Let’s begin with several positive things about President Trump’s first State of the Union address, which took place last night.
First, President Trump’s opening remarks condemning the alarming increase in hate crimes across America — including several antisemitic acts and deadly violence against immigrants — was both timely and decisive. For the first time in 40 days of this new administration, we finally witnessed the actions of a President, instead of a circus clown.
President Trump’s speech also included a number of specific policy shifts many of us will support if implemented, including liberals like myself. Some of these proposals include:
— Disengaging from military and financial conflicts in the Middle East. President Trump noted that the amount of money wasted on pointless wars (specifically in Afghanistan and Iraq) could have “rebuilt American infrastructure two times over.” He’s absolutely correct. So, let’s quit wasting more time, money, and brave American lives. Let’s get the hell out of that region once and for all and let those people solve their own problems. [Note: Unfortunately, reducing involvement in that region won’t apply to America’s blind support for Israel, which the president tirelessly reiterated last night.]
— President Trump is absolutely correct when it comes to the controversial issue of reducing cumbersome federal regulations which inhibit new drugs coming to market and experimental medical treatments which might save lives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposes many absurd restrictions on new treatments, including waiting times that usually take several years. Here’s a guideline that will streamline things: If a drug has already been cleared in other industrialized countries and appears to be working well, then fast-track its approval. Cut out the red tape and allow it into the United States (of course, a federal bill to allow the importation of foreign drugs was shot down last month, with Republicans blocking this proposal in overwhelming numbers). Moreover, let’s allow so-called “risky” drugs to be used on terminally-ill patients who have no other options and who will most certainly die without some kind of miracle cure. President Trump insisted that he wants to reduce FDA regulations, and we should all get behind this strongly. [Note: He’s absolutely wrong on other FDA matters, such as food safety, which is may also receive lax treatment. I’m speaking of experimental new drugs, not cutting all regulations across the board, which is the Republican position.]
— The U.S. must make a considerable investment in updating and improving our domestic infrastructure. This is a longtime Democratic plan (pushed by liberals), dating back as far as the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Democrats have always supported what have been called “make work” projects providing millions of jobs and improving the nation’s roads, bridges, and other centers of transportation and commerce. It’s nice to see President Trump finally acknowledge what we leftists have been preaching for a very long time — that infrastructure improvements must be a permanent fixture and responsibility of federal government.
Unfortunately, while there were many positives in the speech, President Trump also continued to misrepresent facts and misstate what have clearly been the contradictory positions of his own party on matters of the utmost importance to this country. Here are several examples from last night’s speech:
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) — All Republicans, President Trump foremost among them, have been screaming and scrambling to dismantle so-called “Obamacare” for the past six years. Now we see that was nothing more than dog-whistle campaign rhetoric designed to make the Right-wing base wet their pants with excitement. Now that they’re totally in charge, we’re still waiting for their “beautiful plan” (Trump’s words) to be revealed to the American people. We continue to wait, and wait. Fact is, Republicans have nothing to propose. President Trump even admits publicly that he doesn’t know the first thing about a America’s complex health care system. Yet, he did spend considerable time slamming the ACA last night, (falsely) saying it’s collapsing (no, it isn’t). It sounded like just another red-meat campaign speech. The bottom line is this: Republicans have nothing on the table that will replace the ACA. Not a thing. Many Americans now realize this system needs to be improved, not scrapped. President Trump is either a liar or ignorant on this topic — very likely both.
Backing NATO — President Trump has openly questioned the role of NATO for the past two years while running for office. He’s said many times that traditional treaty organization may no longer be necessary. That might be a debatable position and we should have that discussion. Yet last night, President Trump completely reversed himself on this issue pledging to fully support U.S. involvement in NATO. Moreover, he committed at least one laughable gaffe, stating that NATO helped to save the world from fascism during two world wars. Uh, no it didn’t, Mr. President. NATO wasn’t formed until 1949, four years after the end of World War II. Apparently, your speechwriter Steve Bannon needs to take a world history class.
Increasing Defense Spending — What’s the looming global conflict that requires the U.S. go so far above and beyond the bloated all-time record high appropriations for so-called national defense? We’re already spending more money on boots and bombs and military bases than the next dozen nations in the world — combined! We’re winding down pointless unwinnable wars in the Middle East (if President Trump’s other pledge is to be believed). We’re headed towards a more isolationist role in world affairs, by his own admission. Why in the hell is President Trump proposing to increase military spending by nearly 10 percent? This is insane, especially given the national debt and the dire need to spend money here are home improving our country, rather than trying to rebuild war zones in the Middle East. This is madness.
Defeating ISIS — President Trump talks a good game about defeating the terror group ISIS. On the campaign trail, he pledged to wipe out ISIS within the first 30 days of his new administration. Well, it’s now Day 41. What objective to that end has been accomplished? Has ISIS been defeated yet? President Trump did approve a disastrous military excursion into Yemen, which resulted in failure. Just prior to his speech, the president tried to shift the blame to his predecessor (President Obama) and the military for the failure on his watch, which he approved. What a shameful gutless display of leadership.
Protecting Clean Air and Water — Last night, President Trump pledged to protect clean air and water. How nice. Yet, while his mouth was saying one thing, he’s been doing quite another behind the scenes. He’s vowed to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He already signed an Executive Order which will dismantle the Clean Water Rule, which was instituted during the Obama Administration. Trump’s deregulation will now allow companies to turn waterways into sewers. Polluters rejoice! President Trump is a fraud on this issue, and everyone knows it.
Helping Our Veterans — President Trump’s pledge to take care of America’s veterans is a farce. Dismissing the fact he held a fundraiser for veterans during his presidential campaign last year, and then skipped out on writing the check to the charity, congressional Republicans have a dismal record when it comes to funding veterans issues. [SOURCE HERE]
Crime — Once again, President Trump played fast and loose with the facts when it comes to crime. All statistics reveal that crime has actually decreased over the past few decade. Yet, from listening to President Trump’s speech one would think there’s lawlessness in the streets. Violent crime certainly is a problem in many places and this must be addressed. Yet, several overtures from urban mayors and leaders seeking a discussion with the new administration have been ignored. Trump and Republicans love to talk a good game when it comes to crime. But, they’ve proposed nothing in terms of solutions, other than building more for-profit prisons and criminalizing drugs (see new initiatives by the Department of Justice on recreational marijuana use). President Trump also ignored what is probably the worst public health crisis of our time, which is Opioid abuse and addiction. Not a single word about that topic was mentioned. Shame.
Indeed, President Trump’s speech was noteworthy for what wasn’t mentioned. Despite rambling on for more than an hour, taking on wide ranging topics, climate change wasn’t brought up once. Neither was America’s unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels. The President did do plenty of cheer leading for the coal industry and oil companies, however.
Oh, and while America’s military commitments comprised a significant portion of the speech, there wasn’t a single mention of Russia. Go figure.
There were also three specific moments during the president’s State of the Union address which left me and many other liberals gasping in disbelief:
— President Trump proposed creating a new federal agency supposedly to operate within the Department of Homeland Security. This agency will be known as VOICE. That stands for “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement.” This is an utterly appalling idea which brought audible gasps from the audience when it was first introduced in the speech. Why would the federal government create a new agency that would discriminate based solely, not on the victim of the crime, but the perpetrator of the crime? What next? A federal agency designed to protect us only from criminals with brown hair? What does this absurd proposal say to the hundreds of thousands of actual victims of crimes all across America? The distinction made for victims of illegal immigrants (a number which is statistically decreasing, by the way) says to all those who were robbed, stabbed, shot, or murdered by anyone other than an illegal immigrant — screw you. We’re only interested in your case if you were attacked by an illegal. Otherwise, get lost. This is a politicized agency based on hate and fear. It is an appalling idea.
— President Trump’s line about limiting government corruption was absurd and obscene, particularly coming of an eight-year presidency with no scandals whatsoever. He said, “we have placed a hiring freeze on nonmilitary and nonessential federal workers. We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption….” Again, more laughter from the audience. Draining the swamp of government corruption would actually mean not hiring Wall Street insiders, political flunkies, and billionaires, which is precisely what this administration has done since taking office. President Trump continues to use his pups to enrich himself, runs from questions on his international business connections, and still steadfastly refuses to release his tax records. To utter the words “drain(ing) the swamp of government corruption” is ludicrous.
— “The time for trivial fights is behind us.” President Trump actually said those shocking words with a straight face (which elicited laughter from the gallery). Trouble was, he wasn’t joking. He was serious. This delusional one-man hate-machine, obsessed with tweeting attacks against actresses at 4 am has already lowered “trivial” to subterranean depths. No politician in my lifetime has engaged in more trivial bullshit. For this impostor to stand before the American people in the hallowed gallery of congress and preach to us — the American people — about “trivial” behavior is a disgrace. He should have been laughed out of the Capitol Building for that remark.
Finally, President Trump is either a liar (well, that’s already been established) or else he’s very bad at math.
The President is proposing to increase the size of the military by nearly 10 percent. He’s proposing to increase funding for veterans. He’s proposing to build a wall on the Mexican border, which will probably cost about $35 billion. He’s proposing to spend $1 trillion (that’s with a T-as in trillion) on domestic infrastructure improvements. He’s proposing not to touch government entitlement programs — including Medicaid and Social Security. And now — get this — he’s going to cut taxes.
Someone please explain how anyone can propose to increase the federal budget by perhaps 20-25 percent while cutting taxes?
I’m still waiting.
Oddly enough, the press and public reaction to the speech was largely positive. Afterward, he was described repeatedly as “presidential.” This is the depth of the dungeon which has come to define to appallingly low expectations of the Trump Administration.
The evidence is clear — this was a speech filled with empty words, false promises, and plenty of lies. Why should anyone be surprised. Lies and empty rhetoric is something this president has truly become an expert at. In fact, he’s the best of all time.
Writer’s Note: Technically, this was not a State of the Union address. However, I’m using some literary latitude and categorizing it as precisely that based on the setting, content, and delivery.