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January 31, 2006

State of the Union Live Blogging IV
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

In referencing tools our homeland defenders needs he wants reauthorization of the Patriot Act.  But what about resources?  training?  equipment?

He's onto the wiretaps.  Previous presidents have used same authority - yes, but that was before Congress made doing so illegal.

The famous line:  "if there are people in our country talking to al Qaeda, we want to know about it."   Well, a judge would want to know about it too, so she would authorize a wiretap and make it legal.

Also, if there are ordinary, law-abiding people in our country talking to relatives, friends and colleagues overseas, we don't want them to have to worry about the government knowing about it.  These imperatives need to be balanced.

Back to isolationism again - I hope the folks at the Progress Report are compiling a detailed manifesto about just how false that charge is.

He's onto the economy. 

American economy is strong, but we cannot afford to be complacent.  He references China and India, which is good.  Decries protectionism which is good.  Nothing yet on how to manage free trade.  Says the country could not function without immigrants.  Agree.

Raises spectre of "stagnant and second-rate economy."   Is talking about how to keep America competitive.  This is important stuff.   

But per Bush what is to credit for our competitiveness?  You guessed it - - the tax cuts.  In fact they've brought us the biggest deficits in years, and huge trade imbalances.  He wants to make the tax cuts permanent. 

It's hard to conceive of a  bigger disconnect between rhetoric and sound policy on every issue:  the rhetoric is great, the policies that undergird it are totally at odds with the professed aims.

I'm going to back off unless/until he gets back to foreign policy.


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Tangentially related to the SOTU - Just a quick question about the "terrorist surveillance" program if you get a chance. According to the POTUS, if someone living in the United States speaks with a "known" Al-Qaeda operative abroad, warrantless wiretaps are okay. Following that conversation, what happens to the person in the US? Does the president, then, continue to exercise his "constitutional" authority and tap the phone and surveil that individual living in the US without the need for a warrent? Or, does this fall under a separate jurisdiction? Thanks.

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