more people the basic freedoms we Americans have come to take for granted. Bit by bit the information age is chipping away at the barriers economic, political and social that once kept people locked in and freedom and prosperity locked out.

But for all our promise, all our opportunity, people in this room know very well that this is not a time free from peril, especially as a result of reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals.

We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information and ideas.

And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.

There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein's Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us.

I want the American people to understand first the past how did this crisis come about?

And I want them to understand what we must do to protect the national interest, and indeed the interest of all freedom-loving people in the world.

Remember, as a condition of the cease-fire after the Gulf War, the United Nations demanded not the United States the United Nations demanded, and Saddam Hussein agreed to declare within 15 days this is way back in 1991 within 15 days his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them, to make a total declaration. That's what he promised to do.

The United Nations set up a special commission of highly trained international experts called UNSCOM, to make sure that Iraq made good on that commitment. We had every good reason to insist that Iraq disarm. Saddam had built up a terrible arsenal, and he had used it not once, but many times, in a decade-long war with Iran, he used chemical weapons, against combatants, against civilians, against a foreign adversary, and even against his own people.

And during the Gulf War, Saddam launched Scuds against Saudi Arabia, Israel and Bahrain.

Now, instead of playing by the very rules he agreed to at the end of the Gulf War, Saddam has spent the better part of the past decade trying to cheat on this solemn commitment. Consider just some of the facts:

Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons that it had left in its possession after the Gulf War. When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports.

For example, Iraq revised its nuclear declarations four times within just 14 months and it has submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each of which has been rejected by UNSCOM.

In 1995, Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law, and the chief organizer of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, defected to Jordan. He revealed that Iraq was continuing to conceal weapons and missiles and the capacity to build many more.

Then and only then did Iraq admit to developing numbers of weapons in significant quantities and weapon stocks. Previously, it had vehemently denied the very thing it just simply admitted once Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected to Jordan and told the truth. Now listen to this, what did it admit?

It admitted, among other things, an offensive biological warfare capability notably 5,000 gallons of botulinum, which causes botulism; 2,000 gallons of anthrax; 25 biological-filled Scud warheads; and 157 aerial bombs.

And I might say UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq has actually greatly understated its production.

As if we needed further confirmation, you all know what happened to his son-in-law when he made the untimely decision to go back to Iraq.

Next, throughout this entire process, Iraqi agents have undermined and undercut UNSCOM. They've harassed the inspectors, lied to them, disabled monitoring cameras, literally spirited evidence out of the back doors of suspect facilities as inspectors walked through the front door. And our people were there observing it and had the pictures to prove it.

Despite Iraq's deceptions, UNSCOM has nevertheless done a remarkable job. Its inspectors the eyes and ears of the civilized world have uncovered and destroyed more weapons of mass destruction capacity than was destroyed during the Gulf War.

This includes nearly 40,000 chemical weapons, more than 100,000 gallons of chemical weapons agents, 48 operational missiles, 30 warheads specifically fitted for chemical and biological weapons, and a massive biological weapons facility at Al Hakam equipped to produce anthrax and other deadly agents.

Over the past few months, as they have come closer and closer to rooting out Iraq's remaining nuclear capacity, Saddam has undertaken yet another gambit to thwart their ambitions.

By imposing debilitating conditions on the inspectors and declaring key sites which have still not been inspected off limits, including, I might add, one palace in Baghdad more than 2,600 acres large by comparison, when you hear all this business about presidential sites reflect our sovereignty, why do you want to come into a residence, the White House complex is 18 acres. So you'll have some feel for this.

One of these presidential sites is about the size of Washington, D.C. That's about how many acres did you tell me it was? 40,000 acres. We're not talking about a few rooms here with delicate personal matters involved.

It is obvious that there is an attempt here, based on the whole history of this operation since 1991, to protect whatever remains of his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, the missiles to deliver them, and the feed stocks necessary to produce them.

The UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq still has stockpiles of chemical and biological munitions, a small force of Scud-type missiles, and the capacity to restart quickly its production program and build many, many more weapons.

Now, against that background, let us remember the past here. It is against that background that we have repeatedly and unambiguously made clear our preference for a diplomatic solution.

The inspection system works. The inspection system has worked in the face of lies, stonewalling, obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. The people who have done that work deserve the thanks of civilized people throughout the world.

It has worked. That is all we want. And if we can find a diplomatic way to do what has to be done, to do what he promised to do at the end of the Gulf War, to do what should have been done within 15 days within 15 days of the agreement at the end of the Gulf War, if we can find a diplomatic way to do that, that is by far our preference.

But to be a genuine solution, and not simply one that glosses over the remaining problem, a diplomatic solution must include or meet a clear, immutable, reasonable, simple standard.

Iraq must agree and soon, to free, full, unfettered access to these sites anywhere in the country. There can be no dilution or diminishment of the integrity of the inspection system that UNSCOM has put in place.

Now those terms are nothing more or less than the essence of what he agreed to at the end of the Gulf War. The Security Council, many times since, has reiterated this standard. If he accepts them, force will not be necessary. If he refuses or continues to evade his obligations through more tactics of delay and deception, he and he alone will be to blame for the consequences.

I ask all of you to remember the record here what he promised to do within 15 days of the end of the Gulf War, what he repeatedly refused to do, what we found out in 1995, what the inspectors have done against all odds. We have no business agreeing to any resolution of this that does not include free, unfettered access to the remaining sites by people who have integrity and proven confidence in the inspection business. That should be our standard. That's what UNSCOM has done, and that's why I have been fighting for it so hard. And that's why the United States should insist upon it.

Now, let's imagine the future. What if he fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made?

Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction.

And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who's really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too.

Now we have spent several weeks building up our forces in the Gulf, and building a coalition of like-minded nations. Our force posture would not be possible without the support of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the GCC states and Turkey. Other friends and allies have agreed to provide forces, bases or logistical support, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands, Hungary and Poland and the Czech Republic, Argentina, Iceland, Australia and New Zealand and our friends and neighbors in Canada.

That list is growing, not because anyone wants military action, but because there are people in this world who believe the United Nations resolutions should mean something, because they understand what UNSCOM has achieved, because they remember the past, and because they can imagine what the future will be depending on what we do now.

If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. We want to seriously reduce his capacity to threaten his neighbors.

I am quite confident, from the briefing I have just received from our military leaders, that we can achieve the objective and secure our vital strategic interests.

Let me be clear: A military operation cannot destroy all the weapons of mass destruction capacity. But it can and will leave him significantly worse off than he is now in terms of the ability to threaten the world with these weapons or to attack his neighbors.

And he will know that the international community continues to have a will to act if and when he threatens again. Following any strike, we will carefully monitor Iraq's activities with all the means at our disposal. If he seeks to rebuild his weapons of mass destruction, we will be prepared to strike him again.

The economic sanctions will remain in place until Saddam complies fully with all U.N. resolutions.

Consider this already these sanctions have denied him $110 billion. Imagine how much stronger his armed forces would be today, how many more weapons of mass destruction operations he would have hidden around the country if he had been able to spend even a small fraction of that amount for a military rebuilding.

We will continue to enforce a no-fly zone from the southern suburbs of Baghdad to the Kuwait border and in northern Iraq, making it more difficult for Iraq to walk over Kuwait again or threaten the Kurds in the north.

Now, let me say to all of you here as all of you know the weightiest decision any president ever has to make is to send our troops into harm's way. And force can never be the first answer. But sometimes, it's the only answer.

You are the best prepared, best equipped, best trained fighting force in the world. And should it prove necessary for me to exercise the option of force, your commanders will do everything they can to protect the safety of all the men and women under their command.

No military action, however, is risk-free. I know that the people we may call upon in uniform are ready. The American people have to be ready as well.

Dealing with Saddam Hussein requires constant vigilance. We have seen that constant vigilance pays off. But it requires constant vigilance. Since the Gulf War, we have pushed back every time Saddam has posed a threat.

When Baghdad plotted to assassinate former President Bush, we struck hard at Iraq's intelligence headquarters.

When Saddam threatened another invasion by amassing his troops in Kuwait along the Kuwaiti border in 1994, we immediately deployed our troops, our ships, our planes, and Saddam backed down.

When Saddam forcefully occupied Irbil in northern Iraq, we broadened our control over Iraq's skies by extending the no-fly zone.

But there is no better example, again I say, than the U.N. weapons inspection system itself. Yes, he has tried to thwart it in every conceivable way, but the discipline, determination, year-in-year-out effort of these weapons inspectors is doing the job. And we seek to finish the job. Let there be no doubt, we are prepared to act.

But Saddam Hussein could end this crisis tomorrow simply by letting the weapons inspectors complete their mission. He made a solemn commitment to the international community to do that and to give up his weapons of mass destruction a long time ago now. One way or the other, we are determined to see that he makes good on his own promise.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq reminds us of what we learned in the 20th century and warns us of what we must know about the 21st. In this century, we learned through harsh experience that the only answer to aggression and illegal behavior is firmness, determination, and when necessary action.

In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more the very kind of threat Iraq poses now a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers or organized criminals who travel the world among us unnoticed.

If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program.

But if we act as one, we can safeguard our interests and send a clear message to every would-be tyrant and terrorist that the international community does have the wisdom and the will and the way to protect peace and security in a new era. That is the future I ask you all to imagine. That is the future I ask our allies to imagine.

If we look at the past and imagine that future, we will act as one together. And we still have, God willing, a chance to find a diplomatic resolution to this, and if not, God willing, the chance to do the right thing for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you very much.

Thanks Bill, for saying it.

And thanks, George, for DOING it.

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