Sotu2006I’ve just watched President Bush’s State of the Union.  Not a great speech although it did include some very welcome extra investment in green technologies.

The one very strong part of the speech came with President Bush’s remarks on the wiretapping "scandal".  The tenor of the remarks suggested that Bush is gambling that American voters are much more concerned about the terrorist threat than any supposed infringements of their civil liberties:

"It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late.

So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed.

This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again."


20060111_statewatchbtnPS Both the Democrats and Republicans hosted State of the Union ‘meet-ups’ or ‘parties’ throughout America last night.  The internet was used to bring many tens of thousands of activists together to either boo (approximately 1,000 Democrat parties) or cheer (1,388 GOP parties) the President’s speech.  These gatherings – which are showered with party packs to make them fun and memorable (including a bingo card from the Dems) – have become essential routes to building effective grassroots organisations.  The two political parties calculate that people that come together for fun events like these will also fundraise together and act together when GOTV operations are needed at election times.