Nel's New Day

February 1, 2018

Darkness Descending: ‘The State of the Union’

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 11:09 PM
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The day after the State of the Union (or “Uniom” as the White House invitations read), the lumbering, sniffling 80 minute speech of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) rapidly moved into oblivion as the Russian investigation took center front in the media. The event, however, should be noted in the annals of history, not for what was said as much as how seemingly insignificant comments indicated DDT’s continuing policies of fear, hatred, and control.

DDT’s language continued his obsession with white supremacy and military/police strength:

  • DDT’s use of “citizens” five times were mostly in addition to his demand for tight immigration, setting up a social hierarchy when he says that he wants to “protect our citizens.”
  • Three-fourths of DDT’s guests were members of the police or military, and he frequently referred to veterans, military, and officer and police.
  • The audience, in an event meant to be a speech to a joint session of Congress, twice burst out into “USA! USA! chanting, much like DDT’s rallies used to suppress protests.
  • DDT connected his emphasis on the “great American flag” and “In God We Trust”  to military and police order in a way that appeals to Christian Dominionism. (It might be noted that DDT’s wife, Melania, remained seated during his statement that “faith and family … are the center of American life.” She has not been seen with DDT after the revelation that he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep their relationship quiet.)

Among DDT’s guests were people of color, paraded in front of the audience to show how they would follow the white supremacist movement. Two couples were present because their children had been killed by the MS-13 gang members from El Salvador on Long Island. Their presence gave DDT the chance to lie about “thousands and thousands and thousands” of gang members removed or imprisoned by his efforts and brag about eliminating immigrants from legally coming into the country. The number is closer to 1,000—although that might be exaggerated—while ICE concentrates on deporting people who have lived lawfully in the United States for decades. One mother, Evelyn Rodriguez, said that her attendance was not for political gain, but to “get proper funding for the resources for our kids.” DDT President Trump ignored her wishes and used her presence to demand laws to close “deadly” immigration loopholes.

Another guest couple, a policeman and his wife, were applauded because they adopted the child of a opioid addict. The baby’s mother was not even named. She is Crystal Champ, and she’s now been clean for 40 days. Yet nothing was said about helping people forced to live on the streets and develop addictions while DDT’s budget cuts money for them.

DDT extolled the bravery of Ji Seong-ho, a defector from North Korea who rescues other defectors in Seoul after his multiple amputations. Overlooked in the tragic story is the fact that people from North Korea are not allowed into the United States because of DDT’s executive order, and those living here already cannot bring in their rescued family members if DDT has his way.

DDT began his speech calling for unity and then launched into his divisiveness, driving wedges with the use of immigration, religion, and patriotism by showing that some people—mainly white people—are better than others. He returned to his criticism of sports figures—many of them black—for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against blacks and blaming Latinx immigrants for their threat to public safety. One of his guests was an ICE agent, reinforcing DDT’s anti-immigrant focus. Three guests were a military member, and the fourth was a boy who put flags on the grave of veterans.

DDT told his usual plethora of lies about his prowess in the number of jobs, rising wages, unemployment, benefits of rising stock market, tax cut size and its relief for people, increase in family income for lowering corporate taxes, reduction in regulations, description of visa program, the safety net, etc.

Missing within his speech was any mention of women’s issues, deficits, healthcare, guns, Russia, FBI, and details in how he would accomplish any of his lofty goals. He had no guests other than those who he could use to pass his limited agenda—no educators, immigrants who contributed to the nation, domestic violence survivors, volunteers, students, etc. The only member of Congress who DDT recognized was the white supremacist who was shot by another white supremacist. DDT’s speech was reminiscent of the “chicken in every pot” advertising for Herbert Hoover about “Republican Prosperity” in 1928, the year before the crash. It was a fantasy to all the people in his base who he failed during the past year.

One frightening statement DDT made was to increase his authoritarian agenda:

“Tonight I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

DDT may consider that anyone investigating the president fits in this category. His “call on Congress” takes away an independence from federal agencies such as the IRS, FBI, DOJ, and consumer bureau. The GOP is so closely connected to the president that they could pass such a law, and DDT’s Supreme Court might uphold such an unconstitutional law.

Another DDT request is for a law that foreign aid “only go to friends of America,” a rapidly shrinking category.

People have so normalized DDT’s hatred and anger that his speech was an impressive performance to some. He stayed on his feet, clearly read the words from the teleprompter, and pronounced them correctly. As former Bush speechwriter and conservative David Frum explained it well:

“Look, you can train a seal to sit on the side of a pool for an hour and behave itself. That doesn’t make it no longer a seal.”

Kathleen Parker, conservative columnist, held out hope during DDT’s ensuing tweetlessness the next day. He lasted almost 36 hours after the speech with no tweets until his first ones damned the Democrats and expanded the wedge in the immigration issue. He then complimented himself for the biggest audience for a state of the union speech in history, but the number of watchers came in after those by Bill Clinton (1994), George W. Bush (2002), and Barack Obama (2010). He might get the record for the slowest speech. Bill Clinton spoke only ten minutes longer in 1995, but he said 4,000 words more than DDT’s 5,200 words. In polls for the speech, 48 percent gave him “very positive,” but that result is the lowest in the 20 years of responses. DDT’s approval was also enhanced by asking seven percent more Republicans than Democrats.

What is the State of the Union after DDT’s first year?

  • DDT’s approval rating hovering in the 30s for most of the year, at least 20 percent lower than any other recent president.
  • Only 3 in 10 people saying at the end of 2017 that the nation is heading in the right direction
  • The country more divided because of DDT, according to 67 percent of a survey respondents.
  • Several DDT campaign team under criminal indictment.
  • DDT’s pick for national security advisor already pleading guilty for lying to the FBI.
  • DDT under federal investigation for obstruction of justice and center of a serious sex scandal.
  • Sole legislative accomplishment unpopular tax breaks for wealthy and big corporations with no bipartisanship or regard for the wishes of DDT’s base with only two percent of people in a poll saying that it has led to any financial benefits.
  • Slowest job growth in six years when the economy was coming out of the Recession.
  • Black unemployment falling at a slower rate than the previous four years.
  • GDP growth of 2.3 percent worse than two of the past three years and far away from the four percent needed for the new tax bill.
  • Corporations spending less than 1 percent of their tax cut on bonuses.
  • Growing trade deficit.
  • Global crises, especially in North Korea.
  • Blackout on information from the Middle East including deaths, number of troops, and progress in taking back land.

The pundit who said that DDT “has some wind at his back” may have meant flatulence. Just like President Obama, DDT is turning the economy around; Barack Obama took over a recession and put the country on its feet. DDT is knocking it back down again.

February 13, 2013

President Obama Presents Ambitious Agenda in SOTU

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:41 PM
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When Republicans complain about President Obama, they talk about his doing nothing and claim that he has provided no leadership. Last night’s State of the Union address shows that he plans to be an active leader for his term. The president knows that the GOP will do everything in his power to stop him and then blame in for inaction. Putting on the brakes, however, may not keep the country from moving forward.

The president’s  fourth State of the Union address laid out 60 minutes of a very ambitious program for the coming year. “Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation,” President Obama said. “How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”

Mandatory Spending Cuts: Across-the-board spending cuts of $85 billion begin on March 1 if Congress doesn’t take action. President Obama asked congressional Republicans to accept some tax increases and other budget cuts to delay or soften the blow of the so-called sequester instead of their plan to increase defense spending “by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits. That idea is even worse,” said the president. His plan is “to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.”

Climate:  “Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it’s too late. […]

“But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.” The president announced a proposal to divert some oil and gas revenues into a new Energy Security Trust that would be used to fund research and technology aimed at reducing the use of oil.  He also plans to double renewable energy in the U.S. from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020.

Immigration Reform: “Now’s the time to do it.” The president called on fixing “the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods and attract the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.”

Domestic Violence: “We know our economy is stronger when our wives, our mothers, our daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women’s Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. And I now urge the House to do the same. […]

Equal Rights: “And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a–a living equal to their efforts and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.”

Minimum Wage: “[T]oday, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, 19 states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.

“Tonight, let’s declare that, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty — and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.” Even this raise would put an annual salary at $18,720 a year, still not a living wage. Adding an automatic cost-of-living adjustment to the minimum wage, as the president suggested and several states already mandate, would keep salaries even with inflation. If the minimum wage from 1968 had a COLA, it would now be $10.51 per hour.

Gun Laws: “It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence, but this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans–Americans who believe in the Second Amendment–have come together around commonsense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. […]

“Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress.” The speech went on to cite the names of victims—including some who were in the audience—and repeating that each of these victims deserved a vote after the names. Members of the audience began to repeat the president’s statement with him. Thirty-one Democratic Congressional members brought victims of gun violence; no GOP member did.

President Obama didn’t demand passage of legislation. In addressing members of Congress, he said, “If you want to vote no, that’s your choice.”

Voter Suppression: “We should follow the example of a North Miami woman named Desiline Victor. When Desiline arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours. And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say. And hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line in support of her, because Desiline is 102 years old.

“And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read, ‘I Voted.’” The cheers for the president’s statement may have been even stronger because the African-American woman was sitting in the chambers, listening to the president’s address. The president will appoint a bipartisan presidential voting commission to improve federal voting; the commission will be chaired by Bob Bauer, former general counsel for the Obama campaign, and Ben Ginsberg, a former top election lawyer for Romney’s 2012 operation.

Jobs: The president described the ways that the government will use a network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes to partner with businesses and communities to invest in technologies. He said to Congress that he expects support because he knows that its members enjoy attending “those ribbon-cutting ceremonies.”

Other Initiatives

Infrastructure: The president will ask Congress for an additional $50 billion in infrastructure spending with $40 billion devoted specifically to what the White House calls “the most urgent upgrades.” The highest priority would be 70,000 bridges deemed structurally deficient.

Early Education: President Obama wants Congress to provide access to all four-year-old children, especially those in moderate- to low-income families as well as calling on states to provide free, full-day kindergarten, available in only ten states and the District of Columbia.

Accountability Standards for Colleges and Universities: The president will ask Congress to measure colleges and universities on the basis of affordability and student outcomes when determining which receive federal aid of over $150 billion.

Free Trade: The president intends to negotiate a new free trade pact with the European Union.

Housing: The president plans to spend $15 billion to help rebuild communities overcome by foreclosed and vacant properties while creating construction jobs.

Afghanistan: More than half the 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, 34,000 service members, will leave the country within the year.

Ideally, the three legs of government should work together. Yet three Supreme Court Justices did not attend: Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. And the GOP has decided not to work at all; the result is that the president will perform all the actions necessary, making the GOP look worse than ever.

Josh Marshall described the tone in this way: “We can do this together. But if you won’t, whatever guys, I’m done with that.” Bill Moyers has released more links to analyses of this speech.

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